43 Waikana Street

43 Waikana Street

We arrived in Dunedin April 18th 1987 along with our two children Helen and Richard and a month later Ceinwen gave birth to our little girl Rosemary. I had been working as a Film Editor for the BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol and had been invited to join TVNZ to work on their expansion into 50-minute wildlife documentaries. Ceinwen secured a job as the supervisor at Portobello Playgroup.

In June 1987 we bought 43 Waikana St from Don and Lori Hill who had spent many years here and had done extensive renovations to it. We have been told that the house was originally a kindergarten in Dunedin and that in 1923 it was cut up into sections and floated on a barge to Broad Bay where it was dragged up the hill and reconstructed. The house originally had high stud walls and no upper floor or stairs. Originally the bedrooms were at the back overlooking the harbour, the kitchen and living rooms at the front. Don changed it all around. He added another bedroom at the back and a couple of bedrooms up in the back roof space.

In 1994 we employed architect Hendrick Koch from Portobello to design a top floor, and Graham Carr, a Master Builder from Matariki St, to add another bedroom and bathroom and totally reroof, which I remember he did without scaffolding. We tried to use recycled wood where possible; windows and doors came from Shaws and Halls and the stairs were made from barge boards originally from Otago Boys High School.

Graeme Carr, Pete Ritchie and Peter Simkins working on the new roof

In the garden we used to have a vege plot right at the bottom by the school fence, but over the years the trees have grown and shaded out the area. We used to have a view of the boat shed and Grassy Point as well as the school; in fact we were able to shout at the kids climbing on the school roof, but not anymore with our trees and neighbours’ trees on both sides now blocking the view. But it’s trees that have turned Broad Bay from a hillside suburb to a leafy one and it’s the trees and not the houses that I believe would make it less recognisable for someone returning here after 100 years.

By Peter Simkins

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