The Foreign New Zealand XV

26 03 2016

In my previous post I discussed why New Zealand is such a good rugby nation. While doing the research for that post I was able to put together a team of New Zealanders who represent other nations internationally. The team is pretty straight forward, although I had trouble finding a true number 8 and I had to play Tim Nanai-Williams at centre, which is not his preferred position, but I certainly think this team would compete against any nation in the world…except the All Blacks!

Front Row

Mako Vunipola

 Mako

Age

 25

Position

 Loose Head Prop

Place of Birth

 Wellington, New Zealand

International Team

 England

Number of Caps

 32

Dylan Hartley

 Hartley

Age

30

Position

 Hooker

Place of Birth

 Rotorua, New Zealand

International Team

 England

Number of Caps

 71

Census Johnston

Census

Age

 34

Position

 Tight Head Prop

Place of Birth

 Auckland, New Zealand

International Team

 Samoa

Number of Caps

52

Second Row

Dean Mumm

Dean Mumm

Age

 32

Position

 Lock

Place of Birth

 Auckland, New Zealand

International Team

 Australia

Number of Caps

 44

 

Will Skelton

Will Skelton

Age

 23

Position

 Lock

Place of Birth

 Auckland, New Zealand

International Team

 Australia

Number of Caps

 14

Back Row

John Hardie

John Hardie

Age

 27

Position

 Flanker

Place of Birth

 Lumsden, Southland, New Zealand

International Team

 Scotland

Number of Caps

10

 

Michael Broadhurst

Michael Broadhurst

Age

 29

Position

 Flanker

Place of Birth

 Gisborne, Poverty Bay, New Zealand

International Team

 Japan

Number of Caps

 26

Michael Leitch

 Michael Leitch

Age

 27

Position

 Number 8

Place of Birth

 Christchurch, New Zealand

International Team

 Japan

Number of Caps

 47

Backs

Kahn Fotuli’i

 Kahn Fotuali'i

Age

 33

Position

 Scrum Half

Place of Birth

 Auckland, New Zealand

International Team

 Samoa

Number of Caps

28

Quade Cooper

Quade Cooper

Age

 27

Position

 Fly Half

Place of Birth

 Auckland, New Zealand

International Team

 Australia

Number of Caps

 58

Joe Tomane

 Joe Tomane

Age

 26

Position

 Wing

Place of Birth

 Palmerston North, New Zealand

International Team

 Australia

Number of Caps

17

Tim Nanai-Williams

Tim Nanai-Williams

Age

 26

Position

 Centre

Place of Birth

 Auckland, New Zealand

International Team

 Samoa

Number of Caps

 5

Jared Payne

Jared Payne

Age

 30

Position

 Centre

Place of Birth

 Tauranga, New Zealand

International Team

 Ireland

Number of Caps

 14

Sean Maitland

Sean Maitland

Age

 27

Position

 Wing

Place of Birth

Tokoroa, New Zealand

International Team

 Scotland

Number of Caps

 21

Gareth Anscombe

 Gareth Anscombe

Age

 24

Position

 Fullback

Place of Birth

 Auckland, New Zealand

International Team

 Wales

Number of Caps

 6

Reserves Bench

Motu Matu’u

Motu Matu'u

Age

 28

Position

 Hooker

Place of Birth

 Wellington, New Zealand

International Team

 Samoa

Number of Caps

 7

Uini Atonio

Uini ATONIO

Age

 26

Position

 Prop

Place of Birth

 Timaru, New Zealand

International Team

 France

Number of Caps

 15

Nathan White

Nathan White

Age

34

Position

 Prop

Place of Birth

 Hawera, New Zealand

International Team

 Ireland

Number of Caps

 13

Filo Paulo

Filo Paulo

Age

 28

Position

 Lock

Place of Birth

 Wellington, New Zealand

International Team

 Samoa

Number of Caps

 22

Jack Lam

Jack Lam

Age

 28

Position

 Flanker

Place of Birth

 Hamilton, New Zealand

International Team

 Samoa

Number of Caps

 19

Isaac Boss

Isaac Boss

Age

 35

Position

 Scrum Half

Place of Birth

 Tokoroa, New Zealand

International Team

 Ireland

Number of Caps

 23

 

Michael Stanley

 Wasps v Samoa

Age

 26

Position

 Fly Half

Place of Birth

 Auckland, New Zealand

International Team

 Samoa

Number of Caps

 8

 

Karne Hesketh

Karne Hesketh

Age

 30

Position

Wing

Place of Birth

 Napier, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand

International Team

 Japan

Number of Caps

 13




Why is New Zealand so good at Rugby?

26 03 2016

Whenever I mention that I am a New Zealand citizen, I am asked one question much more than others. Why is New Zealand so good at rugby? I have always wondered this myself and I thought now was as good a time as any to delve further into it and attempt to explain once and for all why New Zealand is so good at rugby.

New Zealand has a long history of success in rugby. Dating back to the early 1900s when the sport was truly for amateurs the All Blacks have reigned supreme on the international rugby scene. The first All Blacks team to tour Britain, known as the Originals, won 31 of their 32 matches. Throughout the twentieth century New Zealand continued their dominance, and as the game has moved into the professional era the tiny little country of New Zealand continues to be the best team in the world.

New Zealand is a country of 4.4 million people. For them to be so dominant at anything is quite a feat.  But to be dominate at one of the most globally played sports in the word is incredible.  The purpose of this blog post is to figure out how New Zealand has come to dominate the sport and why they continue to do so. To do this however, the first thing we must do is debunk a couple of myths that are often referred to by non-Kiwi’s when discussing New Zealand’s rugby superiority.

The first, and most common, myth is that the Kiwi’s import players from the Pacific Islands and therefore their selection pool is actually much greater than it first appears. Throughout their existence, the All Blacks have had 1146 players don the black jersey. 86 of them have been born outside of New Zealand. When you compare that to the current England rugby team, the winners of the Rugby World Cup fifth place playoff Six Nations, it is miniscule. The current English team has 8 players out of the wider training squad of 40 that were born outside of the UK, including 2 born in New Zealand. They also have an Australian coach.

While the All Blacks made up almost exclusively of players born in New Zealand, so to are other teams. Samoa recruit many players who were born in New Zealand, but have Samoan heritage. Tonga and Fiji have done this in the past as well. At the 2015 Rugby World Cup New Zealand had more players playing for other nations than it did for the All Blacks.

The second myth is that New Zealand is a one sport nation, and they ‘put all their eggs in one basket’ when it comes to rugby. While rugby is certainly the most popular sport in New Zealand, the nation does remarkably well in other sports given the small population. New Zealand is the home of Lydia Ko, the top female golfer in the world, and many of the Kiwi sports teams have had success. The New Zealand cricket team made it to the final of the One Day International World Cup in 2015 and both the men’s and women’s teams are currently undefeated at the Twenty 20 World Cup, being played in India. At the 2012 Summer Olympics New Zealand won 13 medals, including six golds. When you break that down per capita, New Zealand placed fourth on the medal table. Rowers, such as Mahe Drysdale, led the way at the Olympics and New Zealand continue to be a very strong rowing nation. New Zealand is also very competitive in the America’s Cup and has had plenty of recent success in Rugby league, winning the 2008 World Cup and coming second in 2013. Even the All Whites, the national football team have qualified for a World Cup.

New Zealand is far from a one sport nation and certainly punches above its weight in several sports. Rugby does lead the way however. Both the All Blacks and the Black Ferns sit atop the world rankings and this is a point of pride amongst all New Zealanders.  Rugby is the backbone of all Kiwi sport and the nations international teams are close cousins of the All Blacks, as you can see by their nicknames.

Sport

Mens

Womens

Aussie Rules Football

Falcons

N/A

Basketball

Tall Blacks

Tall Ferns

Bowls

Blackjacks

Cricket

Blackcaps

Blackferns

Gridiron

Iron Blacks

N/A

Football

All White

Football Ferns

Hockey

Blacksticks

Ice Hockey

Ice Blacks

Ice Fernz

Netball

N/A

Silver Ferns

Rugby League

Kiwis

Kiwi Ferns

Rugby Union

All Blacks

Black Ferns

Wheelchair Rugby

Wheel Blacks

Softball

Black Sox

White Sox

Surf Lifesaving

Blackfins

The question I posed above however is not why are the All Blacks so good at rugby, it is why is New Zealand so good at rugby? To answer that properly we have to begin at the grassroots level and work our way up.The simple answer to why New Zealand are so good at rugby is that it is ingrained in the culture. Winning is an expectation, and anything less is not considered good enough.

When the All Blacks lost in the 2007 Rugby World Cup quarter final to France there was a national enquiry. Granted, some of that was debating whether or not Wayne Barnes should ever be allowed to referee again, but for the most part it focussed on what was wrong with New Zealand rugby. Since that defeat they have not lost a match at the Rugby World Cup and have become the first ever repeat winners of the tournament.

From a very young age New Zealanders are involved in rugby. Rugby programmes for young kids are very common throughout the cities and schools encourage learning the laws of the game and playing touch rugby from the time students enter primary school. As pupils get older the rugby becomes much more competitive. Tackling is taught to pupils at a young age and therefore the techniques are learned when children are smaller. The recent English debate of banning tackling in youth rugby led to some laughs in New Zealand!

The way the game is taught to the youth in New Zealand is unique as well. The players are taught the skills of the game, rather than specific tactics and are just left to enjoy the games. In the summer all players are encouraged to play touch rugby as a way of improving their skill and this has contributed to the development of talent throughout the country.

As pupils move onto secondary school the rugby becomes very competitive. Families who have promising rugby players have been known to move houses into catchment areas for the big rugby schools in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch. The secondary school rugby culture leads to many supporters coming out to matches as the quality of rugby is usually of a very high standard.

Following high school there is ample opportunity to continue playing rugby regardless of level. There are endless club teams in New Zealand and at the Division 1 level the rugby is of outstanding quality. The game is promoted properly.  For example, there is always a featured club ‘game of the week’ played at Rugby Park in Christchurch which draws a significant crowd. It is this structure that has allowed New Zealand to have success at the U20 level

The club structure of the New Zealand Rugby Union

New Zealand All Blacks

Blues

Chiefs

Crusaders

Highlanders

Hurricanes

Auckland

North Harbour

Northland

Bay of Plenty

Counties Manukau

Kings County

Thames Valley

Waikato

Buller

Canterbury

Mid-Canterbury

South Canterbury

Tasman

West Coast

North Otago

Otago

Southland

East Coast

Poverty Bay

Hawke’s Bay

Wanganui Manawatu

Wairarapa-Bush

Horowhenua-Kapita

Wellington

The club structure of the Canterbury Rugby Union

Canterbury Rugby Union

Ellesmere

North Canterbury

Metropolitan (Christchurch)

Banks Peninsula RFC

Burnham RFC

Darfield RFC

Diamond Harbour RFC

Dunsandel/Irwell RFC

Kirwee RFC

Leeston RFC

Lincoln RFC

Prebbleton RFC

Rolleston RFC

Selwyn RFC

Sheffield RFC

Southbridge RFC

Springston RFC

Waihora RFC

West Melton RFC

Hanmer Springs RFC

Amberley RFC

Ashley RFC

Cheviot RFC

Culverden RFC

Glenmark RFC

Kaiapoi RFC

Hurunui RFC

Ohoka RFC

Oxford RFC

Saracens RFC

United RFC

Waiau RFC

Woodend RFC

Belfast RFC

Burnside RFC

Christchurch FC

High School Old Boys RFC

Hornby RFC

Linwood RFC

Lyttelton RFC

Marist Albion RFC

Lincoln University RFC

Merivale RFC

New Brighton RFC

Otautahi RFC

Parklands RFC

Shirley RFC

Suburbs RFC

Sumner RFC

Sydenham RFC

University RFC

The structure of the New Zealand club rugby system goes a long way in keeping the purity of rugby and keeping the All Black players hungry and humble. In most professional sports the players are signed to a contract for their professional team and are only exposed to that environment. What this does is create a cocoon effect amongst the players. In New Zealand, in order to play for a Super Rugby side (Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders or Hurricanes), you must be registered with a club team in region of the side you wish to play for. This ensures that players are out in the community and are getting back to their roots on a regular basis. When players are recovering from injury, or dropped from their representative team, they are expected to suit up for their club team and play games with players who are little more than ‘weekend warriors’. The easiest way to explain this is to tell you about my experience as a rugby player in 2008.

I registered to play for the University RFC, who have teams in both Division 1 and Division 2 of the Christchurch league. At the club we would train regularly with Crusaders Andy Ellis, Stephen Brett, Ti’i Paulo, and Kieran Read. Although these four were not always required to be at training or club events, they would show up regularly because they felt an attachment to the club. The four even played games with us when the Crusaders had bye weeks, or if they were recovering from an injury. Joining a rugby club is a unique experience and the players enjoyed coming back. This is part of what keeps the professional rugby players grounded when compared to European football players or athletes in many of the ‘big’ North American sports.

The overwhelming enrolment in rugby has led to New Zealand having incredible depth at the top level. Over the years they have been able to replace the likes of Josh Kronfeld with Richie McCaw, Andrew Mehrtens with Dan Carter and Tana Umaga with Ma’a Nonu. The development of talent is like no other nation and the players seem to be able to replace one another without skipping a beat. What other nation could win a World Cup final with their fourth choice fly half as the All Blacks did with Stephen Donald in 2011? This talent is a result of the love for the game New Zealanders have and how hard the athletes work to succeed, but it also has to do with the quality of coaching in New Zealand.

While most secondary schools would be thrilled just to have anyone coach their rugby team, New Zealand is very different. When I initially decided to move to New Zealand I applied for a coaching position at a local school. I did not get the job, as they decided the appropriate person was former All Black captain Reuben Thorne. This example shows just how seriously Kiwis take their rugby, and even at the youth level they deem it important to have top level coaches teaching the game. While New Zealand is known for producing rugby players, it has also produced a number of high quality coaches that now lead international teams around the world. Three of the four international teams in the United Kingdom are coached by Kiwi’s, as were the last edition of the British and Irish Lions.

So what is it that makes New Zealand so good at rugby? Is it the culture? The passion? The coaching? The depth? The grassroots? Or the structure of the club rugby? I would argue that it is all of the above. New Zealand as a nation is extremely proud of their rugby culture and is serious about every aspect of it. Until other nations match New Zealand’s investment and dedication towards rugby the ‘little guys‘ will continue to be on top. 

Check out my foreign New Zealand XV here





The New Zealand Flag Debate

19 03 2016

For several years there has been an ongoing debate in New Zealand about whether or not to change the flag.  This debate has intensified in the last few weeks as there is currently a referendum being held on whether or not the Kiwi flag should be changed.  Throughout this post I will talk about each side of the flag debate and discuss how the issue has engulfed the nation.

The flag debate really caught fire when Prime Minister John Key was re-elected to office in September 2014.  Key felt the time was right to discuss changing the flag and is a staunch supporter of the change.  The government asked for submissions to be made by the public, leading to some interesting possibilities. It also led to the first of comedian John Oliver’s thoughts on the New Zealand flag debate (warning: NSFW).   In all,  10,292 submissions were submitted to the government.

Bad Flag Designs

Some of the rejected flag designs

The government initially cut this down to a long list of 40 flags, which led to a lot of public debate. It also led to the second of John Oliver’s rants on the subject.

Longlist.jpg

The long list of 40 flags

This list was whittled down to five flags and the first referendum was held in May/June 2015:

Six Possible Flags

The five shortlisted flag and the current flag

After the first referendum the flag in the top right corner of the above photo was chosen to run against the current New Zealand flag.  This is when the true debate really began to heat up.

The case for keeping the current flag:

Current Flag

The current New Zealand flag

The current version of the New Zealand flag was adopted in 1902 and has ‘stood the test of time’.  It is the flag that Kiwi soldiers fought under in both World War I and World War II and is a very important part of New Zealand’s history.  The flag is representative of New Zealand’s connection with the British Empire and the southern cross represents their geographical location in the south Pacific.  The government has already spent $26 million of taxpayer’s money on these referendums and to actually change the flag would cost even more.   The new flag does not acknowledge the colonial history of New Zealand and looks more like a beach towel than a flag.  The new flag also has bad feng shui, which could lead to bad luck for New Zealanders. If there were to be a new flag, the emblem should be symmetrical so that the flag could fly in any direction.

The case for changing the flag:

New Flag

The proposed New Zealand flag

The current version of the New Zealand flag makes the country look like a four star British hotel.  It is an outdated flag that focuses too much on New Zealand’s colonial past rather than presenting New Zealand as an independent, sovereign nation.  While the current flag does acknowledge the British history of New Zealand it fails to acknowledge the Maori heritage or the heritage of other ethnic groups throughout the nation.  Changing the flag would help create a new identity in New Zealand and would allow New Zealanders to fly a flag they felt was unique to them. The addition of the silver fern on the flag represents the grit, guts, and genius of New Zealand while still acknowledging the past.   The silver fern was the predominant badge of the army in World War I and was the official insignia in World War II.

The final referendum is currently ongoing and the results will be announced on 24th March.

The flag debate is a frequently discussed topic these days and many celebrities have made their feelings known. All Blacks, Richie McCaw and Dan Carter have come out in support of the new flag, while actor Sam Neill, talk show host Paul Henry, and the mother of the musician Lorde have come out in favour of keeping the current flag.  John Oliver, on the other hand, has a totally different idea for the new flag (warning NSFW). Oliver isn’t the only international attention the flag debate has given New Zealand as it was recently mentioned on the Big Bang Theory.

Regardless of the result of the referendum one thing the flag debate has done is create an increased sense of patriotism in New Zealand.  These days it is very common to see both flags flying on buildings, while many people have shown support for their flag by buying car flags or flags for their houses.

The idea of a commonwealth country changing its flag is not a new one by any means.  Several other commonwealth nations have done the same throughout the Twentieth Century.  I feel that the changing of the New Zealand flag is inevitable, although it may not happen this time around.

flagscommonwealth

Changing flags of the Commonwealth nations

I would be interested to learn your opinion on the flag debate.  If you are so inclined, please post a comment on whether or not you think New Zealand should change their flag, or vote on my twitter poll – linked below (click on the date).

 

 





Christchurch – A City of the Future

16 03 2016

The city of Christchurch, or Ōtautahi as it is known in Maori, has always been an important one in my life. My mother was born in Christchurch and growing up I made several trips down here to visit family. It is where my parents got married, where my sister and many other family members currently live, and it is the birthplace of my niece. In 2008 I lived here for a year to attend the University of Canterbury and it was a visit I will never forget. It was the last time I saw Christchurch the way I had always known it, and it was the last time I saw the city I considered my second home. When I returned for Christmas in December 2014 (and even more so this time) I had to relearn the city, as things have dramatically changed since 2008. Coming back here to live has been strange, as the familiarity is not what it used to be.

Affectionately known as the ‘Garden City’, Christchurch was known for its gentle undulating topography and its resemblance of the the United Kingdom. While elements of this still exist, it is now known for something totally different.

Christchurch was hit by significant earthquakes on 4th September 2010, and again on 22nd February 2011. These dates will forever live in infamy. The second major earthquake caused the death of 185 people, injuring many more, and left a substantial portion of the population with damage to their homes and emotional scars. I was fortunate to not be in Christchurch at the time, but I remember the day vividly as I have several family members here, some of who were severely affected by the earthquakes.

When I arrived in Christchurch in December 2014 I got my first look at the city since the devastation of the earthquakes and was blown away at how damaged it was. I was told by my family that this was nothing in comparison to the damage there was immediately after the earthquakes and that is when it truly hit me just how widespread the devastation was. The central business district was unrecognizable from 2008 and there were several areas of the city abandoned because living there was deemed too risky. What stuck out the most for me in that two week visit however, was the attitude of the locals. There was no sense of a population that felt sorry for themselves. Instead there was a renewed commitment to building the city and making it even better than it had been before. The silver lining in all of this, is that Christchurch now has the opportunity to ‘start again’ and it is on its way to becoming a very modern city.

There is a Maori saying that became very prominent in Christchurch after the earthquakes. ‘Kia Kaha’ means to stay strong, and that saying really sums up the people of Christchurch through the last five and a half years. In some ways it would have been easy for people to leave the city, to have a fresh start elsewhere, but many stayed and helped with the rebuild. The number of people in the city stayed the same following the earthquake, and together they made it a mission to rebuild. It is not a quick process, as the project is a massive undertaking, but it has made significant strides in the last few years.

The opportunity to reconstruct a city is not one that comes around too often and there was a debate amongst the locals in Christchurch as to how this should proceed. Many looked to Kobe, Japan (which had been devastated by an earthquake in 1995) as an example of how to rebuild the city. Dr. David Edgington, one of my father’s colleagues at the University of British Columbia, has spent years researching this topic.  Edgington, among others, called for ‘public involvement’ and ‘transparency’ from the government throughout the process. This led to town hall meetings and several public debates as to how things should proceed. One of the more controversial arguments was from another family friend, Dr. Katie Pickles, who suggested the earthquakes sped up the decolonization of Christchurch and the city was best off creating a new history, rather than revisiting its colonial past. Pickles’ ideas were strongly opposed by many in Christchurch as many wanted to restore the history and to rebuild landmarks, such as the Anglican Cathedral in the city centre.

Transitional Cathedral

The Transitional “Cardboard” Cathedral

Christchurch recently acknowledged the five year anniversary of the February earthquake. Although there is still plenty of work to do, the city has come a long way in those five years, and is growing very quickly. There are several projects in the central business district that are close to completion and there are parts of Christchurch that are as beautiful, if not more beautiful, than they were before. This is a slow process however and that can’t be forgotten. Many people are still waiting for homes to be rebuilt and there are areas of the city (primarily located next to the Avon River) that have been red flagged for residential use. This has led to the residents of these areas having to relocate.

Red Zone

A map of the ‘red zone’ areas in Christchurch

Although there has not been anything close to the magnitude of the 2011 earthquake, there are still frequent earthquakes in Christchurch. On Valentine’s Day of this year, less than a week after I arrived, there was an earthquake registering 5.7 and weekly there are numerous earthquakes registering 2.0 and above . The people of Christchurch have learned to live with these for the most part – much of the talk following an earthquake these days centres around insurance claims – but the thought of another ‘big one’ hitting certainly is never too far from minds.

The next few years will be interesting ones in Christchurch and I look forward to being able to update you further on the rebuild and the continued growth of the city. It was heartbreaking to see the city suffer such a fate, but the attitude of people in the city and the Kiwi drive and determination to rebuild it has been great to see!

Timeline

A timeline on the major projects in Christchurch – many of these projects have already been significantly delayed

**Throughout this blog I have linked to several websites on Christchurch and the rebuild. If you’d like to read more about this topic please click on these.





The Land Down Under

11 03 2016

When I moved to London, almost five years ago, I started this blog in order to document my experiences. Unfortunately, I let this fizzle out after a year of living there. Now that I am onto the next adventure in my life, I felt this was the perfect time to reinvigorate this blog and to get back to writing about my experiences. It has been three months of transition for me, but now that I am finally settled into my life in the land down under, I thought this would be a good time to update you all on my last few months.

Last autumn I made the decision to leave London after four and a half incredible years. It was not an easy decision, but I felt the time was right to move onto the next chapter. I informed my bosses of my decision in September, and by Christmas I was gone; but it wasn’t quite that simple. Leaving London was one of the hardest things I have ever done and it will always hold a very special place in my heart. I met some incredible people throughout my time there and had some amazing experiences. My last week in London was an unbelievable roller coaster of emotions and by the time it came to boarding the plane back to Vancouver I wasn’t sure I was making the right decision. Looking back on things, I do feel it was time for me to move on, but I know that I will certainly return one day.

When I returned to Vancouver I was still in a state of shock about leaving London. I was debating internally whether or not it was the correct decision and was absolutely terrified about what lay ahead. What made it easier for me was being back in Canada and having a strong support system at home. My parents were great in encouraging me to look forward to my new adventures, and seeing my oldest friends in Vancouver is always special. My biggest worry when I leave Vancouver is that things won’t be the same when I return, but every time I go back there it feels like I have never left.

While in Vancouver I got the opportunity to go away for a couple of weekends. The first was a weekend with a few friends at a remote cabin on Gambier Island. It was the perfect spot to get away for a few days and to catch up with friends. It also reminded me of just how beautiful the west coast of Canada is! The second weekend away involved perhaps the most stereotypically Canadian day imaginable. It began with a day of skiing on Whistler Blackcomb, was followed by a hockey game (Ice hockey for anyone who might be confused!) on the frozen Alta Lake, and ended with a campfire on the lake. For years I have watched with envy as my friends have posted pictures of themselves on Facebook playing hockey on the lake and was very excited to finally get the opportunity!

IMG_2021

Gambier Island on New Year’s Day

IMG_2015

A Sea Lion in the distance

IMG_2089

Hockey Card on Alta Lake

IMG_1978

Kits Point on a sunny day

IMG_2148

UBC vs UVIC in their annual match

IMG_2117

Vancouver Canucks vs Florida Panthers

The trip to Vancouver was an excellent way to rejuvenate myself for the next adventure and to gear up for the next challenge. I think if I had come to New Zealand immediately following London it would have been extremely hard to get motivated but, with a renewed enthusiasm from my trip, by the end of January I was ready to get started. The programme didn’t start for almost another month however, and New Zealand is a long ways away; so I went to Hawaii for a week before moving to the Southern Hemisphere.

Mum and Dad had booked a trip to Kaua’i and graciously invited me along to stay with them. It was a fantastic week filled with snorkelling and body boarding as well as a fair amount of sightseeing. Dad also managed to look up his cousins, who live on the island, and we met up with them for dinner. One of Dad’s cousins, Claudette, happened to be married to the former state senator of Hawaii, which led to a very interesting political discussion, as it happened to be the eve of the Iowa primaries. My last day in Kaua’i was spent with colleagues of Dad, who were also vacationing on the island. It was another day of snorkelling and relaxing before I embarked on the long journey towards New Zealand.

IMG_2166

The view from our apartment in Kaua’i

3b3b5867a37ec966b40379174ea91799

Poipu Beach, Kaua’i

IMG_2190

The Beach by our apartment

IMG_2168

Paradise!

Family

Family gathering with South African cousins

I arrived in Christchurch on the 9th February, which happened to be my 32nd birthday. It certainly will rank up there in terms of memorable birthdays as I got the opportunity to meet my niece, Olivia, for the very first time! Louise and Andrew were fantastic; ensuring I had a good birthday, and have been tremendous with helping me settle back into my New Zealand life.

One of the perks of moving to the Southern Hemisphere in February is that it instantly becomes summer. It was the perfect time to arrive in Christchurch as I got to embrace the Kiwi lifestyle very quickly. I have spent a few days at the beach so far and have been making the most of living very close to Hagley Park.

IMG_2396

At the top of Rapaki Track

IMG_2393

Sumner on a beautiful day!

It has been a major adjustment the last few months, and to be honest, I am still getting used to it. Going from working in such a positive environment in London to being a postgraduate student working almost exclusively independently has not been easy, but it is something I am quickly getting used to. I am enjoying the chance to read about education and to challenge myself academically again, but I am missing the interaction with the pupils and colleagues. It was also initially difficult going back to the College of Education at the University of Canterbury as it felt like groundhog day (I spent a year there in 2008 completing my teaching qualification). I still have to convince myself occasionally that I am here doing a Masters, not reliving 2008!! I am starting to feel a bit more settled here however and I know from past experiences that it will only get better.

I will try my best to write regularly on various topics, as I need to improve my writing if I want to complete my Masters!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 








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