Tag Archives: Kiwi

Earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand


This was the view of the ChristChurch Cathedral from our hotel window in February 2009. Cathedral Square, which was heavily affected by the February 2011 earthquake, was a center of city activity.

My heart goes out to the wonderful people of Christchurch, New Zealand.  The death and destruction is terrible. I’m sharing in this post some of my photographs of this beautiful city and its residents from a visit there in early February 2009. At the bottom is a link to the Red Cross in New Zealand, originally posted by Greg Royal, known online as Kiwi Bloke.

I’ve posted a link below to another traveller’s blog post showing the beautiful ChristChurch Cathedral interior.

A 6.3 magnitude quake struck Christchurch, New Zealand, just before 1 p.m. local time on February 22, 2011.   Earthquakes often rattle New Zealand, but this earthquake was shallow and close to the city, which is New Zealand’s second largest city and the largest on the south island.  The February 22nd earthquake was less powerful than a 7.1 quake that struck before dawn on September 4, 2010, that damaged buildings but killed no one.  Experts said Tuesday’s quake was deadlier because it was closer to the city and because more people were in the high-rise buildings.

According to the New York Times of February 24, 2011:  “The bodies of at least 113 people, including two infants, have been recovered from a number of heavily damaged buildings since the 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck central Christchurch in the early afternoon on Tuesday. Most of the victims have not yet been formally identified, but they were thought to include many of the 228 people still listed as missing, but feared dead.”

New Zealand is at the southwestern tip of the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area where large numbers of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. The eastern part of the ring runs along the west coast of North America, Central America and South America.  A friend was in Lima, Peru, during a devastating earthquake in that country in August 2007 that killed hundreds of people.  His home in Peru at the time was in Ica, which took the brunt of the earthquake. When he was finally able to return to his home in Ica,  he learned that a huge chunk of concrete had fallen on the pillow on his bed.

This photograph shows the damage to the Christchurch Cathedral on February 23, 2011. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Mark Mitchell)

New Zealand is a beautiful country with magnificent scenery, including alpine-like mountain peaks that were created from the earthquakes and volcanic activity resulting when the Pacific and Indo-Australian Plates clash. This process continues, which leads to the earthquakes that seem to shake off humans like ants from a giant’s shoulders.  New Zealand’s Alps and other scenery can be seen in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.

It’s hard to find a place on earth that isn’t vulnerable to some kind of impending doom, but some human settlements seem especially vulnerable. When we traveled the South Island of New Zealand in February 2009, guides always mentioned past and possible future earthquake activity. One guide said the country was overdue for a big earthquake, yet  no one there seemed to be ready to flee the country to avoid the inevitable.  As humans, we all have our fingers crossed and usually live in a state of denial.

My husband I recently visited another very seismically active area — the Big Island of Hawaii, which is still being created as lava slowly flows from Kīlauea.  Since 1952, Kīlauea  has erupted 34 times, and since January 1983 eruptive activity has been continuous along the east rift zone.  According to the United States Geological Survey, Kīlauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and may even top the list.  Within the last month, lava flows reached a house and barn, destroying them.  The island is also vulnerable to tsunamis from earthquakes elsewhere and has been hit hard a few times in the past hundred years.  I’ll post my volcano and lava photographs in another post.  We in the U.S. Midwest aren’t immune.  One of the biggest recorded earthquakes in our country was in the St. Louis area.  A link to my post about that is below, called “What a Relief!”

Here are performers in Cathedral Square at the World Buskers Festival in Cathedral Square in Christchurch, New Zealand, in February 2009. The 2011 Festival concluded on January 30 this year. The festival is held every year in cathedral square. With so much earthquake damage in this area, what will happen to the 2012 festival?

In February 2009, the annual World Buskers Festival was held in the square in front of the ChristChurch Cathedral. The area around Cathedral Square, which is the heart of the city, suffered a great deal of damage during the February 2011 earthquake.

The Christchurch Art Gallery in February 2009. I don't know whether it survived the February 2011, but it was very close to the area of great damage.

Christchurch, New Zealand, looks like an English town with its architecture and lovely parks full of flower beds.

A tourist tram makes the rounds in Christchurch, New Zealand, in February 2009.

This bride laughs as she stops her wind-blown veil with her foot. She's on her way to a park in Christchurch to get her photograph taken.

People wait in line to attend a performation at the World Buskers Festival in Christchurch, New Zealand, in February 2009.

Christchurch, New Zealand, is known as the Garden City. This flower bed in a park not far from Cathedral Square shows why.

Red Cross in New Zealand.

About New Zealand.

World Busker Festival.

Kiwi Bloke’s Website is here.

What a Relief! My post about the New Madrid Fault.

Blog post showing interior photos of ChristChurch Cathedral before it was damaged.

Link to a story about Queenstown, New Zealand, I’d saved for a possible blog post.

Below, in February 2009, a bridal couple rested along the Avon River in Christchurch after a photography session.

Wedding Couple on Avon River Postcard postcard 


Filed under Natural History, New Zealand, Photography, Travel

Kiwi Bloke

Kiwi Bloke’s father, Turoa Kiniwe Royal, received a doctorate in literature recently at Massey University in New Zealand.  The YouTube video showing the ceremony is in Maori, which is beautiful even if I don’t understand it. (The video might be slow to load.)  The five men performing the haka in the audience at the ceremony are Kiwi Bloke’s brothers.   I watched the Maori language channel a little every day while we were in New Zealand, so it was fun to see it again.  Dr. Royal is a pioneer in advancing Maori language and education.

I met Kiwi Bloke online through my post about the hilarious musical duo “Flight of the Conchords”.  Kiwi Bloke is an expert on all things Kiwi, and I’ve learned a lot about beautiful New Zealand from reading his blog.  I fell in love with the country after my all-too-brief visit there in February.

Here are Kiwi Bloke’s posts about his father’s doctorate, beginning with the post announcing the honor. (We’re switching between spelling “honor” the Kiwi way and the North American way.)  The last two links are articles about the award.

Well Deserved Honor, I Might Say.

Pioneer Receives Highest Honour. 

 Maori Educationalist to Receive Doctorate.

Pioneer to Receive Highest Honour.


Filed under Education, Internet, Language, Life, Literature, New Zealand, Personal, Travel

Aussie Speak

It's the Bar of Babel as speakers from all nations attempt conversation at the Sydney Opera House Bar.

It's the Bar of Babel as speakers from all nations attempt conversation at the Sydney Opera House Bar.

I laughed when I read my friend Anita’s recent facebook status report: “having fun using words like kerfluffle, bungle (as a noun), shambolic (as in shambles), rectitudiness, verballing, and of course tradies, unis, bikies, footies. . .”

Anita, an American, moved to Australia last summer. As a journalist, part of her job is communicating with government officials and other journalists, so she is an interpreter of the various kinds of English, too. In her last position, she spoke Spanish, so she’s up to the challenge.
When we arrived to visit them, Anita and her husband began translating for us.  For example, they advised that “You don’t root for teams, you barrack for them.”  Rooting means something quite different from our definition and is probably not mentioned in polite society…….But we’re all friends here. Most Aussie words and phrases do make sense (sometimes you have to think about it), even if they aren’t the words we normally use.  Sometimes it’s the pronunciation that throws me.
We in the U.S.A. yield, but the Australians give way.  Their signs needs more letters, but it's easier to spell.  Also, not the one lane bridge. We found a lot of those.

We in the U.S.A. yield, but the Australians give way. Their signs require more letters to get their message across, but it's easier to spell. (Don't we just look at the shape anyway?) Also, note the one lane bridge. We found a lot of those.

I’ve been reading letters and later emails from Aussies for years and thought I knew what they were saying, but hearing it in person I found myself saying or at least thinking “What?”  I need a hearing aid of a different kind.
The people I most easily understood were transplanted English people.  Maybe it’s from my years of watching Masterpiece Theater.
Two of my favorite words are “brilliant” for everything wonderful and “shocking” for terrible, which I heard from my friend Monica when we were stopped in a massive traffic jam in Sydney.  Another good word is “chuffed,” which seems to mean excited, proud or happy, which I’ve heard Down Under and even from fellow English blogger Paula who writes beautiful posts.  She’s on my blogroll as Locks Park Farm.
A “good on you!” to Janelle of What Makes Me Laugh for her funny post on Aussie-isms.  Click here: It’s Not Weird, It’s Not Wrong, It’s Just Different.  She wrote several funny, insightful posts on her recent trip to Australia.  Don’t miss them!
Here's an Aussie mailman on a motorbike with mail saddlebags. Love the orange!

Here's an Aussie mailman on a motorbike with mail saddlebags. Love the orange!

Jan of Planetjan had fun with the language and other differences when her English friends came to visit her in Los Angeles.  Here’s one of her funny posts on the subject: Back to Reality.

In New Zealand…well, let’s not go there right now, except to say that egg is pronounced eeg, as in eek, and left as leeft.  Instead, I’ll hand you over to native New Zealander Kiwi Bloke, who has lived in Australia, Canada and even Texas, for all things Kiwi.  He’s Kiwi Bloke on my blogroll and is multi-lingual in the English language.  
Why don’t you tell me your favorite language choices?  Cheers!


Filed under Australia, Friendship, Humor, Language, Life, New Zealand, Personal, Travel

Just Call Me Little Bo Peep

There are tens of millions of sheep in Australia and New Zealand, but this is as close as I got to any of them.

There are tens of millions of sheep in Australia and New Zealand, but this is as close as I got to any of them. These sheep are grazing at Port Arthur Historic Site, the location of a 19th century penal colony in Tasmania, Australia.

Sheep are probably more common in Australia than kangaroos, but on a recent visit there I never got close enough to hear so much as a bleat.   I wanted to see a sheep shearing (as seen on “The Thorn Birds”).  I  wanted a picturesque mob of sheep to flood out onto the quaint road, you know, the usual tourist adventures.  I should have just looked in my own neighborhood. (There’s a hilarious video about a movie starring sheep at the bottom of this post as a reward for traveling on my nostalgia trip.)

Horses on the ranch down the street from me.

Horses on the ranch down the street from me.

A friend, Evan J., told me about a sheep shearing he participated in recently at a farm not too far away from me.  In six months, the sheep will need another hair cut.  Only a tornado is going to keep me away.

Farmers are dedicated, determined and dazzling.  I’m in awe of what they accomplish and remember the hard work of my grandparents’ farm.  It’s easy to take farm fields and pastures for granted, until the raw timbers of subdivisions take their places.  I live in a suburb on the edge of the Kansas City metropolitan area, near horses and soybean fields.  I’m always afraid I’ll find a CVS pharmacy staked out in the horse pasture. (Our neighborhood has already fought a CVS.)  One nearby farm was just sold off and leveled last year.  Asphalt streets curve around empty lots where a barn surrounded by hay bales once stood.  My own yard was once part of a forest that is now a golf course, so I can’t say I haven’t contributed to the sprawl.

This old barn and soybean field won't be here long.  It's prime real estate, surrounded by upscale subdivisions and shopping centers.  Only the economic downturn is keeping development at bay.

This old barn and soybean field won't be here long. It's prime real estate, surrounded by upscale subdivisions and shopping centers. Only the economic downturn is keeping development at bay.

People can satisfy a little of their farm curiosity in our county with a visit to Deanna Rose Farm, a city park with farm animals and historic rural buildings.  Hopefully, small family farms don’t become novelty items that are remembered only in parks. 

I’ve been following the blog of Paula, who raises sheep and cattle and does just about everything else on her organic farm in Devon, England.  Here’s her post on lambing.  Lambing — It’s Started.  Her blog has great photos, too!

Closer to home, Natalya of Pinwheel Farm writes about the joys and sorrows of raising sheep. You can find “Girls at War” and “Memorable Shearing Day, two of her posts on sheep, at Pinwheel Farm.

I watched the movie “Black Sheep” on the plane trip from New Zealand.  It’s so hilariously Kiwi.  Sort of cheesy, but in a good way.  The special effects reminded me of those in “Dr. Who,” the ones with Tom Baker, my favorite doctor.  Here’s the imdb.com link, including videos, about the movie  Black Sheep.  Below is the video of the movie trailer.  The video is over the top, but there’s a lot of wry Kiwi wit in the movie. For more Kiwi wit and news, check out Kiwibloke on my blogroll.


Filed under Animals, Australia, Environment, Kansas, Kansas City, Life, Movies, Nature, New Zealand, Personal, Random, Travel

Flight of the Conchords

I’ve just discovered the Flight of the Conchords television show.  I know, I know.   What took me so long?   Well, for one thing I’m too cheap to pay for HBO.  Another is that I count on my children to tell me about what’s fun in the entertainment world.  By the time they think to clue me in, the coolness of a show is already starting to wear off, so I hope that doesn’t happen to this duo that describes itself as  “formerly New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo a capella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo.”   If so, I’m sorry, guys.

This past week, I’ve tried to make exercise more appealing by only allowing myself to watch the Flight of the Conchords show while on my exercycle or lifting weights.  Instead I stop so often to hear and decipher what the guys are singing or saying that I barely break a sweat.   Hey, exercising my laugh muscles is better than no exercise at all.

Flight of the Conchords Official Band Picture.

Flight of the Conchords Official Band Picture.

I can understand what drives Mel, the obsessive stalker/groupie, who is the band’s sole fan on the show.  Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie are so endearingly odd and weirdly sweet, even their names fall just a bit short.  No “r” in Jemaine or extra “t” in Bret.  They’re laid-back and unflappable, genial and don’t take themselves too seriously, which seems to be a Kiwi trait. (I could be wrong. I was only there for eight days.)

My daughter gave me the first season to watch when I got home from New Zealand.  She knew I’d love it, if only to hear the accents again.  West rhyming with East, so that it sounds like “weest.”  Eeg for egg and Leeft for left.  The universal greeting of  “Hey, guys”  or just “guys”.   We say that, too, but it’s just different. 

There’s also the tongue-in-cheek rivalry with the much larger neighbor Australia.  (Maybe it isn’t tongue-in-cheek.  In New Zealand, I heard an Aussie and a Kiwi cordially discussing their rivalry (big brother and little brother) until the the Kiwi said, “At least my ancestors chose to come here.”  The Aussie replied, “Being transported to Australia was the best thing that ever happened to my great-great-great grandfather. He did his time and then prospered.”  They both smiled.)

It’s fun to watch clueless  Murray, the band manager, who tries to manage the band surreptitiously from his office in the New Zealand consulate in New York City.  My daughter and her boyfriend are music business graduates, so they particularly enjoy Murray, played by Rhys Darby.  I asked, “Where have I seen Murray before?”  

” ‘Yes Man’ with Jim Carrey.”  Right, Rhys Darby plays Norman, a clueless bank manager in that movie.

I love Jemaine and Bret’s oddball and brilliant music.  I can’t explain it.  You’ll just have to watch! 

 Here’s what Greg Royal, who blogs as Kiwi Bloke, has to say about “Flight of the Conchords.”

More about Flight of the Conchords including links to other sites.

The video below combines the Flight of the Conchords with one of New Zealand’s other passions, “The Lord of the Rings.”  The “Business Time” video at the time isn’t suitable for young children…..


Filed under Australia, Entertainment, Humor, Life, Music, New Zealand, Personal, Random