Home' Waiheke Weekender : 30 August 2012 Contents Waiheke Weekender 3
30 August 2012
Waiheke artist and Gulf News arts columnist
Matthew Muir is warming to his subject.
Sitting in the sun at the Gulf News offce, we
are talking about the importance of fathers in the
lives of their children, and the damage the lack of
one can often do.
Father to 10-year-old Robin, Matthew has been
actively involved in his upbringing from about
the age of two, alongside his longtime partner
"Robin went to Waiheke Community Childcare
and kindergarten, and I noticed in those days there
were mainly mothers on the scene; perhaps a few
other guys. It was defnitely female-dominated.”
He says time seems to have gone so fast and
before you know it, they’ve made a huge leap.
He still remembers the day Robin took his frst
steps, the day he left kindergarten, his frst day at
“He didn’t want to go at frst but when he came
home, he had made a pink cardboard pig and I
think he was rather pleased with it; I’ve kept it all
Being an artist has given him some fexibility
with his working life and he says he would def-
nitely have missed being so involved in Robin’s
life had his job meant he couldn’t be at home as
“I remember my father as an absence mostly,
I hardly ever saw him. He was a museum curator
and he worked hard and was away a lot. It was that
sort of era when all the child minding was done by
He says his father didn’t know how to talk to
his children and his presence in the house was
'shut off '.
“I don’t ever remember my father hugging me
or saying he loved me; men just didn’t in those
However, given the role modelling his own
father received, it was hardly surprising, says
"My father grew up in the 1950s on a farm in
Waiuku in what I would call ‘Planet Weird’. It
seemed to be very bleak, grim, muddy sort of place.
My grandfather would regularly get drunk, belt
his wife and the kids (including my father) before
falling into bed. It was like that 1980s movie Bad
Blood, he couldn’t read or write, he was almost
illiterate. My father was the frst in the family to
attend university and I know he wanted to do better
at fathering that his father, and by those standards,
he certainly did.”
However, Matthew decided he could do even
better and became very conscious of providing
me to be a ten-year-old boy, as he is an only child
and has no other siblings, and that can be diffcult
sometimes,” he laughs.
He believes the noticeable, if modest, increase
in fathers being actively involved in their children’s
upbringing refects the social changes society has
seen in the last 10 years in particular.
“It is a lot more acceptable now to be a father
in parenting situations which is great. In the past,
you had to get used to a lot of mockery. Lifestyles
have changed for both men and women and things
are more fexible, as women have the option of
being the main breadwinner if that’s what they
choose. But I’m sure 50 years from now we will
be thinking of things we could have done differ-
“You must be standing in for mum,” is a
With Father's Day this Sunday 2 September, Julianne Evans talks to some
Waiheke fathers who are taking a very active role in their children's lives.
Mark Turner and his daughter Isla, 2, get artistic at the Waiheke
In the name of the fathers
Matthew Muir and son Robin, 10, on a recent trip to Rangitoto.
He didn't want to go at
first but when he came
home, he had made a pink
cardboard pig and I think he
was rather pleased with it;
I've kept it all this time.
Robin with a positive male role model.
“I really didn’t want to repeat those mistakes
with Robin and in fact, I have a real aversion to
violence of any kind. I wish I’d had someone to
teach me how to act in social situations, to make
me part of a continuation of fathers and sons. I’ve
met people like me who didn’t have a father fgure
in their lives and I think it messes you up.”
Matthew and Robin enjoy making things
together, doing art projects, building and model-
ling and going on excursions.
"We do a lot of that sort of thing because it
interests us both. I think sometimes he would like
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