TAKING a walk around Willy Storer’s home is quite unlike anything else. In fact, it feels like you could be wandering through a $2 dollar shop, or a bargain retail store.
When invited around recently, this reporter was surprised at what Mr Storer had to show.
Mr Storer said that 27 years ago, when he was offered a unit at Rangimarie Flats, in Richard Street, by Jim and Jane Jackman, who helped develop them, he found a home.
Mr Storer and his wife Gwen retired from their dairy farm at McCarthy Road to Bridge Street, before the Mongrel Mob moved in next door to them.
That is when the Jackmans made the offer of the unit to them. Mr Storer said he would never be able to thank them enough.
Their unit and the one in front were the first to be built at the Richard Street housing complex – operated and managed today by the Rangimarie Trust, formed in 1979.
It was the Jackmans, accountant Ken Skelton, Jopie Hofland and Peg Haase, who with next to nothing, undertook a whole host of fundraising efforts to provide low-cost rental housing for people in Opotiki who needed it or who were on low incomes.
Mr Storer said the offer by the Jackman’s at the time was a godsend and a relief.
“We never quite knew what the Mongrel Mob was going to do,” he said.
Unfortunately, four years after finding their humble abode, Mrs Storer died.
It was then that Mr Storer developed his affection, if not an obsession, for collecting no-frills memorabilia. He regularly heads off on his scooter to go and hunt for things at a church opportunity shop.
“I had none of this stuff when she (Gwen), was here with me … it gives me something to do and it is something I enjoy,” he said.
While the term hoarder springs to mind, the items and memorabilia in his possession have become an important part of his identity.
Asked what he had in his collection, he said there was far too much to run over, but kept saying “have a look over there,” and “you must have a look at this”.
There are the 200 to 300 clocks in his unit that he said he had to maintain, toy trains, cars, soft toys, paintings, plastic flowers and fruit, bottles, lamps, different china and ornaments, such as fish and owls, a camp oven, a collection of about 40 hats and even an old parking metre.
There was a special host of nick-knacks that Mr Storer said were all favourites.
Most of the items that fill his home were bought, but he admitted to being gifted the odd one or two.
Among his treasured items are photographs offering insight into Mr Storer’s life, and which provide him happy flashbacks about what he used to love doing when he wasn’t affected by asthma – pig hunting.
He has a picture of himself and a friend, Alan Murray, at Motu on a hunting trip. On the wall in his kitchen are two photographs of a memorable pig hunting trip 40 years ago in the Waioeka Gorge, during which he snaffled four pigs and one goat after it had snowed.
There are photographs of different cars he’s owned, which jogged his memory about his first car, a Model A he bought from his Uncle Jack for “80 bob”, he said.
The one piece of memorabilia Mr Storer has in the unit that motivates him is a photograph of his great grandfather, who lived to be 105. Mr Storer, 86, said he was determined to also live to that age.