02 February 2013

106 Victoria Street

We lived in Ross and Glenys's house from 20 May until late July, 1984.  By that time it had become clear that the project to build a two-family house in Glenbrook was not going to happen - and the difficulties of two large families living together had produced a lot of stress amongst all, including with relation to our and their children.

The kernel of the new Pukekohe Reformed Church was to be four families:

  • us
  • the Jacksons
  • Roel Voschezang and his extended family
  • Rob and Aileen Darby and their family
Rob owned - still owns - a chicken farm in Buckland, outside Pukekohe.  We had become close friends with him and Aileen, gone to Bible studies at their house, and generally enjoyed getting to know them.  In July, I think it was, they, with their children, wanted to go on holiday - would we house-sit for them?

The offer was wonderfully received.  Sue and I (and, I am sure, the children) longed for some relief from the difficult situation.  I am certain that Ross and Glenys's feelings were the same.  We had, by then, bought - through Rob's negotiations, in fact - a 1964 Morris Oxford
(not in such good shape as the one in the photo above :-).  The six of us spent the next three weeks at Rob's house - and during the stay, resolved not to move back to the Jacksons.

When Rob and his family came home, we rented, for a few weeks, a house in Edinburgh Street.  Ross, the truest friend I have ever had, took time with Susan to hunt for a house for us to buy.

The New Zealand Housing Corporation had, at the time, an arrangement whereby families that had never owned a house before could get low-interest (no interest for the first year) mortgages.  We would qualify.  But we would still need a down-payment.

In 1970, as a new Christian, I had been convicted of my duty to tithe - to give a tenth of my income, in some sense, to God.  By perhaps 1976, when we moved to Yap, in reading books by Gary North, I had begun setting aside an additional tenth as savings.  This had been possible in Yap, because our living costs were very low.  We paid no rent.  We had no vehicle.  We had effectively no entertainment costs.

I bought gold and silver coins, instead.

This practice was also influenced by Gary's advice, and by reading the publications of Howard Ruff.  One might suppose I thought of this as a kind of investment.  I did not.  It was savings.  I remember watching the gold bubble of 1979-80 - in January, 1980, it peaked at US$850/troy ounce - and collapsed.  I do not think I ever seriously considered selling the gold coins that I had (nor, in fact, would I have been able to do so at anything like the top of the market.  One would, I think, have had to be physically in New York or London with gold in one's hand to do that).  So when gold returned, quickly, to more normal prices, I still had my gold and silver coins.  When we left Yap, I arranged to ship my collection to some place in the US where it would be safely stored for me, or could be sold from there.

Just before we left New Zealand for Yap, in December, 1975, Rob Muldoon became Prime Minister.  He was still Prime Minister when we returned, in May, 1984 - but would not be for long.  What is known as the Constitutional Crisis of 1984 was precipitated by Muldoon's calling of an early election, for July, 1984 - an election that was won by the opposition, the Labour Party.

At no point in any of this did have the slightest idea of what was going on.  What the link above tells me is that Muldoon had held the New Zealand dollar artificially high during his long term in office.  Labour devalued the dollar and it fell like a stone.

Like Forrest Gump, I had stumbled unfazed through a mine field.  My coins, which were in America, were suddenly worth much more than before.

We looked at a number of houses.  One day Sue 'phoned me at work saying that she and Ross had found a house they thought would do.  "Do you like it?" I asked.  "Yes, I think it will be all right."  "OK, good."  "Well, when are you going to come see it?"  "Oh, I don't need to.  If you like it, that will be fine."

Sometime in mid-September, 1984, we moved into 106 Victoria Street, Pukekohe.  We still live there.

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