Adventures in Aotearoa

Reflections from my term studying in Dunedin, New Zealand in 2016.


A Street Poet with a Voice

Twice in New Zealand, I came across the self-grown, self-published poet David Merritt. The first time was on Auckland's Karangahape Road, or "K Road," where secondhand bookstores and hippie shacks lined the streets. I was wandering alone, talking to a few shopkeepers and seeing what I could see before my bus was due back from the wharf. He was sitting in a chair and welcomed my conversation. A former technology professor, David had abandoned the consumerist life to eke out a living making his own books and spreading his message: one of awareness and action about global issues like rampant comsumerism, militarism, etc. His passion about these issues showed clearly in conversation, which was the first of the many times that I was grilled about America and Trumpism in New Zealand.


Three months later, I found David's zines in Wellington's Pegasus Bookstore, the city's equivalent of San Francisco's City Lights. The shop attendant laughed and remarked only, "He's an interesting one, isn't he?" It must have been a sign-- I saw David himself again in Dunedin at the Saturday farmers' market, the weekend before I left the country. This time, curious people crowded around his setup. I doubted that he would remember me, and I didn't go out of my way to say hello. My friends and I leafed through his zines, some of which I recognized from before. I leave you with an excerpt from his poem "nice things":

"The Red Cross become funded entirely

from the annual proceeds of the sale

of hot cross buns and easter eggs.


A backyard scientist in Blenheim invents

a method of making cheap ethanol fuel

from the biomass of pine trees.


People everywhere start vegetable

gardening on the grass verges outside

their houses in suburbia..."


(Photo taken by Aggie Forstein at the Dunedin Farmers' Market!)


A Morning in Canterbury!

Two weekends ago, I spent time exploring Castle Hill and the surrounding area of the Canterbury region in New Zealand. We drove into the night to land at a campsite in the mountains.


In the morning, I woke up to realize that we were by a large, beautiful lake, surrounded by grass so yellow that it reminded me of Andrew Wyeth's "Christina's World." Thick rolls of mist covered the horizon until slowly, the profiles of the mountains around me emerged. I found a spot on the trunk of a friend's car and sketched this view of the road into the field until everyone woke up, and it was time for a new day.


Kia Ora!

For almost a month, I've been exploring all that New Zealand, or Aotearoa has to offer me--  driving across the country with friends, sleeping often under the stars, swimming in the sea, watching penguins and seals, and meeting locals.

I started off in Auckland at a program orientation early in February after I spent a few days with family friends. Just last week, I started settling into a class routine. I'll use this space to record my travels- more soon.