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Author: Tracey Edwardes

Rising from the Rubble: RisingHolme

Risingholme Homestead in Opawa officially reopened on 5 June, when council members and the community gathered for the long-awaited moment when the cherished building reopened its grand front door.




Harbouring decades of memories, the authentic restoration was a collaborative effort of determination after a double tragedy. The homestead had been closed since the February 2011 earthquake and was further damaged by an arson attack in June 2016 – just prior to its planned earthquake repair.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel says the 153-year-old two-storey homestead, which has continued to hold a diverse mix of classes and courses, was one of the country’s first community centres. The site was gifted to Christchurch in 1943 by philanthropist Sir John McKenzie and the Risingholme Community Centre Incorporated Society was formed in 1944.

Cook Brothers Construction started the restoration last February, with a partial rebuild and significant repairs to earthquake and fire damage. Etchings of its eventful history remain, such as the charring on the fire mantle and the time-worn staircase of rimu, mahogany and baltic pine.

Christchurch City Council’s Heritage Programme Manager, Richie Moyle, managed the $2.5 million refurbishment, and also instigated the balcony’s restoration to the original open-window design. Formerly closed in and used as a room, it’s now a magnificent vantage point to view the established grounds.

Richie says he felt the elation of opening a birthday present at the opening of his 45th post-earthquake heritage restoration. It was quite surreal as his vision of the fire-damaged facade was still so vivid. The centre’s Committee President, Ildica Boyd, aptly pronounced on opening day: “Risingholme is moving back home”.


A Winning Wonky Donkey

One down-to-earth Kiwi songwriter and author is proof the universal language of humour is a very catchy beast.




Queenstown-based writer Craig Smith decided, 16 years ago, to leave his marketing career and follow his musical dreams. Then along came a rather charismatic wonky donkey which set him on the straight path to publishing success.

Last month Craig, author of the best-selling book and song The Wonky Donkey, won the Tui for the 2019 APRA Recorded Music NZ Best Children’s Music Artist, for his second children’s CD, Not Just for Kids 2, including Live at Glastonbury, and tracks such as the Wonky Donkey, The Scariest Thing in the Garden – which is a brussel sprout – and Size Doesn’t Matter.

“The production includes acoustic guitar, harmonics, drums and strings. I want parents to enjoy equally – and get them giggling too!” And speaking of giggling, The Wonky Donkey, and accompanying CD, sold around a million copies worldwide before Scottish granny Janice Clark hijacked the internet with her infectious giggles, while reading the story to her grandson.

Craig says his best-selling book had been entertaining children for nine years selling close to a million copies, before sales then went from a trot to a gallop, from last September, selling a further three million copies. “Until this day I can’t stop laughing every time I hear her, even though I know what’s coming. I realise this happened by complete chance – it was real gift.

The Wonky Donkey became arguably the number one selling book in the world across all genres for two weeks on Amazon global sales. It toppled even Bob Woodward’s book on Donald Trump and Michelle Obama’s autobiography. “Now it’s sold globally – from Portugal to Poland. It really helps that the song is the same as the words in the book – so when English is the second language, you can listen as you read. It’s visual and aural, but also provides a kinaesthetic way for many kids to learn, which is how I learn best.”

Craig has performed at many schools, where kids can’t help but jiggle in their seats to their favourite song. “This is the way stories used to be told before print was invented.” The 47-year-old lives between Queenstown and his creative getaway in Monowai near Te Anau, and has spent nearly a decade touring Australia.

However, it was Christchurch where he first started singing and performing both his adult and kid’s music. He was even a regular busker at the Riccarton Market. He has invested in land and a home in Lyttelton and visited there last month and stopped and had a beer with fellow musician Marlon Williams.

Craig has written nine children’s books so far. On the back of The Wonky Donkey, a book and CD about wonky donkey’s daughter – Dinky Donkey – will be launched worldwide on November 1, and again illustrated by the talented Katz Cowley. Craig gives us a clue: “She’ll be a punky, blinky dinky donkey!”

We have four Wonky Donkey CDs to giveaway. To be in to win, jump on our Facebook post and tell us why you need a Wonky Donkey CD in your life.


Blue Beauty

It’s the colour of a summer ocean and an expansive sky. The art world’s love of this inky, energetic cobalt blue is well-documented. And they’re not alone! Rich, deep and inviting, cobalt blue is the new power player of the homewares sphere. With its electric charge and ability to instantaneously uplift, the right hue of blue is as bold as it is beautiful.




This colour is lighter than its more formal cousin navy, but has a deeper richness than cheery sky blue. Its name derives from cobalt salt mixing with aluminium oxide – creating a fathomless beauty. Its undertones can range from grey to purple.

Throughout history, dating back 3,000 years, it has been used for porcelain, tiles and glass – and was then devoured creatively by many an artist such as Monet, Renoir, Matisse and Van Gough. Ceramics and surroundings through to artworks and interior homewares have instant impact with cool, emotive cobalt blue. And it can look quite French.

The sultry shade is in love with velvet – from cushions to couches and with delicious deep buttoning. It can have a metallic quality, so shimmer with a metallic cobalt vase or bowl against a light-wood coffee table. Copper brings out cobalt’s warmth. Gold elevates it to regal status.

The colour joins other moody dark hues in interiors this season, as primary colours are set aside for now. Even in lighting or kitchen splashbacks, this deep and decadent shade will lift a dull day. It is essentially a cool colour, but its brilliance creates warmth against a grey day.

It looks almost princely mixed with the new obsession – the shade of mustard. Mixed with terracotta, it emits the exotic of byzantine era and the bazaars of Eastern Mediterranean. Paired with green, it is nature in its finest combination. The rich colour is balanced and incredibly striking against the contrast of the palest dusky pink.

If you decide on a cobalt couch, light pastel cushions and throws will soften the depth. Whether it’s a lightning bolt of this shade from a treasured collection, or painting the walls cobalt, to relaxing under a midnight sky, its jewel-like qualities are heavenly indulgence.




Check it out!

Checks are still hot property in our wardrobes! They are a geometrically gorgeous fashion feature that’s having a long run on the catwalks. Whether it’s retro, timeless, wild ‘n’ crazy – it’s hip to be square.




Black and white checks are a 90s comeback that’s either cute or classic depending on how you wear them – whether it’s a long floaty off-the-shoulder dress as seen by Oscar de la Renta, or a cute crop top. Chic and classy or kooky and creative, checks draw in the eye either way – and make an outfit look finished and purposeful. Celebrities are all doing their own renditions to get attention. And with the flexibility to wear it in infinitive ways – everyone is a follower of their own fashion style.

Checked blazers and trousers in winter-weight fabrics will look sassy and swish this season. Over-sized coats and double-breasted blazers are a classic design of a checked past, but mixing them with florals and asymmetric-cut tops will make this time round unique. Tartans can go bold and bright. Mix them. Clash them. Green tops with red bottoms perhaps – it definitely doesn’t have to be a check mate. Deep purple and bright yellow, as seen by Versace, is really opulent and out-there. Checks graduating in size are fun visual feasts. Smaller, soft-hue checks, cinched in with a belt is pure demure couture – perfect for the boardroom – whereas larger prints can disguise flaws and take centre stage. Plaid well-cut pants could even be more flattering than your favourite plain pair this season.


Wall Candy

Wall Candy

Walls are increasingly doing the talking when it comes to the home, as we explore a taste of the latest flavour in wall candy.


Wall Candy
Lumas Gallery Photo by Renaud Delorme


Wall real-estate is what home decorators drool over. Blank can be boring – so an infinity of eye-catching ideas is taking over.

Grouping artwork looks stunning. Try arranging similar frames, portraits, vintage, animals, craft art, or a melange of everything you love. Small artworks together create a big effect. Forget the eye-level rule too. Embellish down to the floor and up to the rafters.

Decals are getting more dramatically creative, with larger-than-life vinyl motives taking over from passé inspirational quotes. They also come in patterns, creating the effect of out-there wall paper, which is easily removed.

Bold, colourful, simple shapes, and the quirky, fun and abstract, are now lining walls and gigantean canvas prints make stunning standalone features – gaze-worthy artwork is fixating.



Suite Temptation

Suite Temptation

Lounge suites can make or break the look and comfort of a room. It’s an investment that will be worth its weight in cosy nights.


Suite Temptation


This year, the lounge suite is less of a suite and more of a pairing. The great news is the chairs don’t have to match the couch, and two couches don’t need to be a pigeon pair. Contrasting, complementing or quirky clashing is now ultracool.

This means there’s so much flexibility in choice and design – and no two homes will look the same. Pieces then can be updated at different times. Curvy is the latest shaping in furniture design, so a mix of tub-like, egg shaped and wavy-edged chairs go nicely with couches of both informal or structured design.

Blush is now a much-revered neutral. So match up with perhaps deeper colours from jewel-like jades to burnished golds. Mustard as a colourway is so hot again. Comfort materials are the go to for cosy couches this year. Plush textured velvets, hard-wearing Draylon and the softest chenille are the new comfort luxe.

Natural linen is for our natural cravings. Interest detailing such as piping, casual flanged seams or exposed stitching, which pairs well with sustainable natural fabrics. The Danish Hygee trend of creature-comfort is getting even more rugged up. Creatively piling on textures and patterns of cushions and throws individualises and updates a tired lounge suite, especially over the colder months.



Indie-folk success

Indie-folk success

Two childhood best buddies from Christchurch have been making music since they were seven. Now their sweet harmonies and lyrics that carry messages teenagers are relating to, have created indie-folk success.


Indie-folk success


Constellations, Six Dollar Shirt and Oversized Ring are debut singles off their EP released earlier this month. Their EP We Can Only Laugh is so titled because, “We take our music seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. How can we, we’re only 17 and 18 years old,” Nat Hutton says.

“We have known each other since preschool – he’s my best friend. Our first song together was actually written in tribute to the Christchurch Earthquakes, in 2011.” Jono Stewart came from a choral background and, with his uncle James Reid the lead singer for The Feelers, was surrounded by music. “I get inspiration from whatever I’m listening to.”

Crumbs is the duo’s personal favourite track – “It includes a lot of elements.” They’ve been highly involved in productions with producer Will McGillivray from NOMAD – “a big inspiration”, as is their mentor Sacha Vee from SOLE Music Academy.

Finalists in the past two NZ Rock Quests, they made the top five in 2017. They opened for Jed Parsons here last year and will open for Australian indie folk singer, Michael Dunstan, who plays on 11 April at Blue Smoke in The Tannery. “There will be at least another single out this year – there’s lots we haven’t released yet! We just want to play music – and keep on having fun with it.”


For more information visit or find them on Facebook.


Pure Grit: A life on ice

Pure Grit: A life on ice

Ice Skating is not a well-known sport in New Zealand, but a Christchurch teenager is carving out an exciting career on ice.


Pure Grit: A life on ice


Milla Newbury “was born to move,” her mum Miranda says. “At four she loved ballet and dressing up – a wee showgirl.”  Miranda, who grew up in the Netherlands skating to school in winter along the canal, took five-year-old Milla to Alpine Ice rink two weeks after the February 2011 earthquake. Milla fell over, someone skated over her fingers and it was a quick trip to A&E. But a fortnight later she wanted to go back to the rink and joined the KiwiSkate programme, which quickly progressed to two sessions a week – “absolutely loving it”.

Then at the rink’s Christmas on Ice performance, coach and former international competitive skater Liz O’Neill picked her out of the crowd. “The now seven-year-long relationship between us has been amazing,” Liz says. “It’s a very expensive sport, and there’s no funding. Ice-skating teaches focus and hard work. It’s not just pretty spins and dresses – it’s skating on knives. Milla might have to repeat a certain thing 100 times, but she never gives up. You have to have passion to do this sport.”

Milla was a cute Olaf and Liz was Elsa in the 2016 performance of Frozen. She combined her private coaching with group sessions – a great way to connect with other skaters in which can otherwise be quite a lonely sport. Now 13, Milla competes in freestyle ice-skating – choreographed jumps and spins, “which is like a cross between ballet and gymnastics”.

She qualified and competed at New Zealand Ice Figure Skating Championships in 2017 and 2018 (Nationals) and won Silver at last year’s South Islands Figure Skating Championships. “I get up at 5:15am and train mornings or afternoons every week day, to qualify for this year’s nationals,” Milla says. “I now find it easier than walking! The ice kind of feels like my home.”

A dedicated student, she often takes her homework to the rink. Skating all week, she tries to keep the weekend free and also enjoys hip hop dance. The busy Year 10 student is also a Junior Associate at The Ballet Academy at St Andrew’s College, which similarly requires flexibility and strength. At 178cm tall, she’s also in development training with Portfolio Model Agency, with an ARA fashion show already under her professional belt.

This year she is expecting her sporting career to really take off and now has more comfortable, perfectly fitting ice-skating shoes. Miranda recently learnt the technique to mould them to fit and now does the same for other skaters in the club.

Milla has skated at the Grand Palais in Paris, Dubai Mall and The Hague, and says the bullet spin is her favourite element. “My goal is to travel the world and to skate everywhere, and either teach or coach,” she says.  “I want to keep skating forever – but for now I’m focusing on getting through my next grade test this month.”


A prime event

A prime event

The Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce held an exclusive luncheon with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier this month.


A prime event


This was the third luncheon of its kind for The Chamber, with previous events fronted by Winston Peters and John Key. It was fitting the event was held the day before International Women’s Day. Jacinda captured the attention of around 660 members and non-members of The Chamber at the Air Force Museum in Wigram.

“What a crowd,” Jacinda said as she commenced her speech, commending Christchurch’s growth and spirit “in spite of the hurdles”.She praised our newest buildings, such as the central library and the “beautifully refurbished” Town Hall, said she was “jealous” of her partner Clarke Gayford enjoying the Shapeshifter performance last week and assured our awaited new stadium “will have a roof” to watch the Crusaders in comfort during winter.

She covered most poignant topics including export, and a fairer tax system, transitioning to a “clean green carbon-neutral New Zealand” and being ready for a global economic downturn. Wellbeing and mental health are top priority for the budget, noting the repercussions of both for the business world.

Chamber of Commerce CEO Leann Watson says she was pleased Jacinda confirmed her commitment to Christchurch is still a priority, including our anchor projects, and commitment to tourism and trade relationships.

The annual event was sponsored by the Christchurch Casino. CEO Brett Anderson says it was the best speech he had heard from her. “She didn’t avoid any issues and spoke what was on everyone’s minds.”



All smoke & mirrors

All smoke & mirrors

Mirrors are clever design pieces that can make or break your décor.


All smoke & mirrors


Taking on many roles, they can be a piece of wall art, for lightening and brightening, creating optical illusions, distracting, or highlighting – checking out your reflection is just a bonus! Hanging a mirror certainly has a multifaceted effect.

Facing a large mirror adjacent to a view is like gaining another window. Whether a gorgeous garden or dreamy view, it is double the pleasure. What they reflect is key – a vase of flowers on a table will double in beauty – but avoid them facing less illustrious corners. Assess if it will do the surroundings justice.

Full length mirrors dramatically open up a space and offer the best way to accurately assess your outfit from head to toe. As a full-wall feature they glamorise and open up the space.
Thick baroque gilded frames are as current as geometric quirky designs. Bevelled mirroring is a luxurious option and backlighted options are perfect for bathrooms and bedrooms.

A grand frame around a modest mirror can steal the limelight, whereas a fine frame on a large mirror gives all the attention to the reflection. There is no ‘fairest of them all’ – they all simply mirror personality.