Mark making

My primary medium for creating art is to paint or draw with pastels, soft chalk-like chunks or sticks of colour. Pastels are a medium that I have been learning to use well for several years and there is still so much to learn. Lately I have been experimenting with my mark making, a way of adding texture and interest to my artwork. It has been a fun yet challenging process, requiring me to resist falling back on old habits of softening edges, blending clouds and overworking the detail. Colour is also something I have been playing with, some of my paintings have no more than five colours in them but this one definitely features more colour.

The source photo for this painting was taken in the Mt Aspiring National Park on New Zealand’s South Island. Initially it was a crisp and clear Autumn day but the weather soon changed and the clouds set in, bringing the occasional shower of rain making the track towards the Rob Roy glacier slippery and a little nerve wracking at times.

New Zealand, Scotland and animals continue to be a great source of inspiration for me. I will be attempting to do more portraits this year, people portraits that is so stay tuned if you want to see how I progress.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Houses

I really thought I had more variety in my shots of houses for Cee’s latest challenge however it has become quite obvious that I tend to take more photos of buildings when travelling than when at home. I really must get out more 🙂

 Cee's Fun Foto Challenge graphic

A trip down memory lane

Today I put the final pages together for my brother’s 40th birthday photo book, it’s a little late but I’m sure he’ll love it, for all is ‘toughness’ he is really a big softy and extremely sentimental. My Mum rummaged through her suitcase of old photos and looking through them brought back some very funny (to me anyway) and heartwarming memories which I’d like to share with you.

Enjoy your weekend 🙂

Travel theme: Paths

Today’s collection of images is motivated by the latest travel theme from Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack. Paths can take many shapes and forms: straight and narrow, long and winding, smooth or bumpy and it is the variety that makes life interesting although I notice most of my images of paths feature gardens and trees, wonder what that says about me 🙂

Eely Point Walk, Wanaka New Zealand
Eely Point Walk, a path that takes you around part of the scenic Lake Wanaka on the South Island of New Zealand
Autumn colour in Wanaka, New Zealand
Autumn colour brightens the footpath in Wanaka, New Zealand
The rose garden in the Botanic Gardens, Christchurch
A few years before the earthquake that wreaked havoc in Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island, I walked through the lovely rose garden in the Botanic Gardens, Christchurch.
Sandy path over the dunes, Ruakaka Beach, New Zealand
Sandy path over the dunes at Ruakaka Beach on New Zealand’s North Island
Rainforest walk, Queensland
Rainforest walk at O’Reilly’s, Queensland
Botanic Gardens, Mt Tamborine, Queensland
Take a relaxing stroll through the Botanic Gardens at Mt Tamborine in the hinterland of Queensland’s Gold Coast.
A path to the Palace of Versaille
One of many paths between the beautiful gardens of Versaille and the elaborate palace.
Villa Monastero garden path, Varenna Lake Como
View from above, Villa Monastero garden path, Varenna Lake Como
Villa Monastero garden path, Varenna Lake Como
The path through the gardens of Villa Monastero on the edge of Lake Como, Varenna.
The Via dell'Amore, Cinque Terre
The Via dell’Amore as it winds its way between Riomaggiore and Manarola on the Cinque Terre
San Gimignano park
A walk through the park in San Gimignano, you can see two of the medieval towers in the background.
Umbrella Pines, Palatine Hill, Rome
Umbrella Pines, Palatine Hill, Rome
Albert Park, Auckland
Albert Park, Auckland

Travel theme: Pale

Embracing the pale in my travel photographs was an interesting activity, pale often has such negative connotations but seeing the beauty in pale is actually very easy, there is something so appealing about delicate white blooms, snow on a mountain and the lightness of colour as the sun sets and rises.

Travel Theme: Roads

Meg Travels posted some wonderful photos of bridges in Venice as part of a weekly   travel theme instigated by Where’s my backpack? and having struggled of late to find the time to blog regularly it looked like something I could participate in, after all I have thousands of travel photos.

This week’s theme is roads and these are some of the roads I have travelled.

Auckland is not the capital of New Zealand

It is often thought that Auckland is the capital of New Zealand however, as any Kiwi will tell you, the current capital is actually Wellington, a smaller but no less interesting city located further south on the North Island. The original capital of the colony of New Zealand was actually a small settlement called Russell in the Bay of Islands, but I digress, this post is about Auckland, otherwise known as the City of Sails. Auckland was the capital for a short period of time after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 and then it moved to Wellington in 1865, Auckland is now considered the economic capital of New Zealand and it is the largest city in the country.

Earlier this year I posted photos taken with my iPhone 3, the quality was pretty poor however I liked the ‘retro’ effect created by the app I was enamored with at the time. These shots were taken with my handy little Panasonic Lumix TZ10, a great point and shoot camera that we bought to take to Europe last year. I did make the mistake of messing around with some of the automatic ‘effects’ such as HDR, although fun at the time the result was pretty ordinary.

Ferry Terminal Auckland


Auckland city, ferry terminal lamps

My time to explore the city was limited to one full day and one night, weather on arrival was woeful and typical of the miserable weather that usually follows me on holiday so imagine my joy when I awoke to blue sunny skies the next day. Friends and family had advised me to hop on a ferry and cruise the Waitemata Harbour weather permitting, it was good advice and for about $20 I spent a relaxing couple of hours on the water. Stops of interest include Devonport, Stanley Bay and Rangitoto Island. Rangitoto Island is a unique, volcanic island with 3 peaks, it formed more than 600 years ago and if you have time you can hop off the boat and walk to the top of the crater for 360 degree views of the city, harbour and environs.

Harbour Cruise, Auckland

Fishing, Auckland Harbour

Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour is a recent development consisting of upmarket hotels, restaurants and office buildings, it is a popular spot for residents and tourists and if you love boats it is worth checking out. I wandered around for an hour or so, soaking up the sun and doing a spot of people watching but looking at boats for long periods of time doesn’t really interest me that much. The National Maritime Museum is near by and I could have spent more than a few dollars on All Blacks World Cup Rugby merchandise but the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki was calling and I’m a sucker for art gallery souvenirs.

The Auckland Art Gallery is free to visit, there is an entry fee for special exhibitions and events, at the time the Degas to Dali exhibition was touring and being a fan of many artists during the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries I couldn’t resist buying a ticket.

Auckland Art Gallery

Art installation, Auckland Art Gallery

Art installation, Auckland Art Gallery

As the sunsets the harbour is quiet a pretty place to visit, a group of us from the conference I was attending gathered to explore the waterfront and find somewhere nice to eat. We headed to Queens Wharf to inspect ‘The Cloud’, a curved structure created to erected to accommodate events during the Rugby World Cup 2011, the view of the harbour and city was great, the lack of a space to sit and have a drink…not so much. Obligatory happy snaps taken, we moved on to the Viaduct harbour precinct and managed to find a most suitable place to drink and eat, alas no decent food photos to share but I can assure you that the meals were creatively presented and tasted absolutely delicious.

This was my first real stay in Auckland, yes, even though it was only for a short period of time and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Most of my trips to New Zealand usually only include a short stop at the airport before heading further north or returning to Australia, next time I hope to extend that to a nice long weekend and visit something of the amazing markets and wineries that I’ve heard so much about 🙂

The Cloud on Queen's Wharf

Sailing on the harbour, Auckland

Viaduct harbour marina at twilight

Snapdragon restaurant, Viaduct Harbour

Past America's Cup defence, Auckland

Auckland's skytower at night


A little bit of family history

Gottfried Lindauer's painting of Wharepapa as a young man
Gottfried Lindauer’s painting of Wharepapa as a young man

As a young girl my Grandfather used to tell us the story of our great, great, great Grandfather Kamariera Te Hau Takiri Wharepapa, the Maori Chief who went to England to meet Queen Victoria and married an English girl. A copy of the painting by Lindauer took pride of place on the wall of my grandparents living room, as children we used to argue over who would get the painting once my grandparents passed away, little did we know that copies would become easy to purchase in the years to come.

A young Wharepapa
A young Wharepapa
Source: National Library of Australia
Tutapuiti Hariata (wife of Pomare), Wharepapa and Pomare
Tutapuiti Hariata (wife of Pomare), Wharepapa and Pomare

Kamariera Wharepapa was born in 1823 and was one of fourteen Maori who sailed to England on the Ida Ziegler in 1863 to meet Queen Victoria, the trip was organised by William Jenkins, a preacher and former interpreter for the Nelson provincial government (source: In addition to meeting the Queen, the group of Maori also met the Prince and Princess of Wales and were used by Jenkins to demostrate songs and dances while wearing traditional garments and ornaments.  While in England, Wharepapa met and married Elizabeth Ann Reid in St Anne’s Parish Church, Limehouse, London on March 31st, 1864. There are many paintings, illustrations and photographs of their experience in England including a copy of a letter that Wharepapa sent to family and friends in New Zealand.

Kamariera Te Hautakiri Wharepapa and Kihirini Te Tuahu
Kamariera Te Hautakiri Wharepapa (right) and Kihirini Te Tuahu (with tewhatewha) during their trip to London, 1863-1864. Photograph taken by Vernon Heath.
Source: Heath, Vernon, 1819?-1895. Kamariera Te Hautakiri Wharepapa and Kihirini Te Tuahu. Parsons, Patrick :Maori portraits. Ref: 1/2-058458-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
Illustrated London news: Native chiefs from New Zealand
Illustrated London news (Newspaper). Illustrated London news :Native chiefs from New Zealand. Mr W Jenkins, interpreter; Horomana Te Atua; Hapimana Ngapiko; Wharepapa; Pomare; Paratene Te Manu; Kihirini Te Tuahu; Takerie Ngawaka; Tere Te Iringa; Hariata Pomare, Reihana Taukawau; Hirini Pakia; Ngahuia; Wiremu Pou. [London, 1863]. Ref: PUBL-0033-1863-68. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
The New Zealand chiefs in Wesley’s House.
The New Zealand chiefs in Wesley’s House, 1863
Letter from Wharepapa during his visit to England
Letter from Wharepapa during his visit to England

The letter reads (Source:

‘We are losing health & strength. In my opinion, if we stay long, we must find out some devices for ourselves for these days. That is all, the trouble of this expedition can not be enumerated. You are the sister of the Bishop who loves New Zealand so well & you will declare to him our sentiments. Your goodness to the Maories who have visited you gives us light and gladness in our hearts & makes us bold to speak out the burden that is laid on us thro’ this our ill considered visit to England.’

The group of Maori who visited England
The group of Maori who visited England in 1863

Wharepapa and Elizabeth returned to New Zealand in 1864, the first of five daughters was born on the return trip, Mary Faith Wharepapa and the remaining daughters were born in Mangakahia where Wharepapa and Elizabeth settled upon their return. The other daughters were: Edith Harriet, Hora Eliza Anne (my great, great grandmother), Maria Josephine Hope and Huhana. Elizabeth tired of the lifestyle and eventually left and married Charkes Samuel Lakey.

Charles Fredrick Goldie is known for his portraits of New Zealand Maori chiefs (ariki) and women of rank (kuia). He painted two portraits of the aging Wharepapa and took several photographs of Wharepapa in his studio. Many believed that the Maori were a doomed race at that time and the tradition of chiseled ta moko and facial tattooing had ceased (source: Critics of his work dismissed his paintings as documentation rather than art and objected to the way he depicted the Maori, however, many Maori see Goldie’s works as taonga (treasured thing) representing irreplaceable ancestral images of koroua (elderly man) and kuia (elderly woman) which, for Maori have special significance (source:

Painting of Kamariera Te Hau Takiri Wharepapa by Charles Fredrick Goldie
Painting of Kamariera Te Hau Takiri Wharepapa by Charles Fredrick Goldie
Kamariera Te Hau Takiri Wharepapa painted 1907
Kamariera Te Hau Takiri Wharepapa painted 1907
Wharepapa with Goldie in his studio
Wharepapa with Goldie in his studio
Kamariera Te Wharepapa with a visitor to Goldie's studio
Kamariera Te Wharepapa with a visitor to Goldie’s studio
Wharepapa with Goldie holding patu
Wharepapa with Goldie holding patu
Kamariera Te Wharepapa with a visitor to Goldie's studio, possibly the actress Grace Palotta
Kamariera Te Wharepapa with a visitor to Goldie’s studio, possibly the actress Grace Palotta.

My first (and only) Wharepapa family reunion was held in the early 80s at a marae in Titoki, my Grandmother not being one for such events, left us with our Grandfather to spend two days and a night with hundreds of relations that we had never met before. I remember lots of food, there was plenty of traditional singing, dancing and storytelling and we met all of my Grandfather’s brothers and sisters, he was one of eleven. At that time you had to rely on the written word, family photographs and museum or gallery collections to understand our family history and writing a family tree (for a teenager) was a tedious job. The internet has made life so much easier, my Mum is amazed at the range of images that I have been able to gather and share with her, she bought a copy of Lindauer’s painting when we were kids and now she has much more.

Thank you to Tahi for commenting and providing links to the following images.
Source file:
The well known painting that appears first on this post was adapted from this image. Source file:


Back in the day…

Nanna droving in New Zealand
Nanna the drover

My Nanna loved living and working on the land, some of my fondest childhood memories are ones that involve feeding all the ducks and chooks, collecting eggs, making butter and horse riding. Nanna met my Grandfather after the war when she was working on a farm, my Grandfather was a man of the land and spent much of his life on the back of a horse and they would often do cattle drives together. For a long time, Nanna was believed to be the only female drover in Northland, she rode horses for work and pleasure up until a serious health problem slowed her down in her seventies.

My Grandparents didn’t always live on a farm, they had a house in town and oversaw my uncle’s property while he was living overseas. The thing I remember most about Nanna’s house in town is the garden filled with fabulous fruit trees, in summer we would eat the plums straight from the tree and my Nanna would spend hours making jam, filling jars with stewed fruit and preparing fruit pies or crumble. Visiting the farm was a real treat, we would help with shearing by cleaning up the wool, explore the paddocks and feed the chooks and occasionally we would visit neighbouring properties on horseback. The only dog we were allowed to play with was an old English Sheepdog called Muff, the working dogs were off limits unless my Grandfather wanted to send them with us to move sheep or cattle, they were generally Border Collies or Huntaways and they knew more than us when it came to mustering.

I have very little information about the photos below although I remember seeing the first image framed and hanging in Nanna’s house, as a horse crazy child it seemed like a fun and exciting way to live.

My Grandparents, the drovers
My Grandparents, the drovers
Northland cattle drive, New Zealand
Northland cattle drive, New Zealand
Droving on horseback, Northland, New Zealand
The drovers and their dogs
Bringing the cattle through town
Bringing the cattle through town
Cattle on the road
Four legged roadblock
Cattle and car on the road
Those were the days…

Not quite wordless Wednesday: We will remember them

Red poppy in the field
The red poppy symbolises remembrance and while they are not worn on ANZAC Day, wreathes of poppies are placed on war memorials in Australia on ANZAC Day.
The Ode is recited every ANZAC Day at memorial services all over Australia, ANZAC Day is commemorated on April 25th and an ANZAC is an Australian or New Zealand soldier who landed and fought at Gallipoli during the first World War. ANZAC Day is a day for remembering and honouring all men and women who have served Australia and New Zealand during times of war.

The Ode

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.