Aydie Holland is a massage therapist, musician, and home renovator. She owns Well Connected Massage Therapy and plays and sings in local groups Whanganui Ukulele Orchestra and Metamorphosis. Holland squeezed 10 quickfire questions from Mike Tweed into her lunch break.
What drew you to playing the ukelele?
It's a really easy instrument and it's really transportable. My uke has been all over the world with me. It's sweet and childlike, but it can be played to virtuoso level. I joined the ukelele orchestra, then Bruce [Jellyman] left, then the guy who took over from him left, and I ended up running it. I think it's really important to do something that has meaning and ask how we can be useful. I get to do my community service by dressing up in steampunk and playing ukelele onstage for fundraisers and things. That's just awesome, because it ticks so many boxes for me.
What is your favourite thing to do in Whanganui?
I really like eating out. It wasn't something I could do when I was home with my kids because we were on such a tight budget. I had to cook dinner, and one or two of them were going to be ungrateful little sods on any given night. It would be "I don't like it", and if they did like the food it would be "he had more than me". To me, eating out is a sign of great wealth and success and freedom. Spice Guru is one of my favourites and I always get the same thing - a cottage cheese sagwaala.
You're putting together your dream "Aydie Holland Band". Who would be in it?
It would be about what kind of artists are in it. I'd need a good jazz drummer, a really great bassist and another vocalist who could harmonise really well. There would probably be a sax player as well, because sax is really sexy.
What do you think is Whanganui's best kept secret?
Our climate is really good and it's a very easy place to live in. Everything is close to everything else, you don't have to drive more than 10 minutes to get anywhere. I think Whanganui itself has been a best-kept secret for a long time, that's why we were dubbed the "zombie town" back in the day.
What inspired your career in massage therapy?
I joke with my clients that I became a massage therapist because I'm recovering from a lifetime of touch deprivation. I wasn't from a very touchy family, and they think it's a bit odd that I do it for a job. The whole thing started after I interviewed a woman who was a massage therapist at the Great Kiwi Back-Rub Company, who said she had the best job in the world. I said "I think you should employ me, I've got strong hands and I'm great with people", and so she did.
What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?
It's going to be okay. You're going to come right out of your skin and become the way cooler, more successful, larger-than-life version of your current self. Oh, and don't marry that guy. Don't be so pathetically grateful that you've actually got a boyfriend.
It's been a year since Covid-19 restrictions eased. Has your business returned to normal?
As soon as I was able to get back to business, people were booking up. I sat down at four o'clock in the afternoon and spent three and a half hours messaging everyone who was waiting for me to come back. My diary was filled up for three weeks. The housing market has gone crazy post-Covid as well, so I've had so many new people from out of town as well. Business is booming, and Whanganui is booming.
How would you like to see Whanganui in 50 years?
I'd like the CBD to be closed off and be more of a garden/people/community type area. It would be great to really incentivise people to ride their bikes more as well. As far as anything else goes, I think Whanganui is already a really beautiful city. We should keep doing what we're doing well, which is that old school, vintage, early township thing. I'd really like us to keep our sense of community and to keep looking after one another.
What is your go-to karaoke number?
I would probably choose Cry Me a River - no, not the Justin [Timberlake] song. I'd do the Ella Fitzgerald version. It's nice, slow jazz and it's a bit smokey.
What's your advice to someone about to attempt a massage at home?
If you go in with the intention of wanting the best for someone, then you can't really do them harm. They will tell you what they need. Any massage is great. It bonds people, it calms the nervous system, it improves circulation and it relaxes tight muscles. In my opinion everyone should do it, but, naturally, I think I'm the best.