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Where I’m from

Whenever someone asks where I used to live in New Zealand I’m not content with a simple answer. I say that we used to live in Auckland, but that I grew up in the rural Far North.  I might have lived away from the Far North for half my life but it will always be where I’m from.  It’s where I went to school from the ages of 5-18, which is also the school where Colin and I first met. The house I grew up in is there and it’s still the home of my parents and youngest sister. My grand-parents’ house is there too, and another of my sisters’ now lives with her family. Colin’s Mum and step-father live in the closest town, 20 minutes drive away and our closest friend is buried there. We might have lived in Auckland for 15 years before we moved to Brisbane, but the Far North is home in a much deeper sense.

Although we didn’t get ‘up north’ as often as we would have liked in the years before we left the country, every trip back was treasured.  As we neared the end of every 4-5 hour drive, the unfolding landscape would inevitably trigger a rush of memories.  The last 10 kilometres to my parents’ house was always particularly charged, a time-space suspension in which I would recognise and remember: the familiar camber of each corner, the winding river, the paddock shaped like a floating handkerchief, the derelict milk factory, and finally my parents house with the white letterbox and red flag.

Although we’ve lived in urban spaces for a long time now, both of us still feel the pull of green hills and a slower paced life.  Last weekend, we rode Colin’s new motorbike through the hinterland northwest of Brisbane, and I was reminded of the Far North at times.  Although the landscape is quite different here, every now and then some combination of light/hill/trees/vista, or a general feeling of sparse population and rural wholesomeness, fleetingly conjured that original home.  On the back of the bike last weekend, while I tried not to notice my aching (unbroken-in) backside, I found myself thinking about all the photos I have of the Far North and what a nice blog post they would make.

Note: hover your mouse over each photo to make the captions appear.


  1. Beautiful – for some reason I’m really drawn to the hose on the fence with the hill in the background…so quintessentially NZ.

    • Thank you! The “hill” is actually an ancient Maori Pa (hill fort) although time and vegetation have softened the terraces that were cut into the hillside. It’s on our neighbours farm but we explored up there many times as kids. One of the markers of home for me 🙂

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  3. I haven’t ventured very far from my ‘home’. I live in Paekakariki (-: (close to my Mum’s land just North of Wellington) but we do travel every year to my partners bach in Whangaruru harbour via the East Coast (my father’s place). The annual family migration. Life is three beaches haha. Great blog and very well written.

    • Kia ora! Thanks for your comment, I always love to hear from NZers! I’ve just had a good look around your blog – it was that picture of the hammock under the pohutakawa that initially pulled me in (because that’s so where I want to be right now!), but I have to say that you take absolutely stunning photos. I look forward to seeing more. Have a good NY tonight!

      • Hey thanks for the compliments (-: I’m always on the lookout for NZ bloggers too. Best for 2 13

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  5. Lee

    Love your photos, and will look forward to exploring your blog more. I am also Northland-raised, and ended up settling in Brisbane. I too feel the pull of “home” where my mother and sister still live. I go back for my “fix” about once a year…but now I can also look at your blog!

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  8. Karissa van Essen

    That was beautiful Chez, glad I took the time to read it.
    Your expression’s brought back many heart felt feeling’s the north has provided us all…….forever thankyou xxxx

    • chezmaree

      Thanks for this Karissa, lovely of you 🙂 Yes the north will always be a special place for most of us who were lucky enough to live there for a while

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