Hilary Barry, cheers mate

I remember the morning news chief Herk saying, to no one in particular: “She’s a good sort that Hils. She comes in, does the job and not a trace of ego on her!” I’d only been at RadioLIVE a few months, but I couldn’t agree more with his vociferous colleague testimonial.

Hilary Barry isn’t one for just receiving feedback, either, she gives as good as she gets. When I left to attempt this bike ride thing, she was right there with support for my mad idea and even gave Herk some choice remarks in the obligatory comedy leaving audio recordings. (I won’t make this public, as it was never intended to be, but trust me, it’s great.)

Lying battered, bruised and misshapen in a Wellington Hospital bed at 4am, following that Queen Charlotte Track crash, I tweeted about the sandwich an orderly had just brought me. Hils tweeted me straight back to offer her support and best wishes for my recovery.

Off-the-mic or behind the cam, Hils was always grinning or winking. Following my Paul Henry interview, she was straight in with a hug, despite the long-haired, filthy-bearded ‘feral’ I had become on this adventure. That’s because Hilary Barry is real.

I know she’s only leaving her job, but its a job that involves engaging with a lot of people daily. And when you feature in so many lives, your presence counts for something. Her presence in my life counts for something and her support over those eight months last year is fully appreciated. Go well Hils x

Sorry, I’m leaving New Zealand

Friends, family, readers, weirdos,

It is with an actual tear in my eye and a butter churn in my stomach that I announce I am leaving New Zealand later this year.

This is not a decision I have taken lightly, mostly due to the job and the friends I have accrued (like a commodity) while living over here. I can hand-on-heart say that, on leaving the dear old motherland, I had absolutely no idea that such a fate awaited me; a fate of such brilliant opportunity on both the friendship and work scales. The fact both are so intertwined and linked just pays testament to each.

Dunc Wilson Air New Zealand buggy
I’ll be leaving on an Air New Zealand flight much like this one
But I shall save the emotional rhetoric for four months time (If only to spare the Kiwi readers from looks like yet another pre-OE goodbye ramble). Instead, I want to explain why I have made the decision I have made, at least while the reasons still come clearly enough for me to note them down in a coherent fashion.

1. I miss my mummy

My family and I (or just “my family”, seeing as I’m included in that collective and don’t see why I deserve mentioning twice) have always been close-as. When I left Britain in 2008, I wasn’t really thinking straight; I wasn’t really prepared for how long distance I would have to fly to get a Wii tennis game in with dad, go dinosaur hunting with sis*, go walking or cycling with mum or crash the sailing centre my bro works at for an evening cruise round in a boat.
It’s true to say I have done most of those things while living here (guess which one I haven’t. Go on, guess), but it’s also true to say that Te Whanau o te Wirihana aren’t around these parts quite enough for me right now. I also have 1001 bloody good besties back in Britain and I want to hang out with them a bit more regularly. Some of them.

Scooter parked by No Parking sign
Do not park your Greek scooter here, do not use the stand and do not leave it unattended
2. I miss Greece

While Greece has deffo changed in my five years down-under, it’s a great example of the type of place I could and would visit when my holidays weren’t spent flying between EnZee and the YouKay. Plus, I’ve never had a shit meal in Greece (a realisation I came to in Irkutsk, having survived on barely-cooked chicken kiev for seven whole days).

I have never been to Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Croatia, Denmark, Turkey, Ikea… you get the picture. Last year, my brother cycled to the Netherlands. I want to go on crazy long-weekend adventures like this.

3. I miss Britain

New Zealand, in particular Waitakere, has become a true second home for me. I loved living out in Swanson when I first got off the ship. Even living in Auckland city, I often head out to the ranges just for a whiff of bush as “I’m addicted to the smell”.

Now, I want to feel like that about where I am from, where I was born. Great Britain is great, I know that and I want to see that. There’s only so much of this brilliance one can get reading the Mail online.

Tidal wave at Thorpe Park
Avoid theme parks during school holidays when one must pick little children off one’s soles like pieces of chewing gum
4. I miss my theme parks

All 52% of my degree dissertation marks were awarded to a radio “documentary” on theme parks through the ages. I am a pathetic, front-row queuing, superfan of Alton Towers. I know enough twists and turns of the Nemesis Inferno** that I can realistically dream that I’m on it and I offer an excellent cover version of ‘Its A Small World’ from the shower.

I miss my theme parks. They are mine.

5. New Zealand is amazing

crossing a tree branch in the bush
New Zealand: You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave
A drunk Irishman (photograph that for rareness points) once warned me off migrating to KiwiLand on the basis that it is run, completely and mercilessly, by gangs. I shrugged this off as some kind of smarmy political statement on Helen Clark’s governing style, and came along anyway.

A friend said to me this week “there’s no place like home”, which I started to agree with. But then I stopped him short, because there is a place like home. And this is it. NZ has become my home and it is just like my home. It’s just a little bit too Hotel California, so I am breaking free while I can.

* New Zealand is mysteriously terrible for dino-hunting
** The wily theme park spotters amongst you will notice that this is Thorpe Park ride

Paul Henry starts at RadioLIVE

A bit of a busy one at RadioLIVE this week, what with Paul Henry returning to the station and the work that goes with any new host.

I grabbed him last Friday and he jumped on our Flip camera and recorded this quick promo on the fly.

Monday came and Paul’s first show carried an interview with Brummie immigrant Tracey Blunn. Tracey and her partner Mark Reyes had made headlines over the weekend as apparently New Zealand “made them fat”. Henry burst straight in referring to his phone guest as “Fat Tracey”.

His interview with Kronic inventor Matt Bowden brimming with determination.

Wednesday reared its head and I found myself thrust into the studio once again. This time with Marcus to talk about being English and learning Te Reo as part of Maori Language Week.

Image gold was struck on Friday when an unwitting Northland council worker managed to hit send on a jokey FWD email – only sending it to a healthy chunk of the country’s journalists. We cracked the story and the image up online, much to a lot of Kiwis’ amusement.

Graeme Hill came up trumps on the video-front once again. This time, he provided an old off-air clip of two Brisband puppets, erm, going at it. Very funny. To me.

Noah Hickey miss

A few things have caught my eye whilst at work on RadioLIVE.co.nz this week.

Wednesday and news of the emperor penguin rocking up on the North island beach of Peka Peka had made it round the world. Initially in a good state upon arrival, Marcus Lush had the pictures.

Thursday started out all about the Christchurch announcement. The NZ government offered to buy all the red zoned properties in the city at 2007 prices during a press announcement at 1.30pm. The announcement seemed to please most people, although we did receive a few emails and comments that were anti.

By the end of Thursday, however, the news media’s attention was on the head of the Employers and Manufacturer’s Association’s comments about ladies taking time off work. 3 News took the decision to publish their full, unedited version of the interview with Alasdair Thompson. The video showed some quite interesting body language towards Campbell Live journalist Mihi Forbes.

In anticipation of the Te Tai Tokerau by-election, Lush hosted a debate on Friday between Hone Harawira (Meet The Harawiras, Mana Party) and Labour’s candidate Kelvin Davis. Both candidates had been polling with just a cat’s hair between them, so people listened to the double header with great interest. The debate flared up with Harawira telling Davis “shut your fat mouth”.

The end of the week came and Graeme Hill and I finally got this amazing video piece converted for the site. I’ve seen some pretty amazing football misses in my time, but nothing beats this from Kiwi player Noah Hickey. It’s a truly astonishing miss and, at time of writing, has gone viral. Watch it.