New Zealand Woman’s Weekly
KERRE’S RETURN TO THE CAPITAL CITY BRINGS BACK A FLOOD OF LONG-FORGOTTEN MAGIC MEMORIES
Ihave had the most enormous fun this week, playing hide and seek with ghosts from my past in the capital city.
I had been asked to fill in for the morning host on Newstalk ZB’s Wellington show and I was very glad to do so. I was put up in a very nice hotel room, I worked with very nice people and from midday, my time was my own.
And off I went, reliving the most wonderful memories.
I have lived in Wellington three times, over nearly 40 years. The first time, I arrived tearstained and swollen-eyed, having been sent off to the capital in fine style from Hamilton railway station.
I had been accepted into journalism school there and although I was delirious with excitement at the prospect of being a real, live journalist, the reality of leaving my friends and family was brutal.
The Sacred Heart girls gave me a beautiful, inscribed fountain pen, Mum and Dad hugged me fiercely, and
I think I cried to Taihape.
In Wellington, I was swept up into the bosom of relatives who were the most bohemian, gorgeous, creative, mad and amazing people I’d ever met. They taught me about books and music, and life and loyalty, and took me to nightclubs their friends owned and dressed me in glamorous costumes. They showed me a world hitherto unknown to me, given I’d been a provincial girl cloistered in a Catholic boarding school.
I got my first waitressing job at the Prince Regent in Manners Mall and desperately tried to be a naughty girl. There were plenty of naughty boys who would have obliged me in my mission, but there was always a cousin to haul me home to safety, for which I will always be grateful.
My second time in Wellington was when I was offered work on a television show and I met the most wonderful people at Avalon Studios.
I arrived just as the golden days of television were coming to an end and I’m so glad I got to work there when it was like a stand-alone community.
Wardrobe mistresses, transport managers and caterers – you wouldn’t see the like of it now. I flatted with wonderful women and played with gorgeous men, then all of a sudden, I was pregnant with my daughter and living a completely different life.
The third time I lived in Wellington, I was on yet another trajectory. I was a single mother and rather than working on the telly, I was working as a waitress at Cafe Paradiso. It was owned by one of my beautiful cousins and her partner, and
I was lucky to get the job.
I started off making coffees and progressed to front of house and it was a simply magic time.
Wellington was taking off and Courtenay Place was transforming from an area that was home to panelbeaters, produce sellers and juice makers to the hospitality hub it is today. We hosted rock stars, Team
New Zealand when they first won the America’s Cup, international actors, captains of industry and perfectly lovely couples from Ngaio who had come into town on a Saturday night to see what all the fuss was about.
It’s now called
Hummingbird and when I popped in for a remembering glass of Champagne, Martin the barman was there and was kind enough to let an old table tart reminisce about way back when.
It’s funny going back to a town that holds so many memories and was the scene of so many life-changing moments. But it was good to wander down memory lane, which was so happy, for the most part, remembering all that had happened over the years. Yet I was so grateful to be where I am now. I chased the ghosts, I kissed them and I let them be.
‘ I flatted with wonderful women and played with gorgeous men, then all of a sudden, I was pregnant’