Monday, November 15, 2010

Courage Day and writers

"The writer cannot be a mere storyteller; he cannot be a mere teacher; he cannot merely X-ray society's weaknesses, its ills, its perils. He or she must be actively involved shaping its present and its future." Ken Saro-Wiwa (1941-1995)

Freedom of speech and supporting persecuted writers is remembered around the world each November. Called Courage Day in honour of two New Zealand writers, James and Sarah Courage, whose writings were suppressed in the early 20th century, this New Zealand name is also appropriate because of the bravery required by those authors who face opposition in its many forms

James Courage’s book 'A Way of Love', about a homosexual relationship, was banned in New Zealand for some years. His grandmother, Sarah Courage, wrote 'Lights and Shadows of Colonial Life', in which descriptions of her neighbours were so unflattering that many copies were destroyed.

PEN, (which is loosely aligned with Amnesty International) stands for the principle of unhampered transmission of thought within, and between, all nations, and members pledge themselves to oppose any form of suppression of freedom of expression.

In 2006, as part of Courage Day, the NZ Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc.) and PEN International remembered the Nigerian television producer, writer of satirical novels, children's tales, and plays, Ken Saro-Wiwa. Born in 1941, he was the eldest son of a prominent Ogoni family, and after leaving university pursued an academic career. He later became a novelist and television producer: his long-running satirical TV series Basi & Co was purported to be the most watched soap opera in Africa. Throughout his work he often made references to the exploitation he saw as oil and gas industries took riches from the beneath the feet of the impoverished Ogoni farmers, and in return left the land and water polluted and the people disenfranchised.

Saro-Wiwa was imprisoned by dictator Sani Abacha for defending the rights of the Ogoni, and criticising his government's oil policy with Royal Dutch Shell. Despite international protests, Saro-Wiwa was hung after a show trial with other eight activists in Port Harcourt, on November 10, 1995. To remember his death, Courage Day is being commentated on the 10th rather than the usual 15th November. As recently as September 2005, Ogoni people, who continue to defend their rights, stormed a Nigerian oil platform, after the arrest and possible sentence of execution, of one of their leaders.

Worldwide, writers continue to be persecuted for their writings: one of Turkey's best-selling novelists, Orhan Pamuk, is charged with insulting the Turkish Republic with statements published in a Swiss newspaper on February 6, 2005. In Afghanistan journalists were abducted, arrested, and threatened in pre-election violence, while the New York Times researcher Zhao Yan has been in custody in China for over a year, and recently, in Khatmandu, Nepal, almost 90 journalists were arrested. And, on September 22nd the award-winning war journalist, Robert Fisk, was banned from entering the United States to speak at a public meeting.

Reporters Without Borders defends imprisoned journalists and press freedom throughout the world, as well as upholding the right of the public to be informed - in accordance with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On the 1st January 2005, it reported 107 journalists and 70 cyber-dissidents were in prison around the world and, for the second year running, Iraq was the world’s most dangerous country for journalists: nineteen reporters and 12 media assistants were killed there during the year. Terrorist strikes and Iraqi guerrilla attacks were the main cause, but the US army was also held responsible for the death of four of them. (U.S. troops are reported to have killed 13 journalists since the U.S.-led war began in March 2003.) They also report that around the world at least 53 journalists were killed in 2004 while doing their job.

Apart from Chaucer, Shakespeare appears to have been expurgated more often than any other English language author – starting with Elizabeth 1st who had a passage cut from performances of his play, Richard 2nd - and even today cut editions of his work are read in some schools.

And censorship continues: at the end of September, a Liberal Australian MP called for 'an outrageous book' (The Bad Book by Andy Griffiths) to be withdrawn from school libraries.

New Zealand is not exempt from censorship either. As recently as 2003, Malcolm Evans, the New Zealand Herald cartoonist, was, it seems, dismissed for refusing to stop addressing the Israeli - Palestine conflict in his work.

Other books that have been banned, censored or suppressed in New Zealand include Ettie Routs 'Safe Marriage' and the children's reader, "Washday at the Pa' - with Ans Westra photos - which was withdrawn from schools and pulped in the early sixties. Jean Devanny (born Nelson, 1894) had her novel 'The Butcher Shop' banned because of its supposed obscenity and detriment to New Zealands immigration policy, along with 'a most vivid description of the symptoms of delirium tremens.'

Even one of New Zealands twenty Living Icons, Hone Tuwhare, had some of his first works banned by the Maori Affairs Department, apparently because of his early communist affiliations. Another New Zealander, William Taylor, author of numerous novels for children and young adults, is one of only a few Kiwi who have had their work banned by the American Library Association.

On Courage Day  2010, its well worth remembering them all again

I’ll tell you this, I may be dead but my ideas will not die.
Ken Saro-Wiwa 1941-1995

Friday, September 10, 2010

New Zealand is Lonely Planet’s place to stay

09 Sep 2010 New Zealand has won a prestigious travel award from Lonely Planet, the world’s most famous guidebook - in the inaugural ‘Lonely Planet Awards’.

Thousands of British travellers voted online in various categories for the awards - which showcase some of the most fantastic places and experiences around the world.

New Zealand topped the category ‘I’d happily stay forever in …’

Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler said the win proved that New Zealand would always remain a popular choice with holidaymakers."This award is a great achievement for New Zealand as a country and is a wonderful confirmation of what we’ve always believed - that New Zealand is a great holiday destination for international visitors.

"People come here for the scenery, but they leave talking about the warmth and hospitality of our people. I think that combination has helped us win this award from our visitors," he said.

NZ’s British fans
The new Lonely Planet Awards are based entirely around traveller votes from the British public on their top trip experiences.

Lonely Planet travel editor Tom Hall said the categories within the awards covered all the elements that made a trip truly unique "from food and culture to journeys, activities and even who you travel with".
"The results of the Lonely Planet Awards include some surprising winners, such as the Mayan temples at Tikal," Hall said.
"The success of these lesser-known attractions really highlights how worthwhile it is to venture away from some of the world’s best-known places and sights and discover what else the world has to offer."

New Zealand a real winner
Lonely Planet Magazine editor Peter Grunert said the awards were based on readers’ top travel moments.
"Rather than the usual list of favourite hotels, spas and airlines, we want to get under the skin of what inspires people to travel, from their favourite cultural experiences to their greatest wildlife encounters and historical experiences," said Grunert.
New Zealand’s win meant that readers and travellers most wanted to put down roots and settle down forever in the country. Australia was their second choice.

Background: Lonely Planet Awards 2010
More than 3500 people voted in the Lonely Planet Awards 2010, which were created in conjunction with UK adventure specialist Explore.

Other great travel experiences that Lonely Planet readers would like to experience included visiting the Mayan temples in Tikal - which beat out attractions such as the Taj Mahal and the pyramids in Egypt.
Also on the list was eating Italian cuisine, enjoying reggae by the beach on a warm night in Negril, Jamaica, and readers named British television personality Michael Palin as the most desirable travel buddy.

see more  about my home city here

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Photos re Christchurch quake

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How many of these have you done .. tick it off

I saw this over at Lisa's Eudaemonia and via Steve the tattooist, ( both old unused posts) seems the idea is to put in bold the stuff you've done. Easy enough. 

One day I will publish my top 100 to-do-list that I keep ticking off :)

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii 
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
(not sure what counts here)
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France ( after all where esle could you see it!)
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community (I'm not counting seeing them downtown shopping)
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant

44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia
60. Served in a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check/cheque
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone (I'm not counting my nose)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79 seen the Grand Canyon
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one

94 had a  baby
95. Seen the Alamo ( 'in person' I deleted most of these phrases, how can you see it not in person?)
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Winter solstice in New Zealand


Traditionally, Matariki was an opportunity to honour the past and plan for the future. Today it has become a time to celebrate the remarkable country we live in; share kai (food), stories and songs; create art and enjoy cultural activities:  

read more here

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Travel magazine celebrates its' first year

The launch of the 6th issue of Let’s Travel Magazine was celebrated in style with an invite only party held at the Suite Bar in Auckland. After only 12 months, the dedicated travel magazine has forged ahead in leaps and bounds to become one of the leading travel publications in New Zealand.

The latest edition has tightly focused on such diverse destinations as Dunk Island, a look at Samoan Spas, Club Med Bali, the Sunshine Coast, Tauranga, Tahiti, the Peruvian Andes, South Australia, Cape Town, rugged romantic getaways, the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail as well as the champagne haunts of Auckland.

The next 12 months are sure to be as action packed as the last 12 months when the Let’s Travel editorial team venture further afield in search of distinctive travel locations and unusual adventures.

“The unsurpassed success of Let’s Travel Magazine during this recession fuelled era is down to hard graft, a great design team, quality contributing writers and the vision of our editorial team,” says Gayle Dickson, Managing Editor. “It’s our aim to continue to strive for greater quality and greater journalistic excellence as the magazine expands over our next period of growth.
I hope you will see the kiwitravelwriter, Heather Hapeta in this subscrition-only magzine very soon.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Want to buy an alpine village?

Want to buy an alpine village - in the middle ot New Zealands Southern Alps?
Here's a podcast of a radio interview this morning ( Radio NZ National - 25th June 2010) 
Otira for sale
The Hennah family moved to Otira from Auckland in 1998 with the intention of revitalising a little piece of New Zealand history. They're now keen to sell the hotel, the fire station, the town hall and 18 houses. (duration: 9′22″)
Download: Ogg Vorbis   MP3
Heres the advert  See here

Eco-stuff in my favourite magazine

An unpalatable truth

by Sarah Barnett
Governments and individuals seem to be doing nothing significant about climate change.
For its 40th Earth Day on April 22, British scientific journal Nature gave the planet the equivalent of one of those reality show projections that reveal what you’ll look like in 20 years’ time if you keep smoking, drinking and shoving empty calories into your couch-bound stomach. It wasn’t pretty.
Researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research say if the greenhouse-gas emission reductions countries have pledged to make under the Copenhagen Accord are adhered to, by 2020 emissions will be 10-20% higher than what we have now.  Read the rest of this thoughtful colum here

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Culture shock when you return home

The holidays are over. You have returned home and now reality bites. Post travel distress is about to attack.
The symptoms are vague but disabling. People you thought were friends don’t ask how the holiday went, or if they do they don’t  want to stop and listen to your hour long discourse on the rooms with a view, the wonderful (or  terrible) food you ate, the funny train you travelled or the boat you fell from. About the only thing that whets their appetite is talk of a fabulous French lover.

The memories start to fade with the suntan, work acts as though nothing has changed despite your new skills you have added to your CV while teaching English in Tibet, waited tables in Athens or negotiated your way through the London A to Z and learnt how to use the subway system. read more on "my other blog"

Friday, June 18, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Travel tips from the kiwitravelwriter

 Just as real estate is all about location location location, travel is all about attitude attitude attitude. Our attitude determines our experience, where people are fearful and suspicious they see nothing but trouble and ‘lucky’ escapes while others meet no-one but really lovely people no matter where they go.

I’m in the glass-half-full-group of travellers and could never write a book of ‘all the bad things that happen when you travel’ type book. Unfortunately they are the sort of travel books that sell – and perpetuate the myth of the big dangerous world.

My most dangerous place in my many years of solo travel was in New Orleans, USA (about 15-years ago) and none of the danger - a murder and a hold-up by knife - involved me. (See Murder and Music pg 25 Naked in Budapest: travels with a passionate nomad. ISBN 978-0-473-11675-0)

So what are some of my tips for great travel?
  1. Be flexible with your travel dates and travel off season when you can: that way it’s not only cheaper but also, you don’t have to share great sights (and sites) with hordes of other travellers and tourists.
  2. Use the web for research even if you do your booking through an agent
  3. Travel close to home often ... you don’t always need an around the world ticket to have a great holiday and discover fabulous people and places
  4. Jet lag is less when you fly east to west. Change your watch to the destination time as soon as you get on the plane to adjust your mind to the new time and stay up until the local bed time. Read 12 more tips here

Wind in the Willows to be filmed in New Zealand soon

Wind in the Wellywood Willows Toad, Badger, Rat and Mole are to be brought to life by Weta Workshop of ‘Wellywood’ in a big-screen adaptation of The Wind in the Willows.
The film is said to be a mix of animatronics and live action, with Weta responsible for making the life-like robots for the production.
Filming will begin in New Zealand at the end of the year.
Special effects Sir Richard Taylor, the founder of Weta Workshop, will be responsible for special effects and Oscar-winning Kiwi Kim Sinclair is acting as production designer.
The Wind in the Willows centres on the story of four furry friends - Toad, Badger, Rat and Mole, and their adventurous journey towards learning the true value of friendship.
In the script, written by Bill Marsilli, the friends band together to save their land from a sinister plot to destroy an uneasy truce between the peaceful animals of the Willows and what remains of Mankind.
Winning effects The Wind in the Willows is another prospective blockbuster for the Weta Workshop team which now holds a raft of major awards ......the latest being an Oscar awarded to Weta Digital for best visual effects in 2010 for Avatar - the world’s bestselling movie.
The 3D science-fiction romp was filmed in Wellington, with Weta Digital supervising the special effects and additional live photography carried out on Weta’s sound-stages.
A team of five from Weta Digital, including art director Kim Sinclair, who is also working on The Wind in the Willows, attended the star-studded awards ceremony in Hollywood.
Weta Workshop background Founded in 1987 by prominent Kiwi filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson with Sir Richard Taylor, Tania Rodger and Jamie Selkirk, Weta Workshop is based in Wellington and is New Zealand’s best-known special effects and props company.
Weta Workshop came to the attention of the world stage with the production of The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, which was filmed entirely in New Zealand. The company made all the sets, costumes, armour, weapons, creatures and miniatures seen in the film.

Now hear this, Hobbit fans

Friday, June 11, 2010

My Lucky Week

This has been my lucky week! Three times lucky!

  • First I won a double ticket to an evening at the Christchurch Art Gallery (Russian art) and the Court Theatre (The Seagull)
  • Then I won a book which was published by the Christchurch and Akaroa Civic Trusts. For over forty years they have been making every effort to preserve historic buildings and slow the moves by property developers to pull down old buildings which are a significant part of our heritage. Luckily as a result of their work key buildings from each phase of the area's development have survived, and are represented in this book. Read more here
  • And finally, last Saturday, while working on a visitor survey in Cathedral Square here in Christchurch, a large black-backed gull dropped its load on my shoulder – evidently this is good luck too: really? I just think its funny that the play I saw on Wednesday was about a gull! I took this photo on Somes Island, Wellington.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Send postcards and help support poor communities

When traveling in countries with low wages ... don't just send emails, blogs or use skype to keep in touch with friends and family: use the old, but still useful, snail mail.

I love getting postcards so still send them to others, and by doing this I also help the small shop or street vendor, get a tiny wage, while making friends happy . You can do it too.

I buy a pile of postcards and the same number of stamps; then while waiting for a bus, or a meal, I sit and address them all, then as I have spare time, or a tale to tell, I write on the postcards and post them when I see a post box.

This post-box was in the north east of Cambodia.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ancient trees mark the way in Christchurch, NZ

Tī Kōuka, a symbol for our city

Imagine a distant past where the mist and fog shrouded flatlands, spreading out towards the sea, rich with bird and water life.
There were few landmarks emerging from the mists of what was then essentially swampland. If the hills were obscured by weather there was no way of knowing where you were. That is if it were not for the tī kōuka (cabbage trees) that were carefully planted in significant places to mark out routes across the land like green spiky beacons.
Tī kōuka were prized trees for the Māori of Te Wai Pounamu. Aside from their use as navigational markers, they provided the favoured fibre for fishing due to superior strength and the kōuru or new shoots were an important source of protein in a land where kūmara was difficult if not impossible to grow. Read more here on the Christchurch Library site

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Happy 100 years to Maori Rugby 2010

New 21st century jersey for NZ Māori rugby team

When the New Zealand Māori rugby team runs out on to the field next week the players will be sporting a 100-year heritage on their shoulders - a new black jersey that recalls the team’s illustrious history.
Te Ao Hou / ‘new dawn’ is the name given to the team’s new jersey - marking the much anticipated 2010 centenary season of NZ Māori rugby - which was formally blessed in Wellington yesterday (2.06.2010).

The jersey will get its first official outing on 12 June when the team plays the New Zealand Barbarians at Whangarei - the first of the three-match celebration series on home soil. The other games are against England and Ireland.

New Zealand Post is also commemorating the centenary with two special issue stamps - one incorporating the new jersey design.

Māori rugby story

New Zealand Māori coach Jamie Joseph said the jersey told the story of Māori rugby.

Te Ao Hou is inspired by Timitanga, the New Zealand Māori haka challenge that is performed before each game.

The intricate design incorporates two Māori taonga / treasures - the korowai or ceremonial cloak and wharenui / meeting house.

It also features the koru / silver fern encircled by two mangapore / hammerhead shark patterns representing strength and symbolically protecting the fern and the legacy of the New Zealand Māori rugby team.

"This year is such a significant year for all Māori rugby players and coming from someone who has worn the jersey before, it is going to be a great honour for every player that gets to pull on this very special taonga (treasure)," Joseph said.

Number one music hit in NZ - again!

Poi E' is the only kiwi song to make it into the NZ Top 40 in 3 separate decades - it now looks like it will hit number one yet again - after 38 years!

Written by linguist Ngoi Pewhairangi with music by Dalvanius Prime, the song was a way to teach young Maori to be proud of being Maori – in a format that young people were comfortable with.

When record companies weren’t interested in the song Prime formed his own label, Maui Records and recorded 'Poi E' in late 1983. The Patea Maori Club provided the vocals above a funky rhythm that featured bass, Linn drums and a synthesiser. read more here

Monday, April 19, 2010

How to run away from home

‘how to run away from home and reinvent yourself’

  • Start as a child with a love of reading. I was the hero between the covers of every book I read.

  • Add, listening to far away, static-crackling voices in languages I didn’t understand on my brother’s crystal radio, and dream of exploring those lives, and there you have it!

  • Cover, and leave that bowl of imagination to infiltrate through life’s ups and downs, keep reading, keep dreaming until life and circumstances add more ingredients.

My extra ingredients included: the deaths of a 20-year old son, and my husband, recovery from alcoholism, and too many birthdays. In my late forties, I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Perhaps I could play catch-up with the traditional Kiwi penchant for travel. That germ of an idea, like all living things, divides and multiplies as it sits on the bench of my mind.

I put a sign on my notice board, ‘AGING DISGRACEFULLY’. A list forms, Italy; Scotland; Ireland; Alaska; Zimbabwe, Turkey. Finally, right on target, I buy an ‘around the world’ air-ticket - my gift to myself for my fiftieth birthday.      

Now, choose more ingredients so you too can reinvent yourself – my choices were:
Travel solo
Travel for a year
Make no plans or bookings
Enjoy yourself so much that you cry when you get home in 12-months – you know there is so much more you want to see and do.

Then add:
Two years hard work and saving
Take a short writing course
Have an article about canoeing down the Zambesi published
Sell more travel stories; add the dollars to the travel fund
Buy another international airline ticket
Travel for a year in different countries
Don’t cry as you arrive home; you now know it’s possible to do it again
Publish a book about your travels

Repeat the above as many times as you want to travel; keep writing every day; keep publishing travel stories; accept invitations to visit countries; teach others how to write great travel stories; keep adding to list of dream destinations, and ensure AGING DISGRACEFULLY is on notice board as my (your) constant goal.

This recipe is never finished yet you can cook it, eat it, and share it daily.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Loosing weight, diabetes & and get healthy

I had a reminder from one of my blog readers to say I hadn't reported on my health for ages: I had planned to keep a  blog as an incentive to stay on track but, found it boring - so assumed you must have been finding reading it the same.

However, after  the prompt from a woman in Tasmania, Australia, here's the latest goss!

I have continued to loose weight: in fact I have lost over 10% of my body weight!  There are about 5 or 8 kg to go until I am in my healthy BMI weight range. Perhaps now is when I do need to be blogging on the topic more often as I suspect this is when it will get harder to loose those last blubber pounds that remain.

So there it is in a nutshell: my weight has gone down, my diabetes blood test results have improved, and i'm feeling much better not carrying those extra kilograms around.

What else has been happening to me? I have had a geat road trip to WOMAD 2010 in New Plymouth:WOMAD is the acronym for world of music and dance. I have also been busy writing; active in the New Zealand Society of Authous ( PEN international) and a few days ago I had a great trip to Akaroa, our French community on Banks Peninsula, less than 100ks form Christchurch.

NOTE: To see some photos from my recent  road trip to WOMAD 2010 held annually in New Plymouth see my 'other blog'/

I was travelling in a Backpacker campervan, and on the Interislander ferry over Cook Strait - from Christchurch  to WOMAD.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Holidays and travel writing: they pay you to do what?

Daku Resort, Fiji...

New Zealand travel writer Heather Hapeta aka 'the kiwitravelwriter' is running a 7 day travel writing course at the Daku Resort in Fiji in August.

Sounds like a great way to combine a beach holiday with your writing and travel passions. The course is geared to teach you the ins and outs of writing travel articles, blogs,etc.

Topics include (but not only):

· How to write for specific publications
· Know your market
· What works – what doesn’t?
· Where to sell your stories – locally and internationally
· Finding your own style, and the secrets of style
· Use your senses; quotes; fact files
· Query letters, and the taxman
· Considering other markets
· Photography and travel writing

. . . plus exercises, daily expeditions, and lots of talking in-between, and one-on-one time with your tutor as required.

By your last day you should have a perfectly formed (and critiqued) article ready to pitch to an editor and start earning.

Course requirements: enthusiasm and curiosity are essential. Add notebooks and pencils; a camera; perhaps your laptop or an audio cassette – and, as we are on a Pacific island – sunscreen and swimming costumes are highly recommended!

$NZ500 discount for early-bird bookings – by end of April 2010 - for THIS travel workshop only. The price includes flights from New Zealand, accommodation (twin share) meals, and visits associated with the course, and naturally, an exciting week-long holiday retreat at Daku Resort.

For more information on click on travel writing course at Daku Resort.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Iconic NZ rubgy grounds

Iconic New Zealand rugby grounds (from Tourism NZ)

(also check out my Girls Guide to Rugby .. add a tip)

Rising from cities, small towns and country paddocks filled with farmers’ stock, no part of New Zealand’s landscape is quite complete without a set of rugby goal posts.
Rugby is New Zealand’s most-played sport, and every Saturday more than 145,000 players lace up their boots and run onto rugby fields to chase the oval ball.

Some fields are no more than farm land while others are hallowed turf identified by instantly recognisable names and often-told stories of rugby’s great moments.

A rugby-lovers tour of New Zealand would not be complete without walking the turf on some of New Zealand’s iconic rugby pitches.

Eden Park - RWC final host
Eden Park is New Zealand’s largest stadium and has been a sports ground since 1900. Eden Park hosted the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup (RWC), and the 2011 RWC will be the second world cup to be held at the ground.

Some of New Zealand's proudest sporting moments have taken place on Eden Park, including the 1950 Empire Games, and the 1992 Cricket World Cup. In 1981, during the now infamous Springbok Tour, a match was interrupted by a low flying Cessna aircraft that flour-bombed the park.

In the heart of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, Eden Park is undergoing major redevelopment to increase capacity from 48,000 to 60,000 for the 2011 RWC. Eden Park features a Hall of Legends that opened in 2002 and contains 2000 items of significant New Zealand sporting memorabilia.

Rugby Park, Hamilton - Mooloo heaven

With more than 10,500 registered rugby players in the Waikato - a dairy farming region - it’s hardly surprising that cows and rugby have become inseparable.
Mooloo has become a common nickname for everything pertaining to the Waikato Rugby team and its supporters. A pantomime cow regularly grazes on Rugby Park during rugby matches while passionate supporters swing cow bells in the crowd.

Mooloo history is littered with the scalps of international teams who have ventured to Rugby Park and experienced the ferocity of the mighty Waikato team. In 1956 Waikato beat the South African team - the first time a provincial team had beaten a touring Springbok side.

Rotorua International Stadium - hot rugby location
Founded in 1911, the Rotorua International Stadium must be the only rugby stadium in the world set in a thermal wonderland amongst bubbling mud, hot pools and rumbling geysers.
Rugby-weary bodies can soak in the healing waters of the natural hot springs and spas - famed for their therapeutic qualities, and a major New Zealand tourist attraction since the late 1800s.

One of New Zealand's largest capacity sports venues, the stadium is the home of Bay of Plenty rugby. Despite an official capacity of 37,000, the largest crowd ever recorded at the stadium was in 1977 when the British Lions played Bay of Plenty in front of 39,000 fans.

Stadium Taranaki, New Plymouth - world class
Yarrow Stadium was named third best rugby ground in the world, the only ground in New Zealand to make the 2009 NZ Rugby World Magazine list. It scored points for its distinctly Kiwi atmosphere and the fact that it is a regional stadium in the spiritual home of rugby with picturesque Mt Taranaki visible in the background.

The rugby ground was also described as "tight," because the two stands are close to the pitch and spectators feel they are almost on top of the action. The players also feel the proximity of the spectators so it is a "shared, intense experience".

Mangatainoka, Wairarapa - grassroots best
Mangatainoka’s rugby ground is no more than a paddock but typifies the home of grassroots rugby in New Zealand. As an added bonus, this pitch is next door to one of the country’s best known breweries - Tui beer has been "distracting the boys from the task at hand since 1889".

The ground’s grandstand only holds 122 people, but a combined local effort of farmers, contractors and earth movers is levelling the field, removing sheep ruts and building temporary grandstands to host the 2010 Super 14 pre-season opening match. Locals say it will rival ‘big union’ projects underway for Rugby World Cup 2011, and that tickets will sell out faster than the 2011 RWC final.

Wellington Regional Stadium - ‘Rings’ battle cry
Fondly nicknamed "the cake tin", the Wellington Stadium opened on New Year’s Eve 1999, nine years after Wellington Rugby first decided to replace aging Athletic Park.
The stadium has become a successful large capacity venue that hosted the 2000 Edinburgh Military Tattoo - the first time the event was held outside Edinburgh, Scotland. It also hosts the IRB Sevens tournament each February, providing a party atmosphere that routinely spills over into the nearby city centre.

Another claim to fame was when, during a cricket match, film director Peter Jackson recorded 30,000 fans chanting a battle scene cry for his film The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

Botanical Gardens, Nelson - where it all began
New Zealand's first rugby game - under official rugby rules - was played in Nelson on 14 May 1870 between Nelson College and the Nelson Football Club. The game at Botanical Gardens was organised by Charles Monro, a Kiwi who had spent time studying (and playing rugby) in Britain.

A sign shaped like a rugby ball and goal posts marks the site of the original game which featured 18-player sides and attracted about 200 spectators.

Trafalgar Park, Nelson - this grass has glass
Trafalgar Park, named after the battle of Trafalgar, is not only one of New Zealand’s oldest sports grounds but also boasts the most unusual pitch - eco-friendly recycled glass that resembles sand.
Just a five-minute walk from Nelson’s city centre, with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, Trafalgar Park is considered one of New Zealand’s most attractive rugby grounds.

Stadium Christchurch - rich heritage
Founded in 1880, Stadium Christchurch - formerly Lancaster Park - has long been a versatile venue. During WWI the ground was dug up to grow potatoes to support the war effort, it has hosted many events, including trotting, swimming, tennis, hot air ballooning, papal and royal visits.

The stadium has been through multiple name changes, and has been known as Jade Stadium, Fortress Jade and AMI Stadium. It is home to the Crusaders Super14 team.
Before the 2011 Rugby World Cup the Eastern Stands will be demolished and replaced with the new Deans Stand raising capacity to 45,000 and making it the second largest stadium in New Zealand after Eden Park.
Victoria Square, Westport - fits the whole town
Buller’s home ground seats just 5000 - not the biggest stadium by any means, but enough to seat the entire population of Westport and, according to locals, every spot is usually taken for the big games.

Hardy Westport natives say the best time to attend a game is in a good old fashioned West Coast downpour, ideally when their team Buller is playing neighbours and staunch rivals West Coast.

Carisbrook Stadium, Dunedin - "house of pain"
Known to locals as "The Brook", Carisbrook earned its nickname "house of pain" for being a difficult venue for visiting teams.
The main highway runs close to the northern boundary, and the roadside that offered punters a free view of the action became known as the "Scotsman’s Grandstand". At one time trains would slow to a crawl or stop on the track above the stadium allowing passengers to watch an entire event but a new stand and corporate boxes developed in 1998 blocked the view.

Carisbrook will be replaced by the 30,000-place Forsyth Barr Stadium, currently under construction for the 2011 RWC.
More information:
Four million Kiwis prepare to roar
2011 Rugby World Cup - host towns
2011 Rugby World Cup - match venues

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Did you know New Zealand’s national bird can't fly?

Endemic to these South Pacific Islands the kiwi is unique among birds; no tail, the mere trace of wings and nostrils near the tip of it’s long flexible beak. Add nocturnal behaviour, whiskers, poor eyesight and hairlike feathers – it is not surprising that visitors to these south pacific islands are amused to find New Zealanders calling themselves Kiwi. (especially Americans who call our kiwifruit – ‘kiwi’)
Ratite’s, the family to which the kiwi belongs, evolved on Gondwanaland. This southern super continent ( Jurassic period, 150 million years ago) split into what eventually became South America, Africa, Antarctica, Madagascar, India, Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand finally separated 85 million years and the flightless birds developed. read more here

Friday, February 19, 2010

rugby, tips for girls, and still getting fit!

Ages since I reported on my heath ... but had a check up last week and all my vital stats (to do with my diabetes) are much better with my 7 kg weight loss, so I'm continuing with my healthy eating: actually I have always eaten well and  now I am watching my portion sizes!

the weather over this summer has been the worst we have had for ages . when the stats come out I suspect it will not be a suprise as to why I removed my duvet on ONE NIGHT ONLY this summer - summer? what summer?

I have been making a list of tips for girls about rugby .. getting ready for the Rugby World Cup which is on in 2011 .. and having lots of fun with it: For the GIRLS GUIDE TO RUGBY check it out HERE 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Get paid to travel? Really? Yes!

They pay you to do what? Travel writing course in Fiji, August 2010 
 by Heather Hapeta, the kiwitravelwriter

Take a vacation-with-a-purpose, learn travel-writing, and then get paid to travel! Combine your writing and travel passions so you can earn money for even more travels by learning to create terrific stories at this travel writing workshop – and wonderfully, where all the topics we need will be right on our doorstep for us to experience – I believe authentic, ethical travel writers never write about things they haven’t done or seen.”
And, of course, you will use the same skills for creating a setting in a novel or short story, and to greatly improve your blogs, letters, and emails.
Early bird discount of $500 for participants who pay by          30th April (for this course only)

More details here   
Phone Heather Hapeta +64 3 353 4677 or email her -

Great resource for New Zealand writers by kiwis

The New Zealand Freelance Writers’ Association began over 30 years ago, as an association for freelance journalists, but is now open to writers of all genres. The focus of the association is Freelance, a quarterly magazine about writing for writers. Membership ranges from beginning, unpublished writers to writers who earn their living from their craft, and also to editors who are publishing newsletters and magazines. Membership is open to all ages – anyone with an interest in writing is welcome to join.

Issues contain tips and information about writing, news on markets and competitions, members’ book reviews and other items of interest, including a ‘Write of Reply’ page where members can write in for help.

Writing can be a lonely craft, but members of NZFWA appreciate the friendly ‘family’ feel of Freelance, which offers help and support from both the editor and other members.

NZFWA is a non-profit organisation surviving solely on membership subscriptions, receiving no outside funding.

The cost of membership is $30 per annum (students, beneficiaries, superannuitants: $25)

NOTE : remember this can be deducted from your taxes - the NZ Society of Authors (PEN) has a very good booklet on NZ tax specifically for writers - see NZSA info here

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sailing & the one of the most stupid things I've done!

Living on a large island surround by the Pacific Ocean I have sailed a little. As a child my family always had a boat, starting with a dingy in which I learnt to row on the  Akaroa Harbour and the Avon River.

Later we had a boat with an in-board motor and in my early teens was often able to use the boat to go down the Styx river, over a lagoon,  then across the Waimakariri River, near the mouth, to a camping ground where we would buy ice creams then return back to our holiday camping site. A journey which I'm sure no parent would allow their child do today!

Given that background it's not surprising that of the four in my family, 3 of us had yachts -- I am the odd one out! However I have sailed on their yachts, and in recent years have sailed on a  Dutch yacht in the Mediterranean for a week and best of all, 6-weeks sailing from Brisbane to Cairns - through the Great Barrier Reef - on Hatty, a French ketch. And during which time I did two dangerous things (of the many stupid and dangerous things I've done in my life)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hagley Park helps me fight diabetes - and - cicada & the english language

My mind is eclectic.  Just as when I meditate it's sometimes hard to keep my mind on one topic - a monkey mind it was called when I studied Theravada Buddhism at Wat Suan Mohk in Sthn Thailand. Well, so it is too when I go walking in Hagley Park - which is right on my doorstep and is a powerful tool in my 'getting fitter-losing weight-fighting-diabetes' regime.

This morning was no different. MP3 plugged in, I headed off for an hour walk and this time I was thinking about cicada. Its only been in the past few days that the ground (in Christchurch, NZ) has been warm enough for the cicada to emerge from the ground and start making a noise to attract mates - and of course being in  a park I had suround sound of cicada's singing. So, what my mind was thinking, is it the temperature that made them emerge? Or was it the good rainfall we had a week ago that allowed the ground be soft enough for them to dig their way out and up the tree trunks overnight, shed their skin, and fly off. I need to google all these questions and follow-up these thoughts! (I have added these links so you too can find out - if you want to - however maybe I'm the only one who has such a monkey, questioning, mind!)

As well as these thoughts I was also listening to Radio New Zealand (National) which had a fascinating programme on the English language .. the progrmme describes it as Julian Burnside talks to Chris Laidlaw about 'Wordwatching: field notes from an amateur philologist' (Scribe Publications), and the need to be aware of the misuse of language in the service of sinister purposes - whether political, ideological, social, or personal. Julian Burnside, QC, is an Australian barrister who specialises in commercial litigation and is also deeply involved in human rights work, in particular in relation to refugees. Go to the Radio NZ website to listen to the interview here  - or on the link above for any of the many great interviews that happen daily via podcast.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Week 9 in the weight loss- get healthy stakes

Well this week I put on 500 grams (just over a pound for those of you in the old imperial system)

So despite doing some aqua-cise in the form of walking against the strong current in the 'river' at the swimming pool and some walking, I didn't do enough to compensate for the half dozen very yummy dark chocolate kisses (I forget the Italian name for them). Seems I also didn't eat as well  - having guests is not a good enough excuse! Anyway I am taking myself in hand and will have a better figure to report next week, of that I'm sure.

The World Buskers festival is on here in Chch .. my favourite so far is Pete Sweet who is from California.  In a very Forrest Gump, a-little-simple style he delights all, from the very young to the adult who see and hear things on a different level. His bowtie, and too-short pants, add to the visual enjoyment as he performs on a loose 'highwire'.

See more about the WBF here

                     my grandsons favourite was "The Stewardess"

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rooms with views, bungee, diabetes and loosing weight.

 I wrote this from a room with a view. A  room in which various national and international ‘artists in residence’ have used to relax , sleep, or work.

I am supposed to be blogging about diabetes and weight .. but that all seems boring: nevertheless I can happily report  - after 7 weeks - my blood pressure is normal and I have lost over 5% of my body weight. Now back to writing a blog, or rather re-publishng a column I wrote when I was travel editor for a local newspaper.

As I sit and await the muse to visit (surely there must be some residual energy from those other writers) I gaze out the window at the view.

The Peacock Fountain, set in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, was built in cast iron in 1911, and is the background to many photographs travelling to all points of the compass. As people pose, it sprays it’s water regularly from the dolphins, and is well decorated with herons, lily leaves, and other undefined foliage.

I think of other views, other places: some from on high, others just a glimpse through a door or window.

  • A palm-roofed hut, just large enough to place a double-sized bed and still walk around it, produced a romantic view of white sands, palm trees, and blue skies. Idyllic - a genuine travel brochure scene.
  • The view from my downtown Manhattan hostel window - taxis abandoned in the middle of the street and only the top of the yellow-cabs roof showing through the snow.
  • The view from  a tower in Istanbul may have been amazing but I was too busy clinging to the building to appreciate it. It is hard to be a tourist/traveller with a  fear of heights. Nevertheless I do recall seeing the busy Bosphorus and the skyline of minarets through adrenaline-impaired-vision.
Once I nearly got over my fear enough to inwardly consider urban rap-jumping from the Novotel in Auckland. I am pleased to report I recovered my senses enough to keep those thoughts to myself and remained firmly on top of the hotel and did not walk down the side of the building- face forward - and now own a Tee shirt that says; I wouldn’t dream of urban rap jumping. The view of downtown Auckland and the harbour was great, however I was not really appreciating it right then.

With these confessions of fears, you will be surprised to know that I have done a bungee jump - right in the heart of Wellington. I was really fearful as they tied my ankles, the soft towel to prevent ropeburn did not reassure me. I must be crazy I think. Ropes tied and tested I am under starters orders.

“Move to the edge of the platform” he tells me and I shuffle forward, “A little more” I move almost imperceptibly more, my heart beating at an uncontrollable speed. The view is now clearly in front of me, the water is fast, cold looking and a long long way down. I still have time to back out of this but my pride won’t allow it. The countdown starts. Three. Two. One. Bungee! Over the edge I go, plummeting downwards, waterwards, my heart undecided if to climb out my throat  or smash through my ribs, I’m screaming. I bounce, up and down, down and up again swinging side-ways and slowly come to a gentle halt.

They untie my legs as I wonder did I wet my pants? I slowly walk away, my legs shaking. That may have only been virtual bungee at Te Papa but it was real enough for me!
  • Another memorable view from the top was in Scotland. Inveraray, a village built by the head of the powerful Campbell Clan in 1745, has a bell-tower built, on top of a hill, as a memorial to the Campbell’s who have died in battle. I climbed, sometimes crawling on my knees, to the top for a fantastic view of the village below, the Clan Campbell castle (Inveraray Castle) and the beautiful Loch Fyne and the tiny village. It seems amazing that such a calm, peaceful setting was the training ground for some half a million troops prior to the D-Day landings in WW2.
My journal, written on top of that hill, notes my grief at my sons death some five years earlier, and how I had then thought I would die from the pain, yet now, on the date of his birth, I was enjoying the view from a hill in Scotland. Grief produces such paradoxes, out of pain, or perhaps because of it, growth and life and laughter happens. Just as Buddhists explain the lotus flower and how its’ beauty grows from mud.

Maybe the muse that was left in this room is a reflective one. One that looks out windows and wonders what’s it all about. I certainly don’t know, all I know is the more I know, the less I know, the less I need to know.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Te Ara Kakariki --- the greening of Canterbury

This is a piece I wrote for an Ecan (canterbury NZ) magazine some time ago - 2010 is the year of biodiversity so seemed appropriate to reproduce it here

‘It’s clean and green but not a native to be seen?’

‘Canterbury plains are one of the worst examples of the loss of native plants in New Zealand’ Professor Ian Spellerberg tells me. ‘Less than 0.5% of native vegetation remains on our plains.’

When colleagues from Europe ask, as he drives them from the airport to Lincoln University, 'where are your native plants’ he understands their surprise. Returning to Canterbury, he too was disappointed. Spellerberg had become used to UK landscapes with their hedgerows making great use of native plants and which are now some of the last bastions of habitat for wildlife.

However, there is good news about our plains: the Te Ara Kakariki Greenway Canterbury Trust has been formed and is encouraging us to increase native plant communities for all reasons – not just restoration, or beautification as some critics suggest, but for boundaries, shelter belts, crops, tourism, and ideas that we haven’t yet thought of. Its long-term vision, maybe taking hundreds of years, is to make connections between the mountains and sea by using corridors and stepping stones of native plant communities – and connecting existing patches. Another goal is a one-stop-shop for information: cost, availability, economic benefits, where to get natives, after-planting care and research – perhaps leading onto field days. Encouragingly, Motukarara Conservation Nursery says they can’t keep up with the demand for native plants.

The land between the Waimakariri and Rakaia Rivers gives the project an identity and all Cantabrians can be involved: country or city; on public and private land; for economic and ecological reasons, alongside roadsides, railway lines and rivers.

This year, in conjunction with Southern Woods Nursery, has seen 25 Selwyn schools being invited to design and plant a native plant community for their school. Judging (November 08) will be around the knowledge pupils gained, not just the design. (Good luck to Southbridge, Templeton and Ladbrooks schools, and others, who Robyne Hyndman tells me have signed-up).

Spellerberg’s enthusiastic. ‘I have this dream of tourists coming to see Te Ara Kakariki, a Canterbury icon! Imagine native plant hedgerows on those long stretches of road. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? It’s the loss of associated native wildlife too: maybe we could re-introduce the Kakariki back to Canterbury.’

‘We underestimate the value of natives in an uncertain future. What’s the environment going to be in ten years? What about land use? Changes in weather? We have to think about what roles native plants will play then. It might be crops, better shelter belts – after all, these plants evolved to live in dry windy conditions.’

‘Why aren’t we proud of our native heritage of plants?’ he continues. ‘We owe an apology to nature for the devastation of our native plant communities. We should be celebrating them, they are our wealth.’

‘I’m putting my money on Te Ara Kakariki becoming an icon for Canterbury.’ I see tourists coming to see this landscape project which communities, schools, and other groups have created. A wonderful greenway of native plants and native plant communities.’

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Love and food and a movie title

 My computer keeps reminding me I haven't done a blog re 'my life in the day of a newly diagnosed diabetic' so to make my electronic memory shut up I'm reproducing this letter to the charactor in the movie 'Shirley Valentine.' the blog should have been entitled "I like to eat food that reflects the place I'm at' but that can wait until tommorrow - after all, it's weigh-in day so should have something to report! - here is the letter:
"Dear Shirley Valentine, Greece is not the only island with places in which to fall in love . . . with life. I could have stayed longer but other places beckon and this was a nice interlude along the way. Okay, more than nice. Research for my writing I could call it, justify it. But I won't. It was, 'why not?' Good for the ego too. But Shirley, I have to tell you - different races, religions and different islands, same talk. No surprise really, is it. Our stories are so similar - I didn't leave a husband at home but once I arrived at this island, maybe with your story in mind, after all parts of our lives followed similar paths.

White sands, blue skies, charming restaurant / resort owner and voila! Late one night, a knock on my door. Are you awake? Blah blah lady, only talk, blah, blah, friends, blah, blah, I never did this before, blah, blah, I don't know what's happening to me, blah, blah. And so the story goes - you fill in the gaps, I know you know the words 'they' say.

I just smiled and enjoyed myself knowing tomorrow or the day after or next week I'd stay ciao and carry on my journey. Islands are seductive. So my soul sister, I too fell in love, again, with life, on an island - A great way to start a New Year."

PS these birds fell in love too: in love with freedom when they were released.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A happy new year - and peaceful travel - to all who read this .. and to those who dont!

Have  you read the credo to be a peaceful travel - I found it on a website dedicated to promoting peace through tourism ( and thought it well worth reproducing.

"Grateful for the opportunity to travel and experience the world and because peace begins with the individual, I affirm my personal responsibility and commitment to:

• Journey with an open mind and gentle heart

• Accept with grace and gratitude the diversity I encounter
• Revere and protect the natural environment which sustains life
• Appreciate all cultures I discover
• Respect and thank my hosts for their welcome
• Offer my hand in friendship to everyone I meet
• Support travel service that share these views and act upon them and,
• By my spirit, words and actions, encourage others to travel the world in peace.

How easy it is to say.

Sometimes diversity is hard to understand, so hard to appreciate - after all I see the world through my eyes, coloured as they are by heritage, education and experiences. People - whether a fellow traveller or someone whose country is being travelled to - see me with their eyes, coloured by the same things. it is no wonder we see and talk past each other at times.
But now maybe its even more important for those of us travelling to follow the creed and spread it as far as possible.

My old reaction would have been, rubbish, I am only one person what can I do?

Well that’s exactly what I have, one person who can do one thing to make the world a better place. Working on the principle of what I can’t do alone, we can together.

There is little I can do about airlines flying or not flying; there is little I can do about the costs of security; however there is a lot I can do as a ‘peaceful traveler’ and so will attempt to follow the above creed as I am ‘grateful for the opportunity to travel and experience the world.’

Pohutukawa: the New Zealand Christmas tree .. isn't it fabulous!

PS: and an update for those of you  following my weight loss (for health reasons /diabetes).
 I still lost some weight over the holidays and today I'm off for an hour-long walk in my local park - Hagley Park  - NZ's largest city park right here int he centre of my city, Christchurch, and right on my doorstep.