Over the next few months Pedestrian will be profiling seven creatives from all across New Zealand for a cultural exchange program that doesn’t involve chasing an inflated piece of leather around a field. The series will showcase the depth and diversity of New Zealand’s creative talent while attempting to understand the country’s vast cultural landscape. First cab off the rank is Fashion writer and blogger Natalie Smith who hails from Auckland, New Zealand. Smith, along with friend Zoe Walker, are the custodians of So Much To Tell You a blog they started in 2008 as a way to stay in touch and share inspiration when Natalie relocated to Sydney from New Zealand.
Now back in the same city, the girls have continued their much-loved blog and garnered an audience of adoring fangirls (and boys, I guess). The manifesto is simple, they write about all their favourite things, accompanied with simple, beautiful and evocative photos.
We recently spoke to Natalie about “So Much To Tell You”, the natural beauty of her homeland and the creative talent of her countrymen.
Yourself and Zoe started “So Much To Tell You” in 2008 as a way to “stay in touch” when you moved from New Zealand to Sydney. When you were away what did you miss most about home?
Definitely Vogel’s Bread. I know that sounds silly, but it is really, really good. I also missed being able to live in a society that has such a laid back, accepting culture for the most part. I missed the air and the sea, and I missed how green it is.
Two years on, and now back in New Zealand, what inspires you to keep the blog going?
There is always, always something new and interesting to write about. Zoe and I are working on a book project that is in the same vein as the site, but the blog is just a lovely way for us to communicate and archive inspiration. It’s almost taken on a life of its own – we never expected to have so many readers, or to get the feedback and emails we receive, it’s very heartening and gratifying that people like what we do.
Tell us about which part of the country you grew up in.
I grew up in the Wairarapa, which is two hours north of Wellington. It’s predominantly made up of farms and vineyards. I spent a pretty idyllic childhood on a farm with ponies, pet lambs, river swimming and tree climbing adventures. It was a little isolated, and we spent a lot of time going to the nearest beach – black sand, wild waves and windy, or doing lots of bushwalks on the Tararua Ranges. I lived there until I was about thirteen.
You spent 4 years living in Wellington. If you had a friend visiting from out of town, where are some of your favourite spots in the city that you would take them to?
Wellington is such a great city for eating and drinking. I’d start off with breakfast at Nikau, which is right beside the City Gallery in the centre square. Try the kedgeree! Then, I’d pop into the art gallery, take a walk along the harbour to Oriental Bay and have gelato and an espresso from Kaffe Eiss – Wellington has the best coffee I’ve ever had anywhere in the world, and that’s including Italy. I’d take them for lunch to Sweet Mama’s Kitchen, a really cool little diner that serves Southern American home-style dishes and has a really good bar, open late. A walk up Mt Victoria is a must, and maybe some cocktails at the Matterhorn, it’s an old favourite with great bartenders.
What is your New Zealand?
Learn to love the wind/as it forces you to bend…love that bracing air/as the cloud above you towers…dancin’ on the shore/runnin’ through the stones/love these island homes/and the warmth behind the door…The Bats, Western Isles.
What do you love about New Zealand?
Black sand beaches, road trips, small, slow towns, lying under Pohutukawa trees on the beach, fresh fruit from roadside stalls, fishing, going to the farm, wooden villas with big backyards, op shops, Katherine Mansfield, river swimming, Vogel’s bread, barbecues, the greenness, the light, bushwalks, feijoas, Karen Walker, Derek Henderson’s photography.
What is the biggest misconception about New Zealand?
I’m not sure – perhaps that it’s isolated. Sure, physically perhaps, but not creatively or culturally.
You once said “I don’t think people from Australia or New Zealand are any more successful than any other country, people who are good at what they do get successful, it doesn’t matter where you are from”…do you still believe this statement to be true?
Yes, I do. I didn’t mean that in a negative way, I just think that talent and hard work pays off no matter where you live!
Who are some of your favourite homegrown creative inspirations?
I really love the magazine Pie Paper which is created by two Auckland based creatives. Fashion brand twentysevennames is another favourite, I always find myself buying clothes they’ve made, as well as Karen Walker. I also really like Lonely Hearts and their new collection of lingerie, Lonely. I love Derek Henderson’s photography; it’s quietly, quintessentially New Zealand. There are some amazing music videos being created by Special Problems. Jeff Burch, although based in Sydney, is an incredible creative talent and was born and raised in Tauranga – I love his music and the documents he publishes under his imprint The Spring Press. Musically, I always enjoy seeing bands such as The Veils and The Checks. I love the artwork of Frances Upritchard and Peter Stichbury too.