Meet the locals #3

Suzie Richardson

Suzie’s parents first settled here when they were balloted for one of five houses built in Paekākāriki for returned servicemen after the Second World War. 

Suzie left New Zealand just after her parents moved into it and married in Australia. Her husband Ted was a marine engineer at sea, then sent to Africa for 2 years with the Air Service. Suzie was a teacher in England, Switzerland and Wellington and has visited 25 countries.

They returned to New Zealand with their two surviving children in 1981 to live in the house her parents were balloted in Paekākāriki. Ted died in 2004. Suzie did some study towards becoming a vicar and was a liturgical assistant at St Peters Church for 22 years. She continues her interest in the church and community, and has been an occasional participant in the Te Pae radio team.

Anna-Maria O’Brien

Anna-Maria had a Dutch mother and an Irish father, grew up in Dunedin and Wellington and has lived in Paekākāriki for 26 years. 
Anna-Maria is an artist and historian who is into plants, people, pets, art and music.

She came for ‘cheap rent’ after leaving a Newtown flat as she already knew a few people, staying with a friend then house- and pet-sitting here.
Anna-Maria moved with a partner into an Ocean Road house where there was already some lovely planting and now shares an historic Paekākāriki house.  She once worked in a nursery and loves growing things. 

She has mostly worked locally; nannying, gardening, and is currently a teacher aide at Paekākāriki School and loves working in the team there and with the kids who are, she says, really engaged. She produces a kid’s radio show fortnightly on weekend mornings and a monthly classical music show on Paekakariki FM. She has noticed changes in her time here.

“This is a nice place to live if you love the outdoors as I do’, she says, ‘but it’s difficult to rent. I really enjoy living in my flat with other people.

Margaret Griffiths

Margaret is one of Paekākāriki’s thoroughly good souls. She grew up in Blackpool, England, and came to New Zealand with her carpenter husband at the age of 21.

Her husband expected to build wooden houses but was disappointed to find that his first job was building in concrete at Oriental Bay. The couple lived in Karehana Bay and when Margaret’s parents eventually followed them to Aotearoa they bought a little house in Ames Street, “so we ended up living here.”

From the first Margaret was involved in the community — especially activities of St Peter’s church. She was a teacher, taught Sunday school downstairs in the hall, was Akela with the Cubs and still does “everything to do with the church.” Attendance is fewer now, although it’s not long since there were five churches in Paekākāriki. The church Hall was always used by the wider community and Margaret supported the generous move to virtually gift it to the community. Then she could be found helping stall holders and welcoming visitors to the monthly market.

Margaret’s husband was well known as a local carpenter. He was older than her and died aged 80.

Margaret may be slowing down a little but can still be found in church activities, walking dogs in Queen Elizabeth park or quietly lending a hand where it is needed.

“Paekākāriki is a wonderful place,” she says. “There’s no place like it.”

Read Meet the locals #1 & Meet the locals #2