I couldn’t have struck a better day to visit Emma. It was a total utter cracker complete with the stereotypical summer soundtrack of crickets, hot concrete smell and fairy tale like filtered light through the oak trees lining the drive into Old Government House. She sure looked old and grand as her name suggested.
Emma Newborn is a fully fledged creative soul. Currently one half of the very awesome and hilarious two women show, The Bitches Box (coming for three nights to the Auckland Fringe next week!) she is constantly turning her hand to new theatre based projects. Writing is a daily exercise and lately she has been dipping her toe into the field of film. Recently she has finished her study of Ceremony and Celebrancy and, in her own words “… is now qualified to marry you, bury you and name you. Life is short. It’s definitely worth celebrating”
But it’s her role as Custodian at Old Government House that had us meeting today. She met me out front and took me for a wander through the huge grand rooms on the ground floor that make up the facilities for the Auckland University Staff Commonroom Club. After the previous Custodian of 23 years left, Emma moved up into her lightfilled two bedroom apartment on the second floor. Getting there was something my childhood house fantasies were made of! Up a sweeping grand staircase, down a long hallway, sharp right back down a half flight of stairs, through a locked door, up two flights of stairs and…there….quietness among the tree tops. By all accounts she absolutely loves it there and I could see why as I was feeling pretty reluctant to leave despite the threat of Auckland parking wardens.
Emma’s veggie patch may be little but sweet pea and herbs on a sun filled fire escape is down right whimsical!
WHO: Me! I live here! Actor/Theatre-maker/Celebrant/
WHAT: Old Government House as it stands was built in 1856 and was the first official Governer’s house in Auckland. I live in the West wing of the house, in a beautiful two bedroom apartment that looks over the expansive lawns and gardens. Each morning I am greeted by Tuis and Kereru in the trees surrounding the house and the awesome Auckland University Clock Tower is in my back garden.
WHERE: Nestled in a pocket of Auckland that not many people know about. I always have a difficult time giving directions! During the week it is busy with students and staff, but at the weekends the place empties and it just leaves me and the locals.
DESCRIPTION: I came back to NZ after winning a film competition (the prize being a flight to Auckland), and was only staying for 3 months. 2 years later, I am still here! A few things happened, including being offered this position as Custodian of Old Government House.
Every morning I wake up thrilled to be living in this house and to have been given the honour of looking after such an important part of New Zealand’s early history.
The sun follows the rooms in my apartment perfectly, streaming in the lounge and kitchen in the morning, and warming the bedrooms in the afternoon.
I love how quiet the house is, despite being in the centre of town. It is tucked away, quietly minding it’s own business.
A quiet old creaky man, who could do with a bit of loving, but is deeply charming all the same.
It’s also awfully nice having a fleet of gardeners…….
WHAT I LEARNT FROM EMMA:
For a start….a tidy minimal bedroom must do wonders for sleep!
But mostly that the unconventional and obscure opportunities are often the ones that will make you most happy.