Matt from Wellington
My name is Matt, I’m 24; I live in Wellington, New Zealand.
Home and Family
My childhood memories are of growing up in a big family – with one brother and five sisters. There was always a lot of noise and fun! Another brethren family lived just down the road with a boy my age. We spent hours up in the hills, mapping out the landscape, playing soldiers, that kind of thing. It was good fun.
My oldest sister married an Englishman. They had their first child about ten weeks ago. My next sister is married and living in the Hunter Valley, Australia. She has just had her third child. My older brother lives about two hundred metres down the road from me; he married three years ago. I have three younger sisters at home still. One works with me, and the other two are still at school.
I got married early in 2013, and we have just had our first child, a boy. A massive step up in responsibility and a steep learning curve ahead! A goal is to bring our children up as well as possible, amongst the Brethren. Family life is more interesting now that the four eldest are starting families of our own. Get-togethers a little harder to do, but they’re great fun. We’re hoping to get together this next Christmas. The last time we were all together was three years ago, so there’ll be a few new grandies around!
Until year 9, I went to a public school. Quite a few Brethren lived in the area. I think at one point almost 10% of the school roll was Brethren. I had a couple of fantastic teachers that set me up well for high school. Years nine to thirteen were at the Brethren school. The fact that we were with kids we grew up with, held some interesting challenges for the teachers. Today I went to the school to say goodbye to a maths teacher. She taught me for three years and is leaving the school now. I formed quite a strong link with some of my teachers. Should have done better, I slacked a bit at school… I had an excellent education in my latter years, though, and lots of fun.
After school, I studied through Massey University, but found that a bit difficult for extramural study as they expected students to be at all the lectures. I was working fulltime and trying to study, so I changed to the Open Polytechnic, NZ, which was a lot more flexible and the work was just as challenging. I studied for four years and received a New Zealand Diploma of Business and Diploma in Accounting. I tried to do better than I had at school.
I genuinely love accounting, as funny as it sounds. Work is fun – there’s always something going on, people to talk to, and things happening. It’s a family business, started by my father and his brother in 1992. The main business is bending stainless steel tube elbows, quite a specific thing, but it’s kept us busy for some years now. The main use for them is in breweries, dairy factories and wineries. We don’t sell direct to the user – we sell through merchants. A large amount of what we make is exported, mainly to Australia. 2 years ago we took over another local business doing plastic piping for gas and water mains. Then, a year ago, we started doing laser cutting. It tied in with some of the stuff we do with the stainless steel elbows. The main driver and business is still the stainless elbows, and that’s what I’m involved in. I’m the General Manager for the stainless side, and also the company accountant, doing the internal accounts for all three companies.
Coming to work every morning early and working hard, and going home again tired, is not always fun, but I do enjoy work, most of the time. The financial aspect of the business keeps me motivated. I love having enough money to pay off our mortgages, and be able to help others by give a bit away as well. We have around 40 people working for us, a little under half from the Brethren community. I like that our business is able to provide employment. After I left school, I donated to the school. We’re trying to build a new church in Wellington now, so I like to give money to that. As a business we donate to the Westpac Life Flight helicopter, we’re one of their larger donors; and Wellington Free Ambulance, give a lot of money to that. I enjoy being able to make a difference to the larger community.
We’ve been giving to Life Flight since at least ’95, because I found an old certificate from 1995 commending us for our donation. We donated to Wellington Free Ambulance extensively, between 1995 and 2009. When the GFC hit we had to cut back, so we dropped Wellington Free Ambulance. We restarted donating when things picked up. We’ve always had quite a close relationship with Life Flight. My grandfather was a pilot, the first person to do a night time air ambulance flight in New Zealand. He has a plaque somewhere from the NZ Police commending him also for a flight he did in bad weather over the Cook Strait, he dropped a dinghy off to some people who were sinking, before the days of rescue helicopters.
I’m crazy on sports. I’ve always loved the water, body boarding, swimming, jetty jumping, surfing or whatever. I used to snorkel with my brother in the Marine Reserve, out from Wellington. There’s a lot of big fish there; they’re all tame, so they swim right up to you – obviously, you can’t catch any. I’ve done more snorkelling recently, with my brother and friends.
I’m also football mad, (soccer for Australians). I try to play whenever I can on Saturdays. I play a little bit less now I’m married, but still get out and play with the other guys when I’m able.
From when I was fourteen until I was twenty, I used to skateboard the whole time, as much as I could, a bit too much for my parents’ liking! Used to have long lunches after I left school, and go to a local skate park. I loved the exercise and the thrill of it. I’d be at the park, and have kids asking how I did something, or older guys challenging me to beat them. I still have a board in the garage. Sometimes I ride it round the Wellington waterfronts, if my wife wants to go rollerblading or something.
I travel to Australia a lot, with a sister there, and for business as well. We visit customers once or twice a year in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth.
Four years ago, I went overseas for three weeks with another guy from Wellington. I went to Canada for a week. That was great fun; we went snowboarding up in the mountains up round Vancouver. Living in Wellington, we don’t have snow close by, so it was a first for me. I loved it, having skated all through my youth. From there we went on to England and then had five days in Toulon, France. In October ’10 I went to a trade fair in Germany – had ten days in Germany – ate a lot of sauerkraut and wurst and all sorts of other things! After my sister got married in Southampton, I went to England for two weeks. Spent a bit of time walking round London, loved the place. You could drop me on a street corner in London and leave me there for ten hours, and you would probably find in the same place when you came back! The history of the place, and just watching people – I love it. We went to the Holocaust Museum – that was moving; it was quite incredible to see. I also went to Switzerland that trip for a day, for business. Last year I went back with my wife on a bit of a late honeymoon. We spent a night in Sweden, two weeks in England, back to Toulon for a couple of days, and got to Monaco that time as well. It’s quite handy having a sister in England, like a holiday home over there, a good reason to visit! Next on my to-do list is the States
I love seeing cities and different cultures. One day in Germany, I jumped off the train in the middle of a town by myself, and tried to find my way around for a couple of hours. I thoroughly enjoyed everyone speaking in a different language. Sweden was fun as well. Monaco was amazing, too. One thing that I do enjoy is when I’m over there and going to church – I meet different people. Everyone walks up to you, asks your name, and you have lifelong friends. I keep in contact with a lot of people from various places. I don’t have to worry about finding hotels to stay in or anything, I just use my contacts, or go and meet someone new for a few days.
Life in the Brethren
I was born into the Brethren fellowship, but as I’ve found out many times, that does not necessarily mean a lot. You have to come to your own decision at some point, which I did. At eighteen, I came close to leaving the PBCC, because I wanted to go and play soccer, make a name for myself – not much to wish for. I realised that my belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and my love for the brethren was too much for me to leave. Then love for my family, and just knowing that I’m in a place where advice is readily available. Also knowing, as a Christian, I can have communion with my Saviour, any time I want. I didn’t feel it would be possible in a right sphere if I left. I am a member of the Plymouth Brethren Church because of a very conscious decision I made myself. I was eighteen when I first made this decision, but I can’t say I haven’t had other thoughts since. Every time I return to the same thing: I’ve received so much favour. To turn my back on my placement in the fellowship would be detrimental to me, and to my links with the Lord Jesus. There’s times when I may think, Oh, I’d like to do this, or that. But from the big picture, it’s a tiny thing. I genuinely love being part of the Plymouth Brethren, knowing the security, knowing that there’s a place of refuge. If anything goes wrong, there’s always someone to turn to, to call out to. I would not like to try bringing up a family anywhere else. People who don’t know us may think we’re narrow-minded because we see the same people day after day. I think the reverse is true; we see many people every day. Wellington, and Hutt, we’re 450 Brethren; we see them the whole time. It’s how it makes me feel – I know I’m wanted and I’m loved. I’ve been told I can preach the gospel well, and touch something in people’s heart. The fellowship is the only true place where I can enjoy the links with my Saviour that I have now.