Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Virtue Vision Voyages Travel Essentials #2

New Zealand has a huge hole in the Ozone above it. The light is extremely intense.

Sunscreen is a must. A good hat, and sunglasses. A raincoat, that rolls up to fit in a small pack. A small pack to carry your great tiny digital camera and refillable, reusable water bottle (make sure its stainless steel!) Some yummy, healthy energy snacks. Lots of karabiners so you can attach all your stuff to your pack.
Yes I know I look like a complete touristy dork, but the sparkly sweater gets me a little style street cred.

Other important and necessary items you can carry in your tiny pack.
A packet of tissues, for bathrooms with no t-paper, (a tip I picked up in Asia),
baby wipes, for the night after camping in a tent with nowhere to wash, (picked up at burning man),
insect repellent, to avoid bites but just in case, tiger balm, to relieve itching, calamine lotion,
and my special mix of lavender and aloe for sunburns
oh and tweezers and nail clippers!!!

The water tastes better now that I have the sticker on the bottle. Thanks to Neysa. And my favourite camera, the elph.

Virtue Vision Voyages Devonport Day out

We went to the North Shore on the ferry to a little harbor village called Devonport. Getting out of the city we recognize what an incredible beautiful and green country this is. The down side is that we are both miserable with hay fever and allergies. Claritin can’t bust our sneezing fits and itchy eyes.
View of Rongitoto volcano from Devenport, in Auckland Harbor.
Jack is here. He is so much fun!!

Devonport is fancy. We watched little kids in their whites play cricket. It reminds me of Brighton, in the south of England. It seems every chance they got, the migrants from UK tried to make their newly colonized home as much like ‘old blighty’ –England- as possible. (See also Australia and parts of South Africa, Carribean, Africa and USA).

Virtue Vision Voyages Food

This was the first store I found around the corner from Annabels in Auckland, selling organic treats and amazing hot chocolate.

This brought back scary moments from my youth in England. Fortunately was never made to eat spam, but we ate plenty of corned beef.

I have managed to stay away from the chocolate, but the jelly 'lollies' I cannot resist.

I’m not sure why but as soon as I entered the country I had this strange urge to eat really bad English food.
They have a lot of it here, and to my detriment I have indulged for the past 4 weeks.

It’s a shame really because they have incredibly fresh green delicious produce, this is a GMO Free country!! And, there’s lots of organic. It’s expensive, and most people in the country grow something of themselves. Most cattle and sheep are pasture fed, so the meat is so DELICIOUS!!! It really tastes like meat.
Meat pies- are everywhere, stodgy old english food..... delicious.

Green lipped mussels are a speciality, they are HUGE, not like the tiny French variety, so be careful when you order them!! they get stuck in your teeth... not speaking from experience, I'm not into shell fish, Jack, had had them.
However, listening to the radio, I’ve learned that they are trying to turn some of their cattle industry into the Mad Cow variety. They have been slowly changing chickens (chucks in kiwi) and pigs to the cruel shed housed, corn and antibiotic fed type, that most Americans are used to eating, and now they want to take the pasture fed cattle into the fold as well….

A typical scene in most of rural New Zealand, the natural bush was cut down to create pastures, this is part of what makes it look a lot like UK too. (And the mountains of Costa Rica, where the Quaker dairy farmers brought the cows in the 50's).

This is how things happen, most people aren’t aware of it, and because they have changed the other animal industries over, the transition for the cows won’t be difficult. I’m interested to see what happens.
I wrote an email to Michael Pollan (author of The Omnivors’ dilemma and In Defense of Food- great books) to see if he would have anything to do with it.
I’ve decided my new years resolution is to be vegetarian for a year.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Virtue Vision Voyages Language

Maori is the name of the people and the language still spoken by some of the original inhabitants of Aotearoa. Maori was not a written language until the Brits arrived. History was oral, with lots of songs and chants; most Maoris can recite their ancestral lineage, which is considered extremely important. NG is pronounced as ‘ing’ and is usually at the beginning of a word, if followed by an a, nga the g is silent. WH is pronounced as an F, as in Whangarei (f aung a rey) and Whakapapa (fac a pa pa). The vowel sounds need to be pronounced correctly too. So, to pronounce Maori more correctly the A has been flattened into an 0, sounding more like- M a ore ri. not Mow ri.

Descendants of the white Europeans are known as Pakehas, refer to themselves as Kiwis.
The Kiwi’s- have a similar way of speaking as Australians, in the same way I think Americans and Canadians have a similar way of speaking.

It’s also all about the way we pronounce our vowels. so far I know for sure that where we would say EEEEEE. as in YES or JET, they sound an I, so they say YISS and JITT . Next is the ‘i’. Fish and chips is famously pronounced ‘Fush and Chups’, and makes the Kiwi accent distinct from the Australian one!!

Virtue Vision Voyages Auckland.

Auckland is nestled in the Northeast of the North Island, and is surrounded by water and other Islands. This is volcanic land, and it’s a green hilly city of lots of parks and trees.
After a visit to the Auckland Museum you will have a general understanding of this fairly new land. The museum is in the Auckland ‘Domain” which is a large city park.

Auckland also has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world,[3] and has seen many people of Asian ethnicity move there in the last two decades. In Māori Auckland's name is Tāmaki-makau-rau, or the transliterated version of Auckland, Ākarana.
We stayed with our friend Annabel Carr in a fancy part of town called Westmere. Her house overlooks a beautiful reserve called Cox Bay, and this is our sunset view.

this is a trendy little shopping 'mall' near Myers Park. On the super hip 'K' road.
full of modern design boutiques and second hand clothing.. but really expensive, funny to see the old british granma wear being rekindled.
but they do it in such a great way.....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Virtue Vision Voyages Art Adventure

Lauren Lysaght is an old friend and nationally acclaimed artist here in NZ. Ihad the great pleasure to assist her at her home and studio in Helensville, northwest of Auckland.
Her dog, Dame Edith Sitwell is a star, I love pugs.

This is the 'Sacred Apron' it's a great honor to be able to wear it. LOVE that badge....And this is a great shot of my beautiful greenstone necklace, its jade from NZ.
She is an amazing cook, so i was well fed in exchange for my hard work. I wish i had an assistant like me!!!

Her partner Janet is extremely well read, and we had a great time discussing the politics of sexuality and race in NZ. Lauren asked "what could be better than being a single mother, lesbian who is disabled?'
I said, "being a black, lesbian, disabled, single mother'.

We talked about the resurgence of the gollywog, (she is a collector of fine New Zealand folk art) and had a few weird black dollies in the guest house where i slept. She decided she was going to make some 'honky gollies' or was it 'honky wogs???'

Virtue Vision Voyages History

Painting by Shane Cotton- "Sweet as eh???"(kiwi expression, similar to 'awesome').

A brilliant Polynesian navigator called Kupe in 950AD discovered Aotearoa. His people are said to have returned there in 1350AD. There were not many mammals; most of the birds were flightless. There were other people living here, the Morioris, or Moa hunters, the Maoris are said to have assimilated them, or killed them off, who knows?

It wasn’t until 1642 that the Europeans started to arrive starting with Abel Tasman. This Dutchman decided to call it New Zeeland after a province in Holland. He didn’t stay long after some of his crew were killed and eaten.

The British explorer, James Cook came again in 1796, sailed around and then claimed the land for the British Empire- the arrogance is stunning!!! Then he headed up to Australia. The first Europeans to arrive were fishermen, sealers and whalers, who promptly decimated the oceans populations, and on land they spread disease and firearms among the local population…sound familiar?

Early European settlers around the world have done the same thing in America, Canada, Australia, Africa, Asia and South America, to name a few….

Friday, December 11, 2009

Virtue Vision Voyages Travel Essentials #1 Good shoes

Good shoes are the basis of a pleasant trip, where ever you decide to go make sure you have one good pair to walk around in. The black shoes are my latest Clark's 'unstructured' they are BRILLIANT. (i grew up wearing Clark's).

The pink fluffy slippers i bought here at 'The WareHouse' (sort of like target in USA.. but even cheaper and worse quality)- A MUST for a girl who feels the cold and is staying in a place with tile floors. I love that they look like cakes, they are very cheap and very warm.

My feet are shown here covered in white paint from two days assisting artist Lauren Lysaght.
The little pumice brush at the top is essential for travel away from home. It has seen better days in Africa....but keeps my feet looking photo worthy, and fits easily into the bathroom bag.

Virtue Vision Voyages. Aotearoa.

I took a trip to the Auckland Museum, an anthropology museum in the Domain, a large park in the center of town.

This is a Weta the heaviest insect in the world. I have seen them, they are BIG.

Charles Frederick Goldie
Goldie's work has been criticised as "racist", and certainly he held the Victorian attitudes he had grown up with that the Māori were a "dying race" and in many ways inferior to Europeans. However, many Māori value his images of their ancestors highly.

The issue of racism is very touchy here, as a woman of colour from the UK, I have some interesting points of view

I'm learning that language has a way of disguising certain forms of racism and sexism. Words like 'half-caste' are still used here in New Zealand, this victorian use of language is commonplace, so it seems normal to refer to mixed race people with this term, when in fact it is quite derogatory.
Growing up in England (the motherland!), I also used the same language, but living in USA have'nt heard it for some time. Hearing it again in NZ made me realize how powerful language can be as a tool to carry subconcious meanings, that endure through time and support a culture of ignorance.

More on this later under the title "golly wogs" and little black sambo.

a wharenui or meeting house (literally "big house")

New Zealand was known to the original tenants (Maori) as Aotearoa, land of the long white cloud- or as I saw recently which made me laugh- Land of the Wrong White Crowd.

New Zealand is beautiful. I’m so inspired when I come here, and the general aesthetic is so different from that of the USA. There is a thriving artist community, and the Arts are important here, with lots of artist residencies, art centers and public exhibition spaces.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Virtue Vision Voyages

This image of a fern growing is so quintessentially Aotearoa/New Zealand for me. The Maori people call it a Koru, and it is a symbol of new life. When I first came here, that's exactly what I began, now I'm back to start another new life.

I took these photos on 'lovers walk' through the Domain, a large park in the middle of Auckland.

I decided to start a travel blog. I'm in New Zealand for the second time in 13 lucky years.
VirtueVisionVoyages will give you an artists point of view, philosophical musings of a curious mind, a social commentary and great places to eat, stay and see. Oh and lots of photos.
Travel opens my mind to so many possibilities. It has been an important catalyst in my life’s journey, I find myself full of bravado fearless and eager to soak up as much as possible.

Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.
Miriam Beard