January 21st, 2014


Why on EARTH Stokes Valley?

The large sign that often says "Toke Alley" is all the explanation you need to understand the question. Although clean, green New Zealand is largely a reality, it denies the problems of gangs and drugs that are tearing apart large parts of the cities. The Hutt Valley, including Stokes Valley, is part of the worst affected part.

In 1999, we were looking to move to the Wellington area, as that was where my work had taken me. The economic downturn in Hastings meant that we had made a loss on our house there, so money was tight, so we were looking at less good areas of Greater Wellington. Stokes Valley is not the worst suburb.

I got in touch with an estate agent, who showed me four likely looking properties, then the next day Viv flew to Wellington to look with me and to choose schools. By the end of the day, we had chosen a school and put in an offer for a property. It was unusual, being four bedrooms on three floors on the side of a Hill, semi-detached (duplex?) and very flamboyantly decorated. On the other hand, we never saw any other four bedroom property for less than a hundred thousand dollars.

One of our boys, explaining the new place, said "it has four bedrooms, so we get a room each, but mummy and daddy still have to share". It's fun to share.

The first evening there, I went to buy some milk, and was startled when someone behind me said "Good evening, Mr Halliday." We didn't know anyone yet, so who could it be? It was the estate agent!

During our time there, we had an exciting existence. Our immediate neighbour was a recovering addict with an on-off relationship with an abusive boyfriend, who we thing may have been a dealer, a pimp, or both. Next house up was briefly a gang-house. The Armed Offenders Squad raided it just after they had scampered. But far more exciting was the methamphetamine manufacturer and wholesaler just five doors away. When they are raids, you get police, ambulance and fire services in attendance. But that's a story for another day.

Short version: it was cheap and not too terrible