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Published: October 27th 2009
After the Fishing Trip
On the right is my old mate Paul Campbell. On the left is Andrew, skipper of the "Gravy Boat" for the day.
My mate Paul reckons he lives in the best place in the country. It's called Pahi, and it lies on an arm of New Zealand's biggest harbour, the Kaipara.
Paul lives in a two bedroom bach, with a stunning view over the water, the wharf and a rundown camping ground of the kind they don't make any more - no written rules stuck on the walls, and you get to park your tent where you want instead of inside a rectangle marked out on grass with weed killer.
LIVING THE GOOD LIFE
Pahi suits Paul, and Paul suits Pahi. He'd probably be among the first to admit he's not comfortable living the city life - the traffic, the trendy bars, keeping up with everyone else. He prefers to live quietly, and he spends his days working on his computer (despite a dodgy, rural internet connection) contributing a lot of the copy to three regional newspapers. Most evenings he goes to the pub for a quiet beer and returns in time to catch the tv news. Occasionally, he goes fishing.
WOULD IT WORK FOR US?
So for him, Pahi is fine. But could it work
for someone like me, or equally important, for someone like Judy?
On first appearances, it seems perfect. It's pretty, there's the water, the relaxed pace of life and the property prices are a relief after Auckland. But the Kaipara is a West Harbour Harbour and it breeds people with a certain toughness. They are members of a close knit community, supportive of each other but with an edge brought on by the hardness of the lives they live. Many - if they are fortunate enough to have work - are engaged in physical jobs, such as building or plumbing. And around them is water - not the prissy, yachtie playground of the Hauraki Gulf but a vast, isolated harbour where fishing boats and oyster barges operate and the Tasman booms in across the bar.
A MOMENT OF REALISATION
One tiny incident made me realise that perhaps Pahi wasn't for us, or more particularly me. I had the opportunity to go fishing with a mate of Paul's on a 21 foot boat with 150 horsepower stacked on the back. We stormed out to a favourite spot and shortly were hauling in kahawai after kahawai.
The Gravy Boat
It's owner's nickname is "Gravy". Inside is a plaque which reads,"I'm the skipper and my wife says I'm allowed to say so."
then a discussion began about the need to bleed kahawai before they could be eaten. And it was then that my moment of recognition arrived. As the skipper, Andrew, nonchalantly took his knife to deal to a kahawai a spurt of blood leapt into the air. I flinched, afraid the blood was going to land on me. It came nowhere near. But I flinched all the same, and I saw that Andrew saw me flinch. He said nothing, for which I was grateful. But he knew, and I knew, there was a townie on board - playing at a man's game.
So while I can understand why Paul enjoys his life, his mates and his community journalism, I can also tell Pahi is not for me. Deep down, I think I have to accept I am a latte sipping, Ponsonby dweller.
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