by Helen Martin
Newcomers to Helensville will know Kerry and Doug King as Barfoot and Thompson real estate agents, but as Kerry was born here and Doug came when he was 13, people who have been in the district a long time will also know them as a couple who have been involved in a great variety of local activities over the years.
Kerry and three of her four brothers were born at Malolo House. Her mother Pauline and father Stan Ross were both from local railway families and lived in railway houses in Awaroa Road as children. As a couple, for 42 years Pauline and Stan owned the house in Awaroa Road Kerry and her brothers grew up in. Pauline, now 90, still lives in the road, although not in the same house. “Almost my whole life has been in Awaroa Road,” Kerry says. “The first house Doug and I bought was there.”
Kerry recalls a wonderful childhood, with plenty of neighbouring kids to play with and a close school friend Barb, who eventually became a much-loved sister-in-law after marrying Kerry’s brother Greg. “Helensville had everything. As a family we went camping at Shelly Beach. We’d fish for eels in the Awaroa Creek, ride bikes and horses and hang out in the neighbourhood.” When her brothers were out deer hunting, shooting and fishing, Kerry preferred being home with her mother. “I was never allowed to go duck shooting because the language wasn’t ‘suitable’ for a young girl. I remember that feeding us all was always colossal - when Mum cooked ducks for us for dinner she’d cook six at a time, because the boys and Dad all had one each, and she and I would have half.”
Kerry went to Helensville Primary and Kaipara College, played hockey, then played and coached netball for several years. Doug and Kerry got together in their early teens and have been together ever since. As teenagers they hung out at the Barbecue Milk-bar on the corner of Awaroa and Commercial Roads. “It had a jukebox, milkshakes - it was the happening place. There were basketball dances in the Oddfellows Hall. We did Scottish dancing and went to the movies at the local theatre on a Friday and Saturday night.” Once there were children, as a family the Kings went fishing in their boat, played sport and took part in Cubs, Scouts and Venturers. Doug ran the projector at the local theatre for a few years when the kids were teenagers because he loves movies. Their sport of choice is now bowls, where they’ve had a lot of success as members of the Helensville Bowling Club Business House team.
At first, Kerry and Doug had separate jobs - she did a brief stint in a city typing pool, then switched to a job as receptionist in Helensville because she was homesick - “I’d see the Kaipara dairy truck and burst into tears. It took all my willpower not to knock on its door and say, ‘take me home.’” The job she left when she was pregnant with their first child was at the BNZ, right next to her birthplace, Malolo house. Doug worked first as a mechanic at McLeod Motors, next became a railway mechanic, then bought a digger and did part time digging and trenching. They eventually began working together when, as parents of three college-aged children, they became owners of a chocolate factory, operating out of Oddfellows Hall. After 11 years there they sold the business and Doug went on to buy a stainless-steel manufacturing business, which he ran for a further 10 years
Working as a receptionist for a real estate company in Kaipara Court once the kids had grown up and left home gave Kerry the impetus to forge a career for herself as a real estate agent. She found the job interesting, not least because it’s so varied, and studied for her professional papers. She began working at Barfoot and Thompson in Kumeu, then twelve years ago moved to the company’s Helensville branch. Doug soon followed. For some time now, they have worked together, self-employed but under the Barfoot and Thompson umbrella.
With Pauline and Stan the original Ross settlers in Helensville, the Ross family are now into their fifth generation in the area. “My brothers and Doug and I all stayed in Helensville when we grew up because we didn’t need to go anywhere else, we just loved being here,” Kerry says. “I’ve grown up in this town and I know the lifestyle it’s given us. I love young families coming into the town and, because I know it so well, as a real estate agent I can tell people about the schools and how bringing up a family here is so much easier than the city. It’s the smallness of the community. You get to know the parents. I pick up the grandkids from school and can talk to the mums. A lot are girls who were friends with my kids and it’s lovely to see they’re still here and still part of Helensville. Doug would never go anywhere else either. It’s given him everything he’s wanted.”