Read, think, explore.
A middle ground for AIMS Games The tension between professionalism and fun in children’s sports.
Education begins at home A Tauranga woman’s mission to help Cambodian children.
Our crypto future Will cryptocurrencies take over the world?
High-tech horticulture How technology can boost horticulture in the Bay.
Absurd reality Contemporary surrealism at home and abroad.
Circuit breaker We meet Tauranga City Council’s new CE.
| Journal | S P R I N G
SPRING 2018 | F R E E
“IT'S NOT WHAT YOU LOOK AT THAT MATTERS, IT'S WHAT YOU SEE.” Henry David Thoreau
Photo by Greg Wilson. Photographerâ€™s note: The accumulation of life and what it throws is the inspiration for my images, which offer an enduring quality by which the viewer can be mesmerized and form their own pathway into their journey of creativity. The circular forms in the images reflect this endurance and creativity. The shapes reference pi â€“ a seemingly simple concept but one that you can easily be lost in, its exact value unknowable and unpredictable. Just like the landscapes they sit in.
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NEWS HIGHLIGHTS FROM AROUND THE REGION Spring heralds the arrival of new growth, and Tauranga is certainly blooming. Major transport upgrades, landmark property developments and an influx of sporting stars offer plenty to celebrate. The ongoing Bella Vista debacle is a rare blemish on a groundswell of positivity.
MAUNGATAPU UNDERPASS OPENS It was nearly three years in the making, but the Maungatapu underpass is now officially open. Situated beneath the Maungatapu interchange, the $45 million, two-lane, 120 meter-long underpass connects Welcome Bay Road to the Turret Road causeway and includes a new bridge over the Kaitemako Stream. Tauranga MP and thenTransport Minister Simon Bridges turned the first sod on 1 September 2015, and it is hoped the project’s completion will ensure fewer traffic woes for commuters. According to the NZTA, bluetooth monitoring technology will be used to track the impact the underpass has on travel times.
COAST PĀPĀMOA BEACH CLINCHES NATIONAL PROPERTY AWARD Frasers Property, developer of Coast Pāpāmoa Beach, has been recognised by the property industry as setting a benchmark for land development in New Zealand. Its ‘Beaches’ precinct entry won Excellence & Best in Category in the Natural Habitats Ltd Urban Land Development Property Award at the Property Council New Zealand, Rider Levett Bucknall Property Industry Awards 2018. Beaches, located at 1 Pāpāmoa Beach Road, is a premium 1.4ha development of 23 exclusive sections marketed as providing an opportunity to secure land in one of the last remaining prime beachfront locations in New Zealand. “It is fantastic to see a project from Pāpāmoa win its category. This is testament to the project team who dreamed big to produce something unrivalled in the New Zealand land development space,” says Frasers Property development manager Kranish Reddy. Beaches is the final precinct in the completely sold out 24-ha Coast Pāpāmoa Beach development.
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CRICKET SUPERSTARS MOVE TO TAURANGA It seems that people can’t get enough of the Bay of Plenty lifestyle – including our high profile national athletes. The latest names joining the procession to soak up all the Bay’s offerings are BlackCaps Neil Wagner and Colin de Grandhomme, who have signed with Northern Districts for the 2018-19 season. Both Wagner (test bowler)
and de Grandhomme (allrounder) leave their respective provinces – Otago and Auckland – having purchased property in this area recently, and will be key drawcards at Bay Oval this summer.
TAURANGA ECONOMY ON A HIGH It’s good news for Tauranga’s economy with substantial growth recorded alongside national and international interest in setting up business in the region. Data from Infometrics commissioned by Priority One shows that last year saw the creation of 798 new business units in the city and 2980 new jobs. Priority One business partnership manager Mark Irving says corporations from Japan, South Africa, United States, China, Russia, Switzerland and India have visited recently to investigate developing large-scale projects, primarily in the infrastructure and emerging technology sectors. This growth is gaining momentum and could pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy, according to Mark.
$14.8M CONTRACT TO ENHANCE CITY’S BUS NETWORK AWARDED State-of the-art electric buses, real-time bus tracking and redesigned routes are among the key features of a new Tauranga bus service hitting the streets in December. NZ Bus successfully won the $14.8m Western Bay of Plenty bus contract in a move to improve public transport in the city. NZ Bus is New Zealand’s largest urban public transport business and operator of metropolitan bus services. The nine-year contract replaces current Bayhopper holders Go Bus, Reesby Rotorua Ltd, Bethlehem Coachlines and Uzabus following a “highly competitive” tender process, says Regional Council Public Transport Committee chairman Lyall Thurston. Once rolling, the new Bayhopper network will feature redesigned routes, new interchanges, extended operating hours and more frequent services with a fleet of low-emission vehicles including five electric buses in service from December. Journal | 3 | S P R I N G
TOURISM BAY OF PLENTY TO IMPLEMENT DESTINATION MANAGEMENT AFTER FUNDING BOOST
MOUNT SURF CLUB UNDERGOES MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR REBUILD New Zealand’s leading lifeguards will soon have a state-of-the art facility to match their abilities. Work is underway on the $3 million re-build for Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service following the demolition of the iconic clubrooms, which stood on Mount Main Beach since 1979. The defending TSB New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championship club expects to have the new building – with more room for rescue and response, operations and equipment – completed in December, just in time for the summer peak. Mount Maunganui is one of the busiest beaches for surf lifesaving patrols in New Zealand, with big swells throughout February and March resulting in many rescues and hundreds of preventative actions.
Tourism Bay of Plenty will become the first regional tourism organisation in New Zealand outside Auckland to become a destination manager, after a boost in Tauranga City Council funding. Tourism Bay of Plenty CEO Kristin Dunne says the funding increase will enable the RTO to become an “insight-lead” organisation that knows who its visitors are and what they want – considered vital information for sustainably championing tourism growth. Visitors spent a record $1 billion in the Coastal Bay of Plenty last year – a milestone that was originally forecast to occur 12 years later. This figure is expected to grow to $1.45 billion by 2028.
PĀPĀMOA GETS ITS OWN WAR MEMORIAL Pāpāmoa’s status as a growing suburb is to be recognised with its own war memorial later this year. The two-metre tall spire, to be erected at Pāpāmoa Domain, is the result of local resident Mick Carroll lobbying Tauranga City councillor Steve Morris about the lack of a memorial commemorating local men. The $18,000 project is being funded entirely through donations with ongoing maintenance by the Mount Maunganui RSA, which has 1466 out of its total membership of 5330 residing in Pāpāmoa. It is hoped the memorial will be dedicated at 11am on November 11 this year - 100 years to the day since the World War I armistice came into effect. Journal | 4 | S P R I N G
Peter Blackwell, Mark Arundel and Tina Jennen have been voted in as trustees to the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust (TECT). Blackwell, who sought reelection to the trust, accumulated 3135 votes behind pharmacy MARK ARUNDEL owner and Bay of Plenty District Health Board member Arundel who had the most votes with 4550. Jennen, a chief financial officer and car crash survivor, came in third with 2179 ahead of Graeme Purches (2143), Bev Edlin (2141) and Sheldon Nesdale (2139). TECT is governed by six trustees who are elected by consumers for a four-year term. The terms of appointment of trustees are staggered so that three trustees retire every two years. Outgoing trustees Paul Tustin and Ron Scott chose not to stand, but Blackwell re-stood. There was strong interest in the 2018 election, with 19 candidates nominated for the three available positions. The trio join Bill Holland (chairperson), Amanda Sutcliffe and Natalie Bridges as trustees.
Photo: Ted Baghurst
NEW FACES ON TECT BOARD
NEW RADIO STATION HITS THE TAURANGA AIRWAVES A new radio station with a familiar Bay of Plenty voice is now live in Tauranga. Mix is now available in Tauranga, on 99FM, and is hosted by radio and TV star Mel Homer, who started her radio career in the Bay at Classic Hits in the ’90s. The station features information on music, interviews with sports and TV stars, and talks about food, technology, movies and up-coming events. According to NZME, Mix aims to replace Flava by reflecting the local demographic and its interests. Its playlist of classic "bangers" from the 70s, 80s and 90s has succeeded in other regions, including Northland and Nelson.
BELLA VISTA DEBACLE Tauranga City Council is embroiled in a legal stoush with the developer and former residents of the failed Bella Vista development. In July, Council announced that it would buy back all 21 affected Bella Vista homes deemed to be shoddy at the prices residents paid for them about three years ago, plus $10,000 each in costs. On 9 March, 21 homeowners were evicted from their properties as a storm approached. They were never allowed back. Subsequent investigations by council officers revealed shoddy workmanship in the properties, with issues found from the foundations to the roofs in all 21 properties in the
Lakes Boulevard and Aneta Way development. This was despite homes passing council inspections and four homes having full code of compliance sign-off from council. Council has been criticised for taking 47 days to make its first offer of market value plus $10,000 which former residents have described as “heartbreaking”, "disgusting and appalling” and "disappointing”. As a result, Council is now facing two separate law suits from the Bella Vista homeowners who have filed documents in the High Court. One group of 19 homeowners are seeking more than $25,000 each for "stress or emotional damages”.
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| Journal | S P R I N G
EDITOR Natalie Bridges ART DIRECTOR Scott Harwood
WRITERS Alison Brown Christiaan van Rooyen Ellen Irvine Jess Smith Julia Proverbs Luke Balvert Scott Harwood Scott MacLeod
Are you serving up the same old, same old?
PHOTOGRAPHY Greg Wilson Scott MacLeod Tracy Stamatakos
Maybe what youâ€™re telling them is just not hitting the spot. They're bored. Bored with you and quite likely, they're just plain ignoring you.
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The stories and articles in this magazine are entirely original content created by the Blink team and our talented contributors. This publication is subject to copyright in its entirety and its contents may not be reproduced in any form, either in whole or part, without the written permission of Blink Public Relations and Marketing.
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STORYFINDERS | STORYTELLERS
CON T R IBU TORS
Whether it’s delving into the murky underworld of cryptocurrencies, or hiking the length of New Zealand, Scott MacLeod is a skilled storyteller who enjoys turning his hand to an eclectic range of topics. An account manager at Blink Public Relations, Scott is formerly an award-winning journalist, having spent a decade writing for the likes of the New Zealand Herald, Waikato Times and Bay of Plenty Times. He has spent 10 years teaching English and communications while backpacking around the world, indulging his love for people and places. With a passion for photography, as well as words, Scott has a keen eye for the minutiae of life and is just as likely to capture an interesting subject or moody sky on his morning walk to work as a sweeping mountaintop view on one of his weekend tramping expeditions.
A recent import to Tauranga, photographer Greg Wilson captured images of incoming Tauranga City Council CE Marty Grenfell for our The Couch (pages 28-31). Greg has been on a photographic journey for four decades, contributing as a photographer, educator, mentor and gallery owner. Greg’s photographic work has won him many awards both nationally and internationally, culminating in being selected as a finalist in the Hasselblad Masters awards. His work has been exhibited in galleries throughout New Zealand, as well as in London, Hong Kong, New York and Sweden. Greg's newest landscape series is soon-to-be exhibited in New York. A piece from this series opens this issue of Journal. Greg is the principal photographer at Tulloch Photography.
The stunning painting ‘Two Tui’ that features on our cover is the work of contemporary New Zealand painter Liam Barr. Familiar Kiwi folk icons and popular culture that blend in allegorical narratives is a feature of Liam's charming work. Liam says of Two Tui, “The girl and tui seem as one and are elated by the season to come. Spring’s new growth spins a tale of abundance and provides a joyous pleasure in the simple things. Remove your shoes and allow the earth to feel your feet.” Liam's painting ‘Pony Tail’ is part of his most recent series ‘Tethered’ and is featured in our story on contemporary surrealism (pages 44-49).
See liambarr.co.nz for more of Liam's work.
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‘Tethered’ is showing at the Artis Gallery in Parnell, 4-24 September 2018.
Queen Bee (No. 105), 2013 | OIL ON CANVAS, 30" X 19.5" | MARK RYDEN In this Journal we feature the beautiful yet disquieting work of pop surrealist Mark Ryden, along with the work of some of the world's leading contemporary surrealists, in our story Mind Over Matter (pages 44-49). Journal | 8 | S P R I N G
EDITOR I A L
THINGS AREN’T ALWAYS AS THEY SEEM
In this issue we’re covering topics that push against the status quo. Whether that’s pushing the boundaries of what we might deem to be ‘normal’ or ‘mainstream’ (read the story Our Crypto Future page 14), or making the familiar unfamiliar (read Mind Over Matter page 44), it’s important we don’t simply settle for what has always been. As the great Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley said, “Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar”. And so does the art of some of the best living surrealist painters, which we’re privileged to feature throughout this magazine. It’s this sort of challenging thinking that we need to nurture and uphold. And so we must mention the free speech debate of the last month or two. Freedom of speech gives us the ability to listen to all sides, the good the bad and the ugly, so that we can reaffirm what we think as individuals or change our minds according to an informed and wide-ranging debate. If we stop talking about the difficult things – religion, politics etc. – we will live a life without passion. And that’s part of the reason we continue with Journal – a place for exploring stories from all sides of the debate. Let’s not dumb things down. Let’s approach topics head on and with robust discussion. So we’re glad to cover the future of high-tech
horticulture in this issue, speaking to a wide range of leaders in their fields (excuse the pun) for the story (page 22). And while one of our team took to trying her pointe at adult ballet lessons (page 40), another explored the potential and future of Aims Games (page 34) where the country’s best and brightest young sports boys and girls converge on local ground to compete. It was heartening to recently listen to a speech by the head teacher of the low decile inner city London ‘Michaela’ school – one where the focus is on plain old books rather than iPads, on learning for learning’s sake rather than some attempts to couch knowledge and lessons in some fun camouflage or cloak. She came to New Zealand as part of the New Zealand Initiative and spoke to business leaders and the like. Dubbed “the UK’s strictest headteacher” Katharine Birbalsingh is actually New Zealandborn and founded the school. She doesn’t believe in dumbing down lessons just because the children in her school come from less privileged backgrounds than others. That, she believes, would be a disservice to those children. This is an increasingly difficult message to deliver in a time when there’s a push for open plan classrooms and where collaboration is championed entirely over independent thinking. So let’s stick with the hard stuff – not feeling afraid to ask questions and thrash out the debate. •
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M A ST ER F U L WOR KS
The Best for You Is Absolutely Unattainable: Not Being Born, Not Being Anything, 2005 OIL ON LINEN , 96" X 72" | NICOLA VERLATO See another astounding work of allegorical surrealist Nicola Verlato in our story Mind Over Matter (pages 44-49). Journal | 10 | S P R I N G
T HE R ECOR D
Tauranga-based journalists scooped five gongs at the biggest media event of the year, the Voyager Media Awards. Stuff investigative reporter Tony Wall won the health, education, general category. His New Zealand Herald counterpart Jared Savage won for crime, justice, social issues. The Herald’s Jaden McLeod took best videographer, junior. Bay of Plenty Times chief photographer John Borren won best photography, general. NZME reporter Carmen Hall was named regional journalist of the year. Our very own Scott MacLeod was a finalist in the same category. His entry included three Bay of Plenty Times stories written before he moved to Blink, and one story from last summer’s Journal. … The retirement of Tauranga journalist John Cousins has removed more than 40 years' experience from the Bay of Plenty Times newsroom. Cousins worked at the newspaper for 24 years after a career that began during the mid-1970s. The veteran recalls a time when stories were written on "pieces of paper" and converted into type by a team of "compositors". His last week was marked by witnessing a major fire at the port while interviewing Greg Brownless in his mayoral office. Cousins says he leaves journalism with both relief and a heavy heart. … Stuff’s website marked its 18th birthday in the middle of this year by looking back to its early dial-up
modem days, when only 40% of homes had internet. The most popular section back then was the cartoons. Stuff editorial director Mark Stevens said the original site was “updated once a day, pretty much as an afterthought for journalism written with a newspaper in mind”. Now the website is the brand’s flagship platform, and is updated with hundreds of stories, videos and images every day. … The latest quarterly circulation figures make grim reading for traditional printed newspapers, with many losing around 10% of their sales during the past year. Stuff papers such as the Dominion Post and Waikato Times are performing especially badly, perhaps because the brand has shifted its focus to online offerings. NZME publications are generally losing fewer sales. New Zealand Herald sales dropped 6% to 113,752, although its readership improved. The local Bay of Plenty Times has not published its sales figures, but states that its readership is stable. Readership numbers are higher than sales figures, as more than one person is assumed to read each paper. … Carol Hirschfeld’s move to Stuff has barely been mentioned by media other than Stuff itself. Hirschfeld, it will be recalled, left Radio NZ in March after fibbing to her bosses about a meeting with Broadcast Minister Clare Curran, Journal | 11 | S P R I N G
which caused them to pass on the lie to a select committee. This could have ended her career but, in June, she was picked up by Stuff as its head of video/ audio and content partnerships. Given the media storm over the Radio NZ saga, it’s curious that her re-employment received such minimal attention. … News website data looks healthier, with stuff.co.nz now clearly on top with 2.1 million unique monthly readers. It has been pulling ahead of main rival nzherald.co.nz, which has 1.8 million readers. Newshub.co.nz is a distant third, with 857,000. … New Zealand has risen five spots to eighth position in the Reporters Without Borders world press freedom rankings. It’s not all rosy, however, as the agency warns of economic pressure and threats to independence, specifically citing the attempted StuffMe merger as “moves to concentrate media in ever fewer hands”, the Official Information Act obstructing journalists by allowing government agencies a long time to respond, and Winston Peters’ legal adventures over his superannuation leak. On the positive side, a whistleblower law is being strengthened and media freedom generally “thrives” in New Zealand. The top three spots are held by Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands. •
We highlight experiences worth trying around the region.
GET ON YA BIKE Most of us remember all too well our first bike ride and what followed: playing with friends, trips to the park with our parents or riding to school. So why not re-discover those carefree memories by getting out on two wheels and exploring the urban trails that sew the city together? Thanks to the Tauranga Urban Cycleways Programme there are 10 trails spanning 150km, and a wider network of recreational links and routes connecting the rest of the region. The trails offering endless opportunities to reconnect with nature and get to know, and love, your region that much more. This network presents some of the best commuting links and family-friendly trails in the region. Venture a little deeper and you'll find some quality networks and cycle trails for the more adventurous.
The latest completed links are a new biking and walking trail connecting Bethlehem and Gate Pa via a bridge across the Tākitimu Drive Toll Road, and the section between Hairini Street and Pōike Road. This is part of a collective vision by NZTA, Tauranga City Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council and the Government to improve cycle safety and provide more connected cycle networks. Well-worn favourites we recommend include the Waikareao Estuary Loop and soaking up views of Mauao and the Mātua waterfront. Alternatively you can pay a visit to Comvita via the 10km Pāpāmoa to Paeangaroa trail. Checkout the Waikareao Estuary Loop at ridenz.co/trails/waikareao-estuary-loop/
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ART ESCAPES THE CANVAS Unique, dynamic and colourful. Tauranga’s art scene continues to push the visually dramatic boundaries with its latest exhibition Evan Woodruffe: the world is porous. In breathtaking and thought-provoking fashion, Auckland-based artist Woodruffe’s work escapes its canvas confines to spill over the Atrium walls at the Tauranga Art Gallery. Shimmering layers of velvet cascade and fall in swathes, creating hidden depths and multiple perspectives. Described as a ‘breathing ecosystem’, Woodruffe’s dramatic works move beyond their painting origins to become something far more expansive and unique. Just up the road at The Elms, nine artists are continuing this theme by putting a unique twist on our local heritage. The Rooms sees seven areas within The Elms historic mission house and library transformed by artists using their artworks and items from The Elms’ collection to create something truly extraordinary. Evan Woodruffe: the world is porous runs until October 28 at Tauranga Art Gallery, while The Rooms at The Elms is on show until October 24.
GET BLOWN AWAY AT BAY STATION Blokarts at Baypark
One of the Bay’s most popular garage inventions is taking ASB Baypark by storm after relocating from Pāpāmoa. Blokart and its partnering all-weather electric Drift Trikes can now be found at Bay Station – part of Bay Venues’ new adrenaline-fuelled line-up. Paul Beckett’s idea has come a long way since he found himself tinkering away in a Pāpāmoa garage in 1999. Now it’s evolved into a global sport. Until now the phenomenon has been located at its inceptual home on Parton Road with people sharing in the love of land sailing. The move to Bay Station strengthens the venue’s offering as Mount Maunganui’s hottest entertainment zone, joining existing attractions outdoor paintball and lasertag. Whatever you choose to partake in, you can be guaranteed to get the blood pumping. For more information and bookings visit: baystation.co.nz
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OU T ER LI MITS
New thinking and technologies from now to eternity.
OUR CRYPTO FUTURE
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are either a silly fad or the greatest invention since the internet, depending on who you ask. We explore how they might – just might – change the world.
During the past two years, fortunes have been made and lost as the prices for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies rocket up and, more recently, down. Most of us have heard about this, but few of us understand what it’s all about. According to JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, we’re experiencing the modern equivalent of the 1637 Dutch tulip craze that created a huge and ultimately devastating investment bubble. But International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde is predicting massive disruptions to finance, and some other commentators are adamant that bitcoin’s underlying technology will change our lives.
Assuming the crypto-supporters are right, how will the world look 10 years from now? We’ll get to that soon. But first, a bit of history. SATOSHI NAKAMOTO Bitcoin was invented in 2009 by the mysterious and pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto. Traditional currencies rely on the backing of governments to make people accept that they have value. But Nakamoto disliked governments being able to devalue those currencies by printing cash, and the fact that banks and credit card companies take a slice from money transfers and currency conversions.
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Crypto montage created from an image by Alex Wong on Unsplash and the eye of Benjamin Franklin from the US $100 bill.
BOOM OR BUST:
OU T ER LI MITS
Nakamoto created a ‘decentralised’ currency that does away with banks and governments altogether by using a technology called blockchain. A blockchain can be understood as a type of accounting book, or ledger. Every time somebody makes a transaction, the blockchain verifies the details of the transfer and records who has the ‘money’. Bitcoin’s blockchain is updated every 10 minutes by thousands of computers around the world that are being run by people called miners. Having so many computers involved makes it theoretically impossible for the blockchain to be hacked. To guard against inflation, the maximum number of bitcoins is restricted to 21 million and a protocol ensures that these are drip-fed into circulation in a predictable way. This all sounds rosy, but there are challenges. Miners demand transaction fees, which is hardly an improvement over banks and credit cards. They’ve also proven to be environmentally unfriendly – the amount of electricity being used by miners is already enough to power a small country. Finally, having to wait up to 10 minutes for the blockchain to verify your transaction isn’t very practical when you’re standing at a supermarket check-out counter. These problems are being overcome by new technologies, notably a lightning network that operates quickly and cheaply alongside the blockchain. But various challenges do remain. THE FUTURE Since 2009, people have invented thousands of other systems based on blockchain and related technologies that they say will change the world. And so, what is the vision for our crypto-future? BUYING GOODS AND SERVICES According to crypto-enthusiasts, online purchases will become even more popular than they are now. When buying from overseas, many of us will use low-fee cryptocurrencies to avoid losing money in currency exchanges.
gone! Nearly 4 million bitcoins have already been lost by people throwing out old phones and hard-drives without remembering the passwords for their crypto-wallets.
At the supermarket, we’ll no longer have to wait 10 minutes for the blockchain to confirm our purchases because technologies such as the earlier-mentioned lightning network will let us make instant payments with almost zero fees. The items in our trolleys might be cheaper, too, because merchants will no longer have to pay Visa and Mastercard transaction fees of up to 4%. Our everyday payments will be made from phone-app cryptocurrency ‘wallets’ that have unique addresses protected by passwords. More than 17 million of the maximum 21 million bitcoins have already been mined, but fewer than 13 million will actually be in circulation by 2028. That’s because, as reported by Fortune magazine, nearly 4 million bitcoins have already been lost by people throwing out old phones and hard-drives without remembering the passwords they need to recover their wallets. Oops. It’s likely that a more nimble currency will overtake bitcoin for daily transactions. Possible alternatives are rival currencies Dash, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash.
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OU T ER LI MITS
BIG BANKS Many crypto-enthusiasts say that banks will lose much of their business, but that the survivors will themselves use blockchains to record transactions. Additionally, a cryptocurrency called Ripple that is already being used for international transfers between Japanese and South Korean banks may become the global standard. As noted by The Merkle, Ripple takes just four seconds to transfer funds across the world, whereas the ancient SWIFT system we’ve been using since 1973 for international transfers can take three to five days. Governments may embrace cryptocurrencies too, with Forbes predicting that they will keep a percentage of their reserves in crypto. DIGITAL GOLD If we’re due for another financial shock in 2028, many people are likely to convert their savings from money to an alternative asset. This behaviour is normal. During the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, for example, gold and silver prices shot up as people bought precious metals as a store of value. By 2028, buying gold might seem like too much of a hassle. As predicted by Pfeffer Capital partner John Pfeffer, bitcoin could well become the new gold. Although bitcoin isn’t a physical asset like gold, it is much easier to buy, exchange and store. It has already behaved like gold in crisis situations. When Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe was toppled in November 2017, for example, the local value of bitcoin shot up by 20% in three days. “It looks like people trust bitcoin more than anything else to maintain the value of their money,” Reuters reported a local cryptocurrency analyst as saying. Privacy and security are other factors in preserving value. Although bitcoin is already easier to hide than gold, some people may turn to cryptocurrencies that are specially designed to protect privacy – continued on page 19 >>
THE CRYPTOKITTY CRAZE An online game called CryptoKitties illustrates some of the potentials – and pitfalls – of blockchain technology. Developed by Axiom Zen, the game operates on a type of blockchain-based global operating system called Ethereum. It is among the earliest attempts to use such technology for recreational purposes. CyrptoKitties allows users to own ‘virtual’ cats with unique ‘DNA’ that determines features such as fur colour, eye shape, mouth type and environmental behaviour. Owners can buy, sell and breed their cats with others to create new CryptoKitties, with ownership tracked by Ethereum’s ‘smart contract’ technology. Within a week of its release on November 28 last year, the game became so popular that pending transactions clogged up the entire Ethereum network. As noted by the BBC, this highlighted one of the technology’s biggest downsides – its lack of scalability. “Some people are concerned that a frivolous game is now going to be crowding out more serious, significant-seeming business,” said Garrick Hileman from the University of Cambridge. One cat sold for nearly $175,000 before the craze died down.
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OU T ER LI MITS
LIVING THE CRYPTO-DREAM Sprawled on a chair at a rustic wooden bach in Waihi Beach is a 50-ish man whom we shall call Bob.* Bob cracks open another beer as he scrolls through a series of graphs on his MacBook. He says he is working, but it doesn’t look like work to me. “Give me ten grand,” he says, “and I’ll make you a millionaire.” It sounds like the type of promise that’s best avoided, and I tell him exactly that. One year later, I’m kicking myself. Bob, a cryptocurrency trader, made the offer in December 2016. At that time, he was recommending a Chinese currency called Neo, which was valued at 20c, a bitcoin spinoff called Litecoin, then worth $5, and the app-platform Ethereum, worth $10. During the next 12 months, those values soared at least one-hundredfold, to $100, $500 and $1000 respectively. When I catch up with him again this winter, he’s warming himself by a fireplace in a farmhouse near Te Kuiti. Parked outside is a German V8 sports car that Bob purchased for a single bitcoin. “I bought that bitcoin for $250 a few years ago,” he says. “I put
it to one side and told myself I’d buy a nice car with it someday.” Bob’s cryptocurrency investments have clearly paid off, and he now spends his life driving around the North Island to hang out with family and friends. The beach bach and farmhouse are both owned by relatives, and Bob is wellpracticed at jamming most of
his possessions into his car to move from place to place. Bob believes that many, if not most, people will soon be taking their own journeys with cryptocurrencies. “Like the internet, it’s all about self-learning,” he says. “People will either have to learn themselves or continue to rely on others to protect their wealth, property and
information.” With cryptocurrency prices dropping by more than 50% since Christmas, I ask Bob if he retains the confidence he showed when he made his offer to me. “Rock solid with no doubts at all,” he says. Why? “Just look at what’s happening to normal ‘fiat’ money. They’ve been printing billions and billions for the past 10 years. And who believes what governments tell them anymore? People need somewhere else to turn.” Bob points out that the $100 billion-plus bitcoin blockchain has never been hacked. “The gold-rush to crypto is starting,” he says. “Don’t underestimate how early we are – the word ‘internet’ first appeared in a dictionary in 1969, and it was only decades later that we heard about it.” I tell Bob that Journal is printing a feature story on the future of cryptocurrency over the next decade or so, and ask him what he expects to be doing in 10 years’ time. “Hopefully what I’m doing now,” he says. “Very little, and travelling. “But for the rest of the world, we’ll see a big change.”
* Bob requested anonymity as protection against hackers Journal | 18 | S P R I N G
OU T ER LI MITS
to avoid the taxman, for example, or because their gains are ill-gotten through criminal activity. By 2028, Monero might well become a dominant privacy-related cryptocurrency, in line with comments by Wall St analyst James Waggoner. LENDING AND BORROWING Even if cryptocurrencies overtake ‘real’ currencies for everyday transactions, surely we’ll still need banks for loans? Not when we can lend and borrow through SALT, which uses a blockchain to broker loans between those people who have money and those who don’t. The SALT system requires borrowers to provide cryptocurrency as collateral to guarantee that they’ll pay back loans provided by anonymous people somewhere else in the world, with this occurring through blockchain technology. One advantage of this system is that no credit checks are required. One disadvantage is that borrowers can never obtain more than the value of their cryptocurrency assets, which makes it useless for most people needing a mortgage. A GLOBAL OPERATING SYSTEM If a network of computers can run a decentralised currency, it must be possible to decentralise a bunch of other things, right? Yes it is. A cryptocurrency called Ethereum has become a type of operating system, like Microsoft’s Windows or the Android system that runs on most smartphones. By 2028, Ethereum might become an everyday platform for apps, games and market contracts. It can already be used to register debts and promises, or move funds according to wills and futures contracts. Ethereum will have to overcome a problem called scalability that was exposed in December 2017, when the virtual cat-breeding game called CryptoKitties went viral and overloaded the
network. Some alternatives, such as the fast-rising EOS, claim to have advantages over Ethereum and might be the platform of choice by 2028. BLOCKCHAIN APPLICATIONS The blockchain technology that underpins most cryptocurrencies might prove to be more disruptive than the cryptocurrencies themselves. Buying a house? By 2028, property transactions might be recorded on blockchains rather than by signing papers and feeding information into databases. Conveyancing lawyers might find themselves scratching for work, but we’ll be happy to avoid paying them. UK Law Society chief executive Neil Singer is already predicting that a blockchain could soon replace that country’s Land Registry. Voting in the 2029 general election? Your vote might well be recorded on Agora, a blockchain first used in the 2018 Sierra Leone election to combat fraud. Want to know where the cotton was grown for that new shirt? By 2028 we might be able to scan tags to view material sources on a blockchain. This has been acknowledged by American Apparel and Footwear Association executive vice president Stephen Lamar. Wondering whether that Colin McCahon painting is genuine? The ownership lineage could soon be verifiable on a Codex blockchain, as reported by Bloomberg. Buying music online? The Opus blockchain can bypass music labels to ensure that artists receive 98% of your purchase fee. … and so on. Will this really happen? Nobody knows for sure if cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies will become an everyday part of our lives – or if they’ll turn out to be a fizzer. There seem to be just as many naysayers as there are aficionados. Either way, it looks like we’re poised for an interesting ride. • Scott MacLeod
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I N FOCUS
Business leadership in the Bay.
It goes more than skin deep for Stephen Kale. It is tempting to pen the cliché that printer Stephen Kale has ink running through his veins. But lead would be more accurate. In fact, the level of lead in his blood reached the maximum allowed under New Zealand law some years ago. Luckily, the unwelcomed milestone coincided with a change in the printing world from letterpress to phototypesetting, allowing him to continue in an industry that had fascinated him since a child. “It’s a constantly changing industry,” says Stephen, who together with his wife Jill owns Tauranga’s Kale Print. “There’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.” Stephen was eight years old when his father opened Don Kale Printing on the corner of Wharf and Durham Streets. “We lived across the road and I got up every morning at 5.30am to turn on the Linotype melting pots,” he says. “I used to sweep the floors and I got roped into
helping in the school holidays.” At 15 he started an apprenticeship, working as a compositor, a role that was later superseded by graphic design. “It was a totally different industry. Everything you wanted published had to be printed, or was done on a typewriter,” he says. “I set up the type chases. It was a neat job – a bit of design and a bit of engineering. It was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. I loved the craftsmanship of hot metal.” After moving to Second Avenue, his father’s business was sold to the Hunt Foundation and then the Bay of Plenty Times, paving the way for Stephen to open his own business in 1984. “We initially started the business as a print broker, but lost confidence with suppliers so we bought an old, single-colour offset press and it grew rapidly from there,” he says. With a staff of 40, Kale Print is now the leading sheetfed print company in the Bay, and home to one of only three Hybrid UV (H-UV) presses in the country, servicing businesses throughout New Zealand, including 30 other printing firms.
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I N FOCUS
“It’s the most modern offset printing there is. I like to be the first to try new things. We were the first to bring Apple Macintosh into printing in the Bay,” says Stephen, proudly. “We have the latest equipment, but use old craftsmanship and morals. We stay true to our word and show respect. There’s always a person on the end of the phone.” Jill is Kale Print’s office manager, having started out doing the accounts from home while raising their three children. The business is a family affair, with the couple’s two sons, Brent, 36, and Gavin, 31, both working at Kale Print. Their daughter Rochelle, 34, a graphic designer in New Plymouth, also cut her teeth there. “I’m so proud of our kids, and how they’ve embraced the print industry,” says Stephen. “Both Brent and Gavin work in production and management, and complement each others’ strengths. They are the future of Kale Print.” Many of the staff have also become like family, with the majority having worked there for 15-20 years. “We’ve always had good, loyal staff,” he adds. … Out on the factory floor, the Komori Lithrone S29 plays a melodic tune on repeat. It’s a warning that printing is in progress, and a series of lights flash as the machine whirs into action. “It’s because it’s Japanese. If it was German it would sound a siren. This is easier on the ear,” says Stephen. Housed in a windowless room to protect it from the light, it’s like something out of a science fiction movie. “The old machines took so long to dry, so you could only do three to four jobs a day. Now it’s instantly dry, even when you print on plastic, and we can print at least 30 orders a day,” he says. In stark contrast, the clickety-clack of a Heidelberg Cylinder can be heard in an adjoining room as it churns its way through a series of brochures, cutting out shapes with a precision that belies its age. “It doesn’t have any ink in it. We use it for
“We have the latest equipment, but use old craftsmanship and morals.”
die-cast cutting, there’s no other way of doing it. It’s built like a train, solid,” says Stephen. While printed newsletters and invitations are declining, other revenue streams, such as packaging, are growing. “When a product is packaged nicely it does well and increases the value of the product. Sometimes the packaging can be worth more than the product in it.” Brent and Gavin have just returned from IGAS in Japan, the second largest trade fair in the industry after Drupa, which is held annually in Germany. “They were over there looking at where technology’s heading. It looks like it’s heading down the high-speed inkjet path,” says Stephen. In the future, printing factories will be completely automated, he predicts. “The boys saw one press in Japan that could do a job that takes us a month to do, in three days, with two people. The quality is not quite there yet, but it’s definitely getting better. “There’s always been change, but the rate of change now is way quicker.” • Julia Proverbs
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Photos by Scott MacLeod
ON T HE HOR IZON
Putting the future of our region under the microscope.
UNLOCKING TAURANGAâ€™S GROWTH POTENTIAL IN HORTICULTURE
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ON T HE HOR IZON
High-tech image created from a photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash.
The late physicist and New Zealander of the Year Sir Paul Callaghan once said that for New Zealand to grow, “we need to make it the place talent wants to live”. Callaghan’s vision was a country where science and innovation are hand in hand, and talent is fostered through making it a world-class place to live. It’s a New Zealand where we make the most of being a small nation, creating a globally connected and nimble economy that enables young people to see hope in their future. In 2018, Tauranga has made great strides in turning Callaghan’s vision into a reality. A group of high-performing local companies have been quietly attracting fresh blood with international experience to lead their teams and capitalise on major new global opportunities emerging in what many are calling the Transformative Age. Like the Information Age before it, and the Industrial Age before that, the Transformative Age is changing how we live, work and play. It’s an era that combines unprecedented change with opportunities that allow businesses to become influential industry players wherever they are in the world. But in this environment, businesses must adopt new behaviours, namely to become more innovative, more agile and more collaborative in order to compete internationally. Leaders within the Bay of Plenty’s horticultural and tech sectors are embracing this more inclusive work ethic with the development of PlantTech. The industry-led regional research institute is in the process of establishment and will launch fully in early 2019. Its aim is to make it easier for companies to access research and advanced technologies to accelerate their own commercial growth. PlantTech’s founders include eight companies; Bluelab, Cucumber, GPS-It, Eurofins, Plus Group Horticulture, Trimax Mowing Systems, Waka Digital and Zespri International. The University of Waikato and Priority One (the Western Bay of Plenty’s economic development agency) have partnered with them. Collectively, they share a vision for the kind of
collaborative research and development (R&D) approach that will make the Bay of Plenty a global leader for the development of high-tech products in niche areas relevant to New Zealand’s horticultural industry and premium plant-based value chains. With R&D focussed on artificial intelligence and automation, technology products that emerge as the result of PlantTech will be highly sought after by a sector keen to boost its productivity and overcome the challenge of labour shortages. FEEDING THE WORLD These problems, and a desire for more innovative solutions, were front and centre at Techweek’s headline event earlier this year in Tauranga. The Agritech conference, 10 Billion Mouths, highlighted how rising labour costs and increasingly unpredictable climates are problems the agriculture and horticulture industries need urgent answers to as they grapple with ways to feed a predicted global population of 10 billion by 2050. It’s these drivers that helped the Tauranga consortium win their bid last year to become one of four regional research institutes. Achieving this, PlantTech secured $8.4 million from the
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“People aren’t just moving to Tauranga to slow down and live by the beach. They are moving here and are on an upward career path.” Priority One’s innovation manager, Shane Stuart
ON T HE HOR IZON
Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to fund the institute for the first five years. After then, it plans to be self-sustaining. Priority One’s innovation manager, Shane Stuart, played a key role in facilitating the institute’s early development. The institute has appointed its first board of directors, including independent chair Bill Osborne and a new chief executive, Mark Begbie from Scotland. Efforts are now underway to appoint research directors and others. Shane says finding the right people is always a challenge in a competitive global market, but that’s changing in Tauranga. “Previously, people were reluctant to move here for perceived lack of career progression either for themselves or their partners, but that’s no longer the case. “Once people feel an opportunity, that changes everything. People are recognising that you can live anywhere in the world and do incredible work. “People aren’t just moving to Tauranga to slow down and live by the beach. They are moving here and are on an upward career path.” PlantTech’s evolution also coincides with the development of the new University of Waikato campus in Tauranga’s CBD. Set to open next year, new undergraduate degree programmes will include a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. A 2012 regional economic report explored the financial benefits of a new campus opening and, while this hasn’t been updated, it provides
some indication of the scale of potential contribution to the region - $133m annually and the creation of more than 600 jobs by 2032. But equally important are the intangible benefits to Tauranga’s business community of having greater access to respected university experts and researchers. The new campus would be critical to building Tauranga’s reputation as a city where innovative, technology-focussed solutions to real-world problems could happen, says Shane. “In Europe, a huge part of regional innovation development is built around tertiary campuses and their infrastructure. It’s very hard for a city to have the whole picture without that. “We have an opportunity in Tauranga and the Western Bay to do something really transformational by attracting industry experts to the region and making the university really connected to the community and local businesses.” FOCUS ON ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE While PlantTech’s R&D agenda is still being determined, its research team will focus on advanced technologies that can be applied in a premium crop setting to help the industry at all levels become more productive. In the early stages, this is looking at technologies that support growers working ‘in the field’, on the orchard or in the greenhouse, which includes development of more decision support tools and automation. Underpinning it all is artificial intelligence (AI) technology on the cutting-edge – think datadriven machine learning – the kind of algorithmbuilding technology explored by the likes of Google. PlantTech’s founding companies can see enormous potential for this special kind of fastmoving technology in horticulture and related industries and want to explore new ways they can tap into it to generate high-tech support for their own export growth. “There’s a bunch of robotics and AI solutions available now, but they haven’t been built for complex horticultural environments,” says Shane.
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ON T HE HOR IZON
“For us to explore ways we can use these technologies in an orchard and do it without the budget that Google does, we have to connect with our peers. “The days of expecting your innovation to be done internally are over. That ability to work collaboratively is a skillset everyone needs to have, especially if you want to compete internationally.” INNOVATION DRIVING SUCCESS Collaboration around R&D is nothing new for Zespri International, which generated $2.39 billion through global kiwifruit sales in 2017-18. Its major partner is Te Puke-based Plant & Food Research, but Zespri also works closely with the University of Waikato, Eurofins and Massey University. Innovation is at the heart of Zespri’s success story, with new cultivar development the most visible part of their business. This is best illustrated by the success of its SunGold variety, which the University of Waikato forecasts will have created 29,000 new jobs in New Zealand and contributed more than $6 billion to the economy
“The way that technology is intersecting with agribusiness is not so much about new inventions, but about new applications.” Zespri’s chief innovation and sustainability officer, Carol Ward
by 2030. Behind the scenes, University of Waikato is working on clinical trials to prove the digestive comfort and high Vitamin C content of kiwifruit – information that enables Zespri to deliver on its promise to consumers around taste and the health and nutritional benefits of kiwifruit. Research carried out by Plant & Food Research was also instrumental in helping the kiwifruit industry recover after the vine-killing kiwifruit disease Psa struck in 2010. In February, it was awarded the prestigious Prime Minister’s Science Prize for its response to the crisis – efforts that resulted in Zespri exporting almost 20 per cent more fruit than the season before Psa was discovered. Zespri’s chief innovation and sustainability officer, Carol Ward, says innovative breakthroughs like SunGold are an example of what can be achieved through partnership. “For us, PlantTech fits squarely in the heart of that because it’s also about collaboration and bringing new capabilities into the region, particularly around technologies involving data learning. It’s asking the question, ‘Through collaboration can we unlock new opportunities?’” EXPLORING OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH In a world of global disruption and rapid technological change, it is also vital that Zespri explores new research opportunities that could improve Zespri’s productivity and sustainability systems. Zespri’s goal is to double global sales of kiwifruit by 2025, generating revenue of $4.5 billion. That requires export volumes to reach 300 million – up from 150 million currently. This growth is supported by a plan involving the licensing of additional SunGold production in New Zealand and overseas. Investment in innovation is also required to manage pest and disease risk and supply chain management – all the while staying consumer-centric and responding positively to consumer signals about taste preferences and nutritional requirements.
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ON T HE HOR IZON
Carol says innovation and technology will enable the industry to grow. “The way that technology is intersecting with agribusiness is not so much about new inventions, but about new applications. “We already have trials in the orchard collecting data on how much fruit we can pick, collecting images of the fruit on the vine so we can count it and assess its quality and size. “It’s about harnessing the power of that information and asking, ‘How does that support us in making really good decisions on the orchard that are going to deliver the best quality product and fulfil our consumer promise.” SOLVING GLOBAL LABOUR SHORTAGES Carol believes technology development in automation and robotics will benefit the industry’s future, especially when it comes to resolving global issues around labour availability during the harvest season. “For us to have a long term perspective about the growth we need to achieve, initiatives like Robotics Plus’ robotic harvester is one way that the industry can consider how we can more efficiently harvest our fruit. “But automation can be adopted right through
“We still have a relatively immature tech eco-system. We’re only in the early stage of bringing people together more.” Founder and chairman of Cucumber Jodie Tipping
the supply chain, starting with the grower. We also want to explore AI and mechanisation opportunities around pruning, pest and disease identification, soil management and water delivery.” Research into more efficient orchard and packhouse management solutions is being prioritised as the need to grow, pick, pack and store the fruit increases rapidly. And with so many new jobs emerging around kiwifruit in the Bay of Plenty, Carol says further collaboration with city partners is required to create sustainable local communities that thrive. “We’re attracting the talent but as a growing city, we need to make sure we have roading and infrastructure, great public transport and sensible residential development plans. “[Tauranga] is more than just a beach. We need to build our cultural centre through the city and have the infrastructure in place. If we’re all working together and have a common voice on these types of issues, then we’ll be stronger as a city.” INDUSTRY LEADING THE WAY From a smart city perspective, Jodie Tipping wants to see Tauranga leverage technology more and use it to develop infrastructure that better caters to the changing needs of residents and the business community. The founder and director of digital technology consulting and development company Cucumber is unashamedly passionate about the city, which she says needs a clear vision for what the region should be. “What do we want to be known for in Tauranga? We used to have a reputation for attracting the Newlyweds or the Nearly Deads and we’re still seen as a destination for nice beaches. But there is so much more we could stand and be known for.” Jodie, who started Cucumber with no background in IT, is a believer in not waiting for others to make things happen. Her approach is one that’s far more proactive. “As a community, you have to make the change you want to see instead of moaning about it. That was the motivation behind Groundswell. Priority
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ON T HE HOR IZON
One spearheaded the initiative as they saw there was a need and they have been well supported by a very passionate group of people.” The Groundswell Festival of Innovation launched last year in Tauranga and has been celebrated again in August, with Cucumber the exclusive tech sponsor. This year, Air New Zealand also came on board as a sponsor. For Jodie, the annual festival is an opportunity to not only showcase how business and people are leading the way through innovation, but also spark collaborations, conversations and connections across the city. Jodie says collaboration is the key to unlocking Tauranga’s true potential. “We still have a relatively immature tech eco-system. We’re only in the early stage of bringing people together more. There’s still a lot of organisations who are disconnected, doing different things, who could greatly benefit from this.” She says there’s a strong desire to make this happen and that was supported by the fresh energy of people moving to Tauranga. Some of them are young with diverse, international career experience. RESPONDING TO THE NEEDS OF INDUSTRY One new arrival is Cucumber’s new CEO, Brian Bell. An American with an environmental science background, he moved to Tauranga this year after previously working at Metservice, where he was responsible for developing innovative products that helped better deliver services. Under his leadership, Cucumber’s team of nearly 40 staff are now developing Decision Support and Automation Tools that help orchard managers do their job more efficiently. “We’re developing mobile solutions because everyone has a smartphone in their pocket and they’re easy to use.” The work recognises that orchards are also becoming more corporate as older generations leave the industry. Managers need to be able to access information quickly and transfer it across a team of people.
“This work has been a major driver in our decision to be a founding partner in PlantTech,” says Jodie. “Our goal is to become a global provider of these automation tools, and Brian’s international experience is valuable for us in developing global partnerships. “It’s the right time to be doing this work. New technologies will be critical to help food producers reduce waste and maximise production.” Jodie expects more opportunities will emerge for the city after the University of Waikato is established in Tauranga. But she says the focus shouldn’t just be on Tauranga’s economic future. Technology could also play a role in better connecting communities and living more sustainably. “People are more socially-conscious and thinking more about how their actions have an impact on their environment. But we also need to create services and products that connect generations and make older people’s lives easier too.” With Tauranga becoming a place where talent wants to live and innovate, there’s a sense that collaboration will be at the heart of its ongoing success. • Alison Brown
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> CIRCUIT BREAKER < Incoming chief executive prepares to help Tauranga find its ‘core’. Journal | 28 | S P R I N G
T HE COUCH
Striking up conversations with people in our community.
“If key organisations
Circuit breaker: a switch that automatically interrupts the current of an overloaded electric circuit. Sitting down with Tauranga City Council’s new chief executive Marty Grenfell, you get the sense that he’s getting ready to hit the city’s re-set button. He’s a man who has proven his ability to completely transform the communities he works in – a man with a goal to unite a divided city. “I don’t know if they are ready for a Circuit breaker or not, but they are getting one.”
can work together and find that common ground, be committed and put energy in, you can make a hell of
FIRST IMPRESSIONS It might be a wet and gloomy Whakatāne day, but it’s the polar opposite in the outgoing Whakatāne District Council chief executive’s office, which is filled with laughs and animation. Leaning forward in his chair, Marty is relaxed and speaking with his hands despite being “a reluctant participant” in a Journal interview. Maybe it’s the laidback lifestyle of Whakatāne or just how he approaches life, but his enthusiasm and positivity is infectious. It’s something he plans to bring with him when he shifts his focus up the coast from the Eastern Bay of Plenty town to Tauranga. In recent times, our city has had its fair share of time in the media spotlight. More often than not, this has been for the wrong reasons: the Bella Vista legal stoush, the contentious museum proposal, the homeless debate. It is obvious that Tauranga is a city searching for its “core”, as Marty puts it. But if you’re after someone to grab the headlines, he is not your guy. “I would rather stay right under the radar,” he explains. “I’ve worked with some people who I think have executed that perfectly, have survived, and done a good job. “This is opposed to someone who, I guess, seeks the limelight and needs to be demonstrated as a public leader.” But he is certainly someone who is up for a
challenge, and who doesn’t mind “breaking the mould”. Don’t let the friendly, barrel of laughs demeanour fool you. He has a steely edge. SAFETY IN NUMBERS Twenty years in the New Zealand Police certainly sets you up for whatever challenge might be thrown your way. As Wellington Area Commander, Marty was integral in developing and leading a strategic partnership with the Wellington City Council addressing public safety issues, which resulted in Wellington becoming the first capital city in the world to be accredited as a World Health Organisation ‘safe community’. After rolling out 31 safety initiatives over a three-year period, public confidence in feeling safe at night in Wellington soared from 35% to the 70s. Rather than crime levels dipping drastically, the actual change came in the form of a proliferation of stories of change and initiative acting as a driver for a change in public perception. “So that got me excited about the power of influence. >>
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T HE COUCH
BREAKING THE REGULATORY MOULD
“If key organisations can work together and find that common ground, be committed and put energy in, you can make a hell of a difference. Not just in people’s lives, but how a city operates.” This experience helped see his approach switch from an individual level to how an organisation fits into society and contributes, not just in a singular way, but with others, to achieve better community outcomes. Local government fitted this concept nicely and formed the perfect segue after his stellar career in the police force. “I think very early on in my career I got tired of chasing the bad guy,” an upfront Marty explains. “I was thinking that I was going to do this forever, yet the organisation was capable of achieving so much more. And it would do this by elevating its thinking towards creating a safer community and working with different sectors of the community to achieve a better community outcome.” Opportunities for what he likes to call “personal professional development” began in 2005 with senior community services management roles at the Upper Hutt City Council and Hutt City Council before Marty was appointed to lead Whakatāne's Council in 2011.
Marty was in for a rude awakening upon discovering his new council was an even “more regulatory” organisation than the police – with a leadership tradition established on rules, processes and policies. Determined to build on his success in the capital, Marty moved swiftly to reinvigorate the organisation and alter the community’s perception of Council. Pink partitions throughout the council building were pulled down – both a metaphor for Marty’s approach, and a literal opening up of the staff environment to be more inclusive. The rekindling of iwi and community relationships was another deliberate and swift change. For Marty it’s a Whakatāne District Council timesheet, framed and holding pride of place alongside the array of family photos and achievements in his office, that acts as a simple reminder of the journey on which he has helped take both Council and community. One week into the role back in 2011, the timesheet passed across his desk for him to fill in his hours for the week, typifying the regulatory leadership model where if you didn’t fill it out you didn’t get paid. He refused to fill out the timesheet. “The timesheet was symptomatic of the organisation that I guess was just in a groove, and it needed someone who had the authority and will to say ‘come on guys’.” Breaking the mould within Council’s own walls put the organisation on a new path where the in-house flexible open-door policy reverberated throughout the wider community. As a result, community coffee catch-ups featuring himself, Mayor Tony Bonne and the public shifted from hostile affairs to situations where conversation flowed and it became easier to just pick up the phone and have a chat. “It took quite a long time and it was a shift for this organisation,” says Marty. “But it was embraced by the community and the politicians. And so when you’ve got cheerleaders thinking ‘this is refreshing’, people within the
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T HE COUCH
organisation then think ‘oh isn’t it nice to be in a refreshing space?’” Council’s new found ability to funnel community viewpoints through a political system flourished, bringing a “synergy” between the two: the aspirations of Council and community aligned. “Because unless you have that synergy, things aren’t going to go as smoothly as they should. “Essentially you are spending a lot of time trying to bridge the gap or fight fires.” UNPLUGGING TAURANGA Marty will need to draw on this proven experience and no-frills approach when he enters a “charged” Tauranga political landscape. During a recent three-week trip to Boston, US, for a course comprised of out-of-state and nongovernment leaders, he gained insights into the belief that contemporary American politics is deeply and debilitatingly polarised. He likens this to Tauranga. “One of the best things about New Zealand’s make-up or DNA is that we have a large centre, and successful parties lean one way generally to get the numbers, whereas in the US there is a polarisation. “And I get the sense in Tauranga there is some polarisation. “Either the wants or don’t wants, the progressives or conservatives, or the new wave and the old guard.” It is apparent that this is a city disconnected and divided. The essence of Tauranga’s core hasn’t
“The challenges are what are going to get me out of bed every morning, and I’m under no illusion that this is going to be a challenging job.”
been defined. Are we are a city on the rise, abundant in economic potential and growth, as statistics suggest, or will the shackles of "God's waiting room" and “$10 Tauranga” ever be broken? For most of us, being tasked with seeing Tauranga reach its full potential would be an unenviable position. Insurmountable, even. But not for Marty. “The challenges are what are going to get me out of bed every morning, and I’m under no illusion that this is going to be a challenging job. “You need to start with small steps. But I think facing some of the more difficult, gnarly, longterm issues early sets you up. “The story often becomes bigger than the act.” Marty believes the city’s foundations must be built on the community’s core beliefs and values about the future of the city because, until that happens, Council lacks the capacity to align with the community and create a city that is united and flourishing. “I don’t have the answer to this, but I don’t think it starts with bricks and mortar. And I don’t think it starts with a strategy. “I think it starts with community and civic leadership and story-telling. And I guess building that core – community, politics, organisation – needs to align. “Until you can build that core you are going to be flip-flopping.” With a leadership ethos styled on the simplicity of an open door, he believes this is what is required for local government to work alongside and serve the community. As difficult as it might be, it is replacing a complex and charged council with one that appreciates how it connects with the community. “I sense that things are what they are [at Tauranga City Council]. It’s a big organisation and different parts of where I’m going will be in different spaces, so I don’t want to generalise. But if people are so busy doing what they are doing or are under siege, they just keep doing it. “And sometimes you need a Circuit breaker.” Let’s just hope everyone is ready for it. • Luke Balvert
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Photos by Greg Wilson
We ask questions, and seek out answers.
A LOST GENERATION, FOUND
Q&A with Denise Arnold
A whole generation of artists, intellectuals and teachers was lost to Cambodia at the hands of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Forty years later many families still live in desperate poverty, but the country is gradually taking charge of its future, one child at a time. Leading the charge is Lyon O'Neale Arnold lawyer and Cambodia Charitable Trust founder Denise Arnold, who has spent a decade lifting education standards in the developing country. And now she’s on the brink of something big. Q: What is the Cambodia Charitable Trust? A: Simply put, it’s a New Zealand-based charity that helps vulnerable Cambodian children to access free, quality education. We currently support 19 primary schools, four secondary schools and two teacher training colleges. However, it goes a lot deeper than that. We have a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport in Cambodia, and work closely with ministerial staff, having won their respect over the years. We identify problems, design solutions and implement them. I see our work as a test bed for new initiatives. Q: What inspired you to start the Trust? A: I read an article about children in Cambodia being rented out from a brothel on a weekly basis.
As a mother of two girls, it was heartbreaking. I couldn’t live with my conscience, knowing that and doing nothing. I had to go and find out what I could do to keep those children safe. At first, I thought I could help in a legal capacity, but the more time I spent in Cambodia and the more people I spoke to, I realised the key to breaking the poverty cycle was through education. Children from poor families are often sent away to work, which means they miss out on an education and are more vulnerable to exploitation. At school they are both learning skills for the future and being kept safe. Q: What do you see as the Trust’s greatest achievement to date? A: This year Cambodia’s 17 training colleges for primary school teachers adopted our teaching programme. Each of the 1600 new graduate
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Photos: Stacey Simpkin
THE CAMBODIA CHARITABLE TRUST
teachers will teach at least 40 children every year - that’s 64,000 children a year who will receive a higher quality education. We hope in time our model will be emulated by other developing countries, but for the moment our focus is very much on Cambodia. There is still a lot of work to be done. Q: Is it true that you have rubbed shoulders with some of Cambodia’s highest-ranking government officials? A: We are unique in how we operate, in that we work closely with the Ministry, supporting its policies and goals. The Secretary of State, Nath Bunroeun, who is one of the most influential people in Cambodia in terms of education, is very supportive of our work, as is the Minister of Education, Hang Chuon Naron. When they visited one of our training colleges they were taken aback by the incremental, but consistent, improvements in teacher trainer quality. It was as a result of that visit that the Ministry asked us to expand our workshop programme nationwide. And, yes, I have met with them both, several times. Q: What gets you hot under the collar? A: In a word, ‘voluntourism’. I find it difficult to accept when I see businesses making money out of relatively well-off people who are wanting to go and help people who are poor and struggling. In order for this business model to succeed it is in the businesses’ best interests to keep people downtrodden and needy. And the tourist doesn’t realise the potential harm they could be doing. They are often only visiting for a short time and have no transferable skills. They disrupt the everyday lives of the people they visit, disturb any real learning and create short-term relationships that can leave the ‘beneficiary’ feeling used and victimised. I urge people to think very carefully about who is actually benefiting from their voluntourism. Do they have any skills they can transfer? Is this really about the people they are visiting or is it more about them getting to see the real lives of
poor people, taking great photos and having a learning experience themselves? There can be some really good things that come out of cultural exchanges. But there are also some very shocking practices that use poverty as a tourist trap. Q: What can people do to help? A: Donate!!! From small one-off donations to our main benefactors, I know it’s a cliché, but every cent really does count. Just $10 buys a school uniform and $40 a month helps support a family to keep their child in school. Ultimately, we are looking for some financial heavyweights who can support far-reaching initiatives that will help every single child in Cambodia. For example, we are working on a model that would see ‘core’ schools provide resources to ‘clusters’ of schools, such as resource libraries, teacher workshops, school director development programmes and librarian training. We have our first two clusters identified and ready to go and would love to be able to test this model. The beauty is that it’s scalable and could reach a large number of schools quickly. If anyone has a spare $70,000 in their back pocket I would love to hear from them! It might sound like a lot of money, but it’s a small investment when you consider how many lives it has the potential to change. Q: What does the future hold for the Cambodia Charitable Trust A: I see CCT as being able to influence the educational outcomes of Cambodia. We are very good at designing programmes that work and can be easily scaled up. All we are lacking is funding. The great reputation we have in Cambodia is due to the hard work of the team on the ground there, and we are ready to help develop better education materials for all Cambodian primary schools. We can make sure that every child has a teacher who can teach well and use current teaching techniques to develop children into critical thinkers. That is the future of Cambodia. •
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THE AIMS OF THE GAMES ON T HE ST R EET
Observations from the footpath.
From AIMS Gamesâ€™ humble beginnings to a global sporting beacon.
It all started with a car ride in 2004. Two Tauranga Intermediate School principals were problem-solving educational issues of the day on the open road to Napier â€“ without a clue their journey would put school sport, not just in Tauranga but in the Southern Hemisphere, on a revolutionary pathway to success. The 288km Tauranga to Napier answer and subsequent result: AIMS Games. From humble beginnings with four codes and 17 schools in 2004, the games reached its peak in Journal | 34 | S P R I N G
ON T HE ST R EET
2017 with more than 10,000 competitors from 327 schools as far afield as Australia and Fiji. The annual tournament is now regarded as the premier sporting event for 11-13-year-old students in the Southern Hemisphere. AIMS stands for Association of Intermediate and Middle Schools. Rugby, swimming, cross country and even indoor bowls and golf. The games has an illustrious alumni with the likes of the Bay of Plenty’s Peter Burling, Amy Robinson and Julian Oakley all having competed. Tauranga Intermediate School principal Brian Diver was one half of the pair on the formative roadtrip. “Henk [Otumoetai Intermediate School principal Henk Popping] and I were on the way to Napier and at the time the New Zealand Intermediate and Middle Schools Association was worried about the image of intermediate and middle schools across the nation,” says the principal, who was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal for services to youth sport in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours. “At the time there was also a big emphasis on Kiwi sport as being participatory rather than competitive, which I didn’t agree with as I believe kids at this age respond well to competition.” The rest is history. The annual tournament is now a cornerstone of Tauranga City’s identity and one of the building blocks of our nation’s sporting future. Its unique fabric is being stretched and shaped by rapidly changing social, technological and commercial forces. New friendships and youthful celebration are now intertwined with the beady eyes of school and national scouts looking to unearth new talent – all while schools eagerly capitalise on sporting prowess as a marketing tool. So how do organisers move from participation to competition without losing the beating heart of the event – the children? Is this the cut-throat world for which our future athletes are destined at such an early age? And will the event’s magic begin to wane if it continues to swell in numbers?
PUTTING TAURANGA ON THE MAP If you’ve lived in Tauranga long enough, you will be all too familiar with grumblings that Tauranga is traditionally a sleepy seaside city that only comes alive over summer. Nestled in the heart of the winter season, the AIMS Games turns this thinking on its head with its year-on-year success. It could be one of the keys to unlocking Tauranga as an internationally competitive city. >>
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“It’s the pinnacle of sporting success for kids. They train hard and take part in school and regionals competitions with the aim to attend AIMS Games.” 2018
ON T HE ST R EET
“Honestly I’ve got a file in my email inbox a mile long of codes wanting to get into the AIMS Games because they see it as a great pathway for growth in their respective sports.”
This comes amid debate about Tauranga’s need for an international stadium, when a museum received a resounding ‘no’ in the recent postal referendum, and as annual tourism spend in the Coastal Bay of Plenty ticked over $1 billion for the first time. Tauranga City Council city events manager Gareth Wallis confirms the tournament is one of Tauranga’s biggest weeks of the year and is regarded as a flagship event in the local council’s portfolio. With $60,000 in Council funding each year, AIMS helps generate significant national and international exposure for the city and highlights Tauranga’s ability and capacity to host major events. The most up-to-date figures, from 2016, show the tournament had a significant positive impact on tourism and gross domestic product in the Western Bay of Plenty during the traditionally quiet off-peak season. More than 17,000 people attended the tournament (69% were visitors) and it increased the Western Bay’s regional output by
$3.05 million excl. GST. This consisted of half a million dollars through the organisation and delivery of the tournament and $2.5 million through visitor expenditure. This increase in regional output resulted in a boost in regional GDP of $1.98 million – 30% more than the 2014 tournament. It was a welcome result for the local business community, says Gareth. “In addition to the positive economic benefits that come from hosting major events, this unique tournament also adds to the vibrancy of our city with its programme of entertainment and cultural activities for participants and support personnel, creating a festival atmosphere that takes over the city for six action-packed days.” Brian says the tournament creates an unrivalled amount of energy throughout the city during that one week each year. “It’s the pinnacle of sporting success for kids. They train hard and take part in school and regional competitions with the aim to attend AIMS Games. And I think that comment could be said for all schools involved.” A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS With this year’s tournament registering a whopping 10,851 participants – eclipsing the total Olympians at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games – AIMS Games has evolved into a nationwide elite sporting and domestic tourism event. Entries this year now include athletes from Indonesia, Tonga, Samoa, the Cook Islands and Australia, and for the second consecutive year para-athletes will compete in swimming and cross country. The official website clocked up seven million views and 65,000 unique page visits last year, alongside viewers tuning in from across the globe via its four live streaming channels. This popularity shows no signs of abating. “Honestly I’ve got a file in my email inbox a mile long of codes wanting to get into the AIMS Games because they see it as a great pathway for growth in their respective sports,” says AIMS Games tournament director Vicki Semple.
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ON T HE ST R EET
“Schools put a massive emphasis on it. They want to be at the top of the medal table, or the fair-play winning school. “The beauty is it’s a competitive tournament, but it’s also a celebration of youth sport.” Vicki knows a thing or two, having been in the driving seat since day one – like Brian. Her first day in her role as Sport Bay of Plenty primary schools sports co-ordinator saw the pair sit down to discuss what became AIMS Games. Fifteen years later she has assumed a full-time role overseeing every intricate detail to guarantee the Games run like clockwork. “We started out with four codes, and never in a million years did I think it would get to the size and scale that it is today, that’s for sure. “I just love how the kids, at this age, are so vivacious. They have no inhibitions and just want to give everything a go. “And the pride they have in representing their school is incredible.” So what’s the key to maintaining this success?
COMMUNITY COLLABORATION Without an organising committee, which includes the six AIMS trustees – the principals of Tauranga, Otumoetai, Mt Maunganui and Te Puke Intermediates, the Sport BOP CEO and a Tauranga City Council mayoral representative – you could argue the tournament wouldn’t have reached the dizzying heights that it has. Plus, everyone Journal interviewed for this article has been involved since its inception, ensuring its core values steady the tournament’s success and phenomenal growth. “The power of a consortium of partners ensures greater confidence in the longevity of the tournament and also provides opportunities for organisations to share a common vision and align resources that benefit the tournament and individual organisations,” explains Gareth. An additional 712 athletes will compete this year, nearly the entire number of competitors in the first AIMS Games in 2004. The record 10,851 competitors descending upon AIMS Games 2018 come from more than 320 schools all over New Zealand and the Pacific, including 83 new schools. With a goal to keep the Games fresh, inclusive and exciting, rock climbing will feature as the new addition to the 2018 schedule – thanks to it being included at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. A BALANCING ACT Sport is an essential part of the Kiwi fabric, and an intrinsic contributor of the economic and social life of New Zealand communities. AIMS Games is like this for Tauranga. But how far does one allow the scales to tip in favour of commercialism and professionalism? Coaches and national scouts are now visibly courting children at AIMS Games, with local athletes taking up scholarships at the likes of Auckland’s Kings College after the annual event. Schools now also use the event as a marketing tool where their achievements at AIMS Games and on the final medal table help attract or retain students. “Some schools treat AIMS Games as a marketing
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ON T HE ST R EET
tool. They market it on the fact that they won these sports and achieved X, Y and Z at AIMS Games,” explains Brian. “As a result, parents now have a look at prospective and current schools and say ‘Are you in the AIMS Games?’ and put pressure on schools if they aren’t.” Some kids thrive on the competition, and the best players are rewarded by receiving an unprecedented level of coaching and training. However, as scouts continue to pace the sidelines, how does AIMS Games ensure its magic isn’t tarnished? This challenge is not lost on Heidi Litchwark, who is open about juggling two hats when answering this – both as a AIMS Games Trustee and Sport Bay of Plenty CEO. “Sport Bay of Plenty would say it is far too young to be putting pressure on children with scholarships,” says Heidi. “But I think the balance is good as it currently stands. Certainly, that’s one of the big challenges going forward, making sure we maintain the focus on the children.” “Evidence would suggest it is not ideal to put children under pressure too much too early to achieve in sport.”
The evidence she refers to is a growing body of research that shows that intense early specialisation in a single sport increases the risk of injury, burnout and declining motivation. According to the Sport NZ report Balance is Better, research debunked three great myths of developing and identifying high performers: early specialisation is good, childhood success leads to adult success, and successful athletes focus on winning. The national sporting body advocates ‘balance is better’ to ensure kids can enjoy their sports experiences and stay involved. It believes if creative ways to engage kids aren’t offered, a struggle to maintain participation levels in any sport, let alone in competitive sport, will ensue. Here in Tauranga, Brian admits that unfortunately this movement of pre-teen professionalism is a sign of the times and a byproduct of the event’s success. “It’s a marvellous opportunity for these kids to get these scholarships. “But at the same time I’m sad about that because I want all our talent to feed to Tauranga Boys’ College and Tauranga Girls’ College. “I can’t do anything about it and I think that trend will only increase with schools now marketing via AIMS Games and wanting to snap up talent.” Like Brian, Vicki admits while they can’t stop the surge in talent scouts, there are incredible opportunities to come out of it. “There are kids from decile one schools who get these scholarships and go on to get a great education opportunity. “But if it was impacting on the kids and became unsafe we would step in.” MANAGING FUTURE EXPECTATIONS While AIMS Games’ magic and uniqueness reverberates throughout New Zealand and abroad year-on-year, everyone is mulling over whether the tournament has reached, or soon will reach, a saturation point where it can no longer sustain such phenomenal growth. “Our objective isn’t to grow, rather to keep it in
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ON T HE ST R EET
“Our objective isn’t to grow, rather keep it in Tauranga and keep our standards really high by working closely with all our key partners and the community,”
Tauranga and keep our standards really high by working closely with all our key partners and the community,” explains Vicki. “We don’t want to become complacent and say ‘We already have this great event’. You have to keep with the times, which is why we added rock climbing as a new event this year.” Therein lies the problem. When we sat down with Vicki prior to entries closing, she anticipated entries to plateau. Instead we will see a record 10,851 competitors in Tauranga from September 9-14, following on from 10,138 in 2017 and 9155 in 2016. That figure has the potential to grow, as there are lofty aspirations to generate a stronger international flavour. Already this year, China has been visited with the aim to include Chinese schools from 2019 in golf, badminton and table tennis. “We want to spread the message and have New Zealand kids experience other cultures while at AIMS Games. International students enhance the tournament so much and bring a new flavour to it,” says Vicki. Other initiatives include the recent announcement of teaming up with Stuff as a media partner for the 2018 edition and potentially commercialising/monetising the event through advertisements across the four live streaming channels. While bolstering AIMS Games and Tauranga’s reputation is good, Heidi believes it would also be
advantageous to have a period of consolidation in numbers whereby organisers can reflect and identify areas that can be enhanced. “It just grew so fast, and on such a sharp curve, so there wasn’t much time to stabilise, which can bring out the best in some people. And I think it did. Going forward, there are pressures and there are no easy answers. But so far I think AIMS Games has done well in managing those pressures.” It will be interesting to see how AIMS Games integrates this international interest alongside the tournament’s core values – enhancing the image of New Zealand intermediate and middle schools, providing developing adolescents the chance to compete against the best, and boosting Tauranga’s image during the off-peak season. Heidi cautions that the involvement of Kiwi kids needs to be maximised. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to have international students there because that could well be advantageous where kids learn from new cultures and make new friends from around the world. “I think it would just have to be a discussion and bridge we have to cross when we have more detail.” Gareth says, while there is no need to put a cap on the event, the city’s services, including accommodation, transport, venues and facilities, operate at near-capacity based on the event’s current format and popularity. As the city grows, accommodation options are expected to increase in volume to meet this demand in the long term. “As soon as planning for the event starts, the organisers engage with as many accommodation providers as possible, including hotels, motels and camping grounds through to local marae, sports clubs and schools, as well as hundreds of private homes, to ensure that the influx of visitors to the city can be comfortably domiciled. “This attitude reinforces that our locals are proud hosts of the AIMS Games.” Let’s just hope the stepping stone for our future sporting stars doesn’t become a leap too far. • Luke Balvert Photos by Jamie Troughton
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ENCOU N T ER
People, places, things.
S T E P P I It’s 1978, and dressed in a black leotard and pink ballet slippers I’m flapping around on stage doing my best impersonation of an emotionally tortured seagull. Neil Diamond’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull soundtrack sets the scene as a flurry of small feet in mock flight attempt to portray the beleaguered bird’s search for the meaning of life through the medium of dance. I suspect my mother enrolled me in an ‘expressive’ dance class because it leaned more towards interpretation than skill. Needless to say, my dancing career was a short one. Fast forward 40 years and, I find myself, with trepidation, slipping on a pair of ballet slippers once more. It’s a crisp Tuesday evening and in a dance studio in a darkened back street in industrial Greerton, a group of women ranging in age from
their 20s to their 60s have met for a weekly ballet class. With physiques as varied as their ages, they line up at the barre, dressed in an assortment of tracksuit pants, tights and leggings. There’s not a tutu in sight, although one woman admits to having one in every colour in her wardrobe at home. As the music starts, postures transform and differences melt away, along with the stresses and strains of the day. Gripping onto the barre for dear life, I try my best to arrange my two left feet into ‘first position’. Everyone else seems to know what they’re doing, as they run through a series of exercises, arms and feet moving gracefully in time to the music. “Just focus on your feet for a start,” one woman advises, kindly. It has the immediate effect of elevating me from dying seagull to seagull scratching in the sand.
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ENCOU N T ER
N G O U T “No leotards
Everyone’s got to start somewhere I guess. I point my toe in earnest and, despite the cramp that I know will inevitably ensue, I am starting to enjoy myself. Thankful to be out of range of the mirror, I let myself believe for a second that I’m more swan than seabird. There’s something about doing ballet that makes you feel graceful, even if you suspect you aren’t. Adult ballet is growing in popularity, with more and more classes catering for women who have either never danced before, or who are returning to it after decades. Taking tonight’s class, at Dance Avenue, is Lisa Wilson, who has taught dance for 25 years, and adult ballet for the past 10 years. “I started ballet at four and pretty much have not stopped,” she says. “People are becoming more aware of the benefits, and the realisation that it is not too late to do something you have always wanted to Journal | 41 | S P R I N G
necessary …. wear what you are comfortable in. The class is structured so it doesn’t matter whether you have zero experience or have danced all your life – we make it work.” 2018
ENCOU N T ER
“My mum was behind it, my friends think I’m crazy and my daughter rolled her eyes!” Karen Reed
do – that your mother never let you do when you were young. And I think it’s more and more in the public eye with classes now at gyms and many studios offering adult classes,” she says. Researchers say it is one of the best forms of exercise as we get older, as you use your entire body, and both the right and left sides of the brain, helping to ward off many problems as we age, she adds. “Posture, toning, aerobically challenging, definitely mentally challenging, helping with balance issues, strengthening core muscles, tightening core muscles … pretty much the whole body gets a workout, a gentle one,” she lists the benefits. The class is a non-judgemental, safe environment for women of all shapes and sizes to dip their toe in, she says. “No leotards necessary …. wear what you are comfortable in. The class is structured so it doesn’t matter whether you have zero experience or have danced all your life – we make it work.” Last year some of the women took to the stage for the first time in their lives. “That was a buzz,” says Lisa. “I get huge pleasure out of seeing ladies who have never danced before achieve something they never thought they could, while meeting great people and having lots of laughs.” Laughter is something the class is not short of. After warming up, it’s time for some stretches on the floor. The room bursts into conversation. “This is our catch-up time,” one of the dancers explains. All limbered up, the class moves onto twirls and dance routines. I gracefully retreat, hiding behind notepad and pen, and in becoming an observer witness
Ballerina Karen Reed.
something truly beautiful. Behind the laughter and sometimes faltering steps, you need only look to see each and every woman in the room is a ballerina. And it doesn’t matter one jot if you’re seagull or swan.
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ENCOU N T ER
THE BALLERINAS “Some parts are tricky, such as coordinating your arms with your feet, but you can just laugh at yourself. There is no pressure in the class,” says Karen Reed, 53. A school teacher, she did ballet when she was ‘little’, but was so shy she cried at every class. “I love dancing and hate exercising, especially at the gym. I have joined other adult ballet classes but the oldest there was 25. I knew Lisa’s class had a bigger range of ages and abilities, so I wouldn’t feel out of place,” she says. “My mum was behind it, my friends think I’m crazy and my daughter rolled her eyes!” she laughs. “I love how it is gentle exercise, but still pushes your muscles to work hard. I love the graceful movements and it helps keep my flexibility. I love going as it makes me relax after a hectic day at school. I feel de-stressed, calm and serene at the end of the class.” For young mum Brooke Polley, 22, it’s an opportunity to unwind and have some much-needed time to herself. “After having my baby I felt like I needed to do something for myself that I loved. I knew Lisa took adult ballet classes – she used to teach me when I was five – so I started when my baby was five months old,” she says. “I love ballet so much … when I’m dancing I don’t think about the millions of things going on in my life, I am so present in the moment. I feel amazing when I dance, it gives me so much clarity and it can turn a bad day into a good day within minutes.” Teacher aide Adrienne Danby, 62, returned to ballet two years ago, having danced between the ages of five and 12. “I found it easy to pick up again after nearly 50 years. I don’t think you ever really forget.” She admits she was worried people would think she was “too old for it”, but her fears were unfounded. “My family think it’s fabulous and so do most of my friends – some of them think I’m crazy. I’ll
practice anywhere in the house or garden if music is on – anything from classical to Ed Sheeran,” Adrienne says. “Physically, I feel fitter and it makes me feel elegant and poised. It’s very good for your posture and for keeping supple, especially as you get older.” Having “always enjoyed a good boogie on the dance floor”, Donna Tyrrell, 46, joined the class to improve her flexibility and mobility. It was more than 30 years since she had done ballet and, at first, she was worried that she was too old, but the range of ages and friendly, encouraging atmosphere soon put her at ease. “The movements came back to me, just like riding a bike. I think you never forget how to dance, you just aren’t as fit, flexible or graceful as when you were young,” she says. “I love ballet music as I find it really relaxing and uplifting. The music brings back fond memories of my childhood as a dancer.” While her teenage daughters prefer to ride motorbikes and play basketball, she favours more gentle exercise, adding that ballet “makes me smile a lot”. “Give it a go. You are never too old to dance. It is invigorating, and you share lots of fun and laughter with likeminded people,” she says. Unlike many in the class, real estate agent Shirley Vanstone, 63, had never done ballet before – not even as a child. “I love watching ballet and love the movement and elegance of ballerinas. I aspire to look like they do but probably never will – but it’s fun trying,” she says. “The basic movements I find I picked up without too much trouble, but remembering the dance routines I find very challenging,” she adds. She urges anyone who is interested to give it a go. “Holding positions is great to develop strength and control of your muscles as you stretch and move slowly through the moves. I feel it’s a very feminine form of exercise and makes me feel uplifted and energised.” • Julia Proverbs
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Photos by Tracy Stamatakos
CR E AT I V E LICENSE
Design and culture.
MIND OVER MATTER Contemporary surrealists are still playing with our minds, provoking us with visions that confront our everyday consciousness. Many of us would be familiar with names of iconic surrealist artists such as Salvador Dalí, René Margritte and Frida Kahlo. A few of us would also know of Joan MirÓ, Max Ernst, Leonora Carrington, Yves Tanguy and photographer Man Ray. If you are not familiar with the latter lot, I advise you to Google them out – you’re in for a treat. Founded in 1924 by poet André Breton, Surrealism was both a literary and artistic movement. The aim of Surrealism was to free thought from the constraints of the rational and reasoned. It drew upon the psychoanalytical ideas
of Sigmund Freud, free-association and dreams as windows to the unconscious mind. Surrealists sought to unleash minds and create new works that revealed a deeper reality. They explored myths and symbolism, often juxtaposing fantasy and dream imagery with the familiar, challenging us to liberate our minds and enter worlds of the unexpected and bizarre. The phenomenal influence of the ideas of these giants of 20th Century art resonates down through the decades to the Abstract Expressionism of Jackson Pollock, British sculptor Henry Moore and figurative painter Francis Bacon, to late century popular culture hits of Twin Peaks and the work of Terry Gilliam (the genius behind the surreal animations of Monty Python and films like Brazil). Notable films influenced by Surrealism include Black Swan, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the eye-popping dream world of Christopher Nolan’s Inception. A case could also be made for the far-reaching influence of surrealist thought on the concepts of Damien Hirst and others of the Young British Artists movement, with their willingness to challenge the status quo and shock audiences with confronting work. Surrealism is now enjoying a bit of a renaissance through contemporary artists such as Glenn Brown, Nicola Verlato and Inka Essenhigh, and the ‘Pop Surrealist’ work of Mark Ryden and Todd Schorr. Their work continues to be inspired by dreams and the unconscious mind and, in the case of Pop Surrealism, the additional mashup of popular/ counter-culture symbols. Here Journal curates a few works of Contemporary Surrealism to pique your interest in the genre. If you want to search out more, we recommend the website Widewalls (widewalls.ch) as a good starting point for not only Surrealism, but also a massive resource of modern and contemporary art. • Scott Harwood
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© GLENN BROWN. COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND GAGOSIAN. PHOTO: MIKE BRUCE.
CR E AT I V E LICENSE
Let's Make Love and Listen to Death from Above, 2017 | OIL ON PANEL, 93" X 78" | GLENN BROWN Renowned as a master of appropriation, Glenn Brown’s work often draws (literally) upon the work of great art masters. Glenn has referred to himself as Dr Frankenstein, an artist who constructs paintings out of the “dead parts of other’s work” to bring “a sense of strangeness” to their depictions of the world. gagosian.com/artists/glenn-brown Journal | 45 | S P R I N G
Â© INKA ESSENHIGH. COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND MILES MCENERY GALLERY.
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Party of the Flames and Flowers, 2017 | ENAMEL ON CANVAS, 48" X 55" | INKA ESSENHIGH Inka Essenhigh creates beautiful, whimsical worlds populated with fluid, ambiguous figures. Their playfulness invites us into their delightful, other-worldly realm of melting dreams. milesmcenery.com/artists/inka-essenhigh Journal | 46 | S P R I N G 121.9 x 139.7 cm
Â© MARK RYDEN. COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND PORTERHOUSE FINE ART EDITIONS.
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Ear (No. 112), 2014 | OIL ON PANEL, 18" X 18" | MARK RYDEN Ryden's work often features children with Anime-like faces set within uncanny and surreal settings that reference the sentimental, nostalgic and kitsch. porterhouseart.com Journal | 47 | S P R I N G
Â© NICOLA VERLATO. COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
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Conquest of The West, 2011 | OIL ON LINEN, 80" X 54" | NICOLA VERLATO The allegorical work of Nicola Verlato is executed with the drama and technique of a High Baroque master, fusing bodies and structured compositions into mythological narratives. nicolaverlato.com Journal | 48 | S P R I N G
Pony Tail, 2017 | 59 X 59CM, OIL ON RUSSIAN BIRCH | LIAM BARR Liam Barr explores connections between the individual, nature and the land, making use of familiar Kiwi icons of nature and folk history to reach deep into the Kiwi psyche. liambarr.co.nz
© DEAN RAYBOULD. COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
Of the contemporary New Zealand artists, it’s not hard to see the surreal in the anthropomorphic birds that inhabit Bill Hammond’s paintings. Birds also inhabit the paintings of Nelson artist Dean Raybould. In his work, ghostly and real birds take part in or bear witness to scenarios that fuse familiar elements of New Zealand island landscape with historical colonial references. Wellington artist Liam Barr creates images that are heavy in Kiwi symbolism and nostalgia. His paintings often merge the past, present and mythological into familiar, yet strange, narratives.
© LIAM BARR. COURTESY OF THE ARTIST.
CONTEMPORARY SURREALISM IN NEW ZEALAND
(t)Raiding Rout(e)s, 2012 | ACRYLIC ON WOOD, HELD IN PRIVATE COLLECTION | DEAN RAYBOULD Raybould's whimsical cast of birds and rodents ask questions of identity and belonging. Journal | 49 | S P R I N G
CI V IL WOR KS
Inspirational work from Bay citizens.
AN ODE TO SLEEP JOHN BAXTER
I’ve slept in caravans I’ve slept in cars I’ve slept down alleyways Near drunken bars
I’ve slept in airports I’ve slept on planes I’ve slept in the gutter Where my mind remains
I’ve slept on mattresses And camping mats I’ve slept in hostels And council flats
I’ve slept with lovers And I’ve slept with friends I’ve slept with lies And tried to make amends
I’ve slept in sleeping bags I’ve slept on chairs I’ve slept singularly And I’ve slept in pairs
I’ve slept in motels And hotels too Once got so drunk I slept on the loo
I’ve slept in church yards I’ve slept in gardens I’ve slept in school yards Wearing my Doc Martens
I’ve slept on a farm And I’ve slept in the city I’ve slept with the ugly And I’ve slept with the pretty
I’ve slept in celibacy I’ve slept around I’ve slept on the cold, hard Winter ground
I’ve slept with the help of sleeping pills Thinking of how I might pay my bills
I’ve slept in hospitals and dentists chairs I’ve slept in a monkey suit No underwear
I’ve slept in paradise I’ve slept through hell And the final sleep? Well who’s to tell
I’ve slept on boats And I’ve slept on trains I’ve slept on drugs Half out of my brains
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CI V IL WOR KS
Connections 2 | JOHN BAXTER
JOHN BAXTER - BIO Born in Yorkshire, England, John moved to New Zealand at the age of 12. John is an artist, musician, poet and photographer. As one of the founding members of The Incubator Creative Hub, Johnâ€™s main role is music manager, but he is also a curator of its two galleries. ABOUT THE ARTWORK His current series of art pieces delve into the connections between places, people and language. The blank spaces between each group of objects outlines the dark spaces in the human psyche pertaining to depression, fear and personal loss. The bright colours and white spaces depict the contrasting light and warmth resulting from personal development, artistic endeavours, friendship and love.
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FOODIE FI N DS
Keeping your taste buds informed about new epicurean experiences.
Photo: Alice Veysey of Paper and Pearl
Elspeth provides a classic bakery experience. Nichola named her bakery "Elspeth" after her grandmother, who had a legendary love for good, high-quality food. Infused with uplifting sights and smells, everything is made from scratch, including the Mille Feuille (custard square), which took three months of testing to perfect. Not to mention Elspeth’s Friday-only doughnuts. They are fast developing a faithful following – let’s be honest, who doesn’t love doughnuts? elspeth.co.nz or Instagram: @elspethbakery
BAY PICNICS Fancy an Instagram-worthy beach picnic? Local gal Rata Wood started Bay Picnics with a passion for bringing people together for an unforgettable, luxurious experience in the best spot in the Bay – Mount Maunganui Beach. From date nights, proposals, hens’ parties, and girls’ nights, to birthday celebrations, Bay Picnics brings in a gorgeous white tepee completed with luxurious European pillows, tealight candles, lanterns and much more. And for that extra level of luxury, add delicious food and wine thanks to Sage and Grace. baypicnics.com/home facebook.com/baypicnics/
Photo: Westney Rhind for Uber Eats
Torn between binge-watching another season on Netflix or having to make dinner? We have all been there! Uber Eats has finally hit the Bay blessing us with its restaurant-to-door service. Simply browse a selection of local restaurant menus on the app, place an order and get sent an estimated delivery time. An Uber driver then goes to collect your order instead of you. You can even track your order – collection time, the driver’s name, photo and progress on the map. The Vegan Dinnerbox (left), created by The Nourished Eatery is one of the many delicious food choices available on your Uber Eats app. Order from the app or at ubereats.com Journal | 52 | S P R I N G
GLUTEN FREE AND VEGAN CORN FRITTERS WITH TEMPEH BACON
FOODIE FI N DS
2 cups grated zucchini 1 cup corn kernels 1/4 cup green onion diced 1 cup chickpea flour (source from most Indian supermarkets) 1 clove garlic diced 1 tsp cumin Pinch of oregano, thyme, cumin, pepper and salt Combine all the ingredients, heat a pan with olive oil and spoon in 1/4 cup measurements. Fry for a few minutes each side until cooked.
1 tbsp maple syrup 2 tbsp soy sauce 1 drop of liquid smoke Tempeh Slice tempeh into thin slices and add to a heated frying pan. Fry until browned on both sides. Add soy sauce, liquid smoke and maple syrup. Fry for a few more minutes and serve with corn fritters.
Recipe from The Nourished Eatery, a vegan eatery located at 114 Willow Street, Tauranga 3110. thenourishingbaker.com Instagram: @thenourishingbaker Journal | 53 | S P R I N G
OPI N ION
We pitch an everyday Kiwi takeaway burger against the McDonald’s Big Mac.
FOURTEENTH AVENUE FISH 'N CHIPS
BACON BURGER WITH CHEESE Price: $6.00 Wait time: 10 min Calories: Heaps Weight: 372g Ingredients: Bun, beef patty, cheese, lettuce, sauce, onion, mayonnaise, bacon, "free egg – no charge" Eat test: Lots of flavour from bacon and grilled tasty cheese. Juicy, salty, sloppy and yummy. Hefty. Face and fingers needed wiping. Filled a gap.
Verdict: Better and much bigger burger Journal | 54 | S P R I N G
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BIG MAC Price: $6.20 Wait time: 2 min Calories: 540 Weight: 205g Ingredients: Bun, beef patty, cheese, lettuce, sauce, onion, pickle Eat test: Creamy and sweet. Highlights are pickle and sauce. Negatives are processed cheese square and ‘cardboardy’ texture. Safe, familiar and inoffensive. Hungry later.
Verdict: Faster burger Journal | 55 | S P R I N G
CHRISTMAS PARTY SOLUTIONS Salt Photographics NZ
Wanting to take out ‘Boss of the Year’ with the perfect Christmas Party, but struggling for ideas? We’ve got you sorted with our top three events.
NATIONAL RUGBY SEVENS Provincial pride goes on the line.
The tournament promises something for everyone, featuring a kids zone, water zone, technology zone and family areas. Hospitality options are also available. Visit: nationalsevens.co.nz
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Salt Photographics NZ
What better way to dip your toes into the Kiwi sporting summer than by being pitchside at Tauranga’s very first hosting of the New Zealand National Sevens. Get your team together and head down to Tauranga Domain for what will be the epicentre of sevens action on December 14 and 15. Jonah Lomu, Christian Cullen, Eric Rush, Beauden Barrett and Portia Woodman, to name a few, have all kick-started their illustrious careers by weaving their magic on the domestic stage. With the best in the business and soon-to-be unearthed talent on show across the two days, this is the perfect event for all sports lovers in the office. With provincial bragging rights on the line, a bit of light-hearted banter won’t go amiss to make things interesting. So make sure you make a day of it and show your true colours. Who knows, you might even spot the next sevens superstar.
SEE YOU AT THE POLO
A hot new ticket in town this summer. Following the success of the inaugural Takapuna Beach Polo in 2017, Beach Polo New Zealand is bringing its glitz and glam to Pāpāmoa. Come December 14, the pristine sands at Pāpāmoa’s Stella Place will be transformed into an immersive spectator experience not to be missed. To get you up to speed ahead of the event, beach polo consists of two three-player teams and four seven-minute periods of play, called chukkers. Easy right? Plus, if you have a passion for fashion, or are just feeling confident, there is also the Best on Beach fashion show and the slightly competitive beach dash for prizes to get the crowd involved. Hospitality packages are on sale now with three options ranging from $80 - $200, but you better be in quick to stake your spot in the sand at what is shaping up as a fun and friendly afternoon for everyone in an unique environment. Visit: beachpolo.co.nz
A STAR-STUDDED NIGHT OF ENTERTAINMENT Same name. Same feel-good music. Just a different location. Stars Under The Stars, one of Tauranga’s premier outdoor concerts, returns to the city in what promises to be a night filled with some of the most iconic songs of the ‘70s and ‘80s. On Sunday 9 December, “The Neil Diamond Superhits Show” and “Dreams - The Fleetwood Mac Experience” hit the Classic Flyers stage to have you up and singing along to those classics of Sweet Caroline, Cherry Cherry or Go Your Own Way. Award-winning performances in their own right, it is vital you get your ticket early as “The Neil Diamond Superhits Show” sold all 5000 tickets to the 2007 Stars Under The Stars concert in just nine days. Classic Flyers NZ can make it even more magical with hospitality packages to welcome the outdoor concert series back onto Tauranga’s summer events calendar.
Visit: facebook.com/starsunderthestarsnz Journal | 57 | S P R I N G
SOCI A L CLU B
Our top picks for apps that make living life easier and more enjoyable.
TAPMEASURE – AR UTILITY Haven’t got a tape measure handy or struggling to get the hang of fixing things to the wall? TapMeasure combines computer vision and AR (Augmented Reality) to create a new way of measuring and visualising your space. Whether you’re wanting to measure something quickly, save yourself future arguments about whether or not a picture is straight, or have some fun by creating a scale-accurate 3D room model, this app is the fastest, smartest way to measure a physical space.
the right filter to make that photo pop, it’s everywhere we turn in today’s society. And quite frankly, it can be all too consuming. In Moment is here to help put a lid on this anti-social behaviour by tracking and limiting your social media activity. The easy-to-use app is basically your personal assistant for fighting against wasting time and procrastination – whether you want to make yourself more efficient or just free up time for your friends and family. By tracking how much time you spend on apps, for example, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, LinkedIn and Twitter, it can determine your most-used social media platform, set daily limits for usage of social media apps, and block access when you’re over the limit. So if your goal is to break that social media addiction, let In Moment lend a hand.
UVLENS – UV INDEX IN MOMENT Social media. From mindlessly checking your Facebook or Instagram accounts countless times a day to selecting
The threat of sunburn is quite possibly the worst part of summer. So with the warmer months just around the corner, the UVLens app might be just the partner to your bottle of sunscreen. Journal | 58 | S P R I N G
Founded by Kiwi start-up Spark 64, UVLens allows consumers to measure UV levels and whether they need to apply sunscreen at the swipe of a smartphone. You can also plan ahead by checking out the likely UV levels two days out, and be fed valuable information on what protection certain skin types would typically need at those levels. Set up sunscreen reminders so you don’t forget your next application. It’s a cool and informative way to stay sun-smart this summer.
SKYSAFARI This app puts the universe at your fingertips and makes stargazing fun for the whole family. Simply point your device to the sky using SkySafari and right there it will unlock 120,000 stars, 222 of the best-known star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies – including all of the Solar System's major planets and moons, and more than 200 asteroids, comets, and satellites. The easy-to-use telescope astronomy software app is packed with information and engaging graphics about planets, constellations, satellites and millions of stars and deepsky object.
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MEET UP, TWEET UP Blink PR’s resident tweeter, Alison Brown, and long-time local Twitter enthusiast Richard Irvine share their musings on Tauranga’s inaugural Tweet Up. Eight strangers walk into a bar. "Where are you off to honey?" "Oh, just meeting some strangers from the internet." On Twitter, you can talk to people from around the world or down the road, form life-long friendships and even fall out, all without leaving the house. But there's nothing like meeting up IRL (In Real Life). And so, on an icy night in early June, a group of tweeters ventured to the Barrel Room bar for the inaugural Tauranga Tweet Up, with most people meeting for the very first time. It's fair to say it can be slightly awkward meeting people you've only communicated with through a keyboard before. It was a small but warm-hearted affair, with everyone chatting away and soon discovering plenty in common. We all had an interest in social media and many of us were avid sports fans; Black Caps coach Mike Hesson’s unexpected departure from the team earlier that day was a talking point before the conversation veered off in the direction of Tauranga’s growing pains and lack of decent public transport. This became all the more apparent when someone who was expected to
join us tweeted that his bus failed to arrive. He tweeted his frustration and we commiserated with him in real time (#unreliable and #disgusting). Twitter is just one social network among many – its strength is breaking news and it’s one of the few platforms where you can get a real-time feed that isn’t influenced by the rules of ever-changing algorithms. It also has a strong sense of community. New Zealand city hashtags like #lovethetron (Hamilton), #dunnerstunner (Dunedin) and #whywellington (erm, Wellington) boost civic pride and help the locals share the best their regions have to offer with each other and the world. So, what should the Bay of Plenty's hashtag be? #BOPme and #playbop were contenders – the field is wide open, so why not log on and add your own suggestion. And keep your eyes peeled for the next Tauranga Tweet Up, coming soon to a bar near you. Connect with Alison (@alisonbrown77), Richard (@ richirvine) and Blink PR & Marketing (@BlinkPR_ NZ) on Twitter and be part of the conversation.
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GETTING TWEETY WITH IT Our Twitter picks for conversation starters in 140 characters or less. MIRACLE CAVE RESCUE The plight of the Wild Boar football team and their coach, trapped in Thailandâ€™s Tham Luang cave network for 17 days, captivated the world in July. Their dramatic rescue played out on social media and was keenly followed on Twitter where people used the hashtag #ThaiCaveRescue to keep upto-date with search and rescue efforts. Reporters covering the event used the platform to keep viewers and readers informed in real time. Twitter was also used as a
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space for people to express their support and best wishes for the Thai Navy Seals and international rescue team then, later, to share their delight in seeing the 12 boys and their coach exit the cave safely, recover in hospital and be reunited with their families. Artwork and cartoons posted to Twitter and retweeted hundreds of times helped to document various stages of the miraculous story as it unfolded, truly demonstrating the power of Twitter to unite a global community.
including Microsoft, Amazon and Google, prompting the hashtag #NuggsForCarter and propelling the tweet to become the most retweeted of all time within 34 days. Wendy's gave him a year of free nuggets. As of July 2018, the tweet had more than 3.6 million retweets. A list of 40 most retweeted tweets is compiled by Wikipedia. Twitter does not provide an official list. Members of the UK boy band One Direction have written 12 of the 40 most retweeted tweets. South Korean boy band BTS, also known as the Bangtan Boys, can claim their Twitter account is responsible for five in the top 40. Former US president Barack Obama has written four of the most shared tweets of all time. Hillary Clinton’s tweets feature twice on the list.
You may never have heard of Carter Wilkerson – unless you’re on Twitter and you share his urge for deep fried, processed balls of chicken. For more than a year, the allAmerican footballer from Reno, Nevada has held the record for a tweet that has received the most retweets on Twitter. “How did he earn that status and topple talk show queen Ellen DeGeneres’ famous celebrity selfie tweet from the 2014 Oscars?”, we hear you ask. In April 2017, Carter tweeted fast food chain Wendy’s asking how many retweets he needed for a year of free chicken nuggets. When Wendy's replied with "18 Million", he accepted the challenge. The tweet received unlikely support from several major companies Journal | 61 | S P R I N G
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Films, books and box-sets Electronic escapism takes many forms. Music, film and even the humble book are being consumed as digital data rather than in their classic analog forms. And now arcade games – which have long been at the forefront of digital entertainment – are morphing into genuine eSports.
ARE YOU GAME? THE ORIGINS OF eSPORTS eSports. Yes, you heard right. It’s a thing, and a huge thing at that. To get you up to speed, Electronic Sports or Pro Gaming is a form of competition where pro-gamers from around the world converge to play against each other in arenas filled with 52,000 or more screaming fans. Adding to the hype is that most eSports events are live streamed through various channels, with Twitch.tv the most popular domain. Mainstream media is also starting to take note of eSports’ rapid ascension. ESPN holds the coverage rights for the main tournaments on the Major League Gaming calendar, where core viewership is between the ages of 18 and 34 and approximately 85% male and 15% female. To put it into context, eSports is just like any other spectator sport with adoring fans. Except, it’s minus the glitz and glamour – being mostly a bunch of guys and girls sitting in front of an elaborate computer setup, pitting their strategic wits against each other in team battles. Gamers start competing in their
mid to late teens. But because of the rigorous training schedule and immense stress involved at the competitive level, most players retire in their mid to late 20s. Unlike most other sports, gaming stars are very accessible to their fans, often providing live streaming Q & A sessions. A whopping 380 million people tuned in to eSports in 2017, and this figure is only set to grow. There is big money here. For example, the Dota 2 game that
paid out $56 million in total prize money in 2017. Competitive gaming predates the Digital Era, stretching all the way back to 1972 at Stanford University with the game Spacewar. Regarded as one of the most important and influential games in the early history of video games, students were invited to play the space combat game for a grand prize of a year’s subscription to Rolling Stone magazine.
FUN FACT E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) is considered one of the worst games ever released by Atari. Rumour has it, the arcade game company had so many leftover copies, it dug a massive hole and buried the cartridges somewhere in the New Mexico desert. This soon became an urban legend. In 2014, a documentary called Atari: Game Over showed several of the games being unearthed. The Smithsonian Museum has added a few of these cartridges to its collection. Journal | 62 | S P R I N G
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In the 1980s, Walter Day founded Twin Galaxies, a place where kids could hang out and play arcade games. Walter promoted the video games by posting high scores and publicising the records in publications such as Guinness Book of World Records. Like any sport, eSport is more than just fun and games, and this is highlighted in documentaries on the competitiveness of arcade gaming: The King of Arcades (2014), Man vs Snake: The Long and Twisted Tale of Nibbler (2015) and The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007). Today, eSports is experiencing explosive growth with a network of professional gaming leagues and tournaments catching the eye of global brands that want a slice of the action via sponsorship and rising prize pools. One documentary investigating this phenomenon is Rise of the Supergamer (2016). Dozens of games make up an eSports tournament’s arsenal, but currently the
FUN FACT First released as "Puck-Man," the name was later changed to PacMan. The original name evolved from the Japanese word paku, meaning "chomp". But given the closeness to a certain explicit word, vendors where worried that vandals would scratch out the P in Puck and replace it with an F, so Pac-Man was born.
A whopping 380 million people tuned in to eSports in 2017. biggest games on the planet are: League of Legends, DOTA 2, Overwatch, Call of Duty: WW2, Starcraft 2, Halo5: Guardians, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite Battle Royale. In efforts to attract a wider audience to view the Olympic Games (particularly younger generations), Japanese organisers are reported to be heavily involved in a bid to bring eSports to the 2020 event. This seems apt given Japan’s reputation as a major video game industry centre. According to the BBC, Paris 2024 Olympic organisers confirmed they would discuss introducing eSports with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) before they were named host in September. Furthermore, competitive video gaming will be a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games. But, if eSports want to be taken seriously, it has some major issues to remedy first. Racism and sexism are a huge problem. Women continue to be marginalised due to an ‘all boys’ mentality, while the ones who attempt to break down these barriers are often pushed to the side or excluded in favour of a fully male team. The pay gap between promale and female players is also extreme, with some of the top pro-male players earning millions Journal | 63 | S P R I N G
of dollars each year, compared with their female counterparts taking away a fraction of that. Furthermore, racism is rife in the sport with competitors, emboldened by the security of their screen and keyboard, spewing racist taunts – particularly towards the Asian community. Still considered an old boys club, eSports needs to get with the times because the reality is that half of its gamers are female. There’s also a drug problem within the pro-gamer community. Players will frequently partake in prescription drugs to sharpen up their senses. Match fixing’s corrupt tentacles are now reaching out to the digital sphere too. The greater issue isn't the players themselves cheating, as much as the exploitive system. The pressure to perform is high, and cheating or losing on purpose represents a way to keep the lights on in the apartment, but more importantly the game running. Team sponsors are preying on the young and inexperienced players on opposing teams, susceptible to making some quick and easy money, with requests to throw a match for a slice of the winnings. Caving into this pressure, it is often apparent this is the case with players showing little effort to hide this strategy. • Christiaan van Rooyen
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THE UNPLUGGING OF TRADITIONAL TV ADVERTISING? Who can recall the last television advertisement they saw? If you can’t, then it’s probably not because it failed to catch your attention, but because you’re part of the movement glued to Netflix or Lightbox. World-wide, and here in New Zealand, millions of people are switching their viewing habits from traditional television to commercial-free online viewing. Game of Thrones, Suits or Stranger Things. Entertainment is fast becoming an uninterrupted all-you-can-eat buffet. Why waste your time with ads when you can gorge yourself on multiple episodes of a series, or settle in for an all-weekend binge? Television viewing practices and new expectations about the availability of commercialfree, high-quality, and original television content are more important than ever. Today, people want instant gratification and to be able to choose what they watch with no ads, all at a reasonable price. The latest data from researcher Nielsen (in January) shows that 1.2 million New Zealanders now have access to a Netflix subscription. Nielsen's Connected Consumer Report for 2018 said that this equated to approximately 434,000 households across the country – almost doubling its reach since December 2015. Lightbox, its biggest subscription video on demand (SVOD) competitor, according to its annual report, currently reaches 810,000 New Zealanders via 300,000 nationwide subscriptions. Those are serious numbers, and ones which
TVNZ and MediaWorks have had to grapple with fast to curb the apparent loss of viewership. Both make almost all of their money via advertising, especially primetime, which remains a lucrative market. Surprisingly, TVNZ even reported increasing its profit for the six months to December 2017 by a third, to $17 million, and advertising revenues from both its broadcast and online on-demand service rose, to a total of $162 million. While the question should be whether this ondemand revolution could in fact kill the TV star, Netflix may have just thrown the state broadcaster a bone. Rolling out a test run of unskippable advertisements that appear between episodes of various shows for some users, Netflix has drawn the ire of its audience. While asserting that the feature is not a permanent one, the damage could already be done, with many voicing their dissatisfaction, given that one of the service’s primary appeals is content uninterrupted by commercials. For Netflix it seems the reality of running a service without advertising revenue to prop it up and creating the original content users have become accustomed to has hit home. It will be an interesting watch to see which platform people turn off first. • Luke Balvert
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Journal is the Western Bay's quarterly celebration of good writing and in-depth thinking. Within these pages you will find news, reviews, o...
Published on Sep 9, 2018
Journal is the Western Bay's quarterly celebration of good writing and in-depth thinking. Within these pages you will find news, reviews, o...