My Hometown: Porirua

Corey Fuimaono in Porirua
From My Hometown, 8:00 am on 20 January 2024

You'll know it’s summertime in Porirua, when the bright red pōhutukawa start to blossom. When the kids jump in the inflatable pools out in the front yard or pop a manu off Paremata Bridge. The sound of crickets, as intense as the dry heat striking down upon mature tanned flesh. Despite the freckles and moles on their backs, it's truly the shades that give it away — these old geezers have spent summers like this for generations: mowing the lawns and sippin' on VBs.  

I know it's summertime in Porirua whenever I head back. Blue skies above as a city welcomes back one of their own after a long time away. Despite the beauty visitors see the first time they visit Porirua, it’s the oddities that makes me sigh in relief that nothing ever changes in your hometown. From algae blooms in Aotea Lagoon, and the Chicken Shack open til’ late, to the active sighting of a supermarket trolley in the harbour. It’s all good in the hood.  

Cannons Creek, Porirua

Cannons Creek, Porirua. Photo: Corey Fuimaono

Despite what fancy light displays they might have over the hills in Aotea or Whitby, it's good to know that in the suburbs of little boxes made of ticky-tacky, I could always head back home to chill with the parents, have tonai (Samoan Sunday lunch) with Grandma and the rest of my aiga (family) who live here. Rest assured, they'll never let you leave without taking some food home, no matter how full you are, how hard you try. Resistance is futile. 

The echoes of high school memories aren’t too far away either. Old friends wrap up the year, convene together, and play video games at home. And as we do, we reminisce and remember the good ol’ days. We joke about how old we’re getting despite not pushing 30 (yet), not having kids (yet), not owning our own homes (… Yeah nah). But as we scour around our grand town centre, North City Mall, we see the rest of our year group cohort moving on with little families of their own, little homes of their own. Someday, our parents say; patiently waiting for mokopuna. Not in this economy. 

A pause from the flowery prose: some tips on what to get up to if you’re visiting. 

Trail at Rangituhi Colonial Knob, Porirua

Rangituhi, also known as Colonial Knob. Photo: WellingtonNZ

For those who want to physically torture themselves, a walk up Rangituhi Colonial Knob will grant you prime scenic views overlooking Porirua at the great price of having your legs and lungs beg for mercy. There is, however, an easier method to outdoor activity by relaxing at Titahi Bay Beach, along Porirua’s north-west coast. Just note that you can't drive along the beach anymore, so make sure those flip-flops are in good shape and have some people carry the towels, any snacks, and chairs you've got. And of course: Slip! Slop! Slap! And wrap! 

And for a taste of what some of our middle-aged and elderly get up to for night entertainment during the week, Mungavin Hall is home to a weekly Housie draw. Housie is like Bingo but with a different card layout. Rather than requiring patience, you'll need to be on your A-game if you play multiple cards simultaneously. Numbers are read out at a moderate speed; at times with quirky calls. Double One Legs 11 - Two One 21 - Up and Down 69 - 65 Pension. Mum took me to Housie nights when I grew up and unlike today these nights would happen regularly during the week at different venues. Covid-19 unfortunately changed that lively nature. But in the face of mobile casino apps, it's nice to know that a weekly draw still takes place with members of the community. 

When I head back to work like all the other drones I’m comforted that despite the distance, home is always there. If home is where the heart is, then Porirua has ram-raided me and stolen it; like the supermarket trolley, forever in its harbour. 

Corey Fuimaono is an RNZ studio operator.

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