Monday, 28 March 2011

Open Letter to Air New Zealand

Today I lodged a complaint with Air New Zealand today regarding the adoption of controversial media wench Paul Henry as a personality in one of their lauded air safety videos. 

Paul Henry found himself amidst controversy in New Zealand regarding comments he made on air about the ethnicity of the then Governor General of New Zealand, Mr Anand Satyanand, to the Prime Minister John Keys. This was not an isolated incident involving Mr Henry who had earned a reputation for making derogatory remarks about individuals targetting their their physical appearance, ethnic origin anything that distinguished them from the "norm" (which in analysing Mr Henry's "hate speak" is anyone who is not white, male & middle class). His final comments caused his overdue resignation from the public broadcasting position he held after mocking an Indian Olympic official's pronounciation of her name. 

At the time commentators carefully shied away from referring to Mr Henry as a "racist". As if there are grades of acceptability. The public interest test applied to retaining him on air related to his freedom of speech, not the societal impact of his behaviour. Interestingly the response among the general mass prepared to articulate their views was the defence of free speech and targetting the 'Leftist ideals' of the government (a centre-right goverment).  The rednecks came out to play and they loved the attention they got.

The latest appearance is Mr Henry used in an air safety video for the country's national carrier. The same carrier that sought and received an unprecedented $885m bail out from the public purse in 2001. Targetting Air New Zealand may seem unfair  as there is no shortage of media outlets attempting to get Mr Henry's attention.  The mediocre broadcaster is apparently the hottest ticket item for flailing media outlets seeking to up ratings with the ever present controversy that surrounds people of Mr Henry's ilk. Nonetheless, Air New Zealand wants me to fly them. They want my membership. They want me to choose them over another airline.  They stayed afloat on taxes I paid.

Why do I feel so strongly about this? Growing up in New Zealand I experienced many racial taunts and discrimination on the basis of my ethnicity. It didn't end at childhood. By Mr Henry's definition I am not a NZer - I have the exact same ethnic background as Mr Satyanand and was born in New Zealand. Even as a child, no adult within my sphere (school, girl guides etc) ever corrected the perpetrator of these remarks, offered me protection or reassurance.  In my teens I was physically attacked by someone because my ethnicity.  It went unreported. The police showed up because the individual returned with a knife to use against me. Because I was a "nargi".  Indians had a reputation of not "rocking the boat". We suffered in silence.

What's changed?  My 9 year old nephew is now experiencing the exact same racial taunts that I did and I will be damned if I don't get involved and make an effort to stamp out this insidious bullying. The mercantile classes feared constant attacks on their person and property. Not much has changed evidently. Racial violence is still prevalent in NZ. I know the price I paid when no one helped me and I know how quickly this type of mentality can escalate, even into criminal behaviour. I for one, am no longer silent on this subject.

My complaint (because I doubt I will get a response from Air New Zealand)

Air New Zealand's decision to adopt Paul Henry as a face of their air safety campaign leaves me in no doubt that I will be cancelling airpoints membership and resolving to use its competitors in future. By choosing no doubt at the advice of an overpaid agency that a controversial "d-list celebrity" would be great for business fails to take into account the bail out the NZ public gave this supposed 'national' carrier. Perhaps Air NZ would like to investigate some statistics on the ethnic background of tax paying individuals in NZ before adopting such a cavalier approach to its advertising.  And yes the attempt to create viral campaigns is nothing more than a brief to raise brand awareness/recognition - that's advertising. Such a shame when the media leads with a much-endeared character like Richard Simmons. The conduct is insidious and insenstive. Thankfully the flying public has a choice.  Will certainly campaign against any future public assistance for this airline and no doubt given the current economic climate this is inevitable.

Here is the video - enjoy it - it is clever, it is funny. It just happens to include someone unrepentant about the type of hatred he peddles. Someone that the airline are more than happy to pay for his services. I was excited to see Richard Simmons myself.



Posted via email from Radhika's posterous

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

In your Neighbourhood - Kingsland delivers

We got told Kingsland was the new Ponsonby of Auckland. Judging by our recent visit that perhaps the imminent RWC and maybe even a maturing population who moved in and never left, the grunge factor seems to have left this suburb and this could be true.

At the moment a great deal of Auckland's development is focussed on the influx of visitors for the Rugby World Cup.  Its also home to some retro chic boutiques, and wonderfully renovated villas housing a number of different businesses & professional services.  Like the rest of New Zealand, there are also great selections of 'street art' that appear every where. The 'gentrification' of Kingsland is ever more obvious with the recent addition, The Neigbourhood. This bar overlooking Eden Park lets you view the stadium's progress while sampling something from the extensive range on offer from the well established Mac's Brewery that has jumped on a very interesting channel distribution model by putting Macs Brewbars like the Neighbourhood all over the country. 

It is quite a large venue (200 pax) and even on a balmy Monday night had full tables out the front.  This is where the interiors really come into play, part saloon, part lounge, part library there are pockets to escape to or be seen in.  Judging by the posters around the place as well it has also served well as a live music venue wtih a number of residents well known in this part of the world. A generous window overlooking the park will be a great spot when the games start. Interior designers have had a lot of fun with this place and we spotted some of the chairs in there at design store Nood (get in there if you can especially the Britomart store - they were on special!).  Check out the cassette toilet wall - its genius.

As for the food and wine, you will find a generous selection to try. I would link to the menu here for you but frankly whomever decided to load a 7MB PDF (with the print marks intact) to their website needs to be shot IMHO (and the typeface does little to its legibility).

498 New North Road
Region: Auckland
Licence: Fully Licensed
Cuisine: Bar & Grill

Posted via email from Radhika's posterous

Monday, 14 March 2011

The Elbow Room - Wine O'Clock in Herne Bay

To avoid the horrendous downpour causing the usual Auckland traffic chaos we decided to pass up sitting on the motorway south and duck into Herne Bay for what was intended on being a brief meet-up with my niece but ended up enjoying a lovely leisurely beverage at the Elbow Room.  There are a selection of venues on Jervois Road to choose from and I have fond memories of fun dinners at nearby Erawan Thai (housed in beautiful old bungalow with a wrap-around deck).

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Having caught the early crowd we spotted a group of new mums happily enjoying a bottle of Pinot Gris with babes in laps and prams you get a delightful insight into the noveau-riche professional residents of Herne Bay.  Eleven years ago arriving in Auckland as a young woman I would probably have avoided the area, on this visit it suddenly dawned on me that I am the demographic for that location now!

We enjoyed the relaxed feel of this bar that perhaps if located on this side of the Tasman would have been fully loaded with all the pretension that goes along with it.  The sumptuous interiors with a delicious olde-worlde theme and the handsome and friendly barman made for a lovely escape from the rain. 

We left with one mystery intact however, why I was given an unsolicited glass of water while seated outside while the husband wasn't certainly raised his eyebrow and left me wondering whether I had embarrassed myself on the goblet of PG I was imbibing??  It provided enough material for the husband to get at least a full hour of teasing in anyway.

Posted via email from Radhika's posterous

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Where were you when...the Shaky Isles Coffee Co.

Tuesday 22 February will forever be in our hearts and minds as yet another earthquake (an after shock in fact) struck Christchurch. As kiwis returning home and literally off the plane merely hours before we a little startled by the fact that we were dining at the time, in what could be considered now, the rather unfortunately named, Shaky Isles Coffee Company in the Britomart complex in downtown Auckland. 
This ample sized venue opened late last year provides plenty of dining space for the largely tourist and business crowd in the area.  The servings were average and the fare simple.  Priding itself  on its coffee, you got a decent cup and probably one of the better options in the area.  The service was efficient and completely unintrusive.  It was a nice change to the surly Sydney flavour.
The cartoon graphics in the interior are refreshingly amusing and they have clearly earned a reputation for some of their installations.  We topped off a quick lunch, that soon turned into a desperate attempt to get news on Christchurch, with some really lovely fruit smoothies.  Highly recommended. So much so we enjoyed sampling each others but jealously guarded against swapping under any circumstance. 
It does get busy during lunch, but that doesn't seem to compromise the service at all.  Post rush it is a nice open, light filled space to stop en route from ferries, trains and buses in and out of Auckland city. I also managed to find free WIFI in the area so an even better place to linger. In the humidity of the Auckland summer the industrial interiors provide a cool haven and given it has only been open since November, I would be interested to find out how comfortable or cosy it will prove to be when Auckland's notoriously damp winter hits. It is a good spot to meet friends or as a meeting spot for weary travellers!

Walkabout in an Auckland 'Burb - Greenwoods Corner

After five years away, it was a welcome return to our former home Auckland. It was a bittersweet return to our home of six years as within hours of our arrival the Christchurch earthquake struck and the two days we were in town were marred by efforts to locate friends and fearing the likelihood of aftershocks in our hometown - earthquake-prone Wellington. We also as always attempted to squeeze in as many friends, family and feasts in the shortest amount of time and one of the visits included our old suburb and one of the local hubs we used to frequent, Greenwoods Corner.

This little known pocket is at the southern end of the much-desired school zone Epsom, borders One Tree Hill and marks the start of Royal Oak. While retail therapy is not high on the agenda here are a few of the spots we checked out.

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Kenzie Cafe

We used to frequent this cafe when we lived in Auckland and after registering at the Blood Service (remember post earthquake) we were in need of sustenance.  This once bustling little eatery has possibly changed hands since we last visited (five + years ago) and the once delicious serve of french toast with banana & bacon was a disappointment featuring cheap streaky bacon and a flood of maple syrup (with yet more on the side in case the toast was too offensive). From reading some local reviewers it seems our opinion is shared and this fills me with little joy. The decor is tired and in need of refreshing, with little or no atmosphere. Given we were starting to see where the recession was biting in Auckland, it was a little disheartening to note that this could be a business suffering the effects also.  The coffee was weak and left us still wanting a decent cup so we continued to check out the Corner to see what we could find. 


Ninja Sushi

As we passed this sushi joint our expectations were kept low by its amusing name in the franchised typeface but one view into the display cabinet had us thinking twice. Unfortunately my poor photography skills don't do justice to the wonderfully intricate pieces. They were delightful to look at and when we did finally taste a couple that we bought later that day, can certainly vouch for how delicious they were.  Definitely worth visiting again. No boring California rolls here. 

White & One

Auckland doesn't have the coffee reputation that Wellington does and seeking out a decent brew becomes quite the personal crusade at times. In fact our lunch time conversation (as the earthquake took place) the day before with a couple of ex-Wellingtonians seemed to have made it their mission in their new city!  Our coffee quest was well satisfied by the folks of White & One - a fairly new establishment in these parts from what I can gather.  They serve a popular NZ roast from Coffee Supreme and we sat outside and enjoyed a lovely strong velvetty flat white.  Didn't have a chance to stop for food so pop back and tell me what you think if you do.  There is great parking around Greenwoods Corner and if I were local again I would definitely be adding this spot to my regular stops. 

Greenwoods Kitchen

586 Manukau Road, Epsom, Auckland

While sitting outside White & One  we spotted Greenwoods Kitchen across the road  and decided to grab something fresh, baked and delectably tasty to take on our road trip out of Auckland that afternoon.  In fact I got it into my head that I would sample bacon & egg pies from as many places as we could find but frankly this place set the benchmark too high for me to further that quest!  From its unassuming exterior you would not  how popular this bakery/cafe actually was and continues to be. A battle is waged often to find a table and nearing any dining time it feels like the hidden population in the area have landed in the Kitchen demanding cakes, slices, biscuits, pies and any number of baked goods that grace their extensive selection. They're favoured by old and young alike and given the choices they have return visits are well in order. Was so great to see that this place was still as good as I remembered it.

Molly N

While retail therapy is limited to a few women's fashion stores (my favourite one now stickered as going into liquidation :( - recession bites) and homewares there is a little shoe boutique, Molly N. I remember when Molly N opened on Plimmers Steps in Wellington when I was in school. My sister and I covetted a a pair of leather loafers that we had scrounged enough pingas for. The shoes used to be manufactured locally and those damn loafers are still fully intact!  I justified my little visit on supporting the local economy, as despite manufacturing now having moved to Spain, there are plenty of locals supported by their continued business (I sold that rather well I thought!). I couldn't resist these ruby red slingbacks (Mia) and the polka dot lining was a reason alone.  So much so I also grabbed her enclosed peeptoe cousin in black (can never have too many black heels under my desk at work!).  They make good quality shoes with great materials just ignore the atrocious website that while serving its purpose seems to have forgotten the power of aesthetic appeal. They are practical sturdy shoes with a little bit of quirk.  Even the high heels are wise enough to look cute but ensure you won't require surgery after wearing them. I reminded myself of this wise choice a few hours later when I bought a pair of orange satin slingbacks from Mia Piacchi! 


 Greenwoods Corner will rarely appear at the top of anyone's list of places to visit in Auckland (not when Newmarket is close and where designers like Karen Walker and Trelise Cooper like to frolic) but it will always remind me of my old home.

Posted via email from Radhika's posterous

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Flo took her Lunar Lady Friend on a Holiday

Ok first up apologies for the subject! The "storytelling" just got the better of me and I promise I won't be delivering a series of updates on this topic but I did think it might be worth updating you on my experience with the Mooncup, especially as I had to take it away with me on my recent trip home!
Img_3074Initially I dreaded the thought of having to be between accommodation, long car trips and simply not being in my own space - I actually feel like this normally during my cycle and am sure I am not alone on this!  Testing the efficacy of the Mooncup did not fill me with my much joy even though since starting to use it in October 2010 I have been quite satisfied with it and am already saving money on buying sanitary products (in fact husband accidentally bought some as part of the usual shopping ritual and it remains unopened  and likely to for another few months I suspect).
My fears were unfounded in the end and I am happy to report that my Lunar Lady Friend travelled well. In fact it was a real pleasure not having to discretely dispose of the usual waste in a way that would not be offensive to my hosts or me in fact.  A couple of things certainly made it easier and reassured me that I quite like travelling with it.  In fact I was able to happily go about my business without anyone (including my husband) being any the wiser.
Although it is thoroughly cleaned I am still a bit of a freak about hygiene so I took a Milton sterilisation tablet with me. I prefer to sterilise immediately before use, rather than before storage (and that's me being obsessessed that for 3-4 weeks it remains in storage it accumulates 'imaginary germs').  Quite conveniently as soon as Flo makes her presence known, I can soak the cup for the mandatory 15 minutes, giving me enough time to jump in the shower and get ready to insert it (Flo is good like tha - she always arrives first thing in the morning - weird I know but it helps!).
I also found that at the end I like to soak the cup thoroughly in a solution of NutriClean Original Lotion Concentrate (and currently on special!) because it is so gentle, biodegradable and quite efficient at removing odour (not that the cup has any offensive odour but I prefer it returns to smelling more like its latex origins). Dry it thoroughly and then return it to its linen bag to store till next month!
I've had a chance to weigh up the benefits and I am still convinced it was a good choice.  Anyone else using one? How do YOU find it? Have you convinced others around you to use it?  What tips do you have?