Wellingtonians step up for their communities

The character shown by Wellington’s Muslim community in response to the Christchurch mosque massacres has played a large part in this year’s Absolutely Positively Wellingtonian (APW) awards.

AP Awards.jpg

Four members of the Muslim community have been acknowledged in the awards, three of them - Tahir Nawaz, Khaled Said and Imam Nizam ul Haq Thanvi - in a joint award for their leadership.

“They went out of their way to promote understanding at a difficult time,” says Wellington Mayor Justin Lester. “The Kilbirnie mosque’s open day was brought forward several months to enable the Muslim community to show its appreciation to Wellingtonians.

“The Muslim community’s reaction to the Christchurch shootings, as epitomised by its leadership, provided an example of understanding and harmony that was noted throughout the world.”

Ibrahim Omer, the chair of ChangeMakers Resettlement Forum, also became an APW winner.

“Following the Christchurch shootings, Ibrahim represented his community on the world stage,” the Mayor says. “He organised vigils, connected with Muslim refugee communities across the country, gave media interviews to international media and much more.”

Ibrahim, came to New Zealand from Sudan in 2010 after escaping an oppressive regime in Eritrea and started work in Wellington as a cleaner. He has also been a campaigner for the Living Wage movement, is a union organiser, and is a community representative on Newtown Union Health Service Board.

The other winners’ contributions to the community took many forms, including years of service to their communities, mental health causes, special projects and excelling in their chosen field.

“A city is set apart by its people. We wouldn’t be the special place we are today without the generosity and open hearts of many in their communities,” the Mayor says. “These awards are about acknowledging those who selflessly give so much – people who volunteer their time and effort, and go above and beyond to make our city a better place.”

2019 APW winners:

Barbara Mulligan

In November 2016, Barbara Mulligan instigated a project to mark the impact on Wellington of the 1918 influenza pandemic and some of those who died in November and December  that year.  She organised the cleaning of the gravesites in Karori Cemetery of some of the 740 who died between October and December 1918. At least 50 volunteers were involved in the clean-up, which took place from 2016 to 2018. 

Bruce and Dawn Patterson

Bruce and Dawn Patterson have been champions of Grenada Village since moving there in 1988.  Bruce has served on the Grenada Village Community Association Committee for 27 years, nearly all that time as chairman. Dawn has been on the committee for 28 years.

Greg Hyland

Greg Hyland has been an active volunteer and advocate for the Wadestown and Highland Park community.  Since 2011 he has been a Highland Park Progressive Association (HPPA) Committee member, and its president from 2013 to 2018.   He represents the HPPA and works closely with city officials on a project to conserve the local historical site - Fort Buckley. 

Jason Te Patu

Jason Te Patu is a tireless advocate for mental health and well-being, using his skills as a yoga teacher, mindfulness and meditation instructor. Originally from Whanganui, Jason is of Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Ruanui and Ngāti Tūwharetoa descent. He has represented New Zealand in springboard diving, aerobics and gymnastics, as well as pursuing a career in performance.

Melanie Heaphy

Melanie Heaphy is an icon in Island Bay where she lives with her husband Devon and their three children. Melanie has a long history of community work.  As a teenager, through Girls’ Brigade, she did her Duke of Edinburgh and Girls’ Brigade Queen’s Award, which included community service at Kilmarnock Rest home in Island Bay, and running groups of Girls’ Brigade kids.

Tahir Nawaz, Khaled Said and Imam Nizam ul Haq Thanvi

Wellington was fortunate that its Muslim community showed strong and level-headed leadership in the wake of the tragic Christchurch mosque shootings, in which 51 people died. Emotions were raw after the events in Christchurch, but throughout the country the reaction of the Muslim community leadership provided a shining example of unity and understanding, rather than finger pointing.

Ngarangi Pritchard

Ask any Wellington Māori māmā who’s had a baby in the past four decades who their midwife was, and chances are they’ll say Ngarangi Pritchard. Ngarangi, of Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Ngati Porou and Rongowhakaata descent, is one of Wellington’s most experienced, trusted and loved midwives. Her nursing and midwifery career has spanned more than 40 years and she has been instrumental in supporting Māori and Pasifika families to be confident as new parents.

Ray Henwood

Multi-talented actor Ray Henwood has been a mainstay of Wellington’s theatrical scene since the mid-1960s.  Originally from Wales, Ray moved to Wellington in 1962, aged 24. However it was not to work an actor, but to teach maths and science at Mana College. He then worked as a forensic toxicologist at the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. While there he was partly responsible for the introduction of the breathalyser to New Zealand.

Susan Price

Susan Price made headlines this year when she gave away a landmark property that she and her parents had lovingly restored. Chevening, an apartment block at 90 Salamanca Road, Kelburn, was designed in 1929 by Llewellyn Williams, who also planned the Embassy Theatre. The neglected building, desperately in need of care, was bought by the Price family in 1979.

Warren Dion Smith

Hair, makeup and special effects artist Warren Dion Smith exudes talent and flair. Warren emerged from Waikato, where he was recognised early on by the Māori King Tūheitia Paki as a talented artist. He has really established himself in Wellington, where he has dominated as the pre-eminent hairstyle artist over the past 10 years, winning a succession of national and major regional titles.


Onzo bikes will continue to roll in Wellington

Wellington City Council has extended the licence for Onzo to continue operating their ‘dockless’ bike hire system in the capital until the end of 2020.


Councillor Sarah Free, Portfolio Leader for Walking and Cycling, says the popularity of the Onzo bikes for short trips around town shows there is a demand for more transport options. 

“Over 110,000 trips were recorded during the six-month trial and the feedback shows that most people use the bikes because they are fast and convenient. The Onzo bikes have increased the access to cycling for many people who might not choose to own a bike.

“We’ve extended the Onzo bike licence to align with the e-scooter trial so we can look at these micro-mobility options together. It’s great to see the large uptake of these bikes as part of changing transport patterns – and that some people are choosing to use an Onzo instead of their car.”

The Council surveyed residents as well as Onzo users to find out what people think about the dockless bike share. While there were some concerns about pedestrian safety, most of the residents surveyed thought people using Onzo bikes were generally safe and responsible riders, and that the scheme should continue.

In the coming weeks, bike numbers will be back to what they were at the start of the trial (200) with another 100 bikes likely to be added later in the year.

The Council will be working closely with Onzo to discourage people from riding on footpaths and improve the availability of cycle helmets as part of the ongoing licence conditions.

“Footpaths remain an area where pedestrians have priority. We are continuing to plan for more separated bike paths and will be looking at whether e-scooters will be able to use these.”

Data from Onzo shows that the areas of constant high use on weekdays and weekends are Wellington train station and Victoria University’s Pipitea campus, where many people start and end their trips. From Monday to Friday, people are starting and ending trips along Featherston Street and the Golden Mile to Kent Terrace. The waterfront is reasonably busy during the week, however more trips are finished along the waterfront and Oriental Parade at weekends.

Onzo’s Wellington Fleet Manager Max Kempthorne says it’s great to see Wellingtonians embracing the bikes so quickly. “We look forward to continuing to offer an easy transport alternative in the capital.”

Council officers are likely to report back on the e-scooter trial in early 2020, and consultation and engagement on a micro-mobility transport policy for shared schemes including bikes would happen in the following 12 months. 


Plastic is rubbish

Wellington City Council is supporting numerous events, organisations and initiatives this Plastic Free July to help change plastic habits for good.

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For Plastic Free July 2019, Council will be trialling going single-use plastic bottle free in its five swimming pools, two gyms, four recreational centres, and the ASB sports centre.

Currently New Zealanders send 828,189,600 single-use plastic bottles to landfill per year, the equivalent of 165 Olympic swimming pools. Wellington City alone uses enough bottles annually to fill seven Olympic sized pools.*

Wellington City Council wants to reduce this number by encouraging pool, gym and recreation centre goers to consider alternatives to single-use plastic bottles through a creative campaign for Plastic Free July.

Meanwhile, from 1 July, Council-managed Harbourside Market will be providing shopping baskets at every stall, and mesh produce bags will be available as single-use handled plastic bags will no longer be allowed to be supplied by vendors.

We’re also proud supporters of the Great Kiwi Bottle Drive event, which will kick-off Plastic Free July early on Saturday 29 June with a chance for everyone to drop-off their empty bottles and cans in return for cash.

In 2017, Wellington Mayor Justin Lester led a campaign calling on the government to impose a levy on single-use plastic bags in an attempt to reduce their use – and is pleased to see this being implemented now.
“We got the ball rolling on getting rid of plastic straws around the waterfront, pushed hard for the abolition of single-use plastic bags, and we support and fund numerous organisations and initiatives committed to waste minimisation and single-use plastic reduction.

“These projects fit our vision of developing the capital as an Eco City by addressing the environmental challenges we have, and reducing the impact they have on our natural assets, to enable a more sustainable and resilient future for Wellington.” 

Councillor Iona Pannett who chairs the Wellington Regional Governance Group says that the Council is trying to reduce waste to landfill by 1/3 over the next 7 years.

“Plastic Free July is a great chance for Wellingtonians to look at alternatives to single-use plastics. Getting a reusable coffee cup or drink bottle for example is an easy way to save money and help the environment,” she says.

Other initiatives Council is supporting throughout Plastic Free July include:

  • Southern Landfill will be running ‘Bags in the Wild’ landfill tours again to show first-hand the effects of discarded plastics on the environment. Tour bookings can be made by calling 04 383 4442 or email waste.education@wcc.govt.nz.

  • There will be weekly competitions on Council’s Facebook page with prize packs for plastic free related challenges

  • On-going support and funding for waste minimisation and environmental groups and initiatives like Boomerang Bags, Again Again, RefillNZ, The Formary, Bubble Busters, Ghost Fishing, and Sustainable Coastlines

  • There is also a Plastic Free July page on the Council website with tips on how to reduce plastic and where to go for more information: wellington.govt.nz/plasticfreejuly

* Estimate based on https://www.bottledwater.org/economics/industry-statistics. On page 20 it lists consumption per capita and though New Zealand is not listed the lowest consumption is 24 gallons per year which is approximately 180 bottles (500 ml each).



Johnsonville v Wellington at Helston Park, with the Axemen winning 53-15. Photo: Wellington Football Club - Axemen

Johnsonville v Wellington at Helston Park, with the Axemen winning 53-15. Photo: Wellington Football Club - Axemen

Wainuiomata (Jubilee Cup) and Wellington (Hardham Cup) are the competition leaders after fourth round Premier club rugby matches played on the shortest day of the year on Saturday.

Despite, losing their first match in seven weeks to neighbours Petone on Saturday, Wainuiomata (15 points) sit top of the Jubilee Cup.

On a fine afternoon, Petone (6) kept their playoff hopes alive with a 33-22 win at home at the Petone Recreation Ground.

The other two Jubilee Cup matches saw Oriental-Rongotai (6) also stay in contention by beating Tawa (10) 32-27 at Lyndhurst Park and first round winners Hutt Old Boys Marist (11) toppling Poneke (6) 44-26 at the Hutt Rec.

Northern United (10) had the Jubilee Cup bye.

In the Hardham Cup, the Wellington Axemen (15) won their third straight bonus point win to start this year’s competition by defeating Johnsonville (2) 53-15.

Elsewhere, Marist St Pats (10) beat the Upper Hutt Rams (9) 59-22 and Paremata-Plimmerton (3) and the Avalon Wolves (8) drew 25-25, as Old Boys University (14) had the bye.

There are three weeks remaining before this year’s semi-finals, with several teams in both grades having much to play for over the coming rounds.

In the Jubilee Cup, Petone centre Willie Fine (2 tries) and second five-eighth and captain Jarrod Adams scored three of their five tries as they burst to life against Wainuiomata from the opening exchanges.

Wainuiomata withstood an early storm and instead it was them that scored the game’s first two tries to move to a 12-0 lead. Fullback Josh Robertson-Weepu scored one and helped set the other to lock Bevan Clark.

Petone hit straight back with tries to wing Sam Blackburn and No. 8 Tupou Sopoaga, who has now scored 12 tries this season. Fine then ran on to a kick and chase by first five-eighth Carne to put Petone in the lead.

With skipper Adams in the sin-bin, Wainuiomata scored again to close it up, but he returned to score the next try, with Fine bagging his brace with a few minutes to play to seal victory for the Villagers.

At Tawa, visiting left wing Reuben Va’a scored a hat-trick and right wing Tuga Mativa scored another as Ories established a 22-8 lead early in the second half, only for Tawa to come back to level to 22-22 and then for Ories to pull away again.

Tawa scored the game’s first try, after a 60 second attacking foray from the opening kick-off, sending fullback PJ Iosefo in for a 5-0 lead.

In an absorbing forwards battle, Ories went into halftime holding a 17-8 lead, before Mativa scored a long-range try from a scrum and break by first five-eighth Trent Renata. Tawa responded with consecutive tries, a similar try scored by Best & Fairest leader and halfback Kemara Hauiti-Parapara from a scrum and burst by centre Pepesana Patafilo and a clinical strike from a lineout drive to prop Sitiveni Paongo which was converted from the sideline by flyhalf Sam Clarke.

Ories got back in front with a Renata penalty and then Va’a crossed for the match-winner after halfback Hinckley Siaosi collected a high kick and took off up the shortside. Tawa scored once more, through prop James Coburn.

In a similar start at the Hutt Rec, where Poneke No. 8 Greg Foe ran 40 metres to score the opening try of the match. But the home side HOBM hit back quickly, with fullback Brandyn Laursen scoring and converting to put them up 7-5.

Loosehead prop Brett Manaia crossed later in the first half to double their lead and Laursen kicked a penalty to see the Eagles turn with a 17-5 lead.

HOBM then pulled ahead 24-5 just after halftime with their third try, and then scored again on 50 minutes to make it 31-5. Another try made it 38-5, before Poneke broke out from deep inside their own territory to score twice on the trot. One more try made it 38-19, but HOBM sealed their win with two late penalties.

The closest of the six Premier matches was at at Ngati Toa Domain, where Paremata-Plimmerton drew 25-25 with the Avalon Wolves on their Old Timers’ Day and 60th anniversary celebration afternoon.

Paremata-Plmmerton fought back from 3-17 down to score two converted tries on either side of halftime to draw level 17-17. Avalon kicked a penalty to move ahead 20-17, and then scored another try to go ahead 25-17. Paremata-Plimmerton came back with a penalty and a try but neither side was able to break the deadlock before fulltime.

The other two Hardham Cup games were largely one-sided.

The Axemen out-scored Johnsonville seven tries to two at Helston Park, with seven different try-scorers crossing the whitewash. Wing Ollie Marshall continued his strong form, scoring 23 points, made up of a try, six conversions and two penalties. He has now scored 71 points in the Hardham Cup. 

At Maoribank Park, the Upper Hutt Rams opened the scoring with a penalty, but from there it was Marist St Pats took control. MSP steadily moved ahead and eventually won the match nine tries to three. Wing Faresa Tasale scored four tries and second five-eighth Isaia Petelo scored two tries. Right wing Todd Svenson (2) and flanker Josh Dewar scored the Rams’ tries.

The four Women’s matches saw Ories beat Old Boys University 45-5 and Norths beat Petone 58-12 in the top flight Tia Paasi Memorial Trophy, while Wainuiomata beat Poneke 22-5 and Paremata-Plimmerton defeated HOBM 36-7. MSP had the bye.

In the match at Nairnville Park, Ories led OBU 21-5 at halftime and pulled clear from there. At Jerry Collins Stadium, Petone halfback Milley Mackey scored both her team’s tries and kicked a conversion.

The Tawa Colts beat Ories 44-31 in a free-flowing Colts Division 1 match at Redwood Park, Tawa score two early tries and also lost a player to the sinbin early, with Ories coming back to draw level with two tries of their own. Tawa crossed twice more before the break to see them leading 26-14. They kept their noses in front in the second spell.

Tawa are joined at the top of the Colts John E Kelly Cup Memorial table on 15 points by HOBM Green who defeated Marist St Pats 40-17. Norths are third after beating Paremata-Plimmerton 59-18, with OBU Green back in fourth after beating Petone 69-12.

The Upper Hutt Rams Colts and Poneke are both on 15 points at the top of the Division 2 Colts table after securing maximum points yesterday. The Rams edged Wainuiomata 17-10, while Poneke beat OBU Black by default. Wellington beat Johnsonville 36-12.

In the Ed Chaney Cup Premier Reserve Division 1, Petone maintained their lead, beating Wainuiomata 62-5. Tawa beat Ories 44-22 in the early fixture on Lyndhurst Park and Poneke also reversed their Premier’s result by overcoming HOBM 37-22.

In Division 2 Premier Reserve, MSP maintained their unbeaten record by easing past the Upper Hutt Rams 58-17, Johnsonville beat Wellington 28-17 in a reversal of the main game that followed and Paremata-Plimmerton and Avalon met at Ngati Toa Domain.

The leading two teams from the first round opened their second round of the compeition for the U85kg Paul Potiki Shield, with Avalon beating the HOBM Howlers 16-9 and the Upper Hutt Rams overcoming Paraparaumu 33-17.

First round winners the Poneke Ruffnuts opened their Reserve Grade Division 1 John Davies Cup campaign with a 36-17 win over the Petone Brotherhood. In a close match, the Johnsonville Cripples beat the Upper Hutt Rams Pirates 28-26.


Matariki Sky Show set to go off – whale permitting

Last year we had a whale of a time as a tohorā/southern right whale visited the harbour, causing the inaugural Matariki ki Poneke Sky Show to be postponed for a week – but the coast looks clear for this year.

Matariki is all about celebrating the Māori New Year and giving respect to the land, sea and sky – so it’s fitting that the Matariki festival closes with a fireworks display in the sky above the harbour for all on land and sea to enjoy.

An estimated 200,000 people watched the Sky Show fireworks on their Matariki debut in July 2018 – and Mayor Justin Lester expects the same this year.

“Feedback from attendees last year was hugely positive about the capital’s main fireworks event being held around Matariki, and with an earlier start time of 6.30pm.

“Families with young children, and older citizens, were particularly pleased with the earlier timing of the event as it was more accessible for everyone to take part. There was also a general consensus that it being Matariki added to the enthusiasm of the crowd as they came together to celebrate a uniquely New Zealand event.”

Events Portfolio Lead Councillor Simon Marsh is hoping there won’t be a repeat of last year’s whale appearance until after the show.

“We wouldn’t blame Matariki the tohorā for coming back to enjoy the beautiful harbour and scenery of the city, but hope it’s not in the next couple of weeks. So much time and effort goes into organising these large-scale events, with teams of experts being coordinated to make sure everything runs smoothly and successfully – and we don’t want to put a whale in the works!” jokes Councillor Marsh. 

One of the expert teams involved in the running of the Sky Show is world renowned Artistic Pyrotechnic Designer of PyroStar International, Robert McDermott, who is organising the fireworks display for the 25th consecutive year – with 2 tonnes of firework materials and effects.

“Yes, I was a very young man when it started, but it’s been great to see the growth in a whole new generation enjoying the show. I’m always blown away by how many people turn up, but it’s a feel good thing – no matter what sort of day you’ve had you’ll go away happy.

“Now that we’re doing it for Matariki makes it even more special too, as it’s got more meaning and connects more with our identity as New Zealanders.”

Sky Show 2019

Saturday 29 June 2019, 6.30–6.40pm

Postponement date: Sunday 30 June, 6.30pm.

  • Tune into The Breeze (94.1FM and 98.5FM) or More FM (99.7FM and 95.3FM) to listen to the soundtrack as you watch the show. To get the best synchronisation of sound and fireworks, listen on a terrestrial radio tuner to avoid streaming delays.

  • The Sky Show 2019 soundtrack includes music from local artists Toni Huata, Rob Thorne, David Downes and WAI.

  • For event updates check Facebook.

While on the waterfront, check out the exciting Pop-up Village by Kumutoto. Designer container stalls packed with homewares, art, gifts, clothing and accessories.

The Winter Underground Market Pop-up Village runs throughout June and July (19th June - 23rd July 2019).


Groovy Places in Wellington - Guy Armstrong

So what are you into? Cinema, Food? Pies? Beers? Rugby, Theatre? food, pies, beers, great Cafes with real Kiwi Coffee and more? Well, my friend, we have got a city for you.

Want to see a movie? Check out the Penthouse in Brooklyn, only a short bus trip out of the CBD. Or the Roxy in Miramar, not so far from the airport (they sometimes show a cult classic The Room – one of my favourite awful movies).

Have a wander around the town belt and see some of our native bush. This can be incredibly cool at night, but take a friend so you’re safe of course.

Fancy exotic food? There’s a lovely Ethiopian place called Blue Nile on Allen Street off Courtenay Place, and another in Newtown called Mother of Coffee. Some of my favourite places are The Hop Garden at the bottom of Mount Victoria, the Yakitori sushi bar on Courtenay Place, and McDonald’s on Manners Street. Down the road you have the eclectic shopping and food in Cuba Street. 

If you like a touch of kiwi, there’s always Karaka Café. The coffee here is always great and there’s a wonderful historical Maori feel to the place. It’s a chilled out mix of technology and back-to-the-roots nature.  Go have a look when you’re down by the Waterfront, hey you may as well peek inside Te Papa (museum) while you’re there. 

You have not been to Wellington until you have ventured up Cuba Street.  Near the top you will find a taste of Cuba a place called Fidel’s Café. The clientele are a mix of diversity which really shows off what Wellington is all about. 

Until next time



Hurricanes welcome Tyrel Lomax on four-year deal


Rising young All Blacks prop Tyrel Lomax has signed a four-year deal with the Hurricanes through until at least 2023.

Lomax, who has strong ties to Wellington with extended family living in Wainuiomata, will join the Hurricanes ahead of the 2020 Investec Super Rugby competition.

The son of former Kiwis international John Lomax, who played 15 tests for the Kiwis and had a long professional league career with the Canberra Raiders, North Queensland Cowboys and Melbourne Storm, Lomax has made a significant impression since he shifted back to New Zealand to pursue a long held ambition to be an All Black.

After making his Super Rugby debut for the Melbourne Rebels in 2017, the 23-year-old joined Tasman in the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup and quickly established himself as first choice tighthead which earned selection in the Highlanders Super Rugby squad in 2018.

He was selected in the All Blacks last November where he made his All Black debut against Japan after a number of strong performances in Super Rugby

Lomax also impressed for the Maori All Blacks when he represented the side on its end of year tour of Canada and France in 2017.

Hurricanes head coach John Plumtree was naturally delighted to have secured Lomax on a long-term deal.

"His potential is obvious for everyone to see. He's a very impressive young man who is developing his game at a rapid rate.  He is a powerful player, has a strong skill set and we are really excited about working with him," he said.

"It's great to be able to bring Tyrel back to the Wellington region where we know he will receive a lot of support and quickly establish himself in the Hurricanes club."

Hurricanes chief executive Avan Lee paid tribute to the amount of work the club's high performance team had put into negotiations with Lomax about a possible move to Wellington.

"Having talked to Tyrel we know that he will make a big contribution to the Hurricanes moving forward. Tyrel is a significant signing for us," he said.

"It is an area we want to strengthen and we believe we have the perfect person to help us do that."

-Hurricanes Rugby

Ahi Kā reaches for the stars in Matariki celebrations

The Wellington Waterfront will be set alight Friday 21 June with ahi (fire), kai (food), and entertainment from over 30 musical groups, artists and performers for Ahi Kā – a celebration of Matariki, the Māori New Year.

Rob Thorne

Rob Thorne

Students from nine schools around the capital will form a stream of light around the waterfront that will launch Ahi Kā. They will parade around Whairepo Lagoon with lanterns they’ve created, acknowledging the life-giving streams that travel under our city and converge in the harbour, and are reflected by the seven to nine sisters above that form the Matariki star cluster.

There’ll also be music performers, kapa haka, dance, and poi demonstrations, as well as food trucks, toasted marshmallows, an outdoor cinematic event, art installations and light shows, plus street entertainers.

Mayor Justin Lester says making sure Matariki and Ahi Kā are major events in the capital’s diary is important as it reflects how the country is embracing tangata whenua and our combined history.

“We want Wellingtonians to come together at Ahi Kā, to celebrate the Māori New Year by reflecting on the past and what’s ahead, learning about what Matariki means, and experiencing some of the amazing local talent on show.”

One of the performing groups on the Matariki Stage is Taita Clubhouse – a place for at-risk young people, coordinated by former Upper Hutt Posse band member Bennett Pomana.

Bennett says taking part in Ahi Kā is a great experience for all involved – and is even more significant as they are part of the Matariki celebrations.

“The Taita Clubhouse is a creative space for young people to come to when life can be tough, it’s somewhere to be creative, escape, and be themselves. Having this as something to aim for has been a real motivator, and they’ve been practising really hard.”

Bennett says their music varies from pop to hip hop, and some is a bit of a mishmash – but it comes from the heart.

“They’re really excited about Ahi Kā and performing in public as they’re very passionate about what they do, and keen to achieve their goals – and this is one of them.”

Councillor Nicola Young, Associate Arts and Culture portfolio holder, says this is the perfect time for the event.

“This is a great celebration, and at this time of the year everyone can take part and enjoy the lights, entertainment, and festivities.”

For more information about the location, schedule and performers, visit wellington.govt.nz/matariki or https://wellington.govt.nz/events/annual-events/matariki/ahi-ka



Hugo Plummer - Photo: Steven White

Hugo Plummer - Photo: Steven White

"First XV rugby at Onslow College reminded me of the reasons why I started playing the game in the first place. We're not a heavyweight school, but we had a group of boys who were really passionate about it and stuck together through thick and thin," Hugo Plummer enthuses when reflecting on his final year at high school.

Plummer is a member of the WRFU High Performance programme, and along with Ropati So'oalo from Aotea College was the only player from a Premier 2 outfit selected for the Hurricanes Under-18's in 2018.

This is quite a feat for the lock forward who battled a pesky ankle injury and had to shield and support lightweights in open weight rugby.

“We had three teams at Onslow, the First XV, the under 55’s and the under 65’s. We had five serious injuries in the First XV which meant the boys in the 65’s had to step up,” Plummer explained.

“We were last in Premier two, but we won the Isberg Cup for the first time in years and had a really positive chemistry.”

Plummer has added to the chemistry at Tawa. After a sluggish start to the season, Tawa have won their past five games and stand on top of the Jubilee Cup standings with a bye this coming weekend.

On Saturday, Plummer played the entire 80 minutes in Tawa's 24-21 win over Hutt Old Boys Marist, the Eagles’ first loss in 2019. In their previous meeting Plummer was penalised close to fulltime which enabled HOBM to kick a penalty and hang on for a narrow 25-24 victory.

A week earlier Plummer was the Player of the Match in the comeback 24-17 triumph against Petone.

“There’s a lot of younger guys at Tawa with a similar attitude and ambition to me. That’s why I joined the club,” Plummer says.

“The experience and support of the older boys like Sitiveni (Paongo), Hemi (Fermanis), and Tolu (Fahamokioa) has been great too.”

Plummer has had trials for the Wellington XV against Manawatu on Queen’s Birthday and the Wellington Under-19’s, as well as playing for matches for the Hurricanes U20 side at the start of this season.

“It’s an exciting time. We are building all the time at Tawa and I would love to make the 19’s, but I’m not getting too far ahead of myself.”

He started playing rugby when he was six and played in the backline as a first five-eighth until he was 16, where he then moved to lock.

In addition to rugby, Plummer has dabbled in cricket, rowing and American football.

Plummer is one of four siblings. His older half-sister Francis is married to former Maori All Black and Hurricane Shannon Paku. Plummer studies law and commerce at Victoria University.

Fast Questions
Favourite Movie: Star Wars
Favourite Band: Mako Road
Hobbies: Plumbing
Favourite Non Rugby Team: New Orleans Saints



The Oriental-Rongotai Women's team with the Rebecca Liua'ana Trophy after their win over Marist St Pats

The Oriental-Rongotai Women's team with the Rebecca Liua'ana Trophy after their win over Marist St Pats

Wainuiomata and Tawa are the two unbeaten teams through two rounds of the 2019 Jubilee Cup Championship round-robin, after both had tight results in the two Hutt Valley games on Saturday.

At William Jones Park, Wainuiomata scored a late converted try to pip Northern United 24-22, while at the Hutt Recreation ground, Tawa held off a fast-finishing Hutt Old Boys Marist to win 24-21.

In the third match of the second round, Poneke beat Petone 24-13 at Kilbirnie Park.

In the Premier 2 Hardham CupOld Boys University topped Paremata-Plimmerton 63-7 at Ngatitoa Domain, the Avalon Wolves defeated the Johnsonville Hawks 53-27 and the Wellington Axemen beat the Upper Hutt Rams 45-18.

Oriental-Rongotai won their eighth straight Women’s Rebecca Liua’ana Trophy match to win the first round title, beating Marist St Pats 50-17.

Ories will be joined by Norths, Petone, Old Boys University and possibly one other (to be confirmed) in the second round Division 1 competition starting next Saturday.

In other Women’s matches, Norths beat Petone 46-0, OBU beat Wainuiomata/Avalon 67-0 and Paremata-Plimmerton defeated Poneke 91-0 to seal either the fifth Division 1 spot or top Division 2 spot depending on what the make-up of the second round will be.

The Avalon Wolves U85kg side also won their first round title on Saturday, shooting to an unassailable lead at the top of the first round competition with a round to spare with their hard-fought 13-10 win over the Paraparaumu side.

The Wolves will collect the JC bowl next week when they meet the second placed Upper Hutt Rams, who beat the Wests Roosters 36-24 on their Old Timers’ Day.

The second round of Championship matches were played on a cold, blustery afternoon around the region.

At the Hutt Rec, home side and first round champions HOBM started strongly, but were met by a wall of Tawa defence that was to prove tough to crack all day.

Tawa withstood the pressure and broke out to score two first tries, to prop Sitiveni Paongo and wing Romu Senileba to go to a 14-0 lead at halftime. Turning with the wind, Tawa added a third try, to Senileba.

The Eagles hit back with two quickfire converted tries to cut Tawa’s lead to 21-14, before replacement Tawa first five-eighth Sam Clarke kicked a penalty to restore a buffer. However, HOBM scored with the last play to come away with a losing bonus point.

At William Jones Park, Wainuiomata scored the winning try to replacement wing Saita Tuaoi with just over 5 minutes to run after a rush up the left hand lane and fullback Josh Robertson-Weepu converted to give them their 24-22 win over Norths.

Wainuiomata came back from an early deficit after Norths had made a fast start with hooker Ethan Robinson-Mate scoring in the opening minute of play and then No. 8 Luca Rees crossing to make it 12-0.

Wainuiomata first five-eighth John Monu scored a solid individual try in reply to make it 12-7, before his opposite Jackson Garden-Bachop kicked a penalty to make it 15-7. Wainuiomata would go ahead 17-15 through the boot of Roberton-Weepu and a try to halfback TJ Va’a who stripped the ball free in the tackle and scuttled clear. Norths re-took the lead through a try and conversion to Garden-Bachop but lost a player to a red card which aided in the home side’s win at the end.

At Kilbirnie Park, Poneke beat Petone 24-13 in a dogfight. Playing with the wind, Poneke opened the scoring with a Pakai Turia penalty, followed soon after by No. 8 Tupou Sopoaga getting across the line after kicking ahead for himself. Turia strolled over from a scrum move before penalties led to a 16-8 halftime lead.

A break for a change of referee early in the second spell seemed to galvanise the home team and a period of pressure saw prop Soti Faamausili cross the chalk. Petone responded through centre Josh Onekawa but the loss of Adam Simpson to the bin proved too much to overcome, with Turia adding a fourth penalty on fulltime.

In the Premier 2 Hardham Cup, OBU were too fast in the backs for Paremata-Plimmerton in beating them 63-7. Playing into a stiff wind in the first half, OBU scored four first half tries and took a 24-0 lead into the break. Paremata-Plimmerton’s forwards had their moments and went close to scoring just prior to halftime but were held out by determined defence.

OBU spun the ball wide from the opening kick-off of the second spell and speedy right wing Trevahn Ta’ufo’ou flew over for the match-winner in the far corner. Second five-eighth Dale Sabbagh slotted the sideline conversion and at 31-0 the game was in the bag.

The home side briefly threatened, again through the forwards, and tighthead prop Junior Davey scored. From there, OBU ran in several more tries. Ta’ufo’ou scored a hat-trick and fullback Sam Reid and replacement wing Jack Green scored a double.

At Hataitai Park, the Wellington Axemen were comfortable winners over the Upper Hutt Rams.

The Rams opened the scoring through hooker Josh Houston-Tupou, but the Axemen struck back with a trio of tries to flanker Max Allen, midfielder Eremia Tapsell and No. 8 James Poloniati. The Axemen would go on to lead 24-18, after they scored their bonus point try to Teo Fudakowski and the Rams crossed again.

The Axemen pulled ahead 38-18 midway through the second half, and then scored once more to seal their win.

At Fraser Park, the Avalon Wolves were also impressive against the Johnsonville Hawks. The Wolves were coming off their bye and raced to a 29-10 halftime lead. Centre Jordan Aquila, loose forward option Scott Waldrom and blockbusting midfielder Ale Peni scored their first three tries as they went ahead 19-5. Jordan Aquila scored his second try just before the break.

Fullback Site Timu and Waldrom scored again to seal the match. Johnsonville came back, including left wing Connor Franklin scoring a double, but replacement Avalon halfback Jordan King scored and converted his own try to clinch victory.

Marist St Pats earned their second straight bonus point win in the Division 1 Colts John E Kelly Cup competition, beating Oriental-Rongotai 30-0.

First round winners Old Boys University Green bounced back from their loss to Ories last week by beating Paremata-Plimmerton 20-0. OBU had first use of the wind but took a long time to settle. An early penalty was eventually followed by a forwards try from a lineout drive and they went up 10-0.

Paremata-Plimmerton tried to avoid too many set-piece exhanges and attacked with vigour early in the second half. OBU withstood this, and scored their second try through a lineout drive to go up 15-0. They then crossed for their third and match-winner out-wide with about 15 minutes to play.

Tawa beat Petone 36-19 and Norths beat HOBM 34-25 in the other two Division 1 Colts games. In Colts Division 2, OBU Black and the Avalon WolfCubs are the two unbeaten teams, OBU beating Wainuiomata 43-8 and Avalon defeating Johnsonville 42-14.

The early Premier Reserve game at Kilbirnie Park was as tight as the main game that followed it. Petone’s 15-0 halftime lead had been pegged back to 15-14 when former All Black Piri Weepu entered with 15 minutes to play. Wearing #1 but at first-five his influence was immediate and dramatic as the visitors scored three times to pull away to win 34-14.

The other two Premier Reserve Ed Chaney Cup matches saw Tawa beat HOBM 44-26 and Norths ease past Wainuiomata 86-7.

In Premier Reserve Division 2 HD Morgan Memorial encounters,  the Upper Hutt Rams edged Wellington 19-17, while OBU beat Paremata-Plimmerton 38-18 and Johnsonville toppled Avalon 51-28.


Royal New Zealand Ballet finds new home in Wellington CBD

The dancers of the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) now have a new home in a prime spot in the Wellington CBD with the blessing of their new rehearsal studio.

NZ Ballet.jpg

The blessing ceremony was held yesterday (Tuesday 4 June) at the building at 115 Wakefield Street, previously the Michael Fowler Centre carpark.

“I am delighted Wellington City Council can provide this space for the RNZB while the St James Theatre is being strengthened,” says Wellington Mayor Justin Lester.

“It is an investment in the RNZB as a critical part of Wellington’s culture infrastructure.

“It’s more than 60 years since the RNZB began to call Wellington home, and this rehearsal space means it will continue to call the capital home.

“The public will also have a special window on the ballet’s work with the activated space linking Jervois Quay and Wakefield Street.”

RNZB Executive Director Lester McGrath says they are pleased to be making the move to Wakefield Street and are grateful for the Council’s support in planning and building this new space.

“We are looking forward to creating dance magic in these new studios, starting with Bold Moves in July and August, and then our brand new production of Hansel and Gretel this Christmas.

“We are also looking forward to our ultimate return to the St James, with seismic strengthening complete and improved facilities for audiences and artists.”

The purpose-built dance studio features two rehearsal studios equivalent to the size of two of the studios within the St James Theatre, as well as areas for costume making, changing rooms and office staff.

Following the RNZB’s return to the St James Theatre – expected to be in 2021– the building could be re-purposed at the site, house other arts and culture activity, be moved elsewhere, or sold.



Photo: Stokes Valley RFC

Photo: Stokes Valley RFC

The Delaney Park clubrooms will be a popular place this Saturday with the Stokes Valley Rugby Football Club celebrating its first 70 years.

“We have got people coming from Australia and around the country and a lot of players from the 1970s, 80s and 90s for our celebration so some good stories should be told,” says club Chairman Graeme Hardie.

Formed in 1949, the club has had its ups and downs but continues to be an important part of the Stokes Valley community.

“We have got three senior teams – First Grade, Reserve Grade and Presidents. We have got junior teams in every grade and we have got six netball teams as part of the club.”

Hardie says inclusiveness is a key to the survival of the club in what are tough times for local sport in general. “It is also having an open-door policy for whoever wants to be involved, whether that is playing, managing or supporting.

“In recent times we have also formed an alliance with our local Samoan church. They use the clubrooms on a Sunday and some of them play for us.”

Like all community clubs, there is a big emphasis on whanau. “A lot of the parents of the kids that play are members of the senior club, on and off the field.”

The club was formed on 18 January 1949 and started with one team in the Junior 2nd Grade, growing to four teams by 1964. In 1965 the club gained "Senior" status in the Senior 3rd Grade and between then and 1989 (next 25 years) the club grew in size, averaging 8-10 teams per year with the top team in either the Senior 3rd or Senior 2nd Grade.

In the 1990 and 1991 seasons, the club was at its zenith with 11 teams and the Senior 2nd team winning promotion against University to the top WRFU grade Senior 1sts in 1991. This grade became the Premier Grade in 1992 and the club held Premier status for four seasons, contesting the Swindale Shield and Hardham Cup.

A group of people have been with the club over a long period, including Hardie who started at Stokes Valley 24 years ago. “We have got Life Members in Trevor Couchman and Steve Windmill who are both still very active and they have been with the club for well over 40 years.”

Hardie and Couchman are both active WRRA referees.

In the modern era, Hardie says a highlight for the club was winning the Premier Reserve Ed Chaney Cup in 2008.

Several players have played higher rugby whilst representing the club, such as Neroli Knight who was a Black Fern in the early 1980s and No.8 John Cummings who played for Wellington and captained Wairarapa-Bush in the early 1980s.

Several juniors have gone on in recent seasons to forge successful careers in professional rugby, such as Brad Shields, Mike Kainga, Jason Woodward and Kat Whata-Simpkins.

Plus, a number of former Stokes Valley juniors are active playing Premier and Premier Reserve rugby for other clubs in the Hutt Valley and Wellington.

Hardie says there is a positive future. “We are living in changing times, but we are changing with the times. This weekend is a celebration of 70 years, but it is also the start of our re-birth as a rugby club for the next generation.”

On the field, Stokes Valley’s top team were hoping to earn promotion to the HD Morgan Memorial grade starting this Saturday. To do so they needed to have wrapped up the first round First Grade Thompson Memorial Trophy with two weeks to spare (as that grade is still being played beyond this Saturday). They would have done this if not for the Avalon Knights beating the HOBM Barbarians this past weekend.

Thus, the team’s goal for the remainder of 2019 is to win the First Grade first and second round double, which HOBM achieved last year.