Porirua medal the cherry on top
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.
Margaret and Ashley Blair, who were recognised for their community work.