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A too-curious kitty: Ourvets

When it comes to kittens, cute and adorable as they are, it’s good to keep in mind that old adage about curiosity killing the cat. Just like human babies, kittens are curious about the world around them and as they grow and gain in strength, it’s all too easy for them to get into trouble with eating things that, though satisfying their curiosity, might prove very harmful in the long run.



Such was the case with Shadow, a 12-week-old kitten who presented at Ourvets Parklands one morning having vomited up a pom-pom tassel the night before. She had since vomited several times and seemed lethargic, though she was still keen to eat.

An x-ray was taken, which showed that Shadow had something obstructing her gut. The situation necessitated surgery as soon as possible. Shadow’s stomach was opened and two hair-ties were removed, however there was another pom-pom tassel attached to them, extending down into her intestine. The intestines were trying so hard to pass the tassel that they had telescoped in on themselves. This piece of gut had to be removed, along with the tassel.

All up, this surgery took three hours, then she went into recovery. If the surgery had been delayed by even one day, Shadow could have died, but her mum was very diligent and brought her in at the first sign of trouble.

Veterinarian Alice Finch, who performed the operation, says that it pays to keep a vigilant eye on young animals. If they do present with sudden vomiting, even if they’re still keen to eat, the owner should get them checked out as soon as possible as it might be a very serious problem which could quickly escalate into a potentially life-threatening situation.

One month on and Alice says Shadow has made an excellent recovery. “It’s as if nothing happened; she was bright and playful, and was even attacking my knuckles!”

Find Ourvets Parklands at 438 Mairehau Road and phone 03 383 2233. For more information on Ourvets, visit or find them on Facebook: Ourvets@ourvets.christchurch.



Get Investing: Alistair Bean & Associates

Alistair Bean, Managing Director at Alistair Bean & Associates says, “it’s a great time to be investing in the stockmarket and managed funds”.



As a Financial Adviser, Alistair says, “It can be difficult to see past a media gloom fest. The current investment opportunities are driven by global low interest rates, a high New Zealand dollar and record global low unemployment. Company borrowing is therefore inexpensive, so debt can be repaid and money can be invested in things like infrastructure and staff, all of which helps to foster a growth economy.”

Alistair believes he has the right formula for expanding his clients’ wealth – just ask his clients, who have enjoyed absolutely stellar growth over the last number of years. Regulations restrict disclosing full data on investment returns, but it’s safe to say his clients’ base annual average return has gone a significant way into double digits.

“Making investment decisions for you so you don’t have to.”

From hour to hour, Alistair is paying very close attention to the subtle shifts in the market so that you don’t have to. “I take the stress of managing your investments from you – it’s a pleasure and a passion,” Alistair says.

“To make sufficient wealth for clients so that time is no longer an issue.”

After 37 years in finance, Alistair attributes his success to some basic investment principals he applies when contemplating promising assets to invest in:

• The share market rises and falls, creating buying opportunities for good shares at bargain prices. We aren’t followers when it comes to selling shares at a time when people should be buying. News in the marketplace always affects the values of shares. The key is having the strength to buy when others are selling at a discount, and being mindful of where a share price is in its cycle.

• The market has exponentially rewarded long-term investors. Despite major hurdles like world wars, recessions, oil shocks, Trump trade wars and Brexit, equities have still significantly outperformed property, bonds, cash and inflation. You need to be in the market and stay in the market with diversification still being the key.

Alistair travels the world to see investment managers, and spends many hours each day immersed in the business of researching investment opportunities, ensuring current investments maximise clients’ needs.

July saw Alistair Bean and Associates celebrating in style with their ‘client family’. After nearly seven spectacular years in business, they are thrilled to have moved into fabulous new premises in the city they love in Christchurch’s new West End Business Precinct. A client said to Alistair, “I was referred to you by my brother who raves about you. He was so happy, his partner and his best friend also invested with you, it’s like a family”.

“That’s how we like it to feel too, everyone deserves great investment advice,” Alistair says.

Disclosure documents are available, free upon request.



Cutting his comedy teeth

We’ve all heard the motivational stories of those who make something from nothing. For Brendan Dooley, making something from nothing has a more literal meaning – after all, making goldfish appear in glasses of water and pulling $20 notes from inside Crunchie bars are all in a day’s work for this local comedy magician. “I was the kid that never grew out of it,” he laughs.



“I saw a juggler at a circus when I was three and that was my first obsession. My mum got me a magic kit when I was five, I had a magician at my birthday and that was that.”

While he was always the quirky kid at school, Brendan kept largely to himself, but it was on stage – every chance he got – that he would shine. At the age of 11 he made his career choice, in both heart and mind. It was at the Buskers Festival in Nelson when he saw street performer James James – one of the world’s top street performers – surrounded by 200 people. “All he had was a small table and his personality,” Brendan says.



“It was on that table that he produced six oranges from three cups and a pineapple from his hat! I’d never seen people react to magic like that, just the clapping, the cheering, the energy… it was next level.
“It was in that moment that I knew I wanted to give people that same feeling.”

Brendan now takes the same approach to hosting corporate events. “The job of a street performer is to stop you and make you watch something you didn’t plan to watch.
“Corporate entertainment is so mainstream, so I aim to give them something they didn’t expect.”

The St Bedes alumnus who was born in Dunedin and called Christchurch home since he was three, dropped out of school at 16, did his first national tour at 17 and has since toured New Zealand, Australia and Asia – even Jakarta – doing predominantly corporate events, festivals and theatre touring, after cutting his comedy teeth with private shows. “I haven’t unpacked my suitcase in two years,” he laughs.



The youngest recipient of New Zealand’s Best Comedy Magician, a nominee for 2018 Variety Entertainer of the year and the youngest member of the world’s longest running magic show, Brendan likes to “approach the line, but not quite cross it” in his comedy and his “quirks” are something he embraces – that includes his love of funky shoes and suits.

But along with belly laughs, there’s been plenty of tears too. There was bullying in school for his unique passions and sense of style, but even more poignantly, Brendan lost his mum, who had raised him alone, to cancer when he was just 18.
Interestingly, it is the hard times that have made him such a good performer, by forming the basis of what is a beautifully refreshing attitude to life. “For me the main point is that bad things are going to happen; it’s all about how you deal with it,” he says.

“We don’t have a choice over what happens, but we do have a choice over how we react. It’s about whether we get ‘bitter’ about it or ‘better’ about it.” And there’s no doubting, Miss Dooley would have been proud.



Capturing Southern Beauty: McAtamney Gallery

The beauty of the South Island landscape has been captured by one of the country’s leading watercolourists, Bernadette Parsons, in a new exhibition at Geraldine’s McAtamney Gallery this month.



The gallery’s new premises on Geraldine’s main street (40a Talbot Street) is playing the prestigious host to the exhibition, entitled Haast, which features 12 paintings, mostly painted on location in the Haast Pass area, evoking the solitude and serenity found in the mountains, bush and coast.

The Waikato-based artist often makes her way to our southern spot, drawing inspiration from the beauty of the landscapes. She started painting more than 20 years ago, moved by watching a watercolourist work, and clearly demonstrates a deep connection with the landscapes she turns her talented hand to. “Watercolour allows me to interpret the landscape, to find what is unique,” she says.


“This is the main thing in any painting. I also love watercolour’s spontaneity: it can be strong and wilful, yet there’s a transparency and softness too.” While working as a practice nurse and raising four children, Bernadette immersed herself in art, every chance she could, seeing as many international tutors as she could.

“I love landscapes, in particular trees, as a couple we’ve got a business growing trees, but a lot of it comes down to how you ‘see’ a landscape,” Bernadette explains. “Artists all have their own unique way of seeing a landscape.”

Today, Bernadette has numerous awards under her artistic belt, including the Best Watercolour in Show at the Easter Show and the award for Most Successful Artist in Show. Her work also features in the books ‘New Zealand in Watercolour’ and ‘Impressions of New Zealand’ by Denis Robinson.


Gallery Director Carolyn McAtamney says Bernadette is one of the country’s leading watercolourists and the proof is in the finished product. “Her ability to capture the moments of stillness and peace we feel in the natural world is breathtaking. Bernadette has mastered the loose brushstroke in a way that is second to none and has a style that New Zealanders adore.”

Find the gallery at 40a Talbot Street, Geraldine, opposite the Village Inn. For more information, phone 027 305 3000 or visit



Daredevil in disguise: Wigram Vet

Scout is a typically energetic four-month-old Jack Russell Terrier who loves being involved with everything that is going on. One morning recently, Scout was a little too close to the action when a wooden pallet fell on her. When the team at Wigram Vet examined Scout, it was not immediately obvious what injury had occurred, but she was lame on her left hind leg.



After sedation and x-rays, a distal femoral epiphyseal fracture with approximately 35 degrees of displacement was identified for poor Scout. This injury is essentially a fracture at the growing zone (epiphysis) of the femur, at the end of her femur close to the knee, Veterinarian Geoff Mehrtens says. “Although outwardly the limb looks relatively normal, such a fracture would have serious effects on her limb as she grows if it was allowed to heal in the abnormal position.”

Geoff says surgery was the best option and Scout’s physically active family wanted the best possible outcome for her; she is after all, an important member of the family ski team. “It is a tricky surgery where we essentially must balance the distal knob of bone that forms the knee back on to the shaft of the femur with two semi-parallel metal pins. The post-operative phase is particularly important with these injuries. We must balance the need for confinement because the fracture repair has substantial stresses, with the need for maintaining function, movement and muscle strength. Due to the fracture being so close to the stifle joint, discomfort and lack of use can lead to muscle wasting and decreased mobility of the joint.”

Wigram Vets started Scout on a programme of physical therapy soon after surgery, managed by their canine rehab guru Kate Donald. This involved massage, range-of-motion exercises and some sessions in the hydrotherapy treadmill. The implanted pins were removed at an early stage to enhance the recovery of the joint.

“Scout is a model patient and has made an amazing recovery from a potentially crippling injury, because of the holistic integrated repair strategy she has received,” Geoff says. “However, she has not modified her daredevil behaviour and will, I am sure, continue to support Wigram Vet in the future!”



A blissful day out

Described as New Zealand’s biggest and most popular country fete, The Christmas Country Fete 2019 promises to be the best yet as it celebrates the securing of a permanent home at the beautiful Lyddington Garden, only 40 minutes from Christchurch.


Photographer Kate McConway


Mike Sheppard, Owner of The Christmas Country Fete, says having Lyddington Garden as a constant hosting venue means that not only do people get to leisurely browse for Christmas gifts in a relaxed and spacious location, but they also get to view one of North Canterbury’s most picturesque and spectacular gardens for some tranquil time out.

With easy access, free parking, the central wine and food area, wonderful shade and shelter spots to sit and soak up the live music and entertainment, this isn’t just a perfect day out – this is bliss!

The Christmas Country Fete 2019 features over 160 stalls (comprising a mix of familiar, previous stallholders and new stallholders) showcasing their unique, artisan, pure New Zealand made wares that will be cherished gifts for years to come by those who receive them.


Last year’s fete brought a bit of inclement weather but Mike remains perkily upbeat. “We’re praying for sunshine this year – it’s going to be great!”

To plan your brilliant and blissful day out, download the online electronic programme before leaving home, and like their Facebook page. Ticket sales now online.

The Christmas Country Fete is at Lyddington Garden, 891 Mt Thomas Road in Fernside on Thursday 31 October, from 10am to 4pm. Visit or find them on Facebook at



Walking the talk

Walking the talk and making changes one step at a time is Sara Templeton’s lifestyle for herself and family, the city she loves – and the planet.



After her role as Hagley Ferrymead Community Board Chairwoman, Sara was voted in as Councillor for the Heathcote Ward in 2016. Her new position was very motivating. “I was now in a job that I can really help make a difference in the wider community,” she says.

“I didn’t like the idea of puffing my way to work on a regular bike, but believed in the cycleways’ potential to cut emissions, so did some research and bought an e-bike. By car it’s 20 to 40 minutes, depending on traffic, but on my bike it’s 24 minutes every day.”

The e-bike gave some base fitness and adding in a little jogging led to her entering the 10km section of the Christchurch Marathon in 2017. Sara went from an overweight middle-aged mum with three to the healthiest she’s been in decades.

This January, Sara sold her own vehicle and now mainly cycles, busses or occasionally uses Yoogo Share – a shared 100 percent electric car fleet. “If we all didn’t use our cars for just one workday each week, it would bring Christchurch’s daily traffic numbers down by 20 percent.”

Taking her coffee KeepCup everywhere, she has only used six takeaway cups since being elected – and they’re drinks others have bought her. The Templeton family haven’t used plastic shopping bags for a decade – only cloth, mainly ones she makes. She uses solid-bar shampoos to omit plastic bottles, eats less meat, and buys organic where possible.

“Transitions are never easy when it comes to social movements and large-scale change,” she says. “For example, the Suffragette movement took three petitions before victory. We tend to over estimate what we can achieve in a year and underestimate what we achieve in a generation.”

Now it’s on to the next personal goal. Sara made a pact to buy no more clothing for a year. “On average, an item of clothing only gets worn seven times. It has made me look into my wardrobe to find a few things I had forgotten about!

“My floral blazer from the Woolston Sallies and my Jane Daniels jacket from Time and Time Again in Sumner still get complements. We’re far more critical of ourselves than others are. No one really cares how often we re-wear something.

People may have noticed her necklace from social enterprise Bead and Proceed. Each coloured wooden bead represents one of 17 United Nations sustainable development goals. Sara chose five that represent what mostly matters to her – good health and wellbeing, gender equality, sustainable cities and communities, climate action, and peace, justice and strong institutions.

The Coastal Pathway is where Sara recharges. She says the clear space on the wide, well-lit walk is so good for the brain. It’s here, or while cycling, that she now does her thinking, planning, and practising Te Reo.

“It’s the small things we do every day. It’s not all or nothing – it’s just making a change. And we don’t need to be perfect at everything.”



Like a Queen: Q&A with Constance Hall

Constance Hall has a lot of haters, but she also has a lot of lovers – 1.3 million on Facebook alone.



After the Australian blogger launched her Facebook page in late 2015, she has laid it all out bare – sex, body shape, the end of a marriage, the start of a new one and the challenges of raising a blended family of seven children. But along the way she’s created an entire community of ‘Queens’; women who are fighting loneliness, sexism, postnatal depression and body issues, and she’s done it through love, kindness and humour. We caught up with Constance ahead of her TEDxChristchurch talk on 25 August.


You’ve had a pretty massive year, how is everything going?
Everything has finally settled into a beautiful space. It took a while to adjust to life in Sydney for Dancing with The Stars, I missed my kids and don’t love the media world, then even coming home took some adjusting too, back to a world of forest and ocean and piles of washing. But now, the sun is out and I feel extremely happy.

How excited are you to be heading to Christchurch for the TEDxChristchurch event in August?
There was some divine intervention that made TEDxChristchurch be the place I was asked to give this talk. New Zealand is my favourite place in the world. Never has a country embraced me like New Zealand has and when I visited Christchurch two years ago, my shows sold out and I was completely blown away by the crowd, almost like I had finally come home. I couldn’t be more excited to share this experience with Christchurch, it’s a new experience for me and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervously pushing the boundaries of what I’m comfortable with, which makes me happy I’ll have such friendly faces in the crowd to keep me on track.

What are you going to be talking about?
I’ll be talking about my experiences with my blog and life taking off in public and how quickly that was followed by online bullying, how that has affected me and what I think we can all do to make a difference to the bully culture we live in online.

You have developed a global following by empowering women with your messages about self-love and supporting other women. Why do these messages resonate so strongly with you?
The messages of self-love and women supporting women resonate so deeply with me because at a point in my life I realised how lonely I was, I saw an invisible barrier between me and the women I met, and I realised that when that barrier was broken down I was completely fulfilled and at my happiest.
I realised that in order to get there with each other, we needed to love ourselves. Lack of confidence as women was what made us competitive, which was making us lonely. Once I came to this place, I wanted to share the message as far and wide as I could to bring about a sisterhood and village that I knew we could all thrive in. Or maybe I just wanted a job that included a f**k load of girls’ nights and drunken 3am conversations in the toilets like, “No you’re prettier… I’ve always had a girl crush on you!” That’s where the magic happens.

What have been some of your most powerful posts in terms of engagement?
I think the biggest post I wrote was about communicating with our kids, how we need to stop thinking we failed if our toddlers are whinging, teens are complaining and kids are fighting. It’s the quiet kids, it’s the kids who are trying to disappear, not communicating and locking themselves in their rooms, that we need to worry about.
A child therapist explained to me that it’s not so much about how the kids are communicating with you but the fact that they are that’s important. And it resonated because so many women think we are doing a bad job if our house is chaotic, or our kids just screamed “I hate my life!” But that’s all normal stuff and we need to be a bit easier on ourselves. Keep an eye out for kids that aren’t communicating at all; they are bigger warning signs than a toddler throwing a tantrum.
Really we all just need someone to tell us that we are doing OK. The blogs that remind people that they are doing OK, that there is a bigger picture, that everything is going to be just fine, are the ones that do well.
So much of the internet is designed to make mums and women scared; “If you don’t buy this you are screwing up your kids,” or “If you don’t do this your husband will cheat”. We leave the internet feeling like crap. People leave my page thinking….. it’s gonna be OK and even if it’s not, Con’s definitely got it worse!

How does it feel to be making such a positive difference to women throughout the world?
You never sit back and say, “Wow, look what I’ve done”, you just sit back and say “Wow, what else can I do?” It’s terrible but it’s the way we are designed. I wish I spent more time enjoying my accomplishments and taking the things women say to me on board and less time pressuring myself to do more, but I think that’s just the way the human brain is designed.

It seems these days that people – particularly women – can’t do anything right. Why is it so important that we stop this culture of ‘mummy shaming’?
I think mum shaming has peaked and it is dying; I hope so anyway. Women don’t really judge other women; they judge themselves and it makes them pretend to judge other women as a way of deflecting their self-doubt. My mantra: “When you can love you, you can love me”.

What do the next 12 months have in store for you?
Who the hell knows? Life is crazy. I want to open a shop for my clothing label, but I also want to give away everything I own, buy a bus, teach the kids what our country really looks like while I vlog my life to the world. There is always the option of nothing. The ocean calls, it calls every day and that might just be enough.


To find out more about TEDxChristchurch, check out page 26.



From Delinquent to Doctor

Paul Wood was imprisoned long before he set foot in Paremoremo Prison; locked up in a mindset that would plot the map that got him there. “Anyone looking at me in my teenage years might have muttered to themselves that I was heading for prison. They were wrong only in the sense that I was already there,” he says.


Photography: Simon Wolfe


Twenty-four years ago, Paul committed the ultimate crime, but he’s spent the intervening years working hard to both understand and harness the demons that set him on the path that would get him here. Paul earnt his place in the prison system, but he also earnt his way out. Along the way he also earnt himself the initials ‘Dr’ that he can now wear proudly in front of his name.

Paul Wood was the first person in New Zealand to progress through undergraduate studies to attain a bachelor’s and master’s degree while in prison and was the first person to begin a doctorate while still incarcerated. He wears many more hats than that.

Paul Wood is a Doctor of Psychology, a motivational speaker, leadership and personal development specialist, media personality, loving husband and father. It is perhaps his journey that makes him so good at wearing them; a journey he has captured in How to escape from prison; the remarkable story of how one man defied the odds’.

While the book catalogues his way into prison, his journey through the system and his exit out the other end, perhaps most importantly, it focuses on helping others break out of their own prisons. Because, while Paul was physically incarcerated, he came to realise that most of the people he was inside with – and many on the outside who think they are ‘free’ – are in fact locked up in mindsets that prevent them from living full, authentic lives.

“They are imprisoned by their beliefs about their limitations, about who they are supposed to be and what they are or aren’t supposed to feel,” Paul says. “That’s as much of a waste of human potential as anything the criminal justice system has to offer.”

The reason he’s so effective at convincing people that adversity can be the catalyst of growth and that transformational change is achievable? Because he’s living proof of just what is possible, no matter the size of the mountain that needs to be conquered. So is there ever a mountain too high the climb?

“I think the potential to change your life is always with you, but it requires you to take ownership and to start taking the steps required to make that change,” he says. “You can’t reach your potential without support, but taking small steps every day, there’s always a path back.”

The first of those steps, is taking ownership. It’s a crucial step in reparation, recognising that your decision paved the way for your journey, Paul says. It requires “bravery and commitment, but there’s no more empowered position you could take in life”.

While we like to have a narrative; a ‘lightbulb’ moment where suddenly we’re on the right path and it’s smooth sailing here on in, Paul says real change is an incremental process and it’s about putting one foot ahead of the other every single day.

“You just need to start taking the right steps with no idea where they will lead you. You don’t need to know the destination in order to land somewhere great. I wasn’t familiar with the life I’ve got now; I didn’t know what I’m doing now was something you could do; the key thing is going, ‘what’s a small thing that I can do now?’ There are steps backwards, sideways; it’s about continuing that momentum with those small steps.”

While the take-away of the book is going to look different for everyone, he would like to see it help people to be more accepting of failure, to recognise it as an opportunity. “Failure is a key ingredient of growth,” he says. “If you’re not experiencing failure occasionally, you’re not striving to fulfil your potential; you’re playing it safe and not exposing yourself to opportunities and risk.

“Struggle is normal; life is challenging; that’s not an indictment against us, that’s how we learn and grow. We make the mistake of thinking our job is to be ‘good’ at things – being a parent, a manager, an employee. If you can re-conceptualise the key deliverable, the key success factor as getting ‘better’, not being ‘good’, then you’ll realise failure is an opportunity to get there.”

If you keep focusing on the end point, it can be so overwhelming that you never get started, he says. “We’re all familiar with the quote ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, but the full quote is actually ‘but they were laying bricks every hour’. It’s about focusing on small steps that make big steps over time.

“It’s one of the rich ironies of my life’s journey that I had to go to prison to learn how to be free,” Paul says. “Your freedom is there for the taking, all you need to do is fight for it.”



Retire in style: Alpine View

The events diary at Alpine View is overflowing with engaging, entertaining and interesting activities for residents to enjoy. From educational speakers to travel clubs and top quality entertainment, there is really something on offer for everyone.



Alpine View is a new generation retirement complex, located at 448 Prestons Road, offering resthome and hospital care, independent houses, and serviced houses and apartments. Lucky residents are also treated to a clubhouse, restaurant, theatre, indoor swimming pool, café, and gymnasium, but that’s not the limit of events and activities on offer.

The monthly activities schedule is full to the brim with guest speakers (recent attendees include Nigel Latta and Sir Ray Avery) and exercise classes, including aquacise, yoga, croquet and indoor bowls. Most days, two Alpine Adventure tour buses take groups on trips to local gardens, concerts and fetes, and the Alpine Travel Club organises trips all over New Zealand. Alpine View has also developed TRILife, a voluntary and personalised wellness programme for residents, designed to enhance nutrition, exercise and state of mind.

To add to the fun, twice a year they host a cabaret evening that features a meal, drinks and performance. Past events have included shows by circus act Circotica, Ali Harper and, most recently in June, Strangers in the Night featuring the Starlets, which delighted with a rendition of The Andrews Sisters and other classics.

With fulltime activities staff working onsite, there’s always something on offer to help residents stay social, active and entertained, so book your tour today to learn more!