Waipukurau man Darryl Russell says he's always been keen on writing, and he has channelled that interest into a self-published book that will be launched next week.
Titled The Elusive Dream, it chronicles his life and that of his parents and six siblings, spanning from the 1940s to the 1960s, starting in the small King Country town of Piopio.
The long-time Takapau meatworker, who is now retired, says he was inspired five to six years ago when he started researching his mother's side of the family, who came from the Chatham Islands.
"Every time stories were told about that side of the family, there were different versions as none of it had been written down."
So, he took it upon himself to get the full story. Over the course of the past four years, he has put together a 190-page book detailing life in an era when work was hard to find, and life was tough.
Despite constantly being on the move chasing jobs, and often living in places without power or a phone, Darryl says he and his siblings were raised to respect their elders and each other.
At the start the story encompasses the experiences of the whole family. As it progresses, the focus narrows on the two younger sons, Darryl and Kevin, who bond, mature and become lifelong mates.
Along the way the reader is transported across the country to shearing sheds, back country shepherding on horseback, flounder fishing, aerial topdressing, and school days in the country.
An underlying thread through the story is a family life that was not always harmonious, with his mother regularly abused by his father. Through challenging times, she kept the family together.
The title of the book refers to his mother's lifelong desire to live in her own house, which never came to be.
Darryl will be launching the book, with copies available for purchase, at an afternoon tea being held at St Mary's Hall, Waipukurau, on August 4 at 3pm.