Thursday, December 30, 2010



It won't be long now and we'll be saying goodbye to the old and hello to the new. If I made New Year resolutions it would be to write into this Blog everyday. I don't make any resolutions because I'm not capable of keeping them more than twenty four hours. I need to grow some respect for readers. Then I will make the effort even when I am finding it difficult to write.

There has been no shortage of New Zealand News this year and we have featured in World News too often.

I don't want to dwell on the horrible things that have happened. That's not because I turn a blind eye to them but because enough has been said and written. Many people are suffering and that's a part of life that is always hard to comprehend and accept. I've struggled with all the bad stuff and didn't want to write when that's all that was on my mind.

Having said that, Christchurch is still reeling from the September 4th earthquake and over4000 after shocks. Here is a link to the Christchurch Earthquake Map. The Boxing Day quake caused more extensive damage and 10 more homes are uninhabitable.. This morning there were two more quakes, 4.1 followed one minute later by a 3.6 quake. Our youngest son and his wife live in the city about 5 km from Cathedral Square. He works for road safety management so we get first hand up-dates. They have received little significant damage but are very nervous if caught inside a building during a quake. Our eldest son has a few acres outside the city, south east of the stricken areas, and has hardly been bothered by even the worst of them.

New Zealand is on holiday and thousands have flocked to seaside towns. There are young people everywhere and Matarangi has been heaving to their music. Music, laughter, young people fooling around is what New Year is all about. I think the noisiest are the group in our house. Suddenly this afternoon things became very quiet. There is a big Rock Concert in Whitianga and buses are running from here to there and back again. I guess we'll be woken up when everyone returns a few hours into the new year. This is, after all, what they came away on holiday for and we rented out our house over New Year, knowing full well there would be some partying. I keep hoping it's not as bad as it sounds.

New Year in New Zealand has been taken over by young people. Christmas is for their families and New Year is for them to party. 'It's their right.' 11 pm and the drums continue to beat out their rhythm, voices become raucous with drink, laughter floats across the night air. I think our group have been rapping, making up new rhymes as they go. It sounds like fun. And I've been impressed by their behaviour. The loud noise seems to stop around midnight.

Last night I was glad we don't need to worry about getting up for work or settling young children. We are sleeping in our 1968 Austen bus-home in our yard, alongside the roadside fence. It was fairly peaceful once the traffic had almost stopped The young ones were partying on the deck which is on the other side of the house. The house sleeps six although we suspect there are a number of extras have arrived. I have no idea where they all sleep although the recliners could well be in use. With only one bathroom it's up to them to organise themselves.

For as long as I can remember people have been renting out their houses to make a little extra cash at holiday times. Normal rental for our house would be around $120 per week. As a holiday rental we can ask up to $250 per night at peak times. It helps pay Local Body Rates, (land tax).

Tonight we went for a short walk down to the sea and along the beach. There's a cool breeze so not a balmy night and I guess it's keeping people inside. Even so there were many walking, a few swimming and some enjoying a picnic tea. As we came home the fireworks began. Families enjoying their fireworks saved from November 5th, Guy Fawkes night. The air was redolent with barbeques, charred beef and wood smoke.

We'll be two old fogies and go to bed soon. No champagne toast and no Auld Lang Syne, which can best be translated as Times Gone By. The poem was written by Scotsman Robert Burns in 1788,

Auld Lang Syne : Lyrics

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Chorus.-For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I'll write a proper post later. In the meantime I want you to read the lyrics and listen to my favourite Gospel Group, Legacy Five.

Friday, October 22, 2010


A random collection of photos from around NZ
from the top

Pohutakawa in full flower Dec/Jan.

Belted Galloway cattle grazing on my sons farmlet.

Sunrise one day, somewhere

At my mother's where the family will gather this Sunday

Winter sun on Matarangi Beach

Central Otago near Ranfurly

Luxury transport Coromandel style

Old Purple Bus freedom camping, (boondocking), at the Firth Tower Museum, Matamata.

Another row that has international connections and affects every New Zealander whether we like it or not has erupted. I'm hoping it will resolve with reconciliation but there are some stroppy people out there.

An actors gripe over pay has turned nasty. I understand that actors want more security and better contracts. I also understand that acting has to be one of the most insecure careers and not everyone is going to take home Star studded dollars. In this case the union got involved, an Australian based Union at that, and decided to weigh in using Sir Peter Jackson's new film, The Hobbit, as bait. Warner Bros, (Time Warmer), are the giants behind this film and they looked across the Pacific and took fright. They have all but finalised their decision to take the film elsewhere. We are all sad and hoping against hope that Sir Peter will pull a rabbit out of the hat he doesn't wear.

There is a lot of anger and I'm as upset as any NZer. The Lord of the Rings film has brought fame to NZ in ways we could never have dreamed about. Tourists come in hordes to visit iconic sites from the film. Sir Peter Jackson has put us on the World Map. At a local level, for instance, the town of Matamata has become a tourist mecca. I find it highly amusing to think of tourists bearing down on this little country town where I was once a doctor's receptionist. My parents farmed next to the Hobbiton site for several years. Later Dad decided to give up fattening cattle and grow maize/corn and needed a greater acreage of flat arable land than our rolling hill farm provided.

The greatest damage will be to our Film Industry. It is quite possible this fiasco will wreck our budding movie industry before it matures. If Warner Bros follow through and pull out, all movie makers will become exceedingly cautious and many years of hard work by promoters, and other associated organisations wil be lost. The movie industry has enabled many talented and skilled people to flourish and make a good living. We are in danger of losing some assets which are national treasures. It would be a terrible loss if Weta Workshops, which developed technology and art to a high degree for Lord of the Rings moved their main operation off shore. They are at the cutting edge and to lose this place, where imagination, technology and art flourish in combination, could cripple the development of our current and future artists and craftsmen.

I am not a fan of Sir Peter Jackson's movies. I've tried to watch Lord of the Rings but don't like it at all. It's simply not my cup of tea. As far as I know Sir Peter has not made one movie I would want to see. At the same time I have a huge respect for the man and his achievements. A while ago we read his official biography, A Film-Makers Journey Sir Peter deserves every accolade he has received and I don't doubt for one minute he can also be very difficult as most people with genius and passion sometimes are.

We wait with baited breath to see if Peter Jackson and his team can persuade Warner Bros that The Hobbit can still be produced safely within budget in New Zealand. Some important people at Warner Bros are coming out to NZ next week. Hopefully our Sir Peter will succeed. He has the weight of our Government behind him. Our Prime Minister, John Key, might even be in on the talks.

Prime Minister John Key, who offered earlier this month to act as a mediator, said he would do everything he could to keep the project in New Zealand and protect its film industry.

"I think we have a strong position, but the industrial action from the unions and the threat of industrial actions ... have substantially undermined the confidence that Warner Bros has in New Zealand," Key told Radio New Zealand on Thursday.

"The government will have to sit down and talk to them about what we can do to restore that confidence."

It may look like a storm in a teacup but it affects too many lives to be taken lightly.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010



Gethsemane Gardens, Sumner, Christchurch

A few days ago I wrote about some of my favourite places in New Zealand, Margie had written about her favourite places so I thought it would be a good idea to do the same for N.Z. I managed to find enough photos to write about three of my favourite North Island places.

The Open Chapel at Gethsemane Gardens

Since then Margie and Bruce have been killed in a senseless accident while walking at Pismo Beach, California. I was shocked but what surprised me was how much I'd come to love Margie and her family through her Blogs. During the last few days as I've processed my grief I've realised that I'm a pretty poor and erratic Blogger and I could do with learning a lot from Margie's example. She left me a gift. The knowledge that this Blogging Community is real. I'm not just writing for fun and finally clicking a key to send my work into a vague blue somewhere, nowhere. I'm writing in the hope someone will read and enjoy my stories and my photos. I am now learning to respect my readers. They deserve better han what I've been offering.

Overlooking Christchurch out to the Canterbury Plains from the Port Hills.

John was born in Christchurch, where his grandparents had brought up the New Zealand branch of this English family. They had four sons and one daughter, all of whom found careers and married in Christchurch although there were a few changes after the Second World War. After serving in the NZ Engineers for the duration, John's Dad built up a small business refitting leisure boats. He was a talented craftsman builder, and something of a perfectionist. After a few years the harbour began to silt up and the Sumner bar became too dangerous to continue in that place. Instead of re-locating John's Dad moved his wife and two sons to New Plymouth in the North Island, where he joined one of the cities premier building firms. John and I met while I was working at the New Plymouth Hospital.

On the Port Hills looking East away from the City over the southern end of Lyttleton Harbour

John dreamed of a career at sea so to that end he did an engineering apprenticeship with a company that did a lot of shipwork. When we met he had recently arrived back in NZ after twelve months on an oil tanker mostly in the Middle East. My first trip to the South Island was around 1962 when John was a junior ship's engineer on the Hinemoa, one of the Inter Island Ferries. We sailed across Cook Straight and down the East coast to Lyttleton through the night. I can't remember how we got from the Port to the City but maybe we caught the train because we visited John's grandparents and some other relatives. It all seems a long time ago.

Canterbury Car Club Vintage Rally 2010

My second trip to Christchurch was a year or so later. We travelled to the South Island for our Honeymoon in April 1963. Our little car, a '52 Ford Prefect, was loaded on the ferry in a cargo sling designed for cars. A lot different today when we drive right onto the cardeck and park before going to the upper passenger decks. I was sea sick so not in great shape when we got our car and immediately set off for our destination, Queenstown.

After two weeks we returned to Christchurch and stayed with John's cousin. We drove around the city visiting John's relatives and finding the various houses John had lived in and other significant landmarks, like schools he attended. I don't think I really appreciated the city then. It was more of a time for acquainting me with John's childhood.

We try to drive over to Akaroa if we are in Christchurch for a week or more. In March we visited the
Giant's House the home of artist Josie Martin. Josie continues to designed and build an amazing and whimsical sculpture garden.

John and I settled in the Waikato region of the North Island. My parents farmed near Matamata and this town became our centre as we brought up our four children, boy, girl, and two more boys. Our children grew up and began to make their own lives. I think our eldest must have been about 22 years old when he decided to tour the South Island on his motor bike. One thing lead to another and he bought a piece of land, originally about 25 acres, 45 minutes SE of the city. Our youngest son followed him a few years later when he got work on a dairy farm milking 1000 cows to the west of Christchurch. He is now married and lives in the city.

We've had many trips to Christchurch and the South Island during the last fifteen plus years. I don't seem to have any photos of the city or it's wonderful parks. Next time we are there I will be taking photos with a different purpose in mind. I might need it one day in a post.'

The piano is a work of art

There have been more than 2000 aftershocks since the big earthquake on September 4th. This morning about 11.30 another shake sent objects flying, loss of electric power and liquefaction of the sandy soils. This one was closer to where my eldest son lives but he'd have been on the road driving his concrete truck. It was rather nerve wracking for some of the workers, especially these two removing the cross from the Cathedral.

This week people who have the most seriously damaged houses will be told what their options are for the future. It can't be easy. Many will be trying to survive in rented accommodation and those who live from payday to payday which is pretty much most of us, will be struggling especially if they have lost their jobs as well. I know we have good systems in place but whatever the Government provision is there will be many people in difficult situations.

We are looking forward to Labour Weekend, a three day weekend. Our youngest son and his wife are flying into Auckland from Christchurch where our middle son will pick them up. It will be wonderful to see them.

I've finished editing so hope I got all the kinks out.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Margie from Bruce and Margie's Full-Time Journey started something when she wrote about her Top Five Places they have visited. So many have written about their favourite places or places they want to visit I thought I'd try to do a short post with photos of some of our favourites.

For many years I thought of Simpsons Beach, where my mother now lives, as the most perfect place on earth. It's still a special place.

Sunset on Oakura Beach near New Plymouth

TWJ and I met at the Oakura Surf Lifesaving Clubhouse way back in the summer of 1960

Pukekura Park New Plymouth

We both love New Plymouth and have many friends there. It's long past time we made another visit.

Takapuna Campground

We stayed in the Motel at this Campground on Auckland's Northshore a few times. It's my favourite place to stay when we visit the Big Smoke, away from the busy city streets yet only a few minutes drive from the Harbour Bridge.

Rangitoto Island one of the many volcanoes, presumed to be extinct.

Auckland is a city built on volcanoes, generally we talk about 12 but the list is far more extensive.

It's always hard to believe that this is part of our largest and maddest city/

City-Scape from the Auckland Harbour Ferry

Outside this photo to the right, is the Viaduct Basin, where the America's Cup was based, and away to the left of the brown Victorian Ferry Building is the proposed Cruise Ship Terminal.

That's three places. I don't have photos for other North Island places so I'll leave the South Island for tomorrow.

Friday, October 8, 2010


I thought it was time to re-open this Blog. There's been plenty going on and it's a shame I've not kept up with a daily or at the very least a weekly diary.


Today, well to be honest for quite some time. I've been wondering if our little paradise otherwise known as New Zealand has gone stark raving mad.

I'd like to write that it began with the earthquake in Christchurch a month or so ago but we've been having a weird old time for much longer even if I cannot recall any of the details off the top of my head.

This week we've seen Christchurch prepare to demolish one of it's significant buildings. There's been a row between the 'Save our Heritage,' people and those who want to get on with rebuilding and recovering from the earthquake damage. Finally the decision has been made because this once proud building is extremely dangerous, extensively damaged and that area of the street remains cordoned off. Manchester Courts, is a 104 year old brick building, standing seven stories high. For many years it was Christchurch's tallest building. While it's sad to see part of out heritage lost it is more important that people are given a chance to pick up the pieces and get on with their lives and make a living.

The so-called after-shocks are upsetting with some causing serious damage where there appeared to be none previously. I quote from this article filed today.

“If you went through the big one, these don’t scare you at all,” says Mr Sharplin. “But they’re unpleasant; we just want them to stop.”

Since the main quake there have been 1,575 aftershocks as the ground resettles.

And another quote from this article

West Melton winemaker Peter Gatehouse and his family got through the main quake with little damage other than a few smashed bottles of wine. But when the aftershocks hit on Monday - centred not far from his property - it was a different story.

A concrete outer wall of his home partially collapsed inwards, cracks opened up in a stone pillar inside his home, dropping chips on to the floor, and a large storage tank in his nearby winery fell down on to a grape press with a "crash, bang".

"It was a good reminder that all is not quite finished yet," Mr Gatehouse"

To add to our embarrassment we are all over the International media thanks to the idiotic words of one of our star TV presenters. Everyone from BBC to India are having a go at us for this man's warped humour. Our Governor General is of Indian heritage although very much born and educated in NZ. With the Games in India the TV man, Paul Henry, couldn't have chosen a worse time to be loose lipped. I don't have much sympathy for him although I'm sure he is feeling the heat and wishes the words unsaid. First it was a comment to our Prime Minister about the next Governor General which you can read about here and now fuel has been added to the fire by another example of Paul Henry's schoolboy humour.

Another piece of trouble in our Indian community was released today as it appears to be that the man at the centre of a voting scam is an Indian. We are on the eve of Local Body Elections for Mayors and Councillers. Auckland City is to become a Super City with many areas becoming one. I thought it was only four cities being amalgamated but I think there are 7 or 8 about to become ex-mayors lined up. This huge, for New Zealand, city will administer infra-structure and other local body matters over about 2 million people. You could say half the population of N. Z.

Here is n official description.
All eight of Auckland's current regional and territorial authorities are moving towards a single, unitary council for the Auckland region. The new Auckland Council will come into effect on 1 November 2010 following local government elections.

Meantime we have a very grisly murder investigation going on and two serious inquests which expose the ugly side of our society. The inquest into the deaths of twin babies who were killed 4 years ago is plain frustrating. It made us all think about the level of child abuse and hopefully be more determined to stamp it out, but there will forever be many questions as the extended family closed ranks and made the police investigation impossible. Now who knows whether we are hearing the truth or a whitewash of lies to cover up just how extremely disfunctional the whole family is.

Another very public inquest is being held for a 17 year old schoolboy who died from alcohol poisoning. This is a very high profile case since the boys involved were from one of Auckland's elite schools. It's also a very sad but inevitable result of the Binge Drinking Culture among our young people. John Banks, outgoing Mayor of Auckland, took the stand as the father of one of the boys involved. His emotion was raw and painful to see. He is a father grieving for his son's behaviour and as a friend of the dead boy's family. I felt for him. I can't imagine the awfulness of being a parent in the public eye.

All through September, the beginning of spring, we had WEATHER all over the country. In the south more than 5 days of snow storms killed tens of thousands of sheep, most of them new lambs. Heavy rain caused serious flooding in various areas and 3 landslides in different parts of the country. The slip north of Christchurch closed that line for a week when Christchurch was desperate to get supplies in following the earthquake. Freight had to be reloaded onto trucks for a road trip be re-routed over the mountains and taking an extra days. A milk train carrying 400,000 litres,(100,000 US gal). milk ran into the slip in the Manawatu Gorge took a day or so to clear. Imagine having to get all those milk tankers back safely. The last accident was near our capital city, Wellington. It was pretty much a head on collision between commuter trains when one hit a slip and jumped the track into the path of an oncoming train. Amazingly there were no serious injuries.

We got off lightly here on the Coromandel Peninsula with only small landslides here and there that were never more than a nuisance on our roads. We had some wild weather with gale force winds and lots of rain for days and days, weeks and weeks. Driving became nerve wracking as we recalled the flooding that came with the last storm. This last week the sun shone out in a bright blue sky for a couple of days. What a relief!

Oh and I nearly forgot this one. A Chinese group are trying to buy up a mass of dairy farms. We are suddenly waking up to the fact that NZ is small beer and almost any large international company could tuck our whole country in one of it's folders. Laws are being made to protect our land .... maybe!

The Commonwealth Games are in full swing in Delhi and we are collecting silver medals while the Aussies, in particular, keep on pipping us at the post. The rivalry between our countries is legendary and we are smarting with the pain of them beating us. Hopefully someone will win us a gold soon. One headline read 'Silver yet again as Kiwis bow to Aussies' While I was writing this our first Gold Medal of the 2010 Commonwealth Games was being won.I think our tally is something like this. 1 Gold. 8 Silver. 3 Bronze.

The wait is over. An exhausted Alison Shanks brought a heady mix of relief and joy to New Zealand after powering to a Commonwealth Games track cycling gold medal here, (Delhi), tonight.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Dark day at Moeraki Beach, South Island, May 2007

Warm Sunny Day at Pagosa Springs, April 12th, 2005

Snow Flakes necessitate a Quick Getaway, about March 20th, 2006

The Strawhouse on Highway 299 at Junction City about 67 miles from Redding Ca.

This statement was made by one of our senior weather reporters during a recent program containing snippets of news celebrating 50 years of TV. It's true, but are we more concerned than people in other countries?

As I read travel Blogs written by North Americans living in Recreational Vehicles, (RVers), I am impressed by the general concern about weather conditions. When it's hot most Rvers find a way to either go to the North West or to higher altitude. When it's cold they become Snowbirds, driving their motorhomes from icy northern climes to places like Quartzite in Arizona, along the Mexican Gulf shores, Southern California, Florida and Mexico. They avoid driving in strong winds and when it's stormy they either stay put or escape ahead of the storm and many of them recommend their radio controlled Bad Weather Warning Alarm as a serious safety measure.

The news is full of alarm about the danger of storms in the Mexican Gulf because bad weather will bring serious consequences in regard to the major oil leak caused by an explosion that killed 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon oil platform on April 20th this year. BP are in the firing line but nature can also be destructive. Our weather is important, and knowing in advance can be useful. Who knows that better than the people of New Orleans.

Daily there are stories of serious weather damage coming from all around the world. Flooding here, tornadoes there, lack of rain somewhere. Lives and/or livelihoods are threatened. Weather is one thing we cannot control and never ceases to fascinate us. I recently read in the N.Z. Herald about storm chasers in N.America who have become so numerous they are causing dangerous congestion.

As far as we in New Zealand are concerned our livelihood depends on a good knowledge of the weather. Growing up on a farm meant the weather ruled our life. The weather report was delivered into our home by radio several times a day. The day's farm chores were scheduled according to the weather. For many years we lived on a flood prone farm. Any rain brought a sleepless night and sometimes moving flocks of sheep and herds of cattle in the early morning hours. I remember looking down from the small hill our house stood on to see a grid pattern of black dots where the tops of fence posts showed above water. We dress ourselves for work and our children for school according to the weather forecast. We continue to plan our day according to the weather forcast.

Recently we had heavy rain on the Coromandel Peninsula. This is not uncommon and being forewarned is useful and sometimes necessary. Imagine if you have an important appointment or a plane to catch and cannot leave your home because the roads are blocked in every direction. We live in a tiny coastal village which is easily cut off from the rest of the world. We have narrow winding roads over rugged hills in either direction. There are landslides, big and small, with every downpour. There are several places going north and south where the road floods following heavy rain in the hills. We've been prevented from reaching our place of work. We have known of doctors, surgeons and dentists on holiday who have needed to reschedule their city commitments. We have heard of students in a panic because they cannot reach their Universities for finals.

I guess because New Zealand is two long skinny islands, we are more vulnerable to changing weather than most. Of course we are obsessed with weather but it's essential to living well.

I'm glad we don't have a Weather Channel though. When in USA we had to limit our viewing or we'd have become completely paranoid. As it turned out the only really bad weather we experienced, a short storm with huge hail stones in Florida and wind in Kansas, would not have caught our attention among all the reports. The only time we modified our plans was to avoid stormy weather on the way from Mobile to Indianapolis. We soon understood that drama is the food of television and there is more to weather watching than TV.

Obsession or wisdom? The interest in weather is universal.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


A Motorized Paraglider over our house. What fun sailing through the clear blue sky

New Zealand has introduced another tax. It's called the Emissions Trading Scheme and is all about carbon credits and looking good to the rest of the world. Laughing stock is what I call it.

Global warming is a buzz word to scare us into thinking the world is going to drown, explode or disintegrate or we are all going to go the way of dinosaurs in the near future. Ozone depletion, flatulence from grass fed cows and a love affair of oil fuels are too blame. I'm sorry but that makes me want to laugh, or cry. I cannot believe that these things are as serious as some scientists would have us believe.

Global warming is part of a cyclical pattern. It might be aggravated by modern lifestyles and that makes an interesting theory and gives opportunity for doomsayers to jump on their band wagons. It's so fashionable to be a 'Greenie' these days you have to listen carefully to hear the voice of reason.

If our Government was really serious about the danger of energy from oil causing pollution we would be encouraged to use alternative energy. One of our sons has been working toward erecting a windmill to produce electricity on his farmlet for more than 12 months. Resource Consent requirements changed everytime the supplier came close to completing the red-tape issues. Now he is faced with an impossible situation. His property has been deemed to be urban. He lives 45 minutes outside the city limits, surrounded for miles around by farms on three sides and sea on the fourth side. For goodness sake! Where is the commonsense. Wouldn't it be great if the tax money was used to help design a wind turbine or inexpensive solar system that was suitable for use by every household, urban and rural. The 'alternative energy' installation could even be subsidised by the carbon tax. There's a thought.

Who decided that farting animals, the most natural thing in the world, is dangerous? I feel so frustrating by all the silliness there are times I cannot bear to follow the daily news.

We are stuck with this tax for all of time. Have you ever heard of a Government repealing a tax law. Well yes, ... window taxes were repealed by the British Government at some point in time. Hopefully the day will come when enough people see sense again and repeal this stupid tax and pigs will fly.

This week we will see petrol and diesel prices increase and that means every other item because electricity and the transport industry are not going to carry the cost on their own. Farmers will be stuck with the short straw once more. And people like ourselves, on fixed incomes, will have to delete something else from our budgets to survive.

Can you tell I'm angry.

I do appreciate the environmentally aware. I think we should all be aware, protective and willing to enhance our environment but I am so tired of idealists who don't consider people as important. We are the most important beings on this planet. We are here for a purpose and that is to care for one another and the planet to the best of our ability. That means creating a sustainable lifestyle, not crippling people, and not making it increasingly difficult for people to survive.

I come from a farming background. There is no-one more practical and aware of the environment than a good farmer or rancher. No-one understands the value of natural processes and caring for our environment more but we are now turning our lives over to scientists who live in Ivory Towers. There's a lot more to life than a spreadsheet and statistics.

I must be growing old .... but I am heartily sick and tired of lobbyists who aggressively promote their their own brand of wackiness.

I'm thankful for this place to express some of my views.

Monday, June 28, 2010


From my back door.

We are being provided with snippets of history over the last fifty years as New Zealand T.V.celebrates 50 years of transmission. The first official broadcast was June 1st, 1960 in Auckland. As late as 1969 there were only 65 hours of TV a week as programmes were broadcast from the four main centres, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin each week night. It seems incredible now that there was a time when we didn't have 24 hours of what is frequently drivel beamed into our homes.

Last night we were given a cornucopia of news stories and presenters' bloopers. They were worth the giggles. It is quite weird seeing our history, local and global, broken up into short visual bites according to how the programme people rated them. It is even stranger to see the results of a public pole in today's newspaper. Of the top ten stories in the last fifty years only three are celebrations. We rated the Moon Landing, The Fall of the Berlin Wall and Winning the America's Cup in there. The top two stories were the terrible day of 9/11 followed closely by Princess Diana's death. I will never understand how she became the people's idol although she did seem to have had a genuinely compassionate side. The other tragedies include the Assassination of JFK, the Wahine Disaster, a modern day shipping disaster with loss of life in Wellington Harbour, the Erebus Disaster, when a scenic flight flew into the Antarctic mountain, a gunman running amok at Aramoana and finally the 1981 Springbok Rugby tour which stirred up all kinds of racial tensions and divided the country. The last is possibly the only one that you could say is working out for good.

In 1981 South Africa practiced apartheid and in New Zealand we were appalled by the laws restricting black or coloured and white people mixing. We considered ourselves completely non-racist although racism is alive and well here just like any other prejudicial attitude. The Springbok Tour should have been cancelled. It should never have happened but because it went ahead the true nature of our feelings were exposed and from there we began to address some of the inequities in our dealings with Maori, New Zealand's own native people.

The disturbing part of all this history is how humankind relishes tragic events. As far as Tv is concerned this is understandable. Tragedy makes good dramatic footage and TV is for entertainment rather than education or any other high minded activity. Frequently people say they want to hear more good news. The trouble with 'Good News' is that it lacks bite, it lacks entertainment value and it seems tame, almost boring. Is this the fault of viewer demand or is it the result of programmers taking the easy way out. It takes work to make something nice entertaining. You only have to listen to an actor delighting in getting the part of the nastiest character to know how much more exciting it is for us to be unpleasant.

I can think of few programmes that delight with their 'Good' content. One of my favourites is the long running Country Calendar. This program brings country lifestyles and the successes and struggles of people who live off the land right into our homes. It crosses the boundaries between city and rural. It is successful because the focus is on sometimes extra-ordinary people who are normal, nice folk following their passion.

I am truly annoyed by our reporting of war and tragedy. The reporters seem to set themselves up like little gods, deciding which footage tells the story they want to tell. I want to hear the real story. I want to hear about the great things the troops are doing in places like Afghanistan. I want to hear how some people are feeling safe enough to lead a real life. I know we are only getting part of the truth and I want to know why we are only hearing about the blood and guts. I want to hear the real story behind what the news media are willing to report on.

We are in a struggle of evil versus good. We need to hear that evil is not the victor. We need to know about the battle but we need to hear about the successes along the way. We need to learn to think about whatsoever is good and see that life is not all tragedy and drama.

Let's look for the rainbows

Sunday, June 27, 2010



I'm not a sports fan but you'd have to be deaf dumb and blind to not know that New Zealand won the FIFA World Cup. Oops! You mean they didn't win. They didn't even get into the final 16. Well what's all the craziness about. There's even been talk of a major tickertape parade when they return. The kind Auckland city put on for the America's Cup team way back when we were winners.

Forgive us. We are a tiny country, population less than 5 million people. I won't mention the sheep and cows. We know we are the greatest country in the whole wide world. The players are on their way home to whatever club will pay them the fattest fee. Tony Smith wrote in today's Sunday Star Times under the headline, 'Race on to get stars aligned for tilt in 2014.' Quote:- 'NZ Football has no time to lose to secure players in our World Cup success if it is to avoid the mistake made after the 1982 cup.'

We are proud of the All Whites, even non-fan me. They retired from the contest unbeaten having drawn with the mighty teams from Slovakia, Italy and Paraguay. Personally I think it says a lot about our goal keeper, and that's not denying the rest of the team are good. He did a brilliant job and was worth his weight in gold.

Now we're into Rugby and had a great time beating the Welsh and the Irish. The famous All Blacks are gearing up for the Big Test. The Tri-Nations series with South Africa and Australia. Both teams should challenge our boys.

I used to be a Rugby Fan I can remember following the tour by South Africa way back in the 50s when there was no TV. How excited we were as we huddled around the radio listening to Winston McCarthy, the commentator, who held us on the edge of our seats with his dramatised version of play. A few years later I found myself in New Plymouth during the year Taranaki had a strong hold on the Ranfurly Shield. This trophy remains a fiercely fought prize between provincial teams. That winter I seemed to be working at the hospital every Shield morning. I guess my supervisor had first choice of who had Saturday mornings free. This meant I missed the hoopla of the parade through Devon Street with Taranaki mascot Ferdinand the Bull. It must have been mayhem when Waikato came to town with Mooloo the Cow. The best thing about working on Shield days was the short walk from the hospital to the Rugby grounds where I cheered myself hoarse for my adopted province. It was all good fun. Those were the days!!!!

Let's face it. We New Zealanders bat way above our strength in most fields. You name it and there is a kiwi right in the middle of the foremost team be it science, sport, movie making, Indy 500, literature, medical research, bungy jumping, opera singing and so on.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


I've been thinking for a while that it might be fun to earn some money from my scribblings. Yesterday I was browsing through my bookmarked RV Blogs and decided to take a serious look at Nick's Blog. I discovered he is a professional writer with lots of tips so I'm diving in the deep end to see if I can make this work for me.

I'm a bit of a dunce where the internet is concerned and tend to learn as I go. This new Blogger Design set up is new to me so I hope I don't need to tweak it too often to get the effect I want.

I live in New Zealand with my husband, John, in a little holiday cottage known as a bach, rhymes with hatch, in one of our prime holiday areas. How we come to be here is a long and complicated story which may or may not unfold over time. John is a retired Maintenance Engineer and I have always been a stay at home mother and homemaker. Our eldest and youngest sons live in the South Island, our middle son lives in Rotorua and our daughter lives with her grandmother, my mother, who is 95 years old. My mother's home is right on the seashore 20 minutes drive from us.

We are passionate about New Zealand and I hope you will experience some of our delight in the country of our birth. We have also fallen in love with North America. We love Road Tripping and have travelled to many places in New Zealand, never dreaming that one day we might have the means to satisfy our secret desire to go overseas. We live in a lovely country and our exposure to BackPackers renewed our enthusiasm for the beauty of our land so we were happy to cruise around absorbing the atmosphere of different areas. We had a Grand Plan to live Full Time in our bus-home but circumstances have modified that goal for now.

Our current Big Dream is to live in USA for 2 or 3 or 4 years with regular trips home every 6 months to visit with family and renew our eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation, which is our only income. To this end we are on the internet almost everyday reading Full Time RVers Blogs and researching our options. Considering we are both in our 70s this might seem a little crazy but we are late starters and have good health even if we are not as fit as we could be. We don't believe our age is a barrier to fulfilling this dream.

In February 2005 we arrived in USA for my first trip outside N.Z.. We had sold some property on an inflated market and took a portion of the profit to fund this trip. The sale coincided with reading an advertisement for the first Outreach Cruise organised by Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, now Catch The Fire. I had a long time desire to attend Conference in Toronto and this seemed like a great compromise. John has little interest in going to church but he chose his career/trade because he wanted to go to sea. Our major passions were to be satisfied on board the Royal Caribbean ship, Navigator Of The Sea. Thinking this would be our only ever time outside new Zealand we made the most of it. We flew in to San Francisco and began our love affair with USA as we walked the streets, exploring this wonderful city. From there we flew to Miami via an icy Dulles Airport.

Our Cruise was a great experience so with great enthusiasm and not much cash we booked to join the group the following year. Following that first cruise we hired a car in Miami and spent the next seven weeks on the adventure of our lifetime as we drove through 13 or 14 States back to Los Angeles. Since then we have been back twice, the most recent being twelve months ago. You can read about it here.

Today we are cosied up beside our gas heater listening to a mad enthusiast mow his lawns. The outside temperature is about 10'C/50'F and we are cold. This is a very low temperature for us. We had extremely heavy rain yesterday with some flooding in low spots. I can't imagine why anyone would want to mow their lawns when the ground is completely sodden. Roads were closed, yesterday late afternoon, as the streams backed up at high tide. It took my niece nearly 5 hours to get home, normally a 50 minute drive. Twice the Fire Service came to their rescue, ferrying them across the flooded road to alternative transport. Our daughter was not so fortunate and had a very scary drive home on the south side of town. She finally reached a friends home where she stayed for a few hours before the last part of her drive home from work. She was exhausted and emotionally drained after driving through water in her work car which was high enough to wet the inside floor despite it being a 4Wd with good ground clearance. We are all feeling a little cross about the inadequate warnings and signage or the closing roads when they become dangerous. This is a common problem in our area when there is a lot of rain, yet we do not seem to have any planned system of warning. If we, being local and knowing the problems, get caught out, how much worse it is for strangers especially tourists.