By Robyn Welsh

At either end of this 4ha block of land close to Mangawhai village, there are two homes that tell the story of one extended family's move to New Zealand, all the way from Yorkshire in northern England.

The brick and tile home on 0.39ha was the home of Ike Harrop and his wife, Joan, who jumped at the chance to help their son, Andrew, his wife Nicky and their three children relocate here in 2000.

The second is the weatherboard home that Andrew, an award-winning UK horticulturalist, built on the larger 3.61ha block of land, on which he established his plant nursery and landscaping business.


It all began when Ike and Joan visited New Zealand with extended family a year or so earlier.

Andrew and his wife had never been to New Zealand, but when Ike's rave reviews came down the telephone line and his holiday photographs arrived in his mail box, there was only one decision to be made.

By the time Ike and Joan had arrived home, Andrew and Nicky had decided to move to New Zealand. And as soon as they announced their plans, Ike and Joan decided that they should go with them to settle them into New Zealand.

For Ike's sister, Pat Stefek, who emigrated from Yorkshire with her husband, Les, in 1974, it was a dream come true. "I thought 'This is wonderful. I'm going to have family around me'."

On their arrival in New Zealand, Andrew found work in a garden centre in nearby Mangawhai.

Shortly afterwards he and Ike found this land, the size of which gave them lifestyle and business options and a healthy balance between family connection and independence.

Ike subdivided the land at the outset to give him and his wife lifestyle options as they grew older. Andrew then set about building his home on Lot 2, the larger block that has never been given a rural address number.

There among his landscaped shelter belts and nursery beds is their weatherboard home with its surrounding garden that epitomised Andrew's newfound appreciation for sub-tropical and native plants.

Past the grazing paddock at the opposite end of the block is Ike and Joan's brick and tile home in grounds that are similarly landscaped.

Ike had the house orientated on the diagonal to capture the all-day sun, says Pat. "People used to say the house was the wrong way round because you'd drive in then walk down the right hand side to the front door, but this way the sun came into the house at every time of the day."

Joan's touch has been in the colourful, painted feature walls through the home - the red tones in the living areas, the teal green in the kitchen and the cobalt blue and turquoise in two of the bedrooms.

The almond tones in the kitchen cabinetry and in the bathroom tiles and cabinetry were also Joan's choices.

"She was not into white," says Pat.

Three generations of this family shared a vibrant social, work and family life here in the years before Joan died in 2005.

Andrew's eldest daughter moved back to England and, four years ago, Andrew and his wife sold their house to Ike so they could relocate to Perth.

Ike stayed in his home that was close enough to Pat's home in Unsworth Heights that they could take turnabout visiting each other every three weeks.

For Pat Stefek, this home has been about family, and Ike's death in March has sadly signalled the end of her family's British/New Zealand connection with rural Mangawhai.

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