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I was born in Sandringham, Auckland, New Zealand on the 25 th September 1944. Meteorites flashed across the sky, volcanoes erupted and people ran screaming into the streets. I had a great childhood, walking to Wesley Primary just down the road and playing in the bush across from our house on the corner of O'Donnell Avenue and Sandringham Road Extension. We built Maori pas and claimed all the territory to the 'Rockies' - an elevated stone ridge. From here we fought off the invading kids with stone barrages. Usually a war ended when blood was drawn on either side. We dammed the Oakley Creek, caught eels and sold them to the Maori family down on the corner. We built numerous trolleys, some with large sails. We circled our block for hours - must have driven the neighbours nuts.
Saturday was always a visit to the 'bug house' a movie theatre in Sandringham. The movie was replayed on the walk home and throughout the following week in the bush and in backyards. We loved the serials at the movies...Batman, Superman, Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger...every hero left hanging by their fingertips on a cliff edge until the following Saturday. We also followed spies home from the movies. Unsuspecting adults totally unaware that some crazy kids were following them, hiding behind hedges and letterboxes.
My brother Michael and I discovered plasticine and we made entire worlds/cities in miniature. I remember once Michael's soldiers, made with incredible detail, about one hundred of them, supported by tanks and aircraft stormed my dressing table and overcame my fortifications. It took me more than a week to win it back. Bullets were delivered via safety pins. Many a finger oozed blood if you were not quick enough to get them out of the way of incoming machine gun fire crisscrossing the defences. My school days were nothing to write home about. My mum and dad did not put any pressure on us. Can't even remember them looking at a school report. Probably just happy to get us out of the house. We lived in a state housing area but didn't know it. We were just kids having fun. Scouts at the Black Hall, playing marbles, devouring 'Air Ace,' Tiger' and 'Dan Dare' comics. Reading 'The Secret Seven,' 'Famous Five' and "Tarzan.'
They didn't discover that I was short-sighted until I was about to enter secondary school. So as a result of my lack of academic achievement I was put in a technical form, trying to come to terms with subjects like woodwork and engineering for which I had no aptitude or interest in. So, my years at Mount Albert Grammar School were centred on sport and little else. The school tuck shop had great pies and doughnuts. A teacher talked me into applying for teacher's training college and I was accepted I think because there was a shortage of males entering the profession.
I eventually became a principal at Tomarata and Laingholm Primary Schools and an art teacher at Rodney College. I built a holiday park at Mangawhai Heads and owned a restaurant in St Heliers. Had three awesome children Cameron, Cher and Gemma. All this time I was tinkering with writing stories, putting the ideas in a box and working on them every now and again. I finished Robert the Polar bear way back in 1996. However, the stories languished in their box until just recently when Kathy my lovely wife and good friend Bruce said, "For goodness sakes Heff get on and finish them because you are running out of time!" True. So, the box was opened and out flew around a zillion moths. I set to work with a new iPad Pro and Procreate programme and began illustrating. Frustrating I can tell you!
Working with digital stuff at my tender age! 'Robert the Polar Bear' was finished first, then 'Ikky Sticky' "Jingle Jangle Street" next up and then 'The Reluctant Dragon' series. A chapter book series is also awaiting illustrating and a monster epic fantasy series, 'Lord of the Rings'- like is my masterpiece. This series nestles under my desk in its own suitcase. I can hear the battles raging inside as I work. I have been working on this for about ten years. I also create wacky, whimsical ceramic characters with help from Kathy who does the glazing. Ceramic pieces are on the back burner while I concentrate on my stories.
Mr Heff's first children's picture book 'Robert the Polar Bear' is all about the importance of being unique.
Mr Heff's children's books and ceramic pieces all have a unique, original, whimsical wackiness about them.
They are all about causing folk to smile, reminding them to laugh, have fun and enjoy life.
Mr Heff has worked with young folk in schools for hundreds of years as a classroom teacher, school principal and art teacher.
His stories have been stored in boxes for yonks.
Only recently his lovely wife Kathy and good friend Bruce told him sternly that he was running out of time, so had better get cracking and finish them!
The boxes were opened and out flew about a zillion moths.
Mr Heff, now in retirement is frantically working full time on his books. About twenty at the last count. Dragons and Knights, Pirates, Super Heroes, chooks, monsters, fairies, future worlds and a ginormous fantasy epic for children.
Mr Heff works from his studio on the water's edge on the Firth of Thames.
Kathy is an important part of the ceramic process applying the coloured glazes.
All the ceramic pieces are accompanied by a small story.