Ex-kids' TV presenter quits Chch: 'The red zone beat us'

By Shawn McAvinue

Former television personality Olly Ohlson keeps dry outside his new Otago Peninsula home yesterday. Photo / Gerard O'Brien ODT
Former television personality Olly Ohlson keeps dry outside his new Otago Peninsula home yesterday. Photo / Gerard O'Brien ODT

Former children's television presenter Olly Ohlson lost his cool over the Government's handling of his red-zoned house in Christchurch and moved to Dunedin.

Mr Ohlson, 69, said he and his wife moved from their Brooklands home to a cottage in Otakou, on the Otago Peninsula, at the beginning of the year.

''The red zone beat us.''

The couple lost $63,000 in legal costs fighting an insurance company. In hindsight, they should have targeted the Government to pay people the value of their houses, he said.

Mr Ohlson was a longtime presenter on daily children's show After School and his catchphrase was ''keep cool 'til after school'' with accompanying sign language.

After the earthquake, he worked for the Government as a trauma counsellor and helped people under pressure to cope.

His fight, on behalf of the Brooklands community, had taken its own toll and he never realised the stress he was under until he moved to the Otago Peninsula and relaxed.

''I went 'holy mackerel', I was carrying a bit more than what I thought. It's so relaxing down here and the people are so fabulous.''

Neighbours had invited him for lunch, dropped off cockles, jam and skinned rabbits as welcome presents.

Dunedin ''appealed'' because the couple have a granddaughter in the city and peninsula property prices suited their budget.

''We didn't have much money left to buy anything elaborate so the budget was a major influence.''

The early 1900s two-storey Otakou cottage had solid rimu ''bones'' and a ''colourful history'' and builders would begin renovating it next month.

He loved life on the peninsula and watching cruise ships entering the harbour from his new home.

He was starting a behavioural modification programme called Mauri Hauora that used Maori symbols to ''uplift and motivate'' people.

He had successfully used the programme on violent prison inmates.

''The symbols are a soft way of selling personal responsibility and the idea of cause and effect.''

He is holding a free presentation on the programme at the Portobello Hall on Thursday at 7pm.

''It's for everyone - not just for Maori.''

- Otago Daily Times

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