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A skilful storyteller


Actor and director Martine Baanvinger takes centre stage in Lyttelton next month in a new one-woman play ‘Aperture.’


DramaLAB founder Baanvinger, who wrote and starred in the award-winning play Solitude, showcases the life and work of Ans Westra, a New Zealand Arts Foundation Icon photographer.

In 1957, Westra emigrated from the Netherlands to New Zealand and began to take photos of her new homeland.

Fascinated by Maori culture in particular, she created an intimate and uniquely historical documentation of Maori life which led to a successful career capturing the essence of the people of Aotearoa.

DramaLAB’s visually stunning and intimate portrait focuses on Westra’s childhood in the Netherlands, her immigration journey to New Zealand and the start of her photography career in the 1960s. Her first publications, including the controversial ‘Washday at the pa’, offered insight into the Maori way of life in rural Aotearoa at a time of urbanisation.

Baanvinger trained at the Theatre Academy in Amsterdam, evolving to create performances in a style where her audiences become part of the journey. Combined with physical theatre influences, this leads to unique creations where both drama and comedy are often equally present.

*Aperture is on Thursday July 29, in Lyttelton. Visit the Eventbrite website for more information.



A helping hand: Ricoh NZ

The children of today are the leaders and future-shapers of tomorrow and giving those in need a helping hand often makes a big difference. One organisation playing a vital role in this area is Christchurch Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS).


Jacqueline Campbell, philanthropy manager for the group, explains that like most charitable organisations BBBS is reliant on donations and volunteers.

Both are important, she says, to help youngsters in need of extra support achieve their goals later in life.

“Growing up I was lucky to have a very supportive family and extended whanau, and that has helped to get me to where I am today,” she says.

“Many of the children at BBBS don’t have that level of support and that’s where we come in.”

Currently BBBS has a lot of children in Christchurch waiting for mentors. “We are looking for everyday people to be friends with these youngsters and guide them in life. Professional people, semi-retired people, retirees, all sorts.”

Jacqueline says the need is for both female and male mentors. “Someone who has at least an hour a week to have some fun with a young person.”

Mentors are carefully vetted and then matched with children and young people. “We want to get to know our mentors really well, so careful and appropriate matching is done,” explains Jacqueline. “This involves interviews, reference checks, police checks, and more to ensure mentors are suitable and that they do have the time to put into helping out.”

Mentors are initially sought for children aged from six to 12 years, although BBBS supports the matches it makes up until age 18.

“Research says that having an extra role model at that age (six to 12) makes a big difference,” says Jacqueline. “We initially ask for a 12-month commitment, although the average mentor in Christchurch stays for 4.3 years.

“The difference you can make with one hour, once a week can impact a lifetime.”

Playing sports, hanging out, walks, playing board games, bike rides, crafts and more; how the time is spent is up to the mentor.

“Mentoring sessions are a fun, relaxed time when young people and their mentors hang out and build a friendship. It is all about spending one-to-one time together doing things both the big and little enjoy from one to three hours once a week.”

To learn more about how you can help, visit the website.


Growing New Zealand’s economy

Startup investments in New Zealand rose to $157 million by the end of last year, up substantially from $20m in 2006. The latest Startup Investment Report from PwC and the Angel Association (AANZ) shows that last year investors provided more follow-on capital than ever before, with 56 percent ($109m) of all investment being follow-on capital.



PwC Partner Anand Reddy says the commitment and result is heartening.

“This time last year, we were considering what impact Covid-19 might have on the world of startup investment and the importance of backing startups through periods of uncertainty. A year later, and the startup ecosystem has demonstrated not only its resilience but an increase in maturity,” says Reddy.

Suse Reynolds, Chair of the Angel Association, says that early-stage investment as an asset class is maturing in New Zealand.

“A noticeable trend is that deal sizes are getting larger as early-stage ventures and angel-backed ventures scale and require larger quantums of growth capital. This is a trend we expected, and we are pleased to see.

Reddy cautions however that government support for early stage startups remains crucial.


New look, same quality service: Honda Cars

Honda Cars Christchurch has been part of the Christchurch inner city landscape for over three decades. Residing in the same place on the corner of Montreal and St Asaph Street, shifting only once across the road briefly after the 2011 earthquake, has been New Zealand’s biggest volume Honda dealer.



The showroom was given a 12-month overhaul by Calder Stewart Construction in conjunction with Lonsdale Architecture, and this year has received top honours at the 2020 New Zealand Commercial Project Awards.

The Gold Award-winning showroom is very much a case of ‘the same, but different’. In other words, the layout is the same as it always has been, but that is where the similarities end.

The aim of the project was to retain all the familiarity of the old showroom but with added modern design touches and compliance with the latest earthquake standards, rather than simply demolishing the existing showroom and starting from scratch. This also meant the team of sales staff, mechanics, parts and technicians could still feel at home as before.

As the dealership faces north, it was logical to let as much light in as possible. The large glass windows allow for this, leaving Civics, HRVs and Type Rs basking in the glow of the day. From the outside, the first thing you notice is the outer façade stretching from end-to-end on the top half of the showroom.

From a distance, it reflects a modern and forward-thinking facility. However, look closer and you notice it is full of Honda heritage.

Each waving panel is made up entirely of retro-inspired emblems. Inside, customers have access to the café and waiting area; the perfect place to unwind while your Jazz or Civic Type R is getting the works in the servicing department. Talking of service, the company still retains the highest level of customer service satisfaction.

With plenty of parking on site and a modern and inviting award-winning showroom built to the highest possible standards. this business is here to stay.


Firing Kiwi-style

Most of us have seen his beaming smile on real estate hoardings and advertisements, and now Mike Pero takes centre stage weekly on TVNZ 1’s The Apprentice, Aotearoa.



Pero definitely knows business – he should do, given he’s made many millions of dollars for his companies. Aged 31 he launched the mortgage broking business that still bears his name and 20 years later expanded into real estate sales.

The winner of multiple business awards, he’s a motorcycle enthusiast and a six-time National Motor Cycle Road Racing champion. And now a television star!

The prominent business mogul heads a team of advisors in The Apprentice, pitting contestants against one another in challenges to test their business acumen. The first episode aired last week and although the trademark smile makes an appearance, Pero’s final words to failed contestants are still the familiar “… you’re fired.”

That said, the boardroom bullying that is a trademark of the original Donald Trump series in the USA, and Lord Sugar’s UK style too, has disappeared as Pero, and his advisors Cassie Roma and Justin Tomlinson, take a more “Kiwi” approach.

“I made it clear that my appearance on the show was conditional upon me not fitting the same description given to Trump and Lord Sugar. The producers Great Southern TV agreed that I could say what I liked, within reason, and run the boardroom as I felt necessary. The only pre-requisite was I had to lose at least one candidate per episode.”

His style is to offer constructive, educational and inspiring advice to those on the show and at home to apply to their own business endeavours. He’s there to bring out the best in them.

“Yes, I have the difficult task of dismissing one candidate each episode and that was difficult, even from the first episode.

“I would go home feeling quite sad after a firing. The standard of candidates was so high.

“My last three words to all candidates was “[name] … you’re fired!” I can still remember those words to each and every one of them. I’d like to add to those words and say “[name], you’re fired, from this show, but you’re going to continue to be a success. Go away now and show the world how good you really are – I hope we meet again!”

As to what he personally looks for in an up-and-coming business executive: “Like most Kiwi CEOs, all you want are good hard working team members that believe in fair trading, honesty, effort, commitment, drive and loyalty.

“The easiest way to succeed, I believe, is to recruit the right type of people from the beginning. You need people you can rely upon and people that will think like you – preferably smarter than you. They will be self-motivated and capable of making good decisions that bring value to the organisation.”

Age, gender, religion and nationality have no bearing on success, he says. “I have employed all types – from teens to 70-year-olds, a number of religions and various cultures.

With youth you can get fresh ideas and entrepreneurs that haven’t had a fall yet, but at the other end of the table I have found the wisdom that comes with age. The mature approach, often more cautious and not out there trying to earn a stripe. Women also bring a special intuition and a special sense that many men don’t have.

“I always advocated at least one woman (or more) on a board. They tend not to be too focused on egos. We men are always out to prove a point.”


Marvellous Marlborough

Marlborough is a feast for the senses. Just a four-hour drive from central Christchurch, the region is waiting to offer visitors its famous coastal landscapes, artisan experiences and sunshine hours. Head to the top of the South Island to enjoy the best of New Zealand outdoors and hospitality.



Home to the Marlborough Sounds, the region boasts stunning natural surrounds which offer bay after bay of native bush, beaches and unique accommodation. The Sounds are a boaty’s dream for fishing and water sports – often accompanied by dolphin sightings.

Savour the spectacular regional flavours at a vineyard restaurant in Marlborough wine country. Home to some of the country’s most world-renowned wineries and varieties, you can sample locally grown food and drinks while soaking up a feast of views, too.

For those who love the outdoors, Marlborough is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the pristine coastal and rugged bush landscapes. Tramp the Queen Charlotte Track, visit Motuara Island or summit Mount Stokes.

Marlborough might be small, but it is home to a unique collections of attractions. See where Sir Peter Jackson parks some of his collection of wartime aeroplanes at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Museum in Blenheim. Or, explore the Sounds by air in a plane or helicopter, private yacht or Land Rover.


Time to talk ovaries

One woman dies of ovarian cancer every 48 hours in New Zealand, with 85 percent of those diagnosed not detected until the later stages of the disease when treatment options are limited. And a growing number of organisations and brands are putting their weight behind calls to increase healthcare for the cancer ahead of World Ovary Day on May 8.



In March, a petition with more than 7000 signatures was presented on the steps of parliament, which had been adorned with 182 white crosses to symbolise the number of people who died from ovarian cancer in 2020.

Ovarian cancer kills more women than melanoma does, and more of them die from the cancer than on New Zealand’s roads. The survival rate is less than half of that for breast and prostate cancer.

Now, activists are calling for national guidelines to be developed, better treatment options and more government funding.

Currently, New Zealand has no national framework to identify the cancer, which is not detected by a pap smear. This means doctors can approach diagnosis differently, and that women need to know the symptoms to report.

A recent survey by Cure Our Ovarian Cancer found 90 percent of women could not name a single symptom of ovarian cancer before their diagnosis and most experienced significant difficulties in accessing the blood test and ultrasound required to find their cancer.

The founder of the charity, Jane Ludemann, co-organised the petition with Talk Peach Gynaecological Foundation co-organiser and founder Tash Crosby. The women both have been diagnosed with the cancer, and their experiences seeking diagnosis and treatment sparked them forming the respective organisations.

National Party Leader Judith Collins and MP Louise Upston have joined calls for the government to take more action, as have fashion brands Witchery and Camilla & Marc. Witchery’s annual white shirt campaign has entered its 13th year and Camilla & Marc have a limited-edition collection. Profits are donated to research in Australasia.

Find out how you can help raise awareness for ovarian cancer in
New Zealand at and


Cash-free coffee: Ricoh Pandemic Pivot

One Christchurch café is putting the “e” in coffee, making a post Covid-19 decision to use only electronic payment. Allpress Espresso has made the call to accept no notes or coins at its Montreal Street café.



Roastery and café manager James Nightingale says the cashless system has been largely well received, with staff and customers feeling safer about hygiene.

The café was also broken into in mid-2020, so Nightingale hoped having no cash on site would provided added security, too.

There is no legal requirement for a business to give out or accept cash, except if it is payment for a debt.

The café just one of a small – but growing – number of businesses going cashless in New Zealand, where less than two percent of New Zealand’s money is held in notes and coins.

According to Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford, a pre-Covid-19 survey revealed a very small number of businesses keen to be cashless, but the same survey post-pandemic saw a large shift.


Wedding gifts to love: French Blue

For something exquisite from a faraway shore, find cherished wedding gifts at French Blue. Treasures made to last arrive regularly on the eclectic shelves.



Pouches, market bags, cushions and table runners made from vintage French grain sacks will be here soon. Each has a unique colour-band representing its regional farm.

Other new pieces include beautiful Swedish-designed rugs made in Latvia using New Zealand wool, gorgeous French-linen cushions, Moroccan ceramic vases hand-painted by a French artist, and home interior coffee-table books.

Dress for the big day with a handmade Mexican necklace of freshwater pearls with statement silver centrepiece, or a gold-beaded bracelet from New York.

And waterproof, machine-washable coats designed by Danish Ilse Jacobsen are here for winter.

Find hand-picked forever gifts browsing at French Blue, 9A Normans Road, Strowan.


Boy meets world

A combination of talent and passion for mountain biking is what led New Zealand professional cross-country mountain biker Anton Cooper to be a world champion and a two-time Commonwealth Games medal winner. Metropol chats with the 26-year-old Cantabrian to find out happens when a pandemic shuts down your global stage.




Canterbury is well known as a cycle city, producing a growing number of big names in the sport. And Anton Cooper is one of those which stands out.

His impressive resume includes winning the U19 World XCO Championship making history as the first Kiwi to win a world championship in cross country cycling; win the U23 UCI Moutain Bike & Trials Championship; hold five straight New Zealand cross country mountain bike national championships (seven overall) and over 60 race wins.

Not to mention his recent second place in the hotly contested Christchurch to Akaroa Le Race.

Anton has been largely based outside of New Zealand, training from Europe and competing in countless international competitions.

“Having a good base in Europe is one of the biggest parts about have consistently strong performances at the world cups,” he says.

So, what happens when someone who is so used to being on the move was forced to press pause with a global pandemic cancelling or postponing races?


“It was great! I hadn’t been at home during April, May or June for over 10 years. I really enjoyed laying low for a bit, spending more time with my family and just taking life day by day.”

In fact, it’s far from the first time something outside of his control has derailed his sport. In 2016, he missed out on his shot at the Summer Olympics at Rio de Janeiro due to a diagnosis of chronic fatigue.

“I had my adenoids removed as they were constantly inflamed and causing me to have a lot of upper respiratory infections.”

Now more in tune with how much his body can handle, he’s hungrier than ever and has sights set on the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics in July.

A training schedule which involves a lot of time on the bike and in the gym.

“I’m on the bike six times a week and in the gym twice a week,” he says.

“An average of around 18 hours per week on the bike and about three hours per week in the gym. A big week for me might see me close to 25 hours on the bike and a light week around 14 or 15. It all depends on the intensity of my training and time of year.”

While the sport does require a lot of hard work and determination; being the fastest and the fittest isn’t what’s going to get you to the finish line.

“Being mentally strong kind of goes hand in hand with that,” says Anton. “You also need a good combination of natural talent and a huge will to succeed and work ethic.

“But, purely having that is not enough to become the best in the world. You need a good amount of everything.”


And that is something he says he learnt at a young age. The Christchurch Boys’ High School alumnus competed in various sports as a teen and after some encouragement from his parents, he gave competitive mountain biking a go.

“From there I climbed through the national ranks and then went on to compete internationally.”

There’s not many teens who had to balance NCEA with a professional sporting career!

“My parents were the ones who fought hard to create opportunities for me to succeed and I had a lot of support from generous sponsors and financial backing from some very kind people along the way,” he says.