Topic: No caging this Tui

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Hauraki Herald reporter Gillian O’Neill meets a retired Thames woman who enjoys life out on the open road.

AFTER 50 years as a dairy farmer, raising three children and being involved in countless organisations and committees in the Thames area, Tui Frew has earned a rest and some home comforts. However, for this go-getting 77 year old there’s just simply no stopping and even those closest to her may find they need to book well in advance when it comes to pinning her down for a visit.

For the past nine years, Tui has lived on the road, touring the length and breadth of New Zealand in her beloved motor home, Gypsy Granny.

‘‘I just like the independence of it, going where you want when you want and not having to answer to anybody,’’ she said. ‘‘If I feel like moving I will, I might just go a few kilometres down the road. I love stopping in to little villages, having a coffee, meeting people and seeing what’s happening there.’’ For 50 years, Tui and her late husband farmed at Turua, raising three children, which has now expanded to include two greatgrandchildren.

‘‘I always thought living in a motorhome was something I’d like to do but my husband wasn’t that way inclined, he liked to have his comforts around him and his television. After I lost him I just decided to do it,’’ she said. ‘‘At first I’d cry all the way out the road leaving town but then you’d think about where you were going and what you were going to see and I’d be okay again.’’

As a member of the New Zealand Motorhome Association and the Freewheelers, Tui finds there are always events to go to where she can meet familiar faces. ‘‘You find you meet up with the same people a lot of the time. They are a great, I’ve made lots of really good friends.’’

Back on the home front, a trip in the campervan is a serious treat for the grandkids. ‘‘They just love it, it’s such a novelty for them and I love having them with me and spending time with them.’’

But Tui’s travel bug also frequently takes her beyond New Zealand. ‘‘I’m flying to the South Island in July from where I’m heading off on a cruise around the Pacific Islands. I’ve done quite a few over the years but one that is definitely on the bucket list is Alaska. I really want to go there although it might mean I have to sell the bus so I’ll have to think hard about that one,’’ she said.

‘‘My intention is to stay on the road until I can’t drive any more. I haven’t been on power for 18 months and I haven’t missed anything. I don’t read at night any more anyway, I’m in bed by dark so it’s not a problem.’’

Although she has been involved with a myriad of clubs and organisations, Tui’s two main passions at the moment are the Thames Small Gauge Railway and the town’s Storytelling Group. ‘‘I always make sure I’m here in May for the railway’s open day. We had around 1500 people come through over the weekend this year, it was fantastic. ‘‘On the night they awarded me an Honorary Life Membership, I couldn’t believe it.’’ Her association with the railway society for the past 18 years is one that has also opened many friendship doors. ‘‘I’m going to the Manakau Railway Society this weekend.

 With no plans to settle down and the world as her oyster, it appears there’s nothing this intrepid pensioner is needing. ‘‘People often ask me would I like a partner but I always say, ‘could you imagine me saying shall we or will we instead of I am or I’m going?’. I have a good AA membership so that if anything happens I can call someone out. That’s all I need. ‘‘I’m 77, not running but not stopping.’’

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No caging this Tui

First Names:Tui
Last Name:Frew