Mum and me: What I think about my mum

No matter how old we are, we all have, or have had, a mum. But how we view our mother is shaped by our own experiences, which build with the years. To mark Mother’s Day, Bruce Munro asked nine people, spanning eight decades, to tell him ... ‘‘What I think about my mum now that I’m ...’’

Zac Baillie, reflects on life with his mum, poet and writer Emma Neale. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Zac Baillie, reflects on life with his mum, poet and writer Emma Neale. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
George St Normal School pupil ZAC BAILLIE (8) talks about his mum, award-winning poet, writer and Landfall editor, EMMA NEALE.

My mum is Emma Neale. She's a writer; quite a good writer.

When I think about my mum, I think about the help she gives every time I need it. If I get hurt or there's a problem I'm stuck with, my mum comes and helps me with it.

She's generous. When I'm hurt, some parents would say, ``Band-Aids don't grow on trees'', but she gives me all the help I need. I enjoy drawing with my mum. Sometimes, we listen to music and doodle together. We listen to jazz. I play piano, mostly classical, but I'd like to play jazz some day.

 

White Fern and Southern Steel sportswoman Kate Heffernan and her mum, former Silver Fern Annette...
White Fern and Southern Steel sportswoman Kate Heffernan and her mum, former Silver Fern Annette Heffernan.PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Provincial netball and national cricket representative KATE HEFFERNAN (18) talks about her mum, former Silver Fern ANNETTE HEFFERNAN.

As I've gotten older, I've begun to understand just how much mum has done and continues to do for the three of us kids. She travels around the country, following us to sports events and finds any excuse to make the trip up to Dunedin or Christchurch to see her kids, which we really do appreciate. She does anything to be around us as much as possible, which I think is really special. She is the manager of the South National Netball League team that my sister Georgia and I are a part of, which is really cool as we get to see each other more because of it.

I love going home to the farm to see her and Dad. She loves to cook, so I always look forward to the food when I'm home. She's always been a massive role model of mine. Not many kids get to say their mum played for the Silvers Ferns and, being a young netballer myself, it definitely makes me look up to her even more. She's played a massive role in my netball, and loves being a part of our sports, whether it's netball, cricket or rugby.

I'm ridiculously thankful for everything she does for me every day, and I would not be doing anything near what I am now if it wasn't for her and my dad's continuous love and support. They support me in everything I do and she is always the first person I call when I need to talk or if I need any kind of help. She is one of the most selfless people I know. My sister Georgia, my brother Matt and I love and appreciate her more than ever.

 

Artist Tyler Kennedy Stent stands between the eyes of Ed Sheeran, a controversial mural he was...
Artist Tyler Kennedy Stent stands between the eyes of Ed Sheeran, a controversial mural he was painting on a wall in Bath St, Dunedin, in March. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O’CONNOR
Artist TYLER KENNEDY STENT (21) talks about his mum, award-winning photographer GAIL STENT.

I am dependent on artistic influences to make a living, and one of the most dominant of those influences is the work of my mother.

Tyler Kennedy Stent’s mum, award-winning photographer Gail Stent. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Tyler Kennedy Stent’s mum, award-winning photographer Gail Stent. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Her cameras and their fanatic servant [herself]: would it be an understatement to say that they shadowed my sister and I throughout every conscious hour of our lives? It meant that 14-year-old me was surrounded by an infinite amount of photographs to scribble out with my little chalk pastels and watercolour set.

There were thousands, millions of pictures of my sister: photographs turned to paintings. She would wrap her up in dresses and make her dance underwater for ethereal underwater photography. These images I still paint today.

If I had a specific image in mind that I wanted to paint, it was mum who was dragged out to take the reference photo, not me. I still don't quite know how to work a camera.

My mother's name is Gail Stent, LPSNZ. The jumble of letters after her name means that she is an acclaimed, award-winning photographer. In retrospect, my career as a painter was made because I grabbed on to the coat tails of her career and followed her up.

 

Amber Bridgman (centre), her mum Elizabeth McLean (second from right) and Amber’s children (from...
Amber Bridgman (centre), her mum Elizabeth McLean (second from right) and Amber’s children (from left) Te Kahurangi (14), Aniwa (3) and Nukuroa (14).PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Kai Tahu fashion designer AMBER BRIDGMAN (39) talks about her mum, ELIZABETH MCLEAN.

My mum is gold. She is my number one support person. Everyone who meets her says how beautiful she is and what a kind spirit she has. She has done so many things over the years that are all about other people.

She is also incredibly strong. I watched her lose my dad nearly three years ago. She went through that incredibly hard process, but refused to let anything faze her. No-one else could do it for her, so she just kept pushing through. She has rebuilt a beautiful life for herself, which is just inspirational.

She helps me with my children all the time and will liaise with me constantly, whether it's house renovations or ideas for fashion design ...

She is my outworker - she does the sewing for me - for my fashion label, Kahuwai. She travelled to Melbourne Fashion Week with me and was behind the scenes with me every day at the Dunedin iD Fashion Week.

She is very influential on my life, in a good way.

Mum is from a line of strong Kai Tahu women. She was raised down south and used to spend holidays on Stewart Island.

She was from a large family and had a tough upbringing. She would always say ``it doesn't matter what your upbringing was, you never let that hold you back from where you should be going''.

She is always incredibly positive. Her motto is ``everyday is an adventure''.

 

Greg Piner says his mum valued respect and generosity. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Greg Piner says his mum valued respect and generosity. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
GREG PINER (42), executive chef of the Vault 21 and Prohibition Smokehouse group, talks about his mum, NORMA PINER.

Easy-going woman with a heart of gold, Norma Piner, in 2010. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Easy-going woman with a heart of gold, Norma Piner, in 2010. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
My mum inspired me to be where I am today.

She was an older lady - she was in her 70s when she passed away in 2011 - and people of her generation had to work really super hard to get where they were. Times were really tough.

She was quite famous on the West Coast because she was a fishing woman. When my dad passed away, everyone said she couldn't run the business on her own, but she absolutely ruled it.

She instilled in me that the most important people are your staff. If you look after your staff, you'll have a healthier working environment and get a better result.

She valued respect and generosity. She supported a number of charities, which is something I've continued.

She was a real easy-going woman with a heart of gold.

 

Dame Alison Holst, in this photograph taken in 2010, wrote cookbooks and hosted television shows...
Dame Alison Holst, in this photograph taken in 2010, wrote cookbooks and hosted television shows that taught generations of New Zealanders to cook. PHOTO: ODT FILE
SIMON HOLST (51), author and food safety adviser, talks about his mum, former celebrity chef and cookbook author DAME ALISON HOLST.

Simon Holst appreciates the way his Mum, Alison Holst, was there for her children while also...
Simon Holst appreciates the way his Mum, Alison Holst, was there for her children while also building a successful career.
I am sure, like most children, when I was younger I took my mum for granted. She was always there and always willing to help. She did a great deal to keep us entertained.

Much later on, it occurred to me that all the while she had been doing that, she had also been running a parallel career, creating a successful business.

Her passion for food rubbed off on me. I built my own career in food. Then, I was lucky to work with her and particularly to have her as a mentor and example of professionalism, which has stood me in good stead.

We were lucky. We were able to maintain a great relationship personally and professionally, which has been really nice.

I was up with her last weekend. It's different now. She has dementia. This is not the future she or anyone else saw for her.

She was a kind, good-hearted woman who wanted to help. She loved cooking. She saw it as helping people feed their families by showing them ways to cook and different things to cook.

 

Dame Sukhi Turner (left) stands with her daughter Natasha Turner, her granddaughter Maia Turner...
Dame Sukhi Turner (left) stands with her daughter Natasha Turner, her granddaughter Maia Turner-Gooch and her mother Premjit Gill, in this photograph taken in December, 2006. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
DAME SUKHI TURNER (66), the first woman mayor of Dunedin and Kiwi-Indian Hall of Fame inductee, talks about her mum, PREMJIT GILL.

Growing up, my mum was a given. I say that because her mother died in childbirth when my mother was 11 or 12. That impacted her, and underlines the fact that mothers are so essential in life.

I consider myself very lucky to have had a mother who has survived through into my own middle age.

She is a very wise, loving mother. But that didn't mean that she didn't tell you where you were going wrong. She was very affirming, with not too much criticism. She was certainly very ready to give compliments when you did well. I know she was very proud of me when I got a scholarship to go to the United States to study. She never boasted about her children in front of us in a way that would make us cringe. But I did hear her speaking delightedly about the fact that I got that scholarship.

Whenever I ask her how she is, she says ``I'm still on my feet''. She's gutsy. She hates us to worry about her.

She still gives me advice. In fact, we went to visit my parents recently for my dad's 95th birthday, and she told me two things.

She said, she doesn't like the fact that I don't have breakfast on time. In India, food is very important. She felt that, instead of working on an empty stomach, I should be having my breakfast first.

And she also told me, always be loving to your husband.

She is definitely still being a mum. And I think I've taken that on board with our kids as well. In New Zealand you don't have to take too much advice from your parents - but my kids have to. I told my kids they could stay at home for as long as they wanted and come back if they needed to. Those were things I valued as a kid and have carried on.

I've never quite understood about daughters criticising their mothers. It's not something I've done. Respect has always been there.

 

Eion Edgar (left) with his mother Caroline and sister Noela, in 1949. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Eion Edgar (left) with his mother Caroline and sister Noela, in 1949. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
SIR EION EDGAR (73), businessman and philanthropist, talks about his mum CAROLINE (DOLLY) EDGAR.

Sir Eion Edgar
Sir Eion Edgar
While I am now 73, and lost my mum over 30 years ago, I will never forget her.

My sister Noela and myself were extremely lucky to have wonderful parents who gave us every opportunity to succeed.

Mum was always ready to help and encourage us and was a regular attendee at all school and sports events.

In later life, she was a wonderful ``Nan Nan'' to our children and was a very popular babysitter whenever we asked. She particularly loved coming to Queenstown when Jan and I came up for skiing or summer holidays.

In summary, a wonderful mother and grandmother who is fondly remembered by all of our family.

 

Dame Elizabeth Hanan
Dame Elizabeth Hanan
DAME ELIZABETH HANAN (80), former Dunedin City councillor and Companion of the Royal Society of New Zealand, talks about her mum, ENID WALSH.

My mum was an inspirational person who was very spiritual in her beliefs. She lived up to her Wallace family motto ``For liberty''.

After marriage in Melbourne and emigration to Dunedin, life was difficult post-war and with her family of four children there were challenges.

I was the eldest and admired her energy and abilities in everything she did. She always encouraged the family in endeavours as well as in education through hard work.

Her father was killed in the Somme, in 1917, when she was a child in Perth. She was brought up by a solo mother who instilled in her the principles of a good education, encouraging her to do a music degree in piano and violin, in Melbourne. She enjoyed playing in musical groups.

Enid Walsh in Sydney in 1965. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Enid Walsh in Sydney in 1965. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
This love of music was also passed on to the family who were encouraged to learn an instrument and attend concerts.

My mother also instilled in us self-sufficiency. We lived sustainably, with food production in vegetables, fruits, poultry, sewing our own clothes, making sleeping bags from the poultry and duck feathers, etc.

She supported many organisations, for example the Federation of Graduate Women and YWCA, and encouraged the family to give service to the community.

These principles have shaped my life and I value my mum for her example .


 

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