They chat with their son Chris and reminisce of the 33 years spent in a three-bedroom state house in Redhill where they brought up their five children. 

A Kāinga Ora housing support manager in Papakura, Chris credits the values his parents installed in him and his siblings growing up in their state home to where he is today.

"Mum and dad always installed in me and my brothers and sister to strive for better and to care for those in need. These values have led me to this career, as well as the work I do at Papakura Marae," says Chris.

Chris and his whānau moved into the home in 1977 – it was part of a new housing development in the area. For a young, growing family, it provided the foundation and stability they needed.

"All the homes in the area were state housing, but we never saw it as state housing, it was our community. We knew everyone; I mean everyone. It was about friendship for us growing up. It was a kick-start for all us kids in the neighbourhood. The parents would know their parents. It was awesome."

At the time, many local whānau used to work at one of the large factories in Papakura – Cadbury’s (now known as Griffin’s) or Croxley Stationery Limited. Jeanette worked at Cadbury’s and Scotty had various jobs over the years working at local foundries, doing roofing and a short stint running a fish and chip shop in Māngere. Although money was tight, they never hesitated to give back to their community.

"Not only was it the seven of us in the home, but we had other people staying with us as well. Dad was the type of person who would give homeless people a place to stay at night. He’ll give you his last dollar in his back pocket."

Whether it was Scotty’s annual New Year’s hangi that everyone came home at midnight to enjoy or their neighbour’s ‘pudding’ of bread and milk, the neighbourhood provided their whānau lifelong friendships.

"When we moved to Redhill, we were one of a few young families that moved into the neighbourhood. We all became very close. You never closed your door, so all the neighbours and their kids would just come in like it was their own home," says Scotty.

"None of us had money; mince and sausages was our staple diet. We were all in the same boat."

There was one particular whānau on their street they had a close connection with.

"When Scotty’s dad passed away, it was Ray [the mum of the family] who walked into the house and said ‘I’ll take the kids, get over there.’ We were always there for each other," says Jeanette.

"When I was having a bad day, Ray would walk in and say, ‘sit down, I’ll put the jug on’. We supported each other through all the ups and downs."

Although they had difficulties over the years, it’s the good memories shared with their neighbours they remember fondly.

"When our kids and the neighbour’s kids were playing down at the park in terrible weather, they would come home wet and muddy. I would say ‘get in the shower’ to warm up. The neighbour’s kids; their father would get them outside with a hose to wash them off. My kids would be laughing out the window at them after they had their nice warm shower," she jokes.

When their children moved out of home, Jeanette and Scotty moved into various private rentals in Papakura and Waihi before settling a year ago in their Kāinga Ora home, a two-bedroom unit in Takaanini.

"The four brick units around us; we’re all retirees. Audrey next door is 81, Harry in the other unit is 80 and Bernie is in her late 60s. We chat to each other over the fence and if we’re going into town, we’ll yell out to ask if they need us to pick up anything for them. They’re really good neighbours. We love it here," says Jeanette.

Planning is underway for redevelopment in Redhill to build more safe, dry homes, so that local whānau can continue to thrive.

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Page updated: 1 June 2022