Animated short film developed in response to the devastating cholera epidemic in Haiti





Sought from those interested in a month long intrepid expedition to Brazil in memory of

Sir Peter Blake on the 10th Anniversary of his death in Amazonas

Typical River housing - Near Manaus

“I was with Sir Peter Blake in 2001. I am going back to personally commemorate the journey I took with him 10 years ago. I hope that others will join me as I again explore the region and conduct various  research and artistic endeavours on the journey” Marc Shaw


  • A month long journey entirely by river boat from Manaus, up the Rio Negro towards a memorial site at the junction of the  Cassiquiari and Orinoco. This is an exciting adventure with limited spaces!
  • The expedition will travel through changing landscapes, small river populations, explore the beautiful wide spaces of the Amazonas region, and the people living on this most majestic of rivers
  • Extraordinary flora and fauna, animals and insects
  • Various aquatic species, fishing opportunities
  • An additional adventure includes venturing up to Rio Araca and Rio Demeni towards the spectacular ‘waterfalls region’. This is an area rarely seen by travellers which houses an impressive waterfall known as Cachoeira do El Dorado. Only recently discovered, this is a wild and remote area with little known about it and the expedition offers an option of trekking, forest survival camping and training
  • From Sao Gabriel, the last major town in Brazil, we transverse rapids into Cucuy and then into Venezuela, travelling through San Carlos, then up the legendary Casiquiare tributary to the Orinoco River – at the junction of which there is a Memorial to Sir Peter Blake

A unique outdoor adventure / Nature, Travel and Tropical Medicine at its best!


Marc Shaw with colleague Dr Monkey during his last venture to the Amazonas region


Welcome to our 2011 Travel Medicine conference for Health Professionals.

Travel and Tropical Medicine is a specialization which continues to grow. With around 2 million kiwis travelling internationally each year,  Health Professionals need to be regularly updated in the latest global travel health information.

Prevention of infectious disease remains the priority of travel medicine practice through travel vaccines, medication and awareness and risk assessment of the traveller’s destination and itinerary.

New Zealand’s WORLDWISE Online Travel Medicine Conference has been presented annually for 14   years, and is the only continuous New Zealand travel health event providing global health updates for health professionals.

This year’s WORLDWISE ONLINE conference offers Health Professionals a solid platform on which to learn and update knowledge in this fascinating specialization.

The conference will consist of:

Advanced Level 1 – One full day of stimulating  presentations aimed at all Primary Health Care Nurses who have some experience in Travel Medicine practice or Primary Health Care Practitioners new to Travel Medicine. Includes input from 2 international key note speakers


Level 2 – One and a half days of invaluable global health information aimed at all Primary Health care Practitioners (General Practitioners, Travel and Infectious Disease Specialists, Military medical staff and Pharmacists) with an interest in travel medicine.

An electrifying line up of National industry professionals, contribute important knowledge surrounding a wide                  variety of travel health-related aspects. Highly esteemed International Key note speakers, Patricia Schlagenhauf-Lawlor and Karin Leder put forward fresh global health understanding from an international perspective.

Nurses who have attended previous WORLDWISE ONLINE Level 1 courses are also invited to attend.


The conference will be hosted at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Queenstown. We look forward to seeing you there!

Email: for more information

Women in Blue

January 10, 2011

Blue            and white

mask women hiding

Themselves from outside eyes viewing
Tranquil times

or tense, turbulent

Occasions that speak too honestly
Of that which happens at home?

Walking along tracks

time-worn, through fields,

Wending a way –
down, bazaar beckoning
Attractions displayed, for sale, in myriad forms
Along clear course
to meander,  to ponder,
Sometimes to purchase, mainly to wander
Silently – as an observer wonders, in silence.

A Meander into Bamyan

December 20, 2010

local man at bazaar

The NZPRT is up on a hill. Sort of half way between villages, though that is a little hard to tell here as many of the surrounding villages flow into each other without boundaries. I suggested to Blu and Leon that we do a ‘dismounted patrol’ down and into Bamyan city itself, but that we walk through the villages just over the way from the aircraft runway. Being as I suggested it, both Blu and Leon looked at me as if to say – great well you organise it and we’ll come with you. Sort of a bit like ‘you make the cake and put the icing on and we’ll eat it’! But they are great guys, so I succumbed to it.

So, I spent the rest of yesterday morning planning to do the dismounted patrol in the bazaar. We need to do this preparation for obvious security reasons, so it was not too much of a hassle. I planned for us to go with an interpreter walking into town, having a look and then walking back home to PRT. I wanted to walk through the villages and fields and then to meander without too much of a time limit in the bazaar – which is where most of the shopping by the local Afghanis was done.  The process was sorted and then we were away, heading off into town.

walking through fields

Frozen waters

Well, what a delightful walk we all had. The day was rather cool but the sun was high in the blue cloudless sky. Out the gate, over the road, a stroll over the far edge of the airfield, over the main road to the PRT and then through a village – with its different smells, and sights and sounds. Most of the houses here are hidden by high walls that surround the home and a compound that will often contain orchards of fruit trees or just the accoutrement  of a family’s life. Through the village we go, over an icey stream, and then a walk beside some willow trees along the humps that are on either side of waterways that provide nurture to spring and summer crops. So many water ways course across the fields. There does not seem to be any deficit of water in this region, at least… just difficult to organise the appropriate social use of it however. On we travel and from the photos you will see the very dry fields as we walk along, chatting about this and that. More willow trees. Down a valley that does not get a lot of sun and the ice there has not yet thawed. Onto the only tar-sealed road in Bamyan.

men in fields

We follow this down to the primary roundabout… turn right and into the bazaar. First thing that I do is go to a stall that I went to the other day and give then a laminated photograph of themselves. They look so proud in their stall .

Three Wise Men

Local man preparing kebabs

Locals at the Bazaar

Next we spend time meandering down the main street stopping here and there to take photos and often pausing to weave as we go along the way. Images of our walk that cross my mind today: ‘the bazaar is not so crowded today because in is a special Shiite celebration ( the one that involved ceremonial thrashing of the back with a whip)’, ‘a few stalls selling flags etc celebrating this day’, ‘we go into a couple of jewellery and bric-a-brac shops to buy the usual trinkets for folk back home… I just can’t resist this art-work’. Couple of little things, I go ahead and buy – women’s bits and pieces for family back home!

On with the strolling down to the shop that the NZ PRT does its shopping – super-market style, and then we head off into one of the back streets and go along that. It is very different to the main street. No sealing, more bumpy, way more primitive, it happens to be one that deals in car maintenance so the road had big holes in for oil / sump seepage, there are no OSH rules here. Next turn we head off into the hills and back to where we started – at the PRT. We wend out way home through the walkways that pass beside the water-ways. Every image is a photo-call, and I take many shots to preserve in my mind what it is actually like to ‘touch on city life’ here in Bamyan. So much is known about what we, in the Army, do on a day-to-day basis but not too much is understood about the images of living in this community. Such then, is the reason that I write of this and present some images, that I think are reflective, of a different community and lifestyle…


December 19, 2010

Early. Mountain shadows over surrounding
Vales and villages of greater Bamyan in the basin.
Sunlight to glisten way-high tips, to descend their slopes
Exposing colours of orange, yellow, sand, brown, red
Made more so by shade of beams that strike at angles
To herald majesty and another colour-filled date.

From bottoms of valleys; gradually, imperceptibly to
Begin, little puffs of smoke prickle straight to skies or
Drift to sides of houses in shallow drafts. Then with
Passing moments through dawn into fullness of day,
Haziness from break fast fires overlays fields barren in
Preparation for winter coming. So it has forever been.

Marc and Padre Ra

Christmas is coming to Bamiyan. I can tell this, not because people are walking around singing carols of good cheers but, because the weather has started to change. Not just your average couple of degrees swing either way change but a severe disruption-of-the-environment-change. Yesterday was a non unpleasant 4-8 degrees dry tolerable cold, but today was the coldest day that I have experienced on my tour here in Afghanistan with the New Zealand Defence Forces. Minus 5 degrees, and that was the high! The wind from the hills surrounding this lovely peaceful town whooshed down in a not-too-subtle warning of more severe days to come.

I awoke this morning, 0615, my normal time. Wrapped up and shuffled quickly down to the shower before either my feet, legs or other parts of my body froze. Normally I would go for a four km walk around the camp but not today. I was to join the New Zealand Police Officers at a breakfast hosted by the Afghan National Police (ANP) School Commandant, Colonel Paiman. This was as a precursor to both Jo Saville (NZ Police) and I helping our Malaysian Colleagues teach the ANP first aid.

Recently arrived from the hot tropics of the Malay Peninsula, our Malaysian Colleagues were still in shock at the temperatures that they were experiencing here in Afghanistan. I knew this, for every time they appeared I had to ask them who they were, as their faces and bodies were totally covered up in tropical army fatigues with tufts of wool protruding from them like bristles on a dish mop. They were finding it tough going being here in such a different location, and then on top of this they had to find their own role here in Afghanistan supporting the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT).

First off, we joined the Colonel for a traditional Afghan breakfast and it was superb. A 2 meat breakfast – kebabs and roast chicken wrapped in naan, with fried eggs. Add a cup of Chai (local tea) and it was ‘wrap your laughing gear around this then’! I enjoyed it, and eating it with other Kiwis and Americans similarly invited to the feast we took the chance to remind ourselves of what Christmas normally meant in our own countries. My eyes glazed for a moment as I thought of hot roast turkey and cold ham, followed by Christmas pudding, Pavlova and ice cream. The Colonel’s mouth dropped open when I explained the dishes to him. He hadn’t even heard of them before.  Jo’s mouth also popped open but she couldn’t understand why the hot and cold mix. ‘Covering all weather contingencies’ was my learned reply. Her eyes flicked skyward!

'Jo smiling at one of the lighter moments in the class'

Breakfast over and we are invited out to watch the morning parade and view the presentation of the guard. ‘This was a bit more like it’ thought I.  I was entering into the spirit quite well. The Colonel gave a rousing speech and then deferred to ‘the breakfast group’ who walked up and down the ranks checking the amassed policemen. Never a person to pass up an opportunity I decided to start shaking hands with the startled array. Hell, I am not going to get this chance again so I decided ‘in for a penny…’. I have a marvellous time with the lads presenting before me. The guys looked so young and friendly and are initially shocked at my forwardness and then they put their hands out and big smiles cross their faces.

The Doc guiding the stretcher and bandage application training

This joy over, Jo and I proceed to guide the training of our Malaysian colleagues for the rest of the day. All local police, this was a reinforcement of knowledge that they already had been given in the past. Some of these guys had been in the force for 9 -12 years and others had only just joined. Our task was to give them some ‘first aid experience’. The role that Jo and I had in this day-long session was to mentor (though I do not like this word necessarily as it is very ‘buzzy’ and very ‘US centred’) the Malaysians through their teaching so that they are comfortable (that PC word again!!) with their teaching of the subject. The teaching is quite hard for the Malaysians as they present in English, which is a second language to them, and so much tends to be lost in translation. The sessions themselves are quite hilarious in a productive way as the tutors translate their session, in their own minds, from  Malay to English and then speak with a fluency that the local translator can facilitate from English to Dari (the local language of this region).  If this is hard to understand, then it is intended to be as it gives an expression of how hard the Malaysians tried with their conference today. I wrapped up each of the 6 or so sessions with a ‘five take home points’ to accrete knowledge, and Jo similarly did the same from a practical point of view.

The day was exciting for we got to be involved directly with the local police force and we were able to show them skills that they could one day directly be expected to use. It wasn’t hard work, and the time ticked over quickly for a number of reasons. The sessions were dynamic, informative and fun to be part of. It really did seem to make a difference professionally when I saw the application of the knowledge process that Jo and I were part of transforming people who initially approached the day with scepticism into a group that could see ‘the point of it all’.

Marc and Jo with the ANP group

We paused at the end of the day for a group photo, before bundling back to the Malaysian Compound for hot coffee and chocolate. Jo and I gathered with the five Malaysian tutors and smiled not a little at what we have achieved.


Carer and young child

Whilst the main task of CRIB 17, the name given to this deployment of our Company here in Bamyan, must be the security of the region, other noteworthy tasks often befall the Doctor and the Padre.  So it was an unexpected pleasure to be invited by the Americans here at Kiwi Base, to accompany them to a local orphanage. Ra Koia (the Padre), Allan Kelly (my new ‘Best Friend’) and I got some of the many packages that have been sent over here by New Zealanders to take with us to distribute to those in the orphanage. I looked at the ‘goodies’ that had accumulated and saw woollen clothes, gloves and hats. I saw woollen rugs and woollen toys all handmade and with a uniqueness that was expressive of an individual’s care in their making.

The three of us packed our 4 x 4 and set off along the roads of Bamyan. Now these roads are pretty darn monstrous to drive over. At times we feel as though we are driving down a canyon only to emerge at the top of a hill. Finally we get there. I say finally because Ra, who was driving, got lost and as we were the lead car for the American contingent who was following us… this was not a good look. I offered to get out of the car and redirect traffic, but at this stage it was felt that I was probably more of a hindrance then a help. Allan came to the rescue (he is THAT kind of a guy!!) and boldly said ‘what about going down there’ as we passed the only other road in the district.

Ra and I were very impressed and decided to go with his rather bold suggestion, considering the entire US Army was now following us. Off we went and it was not long before Ra, who had been this way before, exclaimed ‘Ah there is the hill that I was looking for!’ Allan and I looked at each other, for the hill was actually duly visible from Kiwi Camp three kms away!

Never mind, we were now on a mission and with dust puffing in all directions and we ‘burned up’ the road we were not long before the orphanage gates were ahead of us. The gatekeeper rushed to open the gates and the children started to appear, not in singles and doubles but in hoards. Well, it seemed like that, as all were keen to get to touch us and shake our hands with a kindly ‘Salaam’ to follow. Boys and girls and babes. All smiled and cheered us. This was very touching as at this time they did not know that we had some gifts to give out.

Allan and a young woman at the orphanage

This was the only orphanage in the region and it had 59 children at it – ages ranging from young babes through to their teenage mothers, boys that appeared to be young men and boys that were growing up to BE those boys that appeared to be young men. Age was somehow irrelevant, for they all had two common factors: their parents were lost and had, in all likelihood, been killed by the Taliban.

The compound is a rather a big place with the children and about 3-4 adults who help with the cooking, the security and I guess with the ‘mothering’ of these children – though in all probability they tended to mother themselves. They really were very hardy and they had sustained much to make them so.

Within the wall of the compound (the Afghans appear to just love building walls! They are everywhere) there was a large building with a large dark hall within which there are fingers that go to the individual children’s dormitories and rooms. On of these ‘fingers’ directs off to a kitchen where the cook is preparing the lunch, firstly by firing up the wood-burning stove sending smoke and its signature smell through the whole building. The facilities are primitive yet all living here in this compound appear content with what they have, though like all children they dream of a future they will be more content in. We get our 3-4 bags of goodies and distribute them out to the children – the dolls come first, and as we give them out it is easy to see which children are happy with their selection and which children will be swapping their selection for a better find when we leave. For all that it is a lovely experience to give these kids presents, for they do not get many.

The kids with their new dolls

Having given smaller gifts to the children, we leave the bigger parcels of clothes for the centre’s supervisor to give out. He accepts the gifts with a soft, though honest, ‘Tashikor’, or thank you. In a pure world it would be great to be able for us to give appropriate clothes out to those that needed them most, but it really is not for us to take this task upon us for the curator knows all the children well and we are happy to leave this task to him.

Ra with the children

Hands on our hearts, we wave goodbye.

Marc with an orphan child outside the front gate

The children follow us out and around the compound as we move to be part of all the activities going on – watching new buildings going up to cover the expansion required for those living at the centre, observing the library to help with the local Governor’s avowed aim of improving education for all in Bamyan, and finally just by the guard gate we watch two of the children’s carers painting the fire heaters and the portable stoves with pitch black to protect them from their anticipated use during the coming winter.

Pitching the fires for winter

The kids appear to have been delighted to see us and to touch and shake our hands. We have stayed for around a couple of hours, and as we leave Allan makes the comment that we are all thinking ‘What have they been through, and how humble such a visit makes us’.

These photos have been taken by both Marc and Allan.

Overlooking Bamiyan Town

The cool day is sun-filled right across the hills of the Bamiyan valley, to the snow that adds a frame to the remarkable picture’s scene. The Padre (Ra) and Allan Kelly, a civilian such as myself, and I head off to the nearby Foladi Valley. The journey to our planned destination was anticipated to take around 40 minutes . It was to the farthest medical clinic up the valley, but I don’t think any of us anticipated the state of the roads that took much negotiation and rocky-road manoeuvres. Our caution in thusly travelling was countered by the speed of the local police who seemed to be on ‘blue light flashing’ every time they took to passing us on the  rutted dusty roads.  Cautiously we drive, and an hour later we feast our eyes on a most lovely village that looked as though it was from way back in ancient Medieval times.  We were presented with often huge houses that had stunning walled architecture, and which gave home to 5-6 families living there. The walls of these not unattractive constructions were made of mud – brick or stone and concrete.  Often they had lattices on windows and sometimes there were occasional windows blocked in to conserve warmth against the bitter cold.

The narrow streets of this village gave the image of quaintness as women walked the streets with their chadors, the days washing perched in perfect balance upon their heads. By the sides of the road and thrusting like fingers into the ploughed fields were water-trails nurturing the land and all the village’s washing, at the very least – dishes and clothes, seemed to be done in such water courses. 6-9 inches deep these tracts meander delicately and rather picturesquely across fields and along poplar lined fields planted in rows to stake out boundaries or emphasise forests. Just beautiful,  and made more so as we were lucky enough to travel to the region the day after there had been rain and so there was little dust – even the trees had shed some of their dust and were another  cleaner, purer colour today.  Children were playing in mud and in the streets, whilst some were doing the dishes for their parents. All stopped to look at us as we passed and most would run away to prevent photographs being taken, yet everywhere we looked to snap another image told ‘a thousand words’ and we wanted to capture them all.

Finally we found our destination medical clinic that had over the last week been taken over by the International Red Crescent (IRC ) and  we were told that it had a Doctor, a Nurse and a Vaccinator. A couple of packages of goodies –  woollen clothes, dolls, and toys made by generous Kiwis back home –  that we gave  to the clinic  prompted smiles in gratitude. This was the only reward that the Padre, Allan and I could ever have wanted. A few photos on the way back, man and donkey, women walking the roads, children by the sides of the roads and scenes of a majestic country present themselves to us in the winter’s sun heightened , again, by the reflection of the snow upon the hills.

Marc’s Poetic Images

November 4, 2010


Bamiyan’s Vales


There’s a tension swirls through Bamiyan’s vales.

New soldiers arrive to be tried out – or not, for

No-one knows when, if, they will be needed to

Present developed skills in angered reaction. Still

They needs prepare preventing impacts of horror,

‘pon a populace now content in peace. Trained

Wariness guides protectors who relate defence to

An aftermath of horror serving purpose to disrupt

Calm living where once was disquiet, suppression,

Fear of death; bringing Kiwis to supplant, to secure.