Book Island

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Written by Sacha Kenny | Images by Sacha Kenny & curiosity of Book Island
20 October 2014

Sacha chats to one woman determined to shine the light on superbly illustrated children's books often overlooked because of the language they are written in 


Belgian-born, Kapiti Coast-based, publisher Greet Pauwelijn (Book Island) is on a mission to share the treasures of foreign language children’s picture books with English- and Dutch-readers.

Driven by the desire to make a difference in the world of children’s illustrative literature, Greet, a literary translator of Polish into Dutch, started her own publishing house, Book Island, in 2012 after relocating to New Zealand (2009) with her Kiwi husband.

Described as “a publishing house with a bold dream of enriching children's and adults' lives in the English- and -Dutch-language market, Book Island brings unique stories from Europe to our shores, then uses only the best talent to translate, design and print beautiful high-quality books”. Book Island has, to date, published eight picture books in English and six in Dutch.

As a self-confessed book-worm coming from one of the most artistically influential regions, Greet says, on arrival in New Zealand, she didn’t realise just how spoilt for illustrative choice she had been in Europe. 

“When I came to New Zealand I went straight to the library to get some books for the kids and I was a bit disappointed. There were a couple of illustrative books that stood out but really it was such a shock compared to what we have in Belgium."

"In Belgium and continental Europe the approach to book illustration is very different, there an illustrator can take a year to complete a book, it’s truly treated like a work of art. The artist will, at times, make ten versions of a book – polishing and reworking until it is complete.”

Identifying what she saw as a gap in the literature market, coupled with her skills as a linguist, Greet developed the idea of creating a unique publishing house. A publishing house to shine the light on beautiful books overlooked simply because of the language they were written in.

“Because I have the ability to read in many different languages and because most publishers only work in English or French, I can go to a book fair in Europe and decide immediately whether a book written in Polish or German or whatever language would work in English and/or Dutch. It’s very exciting to be able to share these beautiful treasures.”

For Greet children’s literature is about so much more than the typical stereotypes of teddy bears and princesses:

"Stories should be about giving children the credit they deserve and not dumbing down their ability to understand or desire to learn. Kids are so bright and so mature, so much more than what we were when we were young, so we have to present or publish children’s literature that is on their level."

"I’m always looking for layered books where there’s a layer for the children and there’s a layer for the adults – I love that, where you work with symbols and icons that can not be read by the younger ones but that will catch the eye of the parents and grandparents – that’s great.”

In October, Book Island received the Customer Choice Award at the twentieth Electra Kapiti Horowhenua Business Awards where Book Island customers from all over the world voted in recognition of business performance. Recognition Greet feels blessed to have received: “to be chosen by our customers was just awesome because I don’t really know who my customers are. It was fantastic because it gave me the validation of OK they like what we’re doing – we’re on the right track. It’s still a very long road to go, but we’ll get there eventually".

Book Island titles can be purchased from all good bookstores, gallery and museum shops, from an increasing number of gift stores nationwide and online from the Book Island website. Titles are also available in bookstores in Australia, the UK, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands - check the Book Island website for more details.

**Click here to read this months MyBooks review by guest reviewers Freya (10) and Max (5). Freya and Max share their thoughts on The Rabbit and the Shadow an award winning picture book published in English and Dutch by Book Island. 



Dancing to the beat of his own drum

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Written by Sacha Kenny | Images by Sacha Kenny
20 September 2014

Sacha Kenny chats to the creator of a new style of coffee, Dancing Goat Liquid Coffee, a full-bodied brew intended to stir the taste-buds and induce a little joy



If coffee were a religion then Corban Halcrow would be an evangelical preacher, such is his passion for a good brew. A poetic stream of words runs forth as he describes Dancing Goat Liquid Coffee, the bottled liquid coffee made through a process (pending patent) created by him to bring out the natural essences and flavours of coffee.

The Dancing Goat Liquid Coffee brand is inspired by the story of the Ethiopian goat herder Kaldi, who discovered coffee after noticing that his goats, upon eating cherries from a certain tree, became so spirited they seemed to be dancing and did not want to sleep at night. As the story goes Kaldi dutifully collected the cherries and took them to the local monks, the monks made an elixir from the fruit, which upon drinking kept them alert during the long hours of evening prayer. The monks eventually shared their discovery and knowledge of the energising elixir began to spread slowly and coffee was born.

For Corban, Dancing Goat Liquid Coffee takes coffee back to its origin, back to Kaldi and his dancing goats. With no additives or preservatives, Dancing Goat Liquid Coffee is 100% coffee extract blended with filtered rain water to produce a smooth liquid that can be enjoyed as a hot or cold drink or as an essence added to food.

Expanding the story of coffee, taking it beyond the espresso machine, testing and playing with the process of hot and cold brewing to see what else coffee has to offer is what excites Corban. He describes an almost light-bulb moment while travelling in South-East Asia, where upon seeing sweet coffee being made from beans roasted in woks on the side of the road, he had the realisation that ‘making coffee doesn’t need to be complicated’.

“Coffee has only been around for about 800 years so when you compare that to wine, which has been around for thousands of years, coffee is still very young. That’s one of the first things I thought when I first went into this – I thought there’s room for innovation."

Upon his return to New Zealand, Corban convinced his parents, who already operated a coffee cart (Barista Boys) on the Kapiti Coast, that roasting their own beans was the way to go. In July 2010 the family bought a roastery and by November that year had their first roast for sale. Four years later The Kapiti Coffee Company operates two coffee carts and supplies over 25 outlets in addition to launching Dancing Goat Liquid Coffee.

"People said to me 'the monopoly is done', they asked what more could I bring to the table?. I said there’s room for innovation, they looked at me and smiled and said ‘espresso machines have been built, how much more can you do to coffee?' I agree, how much more can you do to coffee? But I don’t necessarily want to do more to coffee - I want to do less and get more from the bean.

“Having a palate that’s not particularly trained I wanted to taste the essence of the coffee more. These fruits, the raspberries and lychees and all those other fruits they were telling me I was meant to be tasting, well I didn’t feel they were coming to the cup enough, I thought you've got to really hunt for them. With Dancing Goat you can taste them, you probably couldn't pin-point exactly what they are but you know there’s flavours in there other than coffee and for the very first time you may have a cup of coffee that actually tastes like the cherry."

Dancing Goat Liquid Goat is created for the pure enjoyment of coffee allowing drinkers, as the goats did, to dance and rejoice in its flavour.

  • Dancing Goat Liquid Coffee and other Kapiti Coffee Company products are currently available at:
    Barista Boys - Waikanae and Kapiti
    Davis Trading - Palmerston North
    Bees Knees - Palmerston North
    New World - Waikanae, Kapiti, Porirua, Mana
    Olde Beach Bakery - Waikanae
    Cafe Ra - Otaki
    Four Square - Raumati South, Kena Kena
    Big Salami - Plimmerton


From Bali with love

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Written by Vanessa Kenny
20 August 2014

Taking the opportunity to travel to Bali and undertake spa therapy study, MyWellbeing writer Vanessa Kenny shares her hilarious journey of travelling alone  

So, lesson number one: don't travel without any internet devices because apart from at the airport, internet cafes apparently are a thing of the past. I hum and ha about taking my laptop. It's heavy, it has no battery so I would need to plug it in and I'm not sure I want to lug it around. I put it in and out of my bag TWICE, deciding against it in the end.

Any-hoo, onward to BALI woop woop!

There's nothing like being thrown in the deep end when travelling. My plane lands right on time with my pickup person waiting in the entrance carrying a placard with my name on it but, just to give things a shake-up, four planes land at once. Aaaagh! Clearing Customs two hours later and feeling relieved nothing dodgy has been found, I discover my driver has got fed up and left.

Along with a bunch of other passengers, I emerge from the Customs area and thank Allah for the barrier between us and an unruly mob of 50 or so drivers yelling and waving anything from big placards to tatty pieces of paper with names, hotels, tours and so on.   However, there's no 'Bali Spa School', no Vanessa Kenny or Vanessa MacDonald for that matter! There's no way I'm going outside to that lot so to plan B: phoning the school. Alas in the age of modern technology public phones are a thing of the past. I ask a girl at a computer shop where I can send an e-mail and she points me to a kiosk that sells Indonesian sim cards. Not quite the answer to my question but that could work.

I enquire at the kiosk and am told 150,000 for a sim that a complete rip-off as it sounds like an AWFUL lot of money? I decide to think about it as I need to make only one call and don't want to spend all my rupiah at the first hurdle. As I'm walking up and down past the drivers once more just to be sure I glimpse a sign at a counter right next to the girl I had just spoken to - 'FREE INTERNET'. Hallelujah!

By this time it’s 5pm and, darn it, the school office might be closed. I send an e-mail anyway: ‘I am at the airport now and cannot find my driver ..HELP!’. While waiting for a reply I Google 150,000 Rupiah in NZ dollars and find it equals a grand total of $12.50. With a sigh of relief I go back to the sim card booth, buy one and call the school. Yep, as I thought, no reply so I go back to the computer and, thank goodness, Penny the spa school owner has just logged on at home to see if I have been in contact and sent a reply with her home number and address along with instructions to go to the internal taxi stand and pay 150,000.00 to get to Sunur, which normally takes about 30 minutes. Yay, at least I know how much that is in NZ dollars and it sounds like a bargain!

It’s mayhem outside on the roads as it’s a public holiday and, as my driver tells me, everyone from Java goes to Bali and everyone from Bali goes to Java. I don't care as long as I have a driver and am heading to my destination. At this point it could take another two hours and I wouldn't care one little bit.

So that evening over pick-up apologies (the driver really did wait two hours) and a Balinese beer I chat with Penny the English owner and Lisa the American marketing co-ordinator of the spa school where I am studying for the next week. They live in a lovely home five minutes' walk from the beach. Lisa promises to fix me up with a bike as I’ll be staying with them because the school accommodation is full. I'm happy with that - did I mention they have dogs, a pool and my bedroom is a beautiful air-conditioned room with ensuite?

The next morning Lisa and I set off in search of the bike man she has used before to get a good deal. However, there turn out to be many bike men and they all look similar. He is found, or at least someone just like him, and I hire a bike for a week for a grand total of 120,000. Things are getting cheaper by the minute! Lisa gives me a map of Sanur - it's only small, she says, and if you pass McDonald's you've gone too far. Showing me the direction of the beach, a couple of good eateries and Hardy’s, the only western-type grocery store, she leaves me to my own devices.

Trying to look nonchalant and brave I jump on my bike - ‘yeah I've got my map and my bike, how hard can it be?. Lisa has told me Sanur is pretty safe and the people are nice - what she hasn't mentioned is that the roads are mayhem. There are scooters, cars and stray dogs all over the place and many of the dogs carry rabies. Nice!

I take a big deep breath, do my Reiki protection symbol over my body numerous times, trust the universe to listen to my safety prayers and decide to enjoy the experience. I pass some funny signs along the way, a nightclub called 'Flashbacks' that appeals to my sense of humour but prompts a mental note: "Don't go there!" I also get a chuckle over the one on the promenade at the beach: 'Love the planet, save our water, drink beer'! 

Ending up on a big main road that seems to be heading out of town I realize I must have travelled far and decide to turn around, which is a mission in itself. On the way back I stop and have my first...and LAST... Balinese mochaccino. I ask the guy at the counter where I am and show him my map. Where did I come from and did I really bike here, he asks, looking more and more puzzled? It turns out I have cycled a fair distance indeed and his place is way off my map. How long have I been in Bali...just one day? He thinks I am crazy and hilarious all at the same time but I just smile and say "it's okay" and ask him to point me toward the sea.  All is well, I am in Bali, on my wheels cruising like a local...well kind of, I don't have any live chickens in my basket -yet!

More cycling around Sanur, a trip to the supermarket for supplies and my first massage, yay! Penny advises me not to go to the beach for a massage but to pay a little more and have a good one at a proper spa so I pay $30NZ for a 90-minute massage. It's expensive for here but well worth it. On my relaxing ride home a big fat rat runs across my bike path and nearly gives me a heart attack. Ha! That'll teach me to bliss out TOO much.

That evening Penny, Lisa and I head down to the beach for dinner at one of the many beach cafes. There’s a kite-flying festival on and some of the kites are absolutely beautiful and really big. There is something sweet about grown men and tough-looking (well trying to be) teenage boys doing an activity so gentle and passive that makes me smile. Next time I see a bunch of testosterone-fuelled boys and men back in New Zealand needing to release some tension I’m going to yell “go fly a kite’.

We drive the dogs to a beach down south and have breakfast on a lounger by the sea. I decide to have a "homealette" which looks and tastes surprisingly just like an omelette :-).

School starts tomorrow, yippee! Blimey that's a rare utterance from this student.

The spa therapy school is beautiful and I have enrolled in a course on traditional scrubs and wraps (my son thinks this is hilarious: “So mum you just scrub people then wrap them up?” Well yes). Once a grand house with big rooms and marble floors it now houses therapy tables, yoga mats and treatment chairs. All sorts of spa therapies are on offer with international training standards so I feel I’ve chosen the best place to learn. 

We start our days with yoga and meditation. My week making and applying a selection of tradition scrubs and wraps is great, almost like a cooking course with the ingredients all natural and good enough to eat…turmeric, seaweed, coconut, coffee, papaya etc. I meet some lovely people from Belgium, Italy, Japan and Australia and pass my two-hour exam with flying colours…bonus.

On the Saturday morning I say my goodbyes to the school and Penny and Lisa and take a taxi-van to the quiet mountainous village of Ubud about 40 minutes from Sanur. My driver tells me that he has 10 children to which I say "well done", although I suspect his wife should take most of the credit for that. We pass some incredible carving shops with everything from intricately carved doors to massive Buddha heads. If I want to stop he can take me to his friend's carving shop. "It's okay," I reply, "just on to Ubud thanks." Anyway I’d have a bit of trouble getting a giant Buddha head through Customs. Darn it!

Quiet little Ubud? Ahh maybe not - this place reminds me of a European ski resort minus the snow but including the French, Dutch, German you name it tourists. I am staying in a family compound in the middle of town and it’s a noisy affair. There’s a live tattoo show on tomorrow too but sadly I miss that event, choosing to explore three temples and a coffee plantation instead. The plantation offers the coffee delicacy luwak, which is about $7 a cup (expensive even for Indonesia). Coffee beans pass though the bodily system and out the bottom (yes, bum) of an animal that some people say is a cat, others call a monkey; well it looks just like a possum to this suspicious traveler :-). The beans are then cleaned and roasted (I kid you not) and then brewed up for a cuppa .....ummmm last laughs on the tourists me thinks.

On my final day in Bali I join a small tour and we cycle from the volcano Mt Batur down through beautiful villages and rice paddy fields, stopping off at a traditional Balinese family compound to see how the generations of Baliness live together. I enjoy high-fiving the local children as we cycle past and the scenery is stunning. I share in a traditional Balinese feast for lunch before stopping to look at a 500-year-old Banyan tree, an awesome conclusion to my Bali adventure.

Bali to me can be summed up by the delicious flavour of the mangosteen, the likes of which I had not tasted until offered one by a Balinese woman on the steps of the Elephant temple. David Karp sums up this beautiful fruit perfectly:

“I cut open a thick rind to reveal six snowy white, almost translucent segments that were like little eggs nestled in a jewel box. The flavour was almost unbearably exquisite - a sweet-tart melding of elegance and opulence that had echoes of fruit of every climate. Think of cherimoyas, lychees, and peaches mingled into one soft, moist, fragrant mouthful. I understood at last why many people consider mangosteen the finest fruit in the world and why Queen Victoria is said to have offered a knighthood to anybody who could bring her one."

(David Karp, The Fruit Detective, Meet the Mangosteens, Gourmet Magazine, July 2003, pp. 88-89)

I'm with Queen Victoria on this one. 

And so, blessings from Bali,




From one classroom to another

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Written by Sacha Kenny | Images by Sacha Kenny
20 July 2014

Paying homage to the school holidays, Sacha Kenny shares a photographic journal of time spent exploring the Titahi Bay coast and Otaki Forks with her family  





  • Dancing to the beat of his own drum
    20 September, 2014
    Sacha Kenny chats to the creator of a new style of coffee, Dancing Goat Liquid Coffee, a full-bodied brew intended to stir the taste-buds and induce a...
  • From Bali with love
    20 August, 2014
    Taking the opportunity to travel to Bali and undertake spa therapy study, MyWellbeing writer Vanessa Kenny shares her hilarious journey of travelling ...
  • From one classroom to another
    20 July, 2014
    Paying homage to the school holidays, Sacha Kenny shares a photographic journal of time spent exploring the Titahi Bay coast and Otaki Forks with her ...
  • The city that never sleeps
    20 June, 2014
    Reflecting on a ‘life less ordinary',  Sacha Kenny chats to weaver  Annie Atkinson about the two decades  she spent living a creative life in New York...
  • Dear Elsie,
    20 April, 2014
    As we mark the  centenary of WW1, Ellen Fitzsimons shares her personal journey to  document 100s of postcards sent to her Grandmother during ‘The Grea...
  • Short daisies: tips for creative women
    20 March, 2014
    Blazing a trail for creative women, Mariana Collette and Lisette Prendergast chat to Sacha about their book: Lady Luck - conversations with creative N...
  • Arts - Culture - Events
    19 February, 2014
    Sacha Kenny chats to Céire Hopley, creator of The Thread, Kapiti, a funky free, on-the-go publication discovering and celebrating local events and cre...
  • Come dance with me
    20 December, 2013
    As one of NZ’s most highly respected ballet dancers Sir Jon Trimmer is a New Zealand icon, an icon as Sacha Kenny discovered, who still has time for t...
  • Taking on the Taj Mahal
    20 November, 2013
    Through her words and images, Diana Kenny takes us on an exploratory tour of north and southern India - an experience she shared with 12 other intrepi...
  • Freedom to believe, freedom of thought
    19 October, 2013
    The story of Falun Gong, the spiritual movement embraced by millions and persecuted by China's Communist Party, is at the core of a critically acclaim...
  • Humble honey bees
    19 September, 2013
    Fascinated by the humble bee, Sacha Kenny researched the resurgence of bee keeping around the world and chatted to a local bee keeper about all things...
  • Collecting in remembrance of the Holocaust
    19 August, 2013
    1.5 million buttons for the 1.5 million child victims of the Holocaust, 25 students pay homage to a generation lost and learn about hope in times of d...
  • Responding to the beauty of nature
    20 July, 2013
    Ben Timmins paints photo-realistic imagery on natural wood-grain panels - images, as Sacha Kenny writes, beautifully interwoven with the ideals of sym...
  • Excellent cheese-making adventure
    20 June, 2013
    Ticking two things off her bucket list, Sacha Kenny recently spent a day with good friends getting back to basics - hand-milking a cow and making chee...
  • Valley of the Gods
    20 May, 2013
    For Shabnam Pointon, travelling to India to meet her spiritual leader transcended her wildest expectations, as she shares in this month's guest post  ...
  • Giving boys a chance
    20 April, 2013
    On a mission to turn troubled boys into honourable champion men, Billy Graham from the Naenae Boxing Academy chats to Sacha Kenny about his journey   ...
  • Horse Sense
    20 March, 2013
    Jenny Gibbons, founder of Horse Sense, chats to Sacha Kenny about Equine Therapy & how horses are helping to create positive change for so many people
  • Furniture by Design
    20 February, 2013
    Taking the art of design seriously, Don MacDonald talks to Sacha Kenny about the ideal that beautiful furniture can have the quality to enrich lives  ...
  • A journey to do good
    20 January, 2013
    Sacha Kenny chats with social activist, storyteller and online yoga teacher Marianne Elliott about her life journey to connect, be well and do good
  • Creative Yearnings
    20 December, 2012

    Anna Williams is a rug repairer, traveller, Anthropologist and like the rich threads running through the rugs she repairs Anna’s story is interwoven w...

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