Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine

way back when

The Edge radio host Vaughan ‘Fletch & Vaughan’ Smith, aged six (with Louise Cameron). Morrinsvil­le, 1988


I went to a little rural school called Kiwitahi. It stands for ‘one kiwi’ because apparently they found a kiwi there.

It was the 75th jubilee of the school so they put a big tent up, had a big party, and had different things to reflect the years leading up to that point. That’s why we’re dressed like we’re from the 1930s and doing folk dancing. Our teacher was obsessed with folk dancing. Everyone at school hated it so I said I hated it as well – but I kind of liked it. I think I had a natural flair for it.

We won ‘best dressed couple’, too. We weren’t even dance partners but on the day we were both dressed so well they put us together to be the lead couple.

My mum took us to this old lady’s house to get our costumes. She had racks and racks of old clothes in her basement and we just found some that fitted and put them on. I don’t think it was even a costume place. It was quite creepy. She had some of her nicer period pieces on mannequins. I think my mum and dad even got dressed up, to be honest. Mum might have even got the mannequin piece.

My sister hadn’t started school yet but she was in this bonnet thing and a big puffy dress. And because we had no Maori students at my school my brother had to go as a local Maori. There’s a photo of him somewhere in a feather cloak – it’s pretty ridiculous.

Because we went to a rural school, we were into Calf Club. My granddad bred pedigree Jerseys so we were also big on that. He would pick them and we’d raise them from calves. There were three aspects of it. One was leading, where you’d lead the calf and train it to stop at certain parts. It was like child beauty pageants because it was far more about my parents than us. It was a real parent-on-parent thing and children were like these pawn pieces to be moved around a chess board. On competitio­n day Mum would make us sit to the side while she got our calves all spic and span and polished up. They made us do the work but Mum was always there. She was really into it because she’d grown up doing it as well. We kind of hated it because when we got home from school all we wanted to do was watch TV, but Mum would make us go down and brush the calves every day. It gets pretty full on.

We went from primary school to the Morrinsvil­le show day and then to the Waikato show day. If you were good enough there you went to the national show day. We did really well a couple of years in Hamilton. We always won heaps of ribbons and everything – Mum and Dad have a suitcase of ribbons at home.

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