10 October 2023
They may live in a retirement village but that doesn’t mean George Nuku and Neil McNae can’t still rock the house.
Both talented musicians, George spent much of his youth as a drummer in a pop group, while Neil toured the country with a 60-strong band of entertainers. Now both residents at Edgewater Village, the pair have buddied up to inject some soul into village life, bringing joy to residents with their toe-tapping renditions of old time favorites.
With George on the ukulele and Neil on the piano accordion, the duo can belt out all manner of tunes, and their performances in the care home have gone down a treat. Oldies like ‘She’ll be coming round the mountain’, and more modern tunes such as Rod Stewart’s ‘I am sailing’ have been welcomed in equal measure, providing a bright spot in the day for care home residents and staff alike.
“We play songs of our era that everybody knows, and many of them sing along. It’s a lot of fun and it feels good to know that we are bringing some joy to people,” says Neil.
Neil and his wife Lorna moved from Palmerston North to Edgewater Village four years ago, enticed by their three children, 12 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, all of whom live in Auckland.
“I came across George in the village library one day playing ukulele with Metlifecare salesperson Sanae Sekine. I started singing along and as soon as I mentioned that I also played the piano accordion they roped me in.”
Since then Neil and George have become big hits in the village, popular not just among care home residents but also those who frequent the Edgewater Village happy hours.
Says George, “We like to play for everyone on the occasional Friday night and sometimes Sanae joins us too. One happy hour was particularly memorable when one of the residents Mark had his two brothers with him. Turns out one of them plays rhythm guitar and the other plays bass guitar and they asked if they could join in. We had an instant five piece band, and everyone loved it.”
Since moving into the village a year ago George has welcomed the opportunity to live life his way.
“What I enjoy most about this place is that you can be as busy as you like or not do very much – it’s up to you.”
And for both George and Neil part of that luxury is having the freedom and the time to continue pursuing their lifelong love of music.