Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Melbourne Cup Fashion in Aitutaki...and the Goat

I am please to present Melbourne Cup Fashion in the Fields from Aitutaki....no fashion police allowed!

Presenting.....Jenni in her fantistic woven creation...

Melbourne Cup-Aitutaki
Bailey, Jamieson and Sienna (with her crown)...

Melbourne Cup-Aitutaki
Michael with Pacific Resort staff Wendy and Margaret, with Margaret's husband Ian...

Sienna wearing Annie's cowboy boots (far too hot to wear all night)...

Bailey, Teina & Annie (seated), Sienna, Joanne & Jim (standing) and the magician...
Melbourne Cup-Aitutaki
Melbourne Cup-Aitutaki

Melbourne Cup-Aitutaki
And last but not least, our wee GOATEE!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

October Is A Party Month

Well, quite frankly it has been a month of parties really, what with the Melbourne Cup yesterday, the Aitutaki Golf Open last week, an invitation to Sunday lunch and the opening of the Aitutaki Power Station.  Add to that our 11th wedding anniversary and a helicopter fly-by and it has been all go-go-go!


So, the Melbourne Cup is a big thing over here on little old Aitutaki.  For 5 years or so it has been used as a fundraiser for the local hospital, who quite frankly desperately need the equipment.  Now I know what it must be like to live in Hamilton or Thames – always paying taxes for things to get built in Auckland.  Rarotonga is a bit like Auckland……nuf said!  So Michael and Pacific Resort were involved with organizing and sponsoring this year’s event along with the Boat Shed where the event was held. 


I had been planning my hat for a while you know, and determined to utilize my developing weaving skills to do so.  Plan A and B went out the window (literally, onto the lawn) as I discovered that weaving coconut fronds in a circle is much trickier than weaving flat squares and rectangles.  Inspiration hit on Sunday however (Amen!) and I was visited by a vision of an old fashioned nurses hat.  So off I went to the garden and used my trusty bush knife to hack the branch off a poor young coconut palm (more flexible) and set to weaving a square, that would fold into a triangle which could then be contorted into a nurses cap (with the aid of my trusty stapler – finishing skills weren’t so important I figured).  Add a gigantic silk flower and feather hair grip (to match the dress and hide the staples) and a couple of long waving stick things and we were away!  The Shah got into the spirit…to the extent of evening wearing socks (2nd time in 10 months !!!!!!!!!!) ,a tie (first time for ages !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and once he’d donned his stylish panama hat the five of us were on starter’s orders.


All the local papa’a’s (expats) had their best duds on, a few tourists put an effort in, and the locals showed up in less formal attire (no socks for them).  First order, bubbly with the girls.  Second order, explaining to the kids about sweepstakes and betting and horseracing and… it got a bit complex… The net result was watching the race, cheering Jamie’s horse (#13) round the track in the lead for half the race then not realizing until the results were displayed I (and Shocking) had won!!!  Much squawking and giggling was done and mopping up of children’s tears when they figured out they hadn’t won.  More bubbly!!  Following on from that success, I took out the hat competition (though I may have to improve on my ‘walk’) and embarrassingly several of the raffles.  In the spirit of the evening, we had bought tickets in all of the raffles, including the night at Pacific Resort, which was mortifyingly won by Bailey, then redrawn with MY name.  At this point, we sent Bailey up again to refuse again and he returned with a complimentary trip out on the lagoon with Bishops Cruises as a trade.  Very funny. 


Not so funny was my husband re-donating a bottle of Moet which I had quite legitimately won, but which he convinced Bailey to give back – a lesson for the little man in generosity that was totally lost on Jamie who was getting right pissy.  Luckily the lovely people at the Boat Shed, where we dine weekly, made a special presentation to each of the kids for a dinner voucher saying some very kind things about the kids and the role our family is playing in the community. We raised about $2000 which is great for a small community like ours.  Taking the kids along was fun and we have now introduced them to two new concepts –the idea of giving to charity for those without as much as others and gambling/bookmakers – don’t tell me they aren’t getting a perfectly balanced education here !!   All up it was a really, really nice evening…and The Shah had to drive home.


The weekend prior was the Aitutaki Golf Open, with its prize giving on Saturday night.  Again Pacific Resort was a sponsor and along we went hoping that the wind and rain wouldn’t arrive as threatened.  The prize giving itself was hilarious, with the MC making all sorts of asides and the seniors division being won by the  wonderfully named Mr Mauake Mauake (ironically from Aitutaki, not Mauake, which is another of the 15 Cook islands.  We are yet to meet Mr Aitutaki Aitutaki – perhaps he lives on Mauake??).  Then there was umu kai (hangi) and BYO wine (only beer and spirits served at the bar) and plenty of Michael’s staff there to make sure we had a good time.  Dancing was great – Peter, the DJ (who we usually see on Bishops Cruises, plays in the string band at the resort, and is the partner of one of Michael’s staff) played a mix of island drum music, 90’s hits and classics like the island recording of Achy-Breaky-Heart.  Much laughing was done, and a great hangover the next morning for me!  The Shah drove home AGAIN.


Himself has joined in with the Aitutaki Golden Oldies Rugby Team “Happy Feet” for their training paddles in the 6 man vaka (outrigger canoe/waka) twice a week, which he is enjoying very much.  He’s one of the youngest and it is a really nice bunch of guys that gives us yet another circle of friends on the ever decreasing island. On Wednesday nights the seniors, juniors and masters all paddle and there can be 5 – 6 crews all rotating in and out of the canoes.  Mostly his master’s crew gets right of way (maybe due to respect for their age – or that they are the newest team and can’t quite steer properly yet?).  After training we meet him at the Fishing Club to watch the crews and have fish and chips.  It is becoming a nice ritual for us.  The crews are training for a carnival here at Easter and then to compete in the huge Vaka Eiva competition in Raro next year with over 100 crews.


A few weeks back we were invited to the opening of the Aitutaki Power Station – I guess as either one of the largest power consumers or employers (70 staff) on the island Michael gets invited to these things.  The deputy PM was there – Sir Terapai Moate, from Aitutaki of course, and father of Michael’s vaka coach, who is uncle of several of his staff and one of the resort landowners– everybody has at least 3 connections to us in some way.  It was a very prestigious event with many rousing speeches from the politicians (yes there is an approaching election) mostly in Maori, but with smooth transition into English now and then.  Either way the laughter was universal when the Mayor took the stage and started to bag the politicians from Central Government. 


We listened to the Manager from NZ Aid, who contributed $1million to the project (keep paying those IRD contributions thank you everyone) suggest everyone on the island should be buying surge protectors – a little thoughtless when some of the island doesn’t have power and most couldn’t afford them anyway!?!  Lunch was an amazingly generous feast of pork, chicken, fish, pokey (a banana and arrowroot jelly pudding) chop suey noodles and thankfully a few bowls of crisp coleslaw to break up the calories.  Some of the portion sizes consumed give new meaning to ‘upsize’ and Michael and I got a telling off when we left and didn’t take the mandatory overflowing platter of food home with us for dinner.  The generosity here is wonderful.


So it’s …3 weeks until our next leave…4 weeks until our new house is ready (hopefully, finally)… 7 weeks to Christmas…10 weeks and Michael’s been here one year…16 weeks until we’re in Auckland…but who’s counting…