Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Meet Mr Tomato and Mr Pea!

Driving along, past local towns, shops, mountains and fields of sheep -

when we saw this novel way of advertising that 'Fruitworld' had adopted!

This is Mr Kumara!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Friedensreich Hundertwasse (which means "Peace-land Hundred-water)
He is often compared to Gaudi - one of my favourite architects!

This Austrian architect was one of the best known and controversial artists of modern society! his work has been described as "unruly".
He used bright colours and rejected straight lines..

He designed flags, stamps, clothing and buildings!
One example of his buildings is the Hundertwasserhaus block in Vienna with undulating floors, a roof covered with earth and grass, and large trees growing from inside the rooms, with limbs extending from windows.

He took no payment for the design of the building, declaring that it was worth it, to "prevent something ugly from going up in its place". He was quite a character!

He made such beautiful, crazy, organic, life-affirming architecture!

His buildings are a crazy-quilt of energy and enthusiasm and emotion in bricks!
He loved people and nature and believed they could live harmoniously together and designed amazing places to live that honored people in nature.

Here's a wonderful quote by him: "If man walks in nature's midst, then he is nature's guest and must learn to behave as a well-brought-up guest." On one occasion he appeared in public in the nude, promoting an ecologically friendly flush-less toilet!!

What's his link to New Zealand? Hundertwasser considered New Zealand as his official home, and no matter where he went in the world, his watch was always set to New Zealand time.

That finally became the place he was buried after his death at sea on the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 in 2000, at the age of 71. Gaudi is still my favourite! But he comes a close second!!

Friday, April 24, 2009


I am not in the habit of taking a camera into public toilets.
But you can be forgiven in Kawakawa.

Since 1999, this small town in New Zealand's Bay of Islands, has been talked about because of its public toilets, put plumb in the middle of the high street. Even the shops around it have taken to imitating the style of the Austrian architect..

Viennese architect Frederick Hundertwasser volunteered a design (as he had done for many other public buildings, and been rejected) in his idiosyncratic style - and it was adopted, grass roof and all.

The design includes a living Macropiper excelsus tree, after which the town is named in Maori.

This was the only building he designed in the southern hemisphere. It is probably the most photographed public toilet in the world !!

The toilet was opened in a dawn ceremony on completion and is the town's claim to fame.

To Hundertwasser, a toilet is very special because "you meditate in a toilet."
Like a church. "The similarity is not so far fetched" - he said.
Hundertwasser said straight lines are evil.

There are no straight lines in the toilet. Only crooked beauty.
It's a landmark loo, and Hundertwasser was named a 'living treasure'.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Complete tea set made out of kauri !

The Kauri Museum was quite a discovery.. globs of golden gum from these huge trees, were left in the soils and swamps of Northland over thousands of years.
In the 19th century this gum became a major export, and prospectors flocked to New Zealand to find it and make their fortune, but digging gum was a tough way to make a living.

The caption for this photo should be "By gum!" - this boy has found a big one - no wonder he's smiling. But life inthe photos shows it was generally hard and poverty stricken for the gum diggers.

The hardened gum has been put to many uses over the years, collectors have spend lifetimes creating objects and some of the pieces are beautiful, very similar to amber.

Even a kiwi carved out of gum

The girls could both sit inside a kauri stump comfortably!

The gum has been collected for years by individuals, who, when they died bequeathed it to the Museum - there are millions of dollars worth here!

Imagine carving a Mauri chief from this piece of gum!

The Maori had several uses for kauri gum, which they collected from the surface of the ground.
It made good fuel, and was also carried alight as a torch. The soot from the burnt gum was used in the tattooing process.
Fresh gum was chewed, and sometimes softened by heating before becoming “chewing gum”. Bet the Americans don't know that!

Europeans used the gum for varnishes, linoleum and resins for musical instruments..

Besides digging gum fortune hunters could create gum by chopping the heart from the tree and collecting the gum as it oozed out and baking it to harden it..

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Kauri belong in the Jurassic period, so it's no wonder that they're huge! they are now only found in the southern hemisphere, and then only in a few places.

Basically, when the Europeans arrived there were great forests of kauri, which grew hundreds of feet tall, perfectly straight. they were thousands of years old and made perfect ship's masts and wonderful planks for building. The forests were decimated in a very short space of time.

Tane Mahuta is the tallest living kauri remaining, its age is unknown but is estimated to be between 1250 and 2500 years old. Its Māori name means "Lord of the Forest" and the photos just don't do justice to the overwhelming size of it!
The trunk girth 45.18 ft, its height is 167.98 ft!!

Continuing on the kauri trail we headed for the fattest (widest is kinder) kauri still living, Te Matua Ngahere . The tree's Maori name means "Father of the Forest". As you approach it it seems to loom out of the forest, just of unbelievable size! It's trunk is 16.4m wide and it's still growing..

The lookout tower at the end of the walk gave views over what would have once been huge kauri forests, now planted by the forestry companies with pines, but you could imagine it!

Tomorrow it's the kauri museum!