Porirua medal the cherry on top

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - KRIS DANDO

When Mar­garet and Ash­ley Blair came back from their OE, they said they weren’t com­ing home to New Zealand, but to Pukerua Bay.

The story of how the cou­ple came to the sleepy sub­urb in 1970 in­volved a bro­ken-down mo­tor­cy­cle.

‘‘Mar­garet lived in Welling­ton and I travelled from Palmer­ston North to see her on an el­derly Nor­ton [mo­tor­cy­cle],’’ Ash­ley said.

‘‘I broke down once and while wait­ing to be res­cued, de­cided on a walk around where I was, which was Pukerua Bay. I thought it was a neat place.

‘‘We even­tu­ally moved to a lit­tle house here that had no water or sew­er­age, but we could get meat, veg­eta­bles, bread and milk de­liv­ered.’’

The Blairs have been fix­tures in the Pukerua Bay and Porirua com­mu­ni­ties since they re­lo­cated and then com­pleted two years over­seas.

Ash­ley taught at the school – be­fore be­gin­ning 25 years of teach­ing in eastern Porirua un­til 2004 – and the pair were in­stru­men­tal in help­ing found the lo­cal Plun­ket ser­vice and kinder­garten.

Mar­garet has been heav­ily in­volved in the Angli­can Pau­ata­hanui Parish, es­pe­cially re­gard­ing the his­toric burial ground at Pau­ata­hanui, writ­ing a his­tory of Pukerua Bay School and in the Meals on Wheels ser­vice.

Ash­ley found time outside his teach­ing and prin­ci­pal du­ties at Can­nons Creek School to help es­tab­lish the Com­put­ers in Home ini­tia­tive, and an on­line ed­u­ca­tional ser­vice for chil­dren in the nascent days of the in­ter­net.

He also chaired the first Porirua Union Health Ser­vice and got the Porirua Ear Van and the Whanau Cen­tre run­ning.

Last Oc­to­ber, the Blairs were awarded a joint Porirua 50th medal, pre­sented to mark the city’s mile­stone birth­day.

‘‘I’ve been more in the back­ground than Ash­ley,’’ Mar­garet said, ‘‘but we make a good team. I strongly be­lieve in a sense of com­mu­nity. In Pukerua Bay there’s a real mix of peo­ple and ev­ery­one looks af­ter one an­other.’’

Ash­ley said work­ing in ed­u­ca­tion in eastern Porirua was in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing.

‘‘Maori and Pa­cific chil­dren de­serve to have chances like ev­ery­one else. That’s why I was so keen to kick off Com­put­ers in Homes. Some fam­i­lies were do­ing in­ter­net bank­ing long be­fore we were!’’

The pair re­main busy on sep­a­rate projects, but are col­lab­o­rat­ing on a his­tory of Pukerua Bay.

PHOTO: KRIS DANDO

Mar­garet and Ash­ley Blair, who were recog­nised for their com­mu­nity work.

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