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Author: Celine Gibson

Promenade in Pink!

Promenade in Pink! 2018 Breast Cancer Foundation NZ Pink Star Walk

Should you see a sea of pink moving through North Hagley Park the evening of 10 November, you’re not hallucinating; you’re witnessing the wonderful walkers of the 2018 Breast Cancer Foundation NZ Pink Star Walk.


Promenade in Pink!


The annual Breast Cancer Foundation NZ (BCFNZ) fundraiser is a walk for everybody (no age restriction); it’s non-competitive, there’s no training required and the course must be walked, not run. What is required however, is a joyous heart, an imaginative and enthusiastic embrace of flaunting the colour pink and a good pair of walking shoes. It’s a walk of fun and celebration, but most importantly it’s a ‘Walk for the ones you love.’


For any groups wishing to show their support and coordinate team costumes, register for the event now and start planning your pink ensemble. The Hits radio presenters, Stacey and Flynny, are to MC the walk. In the run up to the event, Hits listeners will be encouraged to join either Team Stace or Team Flynny and put in some serious fundraising for their team.

Evangelia Henderson, chief executive at Breast Cancer Foundation NZ, says the Pink Star Walks are a great way to show support for friends, family or colleagues affected by breast cancer. “Money raised will help us achieve our vision of zero deaths from breast cancer by pushing for new frontiers in early detection, treatment and support.”

New Zealand’s first Pink Star Walk began in Auckland in 2006; Wellington and Christchurch had their first walks in 2015. The major sponsor is Estee Lauder Companies with media partner The Hits radio supporting Breast Cancer Foundation NZ’s aim to provide a nationwide walking event designed for breast cancer survivors and supporters.


The 2017 Pink Star Walks in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland attracted over 3,000 registered walkers. The goal for the 2018 event is 4,000 walkers (1,000 in Christchurch), with the target of $500,000 reached for the breast cancer cause. In New Zealand, more than 3,300 women a year are diagnosed with breast cancer – that’s 9 women per day. More than 600 women will lose their lives to it this year – that equates to around the size of a large primary school; and around 350 women under 45 years old (when free mammograms start) will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year – that’s one woman per day.

With sobering statistics such as these, let’s all flock to Hagley Park and walk for love. Let the promenade in pink begin! Held on Saturday 10 November, there is a choice of a 5km or 10km walk. Arrive 4:15pm for a 5pm start. Route starts at North Hagley Park – The Entertainment Triangle.


Walkers can register at or, for more information about the Breast Cancer Foundation NZ,



Walk with me

Walk with me: Mental Health Awareness Week

Jessica Finnigan is an awesome woman preparing to embark on an awesome journey.


Walk with me


On 1 October, Jessica and her two sons commence their 12 day walk from Christchurch to Wellington in memory of lives lost to mental illness and those still struggling today with mental health issues. The walk coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week, which kicks off on 8 October. Last year, Jessica came face to face with mental illness when a member of her family became seriously unwell; she took on the battle of her life to avoid seeing her loved one become yet another New Zealand statistic.

“I know there’s a mental health crisis in our country. I’ve experienced it first-hand. I’ve been through countless phone calls where I have begged for help, and all I got was waiting list referrals. Desperate people don’t need help in three, six or nine months time – the usual current waiting list period. They need it now.” Jessica says there are young people dying because they are not able to access the help they need at the most crucial time. “Our family has been through a lot and I’m passionate that other families shouldn’t have to experience what we have. Kids who are suffering can’t afford to wait. I want local government and Parliament to wake up to the crisis and take responsibility, now – before it’s too late; what New Zealand needs, more than ever, is more resources, more staff, and more funding into in-patient and out-patient facilities.”

It was walking the Rapaki track that gave courage, strength and perspective to the family when faced with the harsh reality of mental illness. “Walking was our form of therapy while waiting to be seen,” Jessica says. “So the idea of walking to Wellington was always a goal within arm’s reach.” Jessica devised a funding strategy and approached a number of businesses; their response was immediate and generous. Jessica then knew that this venture was possible.


Her sponsors include: BMW, Gooses, Thule, Macpac, St John Ambulance, Sports Med, Foodstuffs, Lululemon, RD1, Protranz, Evo Cycles and Stand. Jessica will open a Givealittle page before she departs for Wellington and all proceeds will go to Stand, a nationwide Children’s Service who are actively helping children throughout New Zealand.

“Representatives of Stand will meet us at the Wellington ferry terminal, then together we’ll walk the 2.5 kilometres to Parliament,” she says. “I want my statement to be loud and clear; New Zealand’s current mental health crisis can’t continue. We must all pitch in together to help. We all have, or know, someone with a mental health illness, so I’m not just representing my family, I’m representing all of New Zealand.”


For more information, visit


NZ Flower and Garden Show

Gardens for Tomorrow: Win with Metropol

Gardeners are endearing optimists. Frosts herald blue skies and sunny days, and there’s no such thing as a depressing winter garden when, already, jonquils are scenting the air and daphne buds are soon to flower. Gardeners don’t live for today; they’re too busy dreaming of tomorrow, and the tomorrow after that.

NZ Flower and Garden Show
Metropol has four of these any day early bird double passes to give away to readers who want to head up to the event. To enter, just visit, enter your details and click which competitions you wish to enter. Entries close Monday 13 August and winners will be notified Tuesday 14 August.


One event that will have Kiwi gardeners dreaming of a certain tomorrow with giddy anticipation is the NZ Flower and Garden Show 2018. Beginning 28 November through till 2 December at West Auckland’s Trust Arena, this is a garden show like no other. Last year’s inaugural NZ Flower and Garden Show saw some 28,000 people pass through the gates.
Christchurch writer and garden commentator, Rachel Vogan, returns to the show’s judging panel this year for the tenth time and says the desire for people to grow food to feed their families has become a visible trend which she expects will be reflected in the show.
“It’s phenomenal, really. While people are still wanting strong elements of design in their gardens, they’re also wanting areas to grow their own food; we lost that fundamental urge for two generations and now we seem to be reclaiming it – which is fantastic!”

Rachel says that as a plant expert, she will be on the lookout for good planting and a different way to use plants. “Plant use and plant appropriateness is important to me, followed by design – finding clever ways to use small places. Sustainability is hugely important, also designs that are environmentally careful, because the sustainability component is a big consideration in judging.”
The judging process is based on the UK’s Royal Horticultural Society standards, so there’s a very strict criteria that has to be followed. “We have the best international judges, which helps keep the New Zealand judges upskilled and ensures we’re current with the latest overseas trends. It’s very stimulating to work with these global experts.”
For Canterbury gardeners, consider taking a couple of days in Auckland to enjoy other gardens in the area. Visit for information on garden tours which coincide with the event.

Saving the best news till last is that discounted early bird tickets are available for purchase before 31 August. With early bird tickets valid for ANY DAY of the five-day show, they guarantee all our dreaming, endearing and optimistic gardeners out there a truly spectacular time. For more information, visit

Win with Metropol

Enter Here

I Have A Dream

Making Dreams Happen

Never tell huge-hearted philanthropist Scott Gilmour that disadvantaged kids can’t dream, for he has a beautiful story; it goes something like this: Southland-raised Scott was working for Intel in Portland, Oregon when he spied a newspaper article one morning that changed his life. It was about New York’s I Have A Dream Foundation and its founder Eugene Lang.

I Have A Dream

Scott was so inspired by the article that he had a dream of his own – to give disadvantaged children back home the same opportunities he’d had. In 2003, the first I Have A Dream Foundation was launched in New Zealand and so began a life-changing journey for 53 Auckland children.
The pilot project needed to assess whether the US model (34 years of success, with more than 200 projects impacting some 17,000 young people) would fit within the New Zealand framework; 15 years later, the results speak for themselves.
Scott says early intervention is crucial. “Investing in an entire generation from ages 5 through to 20 breaks inter-generational poverty.”
Scott and I Have A Dream co-founder and coach Ant Backhouse took an entire decile 1A class from Wesley Primary School, Mt Roskill – children destined, by their own admission, to take up with gangs and gang culture. Together they invested 15 years of support and mentoring, including paying for their tertiary education and the outcomes radically changed.

From that very same class emerged neuroscience and engineering students, an aspiring local body politician, a surgical nurse, a youth worker and a fashion graduate. Fact: 80 percent of these Dreamers went on to tertiary studies, versus 30 percent of a comparison group.
Scott cites the following six points of difference as to their resounding, incomparable success:
• Long Term Intervention – 15 years, from Year 1 to tertiary and employment
• Full-time Adult Advocate – the Navigator works alongside kids throughout their entire educational journey
• Inclusiveness – working with all children in disadvantaged communities – i.e. no targeting based on talents, risk factors, ethnicity or socio-economic status
• Aspirational – The IHAD mission is to help develop every child’s potential and unique capabilities
• Holistic – wrap-around services to ensure each child stays on track
• Collective Impact – working closely with schools and integrating activities of all non-profits and Government agencies working with each child and whanau.

I Have A Dream has now expanded to 1,500 disadvantaged youth across four schools in the Whangarei district. Scott wants to get the Government on board so every New Zealand school can help kids triumph over adversity. In Ōtautahi-Christchurch, there are many kids afraid to dream; could you be the person to change that? If so, Scott would love to hear from you.

Dcypher Lyttelton

‘Dcypher-ing’ Lyttelton’s story: murals that speaks for the community

Locals and visitors to Lyttelton’s Oxford Street Reserve have plenty to feast their eyes upon as they take in the stunning and spectacular murals at the revamped skate park and playground.

Dcypher Lyttleton

Completed last month, the murals, which took around two weeks of labour intensive painting, are by Los Angeles-based Christchurch artist Dcypher, also known as Guy Ellis. They tell a visual story incorporating native plants and birds, Maori design motifs, and a Lyttelton inspired urban scene featuring a skateboarder. Dcypher had fellow DTR Crew artists – Wongi, Ikarus and Jacob Yikes – assisting him on the job.
Christchurch City Council project manager, Jon Malis, says the murals reflect the history of Lyttelton and the site and appeal directly to the youth of the area who are the primary users of the park.
The artworks are a key element of the $375,000 site upgrade, which includes extensive playground landscaping, repairs to the park’s earthquake-damaged heritage walls, and the skate park being rebuilt.
An acclaimed muralist, Dcypher’s work features in the Spectrum Street Art Show and several murals around Christchurch, along with international street art festivals, cityscapes, museums and high-profile advertising campaigns. His work has also been showcased in Brazil, New Zealand and the United States, and he was recently invited to participate in painting the World’s Largest Graffiti Wall for the Guinness Book of World Records in Dubai.
Most impressive of all however, is that the prodigiously talented Dcypher has truly hit the big time, having developed mural art works specifically for the TV shows, Sons of Anarchy, Silicon Valley and NCIS.

Photo: Grant Hadley-Bennett

Vocal virtuosos: the talented performers behind ‘Oriana’

They’re young, vivacious and vocal virtuosos. Meet Amelia Ryman, Kimberley Wood, Matthew Harris and Harry Meehan, the faces of Oriana. This premier ensemble is rocking retrospective songs like nobody else – think sixteenth/seventeenth century retrospective!

Photo: Grant Hadley-Bennett
Photo: Grant Hadley-Bennett

The name Oriana is a nod to Queen Elizabeth I. “Oriana was a kind of nickname for her; it was slipped into many poems and compositions at the time,” explains Dublin born Harry. “And we do that, too,” adds Amelia, brainchild and founder of Oriana, “At the end of each performance, we sing ‘Long Live Fair Oriana!’”
Their debut concert was Christmas 2017 at Avebury House, while 2018 has seen Oriana sing the Easter Vigil at St Michael and All Angels, and a lunchtime concert at St Mary’s Pro Cathedral on 18 April. Coming up are 2pm concerts at Knox Church, 10 June, and The Piano, 19 August.
Kimberley says that Oriana’s choral pieces and madrigals are filling a gap in the market; Harry nods in agreement. “Auckland and Wellington have these groups but Christchurch, post-quakes, had nothing; now we can provide that high standard, quality music.”
Amelia says the friendship they have outside of performing is important. “Our connection with each other makes for a good connection with our audiences.”
Oriana also does private functions. “Corporate events, engagements, weddings, birthdays, whatever’s wanted, we’ll do it,” Matthew says. “And we happily do modern, and can go unscripted,” he adds, with a not quite cherubic smile.
For more information email or find Oriana on Facebook.

Molls Dolls

The dames of dance: how the award winning dance group ‘Molls Dolls’ got their collective groove on

Molly Chapman was four years old when she donned her first pair of tap shoes and clicked her way across the floorboards. Born and raised in Dunedin, Molly grew up in a family that was, and still is, very involved in musical theatre. “My sister plays leading roles and directs musicals in Dunedin, and my brother acts and directs too.”

Molls Dolls

Molly taught tap in Dunedin and continued to teach it when she moved to Christchurch, aged 22. Her love of dance was passed onto her son, Hayden Withers, who graduated from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in 2014, and is now New York based, and wowing audiences at Off Broadway. “Hayden’s my
inspiration,” Molly says.
The birth of Molls Dolls came about when the mother of a young girl she taught suggested Molly take a class for adults, as well as preschoolers. The same mother also suggested the name Molls Dolls.
It was while attending a Masters Games event with a softball team, which Molly says was enormous fun, that she became aware that the Masters had a Dancesports category.
She returned home with a plan in mind and wasted no time in putting out the word she was looking to teach tap to adult women. She set up a dance studio in her home and in 2015, Molls Dolls were up and tapping.
In 2016 they competed in their first Masters Games in Dunedin. “Our team comprised six ex-tap dancers. We were in the Formation Team section of the Dancesports and the crowds loved us so much that we returned home wearing silver medals!”
Fired with such a win, Molls Dolls headed to the Masters at Wanganui in January 2017. “But this time there were 11 of us (three teams) and we came away with Gold and Silver.”
On Waitangi weekend of this year, Molls Dolls competed at the Masters, again; by now the three teams had grown to 21 dancers, aged from 37 to 69. They made a clean sweep, with the red and silver team winning the gold medal, the blue team taking out the silver, and the black and gold team getting bronze. They also got the silver medal in Show Dance.
The girls are super industrious when it comes to fundraising. “From May to August we make up to 300 dozen cheese rolls, per run – we’ve even made over 1,200 dozen!”
Next up for these indefatigable dames of dance is the Masters Games in October at Timaru and Wanganui in February, 2019. “We’ve also been invited to an Australasian Competition called Follow Your Dreams, with a qualifying competition in Christchurch in August. If we qualify then we’ll be heading to Melbourne in January 2019.”
Molly says her dancers inspire her and have brought so much fun into her life. “The girls give me so much joy. I don’t think I would have survived the hard times without them; they make Molls Dolls!”
For more information, email

Flash Fiction

The flashest fiction: National Flash Fiction Day

Up and down the country writers are pounding their keyboards, pausing only to scratch their heads as they scrabble to craft a flash little story that will be awarded the flashest little 300 words in Aotearoa.

Flash Fiction
“Every word is precious and precise.”

Last year’s National Flash Fiction Day (NFFD) competition saw Christchurch writer – and former Metropol scribe – Rachel Smith, awarded runner-up, while first place went to Auckland writer, Patrick Pink, for his flash Gunshots Are Too Common.
“Flash is a concentrated moment, a distilled glimpse, the juicy essence between characters, setting, conflict and time,” Patrick says of the genre.
“Every word is precious and precise. Flash challenges the writer. Flash is poetry. Flash is meditation. It restricts and releases. Flash is the visceral stuff of heart and guts.”
Founded in 2012, NFFD is now one of the most anticipated writing competitions in New Zealand.
The 2018 round is open until 30 April and, as New Zealand’s celebration of the shortest form of fiction writing, winners are announced on the shortest day of the year – 22 June. This year’s judges are acclaimed short story writers, novelists and poets Tracey Slaughter and Sue Wootton.
Last year, NFFD launched the Youth Category, and this year sees Patrick and poet/writer Tim Jones as judges in this space.
NFFD 2018 introduces a te reo Māori prize in both youth and adult categories, judged by poet/ novelist and short story writer Vaughan Rapatahana.
This year, the fourth annual Micro Madness series will also run, with 22 micros selected for inclusion, and three winners will be selected from the 22 finalists.
So, calling all Cantabrian writers…the challenge is on! Think you can fashion that flashiest flash? Well then… head to those keyboards – pronto!
Held at Space Academy, June 22 from 6-8pm.
More news and updates, including other publications and competitions involving New Zealand writers of compressed fiction, can be found by visiting

The Himalayas

Building hope in the Himalayas: how four people set out to make a difference in Nepal

Just when it seems the world is suffering a surfeit of doom and gloom stories, along comes a story big-hearted enough to illuminate the entire universe. Along comes Project EBC and four fabulous people – Mike Lowden, Bette Chen, Tina Morrell and Fergus Flannery.

The Himalayas

Project EBC (Everest Base Camp) was born from the coming together of like-minded individuals whose passion and vision for Everest initiated a two-fold mission: to trek to Everest Base Camp (at an elevation of 5,364 metres) and to help a family from Khumjung Village rebuild their earthquake-damaged home.
The home belongs to Tshering Thundu (Sandu), his wife, Tangii, and their four children. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake of April 25, 2015 wrought such havoc that Sandu – a porter and guide for more than 15 years who has summited Everest five times – and his family have had to camp under canvas ever since; not pleasant when winter temperatures can plummet to minus 15.
“If anybody can understand the hardships this family has endured, it’s Cantabrians,” Tina says.
The cost for the materials and freight for the repair of the family home exceed NZD $20,000. Funds raised in excess of building and repair costs will aid in the children’s schooling and any surplus to support the Project EBC team, which will be working on-site in Khumjung for two days alongside local Nepalese tradesmen.
This is ‘trekking with a mission’. With a goal of raising $25,000, Project EBC ran the 2017 Mount Cook Marathon as a team and raised $1,800+; they completed the 2017 CBD Stampede Obstacle Course, and on February 17 hosted a fundraiser gala dinner which raised more than $7,000.
“It may seem only one family’s benefitting,” says Fergus, “but the community will help build the home – the ripple effect from that can’t be measured.”
Tina nods, “A bit like conquering Everest – one step at a time.”
For more information, visit

Singing in Italian

Cantare in Italiano: learning to sing in Italian

If you’ve long dreamed of singing Italian and sounding Italian, then Claudia Lues can help you realise your dream.

Singing in Italian

“I think my love of music began in the crib,” says South African born Claudia. “My parents are Italian; my mother sang all the popular Italian songs, including opera and my maternal grandfather was a conductor, so music surrounded my entire life.”
In response to the earthquakes, Claudia pitched the idea of Italian singing classes to the Canterbury Workers’ Educational Association (CWEA). “I felt the need to do my bit – to help traumatised people.”
The CWEA gave her a ‘test run’ to ascertain interest. “That was in 2014. I began with six students then it kept growing. Now I have 15…and I would love more!”
Claudia says there’s no need to feel apprehensive about singing in a foreign language. “It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak Italian; the joy is in singing the words – that’s how you learn the language.”
The song repertoire ranges from classics to modern – “From Puccini to Bocelli, we do it all,” Claudia says. “My students say the class is the highlight of their week; they’ve grown to love the language so much, they’ve taken trips to Italy!”
Claudia feels very fortunate to be doing what she loves most. “It’s who I am – a musical Italian. To share my passion and make people smile, that’s my goal. For me, it’s pure pleasure.”
For more information visit