Dear Friends and Parents:
We completed our Auckland orientation with flying colors. After a day to rest up, I set the crew loose on the cricket grounds of the Auckland Domain to toss a frisbee and work up a sweat before heading into New Zealand’s largest national museum.
At the Maori Exhibit, in front of a wall-sized map, we discussed Polynesian voyaging techniques. While Europeans of the age were content to follow know continental shorelines, the Polynesians conquered the largest ocean on the planet. In double-hulled canoes they discovered remote specks of land over a thousand miles from their start points. We discussed the theories of accidental vs. purposeful voyaging and how the Polynesians used the stars, wind directions, currents, bird behavior, and the salinity of waters to chart their course.
Later in the week, Jafa Dave—one of Auckland’s most beloved tour guides—took our crew to on an hour’s drive to Kare Kare Beach and then onto the black sands of Piha Beach. The adventurous climbed volcanic domes and coastal crags. Others were content to bury their feet in the silt and enjoy the crashing surf on their own terms.
The following day saw them head to Mount Eden—one of the peaks that make Auckland a City of Volcanoes. Used by the Maori as a fortified pa–or defense outpost–Mt. Eden has witnessed changing landscapes and footprints for over a thousand years. Early Europeans used the volcanic debris to create walls and allowed their cattle to graze the hilltop.
The day ended at Takapuna Beach and a coastal walk with Mt. Rangitoto in the distance. Underfoot, tree molds dotted the trail. Thousands of years ago, lava flowed through an ancient coastal forest. When the trees decayed, cylindrical reminders of a primordial forest remained.
Between fun in the sun were the nut and bolt hours of getting people comfortable in their houses and learning the surrounding neighborhood. Cooking strategies were discussed; methods on cleaning tile floors were put into play and the golden rule of never leave your dishes in the sink was enacted.
An important part of our orientation included taking students to their respective internships and introducing them to their hosts. Nina and myself split duties and had some one-on-one time with each student. Dressed in their Sunday best, they impressed with their preparation and appearance.
Drew and Olivia are working at Auckland Netball—a multi-million-dollar event center and host for one of New Zealand’s favorite sports. Drew is working with the grounds crew to maintain both the indoor event center and outdoor courts. Olivia assists the events department. She is likewise writing articles on the history of the sport and the center. Her work will be published on their social media platforms.
Andrew is working for a creative space architect. He arrived home yesterday with a skateboard in hand that he uses on his commute. Working hands-on in the field, he helps the staff construct and deconstruct venues in public spaces. By all accounts he has one of the “cool jobs.”
Harry and Sylvia are working at an upscale dog care facility on the edge of town. They help check animals in and out of the facility, walk them at the dog park, prepare their quarters, and oversee the pack during resting hours.
Thomas is immersed in the fast-paced business of one of Auckland’s leading video/photography centers. They rent out the world’s best equipment to filmmakers and other professionals. Thomas prepares the set for commercial shoots, checks in equipment and serves as a personal assistant to the company owner.
Robert and Miles are thriving at one of Auckland’s leading website design companies. They tailor plans to the goals of their clients. This includes launching ad words campaigns, applying google analytics and shooting drone footage—a highlight of their work so far.
Max is putting together an impressive portfolio working for a local news site that serves the Mt. Albert region of Auckland. The editor has assigned him locations to shoot photographs and video footage for use on the homepage. Max has crisscrossed the town on foot and his work will go live soon.
Julia is putting in long hours in one of the top event planning firms in Auckland. Located in the heart of the business district, she is getting an urban immersion into a competitive industry. She assists the team leader in the setup of corporate functions and is learning new software along the way.
Staton and Kendall are doing field research for a series of articles. Working for The Hobson--a community publication in an upscale corner of Auckland--their work centers on news, events, and special interest stories. Run by a former editor at the New Zealand Herald, they have been assigned topics that showcase the unique history of the area and places of interest for visitors and residents alike.
Emma is teaching young people the art of spinning plates, riding unicycles, and building human pyramids. She works for an organization that runs afterschool programs and community workshops. Founded by a former trapeze artist from Austria, they use circus props as a medium to foster cooperation and to develop motor skills. A camp-like setting--they train groups for weeks at a time. The culminating experience is a performance for parents and the community at the end.
Clarissa works with disabled adults. Her facility is one of the finest in New Zealand. In addition to hosting art workshops and a computer lab, they go on field trips around the city. Whether they head off to a Maori Haka Dance or a stroll through the Auckland Winter Gardens, the staff challenges members to interact with each other and the community.
Lauren is working for a hip non-profit that serves as both a creative and conservational hub in Auckland. They feature local art work, a community garden and run stream conservation programs. A mostly female office, Lauren assists them in event planning, brochure creation, and will be documenting the latest conservation work for their website.