Old-School Life in New Zealand

Mosaic gecko It's a pretty laid back lifestyle here in Tauranga, New Zealand.

Jenni's house is a hive of activity every day with the Swim School right here in her pool. Every day, it seems like hundreds of kids, from about 2-years old to 10 or 11 have lessons. She teaches a lot of them but also has a succession of teachers who work with her. The mums, dads and grandmothers either sit and watch the tiny ones or drop the older ones who seem to do better without parents around. Jenni is also spearheading an initiative called TOCS - Teach Our Children to Swim - in the local elementary schools that is having a lot of success. But it means more work for her as it is all volunteer so she is like me, and spends a lot of time in front of the computer!

Village Church

We have done a couple of trips since I last posted - all local which is great. We went to the Historic Village in Tauranga last week. A beautiful place but it was almost deserted! The buildings have all been moved to this location and restored. Some house Ye Olde Gifte Stores but others actually have some cool stuff like the mosaic store. There are mosaics all over this town. Curbs along the streets are decorated, planter boxes too. They show up in random places! Very cool and this store has all the supplies plus fired-glass stuff. They teach classes as well which would be something fun to learn.

The Church is very pretty with quite a history and is surrounded by lovingly-tended gardens and flowers. It's a great wedding venue, but then again, so many places around here are beautiful and ideal for weddings.

A lot of the buildings in the Village house government and NGO offices so at least they don't sit vacant.

Freeform

On Friday, Ryan's birthday :), we went to Te Puna Quarry Park. We went there last time I was here in 2006 and it has grown up a lot since then. It is an amazing botanical garden completely run by volunteers and any grants they can get. The old quarry is transformed with both indigenous and other flora. The fuchsia garden was spectacular with varieties I had never seen before. And such a wide variety of plants, flowers, trees throughout the park. There is a Kauri grove where this massive tree is being replanted. The South African section is ablaze with strelitzia (bird of paradise) and proteas.

A Tui

And amazingly, coming around corners on the fairly rugged trail, you are surprised by sculptures - of all sorts! It's really fun, as a lot of them are hiding, partially overgrown by the jungle! There's a stone lizard basking on a rock, beautiful freeform stone figures, metal sculptures and whimsical corrugated metal figures. And of course mosaics! The park encourages art or all kinds, the tag line is " A Community Development in the Environmental Arts."

I've got some stories I am going to do, one being the Quarry, one on raising queen bees and one on biodynamically grown olives! Lots to do and fun ones, as well.