News and Views

Auckland's Tour de Funny

Posted by Website Admin on April 30, 2017

New Zealand Comedy Festival is a Tour de Funny                                                                       

There's nothing as uplifting as a good laugh. So don't be depressed that the Masters Games is over because the 25th annual New Zealand International Comedy Festival is here now!  During May you can laugh yourself silly.

The Festival first had us in stitches back in 1993. You might recognise some of these Kiwi names from the early years; The Topp Twins; Corbett Brothers (Jeremy & Nigel); Jon Bridges, Paul Horan, Alan Brough; Kevin Smith Brendhan Lovegrove, Te Radar, Cal Wilson and Ewen Gilmour. 

Sadly some of these New Zealand artists are no longer around to make us laugh but Kiwi comedy is in good health buoyed by the addition of some major international acts for the 2017 Comedy Fest. Namely Ed Byrne, Chris Martin, Hal Cruttenden, Lou Sanders and Ed Gamble to name a few.

May is shaping up to be a bundle of live laughs.  From send-ups of Gloriavale and Broods, to a masterclass on housewifery for the modern age, there’ll be something to tickle your fancy and get you chuckling this Festival. No laugh yoga or mindfulness training necessary.

On reviewing the line-up, here’s six gigs which tickle my fancy. 

The Bitches' Box.  Described as 'fall off the chair funny" this is well overdue to hit Auckland. This act has toured provincial New Zealand to great acclaim.  Can't wait! 

Two Hearts: Auckland World Tour starring 7-days Laura Daniel  and Joseph Moore. Appears to be a send up of Roxette, Broods and any other good-looking pop spectacle.  Love these two – should be a hoot.  

The Best of Lou Sanders.  Named one of the top 10 comics in Vogue and The Guardian and described by critics as “a breathless adventure”.  This is one UK wahine on the rise.

The Classic Festival Debate – The World vs NZ . Our homegrown comedians take on their international rivals to debate New Zealand’s place in the world.  Lucky we don’t take ourselves too seriously – should be comedy carnage.

Ed Byrne – Outside Looking In.  Just the fact that this is Ed’s fourth trip down under makes me want to see this guy.  Always gets rave reviews so sending my money his way. So he can fund a longhaul upgrade. 

Angella Dravid – Down the Rabbit Hole.   A former legal secretary, rising Kiwi star and Billy T nominee for 2017. Direct reputation, long pauses ……sounds awkwardly funny.  

For more information, dates and bookings visit 

The new jewel in Auckland's crown

Posted by Website Admin on April 28, 2017

K’ Road – the jewel in Auckland's crown?

Karangahape or K'Road – once a strategic ridge Maori traveled to cross from the Waitemata to Manukau Harbours -  will undergo a major transformation over next six years.

The street is named after the Tainui ancestor Hape, who  was left behind when the Tanui set out from Hawaiiki in search of new lands. Hape was excluded from the canoe due to his ‘clubfoot’ but legend has it he made the journey to Aotearoa, New Zealand on the back of a stingray, preceding the arrival of his tribe by several weeks. On their arrival they saw him standing on a hill (Karangahape Road) and he welcomed them with a Karanga, or greeting call, and the event became known as Te Karanga a Hape, meaning The Call of Hape.

The area has gone through many changes in its history – once a distant ridgeline to early settlers – which the horse-drawn trams would struggle to reach, to a busy retail strip of department stores, tea shops and photography studios in the 1960’s. The street’s fortunes changed in the 1970’s however with the advent of shiny new suburban shopping malls which meant dwindling visitors to the city.  With empty tenancies and an array of ‘mixed bag’ retailers, Karangahape Road then gained an illicit reputation as Auckland’s red light district with its jumble of clubs, strip joints and pubs.   

With the recent growth in apartment options, international students, and upbeat eateries the once seedy street has undergone a renaissance.  Today, Auckland’s grand old arcade Saint Kevin’s is fully tenanted and a showcase for what sympathetic and classy renovation can achieve. The people have returned to K’ Road (as the local’s fondly refer to it) and it’s now the vintage, retro and tattoo shopping capital of New Zealand – a vibrant and creative city hub in the inner city.

Key changes planned include a new train station, better links through Myers Park into the city, and the re-development of Beresford Square as the entrance to the future City Rail Link station. Native tree planting along Karangahape Road together with a new cycle path to link with the Grafton and Newton Gully cycle ways will all add to the locale.

The City Rail Link project will establish a new train station at the top of Beresford Square, near the Pitt Street and Karangahape Road junction. The new train station platform will be approximately 33 metres below ground.  The City Rail Link is due for completion in 2021 and will essentially extend the Western Line into Britomart doubling the capacity of people the system can carry.

The ‘Hello Auckland’ tour includes a walk down K’Road because it’s a historic and local spot that most visitors miss (and locals avoid)  - yet it really is the beating heart of uptown. Come see for yourself!


Reference: THE KARANGAHAPE ROAD PLAN 2014-2044  Waitemata Local Board

Cyril's Tour - From Grafton to Gallipoli

Posted by Website Admin on April 24, 2017

Cyril's Tour - From Grafton to Gallipoli

Historian Laurie Barber profiled Aucklander Cyril Bassett (pictured), the country’s first Victorian Cross recipient during World War One, in the following excerpt:

Cyril Royston Guyton Bassett was born at Auckland, New Zealand, on 3 January 1892.  He attended Grafton School, Auckland Grammar School and the Auckland Technical College.

On 10 August 1914 Bassett was attested as a sapper in the New Zealand Divisional Signal Company, at that time attached to the Corps of New Zealand Engineers. He sailed with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on 16 October that year. Following divisional training in Egypt, the company was thrust into the fighting at Gallipoli when it landed on 25 April 1915. Between 7 and 9 August 1915 Bassett, now a corporal, was involved in an action that won him the Victoria Cross, the first awarded to a New Zealand serviceman in the First World War. During the ferocious battle for Chunuk Bair, he and a handful of companions laid and subsequently repaired a telephone wire to the front line. In full daylight and under continuous and heavy fire, Bassett 'dashed and then crept, then dashed and crept again, up to the forward line'. The lines were cut again and again, but Bassett and his fellow linesmen went out day and night to mend them. He was always modest about his actions, later claiming, 'It was just that I was so short that the bullets passed over me.'

Bassett was evacuated through illness to Britain on 13 August 1915. He rejoined his unit in France in June 1916, and on 21 September 1917 was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He was twice wounded in action on the western front and returned to New Zealand in December 1918. Before his release from the NZEF in January 1919 he was promoted to full lieutenant.

After the war Bassett resumed his career with the National Bank, serving in Auckland and as manager in Paeroa. He retained his link with the military by joining the Territorial Forces.

Throughout his military career he was regarded as a popular and hard-working officer.

Cyril Bassett retired from banking in January 1952. During his retirement he served the Devonport community as a justice of the peace. He died on 9 January 1983 at his home in Stanley Bay, Auckland, at the age of 91, survived by his wife and two daughters. Bassett had been the only New Zealander serving in a New Zealand unit to win the Victoria Cross at Gallipoli. He had been reluctant, however, to talk about the award saying, 'All my mates ever got were wooden crosses.' Following his death, his widow donated the Bassett VC Memorial Trophy to the Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals; the trophy depicts Bassett laying a line at Gallipoli. It is awarded annually to the corps' most outstanding corporal – the rank Bassett held when he won his Victoria Cross.

Acknowledgement:   Laurie Barber. 'Bassett, Cyril Royston Guyton', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 24 April 2017)


Exercising Mind and Body – Auckland hosts it all

Posted by Website Admin on April 12, 2017

Exercising Mind and Body – Auckland hosts it all

One of the great things about NZ’s largest city is it plays host to myriad national and international events throughout the year. 2017 is no exception.

Next week Auckland will be swamped by ‘aging’ athletes (minimum age is around 30 years old !) who will converge on the city for the World Masters Games from April 22 - 30. With more athletes than the Olympics, the World Masters is the single biggest multi-sport event on earth. Around 25,000 participants will take part in 28 sporting activities including cycling, rugby, sailing, shooting and weight lifting all over the city. The central entertainment hub for the Games is downtown at the Cloud on Queens Wharf. There's an exciting programme of performance events planned across the week - both for Aucklanders and athletes.

Accompanying the athletes are their supporters which easily brings the total number of Games visitors to around 50,000. This is terrific for Auckland’s economy – even though traffic and accommodation woes abound. Countering that is the plethora of things for travellers to do and see here. A short guided walk with a local expert being one very good way to kill a couple of hours and come away with loads of fascinating insights into this wonderful city. Check out Aucky Walky's highlights tour.

Following the Masters Games is the Writers Festival – set down for week 16 -21 May. For the past 15 years the Writers Festival has been staged in Auckland. This year it involves over 180 public events, gathering together 170 of the world’s best writers and thinkers with over 24,000 Festival goers and up to 7,000 young people to celebrate the world of books and ideas. What this festival has done is help cement Auckland as a world class host of not only sports but cultural events.

If you are a visitor to Auckland engaging in one or both of these events – enjoy ! For locals, see this as the perfect opportunity to showcase the City of Sails.