The Wellingtonista

Random stuff about Wellington since 2005

Penny Ashton presents a new musical inspired by the writings of Charles Dickens as part of Comedy Festival 2017.

Olive, a beautiful virtuous orphan, teaches the younger orphans at Mrs Sourtart’s squalid orphanage in exchange for a place to live. Her suitor, Edward Goodsort, was reclaimed from the same establishment by his moneyed family and now lives a life of luxury. Yet he can’t forget Olive and wishes to rescue her. Although Olive loves him, she won’t let him alienate his new found family. After an unfortunate incident, Olive must leave everything she knows to venture out into the world. With Edward not the only man to look for her, will our intrepid Olive find a happy ending? Or will she be left cold and alone in pox-ridden London to die a gin-fueled death?

Ashton gives a virtuoso performance as multiple characters. Rather than costume changes she relies on slight physical and accent changes to outline each character. She’s not afraid of five different characters within one song, each following the other in rapid succession. Occasionally this is confusing but mostly it is a lot of fun. The script is filled with puns, pointed observations, and innuendo. With beautiful costuming by Elizabeth Whiting and musical support composed/arranged by Robbie Ellis this is a well designed production.

A suitably twisty story with an honourable hero, morally bankrupt villains, outrageous names, and songs with familiar melodies add up to an entertaining night out. Jolly good fun.


Last weekend a friend asked on Twitter whether anyone had made a New Zealand equivalent of this poster of London boroughs, which took the outlines of the boroughs out of context by arranging them alphabetically while keeping them to the same scale. This revealed both the weirdness of some of the shapes, and the striking contrast in scale between the largest and smallest ones.

It turns out you can’t do this for New Zealand in general, since in most cities suburbs don’t have official boundaries. But Wellington is different! So I downloaded the suburb boundaries from Koordinates, and with a little help from R, ggplot2 and sf, created the following:

All Wellington suburb outlines

It’s a bit hard to read at that scale, but clicking it will bring up a much larger version. For space and layout reasons, I omitted the purely rural Makara and Ōhāriu, but I kept in a few other official suburb shapes that are much bigger than the actual suburbs due to the inclusion of large rural areas (Owhiro Bay, I’m looking at you).

As well as the vast scale differences (such as between dinky Vogeltown and sprawling Tawa), this provoked much discussion about the oddity of the shapes. Coastlines played a big part, of course, plus old borough boundaries, Mein Smith’s urban grid, rural property edges, and the public consultation process that led to these “official” definitions (no doubt including arguments often fueled by snobbery and property-value panic).

Of the resulting shapes, people on Twitter had no shortage of snarky comments. Keep reading →


We’ve written before about the Food Show and how it’s basically Rex Manning Day for people who like to try lots of food and taste a lot of wine.

If you’re looking for ways to fire up your creative juices in the kitchen, look no further. The Food Show Wellington is on at Westpac Stadium from 26 – 28 May, and it’s bringing everything you need to turn yourself from uninspired and unenthused to culinary genius.

Start off with a live cooking demonstration from one of New Zealand’s top celebrity cooks, where you’ll pick up a host of tips and tricks for creating beautiful food at home. This year, the internationally renowned Annabel Langbein will be at the Wellington event for the first time, presenting recipes from her new book Essential Annabel Langbein.

Next you can explore the show’s vast array of exhibitors, showcasing everything you’ll need to take what you’ve learned in the cooking theatre and make it a reality. There will be beautiful cheeses, grass fed Angus beef, handmade dumplings and black garlic as well as pretzel crisps, deluxe hot chocolate, fudge, ice cream – and everything in between. Plus, you can find great deals on kitchenware to help you bring it all together!

I remember in previous years I have been a massive douchecanoe and said “don’t take your prams to the show gosh” but cutting out kids would also mean marginalising parents (predominantly mothers), so I apologise. In fact, I think next weekend is also actually Mother’s Day, and) (okay so I got my weekends mixed up but… if the maternal figure in your life likes to eat a variety of things and taste a lot of wine, maybe it would be an ideal outing for you together. Our advice from 2006 (oh my stars we’re old) about wearing comfortable shoes and trying everything still stands.

But we said we had a giveaway, so let’s do that! Leave us a comment below about the one thing you’re most looking forward to sampling, and go into the draw to win a double pass valid for any of the three days. Get your entry in before 5pm Wednesday May 17, and we’ll draw it that night so you still have time to take Friday 26th off work for a less crowded experience, or of course you could go on Saturday or Sunday as well.

EDIT: We’re now giving away a hamper as well!

We have a Food Show prize pack to give away worth $115, including a double pass to attend the show and a goodie bag filled with delicious treats, including: Pure Delish Passionfruit Crunch Ancient Grain-Ola, Taha Natural As Sparkling Tonic, J.Friend and Co Wildflower Squeezy Bottle, Chantal Organics Ginger Zest Grainola,Chantal Organics Whole Peanut Butter, New World Sistema Snaplock Container, New World 2017 Calendar, Proper Crisps, West Coast Cocoa and even something for the dog, K9 Natural Beef Feast Toppers.


The containers are starting to appear on the wharf – the LUX light festival is back and opens Friday night!

Festival director Mary Laine says they’re exploring some new ways of doing things. The festival grows bigger each year so this year they’re experimenting with five distinct themes. By focusing five precincts on particular types of work they’re able to offer a better experience for the audience. (At least that’s the case this year – they might try something different next year.)

The five precincts are:

  • The Playground precinct is at Frank Kitts park. It’s focused on colourful, engaging works for kids. It’s a safe environment with games, workshops and activities that will change every night.
  • Te Ao Mārama is a bit further on, around Te Wharewaka o Pōneke/Odlins Plaza. It showcases New Zealand’s Māori artists who work with new and emerging technologies to create works rooted in tradition and culture.
  • Walking back over the City to Sea Bridge towards Civic Square will take you through the Circus. A family friendly precinct with wandering performers, street food, a projection onto the Town Hall, plus the opportunity to light up the Michael Fowler Centre with your own design.
  • Lower Cuba Street hosts the Urban Edge precinct. Light and sound artists, live glowing street art and window art feature here.
  • Finally, the Galleries precinct is distributed through Opera House Lane, Te Aro Park, Eva Street, and Leeds Street. This is a quieter art experience with difference pieces spread through the laneways.

There are more details about each precinct including artists and featured artworks on the LUX website. There’s also a map  to help you work out where everything is and you can follow along with the setup progress on their Instagram.

See you there!


More posts…

Wrap battles: Nam D vs Wraps & Rolls

by Joanna April 26, 2017

There’s been an explosion of Vietnamese places to eat in Wellington in recent years and we are definitely not complaining about that. But with so many options, how do you choose where to go? For this post, I’m going to compare two places that are right by each other on The Terrace. Both are around […]

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Review: Onstage Dating

by Steph April 5, 2017

In the age of ‘swiping right’ and ‘reality’ dating shows, the concept of live onstage dating by far provides more entertainment. Bron Batten so brilliantly proved this on her opening night of Onstage Dating. In this show, there’s no opportunity to accept or reject based on appearances and no producers or editors deciding on the […]

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Shows on this week

by librarykris April 4, 2017

At BATS Theatre: Starting this week is an encore season of Onstage Dating by performance artist Bron Batten. Watch as she goes on first dates on stage. (These are actual first dates with a stranger, not with a performing audience plant.) Witness the vulnerability, thrills and heartbreak of the dating experience up close, as Bron […]

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Preview: I am Tasha Fierce

by librarykris March 28, 2017

From the mind of Wellington based artist Rose Kirkup, the recipient of the 2016 Fringe Festivals’ NZ Pacific Artist Residency award, comes I Am Tasha Fierce. We’re introduced to Kirkup’s alter ego Tasha: your typical Kiwi chick.  Her time at polytech, as well as following the teachings of Beyoncé, has helped her get out of […]

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Preview: Dido and Aeneas: Recomposed

by librarykris March 27, 2017

Dido and Aeneas: Recomposed is a fringe fest style opera brought to BATS by UnstuckOpera.  Directed by long time Wellington creative Frances Moore and re-composed by one of NZ’s leading young composers, Alex Taylor, their re-work of Henry Purcell’s classic includes samples from Stravinsky, Jazz Greats, and even Beyoncé and is performed by singers in over-the-top gowns, crazy make-up […]

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Review: The First Time – on at BATS theatre

by Steph March 17, 2017

I often look at awkward, self-conscious teens and want to tell them that life is going to be OK. Those years of experiencing things for the first time can strike you down with a plethora of feelings from ecstasy to misery. ‘The First Time’ explores all of those feelings as five talented women take to […]

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