We, folk who live in Onemana or visit as often as we are able, are indeed fortunate. My own experience is probably fairly typical of many of us. Our family began holidaying here in 1996 and in due course my husband and I retired here. As time passed we meet more people and it occurred to me that people who live or visit here come from a wealth of different back grounds. After discussion the ORCA committee agreed with my proposal that I talk to people about where they have come from, their experiences in Onemana and, if they were agreeable, to write about it for publication in our newsletters .
This is the first of the interviews with Kay Colman and Diane Perry who have a long family history with Onemana.
Interview with The Sisters
Diane and Kay were both born and brought up in Auckland and may never have known Onemana, if in 1980, Kay’s God Parents been able to come to spend a weekend, as they had planned, at the Onemana Motels.At this time Onemana did have motels. They were situated at 103 Bambury Place.
Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for Diane and Kay’s parents, the aforementioned God Parents were not able to take up their booking that weekend. Instead they offered their booking to ‘the sisters’ parents, Jack and Edna McIntyre. A wonderful weekend followed for Jack and Edna and this prompted them to buy a motel unit in Onemana. The motel units went onto the open market in the late 1970s and are now owner occupier units.Their unit was situated upstairs, in the middle of the block. Of course they and their family visited Onemana frequently between 1980 and 1988 for holidays and weekends away from Auckland, immersing themselves in all Onemana had to offer.
As as side note, the family had encountered the Coromandel before that auspicious visit. Kay and Norman had ventured as far as Opoutere where they would come from Auckland armed with tents and camping impedimenta and varying numbers of children – their own two and some of Diane’s four!!They loved the camping at what is now the carpark before one crosses the bridge before accessing the dunes that front the beautiful stretch of Opoutere beach, As they had not, however, ventured as far south as Onemana during those holidays their parent’s purchase was in so far uncharted waters.
In the early days in Onemana the shopping centre was owned, and developed, by Mark and Marg Chenery Brown as a mini supermarket. In due course the space was divided into a dairy and a restaurant. In the 1980s the site also housed a real estate office.
Jack and Edna bought several sections in the village with a view to building a house at some point. They encountered delays to their building plans and Joy Neighbours, who was the Real Estate agent in the village at that time, suggested that Kaye and Diane’s parents purchase the property, named Carinya ( in the Aboriginal language this means Happy Home) .
This was very exciting for the family and everyone arrived the weekend in 1988 when Jack and Edna took possession, to see what their parents and grandparents had bought. The consensus was that the whole family were very impressed. Carinya did indeed become the family’ Happy Home’ .
At this time both Kay and her husband Norman and Diane and her husband Neil were part of the family firm in Auckland. This was a builder’s hardware and manufacturing company. Diane and Neil’s four children and Kay and Norman’s two children were growing up and of course eager to visit their grandparent’s holiday home and the beach in Onemana. Visits to our valley became more frequent and of course these children bought lots of enthusiastic friends with them as well along with huge appetites, not only for food but also for the adventures Onemana and its surrounds offered.
When Norman and Neil retired the sisters and their husbands decided to purchase property in Onemana .
In 1993 Kay and Norman purchased the family home, Carinya, and in the year 2000 they became permanent residents here with Kaye’s widowed mother who lived with them until 2006.
As an observation, I have noted that Norman and Kay are very active in our community, helping people out in a variety of ways. This ranges from providing meals and company for people who are unwell to accessing firewood and delivering it, to taking people to appointments, supermarket etc . They do this quietly under the ‘radar’.
Kay says that it was so peaceful at the time they came here to retire. There was everything they needed locally. In Whangamata there is access to good doctors and medical care, all the building,electrical and plumbing etc.needs are available from by local tradesmen. There are a variety of clubs to belong to, both social and service and well as clubs catering for hobbies and interests. They saw in Whangamata first, the addition of a small supermarket in the building now run by Super Liquor, and then the development of the larger New World Supermarket.
In 2007 Diane and Neil bought their home at 400 Onemana Drive. Like Kaye and Norman’s home,this house has stunning views over the beach and ocean.In 2014 Diane and Neil sold this house and purchased a house on the flat at 205 Onemana Drive. This move coincided with Diane being elected onto the ORCA committee – known then as the ORA. This began a very busy period for her as social events organiser for all village activities. She continued in this role until the AGM for ORCA in January 2019. It is my own observation that Diane is always present and working on every project undertaken in the valley! She says she has made wonderful friends over the years and hopes to continue to do so. She intends to be available to help out in village events in a more informal way. Diane ensures that she supports folk in the valley who are experiencing loss, hardship of any kind or challenges.
Diane echoes Kay’s observations that Onemana meets all their requirements with the option of a drive to Tauranga or Thames when they need to visit a larger business centre.
In conclusion Diane and Kaye both have wonderful memories of visiting Onemana, going right back to 1980. They recall having fun with their children on the swing on top of the dune on the north end of the beach. They all enjoyed biking into Whangamata and the surfing was a true delight for all family members. They joined the rambling club, gymnasium and played golf in Whangamata.They and their families went tramping and cycling in the bush.
The bird life,from sparrows to tui and morepork, in the valley and bush has always thrilled them as does the forestry. They have seen two cycles of toi toi and wattles that spring up after the pines have been felled in the forest. This is followed by the regeneration of the native bush that emerges under the canopy of the new pine forest as it grows.Some favourites are the silver ferns and tree ferns.
Kay and Diane bought a motor home and, from their base here in Onemana, they set off for many trips over the years. They all, Diane and Kaye, Norman and Neil, truly believe they live in paradise and are so grateful for the weekend that bought their parents here for an unexpected holiday.