Saturday, 9 June 2012

Week 4 – Orientation, 6 degrees of separation, the first ‘All Blacks’ experience and more earthquake instructions:

My walk to work!
So welcome everybody! The pictures from the Queen’s Jubilee party looked amazing, and I was definitely sorry to have missed all the celebrations – especially the extra bank holiday! Ah well!I’m sat here in my studio flat this Sunday morning, almost finished my book ‘Charlotte Street’ by Danny Wallace, with a ‘passable’ cup of tea thinking about the past week. It’s been full of social stuff, which has really made me feel a little more like a local, and less like a visitor. That’s probably been the biggest change for me this week.
Friday night sunset, Wellington
So I had the 3rd day of orientation this week on Tuesday – ‘General Orientation’. As with the previous week’s cultural orientation session, the day began with the appointed Maori Elder (speaking in Maori) as a welcome. The cultural day had begun with a ‘haka’ and Powhiri (formal greeting to a group of visitors) – where a ‘Karanga’ (call to welcome) by local Maori female allows us entry onto the premises.  During both days, Maori songs ‘waiata’ followed Whaikōrero (formal speeches), which gave a sense importance and respect to the culture here. Something else that definitely struck me was the sense of welcome, where not only the chief executive welcomed us all, but then everyone in the room (50+ people including us) were asked to say a little something about themselves. Not as many of you know, I don’t need much of an invitation to talk to a crowd, but I kept it reasonably short! I just really wanted to put across the sense of tradition and personal welcome that I felt was evident. I spoke with a few non-NZ people in the room that day, and we all had the same impressions.
Back towards Wellington
Now normally in almost all of the UK Health trusts I have worked for, the ‘Health & Safety / fire’ session is the one that will send you to sleep, and makes you wonder why you ever applied for the job – but here, they have some attention grabbing things to say! – EARTHQUAKES! He had my full attention!  This guy started showing ‘fault lines’ that ran right through the heart of Wellington, and basically showed that in the event of a major earthquake, we’d most likely have all transport routes cut off, and how the civil defence and police headquarters would most likely be taken out. He then went on to mention how many supplies we should have at home – put it this way – I need to clear my wardrobes out and start filling them with water containers (50 Litres)! (I’m going to leave out the details of  ‘double bagging’ the toilet –it’s not pleasant). I know I have previously mentioned the ‘E’ word, but I started to realise that I need to have some stuff prepared: with water, batteries and a torch top of the priority list!
Ok, onto more social matters, having been getting a little frustrated at the lack of fun and social outings, I had a surprisingly busy social calendar this week. On TUESDAY night, with strong winds and heavy rain making me think twice about heading out, I got a text from Hannah, (the barmaid from the big football pub), and so we met up for a bite to eat and then went to have a few games of pool,  (free I might add. oh it’s good to have contacts). Whilst neither of us covered ourselves in glory it the game count finished 2-2 , with a decider game yet to be arranged. Hannah being originally from Didsbury, and a ‘proper’ football fan, made it pretty easy to get on, and she’s got lots of contacts around the place, so I have to say a big thanks to her for a fun night.
WEDNESDAY turned into quite a surprise. You need to follow this next sentence carefully:- I had agreed to meet up with a couple called Derek & Steph, who had quite recently moved over here. (Derek is a former colleague, of my mate’s (Neil) wife, (Zoe) …..) did that make sense? Now by random chance Steph is an Occupational Therapist like me, but what was really bizarre was that after a few minutes of the conversation, I began to feel like I’d met Steph before. Then it hit me, I did know Steph, because Steph worked at Oldham Hospital when I during my first Job as a newly qualified OT…. A totally random event! Clearly proving the ‘you might know anyone in the world through the 6 degrees of separation’ rule…
THURSDAY evening led to an opportunity to have my first houseguest – my colleague Louisa, who is very shortly on her way to London, and wanted to ask a few questions about life there. So I had reason to get a few beers in, and we were able to swap stories and tips regarding both NZ & the UK. Yes I did show here my spectacular folding bed, but I stopped short of asking her if I could try and fold it up with her on it!
Looking at the South Island
SATURDAY was a fun day as after going to the gym for the first time, and buying yet another bag/rucksack (after my second one broke yesterday), I headed to the ‘Four Kings’ pub, which has almost as many TV screens as people – and there were lots and lots of people. This was because the ‘All Blacks’ (Rugby team) were playing the first of 3 games against the Irish. I was running a little late, and grabbed the first jacket/jumper I could before leaving the flat. I only realised my mistake when I entered a packed pub, in a scene that looked liked a funeral (with a sea of black jerseys), though sounded nothing like a funeral, with excited cries every time NZ looked like scoring.  My mistake had been to pick up a green top with bits of white on it, very similar colours to the Irish team! Still, the atmosphere was very friendly, and NZ gave Ireland a good beating… after grabbing a burger at half time, I decided to head over the road to ‘Molly Malones’ Iris bar, for the second half, with a more subdued atmosphere. I can’t wait for a really big game and the 8th of September when the All Blacks will be playing here in Wellington! People love their rugby here. Oh and a quick note for dad – on the Maori channel every Saturday night they have a UK ‘Superleague’ game on.
Me @ Devil' Staircase
family day out - see the little one?

now 'roll over'
I did try getting up for the Euro 2012 Germany vs Portugal game this morning at 0645…I failed! I will get up for the England game tomorrow! 
on the rocks!

Sitting in the sun with the seals
Ok, off to the gym again now and to take a stroll in the sunshine!.... (that was my intention, I ended up going for a little drive/walk with my colleague Louisa - and these pictures were from today's walk - look at the cheeky seals!)

Oh and Liv/Jess – Glee is on normal TV here! Game on!
Regards from New Zealand

1 comment:

  1. I'm really enjoying reading your posts Dan, I've just spent a lazy sunday morning catching up with them all. I rally like all the amazing coincidences you've had, meeting so many people you have a connection with, it just shows that it really is a small world!! It's actually stopped raining today thankfully as it's the Manchester Day parade which we're looking forward to. Looking forward to your next post, Kirsty x