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Issue 13, 2017

Issue 13



  • With Arms Wide Open: AUSA to return to NZUSA

  • Shock Return of National Favourite

  • Māori Party Announces New Candidate

  • Continued Confusion over Library Lifts

  • Boyd Wilson Walkway Set to be Renamed

  • Women’s Election Hui

  • DAM: Scheming in Rural Hawkes Bay

  • Constitution Under Review

  • Warm Pacific Greetings

  • Features

  • Polynesian Panthers

    My imagination of New Zealand history rarely includes the role of Pacific migrants during the growth of New Zealand’s economy in the 1960s, their subsequent racist treatment through to the 1970s, and the organised and effective action taken by the children of those migrants to combat New Zealand’s systemic racism. I knew next to nothing […]


  • Migration of Intimacies

    I came down to Wellington after hastily signing a tenancy agreement with two home-owners who could speak five languages between them. Little did I know that I would soon think of them as an Uncle and Auntie, rather than the given names printed neatly under the terms of our agreement. I had barely paid my […]


  • We Are Voyagers

    My dad’s lineage is Māori. The tangata whenua of this land. This whenua is our birthplace, but our roots are elsewhere. My mum’s ancestors are Pākehā who arrived in New Zealand a few generations ago to farm the land. If you follow those lines further, there is a wide migration through Europe, through Scottish backlands […]


  • Motumaoho

    When I’m on the waterfront, I’m never really in Wellington anymore. The waterfront is the edge of Wellington and reminds me that 521 kilometres north, over Tongariro, Ruapehu, and Ngauruhoe, through Cambridge and left from Hamilton East, straight across the bridge that cuts the stream, past two farms and one lifestyle block, and down the […]


  • The Things We Share

    As a Pākehā kid, when I first learnt to mihi, I found that building a sense of my own whakapapa was a kind of patchwork, something I could stitch together by pulling threads from family stories. The waka I chose, or borrowed from my father, was called the Wanganella. Arrival of ship, Wanganella, in Auckland […]


  • Polynesian Panthers

    My imagination of New Zealand history rarely includes the role of Pacific migrants during the growth of New Zealand’s economy in the 1960s, their subsequent racist treatment through to the 1970s, and the organised and effective action taken by the children of those migrants to combat New Zealand’s systemic racism. I knew next to nothing […]


  • Migration of Intimacies

    I came down to Wellington after hastily signing a tenancy agreement with two home-owners who could speak five languages between them. Little did I know that I would soon think of them as an Uncle and Auntie, rather than the given names printed neatly under the terms of our agreement. I had barely paid my […]


  • We Are Voyagers

    My dad’s lineage is Māori. The tangata whenua of this land. This whenua is our birthplace, but our roots are elsewhere. My mum’s ancestors are Pākehā who arrived in New Zealand a few generations ago to farm the land. If you follow those lines further, there is a wide migration through Europe, through Scottish backlands […]


  • Motumaoho

    When I’m on the waterfront, I’m never really in Wellington anymore. The waterfront is the edge of Wellington and reminds me that 521 kilometres north, over Tongariro, Ruapehu, and Ngauruhoe, through Cambridge and left from Hamilton East, straight across the bridge that cuts the stream, past two farms and one lifestyle block, and down the […]


  • The Things We Share

    As a Pākehā kid, when I first learnt to mihi, I found that building a sense of my own whakapapa was a kind of patchwork, something I could stitch together by pulling threads from family stories. The waka I chose, or borrowed from my father, was called the Wanganella. Arrival of ship, Wanganella, in Auckland […]


  • Arts and Science

  • WEED — Anthony McCarten

    Say what you want about Anthony McCarten. Literally, say what you want, there’s a good chance he can’t hear you; there’s a good chance he’s laughing his way to the bank off the success of his screenplay for Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything. WEED, originally written and performed in 1990, stands in stark contrast to that particular poignant punch as a comedy revolved around elderly farmers in New Zealand who, falling on hard times, swap farming their usual carrots for the Devil’s lettuce.

    The opening is more than a little awkward. A semi-monologue regarding the functionality of a shed and a ramble about punching lawyers is certainly a unique way to begin a production, but it doesn’t quite pay off. The short prologue, in which Henry Donovan (Gavin Rutherford) fields questions regarding the sustainability of his farm at a New Zealand Farming Conference is a shaky introduction to McCarten and Ross Jolly’s (original director) vision of 1990s New Zealand.

    McCarten says in the programme notes that WEED is “a comedy, no more no less, it’s duty… to entertain,” which does little to explain the relative lack of big laughs in the first Act (having a tough crowd is no excuse, given that the couple sitting behind me seemed as high as the show’s characters, giggling incessantly at the end of each line even though no one around them joined in).

    In fact, the first half of WEED feels almost exactly like trying to converse with someone very much stoned when you are very much stone cold sober. It’s funny, even interesting to engage for a little bit: they have a few charming quirks, and you might even find their clumsiness strangely charming. But in the end it’s not much use trying to gleam anything tangible from them; they’re in a bit of state, not exactly firing on all cylinders, and only laughing at their own jokes without having the capacity to share the punchline. There are some lovely moments: the physical comedy of the piece shines, with leeks, pens, suitcases a la Pulp Fiction, and more being used to glorious aplomb, but these moments are too few and far between.

    To take this forced analogy to its logical end, the second Act of WEED is like speaking to the same individual, only they’ve already sobered up and they’re trying desperately to regain their street respectability. The characters that once appeared annoying or irritating, McCarten now goes to serious lengths to make them at least empathetic if not lovable. Turei’s previously naive Terry is given a backstory as a somewhat failed artist, being “used to rejection” and unable to stay still for fear of wasting her life away (like Henry has?). Hugh is transformed from a slackadaisical stoner to someone addicted to making money and making his success by any means necessary, outgrowing his family’s honest legacy. Henry and Jack become foe, then friend, then foe, then friend again, all the while displaying some of the finest acting to grace a New Zealand stage. It doesn’t completely make up for the lackluster first Act, but it does it’s best.

    WEED doesn’t stay too long in the system. In fact, it doesn’t make you laugh half as much as you might have been led to believe. But WEED does provoke reaction; if it’s not always laughter, it’s thought, whimsy, nostalgia, or all of the above. It takes a while to kick in, perhaps a bit too long given how strong it’s expected to be due to the nature of the supplier. But it gets there in the end, and WEED even manages to surprise you with how it makes you feel — not quite what I expected, but nice nonetheless.


  • The New Animals — Pip Adam

    Some weeks ago I conducted my first interview with a published writer in a café when the sun had gone down. It was utterly glamourous. We spoke for an hour and a half and failed to discuss her book. When I made clumsy attempts to direct the conversation towards it, she wasn’t that interested. She said later that she moved on emotionally and mentally from each book once printed.

    Our conversation didn’t want to be confined to a conventional interview structure. She was a writer, I was a writer — we were something like Green Gables’ Anne and Diana, kindred spirits. It was a great kind of relief to talk to someone who understood the weird, specific oddities of writing books; the oddities that my mum doesn’t 100% relate to, even though she enjoys my rants. Pip inspired me. She made me think that I might not be delusionally ambitious after all. She was amazingly happy that I wrote, and I could see the teacher in her.

    I know as many New Zealand authors as I have limbs. I have all my limbs, but no more than that. She could list them for days, names that meant nothing to me, but to her they were the lifeblood of New Zealand literary culture. It was nice to see this, because I think New Zealand writers have a complicated reputation in that they often don’t have any reputation. She had a contrasting opinion that was much more optimistic and excited for them.

    In a lot of reviews, especially of young celebrities, the reviewers will describe their surroundings in effervescent language — the light caresses her softly blushing skin with transcendent lightness, like the streaming sunlight through the windows of the Louvre follows the white curves of the Venus de Milo… We drank steaming mugs of leafy tea, just two human beings alive for a moment in a quiet bubble of serenity as the L.A. Traffic screamed past the window, as if to cry, how dare you be at peace?

    So, I don’t want to do that.

    But we did have drinks, and she spilled hers and was apologetic, called it an ocean’s tide when it began to slowly flow down the tilted table top towards me.

    That was her: polite and impassioned. We discussed postmodernism, how David Foster Wallace blew her away with his non-fiction and then stressed her with his novels, but she still loved him. She loved the struggle of writers, the tearing away at the innards to get at the truth. She loved the poetry of language. She had dropped out of high school at a young age, she wasn’t a typical bookworm, but she’d fallen for this writing thing and it was a source of joy.

    I was sent the blurb of her book before the interview:

    Carla, Sharon, and Duey have worked in fashion for longer than they care to remember. For them, there’s nothing new under the sun. They’re Generation X: tired, cynical, and sick of being used.

    Tommy, Cal, and Kurt are millennials. They’ve come from nowhere, but with their monied families behind them they’re ready to remake fashion. They represent the new sincere, the anti-irony. Both generations are searching for a way out, an alternative to their messed-up reality.

    Pip Adam’s new novel walks the streets of Auckland city now, examining the fashion scene, intergenerational tension, and modern life with an unflinching eye. From the wreckage and waste of the 21st century, new animals must emerge.

    Pip said to me that it was funny how when you publish, people will suddenly rush to explain to you exactly what your book is about. I can only hope that it will happen to me someday.

    Thank you to Pip for being gracious enough to agree to speak with me. It was a delight. To everybody else, either read this book or please, don’t be afraid to write your own.


  • Fazerdaze

    I was working the camera at a livestream for 95bFM up in Auckland when I first saw Fazerdaze play. It was in the middle of a 20 Bands in Two Hours event for the NZ music show, a little over halfway in. Amelia Murray played a semi acoustic version of “Shoulders” (having only named it that day) using a drum machine app on her phone and accompanied by bandmate Mark Perkins. I’m not going to pretend I immediately knew that the Fazerdaze project would take off like it has in the last couple of months, but Amelia’s performance and obviously remarkable skill definitely lifted the mood of an otherwise slow two hours of stripped back indie rock.

    I met up with Amelia during the break, just after she returned from a month long tour of the UK and Europe. It’s the biggest tour she’s been on with the band so far. “I get really anxious before I leave because it’s really hard to imagine doing it and being overseas and playing shows until you’re actually there,” Amelia said. “So I was pretty stressed out before leaving, but once I was there I got really into it and adjusted to tour life — sleeping in a different bed every night, late nights, lots of travelling. I got into the swing of things. And it’s kind of nice touring because when I’m at home in Auckland I feel like I need to be working on music all the time, but on tour I can just listen to albums — I listened to way more music on the road — and read way more. In some ways it’s almost more relaxing.”

    It took Amelia a little while to get her music off the ground after moving from Wellington to Auckland to study music. Moving cities is a pretty familiar experience, and Amelia went through some typically challenging times. “I moved to Auckland five and a half years ago. Wellington starts to feel small after a while, and I needed a change of scene and a fresh start. Studying music was just something to focus on so I wasn’t just floating about when I got there. Moving cities, it can take a long time to get established and meet your kind of people. It’s been a slow settling-in process in Auckland. And Auckland’s kinda hard I reckon; it’s a tough city if you haven’t grown up there and you don’t have childhood friends there. I was trying to be in bands for the first two years, maybe two and a half years, and then I realised, this isn’t working. Everything just fell apart. I’d go to a few practices and then a band would fall apart. So then I thought ‘screw this, I’m going solo.’”

    The Fazerdaze project began with the first EP in October 2014, which was released on handmade CDs and cassette tapes. When I mentioned to Amelia I had bought one of the original tapes, she was typically humble and genuinely stoked. “I don’t even have one of those!” she said. I asked if there was a point with the early tracks when she realised what kind of music she was trying to make. “I think the very first song I wrote for the project was ‘Tired Of Waiting’ on my EP. I remember liking really fuzzy wall-of-sound guitars and then really dreamy vocals. When I wrote that it was a good production exercise. It wasn’t so much about the song itself, it’s more like me making something I really wanted to hear. I wanted to hear female vocals and heavy guitar but still have it feel light in a kind of emotional way.”

    “The EP I recorded on this USB microphone, and then when I went to record my album it was breaking. The first track I recorded was ‘Lucky Girl’ and the mic was on its last legs. It was breaking but I was like, I’ve gotta get this take, so I just recorded the whole demo. Then it came to doing the final recording and I was replacing everything, but I thought it was cool how distorted it sounded, so I took the demo vocals and put them in the final recording. The chorus is really distorted and it’s basically just the microphone clipping. I copy and pasted the length of the distortion into the chorus, so that’s why there’s that white noise sound.”

    Right now the video for “Lucky Girl” has nearly two million views on YouTube. Amelia edited the video herself. “I did that because the first edit of that video came through and I hated it. Someone else edited it, and it’s quite hard to be in front of the camera and let someone else depict who you are. I said ‘I’m not going to release the music video unless I get to edit it.’ I’d never edited a video before but I managed to get the footage and I did my own cut. I’ve actually found I quite like editing.”

    Fazerdaze’s debut full length Morningside came out in early May this year. I asked Amelia what her vision and influences were in terms of progressing from EP and single releases to the full album. “At the time I was pretty much just obsessed with Frankie Cosmos’ album Zentropy. I remember when I was first listening to it, nobody in Auckland knew who Frankie Cosmos was. I was obsessed with it and showed it to Mark and everyone I knew. I like that there’s a collection of songs. It’s very much a song-by-song album. Now I’m very interested in albums like Connan Mockasin’s where he references an idea later on in the album and stuff like that. I think I subconsciously based Morningside off that kind of album type, so every song holds on its own.”

    There’s been a lot of buzz online over Morningside. It has sat at the top of the Auckland and New Zealand Bandcamp best selling charts pretty much since it came out. Various interviews with high profile international blogs and publications have been popping up in print and across YouTube too. “I did a week of promo, no shows, the label flies you over, it’s so weird, but you do interviews from 9.00am to 5.00pm like a job.” Amelia explained, “It was nine days — Berlin, Paris, and Munich. In Germany there was this magazine, Mac Demarco was on the cover, and then I opened it and there was this two page spread of me. It was like, what am I doing in this same magazine!”

    I asked Amelia how she feels about the influence the music media has on her image both musically and as a person, with writers gravitating towards phrases like “dreamy,” “indie darling,” and stuff like that. “I find it really weird,” she said, “but I’m also learning to get better at not caring about things that are beyond my control. If I worry about that stuff I’d have no time for music and I’m just trying to save my energy for making music. Everytime I see an awful press photo or someone calling Fazerdaze a band project rather than a solo project I just let it go. I can’t do anything about it.”

    Amelia opened for Frankie Cosmos and Connan Mockasin when they played shows in Auckland. I asked her what it’s like to reach a point where the musicians she admires start to become more like musical peers. “It’s amazing, it’s so exciting when your idols get in touch with you or when you become friends with them. When we played the show in London, all of The Veils showed up. I grew up listening to you guys, what are you all doing at my show!? When Connan’s in the country we hang out. I went and visited him when he was staying out in Anawhata by Piha. I was editing my video and he was working on some art. We had a really nice day hanging out doing our thing.”

    Fazerdaze will be playing two shows in New Zealand this September, before heading back to the UK for another two weeks in September/October. In terms of what she’s up to musically right now, Amelia said, “I’m working on some new stuff. One of my idols got in touch with me and was like ‘do you want to work together?’ I don’t wanna jinx it ’cause I don’t know if it’s going to happen or not, but when I go back to London I might stay an extra week and work with this artist. At the moment though I’m working on a cassette release album, like really rough and scrappy. I don’t want to release it digitally. I might just do fifty copies or something and sell them at shows. Songs I haven’t used and probably won’t go on the next album. I like the idea that there will only be a certain number of copies. It’s weird when you make an album and it goes into the hands of people who think they can review it, when really I’m not making it for them. I’m making it for the fans. I want to make an album that’s not for the press and not for my career but just for the people who like my music.”

    Listening to Amelia’s songs, you get the feeling that she’s already established her own niche in the indie / alternative scene, like she’s been kicking around releasing music for a while. But it’s really only been a whirlwind couple of years for Fazerdaze. It’s an exciting time for her and her fans, and after talking to Amelia or attending one of her shows, it’s hard not to be swept up in her positivity and excitement about the music she’s making and the places it’s taking her.



  • Bogan Beautiful (The Musical)

    CW: Drug use and violence


    Baby I’m bogan beautiful

    My mum always gave me grief for the clothes I wore

    She didn’t understand I had to stand out.

    (Hi-vis can be a fashion statement)

    So I’m used to the raised eyebrows,

    But I pay them no mind unless they’re shaved.

    I’m too wrapped up in my puffer jacket, feet squeezed into jandals as I play with the red, green, and yellow beads in my rats tail.

    I am neck tattoos, hand tattoos, face tattoos

    I’m a snapback on a Saturday night and grubby shoes that have walked across one too many paddocks.

    I’m the scent of hand-rolled cigarettes and the deft movements of nail-bitten fingers

    I’m the grin of the Zig-Zag man,

    And hurried sprays of Lynx to hide the telltale scent of alcohol,

    Nevermind the bourbon cans rattling in the work van.


    I’m the doppling roar of the speedway and the stink of burning rubber,

    I’m the dust in a scout hall appropriated as a boxing club.

    I’m the patches of affiliation, gang signs in the WINZ queue, and daily calls to Rimutaka,

    See how the family is holding up.

    I’m the perpetual grey sky of the Hutt Valley,

    And the unconstrained bedlam of the district court at 8:30 in the morning.

    I’m a pair of meatworks gumboots on a threadbare pub carpet, or I’m Nike slides and tattered socks,

    But I’m always a flashing pokie machine, tripping the light fantastic.

    I’m a neon ‘open’ sign in the window of a chinese takeaways and fish and chip shop, and I’m the skinned knees of the children darting in and out of the streamer curtain.

    (If your fish and chip shop doesn’t have the fisheries poster, leave immediately.)

    I’m barefeet on greasy lino,

    And the spark of a lighter on a lightbulb in a dilapidated bungalow in the backblocks of Naenae.


    I’m burnouts in a carpark,

    And a good shirt for a date

    (pity it’s with the Court Registrar).

    I’m breakfast on the porch,

    A milky tea, piece of toast, and a cigarette.


    I’m a widow checking the death notices,

    Us all outliving our mokopuna and cleaning up the perpetual mistakes of our men.

    Broken glass, bruised knuckles, and

    bloodied faces.


    I’m a new convert to Christianity,

    The TAB or the collection basket; the taxman has many guises

    Pick the one that’s less painful.


    I’m beautiful in my belligerence,

    Born to live and die somewhere between fourth and fifth gear.

    I’m a rambling family tree,

    Some branches blooming, burdened with fruit

    Others wilting, parasite-laden.

    But I won’t be sequestered into a tidy garden plot,

    Nor made to constrain my celebration,

    What can noise control do?

    You see I cannot be kept down for too long,

    The light will catch my hi-vis, soon enough.


  • Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy

    Developer: Vicarious Visions

    Publisher: Activision

    Platform: PS4

    I cannot emphasise enough how much of an impact the Crash Bandicoot series has had — not just on me, but on gaming in general. The little orange marsupial quickly became iconic in a time when every console needed a mascot and, sure enough, Crash is synonymous with the PlayStation brand to this day, with the original trilogy of 3D platformers putting Naughty Dog on the map. Yet, times have been tough and the journey has not been easy for Crash. Once Naughty Dog moved on to greater things, the series was pawned off to various hands who could never quite capture the magic of the original games.

    As the years wore on it seemed inevitable that an icon would simply fade away.

    However, this is 2017, where ’90s nostalgia equals big bucks in the eyes of many. The overlords at Activision, who picked up the series in 2008, must have realised they were sitting on a goldmine that hadn’t been touched in years. People were clamouring for a new Crash game, or at least the opportunity to play old ones on their PS4s, and so Activision, being a merciful and gracious deity, finally said “here you go, now stop bothering us so we can go back to milking the Call of Duty cow.”

    Thankfully, they didn’t screw it up. The N. Sane Trilogy consists of the first three Crash games, rebuilt from the ground up for a new generation of consoles and players. No bollocks, no major changes, just pure Crash with a hint of modern graphical polish. To be perfectly honest, I would have been just as happy if the original PS1 versions had been put on the PS Store, but to have so much work put in to bring Crash up to modern standards while remaining faithful to the series’ roots is something to applaud, even if it means forking out a little more money that you might expect for 20-year old games.

    That dedication most prominently shows itself in the gameplay, which has been virtually unchanged — for better or for worse. You’re still running through linear levels, breaking crates with your spin, and collecting Wumpa Fruits (NOT APPLES YOU HEATHENS), Gems, and Crystals. However, the platforming does show its age, occasionally feeling imprecise and unfair in ways that were fixed years ago. While other nostalgic properties tried to push themselves as the revival of a genre only to fall flat (lookin’ at you, Yooka-Laylee), the N. Sane Trilogy only really promises to recreate the originals, which it does perhaps too well.

    Because oh my goodness, these games are BRUTAL. Many of you will be thinking while playing: “I don’t remember Crash being this hard!” Well, let’s just say comparisons to Dark Souls are inevitable; they’re possibly a little unfair, but so is the “The High Road” level in the first game. That’s not to say these games are any less fun; standards for difficulty have simply gone down over 20 years!

    There are some little improvements made to each game to make the package a little more cohesive, such as time trials in every game, and the ability to play as Crash’s sister Coco in every level; these are much welcome and brings you back to play the levels over again. Oh, and you can now save at any time in the first game, something which, previously, you had to complete bonus levels to do. There’s no cheats though, sorry.

    If this collection is signalling the triumphant return of one of gaming’s most beloved mascots, then that message has been received loud and clear: Crash is back, and no crate will be left untouched. Let’s just hope they get to remastering Crash Team Racing soon enough.


  • Maeve in America

    Moving has never been easy. For thousands of years people have packed their bags and begun a journey for a better home. And by “people” I specifically mean YOUR ancestors. These journeys are often hindered by war, politics, geography, wealth (or lack thereof), family, and bureaucracy — yet the prospect of safety and prosperity is too enticing.

    The stories of immigrants are valuable. The obstacles faced by those searching for a better life remind those with settled lives to be grateful for the opportunities we have had, and should compel us to improve the experiences of immigrants.

    In Maeve in America, comedian Maeve Higgins candidly explores the immigrant experience with her guests. The podcast features two or three interviews each episode which are edited around a theme, like the intersection of migration and creativity, or growing up in an immigrant family. Higgins is joined by a different co-host each week, usually another comedian, to discuss the big things (Trump’s border wall) and the little things (quirks of Irish customs officers).

    Higgins is very funny and direct. She is also excellent at making fun of herself, and very aware of her own privilege while discussing her immigration background (born in Ireland, Higgins now lives in New York). The range of guests are incredible — some are established names like Chris O’Dowd or Neil deGrasse Tyson, but there are also lesser known gems you’ll love hearing from, like Aparna Nancherla, or Majid Naficy.

    The podcast isn’t shy to delve into stories of tragedy or injustice. That’s important, as xenophobic and racist rhetoric gains traction in New Zealand and abroad despite there being 65 million people who are currently forcibly displaced from their homes due to war or persecution. However, the show tries to balance the grim reality of immigration stories in 2017 by ending each episode with a “Cheer Up Charlie” segment, where stand-up comedians, poets, or musicians from immigrant backgrounds perform.  

    Maeve in America is a superb podcast that marries humour and pathos to share powerful stories. Start with “Children of Immigrants: Listen to Your Parents.”


  • My Life As A Courgette — Claude Barras

    All I have to say about the film tonight is that I’ll be astounded if you don’t all love it.

    When I got an email from the New Zealand International Film Festival organisers, I was saddened that the first sentence of their message did not contain the words “free tickets.” My spirits were however lifted almost immediately as the next sentence contained the very similar phrases “free food and drink, and a free screening.” I turned up to the official programme release, and happily indulged in a French animation (with an American overdub) entitled My Life As A Courgette (or Zucchini, for American audiences). Animated films are often wonders to behold, both mainstream and experimental, and this film is no exception. Set in a bleak world from a nine-year old’s perspective, there is a narrative that is short, sweet, and offers a remarkable thesis on life and love through the dialogue and antics of a handful of orphans and strays.

    Evidently the world is a dark, unloving, adult place to these children, and they know they certainly won’t find a place within it easily. What they can do, however, is to learn to love themselves and each other. In typical French fashion, the satisfaction here comes from the contrast of joy and sadness. Every scene has shadows pooled in the corner, and the comedy is blissfully naive as often as it is sullenly dark. The characters themselves are also far more disturbed than any of their Disney contemporaries, so any catharsis or emotional gratification comes as a sharp relief and brings the film to a perfect balance. It is refreshing to find a film for young ages that is not afraid to admit that life is dark, unfair, and sad, but encourages us to make the best of it and keep moving forward. Christ, dozens of films for adults can’t even admit that. The most that characters in rom-com dramas often have to deal with is “why won’t they love me back!?” and “why is life so hard!?” These characters are seldom deserving of the sympathy that I gave so willingly to this particular band of animated French miscreants.

    There’s not much to say plot-wise — I called the film short and sweet; it is literally an hour long — but every little moment and sequence builds the characters and takes the audience on an emotional voyage far greater than such a run time would suggest. It is a film that could only come from France, a country that seems to draw its strength somewhat from keeping issues out in the open rather than bottling their feelings up. Many French films address depression, grief, sex, longing, isolation, inadequacy, passion, and more in matter-of-fact ways, and this film addresses at least four of these concepts. All I can say is that, to me, it’s about as refreshing as cinema can get.


  • Chat with Quishile Charan and Salome Tanuvasa (Namesake)

    Namesake is an exhibition created by close friends Quishile Charan and Salome Ofa Tanuvasa. Using textiles, audiovisual, and illustration, Quishile and Salome explore ideas of cultural heritage, a sense of home and displacement, and thinking about the different creative sites of knowledge that aren’t always considered legitimate. Sitting on the floor of the gallery threading the last few beads of Quishile’s textile work, both artists talked with me about their exhibition and why this work lies close to home.

    Quishile highlighted the functionality of cultural creativity as a way of organising communities, interacting within these communities, and passing on family and cultural history. “I’m interested in colonial shame and how that’s affected my [Indo-Fijian] community and myself. […] So I work with visual narrative through textile making that relies on flora and fauna, and one element of our textiles is telling our stories, the traditional knowledge systems. But I also want to offer a place of grieving, healing, because it’s not something my community has been offered and it’s something we’re still trying to work through.”

    In preparing for this exhibition, Salome highlighted feelings of isolation during art school that is carried through into the wider art industry. Engagement with colonial and postcolonial disruption of a sense of self and belonging are few and far between. Working on this has “heightened the lack of support and a space that’s been safe to have these discussions. There’s a lack of space for people who are going through similar issues either in their art practice or daily lives.”

    Salome describes going to university and being told to value only a certain kind of knowledge from a certain group of academics, and slowly losing a sense of value of the knowledge passed down from her ancestors. “Institutions need to help — earlier on — and communities need to help promote the value of different structures and sites of knowledge”

    “When we were talking about the name of this exhibition, it was nice to acknowledge and think about where we come from, and how our names are pre-conceived by family members who have good relationships with their great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers, and it’s a connection I wish I had. So ‘Salome’ is from my mother’s mum’s name, and she lives in Vava’u in Tonga, where my mum grew up.  And ‘Ofa’ is  my dad’s mum’s name, and dad’s from Samoa in Nofoali’i. To have these names given to me, and knowing these connections, is very humbling”.

    Quishile explains where her hybrid name comes from: “Around the ’80s, parents gave their children names that were different, and sometimes squished a bunch of names together, or alternative spellings of Hindustani names… With my name, it starts off with a boy’s name — Kushaal — and it means ‘the happy one’. My family always tells me stories that my father took a really long time deciding my name, and he thought it was important to have my aaji’s (grandmother) name, Shila, in mine.”

    Quishile’s aaji told her one day, “in your name, that’s where I lay. This way I know, someone will never forget me.”


    Namesake is currently showing at Enjoy Gallery until July 22, free entry. On July 22, 11.00am, there will be an artist talk with both artists.


  • Twin Peaks — Season Three, Episode Eight

    I wasn’t planning on writing about Twin Peaks until the third season was well and truly done and I had time to digest it. The beauty of David Lynch’s work is best grasped when viewed as a whole — season one is a mundane affair until episode three, when the first sighting of Bob really fucks you up, and, without seeing the second season, it ends on a fairly unsatisfactory cliffhanger.

    But the reason the show is so revered is due to the complete picture. As a body of work, the first two seasons of Twin Peaks are relatively peerless in the realm of television mystery. Season 3 up to this point has managed to stay grounded in the extended universe of the world, and no matter how strange everything seems, there is an explanation for it that fits within the context of the show.

    Then episode eight comes along. I liked to think I’d steeled myself to Lynch’s work, that it would be fairly hard to be shocked or made to feel way out of my depth.

    Perhaps the best way to explain this would be to imagine a scenario. You’re at the center of a room that is inexplicably large, about a kilometre wide whichever way you look. Next to you is a clock that, unknown to you, is missing a gear, and so while it ticks, the minutes and hours never actually pass. The room is dark, windowless, lit only by the occasional 40 watt light bulb (some are fixed with a bayonet clasp, the majority are screw, however). You can aimlessly wander the room and never really feel like you’ve gone anywhere, but if you walk with purpose, in a straight line, you might find a wall, perhaps even a corner. Ultimately, however, this effort achieves nothing. You can scour the walls, walk the entire radius of the room, and you’ve still learnt no more than if you’d simply wandered aimlessly.

    That’s how this episode made me feel. I thought I’d found the corner, that I was going to learn something and maybe finally understand what the fuck is going on in this stupid-ass little town. But all I got was a dimly lit surface that went straight up, instead of sideways. I’d picked out all these tiny details that looked like clues, but ultimately I know no more than anyone else. If I’d wandered aimlessly, I might have stumbled across some mysterious trapdoor, but by powering ahead, I completely missed seeing where I was going.

    Originally, I couldn’t decide if this episode was the best of the season so far, or the worst. It seemed like Lynch had thrown absolutely every convention (that he actually follows) out of the window, and I wasn’t really sure how to react. But where else does he really have to go to shock an audience anymore? A complete left turn like this one is something that Twin Peaks thrives on, and I can only hope that with future episodes I maybe won’t feel so completely and utterly lost.


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