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The Spinoff reviews New Zealand #48: the scarecrows of Hamilton Gardens

We review the entire country and culture of New Zealand, one thing at a time. Today, Jos? Barbosa suffers pure horror in the form of Hamilton Gardens’ trauma-inducing scarecrows.

Hamilton gets ribbed a lot, but the city has at least two things going for it: 1) the mighty Waikato River (why was the city built looking away from the river?) and 2) the glorious Hamilton Gardens. Built on the site of what used to be a landfill, the Gardens are an oasis. Appropriately enough, the Gardens are a series of themed gardens such as the Tudor Garden, the Italian Renaissance Garden and Te Parapara, apparently New Zealand’s only traditional M?ori productive garden.

It was during a recent peaceful constitutional through the ‘Kitchen Garden’ that the serenity of the place was shattered by a collection of scarecrows. I was unnerved and even distressed by the grisly parade of nightmares and felt a need to warn others.

Sure Mr Twigs seems like a chill guy, he has the air of a friendly east coast biodynamic farmer, but FFS the guy has twigs for hands. Also look at his vacant stare. The look in his eyes says “some truckers chopped off my hands and jammed sticks in the bleeding stumps and now I travel the earth dropping bits of twigs everywhere and unable to operate Sodastreams.” Horrific.

Basically hostage-taking 101. Sweet denims though.

Legacy mediums always give me the shits, but that is a lot of CDs without covers. I’m white with fear.

Sure, looks innocent enough, but as has recently been discovered[1], Thomas the Tank Engine was really propaganda for emotional and political conformity. Currently weeping for our children’s minds.

Just wanted to pause here and knowledge the impressive fennel crop. Really good.

The unusual cranium structure and glazed expression suggests either Morlock or student politician. Again, I’m fair sweating with terror.

This is exactly how I imagine my face to look when when the sun explodes.

It’s the engorged pelvic area and it’s the mysterious head hiding behind the cardboard Batman mask. But mostly it’s the posture suggesting this b-boy is about to pop the robot on your ass.

This stayed with me for a long time. Verdict: A ongoing gallery of nightmares. Escape is only possible via spiritual and physical death.

Good or bad: OK, real talk: the annual Scarecrow Festival[2] at the Gardens is really cool and kids from local schools make some awesome ‘crows. It’s just that some are a bit scary for a 38 year old digital media content creator, OK? Definitely good.

– Jos? Barbosa

The Spinoff Longform Fund is dedicated to facilitating investigative journalism. Our focus is on supporting in-depth reporting on important New Zealand stories.

Your donation will help us sustain this most resource-intensive form of journalism, ensuring that the most complex and important stories still get told.

References

  1. ^ as has recently been discovered (www.newyorker.com)
  2. ^ annual Scarecrow Festival (hamiltongardens.co.nz)

Spinoff reviews New Zealand #47: Our first ever horror festival

We review the entire country and culture of New Zealand, one thing at a time. Today, Alex Casey reviews Halloween night at Horrorfest NZ. Say what you will about Freddy Krueger, but the man is very well-situated to point out a toilet at a crowded event.

Our gazes followed his long, sharpened knife finger all the way to the window above the loo, frosted for modesty. “Over theeeerrrre” he hissed in a vague American accent, punctuated perfectly with a loud toilet flush. ‘Twas Hallows Eve at Hell’s Horror Fest NZ, a celebration of all things splatter and spooky. Nearby, a man began strumming an acoustic guitar, arguably the most frightening scene of all. Taking place in the ASB Showgrounds, the event is part haunted maze, part drive-in movie, mostly all a terrifying shambles.

Taking place in the wake of costumed-to-the-eyeballs pop culture extravaganza Armageddon, Horror Fest doesn’t look like much when you first arrive. There’s some free Demon Energy up for grabs, a shonky Jigsaw cackling on a trike and an Annabelle doll shrieking with laughter and occasionally telling people where to park. This nun bloke was the scariest, especially when channelling the spirit of John Key via this ponytail stroke caught on camera.

the moment i realised i had made a huge mistake

After a security briefing (no punching the actors, no running, the safeword is ‘pumpkin’) we were let loose into the maze with a small group of boys hyped-up on complimentary Demon. The maze has been built into that big silver shed towards the end of the Showgrounds, maybe best known for equally bone-chilling bargain bin makeup sales, and felt very lengthy. This ain’t no MOTAT mirror maze, put it that way.

We hung back as the boys ran ahead, my partner frozen and mewing in fear as his eyes adjusted to the dark. I don’t want to spoil too much about what happened next, but the maze was incredibly fun and genuinely quite terrifying.

Freddy got papped Here are some of my cool maze tips.

  1. Max out on frights by hanging back a tiny bit and let the people in front of you charge ahead, so all the scares don’t get spoiled.
  2. There is clambering and kneeling and shimmying required to get through things at times, accessibility options feel limited.
  3. Keep eyes in the back of your head as well – you never know when a ghost be ghosting.
  4. Prepare for there to be touching, prepare to be bear-hugged by Jigsaw and dragged into some kind of haunted cupboard shrieking “go on without me”.
  5. Take your time and look around.

    Yes, there are screeds of halls lined with foil curtains that feel like a futuristic car wash, but there’s some impressive detail along the way. Take a peep into the toilet early on, for example.

After the maze, we were left loitering around, making small talk with a zombie wench with an inexplicable French accent. The film playing at the drive-in was Nightmare on Elm Street (1984, they aren’t animals) and scheduled to start at 8.30pm.

This didn’t come remotely close to happening. About an hour later, people were still lining up and ordering pizza – one tiny truck serving what must have been a couple hundred hungry Halloweeners. We ate all the gum in the car trying to pass the time despite laxative warnings.

Even the organiser’s SM© Laptop was about to throw in the towel.

Tfw battery about to run out With hundreds of people getting restless in their cars – now completely boxed-in for the drive-in viewing experience – things started to get pretty Mad Max real quick. The radio frequencies weren’t working for some, an intermission very deep into the film apologetically begged everyone to promptly leave their cars and grab their incredibly late (snack size, not included in the ticket price) pizzas.

People were yelling, honking their horns and flashing their lights. About two minutes later, the movie started again sans sound and sans half the audience. Look, it was opening night of a pretty ambitious event and I don’t doubt that things will be ironed out for the rest of the week (Horror Fest runs till Saturday night).

But for £100 per car (any more than 2 passengers must pay £30 extra) I’d honestly be expecting Leatherface to give me a free manicure and a glass of champagne at the very least. Alas, here are some tips for surviving the drive-in cinema if you are heading along later this week.

  1. Maybe think about bringing your own dinner, but get snacks at the very least. Bring more than you think you are capable of eating – cars, just like airports and movie theatres, open up secret stomachs you never knew you had.
  2. Watching a movie in a car is cool, but the novelty wears off fast.

    Bring pillows and blankets to make the car seat comfier or prepare to wriggle a lot.

  3. Beware of the ghouls that sneak between cars and boo at your window (could have done with more of this).
  4. Check your radio beforehand, there are a few different frequency options for the movie sound and it pays to know what you are dealing with.
  5. Make sure you don’t have too early of a start the next day, less because of nightmares and more because the movie may finish five years later than you had anticipated.

Verdict: Horror Fest is fine for the die-hard horror fans who also have a lot of patience, but I can’t help but think they should bust open the maze as a separate, cheaper attraction for those of us too chicken/lazy to drive out to Spookers. Good or bad: The maze was good, the movie would have been good if it started on time, the food situation was scary bad (and not in a good way).


The Society section is sponsored by AUT. As a contemporary university we’re focused on providing exceptional learning experiences, developing impactful research and forging strong industry partnerships. Start your university journey[1] with us today.

The Spinoff Longform Fund is dedicated to facilitating investigative journalism.

Our focus is on supporting in-depth reporting on important New Zealand stories.

Your donation will help us sustain this most resource-intensive form of journalism, ensuring that the most complex and important stories still get told.

References

  1. ^ Start your university journey (www.aut.ac.nz)

New Zealand: Scammer Accidentally Calls Police

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A scammer in New Zealand made the worst call of his criminal history when he accidentally called the police department. In the recording, the scammer can be heard telling the person on the call to turn on their computer so they can help them. The cop responds by telling the scammer that the computer is on.

The scammer continues to talk on the phone as if he was talking to a regular person. The cop is told to open internet explorer and type in a website. After typing in the website, the cop asks what that is going to do for him.

The scammer says he is from the support server connection of Windows technical department and asks the cop if he typed in the website. The cop says yes but asks if this is a scam. After the scammer tries to give an explanation on why it’s not a scam, the cop tells him it’s a scam and that he is calling from overseas.

The scammer appears to be surprised by the response and says that he is not trying to scam him. He then asks how does he know about it and how is he so sure. The cop tells the scammer that he has called New Zealand Police and the scammer quickly ends the call.

The two minute recording went viral after it was posted on New Zealand’s Police Facebook page. The recording currently has over 600,000 views. In the post, police also tells people that if they receive a phone call like the one on the recording, to not give them access to their computer and personal or financial information.

The Facebook post has also received hundreds of comments from people who have received similar phone calls in the past. The call appears to be a mistake by the scammer, who thought he was just contacting another person. But police have used the recording to warn people about scammers.

The video can be found on New Zealand’s Police official Facebook page, where it currently has more than nine thousand likes and eight thousand shares.

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Sean Farlow

University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Big fan of sports teams from South FL.

References

  1. ^ Malaysia Airlines Plane Returns To Airport After Passenger Tries To Enter Cockpit (gazettereview.com)
  2. ^ Motorola To Announce New Phone On Thursday (gazettereview.com)