Windy Wellington

What a weekend it’s been with the Dees winning the AFLW Grand Final (well done Daisy!), Labour once again in power with the state election and for me a very busy weekend on the back of a very busy week in Wellington in Aotearoa New Zealand. I celebrated a successful work trip with Mr Rosanna on Saturday night at a friend’s party where we had the opportunity to dance to soul music curated by the one and only PBS radio DJ Miss Goldie (who to my surprise is a brunette with glasses not a blonde as I had imagined her to be).

I flew into Wellington on Tuesday afternoon and it is known for being windy – while we didn’t hit any turbulence with our very fast landing – we did have a moment flying out back to Melbourne so a warning if you are a nervous flyer. A team of 10 of us from ANZSOG including our new Dean and CEO Adam Fennessy PSM had been assembled to look after two cohorts in Years 1 and 2 of the Executive Master of Public Administration (or EMPA as it’s known) comprised of 200 students in the Wharewaka function centre (below) on the waterfront with its beautiful views.

Wharewaka function centre

After checking into our hotel, getting a very late lunch at nearby St John’s Bar and Restaurant, my staff member Nataly and I then did a reccy of the function centre where we met our colleagues who’d arrived earlier on the weekend. Our photographer Sav Shulman had recommended both Courtenay Place and Cuba Street in Wellington for dinner so we had a lovely meal at Lulu Bar and Restaurant, which specialises in local ingredients and traditional Pasifika cuisine. We ended our first night sharing a hot waffle from The Little Waffle Shop because why not!

Marae (meeting house)

The highlight of our trip was early morning the next day where we distributed lyrics to 100 students outside Wharewaka and were treated to a traditional powhiri (pronounced ‘poferi’) welcome by Maori who sang to us and we responded in return before being allowed to ascend the stairs into the rowing club. Elders spoke in te reo and English to welcome us with other First Nations people, people of colour and other migrant backgrounds invited to go up and speak in return. It was an incredibly moving ceremony and I was wiping the tears away when four of our ANZSOG students got up of their own accord to thank the Maori and speak about their own cultural backgrounds – at its simplest level, I think the desire to connect as human beings is a unifying force for good in the world.

Cuba street shops

The rest of the day was a whirlwind escorting the first 100 Year 1 students back to the function centre to watch the Year 2 students present their final work-based project in small groups where they were assessed by two people (including alumni I had engaged and faculty) in three different rooms. Nataly and I had our work cut out for us having 100 Year 2 students then be photographed in 17 different groups followed up with 10 different jurisdiction photos (students had come from all over Australia and New Zealand) in just 45 minutes before the graduation ceremony. Somehow with the help of our very skilled photographer, we got it done including some memorable moments such as one student doing the splits for their fun group shot!

Rainbow crossing on Cuba Street

I had also engaged First Nations alum Dave Samuels to speak to students at the graduation ceremony, after our CEO had presented them with their certificates, with photography and videography taking place at the same time. Dave Tokohau Samuels is an impressive and interesting person whose back story includes being ex-army, similar to a number of other ANZSOG alumni, and it was inspiring to hear.

Wellington pier

My long day turned into night with me and Nataly hosting 10 alumni and other guests including last year’s Dean’s Prize winner and a number of Chief Executives and Deputy Chief Executives at the EMPA celebration dinner at Shed 5 on the waterfront. It was nice to have had a quick shower to freshen up before glamming up for the dinner and it’s a privilege to spend time with people who are at the highest level in their careers – it’s not something I’ve ever taken for granted.

Boat shed cafe – waterfront

While the EMPA students went on to let their hair down at karaoke after dinner, I was happy to call it a night and go back to the hotel to sleep before we flew out on Thursday afternoon. Before catching a taxi to the airport, Nataly and I popped our heads into the Te Papa Store at the Museum of New Zealand – there is another smaller store at the airport, but it was definitely worth a visit for souvenirs.

Museum of New Zealand

It was beyond my budget but some of the greenstone pounamu pendants and jade carvings, conch shells, bone combs and flax baskets made by local Maori artists were absolutely beautiful although I’m not sure about wearing the pendants in particular if you’re non-Maori due to their cultural significance and meaning.

Pounamu greenstone carvings

Aotearoa was definitely a cultural experience that left an indelible mark on me. Maori (and Pasifika) people make up a greater percentage of the population and te reo has been embedded into everyday life on TV and in signage on the streets of Wellington. In many ways, I think New Zealand is ahead of Australia in its treatment of First Nations people. It was an experience I will always remember – nga mihi Te Whanganui-a-Tara – I will return.

Wellington airport


Ho ho ho

Christmas decorations went up in Ivanhoe straight after Melbourne Cup week and people have returned to in-store shopping after pivoting to online during the pandemic.

I’ve only just started doing some shopping for friends and family and I’m often opportunistic if I’m out and about and see something on the spot that might fit the bill given I’m time-poor. I bought a KK present for my annual besties get together while buying flowers for my neighbour yesterday at French Blue Flowers in Heidelberg. I also picked up a panettone for Christmas from Leo’s while buying some groceries for her as we missed out a couple of years ago when we left things too late. I’m planning on also buying a triple smoked ham early from Aldi if I get the chance.

If you’re local, Ivanhoe Primary is holding its Christmas market on Sunday 26 November and Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen has collaborated with Third Drawer Down – I love the sentiments of this tea towel (above) available from the Heide store. The Big Design Market, which I always miss due to December birthdays in my family, is also on the weekend of 2 – 4 December at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton.

If you’re a fan of First Nations artwork – the Desart online Christmas Marketplace supporting Aboriginal Art Centres of Central Australia is currently on but will finish soon. For me, I’d love tickets to see Bangarra Dance Theatre perform ‘Yuldea’ at the Victorian Arts Centre next year.

These ‘cloud’ stud earrings (above) hand made by Korean Australian jeweller Daehoon Kang at e.g.etal have also caught my eye. Speaking of clouds, I am heading to the land of the long white cloud – New Zealand – this week for work. I’m looking forward to the cultural experience – kia ora to any kiwis out there! I’ll see you all on the other side.

Blood moon

It was spectacular for those who saw it on Tuesday night and a reminder of how diminutive we are in the face of Mother nature and Father time. Time itself, suddenly seems to be passing very quickly although I thought it was a bit premature for Christmas decorations to be displayed (they’re all out if you’re travelling down Upper Heidelberg Road in Ivanhoe).

Image credit: Mirella Di Lorio (South Melbourne)

Speaking of the moon, Mr Moon at Melbourne’s Luna Park has had a makeover after being neglected over the pandemic and with lighter days and warmer nights upon us – the Night Noodle Markets have started again in the city and the Alphington Twilight Market (below) will be held from 4 pm on Thursday 8 December next month.

If you’re a fan of Asian food, you might like this article on Rosheen Kaul’s guide to wear to eat in Box Hill including the local food court! Cheap and cheerful is definitely the way to go with so many of us on a budget. I also had a great meal on Friday night at hidden surprise Akamaru Japanese near Darebin station – a cut above above your normal suburban fare. Three of us shared the spicy edamame, kingfish ceviche, soft shell crab and mixed Japanese vegetables with a couple of drinks all for less than $100 in total. It is small (6 tables) but a great experience if you’re a local and I will be back. My ex-La Trobe colleagues and I then had a quick drink at nearby card-only bar (and former Mario’s cafe) The Post Inn although had to compete with the young lads singing karaoke-style to the late 80s music playlist. Good on them….

Speaking of new venues, I’ve not visited but vintage bowling alley, beer garden, bar and bistro The Keys in Preston has opened in a refurbished 110 year old warehouse just in time for Christmas.

Lastly on food, I thought you might like a pic of our sourdough loaf from Dougharty Baker (above) delivered last Thursday as it was delicious goodness (and eaten in less than a day)!

COVID has risen its head again and doing the rounds so wishing you a speedy recovery if this is you. It’s been an interesting end to the year with floods, cost of living issues, cybersecurity attacks and a state election now all playing out in the media. I’ve been running around the Rosanna Parklands in recent weeks and have never seen the grass so high – the mozzies and snakes are out so be careful if you’re venturing anywhere near the Yarra river.

Some Velvet Morning

Mr Rosanna is one of those clever and creative people who experienced a purple patch over Melbourne’s COVID19 lockdown tour 20/21 managing to record a whole album’s worth of songs now in production. After singing and playing in bands as a teenager and uni student into the 1990s, his musical career got hijacked with his professional job, overseas travel, relationships and ultimately buying his first house and settling down with me and having a family.

His time is now and he will be playing in his first gig in quite a while at Some Velvet Morning in Clifton Hill and there will be an entourage comprised of his favourite people cheering him on from the sidelines. You can check him out on Instagram at #adamfranklin_music.

One of my cousins came to visit me last weekend and her foodie partner kindly brought some Portugese tarts (above) from Casa Nata in Thornbury, which were delicious and highly recommended if you get a chance to try them. Somewhat coincidentally, Mr R and I then found ourselves in High Street on Melbourne Cup Day with some time to kill in the drizzling rain

We got our thrift on at Vinnie’s Thornbury (viewed from Nasty’s bar above) with the whole store almost completely to ourselves. After spying the ‘Ice cream and hot chips’ sign (genius!) for Kenny Lover (below) and driving past Wolf and Swill bar, which have both moved to the other side of the street, we ended up having a quick drink at Nasty’s bar (further below), which was good way to while away a lazy hour on a cold day.

While I’m not a drinker, I’ve been reading about Alphington craft brewery La Sirene which now has Bar La Sirene and I love the name which reminds me of the siren songs of the mermaids. Speaking of loaves and fishes, Mr R has ordered some sourdough bread from Dougharty Baker in West Heidelberg and I’m looking forward to trying their cardamon buns and cinnamon buns in future.

With Melbourne Cup week now over, the countdown to Christmas starts…