Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Home is where the yurt is

Georgia Duder-Wood and her dog honey at their Yurt home. Photo / Simon Wood
Georgia Duder-Wood and her dog honey at their Yurt home. Photo / Simon Wood

When your days are filled with the quick-paced glitz and stresses of show business, the simple life is pure bliss.

For songstress Georgia Duder-Wood, that bliss comes in the form of her home - a modern yurt tucked away in the forests of beautiful Kawau Island.

The 44-year-old and her husband, Simon Wood, are the proud owners of the country's biggest residential yurt, a portable tent-like structure inspired by the Mongolian tents of the same name.

With a performance career that spans over 20 years - including musical theatre works around New Zealand, Australia and residencies in Auckland, Japan and London - not even the bright lights of the West End could keep her away.

"Working overseas and in big cities, I returned to the beauty of New Zealand."

Measuring about 80sq m inside, the yurt was purchased from the US and is made of architectural fabric.

It has double-glass French doors and large windows - something not currently available with New Zealand-made yurts.

The couple has also added a huge deck around it, as well as an outdoor bathroom and wood stove that had to be helicoptered in because of its size.

Their home is completely solar-powered and like most structures of its kind, has no internal walls.

The yurt itself cost about $55,000.

Getting everything they needed to Kawau Island and the overall setting up of their new home set them back about $200,000.

"In terms of what we got, it's a very affordable house.

"We didn't want a mortgage. We've been paying a mortgage in the North Shore and weren't getting ahead. We were tired of all of our hard work just going to pay the mortgage."

Asked why they chose a yurt as their permanent home, Duder-Wood said simplicity and sustainability were the key reasons.

"I'm a great believer that the earth - we really need to look at how we're using the earth's resources.

"My husband [is] really in to horticulture, biodynamics and gardening. So we really want to model what we believe - that we need simplicity and sustainability. Just learn to have less and need less and live much more connected to nature."

Being able to call Duder's Bay - her family's slice of the island - home was not only a wonderful thing, it was paradise.

"I've been there since I was in the womb. I got married on our beach, my sister's ashes are buried there and my niece and nephew's whenua are buried there.

"To live there, what it means is I come in to Auckland, I do gigs and recording sessions, teach, perform and work as a working artist and then go home."

Her latest gig is Menopause, The Musical: Women on Fire, currently showing around New Zealand. The show follows four women in a department store who have nothing in common but a black lace bra they want to buy.

There are jokes about wrinkles, hot flushes and chocolate binges - all with the clever use of popular songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s.

Duder-Wood said it was about celebrating the mid-life crisis and menopause.
"It's celebrating it, but also poking fun at ourselves.

"There are also really poignant moments about the pressures on women to remain youthful looking - when things are drooping, wrinkles are appearing and the reality of menopause...are occurring.

"Apparently men love it too because they sort of nudge their wives and say: 'Oh, that's you, darling'.

Duder-Wood is now working on a new book dubbed: Home Is Where The Yurt Is.

- NZ Herald

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