Stephanie, centre, and Isobel Cairns are sisters flatting in Newtown, Wellington. They live with Steph’s boyfriend Josh Harris, an illustrator-turned-construction worker and songwriter, and another flatmate, Zara Leyden (not pictured). Steph works as a piano teacher and at various community bicycle workshops in Wellington, as well as a cycle safety teacher in primary schools. Isobel is an administrator at Victoria University. They’re pictured with Ursula the cat. STEPH/ My sister was living here for maybe a year or two before us. At the beginning of last year, Josh and I got back from Mexico, where we’d been travelling for six months on our bikes. We got back home and Isobel’s other flatmates were all moving out, so we moved in with her. We felt quite lucky because we knew that there weren’t many flats going in the city. We were pretty stoked to move in somewhere straight away.
For a long time, Isobel and I thought we would never live together. We’re very close but we argue a lot – we’re one of those families. It’s actually turned out to be great, because we don’t have any problems communicating with each other. We can speak really openly.
We grew up on the K piti Coast. We lived in Paek k riki for the first 15 years or so. We both chose to go to high school in the city. She is a year-and-a-half older than me. A lot of people think I’m the older one.
This is Josh and my studio space. That’s our space for doing music, officey stuff, sewing, wood-carving, carpentry – all of our creative stuff is jammed into this one room.
Piano is my main instrument, but I’ve got a couple of guitars and a violin. There’s another instrument there which is an Indonesian instrument. I play in the Indonesian Gamelan Group. During university, I took an open-entry music course learning gamelan music. The word refers to the ensemble of instruments, as well as the music being played.