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Model Citizen


Michaelee-Jayne McDonald may look at home on the rugby field or out in the Sumner surf, but this beautiful local is equally at home on a runway or a glamorous photoshoot.

 

Scouted by Portfolio Model Agency Director and owner Mel Radford-Brown four years ago as a 16 year old in a model search competition, Michaelee had recently recovered from a surfing accident.

She broke both her jaw and her nose, requiring about 80 internal stitches. Doctors told her she was lucky not to be paralysed.

“I realised that you can’t take life for granted and really do have to make the most of every opportunity,” Michaelee says.

“Which is why I put myself into the Portfolio Model search and say yes to every gig/do all the castings that I can!”

But that wasn’t to be the last of the daredevil’s injuries! “In early 2018 I decided it was a great idea to skateboard down a paved hill in Blenheim!” she laughs.

“This ended with me once again waking up in hospital. At the time they only did an ultrasound to check if I’d fractured my skull, but there was so much blood they couldn’t see anything!”

With constant headaches and worsening vision following the accident, Michaelee’s mum demanded a CT scan.

“I actually still remember the look on the lady’s face coming out and saying that the specialist needed to talk about something but then coming out again saying they’ll send it to my GP instead,” Michaelee says.

She had already seen a neurologist in after her 2015 surfing accident and was concerned about wasting the doctor’s time when she was called in the following day. “But this time she said ‘it’s actually not good news, they’ve found a cranial tumour’.”

Two years ago she had a craniotomy to remove the tumour. “This meant I had to leave the New Zealand Institute of Sport (NZIS), I had to pull out of my touch Canterbury team going to nationals, I wasn’t allowed to play rugby, I was unable to do anything related with modelling and I lost all my muscle/general strength,” she says.

“I was constantly tired for months, could not stand noise and was unable to eat. I’m a very active person so, as anyone would be, I was gutted. Especially because at the time I was so fit both mentally and physically; feeling like I had to start from scratch was tough.”

After her operation, Michaelee’s right eye was permanently looking right out to the side because the tumour was putting pressure on her orbit.

Then, when the part behind her orbit was removed, it lost its support and there was a risk that her eye would not be able to re-adjust itself.

Now she says one eye protrudes out more than the other.

“This used to make me self-conscious but I’ve learned so, so much since I first began modelling that I now take no notice of it and just enjoy the moment rather than focusing on those thoughts at the back of my mind!” she says in true Michaelee fashion.

There is also a distinctive shape on her forehead from the surgery. “I’m constantly getting asked if I’ve hit my head, but it’s actually my bone! I could get filler put in to make my forehead symmetrical if I wanted/needed to but I love the way I am!

“Every time I look in the mirror I smile because it’s such a great reminder of how far I’ve come and what I’ve achieved!

You can decide to be a patient, think the worst and ask for sympathy but, for me, there’s no point drowning yourself in sorrow.

Regular MRI scans and multiple tests are all a part of my current journey now, so the best remedy by far is to stay positive and set your mind towards something you’re passionate about!”

Michaelee is now enjoying the lucrative opportunities coming her way with Portfolio and recent bookings include a television commercial for an international client and a New Zealand fashion label based in Christchurch.

“Michaelee is quite a hard case with a personality that is larger than life,” Mel Radford-Brown says.

“Michaelee is one of those beautiful girls, inside and out, who truly sparkles and leaves an impact on everyone she meets, she is a very special girl, and without a doubt, has been ‘one to watch’ with us.”


 

A Sweet Set Up


The C-HR has been a mighty strong seller since Toyota lifted the lid on the first-generation compact SUV way back in 2017. The C-HR wowed us willing engines, levels of equipment and that edgy love it or hate it styling. For 2020, the C-HR has been enhanced to cope with its mid life crisis, so here is what’s what.

Available from a Toyota guaranteed price of $32,990, the C-HR still retains its 1.2 litre, 85kW, turbocharged petrol engine but also becomes the eighth model in Toyota’s family to be available with a hybrid powertrain.

The hybrid is a sweet set up, while the 1.2 petrol pulls well, the 1.8 petrol electric combo, also used in the Corolla Hybrid, is a peach, especially when returning fuel consumption figures of 4.3L/100km. Drive is channelled through a slick eight speed CVT gearbox.

You can also have your C-HR with AWD, but you need to go the whole hog and get the range-topping Limited spec.

Styling wise, it still retains its funky coupe lines, but now features revised LED head and taillights, a new front bumper design and new 17 or 18inch alloys, depending on the spec level.

The new C-HR comes with a gaggle of standard kit, including Toyota’s new eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system which at last incorporates Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Safety kit includes pre-collision warning, lane departure warning, radar cruise control, hill descent control, rear cross traffic alert, reversing camera and blind spot monitoring, to name a few.

Limited spec cars get the addition of heated leather seats, 360-degree rear camera and black gloss dash finish.

Rear seat passengers have average head and legroom and entry and exit are easy enough, just mind your head on the sloping roof line. Boot space is rated at 318L, not the biggest, but this is no wagon for lugging all in sundry around for days on end.

On the move in the hybrid, don’t expect a rapid response after giving it a boot full.

The C-HR is much more at home silently zipping along.

Minor tweaks to the suspension and dampers have resulted in the C-HR petrol and hybrid handling very well indeed.

Through the bends you can corner well with little effort required on your part to keep things level.

Parking is a doddle too, though rear visibility is average at best.

Also worth mentioning is ride comfort, it is quite frankly peerless.

After a couple of weeks with petrol and hybrid versions, one can say the little tweaks bestowed by Toyota really complement the C-HR well.

The one you want, in this writer’s opinion is the base Hybrid at $34,990 TGP.

With great levels of kit, silent running, comfort, refinement and the fact it can be quite fun to drive, the 2020 C-HR manages to do nearly everything very well indeed.


 

Waxing Lyrical


Many have been waxing lyrical about the Subaru XV. With a new XV due out later in the year, Subaru have given the current generation a few tweaks, here’s what’s what.

From $36,490, the XV comes with a strong 2.0L four-cylinder boxer engine with 115kW/196Nm. Add this to Subaru’s asymmetrical all-wheel-drive and a seven speed CVT gearbox, and you get 7.0L/100km, with the same good looks and 17-inch alloy wheels unique to the premium spec vehicle.

Inside, everything feels solid, and just very well put together when compared to others in this class.

In terms of space, there is oodles of it. Boot space is commendable at 310L.

The XV comes with Appale CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, along with lane change assist, high beam assist, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot detection, electric sunroof, heated leather seats, and Subaru’s latest generation Eyesight Driver Assist System.

At speed, the four-pot boxer pulls well.

The CVT box is actually more responsive than first expected. With some CVT gearboxes, the feeling of performance gets lost in translation, but Subaru’s unit is actually rather good, providing crisp changes.

Ride comfort is also very good, with the XV managing to soak up the bumps nicely.

Thanks to the all-wheel-drive which Subaru have honed over the years, you can get down and dirty with ease.

The XV Premium still represents great buying for those after a five-seater soft roader, thanks to great tech and refinement and it can tackle the moderate rough stuff like few others.


 

Local Lad’s International Success


Portfolio Model Agency’s Jordan Barron has a whirlwind international career. However, the down to earth 25-year-old with the striking looks still calls Christchurch home.

Originally from Cambridgeshire UK, he moved here when he was 12. After finishing St Andrews College, Jordan was discovered by a modelling agency at Merivale’s Aikmans Bar. And next minute he had a 10-page Remix magazine shoot, and then modelled the Zambesi campaign, leading to experiences overseas.
He completed his degree in finance, accounting and commercial law, despite being asked to go to New York. Four years in Europe and Australia followed, with numerous events and working for brands such as Louis Vuitton and Harvey Nicholls in London, and Hugo Boss and Armani in Sydney, before returning home.

“Fashion has been one interest, but I have always been interested in the person behind the clothes. Being in my 20s, my taste will evolve and change as I grow. I believe everyone’s style is a measure of someone’s story, values and confidence.”
He says modelling comes with tension, and when you are young it is often more difficult to stay true to who you are.
“Continuing to mature and learn about having good people around me will only help me understand the modelling landscape better. It’s a bit like the plains of Africa. In serving that landscape you deal with a lot of rejection and opportunities. This teaches me so much more about who I am; some of my greatest life lessons have come from those.”

Jordan’s friends didn’t understand modelling initially. “The great thing about my close friends and family is that they have kept me grounded. The funniest story was when my friend went to kiss a new girlfriend, he looked up, and there was a poster of me on her wall and his date didn’t go too well!
“I’m a big believer in as we move through life our choices shape who we are. I’ve learnt more about that in the last year especially. I don’t see myself as a role model – we all have a story which informs someone else’s story. I always have hope. We can all help someone or something else as we move through life.
“I’ve always been proud to be a Kiwi – it’s been great to come home after a long stint away.”