Sabbatical Homes member Gayleen Mackereth shares her experience renting out her Waiheke Island, New Zealand Sabbatical Home to professors on sabbatical.
Gayleen Mackereth is a retired teacher, writer, and lecturer. She now teaches English online via Skype to students worldwide.
She and her husband, Don, have fond memories of all the academic families they have hosted at “Pacific View“, their aptly named home with expansive views of the Pacific Ocean. She began renting out the home on Waiheke Island 11 years ago after a serious traffic accident made it impossible for her to go there regularly. To date, she has hosted 20 professors on sabbaticals.
Gayleen enjoys entertaining and usually greets new arrivals with fresh coffee and scones to welcome them after a long flight. She shares some of her fondest memories:
The couple whose young kids just adored splashing in the pools which often form in the sand as the tide recedes; the hearty British professor who swam every day declaring that the sea was very warm even in winter (well, we wouldn’t go that far!) then there was the wife who did all her teaching online from the house while her husband commuted to Auckland; another professor who became so mesmerized by the moods and shades of the sea that he spent so much time gazing at the view he nearly missed his deadline for his research! I shall never forget the two year old who came up the steps, his hand extended, and said “Good morning, I am Alex” just like a real grown-up professor; then there is the family who came with 3 suitcases each -that’s 12 suitcases!! and yet another family who managed a baby with relatively few, and finally, there is the professor and family who loved the island so much they came back three times and now have their own home on the island.
It is the human contact that makes the experience of hosting Sabbatical families so worthwhile. Each professor has a special field of expertise and it is exciting to get a glimpse of the world they are involved in. Our present family is involved in world beating research on how to prevent sudden deaths of young people with no known defects suddenly collapsing and dying on the field after strenuous exercise. Another professor returned after his sabbatical to a conference at Christchurch in the South Island on earthquake recovery only find himself in the middle of NZ’s most significant earthquake in a hundred years -that was a real experience! And he is now living and lecturing on his subject in New Zealand! Another interesting professor was a Swedish professor who lectures on Samoan Anthropology. She too keeps returning to NZ. There is no doubt that Pacific View has a magic it weaves over those who stay there to keep them coming back.
In Waiheke, when visitors exit the ferry they are greeted by a large sign that proclaims,
“Slow Down! You’re Here!”
Gayleen is inspired by the sentiment and is intending to relax a little more in the next few years and publish some of the children’s books she has been writing in her spare time, most of them based on experiences with children and animals.
From the balcony of “Pacific View,” our Sabbatical Homes rental, one may gaze out over the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. It is no wonder that the Maoris (the native people of New Zealand) once named the waters of the Hauraki Gulf “Waitemata” meaning “Sparkling Waters.”
Tui, a native bird known by early settlers as a Parson Bird.
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