Teresa: Jo is my famous sister. She visits me and brings me hot chocolate. I love hot chocolate!
Jo: Teresa tells me I am famous because sometimes I am in the paper. It’s quite funny. She knows that my boss is Jacinda Ardern and that I have to go to Wellington a lot.
Teresa: Jacinda made me a video. I couldn’t see Jo during lockdown – I didn’t like it.
Jo: The video was special – just for Teresa. Jacinda said she missed her sister too, and that was hard but that it was good to stay safe.
Teresa: It was cool. I want to meet her one day.
Jo: I hope you will, too. Teresa and I grew up in the North Island. We lived in a few different towns, shifting around a bit because Dad was a builder. As little girls sometimes it was difficult – people could be cruel – but these days it’s so much better because people like Teresa are in our community all the time and no one looks twice. When Teresa and I were young we went to different schools, but Teresa was integrated into my high school when I was in my last year. She would hang out with all my friends, and they all looked after her. They all adored her.
Teresa: Melanie, I remember Melanie. I loved her!
Jo: When Teresa was little she had a habit of just wandering off and one day Mum and Dad had some friends around who had their caravan attached to their car. Teresa decided to go and have a look in it. When the friends left they had a little passenger. We couldn’t find her anywhere and then, when Mum and Dad realised, they chased the caravan down and caught up with them at a petrol station.
Teresa: Funny, eh? I was naughty.
Jo: You still are a bit! I live in Timaru and I visit Teresa as often as I can, but with the job I am in now I don’t see her as much as I would like to. It’s not enough is it, Teresa?
Teresa: No! She’s boring – always working! When she visits we go to Robert Harris for hot chocolate and cake. And we go to the Warehouse to buy stickers and music. I love music. Danny O’Donnell, Cliff Richard and ABBA. I dance to it.
Jo: She also loves to sing. Loudly and a lot!
Teresa: I wanted to sing on stage. It was my goal.
Jo: She got to sing at the end-of-year Christmas party, and she owned the stage with her guitar. She ran around and was, without a doubt, the star.
Teresa: I was the star, eh?
Jo: You are very special. Teresa was living in Christchurch but then our mum became unwell, so now I am Teresa’s legal guardian. IDEA Services here in Ashburton are amazing. She has more of a social life than I do! She lives in a two-bedroom flat and there are other flats around her. It’s a little community and people come in and support her. She doesn’t want for anything and has some pretty amazing people around her.
Teresa: I live in this flat because I am an independent woman. I do the jobs, the rubbish and the dishwasher. I am lucky. Rowan comes and helps me. She makes me laugh.
Jo: Teresa has lived here for about eight months. Before that she was in a house with about five people. Teresa has been quite independent for some time so we thought she could try flatting.
Teresa: Neil is my flatmate. He is a good flatmate and I have my own room. I listen to my music, my favourite singers. I go walking and I go to Day Base to do knitting and art. I have a volunteer – her name is Kim and she picks me up on Fridays and takes me out to lunch or to her house to do baking. There’s lots of people and I know all their names. And I know who is bossy!
Jo: You are the bossy one. Teresa is so cheeky sometimes! She has a job too, which she is very proud of. She has worked at a preschool called Tiddlywinks for a couple of years.
Teresa: I fold the washing on Wednesdays and Fridays, when Megan is there. I say hello to all the kids. I love it!
Jo: Megan spoils her and they spend a lot of time gossiping. The kids make her things and she told me all about being in the staff photo the other day. During lockdown they all sent Teresa videos, which was neat. She got very lonely during lockdown.
Teresa: I hated it!
Jo: Teresa stays at our place sometimes too, and Queen Teresa expects something in the mornings now, don’t you?
Teresa: Breakfast in bed. I stay in bed and I have breakfast right there.
Jo: I’ve made a rod for my own back with that one. You do something for me too though, don’t you?
Teresa: I fold Jo’s washing. I love folding washing – I’m the boss of it. I fold my mum’s washing too.
Jo: When she disappears now we know where she is: upstairs folding everything in our drawers. I consider myself really lucky to have a sister like Teresa. She gives me a whole different perspective on life and helps me to be able to relate to people in different ways. She makes me a better person.
Teresa: My sister is great. She is awesome. She helps me and I love her. I’m cool too, eh?
Jo: Yes, Teresa. You are very cool.
This story appeared in the Kōanga Spring 2021 Edition of Shepherdess.
This story is the eighth in a series where we share, in their own words, the stories of ten women who call Tararua home.
From the Editor, Kōanga Spring 2022.
Letter from the Editor, Kōanga Spring 2023.
From the Editor, Takurua Winter 2022.