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Lighting the way this month

Contemporary art space The Physics Room launches its new exhibition from June 10 through to July 25. The ‘Light enough to read by’ exhibition emerged from discussions around the return of The Physics Room’s library into the gallery and to public access. Metropol looks at how the exhibition came about.


Microwave mailbox from the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, shared during research correspondence, 2021. PHOTO Lucy Skaer


For the last three years, since the shift to its current site in the Registry Additions Building, much of the library has sat in boxes.

The specific needs of this shift — sufficient and natural light, space for reading, listening, and resting — offered a script for gallery staff to work within the development of the new exhibition.

Underpinning the project was the idea of the exhibition itself as a form of publication, and ‘text’ as something social, material, and lived, subject to conditions of light and weather.

Works by Fiona Connor, Lucy Skaer, Rachel Shearer and Cathy Livermore open out from these ideas, transforming the gallery.

A metal hare runs, runs, low to the ground, across the wood floor; daylight comes in again and the workshop doorway is open; the gallery breathes like a lung with the names of Waitaha’s winds.

Each of these works rely on dynamic relationships: with grammar and syntax, ko nga hau me nga wai (winds and waters), architecture and light, positive and negative, chase and flight, oxygen and lungs, reader and listener, fabricator and artist, correspondent and recipient, sequence and rest.

While each relates to narrative, none of the works rely on writing itself. A current of questions runs through the exhibition instead.

If written words are not the dominant vehicle for information, what other material languages, voices, histories, and relationships can be held in the gallery space?

How might the site generate alternative forms of ‘reading’, not contingent on words on a page, rather on conditions including light, relationships, oral and material narratives?

The works might be received as a series of speculative responses to these questions.

Light enough to read by is curated by Abby Cunnane, Michelle Wang and Hamish Peterson, and was made possible through the support of the Jan Warburton Trust.


Modernised Mozart

You wouldn’t think Beyoncé and Mozart had much in common. But when it comes to the Aotearoa adaptation of the Marriage of Figaro, when asked the question ‘who run the world?’ Both answer – girls.



More than 235 years after its premiere in Vienna, the female-led creative team will put its spin on one of the composer’s most popular operas at three locations around the country.

Running from July 8 to 13 at the Isaac Theatre Royal in Christchurch, and the messages presented in the classic, are in fact still relevant today.

“Mozart certainly had an interest in the role of women in society, and women drive the narrative of this opera. Ideas about knowledge, reason, liberty, progress, and tolerance are being presented to 21st century audiences in the form of a captivating and richly comic story,” says New Zealand Opera’s General Director Thomas de Mallet Burgess.

I hope the opera will be a catalyst for conversation about women directors, designers and conductors in opera.” A conversation that may be well overdue.

Don’t miss out on tickets! Visit the website below to secure your seat at one of the shows. Or go and take a picture at the mural of the show’s lead songbirds on the back of The Piano (across from the Isaac Theatre Royal).


Working for mental fitness

Mental health is a huge issue in New Zealand currently with calls for more funding, and more understanding of a problem that affects young and old, male and female alike. One man with personal experience is author and psychologist Paul Wood.



At 18, he was in prison and his life was completely off the rails.

Now, as a Doctor of Psychology Paul uses his subsequent journey from delinquent to doctor to illustrate the process of transformational change and how people can become the best possible versions of themselves.

Also, a motivational speaker, leadership and personal development specialist, husband and father, Paul has just published his second book Mental Fitness, following on from an initial bestseller, How to Escape from Prison (2019).

In his latest book, Paul coaches readers about how to become both mentally fitter for the future and how to be better at managing the capacity that they have to deal with the challenges they encounter.

“Mental fitness combines the mental toughness needed to remain effective when emotions are running high, and the resilience to bounce back and recover when the pressure is off,” he says.

“Like physical fitness, it is something we can all proactively build and need to maintain in order to be anywhere near our full potential. Also, like physical fitness, it is normal to struggle and get fatigued.”

In his work today, Paul assists others pursue excellence, have more meaningful lives, and flourish through adversity by enhancing their capacity to cope effectively under stress and recover and grow afterwards.

He does this through his deep knowledge of psychology, the insights he gained through his own journey, and his experience of working with elite performers across industries and occupations.

Paul wrote about his own journey in the instant bestseller How to Escape from Prison (2019).

Resident in Wellington, he contributes regularly to the media and works with several charities that focus on helping young men avoid prison or reintegrate effectively on release.

While his own experiences of flourishing through adversity and post-traumatic growth feature, he says it is not just young men at risk.

“The techniques and insights in Mental Fitness bring together tens of thousands of hours of experience in helping others build their mental fitness across industries as diverse as technology, government, the defence force, insurance, education and professional sports.”


A comedic encore

Comedic minstrel Tim Minchin is set to raise the roof at the Christchurch Town Hall on Friday June 25 with his special brand of entertainment. A singing satirist, Minchin is widely known for his unique style, blending comedy, acting and singing into a lively performance, using all his own material.



English born and Australian raised, Minchin started touring New Zealand in 2019, until the Covid-19 pandemic knocked it on the head.

“This is the encore to that tour. and I’m especially thrilled to be coming to Christchurch. I hear a lot about it from others, about the rebuild, the amenities such as the town hall, and the people.

“My hope is that people in Christchurch are just as excited to come and see and hear me, to laugh and cry, and enjoy.”

Minchin is not your standard frontman. He talks a lot more than the average musician, sings his own songs, recites his own poetry and opens up about life in the real world.

The 2019 tour was his first for eight years, before which time he dedicated himself more to song writing, composing music and stage shows such as the 2010 hit Matilda the Musical for which he wrote the music and lyrics.

On stage now, he’s into anecdotal recitations, stand-up comedy and singing.

“In the old days, I would write about my anxieties, about what frustrated me,” he says. “Now it’s tending to be about more slice of life, songs about what happens around me, about cheese, public shaming, critical rather than political statements.”

He still includes some of his old comedy favourites in his shows, but now also new songs that he describes as “heavy” and that tell a story. “There’s quite a few songs off my new album, some angrier than usual.”

He describes his act as a “funny cabaret show” and sees himself primarily as a musician and songwriter as opposed to a comedian. “My songs just happen to be funny.”

Explaining the ethos behind his singular style, he previously said: “I’m a good musician for a comedian and I’m a good comedian for a musician but if I had to do any of them in isolation I dunno!”

On stage he cuts a distinctive figure, typically barefoot with wild hair and heavy eye makeup, often juxtaposed with a suit and tails, and a grand piano. Shedding his footwear makes him feel more comfortable, while his eye make-up helps to emphasise his features, gestures and expressions to audiences.

Much of his look and persona is about “treading that line between mocking yourself and wanting to be an iconic figure. Mocking the ridiculousness and completely unrealistic dream of being an iconic figure.”

Did you know…

  • Minchin started learning piano aged eight but gave it up after three years. He started again after he began writing music with his brother, guitarist Dan Minchin.
  • He has performed live comedy internationally, and appeared on television in Australia, Britain, and the United States
  • Minchin was educated at Christ Church Grammar School in Perth
  • He attended the University of Western Australia and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts before moving to Melbourne in 2002
  • His show Darkside launched him into the public eye, achieving critical success at the 2005 Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the 2005 Edinburgh Fringe Festival
  • In 2013, Minchin played the role of rock star Atticus Fetch on Showtime’s Californication
  • A documentary film about him, Rock N Roll Nerd, was released theatrically in 2008 and broadcast by ABC1 in 2009.
  • In 2013, the University of Western Australia awarded Minchin an honorary Doctorate of Letters degree for his contribution to the arts
  • In 2015, he was awarded a second honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts
  • Minchin was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2020.


Lighting the way

Christchurch’s inaugural Tīrama Mai lighting event will celebrate Matariki in the heart of the city and in New Brighton.


Christchurch City Council Events and Arts Manager Tanya Cokojic says lighting events have proved popular in the city in the past and it makes sense to have a festival that marks New Zealand’s own unique culture and complements other Matariki events in the city.

“Tīrama Mai, meaning to illuminate or bring light, is the first time we have held a lighting event specifically to coincide with Matariki. We want it to grow to become a highly collaborative festival, with mana whenua guiding cultural elements and design.”

Residents and visitors to the city will be able to explore the lighting trails from 6pm – 11pm every night. Installations will be located around The Arts Centre, Christchurch Art Gallery, Worcester Boulevard, Victoria Square, Otakaro Avon River Precinct, New Regent Street and New Brighton.

Panels telling the story of Matariki will be put up in the central city a couple of weeks before the event starts.

Tīrama Mai will conclude with a Matariki fireworks display on Saturday, July 10 in New Brighton.

“We’ve moved our big fireworks display, usually held each November, to July. Holding the fireworks earlier in the evening means families don’t need to be out so late and allows people to visit New Brighton restaurants and cafés before or after the show.”

Ms Cokojic says over time the event will expand the current street theatre offering and include exhibitions and exploration of moving images and projections.

“Ultimately we would like to expand into other areas in the Banks Peninsula and the city also.”

Tīrama Mai is just one of the events the council has planned during the winter months. Other events include music festival Go Live! and KidsFest – which this year celebrates 30 years of delighting and entertaining Christchurch children.

The council is distributing a Winter What’s On? events guide to all Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakariri primary schools, libraries and service centres and some cafés at the end of May, outlining the many other events organisations are also holding during winter.


A feminine perspective: Anderson Lloyd

Law truly is an awesome profession! So says litigator Charlotte Houghton, a new partner at Anderson Lloyd.



A member of the firm’s Christchurch-based litigation team, Charlotte recently became a partner shortly after a 12-month parental leave break with her second son.

Her promotion (together with the appointment of three other female partners in 2021) puts Anderson Lloyd ahead, having the highest proportion of female equity partners of any large law firm in New Zealand.

Her expertise is in contentious personal and corporate insolvency disputes, debt recovery and security enforcement. “I also advise on complex commercial disputes including disputes between directors, shareholders and trustees and disputes in relation to construction contracts.”

A favourite aspect of her job is the opportunity to become an expert in areas that she may not otherwise have been exposed to.

“In big litigation files you often get to dive down into the detail of industries other than the law. For example, I have learnt a lot about farming, mining, construction and so many other things.

“Another facet I enjoy is building relationships with clients. One of our values at Anderson Lloyd is to ‘keep it real’ which is about being authentic to the core and forming deep relationships. This is a value that resonates with me as I think we are in a position of privilege when it comes to representing our clients.

“No one is particularly happy when they have to contact their litigation lawyer; they are stressed and often in very difficult situations, which we get to help them through (and I love that). I love helping people and it allows me to draw on my psychology background as well.”

Charlotte initially graduated university with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in psychology and education.

Approaching the end of her degree, she was drawn to part of a psychology paper about the legal obligations on psychologists (around disclosure and the duty of confidentiality).

“I found myself more interested in that than anything else I had studied. As I had already completed one degree, I was able to do first year law and part of second year law concurrently. I have never regretted that decision to follow my gut and study law.”

She’s happy to encourage others into law, although she adds that it should be for the right reasons. “It can be a hard profession to work in.

Our clients often find disputes stressful and there can be tense moments. But helping them through that is very rewarding and as the saying goes: ‘if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life’.”

Now Charlotte’s looking forward to building, expanding and strengthening her own practice and the firm’s litigation practice together with her litigation partners in Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin.

Add to that raising “two good wee men” and running a few half marathons and that sums up her bucket list for the next few years.


Tree-ting our environment: Ricoh NZ

Urban tree plantings have been found to improve people’s mental and physical health, improve air quality, conserve water, preserve soil, and support wildlife.



Ricoh is a company committed to the environment and actively involved with planting thousands of urban native trees through its annual Big Green Day Out. This year’s
plant-a-thon helped beautify Cranford Basin.

Duane Smithson, Christchurch branch manager, says the day was an amazing success.

“Staff volunteered their time to don gumboots, pick up spades and plant trees, assisted by their families, supporting organisations and of course our beloved Crusaders. It was a great opportunity to help shape and grow the new Northern Corridor of Christchurch.”

Ricoh helps plant thousands of native trees annually throughout New Zealand.

The environment and sustainability are among the company’s core values and it practises what it preaches.

“A sustainable society is one that balances planet (the environment), people (society) and prosperity (our economic activities),” says Duane.

“Whether that’s through improving our own business efficiencies, providing recycling for our machines and toners, supporting organisations championing green policies, or planting thousands of trees annually, we aim to lead businesses in being sustainable.”


Arriba, arriba! Latin festivities!

Cantabrians are set to get a taste of South American culture later this year when the Latin Street Festival “explodes” into central Christchurch later this year. Performers, artists, street food, live music and more is on the agenda for the exciting event.


Scheduled for October 31, the event promises “an explosion of Latin cultural celebration,” and is supported by Christchurch City Council. It features live dance and music performances, cuisine and crafts to engage locals in authentic Latin and Hispanic culture.

It is the second rendition of the festival, after a successful first run delivered “a full Latino experience in the heart of Christchurch” in November. It was held in Cathedral Square, which is earmarked for the second event, too.

Event organisers say the local Latin American community is growing significantly in Christchurch, which is attracting more locals to join in cultural activities like Latin dance, or to experience Latin cuisine and language.

Visitors will be able to participate in dance workshops, create arts and crafts, and connect with the language and food of Latin and Hispanic Heritage.

Event organiser Denise Lovato was born in Argentina and wanted to bring a slice of her heritage to Christchurch. She is also organising more Latin events, with the Latin American and Spanish film festival later this year, too.

The free event is in conjunction with the University of Canterbury and The Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū and will run from October 27 to 31.

Visit for more information about the Latin Street Festival, and other ways to experience South American culture without needing to leave the city.


St Andrew’s College: Meet the Principal

I am a great believer in girls and boys being educated alongside one another. I went to a co-educational school myself and believe it is the best way to prepare young people for their future. I’m the first female Rector at St Andrew’s College and have been in the role since 2007, following a long career as a teacher and in senior leadership roles.


Rector Christine Leighton


St Andrew’s College is strongly committed to the holistic development of its students.

We recognise each student as an individual, and with a multi-dimensional approach, support their personal development and well-being alongside a growth mindset for learning.

We strive to ensure our students leave with not only a world-class education, but also the mental agility, emotional intelligence, and resilience to survive and flourish in life beyond secondary school.

The St Andrew’s College community has welcomed 2021 with great energy, and a sense of promise and anticipation.

The year started with students achieving the best academic year for St Andrew’s College in its history.

With a total of 279 Excellence endorsements in NCEA, and 53 New Zealand Scholarships, we are among the very best in New Zealand.

Co-curricular programmes, whole-school celebrations, and service activities are an important way for students to further develop their all-important key competencies – managing self, relating to others, participating, and contributing, which will prepare them for life beyond school.

Being part of a team, whether that be in sport, choir, jazz band, debating, robotics, theatresports, or community service, to name just a few, helps our students to learn many skills and attributes, which complement academic learning.

A focus on student well-being has perhaps never been more vital in the Covid-19 environment.

We have a full programme of strategies to help students develop a broad set of character strengths, virtues and competencies – so important in this unprecedented time.

Now halfway through implementing our strategic vision, Framing Our Future, all members of the St Andrew’s College community strive to live the values of truth, excellence, faith, creativity, and inclusivity.

These values mean so much more than words. They are a tangible and visible guide to how we treat each other every day and remind us of the importance of being aware of each other’s differences and needs.


Moving through grief

Sumner psychologist Julie Zarifeh has suffered immense loss, losing her husband and son in the space of two weeks. Her new book traverses the subject of grief, as Julie herself traversed the famed Pyrenees trail Camino de Santiago, the New York marathon, falling in love, getting engaged and becoming a grandmother.



Grief on the Run has recently hit bookshelves and Julie hopes her story will be of some help to those who are grieving. The Zarifehs were living the good life. Their foundation was a strong and loving family, a wide circle of friends, a zest for a life of sport and travel, and successful careers.

Julie is a clinical psychologist and her late husband, Paul, was one of the founders of the well-known Christchurch wetsuit company Seventhwave.

Paul died from cancer in November 2017, aged 60. While he was dying, Julie knew that after 30 years together, she had to prepare for a very different life, as a single woman. She formulated a plan to walk the Camino de Santiago, and became involved with the documentary film project Camino Skies.

Then the unthinkable happened, Julie and Paul’s eldest son, 27-year-old Sam, was killed in a rafting accident on the West Coast in December 2017.

She knew she had to keep going, to keep a routine, to keep up her exercise and to keep planning for the future. Julie’s routines evolved into what she dubbed, “Big Hairy Goals.” Pressing ahead with the Camino de Santiago trail was one of them.

“I had to have something to look forward to. The community in which I live is amazingly supportive, but there’s also not many secrets in Sumner. I just intuitively knew I wanted to take the intensity of my grief offshore and take some downtime to process that.”

Her approach is what is known as active grieving. So, 2018 saw her also run the New York Marathon and get involved in several fundraising events for charities – ones with an active and fitness element, of course.

Today, Julie says she finds enormous solace visualising Paul and Sam being together.

“Sitting on a log on a beach having beersies, whatever. Most of the time I grieve collectively for them, but then my grief for Sam will hit on its own quite often. Just for the loss of a life that was yet to be fully lived.”

She’s still throwing herself headlong into her exercise and work, she’s part of a research team working with the families and victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks. She has also fallen in love, and is engaged.

The overall message of Grief on the Run is one of hope in the face of devastating loss. Julie’s been signing her book with the St Augustine quote, “Solvitur ambulando” (it is all solved by walking), saying walking is a great tonic for the soul.

Julie experienced another life-enhancing event recently when her son Jared and his partner Emma told her she was going to be a grandmother.

“The world just,” she clicks her fingers, “changed that day. It was very exciting. The month that Quinn was born was two years after our loss.

“But don’t call me grandma! The grandkids will call me Jazzy!”

And grand-baby number two is on the way.