Dai Henwood, comedian and host of Three’s Family Feud, grew up spending summer holidays camping with his parents, Ray and Carolyn, in Piha. He’s pictured aged 6 in 1984, on a Chips bike he got for Christmas.
“I’m a Wellington boy, but every single summer – from before I was less than 1 – we would drive all the way up to Piha to camp. My parents used to do a little theatre show that went from campground to campground. They’d done it at the north Piha campground and they fell in love with the place. So they started holidaying there in a little pop-up-top-caravan-type situation. We’d get up there before Christmas every year, then we’d have Christmas and our full summer holiday there for about a month and a half. I’m an only child so it was such an amazing community, ‘cos I’d have my best friend from Wellington and his parents, who were my parents’ best friends, they’d come up and they’d camp there as well, as well as my aunties and uncles and cousins.
My mum’s best friend lived just up the road, and they had a kid basically at exactly the same time as me, just a month apart. So we sort of grew up together like brothers – in shared childcare, went to the same schools. I’ve always been a really social person. I was very much the same person as I am now as a kid. In fact, the only difference between me at 12 and me now is like, 5kg. I was the same height and the same size as when I was 12 years old. I was enormous! And then everyone else kept growing.
That bike, wow, that was a big thing for me. It was the first proper bike I’d had. Because we were in a campground you could just bike round, and of course there were older kids who were waaay better on bikes than I was. I’d sort of trail around behind them.
The camper which looks like a green triangle – that’s the one we used to stay in. Over the years the awnings got bigger and we just tagged on bits and bobs.
For me, it really sparks that vivid image of the endless summer – swimming all day, biking around, not a care in the world. What was a month seemed to feel like a whole year. It was something I looked forward to all year: going up to Piha.
We ended up getting a house out there and I still go there all the time. Piha’s just become this iconic place in my mind. Now I’ve got a 4-year-old who’s doing the exact same thing on a bike. He can’t quite ride it yet, but hopefully this summer I’ll be able to get a photo of him going round that same campground.
EACH WEEK WE ASK A HIGH-PROFILE NEW ZEALANDER TO SHARE A PHOTO MEMORY