Local Heart, Global Soul

August 5, 2018

A Larger Than Life Portrait…

Filed under: ART,CHRISTCHURCH,Mural,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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This next Manchester Street, Christchurch, New Zealand mural is a stand alone, massive wall piece. The subject is a New Zealand Kiwis rugby league coach David Kidwell and the artist is Graham Hoete. Although I am viewing it from Manchester Street, the building it stands on is actually Lichfield Street, the space between the two being largely empty due to the high number of building demolitions after the 2010 earthquake. It’s photorealistic and also contains an image of him from his former playing days.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 28, 2012

Pinetree Lives Here, and You Really CAN call Him Tree!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are heading south today in the direction of  New Plymouth, the weather is good and we get a very early start.

The idea is to get some kilometres behind us and then find somewhere interesting to stop for breakfast.

One of the places we pass through is Te Kuiti and I wasn’t at all surprised to see references  in the town to it’s most famous son: Colin Meads.

Even if, (like me)  you don’t particularly follow New Zealand’s national sport of  Rugby, you would still surely know that Colin Earl Meads (born 1936) is regarded as one of the best players in rugby history.

Nicknamed “pinetree Meads” he was born in the Waikato but was raised on the family farm in Te Kuiti where he credited the hard physical labour of farm work for building up his renowned strength, strong physique and high level of  fitness.

Meads played 55 test matches (133 total games), most frequently in the lock forward position, for the  national team the All Blacks, from 1957 until 1971.One of Meads’ sons, Glynn  (nicknamed “‘Pinecone’ Meads) also went on to play rugby for the King Country region.

His strength and high threshold for pain became legendary — best illustrated when in a game against Eastern Transvaal in South Africa, in which he emerged from a particularly vicious ruck with his arm dangling horribly and obvious fracture, yet completed the match. When the doctor cut away his shirt and confirmed the break, Meads muttered, “At least we won the bloody game.”  

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Meads had the reputation of being “an enforcer” and was involved in some controversial incidents. In 1967, he was sent off by Irish referee  for dangerous play against Scotland at Murrayfield, and became only the second All Black suspended in a test match.

The British Daily Telegraph newspaper said of the incident that ‘For once with Meads’ worldwide reputation for robust play, “this was rather like sending a burglar to prison for a parking offence.”

The trophy contested in New Zealand’s domestic competition, the Heartland Championship, is named the Meads Cup in his honour.

The All Blacks website states ‘As a sporting legend Meads is New Zealand’s equivalent of Australia’s Sir Donald Bradman or the United States of America’s Babe Ruth.’

I just knew that Rugby would be considered ” the only real sport” in a place like Te Kuiti, but as someone who hails from a family with European influences and therefore a football fan I still had to laugh out loud when I saw the following sign on the roadside.  (my photo is a little blurry since it’s taken from the moving car) but it says:  “Welcome to Meadsvilleleave all soccer balls in the bins provided“.

In true Kiwi fashion Meads retains his sense of  down to earth informality and in line with his preference, locals call him either ‘Meads”or “Tree” when they see him.

I also see from another sign that Te Kuiti  is the “(sheep) Shearing Capital of the World”..  Haha ! wow Who Knew?!

We smile too at the Christmas good wishes in a paddock… and at the area’s version of the “Big Apple”… Let’s look around…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 27, 2012

The Day a Police Car, a Random Act of Kindness and some Wise Words Changed my Life…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I was going to post something different today but something happened this weekend that reminded me that one person’s actions can influence the path of someones else’s life forever.

Me?  I’m the person who was influenced.
I was given a gift, a very special gift.

Remember a few days ago I wrote about the Rugby Street Church in Christchurch New Zealand and the church hall behind it that has now been completely demolished due to earthquake damage?

Well this place holds a special place in my heart for more reasons than just the dances and fun times I  had there.

I went to this youth group because I was friends with a brother and sister who parents had a holiday house in the same place as my family did.

These two people came into my life during some turbulent years and I valued the fact that they accepted me for who I was and we got on well, so when they invited me to come along to their youth group I said yes.

My parents were semi-neutral about my joining this group and although I had a sister who rarely went out and for whom they were a ready and willing taxi service, when I expressed hope of the same it was made clear that my bike was in the bike-shed and if I wanted to get there, I could do so under my own steam.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Since I lived in the shadow of the Port Hills on the other side of town I therefore commuted to and from the friday night youth group by ten-speed bicycle.

One day when I was locking up my bike outside Rugby Street hall another member of the group, (“M”) came over and wondered why I hadn’t walked to the meeting. (It appeared that he assumed I lived close to the brother and sister friends who lived a short walk away.)

I laughed, told him where I lived and thought nothing more about it.
A few weeks later “M” came  and told me that he was really worried about the idea of me cycling home in the dark alone, especially through the often deserted one -way system that I used to get home.

I’ll explain why he said that.

In the “wisdom”and thinking of the day,  Christchurch’s City fathers planned the layout of their new city in a concise looking grid pattern before even leaving England, which got somewhat complicated when they imposed it on a landscape on the other side of the world that surprised them with added features like  meandering rivers.

The grid pattern road system worked well on paper, but when motor vehicles were added to the equation, reality was that the sheer number of intersections meant more traffic lights than city inhabitants and crossing the city became a nightmare.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One day someone had a bright idea and turned designated streets into one-way systems with synchronised traffic lights for speedy travel north/south and east/west on each of the four sides of the city centre.

Good, the system worked well enough, but it was synchronised for car speed and not bicycle speed so for cyclists there were many stops along it anyway.

I still considered the one-way streets safer than the very busy Columbo Street because there wasn’t much space on Colombo for bikes and I wanted to avoid the weekend inebriated who hung out around Catherdral Square.

The one-way systems were by far the quickest routes, but often the most lonely too, light industrial businesses had strung up along many of them, the inner city residences that there were, were few and far between and because this was an area of the city that  might be termed as “an old-established,  pre-regeneration area”  the houses tended to be more run-down needing some obvious TLC,  than inner city chic.

“M’  was worried about my safely cycling alone here at night and said he wanted to borrow his father’s car and drive me home. My problem with this idea was that “M” lived very close to the Rugby Street church and my house was a long long way out of his way… not only that, but it rankled with me that  I couldn’t afford to give him petrol money, so in my pride and stubbornness I politely refused his offer.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Several  offers of a lift later, also politely refused, and despite assurances that no petrol money was needed (after finding out that it was one of my reasons for declining)  “M” took matters into his own hands.

When I got on my bike and cycled home in the dark, he would follow a safe distance behind me in his father’s car, made sure that I got up my driveway ok, and then wave and drive home again.

Since I was resolute in my opinion that his actions weren’t necessary and hope he would grow tired of it,  I continued to cycle as usual and he continued this process until one summer night when our youth meeting had gone on far longer than usual.

It was well past midnight, but the weather was still balmy, it had been tropical all day so I was wearing a tee-shirt and skirt as I cycled  home as usual.
The one-way street that would take me south was Barbadous Street and it was really quiet… the odd car passed but other than “M”  following slowly behind the streets were deserted.

I’d been waiting at the traffic lights because of course they were phased for car speed and not cycle speed, and when they turned green off I went. All of a sudden I heard a strange noise… a sort of “whop whop, then a pause and again “whop whop”.

More than the noise I now noticed a strange light in the darkness and still cycling, turned my head to see what it was.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Imagine my shock to see “M’s”car pulled over to the side of the road with a police car next to it… there was no siren on but police car’s light’s were flashing and this was the strange light that I had noticed.

I turned around on my bike and cycled back to find poor “M” tying to explain to the police that he was on a mission to assure my safety and that he wasn’t actually stalking the female cyclist as it certainly looked to them.

The look of relief on his face when I arrived back to confirm his story will stay with me for the rest of my days, so will the incredulous looks on the faces of the police officers at the whole situation before them.

My pride and stubborness were knocked down quite a bit that night and not wanting to embarrass “M’  further we quickly thanked the police for their concern and intervention,  put the bike in the back of the station-wagon and drove  the rest of the way home.

Outside my door we sat in the car and had a long talk. It wasn’t about the petrol money “M” said, or the time,  effort or distance, it was because he really worried that something might have happened to me on one of these nightime journeys and he had the means to make sure nothing did.

He wanted to help, not only for me but for his own peace of mind… this had really been worrying him  and he wanted to help.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then he said words to this effect: “Sometimes someone just wants to give, they know you can’t pay them back, but that’s not the point… payback to me isn’t needed.

Maybe instead, one day, some time , somewhere in life you will find someone who has a need that you can meet.

It might have nothing to do with cash, it could be your time, your talent, a skill, a listening ear, it may indeed be financial … but most often you will find that your time and efforts are needed far far more than money.

When you see this situation and can meet the need, just do what you can and in doing so you will have paid me back in full.”

His words that night changed a lot of things in my life, not least  my attitude because it made a good dent in my stubborn streak.

The biggest lessons I have learned from this … is that help often comes to you when you least expect it and in guises you never dreamed of …. that giving back brings a satisfaction that you never imagined possible…. and that if you have your eyes open you will always find someone who could use a helping hand and that both parties can be richer for having given and received.

Whilst I have never “given”with the expectaion of anything in return, I can tell you that I have often experienced some very strange situations in my life in which seemingly unrelated chains of events have slotted together prefectly to ease a complication in my life.

Is this “karma”or a case of “what goes around comes around”? Who knows…

I am richer as  a person because  I have learned that when I give, I grow.

For various reasons I now longer attend church but I don’t think that having faith is necessarily defined by church attendance, for me it’s all about the maxim “to whom much is given, much is required“.

Sadly I  lost touch with “M” long ago, but I will continue to be influenced by him because his kindness and his words changed me and widened my horizons. I can only hope that every now and again he is blessed in receiving a random act of kindness from a complete stranger whenever he needs it too.

The best thing about a random act of kindness? …. Passing it on.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 23, 2012

The Pain of Just Doing What Needs to Be Done…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sometimes the discovery of a change is a shock that your were totally unprepared for.

Such is the case when we went a little further down Papanui Road and Rugby Street Church came into view.

I have been part of this church family and part of the youth group in years gone by.

Even more disturbing than the obvious damage to the Church was the almost complete absence of the church hall that once stood to the rear of it.

I was shocked to see that of the entire structure, only a remnant of the foundations remain. This was once a beautiful brick building, full of character, with very wide steps and heavy double wooden doors.

I have fond memories of meetings here, the musical we put on, parties and dances.  One such dance was a fancy dress ball, it was an eventful evening fron the start, with a flat tyre in the midst of Papanui Road weekend evening traffic, myself in costume standing on the pavement holding tools, whilst my friend tried to get the spare tyre  installed on the traffic side without getting his costume fouled up.

Passing cars tooted and passer-bys on the footpath made humourous comments so clearly we provided some laughs.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Later, at the end of the evening there was a strange tooting noise and in response we opened the double doors onto the wide steps to find headlights on full beam facing us just centimetres away.

My friend had driven the car  up the steps as far as it could go and we then proceeded to cram as many of us into the car as possible so that we could all be dropped off home.

It was an alchol free dance but we still had fun and we almost literally danced our feet off that night.

As was the usual routine, everyone bought a plate of food to share for supper and the evening was full of so much laughter that we were exhausted at the end of it.

We had a dinner there once that also had a little drama. Everything had been beautifully set out on trestle tables, there were flowers and candles… the  food was served and then one of the girls hair caught fire when she leaned over a little too close to a candle,  first there was an awful smell of burning hair for a few seconds  and  as we looked to see what was burning, we saw a bluish flame completely cover one side of her head …

…luckily the guy next to her reached out and ran his hand quickly over the flame and amazingly put it out in one swipe before she even realised that it was her hair that was burning.

He said later it was just an automatic raction that he didn’t even think about doing, he just instinctively did what needed to be done.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The girl however,  did freak out somewhat in the ladies loo’s later when she saw the singed damage but was very very thankful it wasn’t far worse.

Just doing what needs to be done seems to be the new theme for Christchurch citizen’s and their city… clearly the old hall was beyond repair and needed urgent demolition so it’s been done and it’s gone.

Murphy’s Law  struck and it appears that the Google Street View vehicle did of course make it’s way down the very busy thoroughfare of Papanui Road, but didn’t make it down the quieter Rugby Street from where there would have been a far better view of the old hall.

Oh well… just seeing a glimpse of it in the background has appropriate parallels to just seeing what’s left of the foundations now I suppose.

The church sits in it’s broken state with the spire braced on the ground in the front yard… a not too unfamiliar sight in Christchurch these days.

Oddly enough if Iook at the foundations of the old hall and then close my eyes, I can still see the building in all it’s glory in my mind’s eye. It’s as solid in my memory as it is absent in real life.

Writing about it helps with letting go, it lets me jot down the memories so that they don’t get lost in the jumble of all the other stuff that you have to cram into our brain on a daily basis. If one day my memory fails, at least the echo of what was before will remain.

(sigh) Ghosts of buildings and echo’s of memories past… sadly there will be all too many of those in Christchurch from now on.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The spire being on the ground gives me the  change to take in some of the detail I’d never noticed before…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Thank You Google Street View)

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