Living an enriched life is something we can all aspire to and featured below are four Kiwis living a life that epitomises alternative richness.
These New Zealanders perfectly define Škoda’s guiding philosophy of being ‘driven by something different’ which celebrates independent thought and a more sustainable definition of success.
SIMON VAN VELTHOOVEN
World Champion Cyclist and grinder on Emirates Team NZ America’s Cup 2017.
Reading Simon van Velthooven’s achievements it’s easy to think he’s some kind of super human with powers us mortals only dream of. But he reckons sporting success comes down to working hard, grit, and learning how to push yourself. “I feel like I’ve achieved a lot from training hard and being healthy,” he says.
The Olympic, Commonwealth Games and world champion medalist in sprint cycling, and lead ‘cyclist grinder’ on Emirates Team NZ’s 2017 America’s Cup win, says he discovered athletes don’t have super powers when he first competed overseas after high school.
“Racing against the world’s best riders I realised they were normal people who practiced hard. I knew that if I put the time in then I’d have a shot at it too. There’s no special thing as talent, it’s the ability to work hard.” There is such a thing as super fitness though.
Nicknamed ‘rhino’ for years (he can’t remember why) he learned how to push himself as a young lad, cycling 4km each way to school, then being mentored at 15 by Commonwealth Games medalist, Mike McRedmond, who taught him how to “push through pain and not be a dickhead.”
He never thinks he’s not fit enough to take anything on, even jumping sport genres from cycling to sailing. “You don’t blink and just do it.”
Winning, says van Velthooven is about squeezing an extra 10 per cent out of your body. “When you master the ability to release endorphins, adrenaline, nervous energy and will to win all at the same time then you’re a deadly athlete.”
Being fit and sustaining good health means your body wants more of the good stuff, like endorphins, he says. “Working out every day is good. That’s why more people should bike and walk to work - give your body a positive drug and your productivity will reflect that too.”
The full on training also keeps him away from demons. “Sport keeps me away from drinking too much or doing things that wouldn’t benefit me later.” It also helps him do anything; he never thinks he’s not fit enough. “It’s nice that everything recreationally is obtainable – spearfishing, running or mountain biking.”
“There are other people who probably have better results but I’m rich in sport, keeping myself fit. You can achieve things in life because you stay healthy.” And the big reward is not feeling like a champ or winning a wheelbarrow of gongs but “getting a good result for all the people who have supported you.”
Designer, creator, collector and Dulux Colour Ambassador.
Evie Kemp has a tattoo of Andy Warhol on her arm. He’s always been a huge influence on the designer. “I feel like it’s cliché as he’s such a mega artist but it’s more about his methods of spreading art, being an awkward weirdo who reinvented himself, and I like the idea of applying what you do to everything in your world,” she says.
Like Warhol, Kemp’s adept at applying colour to her entire world. One glance at her Instagram feed reveals bold, creative expression across her work, home, projects, clothes, art and even photos of her dogs. Her prints are found in homes worldwide but recently she’s focused on collaborative projects.
Maaike used Kemp’s textile designs in their latest collection at NZFW, she’s designed events with Nadia Lim from the menus to the table decorations, she works with Dulux paints, and most recently illustrated and designed elements for the Women of Influence Awards including making 300 lanterns by hand. Hearing about her typical workday at home she seems to have the old work/life balance under control.
“If it’s a simple illustration, I stick my podcast on, have my pets around me, the window is open and I feel very fortunate that this is my work. I get joy in the process.”
People hire Kemp for her experience but also to see her creative, colourful take on a project. “I’m lucky I’m hired as myself rather than a pair of hands and clients are keen to see how I would do it. Even if something’s not quite what they were thinking it’s always workable and often I end up happier with it.” Colour. Joy. Creativity.
It sounds like a rich life. But the alternative to Kemp seriously lacks in happiness. Before she got into graphic design she experienced depression as a teen so decided to make a change, “along with the doctor’s help”. “My family don’t have a good track record with mental health so I know it’s important to stay on the good side of it.
I manage my moods but I’m always aware of it. For me, creativity is a way to stay sane.” Aside from keeping the black dog at bay, another bonus to Kemp’s creativity is the pleasure of sharing her work with others. “It’s amazing when somebody says they’ve had a piece of mine for eight years and it’s still their favourite. It’s cool to know that these things you’re working on have a life long after you’ve passed them on.”
Mother of 14, grandmother of 24 and successful baby clothing company owner.
Jane McAllister is off to Sydney for one of her son’s 40th birthdays. “Fancy wanting your mother to come to your 40th?” she says from Auckland Airport. “He’ll probably get stirred about it by the family though!”
When you have 14 children and 24 grandchildren there’s a lot of stirring going on. Along with plenty of milestones to celebrate. McAllister says a large family has been hard work but it’s paid off in dividends. “It brings a lot of different personalities to the table, and a love you wouldn’t have if you didn’t have that many children and grandchildren.”
You could call McAllister a professional mother, with 14 kids, but she’s also a professional business owner and has been running the successful children’s clothing line, Dimples, since 1992.
The idea percolated as her family grew. She had her first baby at 16 and was very conscious of being a teen mother and the associated stigma. “We didn’t have much money but I wanted my children dressed nicely. I didn’t want the criticism, ‘what are you doing having children so young’ so I made their clothes.”
That lead to other parents asking where she got the great clothes from, which eventually led to Dimples.
Three of her daughters also help in the business including her first born, Felicity, who was pregnant with her first child at the same time McAllister was pregnant with her 13th.
As unusual as it sounds she says it was a wonderful mother and daughter time. “As a parent there are some you click with better than others but there are so many who are always happy to lend a hand. I’m very wealthy in family connections. Very lucky.”
There was no planning in the number of children, McAllister just loved having them. “I never felt that I had enough. I always loved babies and was in my element. I was a home-maker and fitted into that role easily, I coped very well.”
Plus her husband, Sam, wasn’t adverse to the idea of more. “Coming from Scotland a large family appealed to him. We never wish we never had that many children.”
McAllister’s busy in her business and the business of a big family, as there’s always something happening. “Gatherings are always exciting. Like any family, it comes with its challenges, there are a few who don’t get on with some but it’s not obvious. Everybody’s got somebody. It’s a whole universe really. You almost don’t need friends as you have so many children, it’s an unbelievable feeling.”
TE AROHANUI HAWKE
Kapa Haka performer and teacher, founder of cultural festival.
When Te Arohanui Hawke first joined the renowned kapa haka group, Manu Huia, in 2008 his tutor, Aunty Vicky, asked him what his purpose was. “I didn’t even know what a purpose was,” he says. “She told me ‘from now on your purpose is to open your ears and eyes and close your mouth’. So I listened. And learned. Until it was my time to open my mouth and start teaching.”
Ten years on and Matua TA, as he’s called, is doing lots of teaching. He runs kapa haka groups in seven schools, holds an annual performance, teaches corporates and works with youth in Mt Eden prison.
Recently he was called upon to do a powhiri for Pink. “I see power in people singing one song together.” Matua TA loves working with his kapa haka kids, in a mixture of affluent and mixed decile schools in East Auckland. (Pictured here at Ōrākei Primary School). “I love their ‘aha’ moment, when they get a note or take a leadership role and step up in confidence.
I get the mischief boys and they’re quite talented if they harness their energy into the haka. With my girls I try to get them to express themselves.” He enjoys schools like Kings College because they do their homework. “You tell them to practice an expression five times a day and they do it!” And they all practice for the annual kapa haka event, Ngā Rau o Te Kāhu, held on Matua TA’s local marae in Ōrākei.
“A lot of our community never come to the marae so it’s an opportunity for them to realise it’s pretty nice.” He believes what you do is just as important off the stage as on. For him that means being an integral part of his whanau. “My kids are fluent in te reo Māori and we live in a community where we all speak Māori. It’s really hard to find that in a city.”
Everything he knows, he says, he learned from his mum, a strong woman who kept true to her tikanga Māori. “I saw how proud she was in her culture and it made me want to be the same. It’s not about keeping our taonga – it’s not for us to keep, it’s for us to share. And I’m lucky enough to make a job out of it. You do something you love and you never work a day in your life!”
“Ki te waatea te hinengaro me te kaha rere o te wairua ka taea nga mea katoa.” (If the mind is clear the spirit is free flowing and anything’s possible.)