Karl and his library

Living for the Moment

Growing up, Karl and Rebekah had very separate goals in life. She wanted to be an artist, he a pilot. However, after they met at Victoria University, where they both were studying, they flatted together and, as Karl puts it, “didn’t stay strangers for long”.

Karl and RebekahAfter Karl graduated with a degree in English, and Rebekah with one in Cultural Psychology, they decided it was time to experience more of the world. “In the space of one night we quit our jobs, packed up our stuff and were heading to America,” says Rebekah.

Five years passed, and in that time they settled in the small Charlestown community of West Virginia. “We found ourselves living on 350 acres of land in an old-school Washington family home,” Karl remembers.

Focusing on sustainable living, Karl and Rebekah set up community gardens from scratch coupled with roaming chickens and goats, cooking great food and practising yoga. “We took it upon ourselves to try something different.” Following the success of their unique lifestyle, the couple decided to establish an internship programme, which gave interested people the opportunity to work hard and live off the land. “It was such a good place to learn different things because we saw so much potential. We explored ideas from scratch and it became a testing ground for a lot of other projects we have today.”

Two years ago Karl and Rebekah felt it was time to return home. Having arrived back in New Zealand, Karl bumped into an old friend of his. “He was looking to start up a glam rock tribute band in Palmerston North and I said ‘Sure why not!’”

That’s one of the great things about this area; you can live in the country but still have the benefits of a city at your fingertips

Having grown up in Manawatu, Rebekah saw it as a fantastic opportunity to reconnect with family and friends. Moving to a dairy farm just out of town, Karl gained a greater understanding of living close to the environment and with nature. “That’s one of the great things about this area; you can live in the country but still have the benefits of a city at your fingertips.”

Now well and truly settled, a day-in-the-life is still far from traditional for both Karl and Rebekah. Rebekah is a trained teacher in healing and yoga and is also a Zero Balancing practitioner. “Zero Balancing is a system that works with the bones. Bones hold a lot of tension, so it is important to relieve this through movement and the holding of specific points.”

Rebekah splits her time between Library booksNew Zealand and America, where she teaches workshops, yoga classes and therapy sessions. “It suits my understanding of the world. I enjoy learning and teaching a system where the body and mind work together. Sharing in the excitement of seeing the joy on my clients faces when that pain is relieved is priceless.”

Meanwhile Karl operates the state-of-the-art Palmerston North City Library book bus, which he says he stumbled upon by “pure luck”. “I saw the value of learning to drive larger vehicles, so I got my class-2 licence and found a job that combined my love of English and driving really well!”

The mobile library houses more than 100 books and travels to districts around the area serving anyone with a hunger for reading and fun. “I love the variety of personal relationships that I have created. It is amazing how close you can get to some people through what they share with you,” says Karl.

“One day a child stopped dead in his tracks and asked if I was magic. I said, ‘Yeah of course I am!’ As he walked off under his breath I heard, ‘I knew you were magic’. Giving people something to remember, nurturing curiosities and making those connections make me know it is worthwhile.”

In the space of one night we quit our jobs, packed up our stuff and were heading to America

During the time they have together during the year, Karl and Rebekah spend their time “talking until the cows come home”. “We both have enquiring minds, so we chat all about the philosophies of the world. If we go and see a movie you can guarantee we will talk about it for three hours afterwards.”

Managing Rebekah’s time between America and New Zealand has its benefits for the couple. “It is a chance for us to broaden our horizons,” says Rebekah. “I have grown up with my time split between the two countries, so I have my ways of dealing with everything. I travel with the fruits of the season because when it’s ripe it is awesome, like the papaya in Maui and the feijoas in New Zealand. I tend to follow the ripe avocados of the seasons.”

Karl and his library busKarl agrees that although being apart can be hard, it is a great opportunity to recharge. “I refuse to be caught in the codependent phase of a relationship. Although I can’t do what Rebekah does, we have modern technology to help us and I’ll just take the avocados when I can get them.”

For this year Rebekah will be back in New Zealand in December, while Karl will be on the book bus and practising with his band for the upcoming wedding season.

The future is a blank canvas for the two, who believe that maintaining flexibility in life leads to great things. “The world is changing really quickly. We live in a dream world with the ability to go wherever the wind takes us.”

Torn apart

A passion for the hard issues

UCOL photography student Amy Fowler is in a unique position. She has just won the Epson-New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography’s Student Photographer of the Year award for the second year in a row. It is the first time in the award’s history that this has occurred, and Amy says she is still speechless regarding her double win. “The other finalists were so amazing, I just don’t know how they managed to pick. It has been an absolutely overwhelming, crazy period.”

Parents living through their childrenAmy picked up Gold Awards for both of her competition photographs this year. The first, showing a woman ripped in half by ropes, represents “being torn apart by the gender equality issue of women being split between motherhood and their careers”. The second, a bald girl covered in heavy makeup, highlights “how parents try to live through their children by pushing them into something they may not want to do”, and is considered by Amy to be “one of my strongest images”.

Both pieces were created to stimulate discussion, and are centred on wider societal issues. “The images were very personal things that, at the time, I was very passionate about,” explains Amy. “I hit hard on issues that are happening at the moment but otherwise I just try to produce fine art. I trawl the internet for all sorts of different artists and collaborations that inspire me.”

Amy FowlerThis passion is a driving force behind Amy’s work, and is one she has had for most of her life. “Mum had a film camera and I was always the centre of that camera’s lens. I was inspired by that.”

Now, with her Bachelor of Applied Visual Imaging degree almost finished, Amy is working hard to complete a final yearlong assignment, which requires her to write her own brief and create a collection of fine art. “The eight pieces are in the theme of Grimm fairy tales. I am trying to work through the bumps of it, like the backgrounds, the models, the makeup artists and the costumes.”

Torn Apart - full versionAlso requiring her attention is her and her partner Kelvin’s new retouching photography company, Novo Retouching. The business specialises in photography and video post-production editing, and has been running for a year. Amy is also looking to expand in the future. “After I graduate I would like to start a photography side of the business and work together. Long term I would love to be in an advertising agency.”

With so many projects and so much potential for the future, it is easy to understand why Amy says, “Photography is literally my life”.


Jennifer Moss

Colouring Lives with Music

Jennifer Moss says she was in the right place at the right time, and recognised a need. Now she uses music to meet that need and colour people’s lives.

Jennifer Moss is first and foremost a musician, then a teacher, and by default in a sense, a businesswoman too. She says she’s never had a proper nine-to-five job apart from a full-time stint in Sydney as a singer with The Song Company, and she’s quite comfortable with that.

Jennifer and one of her ukuleles“I have it built-in somehow that I can cope without the need for total stability as long as I’m doing what I’m passionate about,” she says. “I’ve been lucky I suppose to have such a supportive husband who’s been my rock in so many ways.“

Jennifer and her family moved here in 2004 from Auckland, and before that, Sydney, craving a smaller place to call home that offered a strong sense of community. “We’d done big-city living, and decided on Palmy because my husband was originally from here. It seemed like a happening town. I didn’t really know anything about it, I’d only ever visited, so I took the plunge.”

When Jennifer first arrived in Manawatū she worked as a primary school teacher, having just retrained in Auckland, but soon found that teaching maths and science wasn’t really for her.

I’ve officially stopped counting how many ukuleles I own!

“David Reardon shoulder-tapped me for the position of music specialist at Russell Street School, which was brilliant. It’s a grounding force for me. Working with five-year-olds is very good for my whole being. There are no airs and graces, just lots of freedom, to sing, play instruments and have fun – which is the best way to learn.

“There used to be music advisors supplied for schools by the Government, but there aren’t any more, so a lot of schools struggle with what to do with music,” she says. “I offer professional development for schools to give them a practical idea of how many instruments they need, what to do with them, how to set up a group – all strategies for teaching children.”

DrumsShe has Tui awards to back up her theories. Jennifer’s House and Jennifer’s Garden have both won Best Children’s Album awards at the New Zealand Music Awards.
Starting at Russell Street School coincided with Jennifer’s time spent at a voice camp during the summer. It was from there that she had the idea of starting the Manawatū Community Choir. “A lot of people had been talking about it, yet there wasn’t one here.

“In April 2010 we made it happen and I was hoping that at least 20 people would show up,” Jennifer says. “Literally the night we started I realised ‘wow – there is a real hunger here’ – 85 people came along that night!

“It became really apparent that people out there love music. They want to make music, but just don’t know how or where to start. From there I started the Manawatū Ukulele Group and had a similar response. Eighty people came along, so we just kept going.”

Despite saying that business really isn’t her forté, Jennifer’s musical passion has evolved into just that. She’s managed to create a bit of a brand: Jennifer Moss – Colouring Lives with Music.

Music with freedom is rediscovering joy

“That came about after talking to one of the ukulele players one night at the end of the year, when we’d often have little heart to hearts,” she says. “He said to me, ‘You know, without you my life would be grey’.

“The more I do it, the more I see that it all comes back to the way we’ve been brought up and the contact we’ve had with music. So many people have had negative experiences with music training and tuition. I call it the ‘old school’ method of learning, getting rapped over the knuckles, getting told off – it sets up years of baggage and knocks so many people’s confidence.

“It’s not why I got into what I do, but I’ve discovered it along the way. I have people come to me in tears who haven’t sung in years. Their teachers, or family members, told them when they were 12 that they were horrible singers and shouldn’t do it.

Jennifer loves her work“In a way, for a lot of people, it’s almost like therapy, although I loathe using that word! Music with freedom is rediscovering joy. I give people the freedom to explore and grow musically in their own time, supporting them with accessible strategies and mega encouragement! At the end of the day you let them find their own space within the group and, if you do that, people grow and improve really quickly. They blossom.”

So why did she get into it?

“Being in the right place at the right time and recognising a need,” she says. “A lot of people have ideas but they don’t action them; I’m a little different in that sense I suppose. Naturally I’ve given some things a go that haven’t really worked out, but you learn from it, and it doesn’t stop you trying something different.”
Three ingredients, she says, have made up the essential recipe for the work she enjoys so much. “The timing, the need and having the right skills. Put them all together, add support from family and a wonderful little team, and you have it.”

It makes sense that Jennifer’s family is perhaps her most wonderful little team. Her husband Sam is a former classical musician, now audiologist. Her eldest son Oscar, who has just finished his first year at Massey in engineering, is a guitarist, and youngest son Jack is the drummer in a band called Nausea. “He’s a year ahead in a couple of subjects and he’s also into parkour (free-running) – talk about utilising the city, I love it!”

She loves that ukeleleWith the Manawatū Community Choir and Ukulele Group, her own performing band Ukephoria, teaching and consultancy work, and Manawatū African Drumming, it’s no wonder she’s considered one of the region’s “Creative Giants”. She’s recently started singing workshops for women called Swirl – Singing Women in Real Life.

“I can’t fit in enough time for private lessons with people, and some people are intimidated by the idea of a one-on-one session – so Swirl is a safe place to have fun, and learn.”

She now also runs “Colour Your Team” for corporate and business clients – a form of team-building with instruments. “I really like that there is so much happening here. It’s so vibrant and there’s so much here to invigorate us.

“I’ve officially stopped counting how many ukuleles I own!”

Sam and his pack

Top Dog – The Pack Life

He’s 22 years old with a 100% success rate. While some may call him the ‘dog whisperer’ he sees it rather as maintaining a balanced state of mind between you and man’s best friend.

“I don’t consider what I do as having a gift for dogs, I consider it as being gifted at being calm. Dogs like calm energy, so they naturally gravitate towards following a leadership structure,” Sam Alderdice says.

Happy dogHaving grown up with dogs, Sam decided he didn’t like the idea of a traditional nine to five workday. Combining his love for the loyal canine and the knowledge he had gained from his overseas travels, he created his dream job.

“I started walking dogs in packs when I was younger, which led to people asking me for help, so I contacted a few people to get more skills, and more pack experience, but no one in New Zealand does what I do.”

Having travelled to third-world countries at a young age, Sam developed a strong understanding of the natural dog pack structure. By watching and studying natural pack dominance with off-leash canines, and through energy and body language, he found he was able to communicate with them.

Dogs think in the present. That is what I learn from them, to focus on the now and live in the now, not the future or the past

“There are trainers but I don’t train dogs, I teach their owners to understand them rather than making the dogs listen to them. I don’t have to say ‘come here’ to my dogs because they follow me naturally. Anyone can have that. I just have to teach them it.”

There is no paperwork or degree in what Sam does, rather knowledge and understanding have got him to where he is today and a belief that what he is doing is effective. “My way is a way and is what I consider the most natural way.”

Cesar Millan, a Mexican-American self-taught dog trainer and expert, has given Sam faith in his method of dog psychology. “I have never had any reassurance that I’m doing something right, but then I see him and he’s the best in the world.”

Sam and the pack

“I’m considered old school but dogs haven’t changed, we have evolved but dogs stay the same. They are still 99% wolf; a chihuahua can breed with a wolf and they are still genetically pack animals. If all humans were to disappear right now, dogs would go back to being pack animals.”

‘Every dog can be helped’ is a philosophy that Sam holds true. His daily routine is based around holding sessions to help his pack of six to 12 dogs, including his own Jet and Nashi, achieve a calm state of mind. “We go for a pack walk or a structured walk, which means that the dogs are physically beside or behind me because I’m their leader. I also push my dogs to do really obscure things in order to get them more relaxed and desensitised in every situation.”

Last year Sam voluntarily worked at Rangipo Prison with the inmates to rehabilitate and rehome retired greyhounds. “That was a big confidence booster. I just haven’t had that respect from people because they think, ‘Oh you’re just a kid, I’m not going to listen to you’. But every guy at that prison respected me because they said that the proof was in the pudding.”

I don’t consider what I do as having a gift for dogs, I consider it as being gifted at being calm

Sam also fosters, rehabilitates and rehomes dogs in his personal time. “If a dog has a bad history or has been abused I give them a new name because it gives them a fresh start and a whole new life. When a dog is born it is balanced; a human’s job is to keep it balanced. If you give trust and respect to a dog they will give you loyalty and will protect you with their life.”

The future is looking very optimistic for Sam. “My biggest goal is just to help dogs. Eventually I want to set up my own proper dog psychology centre with my pack of dogs, where people can bring their dogs and where I run classes and seminars.”

“Dogs think in the present. That is what I learn from them, to focus on the now and live in the now, not the future or the past.”