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Off to rock my ‘other’ baby

By the time you read this, I’ll have started maternity leave.

Chances are, at this moment, I’ll be catching as many naps as possible before disappearing under an avalanche of nappies, laundry powder and contact naps. If I don’t emerge after six months, send out a search party.

Joking aside, I’m excited for the adventure ahead. It will, however, be strange being absent from the Times-Age fold until February. The WTA has been part of my life, on and off, for the best part of 10 years. I’ve written for the Times-Age and Midweek as both an employee and a freelancer. Some colleagues I’ve worked alongside almost the entire decade. Have I changed? I hope so.

Either way – je ne regrette rien. This is my second stint as Midweek editor, and there has been no shortage of highlights over the past 18 months.

In April, Midweek was named as a finalist at the 2023 Voyager Media Awards in the Community Newspaper of the Year category. Naturally, I was thrilled to bits. A lot of hard work goes into this wee newspaper – and certainly not just from me. There’s been a lot dashing around the province collecting stories, several hours of research, several more hours of tapping furiously at the keyboard, a few last-minute sprints to the finish [mostly from me], and a handful of tears and tantrums [ditto]. So, to be acknowledged in the same ceremony as the big players in New Zealand journalism, felt hugely validating.

I am beyond grateful to the Midweek crew for their mahi and dedication: Our production team, sub-editors, designers, ad reps/feature writers, and circulation managers. Thank you for your unwavering support – and helping make our paper a joy to read.

After 10 years, it’s still a privilege to commit Wairarapa stories to print. I’m always staggered by the sheer variety of people – and, likewise, talents, passions and ambitions – our teeny community has to offer. The common stereotype is that you go to your free weekly newspaper for tea and knitting, bake sales and pet days. Nothing wrong with that – all staples of a thriving rural community. But I’d like to think Midweek reflects a region equally known for its diversity, imagination and originality as for its pastoral traditions.

This year alone, we’ve featured floorball champions, Border Morris dancers, korowai weavers, 11-year-old fertiliser entrepreneurs, a chinchilla rescue ranch, teen dog handlers, balloon sculptors, and the team behind a new skating-based youth facility – to name a few. All part of a thriving rural community, and one I am proud to illustrate for our readership.

Personally, one of my career highlights has been, as a great lover of drag, interviewing Anita Wigl’it, the delightful and hilarious star of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under – who, in June, visited Masterton for a drag bingo night at the Copthorne Solway Park.

On a serious note, Anita addressed the recent backlash against drag performers and LGBTQ+ Kiwis, and what the wider community can do to support our Rainbow whānau. Wairarapa was the world’s first community to elect a transgender woman as Mayor – so it’s heartening to see our region is still providing the spaces for queer New Zealanders to showcase their art and, most importantly, be themselves.

Finally, a clear highlight has been working with some brilliant people. Thank you to my editorial teammates for their wit and wisdom. Julia Mahony, my right-hand woman, for her writing talent, cool head, and loyal friendship. News director Roger Parker for his down-to-earth guidance and steady supply of Dad jokes. And my fellow WTA long-server and new māmā Emily Ireland for seeing in me what I couldn’t see for myself. Arohanui.

I’ll now leave you in the capable hands of my successor, acting editor Lucy Cooper. Enjoy yourself, Coops – the stresses can feel numerous, but the rewards are far greater. Much like parenthood, I imagine.

So long [for now], Wairarapa, and thanks for all the yarns.

Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall is the editor of the Wairarapa Midweek. She has been a journalist for the past 10 years, and has a keen interest in arts, culture, social issues, and community justice.

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