Parallel islands

June 2, 2013

I’m writing this from Timor Leste (East Timor) where my wife Pip and I moved in April to begin a two-year stint with Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA).

We’ve settled in well but home feels a long way away, and Ireland even further. Quite a few Kiwis live here and there are enough Irish to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in the capital, Dili.

At our Tetun language classses I met two young Irish women working for the UN and, in the town of Maliana, a woman from Tipperary whose mother lives not far from where my Martin forebears hail. Many Irish are here for the same reasons as the Kiwis – to help rebuild a new, very small country.

Pat and Pip in Balibo, at the house where five journalists (three Aussies, a Kiwi and a Brit) were murdered by invading Indonesian forces in 1975. The house is now a memorial.

Pat and Pip in Balibo, at the house where five journalists (three Aussies, a Kiwi and a Brit) sought shelter before being murdered by invading Indonesian forces in 1975. The house is now a memorial.

Timor Leste is the world’s first nation of the 21st century. It was a priority for Irish aid when the Celtic Tiger was roaring in 2003 but Ireland closed its aid office in Dili last October. Read the rest of this entry »


O’Kiwi News

June 25, 2012

Plenty about Ireland has come our way lately – the O’Kiwi lads have been following the Irish rugby team again; a Dunedin writer on days spent in Dublin; an Irish comedy and the sad state of our free-to-air television; a Kiwi girl on current Irish literature; and a book that analyses corruption in Irish politics. 

O’Kiwi lads back on tour

The O’Kiwi lads were back on the road for the All Blacks v Irish test in Auckland, on a tour that probably enjoyed more success than the Irish rugby team.

Later, in the aftermath of the 60-0 hiding dished out by the All Blacks in the third test, Irish fans were calling for the head of coach Declan Kidney. ‘A kidney transplant is required,’ said one fan. ‘A full organ transplant is required,’ responded another.

O’Kiwi On Tour: Jack relaxes in the campervan – it’s a hard life on the road.

Many wondered how a team full of players from Leinster and Ulster, the two provinces that recently contested the European rugby championship in the Heineken Cup final, could fail so completely when playing for Ireland. A similar criticism has for years been levelled at the English soccer team – their outstanding club competition fails to translate into a winning national side. Read the rest of this entry »


More Irish head this way

January 26, 2012

Irish migration to New Zealand is in the headlines on both sides of the globe.

Here, the Dominion Post reports that Irish and Italians are ‘leading the influx of recession refugees’ from Europe. There were 50 percent more Irish migrants in the year till last November than in 2010 (1545 compared with 1030). The Wellington Irish community is flourishing as the jobseekers arrive, the paper says.

Earlier this month, the Irish Times featured New Zealand in a blog site dedicated to ‘Generation Emigration’. The article offered practical advice on visas, finding a job and a place to live, and useful links to Irish organisations.

One link is to a lively Facebook site for ‘Irish people living in New Zealand’. Its followers add all sorts of gems, like this:

Read the rest of this entry »


O’Kiwi News

January 11, 2012

Happy New Year. As we kick off 2012, Irish music and storytelling are alive and well in New Zealand. Here’s some news about what’s coming up:

Accordions and craic

Sharon Shannon

Famed Irish accordionist Sharon Shannon will be lighting up Wellington’s Town Hall with her infectious tunes and seven-piece big band at the International Arts Festival on 14 March.
She will also play two concerts at Womad in New Plymouth and one in Auckland.
Shannon has toured and recorded with musicians including Bono, Sinead O’Connor, Steve Earle and Mark Knopfler. She hails from the tiny village of Corofin in County Clare.

Read the rest of this entry »


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