Splicing Our Way into 2017


Looking into the year ahead - plans of great intent are formulating.

On the splice agenda is increased engagement with the ever-growing Chinese community that lives in the city centre. Often these neighbours are recent migrants for whom the city centre is an environment in which newness, another language and finding a sense of belonging (versus isolation) are challenges to be negotiated. Current thinking revolves around themes of – welcome, inclusion, cross culture, the notion that many of us have a story of migration to these shores to share, defined to varying degrees by length of time or generations. Read more. 
The annual City Centre Neighbours Day event for 2017 will occur on Sunday 26 March. For a residential neighbourhood of 40,000 + often struggling for a sense of identity in what was formerly just a business district, this event is a key promotion of connections between apartment dwellers that quietly grows each year.
Local Body Elections present Splice with an opportunity to engage with the Waitemata Local Board in the establishment of priorities for their plan for the next three years.  Here is the link to the current board plan:  http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/AboutCouncil/representativesbodies/LocalBoards/Waitematalocalboard/Documents/waitematalbp2014.pdf

The Splice team are putting our heads together next month in preparation but we would very much welcome input from the Splice community.  If you have ideas and suggestions of where the local board could or indeed should place their focus in the ongoing improvement of the neighbourhood of the city centre, send these through to mik@splice.org.nz 

Kindness is contagious - pass it on

With the arrival of Spring and the annual 1 September Random Acts of Kindness Day Splicers took to the streets to challenge people of the city centre neighbourhood to act with kindness. 

Small pots of Opotiki’s finest honey and a “kindness card” encouraging active participation were handed out on the street, while 10 local cafes also got in on the act surprising their patrons with a free morning caffeine fix.

Why Kindness?  Consider for a moment the nature of a community where kindness is the norm, where compassion is valued and sharing and fun become commonplace?

Splice’s own thanks goes out to the for the kindness received particularly from Hikutaia Honey, Auckland Design Office, K’Rd Business Association and as always the Splicers who were able to be on the street engaging with community.

This piece of feedback received via social media perhaps best sums up in its heartfelt simplicity, the rationale behind the action:
                   “Thank you, someone showed me kindness today”

Read more here!

Splicer Profile: Liz Busch

Liz Busch:  Mother, life-coach, passionate community creator and Splicer.

How, one might ask, can one person (especially a mother of a busy 20- month old) manage that?

I met with Liz recently to talk about the great things she’s doing in the community, and asked that question (and several others)

 Liz is a young woman who appears to have things ‘sorted.’

Her firm belief is that when you become clear on who you are, and you work in your passion, you have an inner connection with what you do; you can let go of the time consuming ‘busy-ness,’ the ‘I should’ that is often the cause of stress and anxiety, and create your world around the things that are truly important to you. These aren’t just fancy words; Liz hasn’t always operated this way and says her life experience has led her to this conclusion.

She says she grew up feeling something was missing and has since identified that gap as community and connection. Her family was quite isolated; school (Westlake Girls) was about achieving excellence in both study and other activities. Throughout school she was busy, involved and achieving but she never felt really ‘connected’.

Ten years of study and travel, and finding an outwardly ‘dream job’ with Nokia in Berlin didn’t seem to make a diffrence. Liz took time out and travelled for three months to process what she really wanted in life. Expecting to eventually return to her job, three months turned into eighteen months and the huge decision to let go of the corporate life and train as a life coach, using her psychology background to do something that would benefit others.

Returning to Auckland in 2012 to have a family, Liz was surprised to find the city bubbling with change. She saw potential and wanted to have a voice in that change. A friend introduced her to Splice where she became involved in supporting a range of activities. 

It was through her participation in a Plunket study to identify the needs of inner city parents that Liz found real focus. As a strong supporter of the actions coming out of the study, she established an on-line ‘Meet-up’ page (http://www.meetup.com/Parents-of-Under-5s-in-Auckland-City/) which has become a ‘go to’ for parents of under- fives looking for activities and ways to connect in the city centre.  Having been involved in the establishment of a Plunket parent support / play-group she has gone on to establish a second play-group, more accessible from the Karangahape road end of the city. 

Liz loves living in the city and when asked what her vision for Auckland city centre is, she is thoughtful. ‘A city culture that isn’t focussed just on business,’ she says. ‘One that builds on the creative potential of diversity and inclusiveness, and creates an exciting new identity based on this.’

You can find more about Liz and her coaching business here:  www.coachwithliz.com

Splice for National Poetry Day!

New Zealand has a wonderfully long and colourful list of poets who've studded the social justice movements of Aoteroa's history. We seem to ooze literary talent, and so choosing just three poets and poems to share was excruciating. But I would consider the follow poems to be cornerstones of our literary history, and besides that, they're just really great to read and revisit. 


- Maddy

One of my personal favourite poets is Eileen Duggan. Eileen was an unmarried journalist who wrote poetry from 1917 - 1951, and became New Zealand's best known poet in the 1930's, with an Eileen Duggan Society Society created in America in her honor. She was considered an unofficial laureate of the Catholic Church.


The Tides Run Up The Wairau

The tides run up the Wairau
That fights against their flow. 
My heart and it together
Are running salt and snow. 

For though I cannot love you, 
Yet, heavy, deep, and far, 
Your tide of love comes swining, 
Too swift for me to bar. 

Some though of you must linger, 
A salt of pain in me
For oh what running river
Can stand against the sea? 


James K Baxter is one of New Zealand's best known poets, enviously being published at the tender age of 17 in 1944, he provided political narration of both the conservative and liberal movements as well as exploring both faith and cynicism during his journey. Speaking at a writer's conference in 1951, Baxter claimed it was "reasonable and necessary that poetry should contain a moral truth and that every poet should be a prophet."


Ballad of Calvary Street

On Calvary Street are trellises
Where bright as blood the roses bloom,
And gnomes like pagan fetishes
Hang their hats on an empty tomb
Where two old souls go slowly mad,
National Mum and Labour Dad.

Each Saturday when full of smiles
The children come to pay their due,
Mum takes down the family files
And cover to cover she thumbs them through,
Poor Len before he went away
And Mabel on her wedding day.

The meal-brown scones display her knack,
Her polished oven spits with rage,
While in Grunt Grotto at the back
Dad sits and reads the Sporting page,
Then ambles out in boots of lead
To weed around the parsnip bed.

A giant parsnip sparks his eye,
Majestic as the Tree of Life;
He washes it and rubs it dry
And takes it in to his old wife -
'Look Laura, would that be a fit?
The bastard has a flange on it!'

When both were young she would have laughed,
A goddess in her tartan skirt,
But wisdom, age and mothercraft
Have rubbed it home that men like dirt:
Five children and a fallen womb.
A golden crown beyond the tomb.

Nearer the bone, sin is sin,
And women bear the cross of woe,
And that affair with Mrs Flynn
(It happened thirty years ago)
Though never mentioned, means that he
Will get no sugar in his tea.

The afternoon goes by, goes by,
The angels harp above a cloud;
A son-in-law with spotted tie
And daughter Alice fat and loud
Discuss the virtues of insurance
And stuff their tripes with trained endurance.

Flood-waters hurl upon the dyke
And Dad himself can go to town,
For little Charlie on his trike
Has ploughed another iris down.
His parents rise to chain the beast,
Brush off the last crumbs of their lovefeast.

And so these two old fools are left,
A rosy pair in evening light,
To question Heaven's dubious gift,
To hag and grumble, growl and fight:
The love they kill won't let them rest,
Two birds that peck in one fouled nest

Why hammer nails? Why give no change?
Habit, habit clogs them dumb.
The sacred Heart above the range
Will bleed and burn till Kingdom Come,
But Yin and Yang won't ever meet
In Calvary Street, in Calvary Street.


Hone Tuwhare liked to be known as the people’s poet. He was an active member of the political and social justice cityscape, and was most active in the 1970s when, among other things, he was an organiser of the first Maori Writers and Artists hui at Te Kaha and walked in the Maori Land March in 1975. His poem, No Ordinary Sun, has become a famous representation of Aoteroa's Nuclear Free Movement.


No Ordinary Sun

Tree let your arms fall:
raise them not sharply in supplication
to the bright enhaloed cloud.
Let your arms lack toughness and
resilience for this is no mere axe
to blunt nor fire to smother.

Your sap shall not rise again
to the moon’s pull.
No more incline a deferential head
to the wind’s talk, or stir
to the tickle of coursing rain.

Your former shagginess shall not be
wreathed with the delightful flight
of birds nor shield
nor cool the ardour of unheeding
lovers from the monstrous sun.

Tree let your naked arms fall
nor extend vain entreaties to the radiant ball.
This is no gallant monsoon’s flash,
no dashing trade wind’s blast.
The fading green of your magic
emanations shall not make pure again
these polluted skies . . . for this
is no ordinary sun.

O tree
in the shadowless mountains
the white plains and
the drab sea floor
your end at last is written.


The NZIFF is showing a documentary called Embrace which follows Taryn Brumfitt’s struggle and success in coming to terms with her postnatal body.

She travels to nine different countries talking to wonderful woman all over the world, some perfectly healthy, some with physical disabilities or medical anomalies; all of whom have grown to love themselves and are helping others to do the same.

As someone not far out of high school, I distinctly remember the rift between what I thought my body should look like and what it was. I have always been a size ten, and yet I remember going on every fad diet, some 500 calories a day, sometimes starving. I remember running twice a day on no food and I remember taking cold showers to boost my metabolism. I’m ashamed to say I remember searching for “thinspiration” websites.

Fortunately this was a short lived period in my life. On National Diabetes Day, a friend of mine wrote a facebook status and asked everybody to take a moment to thank their pancreas for producing insulin. I thought, damn straight, my pancreas is a boss. In fact, my whole body is pretty freaking amazing.

It puts up with everything I do and have done to it, from clumsiness to starvation to salt, sugar & alcohol. It moves, is painless and healthy. It wasn’t an instant change, but eventually I got to appreciate my body. The photoshopped dolls in the magazines became a small, redundant detail in my life.

Virtually every story in Embrace is the same, these woman hated their bodies to a point where they had to consciously change the story. I admire many of the people who overcame insecurities about things much less accepted than my size ten body. Haarnam Kaur who due to hormonal abnormalities, grows a beard; Renee Airya who had a brain tumour removed and half her face paralyzed.

This is a movie that everybody should see, not just woman. It is too easy to forget that boys and men suffer from body pressures too. It is a perspective-changing, insightful story – a step back from the media saturation of modern life.

I wish I could go back to my teenage self and show her what I know now - beauty is confidence and soulfulness and kindness and the million other things you can offer the world. 



Raising Children Downtown!

The word ‘children’ is not one that generally springs to mind when people think about Auckland’s city centre. Suburbia has long been considered the one and only place for young families, while ‘downtown’ remained a hub of business, commercial and entertainment.

However things are changing. Though the children are not highly visible, they are a part of this population! Plunket has 909 under five year olds registered on their programme in the city centre and estimates there are likely to be around 1000 if those not registered were counted - and that’s just the under-5’s.

So where are the children? Where do they go and what do they do when they’re not at home?

Take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of those parents. Some of the realities may be:

-       You want your child to interact with other children but you don’t know anyone with children.

-You may not know anyone at all and feel isolated and lonely.
Keeping children occupied and entertained in a limited space can be tiresome to say the least.
You worry that your baby’s crying will disturb neighbouring apartment dwellers.
-You (and your child) just need a break from your ‘four walls’ for at least some part of every day.

So where can you go? Where would you feel welcome with a small child? How can you meet other parents and make friends? 

For anyone new to the city, and particularly for migrant families, who often lack ‘local knowledge,’ finding answers to these questions can be difficult, and isolation is a common problem.

Enter Splice: Splice is about connecting people in the city centre, and that includes parents with children. Splice has initiated healthy physical activity groups where families can ‘play’ together and get to know each other. Splice also directs families to other organisations such as Plunket and the Central Library. Through these connections, families are provided with a range of options to get out, meet others and make friends.

As one parent commented, ‘Four years ago it was hard to find things to do with children under 5 in the city. Now I can take my child to something every day - and I’ve made so many new friends doing it.’

There is a wonderfully diverse and growing ‘community of families’ in the city centre which can only be good for both the families involved and the soul of the city.

If you have any ideas or input that might add to the city centre parents network let us know!


Giving Back

I first met Alarna Matau while doing a street survey on K- Road. She spoke with such passion about what she was doing that I wanted to hear more.

A few weeks later I am sitting down with Alarna and colleague Liam. They tell me about their dreams and the journey that led them to their place of passion – the performing arts and a creative arts therapy programme they run voluntarily for at-risk youth.

Alarna has a degree in performing arts and Liam is in his final year of study. Alarna tells of a childhood passion for singing and performing and the lack of opportunity which saw her life take a very different direction.

Fast forward to age thirty when she took a huge step, moving herself and her three children from Christchurch to Auckland to start a new life. After a ‘settling in’ year, Alarna applied to do a performing arts degree at UNITEC -  along with four hundred others.  She was one of twenty chosen.

 ‘At first I had to have support to up-skill my writing so I could write essays,’ she tells me, adding that this was just one of the challenges. ‘The course makes you go deep into yourself.  I learned who I am and what I’m capable of. It was really tough but I was driven.’

It was while job-hunting after completing her degree that Alarna recognised she was at risk of losing her craft. ‘An artist has to keep their craft alive,’ she says. ‘I was on a work course when I realised I wanted to keep doing performing art but also wanted to help people. It seemed the natural thing to do – I wanted to give back.’

Alarna sat down and designed a course based around the techniques that had helped her so much.

Liam, currently in his final year of study, says he was waiting for a door to open when a friend introduced him to Alarna. Having discovered a huge passion for hip hop in his last year at college, and inspired by Parris Goebel, he studies performing arts. The pair had an immediate connection. ‘We bounce off each other,’ they agree.  They took their proposal to Tagata Pacifica alternative school at Samoa House and so began a partnership in giving back.

Nearing the end of the first ten week course I ask them how it’s going.

‘Really well. The students were really insecure and closed off at first. They’d never done anything like this.  It’s a step by step process but it’s been amazing to see them challenge their vulnerability, break down their insecurities and to see character and confidence slowly building. We told them at the start it was their choice, they didn’t have to be there but they kept coming back and they’re totally different people to those who started.’

It seems Alarna and Liam’s ‘giving back’ is providing something these young people need.

Having followed their dreams this far I ask each of them about their dreams for the future.

Alarna says she’d love to refine the programme and eventually take it to other education providers and ultimately into women’s prisons; and then there’s a deep calling to write a feature film.

Liam dreams of teaching hip hop and producing a short dance film with spoken word.

With the passion that’s got them this far nothing seems impossible for these two artists.


Belonging with a Twist of Feijoa



Belonging with a Twist of Feijoa

This week The Guild of the Feijoa, planters of the city centre’s only feijoa forest at the bottom of Constitution Hill and Splice, delivered the celebratory if slightly anarchic, “Best Feijoa Chutney Festival” at Chuffed Coffee on High St, with the additional assistance of Active Building Management and a cohort of residents, helping infiltrate apartment buildings with community information.

A cafe full of apartment dwelling neighbours in animated conversation, catching up again or meeting for the first time.  Coupled with a visual walk-through of some of the finest city centre foliage with Simon the Magic Arborist from Auckland Council and the awarding of the inaugural Guild of the Feijoa Celebratory Jug, to a jam-making resident from the Viaduct area.

Research undertaken by AUT on Auckland’s city centre in 2012 discussed the impact of vertical living in buildings that too often offer minimal to no amenity where immediate neighbours might gather.  In addition respondents to the study, declared their desire for events that were for the local community i.e. exclusive to the larger Auckland-wide events that occur in the neighbourhood.

A Feijoa Chutney Festival may not have been what these city residents were necessarily contemplating when discussing their desires for the neighbourhood with the researchers in 2012.  On the other hand it was an evening that had all the hallmarks of a neighbourhood of great uniqueness, compassion and connection - on the rise.

Celebrating Slam Poetry: A Workshop With Harry Baker (UK)

When it was suggested that I represent Splice at Harry Baker’s poetry workshop, the machine gun of doubt immediately fired a volley of shots in my head.  Would everyone attending be up and coming poets and I the only beginner? Would I be expected to actually write poetry? Would I have to read it OUT LOUD TO A GROUP OF STRANGERS?!