The Wellingtonista

Random stuff about Wellington since 2005

“Turning poop culture into pop culture is the fastest way to solve the sanitation crisis.”

Having grown up in self-described slums of Singapore before sanitation arrived, Jack Sim has personal experience of its value. After being unsatisfied with his early success in business, he had a rethink, and made it his mission to bring toilets to the world, which he does using a combination of endless poop jokes, glowing good humour, and bureaucratic-speak only if strictly required. ‘It’s not right that two and a half billion people do not have access to proper sanitation when we can send spacecraft to land on Mars,’ he says.

Among other achievements he founded the World Toilet Organisation, and persuaded the UN to unanimously vote for the establishment of World Toilet Day. By his own account, his project is to persuade people they want toilets as a first step. The affection of his co-workers and family is obvious as they banter about him. ‘Happy are those who enjoy their shit jobs,’ he emails to his workers, who amongst other projects, organise ‘urgent runs’ as fund-raisers. ‘Getting people to give a shit,’ heads up a PowerPoint.

It’s an inspiration to watch someone who has created a role doing something so useful, without overshadowing those around him, and while clearly enjoying himself. The film-making is unobtrusive and lively, with some fun animated sections.

Highly recommended.

1hr 29m, Lily Zepeda, United States 2019

2020 DocEdge online screening times:
Sat 20 Jun 3pm (followed by Q&A on DocEdge Facebook)
Mon 29 Jun 11 am


We’ve all had terrible Zoom calls over lockdown. Nightmarish ones, perhaps. However, they’ve never been quite as deadly as this.

Trick of the Light Theatre’s (via Circa Theatre) work It’s Behind You! is a piece of digital theatre born out of the COVID-19 lockdown. First performed live online on 28 May, and available until 30 July 2020 to watch online, this work brings together four friends on a tempestuous Zoom call, and the monster that’s stalking them.

Chris (Chris Parker) is definitely not breaking lockdown rules, Andrew (Andrew Patterson) is trapped in his house with Simon (Simon Leary) who is very attached to him, and Carrie (Carrie Green) is just home from her essential work as a clown doctor. Over twenty-five minutes, the friends banter, argue, and point fingers at each other for breaking the lockdown rules – then, inevitably, get killed by a monster (Brynley Stent). It’s behind you, indeed.

The performances are very strong and fun, especially considering that the whole thing was done live. While all these performers are stage actors, there’s another level to digital theatre – the fact that the internet often breaks for no reason  – and performing live whilst having to be conscious of filming oneself, as well as dealing with other tech issues personally is quite the feat. A show like this feels oddly intimate too, as the audience we’re right in with the action, riffing with the friends, potentially the monster’s next prey. The entire piece is very slick and well-made, and definitely is a fantastic example of what future digital work could be.

However, I wonder if this work couldn’t have come a little earlier in our lockdown. I’m very aware of the intense technological undertaking it would have taken – and it was very impressively done – but the piece doesn’t quite fit our Level 2 status right now. It’s the sort of work that could stand as a cultural marker – a sign of our times, as it were – and would have been very scary had it been played during Level 4, but it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it now that we’re all mostly free to leave our houses and see each other in person.

Regarding that, though, the show itself is very fun – albeit perhaps not something that will age especially well – and definitely worth checking out online.

Buy your tickets to view the show here!


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bring me the food

by Alan on April 27, 2020 in Food & Drink

Lunch at Leeds Street Bakery, in happier times. Coffee, a small baguette, ham and cheese.

Lunch at Leeds Street Bakery, in happier times.

So it’s been a long four weeks or so at Level 4 and at 11:59pm tonight we’ll be going to Level 3.

For some people this means they’ll be able to go back to work, with appropriate precautions. For some others, the lucky ones, who were able to work from home during this period, the change in Level will not mean a lot of day to day difference from Level 4.

There is, however, one major change that many of us can now enjoy: and that is takeaway food.

There’s plenty of big chain food franchises ready to take your dollars from tomorrow – good for them – but they’re (mostly) not going anywhere. As an alternative we’d recommend checking your favourite local takeaways joint or, if you can, one of the large number of restaurants and cafes spinning up pickup and delivery options.

All of them are going to need our support to survive the coming months.

If you have a favourite place it’s probably best to check their website (or Facebook page) first and see what options they have. They will be keen to point you to the option that helps them the most.

Otherwise there are a number of directories to help with finding restaurants that offer takeaway and delivery options. Some I like are:

  • The Pandemic Pack group of venues which includes the Leeds Street Bakery and Boquita – they will put together orders from several restaurants and deliver them to you;
  • Regulr, a locally made app which shows a list of the 20 40 or so cafes and restaurants closest to your current location and lets you order, set a pickup time, and pay; and
  • Wellington On A Plate’s directory of At Home restaurants (if you want all of NZ coverage try Dinefind or EatLocal)

While you could just use the other delivery apps you have on your phone – the UberEats, DeliverEasy, FlamingoFood, On the Go, Menulog and the like – most of these, while convenient, charge up to 35% commission to the restaurant as well as charging you for delivery. Absolutely use these apps for discovery but (once again) maybe check your chosen restaurant’s website to make sure they don’t also offer some other option they’d prefer to use in getting their food to you.

For me: I’ll be hoping to get in a Little Penang delivery at some point in the next week or two… but first up for us is a big and somewhat unusual treat: a celebratory Level 4 exit dinner on Wednesday. I’ll be picking up some takeaway dinners from Hillside Kitchen and Tinakori Bistro, doing a contactless delivery of two of these meals to the kids’ grandparents before heading home for a family meal with them via FaceTime.

It’s going to be great.

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I once again embarked on the odyssey that seems to be one of Kickin’ Rad/Soap Factory’s Fringe schticks these days – an improvised soap opera, set in Wellington, with a cast of ten and new episodes on the hour every hour from 1-11pm.

Having stumbled exhaustedly but also with a great sense of excitement from the ten hour epic that was their last long-form soap opera (Mirror Miramar, Fringe 2018), I was incredibly keen to see what this group of talented Wellington improvisers would have up their sleeves.

And I was not at all disappointed, sticking around for the entirety of the bizarre, hilarious, and often quite touching show.

Drs. Shelly (Jen O’Sullivan) and Evans (Matt Powell) Bay own NZ’s leading animal hospital. For the most part, this goes very well for them (there’s a dash of revolution around about episode six – we’ll get to that later).

They’re joined by a cast of lively and soap-appropriate characters.

There’s a hint of romance brewing between lovelorn ambulance officer Pam Hamm (Christine Brooks) and nurse Jake Remore (Wiremu Tuhiwai) but it’s dashed to the rocks when Pam ends up with chief of operations Greta Point (Clare Kerrison) after a particularly poignant degustation menu and a few too many glasses of port. Pam, however, is not lovelorn for long, ending the ten episodes with three people after her heart; Remore, Point, and wealthy Polish donor Laars (Lyndon Hood, after his first character was killed off by mutant roosters).

After surveying the audience, Pam decides, that she should love herself instead, much to our cheers and applause.

Receptionist Damian Raven (Sam Irwin) gets a little too big for his boots after getting lost in the catacombs of the hospital and decides to commit some fraud. He weaves in and out of the main plot, occasional antagonist, but mostly just there for his crossword.

Fishologist Charlie Boothroyd (Jonny Paul) has lost touch with the sea, and definitely doesn’t have daddy issues. It sure is convenient that his father – he discovers – is the hospital’s animal chaplain Keith Grant (Stephen Youngblood), who spends most of the season running away from that fact. They do reconcile, in the end, but it’s a near thing.  Keith takes off on a whirlwind romance with Dr Sam Sheppard, who spouts animal facts when she’s nervous, and the pair get married at the end.

It is not just saucy entanglements in the world of Bay’s Anatomy, but true hospital! drama! too. The medical team give an octopus a catfish heart transplant – to much success, Sam loses an eye to a lion but is her sight is saved by the practise’s best surgeon, Shelly Bay, and Damian commits, in his own words, “a shitton of fraud.”

Once nervous, but quickly quite maniacal salesman Kea Falcon (Lyndon Hood’s first character), loses sight of his business goals, nearly loses his job, and then kidnaps Pam, setting off the show’s kidnapping plot, which is wrapped up in under an episode. Kea is killed, very gruesomely, by Pam’s mutant roosters, which I assumed were just throwaway jokes at the start of the show but came into their own after ten episodes, basically becoming characters in their own right.

The entire season is underscored by Gill Grilligan (Liam Kelly), a salty sea dog turned bartender/musician, who provides a fantastic soundtrack to the show, as well as some gorgeous sea shanties. It’s all very fitting for a show set somewhere in the vicinity of Kilbirnie.

Some additional highlights from this ten hour odyssey –

– Many Freudian slips, some of which were clearly not intentional.

– The entire clinic, barring Shelly and Evans, deciding to take their workplace from their oppressors and start a revolution, which mostly seemed to involve the drinking of many bev-er-rauges from Gill’s Grill. VIVA LA REVOLUTION (the workers were right).

– The life. death, exhumation and slight mutilation of Anastasia, the clinic’s Russian Blue cat.

– Sam coming on stage eating gradually more and more weird things, culminating in a can of Chef in the final episode, throwing proceedings off for several minutes.


Bay’s Anatomy was ridiculous fun, and a true undertaking. The right blend of satirical and heartfelt, I cannot imagine the energy that went into improvising for nearly ten hours and keeping a logical plot straight. Major kudos to the performers and crew.

I was very committed to the rooster storyline, and I had one hell of a good time.

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More posts…

Review – Oddacity

by Sophie March 9, 2020

Oddacity promised an “award-winning, best-of spectacular with a cast of international luminaries performing stylish acts”, under the beautiful skylight in Bats’ Heyday Dome.   I wasn’t sure what to expect, knowing the theatre wouldn’t suit aerials or acrobatics, but I hoped  for clowns.  I was not disappointed in that sense. Oddacity is usually Sachie Mikawa, Trent […]

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Review: DND Live at the Fringe: When Dwarves Cry

by Sophie March 9, 2020

I wouldn’t necessarily say that Dungeons and Dragons has gone mainstream, but it’s become a lot more popular in the last twenty years.  It probably helps that there are so many TV shows these days with a fantasy element, as well as movies like the Lord of the Rings series making sword-and-sorcery stuff cooler. DnD […]

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Review: Dr Drama Makes a Show

by Sophie March 4, 2020

It was weird for me to go to a show at 93 Kelburn Parade, having completed my own humble BA at Vic almost 20 years ago.  In fact, #93 was the site of at least one audition and more than a few rehearsals for me.  It’s had a bit of a facelift, now being an […]

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Review: Eight Songs for a Mad King

by Sophie March 3, 2020

King George III, despite having been a learned and enthusiastic sponsor of scientific and industrial progress, a faithful husband and father, and in many ways very liberal for his time (except pro-slavery, just saying), is basically famous for having gone mad. That madness has been scrutinized, diagnosed, and mocked roundly in modern literature, film, TV, […]

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Books giveaway: Dreamweavers #1 and #2

by noizyboy February 18, 2020

Te Rā Aroha Press are about to launch Isa Pearl Ritchie’s Into the Labyrinth, the second of her Wellington-based YA Dreamweavers fantasy series (following on from Awa and the Dreamweavers, released last year). The series features Awa… …an intermediate student navigating changes to her family as a child of divorce, moving to a new school, […]

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Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

by Emma Maguire February 14, 2020

A Midsummer Night’s Dream was the perfect pick for Summer Shakespeare, traditionally held in the Dell in Wellington’s Botanical Gardens at night in the middle of summer, but then the production moved to the basement theatre at Te Whaea in Newtown, and things pivoted from the usual. It was odd not to be sitting on […]

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