Never Grows Old: Nada Mills

We publish Francis Mills’ address at a service in November 2021 on their property at Cecil Road, Paekākāriki, for his much-loved wife, Nada Mills.

Born – Dianne Peake: 14 July 1949. Died – Nada Mills: 6 November 2021 

72 years from go to woe. 

But in my view – Nada never grows old – not even close.

So, allowing for vagueness, lack of detail and poetic license, I’ll try to convey a sense of the journey and the person I knew so well for 54 of those 72 years.

First, we’ll travel back to the late 1920s – bottom end of the South Island – Mae Kennedy met, and presumably married, a guy with whom she had two children – one girl and one boy.

But it didn’t go well – and Mae chose to leave her town – her country – and her children – behind. She went with a younger man – Tom Peake. They ran a pub together in Melbourne and then Tom drove supply trucks across Australia during the Second World War. 

They returned to New Zealand with Mae going through early menopause – coz – what else could it be? Then – on a beach in Auckland she realises she’s actually pregnant – a kick from a little foot. She gives birth to her second daughter. She’s 43 years old. 

The family of three travel the country, living in a truck – selling candy floss – they move to Wellington and the Brougham Street flats. They move to Pinehaven and buy a house on the main street – in time for Dianne to start school. Meanwhile – my parents, living in Wellington, move to Stokes Valley, buy a house in the main street, in time for me to start school.

At some pivotal point Mae reunites with her two children, now young adults, the ones she had left behind. The boy, seemingly, never found forgiveness – whilst the girl, Daphne, became Dianne’s much, much older half sister. 

Daphne travelled the world – she was sophisticated – she married and adopted two girls – Patsy and Vicki – who both feature strongly in Dianne’s early life. There was also Diannes’ aunty and uncle – and a bunch of girl cousins – who of course became like sisters to Dianne.

Every Sunday it was dinner for all at grandma and grandad’s in Petone. Tom, Diannes’ dad,  was managing a pub in Naenae in the Hutt Valley – but he drank too much beer.  Consequently there’s tension in the house, and a build up of tension – deep in the young girl who tries to keep the peace between the  mother and the father.

Tom, by the by, was a good guy – we built a cabin for him here in Paekākāriki, and he loved his daughter and her three children.

Primary school wasn’t easy for Dianne, but college was worse – till fate delivered an ex-race horse called Timber that she adored and rode bareback, fearless and carefree.

She left school around 1965 and worked in offices in Wellington, window dressing in department stores and running the photo department in Kirkcaldies – where the mums would bring their kids.

The young attractive girl about town gets a boyfriend, gets pregnant and gets sent away to hide on a farm to birth the child – that’s how it was done back then.

The baby girl is taken from the mother, all connection is lost and not talked about. Life goes on.

She meets another guy – from Taita – a friend of mine. We’d just got back from severe ups and downs in Australia and  he introduces me to Dianne on a rugby field. We’re 18 years old, and we all wind up flatting in different houses in Wellington. The boyfriend doesn’t always treat her right – she allows this, and we see it happen. But what can you do? Hopefully you live and you learn.

He decides to work his passage to England and I go back to Australia – meanwhile Dianne has another significant, difficult relationship. Notably, she stayed friends with both these guys over the years. 

Meanwhile, I suggest she change direction and come over to Sydney – we share a flat in Rose Bay with other Kiwi guys from the Hutt Valley. Then I’m busted again – and Dianne comes to bail me out. 

Somehow, this act of kindness brings us together and we transition from casual to committed – or as near as you get in your early twenties, in the early 1970s. 

Then I receive a letter that my dad is dying so we take a boat home. Two suitcases, a silver German Shepherd called Solomon and a long haired pedigree cat called Glenbar Toad.

Gerome, our first born, is conceived in a single bed at my parents’ house in Stokes Valley. He’s born in Wellington Hospital whilst we shared a house in Brooklyn, Wellington. It’s the most beautiful summer. 

I’m a two-shift cook at the St George Hotel. Lunch and dinner. Dianne’s making new friends and there’s a young Indian Guru in the news. He’s sending his Mahatmas’ around the world to speak on his behalf. Dianne’s heart responds but her head resists.

We buy a remodelled VW car and head north with the baby and the dog – and wind up living in a tent at the motor camp in Rawene. I milk the goats to pay our way. 

Dianne takes Gerome back to visit her mum. Meanwhile followers of the Guru appear in Rawene – they’re preparing for the Mahatma to speak on the local Marae. I attend the event with three friends and come away totally blissed out.

I convince Dianne that we have to follow our hearts, so we move into a giant communal house in Auckland and attend satsang every night in Parnell.

We then move back to Wellington into a giant communal house in Hataitai – and attend satsang every night in Ohiro Rd, Brooklyn.

I go overboard giving my time and energy to this new life – so Dianne looks elsewhere for whatever I’m not sharing.

Sophie is conceived in the open air and her biological father is here today. Dianne takes Gerome away and shares a room with the new man. He then takes a trip to Auckland and Dianne and I gravitate back together. We even decide to get married. 

Sophie is born at home in Newtown and the father comes to visit on the birth day – as he should. There’s another guy here who also came that day. I wrote and sang a song at both his weddings, coincidentally.

We then bought a small house in Salisbury Garden Court in Wadestown, Dianne carrying all our belongings up the very steep and long winding path. 

I’m now the caretaker at the local primary school. Our third child is conceived in a tent in Kissimmee, Florida – at a huge international festival for Guru Maharaji. Elan is born at home in Wadestown, but the house is too small. 

I’m now the caretaker of Pastoral House on Lambton Quay. We manage to buy this property right here where we are now in Paekākāriki. It’s 1980, and it was the best summer anyone had ever had – our first year on the Kāpiti Coast.

Gerome and Taja had been attending the Steiner School in Lower Hutt but the travel becomes too hard once we’re here. Dianne becomes a massage therapist – and then a Bowen Therapist – and I’m here today in testament to the skills she developed. Many of you know exactly what I’m talking about.

We renovate this old house – built in 1906 – and develop this section. 

Back in 1992, on behalf of Mahahraji, a large property is discovered in Queensland, Australia, and from then on for most years we’d manage, somehow, to be there with him and thousands of others for a few days of whatever manifested.

After 15 years of traveling to and from Wellington to work, I gave it away and managed to earn a living, with tools here on the Kāpiti Coast. Meanwhile Dianne, who’d transitioned to Nada, sets up her Bowen practice in central Wellington. She starts her own organic skin care business and contributes enormously to the financial wellbeing of her family.

She does the Playcentre and the Primary School Committee thing for the kids. The sports and the ballet and the music, with the kids. Her – not me.

Our most favourite place of all went from being a tent by the river in the Maungatouks – to a tent by the river in Ōtaki Forks, whilst our three kids grow up and go their own ways. 

Gerome goes down and comes back stronger. He lives not far from here and now has a partnership with Sarah, caring for two girls of his own. Tulip and Delphine. Sophie goes to India and all over and now lives in Christchurch with her partner Shikane and their two boys, Fox and Herb. Elan goes into music and now lives in Raumati with his wife Marliesje, two daughters, Cassady and Quinn and their son Luca.

Each one of those thirteen people I just mentioned are here today – plus me and all of you – and all you people tuning in – to share this most extraordinary farewell for the one and only, most beautiful, bravest, exquisite human being – NADA – who lives on in the heart and soul of each one of us.

 So let’s continue to do the best we can, to take care of ourselves and each other, and this planet and die trying.

Enuf said.