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Dealing to dyslexia

The Dyslexia Foundation of New Zealand estimates 70,000 schoolchildren in Aotearoa are affected by dyslexia; that equates to one in 10 of us. Beth Beamish is the mother of one such child, and recently she published a book on the subject, Dyslexia: Wrestling with an Octopus.



Q. Beth, when you began your research on how to help your son, Harry, you had an epiphany. What was that?
A. When I researched dyslexia, I saw similar traits in myself. Dyslexia exists on a continuum: one person may have a mild spelling difficulty, whereas someone else can’t recognise one syllable words. My dyslexia is mild. Many adults only discover they have dyslexia when their child or grandchild gets a diagnosis.

Q. Dyslexia is too often associated with a lack of intelligence or poor parenting. How does your book address this misconception?
A. Most people with dyslexia are highly intelligent. Poor parenting isn’t helpful for any child’s learning, but it does not cause dyslexia.

Q. Primary schools focus on teaching the child to read and write, but how should the dyslexic child be taught?
A. Children with dyslexia require a multisensory structured language approach, such as the Orton-Gillingham method. Dyslexics need small group or individual instruction with lots of repetition.

Q. What hope does Dyslexia: Wrestling with an Octopus offer to parents of dyslexic children?
A. My book is easy to read and humorous. It takes the form of a conversation between parents at a school gate. I offer 10 tips backed up by research and over a decade of personal experience. I discuss how to tackle learning challenges, the social effects of dyslexia, the importance of finding your child’s strengths and how to nurture their talents.

Q. Can you explain the significance behind your wonderful book title?
A. Dyslexia is more than a problem with reading and writing. I list eight areas of difficulty which I have likened to the arms on an octopus. For more on this, see

The book can be purchased via the website. The book launch is Tuesday May 11 at Canterbury University, with guest speaker Professor Gail Gillon.


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.


Crazy for catnip: Ourvets

Drooling, purring, vocalising, zooming or even dozing are all signs cats can show after exposure to catnip. Ourvets Halswell Practice Manager Lauren Harvey gives Metropol the lowdown on the perennial herb, which can be a handy tool for cat owners.



Catnip (Nepeta Cataria), a perennial herb, is known to produce euphoria for cats due to containing a chemical called nepetalactone.

Sensitivity to catnip is an inherited trait, says Lauren.

“Even bigger felines like tigers and lions can be sensitive to it. Although around one third of cats may not be affected at all by catnip.

“When your cat sniffs or chews the plant (or even rolls around in it) they may show all sorts of interesting signs. Your cat may drool or purr, they may vocalise or zoom around like they’re on a mission – or all the above!”

She says how your cat reacts depends on how they are exposed to the plant.

“If they sniff the plant, they may become excited or go crazy. However, if they eat the plant this may have more of a sedative effect and they will likely be more peaceful and relaxed.”

Catnip is relatively easy to grow outdoors or as a houseplant, and it can also be purchased in toys, sprays, scratching posts or dried specifically for cats.

“If your cat is affected by it, you can use it to help make their things that they may have otherwise ignored, like a new bed or scratching post, more interesting to them.

“Luckily, catnip is not harmful or addictive to our cats. In fact, our Kitty City Hotel and Cats on Cranford catteries often use toys containing catnip or may even have a plant on occasion to give the cats some fun and entertainment while they enjoy their stay.”

To book your cat’s stay in the aformentioned catteries or for more infomation on Ourvets, visit the website below.


Book in to break out: Escape Artists

You are locked in a room with an hour on the clock where the only way out is through a series of codes and puzzles. Whether you’re a team leader or clock watcher, Isaac Neeley manager of Escape Artists Christchurch says everyone plays a role within the team no matter how small they think their contribution was.



December 2015 was when Dan Varcoe and his wife opened the first escape room in the city. They too were the masterminds behind the trials and tribulations of the rooms.

Isaac says escapees are pushed to the limits to make their way out, with every person a crucial piece of the puzzle.

“Escape rooms require a wide range of different thought processes, this allows different teams members to shine through and express their strengths and skills by solving puzzles that some other players may not.”

This all-ages activity is great for children’s parties through to corporate team building. Although, children 11 and under require an adult to assist them in solving the puzzles.

“We want escapees to have a sense of accomplishment and be proud of themselves that they managed to escape our rooms. We strive on making sure all teams escape the room.

Everyone is a winner here and we want them to feel like that,” says Isaac.

Lock in (pun intended) your timeslot on the website below. But get in fast because getting in, (to break out) is a popular pursuit.



Catch me if you can (FBI) and Memories of Nikola.

Great for workplace teambuilding


It’s show time!

Livestock, equestrian, a Jack Russell race, wearable arts show, veggie growing competition, rides, live music, kid’s entertainment and delicious food are all on the agenda for this year’s Wanaka A&P Show.



This month the town will come alive for one of the South Island’s largest and most popular agricultural and pastoral shows set on the shores of Lake Wanaka.

With 40,000 attendees and 1000 exhibitors and competitors expected to descend on the Wanaka A&P Showgrounds on March 12 and 13, the weekend is gearing up to bring the fun and thrill of rural living to town.

Kid’s events include live storytelling by Taranaki drag queens Erika and Coco, and the Wonky Donkey Man, and a daredevil bike show.

There is live music from local and national acts, live cooking demonstrations, and a wearable art show – not to mention rides, games and food and drinks vendors.

The livestock schedule is jam-packed, too. With two days of dog trials, equestrian events, and livestock judging – as well as educational sessions to showcase what it takes to breed and grow New Zealand’s primary industries.

Buy tickets online at the website below, with $1 from every adult ticket going straight back into the local community via the Cheers Wanaka initiative.



Have you signed up yet? Wellbeing Challenge

The Wellbeing Challenge starts on March 15 and is a great way to feel happier, healthier and less stressed.

Jo Fife | Director | Workplace Wellbeing


Stress, if not dealt with, can cause havoc with our bodies and minds. Many of us have symptoms of stress but don’t realise that’s what it is.

Tiredness, tension headaches, aches and pains, being more short tempered than usual and having trouble sleeping, can all be symptoms that we are stressed.

If left unchecked, it can lead to depression, anxiety and other serious illnesses like high blood pressure, heart issues and diabetes.

Taking part in the Wellbeing Challenge is a fun, social and proven way to reduce stress and improve your wellbeing. Sign up today for the next Challenge starting March 15.



new sport takes off in the red zone

A new and novel sport is taking off in Christchurch’s red zone. Drone racing – where competitors navigate the remote-controlled flying devices through a series of obstacles at speeds of up to 160km/h – is drawing crowds to the land left vacant after the Canterbury earthquakes.



Racing drones are custom-built and contain small cameras that feed data to goggles worn by racers – enabling them to steer their drone through a series of gates and poles with flags.

The sport – which has been gaining popularity internationally in recent years – has found a local home at the Crown-owned red zone in Burwood. Here, Red Zone Drone Racing Inc leases its course in Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)’s East x East space.

“The track is ideal for having a go at getting drones through gates – and we’ll give you tips on how to get faster and be more precise,” says club president Nathan van Slooten.

Like any sport it takes skill and practice to finesse, requires specialist equipment, and rivals compete for titles and glory.

“They’re pretty quick – they have a top speed of 160kmh when going in a straight line and you’re still pushing 100km/h around corners,” says Nathan.


“Crashes are a part of it – if you’re not crashing, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. Of course you’re not intending to crash but you’re always pushing to go faster and faster. It’s a good thing that most of us build our own because that makes it easier to sort them out.”

The Christchurch club formed in 2016 – about a year after drone racing emerged as a sport globally – and it’s growing in popularity as technology improves and drones become more affordable.

“The drones we use are different to usual ones – they’re built for speed and for flying around courses. This means that most of the drones used in our club are built by the people flying them.”

Those without their own racing drone can even use the club’s drone racing simulator to get a near-real experience.

“The simulator is pretty much like the real thing and is a great way to see if you like it,” says Nathan.

Club members meet regularly at the site to practice and every few months an event is held to encourage more people to try the sport. The club’s twilight racing season is just finishing up for the summer, and in November night flying – where LED lights were attached to the gates – was trialled.

“Night flying hadn’t been done in New Zealand before and overall it was a great success,” says Nathan.

East x East is a collaboration between LINZ and Life in Vacant Spaces, located on nine hectares of red zone land. As landowner of this Crown-owned red zone land, LINZ considers short-term leases and licences to use the area for up to six months and since 2016 has facilitated more than 2800 transitional land uses, including about 150 short-term projects and events.


Autumn garden

As the leaves begin to turn, we welcome in the new season of autumn with its chillier temperatures and spectacular showing of red, oranges and yellows. Perhaps you’ll be wrapping up warmer as you head out to enjoy the colour show, but when it comes to your garden – it’s time to get planting!



Soil away: In your edible garden, replace the nutrients lost during the heavy growing season and provide a healthy foundation for your autumn and winter crops by adding in compost, blood and bone and sheep pellets. In your flower garden, mulch flower beds to suppress weeds.

Palatable plantings: It’s a great time to plant broccoli, cauli, cabbage, beetroot, spinach and Chinese cabbages. Lettuces should still prosper in early Autumn, too. It’s also time to sow seeds for winter crops like carrots, swedes, turnips and radish – remembering to protect them with a cloche or growing tunnel should your garden be frost-prone.

Mighty micros: Autumn is a wonderful time to plant microgreens. Sow the seeds into your chosen container with a light coverage of potting mix and a healthy dose of H2O, then cover with plastic. Sit somewhere bright – like a windowsill – and wait for the sprouts to appear.

Flower power: Autumn is a time for potted plants to thrive, and blooms like pansies, violas and polyanthus are go-to colourful friends which can tolerate the cooler temps. It’s also, of course, the best time to plant bulbs in preparation for spring flowering.


Business sales set to grow: LINK Business

Low interest rates, retiring baby boomers, returning expats, migration and growing business confidence as New Zealand remains Covid-19-free is contributing to a “cautiously optimistic” Canterbury business community, according to LINK Business Brokers’ latest market update.


LINK Business Brokers at the recent REINZ Awards


LINK Christchurch Sales Manager Katherine Shepherd says local Canterbury businesses have found themselves in a better position than they were twelve months ago, despite the uncertainty and fear experienced during the Covid-19 lockdown.

In fact, the company recorded the busiest year in its 24 year history to October 2020.

LINK also had a clean sweep at the latest REINZ awards – winning all available business brokerage industry awards. The Christchurch office won Small Business Brokerage of the Year.

So what’s fuelling the activity? Key indicators include: Low interest rates; government policy creating potential for more focus on business lending; baby boomers retiring and selling up; returning expats looking for small business ventures over employment, and business confidence building the longer we remain Covid-19 free.

Other factors include: Migration (especially to the South Island); the lack of a Capital Gains Tax, and a growing attitude to the security building equity by running your own business can bring.

Katherine says New Zealand is very much the envy of the world at the moment.

“If you are looking to sell up and retire or buy that perfect business, 2021 could just be the year to make it happen.”


Walk-in wash: Barking Clean

When dog lover Maria Court’s new puppy Zoe came with a few unexpected health issues and very sensitive skin, she became determined to find products that would be suitable for her furry friend. And so, the idea of Barking Clean Self-Service Dog Wash was born.



The standalone units are large, elevated stainless-steel tubs with removable shower heads, making it easy to contain and wash canines of all shapes and sizes.

The units are currently operating from outside the Prebbleton Veterinary Hospital and Auto Express Car Wash/Tunnel Wash on Sawyers Arms Road, Harewood (near The Groynes dog park).

Costing just $10 in note or coins to operate, each wash includes luxurious, natural-ingredient shampoo, conditioner and flea shampoo, using warm water and a two-speed blow-dryer, brush and an automatic cleaning rinse after each use. The units are safe, easy to use and regularly cleaned.

“All our products used are specifically designed for the best care of your pooch,” says Maria.

“This includes premium ingredients free of phosphates, parabens and enzymes, soap free and bio-degradable.”

Better yet, they are “gentle enough for everyday use, suitable for all coat types, and pH balanced especially for dogs”.

With the aim of “every customer – both human and canine – to have a great experience at our dog wash” it sounds like a service worth barking over.

Find Barking Clean – Self Service Dog Wash Open 24/7 on Facebook; or at Prebbleton Veterinary Hospital, 56 Blakes Road, Prebbleton and Auto Express Car/ Tunnel Wash, 530b Sawyers Arms Road, Harewood.