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Restaurant quality pasta, at home: Pasta Vera


Christchurch’s Pasta Vera not only supplies the country’s top eateries with fresh pasta, but is on a mission to help Kiwis achieve restaurant-quality pasta dishes at home. Its delicious and high-quality offering now extends to a new retail range, vegan options – and even a celebrity collaboration.

 

 

The new retail range of fresh ribbon cut, gourmet filled pasta and pesto is available at New World, Raeward Fresh and Fresh Choice supermarkets around the South Island.

This includes a smoked salmon tortellini; a mushroom, walnut and feta ravioloni, and the new vegan products made of high-protein hemp and spinach in a pumpkin and ricotta ravioli, tagliatelle and vegan pesto.

“It’s not often you see fresh vegan pasta, so we think it’s a great point of difference,” says Pasta Vera’s Tania Lasagne.

Over lockdown, Pasta Vera was an extremely popular online delivery option, with the business often being asked for cooking instructions and recipes.

This ignited a collaboration with much loved local celebrity chef, Jax Hamilton, to create high-quality gourmet dishes that anyone can make in under 10 minutes.

Browse mouth-watering recipes – like mushroom, walnut and feta ravioloni with white truffle, parmesan and mascarpone sauce or vegan tagliatelle with pesto, chilli and pumpkin – at pastashop.co.nz.

At its famous factory shop in Wigram, ready meal options are the perfect accompaniment for your summer holidays – especially the 3kg lasagne range, which can easily be popped into the oven after a long day out for a crowd-pleasing meal in minutes.

Stop into the store at 1/2 Musgrove Close, Wigram or ask your local supermarket if they stock the Pasta Vera range.


 

The magic of Marlon


From home in the portside township of Lyttelton, music has taken alt-country troubadour Marlon Williams around the world, from The Yarra Hotel of inner-city Melbourne, to The Troubadour in Los Angeles.

It was the latter where Bradley Cooper spied his Kiwi-born and bred talents, seeking Marlon out to appear in his 2018 Academy award-winning film, A Star is Born.

There have been several film and television appearances since and more still to come out in the New Year. But it’s making music that still has his heart.

Marlon’s new album Plastic Bouquet hit the streets on December 11, his first new music since 2018’s award-winning Make Way For Love, made post breakup from Kiwi folk singer-songwriter Aldous Harding.

Collaboration – a strong theme of Marlon’s career – has once again proven a winning formula, this time with Canadian folk duo Kacy and Clayton’s musical talents providing the
cumulative glue, with the three musicians finding common ground between a lifelong shared passion for western country, folk and troubadour traditions.

It was driving through Europe with his band when he came across the duo’s ‘Springtime of the Year’. “It was an incredible vocal performance and song and it was just one of those musical moments when you get stopped in your tracks,” Marlon says.

“From there I very overzealously reached out to them and asked if we could make music together. Within a couple of days, we had decided to make an album.”

He hopped on a flight to Saskatoon for Christmas 2018 and together they wrote and recorded the bulk of what would become Plastic Bouquet over the course of just three weeks.

“This year being what it is, even February feels like a lifetime ago. So it’s been almost two years to the day. It doesn’t normally take that long, but in this case it has, so we’re super excited to get it out.”

Every December, Christchurch enjoys the start of summer as Saskatoon begins to freeze over. But despite hailing from opposite sides of the world, there was an immediate connection between the trio. “We found a dynamic that worked well, because we all love old Bob Dylan and Merle Haggard and have the same sense of humour,” Marlon says. “We’re kindred spirits.”
If there was a theme to the 11-track project, it was the dichotomy of familiarity and strangeness, he says.

“It’s the idea that we both come from the same place musically, but obviously culturally and geographically from somewhere very different, having faith that everything would blend together in a way that makes sense.”

Music has been something that has always made sense for Marlon, whose career has been a natural evolution. “I’m not a well organised person,” he laughs.

“I don’t plan a lot and I don’t think about the future that often, life just keeps rolling on and now this is what I do; I don’t do anything else.”

But he admits there came a time in his third year at university when, with a tour on the cards, he had to make a call between committing completely to music and finishing his degree – the only caveat from mum, visual artist Jenny Rendall, that he take it seriously and commit as much time to his musical pursuits as he had been committing to university.

This lack of planning ahead mirrors his approach to making music as well. “I don’t go into it consciously with intention, unless I’m collaborating, then it might be more systematic.”

Right now, he’s driven by the freedom to explore. “I’m most thankful for this time in my life, being where I’m at right now I’ve got time to figure things out, make mistakes, try and give things enough space to go somewhere new.

“Simply put, freedom of creativity.”

Marlon has been hunkered down in his homeland during the global pandemic, which thankfully fell outside a big tour cycle for the singer, who spends eight to nine months a year on the road. He’s spent the time writing, reading, working on a film soundtrack and learning te reo Māori, the latter for an album he’s working on that will be exclusively in the language.

But for now, he’s enjoying some down time in Diamond Harbour before his New Zealand tour kicks off in February, that will take him from Invercargill to Auckland. He’ll be performing locally at the James Hay Theatre from February 25 to 27.


 

From the edge to the big screen


Conquering her own struggles with mental illness has seen Kiwi woman Jazz Thornton co-found a global charity, write two books and speak at the United Nations, now she speaks with Metropol ahead of her next journey – to the big screen.

 

 

Jazz Thornton is driven by one overwhelming motive – to make others dealing with mental health issues feel less alone.

And when Girl on the Bridge is released at the end of this month, viewers will see just how hard the 22-year-old works to do this.

The feature documentary, directed by Kiwi filmmaker Leanne Pooley, follows Jazz during the pivotal two-year period she was emerging out of her own struggles with suicide to become a powerful advocate for mental health.

“The biggest reason for me is, when I was going through everything, when I was sitting in the psych ward – I felt like the only one,” she tells Metropol.

“If people were talking about it when I was going through it, I might have felt less shame and found tools and some hope sooner than when I did.”

A survivor of childhood abuse, it wasn’t until after her 14th suicide attempt that Jazz made a decision to “not to be another statistic and to fight for herself”.

That fight has ultimately led her to fight for others, too.

Since she has started sharing her own story, she has co-founded global mental health charity Voices of Hope; directed an award-winning web series; published her book Stop Surviving, Start Fighting, with her second book to be released in January; addressed the world’s leaders at the UN; had coffee with Prince Harry and Meghan to discuss the subject, and now, been the subject of a documentary.

The documentary follows Jazz’s journey as she was embarking on the award-winning 2019 web series Jessica’s Tree, which pays reflective tribute to the eponymous friend whose life she could not save.

Girl on the Bridge is being released internationally on September 21 – online so viewers can watch it privately – and taps into the “how” of suicide prevention.

Which, alongside behind-the-scenes work to increase mental health funding the world over, lies in the conversations we have with each other, says Jazz.

We need to have conversations beyond the basic, “How are you? Good” exchanges, she says.

“Start saying how you’re really feeling, start telling people and keep saying it until someone listens.

“Don’t try and do it by yourself. Talking to people is the biggest and best thing you can do.”

When Jazz was a teenager dealing with dark times, there were very few conversations happening on the subject.

“I don’t remember really ever talking about it growing up. I think we might have had one health class on it in school, but it was not something we ever talked about.

“For so many years I felt like I was the only one. John Kirwan, when he came out with his story it was the first time I thought, ‘Oh this is actually something’.”

Seeing these conversations change and stigma be lifted is encouraging, she says.

“Seeing people willing to ask for help is incredible to see.

“I will always keep sharing my story so people begin to understand the reality of mental health and suicide in our country.”

Jazz hopes the film not only brings people together but allows them to understand, “they might not be able to change the entire world, but they can change someone’s world.”

Watch the documentary at
www.girlonthebridgefilm.com


 

Super Summer Sound


The wide appeal of Kiwi supergroup L.A.B is making waves here and abroad. Metropol catches up with lead guitarist and vocalist Joel Shadbolt ahead of their Christchurch show.

L .A.B, pronounced as each letter, but representative of a laboratory where pioneering ideas are cooked up, is behind one of the country’s most popular songs of the moment.

The nostalgic Kiwi summertime bop, ‘In the Air’ has spent 35 weeks in the Official New Zealand Top 40 Singles chart, 33 of those in the top 10 and three as number one.

It’s the first New Zealand number one since Lorde in 2017, the first independent single since Flight of the Conchords in 2012 and is nominated for a coveted 2020 Apra Silver Scroll song writing award.

Comprised of members of some of New Zealand’s most well-known bands of recent decades, L.A.B’s five members are Kora’s Brad and Stu Kora, Katchafire’s Ara Adams-Tamatea, and Miharo Gregory, and Joel Shadbolt.

Joel told Metropol how the accidental success of ‘In the Air’ has help the group – who have three albums under their belts since forming in 2017 – cement its sound.

“The thing with ‘In the Air’ is none of us thought it would be a number one hit,” he says. “It keeps growing legs with how long it’s been out and just keeps going.”

The reason for that?

“We think people are attaching themselves to the nostalgic sound. Lyrically, it’s about young love, it’s very much about that summer love.

“Musically, it’s more of an old school song feel. It’s different from other music which is prominent at the moment, but it seems to resonate.”

Starting life as a Kiwi reggae band, the supergroup’s sound has developed to put its blues, rock, RnB, and funk influences more centre stage.

“When I hear [‘In the Air’], I hear influences from the ‘70s with the basic beat, simple guitar chords and bassline – yet when kids at school hear it, they can hear something fresh in it because it’s not what they’re used to hearing.”

And it is inspiration from that era which the band is really tapping into, he says.

”The older the sound we try to come out with, the more it seems to resonate with audiences as something new.

“We’re influenced by the music we were brought up on. We have really close connections with music from Bob Marley and Stevie Wonder, their music resonates with all generations and when we write our music we’re conscious about doing that, too.”

‘In the Air’ is from L.A.B’s third album, which Joel sees as a turning point for the band, which he says will be further demonstrated in its fourth album due to be released this summer.

“In our third album we found the groove so to speak. You can definitely hear Kora and reggae more so in the first and second albums. The third, we don’t ascribe it so much to other bands, we just hear it as L.A.B.

“The sound is always evolving, but now we get to the point where we’re say that’s an L.A.B sound.”

Covid-19 disrupted L.A.B’s planned Australian tour as well as shows in Auckland and Hamilton. However, once the country went from Alert Level 4 to 1, the capacity of the New Zealand shows were increased – and the concerts were the first major events to take place amidst a global pandemic.

“Because of the pandemic we’ve been able to reschedule and make the shows bigger. We went from 1000 people at the Power Station to 6000 at Spark Arena, and also ended up playing to 6000 at Cloudeland’s Arena instead of 1000 at The Factory.”

They will also be headlining a number of New Zealand music festivals this summer, should they go ahead due to Covid-19.

At which time, L.A.B will perform alongside other Kiwi favourites Benee, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Shapeshifter, The Upbeats, Broods, and Sola Rosa.

When the band comes to Christchurch in October Joel says audiences here can expect to hear their super summer sound.

• L.A.B are playing Horncastle Arena on October 31. Buy tickets at www.ticketek.co.nz.


 

The cult of skincare


Discovering her skincare wasn’t safe during pregnancy sent Kiwi woman Emma Lewisham on a mission to create natural, yet powerful, products. Her eponymous range launched this year and already has a cult-like following. Metropol catches up with Emma about what it takes to create a coveted range.

 

A conversation with her GP about fertility in 2016 changed the course of New Zealand woman Emma Lewisham’s life – and quite possibly the country’s skincare industry.

“I was going through a bit of a turning point in my life, I had just lost my mother to cancer and was finding that really hard to come to terms with. She was really young, and I started to realise I was taking my own health for granted.

“I started thinking, ‘I’m in my 30s now, I need to think about how I live and the things I do every day’, I was also trying and struggling to get pregnant at the time, and so I was speaking to my GP about what I needed to consider for my general health.”

When asked what skincare she was using, Emma named a heavy-hitting product she employed to help even her skin tone.

“She said, ‘Stop using that right now’. It contained an ingredient which I found out was banned in Europe and Japan, but in New Zealand they still allowed the sale of it despite it having a lot of credible research behind it as a known carcinogen.

“And I just thought, ‘If I couldn’t use it then, why would I use it ever?’.”

The discovery of this unwitting pay off between her health and results set Emma on a journey.

“From there I knew I wanted to use more clean and natural products, so I went to pharmacies and health shops, but I was used to really high performing skincare and couldn’t find anything which would get those same results.

“I didn’t accept that you either had to compromise your health for results, or compromise results for using natural products.”

A global marketing executive for a Japanese tech company at the time, Emma was far removed from the science and process of creating skincare.

“I didn’t have experience producing skincare, but I had experience identifying gaps in the market and I just felt like I was onto something, and that it was going to resonate with people.”

And that it did.

Since launching last year, the Emma Lewisham range has gained near-instant notoriety.

Featured in top Australasian lifestyle magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, Viva, Remix, Mindfood, Mamamia, and on The Spinoff’s Business is Boring podcast, as well as influential blogs like The Twenties Club.

It’s also a favourite of Kiwi Victoria’s Secret model Georgia Fowler, her also-a-model sister, Kate, and fellow New Zealand-born, Aussie-based model, Eden Bristowe.

But developing a coveted skincare range doesn’t just happen overnight – it took three years of research and development and a team of scientists to bring her vision to life.

Those experts told Emma about research happening around the world into high-performing plant-derived ingredients.

To those not familiar with skincare, that may sound far-fetched.

But consumer interest in cosmetic skincare has skyrocketed in recent years, with the global industry projected to exceed NZD$1 trillion by 2025, according to business data platform Statista.

“I was very driven to get luxury high performing products at any cost,” says Emma.

“We sourced ingredients from 30 countries, and instead of focussing on two or three ingredients per product, we put up to 30 in and at up to two to four times higher concentrate than what was in the market.”

Initially launching with three products (a daily moisturiser, SPF and face oil serum) two more (a serum targeting hyperpigmentation and a night cream) followed.

She’s also launched Emma Lewisham Beauty Circle, where consumers can return any brand’s facial skincare packaging for recycling. And last week announced a refillable product option designed to reduce water and carbon emissions.

Emma, now a mother of one who visits Christchurch frequently to see her father who lives here, credits her tenacity to strong female role models.

“My grandmother, Patricia Crossett, was one of the first female CEOs of the day.

“She ran her own businesses and it’s from her where I got the belief that women can do anything and how to hold my own and be confident as a female in my career.”


 

Toast-ie of the town


Winter just got a whole lot tastier with the launch of the third annual Great NZ Toastie Takeover.

 

MCCLURE’S CHICKEN SCHNITZEL TOASTIE – CREDIT BABICHE MARTENS

 

Celebrating the delicious Kiwi staple that is the not-so-humble toasted sandwich, eateries around the country are once again putting their unique spin on the iconic snack.

The competition element of the Great NZ Toastie Takeover returns this year, with 83 establishments vying for the title of New Zealand’s top toasted sandwich in 2020 – a 66 percent increase on the number of entries last year.

Cook & Nelson and McClure’s Pickles have already started scouring the country for the best toasted sandwiches and they’re encouraging the public to do the same.

The 12 finalists will be announced on 3 August and will receive a case of McClure’s pickles and dine-in vouchers to give away to their customers.

The supreme winner will be announced on 3 September and will walk away with a year’s worth of pickles, more dine-in vouchers, a toastie trophy and, most importantly, bragging rights to the best toasted sandwich in the country.

And the toastie love is being spread even further this year with the public able to enter their own home creations in a separate category.

Simply create your toastie, tag it on the social media of your choice with #toastietakeover to enter the draw.

Participating eateries in Christchurch

• Bottle & Stone • City Social • Civil & Naval (Lyttleton)
• Earl Bistro • Grain Coffee and Eatery
• Joe’s Garage – Riccarton • Kin at Ballantynes
• Sign of the Kiwi (Governor’s Bay) • Terra Viva Cafe
• Terrace Tavern • The Tearooms at Ballantynes • Welles St


 

Wig-ging out


Gin Wigmore is using her extraordinary gravelly voice to speak up for the underdog. She tells Melinda Collins about a cause close to her heart.

 

Gritty, powerful and just a little bit badass could equally be used to describe Gin Wigmore’s music or her aesthetic and, while singing is still her first love, the Kiwi powerhouse who wrote her first award-winning song Angelfire at just 14 is now using her distinctively raspy voice to speak out and speak up.

Free for the first time of the constraints of a major label since her debut album, 2009’s Holy Smoke, the Auckland-born, now US-based singer and songwriter is “elated!”

“Truly elated. It feels like I have come loose from the pack to ride on my own. And I love it!”

Symbolising the milestone, her newly-released single Hangover Halo, is about finding contentment in one’s self, its inspiration drawn from “The lessons I have learned from youth into adulthood and in turn having a reflective moment on how simply being granted the opportunity to be born and exist on this amazing planet is one of a humbling and wonderful experience,” she says.

“So for that alone, I must raise a toast to being alive.”

Putting money where her mouth is, a portion of the proceeds of Hangover Halo are going to support Panthera – an organisation solely devoted to the conservation of the world’s wild cats and their ecosystems.

“For this specific single I am focusing on big cats, specifically tigers, as they are facing near extinction,” Wigmore explains.

“On a real basic level, I just think tigers are super rad and I don’t want them to die out due to human exploitation. If we are the problem, we are also the solution. We must be vigilant in their protection against poachers. We must be vigilant in protecting their natural habitats and making room on this planet for all other beings so we can co-exist in freedom and peace. And this is exactly what Panthera does; they work to protect the natural habitats for these beautiful animals as well as implement intensive training programs to prevent and apprehend poachers.”

The rest of 2020 will see Wigmore release a stream of music which will also support and highlight different endangered animals of the world and the animal charities that will be set up for donation in support of them.

But supporting the underdog has recently taken a literal turn for the long-time vegetarian. “I actually took the next step into a fully vegan lifestyle just a few months ago,” she says.

“For me, being vegetarian was not enough. Dairy farming is equally as cruel and f***ed up in its treatment of animals to be able to satisfy the demand on a global scale, so I decided I wasn’t going to be a part of that demand any longer.”

Singing was always her first love and despite now adding ‘hotelier’ to her list of professional credentials with the purchase of a hotel in the desert in Palm Springs, it is singing that still has her heart.

It was music through which Wigmore first connected with her now-husband, musician Jason Butler, who heads artist-oriented collective 333 Wreckords, and released Wigmore’s latest music.

“It’s very comforting to be in a creative collective that I love, respect and share similar beliefs with,” Wigmore says.

“I can 100 percent focus on my art without compromise and then completely trust the people working with me for their guidance, constructive criticism and approach to it all. It really is an awesome crew to be in.”

Together Butler and Wigmore have been heavily involved with the #BlackLivesMatter protests recently. “It has been a very big and monumental moment in time on all fronts!”

“LA is showing me what it’s made of right now,” she says of her new homebase.

“It’s loud, it’s free and it’s very powerful. The diversity, the perseverance for growth and change, the public outcry demanding justice for all and throughout all of this, there is a true feeling of community amongst the city. This is the precise reason I moved to LA and the reason I will continue to enjoy living here for many years to come.”

Wigmore has always packed more into her life than most.

On top of the hotel and music-making, she’s balancing a two-year-old, a newborn and an incontinent German shepherd rescue dog she added to the family just before the US went into lockdown.

“It made my world shrink overnight,” she says of lockdown.

“It made me realise, almost instantaneously, the seemingly mundane outings were the ones I took for granted the most.

Something as simple as a walk along the beach to see the horizon and the expanse to our lives was taken away; something as easy as popping into the store to grab a loaf of bread was now a fear-inducing exercise of patience, rules and restriction.

“It has been tough mentally more than anything, but it has provided me with a huge amount of gratitude for my two healthy boys, loving husband, awesome dogs and generous friends.”


 

Podcast supports small business


In New Zealand, small businesses are a big deal. There is, after all, more than 500,000 of them.

 

 

There’s a new podcast on the entrepreneurial block that has been designed to support and inspire local small business owners.

‘Kiwis in Business’ is a melting pot of informal, yet informative interviews by Public Relations specialist Linda Shackelford of Expand PR, who sets out to explore the different personalities, ideas and skillsets of innovative and entrepreneurial Kiwis.

The former journalist is impressed by the calibre of our local businesses.

“However, often smaller businesses go unnoticed and unrecognised or don’t know where to start on promoting themselves,” Linda says.

“My job is to uncover the inspiring and authentic stories behind business owners and their businesses and help get those stories out to the wider community.”

The first five episodes released on Spotify and Google Podcasts attracted positive feedback from listeners and Linda says she’s had an influx of emails from small business owners requesting to be interviewed.

“I am using my skills to highlight theirs – something which has turned out to be very fulfilling for both me, and other business owners, especially at this uncertain time when small business owners need all the support and publicity they can get!”

Each week, a new interview with a Kiwi business owner will be released to followers, with supporting content being rolled out on the ‘Kiwis in Business’ Facebook and Instagram pages.


 

The perfect venue: Barkers Food Store


The iconic Kiwi brand that has retained its roots on the original family farm at the foot of the Southern Alps in Geraldine, marked its rich 50-year history by opening the beautiful Barker’s Foodstore & Eatery.

The picturesque setting on the banks of the Waihi river, the impressive glass frame and a spacious interior unites the space with forest fauna and the nearby flowing stream.

The perfect venue to host your next after-hours function.

A beautiful artisan menu that features seasonal local produce and showcases the incredibly wide Barker’s range will delight and impress.

The friendly team are available to discuss any requirements you may have to make your function special.

For more information or to book phone 03 693 9727 or visit the website.


 

Raising an army


Until recently, University of Canterbury graduate and Kiwi entrepreneur Guy Horrocks was living in New York helping launch a new data management company, Solve. But, as the number of Covid-19 cases in the city climbed, cafés closed and business meetings were cancelled, he realised it was time to go.

 

Guy Horrocks

 

He and his wife, Rose, took their five-month-old daughter home to New Zealand, to hunker down at a friend’s house on Waiheke Island.

Guy, who graduated from the University of Canterbury with Law and Commerce degrees in 2007 and won the university’s Entré Startup Challenge competition in 2006, is relieved to be home but hasn’t been taking it easy.

Wanting New Zealand to act quickly to avoid the situation he saw unfolding in New York, he set up an entrepreneur group to lobby the Government for a lockdown.

He also began voluntarily helping UC’s Student Volunteer Army (SVA) mobilise a national volunteer response to help people affected by the Covid-19 lockdown.

“It’s a great story of entrepreneurs from different backgrounds coming together to help. For me personally, it’s a really cool, meaningful project that’s very rewarding,” Guy says.

His expertise helped the SVA build a call centre, payment system and shopping website that allows volunteers to deliver medicines for people who are unable to go to a pharmacy, provide childcare for people working in essential roles, and work with Foodstuffs to deliver groceries to the elderly and vulnerable.

“My focus now is trying to help with arranging funding and partnerships to make sure they can keep the service going.”