Rocking and rolling is a lifestyle for a nomadic New Plymouth
Musician Andre Manella (35), wife Renee (32) and their
children, Amelie (5) and Finn (3), have been on the road
playing music around New Zealand since Christmas.
''I really wanted to do a national tour, but I didn't want to
leave the family behind, so we combined the two,'' Mr Manella
''We were either all going, or I wouldn't do it. Besides,
they help me carry all the gear.''
Mr Manella bought the 11m former Auckland school bus for
$6000 and then spent two years and another $20,000 doing it
It is now a rolling music hall, complete with a roof-mounted
stage and instrument cupboard.
''We don't have a house anymore. This is our mortgage-free
home,'' he said.
As well as playing gigs at venues, he has a ''Book the
BusKing'' online auction, which offers private concerts at
homes and businesses. His Dunedin concert auction closes
online at 2pm on Saturday and he will then drive to the
winning bidder's address and perform from the top of his lime
Mr Manella emigrated to New Zealand from Lucerne,
Switzerland, five years ago and worked as a sound engineer at
a New Plymouth radio station. Mrs Manella is originally from
''The best bit is that you're out seeing New Zealand every
day. The worst bit is dealing with mechanical problems,
because I'm not a mechanic,'' he said.
The children loved the adventure and now refered to
conventional homes as ''stuck houses''.
''If we had a stuck house, how would we travel?'' Finn asked.
''It was probably scarier thinking about it than doing it,''
Mrs Manella said.
''There's nothing harder about it than normal, everyday life.
You can't pop over to a girlfriend's place for coffee, but
we've probably got more friends than ever now.
''The children are very sociable when they come across other
children. It's like speed-dating for kids: `Hi, who are you?
We haven't got much time','' she laughed.
''The big thing for me is that the kids saw him build the bus
for two years and are now seeing the reward you get at the
end of hard work.
''We were leaving somewhere recently and Amelie said: `Ah,
it's good to be on the road again'.''
Mr Manella will play at Mou Very tonight, his Dunedin auction
concert on Saturday and at The Church on Monday, before