Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pretty, but at a cost

I like Spring. I also like Autumn.

Both seasons bring colour and variety to our garden. Both add interest and diversity to the appearance of the back yard.

But both add a sense of clutter and untidiness as well. Yin to go with the yang:

While out walking

I am supposed to walk for my health. And I do try to do so as regularly as possible - really, I do!

And sometimes I even enjoy it. Especially when I encounter things which take my attention.

Like, recently I was walking in High Street when I came across this window display:

Now, what intrigued me about this display was that I recognised the contents, especially:

When I checked I was right:

Turns out the shop was running a promotion using the World of Wearable Arts event, and had borrowed several designs from last year's fashion extravaganza at Hutt Valley High School, including our Jayne's!

The other day I started out in perfectly calm clear conditions, but there was a trail of mist still hovering over the river, and clinging to the western hills:

Just down the road from us is a Presbyterian church - nothing extraordinary in that. But in the grounds alongside it are two headstones or memorials:

They are not listed as sanctioned cemeteries on the Council's website, nor do they rate a mention on the church's website. But they are well maintained, and clearly commemorate the dead of a number of families. Touching , and re-assuring at the same time.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In the eye of the storm?

New Zealand has been battered recently by wild weather, with typical Spring changability reaching to turbulence.
We've had wind damage in Auckland, flooding in Manawatu and in the Hutt Valley, snowfalls in Southland crippling buildings, and killing spring lambs, and even a tornado in Taranaki.
But we have escaped almost unscathed.
Yes we've had plenty of rain, and we've had windy days. But the Cherry trees are still clothed in blossom, although today we woke to a small lake in the back yeard. This is not uncommon, given the slope of the yard, but this is the first time this year as far I can remember.


And the clear sunny day belied the fact it was also cold, cold enough, in fact, for snow down to 400 metres, and surprisingly large deposits visible on the ranges visible from the office.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Strike One!

Secondary teachers around the country took industrial action today in support of their (stalled) pay talks.

It is not the first time PPTA has engaged in such direct action, and it almost certainly won't be the last!

Indeed, I remember being involved in such action during the 1980s. And attending today's rally at Parliament, I was surprised at the number of faces I remember from those events, still fighting the good fight!

Needless to say, I was there to show solidarity (and to take some photos).


Stuff covered the events, as did TVOne and TV3.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Jayne accidentally dropped her cell-phone the other day, into water.

That meant a rescue operation was required:


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Being accountable?

One of the endearing characteristics of New Zealand is the accessibility of public figures. Not only is New Zealand a small country, and individual cities, in the main, still 'human-scale', but there is a long-established tradition that New Zealanders are open and accessible.

Indeed, Austin Mitchell wrote in The Half Gallon Quarter Acre Pavlova Paradise that the best way for an immigrant (as he was, albeit temporary) to be accepted in New Zealand was to learn the telephone directory.

Indeed, it is commonplace for people when they first meet to establish where each is from, and what school they went to and so on. Very quickly, these topics will lead to comments such as "Oh, well you must know ..." And surprisingly often, they do!

I have encountered the same phenomonon amongst Irish people, and I suspect the trait is one of the markers which points to one of the enduring influences of the Irish immigrant community on New Zealand society.

The same openness and accessibility can also be seen in our political system, as in this year's Local Body elections. To illustrate.

There is a very good, neutral site listing all candidates and providing a profile of each, as provided by the candidates themselves. Local Elections 2010 is a comprehensive site organised by Local Government NZ.

Hutt City Council has the full list of candidates standing for elected positions on the Council, Community Boards, the District Health Board, and the Hutt Mana Charitable Trust. Not only does this list provide the full name of the candidate, and 'party' affiliation if any, it also has a private email address for almost all candidates, along with their (presumably home) phone number!

This year in Lower Hutt there are two Mayoral candidates: Ray Wallace and David Ogden (the incumbent). Their profiles can be seen at:

Electing these people?

It's Local Body Election season again.
Which means campaigning is underway again.
Which means hoardings beside major roads and on fences, and leaflets in the letterbox.
But, it also means a period of amusement for me, as I examine the foibles and follies of those offering themselves to be my 'representative'.
For example, David Bassett has impressive billboards with a picture of himself in a 'benevolent strongman' pose:

Impressive, yes?

But, just a minute - it seems very familiar!


Seems he was on the same mission in 2007! Don't believe it's the same picture? Perhaps he only has one tie?

But Bassett isn't the only one who has hoardings that amuse me.

These were Chris Milne's hoardings in 2007:


In 2010 they have lost the "Hitler-look-alike" photo, ditched the ACT Party yellow and morphed into:


What's with the hand Chris? It looks like you're begging!

John Terris is a former Mayor of Lower Hutt, and is again standing for a Trust with money to distribute to local worthy causes


but when I first noticed this, I thought it had holes in it, and then I wondered what John was saying - that he wants the area to be 'waterside'? Or that he is dedicated to helping small sailing or yatch clubs? Your guess is as good as mine!

And then just as you begin to wonder about the electorate these people wish to represent, you stumble across some glimmers of political debate:

(you might need to click on the photo to see the larger version, however)

But even then one wonders at the mentality of those participating in this 'debate':


Ah well, there's always the homely, amateurish, DIY-er:


Some people are easily amused

"I think I might have read something about a deal with Poland or Czechoslovakia - one of those places where they eat potatoes and dress badly - but I can't remember which." [Death and Judgment, Donna Leon, 1995]

"Before and after my talk, I chatted with teachers from Dunedin, Lower Hutt, Marton, Nelson, Auckland and Twizel over sandwiches and pastries. They were very nice, and so were the teachers, who were also very funny, and very, very fond of swearing, but that's because I kept mentioning education minister Anne Tolley" [grub street, Steve Braunias, Sunday magazine, 12 September 2010.]

Earning my stripes

One of the inevitabilities of spring is mowing the lawn while the ground is still very wet and soft. Consequently, the lawn begins to look like it is covered in stripes.
But, at least, the grass does in fact get cut!