Friday, 22 February 2008

Update to A Strange Tale

I went for a stroll just now to see if those things we saw last night were a still there. (and to take photos so I'd have proof I wasn't just making things up)

I found the strange statue was still there, and was indeed a statue. I was comforted to see I wasn't the only one startled by the new addition. I saw many a person pause to inspect it. There were some pier-diving kids nearby. Here, a boy demonstrates how well the thing is bolted down:
(I feel since the boy willingly jumped into my shot, and since you can't see his face, this photo is fair game here)

There were no dancing shadows, of course, as it was daytime, but I saw the boxes with the lights in them all locked up but still there, so maybe they will be back again tonight?

The circus tents were still set up in front of the New Zealand stock exchange:
Meanwhile the building that seems to have popped up over night in Frank Kitts Park, while still a bit mysterious, seems to be part of the Pacific Blue festival, which starts tomorrow. (and you can bet I'll be stopping by to check it out)
On the way back, the statue was still drawing plenty of attention. The crowd of kids in bathing suits had grown, and I saw one boy climb onto the thing's shoulders to get more height before jumping into the water.

A Strange Tale

We went for a walk last night. It was a lovely warm night, with a huge full moon hanging over the Harbour. Dramatic streaks of high-altitude cloud lit up by moonlight, and the water was remarkably calm. We walked along the water behind Te Papa, and there was this statue we thought was a person at first because it wasn't there before, and because it looked real in the moonlight. What finally gave it away was how still it was and how the centre of gravity was wrong, the statue leaning impossibly foreword as if in the process of diving off the pier into the dark water.

Moving along, we saw some people gathered in front of Te Papa on the Mac's Brewery side of the giant building. The museum was closed, so what were they all doing? There was a couple dancing to nothing, but the crowd was just milling about, not really centred on them. Then we walked a bit further, and saw someone had set up two huge lights focused on the five-story-tall wall of Te Papa. The lights were projecting the dancing figures high upon the wall. There were other figures, too. Some seemed to be co-conspirators in this strange performance piece, some were just regular folks who walked in front of the lights and then started playing - doing "walk like an Egyptian" or shadow boxing each other, or just standing there fascinated by the mere fact of their shadow displayed at such a height. We watched for a time and the shadows danced across the façade of Te Papa, that dramatic full moon hovering above it all.

Further along we walked, curious now about the lights we saw down by Frank Kitts park - it seemed like all the park lights had turned to greens and blues and pinks, surely those weren't there before? Then we reached it - a park built in many levels, defined by ancient battlements along the harbour side, with little out-of-the-way garden nooks and terraced pathways. To our astonishment we came across a sizeable building which hadn't existed before. A large circular building, with a strange façade down one side made of pink triangular structures, and an open-air section in the back which looked like an ordinary cocktail lounge. Peering in, we saw a sign that said "private party" Private party indeed! Who builds a temporary night club in the middle of Frank Kitts park just to throw a party!? The place was empty, but there were enough security guards about that we didn't stay too long to snoop. (I'm going back today just to see if the thing is still there).

We headed back along the lagoon side of the Sea to City bridge. We could hear drumming coming from the park on the other end of the bridge. I'd noticed a drumming circle gathered there once before during a full moon - maybe it's a regular event? Looking over there, I could see it was a much larger group than before, some drumming, some just hanging out. I caught the glint of a baton twirling over there somewhere. The drumming sounds drifting over from the park sounded vaguely Tahitian.

Headed back towards Te Papa now, we notice something else new. Circus tents set up on the long stretch of cemented park land in front of the NZ stock exchange. Tents with brightly coloured lights running across the tops of them. A sign informs us the circus won't be doing shows until tomorrow, still all these lights are on and we hear odd sounds coming from within the tents - a bit of drumming or the tinkle of some kind of string instrument. They must be practising. Even from here we can see there are shadow figures still dancing across the wall of Te Papa. The folks at the tables outside Mac's Brewery are enjoying the show along with their beers. Someone has gotten so close to the lights that their shadow is five stories high. The shadow is trying to grab a little kid who is running around in front of him, darting out of his imaginary grasp.

Sometimes I feel like I'm living in the actualized potential of a city, the Platonic ideal of what a city can become. Sometimes it seems impossible that this place exists at all, and that I actually live here.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

The Big News

We're coming home from getting takaway, Loren's checked the mailbox, and is opening mail as we walk up the stairs... that's when he breaks the news: he has just opened a letter informing us that our residency applications have been accepted!

This is a huge deal to us. Here are the main big deal things that it will mean:

We are free to live, and to work, in New Zealand. Permanently. Our dealings with Immigration New Zealand are basically over, except for getting visas whenever we travel outside of the country.

We can become citizens, if we so choose, after we have been here for five years.

I can bring my parents in as residents after we have been here three years.

We may participate in the national subsidised healthcare system.

We can vote in the national NZ election, which will probably be held in November of this year. In fact, we will be required to register to vote once we are eligible, which will happen in May.

In short, we will have almost all of the rights of an actual New Zealand citizen. When we started this application process, we were quite confident we would succeed, but we didn't know it would happen this soon. We were told by Immigration to expect it to take 6 to 9 months. We were told by other immigrants that it often only takes four months. We weren't holding our breaths. In fact, we were in the process of applying for temporary work permits to make up the gap that might occur between our working holiday permits expiring and our residency application getting accepted. And thank goodness I hadn't gotten through that process yet or that would be an extra $400 wasted in application fees. In the end, it only took Immigration three months and two days to send us an acceptance letter!

Today I walked the two blocks down to the Immigration office to do the final step - turn in our 'migrant levy' (the final fee) and hand over our passports so that they can stamp them. We probably won't get them back for another week, and although I know that really the process is OVER, this bit is just tying up loose ends, it still feels a little disconcerting to be an immigrant and not in possession of your passport. I will feel immensely better when they are returned to us, all officially stamped with brand new residency permits.

Monday, 4 February 2008


Kiwis love rugby, and the biggest rugby event around here is the Sevens. What the hell's that, you ask? Not being sports fans of an type, I admit we didn't really have a clue until recently. I knew it involves rugby, and everyone seemed to be really excited about it. Well, basically it's like an entire season of international rugby competition condensed into two days. Each game is only fifteen minutes long! Well, if ever we were going to watch some rugby, this seemed like the time. So, the final night of the Sevens we wonder out our door to find a random sports bar to watch in, and we find that half of Courtenay Place is closed to motor traffic. Someone has erected at two-story high TV in the middle of the street and folks are just sitting in the sidewalk or the street or the nearby bars watching the game. Perfect! We find a free patch of side walk and settle in to watch the last two games of the Sevens.

First South Africa totally tramples Wales:

7s SA vs Wales 2

And then the final match: New Zealand vs. Samoa!

7sNZvsSamoa tied

It's a very close game, but NZ manages a win with only minutes left on the clock! New Zealand has won the whole thing, and everyone is cheering!

NZ wins7s

Now the real party can being on Courtenay Place. (as for us, we just went for a walk along the waterfront and then called it a night)