Spencer | Ponsonby

I lived for two years in Bhutan… We were volunteers with VSA New Zealand Aid, and when I retired and my wife could organise her life, we put our names up and they said, yes we’ve got a job that would suit you, you’re off to Thimpu in Bhutan.

I’m a civil engineer, so they were trying to speed up housing construction; same homelessness, same sort of thing as what’s going on here now. You could see that accommodation was getting better. The people were being all attracted to the niceties of modern life. They wanted a television. They wanted electricity. They didn’t want to just be living up in their little villages producing yak cheese, and then sending the kids down on Saturday morning to sell it in the market.

So if they could get into the town, and they could get these facilities, that would be great, but they had to have accommodation, and this was being done with Indian style three-story blocks, apartment blocks, ah but there was a big expansion of Government so a lot of these people were involved in some aspect of local or central Government. It’s excellent. Well worthwhile. New Zealand aid should be well supported, and at the moment, of course they’re all concentrated on the Pacific, and so Samoa, lots of people up in the Solomon’s at the moment, but never more than 100-110.

I think it’s a great idea to do it when you retire, at the end of your own life. Earlier on you’re all too involved with, with everything that’s going on.

Well, it’s a good age in the sense that if you’re still healthy of course, that you can participate in whatever is going on but generally, with the jobs that you are sent off to do, it can be seen that you are going to be able to make a contribution, and you can make a bigger contribution when you’re 65 or 70, than if you’re 19 or 20. You’re just participating with the people that are there. You’re not earning a big amount of money.

I was born in Wanganui, went to school in New Plymouth, went to university in Christchurch, and so in those days, well that was the engineering school in Christchurch and, and so we weren’t anchored into one particular ah, city or town, but I guess we were provincial children, kids.

Well, you should have been able, you should have heard of that. There is a national male choir, and again most of the guys are retired. It originally started in, in Christchurch, and there’s, there’s about 50 guys. You audition, to get in, and you sing, you sing lots of New Zealand songs, but they’re pretty busy. They’re all well supported all around, Central North Island and, and the South Island. It’s all pretty active in those areas. Not, not too active in Auckland. There’s too many existing choirs in Auckland to compete.”

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