May 2006

Pictures by Kevin Emirali
Cuan Forsythe-King painted the swimming woman that Judy has nicknamed "Coming up for air". The blue ceramic pot was a fiftieth birthday gift from Scott. Judy plays computer scrabble. The angled couch in the lounge is from Rooms in Auckland.  The stools at the breakfast nook in the kitchen are from ECC Lighting & Living in Auckland. Outside the master bedroom is Northern Nude by Helen Pick.

Back in those barefoot hippie days she was drawn to the islandís beauty and alternative lifestyle options. But it wasnít until she was in her forties and married with a school-age son that the lure of the Barrier finally overwhelmed her. "It was time for a big change," says Judy. "I was wanting to come and live somewhere very different, to have a lot more space for myself. And I wanted my son to have a taste of rural living."

So she and husband Scott Macindoe who has since elected to spend most of the year on the mainland while their son Guy finishes secondary school, drew up a basic floor plan and presented it to Auckland architect Karl Majurey. He built a tiny model of the house with a scallop shell on top to show how the distinctive roof line would look.

"We said to him, ĎMake magicí. And he did. When I saw the scale model it made me cry, it was so beautiful. And itís been known as the Scallop House ever since."

The real thing is even better than sheíd hoped, set high amid kanuka and steeply sloping native bush. Deep timber decking offers sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean with Oruawharo Bay and Medlands Beach visible below and Hirakimata and other peaks forming a dramatic backdrop.

"Home - its situation, style and contents - is essential to my sense of wellbeing. To be surrounded by natural beauty and Drenched in sunlight is really uplifting. Other times Iím completely surrounded in mist for days at a time and itís really like being in a world of your own".

Walls are hung with mostly local art and Barrier wood artist Peter Edmonds created the macrocarpa front door. He modelled the design on the pounamu carving that hangs around Judy'í neck, married it with a stylised unfurling ponga frond and studded the timber with whole paua shells.

Locals built the house though building materials had to come from Auckland. But first a 450-metre driveway had to be hand-cut through the bush, a generator installed, water sourced and a shed built.

The house has solar panels, rainwater storage tanks, a gas hob and oven and Judy chops and carts firewood to feed her wetback wood stove in winter.

"Itís not like town where you hook up to the grid. But when I come home and weíve had a gorgeous day and my solar batteries are fully charged it always feels like pennies from heaven to me."

She feels the same way about storms. After bad weather she and her girlfriends collect the washed-up seaweed that helps nourish their gardens.

"To build a garden here you have to build soil. If ever you have cars going to town, they come back loaded with sheep pellets and potting mix. Itís hilarious what comes in on the boats and planes. All very practical stuff.

She has discovered that bougainvillea, canna lilies, vireyas, azaleas and succulents thrive in the difficult high-acidity soil and withstand periods of abandonment when she is in the city or travelling overseas.

Though she battles - and occasionally shoots - rabbits in order to keep a salad garden, Judy happily shares her citrus, figs, plums, bananas and nectarines with the abundant birdlife.

"I donít care if the birds get all the fruit, I just so enjoy birdwatching."

The house is headquarters for her Windy Hill - Rosalie Bay Catchment Trust, which aims to regenerate native flora and fauna through pest management. She has created jobs by employing field workers to trap rats and cats and in the process cured her own squeamish attitude to rodents.

Other island pleasures include regular yoga classes, dancing with girlfriends, art exhibitions, concerts and the occasional soak in her sun-dappled bush bath, a gift from a visiting friend.

Despite her obvious passion for the island, the Barrier does not feature in Judyís long-term residential plans. "My dream for my old age is for all my girlfriends to sell our places and pool our money and buy our own retirement home. Weíll have handsome boys to push us round in our wheelchairs and change our colostomy bags."

Reproduced with permission from NZ House & Garden - Subject to copyright in its entirety.
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