The Great New Zealand Baking Book

It was a very exciting end to the week last week when we discovered that the newly launched Great New Zealand Baking Book has gone to number one on the Nielsen Weekly Bestseller list! Congratulations to head baker Michelle Pattison and the fabulous team at Thom Productions and PQ Blackwell as well as all the contributors who gave their delicious recipes. We’re all hoping that the book can raise as much as possible for KidsCan, which receives a portion of the proceeds to put towards its great work.


I’ve tried everything in the book (which has been testing the stretch capabilities of my jeans as of late). So if you’ve just picked the book up and you’re overwhelmed and don’t know what to bake first here are my suggestions:

Michelle Pattison’s Ginger Pistachio Crunch; Shaun Clouston’s Afghan Yoyos; Cazna Gilder’s Gingerbread; Michel Louws’ Lavosh; Peter Gordon’s Apricot, Ginger & Pistachio Balls; Kate Fay’s Chocolate Gold Rush Frypan Brownie and Jim Byar’s Lemon Tart.

Happy Baking! xo




Chapel Street portraits

At the start of this year I was invited to photograph portraits of my sister’s youth group in Masterton where she goes during the day three times a week to spend time with other intellectually disabled young people.

With a black sheet and a white sheet pinned to the outside wall and some of the group holding reflectors and others cheering encouragement or directing how to pose I captured our collaborative portrait session. We photographed in such a celebratory environment that this session – the laughter, experimentation, collaboration and confidence – reminded me that we should take the time to celebrate and record who we are.

An absolutely fabulous day! I owe a huge thank you to Pernille for inviting me to be a part of the group, my sister Meg who is always happy to stand in front of the camera for me and to all the wonderful people at Chapel Street for their fabulous energy. You all rock!




Julia & Libby’s Wholefood Kitchen

It is always so hard waiting for a cookbook to come out when you just can’t wait to make the food, luckily I had an advance copy of Julia & Libby’s Wholefood Kitchen so I could  knock out the peanut butter and kumura patties before the release date- delicious!

At yesterday’s Auckland book launch Julia & Libby shared their food journey and the food philosophy which informs their book. Such a treat to sit down with a glass of kombucha in hand in a sold out crowd and see two people so excited about their book and how sharing their food journey has attracted so many people to be more mindful about what they are eating.

So grateful to have been part of this hard working team. Thanks so much for having me alone Julia and Libby – your gratitude and excitement for the process is refreshing and rewarding xo




The Great Australian Cookbook

Our first photo shoot for The Great Australian Cookbook was at the family home of Sharon and Carol Salloum (Almond Bar) in the western suburbs in Sydney. Ironically, we were greeted simultaneously by at least 20 family members coupled with the apologies of our hosts who said they hadn’t been able to rustle together many family members for the photo! With a storm threatening we filled the frame full with the Salloum family as they prepared dinner in the back yard on a home-built bbq positioned under the iconic hills hoist.


With such a big family and food being such an important part of family gatherings Sharon said that one of the most important thing her father had taught her about bbq’ing was how to cook and socialise at the same time, which she clearly demonstrated as rain and lightening reached the west. Despite the wet conditions cooking went on unfazed – the bbq was lifted to shelter and the chefs continued their job turning meat, catching up, having a few beers and giving each other grief.

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Leaving the Salloum family feeling like part of the family might have set a tough precedent for the project had our experience not been so similar everywhere we called.

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When you tell people you’re photographing a food book that will take you all over Australia the offers from friends, family, strangers and even contributors to carry our bags and join the journey as extra crew came thick and fast. However, I’d do anything to avoid the harsh Aussie sun (especially where that was coupled by 40 degree heat and 100 percent humidity) and that meant the team was often on the road in the darkness in order to arrive at a remote location well in advance of sunrise. I wonder if the offers of bag carrying crew would have been revoked on those days? I’m incredibly grateful for the good humour of our team and the contributors who obliged my requests. Bush tomato cultivator Max Emery lives two hours from Alice Springs and so to meet him for our damper shoot we left Alice at 3am and followed a mud map to the corner of two red dirt roads near Rainbow Valley. Happily we met a kangaroo leaving that shoot rather than in the pitch black night as we drove into the valley. The glowing pink sunrise illuminating Max’s well worn hat, the soft yellow of the grass hiding the spiky spinifex and the red sandstone cliffs that greeted us as the billy boiled was worth the early morning.


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In fact, every early morning, late night and long drive was well rewarded. One of the images that is etched into my mind is our early morning journey off the coast of Perth with Jim Mendolia and his crew. Off the coast on the hunt for sardines the boat was met by a pod of dolphins who, in the splendid pink of the morning, shepherded us  to our fishing location where we gathered a load of the silvery glittering fish as Jim’s brand new Australian flag flapped proudly at the bow of the boat.

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My mum is Australian and so this project gave me the chance to really get to see the great country she hails from. As a New Zealander I know how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful country, but it wasn’t until I spent six months covering the enormous expanse of land from Perth to Sydney, Darwin to Adelaide, Melbourne, Tasmania, Noosa to Byron Bay that I realised how magical the Australian landscape is itself. Australia is a country I’ll forever associate with rich reds, dusky pinks, silvery pastel greens and wispy golden yellows. The diversity of colour is evenly matched in the vast array of cultural influences we encountered throughout our food experiences.

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To all the contributors who opened their doors to their home or restaurants, who introduced us to their families, took us out on farms, through local markets, to gardens, finger-lime orchards and pine forests or who ventured with us out into the vast big blue offshore, thank you. Thank you for sharing your stories, your hospitality, your time, your knowledge (and often your wine) with us. And thank you for collaborating with us to create a book celebrating of the state of Australian food today.
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To the team involved with creating the book – Murry Thom and the team at Thom Productions, Geoff Blackwell, Ruth Hobday and the team at PQ Blackwell, Tim Harper, Hayley Thom, Melissa Leong and Helen Greenwood – well done and thanks for having me along to photograph such an incredible (emu and kangaroo-filled) ride!
L xo
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48 hours to get to the bonspiel

On July 11 a curious message popped up on my Facebook feed from the depths of the South Island. “All roads lead to Naseby between now and 8:30am Monday!”, it read. The ice was ready and the annual curling bonspiel would begin in 48 hours. Curling clubs pulled together team members, team colours and curling stones and made excuses for why they wouldn’t be at work on Monday and Tuesday while I dashed to Auckland airport for the last flight to Dunedin. A couple of hours later I was winding my way up the icy road north to Naseby to join over 300 curlers who’d also made the trek for the first bonspiel in three years and the first in Naseby since 1932.

I’d been indoor curling once when I lived in Maine, but truth be told I had no idea what to expect when I stepped out on the ice the first morning of the bonspiel. Luckily the night before at the Ancient Briton the West Coast Curling Club had drawn up “Curling Tactics 101” in my notebook making sure I knew where the hog and the pot were, that you stood on the crampet and that cracking an egg wasn’t me falling on my head!

The chilly morning began with the dusky pink glow of the sunrise reflecting on the polished ice as ice-master Jock Scott and his volunteers put the final markings in place for the teams. I knew immediately that I was in a place that would become close to my heart with so many of the teams dressed not only in team colours, but hand-knitted woollen team hats and jumpers. Even the curling stones and brooms were adorned with pom-poms and pieces of tartan celebrating the team’s heritage.

As part of my education I learnt that on the ice neither you nor the opposition can ever throw a bad stone. A particularly good stone might earn you a “You’re a curler” or “That’s a drinking stone” from the skip releasing you to have a warming tipple with your curling partner. This philosophy is indicative of the gentlemanly nature of the sport. There is no swearing on the ice and the end of each game is marked with three cheers and hats raised. Each person I ask about why they brave the cold to get out and throw the 20kg stones from one end of the pond to the other tells me its because the sport is a a great leveller and because of the powerful camaraderie that exists.

One of the last people I met during the weekend was Bernard Kayne, a retiree from Wanaka who’d arranged for a bus load to attend the bonspiel from his retirement village. Bernard had once been the skip of his club and when I asked him whether he minded standing on the sidelines today he told me that he was happy chatting with the team’s current skip about the day’s play. But he finished by telling me, “when you hear the rumble of the granite grinding along the ice it still makes the heart skip a beat.”

Take a look at the short blurb on New Zealand Geographic’s website about the bonspiel here or pick up issue 135 to read Rebekah White’s story in full. To see more action from the bonspiel take a peek at my website. If you’re ever in Naseby and need a place to stay then I highly recommend booking a bed at The Ancient Briton.

Finally, a very warm thank you to Jock Scott, Adrian Hood and all the curlers who welcomed me in the pub and on the ice. Thank you for sharing your passion, for your inclusivity and goodwill! Mum is already knitting a cabled jersey for next year – only trouble is, which colours to pick?!






Ever the Land

Sarah Grohnert’s first feature documentary, Ever the Land, premiered to glowing reviews at the New Zealand International Film Festival this week.


The documentary takes place in Tūhoe country in New Zealand where in 2014 ancestral homelands were returned, the Government gave an official apology, and Tūhoe built New Zealand’s first ever ‘Living Building’. While the film follows the design and build of Te Wharehou o Tūhoe it is much more than a film about Tūhoe’s Treaty of Waitangi settlement and their new hub designed to meet the requirements of the ‘Living Building Challenge’.

Through powerful observation and weaving elements of daily life into the film it becomes an intimate film about relationships, connection to the land and what makes Tūhoe who they are. A core principle of the film is land and how deeply connected Tūhoe are to their homeland and their role as guardians of that land. To that end the film focuses not only the people currently dealing with the settlement process, but with the next generation, Tūhoe’s future guardians and how they develop their connection to this place.

The cinematography is confident, powerful and poetic. We wait for the mist to clear to reveal Te Urewera National Park or shake with the land as the building’s foundations are drilled into the earth and we float down the river with Taneatua’s youth as they cool off during the summer’s heat. It is an incredibly poetic film with a strong and confident point of view by an observant filmmaker. The film still has screenings left in Wellington, Christchurch and other venues around New Zealand during the New Zealand International Film Festival. Check out the trailer here and book your tickets!

In March 2014 I was very fortunate to accompany Sarah, her producer Alex Behse and editor Prisca Bouchet to the unveiling of the building in Taneatua and spent the day photographing stills for the team. My brief was to focus on the younger Tūhoe generations, their interaction with the building and with their traditions.


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PRO Photographer – best professional magazine at Canon Media Awards

I am very proud to announce that PRO Photographer magazine recently picked up best trade/professional magazine at the 2015 New Zealand Canon Media Awards. You can see the team here overjoyed with our piece of engraved lucite celebrating a year which included my last issues as editor and Rebekah White’s first as the magazine’s new leader.

Here is what the judges said about the magazine: “Pro Photographer, launched only in August 2013, has travelled an astonishing distance in a very short time. It’s now best of breed and showing other longer-lived competitors just how exciting and vibrant magazine publishing can be. The magazine is stunningly designed, superbly written and edited, and is precisely pitched to its professional photographer audience.”

As the founding editor, it was a joy reaching out to my photography heroes and having them share their photographic path, wisdom and work with the magazine’s readership. So while there is a large congratulations due to current editor Rebekah White and the team at Kowhai Media, the most important thank you goes to the photographers who inspired us with their work and the team of writers who brought their stories to life. Congratulations, this one is for you!

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