By Robyn Welsh

5 Rawene Ave, Westmere, Auckland. Photo / Fiona Goodall / Getty Images
5 Rawene Ave, Westmere, Auckland. Photo / Fiona Goodall / Getty Images

Wooden pelmets beneath the pink and diamond fanlight windows in Teresa Brown's lounge bay window are among the original features of this 1920s bungalow home that Teresa admits she hasn't noticed much.

Life here for the past eight years, in the home her Nana bought in 1969, has been less about this home's architectural form and more about the memories of when her mother regularly brought her and her sister across town from their Mangere home to visit.

"I remember those, but I never knew what they were called," Teresa says, pointing to the lounge pelmets. "There used to be big curtains here and me and my sister would pull them back and make our grand entrance and do our little singing and dancing performances. I'd have been, say, six or even maybe 10 back then."

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These days, it is Teresa, a trade union organiser, and her Melbourne-based niece Mere Pounamu Brown Wi-Rutene who live here.

"I know someone who was born here, too," says Teresa. "Chamo, the 14-year-old dog."

Chamo was born in the back yard here, when Teresa's father Terry Brown owned this property.

Of her bond with her Nana who died 20 years ago, Teresa says: "I was named Rona after my Nana, but I've always called myself Teresa. She [Rona] bought the house in 1969, the year of my birth, which I hadn't known about until I was looking through the [ownership] papers."

Teresa has kept this home in its near-original condition, feeling no great desire to do anything more than enjoy its well-proportioned rooms and its location near local shops and cafes. With its interconnected kitchen, dining and lounge, it has been perfect for her generation of family, friends and visitors. "We've had hundreds of guests here, for dinners, parties, just hanging out," she says.

Mere Pounamu, a keen cook, says: "It has been perfect for entertaining. It's wonderful being able to cook up a storm and see the people walking through."

5 Rawene Ave, Westmere, Auckland. Photo / Fiona Goodall / Getty Images
5 Rawene Ave, Westmere, Auckland. Photo / Fiona Goodall / Getty Images

Original bungalow features include the native timber floors, beam-and-panel ceilings, leadlight and coloured glass windows and the deep skirting boards beneath the colourful, painted walls.

Both double bedrooms open off the front lobby. The north-facing front bedroom has a corner bay window with the same pink and white upper fanlight windows as in the adjacent sunroom and front lounge. "The whole house is a suntrap. It is bathed in natural light," says Teresa.

The second, rear bedroom looks out to the back lawn, which brings to mind another heart-warming story.

5 Rawene Ave, Westmere, Auckland. Photo / Fiona Goodall / Getty Images
5 Rawene Ave, Westmere, Auckland. Photo / Fiona Goodall / Getty Images

When Teresa's neighbour over the back fence called out to her that she needed to stop mowing the lawn, she assumed it was because of the noise of her mower. No, she just needed to stop so she could call over and have a beer.

This weatherboard home is an original in a street with few original, untouched homes remaining. Its two contemporary neighbouring homes have a touch of weatherboard about their exteriors, but there's a deeper connection here, too.

Those owners came across to introduce themselves to Teresa when they moved into the street. "It is a fabulous area, there are people around who still remember my Nana."

5 Rawene Ave, Westmere, Auckland. Photo / Fiona Goodall / Getty Images
5 Rawene Ave, Westmere, Auckland. Photo / Fiona Goodall / Getty Images

Teresa's pride is in her Nana's "strategic decision" to relocate to this water's edge suburb from nearby West End Rd and the opportunities it has brought her. "Now it's time for another family to realise its potential," she says.

"Sure, there's a tinge of sadness, but I see it as an exciting era carrying on my Nana's legacy of financial independence and her decision to move here."

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