Porirua: Happy birth­day Sam Hunt

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE -

When Roger Douglas was sacked as fi­nance min­is­ter in De­cem­ber 1988, it was the sec­ond story on the news that night.

The first item on both ma­jor news chan­nels was that Sam Hunt’s dog Min­strel had died.

It gives some idea of the feel­ing New Zealan­der’s had for the poet and as he turned 70 last week it ap­pears he’s still adored by ki­wis.

Born at Cas­tor Bay in 1946, Hunt said he got his love of po­etry from his mother.

His fa­ther Percy was a bar­ris­ter and fea­tures in sev­eral of Hunt’s po­ems.

From the late 1960s un­til 1997, Hunt lived in a num­ber of lo­ca­tions around the Pau­ata­hanui in­let in Porirua.

The area fea­tures in his po­etry,


es­pe­cially Bot­tle Creek where he lived with the fa­mous black and white Min­strel.

He lived at Bat­tle Hill and Death’s Cor­ner, for­merly the house of a Mr Death, be­fore mov­ing back to a boat­shed in Pare­mata.

The area made an im­pres­sion on Hunt as many of his po­ems, in­clud­ing Porirua-Fri­day Night, can at­test.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from teach­ers’ college he taught briefly at Mana College be­fore he de­cided to de­vote him­self to po­etry.

He has pub­lished a few dozen books of po­etry from Between Is­lands’ in 1963 to Knuck­le­bones: Po­ems 1962-2012.

In 1986 Hunt was awarded a QSM; in 2010, was made a Com­pan­ion of the NZ Or­der of Merit (CNZM).

He was fur­ther fes­tooned in 2012 with the Prime Min­is­ter’s Po­etry Award. All these hon­ours were for ‘‘his ser­vices to po­etry’’.

He headed for Wai­heke Is­land in 1997 then to the Ara­paoa River of the Kaipara Har­bour where he lives with his youngest son Alf.

Over on Face­book Tommy O’Connor re­mem­bered the man and his dis­tinc­tive fash­ion from his school days.

‘‘He was our English teacher at Mana College. We called him Puss ‘n’ Boots ... a great guy.’’

Sandie Hop­kins lived just around the cor­ner from the poet and used to see him row his boat across the wa­ter.

‘‘He wrote a poem about our dog Scotty. He was larger than life our Sam. Al­ways made you laugh and you never knew what he’d come out with next.’’

Mervyn Mes­sen­ger met Hunt dur­ing the clean up af­ter a storm and a friend­ship was formed.

‘‘Sadly the last time I caught up with Sam was a few years ago, he was tour­ing and I met him at the Orewa Tav­ern.

‘‘If you see this Sam - happy birth­day.’’

Diane Brad­dock re­called meet­ing Pare­mata’s poet in the most un­usual of places.

‘‘I re­mem­ber Sam sit­ting on top of the tele­phone box on the cor­ner of Seav­iew Rd, prob­a­bly recit­ing po­etry.’’

There were plenty of birth­day wishes on so­cial me­dia for Porirua’s beloved poet, but maybe Shar­maine Muncey said it best.

‘‘Happy Birth­day Sam, never stop be­ing you.’’

His new book is out now.

Sam Hunt per­form­ing in 2014: he has just re­leased a book of po­etry, Salt River Songs, to co­in­cide with his 70th birth­day.

Sam Hunt and his fa­mous black and white dog Min­strel were of­ten seen around the Pau­ata­hanui In­let. Min­strels death was the first item on the evenings news.

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