Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Are Angels OK?

This week was my last week of classes for this semester. Two of those classes (or 'papers', as they call them's so confusing) are year-long, so I'll still have them next semester. Now it's just gearing up for the two papers (essays) and exam I have in the next few weeks.

Had some social fun this week with a girl I met in my NZ Children's Literature class named Anna. She's from Christchurch, and an all-around swell gal. On Tuesday night she invited me to a place called Havana, which is the cutest little bar you've ever seen, tucked away on a dark little sidestreet.

(The photo doesn't do it justice)

We met up with her friends and listened to an awesome Cuban guitarist (and I thought I was the only one far from home!).

Last night was even cooler. After a full-on academic day, I joined my NZ Children's Lit lecturer and 11 other tutorial-members at the local arthouse cinema for a symposium between NZ writers and physicists called "Are Angels OK?". Essentially, this was a launch for the book by the same name, and the idea is fascinating. From the website:

"Ten New Zealand writers reexamine the laws of physics, encountering the sandpile phenomena, entropy, and the untimely death of Schrodinger’s Cat along the way. This new anthology from Victoria University Press includes writing from Catherine Chidgey, Glenn Colquhoun, Dylan Horrocks, Witi Ihimaera, Lloyd Jones, Elizabeth Knox, Margaret Mahy, Vincent O’Sullivan, Chris Price, and Jo Randerson. You can see all ten writers – as well as project directors Bill Manhire and Paul Callaghan – at this special one-off event chaired by Kim Hill and find out, over a complimentary glass of wine, why our writers and scientists do indeed live in parallel universes."

It was amazing for me, not only for the subject matter (that more often than not went right over my head) but for the writers in attendance. Witi Ihimaera (Whale Rider, Bulibasha, The Matriarch and one of the foremost Maori authors in New Zealand) and Elizabeth Knox (The Vintner's Luck), are two authors whose work I have been reading hungrily during my time in NYC. Margaret Mahy is one of the writers we've studied in my NZ Children's Lit class, and I'll be studying Vincent O'Sullivan's Shuriken in next semester's Drama and Theatre in Aotearoa New Zealand class. It was so exciting to be there and to listen to them speak. The physicists were actually pretty cool too. One, in particular, turns out to be a genius of a poet. Can't wait to get the book!

Afterwards, we all went to a Japanese restaurant called Kazu, and had a great meal and conversation.

Four months on...and I'm starting to feel like I've arrived. :)

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Ah well...the Hurricanes did their best, considering they were on Crusaders territory. And, oh yeah, considering the FOG!!!

'Christchurch fog turned the Rebel Sport Super 14 final into a farce on Saturday night with players, fans and a massive television audience unable to see passages of play because of the weather. By 6.35pm, an hour before kick-off, a thick fog descended on Jade Stadium threatening the match.
Conditions improved slightly before kick-off but the fog thickened again as the match wore on. Some of the 35,000 fans in the top tiers of the stands were left peering into a white blanket of fog and having to watch the game on the large video screens at the ground.
High kicks disappeared into the mist. They frequently landed in space as defenders struggled to get under them. Others were knocked on as the players had to use split second reflexes to try to catch the ball.

The Crusaders eventually triumphed 19-12 to win the first Super 14 final and their sixth Super rugby title after five previous triumphs in the old Super 12.'


Friday, May 26, 2006


Ladies and Gentlemen...I've seen my first giant tree weta.
The weta is an insect only found in New Zealand, and is older than dinosaurs! It's huge and freaky looking, and it's most recent claim to fame is being what Peter Jackson named his Weta Workshop after.
So last night, my flatmate Gerard and found one underneath a rocking chair he and his partner Jo bought at a second-hand shop.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


OK, if anyone reads this blog, PLEASE say a prayer for the Hurricanes on Saturday. They're playing in the finals against...gulp...the Crusaders, who are a tough act to beat. If that's not enough, the game is in Crusader territory: Christchurch.
Let's keep our fingers crossed...


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Rock You Like a Hurricane

This past Friday, the Wellington Hurricanes played against the Waratahs (from New South Wales, Australia) at Wellington’s Westpac stadium. Rugby in New Zealand is of fanatical proportions, and the Hurricanes to Wellington are like…well…like the Yankees to the Bronx.

Add to that this being the semi-final round of the Super-14 tournament, and Friday night was quite an exciting one.
I didn’t go to the game properly (am trying to save my first live rugby game for an All-Blacks game against South Africa in July), so I decided to watch it on the telly (yeah, see, I didn’t even say that intentionally. I think I’ve turned a linguistic corner!).
One of the coolest discoveries that I made was how close I am to the stadium. Not too close, of course, but I can see the lights of the night games from my back deck. At one point at the beginning of the game, when the Hurricanes made their entrance, a massive fireworks display was set off…I realized that I could actually hear the fireworks from my living room. I ran out to the deck just in time to miss it all…but to also see the glowing stadium with the firework smoke hovering over it. It was pretty cool to feel all of the excitement emanating from the stadium, and I’m now determined to try to catch the next set of fireworks at the next game.
It was a great nail-biter of a game, and the Hurricanes won 16-14, which means that they’ve now advanced to the finals. Needless to say all of Wellington was celebrating that night.

My personal MVPs:

Tana Umaga (recently-retired captain of the All-Blacks, and one of the most esteemed rugby players in NZ)

Jerry Collins

Lome Fa’atau

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Melbourne or bust

Hi folks...
No more earthquakes to report, knock wood. Although it's only been a couple of days since the last one, so hopefully I haven't jinxed anything.
An update on my upcoming holiday plans. Although Fiji, the Cook Islands (saw your comment Toni, and still want to try the Cooks after Survivor), and Samoa didn't work out, we found a cheap deal on flights to Melbourne (SE Australia) and went ahead and booked them. After a couple of days in Melbourne, we plan on renting a car and driving the Great Ocean Road, which looks incredible:

We're planning on going late-June, early-July for about 12 days. Can't wait!!!

Also, my new flatmate Steven and his partner will be in NYC in early July if anyone's around and wants to show him some real New York culture. He's awesome, and I'd love to give a little NY hospitality in return for all the Kiwi hospitality I've received. Let me know if you're around and have some time to give him a warm welcome!


Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Apparently there's a lot of shifting going on...
On Monday morning at 5:30 I was awakened by an earthquake. It was brief, but jolting enough for me to wake up and still feel it going.

"Wellington - A magnitude five earthquake hit central New Zealand early on Monday, shaking the nation's capital, Wellington, and waking many residents, police said.There were no immediate reports of injury or damage from the moderate quake, which struck at 5.32am local time (17h32 GMT on Sunday).The tremblor was centred 40km north-west of the capital and 60km below the earth's surface, GNS Science, the nation's geological agency, said in a statement.The earthquake was felt throughout the Wellington region.New Zealand sits above an area of the earth's crust where two tectonic plates are colliding and records more than 14 000 earthquakes a year - but only about 150 are felt by residents."

Last night around 10:40 pm another one hit, and this one was a loooong one. Not very tumultuous, but a consistent rolling for at least 20-30 seconds. If you've ever felt an earthquake, you know that's a long time. We're all fine, nothing to worry about, just weird to have them occur so frequently:

"WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - A powerful magnitude 7.4 earthquake occurred deep under the South Pacific late Tuesday near an uninhabited chain of islands north of New Zealand, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre issued a bulletin saying the quake had not generated a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami but warned it could spawn a small tsunami within 100 kilometres of its epicentre.
The USGS said the quake hit at 10:39 p.m. about 148 kilometres below the seabed and some 290 kilometres south-southwest of Raoul Island. The island is 1,140 kilometres northeast of New Zealand's largest city, Auckland."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Fiji or not Fiji

Hey all
Been a while, I apologize.
I move tomorrow and have been in the throes of arranging all of that, trying to get all my work done, and planning some sort of vacation at the end of June during our next break.
Originally the plan was to go to Fiji (yes, it does exist) but when my travel buddies Caroline and Britta and I tried pursuing it, it turns out this is the peak season to go and it is WAY expensive.
Our next idea was the Cook Islands, but that was nixed due to the fact that they're filming Survivor there at the moment (shhhh, apparently it's some big secret) so all of the islands that make up the Cook Islands are booked up. Huh.
Our next idea was Samoa, which we found some interesting packages for, but considering the amount of money, and the decrease in the amount of time we get for that money, that idea was nixed.
I know, I can't even believe I'm talking about going to these places. They don't even seem real.

Now we're thinking of visiting somewhere on the Sunshine Coast of Australia, perhaps...
Who knows.

Anyway, hope you're all well. wish me luck with the move tomorrow!


Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Hi folks, I'm fine. Thanks for all of your emails. I woke up this morning only to hear the tail end of the story that an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale had hit Tonga, which is very close to Fiji and NZ.
Shortly after the earthquake hit, apparently, a tsunami warning went out to Fiji and NZ, and Australia was put on alert as well. Sadly, the same warning DID NOT get through to Tonga itself, as the earthquake had knocked out the power feed to the warning system. Yikes. Luckily no one was hurt and there turned out to be no tsunami threat.
Interestingly, the town of Gisborne, which is one of the places I visited recently on my trip through the East Cape (see the photos of surfers), got mixed messages from Radio NZ and others that a tsunami was headed straight for them and self-evacuated:

'Gisborne residents head for the hills',2106,3657260a10,00.html

We're all fine, though, and carrying on as normal...:)