Monday, 13 August 2018

Why I Want to Live in Southland
by Trevor Agnew

I want to look up at night and see the stars, thousands of them.

 I want to tail lambs beside the Moderator of the Southland Presbytery.

 I want to sit on a grassy knoll at The Dunsdales and watch the wood pigeons soaring and tumbling over the bush at sunset.

I want to go on a five minute shopping trip in Winton, and take half an hour because I met friends up the street.

I want to smell the smoke from the Kingston Flyer.

I want to walk out into the bush at Borland and hear the tiny frogs whistling in the moonlight.

I want my daughters to speak with the soft Southland burr.

I want to write articles for the Southland Times.

I want to make the class I’m teaching stand up and look out the window at the sun reflecting off the upturned hull of the great Takitimu canoe, the Takitimu Mountains.

I want to drive a combine harvester once round a paddock of wheat.

I want to sit in the sunny wee cove where the Ngai Tahu pulled up their canoes at the village of Oui, and watch the falling tide reveal the cockle beds.

I want to cast dry fly on the Otapiri Stream and wet fly on the Oreti River.

I want to watch my wife win a prize for her pikelets at the Central Southland A&P Show.

I want to see the great dome of ever-changing sky over the Southland Plains.

I want to stand in the freezing rain at Turnbull Thomson Park and cheer on our daughter’s junior hockey team.

I want to go round a lambing beat at Dunearn.

I want a Hokonui farmer to show me an old whiskey still.

I want to live in a town where I know my children are safe; where I know all the gossip about my neighbours and they know all the gossip about me.

I want to see them mining coal at Nightcaps and peat at Hokonui.

I want to speak at the Anzac Day Dawn Parade at Winton and the Anzac Day morning service at Centre Bush, and drink the coffee that the RSA have spiked with rum.

I want to hear Alan Galt explain that the RSA coffee tastes funny because of the milk, “The cows have been in the swedes.”

I want to go to the graveyard at East Winton and read the names of my friends on their tombstones.

I want to catch blue cod off the coast of Stewart Island.

 I want to visit the remains of the Maori princess, dead 400 years, and still resting in her little cave on the island in Lake Hauroko.

I want to get my firewood by the trailer-load from the mill, and stack it neatly ready for the winter.

I want to teach at a school where the staff go netting flounders at Oreti beach.

I want to go to a meeting of Federated Farmers at Hokonui, with scones for supper.

I want to see the glow-worms at Te Anau and Deep Cove.

I want to walk through the ringing hard, frosty mornings that blossom into clear, sunny Southland days.

I want to dig in the sands of Te Wae Wae Bay for toheroa.

I want to eat toheroa.

I want to eat mutton-bird.

 I want to eat swedes that have had the frost on them.

I want to eat swedes that have had the frost on them, with haggis.

I want to eat swedes that have had the frost on them, with haggis, and mashed potatoes, and give the Address to the Haggis.

I want to live in Southland.

 - Trevor Agnew (2001)

Winner of a competition by ‘Country Life’ programme , Radio New Zealand.
Broadcast on 3 and 4 August 2001.
Reprinted in Christchurch Press, 18 Aug 2001
Reprinted in Southland Times, 23 Aug 2001
Reprinted in Winton Record, Sep 2001
Used in Newsgram (aerogramme for Kiwis overseas).

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