Author and director of New Zealand Book Month
Having returned home to New Zealand and my west Auckland house recently, this topic has been hovering near the surface of my thoughts of late. Being home has meant being able to unpack all my books (and there are lots of them), shake out the trunk of costumes from dancing days, plant vegetables, strip wallpaper, and paint grandfather clocks on the wall. It's meant eating feijoas and relishing the thrust and jab of their flavour, spitting watermelon pips at anyone who is close enough without being frowned at, and being the one who has to send Twisties, Tim Tams and Marmite overseas in care packages. Home is hot sun, green unfurling fronds, black sand in the hairline, and sharp stinging mosquito bites.
But these are mostly nostalgic memories of what home means: these are memories of a never-ending Kiwi summer. Home now means never-ending rain and the land reaching slick muddy hands up to pull you down: squelching you into its boggy unhappy mire.
Home really, is a story. The fiction we pen to boost our spirits when it's raining, or to celebrate the glory of nature, or the sun, or the wide blue ocean. Home is in the emails we write to our poor friends still stuck in a European or North American winter; or in living on the beach, looking at a never-ending blue sky while breakers crash and people smother their burnt sausages in tomato sauce. Home, surely, is where we start from and what we compare everything else to. Home is in our words, our memories. Home is in our stories.
Pilot and magazine stylist
As an international pilot for Air New Zealand I travel a lot for both work and fun. While it is one of my favourite pastimes, I am not fond of the feeling I sometimes get that I have been living out of my suitcase. Home to me is the comfort of my own bed, the taste of home-cooked meals, and most importantly the precious time I enjoy with my family. I always call home the moment I step off the plane, I can't seem to wait the half hour it takes me to get there. As a stylist for Your Home & Garden along with other magazines, and designer for the upcoming show Trading Houses, my personal interior mantra is very much that anyone can have cool and interesting style on any budget. You don't need piles of cash, you just need to think outside the square. I am obsessed with collecting things, including vintage, retro and mid-century furniture and collectables, which almost overflow out of my home. My name is LeeAnn and yes I am addicted to Trade Me! Along with a couple of walls of interesting wallpaper this transforms our mainly white interior to a very colourful space.
With a 16-month-old, a second baby on the way, and naughty Bosco the beagle, our home is certainly not about being too precious, it's truly lived-in. More often than not it's somewhere you will find a huge pile of unopened mail, stacks of read and re-read magazines and toys scattered from one end of the house to the other, but my heart is always there.
Award-winning author and host of The Book Show
We moved house a bit when I was young, so other people's homes felt more like a family home than my own. Part of me yearns for the memories and traditions ingrained in the walls and floors. I suppose I'm trying to give that to my children now, but at the same time, wherever I am sleeping is home.
Our home is evolving all the time as our children get older. At least, some things evolve. Others - the brush strokes of test colours on the kitchen wall - do not. As well as the five of us, the things that feel alive to me are the stereo, the wood-burning stove and the piano. Each has its own pulse; each can become the heart of the house.
Things mean home to me. Books, cushions, paint-chipped bowls, the children's toys, furniture, the wedding present candlesticks, the stuff we've accumulated adds up to our home, just as much as the bedraggled garden and the snails in the letterbox and the view of the plum tree from my desk. When we moved back to Auckland from London everything we owned came in a container and I still get a thrill seeing those great metal rectangles swinging on the end of a crane on the docks, imagining our lives, all our treasures and memories, dangling there in space. When it was being shipped I quite liked the idea of everything sliding across the deck in a storm, sinking to the bottom of the ocean.
I suppose it's bourgeois guilt that makes me fantasise about losing everything. Theft, a flood, a fire, unnameable circumstances that would mean we'd have to move... Would we be the same people, the same family, without our home, our things, the rough lines that mark the children's growing heights in different coloured Biro on the living room wall? We should be. But we wouldn't be really, not quite.
Home has always been and will always be about family for me. Growing up on the North Shore of Auckland and part of a fairly large family unit, the home always functioned as not only a place of rest, but also a place to completely let it all hang out and just be you.
Our families have watched us grow, develop and make many mistakes along the way, but when all is said and done we gather around the dining table, debate, laugh and sometimes even argue about the things we do.
Communication, appreciation, respect and love are all vital for a house to function as a home.
As an interior designer and one who loves to have nice things around, I do feel it's important to have a sense of harmony, I usually do this with muted contemporary colour schemes, great furniture, lighting and artwork that I really adore. It's great when you can wake up every day and the first thing you see is something that does not offend the senses.
The home should be a place where you can come in, close the door behind you, and momentarily forget the rest of the world exists. It should envelop you, give you comfort and above all else create a sense of rest in which to recharge yourself for the daily challenges we all face - and yes a home can do all these things!
After living away for so many years, I really have to say that it's not until you come home that you can really appreciate why we New Zealanders are so lucky
Is a home just a box with windows? Or is it the country we live in? For me I am happy to say it's where my heart is.