Gen­er­a­tion

The game A par­ent’s job can be a source of some mys­tery to their kids, un­til that is, they grow up to work in the same in­dus­try. Ahead of Fa­ther’s Day, Britt Mann spoke to five well-known Ki­wis who fol­lowed in their dad’s foot­steps. Dad trav­elled with thi

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“When they climbed Ever­est they thought, well, ev­ery­one will go, ‘Well done,’ and then for­get about it. But it was one of those iconic events. It changed the way ev­ery­one on the planet saw what our ca­pac­ity was.

“Dad re­ally felt there wasn’t a fu­ture in it for me or my sis­ter and that we should move into fairly con­ven­tional [ca­reers]. He thought I should be­come an en­gi­neer or some­thing like that. I was born into an era where there was the devel­op­ment of this whole idea of ‘ad­ven­ture tourism’ and spon­sor­ships for peo­ple go­ing on wild, ex­cit­ing, dar­ing moun­taineer­ing chal­lenges. Ba­si­cally I saw that in my fa­ther and I wanted to do much the same. “When Dad was lead­ing his last ex­pe­di­tions and I was a mem­ber, I was the young, im­pul­sive one and of course he was the ex­pe­ri­enced leader and the per­son who had the in­sight and a much cooler head. That’s a very typ­i­cal dif­fer­ence be­tween the gen­er­a­tions. “The ex­tra­or­di­nary thing about Ed Hil­lary was it wasn’t just in New Zealand where he was in­cred­i­bly well-known. I think for a lot of peo­ple that would be more of a neg­a­tive than a good thing. In the Hil­lary fam­ily, he took us all with him, we felt part of a team. Dad trav­elled with this vast con­tin­gent of fam­ily and friends, whether it was a work-re­lated thing in the US or build­ing a small school in the Hi­malayas. He en­gaged with the peo­ple around him, he shared it with them, and ev­ery­one felt re­ally pas­sion­ately about be­ing part of his life and what he was do­ing. “I think that says a lot about him, ac­tu­ally, be­cause there are other peo­ple who are very well known and there’s ev­i­dence that quite a few of them didn’t or don’t man­age it that well. It’s not that they in­tend it that way, it’s just the way it hap­pens. “My life, like the son or daugh­ter of many other well-known peo­ple, does some­what get pred­i­cated by ques­tions about ‘the fa­mous one’. And I know a lot of peo­ple do get sick of it – they prob­a­bly get a lit­tle re­sent­ful of it. If you re­sented the per­son, it’d be a point of an­noy­ance and frus­tra­tion. “But if you felt like you were very en­gaged with their lives, it’s re­ally a won­der­ful thing. And that’s pretty much the way I see it.”

“We’re a re­ally close fam­ily. Grow­ing up, we did a lot of trav­el­ling. I was born in New Zealand but when I was 2 years old we moved over to Ire­land. We were there for five years.

“When I was 7, we moved to Eng­land for three years. That’s where I started play­ing rugby. Dad’s never coached any teams that I’ve been in. He never re­ally wanted to.

“You’d get the odd per­son here and there who might say, ‘Oh you only made the team be­cause of your last name,’ or what­ever. But that can only go on so long for it to get to a point where that isn’t rel­e­vant. You see lots of stuff in the me­dia, and lots of ups and downs with rugby. My mum says she’d like me to go into coach­ing as well, but I’m not too sure if I would. Play­ers get enough ups and downs as it is but as a coach, you might as well times that by 10 – if things aren’t go­ing well, the me­dia can be pretty harsh.

“We moved back to New Zealand when I was 10. That’s when I got quite set­tled into school life here and started to play some good rugby. Dad got the Welsh job two years later, and he went back to the UK. Mum goes over there a lot to see him, we try and get over there as much as pos­si­ble, but I sort of stayed and went to school and played rugby here and sort of fol­lowed in what he did – he went to Hamil­ton Boys’ High, so I went there. I had a few dif­fer­ent op­tions to go to a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent schools – schol­ar­ships – but I wanted to go there for the rugby and do what he did and play for Waikato. Then, ob­vi­ously, I moved to Auck­land, which he sup­ported.

“There were no pres­sures. Peo­ple might think, ‘Oh you prob­a­bly just had rugby drilled into you.’ It wasn’t like that at all. He al­ways said play what­ever you want – play soc­cer, play cricket. It just hap­pened to be that I loved rugby and a big part of it was his achieve­ments and see­ing his suc­cess there, want­ing to have a bit of that for my­self if pos­si­ble. You never know at a young age – ‘cos ev­ery­one’s got that sort of dream and it’s a pretty low per cent who ac­tu­ally get through to do­ing what they re­ally want to do – so I guess I was pretty for­tu­nate that I haven’t done too badly so far.

“He said, “You know, if you don’t want to do it, you don’t have to play.” He made sure to re­mind me of that all the time.

“He’s re­ally proud of what’s hap­pened so far. If he gets the chance to watch any­thing I’ve done, he’ll give a tip here or there – noth­ing too much, but it’s re­ally help­ful.

“Espe­cially in the po­si­tion that I play – it’s just about be­ing re­ally dom­i­nant. No mat­ter how old you are, ‘cos I’m still pretty young at 22, you might come into a team where there’s guys who are 30, 32 – re­ally ex­pe­ri­enced – but you just can’t let that spook you.

“My mum al­ways says my dad and I are crazy sim­i­lar in the sorts of man­ner­isms that we have, whether it’s our sense of hu­mour or the way we’re sit­ting on the couch watch­ing TV. The day be­fore game day, we’re both pretty quiet. I know some peo­ple are dif­fer­ent – they might think we were in a bad mood – but we’re just sort of keep­ing to our­selves.”

“It was only a small, de­vel­op­ing busi­ness in my early child­hood. A vine­yard was a nice place to live, but we only lived there ‘till I was about eight years old. I al­ways en­joyed run­ning around the win­ery and play­ing near the creek. When we moved away, I was busy at school and not think­ing too much about Villa Maria.

“We re­turned to the win­ery for school hol­i­days, to work. You cer­tainly pick up on the an­tic­i­pa­tion and ex­cite­ment around vin­tage time. As I was older and of age, I started work­ing in the wine shop. It’d be re­ally, re­ally ex­cit­ing if there had been a wine show and we’d picked up some gold medals or tro­phies and peo­ple would be com­ing in to pur­chase those wines.

“Dad was very care­ful not to pres­sure us to go into a fam­ily busi­ness. He never put any ex­pec­ta­tions on us – al­most to a fault, I think.

“I did have a lit­tle bit of an over­hang of not want­ing to be the boss’s daugh­ter. I was ac­tu­ally quite a shy, very re­served per­son – self-con­scious. Be­ing the boss’s daugh­ter dur­ing the hol­i­days didn’t al­ways sit well. So I re­ally needed to do my own thing first.

“Firstly I pur­sued my in­ter­est in psy­chol­ogy. Some peo­ple say my fa­ther’s al­most a nat­u­ral psy­chol­o­gist. He likes to try and work out what makes peo­ple tick, what mo­ti­vates them in an or­gan­i­sa­tional con­text. He puts a big value on peo­ple’s devel­op­ment. That would be a sim­i­lar­ity of ours.

“It was only when he started to ex­port and he was trav­el­ling a lot more that he thought, ‘If the plane goes down, what will hap­pen? I need some­body in the fam­ily to un­der­stand what is hap­pen­ing in the fam­ily busi­ness.’ He went on a cou­ple of over­seas trips and gave me the keys to his fil­ing cab­i­net and it must have oc­curred to both of us it wasn’t a good way to pre­pare me for any even­tu­al­ity.

“I wasn’t an ac­coun­tant or a wine­maker or a viti­cul­tur­ist or a sales­per­son. So com­ing out of uni­ver­sity and go­ing into bank­ing, I didn’t re­ally see where I’d fit. But a di­rec­tor­ship al­lowed me to bring the skills I’d al­ready gained to the ta­ble. Dad was very hands-on – still is – so it en­abled us to have a good sep­a­ra­tion of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

“It came out of the blue but I could see the logic of me need­ing to know what was hap­pen­ing in the busi­ness. He talked to the di­rec­tors and they agreed my bank­ing skills were a use­ful ad­di­tion. I had grown up with the wine busi­ness and it’s amaz­ing what I had learnt with­out even re­al­is­ing it, just from be­ing around Dad. I said I was happy to come and watch. He said no, you ac­tu­ally do need to be part of the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process.

“When I first joined the board I was still in bank­ing. Around a board ta­ble, it’s al­ways been a sort of col­lab­o­ra­tive ex­er­cise.

“It’s been en­joy­able work­ing with my fa­ther, be­ing able to see close up why he’s been suc­cess­ful and I cer­tainly have more of an ap­pre­ci­a­tion about what

“He al­ways had a stu­dio at home, and there was a lot of arty peo­ple around – they liked to throw par­ties and stuff – so the cul­ture was a huge part of our up­bring­ing. All my clos­est friends were all artists’ chil­dren, or re­lated to the art world.

“There was never any pres­sure to go in a par­tic­u­lar di­rec­tion. Mum and Dad al­ways en­cour­aged a lot of draw­ing – there was al­ways lots of pens and ink around. Dad was very par­tic­u­lar about what he liked and didn’t like. You could see if he wasn’t im­pressed – he’s quite funny like that.

“My abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate the vis­ual image and get peo­ple on side with that, and be­ing able to de­liver it, has cer­tainly come from that abil­ity, that skill of be­ing able to draw and vi­su­alise. That very much has come from Mum and Dad.

“I did the first CGI Energizer bat­tery, when that first went to 3D an­i­ma­tion. I got Dad in to help me de­velop the char­ac­ter – the ex­pres­sions, the hands, the eyes. The char­ac­ter al­ready ex­isted; Dad helped us bring it to life.

“Some­times I go to reach for some­thing across the ta­ble and I recog­nise Dad’s hand or body lan­guage in mine. Voice-wise, too, we’re very sim­i­lar. What Dad has is an in­cred­i­ble con­fi­dence in his ideas, and is pre­pared for them to be wrong. That’s re­ally prob­a­bly the great­est gift he has given me. I’m pre­pared to stand up in front of any­body and say what I think is right.

“I’m one of Dad’s big­gest fans. I love his work. But I cer­tainly don’t think it’s had much rel­e­vant bear­ing on any of my key, step­ping stone jobs.”

“My grand­dad, Leo White, was a pho­tog­ra­pher, and his son, Ross – my dad – was a pho­tog­ra­pher. I even­tu­ally fell into the same in­dus­try.

“My grand­fa­ther died be­fore I was born. My dad didn’t go into his dad’s aerial pho­tog­ra­phy busi­ness – Whites Avi­a­tion. He be­came quite a well-known press pho­tog­ra­pher in his own right and worked for The New Zealand Her­ald for about 35 years.

“He would take me in to work with him at the week­ends when I was about 5 or 6 and I’d sit up on the de­vel­op­ing ta­ble and just watch him de­vel­op­ing im­ages. That was pretty cool, see­ing pic­tures take shape in a dish.

“Oc­ca­sion­ally he’d take us out on as­sign­ments. He did a big thing about back coun­try by­roads of New Zealand. We went along for three weeks, pho­tograph­ing all th­ese places. I didn’t want to go – I was 14 at the time.

“It was the golden era of press pho­tog­ra­phy – back in the 70s, where bud­gets were large, ad­ver­tis­ers were all over the place, and pho­tog­ra­phers got sent all over the coun­try, and the world. He cov­ered the royal wed­ding – Charles and Di. I think he re­ally en­joyed that.

“I never re­ally took much no­tice of his job, re­ally. It never ini­tially ap­pealed to me. [But] when you see your par­ents in that kind of work I guess deep down you’re sorta like, ‘Well that’s not such a bad way to make a liv­ing.’ Maybe he was work­ing on me al­ready at that stage.

“When I left school I was an ap­pren­tice butcher, then be­came an ap­pren­tice car­pen­ter for I think six months.

“I wasn’t quite ready for full-time work. So I went back to school, re­sat the sixth form, stud­ied pho­tog­ra­phy and de­cided I’d give it a go.

“I think my dad was se­cretly rea­son­ably happy that I was go­ing to fol­low in the same field. He pro­vided the names and numbers of all the pic­tures ed­i­tors in the coun­try I could get in con­tact with, to send my CV, which I did.

“Ross – my dad – was never into flash pho­tog­ra­phy. He was the only guy at the Her­ald that would never use a flash on any job, and he’d still come back with re­ally good, strong im­ages. As much as I can, I try not to use flash or stu­dio light­ing. Dad ac­tu­ally said that us­ing ar­ti­fi­cial light is like us­ing a con­dom.

“I started at the North­ern Ad­vo­cate in ‘88, then moved to Sydney. I’ve learnt later on he’d talk to other peo­ple about me and how well I was do­ing over­seas, but he never said that to me. It’s just a gen­er­a­tional thing.

“Ev­ery­body who was any­body had a Whites Avi­a­tion aerial of their farm on their wall. They’re col­lec­tors’ items now. You go into a fish and chip shop some­times, or an of­fice in town, and see a big Whites Avi­a­tion on the wall. As a teenager you’re not that in­ter­ested in that kind of thing. But now I look back and it’s pretty cool. If I’m with the kids some­where and we see one we’ll go up and have a look at it.”

Peter Hil­lary pic­tured in 2003 with a copy of Na­tional Ge­o­graphic mark­ing 50 years since his fa­ther climbed Ever­est.

From left: Mingma Tser­ing, Sir Ed and Peter Hil­lary at 3800 me­tres al­ti­tude near the vil­lage of Khunde in the Mt Ever­est area in 1983.

Bryn Gat­land with his fam­ily and Dad War­ren Gat­land, far right, at the Provin­cial Bar­bar­ians v Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions game. PHOTO: AN­DREW CORNAGA / PHOTOSPORT.NZ

Villa Maria’s Karen Fis­tonich, left, and her fa­ther, Sir Ge­orge, take a stroll through the vines.

Bryn Gat­land in ac­tion. PHOTO: MARK TAY­LOR/STUFF

Film-maker Josh Frizzell, left, pic­tured this year with his fa­ther, artist Dick Frizzell.

Rewind a few years… “Dad’s about 24 and I’m about 2½. That’s Mum look­ing up,” says Josh Frizzell.

News pho­tog­ra­pher Ross White and son, Stuff pho­tog­ra­pher David, circa 1995.

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