When I was living abroad, I met tons of interesting people from many different nationalities. Once, I met Mel Shaw in art class. Both of us weren’t even subscribed to the course for credits, but still decided to spend our wednesday afternoons in a class room in an old building in Amsterdam near the canals, listening to lectures about Monet, Mies Van de Rohe and Gaugin.

I noticed the sparkling personality from this girl who came from across the ocean and we became great friends. I felt like I wanted to know more about her habitat and homeland; New-Zealand. People tend to notice Australia more on the world map, whereas New-Zealand is a little treasure just a bit more to the north of the Aussies.

Here is a tiny little interview about a country which seems like an absolute dream to live in, if you love the green, summer, laid-back attitude kind of life. The topic lifestyle interests me a lot. And, by looking at the different ways of living throughout different cities and countries, my inspiration and ambitions keep on getting higher. Now, off to the south.

How would you describe an average day of life in New-Zealand of an average person?

“What’s average anyway? Am I average?”

There is a big difference between city life and rural life in New-Zealand, like any other country. Recently, a friend went to the very South of New-Zealand, where the main occupation is farming &  fishing. It is predominately “white” down there. When the early morning starts off, it’s all about hard work. However, Auckland is on par with any other international city.

Can you compare it to the Californian beach glitter & glamour lifestyle?

I can definitely compare them to certain parts of Auckland. I have only recently exposed myself to it by working with a Paleo company called Wilder and Hunt, based in a beautiful upmarket beach area called St. Heliers. I find it interesting, although I’m not sure if I like being part of that world.

“Big muscles, shiny tans. Yeah, more its just amusing for a girl who doesnt even own an iPhone (yup)”

How do people stand towards health and sports? Is it a genuine interest or do people just follow the hype?

Yeah, this country is pretty into rugby. There are even some really hardcore girls. I personally can’t tell you a lot about it, but when I travel I do get pretty patriotic about my home. I think we are just so little and isolated, so I feel like I have to stick up for the place. I think when New-Zealand does a sport, they do it well and kick ass. Cricket is somewhat of a big deal too.

How is winter and how do you spend your days there?

Winter in Auckland is not very brutal. It can be pretty tropical in Auckland, so we do have a lot of thunder and lightening storms. But eventually the cold is very bearable. It can be 12 degrees in the day at its lowest.

How culturally interested is an average NZ? Like are they very interested in European culture (writers, theatre etc classics here)?

Absolutely! Especially the world I’ve been exposed to, again there’s those rural and smaller city differences. New Zealanders love to travel, I would say most people in the 20’s here leave and travel overseas at some point. In terms of our great auhtors, playwrights, artists wether they realise it or not their all influenced by European culture or artists. Just my opinion.

Do you have a favorite New-Zealand writer or artist that inspires you a lot?

I think in terms of my personal style and attitude I feel really influenced by music. Even though I don’t have any musical talent and it are usually friends’ bands or friends of bands. To name a few bigger New-Zealand groups that tour overseas you have the likes of Water Colours, Doprah, PCP Eagles, Rackets. Then the smaller bands that I actually see a lot more often like $noregazZzm, Totems, Team Ugly, Las Tetas, Big Rick, Grrlfriendz, Career Girls, Deer Park, Dawn Marble, Opposite Sex

There are a lot of Sassy girl bands around at the moment. But in terms of art, for me it is all inspired by music with a huge change, now that I reflect on it and compare it to my time in the theatre world overseas. I

How would you describe a typical New-Zealand childhood?

The positive – summer Christmas, beaches, BBQ’s, lots of family, and generally raised with awareness and exposure to and of a lot of different cultures. The not so good – being sent outside to play a lot, figure things out for yourself, stop crying, toughen up. I think it is particualrly hard for males in smaller towns where there is definitely still only one career path for them.

Do you think there is a big influence from Asia and / or America?

Yes! And thank you for asking about Asia, because most don’t realise how heavily it has an impact on us, especially in Auckland. There are parts of Auckland where I can walk and be the only non-Asian person. Our food is very influenced by Asian culture. Probably the American and British influence is about even, I think we pick and choose the best parts.

How is New-Zealand in fashion?

My favorite New-Zealand designers are Lonely Hearts, Stolen Girlfriends Club, Nom*D, Zambesi, Ruby, Deadly Ponies. I also love Ugly do the best menswear, Oh and Mandatory. I actually think I prefer shopping for men. New-Zealand fashion is so diverse, anything goes. Check out a blog like Eyeseyeseyeseyes.

What do you think most people would prefer: a hip coffee bar or a designer smoothie bar?

Probably more leaning towards the coffee.. but just slightly.

Do you also have the big New-Zealandian dream, just like there is an American dream?

Sure, I guess there is a lot of people who want to settle, get a job, have kids and become rich etc. That is probably more from my mum’s generation. For my generation there is a bit of pressure to leave and see the world. The problem with that is nobody ever comes back.

How do you think about Australia?

It’s ok. I’ve seen a lot of it. I have thought a while about moving to Melbourne. It may happen, but I would rather move back to Amsterdam or London.

What are the benefits of living here?

Truthfully we are so lucky here, we have it all. I can be satisfied artistically and get my nature fix. Ultimately, I know I could be happy living here forever, but something itches in me to get out as well.

How would you describe the characteristics of the mainstream versus the subculture?

Our subculture is very dark and grungy, infused with splatters of glittery pink and pop. Mainstream is just, well you know…isn’t it the same everywhere?

+++all photo credits are for make sure you visit her lovely blog+++

+++many thanks to Mel Shaw for the interview+++