What to pack, how long to stay and what to do - plus photos.
So you’re thinking about applying for an artist residency at the New Zealand Pacific Studio? Here are my tips - and pics - from my stay.
What should I pack?
I stayed at the coldest time of the year, when frost blanketed the grass well into the morning and snow covered the nearby mountain ranges. Regardless of the time of year you’re staying, it would be prudent to bring warm clothes - after all, you will be staying in an historic villa. I’d recommend slippers, sneakers, fingerless gloves, a warm jacket, merino layers and a light raincoat. Don’t forget your sunnies - and some shoes that you don’t mind getting wet (hiking boots would be ideal). You’ll also need your usual creative gear (laptop, art materials, printing paper)… and your camera! Don’t worry if you forget to bring something to read - there are bookshelves in almost every room.
What technology is available?
There is wifi, and printers / scanners.
How long should I stay?
It took me a few days to get into the rhythm of being in a new place. Between that and the number of fun things to do in the region, I would recommend staying for at least two weeks - preferably longer!
What is there to do?
There are some lovely walks nearby. For pastoral pleasure you can walk up and down Kaiparoro Road, which is almost opposite the New Zealand Pacific Studio. Alternatively you can turn right down the highway to check out the pretty ANZAC Bridge and a lovely short bush walk through Miller’s Reserve, or left towards the Pukaha Bird Sanctuary, where you can take a two-hour walk to the lookout and back.
There are also plenty of towns to explore. Eketahuna is just a few minutes up the road by car (there’s a great cafe and some lovely gift stores), the larger town of Masterton is half an hour away, and Carterton and Featherston are nearby too. A day trip to Wellington by train is also highly recommended.
What else should I expect?
You can also expect to have a fantastic time! Check out my blog post - Why Do A Self-Funded Residency - for more details about what made my stay at the New Zealand Pacific Studio so special.
Check out the photo gallery below.
Six reasons why a residency is more valuable than a stay at a holiday home.
There are a number of self-funded residency programmes worldwide, but we don’t have many multi-disciplinary residency programmes here in New Zealand - yet. We do, however, have the New Zealand Pacific Studio, a not for profit artist residency centre in Mt Bruce (just out of Masterton) that accepts artists working in a number of disciplines, and has a wonderful range of living and working spaces.
Why self-fund your residency - wouldn’t it be just as good to book a bach?
I’m coming to the end of a two-week stay at the New Zealand Pacific Studio. Two weeks has given me the time to write the first draft of a new story, make some headway on another (longer) piece, finish a new zine, read three books, catch up on ‘writing admin’ and even write a poem!
Having time away from work in beautiful surroundings hasn’t been the only great thing about this experience. There are advantages to undertaking a residency programme that I hadn’t even considered when I applied - and they're what’s made my stay so valuable. Here are six reasons why undertaking a self-funded residency is a great thing to do:
They're my six reasons why doing a self-funded residency is more valuable than simply booking a holiday home. If you'd like to undertake a residency, visit the Res Artis website to check out the range of self-funded opportunities available worldwide.
While reading a beautiful photo book about the Wairarapa (Wairarapa: A Place Apart - photos by Pete Nikolaison, text by Michael Wall) from the NZ Pacific Studio library, I came across the following paragraph:
"Forty two kilometres north of Masterton we reach Eketahuna which, for reasons which are not entirely clear, many New Zealanders consider to be a mythical place; a kind of Antipodean Brigadoon. But be reassured, Eketahuna is there right enough and, if the town has never figured out how to turn its ambiguous celebrity status to its advantage, it has erected several large Kiwis to reassure visitors that they are still in God's Own."
Charmed by this description I turned to the internet for more information, where Kiwi Slang revealed that the slang definition of Eketahuna is:
"The middle of nowhere. The archetypal small country town with few amenities and which nobody is expected to know anything about. Similar to Timbuktu, and the mythical town of Waikikamukau."
Well I am here to tell you that Eketahuna does exist, and that this morning I had the lovely experience of chatting to radio announcer Hugo Manson live on the local radio station, which is run from the War Memorial Hall.
I also checked out the fantastic local cafe (which had a roaring fire), some tantalising gift stores... and of course, several large Kiwis.
And if you still don't believe that Eketahuna exists, you can check out this song by Mike Harding - it was inspired by the town.
Today is day four of my stay at the New Zealand Pacific Studio. Although I’m far away from everyone I feel more connected into the literary scene than usual, with more time to spend reading blog posts, absorbing books and trying to get to grips with Twitter. As this is my first residency I’ve also learned a few new things, and here they are…
Always pack your hair dryer. Even if your residency is in the middle of nowhere, you should still bring your hairdryer and your dry shampoo. Wearing ugly warm clothes is one thing; sporting ugly limp hair is quite another. I didn’t expect to be impressing anyone - but I also didn’t expect to be grossing myself out. Ewww.
You will go on ginko walks. You may think you’re going on a simple country walk. But with a notebook in your pocket and writing on your mind, you are actually going on a ginko walk - a walk that inspires poetry, or more specifically, haiku. Yes, I returned from this morning’s walk and wrote my first ever serious poem. (I wrote my first ever silly poem yesterday - about Invercargill’s pool pooper.) I happen to be staying in the Japanese-themed Saiko Room (named after Ema Saiko), which I’m sure has contributed to this sudden urge to write poems.
You may write a love letter. I have been in love with Ockham Residential for a while now. I lust after The Isaac and I drool over The Turing. When I heard that Ockham Residential has partnered with the New Zealand Book Awards I couldn’t help but send them a love note. They even replied!
You may have some weird ideas that you’ll never follow through with. My favourite bad idea so far is that I should become a food reviewer. I’m vegetarian, so I would write incredibly passive aggressive reviews along the lines of, “the one vegetarian option was pasta - for a change,” or, “this establishment doesn’t reverse discriminate against vegetarians - the salad is the same price as the steak.”
You might (briefly) become a local personality. I gave a short reading at an event the other day, and on Monday I’m going to be interviewed on Radio Eketahuna! One of the best things about this residency is the local people - from both the New Zealand Pacific Studio community and the wider Wairarapa.
You can visit the New Zealand Pacific Studio's website and Facebook page for more information about their residencies.
2023 Burns fellow Kathryn van Beek has an MA from Victoria University Wellington - Te Herenga Waka’s International Institute of Modern Letters. She is a winner of the Mindfood Short Story Competition and the Headland Prize. Her collection of short stories, Pet, is available as a podcast, and her work has also appeared in Overland, takahē, Newsroom, and the Sunday Star-Times. She lives in UNESCO City of Literature Ōtepoti Dunedin with her two rescue cats.