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Strictly Mindful: Q&A with Camilla Sacre-Dallerup


Danish beauty Camilla Sacre-Dallerup first danced her way into global consciousness on BBC’s dance competition, Strictly Come Dancing, before joining the esteemed Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) NZ judging panel for the star-studded show’s 2018 and 2019 seasons. Metropol caught up with Camilla about dancing and her other passion – mindfulness.

 

 


Can you tell us about your journey into dancing?
My mum brought me along to dance school when I was two and a half; my sister was already dancing. She thought it would be a fun way for me to interact with other kids. I got myself a little dance partner when I first walked in the door and we danced together for eight years. I loved performing, almost more than the dancing; I loved the fact you could entertain people with your dancing. That is still to this day what I enjoy about DWTS, knowing people are enjoying it at home with us. The dance school was a place I loved going to; it was where I belonged.


What have been some of your standout moments this season?
It’s hard when you get someone like Walter Neilands who is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Knowing how difficult it was for him and how hard he was working, it broke my heart sending him home. We’re all human and you get to know the people, so those moments are hard.

Sending Glen Osborne home hurt my heart because I honestly thought he would be in the final; he was one of my favourites from the very beginning. Then there are moments like when we gave Laura Daniels perfect scores. She was living a dream she had since she was a little girl and again, was working extremely hard, so there are also great moments that you can enjoy with them as well.


You’re from Denmark, then you were based in Los Angeles after finishing up with Strictly Come Dancing. Where are you based now and how much time do you get to spend in the land of the long white cloud?
I first moved from Denmark to England, then to Los Angeles where I’ve been for five years. I come over for most of the show. I actually used to spend a lot of time in Christchurch and loved it down there. We had a home in Auckland 20 years ago and it was always my dream to spend half my year here in New Zealand.

The universe works in mysterious ways and brings you where you love, so now I get to spend time here. It is sad that the show has come to an end. It’s gone far too quickly. I feel totally at home here and have done for years. I really enjoy this country.


You secretly lead another life off the dance floor, as a mindful living coach. What attracted you to this area?
Since my dance coach taught me to ‘visualise’ at 13 years old I have absolutely believed in the power of the mind. The fact that I could have the edge at competitions because I had prepared mentally as well as physically, really fascinated me. I started reading and studying everything about how to use the mind to get the best out of my ability.

I can’t imagine why anybody would go to a competition and be physically prepared but not mentally prepared. We spend so much time worrying about what we’re eating, but we don’t worry about the thoughts we’re feeding ourselves. Meditation is also important. If I don’t meditate, life feels so much more complicated. I have a simple introduction to meditation on my website (www.zenme.tv), so you can put that on and start the day.

When you are prepared mentally, you can learn how to respond and not react, have empathy and understanding about where the other person is coming from. These are simple but effective tools for relationships. That’s what my next book It’s Not You It’s Me (out in December in the US and the rest of the world in January) is about – relationships and communication – because whether it’s in sports, business or life, the way we communicate is everything.


You’ve said that after eight years competing on Strictly Come Dancing you were exhausted and addicted to work, something which affects a lot of women – how did you overcome this?
Whether you are in business or you’re an athlete, it can be all-consuming, unless you are mindful with your schedules. It wasn’t really until I met my husband (British soap star Kevin Sacre) in 2008 that I realised my lifestyle wasn’t sustainable and I was headed for burn-out. But that was one of the best things that could have happened; I needed that wake up call.

All that mattered to me was my next comp, my next gig, but that burn-out became my calling for what I would end up doing next. I had to feel that pain to know how to help others. I used all the tools, including working with a coach to heal myself. That’s what my books – Reinvent ME and Strictly Inspirational – are about, healing me.

You may not have time to switch off your phone, but you can schedule in mindful time, meditating or going to the gym. If it’s not scheduled, it’s not going to happen. Without that time, that’s dangerous; there’s no balance. One of the things I do myself is schedule in social time with friends, I’ve just had a couple of days with my husband with no phones, whatever it is for you needs to become part of your schedule. It’s as important as any meeting – it’s your mental health! We have to look after our minds as well as our bodies.


 

The Psychology or Performance


Gilbert Enoka has been charged with keeping the All Blacks emotionally fit for the past 19 years, while off the field, he has spent 10 years as the General Manager of Harcourts International. So when it comes to getting the top performance from his people both off and on the field, Gilbert is at the top of his game.

 

 

He is joining All Blacks nutritionist Katrina Darry, and author, journalist and television current affairs presenter Miriama Kamo on 13 June for Inspiring 2019 at Addington Raceway, where they will talk resilience, mental and physical health and wellbeing. We caught up with Gilbert to discuss how to stay at the top of your game – both personally and professionally.


What attracted you to sports psychology?
I’m a self-confessed sportaholic. My first dabble into sport was volleyball; I became a player and then a coach, representing New Zealand for 10 years in the game. It gave me the drive to get better, both for myself as a player and for the greater team, which led me to the mind space and recognising that the brain can inhibit performance and fuelled my interest in the people side of sport.

How critical is the mental side of sport? 
I work as part of a quality management team, so I am just one spoke in the talent management wheel. The mind always gives up before the body, so it’s pretty paramount when it comes to performance. Most people have an understanding that to train they have to sweat, so if they’re not sweating, they’re not training. When they want to improve their strength, they go to the gym three times a week and train for it. The way I see it is, if you want to improve your mental ability when you’re under pressure, why wouldn’t you apply the same principles to give you the ability to perform more consistently in that space? However, it needs to be noted that it is important not to overplay the ‘mental’ hand. It is important that you still do the physical work; you can’t plough a field by turning it over in your mind.

Without giving away all your secrets… what are your key strategies when it comes to getting athletes and business people performing at their very best?
I think the first thing is to understand that nobody is born with the ability to perform under pressure; it’s learned. There’s not one big secret; rather there’s lots of little skillsets. It’s about understanding the individual and the relationship they have with pressure in a given moment and then enable them to unpick that and give them control when they encounter pressured situations. When you get that level of awareness, you can recognise when you’re in a state that restricts you from peak performance and once you recognise it, you can do something about it.

How important is stepping back from the core activity and recharging the batteries?
In today’s world, both in sport and business, it’s integral. People get tough by exposing themselves to waves of stress and waves of recovery; it’s how you get resilient. In today’s world you get the stress without the recovery and that’s how you get burnt out. It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it. We want people to schedule deliberate recovery activities in your day or in your week, where you get away from the compression of your environment. When you understand that resilience is a set of skills, not a personality type or disposition, then you can become purposeful about things you need to put into your environment to ensure you perform well.

How can people take failure and turn it into a positive?
It’s purely a mindset thing. It’s about how you view the situations you encounter, the happenings that come upon you as a result and the challenges you have. There’s a saying, ‘it’s good to forget the things that have hurt you, but never forget what they taught you’. I’ve had a lot of experiences in both life and sport that have hurt, but they’ve taught me wonderful lessons. So it’s about what ‘return’ can you get from those experiences should you encounter them again. Failure can then be viewed as a gift that informs future actions and outcomes. It’s about being courageous. Comfort ages you; people search for comfort, but comfort is not the place where great things are achieved. It’s about being courageous and getting out of your comfort zone. Failure through the right lens can ignite things in other areas that can have a really big, positive impact.

How excited are you for the Rugby World Cup this year?
It is such a privilege to work with this wonderful team; Steve Hanson, Ian Foster, the whole management team, both the men and women in our management team that leave no stone unturned and work exceptionally hard. I often think, if only the country knew just how much work that team puts in. I love firsts, new horizons and things people say can’t be done; this opportunity ticks all those boxes. It rocks my socks!

What do the next 12 months have in store for you?
Only the master knows that! My focus is on the huge opportunity in the back half of this year and I’m going to continue to work hard delivering my role, along with our magnificent management team. I’m a great believer in fate. I haven’t chased opportunities. I feel I’ve been where I’ve needed to be when I’ve needed to be there and that’s kept me with this magnificent team for 19 years, which is such a privilege. My responsibility right now is to do my bit to continue to enhance this great legacy and deal with what’s in front of me. What happens after that will present itself in due course.

Working Class Man


In music, 3.5 minutes is a long time; it’s long enough to find love, lose love, perhaps even find a new love. Nothing nearly as exciting happens in the 3.5 minutes I nervously wait for my call to connect to Jimmy Barnes.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY: JESSE LIZOTTE

 

When we do connect, he’s basking in the Australian sun and despite the dismal 15 degrees we’ve got in Christchurch, it doesn’t dampen his excitement about crossing the ditch for his upcoming Shutting Down Your Town Tour, which reaches our city on Thursday 26 September. He’ll be playing all his classic hits – and there’s a lot of them – plus highlights from his acclaimed new album, My Criminal Record, which was released on Friday 31 May. “I always have a great time coming to New Zealand,” Jimmy says. “I’ve been touring there since 1975 and I look forward to getting back there.”

It’s also the first rock and roll album he turned his talented hand to in 10 years. “I’ve done a Greatest Hits, two books and I do what I do, but what I enjoy the most is making rock and roll. So I’m really excited.”

Born James Dixon in central Glasgow, Scotland in 1956 before moving to Australia as a five year old, ‘Barnesy’ kicked off his career with Australian rock band Cold Chisel in the 1970s. But the Jimmy of today is a far cry from the Jimmy of 50 years ago. For one, the rocker who was widely believed to drink more than two bottles of vodka a day, much of it during performances, now only takes to the stage under the influence of honey and water!

But if demons were inspiration to be transformed into music, then Jimmy’s had plenty to share around – enough to fill five decades of material. And while the demons are still there, it seems now he’s made peace with them. After candidly opening himself up in his two best-selling personal memoirs, Working Class Boy (2016) and Working Class Man (2017) – both of which won the prestigious Australian Book Industry Award – it would be easy to think that you knew everything there is to know about James Dixon (Jimmy) Barnes.

In the early years, there was the abuse, the neglect, the poverty and the family’s alcoholism. In the later years there was the partying, the drugs, the alcohol and, heartbreakingly, the eventual suicide attempt. When Working Class Man was released in 2017, David Free from The Australian described it as a sequel “in the fullest sense of the word”.

“Read this one by itself and you will find yourself looking at a cliche: the self-destructive rock star. But the first book lets you know, in pitiless detail, exactly what the self-destroyer was out to destroy. The adult who behaved like a child is explained, in large part, by the child who had to behave like an adult.” And although the ‘broken’ Jimmy makes up a big part of this ‘new’ Jimmy, he’s not letting it define him.

Getting professional help has been “vital” to his recovery, he tells me. “I think that the perfect way would be to alleviate the social problems – the violence, the abuse, the promiscuity, the drugs, the alcohol – that kids are exposed to. But if they are exposed, people think they can deal with it on their own. For me, seeing a therapist once or twice a week has saved my life. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have made it.”

Jimmy has done a lot of work on himself to get to this point – not just to stare down his demons, but to understand them. It’s by sheer miracle he escaped the trauma of his childhood, but he reflects that perhaps he didn’t escape it at all; maybe it’s still there, in his heart. The earliest of his new music was written at the same time as he was writing his memoirs and, although the music is tinged with the trauma of a difficult childhood, it comes from a different place now.

Because although he’s been writing about these experiences for years, now that he understands his demons, he’s been able to write about them from a completely unique perspective; he’s eschewed the blame and been able to write objectively. He’s even “cleared stuff that was killing me”. The first lines of the new album – the title track – set the tone for this more understanding Jimmy: “Well I came from a broken home. My mama had a broken heart. And even though she tried to fight it; it was broken from the start.”

“One thing I’ve learnt is that no matter what you do or who you are, you have the same demons, the same background, the same troubles,” he explains. “It’s about how you cope with it.” While Working Class Boy and Working Class Man allowed Jimmy to get his story out in hundreds of pages of raw, riveting prose, My Criminal Record does it in around 50 minutes of brawling rock and roll and it’s been described as “one of his finest ever albums”.

Family too, have played an integral role in keeping him on the straight and narrow. Wife Jane Mahoney – the daughter of an Australian diplomat who famously left Jimmy and his heady rock’n’roll lifestyle, earning herself a starring role in the song Rising Sun – and their children sing together and play together. “I have thirteen grandchildren now,” Jimmy says.

“Family and music are entwined for me. They help with my sanity; they’re the ones that keep me going.” Jimmy’s life has been a rollercoaster ride from the start. But there’s little doubting that he’s at the top of the carnival ride right now – and he plans on staying there!


 

The Earls of East Block: Earl Restaurant


Restaurateur Tom Newfield and business partner, Chef Sam Campbell, opened Welles Street in 2017. Now they’re the Earls of a new culinary kingdom at 128 Lichfield Street in the city. We caught up with Tom to find out about Earl.

 

 

You haven’t even been open for six months, but you’ve had Nigella Lawson and the Prime Minister dining in, how does it feel to get that level of kudos?
I’m super proud of what my team and I have created, we are just excited to share it with everyone. Of course, rather humbled to host these two guests in particular, both of whom were extremely lovely, in fact I was more nervous of my 10 year old nephew’s review on the same dish that Nigella ate; he can be a harsh critic – but in the end they both agreed, the Earl of Burger is a ten out ten.


What drew you to hospitality?
The people, the energy, the round the clock sense of fun… and of course, the food.


How did you see Earl standing out against other culinary options in the city?
I see it more as complementing the other offerings here in Christchurch; all these unique, individual passionate operators doing their own thing, beating to their own drum, creates an eclectic and vibrant hospitality fabric for the city which gives our customers so much choice, appealing to everyone’s taste. Earl will appeal to those diners geared towards great wine, conversation and simple food done well.


How would you describe Earl’s vibe and your culinary offering?
Earl serves as a canvas for produce-driven dishes synonymous with the flavour, energy and relaxed vibe inspired by the coastal European culture. Our food philosophy is to take simple and traditional dishes and execute them using exceptional ingredients, whilst having some fun. This presents a skilful yet still unpretentious blend of cuisines and ideas. The vibe is casual yet refined – like an understated bistro you find in neighbourhoods of big metropolitan cities, but right here in the SALT district of our own inner city.


What does the next 12 months have in store for you?
Lots, but also more of the same, as I think consistency is the key. As an emerging lifestyle hospitality brand, we are basing our foundations on accessibility and informality, so with any new venture (which you may see open in the next 12 months), you can expect nothing less than our all-inclusive hospitality to be on offer where fun and flavour go hand in hand.


 

A heart of gold: Q&A with Tim Shadbolt


Invercargill’s long-time mayor Tim Shadbolt can now be called Sir Tim after being made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to local government and the community.

 

 

But the 72-year-old is still just Mayor Tim; the fun-loving Southlander with a cheeky grin and a heart of gold. We caught up with Sir Tim about one of his latest charitable endeavours.

You’ve partnered with the lovely people at Slingshot to raise funds for the Koha Kai charity through a unique limited edition modem (pictured) with your own mug on it. How important is Koha Kai to you as a charity?
What I liked about it was that it was looking at feeding kids and that’s so crucial to their development. It goes further than providing lunches; it looks at the whole process, from horticulture and the packaging of food, to distributing it as well. So it’s about so much more than just providing food.


How does it feel to be in a position where you can utilise your profile to make a real difference?
I think people who are well-known tend to spend a lot of their time and energy supporting charitable projects, which is a great. Myself and Gary McCormick did fundraise for a school in Kaikoura just recently. As a mayor you’re expected to contribute directly or indirectly to good causes and it’s great to be able to give a good boost to the community.


Standing-up for your causes and supporting the average Kiwi have always been important to you…
Yes, the opportunities come in all sorts of ways, often unexpectedly, such as Dancing with the Stars. I did the first season of Dancing with the Stars and raised $75,000 for the MS Society, so you can have fun and enjoy yourself and get the pleasure of giving.


Now you’ve got a Sir added to your name, how does it feel to have achieved the accolade?
I get teased a little bit by some of my counsellors that now I’m a knight, so now I’m their nightmare! I think it’s part of that Kiwi thing, making light of awards like this. On a more serious note, they are appreciated. Some of the work I’ve been involved in, especially with education projects like Zero Free Schemes, have had a big impact on provincial cities like Invercargill.


You were described as an inspirational leader and you’ve obviously made a lot of significant decisions during your mayoralty, why do you think people have connected so strongly with you?
Well I like to think I’ve added an element of humour to charitable work and local politics, carrying my concrete mixer behind the mayoral car for example and I think people appreciate that element in my work. Local government can be a rather droll affair at times; I hope I’ve added energy, excitement and humour to it.


What do the next 12 months have in store for you?
Well first of all there’s an election coming up in five months, then I’ll work out my options from there, but hopefully carrying on the same work I’ve been doing for 32 years as a mayor and I guess another 10 years as a social and political activist.


 

Adam Rennie in the Spotlight: Q&A


Metropol catches up with actor Adam Rennie as he prepares for his first production with The Court Theatre from May 11 to June 1 – Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

 

 

 

When did the acting bug first bite you, Adam?
When I was 6 or 7, I was in a production of Oliver and was devastated I wasn’t cast as Oliver and have been on a mission to prove Rockdale Musical Society wrong ever since.


What did it mean to you to make the move from Sydney to New York City?
I’ve always known I wanted to live in NYC. It is the birthplace of almost every show I grew up dreaming of seeing and performing in. NYC is hard and exhausting, but I’m surrounded by incredibly talented and driven people who egg me on and inspire me to grow and push myself.


Of all your stage performances thus far, which role did you most relish playing?
I had such a blast playing Frank N Furter. There is something incredibly freeing and empowering about that character. He’s sexy, funny, powerful and an alien – what’s not to love?


What are the challenges in playing Hedwig in the stage musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch?
Just technically, there is a lot to learn; the show has so many facets to it – stand-up comedy, storytelling, rock music and raw emotional moments. Then you add the makeup, the accent and a character that’s as ferocious as she is vulnerable and you have a lot of moving parts to nail down.


What do you think Christchurch people will love about this show?
It’s a show that defies category. It’s funny and electric energy every night. The music is incredible. I can guarantee a fun time, but it also speaks clearly to all of us and where we are today. How we see humanity and human connections in ‘the other’.


You have described playing Hedwig as a ‘dream role’ – why is that?
Playing Hedwig is the opportunity of a lifetime. She’s arguably the most challenging role in musical theatre and forces me to bring everything I have, every single day. There’s nowhere to hide. On top of that, there are very few roles where I can embrace every part of me. I’m a queer actor and I don’t have to leave that experience at the door; in fact, it’s celebrated! I can’t overstate how grateful I am to have The Court celebrate my uniqueness and show others that they can be celebrated for theirs.


Pick any famous stage/screen actor… who would you most love to perform alongside?
I’d probably choose one of those incredible Shakespeare actors that have also managed to crossover into Hollywood, Ian Mckellan or Patrick Stewart because they have so much gravitas. Wait, also Catherine O’Hara, because she’s an improvising and comedic genius!


What’s up next after Hedwig and the Angry Inch?
I’m honestly not sure; probably a big long nap followed by a few weeks getting the glitter out of everything I own.

 

 


 

Allyson Gofton on beautiful baking: Q&A


Allyson Gofton has been a beloved New Zealand cook and television personality for 30 years since first cutting her teeth in the test kitchen of New Zealand Woman’s Weekly.

 

 

Allyson was recently in the city for a fundraising event for St Johns in conjunction with Westburn School and Piccadilly Bookshop to release The Baker’s Companion, the third iteration of Gofton’s The Great New Zealand Baking Book, which first came out 25 years ago. We caught up with her about making magic in the kitchen.

You’ve just released your new book The Baker’s Companion, can you tell us about the book?
After Food in a Minute, I wanted to pull all my knowledge of baking into a book. The Baker’s Companion is about trying to explain why your cakes may fail. It’s about making sure the money you invest in baking is a success. It’s about the enjoyment of baking; passing down the knowledge of baking so that when you go to cook, you get the information that’s not written into a recipe. It’s all there. It’s certainly not about glamorous baking or creating expensive items. It’s about enjoyment, good flavour and making sure that when it comes out of the oven, it looks like the picture you see in front of you.


The book is focused on beautiful baking – are you all about the sweet side of life or do you get into the savoury side as well?
Do I like the sweet side? Yes I do, though I don’t do chocolate, but I love festive food, like Easter, and I do enjoy the savoury side of life as well. Slow-cooked food is something I love – slow-cooked food and baking are two genres I have become known for in my career. Interestingly, I trained as a chef in the late 70s (which is giving away my age) and trained here as a food writer. So my skills are in professional cookery, but I was also a communicator of food. Over the years I’ve worked as a food editor for Next magazine, through which I had to understand all aspects of food. I’ve done a professional apprenticeship, and then I did journalism papers before constantly travelling and updating my skills. As a food writer, it was usually about family food; food writers today concentrate on one genre, such as cake decoration, vegan recipes or gluten-free material. In the career I’ve had, you had to write across all genres. This is the third baking book I’ve done over 30 years. It’s been updated and upgraded over the years, so it reflects where we’ve come today. Things in cooking and baking come in and out of favour. Once upon a time you would whisk up a sponge. Now you melt butter and milk together and bake it. How we bake has changed so much over time.


What’s your favourite recipe from the book?
One of my favourites is the Kasbah Date Scones (on page 62 of this issue of Metropol). I love the photo and I also love date scones. This one is made like a swiss roll and inside is a lovely spiral of dates cooking with orange oil and Kasbah spices, like in the Middle East. It’s a lovely modern twist on the scone, taking a traditional recipe to the next level.


You’ve been making culinary magic for more than 30 years now and you’re just as popular now as you were back then. Why do you think New Zealand has connected so strongly with what you do?
I have been lucky to have been able to follow my dreams. I left home wanting to be like a Margaret Fulton or Tui Flower; being a good editor was my dream. You did a lot of hard work, a lot you didn’t get paid for. I happened to stumble across magazines. I come from a very humble family, a blue-collar working family from Tasmania. I love home cooks; I love family; I love that people try to cook in their homes. You don’t have to make café style food in the house; it’s about small budget, short order cooking. I think somehow in amongst all that, people have enjoyed my food, but they can see I’m just like them. I love learning about food. I love studying food; its role in our lives, how society has changed the way we eat and its impact. I spent four years in advertising as an accounts manager to pay the rent. One of my jobs was looking at how we market food to consumers. I found that fascinating. It doesn’t matter if you don’t cut your own onions. Tomorrow’s children will probably buy them frozen and already cut, but the most important thing is they cook for the family. You can buy ingredients pre-chopped and pre-sliced, but you’re still cooking it; that’s all that really matters. It’s not, ‘ooh she doesn’t peel her carrots’; what’s important is that we are eating them.


You headed down our way recently for an event in conjunction with Westburn School and Piccadilly Bookshop that was a fundraiser for St Johns. How does it feel to get to use your profile for the greater good?
I’ve been asked so many times to go to places and if I can do something for the community, I always try to say yes. My father was awarded an Order of Australia for his work for the charity Legacy. They raised money and looked after children of the widows of World War II. We spent Saturdays doing sport things with these children without parents; if we got too many presents, we gave to those children; if we won something in a raffle, it was given to those children. My parents instilled in me that we only need what we need.


What does the next 12 months have in store for you?
I’m a strong believer in a reasonably traditional role of mother. I’m a bit old fashioned like that. We have a family business in Auckland, a factory that makes cosmetics believe it or not. My husband works in Auckland, so at the moment my role is to settle the family into our new home in Cambridge (from Auckland), then put the lipstick on a Friday night with a glass of wine. I have more ideas than I have time to live. I have some ideas, but they’re constantly changing. I would love to work with schools and teenagers, teaching them about what you need to eat, looking at how the world’s normalising ‘treats’ as ‘snacks’. So I have lots of ideas, but first I’ve got 400 boxes to unpack; if someone said the decluttering process of moving takes a weight off your shoulders, the process is nothing other than laborious. So that’s this year, decluttering, then we’ll see what next year brings.


 

Toni Street’s Beautiful Surrogacy Journey: Q&A


Nine months ago, popular New Zealand broadcaster Toni Street got the addition to her family she never thought she would have. Health complications meant she had closed the door on bringing baby number 3 into the world, but then her best friend Sophie Braggins offered to be a surrogate for Toni and her husband Matt France. Lachlan Stephen France arrived on 9 August 2018. We caught up with Toni about her surrogacy journey and juggling being a busy mum of three.

 

 

 

First of all, how’s it going being a busy mum of three working around your radio job?
I just love being a mum of three; it’s chaotic but I love every minute of it. I actually found the step from one to two children harder, once you have three you’re so busy anyway! Because I’m up at 4:30am I get a lot of my work done before the kids are even awake and I love being around in the afternoons for school pick up and their activities. Lachie has been a really chilled baby, but he’s just starting to move so watch this space!


Your best friend Sophie offered to be your surrogate and delivered your third child Lachlan last August then you adopted him in December, can you describe the journey?
I still pinch myself that this has actually happened for me. We never thought we’d have a third child and my best friend sacrificed so much to make it happen. I just have so much love and gratitude for her. The whole process has been completely humbling and emotional and so, so special for all of us.


You’ve been fighting to have our 64-year-old adoption laws changed – how frustrating and complex was the process and how would you like to see this transformed?
We would have done anything to have Lachie, so we felt lucky to even be in the position to be going through the process. I can only speak to our specific situation, but it did seem bizarre that we needed to adopt our own genetic child… it felt like resources were wasted when we were being vetted by child protection services. Surrogacy has so many manifestations and our laws do not reflect this modern miracle.


Was not adding that last piece to your family puzzle ever an option?
Absolutely, it was my bestie that encouraged us to explore surrogacy; without the push from her we would have closed the door on having a third baby.


How much of an emotional and yet incredible experience was surrogacy?
The whole process from start to finish was emotional. From the moment Sophie offered to do this for us, to watching her belly grow with our son, to watching her give birth and her recovery it was incredibly emotional for all of us… but throughout the whole process we all knew we were doing something life changing and it was such a miracle.


You’ve also had some difficult times with your health over the past few years. How has this changed your outlook on life?
I’ve always known life is precious, as I’ve lost three siblings, but being sick myself made me really worry for my own kids. It’s a scary feeling thinking you might not be around for them. I am very conscious to appreciate each day and to do what makes you happy in this life.


You’ve done some inspiring roles across both television and radio – what drew you to the industry?
I loved the idea of getting to meet incredible people and I couldn’t believe people got paid to report on sport, that was my big passion in the beginning!


What do you consider to be some of your career highlights?
Reporting on the Olympic Games in China, hosting the America’s Cup in San Francisco and being asked to host a primetime show at TVNZ (Seven Sharp).


What does the next 12 months have in store for you?
I’ll continue hosting the Laura, Sam and Toni radio show on The Hits and filling in at TVNZ on Seven Sharp. Life will be super eventful at home, Lachie will start walking and I can’t wait to enjoy my downtime with the kids with a few holidays.


 

Stretton’s Sartorial Success: Q&A with Annah Stretton


Her name graces some of the country’s most elegantly feminine designs, forming a sartorial success story Annah Stretton has quite famously built up from nothing. It’s the story of a young mum from rural Waikato who started a fashion line from a dairy farm, making a million dollars in its first year.

 

 

Almost three decades later, as she prepares to hand the reigns of her fashionable empire over to daughter Sammi, she’s still as passionate today about everything she has turned her talented hand to.

Can you tell us about your latest collection Undone Glamour and the inspiration behind it?
The collection is taking its style cues from that all important Art Deco era; an era that signalled the winds of change for a women’s potential and place in the world and saw hemlines and hair length start to rise up in response. There was a freedom of spirit and celebration that infused the fashion of the day that will forever be synonymous with glamour and that made it perfect for the ‘glamour your way’ feel that we wanted the winter collection to have. The collection uses a jewel-like colour palette of cerise, dark sapphire and emerald green and pairs that with the bold and beautiful fl oral and geometric patterns in velvet and other beautiful fabrications that the Annah Stretton brand has become famous for. Design wise; there is a rich array of dresses, wide length pants, jumpsuits and two-piece outfits cut to suit the widest possible range of body shapes and sizes.


How would you define your design philosophy?
The Annah Stretton brand has always been about bringing colour, femininity and fabulousness to every woman’s special occasion and work wardrobe. At long last, we are living in the age of beauty where youth and body size no longer define what is beautiful. Today beauty is about being comfortable in our own skin and celebrating our body by feeling and looking fabulous. I like to think that our brand has always been in this space, with designs and styling that celebrate the beauty in all women.


Can you tell us how you were able to establish yourself in such a cutthroat industry?
Getting established was the easy bit. Back in 1992, the competitor landscape was reasonably one dimensional. There was no online shopping, no international retail chains and very little product was being manufactured offshore, particularly at the top end of town. Success was all about establishing a strong retail footprint and building a loyal following through the design and manufacture of a well-made product. Fast forward to 2019 and life in the fashion industry couldn’t be more different. Competition is global and retailing is a 24/7 operation. New Zealand women can shop anytime, anywhere, with any label at any price point. To remain in business requires constant vigilance and reinvention. Nothing is as it was and the future demands that no complacency ever slips into a business. New Zealand has seen so many great labels suffer and ultimately close their doors as retail therapy goes online and goes global. Reinvention and a customer-centric focus is the key to surviving and thriving in this industry, but it is never a guarantee of recurring success.


In an industry that is said to take no prisoners, how have you not only been able to be an incredible success, but been able to remain current?
I guess that comes down to how you measure success. For me, success has never been about ‘the Boat, the Bach and the BMW’ to coin a phrase. Instead, it’s always been about making a contribution far broader than the delivery of a healthy bottom line. Right from the very beginning, the philanthropic heart of the company has been beating loudly. The staff, the customers and the community causes that we support have always been so much more important than the dollars. As a country, we are now starting to acknowledge the value of our human capital, but as a business we’ve been in this space for the last ten years. You only need to look at the average tenure of my retail and head office staff to see this ethos in action.
That same loyalty has also been present amongst all the wonderful women who continue to love the label. Their faithful support has enabled me to set up my charitable foundation and begin to make an impact on some of New Zealand’s more significant social challenges.


Why do you think people have connected so strongly with what you do?
Possibly because we are so much more than a fashion label. Everything we do is about making a bigger contribution in the community. When women buy from us they enable me to advance the social causes that have reached epic proportions in New Zealand. The social divide and therefore social challenges that we now face are significant. The only way forward is to apply new thinking and in doing so give hope and purpose to those who have never had any. We all deserve to travel down a pathway that brings us joy, and I’m absolutely passionate about making this happen for the socially disadvantaged women that I work with.


 

Slice of Vietnam: Q&A with You Hanoi Me’s Jason Whitelaw


You Hanoi Me is the city’s most recent and most exciting eatery, bought to you by the remarkable hospitality team Bar Bar Black Sheep who have also tingled our tastebuds with other culinary ventures like LOUIS Champagne Bar and Red Light District.

 

With Director Jason Whitelaw at the helm, Bar Bar Black Sheep has created an authentic slice of Vietnam right in the heart of Victoria Street’s hospitality scene – and we’re willing to bet it’s nothing like you’ve ever experienced before.
We caught up with Jason to chat about this magnificent culinary masterpiece and what’s next on their agenda.

 

Tell us about the story behind You Hanoi Me. What was the inspiration behind the name and the food?
Following a trip to Hanoi I came up with this concept to complete our offering in ‘The Vicinity’ – I like to do things that are unique and not another ‘Pacific Rim’ offerings. I scoured the markets and a lot of restaurants to get as many ideas on flavours, cooking methods, presentation and décor – then I put my own spin on it in collaboration with the team.


Can you tell us about yourself, and your relationship with You Hanoi Me?
I am a builder and developer but a publican at heart. Out of all my businesses, the hospitality ones present the most challenges, but it is exciting and rewarding when you see people enjoying our hospitality. I truly want to make Christchurch a great place to live, work and play which is the driving force behind my ventures.


What would you say makes You Hanoi Me ‘the most exciting Vietnamese dining experience in town’?
There is nothing else like it. We provide a modern twist on traditional Vietnamese dishes but have incorporated many other dishes and flavours from my travels. It is upbeat and fresh.


For those who don’t know, what would you say were the most important aspects of Vietnamese cuisine which sets it apart from other Asian fare?
The use of fragrances, limes, basil and mint are a key focus of Vietnamese dishes. There is a very large French influence on a lot of cuisine in Hanoi, however we purposefully chose not to incorporate that into our menu.


What are your most popular dishes and cocktails?
The Clay Pot Pork Belly, Braised Beef Cheek and Fresh Spring Rolls are the top sellers. My personal favourite is the Disco Eggs; you won’t find anything else like this dish in town. We sell a lot of Asahi and the crowd favourite on the cocktail list would have to be the Blueberry and Kafier Phojito.


You’re part of the team behind LOUIS Champagne Bar and Red Light District. We hear you guys have another restaurant coming to the city very soon – The Athens Yacht Club. Can you tell us about it?
We are on track to open the Athens Yacht Club in the former Saggio di Vino space in late May. We have found there to be a limited Greek offering in Christchurch when it is such a popular cuisine and I think the site lends itself well to this concept. We have done extensive research and visited the likes of Jim’s Greek Tavern in Melbourne and the Apollo in Sydney and believe we have a great product that will be embraced by locals.