Home' Hastings Mail : June 7th 2011 Contents 12 HASTINGS MAIL, JUNE 8, 2011
Visit brings memories of laughter and loss
By NEILL GORDON
tears: Brent and
Anni ''were just
like father and
Two worlds will come together in
Napier this month for a young
For Anni Shanks -- the daugh-
ter of a Kiwi dad and German
mum -- being in New Zealand with
her school choir is a long-held
dream finally realised. That's the
happy part of the story.
The other part of the story is
that Anni has a special bond with
a Greenmeadows family who
hosted her for six months in 2009.
Three months into her stay, one
of her host parents, Karamu High
School teacher Brent Dark, died
suddenly while mountainbiking,
leaving Brent's wife, Catherine,
their four children aged 9, 11, 14
and 15, and Anni, bereft beyond
Two years on, the answer to the
question how do you cope?'',
Catherine says, is simply some
days, some weeks, you don't.
If you'd come last week, you'd
see that I don't. It's bloody hard
work. And the kids all still take
turns at blowing and blasting.''
A fortnight ago, Catherine lay
wiped out by a 48-hour tummy
bug while one of her children was
crying themselves to sleep in the
next room but I had nothing left
Last week, I said to mum
there's nothing you can do, I'm
sad, I'm grieving. Next week I'll be
OK'. There's times, like this week
one of the boys has needed a dad
and there isn't one. It's hard.''
Anni's visit next week will be a
reminder of the grim weeks fol-
lowing Brent's death, but also
much happier times.
They had a neat relationship.
They were just like father and
Anni was at Easter Camp with
the boys and they came home to
find [he'd died].
It was an incredibly intense
time. She grieved like a daughter
does for a father.''
Catherine recalls the 16-year-
old coming to her a couple of days
after Brent died: I was in the
bathroom and she said I need to
tell you that if you need me to find
somewhere else to live I under-
stand and that's OK'. I remember
grabbing her and telling her
You're not going anywhere. If
you're prepared to stay, I'm keep-
The Dark family's church,
Pirimai Baptist, was an incredible
support, Catherine says. One of
the practical ways they helped
was delivering two meals a week
to their door for a year.
In the weeks after
Brent's death and after
Anni returned home, the
service Skype enabled
the Darks to share
the full emotional
times with her
had known each
other for years.
born dad, Neil, a
freelance video edi-
tor, and Brent had
been mates at Vic-
toria University in the
early 1980s. Neil is
also coming to Napier
as choir tour director.
Skype was good
because they [Anni's
parents] were able to come
in and almost be part of it
There were times I
thought, crap, four griev-
ing kids is enough to deal
with, I don't need five', but
we worked through it.
We'd gone from this
family of seven down to six, but it
wasn't until she left we became a
family of five and there was this
empty space at the table.
We still Skype twice a month.
You can't fake anything. They
know if I'm having a bad day
because they can see. Anni wrote
a song after Brent died and the
other night she played and sang it
The technology meant it was
almost like having her still here
in the house with us'', Catherine
I'm prepared that
it [her visit] is going
to bring some stuff
back again. Having
the father and
daughter in the
house again --
there'll be some
stuff. But it all
It's a complicated
mix of emotions --
the times we had
with Anni here were
the best of times and
the worst of times.
She is truly part of
our family and we
are really looking
forward to more fun
and laughter with
her. The kids will
have the guitars out
and be jamming;
we're so excited
about her coming
Youthful 60-strong choir sings out
Forty years of excellence: Award-winning youth choir Christophorus-Kantorei.
Bay hosts Germany's best
An internationally renowned
youth choir from Germany
performs in Hawke's Bay this
The 60-strong Christophorus-
Kantorei, from the Black Forest
town of Altensteig, plays concerts
in Napier and Hastings on June
17 and 19 respectively.
The choir has been winning
national and international prizes
for 40 years and last year was
named Best German Youth Choir.
The group is the concert choir of
the Christophorus Music Gym-
nasium in Altensteig and is com-
prised of 60 male and female
singers between the ages of 15
and 19 years.
Young students start in specific
choir classes and participate in
the children's choir.
By the time the singers reach
the Kantorei, they have well-
As well as intensive rehearsals,
every choir member takes voice
lessons from expert voice trainers.
Its repertoire includes sacred
and secular a-cappella music.
The Hawke's Bay concerts are
expected to include music by J S
Bach, W Byrd, F Mendelssohn
Bartholdy, John Rutter and Eric
Friday, June 17, 7.30pm, St
John's Cathedral, Napier.
Sunday, June 19, 2pm, St
Matthew's Church, Hastings.
Admission $10 at the door --
proceeds to the Christchurch
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