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Mulberry Grove Memories

“We were innocent, but we knew somewhere out there were forces that wanted to tame us. We wanted to stay illogical children,” said Lizzie Harwood about growing up as one of seven siblings on the island during the late 70s and 80s.

Visitors might be surprised to know that Mulberry Grove was once the center of island life. Today, there is a shop, café, fuel, and laundromat, but once, Lizzie’s parents ran the telephone exchange, post office, mail run, and bank. They often arranged emergency services, and tabs for those in need, and provided a gathering place to share “island secrets”. “Everyone would come in. They’d walk for miles, from Rosalie Bay and the very southern tips, particularly on benefit day.”

Lizzie says the island shaped her character and has fueled her work as a writer. “I’ve taken the memories from childhood and played with them.” Her prize-winning novel, Polaroid Nights, short stories, and memoir are coloured by adventures in and around her parents’ shop.

She remembers a home movie theatre up the road, a local who left chocolate on forest trails for children to find and going swimming during storms wearing a life jacket.

A same sense of adventure and spontaneity can still be discovered at a much sleepier Mulberry Grove today.

Words by Georgie Higham. From Interviews with Tim Higham on Monday mornings on AoteaFM. 

Lizzie’s full interview is available as a podcast here: 


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