Gordon and Helene Paterson spent their first few years as a young family with their children Ross and Robyn, on the campus of
Michaelhouse, a renowned boys boarding school known for its sporting excellence, situated in the Kwa-Zulu Natal area outside Pietermaritzburg. From 1976-1988, Gordon was their prominent rugby coach
and physical education and geography teacher while Helene was a tutor at Nottingham Road Primary School a few miles away.
In 1989, they left Michaelhouse and moved to Somerset West, a small town just outside of Cape Town with Ross aged three and Robyn aged eighteen months. Here, Gordon took
a position as lecturer in the Department of Human Movement Studies at University of Stellenbosch and Helene worked as a tutor.
After visiting New Zealand in 1970 as a 17 year old Rotary exchange student, Gordon had dreamed of returning to the country that boasted the same passion for rugby as he
had and yet held none of the civil unrest or danger that South Africa imposed upon it’s people in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
It was a time where Nelson Mandela was moving into power with the ANC and no-one was sure what change a black president would bring to a country already so fraught with
racial tension. So in 1994, when Gordon was offered a job in New Zealand, they felt it was time to make the move.
Gordon and Helene Paterson immigrated to New Zealand in March 1994 with Ross, aged nine and Robyn, aged six. They moved to Hamilton, a city in the north island of New
Zealand. Gordon took a position as a tutor in Sports Coaching at the Waikato Polytechnic before progressing to the Head of Department and then later, the Dean of Faculty, Business and Technology
while Helene became an assessor with SPELD NZ, (Specific Learning Difficulties New Zealand).
New Zealand gave them everything they were after. Good schools, friendly citizens and their children were able to play outside safely. The differences were noticeable.
Yet somehow, even as 25 years passed, it never quite became home even when they looked out their windows at the calm, quiet streets. Their jokes didn’t receive the amount of laughs from their kiwi
friends or weren’t understood. The discipline of their children was criticised. They never cheered for the All Blacks.