Brooke by a farm gate

I was seven years old when my family shifted to the Tararua region. We had only moved up the line from Masterton, but it seemed like a big shift from a young kid’s perspective. Going from being a town kid who walked to school to a country kid, I remember starting school on the Monday and trying to convince Mum to come on the school bus with me. I was so worried I’d have no one to sit by.

We had shifted for Dad to take up a fifty–fifty sharemilking role in Hukanui, so it must have been June. It rained for the first week and having come from the much drier Wairarapa, I remember Dad saying it was “pennies from heaven.” Then it kept raining for the second and third and fourth weeks. By the end he kept saying, “I never thought I’d get sick of the rain.” It was something so noticeable when we first moved. Now, it is very much the norm, and I notice how dry the Wairarapa is when we drive through in summer.

I went to school locally at Mangamaire Country School and Tararua College. Mangamaire was a good-sized country school back then, with lots of community support. There was one local lady, Lorraine, who had what seemed like the majority of the school signed up for winter hockey. Lorraine championed hockey in the region for years and, as a result, there were many opportunities for those who chose to play to progress through representative teams and grow up enjoying the kind of experiences this brings.

After school, I left for the University of Otago, thinking that would be it for me and the Tararua region, apart from visiting home. Then, in the summer of my third year while back home for the holidays, I met Will at a friend’s twenty-first. It’s funny how things work out, but sure enough I ended up back here!

Will and I live here with our three kids on our farm at Hāmua. It’s a family farm and we’re the third generation of Algies to live here. We are fortunate to have both of our parents close by, which has been a blessing for us to enjoy close relationships and mentoring. The kids like doing farm jobs with their grandparents, as well as having sleepovers during the holidays. When raising a young family, the more support the better!

I find living on a farm that feels like home very anchoring and have been lucky enough to have had this at my parents’ farm, and now at my own home. At this time in my life I am occupied with kids, family and farming. Here in the Tararua District I have found my place in the world.

GATHER is Shepherdess's storytelling and portraiture project documenting life in provincial Aotearoa New Zealand. In our latest series, we present the words of ten women who call the Tararua District home. Over the past few months, writer Carly Thomas worked with each woman to help them bring their writing to life, and photographer Abbe Hoare visited their homes to capture their portraits. GATHER was supported by the Tararua District Creative Communities Committee, through funding from Creative New Zealand. If you'd like GATHER to come to your area, get in touch with us at We'd love to hear from you!


This story appeared in the Ngahuru Autumn 2022 Edition of Shepherdess.

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