So what’s your coffee of choice?


Coffee noir

Okay peeps.  Finally a blog post about coffee!

This morning I woke feeling more tired than usual (must be all that weekend sunshine) and my first instinct was to get a coffee when I got to work.  Habit, or something more you ask?  Some argue that there are scientific health benefits relating to caffeine consumption:

  1. Caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, which leads to a stimulant effect. This improves energy levels, mood and various aspects of brain function.
  2. Several studies show that caffeine can increase fat burning in the body and boost the metabolic rate.
  3.  Caffeine can increase adrenaline levels and release fatty acids from the fat tissues. It also leads to significant improvements in physical performance.
  4. Coffee contains several important nutrients, including Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Manganese, Potassium, Magnesium and Niacin.

Scientific truth?  Placebo effect?  Marketing PR spin?  You decide.

All I know is that the psychological benefits of drinking coffee need acknowledgement.  I for one like the ritual of having coffee.  Not only does it give me routine, it also allow me to make time for myself.  I can savour the taste, appreciate the creaminess of the foam, experiencing the warm sensation with each sip.  I genuinely do love the taste of coffee and enjoy picking up the subtleties of the aromas.


Coffee meets art

Seeking out coffee also makes me go out to a destination – I physically remove myself from the office and engage in a different environment.  Even better when the barista remembers my name or ‘telepathically’ knows my order!

The act of getting a coffee is also a social experience, heck, how often is the term ‘catch-up’ associated with coffee (rather than tea, or some other drink).  Connecting and spending time with others is such an important self-care and wellbeing activity.

Naturally this is a biased article, so the only downsides I find with coffee drinking is cost (very rare to get a coffee under $4 in Auckland), having a bad (burnt or weak) coffee, or unintentionally spilling it on yourself.  I have done this many times in the past… I like multi-tasking but have a bad habit of not finding the sipper on my KeepCup and coffee squirts out onto my shirt and keyboard.

Can’t tell your flat white from your long black?  Here are some fab descriptions from the Canstar Blue website:

Caffè Americano:  You can make this type of coffee quite simply by adding hot water to a shot of espresso coffee. It has been said that American soldiers during the Second World War would make this type of coffee to make their beverages last longer. It was then (apparently) adopted by American baristas after the war.

Café Latte (or Café au lait):  A fairly popular option for coffee drinkers, a latte consists steamed (or scolded) milk and a single shot of coffee. It is usually quite frothy, and you’ll occasionally encounter cafes that don’t understand the difference between this and a flat white.

Cappuccino:  Possibly the most popular type of coffee in the world, a cappuccino consists of three layers (kind of like a cake). The first is a shot of espresso, then a shot of steamed milk, and finally the barista adds a layer of frothed, foamy milk. This final layer can also be topped with chocolate shavings or powder. Traditionally, Italians would consume this type of coffee at breakfast.

Espresso:  To make an espresso, shoot boiling water under high pressure through finely ground up coffee beans and then pour into a tiny mug. Sounds simple right? Well, it’s surprisingly difficult to master. Espressos are the purest coffee experience you can get, and while they’re not for everyone, it can be a truly singular drinking experience when you find a good brew.

Flat White:  The most Aussie coffees available are the long black and the flat white – as both originated in Australia and New Zealand. For a flat white, the steamed milk from the bottom of the jug (which is usually not so frothy, but rather creamy) is poured over a shot of espresso. It is now popular among mums and dads at school fetes who are desperately trying to stay awake.

Long Black:  Hot water is poured into a cup, and then two shots of espresso are poured into the water. If you do the inverse of this, it will result in an Americano. Long blacks can be quite strong, and have more crema (a creamy foam that tops espresso shots) than an Americano.

Macchiato (also known as a Piccolo Latte):  Although it has similarities to a cappuccino, a macchiato is different in that it is a shot of espresso which is then topped off with foamed milk dashed directly into the cup.

Vienna:  A vienna is made by adding two shots of particularly strong espresso together before whipped cream is added as a substitute for milk and sugar. The Vienna is a melding of the strong flavours of straight espresso, with the smoothness of sugary cream.

Mochachino:  A ‘mocha’ is just a latte with added chocolate powder or syrup, as well as sometimes being topped with whipped cream. If anything, this is a good entry level coffee – living in the worlds between the childlike hot chocolate and the adult café latte.

Affogato:  Affogatos aren’t a coffee at all really, as they’re a shot of espresso poured over a desert (usually ice cream). That doesn’t make them any less delicious though.

So what’s your coffee of choice?  

Here are some photos I’ve taken of coffee in 2017…


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My ferry has been my fairy


Hello Auckland!

As a true-blue Aucklander and JAFA, I can staunchly say that my car has been a core part of my adult existence.  With all of Auckland’s bumps, hills, roads that make no sense, and rapidly growing population, I have always used my car (currently named ‘X-Man’) to go everywhere, even when venturing into the busy CBD.

My memories of using public transport haven’t been flash… as a teen I used to get the Express bus from Mangere Bridge to Newmarket.  If the bus was full (as it usually was) I would end up having to stand the entire journey to school.  This was all the more difficult with a massive bag on my back (why did I insist on bringing every text book to school?!) and carrying my clarinet case too. When the bus stopped suddenly I would go hurtling down the aisle, arms and clarinet flailing in the air.  And don’t get me started when buses didn’t turn up on time, or didn’t turn up at all.

By the time I went to uni, I inherited my sister’s zippy red Toyota Corolla hatchback.  I named her Jubliee (after an X-Man character) and parked her easily in the $3 carpark in the old Carlaw Park. Oh those were the days.

Once I entered the ‘real world’ of work I got used to the practice of driving to my workplaces.  CBD, Eden Terrace, Parnell, Mt Albert… I either found a car park in close proximity or parked in a nearby suburb and walked over.  I totally developed a mindset that using my car was more convenient, quicker and gave me greater freedom to use my time.

But after 14 years of driving to and from work, I have finally become a public transport user!  Why the sudden change I hear you ask?  Well firstly, I got a new job in the City Centre. The $3 parking from 2001 no longer exists.  in fact, the daily rate for a city car park is at least $18 dollars per day.  That’s about a 500% increase!  Secondly, Auckland roads are busier than ever and it was so common for me to leave for work well before 7am.  Thirdly, I wish to be better greenie, so I acknowledge the connection between my heavy car usage and inflated my carbon footprint.


As taken from the ferry

So for the past three weeks, I have been catching the ferry to and from work.  I live in Hobsonville (formerly the home of the Royal NZ Airforce) and the commuter ferry has been operating from here ever since Hobsonville Point became a new residential development area.

I love my commute and the 25 minute sail into the CBD is simply breath-taking.  The views of the Waitemata, the Harbour Bridge, Rangitoto Island, the City Skyline, and the North Shore is a visual feast and the surrounding water can only help me to feel calm.

I tend to have a three-pronged approach when travelling on the ferry.  1:  I get totally absorbed in a book.  2:  I day-dream, or nod-off when part-way through my book.  3:  I stare out in the water, obviously distracted when reading my book.

Last Friday, I felt so inspired to admire the view so I decided to sit at the top with the sun and air around me.  I thought it was strange how there was only one other person doing the same thing.  How can other people not want to embrace this weather?  Okay, very quickly I realised that the breeze is quite strong and my teeth began to chatter.  Hmm, time to pull out a tissue to wipe my shivering and streaming nose.

Despite my naivety, I am totally in awe of the ferry service and hope it continues to grow in the future.  It was quick and efficient, and more importantly it means there are less people using our roads during peak times.  Gosh, imagine if the ferry service was able to extend it’s range and also make stops in Pt Chev and Te Atatu?!  Oh, I forgot to mention that the ferry serves coffee and alcoholic beverages too.

In addition to the ferry, I have also used the bus on a few occasions and been impressed with the regularity of service.  It looks like you can teach a hardened JAFA some new tricks.

Right now I can definitely say that I don’t miss using my car as much.  It made me realise how robotic and trance-like one can get when driving to and from a workplace.  Also, being in heavy traffic can be a frustrating experience when people are constantly trying to merge, exit, give way…

I know it sounds ridiculous, but I am so happy to have a HOP Card.  I feel I missed out on so much over the years,  largely due to my closed attitude towards commuting and embracing public transport.  So as I suggest in my blog’s title, my ferry has totally been my fairy.  You know, the type of fairy that weaves magic and makes things a bit better.


The Downtown Ferry Terminal

Want to find our more on the benefits of commuting? Check out these articles:

How your commute can help to change your life

The top podcasts to kick-start your morning commute

How does public transport benefit New Zealanders

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A new chapter begins for you dad!

A year ago I blogged about my dad and how he turned 65.  At that stage he was so adamant that he wasn’t ready for retirement. He wanted to save a bit more money for projects to do around the house (ie. create mum’s dream kitchen).

Flash forward to 2017 and last Friday he officially retired from Temperzone, his workplace of 37 years!


Dad and mum on his last day

Throughout the year, dad has sounded different than he usually does.  He wasn’t experiencing the same drive to go to work each day.  He was getting more excited about spending time with mum and was he also craving a new boat.

He was supposed to officially finish at the end of this year but choose to leave on his 66th birthday.  I’m so proud of you dad.

A few weeks before he finished, his colleagues contacted my mum and sister to organise a surprise farewell dinner from his team.  My dad wanted to slip out quietly, so this was the only way they could ensure this could happen.

At the dinner, dad was truly humbled to see his team making the effort to have dinner with him.  It was even more touching when each of his team members made a speech in turn.  Dad’s protege (a young determined man named Vince) shared how inspirational and influential dad had been to him.  Vince was at the dinner with his wife and two small children – how amazing must it have been to see my dad with his wife and 3 very adult kids!  Yup, dad you truly are a role model.


Farewell dinner for dad


Again, dad wanted to slip away quietly on his last day, so my sister worked in secret with his manager to have us attend his farewell presentation.  This worked out perfectly as during the morning tea break they were acknowledging several staff members for their long service at Temperzone.  But little did dad know that they were also acknowledging him in front of everyone, but that his wife and grown kids would be surprise guests!

During the morning presentation, it was utterly priceless when dad saw mum, me and the rest of the family.  He had this look of nervousness and disbelief, probably with the realisation that he was leaving his Temperzone family.


When dad addressed his workmates, he spoke clearly and proudly of how he was feeling emotional and that it did indeed feel like a sad day. But he was grateful for the support and friendship of the Temperzone family.

The company founder Eric Kendall passed away many years ago, but his sons have continued to run the business in a family-friendly way.  It is no surprise that this alignment of values has allowed my dad to flourish and be so loyal after all these years.  I remember the children’s Christmas parties and the financial assistance provided to support my university tuition fees.  It is so rare to find companies that still value and support staff in that manner.

A week since leaving work, my mum sent me a text to say that her and dad have already had an argument at home (I couldn’t help but laugh!).  My ‘creature of habit’ dad will feel a bit strange and out of place for a while, but I also sense his growing excitement of carving out something new.  I’m sure his boat, car and golf clubs are sure to be well utilised in the coming year.  Oh, he has all of mum’s jobs to complete too!



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Awesome (yet arduous) August

Goodbye August.  Boy, what a hard, challenging month you were!  You put me through the wringer, tested my patience, made me confront myself, and took me on a rollercoaster of emotions.


Standing before you.

Despite going through this arduous process, I made the bold decision to leave my workplace after 5.5 years.  Yup!  Time for a new start and fresh beginnings.  It wasn’t an easy decision to make and I totally take my hat off to people who also have had to make similar decisions.

I am a big fan of photo challenges and particularly love “Awesome August” by the crew at Live More Awesome.  LMA work tirelessly to promote positive wellbeing and mental health, using this photo challenge as a way to allow people to express gratitude, but also to appreciate all the great things around them.

Here’s what they said… we made a list of 31 things to take photos of that will hopefully make you appreciate the things that you have, but also highlight some of the key things that make people happier in their lives.

I had just begun undertaking the “Awesome August” challenge before I made a firm decision about work, so in a way the timing of the challenge was serendipitous.  At the beginning or end of each day, it gave me time to breathe, to create focus, and to tap into things that were in my control.  The photos I took conveyed a multitude of emotions whether I was consciously or unconsciously thinking about their meaning.

What I love now, is being able to look back at the photos and how they almost speak to my journey in August.  Yup, there is humour and joy, but also pain and a sense of uncertainty!  Pretty much sums up life, huh?

Below are some examples from my “Awesome August” journey.  I think I captured every single day, bar one or two.  You can also see all of them on my Instagram page:

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A global student is every student

Yesterday Unitec had it’s Open Day and it was so exciting to show members of the public our new working space, Te Puna.


Helena briefing our Student Connectors in Te Puna

Along with amazing Student Support Team Leader Helena Finau, our role was to co-ordinate a group of student “Connector” volunteers.   The Connectors are a group of International students who engage in organised on-campus activities that allow then to gain practical work experience.  Throughout the semester the students also attend regular meetings / professional development sessions and will receive a service and leadership award at the end of the year.

We had seven Connectors help yesterday and they helped as tour guide assistants and general meet and greeters.  Due to the flexible nature of the day, I was so impressed with how they took direction well, and even better, they relished ALL opportunities to engage and provide advice to members of the public.


Some of the awesome Student Connectors


Tour around Te Puna

What was a great surprise was that a few of them initially perceived that domestic/local students may not instantly recognise or acknowledge their advice and experiences.  How could they possibly be interested if they originally came from cultures and backgrounds that are vastly different?

The total opposite occurred with the Connectors proving a vital link during the day.  They COULD relate to the aspiring students, for example, a few young students who came with their parents were interested in pursuing vet nursing courses.  Fortunately two of our Connectors are in that programme, so the magic came in introducing them to those young people.

Forget culture, language, and visa status.  The ability for the Connectors to talk about all things ‘animals’ created great synergies with the aspiring students. It was the meeting of like-minds and it’s amazing how role-modelling can manifest in many guises.


Creating connections


Tours around Te Puna


It’s about having fun too!  (thank you Akula for the photo)

In tertiary environments I do believe there is more that can be done to make experiences, services and opportunities inclusive of all students, rather than creating perceptions that international students only focus on other international students.  A global student is every student. 

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The highs and lows of study

Earlier this year I began my Masters study journey.  At that time I was nervously excited about tackling this long-time goal, but was also conscious on the impact it would have on my work-life balance.


The highs and lows of study!

I had three months to complete my first paper and was assisted by my awesome facilitator Trish, who had regular Skype catch-ups with me. Admittedly the Skype functionality crashed and froze a lot (I don’t think Trish is usually catatonic) but we had many fruitful discussions when it was working well.  What it demonstrated to me is that learning can take place from anywhere – How cool that Trish was based in Dunedin and I in Auckland.

During those months, my workload was becoming increasingly busy and I was managing two new teams and preparing for our intended building move in July.  Despite this I coped with the study demands and completed the work within the three months. Woo hoo!  Tick off the box – paper 1.

My second paper commenced in July and again I am fortunate to work alongside Dr Heather Carpenter, my assigned Academic Mentor.  What feels different this time is that my work balance is less seamless… over the past few months I’ve been entrenched in the building move issues (timelines were extended) and I am now working with a new manager.  The constant changes at work are positive and an attempt to support our transformation, but boy can it be fatiguing.

As a result I felt out of rhythm with my studies and feel daunted at this very time.  

Last night I attended my good friend’s graduation ceremony and truly felt the pride and determination of all the graduates in attendance.  It reminded me of my previous experiences – study is not meant to be easy and requires tenacity, courage and motivation to get through the journey.  We all have peaks and lows throughout.

Right now I feel like the ‘Jack and Jill’ who fell down a hill.  Whilst not pleasant, I acknowledge the overwhelming feelings I have right now towards my study.

So where to from here?

  1. Today I have taken an annual leave day and intend to watch several movies at the Film Festival.  This is my time to zone out.
  2. Work has been full-on but there are things that will alleviate this.  Very soon I will be in the new building (woo hoo!) and over time I will develop an operating rhythm with my team and manager.
  3. Over the next few days I will centre myself and find quiet time to review the requirements of my paper.   A clear head can help to view things more objectively.
  4. I will identify any areas I need support with and chat to either Heather, or others for their perspective.
  5. I will remind myself that I am capable.  I have completed studies before and I am so determined to achieve this goal.

Wow, it feels so cathartic to even write this blog post.

I know there are many of you who are working and studying and trying tremendously hard to balance both things.  May you persist in your endeavours and make sure you have a breather when you can!

Anyhoo, time to head to the cinema x




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Unitec Student Connectors

This week we officially launched the International Student Connectors programme at Unitec.  The purpose behind this programme is empower and guide International students to support other students during their study journey.  This can be through volunteer opportunities, peer-to-peer support activities, to participating in on-campus events.  We will also provide the students with ongoing professional and personal development during the semester and provide a certificate at the completion of the programme.

Training 3

During the training session this week, the Student Support team lead by the wonderful Helena Finau spent time creating connections between the students (we learnt the group had students from East Timor, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh…) and even got them all singing along to Lean on Me.  Helena also spent time getting the students to reflect on issues around homesickness and cultural differences.

The first main activity the students will take part in is the upcoming International Student Orientation next week.

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So why this programme?

  • A recent Unitec survey (“U-Matter”) highlighted issues and concerns that were important to International students, including perceived lack of safety in Auckland, having greater opportunities to engage with other students, settling into life in NZ, to concerns around finding employment. The programme aspires to create connection in a meaningful way.
  • The student voice is powerful!  As staff, we can’t assume we know everything about what students want or need.
  • Students want to make a difference.  Not only do students want to be valued, they also want to SHOW value through their actions.
  • Students gain experience, developing their skills and ultimately enhancing their career management competencies.
  • Student services teams are flexing to reach a larger number of students.  Programmes such as this allow for engagement greater numbers of students to participate.
  • Stop.  Collaborate and listen!  So far it’s been awesome to collaborate with International Office and other student services teams.  The term ‘more hands make light work’ rings true.  In future we will be engaging with external organisations and collaborators.

The Developing and Supporting Student Leadership (DaSSL) framework tool was used to develop the Student Connectors programme, with the intention to review the pilot initiative at the end of the semester.

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