Ian Loretz was six years old when his family moved to Avondale. That was 76 years ago, and Ian must surely be one of few people who have been living in the neighbourhood this long. He remembers arriving during World Word II when the school was operating as a war-time hospital.
The Loretz family owned a market garden of about 13 acres that spread from Rosebank Road down Eastdale Road and past Holly Street. Its biggest crop was tomatoes, and the garden serviced the contract for Kiaora Tomato Sauce which, Ian says, was the only brand around in those days. As boys, Ian and his four brothers helped pick tomatoes of which there were reportedly 36,000 plants.
Ian’s uncle, George Loretz, also owned gardens in the area. Ian remembers the Connell family, who were the last to sell a large tract of land in the area, where Jomac Place has been built, and the Copseys (à la Copsey place) who owned 35 acres of land.
“The Peninsula was a wonderful place to grow up,” says Ian, who would spend time fishing and swimming in the Whau River.
Ian grew up with an urge to paint. Though he was never introduced to so much as a crayon at his Avondale Primary School, he followed in the footsteps of his brother, Bruce, a fairly successful artist, and learned to paint in his 20s.
Ian paints mostly oils, and mostly of waterscapes from West Auckland beaches to capture the light playing with the waves. He uses a palette knife and has enjoyed many different styles over the years, as can be seen in the collection he has accumulated in his own home. Though Ian has had work in many exhibitions over the years, he has never seen a need to paint for a purpose, but rather for the love it.
At 82, Ian is still painting. Sometimes he works every day for maybe two to three months before putting it aside for a while. He used to paint outside in the shed until his wife died, and now he indulges himself on the dining room table!
Painting is not Ian’s only love. He is a keen swimmer who completed a cross-harbour swim earlier this year, and can be found most days either swimming lengths at Westwave or the full length of Pt Chevalier beach.