The Changing Seasons, June 2019

img_4792 Waikato morning. Image: Su Leslie 2019.

It seems like winter arrived with indecent haste this month. Cold air, lowering clouds, morning mists, not to mention the odd thunderstorm or two. On a scale of one to indoor beanie-wearing, we seem to be hovering on Ugg boots.

The first half of the month disappeared in a haze of flu-recovery, but in the last couple of weeks, the Big T and I managed to get away for a long weekend in Tauranga (with a detour to Field Days), and discover a regional park that could become our new favourite place.

img_4776 Field Days, Mystery Creek, Waikato, NZ. Not really doing justice to a four-day event that attracts over 130,000 visitors. Image: Su Leslie 2019

We’ve been telling ourselves for years that we really should go to Field Days. It’s a huge agricultural trade show, and useful for the Big T to do some business networking. But it  also gives a fascinating snapshot of an industry that has both real and mythical significance to the NZ economy and psyche.

It was bigger, noisier and more confusing than I expected, but I am glad we went.




After exhausting ourselves looking at diggers, chainsaws, water flow indicators (as you do) and the latest from Swanndri (iconic Kiwi clothing — what’s not to love about scratchy woollen bush-shirts?), we headed to Tauranga where the skies were blue, and the weather practically tropical (for a while at least).




While we were there, the Tauranga Art Gallery had an exhibition of work by local artist, Natasha Cousens. Called ‘Let Me Tell You a Story’ it consisted of sculptures created from clay, fibreglass and textiles; all referencing the wildlife imagery common in fairy tales. It’s the artist’s first solo show, and I found the pieces slightly disturbing and sad, but beautiful and exquisitely made.




A rainy-day visit to the Mahurangi Peninsula, just north of Auckland allowed us to discover Scandrett Regional Park. Formerly a farm owned by the Scandrett family, the park still contains the old homestead, with its beautiful cottage garden. Around the coast a little, at Scott’s Landing in Mahurangi Regional Park, the rather grander Scott family homestead still exists too. Both houses have been preserved; the latter by the Auckland Civic Trust which holds occasional open days.




During June I’ve taken part in 30 Days, 30 Songs, hosted by my dear friend Sarah at Art Expedition. It’s been lovely to each day choose a piece of music and reflect on what it means to me. There has also been a certain amount of self-imposed stress, deciding what’s in and what’s not. So you won’t be surprised that I’m going to sneak an extra track into this post.

I love Sentimental Walk, from the 1981 film Diva. It is very like Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie No.1 — another piece I love. Both make me think of Paris, but also of wintertime rain.

You can hear Sarah’s latest musical choice here.


About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

Please check out the Changing Seasons — June for these awesome bloggers:


Little Pieces of Me

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Joanne at My Life Lived Full

Ruth at Ruth’s Arc

Marilyn at Serendipity — Seeking intelligent life on Earth

Jude at Life at the Edge

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

A Wonderful Sheep

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Yvette at Priorhouse blog

Gill at Talking Thailand

Mick at Mick’s Cogs

Taking different roads


Police and anti-tour demonstrators outside Parliament in what became known as the Battle of Molesworth St in July 1981. Image: Ian Mackley. From ’81 Springbok protests galvanises a nation divided — Stuff 17 Oct 2015

During the winter of 1981, New Zealand experienced civil unrest on a massive scale, as the nation became polarized around a tour by the South African rugby team — the Springboks.

In protest against South Africa’s deeply racist apartheid policies, the United Nations had, in 1968, called on countries to boycott sporting contact with the African nation. In 1973, the Labour government of Norman Kirk had intervened to prevent the all-white Springboks touring NZ, a decision which probably contributed to the party’s loss of power in 1975.

But in 1981, the National-led government of Rob Muldoon refused to heed either the boycott or the growing opposition amongst New Zealanders. Protest marches had been taking place around the country for several months, but nothing had prepared this little nation of (then) three million souls for the violence and hatred that was unleashed during the tour itself.

Families found themselves torn apart as some members insisted that politics had no place in sport, while others donned thick clothes and (increasingly) crash helmets to go out and face baton-wielding police battalions.


A protester placing an olive branch onto a policeman’s baton during protests at the All Blacks test against South Africa. File Photo / NZ Herald

My parents — neither particular rugby-loving nor overly political — repeated the “keep politics out of sport” mantra even as my brother and I marched and chanted until we were hoarse. It made for tense mealtimes, but no-one lost their temper over it. My friend Robyn wasn’t so fortunate; her father practically banned her from the house and she broke up with her boyfriend over the tour.

In June 1981, as it became ever clearer that the tour really would go ahead, Joy Division’s Love will Tear Us Apart reached No. 1 in the NZ charts.

… And resentment rides high
But emotions won’t grow
And we’re changing our ways
Taking different roads
Love, love will tear us apart again
Love, love will tear us apart again

(Ian Curtis, Love will Tear us Apart)

We knew that Ian Curtis had been writing about his marriage and mental state, but somehow the refrain “Love will tear us apart again” seemed to get into my head and I can remember sitting in the car en route to a protest with my brother and boyfriend of the time, singing it again and again.

Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs for the month of June. You can see her latest post here.

Why not join in — you don’t have to post every day.

You can read more about the tour at New Zealand History — the 1981 Springbok Tour

What really takes my breath away …

img_3361 Muriwai beach, Auckland. Walk far enough and you can almost ignore the tour bus parties destroying the rock pool eco-systems with their sunscreen, body lotions and general stupidity. Image; Su Leslie 2019

I live in a country that earns quite a sizeable portion of its living out of being breathtakingly beautiful.

It is true that these days human impacts on land and water are beginning to show, and we’re increasingly like a hung-over media celeb, relying on Photoshop to pixel over the cracks. But it’s still relatively easy to turn a corner or crest a hill and find a vista so beautiful you can be forgiven if you forget to breathe.

I wouldn’t say I’ve become inured to such beauty, but if I’m honest, what really takes my breath away these days is the appalling ease with which my fellow New Zealanders (and some of the paid guests we’re taking in to help pay the bills) feel it’s ok to desecrate our environment. Apart from the terrible damage inflicted on landscapes, waterways, eco-systems and wildlife, it’s biting the hand that feeds.

This is death by a thousand cuts; dumping litter, over-fishing, clearing forests to create dairy farms, freedom campers who (literally) leave their shit behind, people who turn every available patch of grass on a beach reserve into a de facto car park because someone else did it first, a national mindset that says dairy farming and tourism are GOOD FOR GROWTH and let’s not look too closely at the negative impacts … the list goes on.

As always, the prescribed treatment for my chronic environmental grump is to get out the door and connect with the little miracles of nature that also take my breath away.

Posted to the Ragtag Dail Prompt | breathtaking

Silence is a war crime

Street art, Whangarei, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2019

On a recent weekend in Whangarei I was really impressed by the amount and quality of the street art that has been installed around the city. It seems that street art has moved from an underground, rebel act to one approved, organised and funded by local authorities.

Not that I’m complaining.

This was my favourite work. I wish I could find out more about it.

Detail; street art, Whangarei, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Posted to Lens Artists Photo Challenge | street art