Posted by: annie | August 13, 2010

What’s your addy?

I got an email today asking me for my addy.  What’s an addy?  Well, if you follow what I have deciphered as the Kiwi guideline for slang and assume that a word with two or more syllables can be shortened and then given a y or ie ending………….. addy = address !

further proof (others I’ve heard):

prezzie = present

chockie = chocolate

sausie = sausage

mozzie = mosquito

brekie = breakfast

pozzie = position

I think you get the idea.  When I first got here, I wondered if they did this to a select few words, but I’m realizing this may be a free for all.  Anyone can shorten any word they want and throw on the y/ie ending and go on with their sentence as if they are still speaking English.  I know, sorry, I just can’t forgive pozzie.

I received that email from one of the women at work.  I’ve been on placement with a teen parent program for the last 3 weeks.  It’s been going well and all of the ladies at work are really nice.  It’s been fun to hang with the pregnant mums and sometimes their little ones.  I’m learning loads of New Zealand slang from my co-workers, particularly Zee ( a New Zealand born Samoan woman who has worked with youth for a long time).  I told her I’m going to have a little section entitled “What Zee Said”.  So, here’s the first one:


“Oh, he’s a real blues dude.”

– he’s “whack”

The other day Zee had an American slang question for me.  This came from watching Days of Our Lives; Zee has never been to America.  She asked “Why do Americans say “lookit” all the time?”  I actually had to pause and consider this for a minute. Lookit?  When do we say that? Oh yeah we do say it, probably without thinking, before starting a sentence.   I came up with what I thought was a plausible answer.  “It’s short for look at it this way.”  Agree? or did I totally make that up?

I hope you’re not getting tired of beach pics because I’ve got a few more.  I’m not going to post too many because we’re on super slow internet right now and I have to wait for donkeys (ages) for the pics to upload.  In New Zealand, they limit how much broadband you can use each month.  We usually run out at about 3 weeks.  This, as you can imagine, is really stink (bad).  Kiwis are getting completely screwed on internet and cell phone plans: super expensive for very little.

These are from Orewa, a cute little beach town on the Hibiscus Coast.  It’s one of my faves so far.

Posted by: annie | July 28, 2010

how’s the weather?

It’s midwinter here in the southern hemisphere and it still feels like fall to me.  When I chose to live in this area of New Zealand one of the main reasons was the mild weather.  I was hoping it would be similar to Santa Barbara.  I thrived in that sunny temperate climate where I could always smell the sea in the air.  I can’t smell the sea in Albany, but the climate here is fairly similar to Santa Barbara.  I got a little worried when locals insisted winter was really cold and suggested I may want to get myself an electric blanket. Then I’d remember that day in Minneapolis when it was so far below zero we were advised to not leave our homes, that’s really cold.  I had a feeling our ideas of what was cold were climates apart so I figured I’d wait and see. I’m a whiney wuss about the cold and so far I haven’t even taken my winter coat off its hanger.  And no need of electric blankets, a little electric heater and my favorite IKEA comforter (warmth rating 4) are all I need.

It’s often sunny and usually between 50-60 degrees during the day.  Rain comes through often enough with the grey clouds reminding me of Portland, but the rains are unpredictable and may be over in an hour making way for the sun to shine again.  I can’t count the number of rainbows I’ve seen since I arrived.  It is at least a weekly occurrence to look up into the sky and see the vibrant colors of the rainbow stretching from one end to the other.  I love that!

Since the weather is so nice when the sun is out, I decided to get out for some tramping (hiking).  A little while back I had bought a book of popular day hikes in New Zealand.  I also joined up with a hiking meet up group figuring they would know the area.  The hiking group was going on a hike about 15 min from where I am so I signed up looking forward to getting out on the trail as long as the weather didn’t go to custard (turn crappy).  On the day, I got a late start and ended up missing the group as it turns out they are fairly punctual and started on time.  I brought my camera and made some stops for photo ops so I probably would have ended up well behind the group either way.  It felt great to be out in the forest with the trees and the birds and unfortunately the mud.  This adorable older couple, who totally sped by me, said it’s always muddy on the New Zealand trails.  This one was called the Okura Bush Walkway and it guided me through a coastal forest of nikau, pohutukawa and regenerating kauri (all great trees)ending on the beach of a quiet bay.  I even came across the upside down pinecones mentioned by my mother.   Here are some photos:

Posted by: annie | July 18, 2010

Taka where?

I love books, bookstores, and the library.  I can’t understand the attraction of the kindle. How do you curl up on the couch or in bed with a piece of machinery?  I can’t read for long on the computer either and it has nothing to do with attention span.  I can easily lose hours in a bookstore perusing the shelves, turning the pages of some magazines, dreaming of future getaways in the travel section, reading the recommendations and reviews of the Powell’s staff (in Portland), reading a few lines for myself or checking out some recipes (Jamie Oliver!) or hanging out with Jen in the knitting section for fun, or laughing with friends over “stuff white people like” ha ha  There is nothing like Powell’s here, but Albany does have a tiny little library.

In the U.S., I was a library user.  I took advantage. My library hold list was always full of books, CD’s, and  DVD’s.  I recognized our library staff at the Belmont library because I was in there fairly often picking up my newly available items.  Things are a little different here in New Zealand.  You’re welcome to everything in the library, but everything is not free.  $1 for CDs, $2 for DVDs (unless they are educational) $5 if you want to check out a bestseller, and $1 for anything you put on hold that comes from another location. (that would be almost everything in Albany). 😦

I was hoping to find the biggest library on the North Shore (my area) to avoid some of those hold fees. So when I was in Glenfield recently, I decided to check out their library.  Glenfield is about a 10min drive south and a little east of here.  I checked the map when I finished my errand and was sure I was headed right to the library by following the road I was on.  I was on the lookout for a mall because the library was located across the street.  After driving for a while, I started wondering if I had missed it somehow.  I noticed the road I was following had made some twists and turns and its name had changed, but that’s common around here. I was following the flow of traffic.  Just when I thought I should recheck the map, I was relieved to spot the mall!!  Yea!  and then a sign pointing me to the library.  Phew! I made it.

As I pulled up in front of what I thought was the Glenfeild Library, I saw a sign that read Takapuna Library.  Takapuna?  Where is that?  and then off in the distance I saw the deep blue waters of the beach!   I wondered how in the world I ended up here because Glenfield is not on the coast.  According to the map,  I had driven in the opposite direction of the Glenfield library and ended up at the front door of the Takapuna one which happens to be right next to the beach. Ha Ha.  When I walked through the doors of the Takapuna Library, I was so happy to see two floors and loads of books!  I had ended up at the biggest library (as confirmed by the library staff) on the North Shore. I thanked the universe and happily wandered the stacks collecting a bag full of books.

I took a nice walk on the beach before heading home.  Albany isn’t too far inland and north from Takapuna.  I left around 4:15 figuring it shouldn’t take more than 15min.  I was avoiding the highway since it was rush hour and figured I could follow the map reasonably well.  I was off and on my way driving along hoping I was going the right way when I saw a reassuring sign that indicated Albany was 10km away.  Next thing I knew that road ended and I made an unsure turn.  As I drove along I started to realize I was back in a beach town. oops I checked the map and turned myself around onto a road that I thought would lead me to the road I needed to be on to get home.  So, I’m driving along (it’s now about 20min since I left Takapuna) and run right into a familiar mall and then passed the sign directing me to the library……..I realize then, that I’m right back where I started in Takapuna.

AARRGGHHH!!! (that is not what I yelled inside my car). Then I just had to laugh at myself.  I did discover that Takapuna seems like a nice place to hang out, so I might spend more time there in the future.  This time I got myself on the highway and suffered the rush hour traffic for the short trip home.

I have some photos of the last day of my road trip. It was a day of mostly driving through very beautiful scenery and a stop at the Waipoua forest to visit the god of the forest, Tane Mahuta

this is the beach in Ahipara. It’s on the West Coast of New Zealand, so it’s the Tasman Sea.

a view of 90 mile beach from its southern base. It stretches to  the very north of New Zealand. At the end of 90 mile beach is Cape Reinga the very tip of New Zealand where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet.  According to Maori legend, it is where spirits leave the physical world to return to Hawaiki.

some views from the road:

a lake

Waipoua forest

Maybe you can’t read that very well. So Tane Mahuta is the oldest Kauri tree in the forest and that sign tells the Maori legend of Tane Mahuta if you click on it, I think you could read it.

Posted by: annie | July 14, 2010

A Little History

Maori have been in New Zealand since about the 10th century. One legend tells of Chief Kupe making his way from the original homeland of Hawaiki in a canoe. Hawaiki is considered the mythical homeland of all Maori people, it is referred to in many songs and stories (it may be more of a spiritual place rather than physical).   Kupe landed somewhere around Wellington and said, “He ao, he aotea he aotearoa” (It is a cloud ..a white cloud .. a long white cloud).  This is how New Zealand got its Maori name of Aeoteroa.  The legend continues with the first mass arrival of Polynesians in 1350 from East Polynesia in what is referred to as the Great Fleet of canoes.  Maori continued voyages to New Zealand and settled mostly on the east coast.  Personally, I like this story: (taken from here:

“Another of the traditions tells us that Paikea came on the back of a whale, or even that our ancestor Paikea was the whale. While this may seem too fabulous to be believed, it should be remembered that this legendary journey replicates exactly the annual migration of the whale from out in the Pacific Ocean to the breeding and feeding grounds of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

I have been told of first-hand experience by an expert observer how a pod of migratory whales was seen journeying through rough seas. The lead was taken by the two biggest whales forging ahead side by side, crashing through the rough waters; and close behind them in the safety of the much smoother seas created by the lead pair, travelled the rest of the pod including the young.

Sceptics have asserted, and continue to assert, that our human ancestors could not have had foreknowledge of the existence and location of Aotearoa/New Zealand before they set out. Perhaps so, but who can deny that our fellow creatures did not have that knowledge, and that it is from them that we learned of Aotearoa.

Consider also, the close affinity of our ancestors with the whole of the Creation; their relationship with the Earth and the skies, the lands and the seas, as well as with all the creatures of the Earth. A people living in and with Nature, rather than against Nature, as we do in these modern times. Who is to say that they did not also learn of far-away Aotearoa from the whispering of the winds, and the murmuring of the tides; from the voices of the Earth herself.”

However Maori arrived, they were here on their own until the Dutch explorer Abel Talsman landed in 1642. Not much came of that, he documented the contact and then was off (maybe scared off).  It was in 1769 when British explorer James Cook arrived at the Bay of Islands that everything changed for Maori. By 1779, the British East India Company had extended their charter to include New Zealand.  After Australia was settled, whalers, sealers and explorers began to use New Zealand as a base.   Around 1800, the missionaries and traders began to arrive.

The Treaty of Waitangi is the founding document of New Zealand.  In 1840, it was signed by a number of  Maori Chiefs (not all, there were many Maori iwi (tribes) all over the country).  There were English and Maori versions of this Treaty which, due to inaccuracies in translation, differ in very important ways.  The English version clearly gives the British monarchy sovereignty over New Zealand and Maori, while the Maori word used for sovereignty translates to governorship.  The Maori version further states that Maori retain “tino ringatiratanga” (self-determination). Maori chiefs thought they were retaining their power as chiefs and control over their lands and resources etc. without interference from the crown and would also benefit from English protection. The British, of course, had other ideas (colonization). This is the positive history books explanation:   “The ultimate intention of the Treaty of Waitangi, from the Crown’s perspective, was to protect Māori interests from the encroaching British settlement, to provide for British settlement and to establish a government to maintain peace and order.” There is much history I won’t get into now of the British interference, stealing of land, wars and fighting that ensued through the years since the Treaty was signed.  There has been fighting and there has been cooperation.  I’ll skip ahead  and say that these issues are still debated today as Maori continue to fight in court for the rights to their ancestral lands and waterways and ultimately for what they thought they retained when signing the Treaty: tino ringatiratanga.

Here are some pics of my visit to the Treaty grounds:

Te Whare Runanga:  this is a carved Māori meeting house erected to commemorate the centenary of the first signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. The carvings in the house were produced by the local Ngapuhi tribe, it is meant to represent all Maori tribes.


sorry so blurry. These are carvings said to represent ancestors of tribes or tribal history.

This is Ngatokimatawhaorua, a 70yr old Maori war canoe

this is a pukeko bird. isn’t it cute? It was hanging out on the treaty grounds

I wandered off the path to enjoy this view from the treaty grounds.  You can’t see them, but there were dolphins out there.

I’ll have more on my last day of the road trip later.

Posted by: annie | July 8, 2010

Bay of Islands

I had a really great road trip (for the most part). On my first day, I drove the Twin Coast Discovery Highway north from the North Shore up to Paihia.  Along the way, I took a few detours to visit some beaches.  I had no idea how long they were going to take, but it didn’t look that far to travel off the highway.  This is when I first encountered the windy, twisty up and down two lane farmland highways that would plague me for the entirety of this road trip and make everything that looked like a reasonable short trip, a much much longer one.  The first day, I loved it.  The beautiful bright green rolling hills of New Zealand’s Northland are stunning and I really enjoyed the drive out to the beaches.  For example:

I stopped off at Pakiri Beach, Mangawhai, Waipu, and Ruakaka.

Ruakaka beach (the 2nd photo) is the site of New Zealand’s only oil refinery.

In the town of Kawakawa, I made the recommended tourist stop at the Hundertwasser Toilets.  They’re public toilets designed by Austrian (later NZ citizen) artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser to attract tourists to this little town.  They’re designed around a tree.

I made it to my destination of Paihia which is the main tourist town of the Bay of Islands in the evening and was happy to find a cute little town.  I found my hotel easily and was very happy with the accommodation.   I was exhausted from the driving and slept well after arranging for my dolphin cruise around the bay for the next day.  The Bay of Islands is best explored by boat and there’s really not much point to driving all the way up there and not going out to explore the islands.

This is the Paihia Wharf. It’s the only pic I took of the town.


Hello dolphins!!!

I saw loads of dolphins on my Bay of Islands cruise. Yay! I made my way right to the front of the boat when we found our first pod.  It was me and all the kids that were on the boat. Luckily, it’s the off season so there weren’t that many people. We had plenty of space to all get a good view.  I’m a huge dolphin dork so I was squealing with delight and clapping my hands when one would come up close to my space on the boat.  I might have been more excitable than the kids 🙂  They’re difficult to take pictures of so I tried for a bit, then decided I’d rather just enjoy my time with them rather than try to take pictures.  I did get a couple.  The first pic is of a mom and her juvenile.  So cute!!! A little further on we cruised right in the middle of a huge pod of dolphins.  They were all around the boat and we were even treated to a jump or two.  (Jen asked what kind of dolphins they were and I figured others would want to know: bottlenose)

The rest of the cruise was quite lovely.  It was a beautiful sunny day so it wasn’t too cold to sit outside on the upper deck and enjoy the views.  I went on the morning cruise which was 4 hours out to the hole in the rock which the tour guide said was the main attraction.  I would argue it was the dolphins.  We had a stop over on one of the islands for a little walk up the hill to get a spectacular scenic view. These are some pics of the Bay of Islands.

Our cruise boat also functioned as the mail boat as these islands are inhabited by what appeared to be very few people. In some cases one home per island.  Like this one:

At the end of the cruise, I got off the boat in Russell which is a little tourist town across the bay from Paihia.  Russell was the first capital city, populated by  ship deserters, whalers, sealers and sailors in the 1800’s.  There were no laws and lots of prostitution.  They called it “the hellhole of the Pacific”.  There wasn’t much to do there, it’s really small.  I had some lunch and caught the ferry back to Paihia.  This is a photo of  the Paihia Wharf and Russell is on the other side of the bay at the end of the rainbow.

The rest of my day was spent at the Treaty of Waitangi grounds.  I’m going to save that for a later post about the historical Maori stuff.  Here’s a preview:

Posted by: annie | June 27, 2010

What’s for tea?

What’s for tea mum?

I hear this phrase everyday from Brittany (my teenage housemate). Are you wondering why she would care so much about tea? I thought she was asking what kind of tea they’d be having for tea time, which is a ritual I had mistakenly decided occurred in New Zealand. One of the first times I called Massey University from the states, I was told the woman I wanted to speak with was “at tea”.  I smiled and hung up the phone imagining that those that worked at Massy observed traditional tea time with a cute little tea-pot, tea cups, with maybe some delicious scones.  I was charmed and excitedly related this discovery to my co-workers at the time. “Can you believe it? They have tea time in New Zealand, I can’t wait to have tea time…….” Hopefully some of them will read this and think it’s pretty funny how off I was. When they talk about tea, they are talking about a meal. It can be any meal time: breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  You’ll often hear people say “What’s for tea?” , “What should we have for tea?” or that someone is at tea. You might even get invited over to someone’s house for tea and they may ask you to bring a plate (a dish to share).  Luckily, I’m in the know now so I won’t show up with an empty plate expecting to drink tea.

My first semester of school is almost over.  I no longer attend classes, but I’ve had assignments to finish during this time.  Yesterday, I finished my last essay!!!!! I’ve got the next month to relax and have some adventures before I start my placement at the end of July.  I won’t have any more classes until next year!  I’m really happy about that as I’ve decided I’m over it.  My papers (classes) kept me really busy which explains my absence from this blog over that time.  It’s an interesting experience to go back to school for a degree in an area that you’ve been out working in for a long time.  It’s much more difficult to buy into the idealism of classroom theoretical social work.

For anyone wondering if the women from Michael’s class were able to shift that cultural programming, two of them were (pretty quickly) and one never did.  The young woman from India gave it an earnest go one day.  Before asking her first question of the day about one month into class, she announced her intention “I”m going to try to call you Michael today.”  Throughout class that day she tripped herself up with things like “Sir, uh Micheal or Mich, uh, professor… Micheal?”  It didn’t happen and she never tried again.  Maybe next year?

Those of you concerned about my driving will be pleased to hear it has gone surprisingly well.  I have been consistently driving on the correct side of the road and I’ve been following the weird right of way laws.  I have maps in the car so when I get lost (since this is a sure thing no matter where I am) I will be able to find my way.  All is well with the car.  I just got a band expander installed so I can listen to the radio stations here. My imported Japanese car had a stereo with only the 70s and 80s on the fm band so since all the stations here are mostly in the 90s, I had to do it if I wanted more than 2 stations.

I’m heading up to the Bay of Islands this week for a couple nights (the dolphins live up there!).  My first New Zealand roady (road trip)  I should have some great photos to post when I get back.  I just discovered my camera’s memory card was 125MB which I guess explains its inability to take more than 15 photos at a time:)

Here are some photos from Long Bay which is about 15-20min north of where I am. I took a couple of the trees because I just love the trees here for some reason.

Posted by: annie | April 29, 2010

Free like a butterfly, free like a bee

Hello again! I have been busily focused on finding myself a car for the last month or so and I finally found her. Yay!!!! I’m so happy 🙂

So exciting……… I’m free! to do what I want any old time.………. Remember that song by the soup dragons?  That’s what I’ve been singing to myself.

It’s a 2003 Honda Civic hatchback and isn’t the color pretty? I don’t think I ever saw this car in the states. Mine was imported from Japan as many cars here are and some of the writing in the car is Japanese. I bought it from a dealership so it went through all kinds of safety inspections (required by the govt for imports) and has a warrant of fitness which all cars here need and you also need to get it registered.  I guess the consumer protection regulations are pretty strict here. Tracey has a friend that used to work for a dealership and he was nice enough to help me out. Car insurance is not required in New Zealand and when you do get it it seems to be  less expensive than in the states.  They have something called the Accident Compensation Corporation which if I understand correctly covers everyone in New Zealand including tourists if they are injured in an accident here. It will reimburse for medical care and a portion of work missed. It’s a no fault policy so people can’t sue for personal injury.

I’ve had my car for almost a week and I’m still walking to the wrong side of the car sometimes. That’s when I pretend I had a reason and set my purse down in the passenger seat. I am driving on the right side of the road at all times.  Yay me!! That has gone much better than I thought it would.

Things do get confusing though. There are roundabouts everywhere and it took me a little time to figure that whole thing out. It sounds easier than it is people!  I get in a little trouble because they went ahead and changed the sides of everything. Obviously the steering wheel is on the other side so that means the gear shifter is on the other side of me, and the turn signal lever and the window washing one are switched. I am constantly turning the windshield wipers on when I want to turn.

Oh, one more thing and we’ll see if I can explain this so it’s understandable. If you are wanting to turn left and there is a car wanting to turn right onto the same street instead of the person turning right having the right of way, here in New Zealand the person turning left has the right of way.  Soooo……… that’s  insane right?????

Apparently, I am the nicest driver in New Zealand. I have been honked at more than once for allowing people to cross the street. I’m guessing pedestrians do not have the right of way here. People drive fast and they have little patience. I did not enjoy walking because I often felt like people weren’t about to slow down when they saw me crossing the street. I was expected to get the hell out of the way. New Zealanders are much nicer out of their cars than in them.

Last weekend I drove my new car to a Maori healing workshop about 30 min from my place so I got to have a mini road trip.  The Maori healing I learnt (this is a word here) is primarily bodywork and they really go for it.   It’s actually very holistic, intuitive, and spiritual. The workshop was pretty amazing as was the teacher, Atarangi. I enjoyed the learning and I don’t really like to do massage. My joints are still cracking but I’ve been so relaxed this week that I think the pain was worth it. I was lucky enough (although I did not think so at the time) to have one of the Maori healers work on me at the end of the workshop when we were to practice all we’d learnt on each other.  I’ll just say it was intense.

Here’s a link to the maori healers website if anyone is curious:

I had a funny misunderstanding at a restaurant a little while ago. I haven’t seen lemonade or iced tea on any menus around here and finally there was lemonade and I was so excited to order it. The waitress brought me something carbonated so I tentatively took a sip and wasn’t quite sure what it was, but it wasn’t lemonade. So, I did my best obnoxious American and asked “what is this?”  The waitress was a bit flustered and answered “lemonade”.   I tried to explain that lemonade is not carbonated and this drink also didn’t taste like lemons. The waitress and I were both confused so she brought over the bartender who brought me another one of these carbonated drinks and then we had a similar confused conversation as I described what lemonade is and they said they didn’t have anything resembling lemonade.  Turns out, I was drinking Sprite which apparently is referred to as lemonade here because that’s what they put on the can.  Hello, Coke! You know damn well that sprite is not lemonade.

I’ve got a lot on at the moment with school so I don’t think I’ll be able to explore much yet. I’ll get some more photos up when I do.

Happy Birthday Regenia!!!! Love you 🙂

Posted by: annie | March 23, 2010

City of Sails

Kia ora (hello).

This last weekend I enjoyed some time on the sea in Auckland.  I was invited to have breaky (breakfast) with some of Tracey’s friends.  I never refuse a brunch, so I ended up in Auckland Harbor for the Louis Vuitton sailing competition.  There was a boat going out to watch the sailing in the afternoon, so I signed up with one of the other brunchers.  I was hoping there was some possibility of seeing dolphins, but on further reflection I guess boat racing might scare them off

Before the boat could pull out of the harbor we got word that the race had been won.  It had been between the Italians and New Zealand at this point and New Zealand had taken the trophy.  Since we were all on the boat already they decided we’d go out for a cruise once the winners were received and congratulated in the harbor, and weren’t we lucky to have a front row seat for this.  We actually weren’t allowed to leave because of all the boat traffic.  It was certainly slow-moving as the VIP boats sailed through dropping off people.  I perked up when the very handsome Italian 2nd place finishers sailed by.  Finally, the New Zealand team came in to a round of applause and cheers from a fairly loud crowd along with the drumming of the Maori performers on stage.  Louis Vuitton was also on hand to offer congrats.  He stood out on the receiving pier looking flash (posh) in his finely tailored sailing ensemble. Here’s some photos of the boats:

the Italians

New Zealand

We finally had our cruise around Auckland and I took some photos:

Then we saw something on our way back  into the Harbor that was truly exciting.  Okay, so I don’t get over excited over Hollywood stars, but there is one that I would seriously consider a stalking profession for.  Some of you can probably guess who that is and I know some of you might enjoy employment in my stalking agency.  Now, I didn’t actually see him, but I do have this photo of Johnny Depp’s boat in the Auckland Harbor.  Isn’t it sweet as……… (awesome)

I can’t figure out how to zoom in and save this. sorry.

I’m seriously considering changing this blog to Annmarie’s log of the going ons at Johnny Depp’s boat:  WHERE ARE YOU JOHNNY?

I have some photos of the Western Springs Park in Auckland.  There was a Pacific Island festival a couple weeks ago.  There’s a pretty large Pacific Islander population here.  The festival was huge and there were thousands of people there.  Each Island had its’ own area with a stage, food, and stalls selling merchandise.  I had a great time and especially enjoyed the dancing, singing, and drumming that we happened upon.  One of my favorites for crafts was Tonga.  I didn’t choose well in terms of food, but had a tasty dessert in Tahiti while watching half-naked men shakin’ it. I didn’t take pics of that, but here are a couple others.

Posted by: annie | March 7, 2010

Good on You

I’ve been walking along this path for the last couple of weeks, usually on my way to school which leaves me little time to wander. It’s about 2 minutes from where I live, practically in my backyard. Last weekend I went for a walk and decided to do a little exploring when I saw this guy walking briskly into the trees with a backpack. I hadn’t thought that there could be hiking trails through there, I guess because it’s just sort of in the middle of the city next to the highway and there’s nothing to indicate any trails. Here’s what I found in there:

I was able to take a little trip down to Auckland last Sunday for the jazz and blues festival that was happening down at Mission Bay which is a cute area of town with lots of shops and restaurants near the beach. The beach was great and the music was pretty good. Tracey and I settled on hanging out at the stage that was actually on the beach so we could relax in the sand with a beautiful view of the full moon. All of this was wonderful until a band got up on the stage and began a jazzed up poppy rendition of Nirvana’s Come As You Are that, seriously made me embarrassed to be listening to it. Can anyone even conceive of how that could sound good? Also weirdly, there were loads of teenagers there. Not just any teenagers, teen girls dressed like they stepped right out of my teenage closet. Is this happening everywhere? I heard the 80’s were coming back but I’d never seen it on this scale. Brightly colored combat boots, big bows in big hair, fringe purses, high top shoes, short cut off jean shorts with flash dance off the shoulder tops, and of course some Lucky Star Madonna outfits. What????? I tried to get some photos but teen girls are like wild animals or something. They are never separated from the pack. Anyway, here are some pics of Mission Bay:

Oh, I haven’t mentioned a new Kiwi word for this post yet so I’ll go with an often heard phrase around here. “Good on you” pretty much means: good for you but I think it can replace things like that’s great or good job or go for it.

Something that amuses me on almost a daily basis is my inability to understand what the heck these Kiwis are saying sometimes. It’s funny how an accent can make certain words indecipherable. I tried to order some food today and I didn’t understand a word the guy was saying to me. You know you always get a second chance when you pretend you didn’t hear them the first time, but once that happens then I just have to stare at them for a minute while my brain tries to fill in the blanks and they probably wonder if I even speak English because I’ve probably got some bewildered look on my face.  The worst is people from other countries that have been here a long time and have layered a Kiwi accent over oh let’s say some Eastern European type accent (the guy from today). Impossible!!!

Well that’s it for now and good on you mates!!

Posted by: annie | February 25, 2010

Jandles Shmandles

Jandles (flip-flops) are the preferred footwear for Kiwis right now but guess what? you don’t have to wear shoes if you don’t want to! I love it, barefoot in the store, barefoot on the bus, barefoot in the car.  I’ve always loved to drive barefoot, but was scared off from it by people telling me it was illegal……  Aarrggh!  a google search has just informed me that barefoot driving is in fact not prohibited in the U.S. I even told someone here that it was illegal. Huh, I could have been barefoot driving all along with no worries. Did you guys know this?

Anyway, last weekend I got to explore a little more of the area when Tracey invited me to go along with her to a friend’s singing performance. She was performing about 30 miles north at a restaurant.  As we drove up and down the winding roads of the towns along the way, I was repeatedly struck by the beauty of the view. As soon as the ocean would come into view on either side of me I would invariably exclaim “It’s so beautiful”. After about the fourth or fifth time, Tracey looked over and laughed at me realizing this wasn’t a routine landscape for me as it was for her. Maybe tourists who aren’t as in love with the ocean as I am aren’t as deeply affected. She suggested we stop for a couple of photos sensing my desire to stop for a moment and take it in. Here are a couple of photos from the drive.

“A burger’s not a burger without beetroot” (Tracey)

They put beetroot (beets) on their hamburgers. Seriously! While we were watching the musical performance, I ordered a hamburger (yes I’m eating some red meat these days) and it came with two slices of steamed beets, lettuce and tomato. Now, I know some of you probably think that sounds disgusting, but personally I consider it an improvement. Just in case you doubt the love of beetroot, the NZ McDonald’s apparently has a Kiwi burger that comes with beetroot. Maybe put some beetroot on your next burger and let me know what you think. It’s good people. Here are some pics from our afternoon of music:

this is Tracey and her old boarder who is now engaged to the woman singing

On the way home we drove past this road sign:

Now, ladies and some of you gents, wouldn’t you stop????

Tracey and I followed the Big Manly Beach sign discussing imagined big manly men we hoped to encounter once we arrived. Here’s what we found:

One of the women on the beach suggested with a laugh that we also check out Little Manly Beach across the road. We decided to skip it. We’d drive by. Turns out we were in the town of Manly. A place where they enjoyed using the town name quite a bit. Manly Bank, Manly Pharmacy, Manly Grocery, and my favorite Manly Boxing Gym.

I started school this week. If you want to feel your age, take a little walk through a college campus. It’s not that I feel so old, but they look so young. I’m only on campus two days a week which is great, today my study time was spent on the beach.

We had an interesting exchange in one of my classes. During orientation it was noted that New Zealand is a flat society which means that people typically address each other by first name regardless of title. So, in my class the Professor reiterated this and asked to be called Michael and as it happens had to address this oh, about 10 more times during the class. Why? Because we have women (my class is about 99% female) from all over the globe: American, English, Chinese, Korean, Irish, Samoan, Tongan, Turkish, Indian, African, Maori, and one or two Pakeha (white New Zealanders). Turns out the Korean, Chinese, and particularly the Indian woman could not address him by his first name and he wasn’t having it. It would go something like this over and over again.

“Please call me Michael”
“I can’t, in my culture……”
“I understand, call me Micheal”
“Uh, Professor?”
“Nope, Micheal”

He gave them permission many times, but each of them was unable to break through that cultural programming. It was so interesting seeing that struggle. It didn’t happen that day, but I’m curious to see just how long it takes for these women to allow themselves to say “Michael”.

That’s all for now mates. I’m starting my search for a car soon, so I can travel around more once I have one. I’m feeling itchy and needing to get on the road for some exploration. I’m not even going to address my possible shortcomings when it comes to driving and how they might affect my ability to drive on the other side of the road and somehow overcome any habitual driving patterns to avoid driving into oncoming traffic……… I’m just looking for a car:)

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