I turn 80 by the end of this month, and having come from overseas, began school (1939) at Rotorua Primary as a nine year old with language difficulties (Brazilian Portuguese was my primary language). My initial learning regression eventually turned to progression, with the help of the School (for which I am grateful). Eventually,after a few years, progression went on to high level academic and professional achievement.
Being initially perceived by fellow pupils as a ‘dumb foreigner’ in 1939 my apprehension as a ‘teased new boy’changed when my middle name was heard… “Henry, you must be the son of Mr C A Clarke ‘cordial’ manufacturer”. I wasn’t… but the large factory could be seen nearby, with the prospect of having possible influence re drinks… this assumed new status did me well.
* Evacuation drills for possible aerial bombing by an enemy.
* H as a single volunteer for the huge task of mowing the vast grass playground with an ancient hand-mower during the summer school holidays.
* Encouragement to give talks, in higher classes, about personal experiences overseas… particularly on Brazilian butterflies and snakes (with actual ’show-and-tell’ specimens).
* In fret-work classes, in the shelter shed on the bank, I drew ‘gas-guns’on each boy’s plywood (a gas-gun was used by the Green Hornet in a popular Saturday cinema serial) Because my English was not very good I found my drawing skills to be much appreciated.
Although my brother and I were born in Brazil (Sao Paulo & Rio de Janeiro resp.) my father was a NZ hydro electrical engineer and my mother an Englishwoman he met and married there.
Our parents being away a lot of the time, we were looked after by Brazilian servants of our grandparents household who spoke only Portuguese.
From the early days in NZ my being educated in the English language was a struggle. However, difficulties were overcome I now have three academic degrees, and professional achievements as an architect… one of my first projects was the design of the whole envelope of New Zealand House, the first (proposed 1958) ‘high-rise’ building in London (now heritage listed).
I visited Rotorua from Australia in early December last year, and took the opportunity to visit Rotorua Primary and meet the Principal John Naera. He brought my attention to the Jubilee and preparations. I had a number of old photos which a staff member took for scanning for possible use in Jubilee documents.
I am very interested in contributing to and attending the Jubilee celebrations in March next year.
Henry Clarke BArch, MArch, BA(VA).