Jane Aim: OBRA Life Member

Pictured here (from right) are Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, life member Jane Aim and President Colin Blair, at the launch of the swimming rafts earlier this year.  Photo by Renée Sara

Pictured here (from right) are Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, life member Jane Aim and President Colin Blair, at the launch of the swimming rafts earlier this year. Photo by Renée Sara

Jane Aim, current life member of Oriental Bay Residents' Association, was born and brought up in Thorndon. As a child she remembers her mother closing her bedroom curtains each night and saying "those lucky people in Oriental Bay still have the sun." So in a way she thinks she was programmed to live here.

She and Greg started married life in Wadestown. Then lived overseas in Zambia and in UK for a few years. But one school holidays, Jane and her daughter started looking at various properties in the Bay. They moved first of all to a family house in Oriental Terrace. "It was perfect...lots of space...a great place for getting together...there was a courtyard at the back and we could have a dog."

After five years, as the family started leaving home, they moved to an apartment in the Bay. There were not so many apartments on the market in 1995 but finally they found what they wanted. "We had bought through Janice Crowe who was on the committee of the Oriental Bay Residents' Association. She encouraged me to join as a good way to meet people — which it was."

After about a year she went on the committee. "I was always projectorientated." The first project was the wishing well which, at that time, was full of rubbish and had damaged asbestos walls. Jane explored solutions, got quotes and presented options to the committee. "Finally we commissioned Neville Porteous, brilliant Khandallah potter, who designed the tiles with a marine theme." As many grandparents will testify, the wishing well is a perennial success with small children.

Another project, and an ambitious one, was the children's playground at Freyberg Beach. A local had pointed out to the committee that there was not much for the children to do in the Bay during the non-swimming season. Could a spot for a children's playground near the beach be found?

Jane remembered that ever since Colonial days when sand was first deposited on the edge of Oriental Bay, the currents have carried the sand from the main beach towards the city. This had, in effect, made what has now been developed into Freyberg Beach. So after many consultations with the Council a children's playground was initiated — the first in Oriental Bay.

It is suitable for all age groups now; but not at first. "It wasn't until my first grandchild was a toddler that I realised that the steps up to the big slide are actually deep and quite dangerous." So the need for some additional equipment for under-fives was identified. Using the empty space by the wall, a single whirly chair and a toddler-sized slide with a 'shop' and tunnel were installed.

Establishing the Freyberg Beach playground, in those two stages, required serious fund-raising by the Oriental Bay Residents' Association. Donations came from OBRA itself, from family and other trusts and from locals (Jack Ilott gave generously as he had to so many other projects around the city). Peter Hemsley, project manager, WCC, was very helpful. The Council saw to the basic groundwork, safety mats and so on.

She is delighted to see the playground continuously used by children from all over Wellington; of all age groups; in summer and, even more importantly, in the winter.

One OBRA memory she recalls was the Saturday large-rubbish collection at the end of the year.* "It was such fun, especially with Janice Crowe and Jo Morgan. Afterwards we would go to Roger and Judith Newport's home and enjoy Judith's delicious home baking." The association no longer runs a rubbish collection.

Jane Aim feels honoured to have been made a life member of the association several years ago.

Since she is descended from Henry Blundell, who founded the Evening Post in 1865, the 150th year celebration has been exciting. On Sunday 8 February this year — the exact anniversary of the first issue of the Evening Post — the whole clan gathered for lunch, about 80 of them!

Henry Blundell came out to New Zealand with three sons and three daughters. Jane is descended from the eldest of the three sons: John. Her own father and her grandfather both worked at the Post and loved it. "I have quite a collection of old bound copies of the paper."

* The rubbish collection was stopped because people were putting out stuff that was too heavy to lift.

JCD, Bay View newsletter 65, May 2015