Friday, March 29, 2013

The Marching Way

I have lived in New Zealand for close to 9 years and I have never heard of a SPORT called "Marching".  This is probably the most kiwi thing I have ever come across.  Mainly b/c it only exists in New Zealand.  Are you lost?

Let me give you some background info on  Marching.

"Marching first made its appearance on the NZ sporting scene in the dark days of the 1930’s depression when Marching teams were formed as part of a nation-wide move to give priority to team sports as an answer to a major problem for leaders of youth groups and social workers arising from the impact of the country’s economic depression and to keep the nation’s young women fit and healthy. Teams emerged from business houses and factories for inter-house competitions and at wars end were joined by returning members of the armed services who restructured the movement based on a more rigid military style and in 1945 the New Zealand Marching Association (NZMA) was formed to promote, encourage and control participation in the sport of Marching. 

Marching in NZ is an amateur sport that offers participants a strong sense of team spirit and self-discipline. It heightens powers of concentration and physical fitness, encourages good deportment, pride in grooming and personal achievement and offers musical enjoyment, life long friendships and opportunities of travel."

So, why I am I talking about Marching?  Well, my first weekend in Dunedin I went along with Simon's mom to the National Marching Competition.  Turns out that most of the women in Simon's family have a history of Marching (his Mom, his two Aunts, two of his Cousins and his Nanna!).  Two of them are still involved.  His Aunt, Jaqui and Uncle Bob, were judges of the competition. Jaqui has just gotten back into Marching and does it for fun (aka leisure).  His Cousin Rach, started Marching when she was a little girl and pretty much never stopped and she is now a competitive Marcher.   So much so that she is in THE best Marching group, called Lochiel (that you have to be invited into) and goes over to Scotland, Norway, Russia, Brazil, South Africa (to name a few) to perform at Military Tatoos ( the one in Edinburgh being one of the most well known ( Military Tatoos are when you get groups of military groups from around the world together performing.

I remember going to the stadium to watch this 'Marching thing' and had no idea what to expect.  In the end I really enjoyed it!  While it is a bunch of females dressed up in military uniforms marching to military music... it is so much more!  They are judged on everything from how many marches it takes to get a certain marker on the ground, how far apart they are (they are literally measured with a compass thing and the spacing between each others feet have to be a metre and they do this all by eye, so a team has to know how to take steps based on everyones leg lenghs!), how together they are, how clean their uniform is... and much much more! Each team did two marches, a Technical Drill, which is a routine each team does (to military music) and a Display Drill, which is a routine that each team choreographs itself and can be to any type of music (read here for the details on judging (  Every year there are new rules like how to do a left turn, about turn, how to tie up your boot etc.

I grew up dancing and thought I could compare it to Tap dancing at least.. but i can't.  I can tell you that Marching looks like it could be fun and a good workout, so it's on my list of things to do and one day I may be on a (leisure) Marching Team myself!

Si's cousin Rach and her team (Storm - which is also Lochiel) won both best Technical and best Display at the 2013 Competition.  So they are the champ..(whoo go Rach!).  Below are two videos from the competion so you can see what i am talking about.  Try to tune out the chatter.

Technical Drill: Make sure to click on HD to make it clearer"

Display Drill (they choreographed): Make sure to click on HD to make it clearer"

I love the Display, particularly around 3:30 min when they do all the backwards marching and don't run into each other! 

I apologise in advance if i got any facts wrong!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Storybook Kowhai

I started this blog ages ago and never did anything with it.  sigh.  Since it's creation our family has relocated from the big smoke of Auckland (approx 1.4 million people) located in the northern part of the north island, down to little ol' Dunedin (approx 126,000 people) located in the deep south of the south island.  My good friend Tam had suggested i start a blog about adventures we have in Dunedin, similiar to that which my good friend Mer does in Sydney ( 

So, here goes.  When we relocated to Dunedin we went on a road trip.  We stopped in New Plymouth to see some friends.  Having two three year olds in the equation, we didn't get 'out' much in NP, but we did go to a skate park, playground and beach.  And my friend Karolina and I were able to ride bikes along Coastal Walkway, while the dad's drove the boys to the park.  The walkway is about 11 km in length  forms an expansive sea-edge promenade stretching from Port Taranaki all the way to Hickford Park in Bell Block with numerous pedestrian access points dotted along the way.  It's cool b/c if you live, say 3km out from the city/town centre, you can hop on your bike and ride (or walk or run) along the coastal walkway till you reach the city centre and then ride up to your office.  No traffic lights, no traffic, no petrol/gas spent and you get exercise!  Lots of playgrounds scattered along the length of it, as well as the skate park, and of course the beaches!  More info can be here:

From New Plymouth our next destination was Wellington.  This was about a 6 hour drive, so we decided to split it up and stop in a little place called Wanganui.  We were told by my friend Sarah that we had to check out the playground there.  So we went to the i center (information) and asked for directions.  We got there and holy crap, my mouth dropped!  This was by far the biggest and coolest playground i have ever seen!  It was built in the 1960s and it had every storybook thing you can think of like a dinosaur slide, with Fred Flintstone, Hickory Dickory Dock Clock, a Whale, and an Old Lady who lived in a Shoe!  It had a water area, swings on an octopus, a train... it was nuts! It even had a wooden playground built up in the trees! I highly recommend that if you go on a road trip with kids you stop in Wanganui.  But give yourself 2-3 hours.  It takes that long to see everything and even then you are going to have to drag your kid away!  We took a lunch there and sat at one of the numerous mushroom tables to eat.  There was also a ice cream truck in the parking lot.  When we were driving out, we saw that it also had bumper boats, go carts, putt-putt/mini golf and a skate park as well!

Directions: right on State Highway 4 or if on SH3 head to Wanganui town centre go over the bridge and hang a left.  The park will be on your left.  For more information visit this link: