Friday music choice 19.02.10

A few weeks ago i was at the Parachute music festival in Mystery Creek in Hamilton along with 25,000 other people.

Parachute is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest Christian Music Festival and attracts some of the biggest musical names such as Third Day, Anberlin, Switchfoot and Delirious? 

This year the headline acts were Rapture Ruckus, Underoath, Leeland and Switchfoot. I was especially keen to see the latter two acts as i am fans of them both.

The highlight (if you can call it that) was the torrential rain that lashed down on the area from Friday night , through most of Saturday (except for a few brief hours which is when loads of people opted to leave) and all of Saturday night leading to mass flooding, and lots of tents being washed away.  As im not a fan of camping, you can imagine i was thrilled about this…

Saturday night saw Switchfoot take the stage and after a dull first song, they really got into their stride and cranked out such faves as O Gravity!, This Is Your Life, Meant to Live (with the filthiest bass reverb i have ever heard!) and Dare You to Move. It was pretty epic and im glad i got to see one of my fave bands live at last.

However, the real highlight for me were the boys from Baytown in Texas; Leeland.

If you haven’t heard of then, then you need to. Every one of their albums has been nominated for a Grammy Award and i would dare to suggest that their style of music, though always melodic, is often very worshipful. In fact there hasn’t been anything like them in the Christian music scene since Delirious? broke through.

I was at their gig at the Palladium in Parachute and also on the main stage at Parachute and they lit it up! Brilliant live and also a very intense worship experience. They were definitely one of the most popular bands at parachute…to prove it, they were number 20 on the NZ album charts for 2 weeks after Parachute!

A great touch was them stripping off their shirts after their opening number to reveal …that they were all wearing All Blacks shirts underneath!

No one had done that before and i think it created a country full of fans that night.

It seems only fitting then, that my Friday music choice is Leeland’s “Count Me In”, set to a brilliant stop motion movie of Parachute 2010 by Sophia Bayly of the very talented


No t in lent

I have given up tea for lent…the ultimate sacrifice for an Englishman!

What on earth am i doing?!

Plain sailing

Despite being English and having grown up on an island, I have neither sailed nor fished on the ocean. It’s a shocking admission for an Englishman, but one I must admit.

Recently I had the chance to rectify this situation by going sailing with my good friend Graham. He runs a sailing school and owns a 40ft yacht which is based up in Mana on the Kapiti coast just north of Wellington.

Graham is an accomplished sailor and fisherman and takes great delight in showing novices how a yacht works, how to sail and the skills needed to fish on the ocean. Handy then as neither Ingrid nor I had any experience of the former.

Graham, Ingrid and I were joined by Graham’s friend Chris (another skilled sailor and fisherman) and armed with a variety of food, many layers of technical clothing and all important teabags, we skilfully navigated our way out of Mana Marina and headed out towards Mana Island, where Graham assured us we would find some fish.

The steep-sided and seemingly flat-topped Mana Island is a distinctive feature of Wellington’s west coast.

Mana Island’s name is an abbreviation of  Te Mana o Kupe ki Aotearoa, which acknowledges the achievements of Kupe, the legendary 12th Century Polynesian navigator, who discovered this land — Aotearoa.

On the way to the island, Graham and Chris taught us about gibing, tacking, coming about, loughing and the various rope skills needed with a full head of sails!

Graham is an excellent teacher and it’s a pleasure to learn skills from someone in an area that I know nothing in, and one that he clearly loves. In fact, I learnt more in 5 hours about sailing than I have in my entire life.

We were becalmed for a short time but other than that, we had a good wind, made a steady 8 or so knots and enjoyed the cloudy but humid weather.

Many other people were out and about as Mana is a big marina and have easy access to the Kapiti Coast and the renowned fishing ground around Kapiti Island.

Both Chris and Graham deployed their lines over the back of the boat and for the first few hours we had nothing. Chris had a couple of tweaks on his line but the fish came off as we tried to bring them in.  

However, the closer we got to Mana Island, it was all hands on deck as the line that I was overseeing started to run…and run…and run! To use a poker phrase, I had the hot hand!

I caught my first bite and managed to land a kahawai which according to the boys was a bigger than usual size. So, as you can imagine, landing a decent sixed fish iono my first time out made me pretty happy. The next time I cast out, I landed another good sized kahawai!

 This happened again and I had 4 of them before Chris caught his first kahawai. I ended up with 6 and Chris 2 as Graham expertly steered us back and forth in a narrow corridor of shallow water just off the tip of Mana Island. 

Australian salmon known as kahawai in New Zealand are medium-sized perciform marine fish of the small family Arripidae.  Despite the common name, Australian salmon are not related to the salmon (family Salmonidae) of the Northern Hemisphere; the former were named so by early European settlers after their superficial resemblance to the salmoniform fishes.

The Māori to whom the fish are known as kahawai, koopuuhuri and kooukauka, fish for the salmon in subsistence and customary capacities. The fish were (and are) caught with lines of flax fibre and elaborate hooks of bone, wood, shell such as paua, or stone. The salmon are filleted before being hung on racks to dry. Recreational fishers also seek kahawai for their renowned mettle when hooked; the salmon are a challenge to land and often jump, occasionally standing on their tails. This I can vouch for!

Not long after taking over the line, Ingrid got a hefty kahawai on the line which she tried to bring in. Sadly not too far from the boat, it jumped off the line. Then a few seconds later, Ingrid said the fish was still on the line…and fighting hard. As she reeled it in closer, Graham looked over the stern and saw it for what it was… a barracuda!!

Yep, Ingrid had managed to capture one of the most voracious and opportunistic predators in the sea who relying on surprise and short bursts of speed (up to 28 mph) to capture their prey. 

They are very hard work to land and are known for their vicious behaviour, fearsome appearance and nasty teeth. Put it this way, you can easily lose a finger…

Ingrid managed to get the barracuda most of the way in and I took over for the last few yards. It certainly was hard work on the arms trying to land it, but we did and Graham said it was one of the biggest he had seen. Ingrid should be rightly proud of landing her first fish…and what a one to get.

Not long after this we headed for home, with Chris filleting the fish off the stern as we headed back to the marina. We headed to Graham’s place in the Plimmerton hills to have dinner which consisted of our freshly caught fish (including the barracuda!).

With a bit of lemon, mixed herbs and cracked pepper, our fish came up a treat. Add in some great chips  from the local shop, a nice glass of sauvignon blanc and a fantastic view of the sun going down over the tip of the South Island, and it was a great day all round.

It fact it was plain sailing…

Meeting William

Only a few weeks ago, the monarchy proved it still has fans in New Zealand if the reception of Prince William at the opening of the Supreme Court in Wellington was anything to go by.

The sun shone, the sea glistened, the weather was hot and over 2,000 people (including Ingrid and I) turned out to see the prince, who was in Wellington to open the new Supreme Court.

 And not only did we get to meet him in person, but yours truly made the national news here twice!

William was performing his first official duty for the Queen by opening the court, an edifice that represents another severed link between New Zealand and the mother country.  The new permanent home for New Zealand’s highest court replaces the Privy Council.

The new court which faces the Beehive Parliament building here in Wellington, consists of two connected buildings – the 1881 High Court and the new, modern interpretation of it (construction of which took just over two years and cost $80.7 million!)

Following a Maori welcome and his official opening of the Supreme Court the Prince went on a walkabout, where he was escorted by police and members of the Diplomatic Protection Service and accompanied by the Prime Minister John Key.  

The prince finished his tour of the Supreme Court building and shook hands with hundreds of members of the crowd who crammed against the railing.

Many of the people there stood on nearby rooftops to get a glimpse of him. Not a problem for me as I’m 6”3 and could see over everyone in front of me. It also meant I could get to chat to him when he was walking around.

He was very personable indeed and has definitely inherited his late mother’s touch with the public. He was clearly very popular with the elderly, children and young ladies…!

 You can see how close I was by the picture above–which was on page 3 of the NZ Herald newspaper!

During the walkabout, protests were taking place, with republicans, politicians and Justice Department workers championing their causes.

A group of about 30 Justice Department workers were loudly protesting an ongoing wage dispute with the department outside the court house.

It wasn’t a great advertisement for Wellington, but people have a right to protest…assuming they don’t go too far, which is what one guy did.

Just after William finished his walkabout and as John Key was finishing his, a man who was protesting about the Family Court, was shouting obscenities near the Prime Minister and he ignored police warnings to tone down his language.

Not long after that, he decided he wanted to shove a policeman and that is when it all kicked off right next to me!

There was quite a scuffle as the man was tackled by 8 cops and resisted quite fiercely. During the fracas the protester received some minor injuries but he had been given fair warning about his actions so I had little sympathy.

Because I was so close, I got some good pictures and I also made 3 News that night as they showed the arrest with your truly snapping away in the background!

I hung around after the opening and manged to get some more pictures of William as he left the Supreme Court after lunch.

He chatted to a few more people before getting into his convoy, which was very impressive with police bikes, cars, Crown Limousines and DPS escort cars shooting off at high speed for his next appointment.

So, William may not have been in Wellington long, but he made an impression and it was a memorable day for me!