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Photo essay: Playing in numbers

Friday 28th March 2014

Doing what you’re passionate about makes life worth living. It’s a break from our 9 to 5 and brings us together with like-minded people. Having fun usually takes a backseat to getting through a daily routine, but it’s an important part of health and wellbeing.

To round off our theme for March, Hauora, here's a photo essay about the things people do for the love of it, with others they might have never meet otherwise.

Matt Dol, 24, Wellington Wildcats ultimate frisbee receiver.

Matt Dol in full flight playing ultimate frisbee.

Photo: Alexander Robertson

Matt discovered Ultimate when he was 14 and has been hooked ever since. He says “It’s crazy how fast Wellington Ultimate is growing”, as he’s off to Italy in August with his team for the World Ultimate Club Championship.

“You can kick a ball you can throw a ball you can hit a ball with a stick, but there’s something about making a frisbee fly through the air on a specific angle that you are aiming for with wind and just seeing it fly, there’s just something unique and amazing about that feeling.”

“It’s a sport that includes everyone; it’s not just for tall people, it’s not just for fast people, it’s not just for co-ordinated people; it’s a sport where everyone is included and because it is self-refereed it also means that there’s a code of honour or respect on the field. We rely heavily on sprit of the game and the sportsmanship of every player so it attracts a certain style of player.”

Beth Strom, 24, New Zealand LARPS (Live action role-playing society).

Beth Strom and Reuben Strom in battle.

Photo: Gene Rugg

Beth is part of a medieval fantasy campaign called The Crucible which has about 200 participants at each event and is intended to run for three years. She’s been Larping for a few years now and says she’s “hooked”. She loves dressing up in pretty dresses and playing characters similar to her personality, “So I could never play an evil person or anything like that.”

“It’s just a really interesting and diverse hobby I guess and the people we’ve meet through the community are just awesome, some of our closest friends now we’ve met through Larping.”

Holly Morchat, 30, and Linda Mathias, 29, Wellington spear divers.

Linda Mathias and Holly Morchat bring in their catch

Photo: Alexander Robertson

Linda found her love for spear diving after Holly took her along one day. “I go scuba diving in marine reserves and sometimes I just want to eat them.”

Holly says, “I like the challenge of trying to catch bigger fish each time, especially as a beginner it’s nice when you start to be able identify the fish quicker and quicker. And when you can sneak up on them and catch bigger ones and kind of see your skill develop. And it’s also cool killing your dinner".

Christopher Clark, 26, assistant musical director of the Wellington Brass Band.

Luke Spence (euphonium), Dale Vail (Trombone), Kip Cleverley (cornet), Callum Mallet (Tenor horn), Kieran Smith (cornet), Tommy Baker (cornet), Chris Clark, Bradley Mancer (cornet), Mitch Spence (tenor horn), Sam Hart (trombone), and Scott Rusbridge (Eb b

Photo: Alexander Robertson

Christopher started his musical journey at high school and has now been all around the world training to hopefully be “the world’s best musician, or at least the best I can be”. He’s just been offered a post-graduate scholarship at the prestigious Royal Northern Collage of Music in Manchester.

When asked what inspires him to play in the band he says: “The music, that’s the bottom line for me. I feel like it’s in my blood, it’s my biggest challenge and it keeps me going. It’s my biggest joy. But the act of expressing something through that language is my biggest inspiration".

"There are some people that have written some amazing stuff and to be a part of that and to bring that as a young person in today’s world, which is totally media saturated with social media. To do something that is tangible and real and in that moment is a big inspiration to me and to give that to other people.”

Catherine Pot, 15, Parafed Wellington wheelchair basketball B team.

Julie Signal, Paulo Pelasio, Chris Barry, Tapari Tapari, Catherine Pot, Slade O'rorke St John, Michael Barry, Kristene Grooby, (back) Alan Signal.

Photo: Alexander Robertson

Catherine loves her sports. She also skis, rides horses and does target shooting. Last year she won the Pride Award for promoting health and wellbeing.

“If you think able-people train hard, people in wheelchairs train just as hard if not harder because there’s all the medical stuff they’ve got to deal with and even trying to get out of the house hard,” she says.

“I didn’t know anyone in a wheelchair before I started this and there was always the sense of being the only kid in a wheelchair at school, at primary, intermediate and now it’s the same at high school. So, you’re just getting through it knowing that you’re an individual and then you come along and you find all these other people are similar.”

Zoe Crook, 21, instigator of Written By, “a series of performance car-park dinners” in Christchurch.

Zoe Crook at a Written By dinner.

Photo: Emma Brittenden

Zoe started Written By to bring together people to talk about what's happening in Christchurch and around the world. All food is foraged or home grown, “like dandelions and clover are used to make a lot of the dinner”.

“To be part of the conversation is to be part of our current society, and the current conversation that is happening in Christchurch and in the art world is about currency. If you’re aware about what is happening around you then you can best orientate yourself for what will happen next.”

Alan England, 32, and Matthew Radcliffe, 29, Auckland Hardcourt Bike Polo Inc.

Alan England driving down the court.

Photo: Jordan Dodson

Alan was reluctant to try bike polo when his friend suggested it thinking it was for “a bunch of hipster douchebags”. Oh how wrong he was.

“There’s no feeling like it and once you’ve got that buzz I guess it’s like any sport you’re trying to find that initial high again, and you’re constantly chasing that high, it’s addictive.

“You get that camaraderie of being part of a team and you’re not just relying on yourself and your own skill set, you have to be cooperative and be part of a machine. I really get off on that team thing and just being able to come down and play not seriously, but if you want to you can take it seriously and compete and use it as an excuse to travel the world.”

Matthew says they’re a diverse group of people. “I’m a librarian, other people are bike mechanics, we’ve got doctors and taxi drivers and we all come together for the love of the sport and love of bikes.”

Kerepeti Paraone (KP), 25, Kaihaka (performer) and guitarist for Te Ahikomau a Hamo te Raki.

Kerepeti Paraone.

Photo: Sampson Karst

KP’s passionate about kapa haka’s and has been around it his whole life. He remembers running through his mum’s kapa haka group as a five-year-old playing tag. Since then he’s been involved in some way or another. “Breaking down the core roots of what your kapa haka is, is really just a big whanau,” he says.

“At the heart of kapa haka is Te Reo, which is language, and Maori is a language that needs to be nurtured and kapa haka is a good way to do that, so the more people doing it the better.”

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Alexander Robertson is a freelance videographer and photographer. Currently based in Wellington, he originally hails from a town he affectionately calls "Palmy-dise".
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