Some­thing dif­fer­ent also close to home Teacher has three roles in this show

Whanganui Midweek - - CARING FOR THE ELDERLY - By COLIN THOMP­SON

Tired of vis­it­ing the same old places? How about des­ti­na­tions not too far away on es­corted tours with de­par­tures from Whanganui?

The Chatham Is­lands are a spe­cial place 870km east of the main­land, 45 min­utes ahead of New Zealand time. The lo­cals are friendly and wel­com­ing. Their iso­la­tion (no mo­bile phone sig­nal!), change­able cli­mate and a his­tory that goes back to the Mo­ri­ori, gives them a strong com­mu­nity spirit, in­de­pen­dence and self suf­fi­ciency. With rare flora and fauna, and op­por­tu­nity to fish this is a unique place. De­par­tures are avail­able dur­ing Jan­uary, Fe­bru­ary and March.

Lord Howe Is­land is an un­spoilt jewel of the Pa­cific with a fas­ci­nat­ing eco­log­i­cal ethos, a World Her­itage Is­land with 168 bird species, 241 species of na­tive plants, 500 ma­rine fish and 90 dif­fer­ent co­ral species. Lord Howe en­joys a sub trop­i­cal cli­mate with tem­per­a­tures rarely ris­ing above 26° in sum­mer or be­low 16° in win­ter. It is two hours’ fly­ing time from Syd­ney, 11km long and 2.4km wide, home to about 350 lo­cals. Vis­i­tor num­bers are re­stricted to 400 at any one time.

With more than a third of the of the is­land in re­serves, Na­tional Parks and World Her­itage sites, Tas­ma­nia’s un­spoilt nat­u­ral beauty and clean beaches will leave you want­ing more. High­lights in­clude Wine­glass Bay, the in­fa­mous pe­nal colony of Port Arthur, wilder­ness train trips and friendly down-to-earth peo­ple. Ho­bart is a mod­ern city with arts, food and en­ter­tain­ment, while Launceston is Aus­tralia’s old­est provin­cial cen­tre.

■ Colin Thomp­son is free­lance travel con­sul­tant with New Zealand Travel Bro­kers. colin.thomp­son@nz­trav­el­bro­kers.co.nz Dave Craig, a sci­ence teacher at Wan­ganui High School, is re­hears­ing three roles in Dick Whit­ting­ton and His Cat: he’s the chief of the Spice Is­lands, the Mayor of Haw­era and the Mayor of Welling­ton so you can only be­gin to imag­ine just how busy he is.

“Hamish had bet­ter watch out come the next elec­tions,” Dave joked.

“I met my wife Karen through theatre in Auck­land,” Dave says. “I was play­ing Al­fred Doolit­tle in My Fair Lady .”I asked if he had a pref­er­ence for mu­si­cal theatre over “straight” theatre but he said that he en­joyed se­ri­ous drama equally with mu­si­cal drama.

“I’ve done a lot of other things around theatre, set build­ing and such like and I’ve played the trom­bone in the orches­tra too.” Dave was re­spon­si­ble for build­ing the set for The Tem­pest at Ba­son Botan­i­cal Gar­dens ear­lier this year.

As well as theatre Dave en­joys shoot­ing, tramp­ing and camp­ing.

He spent four years train­ing teach­ers in the United Arab Emi­rates where he en­joyed very dif­fer­ent trav­el­ling and camp­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in the desert.

On stage with Dave is 14-year-old Is­abel McKenzie who plays the part of the Cat. Like Dave, she’s had a va­ri­ety of theatre ex­pe­ri­ences, de­spite her youth, play­ing in The Wind in the Wil­lows, Alice in Won­der­land and as­sis­tant stage man­ag­ing. She’s also study­ing drama at school.

“Theatre’s good for you. It helps to build con­fi­dence,” she said.

Is­abel is in­ter­ested in learn­ing other as­pects of theatre such as the light­ing and sound as well as hon­ing her act­ing skills.

Is­abel likes the Cat. “The Cat is the only one that re­ally knows what’s go­ing on while ev­ery­one else is obliv­i­ous. She’s dis­gusted by Dick’s mother and does a lot of eye rolling.

There are a lot of rats run­ning around all over the place de­spite ev­ery­one’s ef­forts to catch them. The cat’s not in­ter­ested.

She does, how­ever, save the day, but it’s Dick who gets the credit. Is Is­abel en­joy­ing play­ing the Cat?

“Oh yes, and I have a lit­tle kit­ten as well,” she grinned. Dave and Is­abel are two happy mem­bers of a show that’s tick­ing along nicely.

■ Apol­ogy: In last week’s Mid­week I mis­quoted Chris McKenzie as say­ing that he “par­ented” mem­bers of his church youth group. I apol­o­gise to Chris and any­one of­fended by this er­ror.

PIC­TURE / NASA

The Chatham Is­lands are a spe­cial place to visit.

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