• David Gray and Brian Mooney.
  • David Gray trimming trees.
  • David Gray.

My Shore Life: Brian Mooney

Restoring the Deep Creek Estuary is a labour of love.

Brian Mooney is originally from Canada but arrived in New Zealand on a working holiday in the mid '60s and never left. He married a Kiwi and raised two girls. He now works with his wife Allison Mooney, an international award-winning conference speaker, and is a key member of the Deep Creek Restoration project. He talks about this to Nikki Davidson.

Nikki Davidson: What do you love most about living in Torbay?
Brian Mooney: When we moved to Torbay in 1977 it was a long way out with no motorway, poor roading and lighting. We were told by the Post Office then that we would have to wait three years for a phone line! It's been a great place to bring up kids and I felt like it was a holiday destination every time I came home from work in the city. Our eldest daughter and her husband bought a house next door to us and our rear sections adjoin so we have constant visits from our 10-year-old grandson who lives in two houses.

How long have you lived here?
42 years in the same house.

ND: What activities or organisations are you involved with? Why are you passionate about this?
BM: About three years ago David Gray, a retired local GP, saw the need to do something about the Deep Creek Estuary which was becoming unnavigable due to the encroaching proliferation of mangroves and weed infestation on the banks. The native bird life was leaving. I'd heard that David was having an outdoor meeting to show what the estuary was like 100 years ago. I was motivated to help with the restoration and soon became the chairman of Deep Creek Restoration Society Incorporated.
David, now in his late 80s, holds many prestigious awards and was the founder of MERC (Sir Peter Blake Marine Education and Recreation Centre). He is an amazing inspirational person and we are privileged to have him as our Patron. My passion for the creek restoration is motivated by the members who support the committee on our working projects and the progress we have made so far.

ND: What else might you be involved with if you had more time?
BM: My busy wife keeps me on my toes, assisting her in her speaking profession by doing the back-room duties, and my days are well enough filled with meetings and maintaining our house and section.

ND: Tell us about a place that is a secret gem in Torbay?
BM: The Deep Creek Estuary is the gem of Torbay. Unbeknown to a lot of people, there is a waterfall further up the creek from the Deep Creek bridge which 60-odd years ago was a swimming hole for the locals. Because the creek has been neglected for years with mangrove encroachment, weeds, and silt buildup, the waterfall has become much harder to access by kayak. Our society will be working on that problem in the future.

ND: Do you have a favourite local event that you look forward to each year?
BM: I love the activity that the Torbay Boating Club does with annual and special regattas. The atmosphere is wonderful with boaties from all over the world enjoying what Deep Creek and beautiful Waiake Beach have to offer.

ND: If you could change one aspect about your suburb what would it be?
BM: The new housing development at Long Bay has resulted in much more traffic on our local roads. The access out of the area at peak times is getting more difficult and we need to have the feeder road intersections off East Coast Road improved for safety and convenience reasons.

ND: Who would you most like to have as a neighbour and why?
BM: We have some great neighbours around us – and did I mention my daughter and her family? In the past I have discovered that Torbay has had some historic residents like Vince McGlone who was on the Achilles warship when it saw action in the Battle of the River Plate. I was in awe as I had studied the battle when I was in middle school. Fortunately I had the opportunity to take Vince out to lunch and hear his story first hand before he passed away. There must be more iconic people in Torbay with some great stories to tell.

Issue 100 July 2019