Monday, March 02, 2009

Introducing myself

If you would like to know a little bit more about me, go to Voicethread at and listen to me telling you about my holiday and my family. Leave a comment if you like.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Abel Tasman track

I've always wanted to do some tramping as a family and at Christmas time we had a great holiday in the South Island. We spent four days doing the Abel Tasman track. The scenery is just spectacular and lived up to its reputation. We weren't disappointed, but a little tired by the time we finished. The weather was perfect and we had a great time with our friends, another family from Auckland who did the tramp with us.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 08, 2008

Fair trade

These are some of the main words from the NZ Trade Aid site from their FAQ (frequently asked questions) page. Fair Trade is something that I feel strongly about - easy for us to do here in NZ and can make a big difference to poverty in developing countries. Check out the website if you are interested...

created at

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Our brains are amazing - all the things that happen without us even thinking about them. Check out the podcasts on Ideas - one talks about our memory and one on sleep. (Beware - these are designed for native speakers!)

Have you heard about the difference between the right and left sides of our brain. The two different sides are supposed to govern different functions.

Left Brain Thinking
Logical Sequential Rational Analytical Objective Looks at parts

Right Brain Thinking
Random Intuitive Holistic Synthesizing Subjective Looks at wholes

Check out the Funderstanding website for more detail on this. Which do you think you identify with? Try out this simple quiz to see which side of the brain you favour. Then answer the quiz in the sidebar.

Friday, August 01, 2008


Most people work somewhere, some time in their lives. It might be paid employment, or you might have your own business or work at home. You might be working part-time while you are studying. For all of us, working is part of our everyday life, and so it is good to focus our language study on this topic.

If you go to Work and beyond on this blog, you can read a bit about my working experiences, But we'd like to hear about your work too.

Tell us about your past work experience and also what you'd like to do in the future. Go to the Work VoiceThread and add your spoken comments next to your photo. If this is too difficult on your computer, you might like to add a comment to this blog, telling us about your work past and future.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Welcome to Oral Skills Semester 2 2008

Welcome to our new class in 2008. Reading this blog is one way that you can get to know me a bit more. You could also take a look at this VoiceThread introduction that uses photos to show my family. And then there is souNZ English, which is my podcast.

By the time you have tried these out, you will know lots about me - and I want to learn about you too. Remember to leave a comment to tell me a little about yourself - differences or similarities to things that I have said online. It would be great if you could join VoiceThread and then you can leave a written or a voice comment, or maybe even create your own VoiceThread, with photos of your holiday or your hometown. Let us all know what the URL is so that we can come and comment...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


A pun is when a joke is based on two different meanings of words that sound the same.

Here are some examples - listen to the jokes that involve these puns at souNZ English

Friday is a weak (ie. not strong) day OR a weekday
it came back to me – I remembered how to do it OR the boomerang curved back to me. (NB. a boomerang is an Aborigine weapon that you throw and it will curve back towards you in a circle)
a Mercedes Benz/bends
it hit me – I understood something OR the baseball actually hit me
a full stop marks the end of a sentence (a sentence in writing OR a prison sentence)
No change yet! Ie. His condition hasn’t changed OR no money has been given in coins
You can’t beat it! – you can’t do anything better OR you can’t hit a drum with a hole in it

Monday, March 24, 2008

Kids in NZ schools

Some classes get to make their own podcasts. Check out two Kiwi kids talking about their survey of the class and what they do in their spare time.
Room 5's podcast

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Class parties

What a nice way to spend the afternoon! All the students bought delicious food and we sat round eating and learning about how different nationalities prepare special dishes. We also learned more about each other by talking - we discovered better who likes to make jokes and who is extra helpful in the kitchen and serving people.

We found out that Tony is the champion tabletennis player in 1B and that Nicole loves relaxing in a hanging chair. With 1A we got to meet Jan's husband briefly and enjoyed her amazing house and pets.

Anyone who has photos might like to send them to me to publish here OR create a voice thread with them that we can leave comments at.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What do you say when…

…your mind wanders and you didn’t really hear what somebody said to you. If you were thinking of something else, you were dreaming or day-dreaming.
Last night I was with a group of friends and this happened to me. We were watching a DVD and then having a discussion about the content. Someone was talking and I suddenly realized that my mind had drifted on to something completely different and I had missed what had been said. Then someone asked me a specific question about it!
If you want to be honest, you can admit that you haven’t a clue what they’d been talking about. “Sorry, I was away with the fairies!” is one way of saying this. It means you weren’t paying attention.
Of course, you could hedge a bit and say something vague like “D’you think you could just run over that again? I got the general gist, but I missed the last bit. What exactly were we talking about?” If you’re lucky, someone will fill you in.
If you were listening and you actually didn’t understand something, you might say ‘Come again?’ That just means “Could you say it again please?’ Or you could admit that you didn’t understand. “Sorry, I lost the plot there for a while. Can we start again?”

My mind wandered
My mind drifted (Careful: 'I drifted off' usually means go to sleep)
I haven’t a clue or I haven't got a clue
I was away with the fairies
I got the general gist
Can you fill me in- give you the details

I'll just run over it again - explain it once more
Come again?
I lost the plot (can also mean to be crazy OR to get really angry)
Go to souNZ English to hear the above.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

This coming weekend

This weekend I'm off to Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty, about 2 1/2 hours south of Auckland. We're going to visit family friends who live there and I'm really looking forward to it. We're leaving early Fri morning. We haven't caught up with them for ages and I expect the guys will go and play golf or tennis. My friend Helen and I will no doubt end up drinking far too much coffee and talking nineteen to the dozen. They live just to the left of this photo and very close to the beach, so I guess we'll also go for some walks along the beach. It should be great.

So what are you planning to do this weekend? Can you leave a comment to tell me?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Oral skills students Diploma 2008

All the lovely students in our oral skills classes so you can check out your classmates. It would be great if you could go to the Oral Skills Voicethread and have a closer look. Record yourself speaking and introduce yourself. This way the other stream gets to know you as well!

Posted by Picasa Whoops - my apologies. I forgot to make the voicethread public, so noone could access it. Have another go if you tried before - please. Tell us how long you've been in NZ and what you want to do when you finish your English study.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Mark talks about golf

Mark plays golf and describes the game on this podcast. One of his favourite golf courses is at Muriwai beach (picture on right). This course doesn't get too wet in the middle of winter because it is near the beach and the water drains in the sand.
There are lots of golf courses in Auckland and their green fees vary. You can also go to a driving range and practice hitting the ball before you actually try out a game.
Tell me about your golf playing experiences...

Monday, February 04, 2008

Introduction in Voice Thread

Have a look at Jan 08 to see some more of my photos and hear me introducing myself. If you sign up (for free) at Voice Thread you can actually leave a comment on this Voice Thread.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Doorways of Auckland

Doorways of Auckland
Originally uploaded by rob511
Which of these doors would you like to open? What might lie behind?

What doors have opened for you since you came to NZ? Are there doors that you feel have shut?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Aqueous Rogers

Aqueous Rogers
Originally uploaded by khaines
My boys started this band with friends about a year ago. They practise regularly and have had several gigs. Willy (on the right) writes the music on the computer, and then Chris (my son, second from left) puts melody and words over the top. Tim (my younger son is second from the right) plays bass and sings harmony. Chris is the lead singer and also plays guitar.

Their most recent gig was at Parachute - a Christian music festival over Anniversary weekend just out of Hamilton. They played on the Debut stage there and did a really good job. The enthusiastic audience was admittedly made up lof mostly family and friends. They have several more gigs coming up in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Finally, an update of our family photo.

The sad part is that my daughter is going flatting this weekend for the first time and so she will be leaving home. We will really miss her, but she is so excited about the flatting experience. She is flatting with her two closest friends, who are both lovely girls and they have been looking forward to this for ages. The good news is that she is still in Auckland, so we will get to see her (we hope) frequently.

Our boys are both still at high school - and so on holiday at the moment. This photo was taken on Christmas Day.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Visit to Australia

I had a great time in Australia on my recent trip there. Even though I have been to Brisbane several times already, I still enjoy the central area round the river. We hired tandems and rode along the cycle pathways that follow the edge of the river... until our muscles started to hurt.

A few days later we drove up to the Sunshine Coast and stayed at Mooloolabah (in photo). I really enjoyed all the Aboriginal place names on that coast – we also visited Eumundi, Maroochydoore, Yandina to mention a few. The weather was perfect with temperatures of around 30 degrees C, which I find quite pleasant and this meant that swimming wasn’t too cold! We also had a trip on the river ferry up at Noosa, an afternoon wandering round the Australia Zoo (of Steve Irwin fame) and did lots of walking as well as plenty of shopping at various markets – a wonderful holiday all round.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Although I lived in Darjeeling as a child and have been back there several times, I have never actually visited Bhutan. I would love to go there and found this site useful for ideas of what to do there. I like tramping, and the Himalayas are a great place to trek - although there is a lot of up and down!
It seems as though the Bhutanese government are genuinely interested in protecting the environment and their local culture, so it would be good to learn about how they plan for this.

I liked this photo of Punakha Dzong and I am interested in seeing how crafts such as this weaving are made. I love going to craft markets anywhere in the world.

I have friends who live in Bangkok so going through Thailand would be good as I could catch up with at the same time.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A memorable birthday

For my 40th birthday my husband organised for me and two of my closest friends to have a ride over Auckland in a hot air balloon. It was a complete surprise when he woke me around 5 in the morning and explained what was happening. I was too excited to feel scared. As we watched the gas flames heating the air and 'blowing up' the balloon, I did feel a little nervous. The balloon was HUGE! I hate heights, so as we drifted away from the ground, I was very careful to look out rather than down! We had a wonderfully clear morning and could see right across the upper harbour area. After a while in the air, I started to feel much more comfortable.

However, coming down was interesting. Obviously, controlling where the balloon landed was something of an art and our man was an expert. But he still managed to land rather bumpily in a field full of cows on the side of a hill. A few months later, the very same balloon that we had been in actually landed in the mudflats in the harbour and the passengers had to be rescued by boat! I'm glad that it wasn't us : )

Monday, September 03, 2007

Ellen MacArthur

Wow! She is an amazing sailor! And she hardly needs any sleep, either.

I don't think I would like to be at sea all by myself for a long time, even though I do like my own space.

Check out YouTube to see her sailing, and her blog to keep you up to date!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Work and beyond...

I have worked at Unitec for the last 7 years teaching English across different programmes. I trained originally as a primary classroom teacher, with my speciality being music. However, my masters degree was in teaching English and I spent a few years doing this overseas before coming back to NZ. So I guess I've been teaching for the last twenty five years or so. My husband and I took a year off to travel overseas in our twenties, the Kiwi OE (overseas experience), and we worked in London for a few months during this time - NOT teaching!

I love spending quality time with my family, although at the moment I am doing some extra study and so it is hard to juggle everything. However, I'm lucky that I work part-time as this gives me a bit more 'space' in my life. Time to read (other than study books) and make music. I also enjoy socialising with friends - getting together for a meal or going out together.

And the other thing I try to do in my free time is to keep up with the several blogs that I have...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


I guess that I am really lucky as all my extended family actually live in
Auckland on both my side and my husband's side. This means that we get to see each other quite frequently and that my children get to play with their cousins, which is nice. My grandmother (on my dad's side) only died last year at the ripe old age of 96! I don't know whether I want to live quite that long!

In terms of my siblings, I have two brothers and so does my husband. However, Mark (my husband) is the youngest in his family, while I am the oldest in mine. We sometimes joke about the differences between us in relation to this. I think it is interesting that my own three children
reflect the birth order of my own family - first a girl and then two boys. The gap between oldest and youngest is the same as well ie. five years.

We enjoy being together as a family and have regular gatherings, which are usually for birthdays. These are most often pot-luck dinners, where we all bring food to share.

Friday, April 27, 2007


We celebrated Anzac Day last Wednesday. For many New Zealanders it is more than just another public holiday.

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps - soldiers in WW1 who came from Australia and New Zealand. One of the places that they fought was at Gallipoli, which is in Turkey. They landed there on the 25th April 1915, which is the date that we remember today as Anzac Day. It was a very unsuccessful battle that lasted around nine months. Many Kiwi and Aussie soldiers were killed and in the end the British forces had to leave the area.

However, Anzac Day is more than just remembering what happened at Gallipoli. It is a day for reflection on the wars that our country has been involved in. It is a day when we remember the people who died or were injured fighting overseas - in WW1 and 2, as well as other wars that the NZ armed forces have supported. Many people attend services on Anzac Day - one of the most popular in Auckland is at dawn outside the museum. There are also parades. I went to one this Anzac Day in Brisbane, Australia - the parade went on for more than two hours and thousands of people lined the streets to wave flags and applaud the people marching, which included many veterans.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

AK 07

Something to be aware of is the Auckland Festival which is happening over the next couple of weeks. It's an Arts Festival which means that it includes not just Art (as in painting, drawing etc) but the Arts - dance, music, drama. Sometimes these are called the Performing Arts.

Not only will the Sky Tower have fireworks this Thursday (8th) but it will be lit up by orange lights for the duration of the Festival. More fireworks can be seen for free in the Auckland Domain on Sat night (10th) when it gets dark. There's some music beforehand. Put on by French Groupe F, and looks like it will be very cool.

I'm particularly interested in the Festival because my daughter is involved in putting on an event there for young people. She is one of the Young Producers, who won a competition last year to be able to put on this concert. Ripped is a five hour event with all sorts of different bands and craft stalls, not to mention an air band competition. It would be great to see some of you there... Sat 17th March, Red Square, Downtown Auckland, near Britomart.

Monday, February 26, 2007


Talofa lava! Fakalofa lahi atu! Malo e lelei! Ni sa bula vinaka! Kia orana! These are all different greetings from Pacific Islands such as Samoa, Niue, Tonga, Fiji and the Cook Islands.

Auckland has the biggest population of Pacific Islanders in the world. Sometimes Kiwis call them PIs for short. They come from islands scattered all over the Pacific Ocean, but a lot of them now call New Zealand 'home'.

Pasifika is an annual festival held at Western Springs in summer. This year it is on the 9th and 10th of March. There is a concert on the Friday night and then during the Saturday you can walk round stalls and displays for each of the main island groups. It's free and there's loads of entertainment and Pacific island food and goods to buy. It starts at 10 in the morning and goes through until 5 pm.

Last year my husband and I strolled through a variety of different areas at Pasifika. We enjoyed some of the performances, but when we got to the Niuean area, my husband ended up being dragged up to dance with some of the Niuean women. He got given a lei, and his partner won the competition!

lei = necklace made of flowers as in the picture above

Friday, February 16, 2007

New year celebrations

Whoops! That was the sound of a Valentine's Day arrow whizzing past - I missed it. I guess I don't really celebrate Valentine's Day although I like the idea of being able to tell special people that you love them. My 15 yr old son informed me last Tuesday that since I was in a long-term stable relationship (25 years of being married!), I didn't really need to do anything in the roses or chocolate department!

And now it is Chinese New Year. Gong xi fa cai to all my Chinese students. I expect my pronunciation is shocking - and maybe this is the Cantonese version?

I learnt lots about Chinese New Year when I went to live in Brunei (see map if you have no idea where Brunei is). The date was just a few days after we arrived and we were still living in a hotel. One night we were woken out of our sleep by all the firecrackers being let off just under our window. I enjoyed seeing all the Chinese shops and homes decorated and visiting Chinese friends who always had delicious food and those lovely easy-to-peel oranges. And my kids liked the red envelopes with crisp dollar notes inside!

I actually have to confess that I don't know when other Asian countries celebrate New Year. Maybe you could add a comment below or on the podcast to let me know? And what special celebrations do you have? And if you are Chinese, is it difficult celebrating away from home?
I'm hoping to catch the lanterns and maybe a lion dance this weekend at the celebrations in Albert Park...
Listen to this on my souNZ English podcast.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Waitangi Day

Waitangi Day is a pretty low-key affair for most New Zealanders.

It is our national holiday, and commemorates the day that the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between Maori and Pakeha. Well, really it was between the representatives of Queen Victoria and a large number of Maori chiefs.

How do we celebrate? Usually there are ceremonies at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands, which is where the treaty was actually signed. In the recent past, the ceremonies have sometimes been disturbed by political protest.

It's summer, so most Kiwis are glad of Waitangi day as a holiday, where they can relax at home, go sailing or go for a swim and maybe have a BBQ with friends.

Overseas this year, about 300 New Zealanders gathered on a beach in Los Angeles to make a huge 30 metre long silver fern in the sand. In Afghanistan, some NZ soldiers were digging a hangi so they could have some Maori-style food.

a low-key affair - an event where not a lot of fuss is made
commemorates - is an official reminder of ...
silver fern - a NZ plant, sometimes used as a symbol for NZ eg. the Silver Ferns is our national netball team
a hangi - food that is cooked by being steamed in a hole in the ground

If you would like to listen to this, go to souNZ English.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

We had friends from the UK come and stay with us for a few weeks over July and August. Prem and I were at school together years ago, and it was so much fun to catch up with each other and meet our families.

Friday, March 10, 2006

To see or not to see, that is the question!

My son Chris wants to go to the movies this weekend. Last night at dinner, we had a massive discussion about what movies he should be allowed to go to, and specifically whether Date Movie was a good movie to see on Saturday.

I argued that films like Date Movie(comedy, M rating) aren't really worth paying money to go and see. He felt that it was his decision as to what he went to. In the end I looked up several review sites on the Internet. One was full of reviewers' negative comments about the movie from the perspective of the comedy 'Crude, tasteless and cheap!' 'Worst movie of the year' etc. etc. Another gave explicit details of why it was rated as a PG (Parental Guidance required - but that was a rating for the States; here it is an M) mainly in terms of sexual reference. I decided in the end to give him the choice of whether he should see it or not - BUT, he had to read both review sites carefully before he made his decision.

Of course, he read both sites and promptly announced that he was going to the movie! Which is exactly what I expected him to do. But I felt that I'd made my point about the content and its value - or rather, lack of value! Since then, someone who has seen it has told me that it really is NOT worth going to, but I'm sure that Chris' friends are equally convinced that this is the best comedy they will have seen in a long time. It all depends on your perspective, I guess.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I am

Mountains, clouds, sea.
I like reading, music and playing the piano.
God is important to me.
I find satisfaction in achieving something difficult.
I can be angry when I see injustice.
But I try to improve a situation rather than get angry!
I love my family and my extended family.
I can be friendly when I meet someone new.
I feel good when I am relaxed and talking to friends.
This is me.
I am.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Our first night in Brunei

I remember very clearly the first night that we arrived in Brunei. We had flown from Bali, which was only a few hours away. However, it was a night flight so the children were feeling very tired when we arrived. It took a long time to get through immigration because we needed to get work visas. Finally we were able to collect all our luggage.

We thought someone was going to meet us but there was no one there. We didn’t know what to do. We sat there for a long time but no one came to collect us. After some discussion we rang up a hotel and they said they would send a driver to pick us up. A driver arrived in the end but he was from a different hotel! He took us through lots of dark streets until finally we got to the right hotel. I was so pleased that at last we could go to sleep.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Websites in English

I am interested in podcasting - getting messages sent to your ipod, mp3 player or computer. One site that might be useful for you is The daily idiom where several times a week a new idiom in English is discussed. It's also an audio file so you can practice your listening at the same time.

Other sites that I use a lot are
Google as my search engine
other sites for language teaching eg. journals
Sketch Engine for checking concordance programme for use of language

Thursday, August 18, 2005

My ideal job

I would love to work for a publishing firm. There are different companies around that publish books, but I would like to work for one that publishes fiction or educational books. I like the idea of having to read books and make decisions about which ones should be published. I think it would also be interesting and rewarding to work with different authors and help them to edit their books before they are published. Another good thing about this job would be that the hours would be quite flexible, so that would suit having to look after my family at the moment. I could work at the time that my kids are at school.


Auckland is a very green city. When I went overseas recently, I was really surprised when I came back and found how green Auckland was. I guess I had always thought that all cities were like that.

However, although the parks and gardens are lovely in Auckland, and especially here at Unitec, the traffic is a bad feature of this city. The public transport is not terribly reliable and the motorways quickly get jammed at rush hour. I try to avoid using the motorway at busy times.

I also love the fact that Auckland is so close to so many beaches. On the east coast, the beaches are flat with few waves, but on the west coast they are much more exciting, and the beaches have black sand! Muriwai is a great beach on the west coast, and a visit to the gannets (birds) is interesting at different times of the year when the birds are there.

While the photo at this site about Auckland isn't that great, the writing that goes with it will practice a lot of the vocab that we use when writing about cities. Have a look.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Where in NZ would you like to go?

A few years ago my family and I did a month's tour of the South Island. We had a wonderful time, but the one disappointment was that the day we were going to visit Glenorchy (near Queenstown) and do a tour, it poured with rain and the tour was cancelled. The reason that I really wanted to do this tour was because it took you into places where the Lord of the Rings movie was filmed, and I wanted to see some of the scenery. So I would like to go to the South Island do the Lord of the Rings tour. Tell me what you think about the tour.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to Hahei for the weekend. It is a small place on the west coast of Coromandel The beach is a gorgeous stretch of long white sand. One morning we went for a walk to Cathedral Cove which is a very beautiful beach, and about an hours walk over the cliff. Another morning we went to Hot Water Beach where, if the tide is right, you can dig a hole in the sand, and sit in hot water from under the ground.

There are very few shops at Hahei, but there are several restaurants and we had two very delicious dinners there over the weekend. It was a lazy, relaxing time which we spent with some other couples and celebrated Mark's brother's birthday.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Almost lost!

I had a dreadful experience in Edinburgh about five years ago. We had had a month's holiday in England and were catching the plane to Singapore and then back to NZ. So we were coming home. We got to the airport early and my husband went to drop off the rental car. The children and I (with LOTS of luggage) went to check in, but we couldn't find the right check in counter. e had to walk from one end of the terminal to the other and on the way the wheels on our luggage trolley broke down. We had to find another trolley and move all our suitcases on to it.

When we finally got to the checkin desk, I couldn't find the bag with the tickets, our passports and all our money. I realised that I must have left it on the trolley. We ran back to the broken trolley but it was empty. I was very upset. I went back to the check in counter and my daughter was talking to someone. A lady had found my bag and was looking for me! I was so relieved. Now I am much more careful when I am travelling.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Mothers Day

The second Sunday in May is Mothers Day in NZ, although in other countries it is celebrated on different dates. It is a chance to appreciate how much our mums have given us over the years. People try to spend time on the day with their mothers and often give their mums a nice gift.

I visited my mother on Saturday night and gave her a present, as I knew I wouldn't see her on Sunday. Then on Mothers Day, we had my parents-in-law round to our place for lunch. We gave my mother-in-law a gift and enjoyed spending the time with them both.

Traditionally, children bring their mothers breakfast in bed. I stayed in bed especially, and my kids got up early, and brought me a lovely tray with a special breakfast of juice and pancakes. Fathers Day is the first Sunday in September. My husband says he is looking forward to getting his breakfast in bed!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Who am I?

My name is Karen Haines and I enjoy teaching at Unitec very much. I have been here now for more than five years, and have been teaching for more than twenty years in different places and also different subjects.

When I am not at work, my family takes up a lot of my time. My husband is Mark and he is also a teacher. We have three children – Roxanne, Christopher and Timothy. We enjoy going to the beach together and often go up to Muriwai on the West Coast. The children all learn different musical instruments and I enjoy playing piano with them. My husband sings and is in a band. We don’t spend much time watching TV, as there are too many other things to do.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


Family Aug 03
Originally uploaded by khaines.
This was taken about two years ago. Christopher and Tim have grown MUCH taller, and my hair is a little greyer!