Farewell the quarter acre dream

October 13th, 2017

We live rural. We didn’t used to.

We lived in 1/8th acre yard (500+sqm plot of land) in suburban Auckland. We had a veggie plot, around 15 fruit trees and ditched the cars in the driveway to make way for a workshop to build things ‘n stuff.

A year ago when we sold up and moved down country. We’d written and produced Banshee on the cusp of a revelation, as with many of our tracks, an audio diary of what was happening in our heads. Our heads are very busy so it take a bit to break through into song!

Bear with us…

Several years earlier we’d bought the 1924 original bungalow. Original: yes, with scrim walls, no insulation, rotting weatherboards and contained a bundle of history. It had never been sold before. We bought it off a lovely couple in their 80’s – he was born in the house. With love and months of grunt, we peeled back layers of lino and exposed floorboards, hand sanded ancient window sills to breathe some new life into it.  We lived off the veggies and dreamed of our oasis smack in the city.

Aerial photos showed this sleepy isthmus had a handful of houses growing over time in 1966. In 2016 it could take 45 minutes to drive 15km in rush hour due to a single main road. The newly released unitary plan for Auckland showed our street was about to be built out with 3 story apartments towering over our little spot of paradise, and no transport upgrade. Bugger that. It was on the market within days.

In Irish folklore a ‘Banshee’ is a female spirit whose wailing warns of a death in a house. Think: scream like a banshee, wail like a banshee, Siouxsie and the Banshees. The wail is a message of pending death, grieving for the one who is about to die. To us, BANSHEE laments the death of the Kiwi dream, the quarter acre yard.

To be fair, quarter acre backyards have been dwindling since the 60’s, but now they are almost non-existent. With urban development tearing down houses to make way for apartments, old bungalows that once stood in farmland are reduced to rumble. Not just the house, but the way of living – growing your own vegetables, kids playing in a tyre swing that sways beneath an old apple tree.

Fast track to 2017, it wasn’t just us. “Auckland City farewells the quarter-acre dream” headlines the NZ Herald just today. “Once, a house with land for a vege garden was the norm. Now just a few ‘last men standing’ remain.” The article describes an older couple living the quarter-acre dream less than three kilometres from the hustle and bustle of downtown Auckland, as they have since the late 70’s. They’re among the few – just seven intact, single-title, quarter-acre (1011sq m) sections are left in downtown Auckland and the eight suburbs that border it.

They choose to stay — and good on them. For us, with 1/8th of acre yard with the pending intrusions bearing down on us, was more than we could cope with.

Banshee in the quarter acre yard, screaming for a changing of the guard.

Anyhooo, all is well in rural Ohaupo and we’ll have none of that carry-on for a few decades yet, if we can help it.






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