Laughter, Song and The Hammonds

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The Hammonds by Tenby Powell

The summer of 1973 was the beginning of a joyous journey through Otumoetai College and, with it burgeoning friendships marked by the arrival of The Hammonds.

This was the third form as it was known then, and our job as the new kids was to keep our heads down, stay out of trouble and steer clear of the seniors to which we were easy prey. 

One minor problem, 1973 was also the year The Hammonds arrived and, together with the sea of bright red hair, came laughter, song and constant chatter. Keeping a low profile was abandoned for the fun and exuberance of friendships with an Irish family who had spent six weeks at sea honing their musical skills. And skills they had in abundance!

Accents, Talent and Personality

Stephen and Wendy were two years ahead of me, John was my year while Tony, Noel and Alice were younger.  John was an instant hit in my group who had mostly been together since age five at Matua Primary. We couldn’t understand much of what he said and the novel accent, which of course we mimicked mercilessly, made him even more endearing.

This was the year we young laconic Kiwi’s learnt the world sounded and acted somewhat differently to us as The Hammonds took New Zealand by storm.

They were feted musically as the singing Irish family, sought after to perform in stage shows, and even appeared on the, nationally high-profile Telethon. This didn’t happen by accident; it was the result of talent and hard work. 

Hard work was what this industrious family, who journeyed the high seas from the farthest reaches of globe, also bought to New Zealand and it started at a young age.

The Hammonds Work Ethic

In between musical gigs and stage shows, John managed a lawn mowing enterprise of which any modern franchise owner would be proud. He towed a trailer with two lawn mowers behind a Morris Minor and had numerous Otumoetai residents as customers whose properties on which he toiled most weekends. 

I witnessed his work ethic first-hand in 1975 when he lived with my family for most of that year; it was like having a boisterous brother whose battery never flattened. 

The summer of 1973 will always have a special place in my memory and heart; it was the year The Hammonds arrived in Tauranga. 

By Tenby Powell