Graham R. Cooper

Graham R. Cooper

Graham Cooper was born in England. He was seven when he immigrated to New Zealand with his parents and two younger brothers.

In his late twenties Graham and his wife went overseas for two years. They began their travels by exploring Los Angeles, Toronto and Paris. The next two months were spent travelling by car throughout England, Scotland and Wales. After that, Graham and June worked in London for a year before spending four months travelling by train to many European countries. On their way back to New Zealand they spent ten days in Bali and a day in Sydney.

Apart from his first seven years, and the two years overseas as a young man, he has never left New Zealand. These days he feels very much at home in the South Island’s Mackenzie District.

Graham went to Tai Tapu Primary School on the outskirts of Christchurch. His first two years of secondary education were spent at Lincoln High School. Then the family (now completed by the addition of two girls), moved to Lower Moutere and Graham attended nearby Motueka High School. He has an M.A.(Hons.) degree in English from the University of Canterbury and a Diploma in Teaching from Christchurch Teachers’ College.

A secondary teacher for twenty years, the first ten of those were full-time, followed by ten years’ part-time. He began his teaching career at Waitaki Boys’ High School in Oamaru. His ten part-time teaching years were spent at Mackenzie College in Fairlie.

Graham and June and their two young children moved in 1992 to the Mackenzie District. June, a registered general and obstetrics nurse, left the profession so that she could stay at home with the children and work on creating one family’s version of a more self-reliant way of life.

She started a sole trader business making hand-felted apparel in 2000. Graham left teaching at the end of 2002 to learn the craft of felt making. The business then became a partnership trading as ‘Heartfelt’. Over the seventeen year lifespan of ‘Heartfelt’ they made an impressive number, (considering the manual labour involved), of hand-felted products.

Graham and June work hard to maintain a degree of self-sufficiency centred on Little Owl Gully’s ten acres. And Graham writes a blog about their life as modern-day homesteaders.

They also enjoy time spent with their children and grandchildren, and with their niece and her two children. The great outdoors lures them away on tramps, camping holidays, and to remote South Island locations accessed by off-road four-wheel drive tracks.

They always celebrate the anniversary of moving to Little Owl Gully. This year marks twenty-nine years of living on ten acres on a hillside in the Mackenzie District: the place they call home.

Graham R. Cooper’s personal journal gives his audience an insight into modern-day homesteading at Little Owl Gully.

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