Category Archives: Arts & Culture

Off the farm, wearable art—gobsmackingly creative

Who’d have thunk it?

Haute couture meets rural lifestyle. Anything is possible in this land peopled by DIY-ers. Even, a Paris-styled catwalk parade showcasing wearable garments made of stuff from the farm.

The annual Ag Art Wear Show in Hamilton fused creative genius and theatrical extravaganza. It made NZ’s National Agricultural Fieldays worth the effort of plowing through crowds and farming gear, lots of farming gear. Continue reading

World class rugby on NZ’s home turf

(Editor’s Note: I invited a guest editorial from Kenton Bird, pictured here with Kiwi friend Claire Mikkelson. He attended the rugby match between Wales and NZ with Claire and her husband Pat at the Waikato Stadium in Hamilton. Decked in All Blacks regalia, stocking cap and all, he was quite a sight. I worried that seated with Kiwi fans, his jacket (red—one of the Wales colors) would compromise his comfort. But—no worries, mate!) Continue reading

Taiko drumming—a big noisy wrinkle in time

I love drumming. It pulls me into a place where I seem to absorb its pulsing thumps through my skin. Luckily, I found a gathering of life-minded souls shortly after we arrived in January, where a drumming circle meets in Hamilton monthly on the full moon. Continue reading

Old Quarry: Garden as Sculpture Park

I was thinking of my mother and my gardening friends on today’s afternoon outing—how they’re so fond of digging big holes, or more to the point, filling them. Holes don’t come any bigger than an abandoned quarry. Continue reading

A Horse of Another Color

Serendipity is key to some of our best experiences in New Zealand. We piggybacked our Wellington trip, for instance, with a visit to Masterton, where Kenton was invited to speak at the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs. Continue reading

Dipping into Wellington’s arts scene

I could easily become a Wellington groupie. Of all the cities we’ve visited for Kenton’s research—including Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin—this self-styled capitol of New Zealand gets my five-star award. Continue reading

Wedding anniversary & street festival in Cambridge

Kenton and I were married on Renaissance Fair weekend nine years ago. Yesterday, we found a festival in Cambridge, NZ that suited our celebratory purposes. Continue reading

Memorizing jazz in Dunedin

Dunedin—Thursday night at the Robert Burns Pub. Known by locals as “The Robbie,” it was established in 1859, and is the oldest pub still operating in the city. The Calder Prescott Jazz Quartet, just inside the door, draws a crowd with trumpet, bass, piano and drums. I lap up the dark syrup of my Guinness, downing a pint easy, then another. Continue reading

Sunny skies and sandy cliffs on the East Cape

“Is there sun?” My first question of the day. It had rained all night. Happily, blue sky winked between swirling clouds over Gisborne. This is the most easterly city in the world, the first to see the sun rise. Its harbor straddles ancestral lands of the Maori, who arrived over a thousand years ago. They called the region Tarawhiti “the coast upon which the sun shines across the water.” Captain James Cook made his first NZ landfall here in 1769 in the HMS Endeavor, marking the beginning of the country’s European history. Continue reading

Exploring the quaky-shaky history of Napier

A lovely city, really. Napier is deservedly famous for its history, built ground up out of ashes into the Art Deco Capital of the World. Quite frankly, though, after a bit of urban strolling—yawn. The design motif, as a stylish legacy and good luck charm for the tourist industry, becomes stifling. So we didn’t do the official historic architectural tour (bad tourists). Continue reading