Ngakawau - A place to call home

Publication Date27 October 2021
AuthorRose O'Connor
Publication titleWest Coast Messenger, The
Belinda grew up on Great Barrier Island.

"As a single woman with no kids and no formal education I have had to do whatever I could to make a living," Belinda says.

She worked at many varied jobs on the island at a time when people around her were making the most of the welfare system and solo mothers were having many children.

"Ironically, many of them now own multi-million dollar properties on the island!" She always had a passion for horses so left Great Barrier to pursue that further. She still owns a fifth generation horse from the original one she bought over 40 years ago.

"He is a gelding who is about to go to Nikau to plough and disc. He's a work horse and for riding."

Belinda established herself in South Auckland. She has bred champion horses from two 'Sir Tristan' foals.

"One is still showjumping but there is not much competition at the moment!" For three years Belinda worked for the British Merchant Navy shipping horses to the United Kingdom.

"There were often a couple destined for Prince Charles."

On one of these voyages, she met and later married a Scottish crewman, Maurice.

"You are allowed to make one major mistake in your life!" she joked as she regaled the tale of marrying him while he was on remand in prison for gun running. He served one year before following her to New Zealand.

"I eventually managed to have him extradited," she said.

From the North Island, Belinda and Maurice set up on their 30 acre property at Owen River near Murchison and continued to breed horses. Belinda owned the local bus company and butchery and won a national award for bacon.

However, the allocating of the school bus runs to Ritchies meant the eventual closure of the bus company.

"We attended workshops to learn the new government tendering system which were actually run by Ritchies. They then stepped in and undercut us. Around 50 bus companies went under with the stroke of a pen and the government allowed that to happen. I will never go into business again."

Belinda had previously been a finalist in the Nelson Business Awards.

The couple left Murchison after 15 years and travelled around the South Island in a house bus, eventually settling in Kaikoura. They leased Kaikoura Crayfish and Camp 32km north of the town and enjoyed the lifestyle. However, it all came crashing down when the Kaikoura earthquake struck.

They were living at the epicentre. The house they were living in was yellow-stickered, later to be red-stickered. They lost $20,000 in crayfish they had...

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