Papamoa icon seeking new digs

The ‘Mayor of Papamoa’ – Wayne Jacobi is moving on. Photo: Daniel Hines.

There’s a heap of crap in Wayne Jacobi’s front yard.

“Oh yeah! 23 years of crap. I am a bloody hoarder. There’s some good crap too.” Maybe, but you’d have to scratch around to find it.

Amongst all the prime, million-dollar beachside properties down Papamoa Road, Wayne’s joint stands out. But for other reasons. His is the one with slovenly pride, it’s a dump. “It’s certainly a male’s place, a bloke’s property. There aren’t many women that come here. That’s for sure. We don’t encourage that.”

Papamoa people know Wayne and know his house. The yard is littered with bicycle skeletons, bike bits and bobs, bike stuff, piles of bike tyres, seats, handlebars, helmets. This is the home of Wayne, ‘The Bikeman’, Wayne ‘The Bikeman’ Jacobi.

But now he’s been told to get on his bike. He has to leave the rented property. “Margaret, the landlord, has been very good to me. She gave me notice six months ago. But when I couldn’t find somewhere to live, she said I could stay until the end of November.”

He hopes something will crop up. “I know loads of people and they’re all keeping an eye out. I will find a bed somewhere even if it’s the back of my car. Hope it doesn’t come to that.” But circumstances may be working against Wayne – he wants another Papamoa seaside renter, right on summer and hopefully at his ‘going rate’ -  something like the $350 he’s paying now. That’s $350 a fortnight.

But the rental market has galloped ahead at an exponential rate of dollars since Wayne moved into 512 Papamoa Road 23 years ago.

Now from his favourite chair, with talkback, his ‘best friend’, murmuring mindlessly in the background, Wayne can gaze past the peeling paint on his front door, over his junk-dom to where some mates are loading scrap metal into a huge bin. It’s Papamoa’s answer to TV rag and bone men Steptoe and Son.

“It started with one bike out the front. Can’t remember where it came from. Some fruit pickers from Vanuatu thought it was for sale.” All of a sudden people are dropping off bikes, Wayne’s fixing them and bundling them off to Vanuatu. “I am cannibalising one or two bikes to fix another.” This year 52 have been packed into containers and sent to the islands.

Bikes have kept Wayne busy. “Someone will drop by and see a bike they like. I will fix it up for them.

“Otherwise they might drop one off and want something done to it and I will fix it up.”

Unlike the fruit pickers from Vanuatu, he charges locals. “The boys from Vanuatu have nothing to start with. All these other people have s…loads more money than I do. They pull up in their Mercedes Benz and drop off a tub of a bike to be fixed.” And he obliges – he’s been fixing bikes since he was a kid in Wellington. And he just likes to make people happy.

“I hope I am a nice guy. I try to be, I certainly don’t set out to be a bastard.” And he’s not a lonely or grumpy old man either. In the hour The Weekend Sun was visiting, there were a couple of phone calls and three ‘old mates’ dropped by for a chat. “Feel like the Mayor.” 

‘Absolute giver - selfless’ - that’s the way his mates describe him. He worked for the local church community centre, delivered bread to the homeless, “But mainly my work has been with kids, I was a youth counsellor.” So it’s ironic Wayne lost a son to suicide, a son he never really knew, a son Wayne says didn’t even know he was his Dad.

But that was a long time ago and it’s not a story for now.

Junk has overrun his front yard, whiskers have taken over his face. Although there is a twinkle of kindness in those steely blue eyes, a twinkle that breaks through the jungle and a certain lingering sadness and uncertainty. And he chuckles a lot. 

The house bus at the front of the section is headed south with its life-long mate of an owner, the caravan’s headed somewhere else. But exactly where Wayne Jacobi is headed is unclear. He will be “a bit pissed off” to leave his collection of hats, cobwebs and spiders with whom he is on first name terms with.

“Been here so long everyone thinks it’s my property – I have sold it several times.” He’s talking about people who drop in with spontaneous offers. He doesn’t even own that peeled paint on the door.

Wayne has until the end of the month. Any suggestions, ideas or offers would be very welcome. Call him on his landline: 07 574 1009. “I don’t do cellphones and all that other stuff.”

There goes that trademark chuckle again.