‘Rabbiting and ferreting were popular pastimes’

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A lot has changed since 1935, the year of his birth, Gore man Andy Christie says.

Some of the changes were not for the better.

“Life was a lot simpler back then.

“Decisions were made locally by people with their feet on the ground, not someone behind a desk pushing a pen,” Mr Christie said.

One of seven children, growing up in Gore was the perfect place for the family.

Hamilton Park was a wilderness back then.

“It was our playground.

“What with the two rivers, Waikaka and Mataura, as well, we would play and swim to our hearts’ content, as there were no swimming baths back then.”

Rabbiting and ferreting were also popular pastimes.

“We had a lot of freedom and lived outdoors. It was a healthy, happy childhood.”

Educated at East Gore School and then Gore High School (then beside the Mataura River), Mr Christie left school at the age of 15 to follow his dream to be a mechanic.

“Cars and tinkering in them is what I loved to do and I got an apprenticeship with Watts & Grieves [where Noel Leeming is now] and stayed with them until 1959.”

During his time with the motor dealership he met and married Catherine Hopper, of Riversdale.

“Pretty much everyone met at the local dances back then, and that is where I met Catherine.

“A lovely woman who gave me four children and 39 years of happy marriage until she died in 1997.

“I did as I was told, and didn’t get into trouble that way.”

After working for Beck Motors (where PGG Wrightson is now) until 1969, and Fred Inders, Inderland Services up until 1973, Mr Christie decided to branch out and buy his own garage.

“At first Catherine wasn’t too happy about me buying the garage, but she became the backbone of the business.

“I would not have survived without her input.”

Mr Christie went on to buy a second garage and eventually his two sons Douglas and Richard joined the family business.

Hobbies included being a part of the Operatic Society for many years and the Gore Pipe Band, as well as being active in Rotary and the Freemasons.

“I played a lot of sport as a young fella, tennis, cricket and rugby.”

In 2000 Mr Christie became a Knight of St John.

To become a Knight of St John took many years of dedicated service and working your way up through the ranks.

Mr Christie joined the Order of St John in 1961 as a community member, then became a member and then a serving brother before being made a knight.

Through their contribution, recipients of honours stand out from their peers.

“This is an honour and not something anybody can achieve, I am very proud to have received the knighthood.”

Looking back over the years Mr Christie said he has had a normal and very satisfactory life.

“Good parents and a good family, that is what it is all about.”