Grandchild is a joyous distraction

Last updated 09:44 28/02/2013
Gerard Hindmarsh
FIVE YEAR PROJECT: Golden Bay author Gerard Hindmarsh stands in front of the cellar he's slowly digging at his Tukurua home. One of Golden Bay's best known citizens, Gerard Hindmarsh, has packed a lot into his life so far.

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One of Golden Bay's best known citizens, Gerard Hindmarsh, has packed a lot into his life so far.

Before diving into a successful writing career the father of five trained as a cartographer, drove long-haul trucks, worked in the fertiliser and forestry industries, built a house and helped set up a cinema.

Gerard, who lives on a two hectare property at Tukurua, near Collingwood, is an award-winning feature writer and the author of books that include Angelina: From Stromboli to D'Urville Island, a fictionalised account of his grandparents' lives that is being made into a film; Swamp Fever, a memoir of his time as an alternative lifestyler; and Kahurangi Calling, a collection of his stories from Kahurangi. His latest title is Outsiders - Stories from the Fringe of New Zealand Society.

This week Gerard took a break from writing for a chat with The Leader.

What's your bread and butter work right now?

Mainly magazines and newspapers, and royalties from books, plus the odd commission. I'm doing occasional stories for The Dominion-Post, The Press and Listener. I recently did a story for The Press about oil exploration on Stewart Island which I found really interesting; gave me a different perspective. I'm quite good at producing paying stuff. I just produced the Buller West Coast Touring Guide. I also did some stories for some business people on the coast.

I'm pleased not to be reporting locally anymore. You see a lot of conflicts and it can contaminate you. You can either get flippant or let it get to you.

How's your amazing property going? Does your land still keep you interested?

As you get older it's about working to put systems in place so you don't end up a slave to your own property. Maintenance is what I seem to do these days, but the odd big project does still grab me.

How's summer been for you?

One of the things I look forward to most about summer is going out past Anatori. All that lounging about between tides. We come back sun-baked and kahawai-infused. We also went to Rakopai before Christmas, camping there with four other families like we have every year for 16 years. We went floundering at night in the inlet, always a highlight for me.

How's it going with the movie of Angelina?

It's ticking along. The producers are negotiating with an Italian director to film the Italian side of it. They're in touch with me quite a bit but everything in Italy takes time. We should see some development this year. Patience is a virtue.

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Got any five-year projects on the go?

There are several books on my list. I can't say what they are in case someone else grabs them. I've been working on a five-year dig making a cellar in an escarpment not far from our house. I'm using a pick, shovel and a wheelbarrow. I'm digging into this clay and eventually I'll fire the walls with a giant bonfire - they do it in Syria. It will end up biscuit-fired like a vase inside.

Once I've fired it, I'll put a roof on it But I must admit I've been seriously distracted by my first grandchild, Aesha. She's been the best thing that ever happened to us. When she comes around, which is most days, I drop everything. It's been great, just wonderful fun times together. Better than being a parent! At the moment with all this hot weather we are teaching her to swim in the Parapara River

What does the future hold for you?

More adventures hopefully. I'm feeling a strong urge to return to the Pacific and collect more material. There's something I'd like to investigate in Palau. I'd also like to go back to Rabi Island in northern Fiji, which is home to the Banaban people who were displaced from Ocean Island. I did a major report on them for UNESCO. They sort of latch onto you, get into your heart. I still get letters from people there who sign off "Please don't forget us! Your Banaban family".

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