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All Gunn’s Blazing


When there are cameras rolling, it’s a common theme for there to be a starring role and a supporting role and, while this is undoubtedly true of the Gunn family, there’s somewhat of an anomaly in the success story of local production company Whitebait Media.

 

 

Because although iconic television – and now radio – personality Jason Gunn is the gregarious natural born performer and the star of the show, to describe wife Janine Morrell-Gunn, the woman who has been by his side for the past 24 years, as being in a supporting role simply wouldn’t capture the role of the beautiful go-getter making things happen behind the scenes.

Your typical A type personality, she is ambitious, driven, organised and proactive, but importantly, she is the driving force behind a production company that celebrates 21 years in business this year, heading New Zealand’s longest-running children’s programme, What Now? and dominating children’s TV with shows like The Erin Simpson Show and The Adam And Eve Show.

Janine has been a leader and a trailblazer since her student days at the University of Canterbury where she headed the Students’ Association, and remains as passionate as the young gun was in 1981 when she was arrested for obstructing a carriageway in a political move during the 1981 Springbok tour.

Those visions of changing the world persisted when she launched into an internship at TVNZ, covering current affairs and, although she didn’t become the next Judy Bailey, it did lead her to children’s television, after she directed children’s current affairs shows Spot On and Viewfinder.

Janine eventually worked her way through the ranks, becoming Executive Producer of TVNZ’s Children’s Unit. It was in this role that she met her future husband, Jason Gunn. The gregarious presenter was Janine’s employee and together they worked on kids’ show, After 2. It was Janine’s idea to create The Son of a Gunn Show, featuring Gunn’s beloved sidekick Thingee and the rest, as they say, is history.

It’s been said that when one door closes, another one opens and when TVNZ’s Children’s Unit was relocated from Christchurch to Wellington in 1998, the couple decided to “put a stake in the ground” and set up their own company, then known as Whitebait Productions. Whitebait’s first commission was Bumble, a preschool series about a bee and his friends and, of course, it was Jason that would be the first actor to don the Bumble suit.

“Jase and I needed to sail our own waka. We’d been so well supported at TVNZ, which we appreciated, but we wanted to be here with our families. All TV roads led to Auckland, but we’re unashamedly passionate about Canterbury.” She recalls early in her career making the flight to Auckland to be at a meeting, not wanting to let being based in Christchurch an issue, a meeting which was postponed not once, not twice but three days in a row, with Janine flying into the city for each!

“Twenty years ago it was harder to be here when most business wasn’t. Now we fly people down here and share our Canterbury experience and hospitality. Aucklanders enjoy the vibe, so that’s really positive. We’ve been able to raise our family and the greater Whitebait whanau, run our business and have a lifestyle that wouldn’t have been the same in Auckland.”

In 2003, TVNZ shut down its Wellington-based Children’s Unit and the next year Whitebait Productions won the tender to relaunch What Now? and bring production of the show back to Christchurch. The show continues to play an integral part in the Whitebait story, but today represents just a small part of what the production company does.

With the largest and most well-equipped studio facilities in the South Island, the team is still making live and pre-recorded children’s, youth and family television, with Fanimals – “our new baby” – one of the biggest hits. Now in its second season, Whitebait has partnered with the Department of Conservation, Auckland Zoo and the RSPCA to deliver the series where kids and animals are the stars of the show.

She can’t help but flick through the photos of a little blue penguin that was on set recently. “New Zealand is second now only to the US in terms of pet ownership,” Janine says. “There are endless numbers of stories in that space, reflecting the diverse nature of our love for animals.”

The company has now also moved into the world of animation, partnering with a company in India to produce Darwin and Newts, which has been green-lit for a second season, with production beginning and ending right here in Christchurch. Highlights include being picked up by CCTV in China and translated into our own Te Reo Maori.

“Our kaupapa is to give Kiwi children a voice; we’re not just advocating for our young people, but we’re also celebrating them as well by enabling Kiwi kids to see themselves on television. We get wonderful offshore content here, but it’s still important for our kids to see themselves on screen – we’re a small sliver of New Zealand.”

The Sunday staple of New Zealand television What Now? has recently left the studio and gone nationwide – on the back of a $400,000 investment. “We’ve built an ob truck and taken it on the road – 40 towns in 40 weeks,” Janine explains. “It’s like a travelling circus; we get 250-450 beautiful kids turning up to be on the show every week!”

What Now? can cater to what’s happening in the country at the time. After the mosque attacks, they did a ‘share the love’ themed show. “It reflects the changing nature of diversity. Our population base has changed. With a show like What Now? we’re able to show real life New Zealand culture and demonstrate inclusiveness.”

 

 

That inclusiveness extends to everyone around her, and family and community are clearly where Janine’s heart is, whether that is the Whitebait community, the business community, our cultural communities and the local charitable community, in which she is heavily involved.

There are around 40 young people working at the production facilities in Princess Street, Middleton, with another 70-odd contractors involved in the shows. “We always strive to create an environment our team wants to be in,” Janine says. “My husband is a spontaneous, ‘smell the roses’ kinda guy. As a producer, being with him, I have learnt to ‘get’ performers and from behind the scenes understand how to support those out the front. He brings humour to our lives; it’s infectious and our people learn how to have a laugh and keep it light.”

The global industry is peppered with former Whitebaiters who have thrived under her tutelage. The team has regular bake-offs, birthday celebrations and theatre screenings, and just hosted the first shared lunch within their business park to bring the work community together – they plant trees and give an annual scholarship in honour of a team member who died in the quakes and this year everyone helped make a wreath and did an ode to remembrance for ANZAC Day. A new passion project is making Whitebait paper cup free; everyone has been given their own Keep Cups to take to the café next door and milk is now delivered in glass bottles. They’re even learning Te Reo Maori.

Whitebait is a proud supporter of Cholmondeley Children’s Centre. Janine is the chair of the board and Jason was recently the MC for the annual fundraiser, Little Gems: A Night of Denim, Diamonds & Dancing. “It’s a beautiful Canterbury charity. We’re both deeply passionate about respite care for our local children. It’s been going for 93 years due to the huge generosity of Canterbury.”

Children are also at the centre of a small young charity, Uru Mānuka where Janine sits on the board alongside Garry Moore to ensure all Canterbury kids get the digital tools they need for equitable and open access to their education. And then there’s the Māia Health Foundation which Janine is a part of and has the support of the Gunns. “I love the ethos. It’s about enhancing the health experience in Canterbury by taking our health services from good to great.”

The project-based charity is very close to achieving its $5.2m target to get a large rooftop helipad on top of Christchurch Hospital’s new building and fold-down parent beds into the children’s ward. And you just know Janine is going to put her heart and soul into helping in any way she can.


 

Reasons to head portside


It may just be over the hill from the city confines, but the portside township of Lyttelton feels like a world away from its urban neighbour, with its own distinct vibe and fiercely passionate locals.

 

 

With an incredible mix of eclectic style, chilled vibes and high-end dining, there is much to offer in this seaside destination, from crafty second-hand stores to delectable eats. We’ve pulled together some of our favourite reasons to head over the hill and featured some of our favourite local businesses and suppliers below.

The dark horse of Christchurch coffee roasting and supply, Lyttelton Coffee Company has been serving and roasting coffee since 2007 through its cool London Street café.

Lyttelton Bakery and Glamour Cake has had the sweet taste of success since Bree Scott’s sweet treats went viral a couple of years back. The baked decadence will blow your mind.

At Wunderbar you will find velvet wallpaper, doll’s-head light shades and hidden toilets on tap at this local hotspot, but the epic views and huge calendar of live music will see you coming back.

For family-friendly dining, The Lyttelton Club offers million dollar views and the historic social hub of Lyttelton is celebrating its grand opening after extensive renovations on 11 May.

Meanwhile, from an unassuming two-storey building on the main street of Lyttelton, Roots Restaurant is churning out some of the best food in the country, making culinary waves in the portside town with its award-winning eats.


 

Bic Runga heads home


Critically acclaimed Kiwi songwriter, musician, vocalist and producer Bic Runga showed her support for the victims of the Christchurch terror attack at last month’s You Are Us/Aroha Nui concert.

 

 

Now she’s stretching out her stay in her hometown, where she is the first artist-in-residence in The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora since the earthquakes. The two residency apartments were closed after the earthquakes, along with the independent charitable trust’s other category one heritage buildings and the Creative Residencies programme has been on hiatus ever since.

However, with the $290 million restoration programme at The Arts Centre now two-thirds complete, the programme has been reinstated to welcome creative-thinkers back into the space 20 years after it first launched. Auckland-based Bic – who was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to music in 2006 and inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame in 2016 – arrived last month for a two-part residency in a freshly restored and strengthened building in the Christchurch cultural centre where she will stay until later this month, before returning for a week in July to hold songwriting workshops.

“This residency is a wonderful chance for me to reconnect with my Ōtautahi roots and give back to a community that has been through so much,” she says. “To be based in such a beautiful Aotearoa heritage landmark steeped in so much arts and cultural history and where many great creators have been before me is a real honour. I can’t wait to see the impact it’ll have on my songwriting.”


 

Oven gloves to dancing shoes


Kiwi chef personality, entrepreneur and healthy food whizz Nadia Lim is taking off her oven gloves and stepping into her dancing shoes to take on channel Three’s Dancing with the Stars NZ – and it’s all for a great cause.

 

Nadia Lim first attracted attention in the culinary arena after she took home first place in the second series of MasterChef New Zealand and has since become an advocate for wholesome food and healthy eating, which led her to founding home meal kit delivery service My Food Bag.
The chef has announced that she will be donating funds raised from votes from national food education charity Garden to Table. Providing food-based life skills to school children years three to six at 176 schools throughout the country, Garden to Table’s goal is to raise enough money to support communities in higher need, so their students can learn and share the skills and knowledge of growing, harvesting and cooking.


Nadia is well known for her ‘Nude Food’ philosophy, which promotes fresh, healthy eating and ethical food practices. She chose to support the charity because she believes providing children with the essential nutritional and practical skills is fundamental. “Teaching kids to love gardening and cooking is absolutely one way that we can give them skills to help look after their mental wellbeing both throughout their childhood and beyond into their adult life. Dancing with the Stars NZ’s brand-new season premiered on Sunday 14 April and will be on screens every Sunday (7pm) and Monday (7:30pm) on Three.


 

The Gift of Music

The Gift of Music


In life, there are the watchers and the do-ers. Local violinist and composer Fiona Pears most certainly fits into the latter, perhaps best illustrated by her upcoming concert, from which all proceeds are going to support our city’s most vulnerable.

 

The Gift of Music

 

Long recognising the increasing number of homeless in Christchurch, Fiona decided to utilise her own skills to do what she could to help. “For years now, I have felt sad seeing the amount of homeless people in our city,” she says.
“At the end of last year, I decided that instead of feeling sad I would do something about it.”

Calling on her musical friends, she has put together a beautiful concert to raise much-needed funds. Featuring the New Zealand Army Band, Graham Wardrop and Fiona Pears herself, backed by some of Christchurch’s best musicians, the charity concert is being held at 7pm on 30 March at the Transitional Cathedral with 100 percent of the proceeds going to support the city’s most vulnerable.

 

“Everyone involved is giving their time for free, to enable us to raise as much as possible.”

 

“The concert is called ‘The Gift of Music’ and I wanted the money raised to go towards medical expenses to help our street whānau through the winter of 2019,” Fiona says. Registered charity Street Wise has come on board to manage the funding and the organisation has already found doctors who will be able to provide the service at a lowered cost.

“Everyone involved is giving their time for free, to enable us to raise as much as possible on the night. The cathedral has donated the venue for the evening and I have friends putting up posters and working on the production for the night.
“The support already is amazing but we need to let people know about it.”

 


For more information, visit www.fionapears.com or www.facebook.com/streetwisenz.


 

Station Road

Unexpected International Style: Station Road


When you step into the lobby of a grand hotel, it makes you feel good, excited. It’s a special feeling.

 

Station Road

 

“What is it about the interior design, furniture and fixings that creates that inspired feeling?” asks Gavin How, Showroom Manager at Station Road Home. “We like to bring something of that special feeling into our home. “What we are encouraging people to do is have the confidence to reach out to something that’s slightly unexpected in terms of international style. Express your individuality with something that’s unique.”

Unique is in plentiful supply at Station Road Home. The Christchurch based company supplies premium furniture and décor to clients who understand that furniture, fashion and art are closely related. “We have customers who have treasured pieces that have been with them in several houses and they continue to shop with us.”

Whether the old premises, a former 19th century worker’s cottage on Rangiora’s Station Road – hence the name – or the new showroom at 148 Victoria Street in Christchurch, “we’ve always been a destination store”. As second-generation cabinet-makers, Station Road established a reputation for manufacturing and understanding the value of quality furniture. The Caracole range, imported from the United States, attests. From classic modern to traditional, or French or Asian themed, these pieces are truly unique in New Zealand.

“First and foremost we’re about providing premium quality, unique pieces of furniture, expertly designed and crafted from beautiful materials.” Visit the store to see the range. Bring photos of your rooms to take advantage of the expert knowledge and advice Gavin and his team can provide or visit

 


www.stationroad.co.nz.


 

Rossendale Vineyard

Only the best! Rossendale Vineyard


Only the best is good enough for the team at specialist wedding and event venue, Rossendale Vineyard. They are constantly looking for ways to improve their already consummate service to clients.

 

Rossendale Vineyard

 

“We have made a small change to our name to make it trip off the tongue more easily,” says manager Graham Jones. “We’re now Rossendale Vineyard rather than The Vineyard@Rossendale. Many people used to refer to us as that anyway.”  Now too there is a stunning video of the venue and its surrounding environment online at www.rossendalevineyard.co.nz.

Much of the footage was shot from a drone and the aerial views only serve to reinforce just how picturesque the rural vineyard setting is. It would be very difficult not to fall in love with the place immediately and say “That’s where I want to have my wedding. Nowhere else will do.”

There are also shots of the interior of the elegant specially-designed venue itself, superbly dressed for a sumptuous wedding feast. “The video complements the 360-degree tour of the venue that we have had online for some time. We have found that to be extremely useful, especially for potential clients from overseas so they can see what we have to offer.”

The team from Rossendale Vineyard will be at the Great New Zealand Bridal Show at the Addington Events Centre on Sunday 31 March between 9am and 3:30pm. Graham will show you how Rossendale Vineyard can turn your wedding ideas into reality. Otherwise you can contact him on 03 322 7780 or email gra@rossendale.co.nz.

 



 

Ourvets

Extending veterinary knowledge base: Ourvets


Ourvets is excited to welcome Dr Angela Hartman, a Veterinary Radiology Specialist.

 

Ourvets

 

In January, the Ourvets team welcomed Angela in order, to provide a specialist referral service to Christchurch and the wider Canterbury area. Angela is the only Veterinary Specialist Radiologist in the South Island and already offers her advanced skill and knowledge to the Nelson and wellington area. Angela has been working in the veterinary world for more than 20 years – her goal: to benefit as many patients, clients and veterinarians as possible during her career.

With an extensive range of radiographic equipment – including digital radiographs, ultrasound and CT (the only small animal machine in the South Island) – Ourvets is equipped to support Angela with a wide range of diagnostic tools to assist in her decision making.

When not at the clinic or working from home, Angela likes to spend time with the many retired working dogs that she and her partner have rescued – as well as her rescued cats, pigs, ducks, cattle, goats and sheep.

“I could go on about these but you don’t have enough room on the page!” Angela says. “A dog’s love and trust are like no other relationship in life. The unadulterated love they give purifies my mind and makes me a better person. I will always be surrounded by dogs, dog hair on the carpet and all!”

Angela adds a wealth of knowledge and passion to the growing Ourvets team and they look forward to her working alongside them to offer clients the very best service.

 

To find out more about what Ourvets can offer you and your pets,

visit www.ourvets.co.nz or visit any of the practices – St Albans, Parklands, Riccarton and Halswell.

Across its multi-locations each veterinarian’s area of expertise fits together to create an extensive portfolio of veterinary skills and knowledge.

 



 

Symphony on the Lake

Lakeside Luxury: Symphony on the Lake


The Picnic Company, a Canterbury handmade gourmet picnic catering business, is starting out as it intends to go forward, by creating a food-inspired event centred around sharing and gathering with community

 

Symphony on the Lake

 

The Symphony on the Lake will bring the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, leading soloists Amati Pati of Sol3Mio and award-winning Isabella Moore into the heart of Canterbury at Ashburton’s beautiful Lake Hood, just an easy hour’s drive from the city with the Southern Alps as its backdrop.

Book early for the 7 April event, from 5-8pm, choose your gourmet hamper and keep informed by signing up to the mailing list at www.thepicniccompany.nz. Supported by The Lake House, WeCan Academy, Lake Hood Trust and Canterbury producers, The Symphony on the Lake is an opportunity to enjoy local produce in a gourmet picnic hamper and glorious classical music, at the beautiful Lake Hood.

The Picnic Company’s passion for food and community is behind this unique event with plans for future pop-up gourmet and entertainment opportunities; from carefully crafted eats and cocktails, to collaboratively curated events and good vibes; all-inclusive events that will leave you delectably full, thirsts quenched and spirits entertained.

With a passion for good food, a conscious approach to the integrity of ingredients and cooking, while recognising the abundance of inspiring and enchanting locations in Canterbury, it seems obvious that the boutique ‘catering business’ will be well received.
With a move away from the traditional sit down dinner that can feel stuffy and fussy, the company’s focus is on the social aspect of entertaining, the pleasure of planned celebration, creating a playful and leisurely ambience.

 

The business seeks to craft casual yet elegant food in settings that celebrate alfresco aperitif and picnic occasions. The Picnic Company is also refining the creation of beautifully crafted picnic foods that can be enjoyed at destinations of your choice. Menus and events are designed as a collective effort with the client’s interest being primary focus, while encouraging that you trust the chefs to create menus based off what is in season, at its prime and will create memorable taste experiences.

The Picnic Company will strive to always use the finest ingredients, which include free-range, organic, seasonal, hand crafted and locally sourced wherever possible.

 


Learn more at www.thepicniccompany.nz.


 

Akaroa Adventure

Akaroa Adventure


High profile athletes throughout the country are preparing to descend on Akaroa from 10-17 March as preparations for the action-packed adventure race GODZone ramp up in the region.

 

Akaroa Adventure

 

It’s the first time the non-stop seven-day expedition-style race, the largest of its kind globally and widely regarded as the best – has been held in the region with the eighth chapter attracting a significant number of teams with high profile multisport backgrounds.

Pre and post-race activities focused around the beautiful coastal township which will also play host to the event finish line. In true GODZone style, the location of the start line will remain secret until just before the race kicks off. The only hint given at this stage is that the start location will be a long way from Akaroa!

 

Akaroa Adventure

With 70 teams across three racing categories including the full course 600km Pure event and shorter formatted 500km Pursuit and Prime events, the field is expected to take anywhere between five and seven days to complete the journey.
The teams will navigate their own way around the course using a variety of multisport disciplines including mountain biking, trekking, kayaking and pack rafting.

“Competitors don’t know where or when they will receive the race maps but suffice to say there’s plenty of conjecture as to where it might go,” GODZone Race Director Adam Fairmaid says.  “Canterbury is an incredibly diverse region with a lot of contrast from braided and meandering rivers to big, technical mountain ranges. It should be a spectacular race with some interesting twists and turns along the way.”

 


www.godzoneadventure.com