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Chronicle mentor headed south in search of a community like Raglan

Behind-the-scenes Raglan Chronicle mentor and community stalwart Judith Collins reckons when she gets to Wellington in a month or so she’ll “join two or three things” and before long will feel part of the community – just like when she came to live in Raglan 15 years ago.

Judith, who among her work in the community has been the Chronicle’s proofreader/subeditor for the past eight years, is aiming to settle in Island Bay or thereabouts because it’s like a village, she says. “It’s like Raglan in scale.”
Wellington’s southern coast may be quite wild and exposed but that doesn’t bother Judith who’s of stoic Scottish heritage.

“It’s more important to me to be able to sniff the sea,” she says of her new destination.

Which is one of the reasons Judith came to Raglan in the first place. That and the fact she had fond memories of holidaying here back in the ’70s when the town was “very Raglan”, the lifestyle “very simple”.

She and her then young family had a tumble-down bach by the wharf for a few years, on a “fabulous” section which was later sub-divided into about three sections. The bach had no plumbing, she recalls, the “night cart” being used instead of a flush toilet.

But now Judith’s moving on. “I know without question this is what I need to do,” she told the Chronicle from her recently sold Norrie Avenue home which has a distant view of kids jumping off the Kopua footbridge into the estuary.

Judith, now 74, was widowed a couple of years ago and with family having moved away over time has become a bit isolated. She’s going to a more central location with better access to her six children “scattered” over the North and South Islands.

But through myriad involvements in the Raglan community she feels she knows a huge cross-section of the locals and that it’s been the perfect place to be since retiring. She’s had so many voluntary jobs, she explains, “it’s kind of kept me going”.

Besides her week in, week out backstop role for the Chronicle – she comes from a background of educational writing for the Diocesan magazine – Judith has also been very involved in the administration of the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Parish and the setting up of its children’s programme, Catholickidz, which with 21 protégés spills over three rooms of the church on the corner of James and Wallis Streets.

Then there’s her work with the Raglan Community Arts Council and her involvement with the Old School Arts Centre in Stewart Street and The Clay Shed behind. As an arts lover she confesses to liking the prospect of going to galleries and concerts when she moves to Wellington, Island Bay being on a direct bus route for which she can use her gold card.

There’s another Judith Collins based in Wellington of course, and Judith admits having a certain controversial cabinet minister as a namesake has prompted a few questions over the years, particularly as she also does a bit of communications work for the Green party. “Otherwise we have nothing in common.”

Judith’s just had her last of several garage sales before moving out in less than a fortnight. The sale of her house happened within a month – more quickly than she’d expected – and now she feels a bit rushed. Shrinking treasured possessions by about a half has necessitated umpteen trips to Xtreme Waste’s recycle centre, delivering what hasn’t gone in her garage sales or been given away to family and friends.

Her cat Basil’s off to the Blue Cottage Cat Resort in Te Uku for a bit but “I’d really like to re-home him here”, she says.

Despite all the upheaval Judith’s very positive about the move south. “It’s exciting but very scary as well,” she admits of her step into the largely unknown.

Edith Symes

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