Robbins’ Roundup 2007
Larry & Jane Robbins, 42 Knights Rd, Rothesay Bay, Auckland 0630, New Zealand 09 478 4782

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Notwithstanding a degree of nagging [prompting – Ed] [whatever – sub-Ed] the traditional Christmas letter did not get written in 2007. In fact it has been getting later each year and thus we have decided to be totally honest and to change the banner header to what you now see!

Text Box:    Lunching aboard HMNZS TE MANA, Anniversary Day (Jan) 2007 with Clive and Nic Holmes  2007 may be said, in our case, to have been ‘the year of the cars’. In the first week of January, Larry managed to write off the MINI. To be totally honest he was entirely blameless [something of a first – Ed] as a young lady coming the other way decided that his side of the road was to be preferred. To demonstrate that he was in the right, Larry then ran into the side of her! [whilst braking heavily I might add – Ed]. Fortunately neither driver was seriously injured, though Larry sustained heavy bruising to his wrist and forearm [I think we will skip this picture – Ed] [but it has so many beautiful colours! – sub-Ed]. Somewhat ironically this injury was caused by the airbag which threw his arm at the driver’s window, which shattered [The window not the arm – Ed] [Yes, as ever you are correct - sub-Ed]. Again fortunately, Larry knew nothing of this as he seems to have been unconscious for a short period and of course the airbags must have saved his features which are as beautiful [! – Ed] as ever. The other driver accepted full responsibility and, not wishing to get involved with insurance companies quickly and amicably settled, purchasing the MINI for the sum that the insurance company would have paid out as a ‘write-off’.

We had been contemplating whether to change the MINI and if so, what to change it for, and thus within a fortnight we were driving around in a brand new Toyota Prius hybrid, which we like very much. It was sad to see the MINI go, but we understand it has now been fully repaired and is back on the road.

Text Box:  King James is taken away for his overseas adventure

In the middle of the year KING JAMES, Larry’s faithful Morris Minor 1000, joined a number of other New Zealanders and migrated to Australia! KJ was purchased in 1974 and had been the sole form of transport for many years,  though had languished in the garage [lesser cars such as MINIs and Prius’ being banished to the carport! – Ed] and rarely used over the past 2 or 3 years.


Larry had been seeking a good home for KJ for a while, and a friend who knew of this mentioned it to an Australian friend who was reminiscing about the Morry she had had a number of years prior. Cutting a long story short [Thank goodness … this MUST be out by January! – Ed] in July KJ was on the back of a truck heading for the port, en route to Queensland. There, some repairs/restoration was undertaken, a new registration plate KJV 12 was procured, and he settled in to life in the sub-tropics. We have received a number of reports from new owner, Jan, who seems pleased with her new friend.

Text Box:  Larry with the Robbins nephews and nieces in Oxfordshire Oct 2007 …2007 may also be declared the year of new jobs. [Interesting order of importance you put these things – Ed] [you started this newsletter! – sub-Ed].  We could not say anything in our last letter as it had not been formally announced, but Larry resigned from the Museum in July 2006, giving a year’s notice so that an orderly transition could be made.

Reasons? Well, he had gone to the museum at an interesting time – when, principally thanks to excellent work by the Board Chairman, it had been stabilised after a period of some trauma and he had set a number of measures in place, built some links into the maritime community and so on, moving the museum ahead. Larry was still enjoying the job but felt strongly that the museum needed new ideas and leadership if it was to progress further. There were still plenty of challenges and things to do, but to have remained would not have been, he felt, the best thing for either himself OR the museum.

Not to be outdone, Jane resigned from the University in May, having had enough of the politics that seem to naturally inhabit such organisations. She then had “a lovely rest”, learning what it was not to worry about work day to day, and catching up on some study. She continues to do the Postgraduate study in Computer and Information Systems that she started while at the University [Gaining an A+ in one paper and doing well in the others – proud Ed]

Larry’s resignation took effect from 1 July this year but his relief was not available to take up his new position until mid August. Larry thus returned to the museum part-time for the interim period, discovering that the job was indeed NOT a 3 day a week one but being paid at ‘contract’ levels. The send-off he received from the museum was wonderful and extremely moving. Actually the word Larry used is ‘humbling’.

In August [having decided that a life of indolence was not for her – Ed] [who did you say decided that ?? – sub-Ed],  Jane accepted a three- month contract at the company of a friend as a Business Analyst. For tax and various other reasons, Jane was contracted through our little company, Web4U, and thus for a brief period was effectively employed by Larry, the majority shareholder! [halcyon days! – Ed]  In November this became a permanent position so Jane resigned from Web4U [it was enjoyable while it lasted! – Ed] and went to work for Vianet. The local office is in Takapuna, a seaside town on Auckland’s North Shore, just half an hour by bus. A pretty pleasant place to work.

Text Box:  … and with nieces Sarah and Helen in Dartford

Larry is now a kept man [I prefer the term ‘trophy husband’ – Ed] [Ha! – sub-Ed], working from home in various capacities and doing whatever he can find to do. So far he has undertaken three small consultancy tasks for small museums around New Zealand, continues with the websites, has assisted with management of passengers joining and leaving cruise ships in Auckland, has signed up with a talent agency [that must be an oxymoron then – Ed] and so far has featured in an advert for US television which, thankfully, we are unlikely to see! He is also pursuing his voluntary work with the seafarers’ welfare organisations in NZ and with the International Congress of Maritime Museums (ICMM) on whose Executive Council he serves. He has also been asked to assist a friend with organising a tour to NZ for Canadian couples and will be meeting them in late January. If the tours go well this activity may expand.

Text Box:  Larry with Jane’s cousin IanOne activity in which he is no longer involved is weddings. With his new status Larry decided that if he were to continue as a celebrant he would do it more commercially and thus it would be inappropriate for him to continue as a church-nominated celebrant. He always knew that one could not transfer from ‘church’ to ‘independent’ and thus would have to resign and re-apply. He knew that it was possible/highly likely that the application would not be accepted and thus it proved to be. He did appeal [but was not appealing enough! – Ed] [A low blow – sub-Ed] but accepted the decision.

It is ‘an ill-wind’ as they say and Larry now has his summers back though he continues to be available for baby namings, marriage blessings (where a couple have been married overseas but wish to hold a ceremony for their family and friends in NZ) and rededications. 

We have enjoyed a number of visits from friends and family this year including two couples from UK, and we are anticipating a number more, in February this year especially. Especially notable were visits from Jane’s cousin Ian from Wales whom she had not seen for over 20 years, and cousin Vaughan (whom she had actually never  met) with whom we shared a meal as he passed through Auckland.

In Easter we went to Stewart Island for the wedding of a friend and former colleague of Larry’s, took the opportunity to see something of the island and then a bit more of the South Island. We also spent a long weekend in Tauranga/Mt Maunganui. Visiting the Seafarers Centre down there was the catalyst but we also caught up with friends in the area.  

Text Box:    The fishing was good at Stewart Island!  Overseas travel was principally Larry’s prerogative this year though we had the joy of travelling to Sydney for a friend’s 70th birthday celebrations together mid-year. We had both planned to travel to Malta to attend the bi-annual congress of the ICMM in October, but Jane decided that as this would delay her studies by 3 months or more, she would remain at home.

Larry headed off alone, catching up with family and a couple of friends in UK and visiting a couple of seafarers’ centres, including the headquarters of the parent body to which his society belongs. He spent a week in Malta at the congress, enjoying the meetings and Malta itself. Then a week through Europe, visiting Milan and staying with a long-time friend in Lyons, being almost mucked-about by a French train strike and then attending the annual meeting of the International Christian Maritime Association in Rotterdam. On the way back he visited Brussels for a couple of days.

We both remain extremely well and healthy.

Text Box:    In Sydney we discovered that you could visit the cab of the Pyrmont Bridge when it opens at weekends. [Wisely the operator told Larry to keep his hands in his pockets! – Ed]  Plans for 2008?  Well, Larry will be looking to continue with his current activities, but will also be looking for any new avenues that may present themselves. Jane plans to remain at Vianet for the near future and to continue her studies, but will also be looking for opportunities to advance her career. We are planning a winter holiday or cruise in the middle of the year to get away from part of the winter. Our next overseas trip [together! – Ed] is likely to be to USA and UK since the next Congress of the ICMM is being held in USA late 2009.

Thank you for the emails, cards and newsletters we received this year. It is always great to hear from you. Remember that we always have room here for family and friends!

With much love from
Jane and Larry