|REMEMBERING ST PETERS by Mary
I was a Gore girl….lived in Broughton Street then moved to 10 Devon Street. Walking home from school to Broughton street when I was 8, I saw the house at 10 Devon Street and fell in love with it….I snuck behind the fence and put my initials inside the fence with pencil….a week later Dad said we’re moving and it was to that house….that was the beginning of my life long thinking that dreams can come true if you believe (and never give up).
We were a Catholic family like everyone I knew. I was the only one out of the five in my family that went, to St Peters. I was a first day pupil starting in form one. At that stage there was only form 1 to 3 and it grew from there. You knew every single person at the school. If I am ever in Gore I sneak up the road to see “my Poplar tree” that we planted our first week. All of my year class, first day pupils, planted one and my one was the fifth from the road.
It was an exciting place to be, all brand spanking new. I had never seen a science lab before, and having your own locker, that was amazing. Some of you will remember the lockers (they might still be the same now) but you had to balance them open on your head, which meant you were an on going target for boys picking them up on their way past you and dropping the lid on your head…it hurt soooo much. But I think it was their way of saying you were an ok girl.
I wasn’t very “good” at school. Sadly quite naughty….anything to have fun. If smoking and talking had been school certificate subjects I would have passed with an A+; I can’t even imagine smoking now…what were we all thinking. I wasn’t very academic, more creative, which was hard work when you were expected to be academic. Brother Willet passed on to me a huge love of English. The best days were the days he would read to us in-between his practise golf swings with a ruler. Sister Andrew was another winner, her love of art was exciting and new and I loved that too. We once went to Dunedin with her and she introduced us to some amazing artists, Robin White, Ralph Hotere and John Middleditch the potter, and many others she seemed to know. It was the most engaging and most memorable time I had at school. Mrs Loyola Williams was another winner. She was so supportive of all girls and it was wonderful for her to be there to talk to, she lived and walked in the real world. Loyola walked in the worlds of being a Catholic parent plus she applied huge amounts of common sense to the sometimes-nonsensical situations of that time for Catholic girls.
I was happy at St Peters, but education then wasn’t flexible, so you didn’t have a lot of subject choices. Thank goodness I took typing as now it’s wonderful in my career, (which started off as a writer) to be able to know your way around a computer keyboard quickly.
Gore was such a great place to grow up in; my best friends then are still my best friends now, special times. Rosalind Doherty and I are still close friends as are old classmates Tony Wilkins and Seba Farry. It’s funny where you run into people from St Peters and what they’re doing now; the faces are always the same but with some time added to them. When it was time to think about a career I didn’t know. Luckily my parents got going and enrolled me at Teachers College and I went to Dunedin to become a kindergarten teacher. Best decision ever, I loved that career and in between teaching I travelled and lived overseas. It was perfect, I really loved the children, was amazed at the strength, warmth and support from parents and the communities. I taught in many kindergartens for over 12 years, both Gore kindergartens, and in Invercargill and Dunedin before taking 6 months leave to work on the new preschool TV3 show with Suzy Cato, You and Me.
Day one TV was “my thing”. I wrote my first 5 scripts in 2 days when you were given two weeks to complete them, I found it was something I could do and I loved it. After two years of writing and directing I was given the job of Producer, which in TV is the ultimate, but for me I missed the writing and directing as being a Producer was more management of people. After I left Kids TV and You and Me I came to Auckland. I was 41 and it was scary selling up your house and shifting to the unknown but it had to be done. I worked on TV3’s target and found it interesting but difficult balancing out the stupid choices people made with their lives and families and future employment. It wasn’t the most socially rewarding job, it was very negative and made me yearn for Kids TV again.
So as luck had it, I started my own children’s TV company, Pickled Possum Productions, focusing on a daily afternoon show for TV3 called Sticky TV. 13 years later it’s still going strong and now on FOUR. Since then I’ve been making lots of other shows as well, mostly preschool and now I’ve added animation shows to the list and loving it. I’m lucky I can really visualize my child hood and remember what made me excited, interested, wanting to learn and what made me laugh and that is always my inspiration in making children’s TV. I loved teaching so much and that too supports my view of the children’s world and how to tap into it so they want to learn. My company motto talks about “giving children a voice”, and in any decisions I make that is always there to fall back on and drive everything the child’s way.
So I’ve had a lot of luck in my life, a lot of people who have guided and supported me and a lot of friends and colleagues to walk alongside me but always in the back of my mind is where I first began my journey about learning who I was, and that was at St Peters in Gore. And I’m thinking there’s still a lot more to come…God Bless.
AND I’m really looking forward to the next school reunion, see you there!