Collectors never retire, says antique dealer-turned-realtor

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Howard Gee lives on the island of Waiheke, in an old villa he moved from Mount Eden three decades ago. He owned an eclectic general and second-hand store for 14 years, but is now a real estate agent who continues to collect.

Howard Gee: My house is a little off I guess. My builders called me a hoarder.

The thrift store has filled a void, but after lugging huge pieces of woodwork around the joint for over a decade, you’re a little tired.

I collected quite a few things during this time including around 800 vinyl records, lots of china, native wooden furniture and a set of chrome yachts.

A Maori sculpture of the French Embassy in Wellington “without the middle piece.  I removed the mirror”.

RICKY WILSON/Stuff

A Maori sculpture of the French Embassy in Wellington “without the middle piece. I removed the mirror”.

Now I’m Barfoot & Thompson’s solo property group on Waiheke. I do it full time, but when we talk about full time in real estate it doesn’t mean much. I’ve been fishing for two days.

I moved here three decades ago when my partner, an islander, was pregnant with our first child.

We were sick of the hustle and bustle, so we bought this old house for $4,500. We paid $15,000 to move it to a $28,000 section. Old houses are beautiful and it is good to reuse them.

“Old houses are beautiful and good to reuse,” says Howard Gee of his house.

RICKY WILSON/Stuff

“Old houses are beautiful and good to reuse,” says Howard Gee of his house.

Gee's eclectic collections cover everything from vintage sideboards to posters to records.

RICKY WILSON/Stuff

Gee’s eclectic collections cover everything from vintage sideboards to posters to records.

There are more young people arriving on the island now, which is great, although trying to get them into accommodation is next to impossible. That said, in the past 18 months, I’ve moved six young couples into homes.

I am separated and my children are grown, so I am home alone. I am dance with wolves. But my daughters, especially my youngest, often come and stay.

A collection of ducks and perfume bottles in Howard Gee's bathroom.

RICKY WILSON/Stuff

A collection of ducks and perfume bottles in Howard Gee’s bathroom.

A pumpkin-themed soup set that Howard Gee got from a garage sale for $25.

RICKY WILSON/Stuff

A pumpkin-themed soup set that Howard Gee got from a garage sale for $25.

When my 25 year old son started visiting me I said “this is your room, do what you want with it”.

She painted all the walls with superheroes up to the ceiling. She’s doing a computer engineering degree, but when she comes down, she’ll still be climbing a ladder and finishing off bits.

When people stay here and see it, they say “that’s… that freaked me out”. It’s a beautiful work of art what she has done.

Howard Gee's daughter's bedroom is covered in figures she painted herself.

RICKY WILSON/Stuff

Howard Gee’s daughter’s bedroom is covered in figures she painted herself.

RICKY WILSON/Stuff

“It’s a beautiful work of art what she’s done,” says Howard Gee.

Like any old house, this one requires work.

I found old cans of grey, cream and red paint in my office and started repainting during the lockdown. I did 75% of the work myself, with the help of my daughter and my neighbour.

people could hear The sound and bfm play throughout Rocky Bay, and me sing along. It’s nice to have some loud music while painting.

Howard Gee painted his house during lockdown - with lots of loud music.

RICKY WILSON/Stuff

Howard Gee painted his house during lockdown – with lots of loud music.

Royal Doulton plaques line the walls.

RICKY WILSON/Stuff

Royal Doulton plaques line the walls.

This neighborhood is a real community. We take care of each other here. I always drop a bit of fish to someone.

My collecting habit started when I lived on Ponsonby Road. I used to roam the thrift stores to buy the odd bit.

Now when I go to town it’s a food trip, I pass by places like Mr. Morris, Cafe Hanoi and Blue Breeze Inn.

A collection of fireplaces in the courtyard of Howard Gee's house.

RICKY WILSON/Stuff

A collection of fireplaces in the courtyard of Howard Gee’s house.

A bust purchased from The Glass House was coated in motor oil to prevent it from rusting.

RICKY WILSON/Stuff

A bust purchased from The Glass House was coated in motor oil to prevent it from rusting.

One of my favorite pieces is a piece of a William Norrie box, circa 1875. The colonial settler built everything with hand tools.

I also have a Maori sculpture of the French Embassy in Wellington – without the middle part. I took out the mirror – and a mottled kauri sideboard.

Part of the Howard Gee Musical Memorabilia Collection.

RICKY WILSON/Stuff

Part of the Howard Gee Musical Memorabilia Collection.

At last count, he had three stereo systems and two turntables to play his record collection.

RICKY WILSON/Stuff

At last count, he had three stereo systems and two turntables to play his record collection.

At last count, I had three stereo systems and two turntables to play my record collection, but I have two and three records. It’s something I have to sort out one winter.

I probably have too many things. The children also have half the disease and always ask me to help them acquire their own antiques.

Will I ever retire? You never quite retire when you collect. You’re always going to see something, and if the price is right, you buy it.

Howard Gee at his home on Waiheke Island, a villa he moved from the mainland.

RICKY WILSON/Stuff

Howard Gee at his home on Waiheke Island, a villa he moved from the mainland.

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