Tag Archive | life in new zealand

Saving insects

12 December 2014

I just read most vloggers are between 12 and 22 years old …
Oh boy, where do I find my target group? 😀
About saving insects, playing with the cat, doing the groceries, going to the dentist and painting.

Vlogging

24 November 2014

For a while I was not sure about publishing my vlogs, because of ‘too boring’. In the first place they were intended just for family. It’s not more than a peek into my daily life in New Zealand.
My first vlogs were edited quite clumsy with too much and too long shots. In the first minutes I even made the classic mistake of keeping my smartphone upwards.
Sorry for that. It will get better.

Storm at the dump

10 December 2008

Today we had a full loaded truck with trash because of the renovation of our bought neighbour-house. There was a strong wind, so we had covered it with a tarp to prevent it to blow away.

The landfill is located in a valley between lush green hills overlooking the sea. A kind of premium location for millionaires resorts. You must park your car on the edge and throw your waste 10 meters below. There screeching seagulls are flying around and it stinks like hell. On the endless waves of debris a truck perpetually drives around to ‘mash’ the waste. One of those jobs you didn’t realize they exist.
The last hour the wind had picked up to hurricane strength. And of course we had to throw our trash in exactly the direction where the wind came from. Well, I assure you … that’s worse than peeing upwind!
It did not work out. The pieces of wood were heavy enough, but the rest flew back to your face with equal speed. The mattress, glided like a flying carpet above the road where we just came from.
That was not the worst … more heinous were the bloody sanitary towels (of strangers!) which flew around with 80 kilometers per hour. The loaded diapers and plastic bags with slimy rotten eggs were attacking you full in the face. I felt scraps of indefinable waste of other people’s garbage all over and in my clothes. Puke. Ooow, I almost needed to puke!
But we had no opportunity to wait until the wind would slow down, because the truck was of one of the builders and he wanted to go home after we returned, preferable without a truck full of our waste.

I almost wanted to tear off my clothes right on the spot.

I rarely have had a more satisfying shower as tonight.

Spinnewebben

Gains II

1 December 2008

Language-wise … I don’t know … that’s for another blog. But after 3 years living in New Zealand I certainly noticed that slowly I got used to be here.
To some people such things happens very quickly. They are already accustomed -no matter where they are- right after 1 day. Put them under the Eiffel Tower and 1 week later they are still sitting there; completely furnished and surrounded with countless friends.
To other people it takes centuries to get comfortable in their new lifes. Every morning they wake up frightened screaming: “NO !!! Where am I ?!” Only during dusk you can find them outside their houses, carefully sneaking through the streets, eyes down to the pavement, with timidly bended backs. And as soon as they think doom is impending, they flawlessly can imitate a tree.
Guess who. That ‘s me.

Years ago when we lived in the Netherlands, we guided an American guest through Amsterdam. He was observing us and suddenly he said: “You guys have a ‘certain confidenced walk’, like you own everything here.” Now I think he had a point. There indeed is a difference; If you fast forwarding a video of a tourist, you will see his head turning in all directions. He looks around constantly, slows his pace all the time.
I notice that the last few months I’ve gotten back my ‘normal’ walk. That big sign above my head “SORRY I’M WALKING IN YOUR GARDEN!” is now pretty much faded.
And my car driving is normalized. I’m beginning to know the map. The streets have become mine. Know: After 3 years! In a town of 20.000 people, hahaha.
Okay, the autochthons still grabbing their mouths by everything I do in public, but habituation is something else than integration. If a decent integration ever will happen, I can not promise.

I’m a construction worker

28 September 2008

During spring of 2008 … many of my hours were spent on building a veggie garden. In New Zealand having a patch of edibles is quite common, but in the Netherlands I never have had one single thought about growing more than a pot of Marigolds. The result of the little veggie patch in our rental was overwhelming enough to get me thinking about a ‘serious’ veggie garden in our bought neighbour-house. I did it myself and I’m quite proud on it.

construction worker    Ten weeks later the place was enormously changed. Me and my friend Anna-Courgetta

Suicide birds

24 February 2008

It is quite impractical that the New Zealanders declared the kiwi bird as their national logo. The best feature of a bird is its capacity to fly, but specifically that fact, is what the kiwi bird is unable to.
He lives at night, so almost nobody has ever seen him in real. In return of this sparse favor, all New Zealanders have to leave their dogs at home if they want to walk in the woods, because imagine … the almost extinct and nearly blind kiwi could be attacked by your dog.
The bird is protected by all joined forces, but it is actually fighting a losing battle.

suicide birdsOnce I have seen one. The kiwi was hatched and raised by a special kiwi caretaker/educator and at that sacred moment it should be released on the nature reserve Whale Island. From close by it is a large chicken with soft salt-and-pepper coloured hair and a small, shy head which he completely held hidden under his own rudimentary useless wing.

Until the 80s all kiwis got a transmitter on their back. After one of them ‘committed suicide’ they stopped with this ridiculous habit. The suicider laid at the bottom of a mountain ridge. Yeah, what do you think?! Back in those days, transmitters had the size of a brick! Imagine that you -as a human- had to carry around the battery of a truck on your back every single day. And you are not able to curling up in a comfortable sleep position, because of that ‘huge thing’ you can’t get rid of. If you bend over to pick up a little insect from the ground, you get a punch in your neck of the shifting battery. Constantly you are stuck in the bushes and slowly you become crazy from the itching of that chafed skin. That’s quite depressing, isn’t it? A solid reason for suicide.

Recently Frank and I visited Whale Island again and we were told the story of the mutton-bird. A bit of the same kind of tragic.
Whale island is a mountain rising from the sea, which is overgrown with low bushes on top. The mutton-birds make their nests in a hole in the ground. A place high on the mountain is their favorite. Nicely in the beautiful filtered light under the low-hanging foliage.
Just like human kids … mutton kids are fussy eaters. So their parents ‘importing’ the special requested baby food from about 500 kilometers away. I don’t understand such indulgent parents, because that is 2 days travelling per serving!
Because of the ceiling of firm foliage hanging above the kindergarten, just upon arrival the parents draw their wings around their bodies and vertically torpedo themselves to the ground. Sometimes that doesn’t turn out right and they get stuck halfway. Even hopelessly stuck. And die in the face of their hungry children. If one of the parent dies, the picky young bird can forget about the rest of his life.

Frank and a few other visitors of Whale island climbed to the top of the mountain and were witnesses of deserted, magical softly green-lit, fairy like areas under the low trees. And indeed … dead birds were entangled in the branches. The nests on the ground were empty. The crying orphan chicks were probably already devoured alive by … rats? Preying owls? Their own brothers and sisters?




Winning tits

23 October 2007

winning titsOn New Zealand’s South Island, in a little village near Wanaka, you can find a long fence with a strange phenomenon. Every woman who is passing this fence gets an uncontrollable desire to take off her bra and hangs it on the fence, directly is rewarded with an outrageous sense of freedom!
However, for some other women such a happy state of being apparently is unbearable and once in a while one of these selfish witches destroys the hundreds of sacrified bras with scissors or matches.
On such moments, the former owners of the bras everywhere in the world, get hit by a deep and inexplicable sadness.

This weekend, in that same Wanaka, was held the Perfect Woman election. With those bra’s at the back of my mind I got a certain image about that election, but … it was quite different from what I thought. The winning woman must be able to overturn (put in shaving position) a sheep. She must be able to ram a solid fence post in the ground. She must be able to put on snow chains on the wheels. And she must be able to open a beer bottle without an opener and without glass breakage.

Suddenly this all reminded me of something people in my homeland the Netherlands whisper about in the heat of the summer: “Hey pssst, there is a boobs weight going on in Egmond!”

winning tits

The tug-of-war done by this lady to move a tree trunk, was done in our own town. Haha yes, tough citizens, aren’t they?

No one exactly knew where it was held. That was a secret. But on the stealthy examining glances of the true fans you could see which Dutch virgins this year probably had bloomed enough in order to participate.
I’ve always wondered how those tits were weighed. Later I found out. No, I do not unveil HOW I found out, haha … but I can tell the participants just swing one tit in a bowl filled to the rim with beer. The bowl with the least remaining beer, was the one of the winning tit.
Ha no … forget it, there no link or picture available on Google. Some folkloristic habits are too serious to throw on the world-wide web.




Dickhead

21 September 2007

Do you remember, four months ago? When we were hit by 1 man, 5 sheep and 1 horse?
The damage to our car was valued on $ 2200 dollar.
We thought that the culprit should be caught by the police, but investigation via our own insurance was progressed much faster.
The address of the tenant of the horse trailer was found, and the perpetrator was asked to come over to court. After many fruitless phone calls and letters from the police and the insurance, we didn’t expect him to show up.
However, in the courthouse a guy in the waiting room was trying to make himself as broad as possible and looking as angry as possible. That must be him.

Frank had made drawings of the traffic situation and photographs of the damage.
The sheep guy grunted a few times that ‘he didn’t notice anything’. And that he ‘never had heard of Mister Winnips’. Wow … that were a couple of sharp arguments, isn’t it?
His reply was that (in despite his claim that he didn’t notice anything) he had waited at the Shell station for 45 minutes, where we could ‘work things out’ …
Changing our tires was done within 20 minutes and I swear on my mother grave that we have looked around very closely to a truck with 5 sheep and a double horse trailer. It’s impossible to miss such a remarkable caravan in the strong spotlights of the Shell station, in the furthermore silent evening.
Anyway, this desperate ‘attack’ didn’t need a reply. It was clear to the judge. The sheep guy had to transfer the money within 3 weeks to us.

When we left the court building we walked about 50 meters behind the sheep guy. He straight headed to our parked car and walked around it. Probably to scare the car. Or maybe to piss on it.

If he had walked to our car 4 months earlier … he was done with 200 bucks cash. No police needed. Because we don’t care about some pieces of plastic fender. And we love sheep.
But now, he has to bleed.

 

Here I’m unboxing art calendars. Whitcoulls bookshops in New Zealand is selling them.
Two of my paintings are used.




Fear and pride

19 July 2007

In the meanwhile, we have been to the marae 6 or 7 times, without me blogging about it every single time. When a new lesson in marae protocol was announced, Gina phoned us to ask whether we want to participate again. We play public. In exchange for food.

After 4 or 5 times, I thought it would be nice to truant, but because Frank always picks up the phone and without exception says yes to everything, my unwilling movements didn’t make any sense.
He draws his sorry face  photo kweetniet_zpshfnjdtqq.gif and shrugs. Sometimes I think I see an evil glint in his eyes.

A few visits ago (could be around that same 4th or 5th time) Gina began to proclaim that Frank too should do a speech next time. That didn’t happen, so we began to believe it was just a joke.
But today -in contrast to the previous times- we suddenly were recalled to the marae again after finishing lunch in the dining area. Gina’s students also came back from the dining area and obediently sat down on mattresses against the walls of the marae.
In a few words each of the students had to tell what his thoughts were about the last lesson. Preferably in Maori (a lot of Maori people don’t speak Maori), but English was okay too. Gina was sitting between us and suddenly began wildly whispering to Frank. She gave him possibilities of what he could say soon …
Now Frank was already somewhat prepared, so he let it come over him.

fear pride

That brave man over there … has a very childish spouse.

For Maori not only their ancestors are very important, but also their mountain, their lake and the marae where they live closest to. So Frank stood up and told that he was the Pakeha from Holland and was born in Heiloo (a Dutch village) near the Puke Ngeru (the cat-mountain of 10 meters high) and near Roto Hukupapa (the IJsselmeer, lake) and the Ma Whare Karakia (the little white church). And that he was in this marae to learn something about the Maori culture. His translations were a kind of self-taught.

Isn’t that great?! How brave! I was proud on him.

While assenting applause, Gina started pushing me.

WHAT???

ME???

NO …

All previous times I never was threatened with the request for “public speaking” and so I was not prepared! Since the compulsory lecture in elementary school at the age of 10 years old, I had decided I would never speak in public again. The lecture was the first low point in my childhood, and I swore I would never grant such a request for the rest of my life. I also never did the opening speeches at my art gallery, 25 years later.
The compulsory lecture in elementary school in itself was a sufficient reason to not reincarnate after this life.
Now you got the feel for my aversion and fear. By the way: I read this is the # 1 fear to most people. Even more scary than death itself.

Together with my most adorable smile I tried to radiate a NO as much as possible. And I hardly could distract my eyes from the side door, which behind I knew our car was parked. The getaway car. I put my attitude to unyielding and made subtle, but hopefully scary looking movements with the muscles in my jaw (you know, that are so typical for serial killers and psychopaths). Happily that worked. Gina ran to Frank on stage and together they did a little impromptu Dutch wooden-shoe-dance. On a completely unknown tulips song.

I still was proud mixed with fear and relieve.

Poooooh … thanks Lord, for left alone the rest of the time. But hey Lord, next time be a bit quicker with your intervention.




Shiver

4 June 2007

Six months ago we fed the neighbor’s grey cat and his dog for the first time, because the neighbour went on a business trip. That happened quite regularly since then. The next times we took his dog to the beach or for a little walk around, because we thought the dog would be bored during the days with no living soul around.

A few months later our deck became the dog’s place during daytime. And the little walk after dinner became an evening ritual.
By now we had created a sort of hut of old pillows and had put a sun bed on its side, so the dog could hide against the wind. I didn’t want a dog in the house. They stink. And this white one was losing hair all over. And a little fact; it wasn’t my dog. Every time we returned from our evening walk, she jumped over the fence back into the neighbour’s home.

Autumn arrived and the temperatures dropped. The neighbour’s door wasn’t permanently open anymore. After a few times waiting outside in the neighbour’s muddy garden in the dark evening, the dog gave up making the effort and stayed over in her hut on our balcony.
A couple of times we suggested the neighbour to call his dog before he went to bed. What he was trying to remember reasonably obedient for a several times. But probably slowly the neighbour got used to the fact he actually has no dog around anymore. The only thing he still did was opening a tin of dog food daily. And once in a while he still phones us and requested for our care if he needed to go out-of-town for a few days.

One day our cat Pini was attacked by the white cat from the other neighbours. Dog Pebbles intervened and the white cat got chased to the other side of the village.
Not long after that incident we came home one cold night and from the outside of the house we saw that the white cat has penetrated our cat flap and was eating Pini’s food. Pebbles, who was still outside with us, almost fainted of utterly frustration. The cat did not dare to come out through the cat flap and Pebbles did not fit through the cat flap. But above all Pebbles knew she was not being allowed in the house.
shiverBecause her loyalty to Pini, her obedience to my law and because of the constant shivering (even in her deep sleep) and especially because Pini apparently stoically endured the presence of a dog, I caved … and let Pebbles inside the house that night.

Well-considered of course this means there is hardly a point of return to an unofficial adoption.
Suddenly there is a dog basket on our shopping list and yesterday I bathed her. Because dogs still stink.




Hit and run

27 May 2007

Last night on the road we were cut in by a small truck with five sheep in the back. The truck was also towing a trailer containing a horse.
The driver pushed us against the concrete median strip what caused us a punctured tire and we had to stop. It looked like the guy would stop too, because the last few meters he drove very slowly in front of us on the parking lane. But … he remained driving very slowly, long after we were stopped already. He kept going and going. We honked all the time and did light signals.

About 200 meters further on he finally stopped and we saw someone stepped out … he walked around his own car … and then … quickly get back into the car and went!!!
We were unable to follow him.
Fortunately I had written the license plate number of the horse trailer on my hand.
Our front tire was torn, the rim of the rear tire was distorted and the fender was pulled out.

After Frank had installed the spare tire we went to the police station. I wonder if they can identify that asshole.
If this guy had stopped decently and paid us for the tire, then we would have closed the deal, because the damage of the rim and fender was just cosmetic. But now -if they have traced him- we will claim the tire, the rim, the fender and an alignment.

hit runhit runOn the police station they found out the horse trailer was owned by a rental company in Gisborne and now they will search further for the name of the hirer. Well, whatever. I would say; drag him out of his house and start to torture him.
But probably they don’t do such things here.




Gina explains Maori

23 May 2007

If a Maori looks at you, he primarily sees the representative of a long chain of ancestors who are standing behind you. When Gina said that to me I was thinking of that old school video clip of Michael Jackson, where he is followed by a long snake of figurines of himself. Do you remember this one?
Maori are very conscious of the fact that they could not exist without their parents. This is constantly emphasized during the marae ceremonies. These are not really comparable with the ceremonies in a church. From the view of an outsider the ceremonies in a marae looks less strict and formal. More friendly and merry. For example; if it’s a cold outside everyone will enjoy sitting inside at the marae against the walls on mattresses and in the middle is done what should be done. And please not too long because afterwards there’s provided a nice lunch.

Gina explains maori

Marae and mini church together

A Maori has no problem to win a pakeha as spouse or get married ‘in a white family’. It is not seen an increase or decrease of status, like in a lot of other countries. In previous centuries the Maoris were interested in marrying foreigners to bring overseas knowledge in their tribe. But nowadays that advantage is elaborated. Being the white member of the marriage there is no need to adapt a new religion or break with your family, like also is obliged at some religions. Even better: they are pleased to build a tiny mini church beside the marae, if you feel the need to do your own ceremonies.

And then; how blond the offsprings may be, as long as there exists a Maori blood line the child is linked to Maori ancestors. Exactly the same as a “real” Maori child. Blood lines goes beyond skin color. That’s not to say they deny skin color. Certainly not. A person’s race is simply called by name. No politically correctness here, because it is not a term of abuse. You are brown or you’re pink ?! And you have a special hook-nosed? The fact that there is no so-called mitigating term for a person’s race, shows that one party does not feel inferior to the other party. That applies to both sides. Maori are proud of what they are, but being proud doesn’t mean they have anything against the other. This is very hard to explain in the Netherlands. Dutchmen has difficulties to handle the word ‘pride’ if it is used in relation to country or heritage.
At first I thought the word MAORI printed on hats, t-shirts and suspenders was something folkloric, something to sell in the tourist shops, but it is not! Maori’s are wearing it all the time. Can you imagine a white Dutchman in the Netherlands wears a t-shirt with the word “DUTCHMAN” printed on it?
No. In some weird way that’s not done.
At the other hand: Here I cannot explain that in the Netherlands you get frown brows, if you are wearing a patch of the Dutch flag on your clothes. In the Netherlands the word pride (country or heritage related) is too much interpreted as “I’m better than you”.




Happiness

16 April 2007

The Hong Kong gallery couple cancelled the meeting after arriving at the New Zealand airport. They could not fit me into their schedule. I assume that when they are back in Hong Kong, they will email me again to inform me about the next steps.
Before knowing this I had tried to make the house guest-proof. A big spring-cleaning including hand washing a curtain.
The smell of the detergent brought me all the way back to the first weeks in New Zealand when our washing machine was still in the sea container. Those days I had to wash everything by hand and apparently I was pretty happy with that, because the smell memory of today brought me in a kind of serene mood.

happiness

For the same reason I love the smell of the repellent spray against sand flies, because it reminds me of working in the vegetable garden for the first time in my life. The discovering I was able to produce my own veggies had made me happy.
Also the song of the tui (a New Zealand bird that can create the fascinating sound similar to the metal cymbals of a drum set). The first summer he continuously had ‘drummed’ in our garden, but this summer I had rarely heard him. The few times I did hear him, I popped right back to the happy first weeks.
Now I’m wondering … could a person only be happy with retroactive effect? Is it because happiness is made of the same elusive stuff as smells and sounds? I thought in those early NZ days I was not happier than I am at this moment, but maybe I should have to conclude: How happy I am now … I only can smell next year.

The big cleaning was not for nothing, because later that week a family member from the Netherlands came to visit us. It was the son of my grandmother’s sister. We have met 34 years ago.

I’m not sure, but when we shook hands and I automatically turned my face to do the ‘European 3-kiss’ I noticed my uncle shrank for a moment. That’s fair of course. Let’s be honest; the European 3-kiss is quite a stupid habit if you are hardly familiar with the person. I just hope it’s not something worse than my 1 clove of garlic a day 🙂

Half an hour later I wiped a few spikes of hair out of my eyes and suddenly I had a white substance on my hand … Oh fucque! Just before uncle’s arrival I had forgotten to spread out the sunscreen on my skin. I only had squeezed out two round white dabs on my forehead and then hastily picked up the phone to give my uncle directions to find our house.
During that hand shake he must have thought that I had a brutal form of forehead acne. Or I was married twice to an Indian guy, or so.




Wellington

19 March 2007 (New Zealand)

Because all the highlights of New Zealand are located far away from each other, every tiny collection of rusty old things or every better designed garden, immediately is touted as THE centerpiece of the day in the info-guides.
Sometimes these highlights can be somewhat disappointing for tourists who are used to a much higher degree of amusement. However a few go-getting entrepreneurs are trying to brush this up with Bungee jumping and Zorbas to adrenalinazing the face of New Zealand, you better stay away if you just love the polished perfection of Disney World.
Wellington
I love Disney at times, but I also appreciate the New Zealander who tries to make something out of nothing, without being bothered by the expectations of the spoiled tourist. Or even don’t have a fainted idea of what those expectations may be.
Above all New Zealand is famous for its breathtaking scenery, but did you know that nature is also quite boring? Magical and incredibly beautiful, but if you are not susceptible to a lot of shades of green, you won’t survive the boredom. Just like that dreadful Lord of the Rings.
Frankly, I find New Zealand personally a great place to live, but for that fairy tale feeling I more need pictures of the Far East. But you better do not live in a fairy tale, because then where do you have to go on vacation?
Wellington
Together with Frank’s parents we slowly have been driven to Wellington in our car. Wellington is located at the lower tip of the North Island. After 1 week Frank and I went back to Whakatane by plane and the parents booked the ferry to explore the South Island.
But now, what were the highlights of our little trip?

The first stop was the Waitomo Caves, or the glow-worm caves. You can see the glow worms hanging on the slimy ceilings of the caves, while you are sitting in a boat sailing through small waters. Frank and I already had seen them on our first trip in 2003, so we stayed in our hotel and let the parents do the event. That didn’t matter because that morning we had seen the most fantastic stalagmite in the world. A long time ago the concierge of the hotel had created a huge yellow/brown/grayish sculpture of silicone sealant, right in the corner of our bathroom! Over the years it had gotten a glossy patina of mucus and that had attracted a variety of pubic hairs.
I’m sorry I didn’t think to use my camera at that moment of discovering.

Mount Ruapehu is a high snowy volcano. At the foot, in the village of Ohakune they sell skis. There wasn’t much to do, but it was so quiet and peaceful. An atmosphere like in your childhood days on a warm autumn day when you played truant, and there was no one else on the street.
Wellington
In Whanganui something happened to me of what every superficial woman is hoping for … a rival fellow woman recognized me wearing the only piece of designer clothing I own!!! Only sold in New York and Los Angeles (and Tauranga), for the price of a decent used moped. I was proud! I had bought it prior to the first art contest, at the time that I was still confident of winning. Anticipating the series of speeches I should have to do on stage. Haha.
Sad, isn’t it? But the contest attempts aren’t over yet.

Wellington itself was a city like so many other cities. The highlight was the botanical garden with a small fish pond in a greenhouse. I stuck my finger in the pond and left it there for a good ten minutes to let it be kissed by a few dozens of fish. That mentally excited me to such heights, that at night I ordered the second bottle of beer in my life. The first was in 1982.




Marae part 1

3 March 2007

Two weeks ago Frank’s parents arrived at the airport for their second visit to new Zealand. After they had stayed with us for only 1 day, they had to return to the Netherlands because mum’s brother was suddenly deceased.

One week ago we visited a marae. We were the only white people. Our friend Gina is a maori lady and she was keen to show us ‘her’ marae. She had this special date in mind because on that particularly day a group of students would practice an official ritual to welcome foreigners and for their first trial they wanted us playing (being) the foreigners (together with a number of visitors who were Maori descent). “Having scary whites in the audience would make the test-ritual more real”, she said, full of humour as Gina is.

marae

marae

The welcome is accompanied by spoken recitation and singing. We didn’t understand anything of the words because it happened in their own language, but Gina whispered what was said. Such as: “Now the 2 missing guests are mentioned, because they had to bury their brother.”
Gosh, I was impressed that they compassionately included Frank’s parents in their speech …

Maori rituals are not really comparable to those we know from a church. The Maori culture is not strictly a religion, but more a kind of preservation of their history. Through song, stories and dances their knowledge is transferred to the next generation; especially knowledge of their extensive network of origin. Where most nations worship their gods, Maoris worship their ancestors. They have great respect for the chain of generations going back to the time we were able to save our asses with a bat.

MaraeMaraeWith that in mind I suddenly began to worry about their opinion on deliberate childlessness. My ego to interrupt a million years old chain with my own interfere! Maybe they could see it to me. And they will eat me … “As it is not admitted in so many words; there are the people thrown into a cooking pot back then, when New Zealand was still called Aotearoa”, Gina cackled diabolically.

After the boring (not understood spoken) part of about 45 minutes, the hosts stood in queue like as at a reception. The guests had to walk along the line to shake hands or press noses. I think about half of the approximately 30 hosts dared to give me a nose. The purpose of the nose press is that you take in a collective breath.

Then everyone went to a larger building next to the marae. There were long tables with food. Now I clearly could estimate how many people were there. Perhaps 200. Everyone was talking and directly started to eat. Meanwhile, the group of students performed a dance that looked a little less formal. They were not wearing the grass skirts that you see at the tourist Maori feasts.
MaraeMarae part 1The whole event seemed to have no ‘leadership’, but it seemed like a well-oiled machine. After dinner there was a group of ladies in the large kitchen doing the dishes and we’re going to help. Hoping they wouldn’ t throw us in the freezer for the next time. We and the Maori’s made jokes and fun about the common prejudices and they were absolutely not offended.




Loose trifles

13 January 2007

After more than a year living in New Zealand, I have written about most of the things that were remarkable to me, comparing to what I was used to in the Netherlands . There are still a lot of loose trifles that I could not squeeze into a story, but I will mention them below.

Loose trifles

No restraint to publicly disgracing thiefs.

The New Zealand children are super polite! When we walked the neighbour dog and she suddenly began to bark meanly at some oncoming children, they thanked us after we called the dog to order … Without any trace of mockery!

In the Netherlands many people are have a guy who comes monthly to clean the windows. In New Zealand many people have a guy coming monthly for lawn mowing. I never have seen a window cleaner in new Zealand and never have seen a lawn mower company in the Netherlands.

Here on television they are still advertising for Abba and Boney M.

In New Zealand there is much less of a disposable culture. Everything is used to the bone and then fluffed up and recovered. After there is nothing left to recover, it appears on the online auction or at one of the hundreds op shops (opportunity shop). In every little village you find 3 second-hand stores at least.
For example; a television advertisement for refrigerator rubbers is not uncommon. Of course it makes sense because you don’t throw away a fridge if only the rubbers are wore out, but at the same time I think: What has been the road to start a company in fridge rubbers? And apparently earn enough money to pay for a television ad. And why do I never have seen worn out fridge rubbers in the Netherlands?
Talking about rubbers and ads … Usually we quickly press the mute button as soon as the ads are starting. So lately, without sound, we saw a very worrisome advertising; A girl in a floral bikini wiggling on a white beach, along a sparkling sea and graceful sipping on a cocktail. Between scenes, there was a scary wrinkled hand flopping on such a thin rubber white glove. We began to be a little apprehensive about this combination. Not lessen after it abruptly zoomed in to heavy pink cow udders. …
Oh yes, of course! It was an advertisement for milk gloves. And you could win a prize to Haiti if you bought 100 gloves. Hence the bikini.

Because carelessly disposal apparently is not in their nature, I caught TV presenters wearing the same clothes for 3 times!
Ok, they wore them a few weeks apart, but I noticed it anyway!
Or is that just weird of ME? The fact that I noticed?

At this end of the world they shamelessly still sell duvet covers and upholstery with … the Playboy logo on it!
And no, the funky phenomenon ‘camp’ has never arrived here, so that can’t be the reason. They are deadly serious about it.

How to wipe out the front of your store from a bunch of teenagers, in an effective and peaceful way?
Here in our village is an eating place called the “Two Dollar Pie Shop” where during the day teenagers hanging out at the door and occupy the sidewalk. The shopkeepers in the neighborhood complained that their business is declining because passersby are tired of their begging for a dollar. Customers began to avoid that part of the street.
The retailer got an idea to wipe out the infamous hangout; Nowadays on its exterior always blares the same CD of Nana Mouskouri. He can’t hear it inside. It helps. Now the students hastily buy their dough and look elsewhere for shelter.

Here parking attendants put a chalk mark on the wheel of your car to make sure you’re off within the specified time. There are not much places you need to pay parking fee. The only parking restrictions are the signs that says how long you are allowed to occupy the lot. In larger cities, of course there is paid parking if you want to stay longer than 2 hours in the center.
Loose triflesThe photo shows a parking meter in Tauranga (in our Dutch eyes a cross between a large village and a small city). The parking meter is a flat box with small boxes behind a glass screen. On the front you can find the number of your lot, and at the back of the slots you can put in your coins.
So … at the front side you can see if someone already paid for your parking spot that day … (or is it just me?)
Most slots , by the way, look as if they already are violently dishonored.




Gossip

15 December 2006

Our neighbour is out-of-town for a week and he asked us to feed the chickens, the cat and the dog. De dog is allowed to poo in the garden. The garden is already full of chicken droppings, so a bit of dog poo doesn’t make much difference, he said. Poop in the garden is, by the way, the least remarkable thing. Actually the neighbour-garden is a complete dump with some walking paths between all the stuff that’s going on there. At least there are as many as 50 unscrewed household devices, hundreds of parts are gutting in the rain, dozens of wilting cuttings have grown from the hole at the bottom of their pot into the gaps between the tiles and the clothesline is hanging full of partly bleached laundry that doesn’t happily flap anymore, but slowly swings in the wind because it’s stiffened by hanging there in all weathers for months.
Inside the house it looks like there just have been a burglary with violence. Cabinets doors doesn’t close anymore and half their contents were fallen out. Everything that once must have hung on the wall are now sitting against the wall. On the kitchen sink and the stove is made a kind of self-making laboratory. There is no square inch left to even make a sandwich.
gossipThe neighbor is a very friendly guy. Only a bit unstructured. And he knows that about himself.

Because every day we try to move our asses for at least 1 hour (walking to the village or the beach) it seems quite logical to take the neighbour dog with us. We aren’t really ‘dog people’, but we can imagine the dog is probably bored till her bones during these bossless days. We bought a leash (because we didn’t dare to search for it in the house), we brought poo bags with us and a bottle of water and a bowl.
The park on Monday went well. The beach on Tuesday made her manic of happiness. She founds us such nice parents that she started to cry continuously when we locked her up in the neighbour’s house after returning. She kept howling for 6 hours. Then we decided to permanently open up the neighbour’s door at night to silent the dog. She then laid in front of OUR closed front door for the whole night, but at least she was silent.

gossip

The chickens discovered the mirror effect of shiny polished chrome.

Now the chickens probably have laid their eggs behind the neighbour’s couch, but I don’t believe anyone will notice. And that turd the dog dropped in the living room, well … I guess she doesn’t see much difference in tidiness between inside life and outside life.