The relationship between children and their fathers is all about respect, says musician, artist, sportsman, businessman and all-rounder, Nia Heather.
“It’s about respect, that should be taught at home.”
With Father’s Day on Sunday, he reminisces about his dad, who passed away in 1971.
Heather is the last of 15 children and was raised by his father.
“My dad was a very hard man, it was work, work, work.”
In his family, the tradition is – father is the figure head of the household.
“Whatever he says he’s right, you don’t question, you listen and do what is asked.”
Heather’s nephew Sam Crocombe was also brought up with him.
“There was just the three of us, my dad, Sam and me; which is why Sam and I are like brothers, we washed our own clothes, cooked our food.”
Heather was born on Rarotonga, attended St Joseph’s Primary School, and later Tereora College in 1966.
His first spell on the music circuit was with the Are Tipani string band (1968/69) that would play in front of the Banana Court.
From 1974 to 2003 he joined the Pearly Stars band as the lead singer, with musicians Rere Kaiaruna, Dan Turua, George Brown and the late Albert (Peto) Nicholas Sr.
Heather is a loyal supporter of the Avatiu Sports Club. Back in 1971 he played for the A-grade rugby team coached by the late Sir Geoffrey Henry.
He endured a broken leg and other injuries because of the sport and eventually retired from top level domestic rugby in the early 80s.
To keep up his fitness, he joined the Avatiu Nikao Mongoose team in 2005. The group would travel overseas to participate in various sports games.
“Travelling with a sports group, it’s very exciting.”
Heather and his wife Yvonne are also the owners of Vonnias, the popular and well-established stores on Rarotonga and Aitutaki.
But it not an easy start up. Back then, he did a lot of growing and planting and would deliver his produce to Foodland while Yvonne would make toastie sandwiches to sell.
With hard work, discipline, determination and drive, the couple built up their businesses.
Vonnias first store opened in 1986 followed Raro Records in the early 1990s. Today the shops have merged under one roof.
“We had a busy life.”
Although Heather turned 69 years old in August, he continues to go into the office.
“People say to me to retire, I say what for?” he laughs. “Age is just a number, I feel good.”
With so much commitment, how does he find the balance to juggle his family life, hobbies, and being a father and grandfather to 18 grandchildren.
“It’s time management, managing your time well,” he says.
Heather is looking forward to having his family at home on Sunday to feast and enjoy some umu and all the other food they love – raw fish, rukau, kinaki, moina tai and more.
“Once upon a time we would have this food only on Sundays, but nowadays if you want it you just go to the store and buy it any day; so, it’s up to each family to make their umu special,” he says.
“It’s a family day, it’s not about me, it’s about bringing the family together, we’re going to be all together.”
During these Covid times, Heather says the stores are getting busier because “everyone has gone back to working the land, so people want shovels, garden tools lawn mowers etc.”
He also likes to spend time at home and work on his garden, either weeding or planting.
“You’ve got your home to look after.”
Heather still has a love for music, and sing-alongs at the Mongoose get togethers are common with everyone joining in.
“But sometimes you get tired of singing, so you just sit and talk,” he laughs.
The message he would like to share especially with the children is to “respect their parents”.
Heather says he feels for parents who are being ignored by their children; and for kids being mistreated by their parents.
“Enjoy with your families and have a special day with your children.”