DURING the Sunday just gone a small group of Featherston menfolk banded together to construct a fence at Featherston Plunket rooms while the women made sandwiches, cake, sausage rolls, pies and hot teas.
I was "volunteered" for the morning roster, as I'm sure most of the other men were.
Several things were brought home to me about living in Wairarapa, and especially in our smaller towns. It certainly was apparent how many young families there were in Featherston, although perhaps not surprising, it was a Plunket working bee, so there was that "pool" of resources.
But what was notable was some were families who chose to live in Featherston, but with jobs in Wellington or Hutt, because they had had a moment where it was obvious what advantages Wairarapa offered for their money.
It seems extraordinary to me sometimes that stressed-out homebuyers in the rest of Wellington (and that includes the Kapiti coast) do not leap upon the easy, affordable and attractive offerings that are just over the hill on our side.
A big fuss has always been made of Kapiti's beach lifestyle, sunshine and views, and the Capital Connection service from Waikanae was established to serve that. But the trip is longer, the rush-hour traffic, if you go by car, is beyond belief, and the houses are far more expensive. And there's only one winery, if I recall correctly.
I spoke to a dad in between concreting posts, who said they'd spied a quarter-acre section and house in Featherston that gives them the family lifestyle they want, with a big backyard for their youngster, geographically close to Wellington - at a price that would make a Wellington homebuyer cry into their cappuccino. It's become noticeable Carterton, up the road, is becoming attractive and affordable to buyers from outside the area.
In England, where I lived for a while, no one questions living in Kent or Sussex or Surrey and commuting a vast distance to London. Even Aucklanders do it, just so they can have the lifestyle they want. But incredibly, Wellingtonians seem to think the only way to afford a house on their side of the hill is to live in Wainuiomata (which is a nice place, by the way). I suspect it's not going to be long, with housing prices the way they are, for people to realise the Kiwi dream is on offer in Wairarapa.