Life Stories- Plomari


Stage 3 - The NZ Businessman – Fish Monger – up to 63 years old / 1980

Dad’s eldest brother, Gianni, encouraged Dad to move to NZ where Theo had been since the 30’s.  There was a plumbing business in NZ that Dad could work in and then take over.  Thea Katerina was moving to NZ to marry Costa Protonotarios, and Dad wanted to make sure everything went OK for his sister.  So given the economic problems in Greece he decided to come to NZ for 10 years, with the intention to return to Greece after that. (Tui’s ad – “Yeah right!”). Migrated to NZ in 1954.

Through his youngest sister Katerina, he wrote a letter to our Mum inviting her to come to NZ to marry him.  With a bit of lucky timing, Mum accepted. They married in Temuka, NZ in 1955. A 55 year marriage followed and they had three children, Pelagia in 1956, Katerina in 1962 and Chris in 1966.Three children followed the marriage – first Pelagia in 1956.

They saved to buy their first and only business – a Fish and Chip shop in Geraldine (South Canterbury, New Zealand). They owned and operated the business for 24 years and involved the children in helping in the shop – gave us a strong work ethic.  The shop offered more financial reward than plumbing in NZ. Dad worked less than a year as a plumber in NZ before realising his brother-in-law, Costa was making more in two fish rounds (let alone what he made from his fish shop) than what Dad made all week from plumbing.  Over time, their business in Geraldine ended up making 4 times what he could have from his proposed plumbing business.

Dad enjoyed Greek social occasions every Sunday (large family and friend gatherings involving food, music, tavli (backgammon), poker and dancing - zeibetika. They worked hard and played hard.  They attended community organised dances.  These were the ‘good times’. Dad liked being close to  his family – our Thea Anastasia, Thea Katerina and Theo Yianni - and the many friends/Koumbari they made here.

Dad loved his Ford V8 fish van – rolled it in an accident, but his strength saved him.  He loved his Borgward Isabella (his German 2-door car) – highly regarded by the motoring press according to the Internet.

Dad was one of the founders of the current Greek Orthodox Church in Christchurch - donated equally with others to buy the church. 

He enjoyed summer camping at Raincliff and Skipton Bridge near Geraldine, with other Greek families.  It probably reminded him of Sedouda.

Above: With his wife, Zoe, his children and grandchildren.

Stage 4 - Retirement at last 

Retired in Geraldine where we stayed a few years while I (Chris) finished school – they put family first. Then moved to Christchurch where Mum and Dad lived for 22 years

Dad enjoyed lawn bowls in retirement.  My sister Katerina pushed him to try bowls – despite not wanting to because there was no money to be made, he got hooked.  He was very competitive.  He won 4 tournament trophies. Dad loved playing in teams with his nephews Dimitri and Gregory Moutzouris (Juriss) who also took the sport up.

A strong personal memory for me is the long economic and political debates Dad and I would have.  He really challenged my thinking, and made me think deeply about my viewpoint – as a result Economics was a breeze at University for me.

Finally Dad had his first trip back to Greece after 35 years in NZ.  Mum, Katerina and I (Chris) went.  So much for only 10 years in NZ – the reason he stayed in NZ was because he wanted to give his family a good life.  He was a good Dad. Finally, although he didn’t want to leave Christchurch, Mum and Dad moved to Wellington in 2006 to be closer to his children and younger grandchildren. A precious time for the grandchildren to get to know their Pappou and Yiayia.

Sadly our Father passed away in February 2011.  He is sadly missed. We remember him with much love and pride

Chris Juriss, Wellington New Zealand, February 2011.

Back to Panagiotis Moutzouris' Life Story: Part 1

I would like to thank Chris for sharing his father Panagiotis' life story with us and Katerina (Juriss) for all her help in organising this feature. V.V.