Wellesley Boutique Hotel: rugby, fashion, politics and me

Isn’t it funny how things happen: in Wellington for nearly two years, I had never heard of The Wellesley Boutique Hotel when in less than ten days I find myself attending three events there – rugby, fashion, and a soiree.

At the first, I was invited by  Peter Cullen (The Employment Law Firm) to breakfast to hear the great Hugo Porta (legendary Argentinian  No.1 fly half ) speak along with the All Blacks coach Steve Hanson, and Los Pumas former player and now coach, Santiago Phelan, talking before the 2012 Rugby Championship match in Wellington, New Zealand.  I enjoyed hearing all of them talk and especially, Hugo talking of the charity he runs – he is in the New Zealand Rugby Hall of Fame.

A week later, also by invitation to breakfast from Peter Cullen, I was there to hear Dame Suzie Moncrieff talk about WOW, the World of Wearable Art, due to start only days later. I have not been to a show, yet, but have been to its Gallery in Nelson  – I have also seen the touring exhibition when it was showing in Christchurch – at the museum – recently.

Dame Suzie, the founder of the World of Wearable Art (WOW) show, has made an outstanding contribution locally, nationally and internationally in the arts scene.

Once described as “Mardi Gras meets Haute Couture at a Peter Gabriel concert directed by Salvador Dali,” WOW twists conventional perceptions of art and fashion. WOW creates a world where art and the human form combine, and where dance, music and lighting blur the lines of fashion and art.

WOW is proudly a New Zealand event, but the extravaganza attracts thousands of visitors and dozens of entries from all over the world each year. Now in its 24th year, this year has been a big year for Dame Suzie:

  • She has been made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the arts in the New Years Honours;
  • She was a finalist in the Kiwibank New Zealander of the year;
  • She took WOW to Hong Kong for its first public show overseas where it played to sold out audiences.

She was an inspirational speaker.

The following day I was back at The Wellesley Boutique Hotel  for a celebration of their hotels in the greater Wellington region, and which is now part of the Heritage Boutique Collection, a division of Heritage Hotel Management.

As someone new to Wellington it was good to meet travel industry people from the Martinborough  and Wairarapa areas – they have convinced me I need to head over the hill for a few days to explore the region – and it’s great that summers coming!

I’m told the “Heritage Boutique Collection Hotels are designed for corporate, leisure and the conference traveller, and offer guests a certainty when selecting boutique accommodation because of our high and exacting standards” said Ronnie Ronalde, General Manager of Heritage Boutique Collection.

The Wellesley is a four-story Georgian Revival building (seems it won an architectural gold medal in 1932) that sits solidly on a quiet corner in the CBD – perfect for any guest to Wellington – handy to everything in this great walking city.

I haven’t eaten at the Wellesley’s Maginnity Restaurant – once I have I’ll let you know about it!

So there you go – never heard of a place and suddenly I’m a regular –and I’m back there later in October to hear the Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key.

Flying with Richie McCaw in a historic DC3

Not many can go flying with Richie McCaw; New Zealand’s much loved and admired All Blacks captain – I did!

However you can still fly in the historic ZK-AMY DC3 as I did, just without the benefit of a rugby hero companion as a fellow passenger.

Southern DC3 is committed to preserving this last plane in flying condition and as the trusts chair David Horsburgh (and AIR NZ airbus captain) said, “it’s thanks to passengers who help this happen” he continues, “its also the only plane where passengers can still go onto the flight-deck.”

This ‘old girl’ is only one of two still flying in New Zealand and interestingly, ZK-AMY was built by women and I’m told it has the same wing-size as a 737. The captain says it’s a “very soft ride’ almost like a “magic carpet”.

In this age of electronics they can fly this plane ‘with no instruments” , pretty good for a plane who is celebrating its 76th anniversary this month (December 2011) thirty years after the Wright brothers (and NZs Richard Pearse) first flew.

Richie (who is the patron of the Southern DC3) tells me the day before he had been gliding “one of the only places I can be alone”. Despite that he was very gracious with people who wanted his autograph or (like me) his photo.

But, back to the plane trip which left from Christchurch International Aiport: It was like a magic carpet, real curtains, great seats and walking up the aisle it felt like I was walking uphill and the views were fabulous as it flies so low. Only 3 weeks after the September 4th (7.1) earthquake it was good to fly over my city. The view will be very different now after the smaller, but more damaging February one.

The next flight with Southern DC3  is 11th December 2011. For more information about the DC3 Dakota see here – and enjoy these photos from my flight.

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Poignant photo from Christchurch & a letter to the All Blacks

This poignant photo I took in  Christchurch reminds me of the quake-ruined cathedral, the lack of Rugby World Cup events in my old city, the loss of  Lancaster Park/AMI Stadium, and now one of our Cantabrians, Dan Carter, being injured and out of the RWC (this time) too.

It also reminds us rugby it’s a team sport and we kiwis are part of the team so lets keep supporting black and keep painting it black.

Kia kaha ALL BLACKS – we’re behind each player.

So, enjoy the games, do your best and we WILL love you win or lose – we are proud of you all  –  you know that!

How to pick the best team for the rugby world cup (RWC)

  • How to pick the best team to follow in the Rugby World Cup : If you don’t have a particular local team to follow during the world cup colours are a great way to choose one. So, find the team whose colours suit YOU best and become their fan. If black makes YOU look cute, follow the All Blacks.  If green and gold are your favourite colours well it’s the Australian team for you as that’s their sporting strip.  There are many stripes of red, blue and white. Of course I’ll wear black!
  • When the forwards get into a huddle to fight for the ball the technical term is a scrum. Sometimes the “other team” behave badly when in this pack, (cluster or huddle) and have to be sent to the ‘sin bin’.
  • Learn history: NZ Rugby started in Nelson – it originated in the mid-1800s, in the UK, when some cheeky bloke called William Web-Ellis picked up the ‘foot’ ball and ran with it: or so I believe!
  • For your information: touch judges never touch anyone, and hookers are not REAL hookers – nevertheless, they are very import in the scrum as it’s their job to ‘hook the ball’ away for the ‘other’ team. When they do that they become happy-hookers, although this is not an official rugby term.
  • Learn some NEW ZEALAND rugby songs.
  • Compare rugby players’ thighs: This tip is from Bearshapedshere whom I met via travel blogs and had coffee with as she set off to travel in New Zealand on a bike. Her advice was to ‘check out the size of the thighs on various players or supporters – if they are big, and they usually are – stand near them to make YOU look petite.’
  • Use Numerology: Pick the player to support and follow by his number ( which as you know equates to his position on the field) For me that would be an  easy choice, as my local team, (Canterbury/Crusaders ) and the All  Blacks #7 is the worlds #1 (Richie McCaw )
  • Look sporty: Even if you are not sporty – wear a fashion label that implies you are. I don’t know if Miss World NZ is sporty or not but I took a photo in  trendy Rugby Girl clothes – and of course I wear it but don’t look as great as this young woman does!
  • Learn the rules and rugby-speak: That will amaze the boys (and other rugby watching and playing girls too) then pick a team (or player) and support them totally: remember they can do no wrong! A sign at the Christchurch Central library – ‘books with balls’ – Well, rugby is a game with balls! The commentators often make (inadvertently) funny comments when talking about balls and you can too.
  • Crouch, touch, pause, engage. This is a rugby term used when the forwards get into a huddle to fight for the ball. It can be used as a timing strategy in many situations that need a few seconds countdown. A friend uses it daily in her to get in and out of her apartment
  • The three biggest men are put in the front row of the scrum, and the next two biggest get behind (they call these men ‘the tight five’ because they hang onto each other tightly) them and try to push the other team backwards.
  • In the ‘olden days’ supporters would call out ‘weight weight’ meaning put more weight into the big shove. My mother embarrassed me by saying “No, don’t wait.’ I don’t think she understood nor had the advantage of a guide like this!
  • The ‘backs’ have mathematical terms for some position names – for someone lousy at figures it is not strange that my teenage love played as ‘fullback’ or #15 rather than one of the five-eights. Other names such as ‘centre’ #13 and ‘wing’ (11 & 14) are self-explanatory
  • The tight five is a dangerous place to be especially for ears. Many people don’t like cauliflower, and no-one wants their ears to be called that but many front-rowers have them because of repeated hits to the ear. Once this happens, the person’s ear may look lumpy forever. Some wise players try to prevent this by wearing headgear.
  • Read rugby history: this link is about the 50 greatest All Blacks: Knowing this will impress your rugby-head mates

PS:  unlike the photos, real rugby balls don’t adorn themselves with tiaras and pearls

What were my qualifications for writing this blog?

I can spell Rugby; I’m a girl, and . . .

  • I once, briefly, coached a rugby team of 7 or 8 year-old boys
  • My husband coached a team ( Shirley Club)
  • Buck Shelford is my cousie-bro (for the curious – his grandfather and my mother-in-law were twins) BUT, I’ve only met him once with the Maori All Blacks
  • I’m a one-eyed Cantabrian and an All Blacks supporter
  • My younger son played for Shirley, and Canterbury in the lowest grade (before losing a leg – from his waist down – through a motor-bike accident when he was 15)
  • I opposed the Springboks playing in NZ ( since about 1960) and was arrested and charged in 1981 for protesting
  • I’m opinionated and love fun – and these are my best qualifications to write this!

The World’s largest Pavlova

NOTE: I took the picture of this pavlova in the now-quake-damaged Christchurch cathedral (Feb. 2011) in the centre of Christchurch, New Zealand . The decision to restore it has now been made ( August 2018)


The World’s largest Pavlova –  50 sq metres ( the previous was 19 sq m) Australia and New Zealand still argue about who invented this sweet dessert …  NZ wins according to research!

The Bledisloe Cup sits in the middle of this rugby field shaped, cream covered sweet, and proceeds from the sale of slices of this will go to the All Blacks Charity.

Have you ever seen a Pavlova in a cathedral?
yum yum!
yum yummy times 3
Yum yum from us too

kiwitravelwriter sends congratulations to Richie McCaw “best rugby player on the planet”

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said he was “humbled” to be named the best rugby player on the planet for the second time in his career.

The 28-year-old New Zealand openside picked up the IRB’s prestigious Player of the Year award straight after leading his side to a comprehensive 39-12 victory over France at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille today.

He joined Ireland’s Declan Kidney (coach of the year) and the Springboks (team of the year) in picking up the three major senior awards announced by the IRB on the final weekend of the official autumn season in the north.

McCaw also won the player of the year gong in 2006 and is now the first player ever to have picked it up a second time. Read more here and in the ‘rugby” categories on this blog .

NOTE: Richie is also a big part of our local Canterbury team, and yes I am a one -eyed, red & black wearing Cantabrian

NZs all blacks captain, and me

did you read my post about Richie Mc Caw the All Blacks captain a couple of weeks ago?

Well, guess what, without being the stalker I must have seemed to be, he was on my flight back to Christchurch: I sent him my business card across the aisle via the flight attendant asked for a repeat of trying to take his photo.

He generously posed and here it is!

Promise I wont do that again Ritchie,  I am not a stalker!

I am a rugby fan, used to coach an under 10 team and had a son play for Canterbury as a child. (see the top of this page for the link to Girls Guide to Rugby)

Richie Mc Caw - NZ's ALL BLACK captain
Richie Mc Caw - NZ's ALL BLACK captain

all blacks captain, a fan, and a chinese rugby team

Flying to Wellington I was not surprised to find the captain of New Zealand’s rugby team the All Blacks waiting to get on the same plane: in the queue just like the rest of us – it reminded me how egalitarian we kiwi are.

I knew Richie Mc Caw would sit beside me, after all I’m in row one, surely Air New Zealand – as a sponsor of the All Blacks – would put him in the front row. But no, he sat in row 3 and I’m sad.

However, I have my camera in my hand luggage – I will try to get a  photo of him, hopefully WITH me,  when we get off,  after all,  I will be  off first so will able to catch him then.(lie in wait may be more truthful)

The first part goes well, I’m off first, and soon accost him. “can I take a photo please?” I ask, fumbling in my handbag.

He politely concedes to my request (&  how they must hate this!) and despite 3 attempts my damn camera will not work – how can I be a travel photographer and have this happen!

‘Do you have luggage?” I ask, no he doesn’t, so knowing I can’t delay him any longer, I thank him, telling him I’m writing a blog about the Rugby World Cup.

I get down to the luggage belt where my daughter is waiting for me …  after my text she was hoping to offer him a lift into the city with her and her mother, but no, of course he has a cab booked and walks straight past:  my daughter doesnt take a photo as she knows her mother will have!

Oh well next time!

Auckland’s first all Chinese club rugby team ran out onto the field last weekend for their very first game:  read more here  GOOD LUCK GUYS and ENJOY this new game in your new country.

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