Monday, 11 July 2011

Arrival and an Unexpected Event

We landed safely in Christchurch, New Zealand on Saturday morning, July 9th after about 28 hours of travel.  The main flight from San Francisco to New Zealand is long (over 12 hours), but the food, wine, entertainment and sleeping were all top-notch.

Boeing 747 preparing for trip from San Francisco to Auckland

 We were met at the Christchurch airport by the very friendly Tim Bell, Deputy Head of Department for Computer Science and Software Engineering at the University of Canterbury.  After a quick stop at our flat (townhouse) to drop off our bags and unpack a few things, we were off for a tour of Christchurch.  Tim took us to see the university area, several parks, the Central Business District (fenced off, mostly to be razed from the recent earthquakes - more on that another time.), and finally ... to a ukulele festival!

It turns out that Tim's wife Judith is a music teacher, and she set up a ukulele festival at the local school where she works.  Ukuleles have source connections to the South Pacific, are fairly easy to learn, and have been shown to be successful tools for getting kids interested in music.  Two guest instructors came down from Auckland to lead the workshop, which culminated in a concert.  There were several kids' groups playing ukuleles, as well as several community adult ukulele groups.  We heard everything from old time blues to rock music to some Maori songs, including "classic" ukulele hits like El Condor Pasa, We Will Rock You, and Proud Mary.  Several of the groups were dressed up in themes, including one kids' group dressed as pirates (one of the adult ukulele players later said "Pirates are fun, and ukulele playing is fun", which I think explained the connection).

 Pirate ukulele players ages 3 to 8
The ukulele salute

Young ukulele player
We ended the day with a wonderful supper at a local restaurant with all of the people involved in the festival.  Somehow we managed to stay awake through the meal (good people and conversation helped), and we ended our first day in Christchurch.  

No comments:

Post a Comment