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August 14, 2014

Mana Wahine: a powerful celebration of womanhood and history

Jack Yan/4.40

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Alex Efimoff

Mana Wahine, which had its première in June in Rotorua for Matariki, arrived in Wellington last night with the first of a brief series of performances (until August 16), with a powerful celebration of womanhood by the Okareka Dance Company.
   Mana Wahine tells the story of Te Aokapurangi, who was captured in battle but returned later to save her people from slaughter.
   The production began with the image of the storyteller, Tūī Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield, a descendant of Te Aokapurangi, appearing on the curtains prior to the show, a foretaste of the clever use of lighting and imagery projected on the dance floor and walls. Her evocative waerea incantation from the first scene led to powerful, purposeful choreography performed by five dancers, Bianca Hyslop, Maria Munkowits, Nancy Wijohn, Chrissy Kokiri and Jana Castillo.
   Graceful and strong, the quintet were chosen for their experience as women and those from whom they have descended.
   Mana Wahine blends different genres of dance, captivating the audience between its sets so seamlessly, and is a beautiful tribute to Te Aokapurangi while shining a light on the proud people in our country’s past.
   Even without knowing the historical aspect one has to admire the authentic and sincere performances of the five dancers.
   The production was inspired by a conversation between cousins Tui Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield and Okarewa artistic director Taiaroa Royal, on their ancestry and the Ngāti Ohomairangi of Te Arawa, namely the matriarch Kearoa and Te Aokapurangi of Ngāti Rangiwewehi and Tapuika. Both women were responsible for saving their people, demonstrating in New Zealand’s history the power and role of women.
   Ranapiri-Ransfield researched the story, and wrote the lyrics and composed the music for the karanga, waerea and patere, and it is her voice that the audience hears. Victoria Kelly composed the rest of the score. Malia Johnston, with her extensive choreographic experience, co-authored Mana Wahine. Taane Mete directed Mana Wahine, calling it one of the ‘most rewarding experiences I have ever encountered.’ The collaboration between the talents, including technical production manager Jonny Cross, producer Rachael Penman, rehearsal director Natalie Clark and administrator Jesse Wikiriwhi, have resulted in a real, enriching production.—Jack Yan, Publisher

Mana Wahine runs till August 16, with daily performances at 7.30 p.m., and one matinee on Saturday at 2 p.m., at Te Whaea, New Zealand National Dance and Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Road, Newtown, Wellington. Tickets are $20–$40, plus booking fees. Bookings can be made by telephone on 0800 BUY-TIX or visit www.eventfinder.co.nz.

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August 2, 2014

Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists arrive in Bangkok

Lucire staff/2.33

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Alan Raga

The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists have left the southern shores, and are presently at the Hilton Bangkok, as they commence their retreat in the Kingdom of Thailand for the following week.
   Since the Miss New Zealand Consortium was awarded the licence for Miss Universe in 2013, the directors felt that the live swimwear segment had to disappear from the competition. However, international rules still required it, so a swimwear shoot on a beach, with a closed set, became the best option for the live telecast that took place last October.
   Miss Universe New Zealand executive director Nigel Godfrey and general counsel Jack Yan were tight-lipped this year about the destination of the retreat, given political changes in Thailand. However, Thailand came on the radar again with the support of its ambassador to New Zealand, HE Noppadon Theppitak, and the top 25 finalists along with a crew departed on August 1.
   The Ambassador sees the retreat as a core part of the Thai–New Zealand relationship, given the high, mainstream interest in the Miss Universe competition in Thailand, and much of Asia. The 2013 finalists’ retreat was extensively covered in print and televised media in Thailand.
   Kiwi lensman Alan Raga is photographing the finalists, who will be wearing Surface Too Deep and Honey & Co. swimwear, in shoots commencing Saturday.
   The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 grand final takes place at Sky City Theatre, Auckland, on September 18. As with 2013, the public has a hand in deciding the winner, through text voting, and, as a new innovation this year, through an electronic i-vote. See nextmissnz.com/top25.shtml for voting details. Further updates of the competition are on the Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook and Instagram, with hashtags #missuniversenz and #munz14.



Alan Raga

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July 23, 2014

News round-up: Dilmah hosts high teas in New Zealand; Trish Peng searches for new face

Lucire staff/22.50

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Dilmah Tea New Zealand

Dilmah Tea hosted a series of high teas around New Zealand, promoting its socially responsible message along with the rising interest in tea mixology.
   Its Wellington stop on Tuesday, hosted by Dilmah founder Merrill J. Fernando and his son, Dilhan C. Fernando, the company’s chief marketing officer, and in the presence of Her Excellency Zodwa Lallie, South African High Commissioner, was a particular treat, with a menu designed by Dilmah Real High Tea Gold Medallist Laurent Loudeac, executive chef of the Museum Art Hotel.
   Held at the hotel’s famed Hippopotamus restaurant, guests were treated to everything from ora king salmon sashimi—which we would label as our favourite of the afternoon—to lap sang souchong yoghurt panna cotta and a lychee-infused jasmine tea and rosewater caviar, complemented by various Dilmah teas.
   The selection included Dilmah’s Ran Watte Single Region Ceylon tea, its green tea with jasmine flowers, and its rose tea with French vanilla.
   The highlight was the address given my Merrill J. Fernando, after a video looking back through the history of Dilmah and how his famed catchphrase, ‘Do try it,’ was created by a New Zealand agency.
   He spoke of how Dilmah goes beyond the requirements of Fair Trade with its ethically made tea, because those who grow the tea share in the equity. The value-added components of Dilmah are not done by international traders, but by Sri Lankans, and the company constantly puts money back into the community, funding education, health care, cultural and even business activities.
   Some rivals force down the prices that tea farmers can sell at, keeping them poor, while profiting from the value-added components in the marketing and production chain.
   Mr Fernando also stressed that Ceylon tea is the finest, and that Dilmah, to preserve that integrity, does not mix its teas with those from other countries.
   Through a Trade Me auction, the Merrill J. Fernando Charitable Foundation is also raising money for a culinary centre in Sri Lanka which will train people living with disabilities or have been disadvantaged, so that they can find employment to support themselves.
   They can be found on Trade Me, with the auctions closing on July 27. Items include Parawa Estate Ingalalla Grand Reserve 2007 wine, valued at over NZ$1,250; an individually numbered caddy of a very rare tea, FBOP 1, from the Dilmah Opapa Estate in Sri Lanka; a night for two at the Langham Hotel in Auckland; and two nights for two at the Museum Art Hotel in Wellington.
   In other New Zealand news, new label Trish Peng is running a Fresh Face modelling competition as part of her New Zealand Fashion Week début next month, with the help of L’Oréal Professionnel and Vanity Walk.
   New Zealand women are invited to enter via the Trish Peng Facebook page. Peng and Vanity Walk, a modelling agency, will judge from the uploaded photo and details.
   Entries close August 2. The winner becomes the face of the next Trish Peng campaign, opens Peng’s fashion week show, receives a modelling contract with Vanity Walk, and wins a year’s supply of L’Oréal Professionnel products.—Jack Yan, Publisher, with Lucire staff


Felicity Anderson/Trio Communications



Dilmah

Top Dilmah founder Merrill J. Fernando with Lucire publisher Jack Yan. Centre Dilmah chief marketing officer Dilhan C. Fernando and South African High Commissioner, HE Zodwa Lallie. Above Museum Art Hotel proprietor Chris Parkin with HE Zodwa Lallie.

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July 17, 2014

A number of firsts for Lucire, with issue 33 on sale today

Jack Yan/10.00

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Lucire issue 33, on sale today, marks a number of firsts and is one of the best we’ve had.
   We’ve always been very fair on who makes the cover. Sopheak Seng, our fashion and beauty editor, and I choose from all the images we have, and these include ones that he has produced as creative director or stylist. And in the years we’ve worked together, he’s opted not to put his ones ahead of others’. We’ve both gone for what is best for Lucire. Some shoots that have appeared on the cover he has worked on in a supervisory role, but others have come from our brilliant network of creatives worldwide.
   Issue 33 sees his first cover that he has directed, and it’s one we’re both exceptionally proud of. Photographed by Dave Richards, and with the A-team of Michael Beel on hair and Hil Cook on make-up, assisted by Jaye Morgan, Natalie Henderson and Andy Alsop, and modelled by Chloé Graham, it’s the first time in 17 years that we’ve cropped the Lucire logo behind the model’s head.
   We realize this technique is commonplace and it’s probably a surprise to anyone reading the above that that hasn’t happened before. And we’ve had many great images—only the best get selected for the coveted spot. But for some reason, when it came to the crunch, we opted to keep the logo complete, as have always done on the website. This time, the image was so striking that we felt it was time to take the scalpel to the logo, thanks to head designer Tanya Sooksombatisatian.
   It is Dave’s first shoot with us, so to score a cover on your first go is very impressive, though it has happened a few other times—Courtney Dailey with Laura Vandervoort in issue 29, for instance.
   I have a feeling, too, that Chloé is the first Scot to be on our cover. While a New Zealander, she hails from Glasgow, and this is rather timely with the Commonwealth Games about to commence.
   I congratulate my good friend and colleague, Sopheak, and I think this is going to be one of those memorable Lucire covers that will be cited in years to come.
   There’s plenty more inside, and you can get a taste of the articles in our issue 33 preview.
   I’m very proud of one shoot by Jon Moe in there, with our California A-team of Jamie Dorman (now in New York, but who was our pointwoman on the shoot), Lei Phillips and Carina Tafalu, and starring two former Miss Universe New Zealands, Laural Barrett and Samantha Lochhead, each in their second appearances in Lucire. Jon lovingly shot this at Riviera 31 at the Sofitel Los Angeles, and I acknowledge our US west coast editor, Elyse Glickman, for her connections with Pivotal Public Relations in getting us the location.
   It’s not the only cover that we can talk about: some of you will have seen Dorit Thies’s and Olga Fonda’s announcement of their cover for Lucire Arabia. (The story is in issue 33, too, but it was strongly felt that Dorit’s shot was the best to début our title there. When you see the pages, you’ll also notice why this is an incredible shoot with the Vampire Diaries star.) We’ll have more on that officially soon, but, for now, you can get your issue 33 through the Lucire website, in print, for tablets (Ipad and Android), and as a downloadable PDF.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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June 6, 2014

Wellington’s entrepreneurial women: Lisa Tamati opens jewellery store; publishing house launches

Jack Yan/15.09

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Lisa Tamati, known in ultra-marathon circles, has a side to her that only a handful of fashionistas are aware of: she is a jeweller, trained in Wien, Austria, who has recently relocated from the Taranaki to Wellington, New Zealand.
   Tamati has opened a shop in Dukes’ Arcade on the corner of Willis and Manners Streets, where she retails her hand-crafted jewellery. She specializes in sterling silver, gold, gemstones, paua, jade and pearls. The designs show a finesse and delicacy, combining her Māori heritage and Pākehā education with the skills she acquired studying and working under Michael Eipeldauer in Wien.
   It is not her first endeavour into retail, having opened shops in Austria and in New Plymouth.
   Tamati is also selling her second book, Running to Extremes, at her store. Her first book, Running Hot, talked of her experience in ultra-marathons. She was the first Australasian woman to compete in the Badwater ultra-marathon in Death Valley, despite a crippling back injury sustained when she was 19. She had already faced an unassisted crossing of the Libyan desert as a personal challenge, and run 222 km across the Niger desert despite suffering from dysentery. In the follow-up, she goes further into the ultra-marathon world, including a second Badwater, the Gobi March, a Saharan race, and La Ultra, 222 km in the Himalayas.
   Despite these achievements, Tamati remains extremely humble and it was her guests at her store opening at the end of May, clamouring to get photographed with her, who were the focus of her attention.
   Tamati is not the only woman to launch a business in Wellington recently. Lawyer Clare Needham has embarked on an independent publishing venture, Giant Sparrow Press, releasing the company’s first title, ShameJoy, at an event earlier this week.
   Written by Julie Hill, ShameJoy—the English translation for Schadenfreude—has a unique New Zealand perspective as well as a dark sense of humour. Hill gave a reading of two short stories from the anthology on Tuesday, which delighted the audience at the launch, while the book itself is available online via Giant Sparrow Press’s website (www.giantsparrowpress.com/bookshop.html).—Jack Yan, Publisher

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May 29, 2014

A tribute to Massimo Vignelli, a design legend

Jack Yan/10.14

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RIT

Massimo Vignelli, who passed away on May 27, was a hero of mine. When receiving the news shortly before it hit the media in a big way, from our mutual friend Stanley Moss, this title’s travel editor and CEO of the Medinge Group, I posted immediately on Facebook: ‘It is a sad duty to note the passing of Massimo Vignelli, one of my heroes in graphic design. When I was starting out in the business, Massimo was one of the greats: a proponent of modernism and simple, sharp typography. His influence is apparent in a lot of the work done by our brand consultancy and in our magazines, even in my 2013 mayoral campaign graphics. A lot of his work from half a century ago has stood the test of time. There was only one degree of separation between us, and I regret that we never connected during his lifetime. The passing of a legend.’
   This Facebook status only scratches the surface of my admiration for Vignelli. There have been more comprehensive obits already (Fast Company Design rightly called him ‘one of the greatest 20th century designers’), detailing his work notably for the New York subway map, and—curiously to me—glossing over the effect he had on corporate design, especially in the US.
   Vignelli, and his wife Lella, a designer in her own right and a qualified architect, set up the Vignelli Office of Design and Architecture in Milano in 1960, which had clients including Pirelli and Olivetti. In 1965, they moved to New York and Vignelli co-founded Unimark International (with Ralph Eckerstrom, James Fogelman, Wally Gutches, Larry Klein, and Bob Noorda), where he was design director. It was the world’s largest design and marketing firm till its closure in 1977.
   The 1960s were a great time for Vignelli and his corporate identities. He worked on American Airlines, Ford, Knoll, and J. C. Penney, and the work was strictly modernist, often employing Helvetica as the typeface family. Vignelli was known to have stuck with six families for most his work—Bodoni was another, a type family based around geometry that, on the surface, tied in to his modernist, logical approach. However, there were underlying reasons, including his belief that Helvetica had an ideal ratio between upper- and lowercase letters, with short ascenders and descenders, lending itself to what he considered classic proportions. The 1989 WTC Our Bodoni, created under Vignelli’s direction by Tom Carnase and commissioned by Bert di Pamphilis, adheres to the same proportions.
   Although my own typeface design background means that I could not adhere to six, there is something to be said for employing a logical approach to design. American corporate design went through a “cleaning up” in the 1960s, with a brighter, bolder sensibility. Detractors might accuse it of being stark, the Helveticization of American design making things too standard. Yet through the 1970s the influence remained, and to my young eyes that decade, this was how professional design should look, contrary to the low-budget work plaguing newspapers and books that I saw as I arrived in the occident.
   When the Vignellis left Unimark to set up Vignelli Associates in 1971 (and later Vignelli Designs in 1978), their stamp remained. The MTA launched Vignelli’s subway map the following year, and like the London Underground map by Harry Beck in 1931, it ignored what was above ground in favour of a logical diagram with the stops. Beck was a technical draftsman and the approach must have found favour with Vignelli, just as it did with those creating maps for the Paris Métropolitain and the Berlin U-bahn.
   New Yorkers didn’t take to the Vignelli map as well as Londoners and Parisians, and it was replaced in 1979 with one that was more geographically accurate to what was above ground.
   In 1973, Vignelli worked on the identity for Bloomingdale’s, and his work endures: the Big Brown Bag is his work, and it continues to be used by the chain today. Cinzano, Lancia and others continue with Vignelli’s designs.
   Ironically, despite a rejection of fashion in favour of timelessness, some of the work is identified with the 1960s and 1970s, notably thanks to the original cut of Helvetica, which has only recently been revived (a more modern cut is commonplace), and which is slightly less popular today. Others, benefiting from more modern layout programs and photography, look current to 2010s eyes, such as Vignelli Associates’ work for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
   The approach taken by Lucire in its print editions has a sense of modernism that has a direct Vignelli influence, including the use of related typeface families since we went to retail print editions in 2004. Our logotype itself, dating from 1997, has the sort of simplicity that I believe Vignelli would have approved of.
   Vignelli was, fortunately, fêted during his lifetime. He received the Compasso d’Oro from ADI twice (1964 and 1998), the AIGA Gold Medal (1983), the Presidential Design Award (1985), the Honorary Royal Designer for Industry Award from the Royal Society of Arts (1996), the National Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cooper–Hewitt National Museum of Design (2003), among many. He holds honorary doctorates from seven institutions, including the Rochester Institute of Technology (2002). Rochester has a Vignelli Center for Design Studies, whose website adheres to his design principles and where educational programmes espouse his modernist approach. It also houses the Vignellis’ professional archive.
   He is survived by his wife, Lella, who continues to work as CEO of Vignelli Associates and president of Vignelli Designs; their son, Luca, their daughter, Valentina Vignelli Zimmer, and three grandchildren.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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May 20, 2014

An evening of inventiveness at the New Zealand School of Dance’s The Residents

Jack Yan/14.18

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Stephen A’Court

Top Third year New Zealand School of Dance students, choreographers of The Residents. Above Amanda Mitrevski and Michael Ramsay.

Wellingtonians have a few more days to get to the New Zealand School of Dance at Te Whaea at 11 Hutchison Road, Newtown—the old Show Buildings complex—to check out The Residents, a series of works from the third-year contemporary dance students, supported by second-year contemporary majors.
   The show opens strongly with ‘Fade’, which takes the audience on a surreal journey with radio waves, a mysterious doorway and a feeling of dissonance as we relate to the dancer who finds herself in a new world. The performance, choreographed by Jeremy Beck, set a very high standard. As with ‘Fade’, subsequent acts had dancers move very purposefully and every part of the stage had some dance activity.
   The door was used as a central part of the action in ‘The Game’. Placed centre-stage, the audience was then invited to interact by providing commands to Ally, one of the dancers, to lead her through the door. Once she was through, one audience member could choose one of three outcomes: A, B, and C. It was inventive with a feeling of suspense throughout.
   The romantic ‘Surpreme Arcitecture’ (sic) told the story of a bee and pollination, through a dancer dressed in a suit choosing from others in their costumes; while love was the central theme in ‘Pink!ish’, where ‘Sempre Libera’ from La Traviata suddenly cut in at numerous points (with bright lighting effects to boot) during the main performance about the uncertainty and madness of relationships.
   Roymata Holmes’s ‘Born under a Bad Star’ blended traditional dance with the choreographer’s Cook Island heritage, while in the final segment, ‘Fasnet’, James Wasmer explored his dual German–Tongan heritage with a carnival theme.
   For those who love 1940s music, ‘In the Mood’ begins with the Glenn Miller number and one dancer in the role of the Tramp, as Chaplin’s ‘Smile’ and other numbers are played. ‘Line’ was The Residents at its most inventive in the second half, with ribbons running across the stage like webs, literally tying performers between them.
   The annual Choreographic Season, directed by Victoria Colombus, began on May 16 and runs through May 24. Set and lighting designs are by the students of Toi Whakaari, the New Zealand Drama School, with costumes by Jane Boocock and Donna Jefferis. It is the culmination of the three years’ work by the School of Dance’s students.
   Ticket prices are NZ$23 for adults, NZ$17 for students, seniors and groups of 10 or more, and NZ$12 for children under 13. There is a cash bar with a good selection of wine. For bookings and more information, visit www.nzschoolofdance.ac.nz.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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April 17, 2014

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Coppélia expertly executed at every level

Jack Yan/13.46

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Royal New Zealand Ballet


Evan Li/Royal New Zealand Ballet

Top A publicity photograph from the Royal New Zealand Ballet for Coppélia, with Swanhilda, Franz and Coppélia. Above Kohei Iwamato as Franz and Lucy Green as Swanhilda from the première.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Coppélia, which opened in Wellington on Thursday, is a lovingly designed and staged production that will suit family audiences.
   Set in a mountain village in Hungary, the RNZB’s production of Coppélia retains its well known storyline and period setting, with beautiful sets and costumes. The work of the late, award-winning designer Kristian Fredrikson is particularly poignant in the second act, inside Dr Coppelius’s house, where his seven very distinctive automatons, as well as Coppélia, rest. Two incomplete mannequins hung from the top. The third act, with the wedding scene, is another testament to Fredrikson’s design ability, evident through the villagers’ and Franz and Swanhilda’s wedding costumes. Jason Morphett’s lighting lifted the story, making it easy to follow—and it was the second act, too, with its moody atmosphere, where his work shone.
   Martin Vedel, ballet master on Coppélia, stayed true to the core of the story, with classical and folkloric dances playing out the plot. The energetic divertissements in the third act were perfectly performed. Vedel was, according to his notes, aware of the pre-modern, romantic period in which Coppélia was created, and sought to retain its beauty, but tightened up the storyline and more clearly portrayed Dr Coppelius—performed by Sir Jon Trimmer, who first danced it for the RNZB in 1964—as a social outcast.
   The 21st-century touches are, then, in the theatrics of the performance rather than the look and feel, although the limbless, faceless automaton, beautifully performed by Paul Mathews, could feel at home in science fiction to modern audiences.
   One cannot help but smile at the performances—after all, Coppélia is a happy, comedic ballet, and we noticed that the children on opening night enjoyed it as much as the adults. Lucy Green and Kohei Iwamoto were the well cast leads tonight, as Swanhilda and Franz respectively, dancing their roles expertly—and deservedly receiving standing ovations from some of the audience. Unsurprisingly, Sir Jon received similar acclaim, and Joseph Skelton as Zoltan, both in his emphatic solo and his dance with Katherine Grange as Ima, brought immediate reactions as well as loud applause at the end.
   Orchestra Wellington faithfully performed the Léo Delibes score.
   After Wellington, Coppélia tours to to Palmerston North, Invercargill, Dunedin, Napier, Rotorua, Takapuna, and Auckland, with the season ending on May 31 inclusive. Further information on dates and venues, as well as booking, can be found at the RNZB website.Jack Yan, Publisher

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