It can be a daunting feat producing a magazine every fortnight. Our hardworking team puts a lot into finding stories, getting in touch with all the required parties, organising imagery – and then designing it all into what you hold in your hands.
And before the finished copies are even delivered to letterboxes, cafes and stands – the next one is already underway!
One thing never lacking is the number of interesting and valuable local stories vying for position on Metropol’s pages.
And this issue is no different.
A few weeks ago we heard a whisper that Cantab and Hollywood bigwig, Phil Keoghan, was in town.
We reached out to The Amazing Race host, and were over the moon when he was keen to be interviewed and grace the cover of this issue.
So, I do hope you enjoy reading about his new reality competition which was inspired by none other than his hardworking West Coast grandparents.
The series has another local tie, too – it was edited, in part, from he and his wife and producing partner, Louise’s, MIQ hotel room in Christchurch during their recent trip home.
Bringing even more magic to our pages is the touching tale of New Zealand’s assistance dogs, chronicled in a new book by local author, Sue Allison.
Add to that our round up of the Canterbury Earthquakes commemorations, art show Van Gogh Alive, an Italian classic car show, commentary on seasonal fashion, health, beauty, home, and design trends – and you have something wonderfully, uniquely local to read this February.
The remote and rugged West Coast couldn’t be further from Hollywood. But it was Phil Keoghan’s hard-working grandparents from Westport who inspired his latest Tinseltown reality competition, Tough as Nails. Metropol catches up with the Cantabrian about his recent trip home, making TV in a pandemic – and how we could be in for a Kiwi version.
Television audiences – and reality competition contestants – the world over owe a lot to Phil Keoghan’s upbringing.
His father’s work as a plant scientist and mother’s teaching skills saw the family live around the world, contributing to the adventurous spirit Keoghan has harnessed as host for all 32 seasons of The Amazing Race.
Now, it is the practical skills of his West Coast grandparents which inspired Tough as Nails, a celebration of the physical and mental strength of tradespeople.
Born in Lincoln, Keoghan moved around a lot as a child – spending time in Canada, Australia and the Caribbean before returning to Christchurch as a teen to board at St Andrew’s College.
He spent his school holidays on the coast with his grandparents and extended family – mechanics, carpenters and farmers – where he learnt how to use tools and tackle practical tasks.
“I got an appreciation for people who work in the trades, and the idea that people had these skills they could use to fix things and make the world work,” says Keoghan, who not only hosts the show, but co-created and produced it with his wife and producing partner, Louise.
The second season – in which tradies compete in a series of challenges to win $276,000NZD and a Ford F-150 Truck – was filmed in Los Angeles during the Covid-19 pandemic and edited, in part, from the Keoghan’s MIQ hotel room in Christchurch.
His paternal grandfather, Jack Keoghan, was a particularly strong influence. He passed on an education scholarship to start working as a mechanic at just 13, and went on to become an aero mechanic in World War II, as well as representing New Zealand in target shooting.
“It always irked me hearing people talk down about people like my grandfather,” says Keoghan.
“That somehow intelligence is measured by where you went to school, or in order to be well read or to be smart you have to have a tertiary education.
“My grandfather was very well read, he was very smart, top of his class, and one of the brightest people I have ever met.
“Sometimes circumstances restrict a person’s ability to follow a certain path but that is not a reflection of their intelligence or contribution to society.
“I see so many people who are being honoured for being able to sing or dance well…but this show is really about acknowledging the people who make sure we can turn our lights on, that the toilets flush, that the roads are smooth, that we have food on our table and the world keeps working!”
The show’s first episode aired earlier this month, making it one of the only pieces of fresh television created during the pandemic – a tough challenge in itself.
Beyond the physical challenges of filming while observing social distancing and increased hygiene practices, the Keoghans were also responsible for the health and safety of hundreds of people working on the show.
The reality of which didn’t sink in until they landed in New Zealand in early December.
“Once we got into a quiet spot the weight of responsibility hit me. I was hugely relieved we were able to get through Covid-19-free, but I couldn’t shut my brain down from thinking what could have gone wrong.
“It was this horrible feeling of relief and also anxiety – it’s very hard to explain.”
Keoghan acknowledges such challenges are “first world problems” compared to those endured by healthcare workers and millions of people around the world who have faced health issues, or lost family members of livelihoods during the pandemic.
He says the idea of filming a future season of the US series in New Zealand away from the stress of shooting in Los Angeles while there is a pandemic, would be incredible.
“If I had my way I would love to make a Kiwi version of Tough as Nails as well, after all, it’s where the idea came from.”
A luscious lawn is the pride of many gardeners; an ongoing challenge of which the results signify habitual care, attention, and expertise. If you’re a green thumb who thrives off having a thriving lawn, Metropol has compiled some lesser-known tips to help you on your quest.
MIND THE HEIGHT
Short lawns are popular for an appealing, manicured appearance. But, the shorter your grass the more susceptible those green stalks become to disease and pests, as well as to dryness and dead patches. Instead, consider letting things go a little (to between 5 and 7cm) and only trimming by a third. This should leave you with a soft, carpet-like look – perfect those late summer picnics and games
Your hairdresser sharpens their scissors regularly for a reason: Blunt blades make messy cuts. When it is grass being cut, a blunt cut can also open up the chance
for disease to set in. For push mowers,
you can purchase drill attachments
which sharpen blades (so you don’t have to remove them from the mower).
Have a ride on? Talk to your dealer or
refer to the manual for sharpening instructions.
ALL CLIPPED UP
Freshly mowed grass not only smells delicious, but is entirely reusable. Before you chuck it in your green bin, why not consider…nothing? Leaving grass clipping where they land as mulch feeds the lawn and helps retain moisture. Or, pop it in the compost (turning often) and use it as mulch for other plants.
If health and wellbeing is on your mind this year – and it’s hard for it not to be – why not embrace technology to help you stay on the wagon? Outsource the monitoring of your holistic health with any number of handy phone and computer apps which do the thinking for you. Here are Metropol’s picks of some tech-savvy sidekicks.
A free meditation app, users can search by topic, person or time length to find a guided meditation or simply some relaxing music and sounds. In-app purchases allow you to take your meditation game up a notch.
Track your workouts on this handy app which can sync with your smartwatch to not only GPS your activities, but give you rather precise breakdowns of your heart rate and other health stats. Follow your friends to tap into some healthy competition, or keep it private for your own personal know-how.
“Period hacking” is a buzzword attracting serious hype as women are becoming more aware – or society is becoming more accepting – of how their fluctuating hormones impact their holistic health. Apps like Flo track your periods, ovulation and teach you about the symptoms of the different hormones which accompany each part of your cycle.
TEN PERCENT HAPPIER MEDITATION
A work-based meditation app, Ten Percent Happier offers meditations that help listeners focus in the office (wherever that may be these days). This paid app purports to improve team work and happiness if you get your colleagues (or staff) on board.
Just because the holidays have come to an end, doesn’t mean getting dressed should be any less fun. Here are Metropol’s picks of pieces to help build a work wardrobe you’ll be excited to get out of bed for – and that will take you from season to season.
Vibrant separates to brighten up the office, worn together or apart. S/W/F Boutique Restore Skirt and Top
Creating new dishes from last night’s (or the night before’s) leftovers is nothing new. But creating whole new products from the remnants of meals past? Welcome to the world of edible upcycling.
Food upcycling – where new edible products are created from leftovers, by-products and surplus food waste – is tipped to become big this year as conscious consumers and food makers alike look for delicious solutions to reducing food waste.
In New Zealand, it’s estimated about a third of our food goes to waste. So it’s little surprise foodie heavyweights like Kiwi chefs Nadia Lim and Ben Bayly are fans of the practice.
Food upcyclism takes foods which have imperfections – such as unusually shaped or minorly damaged produce, or items close to its sell-by date – and create whole new edible delights.
Upcycled products can include beer brewed from leftover bread – and leftover grain from beer brewing made into bread; damaged or funny looking fruit and veges can be transformed into nutrient-dense powders and sauces, and meat trimmings can become pet food.
Kiwis can keep an eye out for local brands like Citizen Collective beer and bread, Deja dog food, and Upcycled Grain Project’s range of upcycled crackers. Let the guilt-free snacking begin!
February is a month to savour the last of the long, hot (and sporadically torrentially rainy) days of summer, and – if you haven’t already – start shifting out of holiday mode.
And as we settle into a more business-as-usual approach to life this month, I can’t help but notice topics of health and wellbeing coming to the fore.
In my conversations with colleagues, family and friends of late, there seems to be a renewed vigour for fitness, experimenting with more plant-based meals and trying out meditation and mindfulness techniques.
This of course could be for obvious, pandemic-related reasons – whether that’s a newfound appreciation for the benefits of good health or making the most of lockdown-less freedoms (touch wood).
I am sure it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact I am now safely into my 30s, where I can confirm it is much harder to mask the consequences of overindulgence and under-exercise.
Whatever your reasons for paying attention to your health in 2021, this issue of Metropol hosts an insightful interview with Kiwi actress, and now author, Claire Chitham on page 26, where she shares helpful advice for looking after your health.
There is a healthy dose of other great reads, too, including Lorde’s journey to Antarctica, and interviews with the formidable Palmer sisters, Eve and Grace, on their hilarious new series, Good Grief, and Christchurch-based circus performer Emma Phillips.
Because what better way to boost your mood than reading about the talented and interesting people and businesses who make up our wonderful communities!
Late summer calls for clothing which can withstand changeable skies and seemingly sudden dips and spikes in temperature. Enter the midi skirt, a fun, flattering and feminine way to weather the unpredictable weather – in style.
Midi skirts catching our eye have evolved from the formidable slip skirts of recent times, into more floaty, voluminous and whimsical styles.
Ruffles, pleats and tiers are welcome, as are bright, interesting patterns which can be paired with a simple tee or tank.
Or, reverse those roles with a crisp monochrome skirt and statement tee or slinky top, and pack a shirt, jumper, blazer or denim jacket for an extra layer should those clouds (or winds) roll in.
Footwear-wise, these comfy-yet-polished pieces look perfectly at home with sandals, sneakers, boots and heels.
The best part?
These trans-seasonal gems will carry you through autumn and winter with ease, looking especially chic in winter with a turtleneck, wrap jacket, and heels.
In the last issue of 2020, I used this column to write about the year that was. Reflecting on those simpler, pre-pandemic times, I wrote: “We had no idea what was coming”
Re-reading those words before starting this editorial for the first Metropol issue of 2021, it struck me how the same sentiment can apply for the beginning of this, new, year ahead.
We never really know what is around the corner.
So, while we can make sensible choices to look after our physical, mental and financial health. We also shouldn’t try to load ourselves up with unrealistic expectation, either.
Sure, when considered and thoughtfully executed, goals can help us achieve milestone moments we might have deemed otherwise impossible.
But there is a hefty body of research which tells us those lofty aims declared at the beginning of each year, more often than not, fail. And usually before January is even through.
I get it, there’s something seductive about a new year. That pristine diary staring at you with its blank pages, tempting you to fill each one with big, exciting and life-altering plans.
Instead, why not take the pressure off yourself in 2021 and focus on the small everyday things, like getting up 15 minutes earlier to enjoy a morning coffee at home with your significant other, or fitting a pre-bedtime dog walk in a few times a week.
Afterall, it’s those small, daily habits on which our lives are truly built.