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Little defines Wellingtonians as much as our obsession with food. Hot, spicy and delicious, there’s so much to choose from.

Food is a highly personal matter - and not everywhere will be your jam. One year you may be obsessed with burgers and the next, it could be all about seafood. Some years you may be eating lobster and others going out somewhere nice means McDonald’s. Based on where you work, what your age is and how much money you have, your preferences will change over time. One thing is true however: we all need to eat.

For me, food has always been about the places I have good memories eating with family and friends. I’m not super into dining deals as I’d rather go somewhere I like and know. Often, I have visited these restaurants and cafes over years, and have personal favourites on the menu I could recite from memory. As they say, trends come and go but good classics remain!

I love eating around and about Wellington, and find myself being asked for tips over and over. So if you’ve ever wanted to know where to buy spicy asian noodles, or what is the pizza place I’ll sell my soul to, here it is! Apologies if there is some repetition here - good things tend to stick around. Disclaimer - these are MY own favourites. I don’t seek to cater to the masses so if you don’t like all my choices, you can jog on!

My All Time Classics
  1. Monsoon Poon - I love the firecracker chicken and the great atmosphere here. Even David Beckham approves!

  2. Little Penang - Unlicensed but always clean and balanced Malaysian. Just off Cuba Street.

  3. Floriditas - A classic for cake, coffee or amazing seasonal brunch. Elegant European interior.

  4. Loretta - Such a great menu that changes often with fabulous basics. I love and want to eat everything on this menu.

  5. Tank - Tank are a chain who do great salads. The Chicken and Goji Berry Salad is my never-changing favourite. This is a frequent lunchtime pick.

  6. Gelissimo - Really innovative and special gelato and some excellent sandwiches. Try out the hot chocolate.

  7. Wellington Chocolate Factory - Speaking of Hot Chocolate, these guys do the best. I love their yum salted caramel variety. Their bean to bar chocolate is the stuff of legend in Wellington.

  8. Fortune Favours - This is a great beer and wine bar with tasty platters, and a neat atmosphere. It’s the only one of the Wellington Hospitality Group bars which I truly dig, largely thanks to Shannon, its proprietor.

  9. Pizza Pomodoro - The most authentic Italian Pizza in my opinion. Get a takeaway and a slab of Fortune Favours beer to take home!

  10. Superfino Jervois Quay - This is my new favourite coffee haunt, situated perfectly between uptown and downtown. I like that it is quiet and always makes me feel a bit incognito.

  11. La Cloche - I adore French cuisine so La Cloche is up there for me. I just think these guys have a great menu and very authentic offering food wise. I prefer savoury to sweet - so line me up to a Croque Monsieur…eh…monsieur.

  12. Noble Rot - This is such a great spot if you have a bit of cash to splash. I always feel very special coming in here and again, excellent platters. What these guys don’t know about wine isn’t worth knowing.

  13. Ortega Fish Shack - For a treat, head to the Fish Shack. Fine dining at its best, with a sea-shanty feel. It’s well worth the spend.

  14. Capitol - A great place to go for that classic yet casual vibe with an outstanding menu. I think these guys really nail the seasonal thing and you leave feeling light, never overstuffed.

  15. Burger Liquor - An all American feel with tangy pickle ridden burgers and soft, brioche buns.

  16. Sweet Mother’s Kitchen - The original Tex-Mex Wellington dining spot. I love their burritos and tacos. So so good and always reliable.

  17. Cicio Cacio - Newtown delivers the best Italian in Wellington. Your authentic trattoria experience.

  18. LBQ - I love the amazing - you guessed it - platters here and that the beer is fabulous. A great nook to meet up with friends.

  19. The Greek Food Truck - These guys to seriously great Gyros that is almost as good as the real deal in the motherland.

  20. Apache - Vietnamese cuisine that is just to die for!

  21. Nam D - Also delicious Vietnamese - this time ‘on-the-go-’ street food.

  22. Tommy Millions Pizza - New York style pizza done to perfection.

  23. Egmont Street Eatery - Really cute atmosphere and a handsome menu with fusion food and a great burger!

  24. Boulcott Street Bistro - For the odd special end of year occasion, this old dame still lives up to her reputation.

  25. Mr Go’s - This is such a great spot with truly delicious food and they can cater for most allergies and sensitivity.

  26. Burger Fuel - I LOVE Burgerfuel so much - it was truly one of the things I craved while travelling in Europe last year.



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Sometimes in life it pays to play it safe. For example, if you leave a casserole in the oven for too long, it will burn. If you shorten the cooking time because you need it quickly, it won’t be very tasty.

However, one of the most common stories we’re told that if you’re not going to be perfect at something, you probably should give up.

Very occasionally, this makes sense; if you’re a bus driver and you keep ending up in a ravine, you may wish to reconsider your day job. However, the place that I notice that we’re fed this constantly is when it comes to making stuff for the world to enjoy, whether it be in physical form or online.

This in itself is a paradox; the perception of bad art, photography, video or writing as dangerous. I for one have never been driven off a cliff by a poor abstract painting or a dreadful 10 minute film or even, dare I say it, a young woman with an Instagram profile and YouTube channel, soft, grainy filter, short white dress and with a smile whitened by charcoal toothpaste. Nope, that has happened approximately never.

Of course, the terror instilled in us from a young age to fear not being good at doing difficult things isn’t really about the object itself or the hitting of a publish button; it’s about holding the things we make up for others to judge.

Growing up, I was encouraged by my parents to “give things ago”. I had a privileged childhood with two parents together, a house in the suburbs and parents who loved reading us books. These two individuals instilled in me with a feeling of confidence, that I could do things and do them well. I was given praise without judgement. But then school happened!

You may remember that art teacher who told you that your painting of your pot wasn’t very good? Do you remember seeing those pots all lined up on the school window-sill, looking at all of them and thinking that your one was the worst? Of course you do! Everyone does.

That pot mattered to you. You spent three whole art classes working on it goddam it. You put everything that you have into that stupid pot! At that age, we discovered that nothing is more difficult than expressing ourselves in an external way. You might put in all your efforts and still not like what you see at the end, or have others criticise it. That criticism we hear is hardwired by our brain to be inputted via our ears into our head as a direct reflection on ourselves as a person because, you know, you just put EVERYTHING you had into that pot.

As we get older, the rejection we faced as a child when we saw judged our pot inferior sticks with us. We get taught that we’d be better off not doing something if we may be subject to ridicule from others, or worse, feeling disappointed in ourselves. But the reality is that this time, the judgement isn’t (usually) coming from others outside of us; it’s coming from ourselves.

When I started work, I thought my creative days were behind me….

For a long time, for about 10 years to be honest, from 16 to 26, I stopped being creative. I was too scared to put myself out there to be judged. Instead, focused on studying law, fitting in with friends, and getting a boyfriend (some good, some not so good). These are all worthy and valid things to aspire towards, and key for life development. However, I was judging myself for not being brave enough to do the work I wanted to do - which was to write. There were always excuses. I didn’t have enough life experience. I wasn’t skilled enough. I wasn’t alternative enough. I wasn’t [insert here] enough. My voice didn’t matter. The sad thing was, no matter how I distracted myself, that feeling was still there.

Then I got a ‘real job’. Side note ladies and gents: Being a graduate is HARD. Many of us start a job after university and find ourselves adrift. Life has been building up to your first job in the working world and it can be a huge shock when it comes. Like a Tsunami, you’re overwhelmed by the mundane reality of it all, especially after the comparative flexibility of university and working part time.

I learnt to grow up and to some degree accept my circumstances. I found out how to ‘work’, how to write an email, how to listen properly for instructions, what questions to ask and how to use research systems and databases. It helped me develop professional integrity and learn how to be a Professional with a capital ‘P’. But I still couldn’t scratch the itch. This made me sadder and more depressed by the month. I honestly hated my life and hated myself for letting myself get in this outwardly desirable position (working as a lawyer).

In response, I did the only thing I knew how to do when life was hard: I started being creative again..

At first, I didn’t have much time. I would come home after work, and I would do something, anything, creative. At first, my projects weren’t very good (there was some dodgy collage projects). I hid them from everyone else and never let anyone see what I saw doing. I diversified into other artistic pursuits but always came back to writing. Before I started this blog properly in late 2015 however, there was at least two years of failed projects I tried to get my hands wet at being creative. An event here, art classes there, volunteering. The list was loooong. This was all a phase of experimentation to figure out ‘WHAT CAN I EVEN DO??"‘ In the end, the answer was “Well, no one’s done a blog for Wellington, right? You could do THAT?”.

Feel the fear and make it anyway!

Readers! We can all be creative and support one another together. I don’t care if you write, blog, paint pots, or make bicycles, or sew dresses for soft toys: we’re all in the same boat. Just DO it. You won’t be good to start with. But with time and practice you’ll get better. Do you think Leonardo Da Vinci came out of the womb with a paint brush? No! He practiced over years and years. If you start now, you’ll already be miles ahead of yourself versus if you dither and put it off again.

You will never regret starting something. You’ll always regret it if you procrastinate forever.

Since starting blogging, I have come to accept that my words and pictures aren’t for everyone. Some people don’t understand. Don’t let those fears of critics stop you from doing your work. No one will give you permission - but if you need it, here it is! YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO CREATE. You’re an adult now. The biggest critic who you need to overcome is likely YOU! The world needs your pots. They need your quirky, unique perspective. They need your work. Sure, all the pots have been painted before - but not by you!

A few words on ‘influencing…’

It’s a shame that good creative work has been negatively muddied with the term ‘influencer’. As you’ll know if you’ve been reading for a long time, I don’t like it. There are lots of wonderful, ordinary people online with existing skills that they build on to create interesting and varied content for others to enjoy.

One of the big issues with New Zealand, as I have said in a previous article on The Spinoff, is that the term ‘influencer’ lumps everyone into one category, ignoring content and relevance. I am judged as equivalent to Kim Kardashian advertising a slimming lollypop in many people’s minds. I cannot change that perception. I hope that more discussions open up and we can look at being a person who makes stuff online as a creative who makes things for others willingly, while accepting not everything is for us.

Conclusion

To an extent, as adults, we’re still judging each other’s ‘pots’ – except the painted pot is exchanged for job status, wealth, education qualifications and, yes, what we put on social media. And it makes some people to feel better about themselves to criticse others because it validates them. However, I have gone further than I ever thought I would. I’ve had more wins than loses and the biggest loss would have been to never have given myself the chance to be creative and make something in an age where there is truly no excuse not to do so!

We’re lucky to be born in an age where it is easy to publish your writing and photos online. It is easy to feel judged by others. But worse is judging yourself so much that you never even try to have a go at doing what you love.

I’m proud to say that I love writing. I loved publishing things on my blog. I love interviewing people. I love having conversations in my DMs about the book I am reading. I love getting emails from you guys. I love being able to share my content to others and feel proud of how far I have come in 3 years. I am proud to be a writer and blogger. I have a full-time day job to support myself, but in my spare moments, I write and make stuff for the blogosphere.

It would be worse to live a life where we always looked longingly at other people’s beautiful pots, and never tried to paint any of our own. So let’s will continue to make work and put it out there, on social media and my blog. I’ll be cheering you on.

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“Migration is at the heart of our city of Wellington, and our country, Aotearoa New Zealand. For centuries, there have been migrants who have come here by choice and since the 1930’s, those who have come by necessity.” 

These words introduce ‘More of Us’, a recent book of poetry by Landing Press. It documents the experience of migrants and refugees to New Zealand; a slim yet well profound collection that portrays “families, language, fear, loss, food and victories that come slowly”. It is a glimpse into the experiences of this diverse group of people living in New Zealand, some of whom made it their home decades ago and newcomers still finding their feet. 

One of the poets in ‘More of Us’ is Wellington High School student Reza Zareian-Jahromi. Born in Iran, Reza is not long a Kiwi. Nevertheless, he has a love for Wellington. If you haven’t met another Reza before, he says not to worry: “Other people care more about pronouncing my name correctly rather than I do” he laughs over a long black together. “I don’t mind if people say it Rey-zah or Ruza. The Kiwi accent can make it sound quite interesting.” 

Funny and articulate, Reza’s a gifted writer who already has a knack for observing detail in a way that sits outside the everyday. He explains that ‘More of Us’ includes people from 47 different countries, such as Yemen, Iran, Syria, the Netherlands and Germany. The writers range from students younger than Reza to experienced professors, authors and poets. Reza’s work was recommended based on a teacher spotting a poem he wrote in class. “I was supposed to do a portfolio piece for NCEA English and, I read a poem about a cow about to be slaughters. It inspired me to write a poem in the language of an animal. How would an animal speak? I wrote a poem about why a pack of crows would be dissatisfied with how Iran’s government were running the country. My teacher put me forward for a poetry workshop and then my poem was submitted to the editor of the book.”

Reza was born in Shiraz (“…like the wine”) to a pair of Iranian scientists. “My parents work meant that they move around the globe quite a lot so I’ve lived all over” he explains. “My father taught in the University back in Iran and today my mother is currently working in bio-chemistry at Victoria University, here in Wellington.” So is he scientifically minded? “Ha! I have no inclination towards biology myself!”.

Reza holds three snapshots close to him from his early years in Iran: “I am very much connected to my early childhood memories” he explains. “I remember the garden outside my grandmothers house. We had a huge palm tree that was two stories tall. It would give fruit every year or year and a half. A man used to climb it to get the dates off the palm tree. I always would admire him for going so high up that palm tree.” The alleyways in Iran are also a clear memory. “One of my favourite things to do was to get my father to drive me through the alleys on a wet night” he says. He remembers too the downstairs house where he was raised, and his interest in words began. “My grandmother lived on top of us in a separate unit. There was a library room we had and I remember spending hours and hours reading all the books in there.”

Reza’s parents left his home country because “…it was on a downwards spiral…I’m not even going to sugarcoat it” he says. “The Government runs the country in a difficult way, and you can’t thrive in Iran like you can in New Zealand.”  The family moved to the United Kingdom and relatives helped Reza and his parents adapt. “It felt more homely than New Zealand.” After that, they returned to Iran and then moved to Malaysia. "That’s where I properly learnt to speak English” Reza explain. “…and why I have an international English school accent with a bit of everything thrown in.” Reza’s family returned to Iran for another two years, before coming to live in New Zealand. “I’ve changed schools seven times” Reza says. “It’s not because I’m a bad kid!” 

At first, Reza’s family lived in Christchurch. He went to Riccarton High School “which had a great English faculty” he says. It was only when he moved to Wellington that he connected with his desire to write poetry. “I only arrived last year, but I’m already the student representative at Wellington High School - I don’t know how that happened!”

Reza says Wellington High School doesn’t live up to its reputation. “I haven’t met any drug-dealers at Wellington High” he deadpans. “It’s a mufti school and people run things differently. It’s full of individuals who are self motivated, and if you’re like that, it is the perfect school.” I ask Reza whether starting again in a new place is difficult “It is hard to learn how to make friends - but I have to learn how to be a more social person” he explains. ”I’ve never had roots like my peers, who have friends from childhood and have established relationships. I have to rely solely on myself to navigate situations.”

Reza no longer thinks of English as his second language. “I speak it better than I speak my native language. In Malaysia, I had passionate English teachers who helped me. I don’t think I would have gotten this good at speaking English if it weren’t for my amazing, passionate teachers.” Reza says. “Teachers make a huge difference, for instance, I used to love art, making paintings and drawings, but I had a string of really crazy art teachers. It’s only this year I’ve had a good art teacher who has followed what I wanted to do. Teachers have a huge impact on how much you want to learn something.”

Reza has high hopes for the future but acknowledges the uncertainty facing him. “I think it’s only natural for someone my age to be worried about the future. On top of that, I am waiting to be awarded residency, which could be two weeks or two years. I’ve been applying for a lot of scholarships. That’s my main plan; to get a scholarship and go to university in New Zealand. My parents also want to make a life here; trying to get grounded comes with its own difficulties.” Reza would ideally like to receive a scholarship for Victoria University (“so I don’t have to move again”) and, if he does, plans to study English.

Right now, Reza is working on his own collection of poetry, which he has written, tying it in with his other school work. For instance, in design, he is working on the book cover. He also recently was selected to be mentored in the New Zealand Young Authors Society. “I only found out yesterday” he says. “I want to tie it all in. I don’t know if it will be published but I really want to do it.”
“I find poetry gets me closes to connecting with people. My goal is to find the combination of words, that simple sentence that gets through everything” Reza says, smiling in the Wellington sunlight. If that’s his goal, mission accomplished.

What we be? (published in ‘More Of Us’)

We be pack of crow. Black bird perched upon scorched branch. Perched upon broken

building. Perched upon snapped wire. Perched upon this doomscape.

We be pack of crow. Watched as bomb fell. Crow flew. Man could not fly. Man could not

outrun it. Now it is all nest. Now it is all feed. Bodies of rotting and burnt flesh; once among

living, but now just feed.

We be pack of crow. Watched as man burnt. Woman, child, infant, all burnt. Shadows etched

into wall, as blinding light destroyed all.

We be pack of crow. Pick clean corpses. Woman’s necklace. Child’s buttons. Man’s watch.

All that was once of value, brought back to crow’s nest.

We be pack of crow. Hay men in fields never inspired fear in pack of crow. Hay men did not

kill or maim sheep. Hay men stuck to ground just as rows of corn they watched over. Arms

stuck out for crow to rest. Farmers… men… were crow’s source of fear. All past now. Rows

of slowly rotting corn. Farmer’s eyes blue as sky – now black and dull – all feed… all feed.

And when time for slumber comes, stars are once more seen. No more light but moon and

stars. All buildings fallen. All noise suffocated. Just pack of crow, left to crow and crow and crow…


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I am no film critic but I am a big film lover. I’ve been going to the New Zealand International Film Festival since I was a wee lass and I enjoy art house and indie cinema with the best of them.

Two weeks ago I found myself sitting down with a lovely young film-maker from Ukraine who had moved to Wellington via her degree at the Dubai branch of New York University, studying film. She had relocated to study a Masters at Victoria University of Wellington and is hoping to crack into the movie business here. I often get emails from people who have recently moved to Wellington, wanting to have a coffee and get to know someone ‘IRL’ in the city. And would would I be to say no to such wonderful invitations! That’s one of the reasons I have this blog - to create connections with people from all over!

As we chatted, we stumbled upon an interesting thread to our conversation - what makes New Zealand movies unique. With a new director having been appointed to the New Zealand Film Festival for 2020, I felt like it was a good time to share here on my blog what makes Kiwi film special, in my own non-educated opinion, and share some of the best in our back uncatalogued.

(Slight side tangent: For those of you who are interested in Wellington and the New Zealand International Film Festival - the NZIFF 2019 will be going ahead in July/August this year and the line-up has been programmed with significant input from Bill Gosden who retired at the end of March after 40 years of service. I can’t wait to see what new New Zealand films come out! It will be delivered by the existing NZIFF programming team which includes Programme Manager Michael McDonnell and Programmer Sandra Reid. After an international recruitment process the New Zealand Film Festival Trust Board have confirmed a new Director to lead the New Zealand International Film Festival from 2020. Marten Rabarts (Ngāti Porou / Ngāpuhi), current head of EYE International at the EYE Film Museum Netherlands, has been appointed to join the organisation as Film Festival Director – Kaiurungi from October 2019. Anyway - back on track).

In the meantime, here is what I think of New Zealand film. English essay hats on please!

1. Main/key themes touched upon in NZ films?

New Zealand cinema, is in my opinion, frequently touches on themes of isolation; being an outsider with a need to belong. We see this theme reflected in many Kiwi films across all genres - from Taika Waititi’s ‘What We Do In The Shadows’ (2014) (about undercover vampires living in Wellington) through to ‘The Piano’ by Jane Campion. New Zealand filmmakers tend to reflect the fact that New Zealand is far away from the rest of the world, and that we constantly feel like the underdog or outsider.

What We Do In The Shadows - Official Trailer - YouTube

Kiwi films are often dark, and even when humourous. For example, while ‘What We Do In The Shadows’ was a hit because it’s humour about a squad of less-than-cool Vampires highlighted how being ‘the weirdo’s’ who sit outside the mainstream can affect anyone - even the un-dead. Misfits around the world could relate to the gags about awkward friends who don’t always love each other, but stick together, no matter what (in between bloodsucking, of course). Humour is almost always dark and witty in Kiwi flicks. We don’t do dumb-comedy.

Gender and tradition indigenous culture is also a popular theme. For example, the highly successful movie ‘Whale Rider’ was a huge international success for New Zealand, all about a girls quest to appease her grandfather who wishes she were a boy. Similarly, ‘The Piano’ focuses on Ava, a mute who moves to New Zealand from England in the 1800’s with her new husband. Ava only communicates through the music she plays on the piano. She is subjected to abuse and rape by the men around her who see her as a possession to be owned.

THE PIANO - Official 25th Anniversary Trailer - Directed by Jane Campion - YouTube
2. What are the topics, issues, themes that are perhaps overlooked and there can be more films representing those?

New Zealand films typically share Pakeha or Maori stories. However, our country is changing. We don’t yet have many stories that have reached mainstream success about minorities who are migrants or refuges in the New Zealand film catalogue. Films made in New Zealand to date tend reflect the established face of what it is to be Kiwi. There also aren’t many films about about queer perspectives either. This is changing, however, with content such as the web-series ‘Tragicomic’ which was a retelling of Hamlet by local film-makers ‘The Candle Wasters’ (currently on a hiatus). It would be great to see more films from diverse perspectives about New Zealand and what it means to be a New Zealander in the future.

Tragicomic Official Trailer || The Candle Wasters - YouTube
3. What are the common character types?

The archetype in New Zealand film is the isolated loner who wants a better life, alientated from the rest of society (whether outwardly or inwardly). We see this in ‘Boy’ (2010), ‘Hunt For The Wilder-People’ (2016), ‘Whale Rider’ (2002), ‘Heavenly Creatures’ (1994), ‘In My Fathers Den’ (2004) and many more. We even see this to a lesser extend in how Frodo comes across in ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Our lead character tends to have a burden to bare that only he or she can carry. There is an inner quest that he or she must embark on that will lead them towards greater self knowledge.

Heavenly Creatures Official Trailer - YouTube
4. What do films say about communities and families?

Many New Zealand films comment on our post-colonised society and the challenge for Maori to find their place. This is most famously depicted in ‘Once were Warriors’ (1994) - a film which was a huge hit on the international circuit in the 1990’s. It has been criticised, parodied and much debated for arguably showing a dark and slanted view of life in New Zealand. Whether pretty or not, this film proved it was impossible to ignore the poverty and disillusionment that sat in the underbelly of New Zealand’s clean, green image.

There is often a parent/child dynamic that creating tension in New Zealand films - the gap between old and new, young and grown-up. For instance, Boy’s father in ‘Boy’ wants his son to love him and yet he doesn’t know how to be a father. Again, ‘Whale Rider’ is a story of intergenerational family love which can’t be easily resolved until there is a shift in mindset, usually brought about by the courage of a young person.

Some Kiwi stories on film end on a positive note where a connection is regained. Others however prefer to be less conclusive and realistic. They can end unresolved, with questions lingering about the future - not only for our character but for New Zealand’s cultural identity.

BOY | Official Trailer | FilmBuff - YouTube
5. Culture of film viewings: do people still go to the theaters, what films get most attention, etc?

We still love going to the movies, but Netflix and other streaming platforms are getting more popular here. This means Kiwis are starting to stay home more to watch Kiwi movies. The exception is the annual International New Zealand Film Festival which always creates buzz. There’s a group of passionate film addicts who support the festival and look forward to it each year! However, some New Zealand film makers have made it onto Netflix - like David Farrier’s excellent documentary ‘Tickled’ (2016) and Miranda Harcourts’ ‘The Changeover’ (2017).

Tickled (Full Documentary) - YouTube
6. How is film connected to urban landscape of Wellington?

Film is connected in three main ways:

(1) Wellingtonians work in the film industry; it is the home of Weta Studios, the film studio opened by Sir Peter Jackson on the back on making The Lord of the Rings. This means lots of people from overseas move to Wellington to work (or have a chance at working) for this industry. Employee rights in New Zealand film however are poor so most people are contractors and don’t get paid for holidays or sick leave.

(2) Places such as Mount Victoria, Courtenay Place and suburbs like Hataitai have all been featured in films set in Wellington (or alternatively, Middle-Earth). It may have been 20 years ago since The Lord of The Rings was made, but it is still important tourist capital for the capital. People continue to visit New Zealand and Wellington because of the trilogy and subsequent Hobbit films. This brings tourist dollar to the city. Therefore, this is something which our local people and council care about a great deal.

(3) It is the home of the New Zealand Film Commission and New Zealand International Film Festival!

Chronesthesia Trailer - YouTube
7. What are your must see recommendations for New Zealand films (fiction, docs, etc.)

Chronosthesia - a great Wellington love story!

Heavenly Creatures - Kate Winslet’s first film ever about two teenagers who murdered their mother.

Boy - a sad but brilliant directorial debut by Taika Waititi.

What we do in the Shadows - A quirky, mad-cap vampire movie.

Top of the Lake - I loved this dark gripping series by Jane Campion.

My Year with Helen - a Feminist manifesto between former Prime Minister Helen Clark and film-maker Gaylene Preston.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople - A brilliant and hilarious movie that has universal appeal.

Celia - A movie about Celia Lashie which is a love letter to Wellington by Amanda Millar.

My Year With Helen - Official Trailer - YouTube
8. What would you like to see more on screen?

I’d love to see more New Zealand women making movies, especially movies set in contemporary Wellington!

What are your favourite Kiwi films?

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Today marks the first day of Fashion Revolution Week as well as Earth day, so I’m going to dedicate some words having a yarn about this important calendar week.

Fashion Revolution Week marks the 6th anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse which killed 1,138 people and injured many more in 2013. You may have seen the campaign ‘Who made my clothes’ across peoples social media over the past few years and wondered what this white sign with slashed black writing is all about. Fashion Revolution Week actively encourage millions of people to ask brands #whomademyclothes and demand greater transparency in the fashion supply chain. A great place to start, especially for active shoppers, is the Tearfund Ethical Fashion Guide (you can find it here if you fancy a read - it includes New Zealand fashion labels from Kathmandu to Kowtow and grades them from A to F depending on the quality of information available publicly and whether they decided to participate in the survey). I highly recommend this excellent guide as a first port of call - you can even make a note on your iPhone notes of the brands you like and their grade to reference when you go shopping.

However, dig beneath the surface and you’ll find that there are more questions to be asked of our habit of fashion consumption. It’s about more than just how we restock our wardrobe - it’s also about keeping and using the things that we already have. As UK based journalist and consultant Katherine Ormerod said: “Sustainability is something we talk so much about these days and it’s great that we’re all putting pressure on brands to be more environmentally mindful and ethical. But when it comes to actually changing our own behaviour in regards to shopping, so much of it is about your mindset.”

Today, I’d talk about a few ways I try and make those changes in perspective in my own wardrobe. I am someone who has a wardrobe of mainly quality designers - and lots of pieces that have made appearance after appearance year after year. They’ve had cigarette burns, been worn through and even stressed at the seams due to a little unexpected weight gain (oops!). But there are three pieces that particularly stand out of me - almost all of which I’ve been wearing for 10 years plus.

I bought these two dresses in 2006 (a purple and blue Marc by Marc Jacobs dress) and 2011 (a Karen Walker pinky-coral dress). The playsuit was bought for particularly special New Year party (my first proper one) when I was 18 in 2008 (a Zambesi navy playsuit). I’ve basically worn them to death. Yes, they were expensive, but cost per wear, the best value of anything I’ve ever bought.

I first wore this blue and purple Marc Jacobs dress to my ball in 6th form. It was a very special gift from a family member and I was thrilled. I love the length, inspired by Lily Allen with her mid-length dresses and cool-kicks (at the time, bum grazing was the trend). The fabric it’s made from is truly amazing - a kind of taffeta - and has a lovely sheen. Mostly I still fit into it and it looks nice with a white tee under for casual. It’s a very lovely piece, and certainly was pretty nice for a young teenager (although considering how much a custom made ball gown from Kirkaldies & Staines cost back in the day, it probably wasn’t that bad). But the proof is in the pudding as far as costs per wear go. I’ve had many wild evenings in it - and can’t ever see myself throwing it away.

Similarly, the dress that I wore on my 21st has proved to be cheap as chips as far as cost-per-wear goes from Karen Walker’s collection Sound of Music inspired collection. It has a zip all the way up the back and has a lovely gathered waist. The neck has a crossed tie around the throat and I can just imagine running up the Wellington hills warbling “…the hills are alive!!”. When I turned 21 I wore this dress with all my family around me. And now, at 29, I still whip it out for a lovely summers day. I’ve probably worn it 50 plus times. Friends birthdays, nights out - the repeat wears have been endless.

And finally, this year I re-discovered the old playsuit that I wore all those years ago for New Year at the back of my wardrobe. This was my first proper ‘grown-up’ dress. I loved how I felt when I wore it and if you happened to traverse my Facebook photos, you would see there was rarely a day in the Summer of 2008 I wasn’t wearing it. I fished it out of my wardrobe, gave it a good look over, and decided to repair the rip in the silk down the side.

It might have been easier to just call it a day, because I certainly couldn’t have worn it out and about without exposing myself! (The crotch was ruined too).

But then there would be two jumpsuits (one in a landfill and another new one most likely). It’s obviously the most sustainable option. So I took it down to trusty Topline Tailors and asked my pal to see what he could do. A few rounds of overlocking later and it emerged, good as new, ready for another rally.

Getting my jumpsuit repaired also helps preserve the craftsmanship of repairing and ensure expert skills continue to be viable professions. I recently discussed this with Vijay at Dixon Street Shoe Repair in a blog post. I got to support a business I really respect (my mates at Topline) - they are the magicians as far as getting a garment fixed. I continue to wear and repair these outfits because I valued them in the first place. I most probably wouldn’t spend upwards of $60 repairing cheap dresses...which again makes you think about how you invest in your wardrobe.

Not replacing our entire wardrobe each season is one of the best things we can do to be more sustainable. It isn’t hard, but it does require a little forward planning, investment and re-aligning your values. Clothing creates huge waste and is the second worse industry for mother earth. It also supports paying people low wages so that we can buy cheap clothes.

While some might say it is too much to spend $300 or more on designer dresses, I think if you know you’ll love something for years to come and it is quality made and the investment will pay itself dividends in how much you wear it. You can layby something, or save up. It actually makes it very special in my experience - delayed gratification can mean an extra buzz when you finally get your paws on that piece you’ll love forever.

Don’t forget to participate in Fashion Revolution Week. The more people who ask #whomademyclothes, the more brands will listen. Use your voice and your power to change the fashion industry. Together we are stronger.

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When I say ‘Wellington’ what comes to mind? Compact. Inclusive. Connected. Vibrant. I love the clear blue sky, the salty sea and the ‘Oriental Bay Blow-Dry’. I love how quickly I can run across town and that ‘grabbing a coffee’ never means Starbucks. But just because that is how Wellington is now, doesn’t mean it will always be this way...

If you want to ensure the Wellington city that we know and love remains, and improves, now is your chance to submit on the Planning for Growth engagement. Wellington has to change and grow. Let’s express to the Wellington City Council what we love about our hometown, and what we want improved. Are you ready to take a stand? Go to planningforgrowth.wellington.co.nz.

Let’s start with the facts: We can expect 50,000 - 80,000* more people to move to Wellington in the next 30 years. 50,000 to 80,000 is going to have a big impact, so we’re going to have to make some big decisions.  Submissions are open, and they want to hear your voice.

Planning for Growth is the first step towards a new District Plan for Wellington. The District Plan sets the rules for the future use of space in the city. The Wellington City Council are seeking feedback - and we have an opportunity to guide the shape of this city we adore.

Keeping hold of our Wellington heart is a no-brainer. So what are the big issues? I spoke to several Residents of Wellington to find out their opinion.

Housing

“How will Wellington keep up with housing all the new people who are going to live here in 2050?”

For me, like many millennials,  housing is key. I hope one day to buy a house with Matt but right now it seems like the impossible dream. 

I loved living centrally, because I was close to the heart of the city, and could be on Cuba Street one minute at on the waterfront the next. But prices have gone mad. Student and film maker Nadia Darby agrees:

“I love living in Wellington. When I moved here 4 years ago, I couldn’t fault Wellington as a city. During my first year out of university halls, my rent was relatively cheap. Since then, it has become increasingly harder to find rental properties for an affordable price. I remember going to a flat viewing earlier this year where there was a massive line of students all the way up the street. I still love living in Wellington, however, the steep rental prices and sometimes shifty landlords really put a damper on the mood. If there could be booklets that teach students about the legality of their rights to a healthy living environment and renting in Wellington in general, I believe it’d make the whole flatting process a lot fairer.” 

Urban Planning

“How can we keep our city space compact, visually beautiful, and remain the coolest little capital?”

From Civic Square to Courtenay Place, our urban planning, space and optimising how we use it is going to be a hot topic. Resident interviewee Alistair Cox really opened my eyes to why we need to think around where we walk, where we eat and where we commute in the city:

“…I think highly skilled professionals are actually the way to do it, and I think the city council needs to be pushed... It keeps coming back to making the place more inhabitable, and there are some really highly skilled planners and professionals out there who have an understanding about how to do that, but you need to get the best people in the world….I really believe we need to invest in sociable architecture to positively enrich this city.”  

Transport

“How will we all get around and in and out of the city by 2050?”

Transport is the lifeblood of the city. How will we get around? Now I live in Greytown, I think that the motorway and train congestion into Wellington is one of our most urgent issues. Vijay from Dixon Street Shoe repair agrees:

“I’d probably like to see a bit more progress on the roading side of things. It’s a big ask, and controversial because a lot of people were against this, but I would have liked to have seen the terrace tunnelling go from Mount Victoria Tunnel to the Terrace underneath the ground.” 

Climate

“Go greener, Wellington?”

No one can deny the natural beauty of Wellington. I love strolling through the streets of Wellington and looking up and seeing the green trees. But we need to take care of our region. Comedian and actress Hayley Sproull feels passionately about this:

“I am one of the many young people who have recently discovered that soft plastics aren’t recyclable...I looked down at my shopping trolley the other day and, despite my ‘healthy lifestyle’ saw a sea of plastic...So now I’ve started hoarding it all until the soft plastic recycling services kick back in, but its still not good enough...We need to get off our moral high horse and accept that we young people are the problem and the solution.”

Will you join me in submitting in Planning for Growth?

3 years ago, I started interviewing the people of Wellington, to better understand what makes our city special. Was it the food scene? The beer? The hills? Or something else…

The short answer? What makes Wellington different is, in part, you and I: the fact that we really care about our city and we want the best for it, and each other, for generations to come. Over and over I’ve heard people tell me the reasons they love living here. 

Well now is our chance!! Please, please, please take this chance to submit on the engagement. As a policy advisor, I can’t stress what a difference it will make. YOUR voice will be considered. It will make a difference, unlike moaning on Stuff comments. Don’t you want to leave a legacy and give back to the city? Don’t leave this blog saying you’ll come back to do it later. Click the link below, head to the website and do it right now. 

Sign up to have your say: https://planningforgrowth.wellington.govt.nz/

*All information comes from Forecast.id and Statistics NZ . This blog was created in paid partnership with Wellington City Council.

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Hej-hej is one of my favourite words (it’s Danish for ‘Hi’- I learnt it from watching the Danish political thriller Borgen) and, more recently, it’s also one of my favourite labels.

Hej-hej is the brain-child of two young women, Shanghai based Kiki and Auckland based Wellington raised Alice. Kiki and Alice believe fashion should be fun, not intimidating, pretentious or have a negative impact on the world. Their belief led them to create hej-hej; a collection of distinctive, colourful designs that are easy-to-wear, made from premium fabrics that don’t cost the earth. This nimble yet sharply focused label are ones to watch. They have a winning formula where they’re able to target an informed audience of women who want more from their clothes than the high street or ASOS has to offer. They have strong relationships with their Chinese manufacturers and operate the New Zealand based-ethically-made-overseas model.

Though one gal is based in Shanghai and the other in Auckland, the pair’s love of linen and noodles keep their business and friendship bonds strong. This season, the ladies of hej-hej are celebrating the sisterhood, something we can all support. I met Alice at their recent Wellington pop-up at the Neighbourhood studio, grabbed some snaps and a knit for myself, before emailing her with my burning questions for the coolest linen brand around.

Lucy Revill: Where were you born?

Alice: I was born in Auckland.

LR: What subjects were you most interested in at school?

A; Graphics, photography, classics, and art history!

LR: Was fashion always an interest for you? If so, why?

A: Yes, I have always loved fashion. I am at my best when I am surrounded by fabrics and bouncing ideas around about new things to create.

LR: What are some childhood memories that resonate?

I grew up in Auckland, Sydney and then Wellington. I have so many amazing friends from different places so my memories are based around my family and friends.

LR: How did you and your co-founder of your label, Hej Hej, Kiki meet?

A: We met at university and were at the same hostel, Unicol. We then flatted together.

LR: What was your first university experience?

A: I remember walking into my hall of residence with one of my friends, Alex, and feeling pretty overwhelmed! My memories of university are all based about the people I met and the amazing friendships I created.

LR: How did you find studying fashion?

I didn't initially study fashion. I started a Bachelor or Arts in Film and Graphic Design.

I decided half way through my BA that is wasn't what I wanted to do - so I quit university and moved up to Auckland. I started working, and then signed up to study pattern making.

LR: What did you do when you finished your degree?

A: Once I finished my pattern making course I started working for a couple of kiwi brands Beth Ellery (who still has an amazing label) [LR: I totally agree!] and then a brand called Charade that doesn't exist anymore. I started in the warehouse at Charade and then worked my way up to design assistant.

LR: Describe your career progression?

A; After working in Auckland I moved to Sydney and started working at MARCS. I began as the menswear design assistant and then I moved into the womenswear team, working my way up and working on all categories (wovens, knitwear, accessories).

It was around this time that my partner and I decided to do some travel around south and central America and then ended up living in Hong Kong for six months.

We eventually moved back to Sydney and I returned to MARCS as one of the Senior Womenswear Designers. A few years later I moved to Sportscraft where i was the Senior Women’s Designer.

I fell pregnant with my twin girls and we decided to move back to Auckland. While I was on maternity leave, Kiki and I started talking about starting hej-hej.

LR: How did you find the aesthetic for hej-hej?

A: Kiki and I just started making clothes we liked. Things we wanted to wear!

Kiki was getting clothes tailored at the markets in Shanghai and we fell in love the fabrics and colours we could find at the markets in China. We wanted to create styles that lasted for a long time, we are less about trend and more focused on stylish pieces that are versatile.

LR: How do you and Kiki work together?

A: We are on ‘WeChat’ all day long, chatting throughout the day, everyday. Kiki tries to come out to New Zealand a few times a year and I head over to Shanghai a couple of times a year.

As a team we bring different strengths to the brand. We both have a similar aesthetic and when designing we have fun bouncing ideas and looking at fabrics. Kiki has strong technical and planning skills. I love sketching and working with our pattern-maker and being based in New Zealand I do a lot on the sales and distribution side of things.

To me, Kiki is the perfect partner, she makes me laugh, inspires me and is my best friend! What more could I ask for! [LR: Awwwww]

LR: How do you find time for motherhood and your business?

A: It is a massive juggle! Every week is different and full of new challenges. I have an amazing husband that has supported me every step of the way.

My Mum, Dad and extended family all pitch in and help me whenever they can. It takes a village! All these people make hej hej possible for me.

It can be incredibly hard some days, you feel like you are failing your kids and not giving them what they need. I have learnt that I have to separate my time and when I am with them, I am 100% focused on them. Everything I do is for my kids, I want them to be proud of their Mum.

LR: What is your advice to women wanting to make an impact with a business or social enterprise?

A: Just give it go! Jump right in, work hard, don't give up and if you can, bring your BFF along for the ride!

LR: You've worked with bloggers from New Zealand. What makes you attracted as a business owner to certain people and how do you find ambassadors?

A: Instagram is such an important part of our business. We love the idea of being able to connect with real people that are authentic and relate to our customers. We find them on Instagram of course! (haha...!) It’s a mix of them finding us and us finding them.

LR: What are your favourite pieces from the latest collection?

A: That’s like asking which of my children I like the best! Haha! I literally love everything. But the ‘Babydoll Savage’ in all the colours is worn a lot.

LR: What's next for Hej Hej?

A: We have been developing new knits for NZ winter and really excited to launch them soon. We just want to keep making product people love!

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Lucy Revill: Where were you born?

Alice: I was born in Auckland.

LR: What subjects were you most interested in at school?

A; Graphics, photography, classics, and art history!

LR: Was fashion always an interest for you? If so, why?

A: Yes, I have always loved fashion. I am at my best when I am surrounded by fabrics and bouncing ideas around about new things to create.

LR: What are some childhood memories that resonate?

I grew up in Auckland, Sydney and then Wellington. I have so many amazing friends from different places so my memories are based around my family and friends.

LR: How did you and your co-founder of your label, Hej Hej, Kiki meet?

A: We met at university and were at the same hostel, Unicol. We then flatted together.

LR: What was your first university experience?

A: I remember walking into my hall of residence with one of my friends, Alex, and feeling pretty overwhelmed! My memories of university are all based about the people I met and the amazing friendships I created.

LR: How did you find studying fashion?

I didn't initially study fashion. I started a Bachelor or Arts in Film and Graphic Design.

I decided half way through my BA that is wasn't what I wanted to do - so I quit university and moved up to Auckland. I started working, and then signed up to study pattern making.

LR: What did you do when you finished your degree?

A: Once I finished my pattern making course I started working for a couple of kiwi brands Beth Ellery (who still has an amazing label) [LR: I totally agree!] and then a brand called Charade that doesn't exist anymore. I started in the warehouse at Charade and then worked my way up to design assistant.

LR: Describe your career progression?

A; After working in Auckland I moved to Sydney and started working at MARCS. I began as the menswear design assistant and then I moved into the womenswear team, working my way up and working on all categories (wovens, knitwear, accessories).

It was around this time that my partner and I decided to do some travel around south and central America and then ended up living in Hong Kong for six months.

We eventually moved back to Sydney and I returned to MARCS as one of the Senior Womenswear Designers. A few years later I moved to Sportscraft where i was the Senior Women’s Designer.

I fell pregnant with my twin girls and we decided to move back to Auckland. While I was on maternity leave, Kiki and I started talking about starting hej-hej.

LR: How did you find the aesthetic for hej-hej?

A: Kiki and I just started making clothes we liked. Things we wanted to wear!

Kiki was getting clothes tailored at the markets in Shanghai and we fell in love the fabrics and colours we could find at the markets in China. We wanted to create styles that lasted for a long time, we are less about trend and more focused on stylish pieces that are versatile.

LR: How do you and Kiki work together?

A: We are on ‘WeChat’ all day long, chatting throughout the day, everyday. Kiki tries to come out to New Zealand a few times a year and I head over to Shanghai a couple of times a year.

As a team we bring different strengths to the brand. We both have a similar aesthetic and when designing we have fun bouncing ideas and looking at fabrics. Kiki has strong technical and planning skills. I love sketching and working with our pattern-maker and being based in New Zealand I do a lot on the sales and distribution side of things.

To me, Kiki is the perfect partner, she makes me laugh, inspires me and is my best friend! What more could I ask for! [LR: Awwwww]

LR: How do you find time for motherhood and your business?

A: It is a massive juggle! Every week is different and full of new challenges. I have an amazing husband that has supported me every step of the way.

My Mum, Dad and extended family all pitch in and help me whenever they can. It takes a village! All these people make hej hej possible for me.

It can be incredibly hard some days, you feel like you are failing your kids and not giving them what they need. I have learnt that I have to separate my time and when I am with them, I am 100% focused on them. Everything I do is for my kids, I want them to be proud of their Mum.

LR: What is your advice to women wanting to make an impact with a business or social enterprise?

A: Just give it go! Jump right in, work hard, don't give up and if you can, bring your BFF along for the ride!

LR: You've worked with bloggers from New Zealand. What makes you attracted as a business owner to certain people and how do you find ambassadors?

A: Instagram is such an important part of our business. We love the idea of being able to connect with real people that are authentic and relate to our customers. We find them on Instagram of course! (haha...!) It’s a mix of them finding us and us finding them.

LR: What are your favourite pieces from the latest collection?

A: That’s like asking which of my children I like the best! Haha! I literally love everything. But the ‘Babydoll Savage’ in all the colours is worn a lot.

LR: What's next for Hej Hej?

A: We have been developing new knits for NZ winter and really excited to launch them soon. We just want to keep making product people love!

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Over this last weekend I caught up with a couple of my oldest friends. We talked about all kinds of things we are pondering, investing in, wondering about and planning: weddings, careers, hobbies, families and relationships.  

At one point, while talking to good friend of mine she mentioned that she couldn’t do without her partner but that in their relationship she earns most of the money working remotely for a business based in Silicon Valley and he organises the household, keeps the books in order and tends to the small business they are nurturing. If they have a family, they’ve discussed that he will be the primary caregiver. She mentioned that she didn’t think her parents, baby boomers, necessarily ‘got’ the arrangement. “It’s funny” she said “They’re actually from such a different time, and things have changed so much in one generation.” 

I couldn’t help but agree with her, although it was something I’d not stopped to think about until that very moment. Here’s the thing; as you grow into your twenties and thirties, it becomes normal to hang out with your parents as people and less as parents. You see them as cool! You have drinks together, chat together and maybe even go on holiday together (I don’t but some do!). Your relationship feels like it becomes less parent-child and more two adult friends. However, we still feel a weeny wee bit of judgement if our parents don’t quite ‘get’ our relationship at times, even if they are nothing but supportive 99.9% of the rest of the time. Like a 3 year old, showing mum and dad her finger-painting, there is something inside of us that wants them to say ‘Good job!’ to every aspect of our adult choices. We also forget that they have lived their lives in quite different times at points, and grew up with different values, particularly when it came to relationships. 

“Life moves pretty fast”

The world has moved very fast in a very short period of time. With flexible working, demand for equal pay and more connections around the world than ever thanks to the internet, ideas spread rapidly and we are no longer harnessed to the status quo of society (in theory at least!). Men can marry men, women can marry women and anyone can be the breadwinner in today’s society. Yet why do we still, at the back of our head, consider a man earning the primary income as being ‘normal’ while the woman looks after the home? 

Family values 

For females during the 1970’s and 1980’s career choices were primarily to be a teacher or a nurse (yes, I’m paraphrasing, but stay with me). That was about it. Yes, there were more women going into the workforce than ever but the expectation was when a family came along, they’d quit an look after their home. Although we had women’s liberation and shoulder-padded suits, this expectation meant many still were encouraged to seek careers that would be more flexible and nurturing (Many mum’s did become teachers, including my own). It was still understood by society that when there was a family in the mix, men were to bring home the bacon.

This gendered work culture continued to be reinforced in popular culture, in 90’s television shows like Home Improvement and soaps like Shortland Street where the female roles were mainly receptionists and nurses, and men played the doctors still.  My assumptions came primarily from what I saw in society, in media culture and read about in historical books. 

So naturally, growing up as a little girl (as embarrassing as it is to admit it) I always expected that a man would be there to take care of me financially and would eventually out-earn me, because that was the way it worked. In our home, Dad had the money and worked as a lawyer and mum was there to be our…well…Mum (as you tend to think at 7 years old - she did go back to working as we grew up, but could work part time). I can’t say I am proud of this way of thinking but it just felt normal to me. Being a lawyer was seen as the ‘hard’ work and being a mum and a teacher as being a bit lighter (when probably that was not the case - we were not always the easiest kids growing up - and being a parent is the hardest job you’ll ever do!). 

Princes and Toads

In my twenties, friends of mine began looking for a mate. Some made their main criteria when looking for a partner that he should work as a lawyer/doctor/accountant and drive a BMW. At 26, they wanted their prospective date to pay for dinner always, flatter them with attention, and take them on mini-breaks. Usually, they were let down and deemed him unsuitable with a haughty air if it was apparent that he didn’t know what he was doing with his life. They also refused to date younger men.  

I felt suspicious of people who looked too good to be true. Usually, their sleek corporate act was a mask for an insecure boy who had developed prickish behaviour. It only took me a few times of pursuing ‘prince charming’ to figure out he was probably more of a toad! 

Thankfully, despite my child-like ideas that Prince Charming would carry me away, at a certain time I got clear on the idea that I needed to be my own hero. My parents have always valued education and therefore going to university for me was a given. I grew up with a sense that if I was to succeed in life, I needed to have my own back - and education was the way to take care of myself. I also worked out that it was important for me to know about my own finances, and eventually to build a relationship based not on how much money one person earns or their status in the corporate world, but how kind, generous, loyal and thoughtful they were as a person. I’m glad I put these values to the forefront because they enabled me to be open to meeting Matt on Tinder. I am thankful that despite the more traditional gender set up, my parents never limited me in what I could do, and never made me feel like I needed a man to take care of me.

Bucking tradition

The reality is as men and women living in 2019, our relationships and careers do look very different to those of our parents. When I stopped and thought about it, I realised that at this stage of my life, very few of my female friends have relationships where the man was the primary earner or where the woman would be expected to singlehandedly raise the child, even among those who preferred more traditional gender roles.

One friend recently had a baby and laughingly told me she was sending emails to a radio producer while still drugged up after giving birth to her her third baby (“not advisable”). She now is working part time freelance with her clients, bringing her baby to meetings and integrating being a mother with work. While speaking with a different friend, it transpired that while she and her partner are both ambitious, he is happy to teach and she wants to keep on pursuing her craft in a more focused manner. They have joint bank accounts and just bought a house, but are not married. She is probably going to be the ‘known’ one in the partnership, whereas he is happy to take more of a supporting role.

As a couple of twenty-somethings, my career and Matt’s have progressed at different rates. I launched like a shot out of a gun, five years at law-school and studying arts, then straight into a corporate law school. He took a four year break in the middle of his commerce degree, and is now pursuing further study. We are still figuring things out. But I am mostly very happy to have a true partner by my side who I picked for his personal values, rather than for any superficial measure. I am glad that we can play with our roles and take turns. Who knows what will happen when kids come along - but it is fun to know that society is less rigid than it once was, flexible working is now the new norm and that now all bets are off. 

We do need to acknowldge that women will always feel more pressure to ‘have it together’ earlier, simply because you do need to think about having children if you want a family before you’re 35. I think this is why we tend to race through our twenties, ticking things off, whereas some men tend to take their time more, and have more fun. It’s important to find a good balance, and I think that males can show females how to slow down a bit, and females can show males how to grow up a bit more. Everyone wins!

Final Thoughts!

Couples today tend to be more true partnerships, where there is give and take on both sides, career-wise, finance-wise and parenting-wise. Some still have their own separate bank accounts, while others, like me, have joint funds. Some want kids and some don’t. Some are ambitious in the corporate world but may not earn as much right now, whereas others want to pursue different projects, like family, creativity or starting a business yet are coasting along doing pretty well.  Even our Prime Minister in New Zealand is a working mum with a partner who primarily takes care of their daughter.

This has all happened on one generation. It is likely that our children will never assume mum will stay home and dad goes to work. We should be grateful for our opportunities, but also respectful of the fact that our parents potentially didn’t have the same freedom that we had when starting out in their lives and with their families. Equally, it is totally fine to want to make your life goal to look after your children or dedicate yourself to being a homemaker. The point is, that in 2019, anything goes. Times have changed very fast.

I am proud of today’s males and females and how we work together at relationships. Although we have different careers, we are all very ambitious in different ways - some for family, some creatively, some in work (some a combination of everything). We have forged more interesting partnerships based on love and trust, and we know that partly because of technology and climate changes, the world is going to change hugely in the next ten, twenty and thirty years onwards. We simply have to find the right person to go side-by-side with into the future, and leave our expectations at the door. Our generation of millennial’s threw out the 20th century blueprint long ago.  

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The Residents by The Residents - 1M ago
Good Morning and happy Friday chaps. I am once again coming to you from the train from Greytown to Wellington, and currently am speeding through the tunnel between the Rimutakas. Matt is reading over my shoulder while he is meant to be studying so I will be naughty and rude and type that he is a sausage roll. Haha.

I have been thinking quite a bit recently about success and having problems and how our perception of these changes over time. Like many of you, I grew up thinking that my life would be better when I grew up - I’d have it all figured out. But as time is wearing on I realise that the older I get, the less I feel certain that I know what my future looks like. Sometimes, good things happen or bad things happen. Often, the good thing creates more problems which then creates more stress. Often, the ‘bad’ thing which I would rather hadn’t have happened actually shunts me in a direction I needed to be in, or teaches me a lesson I didn’t know I needed. Sound kooky? Let me explain by telling you a story. 

Now here is something I’ve not really written about before - at school, I was pretty unpopular for a period of about five years. When you are in an all girls private school, popularity is everything. I was at my school from aged 7 to 18 which probably in retrospect isn’t very healthy. At least half of my time at school, I hated going in each day because I was so cripplingly lonely or was worried about a friendship crumbling that I couldn’t save.  

My problems started when my friend Lucy Lindsay moved back to Melbourne with her family at the end of year 4. I adored Lucy and we used to play ‘Little House on the Prairie' together and dress up in her mothers clothes. After she left, I struggled to find a friend I could rely on from about year five until around year 11, with a one year interim period in year 9 when I was part of a little girl gang who toilet papered our ringleaders grandmas house in Cannon’s Creek on a Friday night for fun (her grandma was really cool actually and let us get out R16 movies and cook as much smelly Act II popcorn as we liked. She taught at the school for pregnant teens up the road). That group lasted about a year before our ringleader moved back to the UK and the group split up. I tried to make it work with other people in our group, but they were moving one. Once again, I was alone. 

Despite knowing algebra, Pi and why Macbeth never stood up to his wife, friendship was a problem I couldn’t solve. I feel like it made high school so hard. That’s not to say that I didn’t have friends for certain patches during those five years. I just always felt like after a few months or weeks I got ‘dumped’ for someone else, which really hurt. I was always shocked that people could even think about boys when they were 12 or 13 - I was just trying to figure out how to make ANYONE like me. 

As any parent is wont to do when their child is unhappy at school, but they’re paying a lot to send them there my Mum and Dad gave me lots of hugs, made me cups of tea and encouraged me to focus on my studies (money was never discussed but this probably was in my parents sphere of consciousness). I was also praised when I did well, particularly in English. It was during this period that I turned to reading and creative writing. A family friend encouraged me to enter some competitions. Writing short stories gave me an escape from the difficult and unsolvable problems of high school (turned out I was quite good at it). I was able to lose myself in writing. People around me told me I should grow up to be a writer. This, and the desire to be liked, has stuck with me.

I figured a way around it around year 11 by learning to be funny, mimic and make people laugh. Around mid-late year 10 I also made my friend Maria who has been my loyal steadfast rock. I also made friends properly with Hayley (who I’d always looked up to) and my friend Amelia (who actually I’ve grown closer with since starting blogging because she works at Mecca and we both love The Anna Edit and Lily Pebbles - online nerd goals)!

If you had asked me at that point what success looked like at school I would have said, ‘Having friends’. For years, strong friendships were my absolute biggest measure of success. But like a junkie, it was never enough for me to have one or two friendships. I wanted more and more friends. I always wanted to be more popular because my experience had led me to believe I wasn’t popular enough. 

However, in life, I’ve learnt that when you seem to solve one problem, it just creates different ones. You know when Hercules cuts off the head of the multi-headed beast in the film and it sprouts more? Yeah, just like that. Once you have friends, you can realise that friendships can be good friendships and some can be not so good friendships. And I’ve certainly had my fair share of some unhealthy friendships in my time.

I had one friend who I followed to university. She looked like a model. Initially, I loved being mates and so did she….so long as I did everything she wanted me to do all the time. I eventually realised that I couldn’t keep up with that. It felt like I was selling my soul for someone else’s pleasure. She even made me ask other people where the toilet when she needed to go because she was, despite her confident exterior, too insecure to even approach a stranger to ask where the loo was!

These days I’ve become more confident at letting less healthy friendships go. 

Had I had an easy time in school, if I had known how to keep my head down and go with the group, I may not have ever had the shunt into writing I’ve known. These days, I feel like blogging isn’t the whole answer. Once again, it feels like each time that I cut the head off the beast and achieve a goal, I return to it a few weeks later only to find more and different problems sprouting from the beast. Why doesn’t my Instagram following grow anymore? What are other ‘influencers’ getting as opportunities? Is my following too small? It is difficult but that isn’t me speaking - its the little 12 year old Lucy, worried about having no friends or not being popular enough.  I just keep on having to remind myself that actually, she can be retired. She will always be a part of me but she no longer serves me. I don’t hate her. She’s just trying to protect me. But I can be fine without her and she just needs to calm the f*ck down. 

I now know that blogging The Residents blog is not the final solution to my desire to be a writer. It is just a step in the process. I think I will always blog, as I do love sharing my thoughts and off the cuff pondering with you. It might not always be about Wellington - but I expect it will stick around in some form or another. I do REALLY want to write a book, now more than ever. But I also know that as soon as that opportunity arises, I’ll have a whole host of new problems come up. My challenge is to keep a cool mindset and not to get distracted by all the shiny things, like free moisturisers and ‘fitting in’ with the cool set along the way. I need to remember I am the sum of all my parts. As Jameelia Jamil would say, I am more than a number, whether that is my weight or my follower count. 

I’m a public speaker. 

I’m a website designer. 

I’m an art director. 

I’m a photographer. 

I’m a community manager.

I’m an event planner.

I’m a portrait maker. 

I’m a policy advisor. 

I’m a law graduate. 

I’m an art-lover. 

I’m a qualified lawyer. 

I’m a business owner. 

I’m an agony aunt. 

I’m an aspiring gym goer. 

I’m a partner. 

I am a daughter. 

I am a friend. 

I am a writer.

I am a writer.

I am a writer.

And if I hadn’t have had all the experiences I have had leading me up to this point, maybe I wouldn’t be all these things. To get me to where I am now, that’s amazing.

Last night on the way home I listened to a podcast between Emma Guns and founder of one of my favourite all time apps, Headspace Meditation. I started using Headspace when I was 22 and I found it very helpful to work through some post-breakup stress which I was harbouring including accepting how people close to me reacted to the breakup. 

In this podcast, Andy challenged the idea that we humans are constantly chasing happiness. We think it will come with a different relationship, or a better car. And so, in pursuit of this, we can end up chasing or avoiding certain thoughts. Lots of self-help advocates trying to control your thoughts. Andy thinks all we can do is stand back and observe our thoughts, using meditation as a tool. Which leads to his bold suggestion on the podcast that Happiness is already here in our lives, everyday - we just don’t notice it when we are constantly busy and rattled. Getting a little headspace through mindfulness and meditation can help. And actually, I would tend to agree with Andy (who trained as a buddhist monk for 10 years and really, really knows his stuff). 

Accepting our reality and that it may bring gifts we never new of is one of the hardest parts of life, particularly in a society that tells you you should be wanting bigger, better, stronger, faster, more, more, more. However, it is up to each of us, including me, to find the wonderful things in our ordinary lives and to accept that sometimes we have a little person inside us who isn’t being very truthful when then pipe up in our mind anymore. Let’s let go of our judgement against ourselves and acknowledge all the work that we’ve done to get ourselves to exactly the point we are. Success and happiness may be found in the here and now.

Notebook by Frank Stationary | Blazer and shirt past season from Twenty Seven Names (made in NZ) | Dress Summers (made in NZ) | Necklace Cathy Pope.

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Photos by www.dinosaurtoast.com

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