Foreign Work

The Guardian

Christchurch TV station’s lone survivor recalls grief and defiance during quake

The phone call saved her. Mary Anne Jackson does not remember who was on the line or what it was about, but on a quiet February afternoon the receptionist answered. Minutes earlier, she had been on the first floor of the Canterbury Television building – a six-storey structure in central Christchurch that housed the city’s regional television company.

Above her were 16 colleagues who had just been organising a farewell function for an employee. On the top storeys were more than 100 others. They were working for other companies or studying at the English language school housed there. Then the noise began.

It sounded like a freight train or an plane landing on the roof, Jackson says. The ground began to shake. The windows began to buckle. From the outside you could hear screams and see the pillars start to snap. Jackson hesitated for a moment. Then she ran. The building was coming down around her. (continue reading)

Christchurch: after the earthquake, a city rebuilt in whose image?

A recent international visitor to New Zealand’s second largest city asked Coralie Winn why there were so many diggers in its centre tearing down buildings. It seemed they had little notion that less than three years earlier, Christchurch had endured a series of earthquakes that destroyed the city’s infrastructure, homes and communities.

The most violent quake, on 22 February 2011, killed 181 people. Thousands more were made homeless, and an area more than four times the size of London’s Hyde Park was deemed uninhabitable. Less than three years on, the diggers that rattle about Christchurch’s gridded streets are a constant reminder of how far there is to go to recreate what was once there. “People don’t comprehend,” Winn said. “Rebuilding a city is complicated.” (continue reading)

The International New York Times

New Zealand’s Green Tourism Push Clashes With Realities

The scene is set: a giant countdown clock, a 1,500-foot red carpet and assurances from the New Zealand government’s tourism arm that the South Pacific nation will once again become the real Middle Earth. (continue reading)

Choosing Advisers for Admissions

A plan that an education agent prepared for a Chinese couple’s two sons included a sample essay question that could be included in a U.S. college application: “Evaluate a significant achievement or risk you have taken or an ethical dilemma you have faced.” (continue reading)

From Indonesia, a Documentary With Killers as the Stars

Joshua Oppenheimer was in northern Sumatra when he first heard the story.

It was about 10 years ago, and he was working on a documentary about a group of Indonesian plantation workers suffering from exposure to a dangerous pesticide. The workers, he found, were too afraid to organize a union to press their case. (continue reading)


The New Internationalist

The guard spoke out of the place where his front tooth used to be. He sat in the passenger seat of an aged Toyota station wagon with a muddied rifle leaning against his knee. A former liberation soldier, he clapped his hands to the blaring sound of Somali rap music as we sped through the desert east of Hargeisa, the administrative hub of Somaliland: a place that no longer exists. (continue reading)

The Sunday Star Times

War and drought with no end

Humanitarian workers and journalists alike often like to frame the ongoing cycle of war and drought in this part of Africa with an increasingly novel end-of-the-world terminology. This particular episode, which hit international headlines at the end of July and has seen almost two million Somalis displaced, was “the worst”, “the most catastrophic” drought in 60 years. The scale was unprecedented. Quite literally, one volunteer I spoke to said the Dadaab refugee camp in north east Kenya looked like Armageddon, “and beyond”. Whatever her conception of the apocalypse might have encompassed, to my mind, this oblivion still looks hopeful. (continue reading)

The Dominion Post

Here is a father pouring the first portion of a jerry can full of water over the head of his four-year-old son. The boy rubs it through his hair and lets the liquid run over his face and drain down his long, dusty shirt. In Dadaab’s refugee registration centre, Abdi Hassan had sat patiently on a wooden bench with his wife and three children. They arrived at 6am, walking for a week from Somalia into eastern Kenya asking directions as they went. They were carried by the promise that had drifted slowly through his home community – that there were groups “just handing out food there”. “We are very grateful,” Hassan says now, “even if there is no food there is still peace.” (continue reading)


Bullish in Venice

On the first ever occasion that the artist had spoken publicly after displaying a work, he offered his audience a waiata. It had been a frantic few days in Venice, hauling five tonnes of bronze and wood into a 15th-century palazzo on the Grand Canal, nervously watching handlers unload a barge full of crates using a single crane arm which swung the boxes from the boat and onto a narrow jetty. But it was not over yet. No, the artist said, it was not over until the fat boy sang. (read more)


Fonterra has eyes on India

Even though Malkit Singh Khangura’s calf is a skinny, miserable looking thing, standing in the courtyard of his rural Punjab home, in the biggest dairy consuming nation in the world, the metaphor is hard to ignore. In India the cow is a sacred beast. It is revered by Hindus as a source of food, a symbol of life and may never be killed. “They are embodiments of merit,” according to one ancient text. And they are worth almost NZ$65 billion a year. (read more)

Second choice but worth millions in India

Despite the tea towel hanging in Sarwan Singh’s Chandigargh office declaring “greetings from Palmerston North” whenever Punjabi students walk through his front door, they only have one dream: “To go to Canada.” (read more)

In the Loop 

Yogesh Chaudary loops subconsciously now. At a desk in a work room on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in western India, the 24-year-old design student holds a piece of woollen material covered in dozens of small, laser cut, key holes. (read more, 1, 2, 3)

The Jakarta Globe


Not down in the dumps

In a village with no written maps, no street signs and where the only distinguishable landmarks are a couple of schools and mountains of refuse, it is not hard to get lost. I do so within an hour. The Bantar Gebang dump, situated about 20 kilometers east of Jakarta, is not just the resting place of Jakarta’s garbage; it is home to thousands of men and women. Around the outskirts of the rubbish mountains are three villages and two schools. This is their home. And the thousands of tons of trash that flows here every week is their livelihood. (read more)

East Timor’s first President recalls term

I was president, yes, unfortunately,” Francisco Xavier do Amaral says looking over the letter in his hands. Unfortunately? He looks up and smiles. “It was only by chance.” The first president of the Republic of East Timor sits on a concrete porch overlooking the Dili esplanade, surrounded by roosters, chickens and a lone yellow-crested cockatoo. To hear do Amaral’s voice over the clamor is difficult. He speaks softly, with measure and with a faint resonance of mucus in his throat. Do Amaral was an unlikely leader. A leader of chance. And, by his own definition, a leader of un-fortune. He was no politician. He almost became a priest and then a school teacher. And then on one day in late November 1975, after more than 400 years of Portuguese occupation, do Amaral became the leader of the eastern half of a little-known island in Southeast Asia called the Republica Democratica de Timor Leste. Ten days later, he was no longer leader and he was on the run. (read more)

Carmakers Downshift Expectations

A motor vehicle “Sales Counter Lady” sits in the Central Court Mall in West Jakarta, idly thumbing the keys on her cellphone. The capitalization of boredom is the latest champion of the world financial crisis. When the customers won’t come to the product, you take the product to the customers. In this case that is done through an automotive exhibition, one of many held in Jakarta’s myriad shopping centers. (read more)

Tug of war over talent for Islamic banking

As the financial world crumbles and fresh commerce graduates around the globe struggle to find employment, Indonesia’s financial sector is confident the opportunities are there for those with a differing vision of the future of industry. The job market in conventional banking might be shrinking, but in Shariah banks, or Islamic financial institutions, there is a shortage of talent. (read more)

Krakatoa’s Brooding Child

The child of Krakatoa puffs smoke. It is an orphaned offspring, created out of the largest recorded explosion in human history more than 100 years ago. Anak Krakatau, as it is called in Indonesian, first showed its head above the white-tipped waves of the Sunda Strait in the last week of June 1927. By 1930 it had established itself permanently above the waves, and decades on, this child is still growing. Each year since its birth, the volcano has grown taller by about 6 meters. It may still be a baby in geological terms, but in human history, it stands as a reminder of the ferocity of its parent, a reminder of its impact on modern civilization one sleepy August morning in 1883. Today, it is dark and foreboding. (read more)

Taking midnight dips and toxic sips in the Gilis

Three Swedes have barely moved 15 meters in eight days. It is an impressive feat for any self-respecting tourist, but on Gili Trawangan, off the northeast coast of Lombok, self-respect is not something tourists seek or find. (read more)

An Art Deco Outpost Still Stands Apart

Seventeen years ago, when Australian Graham James bought an empty colonial building in Taman Fatahillah, there were no private commercial enterprises in the area. And 17 years on, that has hardly changed, save for a pool hall next door, a low-end disco and street vendors. That fact aside, the building that James spent two years converting into a restaurant and bar has become a landmark synonymous with the area and a must-see for visitors to Jakarta — Café Batavia. (read more)

A City Built on Blood and Spice

Trees poke their way through the collapsed roofs of colonial buildings, pockets of sunlight illuminate cracked concrete and rotten floorboards. Hollow laughter echoes through underwater prisons as children swim in the dirty water, oblivious to the cold walls that once bore witness to torture and horrifying death. This is old Batavia, for centuries the heart of Dutch rule here and one of the most complete groupings of colonial-era architecture in Asia, albeit now mostly in a state of decay, save a few restored structures. The crumbling facades in the district, however, speak to the distant memory of Holland’s Asian past, reminders that this faded city was a town of ghosts long before Indonesian nationalism triumphed over the colonizers. This was a city bought at a cost. (read more)

The Nelson Mail

Fighting Heat and Boredom in East Timor

Camp Phoenix looks like a cross between a minimum-security prison and a grubby holiday resort. Set back from a road of mud behind barbed wire, this former government building is a kind of training camp, a command post, and home to a handful of New Zealand soldiers. Welcome to Dili, East Timor – the newest nation in the world. For those of the New Zealand Defence Force who call this city home, theirs is a job of sticky, uncomfortable monotony punctuated by playing Counterstrike on laptop computers and watching Hogan Knows Best on E! Television. “We are catering to a newer breed of soldier here,” says Wing Commander Rory Paddock, second in charge of the New Zealand Defence Force in East Timor, “one with their duffel bag slung over one shoulder and their laptop over the other. Boredom is a real issue”. (read more)

That sinking, stinking feeling

Jakarta teems. It bulges at the edges but does not burst. However, its overflow can be seen everywhere, any which way and in every direction. Which is often hard to tell. (read more)

Political freedom needs action to match the talk

As the 44th president of the United States was sworn into office, Jakarta grinned. This was a democratic moment. Hundreds of semi-intoxicated expatriate Americans packed into the ballroom of the JW Marriott Hotel, clapping, cheering and crying. Over the road at the Ritz Carlton, a more distinguished, perhaps less democratic crowd sauntered in to be treated to a three-course meal and accompanying wines for 1 million to 2 million rupiah ($NZ170-340) a head, depending on seating. But wherever you were, for Indonesians – and, more specifically, Jakartans – the sight of Obama with one hand on the Bible was a truly beautiful moment. This was one of their own. (read more)


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