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Esther, Braemar Springs. What I felt was this…When I hit 50, I had this thought…‘It's all downhill now," so because it's all downhill, I may as well make the most of it and step outside of my comfort zone and step out of things I thought I would never, ever, do. Yeah, it's these thoughts that inspired me to step outside my square and my box and wear togs and sometimes a bikini. I’ve never done that before. Always covered up with long shorts and tops. And now… I pose for photos, smile with my crooked teeth, bare my body, and just own all the experiences I’ve had right up until now. One of my downfalls is that I am my worst critic. I am not very confident in myself. It's coming now, though. I’m gonna keep working on that. A lot of those experiences were relationships, I only had 2 relationships before, and they gave me all my learnings. I was conditioned in the first one. Controlled in the second one. Yeah so… Enough of that… Enough of that. Braemar Springs, Te Waiu o Pukemaire, is my special place. The water is a natural spring from under the ground. Those waters are healing waters, and there always makes me feel rejuvenated and cleansed. It's so serene and peaceful. I feel really connected to myself here with the surroundings, and I have my maunga in the distance. There have been times when I feel my tupuna around too.. I feel so free now in lots of ways. Going into another relationship in my 50s, I knew exactly what I wanted. I’m lucky I found someone that is exactly like me. He wants his freedom too, and he’s done his journey. Our motto is to be happy every day and to talk the real stuff. I am learning that. It's okay to say how you feel. My Moko Kauae explores my journey from birth till now. A lot of it is tradition too. My whakapapa, my ancestors, right down to my parents, to me, to my partners and my children. I had one granddaughter when I got it done and she's in here too. My lips being done as well, that gives me permission to fulfill the roles of a kaikuranga at the marae or elder at the marae. That's it. I never thought I’d have a Moko kauae to be honest. It just happened. It just felt right. I was glad I had it done when I had it done. Cause all the education came with it too. I speak Te Reo, but I am not fluent. I didn’t learn it at school. I went to Wanaga later on. I am not a confident speaker. I am just around in small crowds. It has a lot to do with public speaking and confidence for me.


Nicky, Murewai I feel quite strong about coming into my 50s. I mean, my thighs aren't perfect, but I feel good. I feel strong. Throughout life, physically, I’ve been able to eat what I want. This has definitely changed since going through menopause. I now just have to go with the flow and understand my body is changing and to accept and love it, which I do. I am coming to a place where I am just more comfortable in life with friends and family and liking myself more. This is very simplistic, but this is how I feel. While I do yoga, I hear the words’ just love yourself’ and I am starting to get into that mentality more…Just forgiving myself. I feel very lucky that I am quite resilient and physically blessed because I am tall, I can hold lots. I can get fit easily and am reasonably athletic. On the whole, I feel great. I don’t really feel self conscious about my body. I rely on my body for physical strength. Like gardening is the one thing I love. I notice that if I haven't done any stretches for a week, it feels…not good. Stiff and unrelenting. I have to look after myself physically. How I look and feel about myself isn’t all about weight. Dieting has never been a big part of my life. I hate it. The word sends me into a tailspin. But it is about feeling good and I did feel great after shedding a few kgs, the ones that have kinda crept on as I get older. I just can’t eat a bag of crisps and drink copious amounts of wine like I used to be able to… Weirdly, when I see my reflection, I do get a bit of a fright. In my mind, I think I am smaller than I look. I’m convinced the windows in our house are fat windows! But that's okay. I just put my shoulders back and change position. I don’t really care... I can’t really let that ruin my life. I don’t really care much about what people think of my body, but when it comes to work, friends, and family, I care. I’m more unafraid than I ever was. Even with friends, I am unafraid to bring any issues up. I try to be constructive and kind because sometimes I can be quite blunt and have to be careful of that. I can be a bit abrasive. I need to breathe and think about things before just blustering in. Hey, I don’t look at myself 24/7. When you’re with friends and family, you’re looking at them all the time and getting used to their features, but when I see myself, it is the opposite way around. Especially looking at a photograph. It's sort of like...not how I see myself. But this is me! Occasionally I have my lapses when I am a bit hard on myself. When I look in the mirror, at my face, I am like...t, "Those lines have gotta go! Go!" There's got to be a cure! There’s always botox!

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Maree, Piha My 50s have been quite liberating and free. But not without the body hang ups I’ve had since I was 24, after my first son was born. I probably became more aware of my body imperfections after my first child was born at the age of 24. I don’t see many bodies of women my age across the usual media channels, and I do continue to imagine that even women our age have these perfect bodies of 18 year olds. This is something I have not logically thought through, but in my head, my body was more flawed than others…which is very egocentric and quite pathetic of me really. I mean, who gives a damn. But I did for years. No one is looking at my fricken stomach. And if they are, I don't really care anymore. It’s just so self-centered really to even think that people care and are even looking. Physically, I feel better now in my 50s than ever before. I’m the fittest I have ever been in my life. My yoga practice is really advanced, and I’m more accomplished than I have ever been. Consequently, I feel really, really, healthy. My body has been really prepared to go into this age. Emotionally though, my 50s have been tough. Especially going through menopause. I experienced things I hadn’t experienced before, such as anxiety, which was a completely alien experience to me. Life has been this ongoing, growing up, and never quite getting there, experience. I don’t think I will ever reach an age of maturity and think…‘now I’m this mature, wise person and grown up’. I’ve just had to embrace everything for this moment and want to keep growing… I feel blessed with my body, but I’ve struggled for a long time with issues I have with my stomach (and thighs…oh those thighs!). I had my first child when I was 24, and another three years later, and my tummy just got ripped apart with saggy bits and stretch marks all over it. I never wore a bikini after the age of 24. I really felt like my stomach bore battle scars I wasn’t proud of. I didn’t think it (my stomach) looked very attractive and didn’t want to expose other people to it. Over the years I had become uber focused on my negative body bits. Of course, no one else is getting the magnifying glass out and looking at these bits I’m so self-conscious about. I have to remind myself that our bodies are part of our whole being. People take us in as a whole, not just the bits. I just keep reminding myself of this. I definitely suffer from comparativist. I’d look at friends who spat out these minute, petite babies and reverted to flat stomachs within weeks, went back to wearing bikinis, and looked amazing. I kinda felt like I couldn’t do that because of how mine looked. I think that is what I suffered from the most. I have also come to realise that of course, no one else gives a shit about the stretch marks. After seeing the photographs from my shoot with you, I can see they weren’t as bad as I thought they were. And now I just celebrate everything my body has done for me. It’s such a waste to be consumed with all these thoughts that have ultimately inhibited me for years.

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