Auck Ward

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Visiting the American Store in Auckland: Martha’s Backyard

A photo posted by Tina Trenkner-Meade (@tinatrenkner) on

In Auckland, there is a store that sells American foodstuffs and cosmetics and other things called Martha’s Backyard. It has a website here, and a brick-and-mortar shop in a suburb called Mt Wellington.

It offers lots of promising stuff that elicits glees: Funfetti cake. Airheads. Sour Patch Kids. A 50-pack of red Solo-like cups.

I haven’t had a huge nagging need to go check it out to buy things like hot sauce or whatever. There would be times where I would be cooking and I would think to myself: “This would be better with Old Bay” or the Kiwi would say that we need hot sauce for Buffalo Chicken soup.

And yet: Last weekend we were driving around Auckland, exploring neighborhoods, buying things for our place, etc. A wrong turn took us into a shopping center with … the American store.

So much for buying things for the apartment. We’re going in, like it or not. And it was glorious for this Yank:

Halloween decorations in August


What’s more American than selling decorations for holidays that are months away?

Much Bath and Body Works

Teenaged Tina called, she wants to know what happened to Country Apple.

All the hot sauce and spices


No Goya though. I will faint of shock if and when I see Goya any in New Zealand. I could use some Adobo.



Peach Snapple is the taste of childhood summers. Its commercials played all the time on New York TV when I was a kid.



Evidently, Mexican sodas have been co-opted by ‘Merica. Pro tip: Throw some pineapple Jarritos with some Bacardi Strawberry Daiquiri frozen mix. Add ice and blend. So good.

Want to take a guess for the store’s most popular product?

Arguably, it’s EOS lip balm. The ones that look like little eggs, making them easy to find in your purse. They go for $8.50 NZD – the cashier was telling me they’re a hot commodity. I remember a friend bringing a stash for a Kiwi family member since they’re only like $2.99 USD at Target.

Look what we got! EOS Lemon Drop SPF 15. Get it while it lasts! #eos #marthasbackyard

A photo posted by @marthasbackyard on

So what did we walk out with?

• A big can of Old Bay (spice mix used for crabs. Or anything: Bloody Marys, roast chicken, french fries, pasta with olive oil and pecorino…)
• A half-and-half Snapple in plastic bottle.
• A bottle of hot sauce


US State Dept Sent A Warning About The Auckland Anti-TPP Protest And I Didn’t Get It

On Saturday, there was a Trans-Pacific Partnership protest in Auckland. Kiwis were protesting the unclear terms of the 12-country trade deal and claiming that the deal is not in New Zealand’s best interests.

Media outlets (Stuff, Radio New Zealand) reported that Americans were sent an email from the Auckland consulate to steer clear of the protest, as the march would go down to the American consulate a few blocks down.

I’m an American. A damn millennial, at that! I work in digital media. I didn’t get that email. I learned about it from my husband. After I walked right by the protest before it began. The beginnings of that protest had no indicators it would get crazy. Perhaps I’m immune to protests, they were pretty common in DC.

Why wasn’t this warning posted on the US Consulate Auckland’s web site? I don’t see it posted. Do you? It definitely wasn’t tweeted from the embassy’s account.

The reason I did not receive the email, my guess, is that I’m not registered with the State Department as being in New Zealand.

The answer to this is to register with the Bureau of Consular Affairs. It has a database (STEP) Americans opt in for so that when Americans travel internationally, State Department has an idea of where they are. I’ve registered trips to the Middle East and Europe before. But didn’t think to register a move to New Zealand. That needs to be updated.

Perhaps I’m naive, but I would have thought there would be a better way for staying in touch with one’s native country. The embassy or consulate could have put the notice on its website. Or tweeted it. Or better promoted the opt-in communication process, putting the power in the expat’s hands (or else there are privacy concerns).

I’ve made the effort to opt in for alerts by emailing the consulate, asking to be added to any expat-related email lists.

As for the danger of the Auckland protest? Yeah, nah. The Auckland protest was fine. Here are the news reports from each of the major NZ news orgs regarding the Anti-TPP protests here, here, here, here and here (full disclosure, I work at this one). Not one mentions the Auckland protest getting out of hand.

Even though I think that US consulate’s Auckland protest message was a little ridiculous, I still would have liked to have received it. If the US thinks something is dangerous, I’d like to at least find the warning online, receive it and read it.

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