My mother, Marion was one of thirteen children born and brought up in the East End of London. She worked in a munitions factory and the Women's Land Army during the First World War. She was twenty when she trained as a nurse at a lunatic asylum before joining Major Faithfull at Hazeleigh Lodge, a so called 'free' school.
Marion met my father, Morris Horovitch, when they were both working at
Hazeleigh Lodge run by Major Faithfull. They later worked together at Red Hill School in Kent, prior to my birth in 1940.
Major Faithfull was described by his granddaughter, singer Marianne Faithfull, "as the most dirty old man you could imagine".
Faithfull was a contemporary of A.S.Neill (Summerhill) and Otto Shaw.
I had a happy childhood being brought up with Red
Hill boys. I saw no reason to doubt that my father had been killed during the war.
A print of Eruera Patuone, Rangatira of the Ngapuhi iwi was more terrifying to me than any air raid.
I never did find out why Mum hung the print on the wall of the little dorm I shared with a Red Hill boy. She clearly knew a little about the Rangatira and the distant country he came from.
Photo Auckland City Art Gallery gift of Mr H E
Otto Shaw was the Principal at Red Hill School, an experimental school which took highly intelligent 'maladjusted' children who could not be placed elsewhere. He appointed Marion as Matron when he set the school up in the 1930s. She remained there for the rest of her life.
He was a charismatic man with a manipulative side to him. He influenced many lives including mine, my mother's and, possibly, my father's.
I don't remember how the end of the War was celebrated but I do remember Shaw standing, unsuccessfully, as the Labour candidate for Maidstone in 1945. It is difficult to see how he could have combined being an MP with running a school like Red Hill which relied so much upon his leadership.
In 1965, the immigration officer at the New Zealand High Commision described National Park as the 'arsehole' of the country. I did not entirely agree with that description but I did wonder why the New Zealand Government was so willing to fly us out and provide housing in such a place.
I was soon to find out why.
Te Papa on opening day in 1998.
My early life at Red Hill was perhaps a good grounding for the Te Papa project which had tensions of its own. It was here I found what Maori mean by 'whanau' and resolved to start the search for my father.