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.