Sunday, February 21, 2010

Nanapouri - The point of the trip

I have previously written about a trip to the deep South last year. I spent time in Dunedin and then drove across the island to Manapouri.

Manapouri was the focus of the trip, because the plan was to return mother to where her heart always looked.

She died in April 2009, and her ashes are now interred in Karori Cemetery in Wellington. However, we hatched a plan to take some of her ashes back to Manapouri.

Co-ordinated by Barbara, With willing assistance from cousins in Manapouri, we settled on a date, and what was to happen, and all arranged to converge there in early November.

The weather was stunning and the planned event went very well. The only glitch was that the memory card in my camera was full, and I was unable to copying everything off onto the MacBook in time. Consequently, I had to arrange to get copies of photos from nephews Greg and Andrew. They have now turned up, so a selection of views, courtesy of Greg and Andrew:

The day was focussed on the Grandview Guesthouse - the ancestral family enterprise

The plan was to plant a tree and install a memorial on a boulder in a corner of the garden

So a hole was prepared for the Magnolia bought on our behalf by Robert

Do these two look like brother and sister?

Barbara had brought a small box of some of Mother's ashes

wwhich were then placed into the hole around the magnolia

Then there were some brief tributes paid by those present

The commemorative plaque

The ever lovely Kate

David, Jennie, Jack, with Margaret and Barbara in the background

Time for a more formal 'portrait' session, with Greg (in this case) and Andrew setting up the cameras

(back row, L to r)Ron, Kate, Robert, Barbara, Jennie, David
(front row, L to r)Margaret, Bryan, Jack, Klaska

(back row, L to r)Ron, Kate, Andrew, Greg, Robert, Barbara, Jennie, David
(front row, L to r)Celia, Margaret, Bryan, Jack, Klaska

Obscuring the veiw one gets from the verandah, near the hedge with the lake in the background
(L to r)Andrew, Kate, David, Ron, Jennie, Barbara, Margaret, Jack, Bryan, Robert, Celia, Greg

The three senior Mulligans

I'm not sure what Ron thought he was doing, but it was too good an image to leave it out!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

We want to know kids are being taught a lesson

The headline of a recent Rosemary McLeod rant in the Dominion Post. My riposte is We want journalists who know what they're talking about.

At least McLeod had the honesty to 'fess up early on in her spite- filled piece "I'm not fond of much about schools."

Having said that she went on to give voice to numerous vitriolic and spurious claims about teachers. In fact schools hardly got a look-in. So much for informed opinion, well-researched and reasoned views, and responsible journalism.

"Why do teachers insist they are all equal, and so must be paid the same, despite some of them being truly exceptional, while others are slackers the profession could do without? Is this the thinking that underlies their reluctance to grade children's efforts as well?"
Actually, teacher unease over 'performance pay', which McLeod seems to be advocating, is based on the well-researched conclusion that no-one, in any jurisdiction in the world, has been able to develop a successful method of calculating a meaningful mechanism for identifying and then rewarding successful teachers. If McLeod has some insight into how to identify 'truly exceptional' teachers, she would be well advised to publish it to the profession. (But don't hold your breath!)

"How come so few teachers can spell the names of children they're dealing with, and their families, correctly?"
What sort of a facile and tendentious claim is this? How many is 'so few'? Are they her beloved 'truly exceptional' teachers? On what research does she base this absurd claim?

"Why has journalism become an academic subject at school, taught by people who've never been journalists?"
We might as well ask why do journalists who have never been teachers believe they have the right to pontificate about teaching?

"Why have great and enduring works of literature been sidelined in the curriculum? If they're considered too hard – too hard for whom?"
Have they? Which ones? By whom? Where?

"Why do teachers think it's their prerogative to teach kids what to think, rather than how to think? I lost track of how many times my kids were entertained by Greenpeace or gay rights activists at school, but they were never once exposed to a minister of religion there. What would the key difference be?"
Most primary schools in NZ operate the 'Nelson system' in which regular sessions of 'religious instruction' occur, usually as part of the normal school, and from which parents may opt out; most don't, so the default is that most children receive instruction in a curriculum largely developed by the Churches Education Commission (see

"Why is bullying a fact of daily life in so many schools, and why do teachers think they've dealt with the problem if they've led a few class discussions on the topic?"
I'm more interested in understanding why children become bullies - what is it about their home and social milieu which makes them feel it is OK to bully others? What part do parents (like McLeod) as much as teachers play in the process?

"Should I have been happy to attend parent-teacher meetings with barefoot teachers with roach holes in their jumpers?"
And if you did, what did you do about it? Or is it that teachers who meet your pre-conceptions about dress are the 'truly exceptional' teachers?

"I once interviewed a teacher who explained that he always told parents it didn't matter when a kid hadn't learned to read, because they'd do so when they felt like it. What should I have made of his own young child then skipping into the room to say she'd read three books already that morning?"
The point here? That the teacher's child had reached the point where she 'felt like' learning to read?

"What is so scary about the idea of reading, writing and arithmetic having top priority in education, anyway? Without a decent grasp of those subjects, nobody can develop skills at anything else."
Who is scared of them? None of the teachers I know. But what they do struggle with is the wide range of other demands placed upon them. In many ways their job would be much easier if all they had to do was focus on the "three r's", but McLeod should look back to her earlier claim about the Ministers of religion. Or is she suggesting Ministers of Religion will teach reading, writing and arithmetic? She can't have it both ways.

"And finally, why should teachers have the unique advantage of not being judged by their results? Everyone else is."
Everyone except McLeod, it would appear. Because were she to be judged by the quality and clarity of her thinking, the validity of her research, the depth of her knowledge and understanding of the matters on which she is writing, she would be out of a job.

Or is the key result for her the ability to churn out 700 words about whatever to schedule - quantity rather than quality?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Wellington's Sevens Party

The city has been taken over this week and weekend by the annual Rugby Sevens' touring party. Although there is a serious competitive side to the event, most people seem to treat it as a party, characterised by serious drinking, noise, and (often) outrageous costumes.

It starts with a parade through central Wellington the day before the gamnes begin, and then shifts to the Stadium. Along the way the streets become littered with fans, players and support staff alike.

I try to avoid the worst of the excesses, but I did watch the parade and couldn't avoid sights on the way home on Friday. Stuff also has a few photos.

The Teams


The Loopeys

Wellington's Batucada samba band lead the parade and set the pace and the mood

A funny thing happened on the way to the stadium

The Cup they're all playing for

Legging it to the Stadium

This turkey shows up every year, leading the England squad

Fiji's advance guard

Fijian fans

Peter Pan and friends?

Holy cow!

First a drink, then, in a few minutes, back to the shopping

Not sure what these were/are, but they were hot in their costumes
And they enjoyed mugging for the cameras

Polynesian drummers with the Samoan team

The Scots' pipe band

Part of the South African contingent

How did these fellas get out?

Referees are an integral part of the show, sometimes even dwarfing the Stadium itself!

Beautiful tails or wings?

The Colonel is obviously a fan of the Sevens!

Are they painted? They were. And she was holding the bowl very firmly!

Handing out goodies to the crowd

Rocking out

I think he was trying to hitch a ride, although I'm not entirely sure!

Game day is here

Not sure this woman was interested in talking to whoever this is

This group was Irish and discussing which characters they were

Spectators queueing for the toilets at the Railway Station