The following is paraphrased from James McNeish Mask of Sanity:
Robin's father was a butter and cheese maker who had gone to build a butter and cheese factory in Pakistan in 1958 under the Colombo Plan.
In 1964 Robin left New Zealand as a volunteer to teach at a small mission school in Papua New Guinea. He returned to Dunedin in 1965 and married in 1969. He was studying for a degree which he completed in 1972, the year David was born. In Dunedin at the Anderson's Bay Presbyterian church Robin and Margaret had been dedicated youth leaders.
Robin Bain was nearly 40 when he went back to Papua New Guinea in 1974 with his wife, Margaret. Robin was a missionary, his salary was equivalent to a New Zealand clergyman. He then entered government service in the capital Port Moresby and became handsomely paid. At Gaulim Teachers College Robin gave pep talks, designed teaching programs, organised the timetable and lectured on child development. He empathised with his students. To his work he brought an end-of-year report from his supervisors which reads: "humour and quiet authority". He was Deputy-Principal.
In 1979 Robin transferred to a government institution in Port Moresby. He was a senior lecturer retraining teachers and inventing new courses. The Bains involved themselves in musical and creative activities. Robin founded a band. He sang as a light tenor and as bass. He played a half a dozen instuments, ranging from guitar to tea chest, bluegrass style. They had a brown vinyl beanbag in the house, the same beanbag he died on. Later on,things were to change. Port Moresby became a rather violent place. The Bain's were dining with an Australian family at the university one night when a friend of the hosts daughter rushed in to say her daughter had been pinned at knifepoint in her car and dragged away by rascals. She was later found in a field, having been gang-raped. This incident and its aftermath would affect both the Bain girls, (Arawa was a friend of the victim). Later David, with his gift for neutralising anything emotional or unpleasant, would refer to "a traumatic event that had taken place", without offering any further explanation.
Robin was a dedicated educator but he had a habit of ignoring rules and undoing what others had done before. The Bain house was out of control, the children were home schooled. Small wonder that David, a secretive and sensitive child grew up odd (he was still getting into his mothers bed for cuddles when he was fourteen). He was eleven before he went to school.
The Bain's returned to New Zealand in December 1988. At first Robin Bain could not get a job. A year later he landed a permanent teaching post as headmaster at Taieri Beach School in 1990. He was very witty in the staffroom,and Dorothy Duthie, the school board chairman, said that one night, when Robin came for dinner, he said "I've got a new Commodore". Hooray, she thought, he's finally got a decent vehicle. But no, he meant a door for his Commer van.