Learning To Love Exercise

Sharon Stephenson meets a fitness guru who’s heard every excuse under the sun for staying on the couch, but swears he can help even the most sedentary type fall in love with fitness. 

It’s 6am, rain is spitting at the roof and an icy southerly is threatening to cut my house in two. Reasons to flag exercise come thick and fast: it’s too cold, too dark, too early, too hard. Hitting snooze on the alarm and wedging myself further under the duvet seems a far easier option.

I’m not alone: figures suggest that nearly half of adult Kiwis do zero, little or not enough exercise every week. What’s more, while 14 percent of us have gym memberships, not many of us use them that often.

Add in a global pandemic, economic meltdown and an ever-increasing battle to just drag ourselves through the days, and it’s easy to see why exercise can fall down the to-do list.

Bevan James Eyles gets it. The Christchurch fitness professional has probably heard every excuse there is not to exercise. And he knows full well that many more of us slip off the health wagon every day than ever manage to clamber back on.

“It’s a lack of willingness to want to commit to exercise that stops so many of us making exercise a regular part of our lives,” says Bevan from the Canterbury home he shares with his wife Jo.

It’s a conundrum the 44-year-old reckons he’s cracked in his second book I Will Make You Passionate About Exercise

Aimed at those who don’t share the same love of exercise as the award-winning fitness instructor, Ironman triathlete and marathon runner, the book’s 253 pages take readers on a journey of learning to love exercise forever. 

“It’s a series of baby steps that will help build the foundation for a lifetime love of exercise,” promises Bevan, who’s so passionate about the subject he barely stops for breath. “That means overcoming both physical and mental barriers so that you can get to a place where exercise brings lots of benefits to your life and where you’re actually excited to exercise.”

It might sound like a tall order, but Bevan has achieved considerable success with his baby steps strategy so far. Including a 70-year-old woman who hadn’t exercised since high school.

“She was overweight, unfit and didn’t know how or where to start. We got her onto our 5km running programme in 2018 and 18 months later she ran a half-marathon.”

What this woman had to overcome, what all non-exercisers have to overcome, are the barriers to building basic exercise foundations. 

“Probably the biggest barriers are learning to fit exercise into your life and getting into the habit of making it a priority. It’s about creating a shift in behaviour, of finding a movement you enjoy that you’ll be able to prioritise, even if it’s a five-minute walk. That’s the key to succeeding.”

Fitness Industry Failure

Bevan didn’t have to go down this road; he’d already carved a successful niche in the fitness industry, travelling around the world teaching with Les Mills and breaking his own personal best times in marathons and the gruelling Ironman competition.

But his break-in-the-traffic moment came at a conference in Florida when a colleague commented that the fitness industry was actually failing people. 

“She said, we’re actually failing because there are fewer people moving and more people putting on weight. Which was a total revelation to me. I’d spent my career working with people who already exercised and enjoyed it, but no one was really trying to help non-exercisers to get on the exercise ladder.”

It wasn’t, he adds, that people hadn’t tried exercise, more usually that they’d tried and failed – and had a negative experience doing so. “So, of course, they don’t want to go back to doing something they found unenjoyable, something they failed at. My question to myself was, how do I take someone who isn’t doing any exercise, who has a history of failure and is uncomfortable and possibly insecure about exercising, to a place where they know they’ll exercise forever?”

His own first baby step, in 2007, was starting a running group, aimed at getting people off the couch and running 5km in eight weeks. It was, he admits, an epic failure.

“There were 15 people in the group and everyone failed to run the 5km. I realised I didn’t really understand the non-exerciser and needed to do things differently.”

That included grilling his group about what they needed to be able to safely bring exercise into their lives and to build a pathway to becoming a lifelong exerciser. Armed with that knowledge, Bevan tried again, this time working with people to provide strategies from the minute they decided to exercise, to putting on their trainers and getting out the door. 

“At the beginning, you’re not learning exercise techniques, you’re learning how to get yourself ready to move, so things like packing your bag the night before and planning a night of the week you know you’ll be successful or will have energy. At this stage, exercise has to be extremely easy, physically and mentally, because it’s about building a framework and opening the door for you to enjoy exercise.”

Armed with that insight, Bevan’s second running group was a resounding success, with 90 percent of his trainees reaching the 5km target. To date, he estimates his business, Extra Mile Runners, has put more than 4000 people through their paces, with many going on to compete in half-marathons within 18 months of starting.

“Once people have exercise in their lives, they tend to prioritise a form of movement that they really enjoy, and to build a community around it. That’s what leads them down growth pathways.”

Man crouched down holding his arm.
Bevan admits his first attempt to get non-exercisers into action was a flop, so he’s worked on strategies to make it easy to get into the habit.

Rocky Beginnings     

Look at Bevan and you’ll see a fit, happy man, comfortable in his skin. But the father of daughter Tyler, 25, says it wasn’t always like this. 

Born and bred in Christchurch, Bevan admits poverty and alcoholism, care of his father and other family members, formed the backdrop to his life. 

“Ambition isn’t really put in front of you in that kind of environment, so I left school at 15 with no qualifications and few basic skills. I remember once in the doctor’s surgery filling out a form and not being able to spell the name of my street.”

There followed five years of drugs and alcoholism, of becoming, by his own admission, “a real drop-kick. I went down a path of losing myself, of hurting people and wasting my late teenage years.”

Ironically, it was a bad LSD trip that set him on the right path. “I had a moment of clarity during this trip about who I was – a broken person, a loser going nowhere fast.”

While trying to find another direction, he stumbled upon an exercise machine in his mother’s garage. “It was the stupidest machine ever, but I started doing 30 minutes on it a day and found I really enjoyed it.”

That eventually led to an Ironman competition and the realisation that not only did he like exercise, he was also good at it.

“I learnt it first with playing the guitar and then with fitness – if you want to be good at something, you have to put the effort in.” 

Bevan started writing his book 2 years ago, aiming to bring his exercise gospel to others via 10 easy baby steps. 

“The first step in prioritising exercise in your life is to focus on what you can do right now, so if that’s a five-minute walk, to me that’s a win because you’re going to get out the door and do it. What we’re trying to teach are the habits and behaviours you do before you actually even start exercising. And if we can remove that tension of being worried about the exercise or the time it’s going to take in your day, then we’ll increase the chance of you doing it.”

Other lessons include finding movement you enjoy and using forward thinking positively to motivate you to get moving.  

“Instead of thinking about exercise as something that’s going to be hard and horrible, think about how you’re going to feel afterwards. The goal is to bank a whole lot of positive experiences so that when you think about exercising, you want to do it.”

Which is particularly important as we age, and even more so for women, he adds.

“No matter what your age, the key is to find a movement you enjoy and create a safe pathway to bring that exercise into your life. For women, it’s also important as they age to incorporate some strength work into their week, particularly if osteoporosis is an issue. In general, I find women enjoy cardio but can be a bit afraid of things like the weights room. But you don’t have to do weights – a circuit class or pump class, or working with a personal trainer can also build strength. Remember, it’s all about baby steps.”

Bevan’s Get-Moving Tips

  • Make a decision to exercise. Ask yourself what you want your health to look like in five or 10 years and make that decision today.
  • Work with an expert to create a safe, sensible plan designed specifically for beginners.
  • Work towards creating a fitness lifestyle; don’t just focus on a quick fix.
  • See yourself as an exerciser.
  • Build a support structure around exercise – find a form of movement you love, as well as a good leader and a community who can support you.

Book cover for 'I Will Make You Passionate About Exercise' by Bevan James
I Will Make You Passionate About Exercise by Bevan James Eyles (Mary Egan Publishing, $37).

Nici Wickes’ Sesame Tofu Recipe

Sesame crusted tofu made by Nici Wickes

Let me assure any doubters out there, tofu is not tasteless! It has the most incredible ability to take on other ingredients, and this dish is a case in point – it’s crispy, sweet, hot, sour and completely delicious. Serves 4-6 as a side 


500g firm tofu, cut into 3cm cubes

½ cup cornflour 

1 teaspoon sea salt 

¼ cup black sesame seeds 

1-2 cups cooking oil (I use grapeseed)

2-3 assorted chillies, deseeded and halved lengthwise  

Serves 4-6 as a side 

2 spring onions, sliced thinly

Serves 4-6 as a side 


3 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce

3 tablespoons lime or lemon juice 

1 teaspoon sesame oil

¼ teaspoon sea salt  


1. Place cubed tofu into a large bowl. Sprinkle cornflour and salt on top and gently toss with your hands to ensure all pieces are covered. Shake off excess flour, then add the sesame seeds to the bowl and toss again to coat. 

2. In a small pot, heat enough oil to medium-hot so you can deep-fry the tofu (using a small pot means less oil is required). Test the temperature by lowering a piece of tofu into the oil – it should fizz immediately. Fry tofu in batches until light golden and crispy. Drain on paper towels.

3. Fry the chillies in the oil. Drain.

4. Fry the corn kernels in a pan until charred in places. 

5. Mix sauce ingredients together. Taste for seasoning – add more lime if it needs zing, and more salt if it needs more flavour. 

6. Pile tofu, chillies and corn onto a serving platter and shower with sliced spring onions. Squeeze some lime juice over top and serve with the sauce on the side. Enjoy! 

Nici’s Note

You can shallow-fry the tofu in a pan if you prefer. It takes longer to ensure all sides are crispy, but it still works!

Potato, Chard and Cheese Pie

Sophie Hansen and Annie Herron share a selection of their favourite recipes, guaranteed to warm your belly and your soul over winter.

This is a cross between a galette and a potato bake, with some greens thrown in for good measure. It’s especially lovely with chard-stalk pickle on the side. If you’re in a hurry, use two sheets of store-bought shortcrust or puff pastry.

Prep time: 25 mins, plus 30 mins chilling
Cook time: 1 hour
Serves 4-6


500g waxy potatoes, peeled
1 large bunch rainbow chard or silverbeet (Swiss chard)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp thyme leaves
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp smoked paprika
200g crème fraîche
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 eggs
Salt and black pepper
1 cup grated gruyère or other mild, nutty cheese
½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
2 tbsp nigella seeds (optional)
Tomato chutney to serve

Sour cream pastry

⅔ cup sour cream
2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
250g chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
½ tsp sea salt


1. For the pastry, blitz the sour cream, flour, butter and salt in a food processor for a few seconds or until just combined. Turn the pastry out onto a work surface, then gently bring it together into a disc. Cover the pastry in plastic wrap, then pop it in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

2. Add the potatoes to a saucepan of water, bring to the boil, then cook until tender when pierced with a knife. Drain and set aside to cool.

3. Pull the chard leaves away from the stalks (reserve the stalks to make chard-stalk pickle. Tear the leaves into smallish pieces.

4. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 10 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic, thyme, cumin and paprika and cook for a few minutes. Add the chard leaves, then toss everything around for a few minutes so the chard cooks down and softens. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

5. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

6. Combine the crème fraîche, mustard and two of the eggs in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, add the cheeses, then whisk to combine. Stir in the chard mixture.

7. Cut the pastry disc in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll one half out into a flat round that’s about 5mm thick. Repeat with the second piece. Place one round on the baking tray. Thinly slice the cooled potatoes, then arrange them in a circle on the pastry, leaving a 4cm border. Carefully pour the onion and chard mixture over the potato. Place the second pastry round on top, then crimp the edges to seal. Whisk the remaining egg and brush it over the pastry. Sprinkle the sesame and nigella seeds over the top, if using.

8. Bake the pie for 30-35 minutes or until puffed and golden. Cut it into wedges and serve with tomato chutney and chard-stalk pickle.

Extracted from Around the Kitchen Table by Sophie Hansen and Annie Herron. Photography by Sophie Hansen. Murdoch Books, RRP $45.

Shelley Katae’s Vision For Home Ownership In Aotearoa 

Shelley Katae is the Chief Executive Officer of Tāmaki Regeneration Company, a Crown and Auckland Council entity dedicated to bringing 10,500 new healthy, modern homes, and upgraded streets, parks and town centres to Glen Innes, Point England, and Panmure in East Auckland. 

Watch Shelley’s interview with Rachel Smalley below as they discuss growing up in small but mighty rural towns, the loss of te reo Māori and identity, leaving behind the stigma around public housing, and so much more. This is the fourth of a seven-part interview series for WOMAN, where Rachel will be uncovering extraordinary stories from a handful of exceptional kiwi women. Each has their own unique story to tell. Watch Shelley’s full interview below. 

Watch the full interview here:

There are around 20,00 people that live in Glen Innes, Point England, and Panmure combined, with the majority of this population being Māori and Pasifika. Shelley Katae and the Tāmaki Regeneration Company’s goal is to replace 2,500 dilapidated homes in the area with 10,500 state affordable rentals and shared ownership homes, as well as introducing social and economic programmes. 

“I think that, like anyone growing up in Aotearoa, we absolutely want to see all of our kids grow up in a home that gives them a sound base to achieve aspirations, get an education, have a job, be safe, be warm, dry and healthy. I think we have to collectively make sure that everybody has that opportunity,” says Shelley. 

Shelly Katae

“Only 8% of Māori in Tāmaki own their own home, 9% Pasifika, and 63% Pakeha. We do want Pakeha to remain at 63%, absolutely, but we’ve got a job to do to change those inequities that quite often occur for our Māori and Pacific whānau. I feel gutted that today we have a real stigma around public housing. So that’s kind of the first thing I think we need to move away from.” 

Shelley and the organisation’s vision is massive – and has never been achieved in New Zealand before – but she is a self-proclaimed “perpetual optimist” and devoted to bettering the future of Aotearoa. 

Listen to full audio version here:

Related Article: National MP Erica Stanford On Being In The Tough Game Of Politics 

Sparking Joy Through Vibrant New Activewear From Zeenya

Zeenya Activewear release New Zealand made range titled ‘SPARK’ to ignite conversation and community this spring! Visit our social channels (Instagram: @womanmagnz Facebook: womanmagnz), follow us and Zeenya (Instagram: @zeenyaclothing | Facebook: @zeenyaclothing) and sign up to our free weekly newsletter to be in with the chance to win a $200 online voucher for Zeenya.

Zeenya has produced three gorgeous prints as part of their new Spark Collection. “We named it our Spark Collection as a way of igniting conversation. It’s the spark between strangers, a shared connection over colour or the lift you get when you put them on” explains Founder Chloe Wickman. “These three prints together were to bring a lightness to end these long winter days, we’re never shy of colour to brighten things up” she adds. The three prints are titled ‘Manchado (Dappled), Renascida (Reborn) and Solavanco (Jolt) and are available in their beloved Capri Length Legging $94.90, Full Length Legging $109.90, Bike Short $64.90, Weave Crop $64.90, Scoop Crop $64.90 and
matching Splashback Singlet $79.90.

As a company, Zeenya are excited to see more women adopt wearing colour as a way of bringing a little extra joy in their lives. Especially when times are hard, or days feel dark and heavy. The power of dopamine dressing can get us out the door and to move in ways that work for us! Chloe predicts this season’s best seller will be the Solavanco print, “it’s quirky, a bit retro and makes people smile, you can’t ask for more than that” she laughs.

The Spark photoshoot was an extra special one for Chloe and the Zeenya Team. Chloe had the opportunity to work with Stacey Roche, NZ Paralympian who became one of their gorgeous models for the new Spark range. Chloe explains “Stacey lit the shoot up in our brightest print of the whole collection. We even fluked the colour of her walker she uses to match as well. A perfect synchronicity”.

Stacey has cerebral palsy and explains that being in the shoot was a rewarding challenge for her. “Being a woman with cerebral palsy, I am used to not seeing any representation in the modelling world. Even if I do, the models are in a wheelchair but clearly, they are very able in all their other movements, coordination and speech. Over time the ‘models in a wheelchair’ are more preferred in society, which is progress. However, they do not represent me.

There is a good reason why when I am in front of a camera, my brain says smile but my muscles say party time. Instead of a smile, I look like I’m in pain. I have a winky eye and my hands have a mind of their own. And all I’m trying to do is not fall over. I just want to look beautiful, but my muscles have a different agenda. I have followed the brand Zeenya Clothing on social media for years. I knew Chloe and I knew she had an inclusive ethos in her nature. I love her models. They were all real-life humans – of all shapes and sizes, each of them beautiful people, but when Chloe asked me to be one of her models, I was excited and nervous. Excited because I can now represent the marginalised disabled woman, and nervous because I knew my body would not behave.

At the photoshoot, for the first time in a long time I felt beautiful, I felt just like the other models, and I felt at ease with my body. The other woman there were real. Zeenya Clothing celebrates our differences and ensures no matter what body you have, you can feel like a goddess like I do!” Stacey was joined by Misty Kimura (left) and Janet Harvey (right), local Tauranga women who strongly represent the inclusion values of Zeenya.

Zeenya is an ever-expanding community of New Zealand women who are driven by a shared sense of celebration, self-expression and connection. Chloe has always chosen to shoot her collections on kiwi women that celebrate diversity, body love and acceptance and represent health and wellbeing in their own communities.

Chloe adds “we have never used photoshop or retouching with the aim to show real women who know the importance of moving their bodies, rather than portray the image that most fitness industry standards tell us to be”.

Zeenya (pronounced Zeen-yah) is New Zealand’s happiest activewear range, creating limited edition pieces to inspire women to embrace their authentic, bright and adventurous selves. Priced from $64.90 – $134.90, Zeenya is not an inexpensive, fast fashion range but rather a high quality, highly coveted range that devotees wear due to its ethos, craftsmanship and unique prints and patterns that set it apart and inspire joy and celebration!

The new Zeenya Spark Collection is now available online at zeenyaclothing.com
Instagram: @zeenyaclothing | Facebook: @zeenyaclothing

The NZ Women Shaping Popular Culture

Jessica Kidd

Ever wondered who discovered your favourite author? Or that cult exhibition or film that everyone’s raving about? Behind every hit or hot ticket, clever women are curating our culture. Sharon Stephenson met four Kiwi wāhine who decide what we’ll watch, read, see and love.

Sandra Reid

If it sounds like a dream job, that’s because it is – being paid to live in Paris and fly around Europe watching films.

That’s been Sandra Reid’s reality since 1995, when she became a programmer for Whānau Mārama New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF).   

These days, the 65-year-old splits her time between Wellington and the Parisian apartment she bought in 2006 but her brief remains the same – to scour her part of the globe for films and documentaries to be screened at NZ’s annual film festival.

It’s a schedule that sees Sandra traveling to film festivals in London, Berlin, Venice, Amsterdam and  Cannes.

Sandra Reid
Image By Christian Monnier

“It sounds glamorous but it’s a lot of hard work. The screenings start at 8.30am and can run until midnight. I’m watching around four or five films a day for around 12 days at each festival. Plus meeting with distributors and fellow programmers.”               

That’s in addition to the many films Sandra views at home or at screenings hosted by distributors.

“I’d see hundreds of films a year and would have seen thousands over my career. It’s a real privilege to be able to share stories from all over the world with New Zealanders.”

What is Sandra, who originally trained as an actor, looking for when she curates films? “Our job is to open doors so that audiences can feel that they’re being welcomed in, but also allow them to develop a cinematic literacy. We don’t have an agenda when programming because it’s far more intuitive and subjective. We need to find a balance between films we know will be popular because, of course, we rely on ticket sales to fund the festival. But those films that bring in the crowds also allow us to show smaller, more niche titles. When people trust our choices, they will come to the big films but then might look at the programme and think, maybe I should try this one or that film looks good.”

Sandra, who moved to Paris to follow a former boyfriend, rejects the notion that film festivals are elitist, believing that just because a film isn’t in English doesn’t make it inaccessible.

“Subtitles are a different way to tell the story. As programmers, we champion all kinds of cinema that people from anywhere can relate to.”

Nor does Sandra necessarily view films through a feminist prism.

“Of course there are films that are deeply offensive to woman but I have to fight against dismissing a film entirely because it doesn’t adhere to what I believe. If, however, I think a film is vile then I will discuss it with my colleagues. There are many films that I don’t love but can still see how they would  have a place in a progamme.”

When Sandra isn’t watching films, she does a bit of translation work, mainly for the arts sector. And when she’s off the clock?

“I watch films! There’s a very good, cheap local cinema near me where I’ve recently watched Barbie and Oppenheimer. I don’t think there’s such a thing as good or worthy cinema – for me, it’s about respecting the filmmaker and being open to all kinds of cinematic stories.”

Jessica Kidd

A couple of years ago, a survey found that of the nearly US$200 billion spent by American galleries and museums at art auctions since 2008, only US$4 billion, or 2%, was for works by women artists. Another grim fact: just 11% of acquisitions and 14% of exhibitions at 26 prominent US museums during the same period were devoted to women artists.

Jessica Kidd isn’t surprised.     

“Across the art world globally there’s a history of women being underepresented, both in gallery collections and in the ranks of those curating,” says the Assistant Curator of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui.

“My aim is to help to redress that imbalance so that visitors to the gallery can more clearly see themselves represented in the art.”

To say that Jessica is obsessed with art and the places it’s displayed is no mere cliche: she was five when her her father first started taking her and her three siblings to art galleries.

Specifically to the Sarjeant Galley where, in one of life’s full-circle moments, Jessica now helps to determine what hangs on its walls.

“My father was an art teacher at Whanganui High School so we all grew up creative,” says the 36-year-old. “My parents loved taking us to galleries and I remember looking at the art thinking, I want to do that one day.”

‘That’ initially meant being at the pointy end of a paintbrush so Jessica did the first year of a honours fine arts degree at Whanganui’s UCOL before finishing it at Massey University.

But practicality won out so when she was tossing up between teaching art or curating it, the latter won.

Jessica Kidd
Image By Sarjeant Gallery

“I decided I wanted to be close to art and to care for it, so I did a museum studies diploma.”

That led to work cataloging and relocating the Sergeant’s 8000+ collection in preparation for a new purpose-built gallery.

In 2016, when her current role came up, Jessica jumped at it. Aside from time off to have daughter Gena, 4, and 18-month-old son Dale, she’s been curating the gallery’s permanent and contemporary collections ever since.

It’s a varied role that sees her do everything from planning upcoming exhibitions, working with artists, installing works and creating the ‘look and feel’ of exhibitions – from the colour of the walls to the content of explanatory text for each work.

Some exhibitions can take months or even years to curate but Jessica’s overall vision never wavers.

“My aim is to make the gallery space accessible to everyone, no matter what your age, ethnicity or background. It’s important to have a range of different voices that shape our culture, identity and landscape and what we think of ourselves as a nation. My style of curation is about choosing works that people can see themselves represented in, so diversity of subject as well as artist, but also doing things like keeping the explanatory text as conversational and jargon-free as possible.”        

Does Jessica bring a feminist lens to deciding which artists she fills the gallery with?

“As I woman I bring that unconscious perspective to whatever I do. So the issue of what women want to see is definitely part of how I choose artists to work with.”

Nicola Legat

If Nicola Legat ever sat in the Mastermind chair, chances are high she’d choose New Zealand books as her specialist subject. 

Because there’s not much that Nicola, 67, doesn’t know about Aotearoa’s publishing scene, having helped published books by high profile figures such as Nadia Lim, Witi Ihimaera, Al Brown, Lloyd Jones and Chelsea Winter.

You’ll actually run out of fingers and toes – yours and other people’s – listing the significant writers, photographers and artists that Nicola has published over the past 18 years, first as publishing director at Random House NZ and latterly as publisher of both Massey University Press and Te Papa Press.

“My vision is, and always has been, to publish books that are valuable, useful, important and beautiful,” says Nicola, who lives in Auckland with her husband Bruce Middleton, a Canadian engineer (the couple have two adult sons).

For those whose memories don’t stretch back to the 80s and 90s, Invercargill-born Nicola started out as a journalist, something she fell into while writing a community newspaper when she was at teacher’s training college.

“I did a masters degree in English and trained to be a secondary school teacher but ended up starting a community newspaper and caught the journalism bug.”

There followed an illustrious feature writing/editing career, first at Metro Magaine, then at its sister title, North & South Magazine. In 2005, Random House NZ came knocking.

Nicola Legat
Image by Jane Ussher

“I’m a voracious reader but I knew nothing about book publishing. Some things were familiar from journalism, such as working with writers, photographers and designers, but it was a steep learning curve,” says Nicola who is also Chair of the NZ Book Awards Trust.  

Choosing which titles to publish from the hundreds of manucripts that cross her desk each year, and nailing the zeitgeist by identifing what readers want to read before they know themselves, means life as a publisher isn’t easy.

“Publishing is a risky business because you have to rely on instict and what you feel in your bones. Will this book sell, will people like this? You need to be quite ballsy and have a lot of confidence.”

There were triumphs: becoming Al Brown’s publisher as his star was rising (repeating that success with Nadia Lim and Chelsea Winter) and, in 2011, publishing a book by Kiwi philanthropist Christine Fernyhough about buying a Canterbury high country sheep station.

“I wasn’t sure if the book would do well but it was a huge success and ended up spawning a category of high country sheep station books.”

In 2015 Nicola was shoulder tapped to start Massey University Press, then the only NZ university without a publishing house, a job she calls “a fantastic career challenge”. Today around 20 books a year, most academic, boutique-style tomes on history, architecture, design and art, bear the Massey imprint. 

A year later Wellington’s Te Papa, which had previously mothballed its publishing arm, asked Nicola to breathe life back into it. Today her remit stretches across both businesses, which could be why she regularly clocks up 10-hour days.       

The self-confessed feminist admits publishing books about women, and that champion woman, are critical.

“But I’m still a journalist at heart so am more objective. That means feminism isn’t the only filter I use when deciding what to publish. For me, it’s a question of making a contribution to New Zealand’s cultural conversation. There’s so much angry, ill-informed noise in the world today and I’m intestested in books which allow people to engage with clear thinking. That, hopefully, can build a better society.”

It includes giving Maori, Pasifika and migrant communities more of a seat at the literary table, and “doing it properly”.

“It’s about having full consultation with mana whenua and seeking correct cultural advice.”

While the word retirement isn’t in Nicola’s vocabulary, one day she’d like to return to her first love, feature writing. “It’s my happy place. But I’ve never wanted to write a book because I’ve seen how hard it is and I don’t have the stamina for it.”

Charlotte Ryan

Charlotte Ryan was around six years old – or was it five – when she found the groove she would settle into for life.

“I grew up on a Canterbury farm and was alone a lot so music became my saviour,” says the broadcaster and host of RNZ National’s Music 101. “I can remember listening to my Walkman while mowing the lawns, which took four hours. And taping songs from the radio then recording my own voice-overs. I thought everyone did that!” While a career in radio was the ultimate dream, a young Charlotte didn’t have the confidence to pursue it. Instead, there was a diversion into a teaching degree until she was able to secure unpaid work at a Christchurch radio station (which eventually led to a paid job at BFM in Auckland).  

Work has revolved around music in some shape or form ever since, not only as a broadcaster but also managing bands (for acts such as Ladi 6 and Shapeshifter) and as a publicist for music industry heavyweights Festival Mushroom Records and Warner Music where Charlotte, 43, worked with the likes of Roberta Flack and Radiohead. There was also a memorable four-year stint assisting iconic Kiwi musician Neil Finn, which included touring with Fleetwood Mac (“My dream job”.)

But radio kept calling her back and in 2019, the mother of Annie, 15, landed the RNZ role, bringing her well-loved take on music, and those who create it, to Aotearoa every Saturday from 1-5pm.

Charlotte Ryan
Image From RNZ

“I have a real love for all music, but especially New Zealand music because it’s so accessible to all of us. You can hear a song on the radio and then go out and see that band play live. I want local musicians to be heard and keep searching for opportunities to do that.”

Fortunately for Charlotte, her personal ethos aligns with that of her employer – to appeal to as wide a range of New Zealanders as possible. That means not only giving a platform to trans and ethnically diverse performers but also to women who, she admits with a sigh so loud you probably heard it at your place, are hugely underrepresented in the global music industry.

“I’ll be compiling my top songs for the week to play on my show and without even realising it I’ve picked The Beatles, Prince or Bowie – all great songs but it’s men, men, men! I try to ensure that I include women and trans musicians and, of course, music that my audience can relate to such as waiata. Next week, for example, it’s Chinese language week so I’ve got a guest coming on who’s playing Mongolian folk music. There’s no limit to what I can play or who I can I interview.”

Sarah Peirse Stars in Switzerland Thriller

Sarah Peirce

‘Switzerland’ invites the audience to explore the work and life of Patricia Highsmith with newfound curiosity and empathy performed by award winning actor Sarah Peirse.

Switzerland runs from 19 September – 7 October 2023. Get your tickets here

This week Sarah Peirse will take to the stage as the enigmatic author Patricia Highsmith in the spellbinding play “Switzerland” for the Auckland Theatre Company. She portrays the quirky, eccentric and sharply witty author in a play written by Joanna Murray Smith.

The story of “Switzerland” unfolds in the remote Swiss Alps, where Patricia Highsmith has chosen to live in seclusion. The play takes place in the early 1990s, during the twilight of Highsmith’s life, when her creative powers are waning. Her reclusive existence is disrupted when a young, ambitious publisher’s representative arrives to convince her to write one last novel featuring her beloved character, Tom Ripley. What follows is a battle of wits and a psychological power struggle that will keep the audience on the edge of their seats.

Earlier this year it was announced the upcoming film adaptation of “Switzerland” will feature Helen Mirren in the lead role, a choice that Peirse believes will translate well to the big screen but it’s the intimacy of the play in which Highsmith’s formidable character – terrifying and entertaining in equal measure – that will give the audience a chance to observe a nuanced exploration of a woman whose life was a constant dance between genius and anguish. 

Although Patricia Highsmith has been the subject of biographies and a recently released biopic, “Switzerland” doesn’t portray her as the benign figure painted in some of these works. Instead, it delves into the darker corners of her persona, providing a more unvarnished perspective. 

“She candidly expressed feelings of being trapped in the wrong era” says Peirse, hinting at Highsmith’s struggle with identity  “And her relationships, particularly with her mother, were fraught with complications.”

Patricia Highsmith was celebrated in Europe as the “poet of apprehension” for her exceptional psychological insight in her writing, a recognition she rarely received in America, where she was often pigeonholed as a crime thriller author, a label which infuriated Highsmith. 

Sarah Peirse, has naturally immersed herself in all of Highsmiths’ output and says although she is fond of the Ripley novels she most admires “Carol” (also known as “The Price of Salt”) for its exploration of the author’s inner world. She admits that Highsmith’s conflicted nature is what has intrigued her the most, making the experience of portraying Highsmith both “hostile and deeply sorrowful.”

“She had a penchant for concealing as much as revealing” she says and the play exposes some of the eccentricities deeply hidden in the writer’s psyche.

“She had no truck with fools and she would call it. At the same time there was a gaucheness to her and a lack of sophistication. As a writer she was able to channel that into her characters but she was not good at doing that in herself. She was too odd”

“This was a woman who would turn up at a dinner party with her handbag full of snails and would think it funny to just put it quietly on the table. I would say she liked to disrupt.”

Peirse’s portrayal of Highsmith required deep research, a process that involved immersing herself in the author’s life and psyche. 

 “Highsmith’s aversion to foolishness was evident, and she was known to call it out when she saw it. However, her eccentricities often overshadowed her sophistication.”

While Peirse doesn’t consider herself a method actor, all actors have a method and Sarah says preparing for the role of Highsmith required the need for a lot of personal and quiet time. Peirse is an actor who has worked all over the world, commuting to Australia for TV and theatre work but says it’s been a delight to be able to work in Auckland.

In the end, Patricia Highsmith’s life was a tumultuous blend of creativity, dedication, and inner turmoil and Peirse hopes her portrayal of her in “Switzerland” will offer a glimpse into the many facets of this iconic writer’s personality, from her brilliance to her profound sadness. 

“She was known for her discipline in terms of her work which was considerable – she was also a smoker and a drinker and by the end of her life she was surviving on beer, whiskey and cigarettes – the beer was the nutritious part.”

As Patricia Highsmith once said, “It’s not my job to apply a moral judgement on my characters; it’s the reader’s job to decide.” 

Peirse will be channelling this sentiment, providing theatregoers with a thought-provoking and personal encounter with the world of true crime and literary genius.

Switzerland runs from 19 September – 7 October 2023. Get your tickets here

The Ones To Watch: Up And Coming Designers From NZFW

Missed out on New Zealand Fashion Week: Kahuria? We’ve got the low down on all the emerging talent in Aotearoa that stood out from the crowd. 

Amelia Phillips

Calling all ruffle lovers! Amelia Phillips’ collection ‘Happily Ever After’ was featured at NZFW during the graduate show and was certainly a standout. Happily Ever After was a dissection of the classic one-wear wedding dress, and an analysis on how to make special bridal pieces that aren’t going to hang in the back of your closet for the rest of their life. With its soft, muted pinks and peach tones this collection felt like a dream. Tulle, quilting, gathers, and volume galore made Amelia’s Aotearoa Fashion Week debut a feminine delight. 

Sofia Heke

Sofia Heke is another designer hailing from Otago Polytechnic Te Pūkenga. Heke’s collection ‘The Hybridised Mind’ was displayed in the Miromoda show and did not disappoint. The Hybridised Mind collection delved into the experience of dual ethnicity, featuring feathers, paua shell, wool, and lace. It’s hard to go wrong with this colour scheme but Heke took things to the next level, including a married mixture of tulle and mesh as well. Keep an eye out, you’re definitely sure to see more of Heke’s work in the future.

Ruselle Ivan Tino – Ivantino house

Another up and coming designer from Otago Polytechnic is Ruselle Ivan Tino or ‘Ivantino House’ whose collection ‘Say Yes To Heaven’ focuses primarily on wedding attire for the maid of honour and bridesmaids. Who doesn’t love a bit of haute couture? The pure craftsmanship displayed in this collection was something to behold. Intricate and fine details like beading and tulle gathers did not go unnoticed. Ivantino House is perfect for those like Ruselle, who feel inspired by the glitz and glamour of it all.

Victoria Dons

Whilst these gorgeous pieces might look cheerful, their backstory may shock you. Victoria Dons’ collection ‘Bloomin’ Cancer’ was designed to bring awareness to how breast cancer forms, spreads, and ‘blooms’. Without any prior research, you’d never know the true meaning behind these pieces. Smiley models were walking down the runway, proudly presenting Victoria’s vision. The garments all had white bases with pink hues in the form of flourishing flowers on top to represent an MTT assay – where the saturation of the pink indicated where the cancer cells are the most present. Victoria Dons’ is definitely a designer to keep your eye on.

Milan Jeon

Drawing inspiration from painters and architects, Milan Jeon who is a graduate of Whitecliffe designs abstract garments that are utterly eye-catching. Each piece has its own story and the way Jeon combines asymmetry with sharp lines and clean cut edges can only be described as perfection. Milan Jeon’s pieces were a wonder to watch on the runway at NZFW, even the colour palette of black, white and red screams classic. We are loving this collection which is so professional yet playful, and serious yet satirical.

Kahuria was a whirlwind of a week and the emerging designers truly stole the spotlight. Between the dream-like creations of Amelia Phillips, the cultural richness of Sofia Heke, and the abstract elegance of Milan Jeon’s designs, it’s no secret that the future of fashion in Aotearoa shines brighter than ever. New Zealand Fashion Week may be over, but it’s just the beginning for these talented designers.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Most Wearable Trends From NZFW 2023

A Migrant’s Path: Q&A with Photographer Abhi Chinniah

Abhi Chinniah was raised in East Coast Malaysia and now resides in Aotearoa. She is a self-taught photographer and writer who has channelled her talents into shedding light on the diverse and often overlooked stories of New Zealand’s immigrant communities. Her current project, ‘A Migrant’s Path’, follows the stories of migrants and how these groups seek out belonging when separated from their roots. The work which  was acquired by The National Library NZ is about to open in Queenstown. Abhi talks to WOMAN about the show and how it intersects with her own lived experience.

‘A Migrant’s Path in Queenstown’: September 29 – November 19, 2023

Abhi Chinniah - Self Portrait
Abhi Chinniah – Self Portrait

Tell us about the inspiration behind your debut photograph series, ‘Light Skin Dark Skin’ and what message or stories you aimed to convey through it?

Light Skin Dark Skin used portraits to explore the journeys women have to take as a result of the colour of their skin. This photoessay echoed my own lifelong experiences with colourism, and being introduced to skin lightening creams at the age of 7. The core message of Light Skin Dark Skin was skin colour discrimination – known as colourism-, and what these experiences look like for women of different skin tones. There was discussion on reverse colourism too, and exploring how women of lighter skin tones were perceived in their community of predominantly dark skinned people. This was particularly an important perspective for me to share as my mother is light-skinned and people would often draw comparisons between my dark skin tone and hers, in disbelief that she could have such a dark-skinned child.

    In 2022, I would revisit Light Skin Dark Skin and create Melanin Rising, which delved into media representation of dark-skinned people, the use of skin lightening creams and peoples experiences with skin discrimination. You can discover more of Melanin Rising via its dedicated website www.loveyourmelanin.com

    Colourism has existed in my life since I was a baby and is woven into all of my work as a photographer.

    Your work often focusses on marginalised voices particularly women of colour and migrant communities. How do you approach the process of capturing their stories and experiences through your photographs?

    The creative process is a deeply personal one for me. There is a lot of relationship-building and fostering connection between myself and the portrait sitter. I particularly enjoy curating the feel and look of the photo shoot, and the process of that is hard to explain, but I’ll often have a strong visual idea of what I want to do and try to bring that to life in a still image.

    “A Migrants Path” explores the stories of migrant groups in Aotearoa. What are some of the most memorable or impactful stories you encountered during the creation of this photo essay?

    The most memorable experience from A Migrant’s Path was me finding more confidence through my art, and I feel like this is reflected in the portraits of this series. It also helped me realise that I wasn’t alone in my migration journey and the experiences that I have had. Every story from A Migrant’s Path, as well as my other photo essays, are impactful and meaningful; however, one that stayed with me was words from Soph Chin, who is a New Zealander of Chinese heritage, being a 5th-generation Kiwi born in Tamaki Makaurau, Auckland, with strong links to the Otago region, where her paternal family initially settled. She said, and I quote:

    “Sadly, New Zealand still struggles with racism, even if we as a country at least have the good grace these days to be embarrassed about it and mostly apologise when called out. My New Zealand European friends are appalled when I tell them that people have yelled at me from cars to “go home”, complimented my English (my first and only language, spoken with a very strong Kiwi accent to boot), insisted I couldn’t just be from Auckland (the infamous ”where are you REALLY from?”) or greeted me with ‘Konnichiwa’ – but overwhelmingly when I speak to other non-white New Zealanders, regardless of whether they are first or fifth generation, this is a shared experience and no-one is surprised as it’s been happening since primary school.

    Despite this, I am incredibly thankful that my forebears came seeking a better life for themselves and their descendants. I embrace being New Zealand Chinese and can’t imagine anywhere else being home.

    Another poignant story comes from Radhika Murti-Ram, who candidly shared her experiences with colourism:

    “My experiences with colourism have been pretty intense. Let’s say I wouldn’t forget my teenage years. I remember on the bus once someone said to me I looked ugly because I was so dark. That memory has always stayed with me. Within families, I would always hear things like “she is very beautiful for a dark-skinned girl”. Or when looking for a bride, no matter what colour their son’s skin was, these families would always want their son to marry a fair-skinned woman. In their minds, fair skin was considered beautiful and ideal. I think what was most hurtful was that the society I was living in saw us, dark-skinned girls, to be less pretty or not suitable marriage partners for their sons.’’

    There are so many layers to these portraits and stories, and audiences will be able to view these portraits alongside a wide collection of my photographic work from A Migrant’s Path, Melanin Rising and my latest body of work No.13 at Te Atamira in Queenstown from September 29 – November 19. I will also be hosting an artist talk at Te Atamira on Saturday, October 14, from 11am – 1pm. This exhibition is especially meaningful because it is the first showing of works from all of my collections; audiences will be able to see the interconnectedness of my projects and my growth as an artist.

    Both ‘Light Skin Dark Skin’ and ‘ A Migrant’s Path’ were acquired by The National Library of NZ. How does it feel to have your work preserved as part of the country’s cultural heritage, and do you hope viewers take away from these collections?

    To call myself an artist is still not an identity that rolls off the tongue easily or comfortably, so the acquisition was hugely meaningful for me and for everyone who was photographed and who generously shared their stories. It evoked a sense of home and belonging for me.

    What I hope viewers take away from my work is the experiences of ethnic communities, our migration stories and our journey to find belonging. I also hope, through my art, that I can create a platform where people like me can share their stories openly and without constraint while embracing their cultural identity.

    As a self taught photographer and writer, could you share some insights into your creative process? How do you continually develop your skills and find inspiration for your projects?

    In my community, you would grow up to either be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or accountant. In my first year at University, I pursued a law degree, then it was accounting, and in my final year, Marketing & Management. Just the idea of making photography something I could do for a living wasn’t even something I considered, let alone calling myself an artist!

    I remember my father noticing that I liked photography, perhaps before I realised it. When I was a teenager, I had a Sony point-and-shoot that I used to take “photos of my friends.” Some of them would be quite posed, and my friends and I would pick out clothes from my wardrobe to use for outfits in these portraits. One day, papa came home with a tripod. I had no idea what it was. He explained that I could mount my camera on this thing and take landscape photos that were not blurry. I never thought much of these experiences until later, at age 24, when I picked up a camera again via a job and thought, hey, this feels right, and I want to take it seriously.  My early photo essays were in 2016 when I was exploring my voice as an artist.

    Every weekend, without fail, I would practice photography. I photographed anyone who was willing to be photographed. Any leftover income I had, I would use to buy props and rent backdrops to set up shoots. This helped develop not only my creative skill but, over time, helped me develop a better understanding of my self-worth and what I can offer as an artist. 

    Images are copyrighted to Abhi Chinniah 

    Abhi Chinniah website: https://ramiistudio.com/
    Find Abhi on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ramiistudio/

    Meditation And Its Clear Links To Improved Mental Wellbeing

    NZ Mental Health Awareness Week starts today and runs from 18 – 24 September. The official theme for 2023’s Mental Health Awareness Week is anxiety, the aim is to look at how anxiety can affect people, what external factors can trigger this strong response, and what we can do to support our peers during times of increased anxiety.

    With a focus this year around anxiety we want to be able to cultivate a mindset that helps us feel not so overwhelmed by life’s commitments and challenges. We take on so much and often fill our days with responsibilities and tasks, not all of which we can control but we can control how we respond to these things. The focus for this year is looking at your priorities and weighing them up as to what you need to do and what you don’t need to do. Time management is a big part of not feeling anxious so this week stop to look at how you can plan your time and prioritise things that are sustainable for you, rather than overwhelming yourself, ask someone you trust to help you do this if you need. Having an outside perspective can sometimes help to gain clarity.

    Nurturing yourself with a meditation practice and getting out into nature are great ways to help alleviate anxiety, so is creating and stopping to appreciate beauty in your life in small ways as this helps to ground us in the present moment.

    The number of people who partake in a regular meditation practice is on the increase. Meditation is a powerful tool that we can all benefit from, it can strengthen areas of the brain responsible for memory, learning, attention and self-awareness. The practice can also help calm the sympathetic nervous system, and over time, practicing meditation can even increase cognition, memory and attention span.

    In New Zealand 1 in 5 adults aged 15 years and over are diagnosed with a mood and/or anxiety disorder, nearly half the population will meet the criteria for a mental illness diagnosis at some stage during their lives, and one in five of us will experience depression in any given year. These alarming statistics are also on the rise. Now, more than ever, it’s important that we support each other in daily wellbeing and mental health practices, and meditation is a great place to start!

    The reason meditation is so powerful is that it causes shifts in both our awareness and our responses. Many people over-identify with their thoughts and emotions, particularly negative and stressful ones, which can prolong them and make them feel bigger than they are. According to neuroscience research, mindfulness practices such as meditation dampen activity in our amygdala and increase the connections between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex. Both of these parts of the brain help us to be less reactive to stressors and to recover better from stress when we experience it.

    Daily meditation has been shown to decrease anxiety and improve cognitive functioning in new meditators after eight weeks, it was also shown to decrease negative moods, lower the risk of depression, improve attention, working memory and recognition memory in new meditators. In a published study conducted at Google and Roche, in which employees used the Headspace app for eight weeks, participants reported a 46% reduction in depression and a 31% reduction in anxiety.

    Daily meditation can even help us perform better at work! Research found that meditation helps increase focus and attention and improves our ability to multitask!

    Meditation also helps clear our minds and focus on the present moment rather than reliving painful past experiences or living in fear about future events.

    Benefits Of Meditation Include:

    • Reduces stress
    • Lowers risk of depression
    • Promotes productivity and increased cognitive ability
    • Helps with focus and mental clarity
    • Improves relationships
    • Regulates mood
    • Calms the sympathetic nervous system
    • Increases sleep quality and can improve sleep disorders such an insomnia

    The rise of those practicing meditation is fuelled by the increase in access to helpful apps on our smart phones and the availability and ease of access to online courses. Popular meditation apps include Calm, Buddhify, Happify, Headspace, Smiling Mind and our very own New Zealand owned and operated app – The Beacon by Soul 33. The Beacon by Soul33’ launched in March of 2020, Founder Gaia Chinniah knew she needed a solution that empowered and inspired people daily, that was accessible from all around the world.

    Gaia recommends finding a meditation app that feels right for you. “Having support through a guided meditation app helps take the guesswork out about what you should do or where you should go. Its important that users find an app that feels right for and resonates for them. I suggest trialling two or three and finding the best fit for you.” adds Gaia.

    The Beacon by Soul 33 is available for download on both Apple and Android devices. Search ‘Soul33’ in your App Store. There is a free version of the app with more limited features, and the paid version of the app costs $60 per year, which gives users access to the full meditation library.

    Gaia is an internationally known healer, medium and spiritual coach. She founded Soul33 a healing company and the modality of Soul Progression Therapy ® when she had an awakening at the age of 33. She channels messages from spirit guides, uses energy healing and is able to speak to your soul and see your past lives. She sees your soul blueprint. She reminds you who you are in a very practical way. Gaia has a Masters in Management Studies, is a Reiki Master and has a qualification from Omega Institute New York in Past Life Regression Therapy. She has created a spiritual guidance app and is the founder of Spiritual Health Magazine to help others understand their journey.

    Website: www.soul33.com  | Facebook: @soulthirtythree | Instagram: @soulthirtythree

    Bright And Beautiful: Going Bold With Your Interiors

    We’re moving swiftly on from monochrome as the energy, interest and vitality added to living rooms by a bold and confident use of bright colour emerges as one of the biggest design trends. And it is Spring after all!

    Into the Pink

    A museum curator’s jewellery box of an apartment is a joyful explosion of contrasting colours that has been lifting its owner’s mood for more than two decades. In the living room, apple-green walls complement a bright pink ceiling, with a mustard-yellow velvet armchair setting off both shades to perfection. Finding the exact colour tones that the homeowner wanted to use in the various spaces was a challenge, and he made use of a colour specialist to assist with the task of tracking down the perfect shades.

    Blue Note

    “I love colour,” says the owner of this large family home, in which each room sports a different but equally strong hue. “It’s about mixing and layering and not making it obvious and predictable,” she adds – and the confident combination of bold colours with black-and-white plus animal print makes for a lively and sophisticated feel throughout, as demonstrated in this supremely smart living room.

    Jewel Tones

    A contemporary jewellery designer’s home is, like her wearable creations, bold and exuberant in its use of colour. “I’m not afraid of mixing shades together,” she says, “but you have to be deliberate about it to pull it off.” In the living room, she’s done just that, combining pillar-box red, dark denim blue, fuchsia and yellow with real flair to create a mix that makes for a fun, energising and effortlessly multi-generational living room.

    Emerald City

    Well-known for her superbly gutsy approach to colour, the interior-designer owner of this suburban family home simply adores a bold hue. “Once I start, I can’t stop,” she smiles. “White just looks blah.” A plethora of patterns and textures – from the cane armchair and velvet sofa to the Senegalese plastic mat used to cover the ottoman – both complement and set off the bold green and blue hues used in her living room.

    Culture Club

    Mixing multiple patterns and colours judiciously isn’t always easy, but when done well – as seen in this apartment, owned by two artists – it is irresistibly attractive. A particularly important element in this living area is the inviting takht or “river-bed” that, strewn with colourful pillows and bolsters, is a vernacular piece of furniture commonly found in teahouses and at roadside kiosks, shrines, entrances to mosques and restaurants across Iran, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

    Pop Stars

    It’s a truism that those not confident enough to deploy swathes of colour should instead add “pops” of it, ideally against a monochrome backdrop, but doing so can also make a space slide into the realm of decorating cliché. The chain hotel décor look has been resolutely avoided in this living room, however, where multiple colourful elements – including the golden-yellow display recess, turquoise-blue side table and colourful striped and patterned rugs – create multiple sparks of visual interest.

    Enviably Green

    The decision to paint all the walls and much of the ceiling of this heritage coastal holiday cottage in a single shade of green was one of the only changes made to the original home when its new owners took over, and was suggested by a friend who suggested the green would make the original yellow beechwood floors “look considered”. Not only did his prediction turn out to be accurate, the green also varies between hues of fern, olive and pistachio, depending on the light conditions as the day goes by.

    Modern Hues

    When decorating her mid-century modern home, a young fashion designer decided she wanted to use colours that were popular in the 1960s, which was when her house was built. “I researched what colours were popular [then] and chose the ones that I liked,” she says – shades that included the saturated pastels seen here in her living room – which she then combined with fearless verve to create a look that is both retro and fresh.

    Production: Sven Alberding. Photography: Greg Cox/Bureaux, Warren Heath/Bureaux, Elsa Young/Bureaux.

    The Mowbray Way

    Anna Mowbray helped to build one of NZ’s most successful companies but she tells Sharon Stephenson why she walked away, how she learned the value of a dollar and why the time was right to disrupt the job market.

    Billionaires, say people who know about these things, are rarely happy.

    Not only do they have to worry about losing their fortunes, there’s the constant anxiety of increasing their net worth and/or being overtaken by people with more zeros in their bank accounts.

    If Anna Mowbray isn’t a billionaire, she probably isn’t far off – the National Business Review estimates that Anna and her brothers Nick and Mat, co-founders of ZURU, one of the world’s largest toy companies, are worth around $3 billion. But Anna defies every unhappy mega-rich stereotype there is.

    The 40-year-old is kind, relentlessly positive and radiates so much energy she could be plugged into the national grid. The sort of person who, if we were doing this interview in person, would probably have whipped up a batch of biscuits and sent me home with the rest in a Tupperware container.        

    Instead, we’re chatting by Whatsapp, ostensibly about Anna’s new venture, the online recruitment app ZEIL which launched in August and has been branded Tinder for Jobs (more on that later).

    First, though, I want to know why anyone would walk away from the top table of one of the most successful NZ companies in recent history, one they helped build from scratch.

    “I get asked that a lot,” says Anna, pushing a lock of her trademark platinum blonde hair behind one ear.

    “But when I turned 35, I realised that I didn’t want ZURU to be the biggest mountain I ever climbed. I wanted to do something else before I was 40, something that allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and push into uncomfortable spaces. I was itching to start again, to do the all-nighters and feel the stress of a start-up.”

    She’d been here before, of course, leaving Aotearoa straight out of Massey University to join her brothers in their madcap quest to take on global toy giants Mattel, Fisher-Price and Hasbro.

    “We were three young, naive Kiwis with no understanding of business or the corporate world, dropped into the middle of China without being able to speak the language. I’d only ever been to Australia once when I was 13 and had never even travelled to the South Island and here I am, in a city of 15 million people. It was a wild, exhilarating and crazy ride but we had a vision of building a million dollar company, then a billion dollar company, then the biggest toy company in the world.”

    As with most start-ups, there were lean times.

    “We lived in the factory for ages, with my bedroom just off the factory floor,” recalls Anna who today resides in a $24 million home in Auckland’s Westmere with her partner, former All Black Ali Williams.

    “There was no air-conditioning so it was boiling in summer. We survived on a few dollars a day for years, working 16-18 hour days.”

    But the Mowbray siblings are black belts in never giving up. “We were so driven and focused on today, then tomorrow, then the next challenge. Yes it was tough but that experience taught me that you can’t let challenges paralyse you. You have to use them to push yourself forward because that gives you the confidence to keep going.”

    We all know how pushing themselves forward worked out: 17 years after starting ZURU, it employs more than 8,500 people in 26 offices globally and its reach covers not just toys but also fast moving consumer goods and, most recently, property. 

    “It taught me that when you change the life of a woman, you change a generation.”

    Anna Mowbray

    While Anna loved the cut and thrust of finding new markets and setting up production facilities, her real passion was people.

    “I realised my purpose was to empower others to unlock their talent and capability, to help them achieve things they didn’t think they could.”

    That came not only via the global teams she put together and the business culture she was responsible for setting, but also via ZURU’s philanthropic projects which work with women in remote parts of China.

    “We set up a project where we’d go into rural areas to work with women who hadn’t been able to get an education, many of them single mothers. We’d put them through various vocational and  educational programmes, including medical, sewing and cooking training, to enable them to find work.”

    It wasn’t just about giving money, she says, it was also about giving time and opportunities. “ZURU staff would stay with these families, often sleeping on dirt floors next to pigs and farmyard animals that they’d bring inside for the night. Spending time with those families in their homes was one of the most grounding and humbling things I’ve ever done. We put 800 women a year though the programme, women who’ve gone on to open their own shops and find work in factories, opportunities they wouldn’t have had before. It taught me that when you change the life of a woman, you change a generation.”

    Her passion for people is what led Anna to ZEIL. While researching HR tech to find out where the disruption was, the mother of two boys (11 and 6) and a 10-year-old daughter was surprised there wasn’t any.

    “The online job recruitment space hasn’t been disrupted since the internet came along! It was an opportunity for me to look at how we could bring innovation to job seekers in a way that’s data-driven, fun and delivers jobs the way the digital-native workforce wants them to be delivered, as well as allowing businesses to showcase their brand and culture and use data to understand what candidates are looking for.”

    Enter the Tinder-style app, which allows job seekers to swipe right on jobs recommend by the ZEIL algorithm.

    Anna, who admits she pulled “quite a few” all-nighters getting the business up and running, has been overwhelmed with the response.   

    “It’s been incredible. ZEIL was the biggest business app in NZ for the first 10 days after we launched and third among all apps, ahead of TikTok, Instagram and Threads, and well above Seek and Trade Me who were #46 and #47 respectively. More than 15, 000 people have downloaded the app and we now have 700 companies on board, from a start of 115, and 1,000 jobs on the platform.”

    But there’s more to come she says proudly, pointing to the whiteboards dotted around her Freemans Bay office with headings such as ‘One Month’, ‘Three Months’ and ‘Dream Bigger’.

    “After we’ve established ZEIL in Aotearoa, we’ll be taking our Kiwi ingenuity and culture to the world.”

    Flick through any society pages and you’ll invariably see Anna dressed in a designer gown with impeccable hair and make-up, surrounded by NZ business and sporting royalty.

    It’s a stark contrast to her childhood on a Waikato lifestyle block where, thanks to her three brothers, Anna was “a real tomboy who ran with the boys, played with the boys and fought with the boys”.

    “I remember when I was five screaming and refusing to wear a dress.”

    Her parents – father an engineer, mother a teacher – had relocated the family from Tokoroa, where Anna was born, specifically so that their four children could attend St Peter’s School in Cambridge.

    “We didn’t have a lot but Mum and Dad focused on our health, well-being and education. They also had this incredible entrepreneur spirit we all inherited that empowered us to be whatever we wanted.”

    Anna credits her parents with teaching her the value of money and hard-work.

    “I knew I always wanted to be wealthy. I’ve worked since I was 12 babysitting, feeding out the neighbour’s horses and picking lilies. Even when I was at university I had a part-time job because I didn’t want to take out a student loan.”

    After constantly nagging her parents for a horse they finally bought her one for $400. Anna later sold it for $800.

    “I was always buying things, making them better and selling them for more.”

    The initial plan was to become a vet but after a summer working with a local vet who told her there was no money or career progression in the profession, she switched her allegiance to a food technology degree at Massey’s Palmerston North campus.

    “University was always really a box to be ticked, because I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Nick and Mat had gone to China the year before and they called me saying, get on a plane we desperately need you. But I wanted to finish my degree. I’m actually the only one of us four kids who finished their degrees.”

    Anna might still be living in China if it wasn’t for Covid.

    “We always brought the kids back to NZ during Chinese New Year but in 2020 we got stuck here when the borders closed. We had to have our house in China packed up and our new puppy put into quarantine and sent over. We basically had to reset our whole lives but we love being back home.”

    Anna admits her biggest challenge these days is finding balance between work and family.

    “Like all working mothers I have to redefine what balance looks like for me. My three children live with us and Ali shares custody of his two daughters so we always have a full house. But our focus is on raising our kids to be passionate, driven and humble.”    

    It’s a schedule that doesn’t leave a lot of personal time but Anna admits she doesn’t need much.

    “My EA is always trying to book me massages and facials which I never go to because I’m not the type who can lie there doing nothing, my head doesn’t stop whirring! I’m an active relaxer and Ali and I do Pilates and boxing. To be honest, I get energised by being with the kids, I don’t need time to myself.”

    By now, we’ve overshot our allotted interview time by 20 minutes and although I’ve yet to ask Anna about her future plans or philanthropic work, she warns me she’s getting “the look” from her EA. 

    I manage to sneak in one last question: the hardest job Anna’s ever had.

    “Raising children, without a doubt! It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and the one I stress the most about, but it’s also the most rewarding.”

    RLATED ARTICLE: How dating app Bumble made Whitney Wolfe Herd a self-made billionaire

    Sam’s Roasted Pumpkin Salad

    Sophie Hansen and Annie Herron share a selection of their favourite recipes with WOMAN.

    This is everything a “bring a plate” salad should be – happy to sit around at room temperature, substantial enough to be a side dish or main on its own, and absolutely delicious. I loved how Sam solved her “no platter big enough” problem by lining a basket with brown paper and layering her salad inside.

    Prep time: 25 mins
    Cook time: 55 mins
    Serves 6-8


    1kg butternut pumpkin (squash)
    ¼ cup olive oil
    Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
    1 tsp ground cumin
    ½ tsp smoked paprika
    1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves roughly chopped
    ½ cup hazelnuts


    1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Slice the unpeeled pumpkin into 1cm-thick slices, removing any seeds. Place the slices in a bowl, then drizzle with most of the oil and the orange juice. Add the spices and season with salt, then gently toss.

    2. Spread the pumpkin over a couple of baking trays, then roast for about 45 minutes or until soft and beginning to caramelise around the edges. About 10 minutes before the pumpkin has finished cooking, add the kale to the trays, then drizzle with the remaining oil. Return the trays to the oven and cook until the kale is crispy.

    3. Spread the hazelnuts on another baking tray and pop them into the oven for about 10 minutes or until aromatic. Tip the nuts into a clean tea towel, then rub to remove the skins. Roughly chop the nuts.

    4. Transfer the pumpkin and kale to a large platter (or get a lovely big basket, line it with a few layers of brown paper, then a layer of baking paper, and arrange the pumpkin and kale on top). Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts and grated orange zest over the salad and serve warm or at room temperature.


    You could also sprinkle some feta or goat’s cheese over the salad.

    Extracted from Around the Kitchen Table by Sophie Hansen and Annie Herron. Photography by Sophie Hansen. Murdoch Books, RRP $45.

    TVNZ Presenter Inspired By The Combination Of Te Reo Māori And Shakespeare

    Te Rauhiringa Brown was captivated by hearing the words of William Shakespare performed in te reo Māori and inspired her to excel in a career in the screen industry.

    TVNZ personality and performer Te Rauhiringa Brown remembers the moment when she was inspired to become an actor and tell stories on the stage and screen.

    It happened ten years ago while Te Rauhiringa was studying media in Auckland. She went to see a Māori performing arts company staging a te reo Māori version of the epic William Shakespeare play Troilus and Cressida, before they took the production to the home of Shakespeare, The Globe Theatre in London.

    Te Rauhiringa, a fluent Māori speaker, was mesmerised by the entire production, and was greatly impacted by hearing the words of William Shakespeare being spoken in te reo Māori.

    “I just sat there, blown away. It was the largest Māori production that I had ever seen. Most of the people on stage were not even actors but te reo Māori advocates that were proficient in the language,” she explains.

    “They executed this Shakespeare play so well that it made me want to become a performer, to work in theatre at the highest level because it was another platform to share and express my love for te reo Māori.”

    This week, Te Rauhiringa’s journey has come full circle. She will be acting in a reading of a te reo Māori version of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, Romeo and Juliet, Entitled Rōmeo rāua ko Hureita, the performance will be held at Te Pou Theatre in Auckland during its annual Koanga Festival.

    The reading is directed by acting legend and te Maori advocate Jennifer Te Atamira Ward-Lealand.

    “It felt special walking into the rehearsal room for the first time, to be around beautiful people with beautiful minds who had a passion for speaking te reo Māori and bringing to life one of the most famous love stories in the world,” she says.

    That moment made Te Rauhiringa realise how far she has come in her career in media, theatre,TV and film. Her passion for te reo Maori has driven her throughout her career to ensure that it is heard and felt across many diverse media platforms.

    The 30-year-old grew up attending kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa Māori-language immersion schools.

    She started her TV career at 19 as a presenter on te reo Māori children’s show Pūkana and has been a regular presenter on various kids’ shows. She has since become an actress and writer of theatre shows in both English and Māori and has travelled her plays across the country.

    The all-rounder has also acted in films. She joined TVNZ in 2018 as a journalist and worked on Te Karere before joining Seven Sharp. This year, she was asked to juggle her role on the week-night current affairs show with being a fill in weather presenter.

    Te Rauhiringa, whose iwi are Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Apakura and Ngāti Kahu, is currently on maternity leave from TVNZ.  Fourteen weeks ago, she gave birth to her third son, Taimaririkura; a little brother to Te Māpuna, 13, and Te Rangikohea, 9.

    Little Taimaririkura accompanied his parents to his very first rehearsals during their time with the Rōmeo rāua ko Hurieta cast. Te Rauhiringa’s partner, fellow actor Mauri Oho Stokes, is also cast in the reading.

    Te Rauhiringa Brown with partner Mauri Oho Stokes, during the rehearsals of  Rōmeo rāua ko Hurieta.
    Te Rauhiringa Brown with partner Mauri Oho Stokes, during the rehearsals of Rōmeo rāua ko Hurieta.

    “We hope he will follow in his parents’ footsteps and has that spark to tell stories,” she says.

    Director Ward-Lealand has recently finished starring in a sold out season of the Shakespeare classic King Lear for Auckland Theatre Company. By directing a te reo Māori version of Romeo and Juliet she is combining her passion for Shakespeare and her love for the Māori language.

    “What I most appreciate about combining the Māori language with Shakespeare is how the writer used metaphor, which is widely used in te reo Māori as well,”  she says.

    “Shakespeare’s language is also full of references to the natural world. In that way, te reo Māori seems the perfect language in which to translate Shakespeare into. Te reo Māori is connected to the natural world, and that’s what I love.”

    Jennifer Te Atamira Ward-Lealand directing a rehearsal of Rōmeo rāua ko Hurieta.
    Jennifer Te Atamira Ward-Lealand directing a rehearsal of Rōmeo rāua ko Hurieta.

    Romeo and Juliet was translated into Māori by acclaimed translator Te Haumihiata Mason. The book of the translation was released in August. Other te reo Māori translations of Shakespeare’s plays include The Merchant of Venice, Othello and Julius Caesar, by Dr Pei Te Hurinui Jones, a series of love sonnets by Dr Merimeri Penfold, and Mason’s translation of Troilus and Cressida.

    “Shakespearean English is the bridge between te reo Māori and te reo Pākehā,” says Te Rauhiringa.

    “His characters speak with so many similes and metaphors. It’s not the kind of English that you hear every day. When I watched the Māori translation of a Shakespeare play for the first time, it made perfect sense to me.”

    She says that it’s perfect timing that the very special reading of Rōmeo rāua ko Hurieta will be performed during Te Wiki o te reo Māori – Māori Language Week.

    “This week celebrates the te reo Māori advocates who paved the way for us. For me, Māori Language Week is when I get to live in an ideal society where te reo Māori is everywhere. But I dream that our nation will one day be celebrating our beautiful language every single week of the year.”

    Rōmeo rāua ko Hurieta will be performed Friday, 15 September at 7pm at Te Pou Theatre, Henderson, Auckland.

    This is public interest journalism funded by NZ on Air.

    Book Review: The List by Yomi Adegoke

    Call me a cynic, and plenty have, but I tend not to believe reviewers when they say things like ‘this book will define a decade’ or ‘this novel embodies the zeitgeist like no other’.

    But they weren’t far off the mark with The List, the debut novel from British journalist/podcaster Yomi Adegoke.

    The Guardian and British Vogue columnist blasts into the literary stratosphere with her tale of secrets, lies and the internet, in particular, our morally complicated online culture.

    Influencers Ola and Michael are a young Insta-famous couple, the king and queen of #blacklove. They’re about to get married in a ceremony that will scorch London’s social media-scape.

    But a month before the wedding, someone anonymously publishes The List on Twitter, a document featuring the names of men in the media accused of sexual misconduct against women. Quelle surprise, it quickly goes viral.

    Ola, the slightly precious star journalist of feminist publication Womxxxn, would normally be all over the story. Until she sees Michael’s name on The List.

    Her beloved it turns out, has been accused of harassment and assaulting a woman at a Christmas party, claims he strenuously denies.

    Moral meet dilemma. Does Ola stand by her man or does she end the relationship because of an anonymous allegation? Does she really know who Michael is? And who the hell is behind The List?

    Narrated from both Michael and Ola’s perspective, this is a murky deep dive into the paradoxical nature of social media – it can make you, but just as quickly break you. Anyone with a brain in their head knows social media can be a useful forum for voices but are those voices always honest? Or are they motivated by revenge?

    Other gnarly questions arise: how far should Ola go to defend the one she loves, what of those who are falsely accused and where do we even start with cancel culture?

    You know it isn’t going to end well for either Ola or Michael, although I’m sure I wasn’t the only one feeling a little bit sorry for the latter (and some of the others on The List although clearly not all, as evidenced by some of the heinous blokes Yomi introduces us to). But as a treatise on
    contemporary digital culture, this exciting new writer breaks fertile ground.

    Naturally, this book has TV adaptation written all over it and no-one is better placed than Yomi, who explored the permutations of black British celebrity culture as co-author of 2018’s bestselling self help manual Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible, to write the screenplay.

    She invites us to step over the threshold of social media and into the court of public opinion – and even if we don’t like what we see, it’s a cracking read.

    Book Cover The List

    The List By Yomi Adegoke (HarperCollins, RRP $35.00)

    Lemon And Pistachio Semifreddo

    Prep this great summer dessert a day ahead and serve it by itself or alongside another dessert. You can buy lemon curd at the supermarket or, if you have a lemon tree, whip up a big batch to share with friends. Serves 4. Recipe from Together – By Cherie Metcalfe


    250g frozen raspberries 

    ¹⁄3 cup caster sugar

    3 large eggs 

    500ml cream 

    Zest of 2 lemons 

    ½ cup lemon curd 

    70g raw pistachios, chopped

    Fresh raspberries, to serve


    1. Place raspberries in a small pot with 2 tablespoons of the sugar on a low heat and simmer for 5 minutes until they break down. Set compote aside to cool.

    2. Separate eggs, reserving whites. Whisk yolks with remaining sugar until pale and doubled in volume. Set aside. 

    3. Whip cream to firm soft peaks. Fold in lemon zest. 

    4. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. 

    5. Fold whipped cream and lemon curd into egg yolk mixture, then carefully fold in egg whites.

    6. Line a loaf tin with baking paper. 

    7. Spoon a third of the semifreddo mixture into loaf tin. Spoon half the raspberry compote over the top and swirl lightly with a knife. Sprinkle with a few pistachios. 

    8. Add another layer of semifreddo, then the remaining compote, and swirl again. Add the final layer of semifreddo mixture.

    9. Place in the freezer, uncovered, for at least 6 hours or overnight. 

    10. Garnish with remaining pistachios and fresh raspberries.

    Bestselling author Cherie Metcalfe is a trained chef and the creator of Pepper & Me, a successful food brand, with a range of delicious products that help make meal preparation easier and tastier. Pepper & Me’s range of products – including rubs, spices, butters, pastes and grinds – are sold online and via stockists nationwide. Cherie lives in Tauranga. Together: Food for Sharing is her second cookbook, with photography by Melanie Jenkins and styling by Jo Bridgford. (Allen & Unwin, RRP $49.95).

    Steps To Becoming A Climate-friendly Gardener

    The planet is warming up, and we need to change the way we grow to create resilient gardens that can cope with weather extremes.

    Recently, a friend asked if I spend a lot of time worrying about climate change. I really had to stop and think about it. Absolutely, climate change is on my mind every day. Should I really buy that dress? Can that packaging be recycled? Would it be better to get that second-hand? But I find that contemplating climate change is a bit like thinking about space – its scale is so enormous that I feel overwhelmed and sometimes slightly fatalistic. 

    Internationally, there is evidence of climate change altering our gardens. A recent UK study showed that on average plants are flowering 26 days earlier than before 1987, and gardeners across Aotearoa say plants are working to a new schedule. A Whangarei gardener I interviewed last July reported that all her spring-flowering bulbs were blooming a month earlier, and on the West Coast, my parents-in-law harvested their tamarillos in June rather than October and their apple tree blossomed and set fruit twice within a year.

    Without large-scale international change, it can be hard to see how composting our food scraps or replacing our lawns can help save the polar bears or prevent the sea from rising. But the act of gardening provides us with agency to have a positive impact in our own tiny corner of the world – and as more extreme weather becomes the norm we can prepare our gardens by making them more resilient.

    A magnolia tree at Auckland's Botanical Gardens
    A magnolia tree, such as this one in the Auckland Botanic Gardens, makes a beautiful and hardy addition to any yard.

    Grow Trees – the original ecosystem regulators

    All plants “sequester”, or take carbon out of the atmosphere during the process of photosynthesis to help them make glucose so they can grow. They store it in their leaves, branches, stems and roots. Their longevity and mass make trees best at this job, which is why there are massive tree-planting projects all over the world. Gardeners can play their part by planting a tree or 10. Even if you don’t have much space, you’ll still have room for something small. Many magnolia and Japanese maple varieties are suitable for small sections, or opt for a small kōwhai or a forest pansy.

    Plant Natives

    It’s a bit of a no-brainer that native species, which have evolved to our conditions, are best suited to our environment. This doesn’t mean they’re immune to climate change, but a 2020 study by the Bio-Protection Research Centre, hosted by Lincoln University, showed that they’re better at sequestering carbon and that when exotic plants decompose, they release 150 percent more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere compared with natives.

    Native Pigeon sitting in kōwhai
    An added benefit of planting New Zealand native trees such as kōwhai is that they will attract native birds to your garden.

    By planting natives, you’re also providing ideal food and habitat for our indigenous birds, insects and lizards. Forest & Bird has information on its website about native bird species and their preferred foods, but if you have the space, a pūriri will provide nectar, fruit and seeds almost year-round, and if you don’t have much room, kōwhai and flax provide tūī and bellbirds with nectar. Don’t overlook a pittosporum hedge either, which serves up fruit, seeds and nectar.

    Right Plant, Right Place

    Before you plant any new species, check that it’s suitable for your climate. This goes for native species too, as many of them are endemic to particular regions – for example, puka don’t like frost. Most councils have information on their websites about plants that are suitable for your area, but you can also see what grows well in your neighbourhood. 

    Auckland Botanic Gardens, which is part of the international Climate Change Alliance of Botanic Gardens, carries out trials to investigate which plants are suited to the local climate and maintains a database of these on its website.

    “Planting things appropriate to the conditions rather than struggling to maintain unsuitable plantings is a big part of making things easy for ourselves and sustainable in the long run,” says Ella Rawcliffe, who is the Gardens’ botanical records and conservation specialist.

    Bird of paradise flower foreground and wine vines in the background
    Bird of paradise (foreground) and grapes can withstand extreme weather conditons.

    “We also keep an eye on pest plants and diseases, which are both likely to become more prevalent as conditions in Auckland become warmer and there are more extreme weather shifts.” 

    While you don’t need to go full succulent and pull out all your roses yet, it’s worth thinking about plants that can cope with extreme weather and drought. Good options include borage, hebes, echiums, figs, geraniums, French lavender, pelargoniums, cotton lavender, rosemary, bird of paradise and grapes.

    Grow Your Own Food

    Food waste statistics in New Zealand are pretty appalling. The Kantar New Zealand Food Waste Survey shows that we waste more than 100,000 tonnes of perfectly good food per year. Vegetables make up a third of the figure, with oranges, mandarins, apples, bananas, potatoes and lettuce appearing in the top 10 list of foods we waste the most. Though it’s still too cold to grow bananas in many parts of the country – for the time being – it’s easy to sow and grow greens such as lettuce, silverbeet and perpetual spinach (a silverbeet lookalike that is much less finicky than regular spinach). And if you have room, don’t forget to plant a fruit tree or two.

    Man and 2 young children tending to vegetable garden

    Love Your Soil

    One of the keys to sequestering carbon is to treat your soil right. Healthy soils are like sponges and will soak up carbon from dead plant matter – you can even call yourself a carbon gardener!

    The first rule is to never leave any soil uncovered. Just as you don’t see naked patches of soil in nature, ensure your soil is densely planted with a diverse range of plant species. Diversity is important because the roots of different plant species will penetrate the soil at different levels, resulting in maximum carbon drawdown. Think of this as living mulch. Borage, nasturtiums, phacelia and marigolds are all good living-mulch contenders. If vege gardens are left bare in winter, plant nitrogen-fixing cover crops such as legumes or blue lupins to avoid the soil sitting bare for a season. 

    Alternatively, lock moisture into the soil by adding a layer of pea straw, bark or compost around your plants. Don’t forget to mulch around plants in pots too, as they dry out quickly. 

    Instead of tilling soil, opt for “no dig” methods to avoid releasing carbon back into the atmosphere, damaging the soil structure and disturbing the microorganisms doing the hard work underground. Instead, build your garden beds up with compost, manure and other organic matter. 

    Make Compost

    Home composting is a more environmentally friendly option than sending food scraps to landfill where they emit methane, a greenhouse gas that is significantly more potent than carbon dioxide. Compost is the ultimate soil conditioner, and homemade compost is the best you can get because you know exactly what goes in it. To make good compost, aim for a 50/50 mix of greens, which add nitrogen, and browns, which add carbon. Greens are plant matter, fruit and vegetable waste, coffee grounds, grass clippings (never add more than 5cm at a time as they’ll stink out your bin), weeds and animal manure. Browns are dried leaves, dead branches, twigs and cardboard. 

    Water Wisely

    Last summer was the fifth driest on average in New Zealand and 55 locations had a record or near-record warm summer. This trend means that water restrictions will become more widespread across the country. Consider installing a rainwater tank that diverts rainwater from your downpipe. We have a DIY one that collects the water that runs off our garage roof and stores it in an upcycled food-grade barrel.

    It’s important to water correctly. Limit watering to just two or three times a week during the hottest part of summer, and make sure the water penetrates about a spade’s depth down into the soil. This will encourage plants to send their roots down deep where it’s cool, making them more resilient during dry periods. 

    Gradually harden up plants such as fruit trees so that they can cope without any additional water. Plants in nurseries that have been cosseted with daily watering won’t survive if you plant them and leave them to fend for themselves. However, if you start off by watering them just once a week or so in summer, then gradually reduce the amount of water over time, they will adjust their growth rate to suit the new conditions. 

    Orchard growing apricots

    Lose The Lawn

    Think hard about whether you really need a lawn. In a 2022 study by Auckland University of Technology, researchers showed that once mowing, fertiliser and watering are taken into account, lawns actually emit carbon rather than capture it, and that if a third of grassed spaces were returned to treescapes in cities, up to 1600 million tonnes of carbon could be absorbed from the atmosphere. Consider replacing your fine sward with a diverse selection of plants, or plant more trees – an orchard would be lovely!

    Feed Naturally

    Synthetic fertilisers disrupt the relationship between plant roots and microorganisms, and they emit a lot of carbon into the atmosphere when they are manufactured. Instead, give your plants a boost by enriching soil with compost and manure, or make nutrient-rich tonics out of natural ingredients. To make seaweed tea, fill up a tub with seaweed, add water, put a lid on it and leave it to sit for three weeks. Dilute it with water to the colour of weak tea before spraying it on your plants. You can use this method with weeds as well, especially troublesome ones that you don’t want to relegate to the compost heap. 


    Stopping To Smell The Roses

    To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow, but to write a book about them is to believe in the present. Writer Rosemary Barraclough and Photographer Juliet Nicholas travelled from the top of Aotearoa to its southernmost regions to put together a varied collection of 50 stunning private and public gardens that all welcome visitors. It was a dream project for a couple of garden lovers, but it wasn’t without its challenges. We sat down to talk to them. 

    Where did the idea for the book spring from? 

    RB: I’d been thinking about it for a while. There’s an amazing range of private and public gardens around Aotearoa, and many people, even avid garden-lovers, don’t know about them all. I’m a magazine journalist, and when Covid came along I was working at Bauer Media, which suddenly closed its doors. It was quite a shock, but I thought – here’s my chance to finally do this book I’ve had bubbling away at the back of my mind. Luckily Juliet, who is a friend, and a fabulous garden photographer with 11 books under her belt, was happy to work with me on it. 

    Hamilton Gardens.

    Any challenges along the way? 

    RB: Covid again, of course. I was meant to be travelling with Juliet last spring to visit a range of gardens and interview their owners. Luckily she lives in Christchurch and could continue on her own, but Auckland was locked down, so I had to wait until December and then race around to visit as many as I could.

    What have you noticed about what’s happening in the gardening world? 

    JN: Sustainability and ecological issues are much more at the forefront of everyone’s thinking. For example, Paripuma is a spectacular garden in Marlborough, and its owner, Rosa Davison, is very focused on biodiversity – she’s created a whole new part of her garden purely for attracting butterflies, including threatened native species. There’s also a move to a more naturalistic, relaxed style, and although everyone has been using natives for a while I think gardeners are getting more confident about using them with other plant materials. Fishermans Bay Garden, on Banks Peninsula, is on the cover of our book and is a beautiful example of naturalistic planting that incorporates natives. It really is one of New Zealand’s must-visit gardens.

    Paloma Gardens, Fordell.

    Anything that surprised you? 

    JN: Hamilton Gardens is quite incredible in terms of its scale and the authenticity of all the different garden areas. We’ve featured several of their enclosed gardens – the India Char Bagh garden, for example, is a mind-blowing blast of colour. Hamilton Gardens is a very busy place though, so as we say in the book, it’s probably best to go in the morning or later in the day if you don’t want to be swamped by the crowds. 

    Any ideas you’ve brought home to your own gardens? 

    RB: Quite a number of cuttings, which is lovely, as they are a reminder of the gardens you’ve visited and the people you’ve met. I am also cooking up a plan to enlarge my vegetable garden. In our travels we’ve seen some beautiful examples. There’s a tiered potager garden at Hlomo Hlomo near Palmerston North, which is incredible, and Carolyn Ferraby’s potager garden at Barewood, her Marlborough garden, is my dream – it’s surrounded by a hedge, has bricked paths and is a glorious mix of fruit, flowers, berries, herbs and vegetables. 

    JN: I’m always learning about different plant materials and experimenting with them in my own garden. I’ve started growing Verbena bonariensis, for example – I love its height, its rich purple colour and the way it moves in the wind. 

    Barewood Garden, Marlborough.

    How did you choose the gardens? 

    JN: It was difficult. There are many we couldn’t fit in the book, but we tried to have a whole range of different types of gardens and something from every region – from Te Mata House, which has a Paul Bangay garden that’s clipped and perfect, to Paloma, near Whanganui, which is this huge, intriguing collection; it’s like travelling the world in plants. 

    RB: Some of the gardens also make a natural road trip. For example, if you visit Fisherman’s Bay Garden you could also go to the Giant’s House in Akaroa, which is this joyful place that’s full of huge mosaics. Very uplifting, and we can all do with more of that at the moment. 

    Te Mata House, Havelock North.

    Any tips for garden photographers? 

    JN: Light is everything, so look for times when the light is soft, perhaps with a bit of cloud cover. A bright sunny day might be nice for visiting a garden, but the light might be too harsh for the best photographs. And don’t just walk around a garden in one direction; if you walk back the other way you might spot different planting compositions you missed at first glance. And mix things up – look for photo opportunities close up, in the middle distance or take a longer view. 

    Fishermans Bay Garden, Banks Peninsula.

    How do you get the most out of a garden visit? 

    RB: Make sure you allow enough time to just meander and take it all in. Don’t rush. Find a seat and sit for a while. I think it’s good to know something about the garden before you visit, so you don’t miss something special – and we’ve tried to provide this information in the book. Some of the gardens in the book have accommodation, and if you stay in a garden you can have it all to yourself at the end of the day, and really soak up the atmosphere.

    New Zealand Gardens to Visit by Rosemary Barraclough and Juliet Nicholas (Penguin Random House NZ RHNZ Godwit, RRP $55).

    Photography by Juliet Nicholas

    Gut Instincts: How One Woman Made Her Mark on the World

    At just 22, one woman decided to make her mark on the world and ended up helping found a company that aims to right some of the wrongs modern life has wrought
    on our systems.

    Life is definitely more stressful than ever, especially over the last couple of years. A decade ago, the science of microbiomes was a relatively new study. Even though probiotics and yoghurts have been on the shelves for decades, its DNA and the effects on the brain were only just being realised. 

    One of the interesting things we’re beginning to understand about microbiomes is their messaging system inside the human body. From eczema to diabetes to any one of the multiple inflammatory diseases that the 21st century has wrought upon us, the microbiome is either exacerbated or mitigated by them. In the gut there are good bacteria and bad bacteria and each one keeps the other in check. It’s when they get out of kilter that the trouble starts. 

    One of the astounding discoveries about the microbiome was how it produces neurotransmitters which it sends from your gut to your brain. 

    This is an area of research Colleen Cutliffe has spent the last 10 years of her life investigating. With a PhD in Biology, she’s one of the founders of Pendulum, a start-up that uses DNA sequencing to pioneer effective solutions to the ailments tied to gut health. 

    Colleen’s daughter was born prematurely and was fed antibiotics early and has a range of food sensitivities. When Akkermansia muciniphila – a unique probiotic strain that is found in your gastrointestinal tract – was discovered, it all made total sense for Colleen.

    “It used to be that we didn’t know what causes the microbiome to be depleted over time,” she says. 

    “Now we do. As well as antibiotics, your circadian rhythms also have a big impact on your gut. When you fly to another place and your day becomes night and your night becomes day, it actually depletes your microbiome because your circadian rhythm and your microbiome are linked to each other. There are certain microbiomes that get turned off and on at certain times of the day so when you move into a different time zone and are changing your behaviour, not all the microbiomes can keep up. 

    “Everything just gets a bit chaotic and results in a less diverse microbiome than you had before. Similarly this happens when we have stressful periods and when we go through menopause.” 

    At one point we were able to eat and drink anything and never had to worry about it, but life isn’t like that anymore. On a fundamental level, glucose control helps you metabolise sugars. We’ve been eating fruit since the beginning of time, and we have evolved to develop microbes that help us metabolise sugars, but when we lose them or disrupt them everything gets off-kilter. 

    “Taking a Akkermansia muciniphila supplement is just giving you back the microbes that help you metabolise things,” Colleen says. 

    “Because when your body understands it has the microbes to metabolise sugar better, it sends a signal to your brain that says ‘you don’t need as many sugars, we’re good to go here’ which puts you onto a much better cycle.

    “These strains are what young people have in abundance and all we’re doing is giving them back. You had them, you lost them, they’re essential and you need them.”

    It’s complicated but very cool how it is all linked together. Science is helping us live better lives. What were once signals from our bodies we couldn’t read are now lights that go off and cause us to act.

    “It’s like being in the car when the check engine light comes on,” Colleen says.  “We don’t just put a piece of tape over it and say ‘Oh great, I can’t see that light anymore’. We do actually check the engine.”

    Colleen Cutcliffe is the CEO and co-Founder of Pendulum Therapeutics, which with backing from the Mayo Clinic has recently launched its patented probiotics in New Zealand.

    Floral Chandelier: Create a Beautiful and Unique Botanical Arrangement

    Thy eternal summer shall not fade with floral artist Georgie Malyon’s gorgeous suspended arrangement of flowers and foliage that will dry in situ.

    Step One

    You will need: chains or rope for suspending your chandelier, cable ties, chicken wire, plastic water vials (optional) and flowers and foliage with a variety of different shapes, colours and textures. I used toetoe, shiny copper beech leaves, orange pincushion protea, eucalyptus foliage, tasselled amaranthus, mophead hydrangeas, lichen-covered prunus branches and frothy white gypsophila.

    Step Two

    Create your structure by shaping the chicken wire to the appropriate length and size you want your chandelier to be, such as the length of your dining table (wear gloves if you find the wire too scratchy). Attach heavier branches first, fastening them to the chicken wire with cable ties so that they’re secure (guests won’t appreciate being struck by tree debris!).

    Step Three

    Once your heavier branches are in place, use the chains or rope to suspend your arrangement at its intended site. By arranging the rest of the flora in situ, you can ensure that each end of the chandelier is evenly weighted. Add the rest of your foliage, attaching the stems by inserting them through the holes in the chicken wire.

    Step Four

    Once your stems are in place and your chandelier has a well-balanced leafy framework, fill out the centre with flowers, poking them through the chicken wire. Add bunches with a larger mass first, such as the gypsophila. (Single-stemmed flowers should be added last). Trim cascading stems, although it’s quite lovely to brush against the tips of overhanging greenery as you pass.

    Step Five

    Add any single-stemmed flowers. Finally, insert any flowers or foliage that will wilt quickly into plastic vials of water, then poke the vials through the chicken wire where the surrounding greenery will disguise them. Refill the vials with fresh flowers as required and enjoy observing the rest of the flowers change colour as they age, capturing the essence of their endless summer.


    • Your chandelier will require less maintenance if the majority of your flora is suitable for drying.
    • Flowers that wilt quickly can be inserted into plastic vials of water.
    • Replace wilted blooms with different ones to alter the look.


    How To Spruce Up Your Shed With Resene

    Melissa Marriott brings order and style to garden storage, using Resene paints, old crates and hardware store basics.

    What you need to spruce up your shed with Resene

    Spruce up your garden shed and give it a new lease on life. Melissa Marriott has the perfect guide to transforming your garden storage with just a few basic tools and some Resene paint. From a colourful pegboard to upcycled crates and stylish planter pots, this guide will bring order and style to your garden shed, making it a space you’ll be proud to show off. So, roll up your sleeves and get ready to tackle this exciting DIY project! Here is what you’re going to need:

    DIY Pegboard 

    DIY Crates

    DIY Pegboard


    1. Using masking tape, section off the pegboard to suit the needs of your shed. (A) 

    2. Using Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen waterborne enamel in your chosen Resene colours, paint each section a different colour using the roller. (B)

    3. Once dry, peel off the masking tape. (C)

    4. Arrange the pegboard hooks to suit your gardening equipment.

    DIY Storage

    1. To upcycle old crates into storage boxes, first sand them. (D) 

    2. Create a cohesive look by painting the crates in the same colours as the pegboard. (E)

    DIY Planter pots 

    1. Apply masking tape under the lip of the terracotta pots. 

    2. Use a test pot brush to apply Resene FX Blackboard Paint around the tops of the pots. (F) 

    3. Once dry, use chalk to label your plants – an ideal way to grow and display kitchen herbs. (G)

    For more project ideas and inspiration visit your local Resene ColorShop

    By following these easy DIY techniques, you can now breathe new life into your old garden shed and turn it into a stylish and organized space. Resene paints offer endless possibilities for colour and design, making it easy to create a cohesive look throughout your shed. From a colourful pegboard to upcycled crates and stylish planter pots, these simple yet effective projects will give your shed a fresh new look. So, why not get started today and create a garden shed that you can be proud of?


    Cervical screening: The Health Check to End All Health Checks

    A fun yellow stethoscope on a pink background with a cute cut out heart.

    All Magenta Brown wanted was to shag her new bloke without a condom. . . but a cervical screening gave her more than she bargained for. 

    This content is the 2nd story of a series. Find the first article here.

    For those of you who read Woman’s special edition sex issue two years ago, I wrote a jaunty story about the time I fainted midway through my partner’s vasectomy. It happened when the doctor cauterised the operation site, and the smell of burning flesh sent me swooning to the floor. 

    As for the purpose of the vasectomy – well, it’s pretty obvious – he didn’t want more children, and neither did I, and because we were relishing the physical aspects of our new relationship, we also liked the idea of being able to have intercourse without contraception.

    To pull my weight in that arena, I went for a smear so I could flash my “all good down there” certificate. So to assist our passion project, I made an appointment at my local medical centre. I asked to be tested for every conceivable STD, so I could shag my new fella with impunity. Also, because it transpired that my previous boyfriend had been a bit of a ratbag, I was eager to ensure I was in tip-top shape down around my gusset for my own peace of mind.

    Only the nurse who usually does the smears wasn’t there, so the doctor did the honours, and in the course of her very thorough investigation, she said, “I don’t like the look of your uterus.” In spite of being mildly insulted, I allowed the doctor to schedule a scan. Within a week – bless our public health system – an appointment was made at Greenlane Hospital. I wasn’t worried, just a bit miffed that my muff was taking me from my busy freelance day. Oh, and vis-a-vis the smear, there were no STDs, thank you for asking.

    At Greenlane, I said hello to a radiologist who wielded an ultrasound wand wrapped in a condom covered in lube who asked me if I wanted to insert it myself. 

    I was quite shocked. I certainly wouldn’t want to insert the needle if I was having a blood test, so why would I insert this dildo-esque device into my vagina? That’s not my job. But apparently that’s the question they ask these days. You have been warned.

    So she’s foofing about up there and starts making a similar face to the doctor. She says “hmmmm”, then sighs a few times. She points to the screen and asks if I can see the freckles on my kidneys, although I thought we were looking at my uterus.

    Cute, I think, freckles! And of course I can’t see anything on the grainy ultrasound screen, but I pretend I can see something. She says she’ll flag it and I can expect to hear from Urology. Whatever that is. Perhaps she’s taking the piss?

    She continues on, takes some snaps, then removes the wand thing without asking if I wanted to take it out myself, because she’d presumably guessed I did not. Back on went my pants, the old gusset a bit gooey with lube, and life went on.

    Until a letter arrived. I was booked for a CT scan, which I obediently went to. I’m not sure what I expected, but it started with a giant lure going into the back of my hand, and it hurt. The woman in charge explained that if they did go straight for a full MRI scan, not to be worried, as it just means they want to take a closer look. 

    “Not to worry,” she kept saying, which made me wonder if I was meant to be worried. I really liked her though – she was warm and kind, the sort of person who’d give bad news kindly. Plus her assistant was called Calypso, which I also really liked. Such a great name. Everyone here is so nice, I think, and wonder if I’ve been mildly sedated. 

    Into the machine I go. Two times through the doughnut and the lovely warm woman tells me I definitely don’t have cancer. I nearly fell over. I had no idea it could be cancer. I definitely should have been worried. I head home via a friend’s place, rattled that I almost had cancer, then didn’t.

    As it turns out, I have benign tumours on my kidneys. Tumour is just the Greek word for growth, nothing to worry about, and I’m given some options. My favourite option is to do nothing.

    At my third appointment, I meet the specialist who is also very calming. He repeats the options. I ask what he’d do if they were his kidneys. He says he can’t answer that. If they were his sister’s kidneys? What would he advise her? He said he’d tell her to have the growths removed. Does he like his sister? Yes he says, so I say let’s do it.

    A week goes by. The specialist’s PA rings to ask if I still want the tumours removed. Not really, but apparently, if they get much bigger, it’s harder to get rid of them and then they can rupture – and that can be dangerous, especially if you’re travelling somewhere where medical care isn’t so flash. And I have always wanted to go trekking in Nepal.

    Obediently, I attend my pre-op appointment, including an ECG (electrocardiogram) performed by two women. One is the supervisor, the other an apprentice who puts circular stickers all over my front, including my boobs, while the supervisor tells me about her five sons. She names them all and tells me all about them while the trainee fires up the machine. 

    The supervisor with all the children asks if I’ve ever had an ECG before. No, I reply. Are you sure, she presses in what is quite an alarming tone.

    The trainee asks if I have chest pain. Not right now, I say, but I might shortly, if their palpable panic is anything to go by. They confer. They do the test again. They confer some more, I’m not too freaked out, but I can tell something is up with my heart.

    “Clearly you’ve seen something. What is it,” I ask. Delta waves, the supervisor says, which sounds like something from Star Trek

    They ask again if I have chest pain. No. Dizziness? No. Nausea? No. Palpitations? No, I say to all of it, but still the operation is postponed so cardiology can poke their oar in – when all I wanted was to shag my new bloke without a condom. 

    Long story short, the kidneys had benign tumours and now they’re gone. The heart had Wolf Parkinson White, which is like a jazz rhythm. Throughout my entire life, I’d always thought occasional palpitations were normal, but apparently I could’ve dropped dead any time since I was born. 

    The kidney operation was not much fun. The pre-op was awesome – four seconds of euphoria, then two shots of morphine at the other end, which retrospectively I should’ve said no to, as I spent the following week feeling very miserable. My throat was sore too, thanks to the big tube that’s jammed down there these days whenever a general anaesthetic is administered. I then spent another week feeling moderately miserable, and for some months I felt bruised inside from the tumour-blasting. 

    The heart was much more fascinating. I have to confess, I also enjoyed eavesdropping from behind the curtains in the cardiology ward while I waited for my turn. The relaxing drugs were also enjoyable, and I got the giggles as I was wheeled into a high tech room full of gowned medics. I stopped giggling when one of them drove a wire into my upper thigh and up to my heart. I also tried not to make idle chit-chat, as you shouldn’t distract a cardiologist who’s toying with your ticker. But to see my heart beating on a giant screen was riveting, and the relaxing drugs meant I didn’t stress at all, about the one-in-whatever chance it could all go wrong, and I’d be whisked into surgery to have a pacemaker inserted. 

    As for the post-operative bruise, apologies to anyone I flashed my upper thing to afterwards, but wow, what a palette. Like the eye shadows I inherited from my mum when I was in my teens. 

    And the moral of this story? Aside from discovering how amazing our public health system is, I say if everything with your health seems to be tickety-boo, don’t look under the hood, because you never know what sort of can of worms you might open. As for the uterus my doctor didn’t like the look of, no one’s ever said a word about it and I certainly won’t be asking about it, as I have had quite enough medical attention for one lifetime. 

    And the moral of this story? Aside from discovering how amazing our public health system is, I say if everything with your health seems to be tickety-boo, don’t look under the hood, because you never know what sort of can of worms you might open. As for the uterus my doctor didn’t like the look of, no one’s ever said a word about it and I certainly won’t be asking about it, as I have had quite enough medical attention for one lifetime. 

    Nici Wickes’ Delicious Vegan Cashew Cream Recipe

    Person holding jar of sauce spooning it over eggplant on tray

    This is great on salads, baked potatoes, nachos… Anything, really! It lasts a few weeks in the fridge. Makes about a cup.


    3/4 cup raw, unsalted cashew nuts

    1 cup warm water, plus extra

    2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

    2 tablespoons lemon juice

    ½ teaspoon sea salt


    1. Cover cashews with warm water and leave to soak and swell. I do this overnight but an hour will do it. Drain.

    2. In a blender, blitz cashews with yeast, lemon juice and salt, pouring in enough water to get it moving in the blender and to create a smooth, creamy texture.

    3. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding yeast, salt and/or lemon juice as needed.

    Sending Love to Our People of Aotearoa

    It’s been a hard few weeks for Aotearoa and we’re still reeling from the biggest natural disaster to hit our shores this century.

    As most of us sit in the comfort of our homes, it is with mixed emotions that we watch tragic news scenes. We’re thankful we’re safe, we have power, and our possessions were untouched by Cyclone Gabrielle. Yet thousands of New Zealanders were not so blessed.

    Less than a month ago, parts of Auckland experienced a flash flood, and we saw first-hand the damage that water can cause. But this cyclone took it to a whole new level. The images of communities affected, and lives turned upside down, are devastating.

    Muriwai homes destroyed in Cyclone Gabrielle.
    Flooding caused by Cyclone Gabrielle in Awatoto, near the city of Napier.

    As millions of us watch the aftermath of the cyclone unfold, the damage this natural disaster has caused is heart-wrenching.  We are filled with a sense of helplessness, knowing there is little we can do to take away the pain and suffering of those who have lost loved ones, homes, and possessions.

    It is with a heavy heart that we realise, we don’t have the full story yet, the true extent of the loss is not yet known. Some parts of the country are still completely cut off, without power, communication or access to emergency services. 

    But as someone who has called New Zealand home for over 13 years, one thing I know is that New Zealanders are resilient. It has been beautiful to see the stories of people helping each other in any way they can. Whether it’s through volunteering, donating, or simply offering a shoulder to cry on, it’s inspiring to see how our communities are coming together in this time of need.

    As we collectively mourn the loss that affected families are going through, it is a reminder of just how powerful and unpredictable nature can be and how important it is for us to support each other through times of crisis.

    If you or anyone you know has been affected by the recent floods or Cyclone Gabrielle and is in need of support, here are some of the key helplines to call.

    Mental Health National helplines

    Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

    Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP).

    Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email [email protected] or online chat.

    Samaritans – 0800 726 666

    Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO).

    Healthline – 0800 611 116

    Red Cross are with emergency management services sending their trained Disaster Welfare and Support Teams

    Rapid Relief Team NZ volunteers helping make deliveries to to Wairoa. 
    (Source: New Zealand Defence Force)

    Cyclone Gabrielle Gisborne Updates

    Cyclone Gabrielle Gisborne Update
    Have you been affected by Cyclone Gabrielle?

    Cyclone Gabrielle GISBORNE Update – Monday 13 Feb

    MetService Updates for Gisborne

    Heavy Rain Warning

    As of 7 am on 15 February, there are no Heavy Rain Warnings in place for Gisborne

    Strong Wind Warning

    As of 7 am on 15 February, there are no Strong Wind Warnings in place for Gisborne.

    Gisborne Emergency Management Cyclone Gabrielle Updates

    Auckland Emergency Shelters – Civil Defence, AEM, Vector and Counties Energy, Auckland Transport latest updates

    Civil Defence has set up shelters and support Centres for those in need of refuge from Cyclone Gabrielle.

    Important Website Links for the latest Cyclone Gabrielle updates.

    (Click on Bold font to access link):
    MetService Weather Updates
    Civil Defence Centres and Shelters MAP
    NZ Civil Defence Twitter
    • Counties Energy STORM UPDATES
    Gisborne Civil Defence
    Gisborne Civil Defence Facebook

    Important Numbers

    • 111 – Life-Threatening Emergency
    • 0800 653 800 – Civil Defence Assistance
    0800 206 207 – Power outages – Eastland Network

    Cyclone Gabrielle Tracking Updates

    Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle Tracking towards New Zealand


    Have you been affected by Cyclone Gabrielle?

    Cyclone Gabrielle Updates – MetService Weather warnings as of Wednesday 15 February

    Cyclone Gabrielle Northland Update
    Click on the Image above for the latest Cyclone Gabrielle updates for NORTHLAND
    Cyclone Gabrielle Gisborne Update
    Click on the Image above for the latest Cyclone Gabrielle updates for GISBORNE
    Cyclone Gabrielle Auckland Updates
    Click on the Image above for the latest Cyclone Gabrielle updates for AUCKLAND

    Cyclone Gabrielle: Heavy Rain Warning

    Eastern Marlborough south of Seddon, including the Kaikoura Coast – ORANGE Heavy Rain Warning

    From 6am on February 15th until 4am on February 16th, anticipate an additional 90 to 140 mm of rainfall in Eastern Marlborough, south of Seddon, and the Kaikoura Coast, particularly in the ranges. This is in addition to the previous precipitation. Peak rates of 15 to 25 mm/h are expected mainly from this evening.

    Canterbury Plains and foothills north of the Rakaia River – Heavy Rain Watch

    Eastern Marlborough, including the Kaikoura Coast and south of Blenheim, can expect 150 to 250 mm, or possibly more, of rain to accumulate mainly around the ranges from 10am on Tue, 14 Feb, until midnight on Wed, 15 Feb. The peak rates of rainfall are predicted to be between 15 to 25 mm/h.

    The Hello Project

    Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle watch: MetService weather warnings in place
    Image source: MetService
    New Zealand weather forecast for Cyclone Gabrielle
    Image source: MetService

    Cyclone Gabrielle: Strong Wind Warning

    No strong wind warnings in New Zealand as of 15 February at 7am

    Heavy Swell warnings for New Zealand 15 February 2023
    Cyclone Gabrielle: Heavy swell warnings.
    Source: MetService
    Cyclone Gabrielle Tracking away from New Zealand 15 February 2015
    Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle Track Map
    Source: MetService

    Wairarapa – Turakirae Head to Mataikona

    For Wairarapa and the East Coast north of Cape Palliser, from 1pm on Tuesday, 14th Feb to 3noon pm on Wednesday, 15th Feb:

    “East Coast north of Cape Palliser: Northeast combined waves 7 metres, easing to 5.5 metres Tuesday afternoon. Peak period 10 seconds. Cape Palliser to Turakirae Head: Southeast combined waves 3.5 metres, rising to 4 metres for a time Tuesday afternoon. Rising to southerly combined 4 metres for a time around Wednesday midday. Peak period 10 seconds.” -Source: MetService

    Last Updated: Tuesday 15 Feb at 7am
    Next Update: As MetService Updates become available.

    For more information on how to prepare see our article Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle, what you need to know

    Cyclone Gabrielle Auckland Updates

    Cyclone Gabrielle Auckland Updates
    Have you been affected by Cyclone Gabrielle?

    Cyclone Gabrielle AUCKLAND Update – Monday 13 Feb

    MetService Updates for Auckland

    Heavy Rain Warning

    No Rain Warnings for Auckland as of 15 Feb at 7am

    Strong Wind Warning

    RED Strong Wind Warning

    No Strong wind Warnings for Auckland as of 15 Feb 7 am

    Auckland Emergency Management Cyclone Gabrielle Updates

    Auckland Emergency Shelters – Civil Defence, AEM, Vector and Counties Energy, Auckland Transport latest updates

    Civil Defence has set up shelters and support Centres for those in need of refuge from Cyclone Gabrielle.

    Important Website Links for the latest Cyclone Gabrielle updates.

    (Click on Bold font to access link):
    • Full list of Civil Defence Centres & Shelters including how they can support you.
    Civil Defence Centres and Shelters MAP
    Auckland Emergency Management (AEM)
    Report flooding, damage to drains or stormwater issues online
    AEM Twitter (Latest Updates)
    NZ Civil Defence Twitter
    Auckland Transport Cyclone Updates
    • Power Outages: VECTOR or COUNTIES ENERGY
    • Counties Energy STORM UPDATES

    Important Numbers

    • 111 – Life-Threatening Emergency
    • 0800 22 22 00 – Urgent Flooding Issues & Assistance
    09 355 3553 – Roading problems (immediate risk to safety)

    Cyclone Gabrielle Northland Updates

    Cyclone Gabrielle Northland Update
    Have you been affected by Cyclone Gabrielle?

    Cyclone Gabrielle NORTHLAND Update – Wednesday 15 Feb

    Civil Defence Northland Cyclone Gabrielle updates

    7:30 AM Tue 14 Feb – The red alerts for heavy rain and strong winds are still active and are expected to continue into the day. The wind conditions appear to be more concerning at the moment, with gusts reported to be over 130 km/h at Cape Reinga. The heavy rain warning for Northland north of Kaitaia has been lifted, but heavy showers may persist in the western part of the region, and the warning may be extended. The most up-to-date information on these warnings can be found at https://www.metservice.com/warnings/home#upper-north. Travel conditions will likely be challenging and subject to sudden changes, as more trees may fall overnight as responders work to clear previously fallen ones. To stay safe, it is recommended to stay home if possible, and if travel is necessary, exercise extreme caution.

    7:30 PM Mon 13 Feb – As the night continues, Northland remains impacted by the severe weather brought on by Cyclone Gabrielle. The region is facing heavy rainfall and strong winds, creating more problems for residents.

    The rain has spread across the entire region of Northland this afternoon and continues to affect western areas as the system moves south. Due to high water levels, residents of Dargaville have been advised to consider evacuation. To prevent water from entering businesses, Victoria Street in the Dargaville central business district will be closed.

    State Highway 1 has been closed in several places, with reports of new slips appearing in addition to fallen trees and surface flooding. Both Northpower and Top Energy NZ faced challenges as they reduced outages during the day only to see them increase again with new faults. The brief lull in the rain allowed river levels to temporarily decrease.

    According to the latest forecast from MetService New Zealand, South of Kaikohe is expected to receive 100 to 160mm of additional rainfall, with lower amounts elsewhere. Peak intensities of 10 to 15mm/h are expected, reaching 20 to 30mm/h in the south this evening. Another period of heavy rain is expected in the west, with 50 to 80mm (or possibly 80 to 120mm in localized areas) expected to accumulate in a 12-hour period from midnight tonight to midday tomorrow. The severe southeast gales changed direction to the southwest this afternoon, with gusts reaching 130-140 km/h at times, especially this evening and tomorrow morning.

    We hope everyone can get a peaceful night’s rest despite the harsh conditions and urge them to stay safe. Emergency services, council personnel, defense force, and roading agencies will continue to monitor the situation and respond as needed throughout the night.

    5:25 AM Mon 13 Feb – The latest update on Cyclone Gabrielle from Civil Defence Northland as of 5:25 AM on Monday, February 13th, is as follows: The storm has brought heavy rain and strong winds to the region, with gusts of up to 140 km/h reported so far. The rain has mostly fallen on the east coast and has caused flooding in coastal areas, along with reports of boats being grounded. Rivers are currently holding up despite the rainfall but are expected to experience even higher tides as the day progresses. The Northland Regional Council Hydrology team reports that the highest rainfall totals were recorded near Whangarei.

    Due to the dangerous conditions, Northland’s Transport Agency has closed SH1 between Brynderwyn and Waipu and further road closures are expected. Around 17,000 Northland customers are currently without power. It is advised that residents continue to stay indoors and support each other during this challenging time. For information, assistance, or to report urgent cyclone-related issues, residents can contact the relevant district by the numbers provided. In case of life or safety being at risk, call 111 immediately.

    10:15 PM Sun 12 Feb – Cyclone Gabrielle Update – 10:15 PM on Sunday, February 12 As of tonight, many Northlanders are experiencing power outages due to strong winds of over 100 km/h causing trees and branches to fall onto power lines. Northpower initially had more than 13,000 households without power, but was able to restore power to 5,000 by the end of the day, leaving about 8,000 connections still without power in the Northpower area (Whangarei and Kaipara Districts). Both Northpower and Top Energy NZ in the Far North are advising their customers that power outages are expected to persist overnight.

    The latest MetService New Zealand track map for Cyclone Gabrielle was released just before 8 PM and the Red warnings for severe gales and heavy rain remain in effect. According to the latest update from MetService at 9:14 PM tonight, Northland south of Kaeo can expect an additional 150-250 mm of rain through midnight tomorrow (Monday), bringing the total amount of rainfall to 250-350 mm in this area. Other parts of the region can expect an additional 80-150 mm of rain. MetService also mentions that a further period of heavy rain is possible in western Northland on Tuesday morning.

    Waka Kotahi has closed SH1 between Brynderwyn and Waipu due to large slips, with detours in place for light vehicles via Kaiwaka and Mangawhai and heavy vehicles via SH12/SH14 (via Dargaville). Further road closures are likely in the morning due to slips, tree debris, and surface flooding, so caution on the roads is highly advised, especially during the hours of darkness and early in the morning.

    Coastal inundation due to large waves and storm surges is also expected.

    4:30 PM Sund 12 Feb – A state of emergency has been declared in Northland on Sunday, February 12th at 4:30 PM as a precautionary measure in response to Cyclone Gabrielle. The emergency declaration was requested by the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group Controller, Graeme MacDonald, and approved by CDEM Group chair Kelly Stratford. An Emergency Mobile Alert has been sent out to all capable phones in Northland to inform residents of the declaration.

    Declaring a state of emergency is a rare step in Northland, with only six emergency declarations in the past 50 years. The most recent declaration was just two weeks ago, covering the entire region. This declaration allows the Civil Defence Controller and their delegate to access emergency powers outlined in the Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Act 2002, including evacuation, property requisition, and road closures.

    MetService Updates for Northland

    Heavy Rain Warning

    No Current Rain warnings in place for Northland

    Strong Wind Warning

    There are no Strong wind warnings in place for Northland

    Auckland Emergency Management Cyclone Gabrielle Updates

    Auckland Emergency Shelters – Civil Defence, AEM, Vector and Counties Energy, Auckland Transport latest updates

    Civil Defence has set up shelters and support Centres for those in need of refuge from Cyclone Gabrielle.

    Important Website Links for the latest Cyclone Gabrielle updates.

    (Click on Bold font to access link):
    Northland Civil Defence
    Northland Civil Defence Facebook (Latest Updates)
    • Northland State of Emergency Information
    Northland Transport Agency Facebook (Latest Updates)

    Important Numbers

    For Cyclone Gabrielle related information assistance or to report a cyclone related issue:
    • Whangarei: 0800 932 463
    • Far North: 0800 920 029
    • Kaipara : 09 439 1111 (For Wellfare assistance )
    0800 727 059 (Damaged Roads)
    • Emergency : 111 (immediately if life or safety are at risk.

    To All The Men I Have Loved Before, Again

    Old black music record, red ribbon and three red roses on white table.

    It’s Valentine’s Day this month, so once again I’d like you to join me on a polyamorous adventure where some of my favourite women get to do some my favourite men. Entirely musically, of course. Since introducing this slightly kinky kaupapa in last February’s column I’ve been squirrelling away my favourite women-covering-men’s-songs. The appeal of a cover version is the frisson generated by something that is both familiar and new, and a great cover is like a good long-term relationship: don’t be boring, but don’t be someone else either.

    There’s nothing like the unexpected connection to keep the spark alive, so let’s start the playlist with Etta James nicely roughing up that buttoned-down white boy Glenn Miller like he didn’t know he needed. At Last, as Glenn might have sighed afterwards. Indeed, sometimes a chanteuse is so enamoured of a man’s songs she insists he give her one immediately. So it was with the eternally fabulous Nico and her then-unknown-toyboy Jackson Browne’s These Days. While plenty of others had their way with the handsome Browne’s impressively large oeuvre in later years, nobody did him better. Meanwhile Nico’s goth step-daughter Siouxsie Sioux takes The Beatles down to the basement on a leash and gives Dear Prudence a proper seeing-to. Likewise, The Shacks bassist/singer Shannon Wise makes Tommy James and the Shondells hush their shouty mouths with her breathless Crimson and Clover.

    In cover versions, as in real life, women usually find themselves doing the emotional labour in a relationship. Steely Dan can come off as the classic cold and distant type, and some women do find this a turnoff. However the Pointer Sisters clearly enjoy their Dirty Work, wiping away the shame and self-loathing of the original. And London’s Lou Hayter teaches these two uptight studio snobs how to dance by giving Time Out Of Mind the off-kilter electro-pop treatment, complete with my favourite handclaps. It takes Sharon Van Etten armed with Shovels & Rope to break into Brian Wilson’s In My Room, while Rickie Lee Jones makes a jazz-beau out of Jimi Hendrix with her Up From The Skies. Cassandra Wilson lays a velvety hush over Neil Young’s Harvest Moon, and in a fertile cross-cultural liaison Tūhoe singer/songwriter Whirimako Black gently yet firmly inserts te reo Māori into the Ray Charles classic Georgia on My Mind.

    Sometimes cover versions are less like songs and more like seances, summoning ghostly loves lost. Song To The Siren from 1967 has endured years beyond its creator Tim Buckley, who also did the worst version of it. While it’s been covered by everyone from Bryan Ferry to Sinead O’Connor, the version on this month’s playlist remains the best – half a million records can’t be wrong. And its back story is just as poignant as the tune. This Mortal Coil featured Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins, who years after this cover’s success had a relationship with Tim Buckley’s son Jeff which is far too depressing to go into. (Dear reader, he died). Speaking of the beloved, troubled, Irish one, Sinéad O’Connor, accompanied just by an acoustic guitar, conjures the equally troubled wraith of Kurt Cobain as she breathes out Nirvana’s All Apologies. Meanwhile, Nina Simone leans into the poetry of Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne, using all her interpretive voodoo to produce something so beautiful I have to listen to it lying down. First sung in 1966 by folk muse Judy Collins, Suzanne was described by Richard Goldstein in The Village Voice in 1967 as a song “of love and torment powerful enough to be a fairy tale”. Perfect for Valentine’s Day!

    The Clash’s Train In Vain was originally unlisted on London Calling as it was recorded after the cover sleeve was printed, but it went on to be the biggest track on the album. Writer Mick Jones is coy about the title but his girlfriend at the time, Viv Albertine of punk band The Slits, insists that he’d catch the train to her place and she’d refuse to let him in (he probably needed a wash). Annie Lennox isn’t the first person you’d expect to cover a Clash song, but she strips the song back to an elegant groove and her voice is all rich, liquid honey – combine that with a gospel choir and you have quite a different song. Meanwhile, some song choices make perfect sense – Miriam Makeba’s years of civil rights activism in South Africa point the way to her covering Buffalo Springfield’s There’s Something Happening Here.

    My special Valentine’s Day gift to you is the triple threat of expert song interpreter Bedouine, alongside indie fixtures Waxahatchee and Hurray For The Riff Raff, covering Thirteen by the famous-for-not-being-famous cult band Big Star. If only it was longer, a common lament. The Bangles were early cheerleaders of the Big Star revival and in 1986 released this faithful version of September Gurls alongside their breakthrough cover of Prince’s Manic Monday (completists can look up 2022’s To All The Men…Pt 1 playlist on Spotify).

    My special Valentine’s Day gift to myself is to include a couple of covers that gladden my bogan heart – Eilen Jewell absolutely nails her cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Green River, while Sarah Blasko takes kid gloves to the Cold Chisel masterpiece Flame Trees. I’ll raise a schooner of Carlton Draught to that, maybe I’ll get lucky later.

    It’s a young woman’s game to care about Valentine’s Day, and this old boiler would rather have a new lemon tree for the garden than a bunch of hothouse roses. Like love, and a good cover song, it’s nice to see something grow rather than watch it dry up and blow away. Inevitably a Valentine’s tribute will wilt or be eaten (choose carefully), but these songs will endure. Mwah.

    Click here to check out our February Spotify playlist.


    Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle, what you need know

    Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle

    Cyclone Gabrielle’s Projected Path and Timing

    New Zealand’s North Island is in for more potential flooding as Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle is headed our way. The storm is expected to bring extreme weather in the coming days.

    Despite uncertainty over the exact path the cyclone will take, experts predict that it could hit Auckland directly, bringing the threat of more heavy rain two weeks after the devastating floods that killed four people. 

    Gabrielle, which formed in the Coral Sea, is expected to track Southeast toward New Zealand over the next couple of days and reach the North of the country by Sunday. If the cyclone moves close to New Zealand, it could result in “one of the most serious storms forecast for New Zealand this century” according to WeatherWatch.

    MetService meteorologist Lewis Ferris stated that the weather system is expected to bring heavy wind, which the previous flooding did not have, potentially causing slips, fallen trees, power outages, and coastal erosion. Gisborne District Council is also urging people in isolated areas to stock up on food and medical supplies ahead of the approaching storm. Despite some uncertainty over the exact path of the cyclone, the MetService has predicted high confidence of heavy rain starting around Sunday evening for Gisborne and the north of Gisborne, with a forecast of 100mm of rain for the district.

    Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle Updates
    Latest updates and LIVE Storm Tracking

    Auckland’s state of emergency extended

    Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown extended Auckland’s state of emergency for a further 7 days. Gabrielle is expected to escalate to a category 3, with an average wind speed of 119kph to 157kph, by Friday morning. MetService has warned of very large waves and a storm surge impacting northern and eastern coastlines from Sunday to Monday. 

    Cyclone Gabrielle’s projected timeline according to WeatherWatch:

    Sunday – Easterlies will intensify with gusty winds developing in the north of Auckland. Some rain is expected to start falling.

    Monday – The centre of the cyclone is expected to reach New Zealand’s North in the evening and overnight, bringing peak damaging winds and the heaviest rain on Monday and Tuesday.

    Tuesday – The cyclone will travel down the North Island.

    Wednesday – The conditions across New Zealand will start to improve, but strong winds and some rain will persist.

    Cyclone Gabrielle Tracking

    MetService weather warnings

    A Heavy Rain Watch has been issued for Northland and Auckland north of Whangaparaoa for a period of 71 hours starting from 1 am on Sunday, 12 February until midnight on Tuesday, 14 February. The forecast indicates that there will be periods of heavy rain and that rainfall amounts may approach warning criteria on Sunday. However, a more significant period is expected from Monday morning through Tuesday morning, where rainfall amounts of 150-200mm in 24 hours may occur. The forecast also notes that this may be upgraded to an Orange or possibly Red warning in the coming days.

    A similar Heavy Rain Watch has also been issued for the Coromandel area for a period of 62 hours starting from 10 am on Sunday, 12 February. 

    A Strong Wind Watch has also been issued for Northland and Auckland north of Whangaparaoa for a period of 66 hours starting from 6 am on Sunday, 12 February. The forecast indicates that east to southeast winds may approach severe gale in exposed places and that this may be upgraded to an Orange or possibly Red warning in the coming days.

    Do you think recent weather events were caused by Climate Change?

    Preparations for Cyclone Gabrielle

    Auckland Emergency Management (AEM) has shifted its focus to preparing the region for the potential impacts of the weather system, with an increased number of evacuation centers expected to be announced in the coming days. AEM advises residents to prepare for the severe weather by packing a bag with essential items, stocking up on emergency supplies, clearing debris and leaves from drains and gutters, and securing items like wheelie bins and trampolines.

    The Council and Defense Force are working to clear flood-damaged items off curbsides and the Healthy Waters team is preparing the stormwater network for the expected rain.

    Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle Warnings

    How to get prepared 

    • Plan and rehearse an emergency escape plan to get to safer ground.
    • Have arrangements in place in case you have to evacuate your pets or livestock.
    • Have a plan in place to check on vulnerable neighbors – The Hello Project is an excellent tool to support you in this.

    • Prepare your property for flooding – check that drains are clear, put sandbags down in relevant areas, secure trampolines and outdoor furniture and make sure your car is on higher ground.
    • Medical Emergency Kit: Get an easy-to-carry emergency kit together with essentials you might need in case of an emergency. Keep the kit close to your exit points.
    • Emergency Supplies: Gather emergency supplies you might need in case you don’t have access to fresh drinking water or food. 

    Stay in the know
    • Check your local Civil defense groups for the latest updates.
    • Keep an eye on the news.
    • Check MetService for weather updates and warnings.

    Psychological Effects of Natural Disasters

    There is no doubt that thousands of people, especially in Auckland were impacted by the devastating Auckland floods that took place on 27 January. With an estimated 20,000 claims filed, it’s clear that the impact of that natural disaster was like nothing we’ve ever experienced (in Auckland at least), but what psychological effect did that have on us, and what effect does the knowledge that we are possibly facing a potentially worse storm have on us?

    Natural disasters can have a profound psychological impact on those affected by them, and the anxiety of a possible looming storm adds to it all the more.

    Stress and Anxiety: The trauma and uncertainty associated with a natural disaster can cause high levels of stress and anxiety, which can last for a long time after the event has passed.
    Depression: The loss of homes, possessions and loved ones can lead to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and depression.
    Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Natural disasters can trigger traumatic memories and lead to symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, and avoidance behavior, which can be signs of PTSD.
    Substance Abuse: The stress and trauma associated with natural disasters can lead some people to turn to substance abuse as a way to cope with their feelings.
    Grief and Bereavement: Natural disasters can lead to the loss of life, which can result in intense grief and bereavement.
    Difficulty with Trust and Intimacy: After a natural disaster, some people may find it difficult to trust others or develop close relationships, which can have a significant impact on their overall mental health.

    The psychological impact of natural disasters can vary greatly, and some people may be more resilient than others in the face of such events. Access to mental health support and resources can be a crucial factor in helping people cope. If you or someone you know are suffering from any of these, please contact the number/s below.

    If you have a loved one, friend, or even a neighbor struggling with the above it is crucial to look out for each other. Be supportive, be patient, and be loving. Do what you can no matter how small.

    Mental Health National helplines

    Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counselor.
    Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP).
    Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email [email protected] or online chat.
    Samaritans – 0800 726 666
    Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO).
    Healthline – 0800 611 116

    The Hello Project
    In an emergency, remember to check on your neighbor.

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