We moved to Wattle Downs when I was about 4 years old. Our house before that had been robbed so we moved here to be safer, because it's a really nice little suburban area. Wattle Downs is a peninsula, the Pahurehure Inlet is the river and, depending on traffic, we're super, super close to the Takanini on-ramp, close to the airport and to get on the [Southern] motorway.
Wattle Downs used to be really small and has only recently started to grow. Our house, which was one of the first homesteads to be built here, is right next to a big golf course, the Wattle Downs Golf Course. The trees have grown a lot while we've been here so we don't get hit by golf balls anymore. My brother's room used to have its window smashed a few times a year, and the golf course would send someone to fix it.
There was one time we were bouncing on the trampoline and a golf ball came whizzing past my head, but not anymore. We used to go round with a bucket and collect the balls, then sell them back to the golfers for about five or 10 cents each; it wasn't a get rich scheme but we had fun. We used to use the golf course as a playground, and at night time we'd let off fireworks and play spotlight.
When I was younger, we used to go swimming at the reserve round the corner from us - the Saint Annes Foreshore Reserve Playground on Carnoustie Drive, across the water from the Southern Motorway heading to Papakura. People go out with jet skis and boats. We tried fishing there once, but it didn't really work, but we still go for family walks on that reserve.
At the end of our road there's a new walkway, the Wattle Downs Walkway, that's just been put in. It starts at Dalmahoy Place and continues around the shoreline to Frangipani Ave and there are several access points off Carnoustie Drive. It's huge and you can pretty much walk around the whole of Wattle Downs and, I think, go as far as Conifer Grove in Takanini. There's also a dog park with an off-leash area, with tables and park benches. They've put them in really strategic spots so you get the best view.
Because Wattle Downs has grown so much, a new school has just gone up. There only used to be one, Clayton Park, and now we've got a new one. It also has a day-care centre attached. So now we have two schools, a day-care centre, two golf courses, an old folks' home and some huge parks with some great new playgrounds.
Wattle Downs also does amazing Christmas lights. Tolvah Place is the tiniest cul-de-sac you'll ever see, and everyone there does Christmas lights. And there's a house on Glen Ross Drive - we call it Millionaires' Row - and this one house does a huge lighting display with a blow-up carousel that really moves and a snow globe which actually blows snow. And then the house next to them started doing it.
Those houses are creating a ripple effect, and you'll see families out walking around, and the kids are on top of the world. And down our street at Christmas-time we'll have Christmas street parties too.
We also have a little shopping complex, opposite the school. Off Coxhead Rd, there's a little dairy, a fish and chip shop, Chinese food and a hair and beauty salon which looks much busier now that it's been revamped. And there's a bakery, too, a really good one. And further down, at the other end, there's another dairy and more Chinese food.
The dairy owner down that end, to help with crime prevention, has installed cameras right down Carnoustie Drive, so if you ever get robbed and need to know who's been in or out, he can find out. It used to be really safe here but there's been a bit more crime lately. It's completely different to when I was younger, when we knew every kid on the block, and we'd hang out and get into mischief, although it does still feel like Pleasantville.
It'd be easier for me to live in town for work, but I love it here and I'm still here because it's super-family-oriented and it feels like home.
Luanne's favourite things
• The Wattle Downs Walkway. Consists of esplanade reserve with two larger reserves at Kauri Point and adjoining Kaanapali Cres. aucklandtransport.govt.nz
• Wattle Downs Golf Course. Lovely rolling course. Wattle Farm Rd, Wattle Downs. (09) 268 1929
• Clayton Bakery. Shop 4, 99 Tington Ave, Wattle Downs. (09) 267 9087
Luanne Sullivan is stage managing the new New Zealand play Defensibility at Musgrove Studio at the Maidment Theatre from April 9-13.