Home' Greymouth Star : March 18th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - 5
The Coast Road between
Greymouth and Charleston
has a culture all of its own ---
and for born-and-bred West
Coaster, Leon Dalziel, that
world is right outside his doorstep.
"Everything s out here for me," Leon says,
sitting in the sunlit kitchen of his house at
Ten Mile, north of Rapahoe. Outside the
front door, Bud the german shepherd waits
impatiently for their next walk into the
bush, while chickens wander in the yard and
scratch in the flower beds.
Leon inherited this picturesque property
from his father, who moved there in the late
1960s. "All of these houses were for the old
coalmine up the back here. ey were all
little baches and huts, and this was the mine
manager s house."
Located on a steep hillside overlooking
the sea, the house gives him easy access to
both the bush tracks and the beach. When
he s not running his web design company
from his home office, he is most likely
to be spotted outdoors with his dog --- a
New Zealand lifestyle that is becoming
e Dalziel family has deep roots on the
West Coast. Leon s great-grandmother,
Martha Keown, ran the Australasian Hotel
for a few years, while his grandfather held
a greenstone claim and was among the first
Pakeha carvers, and his father, Cliff Dalziel,
was a greenstone prospector.
Cliff met Leon s mother, Monique,
when she was at university. Originally
from ailand, she came to New Zealand
on a student exchange programme and
completed sixth and seventh form at
Greymouth High School before studying
for bursary in Canterbury.
" at was when the whole Coast Road
hippie art thing was kicking off, in the early
1970s," Leon explains. " at s how mum
and dad met."
ough neither of them were hippies
themselves, they had mutual friends among
the artists, carvers and potters making
themselves at home near Barrytown.
" ey were probably the two odd ones
out," he says.
ey married, and Leon was born in 1973.
He had one younger brother, Evan. e
family spent much of their time away from
town, with beaches and bush-covered hills
always close by.
Leon remembers going to class at the
small Barrytown School, with about 30
children of all different ages. "It s still kind
of the same as what it was," he says. Later he
spent a few years studying in Runanga and
Greymouth, then went away to boarding
school in Nelson. By an early age, he was
starting to play around with computers.
"I probably don t look like a computery
person," he admits. "But when I was at
school we had computer studies, and I kind
of liked it. I thought computers seemed to
be the way to go."
At 17, he returned to Greymouth to
study business computing at Tai Poutini
Polytechnic. "It was the very first year of
the polytech," he says. " ere was only the
computer course, and there was a secretarial
course, and the only other one was the
e field suited him so well that by 1990
he was moving to Sydney to do computer
work for an advertising agency, first in
graphic design and then database and
administration work. Apple Macintosh
computers were just coming into their
own back then, and Leon learned a lot of
his skills on the job. "It was kind of like an
apprenticeship in those days."
Sydney was a new experience after growing
up on the West Coast. "I loved it at the
time. I was five years in Sydney and it was
great --- shopping, out for dinner, partying,
nightclubs, all of that. It s really good when
you re young, in your early 20s. I just had a
In the end, however, the lifestyle was not
for him: "Five years was enough".
Leon returned to New Zealand in 1995
and worked at a small advertising agency in
Nelson for a while. He also tried living in
Wellington for a year, sharing a orndon
apartment with his then-girlfriend.
In the early 2000s, his father died in an
accident while hunting deer in the steep
hills above his beloved Coast Road.
"I ve kind of got this affinity with up the
back here because that s where dad used to
look after the tracks and go deerstalking,
and that s where he died as well," Leon says.
"It wasn t a good way to go, but it s nice that
he passed away doing something that he
wanted to, where he wanted to."
From then on the family home stood
empty, and Leon would drive down from
Nelson on long weekends to trim the lawn
and keep the place in one piece. It became a
kind of holiday home for him, but over the
years his holidays became longer and longer,
until he was dividing his time almost evenly
between Nelson and the West Coast.
He finally settled back here for good about
three years ago. "I got sick of the drive, and
I woke up one day and thought, I ve been
back here for nine months and I haven t
gone back to Nelson . I thought it s probably
time to move down properly, so I did."
It was also around that time when
he adopted Bud, aka Big Ears, the big,
friendly german shepherd that follows him
"I got him when he was that big, and now
he s 40kg. He s great. Because I m up the
back here and also down on the beach, I
was very, very conscious of him being bird-
friendly. I didn t want him to be one of those
dogs that killed anything. e only thing
he s allowed to have a crack at are possums."
Bud accompanies his friend on tramping
trips over the hills, fitted with saddle bags
so he can help carry water and equipment.
In the evenings he patrols the bush near the
house looking for possums.
"If he finds a possum he ll chase it up a tree
and bark at it until I come out and shoot it
for him, and then he ll pick the possum up
and bring it back down to the house for me.
I m quite pleased with how he s turned out."
ese days Leon spends the majority of his
time outside. From his house he can climb
down to the beach for paddle-boarding,
diving and fishing, or follow a network of
old mining and prospecting tracks that
connect with the Croesus Track, a little
further up the coast. He sets traps and bait
stations for stoats, rats and possums, and is
part of the West Coast Blue Penguin Trust.
"I enjoy the environment, but rather than
just admiring it I m wanting to be more
involved with what s going on. I m trying to
do some kiwi spotting and kiwi listening at
night, and I get off on all kinds of tangents.
I m trying to see if there are any bats up
here. I m really curious to know if we ve got
any kaka around."
Leon has his own web design company,
baby-e, which he runs out of his home office
in partnership with other small businesses
in the South Island. He has designed
websites for the Buller District Council, the
Greymouth Regent eatre and a number
of tourism and hospitality companies on the
Working from home allows him a work-
life balance that suits an active West Coaster.
"When I was in Nelson I was working 50,
60, 70 hours a week, whereas down here I m
probably more likely to work 20 to 30 hours
a week, and get out and enjoy doing things
--- and I m not stuck in the office."
e rest of his time is spent supporting
the community around Barrytown and the
Coast Road. He knows most of the people
living between his house and Punakaiki
and is on the committee that looks after the
" e characters that I grew up with, they re
still here. Everyone s doing their thing and
it s just a really good community feeling
out here. If you walk down the road, half a
dozen people will wave at you when you go
Just a few years of this lifestyle makes it
hard for him to imagine spending his life
"I love it too much, because I m only 20
minutes from town, but I probably only go
into town once every two to three weeks,
if I can help it. I m more likely to drive up
to Punakaiki than go into Greymouth. It s
beautiful out here. It s just like a different
Leon Dalziel and his four-legged pal Bud chill on the front porch at Ten Mile.
Leon Dalziel is one of the more recognisable characters of the Coast Road, known as much for his german shepherd as
he is for his involvement in the Barrytown community. He sat down with CHRISTINE LINNELL to talk about his
travels, and the West Coast lifestyle that eventually brought him back home.
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