A glimpse to past civilizations through Hamilton Gardens

The Hamilton Gardens are a sort of museum that feature themes from ancient civilizations.  It is the most popular tourist destinations in the Waikato Region, attracting not less than a million of people each year.

Owned and managed by the Hamilton City Council, the Hamilton Gardens is a public botanical patch.  It lies on a four-acre land between State Highway 1 and the Waikato River bank in the southern part of Hamilton City.

Blue Castle - Sustainable Backyard

What makes Hamilton Gardens different from any other garden is its ability to convey a story in each of the garden themes. As soon as you enter, a guide will take you on a journey of discovery from the tranquil Chinese Sung Dynasty era, and into different periods.  You’ll surely be mesmerized at the varied themes that are divided into five collections, namely:

Paradise Collection.  This garden will bring you back to at least three Asian civilizations, two European periods, and the 20th century West Coast American tradition.

Productive Collection.  I have a personal bias for this themed-garden because it’s something closest to my heart.  I love the way the gardeners present the patches with such convincing and unique characters in

  • Sustainable Backyard
  • Herb Garden
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Te Parapara

Blue Castle - pondFantasy Collection.  Its newest addition, the Tudor Garden, stands out because it depicts the English aristocracy of the 16th century with a complex knot garden.  The other themes that belong to this collection include the Tropical Garden, and the Chinoiserie Garden.  And more gardens are still coming up.

Cultivar Collection features five themes, namely:

  • Rogers Rose Garden tells the story of how the modern rose developed from species to the newest hybrids.
  • Hammond Camellia Garden tells how the Camellia flower genus developed
  • New Zealand Cultivar Garden features cultivars from New Zealand native plants
  • Rhododendron Lawn highlights small deciduous trees
  • Victorian Flower Garden features greenhouses, and a 19th century English tradition

Landscape Garden. This features three themes, namely: the Hamilton East Cemetery, the Valley Walk, and the Bussaco Woodland.

How to keep calm when earthquake rattles

Nepal has yet to recover from its nightmare of the April disaster when another strong earthquake rattles the land on May 12 this year.  Tremors are unpredictable. They hit anytime, anywhere causing many to panic. Although we cannot prevent it from occurring, we can at least minimize its damage to our lives and properties.

Blue Castle - rubble
Earthquake damage in Nepal

On May 12, a 7.3 magnitude quake followed by a number of aftershocks hit the country of Nepal again. It occurred barely two weeks after a stronger 7.8 magnitude tremor claimed more than 8,000 lives and reduced the country to rubble.

The South Island of New Zealand also experienced tremors twice in April; although, those were of lesser degree.

What does this mean to us, then?

While no technology can ever predict when earthquake occurs or prevent it from happening, we can at least do something to minimize its damage to our lives and our properties. By being vigilant and equipped with knowledge on what to do during and after an earthquake, we can significantly stay safe and avoid severe damage to properties.

Blue Castle - ring of fire

The following countries are more prone to strong earthquakes because of their location within the Pacific Ring of Fire.

  • Chile
  • Mexico
  • Peru
  • Guatemala
  • United States
  • Canada
  • Antarctica
  • Russia
  • Japan
  • Taiwan
  • Philippines
  • New Zealand
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Indonesia

Around 81% of the world’s strong earthquakes occur along this ring; although, this does not mean those away from it are safe. So, whether your country is within the Pacific Ring of Fire or far away from it, it is important that you know what to do during and after an earthquake rattles your area.

Safety tips

After careful study and based on experience, some organizations have come up with important tips on what to do during and after an earthquake. They also advise that you understand your risks to reduce or prevent injuries, damages, and long-term financial repercussions. I recommend that we all should read these guidelines.  We should rather be safe than sorry.

Catch the FIFA U-20 World Cup games in Dunedin

Seven of the FIFA U-20 World Cup games will be played at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, now known as the Otago Stadium, in Dunedin.  The world football event is set on 30 May – 20 June. New Zealand bested Tunisia, Peru, and Wales to host this year’s competition.  It’s the first time for the country to host the said sports event.

Blue - Otago Stadium

The Forsyth Barr Stadium, renamed Otago Stadium for the competition, is where the action will take place as Dunedin hosts seven of the FIFA U-20 World Cup games, including a Round 16 clash, or the round prior to the quarter finals.  This year’s world football event is the twentieth edition of the U-20 World Cup since its inception in 1977 as the FIFA World Youth Championship.

Twenty-four contingents from all over the world will participate in the competition.  The schedule of the games are distributed in Dunedin, Christchurch, Auckland, Hamilton, Whangarei, New Plymouth, and Wellington.

The teams to compete in Dunedin are as follows.

31 May

  • Mexico vs Mali.  Kick-off time is at 1:00pm
  • Uruguay vs Serbia.  Kick-off time is at 4:00pm

3 June

  • Mexico vs Uruguay.  Game starts at 4:00pm
  • Serbia vs Mali. Kick-off time at 7:00pm

6 June

  • Colombia vs Portugal. Game starts at 1:00pm
  • Serbia vs Mexico. Game starts at 4:00pm

10 June – Round of 16.  Kick-off time is at 4:00pm.  

  • The game will be between 1D against 3BEF

For a complete schedule of the FIFA U-20 World Cup games, check out the Match Schedule.

About Dunedin

Beach - St. Clair

Dunedin is a coastal city at the southeast end of New Zealand’s South Island. It is the largest city in the South Island, sprawling  from the inlet towards the open sea across valleys and hills of a dead volcano. It is also home to some of the best beaches in New Zealand.

The city is known as one of the country’s most important educational and cultural centres. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) even recognizes Dunedin as the official City of Literature during the launching of the Creative Cities Network.

Store Lighting and its Impact to Store Customers


Lighting is an important factor that every retail owner should focus on. With brands competing for every customer, it is a must that a store can provide all the necessary features consumers are looking for and adequate lighting is one of those. With its direct effect on consumers mood, a perfect lighting can highlight architectural elements, product qualities and it can also create a virtual space that could influence the way consumers feel, how they think about the product and the choice on whether they will be purchasing or not.

    To have that great impact against consumers, owners should be selecting the right set of lights for their needs. And to help them do so, here are some of the most common types of lighting that can be used on store as part of the retail design.

1.    The Ambient Lighting

This lighting is known to be the main light source of any store. These lights ensure that the store is not too gloomy and all the consumers who enter the store will feel comfortable due to the adequate light present around the shop.

2.    The Task Lighting

This type of lighting is more focused on the task given to it, wherein it used to illuminate areas in the store that needs more light to perform the said tasks. These lighting can be seen on store entrances, checkout area, dressing rooms and the customer service desk.

3.    The Accent Lighting

This type of lighting are used by many retails stores in highlighting some specific areas, displays and even decors of the store for them to enhance the products and to add a sense of importance to their most valuable masterpiece.

4.    The Decorative Lighting

From the word itself this kind of lighting has a specific function of adding sophistication and glam to the store. In most cases, it is all about the light fixtures and not the lighting itself. Most decorative lights today includes chandeliers, custom designed fixtures and others depending on the taste and theme of the store.

    As they choose the lighting type that will best suit their store, the next thing they have to do is to setup the lighting as part of their retail design. To do so, here are some of the general tips they could follow:

    In purchasing LED bulbs, owners should ensure that they buy all the needed bulbs at once. As the technology of Led is still being developed, the bulbs are not yet consistent in color, temperature, and even tone. So the best way to ensure that the bulbs that have been purchase has a same outcome it should be purchased in bulk.

    The heat coming from the lights should not make any customers feel uncomfortable. It should not be too close on products that can fade especially for those stores with low ceilings.  So when they purchase a light, incandescent lights produce the warmest, Led is the coolest while fluorescent lights are in between.

    As the store is already packed with lighting, it is advised that owners use dimmer switches so that they can control the level of lighting in their store. This can help them save from their energy bills and it provides them the freedom to manipulate the atmosphere of their store without much control.

    So for those retail owners who are planning to replace their store lighting, they should be careful in choosing the type of lighting they will use to enhance the merchandise of their store and to create a good impression towards their customers. 

Te Papa features WWI events in Gallipoli exhibition

Te Papa Museum brings back memories of World War I by presenting a close-to-reality Gallipoli exhibition.  Entitled Gallipoli: the Scale of our War, the display takes visitors on an immersive journey through the battlefields, where 2,779 people lost their lives. Stories of eight New Zealand citizens who played significant roles in the war are also brought to life to add drama to the display.

Produced by Te Papa in collaboration  with Weta Workshop, the Gallipoli exhibition uses movies, monumental figures, 3D maps and projections, miniatures, and models to come up with an almost real war experience. While ordinary New Zealanders who experienced that part of history narrated the tragedies and victories of the Gallipoli campaign.

Weta Workshop spent considerable time conducting research and creating the 2.4 times larger than life figures of the nurse and seven soldiers, around whose stories the display revolves. The figures are carefully sculpted to evoke suffering, pain, and heroism.

In the exhibition, you will also see the weapons used in the combat as well as the photographs that the soldiers took on the front line.

Dr. Christopher Pugsley, Exhibition Historical Director, said that this project aims to create a lasting impact on the visitors’ memory, especially among the younger generation, so that the eventful New Zealand history will not be forgotten.  He also hopes that this exhibition will help shape people’s perspective on the Gallipoli campaign.

Gallipoli exhibition - invitationIf you are a resident of Wellington, New Zealand, you are encouraged to see “Gallipoli: the Scale of our War” and be immersed in that important event of the country.

The Gallipoli exhibition is ongoing and will be on for the next four years, or until 2018, to concur with the commemorations of World War I centenary.  Admission is free of charge, but parental guidance is required among young visitors as there are some graphic contents in the display.