Martin Ferretti came to Ōtaki from Lower Hutt with his family in 1960.
He was not yet 5 years old, but the move to Bennetts Road and then Domain Road was to cement a lifetime connection to the town.
The Ferrettis were market gardeners, as were most Italian families who moved to Ōtaki in the post-war period. His grandfather, also a gardener, came to New Zealand from Italy in 1919 after the First World War.
His sons, including Martin’s father, Alf, and uncle Lou, carried on the tradition and established gardens in Ōtaki.
Martin was the oldest child of Alf and Lilian; then were three sisters, Donna, Lesley and Sharon.
They all went to Ōtaki School and Ōtaki College. Martin was head boy in his last year, 1973; Donna was also head girl and dux, and Lesley was also a head girl.
Martin says he loved college and still values the friendships forged nearly 50 years ago.
“There were four of us who just had fun – Lewis Meyer, Ian King and Ian Carson,” he says. “We had a great time. We thought we were so funny. Nothing fazed us in those days. Life seemed so simple.”
Even the prospect of leaving college and finding a job wasn’t a worry.
“There were plenty of jobs, so it was just a matter of deciding what you wanted to do.”
In Martin’s case, he went to Victoria University in Wellington to study geography, geology and education. It didn’t last.
“I was there about three months. I was bored so I got a job as a storeman at the Market Gardeners auction house. I enjoyed that more.”
Staying in the fruit and vegetable business, he bought a truck and carted produce on contract to Woolworths for eight years.
“I probably carted a lot of produce from my Dad’s and other Ōtaki gardens.”
They were the days when Ōtaki was still full of commercial gardeners who supplied the auction markets of Wellington and most other major cities in New Zealand.
Martin married Debra, and they moved to Auckland to set up what was then known as a “coffee shop” (now better known as a café) at Titirangi. It was hard slog, however, so they sold and Martin took a job as a real estate agent with Harvey’s.
However, he still wanted to go overseas, and after separating from Debra, he ended up in Sydney in 1985. He did a course in live sound and music audio with the School of Audio Engineering (SAE).
“I think I fancied myself as another Brian Eno, who was a famous record producer. I could see myself in the glamourous world of rock music, rubbing shoulders with the stars.”
Clearly excelling in the course and with recognised communication skills, Martin was shoulder-tapped by SAE to teach the same courses. They sent him to Malyasia and London for several years, and back to Sydney.
“I had a great time, but I got to my 40s and I was starting to wonder whether I should do something more responsible with my life. I thought I’d better get a ‘proper job’. It was a mid-life crisis point, I suppose.”
Martin contacted his old boss at Harvey’s in Auckland and was welcomed back into real estate in 1996. More than 20 years later, he’s still selling real estate in the inner-west suburbs of Auckland, from Dominion Road, Mt Roskill, to Titirangi.
Now with Ray White Real Estate, he’s been pretty successful. As one of Auckland top real estate agents, he’s amassed more than $450 million in sales.
And meantime, he’s married Aster.
“I know it’s a cliché, but I met her in a bar in Auckland. We just hit it off.’
Martin’s success has never diminished his connection with Ōtaki, where his mother still lives in Anzac Road. He attended the college 60th reunion, enjoying catching up with some friends he had not seen since the 50th reunion.
His only disappointment was that his old school friend, Lewis Meyer, who also lives in Auckland, was not able to attend with him. Lewis had just had major surgery, but was recovering well.