What fathers mean to us

Jake and John Law

Members of the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board share their thoughts on fathers, grandfathers, and being a father.

“This Father’s Day I’d like to reflect on the father figures and guardians who raised me as I grew up in the Hibiscus Coast.

I was born in Army Bay and raised by my parents Sue and Conrad. By the time I was five, my mother was the sole caregiver of my younger brother and I, supported by my grandparents. I was fortunate to spend a lot of time growing up with my grandfather, John Law, who was the Mayor of Rodney District Council from 2001 to 2007.

Many will recall that granddad had a light blue Cadillac and he’d often take me with him as he went to different community meetings. 

I recall a ratepayers’ meeting that featured particularly incensed residents. Grandad impressed me with his ability to forge positive relationships with those he represented, even in tense environments like that. This sparked an interest in local representation in me from a young age.

I’d like to mention the many local mothers who are single parenting their children, as my mum did. Being a single parent is incredibly challenging and often sole caregivers are facing numerous challenges to make ends meet and be a loving, present parent. If you have a family member, neighbour, or friend who is single parenting, please offer support to them this Father’s Day.”

Leanne Willis with her hero (and father), Stuart Dickey

“When I think of Dad, I think of summers at Awhitu, fishing, scalloping, water skiing with bonfires on the beach, cooking marshmallows. When I think of dad, I think of a sportsman – who played 70 rugby games for Counties over seven years, and was also an All Black trialist in 1970. He played and coached rugby for over five decades hanging up his boots at 65. Dad also broke the Guinness World Record for playing tennis doubles in 1974 – he still plays tennis weekly.

When I think of Dad, I think of tomato sauce on poached eggs, barbecued scallops in cheese sauce and preparing a hāngi at 5am, with friends and family coming from far and wide to enjoy lunch on New Year’s Day.

When I think of Dad, I think of the gigs he attended as our “roadie” and singing songs like After the Loving and occasionally lip syncing to John Rowles’ Cheryl Moana Marie. He was so convincing with his lip syncing at my brother’s wedding, that friends excitedly told him how much better his voice was than John Rowles!

When I think of dad I think of a jokester, a strong but gentle man with a twinkle in his eye – a loving loyal family man who recently celebrated his 80th birthday – subsequently my parents celebrated 59 years married.

Some people don’t believe in heroes, but they haven’t met my Dad.”

Gary Brown – a wide experience of fatherhood

“Having five children – four sons and a daughter – as well as a newly discovered son, my experience of fatherhood is wide and varied. I have found that children are extremely adaptable to your circumstances, whether it be your job, community involvement, sporting interests or just general way of life. 

Being a dad who has been an entertainer for over 30 years, it was important to find a balance with everyday life activities and, as the kids grew older, try not to embarrass them in public by your actions, or bad Dad jokes – however that’s not always achievable! 

As a father, I try to instil resilience and reliability, to be yourself, to know right from wrong and treat others as you wish to be treated. This may be “old school teachings”, but perhaps fatherhood should be about the basics because, one day, it may come in handy for your kids.

I believe that a father’s role is about passing on your story, ensuring that family traditions are kept and giving children a sense of belonging – hopefully, making them proud to know you. 

My kids have a supportive mother, Grandparents and Godparents, which has made my role much easier. 

Sure, you’re going to have dramas, and sometimes wonder ‘why did I have kids?’ but I wouldn’t change it for the world.