Matariki

June 28, 2014

Today marks the start of  Matariki, the Maori New Year.

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises just once a year, in mid-winter – late May or early June. For many Māori, it heralds the start of a new year.

Matariki literally means the ‘eyes of god’ (mata ariki) or ‘little eyes’ (mata riki). According to myth, when Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatūānuku, the earth mother, were separated by their children, the god of the winds, Tāwhirimātea, became so angry that he tore out his eyes and threw them into the heavens.

Cycles of life and death

Traditionally, Matariki was a time to remember those who had died in the last year. But it was also a happy event – crops had been harvested and seafood and birds had been collected. With plenty of food in the storehouses, Matariki was a time for singing, dancing and feasting.

Modern Matariki

Matariki, or Māori New Year celebrations were once popular, but stopped in the 1940s. In 2000, they were revived. Only a few people took part at first, but in just a few years thousands were honouring the ‘New Zealand Thanksgiving’. A special feature of Matariki celebrations is the flying of kites – according to ancient custom they flutter close to the stars.

The Northern hemisphere celebrates mid-summer but here it’s over-shadowed by Christmas and New Year which follow it.

Matariki provides us with an opportunity for a mid-winter celebration.

Some have suggested making it a holiday but the changing date would make that problematic.

Besides, we shouldn’t need an official holiday to celebrate – it’s something we can do with family and friends by ourselves or in our communities as we choose.

The coldest weather is almost certainly still to come, but we’re now nearer spring than autumn which is as good an excuse as any for some fun.


The importance of volunteers

June 17, 2014

The many thousands of people who give their time, energy and skill to help others is being celebrated in National Volunteer Week.

Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Jo Goodhew is encouraging people to take part:

“This is a week, co-ordinated annually by Volunteering New Zealand (VNZ), which is set aside to celebrate the contribution volunteers make in their communities,” says Mrs Goodhew.

This year’s theme is “Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te tangata.” Translated as “With your contribution and my contribution the people will live.”

The Maori proverb refers to co-operation and the combination of resources to get ahead. It suggests that if we pool our ideas, with equal respect for all parties, we will get a better result and everyone will benefit.

“I commend VNZ for selecting such an appropriate proverb. It really captures the essence of volunteering,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“Kiwis like to muck-in and help-out.  New Zealanders are among the best volunteers in the world with nearly a third of us volunteering collectively about 270 million hours every year.

“Our volunteers freely donate their time and energy to keep our communities running. They are the backbone of our sports and social groups, search and rescue organisations, and the arts and cultural sector.

“This government recognises the significant contribution of volunteers and is working to make resources and support more readily available to community organisations.”

 

Volunteers play an important role in our communities.

An active volunteer sector is a sign of a healthy communities and society.

Volunteers work with and for people in churches, interest groups, service and sports clubs and a whole range of other interest groups and organisations, including political parties.

Working in the latter isn’t usually regarded as community service but it is.

Wanting to make a positive difference is what motivates most members and candidates.

There’s always been an exception to this with paid union people adding to or replacing volunteers in parties on the left.

The Internet Mana Party has made an unwelcome addition to that – its candidates are being paid.

The problem with that is it’s impossible to know where their loyalties lie – with the party or the paymaster.


Oamaru steaming ahead

June 3, 2014

Just a few years ago, it would have been difficult to imagine anyone saying this, let along Dame Kiri Te Kanawa:

. . . While in Dunedin, Dame Kiri said she hoped to visit Dunedin’s Royal Albatross Colony and take a trip to Oamaru.

”I’d like to drive over to Oamaru – it’s so beautiful. . .

I don’t know if her hopes were realised, if they were she would have found the town under full steam for the fifth annual Steam Punk festival:

From Auckland to Ashburton, Oamaru to Opunake and even Invercargill, they steamed into Oamaru for a weekend of Steampunk.

The annual festival, in its fifth year, is growing so rapidly – to 15 events over four days this year – that organisers have a tiger by the tail and will be looking for more help in the future to maintain the momentum. . .

ne of the Steampunk organisers, Helen Jensen, was amazed at how the event had grown from its inception in 2010, when it was a one-day affair – a fashion show with a gala dinner.

But, she admitted, it was getting to be a handful for two main organisers, albeit with a lot of volunteer help.

”If it wasn’t for people popping out of the woodwork, I don’t know where we would be,” she said, pointing to volunteers who had just turned up to offer help getting things ready for yesterday’s fashion show.

The number at the mess dinner with airship and teapot racing had trebled from last year, 110 being fed and entertained.

Yesterday’s fashion show had 130 tickets pre-sold, but attracted far more with casual sales.

The 200 tickets to last night’s dinner were sold out.

She estimated probably 80% to 90% of people at the main events were from out of town, but that had been one of the main aims – to get people to Oamaru as a boost for the town. . .

The weekend’s festivities included Oamaru On Fire which was also a raging success.

A funeral in Darfield on Friday and family and farm commitments had to take priority over most of the festivities.

But I did manage time for a wander around the historic precinct after a visit to the Farmers’ Market on Sunday and was entertained by a wonderful procession of people in Steam Punk attire.

Over at Oamaru Life there are photos and commentary on the Steampunk Festival and Oamaru on Fire  – the latter includes a video of the light show.

The rediscovery of the historic precinct and the introduction of steam punk are just two of the attractions that are putting Oamaru on the map.

It’s still a small town but it’s steaming ahead.


Oamaru On Fire

May 24, 2014

The annual Steampunk NZ Festival opens in Oamaru this coming Friday, May 30th.

festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Steampunk NZ Festival 2014 is New Zealands largest and longest running steampunk event. 4 days with 18 events and the start of a fringe festival along side it this year. . .

The events are:

Thursday 29th May

Absynth Night

Friday 30th May

Oamaru on Fire,

Brydone Oamaru Fringe Festival Late Night

 

fringe

Saturday 31st May

Souk Market

Cup cake decorating

Dance classes

Writers Workshop

Steampunk Short Stories – with connections to other parts of the planet – technology allowing

Brydone Oamaru Fringe Festival Family Variety Show

Steampunk Racing Mess Dinner

Steampunk Racing and Music Madness

Sunday 1st June

Steam train rides round the Oamaru Harbour.

Steampunk Round the World

Steampunk NZ Fashion Show

Steampunk NZ Gala Dinner

29th May – 2nd June

Throughout the weekend there will be the opportunity to visit Steampunk HQThe Timetravelers Museum and learn to ride a penny farthing and explore the many other galleries and attractions that Oamaru offers, and then see the penguins.

There is more on the Festival’s Facebook page.

Friday night will be lit up by  Oamaru On Fire:

2014’s Oamaru On Fire, steam, sound and lighting spectacular, will step up again this year says organisers Jan Kennedy and Anton Roswell.  “Oamaru On Fire” is a fire, steam, sound, lighting spectacular that successfully showcases Harbour street (in the old part of town Oamaru) in the evening and in winter as an attraction for the entire family from 4 years old to 94 !

t enhances the Steampunk Festival, attracting large numbers of visitors and locals to Oamaru for Queens Birthday weekend.  For the Past 2 years Oamaru On Fire has been incredibly popular with over 2,000 people attending gaining amazing feedback from young and old. 

This years event will feature “Video mapping” a world class projection and lighting focus using the Harbour street Buildings as a stunning Canvas, as well as an innovative visual and performing arts programme and involvement by young local performers.

Internationally renowed “Visual Architects” Out of the Dark will choregraph the lighting and pyrotechnic experience; which includes video projection mapping previously seen on buildings around the world, THIS IS THE FIRST TIME VIDEO MAPPING HAS BEEN USED IN NZ’s south island.  “Oamaru On Fire”

 

fire

 

 


Three things my Mum taught me

May 11, 2014

Photo: Thinking of my mum today.


Happy Mothers’ Day

May 11, 2014

mothers' day


Unholy mess

April 23, 2014

Prime Minister John Key says Easter trading laws aren’t working well and need to be changed.

He’s right on both counts, the law is an unholy mess.

Anyone can trade in Queenstown and Taupo but only some can in neighbouring Wanaka and Rotorua.

Outside the designated tourist areas a petrol station or dairy can sell magazines and milk but a book shop and supermarket can’t.

We were in Wanaka at the weekend, the town was full and almost all shops were open every day.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has released a statement saying it doesn’t discuss its enforcement approach with external parties and that it takes a reactive approach to trading laws, only investigating when complaints are made.

As of 1pm today, MBIE had received 18 complaints, most of them in the North Island, but one from Wanaka. . . .

At least we now don’t have the ridiculous situation of MBIE staff working to police those who shouldn’t be working, but having some busy-bodies reporting businesses doing what they shouldn’t in one place when they could in another isn’t much better.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean has been trying to get some sense into the situation but it’s a conscience vote and with the left block voting the union way she hasn’t been able to get the numbers.

But one of the guests on RadioNZ’s panel last week came up with a compromise that might work – treat Good Friday and Easter Sunday like Anzac Day – have all businesses close in the morning but able to open in the afternoon.

This would be a compromise which won’t please everyone, but it would be better than the unholy mess we have now.


If you’re happy and you know it . . .

March 20, 2014

It’s the International Day of Happiness.

A profound shift in attitudes is underway all over the world. People are now recognising that ‘progress’ should be about increasing human happiness and wellbeing, not just growing the economy.

All 193 United Nations member states have adopted a resolution calling for happiness to be given greater priority and March 20 has been declared as the International Day of Happiness.

Would it be churlish to debate the politics in this premise?

Would it be churlish to point out that while money doesn’t buy happiness it takes economic growth to afford many of the things which contribute to happiness – like health care and education, clean water, decent housing  . . . ?

Would it be churlish to ask how much money went into dreaming up and promoting the International Day of Happiness, from whence that money came and whether there would be better uses for it?

Would it be churlish to point out that if you’re happy and you know it, you don’t need the UN to facilitate that and if you’re not you’re more likely to be if the UN sticks to its core business?

I can feel a bah humbug coming on.

To forestall that I”ll share this:


Celebrating all but one

March 8, 2014

It’s International Women’s Day and National is celebrating the depth and diversity of their women’s caucus.

Photo: National women - Strong, dynamic leaders.

Labour is trying to but have scored another SMOG – social media own goal.

They’re celebrating all but one of their women –  Dunedin South MP Clare Curran is missing.
Where's Clare?

Is this deliberate or accidental and does it have anything to do with the fact that Dunedin South still hasn’t confirmed its candidate selection?


Stopping Time

February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine’s Day.stoppingTimePrLg


Today, for some reason, I see how short our lives actually are & how often I forget to look in your eyes & stop time entirely & say, You have made this life for me.

 ©2014 Brian Andreas at Story People.

Published with permission.


Flower growers want us to buy local

February 12, 2014

Imported flowers give consumers choice but increase competition  for local growers:

Kiwi flower growers are coming under increasing pressure as cheap flower imports, mainly from India, flood the New Zealand market, says Flower Growers Association chairman, David Blewden.

Mr Blewden says around 50 percent of the roses sold each year for Valentine’s Day are now imported.

Not only is this affecting Kiwi growers’ livelihoods, it also poses biosecurity risks, he says.

Any imports pose biosecurity risks but MPI has strict protocols to deal with them.

“Imported flowers are usually treated with harsh chemicals like Round Up. This means they don’t last long once you’ve bought them and you have to be careful when handling them if you are sensitive to chemicals.

Any flowers treated with Round Up would be dead.

“But sometimes imported flowers slip through the cracks, don’t get treated properly and come into NZ carrying pests and diseases. We’ve had several instances of this and the risks to our industry, and to home gardeners, are huge.”

The discovery of a single Queensland fruit fly got major attention a couple of weeks ago. Any pests or diseases on imported flowers would be treated as seriously but I don’t recall any news of one.

He says New Zealanders buy approximately 600,000 rose stems for Valentine’s Day and by far the majority are romantic red.

But Kiwi growers account for only about 300,000 rose stems destined for Valentine’s Day. The balance – another 300,000 stems sold for February 14 – comes into the country from India.

“Import volumes are growing each year because stems are massed produced overseas very cheaply. This is putting our local industry under severe pressure.

“Unfortunately, consumers don’t know that most of the roses they buy are imports. Perhaps if they did they’d ask their florist for NZ-grown stems. They’d certainly last longer and be of better quality when you got them home.” . . .

People base their buying on several factors including cost and quality.

Flower prices soar on Valentine’s Day. Some people might prefer to pay a higher price for local blooms but I suspect many would sacrifice quality and longevity for a lower price.

Competition from overseas will make business more difficult for local growers but gives consumers more choice and lower prices.

That’s what free trade does and as many of the growers will be exporters they can’t argue for any special treatment here without endangering their sales elsewhere.

While on the subject of Valentine’s Day, it’s also my birthday.

On my 40th our accountant had stayed the night and presented me with a gift at breakfast. Minutes later my best friend’s mother arrived out from town with a present.

My farmer muttered that they were showing him up and disappeared into the office.

I learned later he phoned a friend who’s a florist and asked for 40 red roses. She pointed out it was Valentine’s day and they would be very pricey.

He said that didn’t matter. She told him what it would cost, he changed his mind and asked about carnations. They were a similar price so he told her he’d call in later and see what she could come up with.

She came up with a beautiful bunch of mixed blooms, the cost of which remains between them and their country of origin never crossed my mind.

 


Waitangi Day is . . .

February 6, 2014

Waitangi Day is the anniversary of the first signing to the Treaty of Waitangi.

For some it’s an opportunity to celebrate the-then radical concept of conferring British citizenship, and the rights which came with that, on indigenous people.

For some it’s an opportunity for politicking and protest.

For some it’s a day off and the reason for that isn’t nearly as important as the opportunity for recreation or relaxation.

For some it’s just another day at work albeit, if you’re an employee, with better pay.

It’s New Zealand’s day but it’s not New Zealand Day – at least not yet.

Whether it becomes New Zealand Day in time, though not necessarily in name, is up to us.


Recognition, healing and recompence

February 5, 2014

Another Waitangi Day approaches and protesters are out again and as usual they’ve got their blinkers on:

While anti-mining protesters are planning a torrid welcome for John Key at Waitangi tomorrow, the Prime Minister was close to receiving the cold shoulder from Te Tii Marae this year, Ngapuhi kaumatua Kingi Taurua says. . .

Mr Taurua today confirmed the decision to allow Mr Key and other politicians to speak this year was only narrowly agreed.

Those opposed to Mr Key speaking believed the Treaty was not being honoured, he told the Herald.

“They only pick pieces of the Treaty when they want to and they don’t consult, they don’t talk to us about it and they just go ahead and make the process, for example the asset sales.”

Not honouring the treaty?

If he’d take off his blinkers and look at what has been achieved he’d no that’s not the reality as Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson shows:

Treaty settlements are as much about recognition and healing as they are about recompense. Settlements address our past and invest in a common future.

This work has been my responsibility as Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations since 2008. Good progress has been made to resolve historical grievances in that time.

After three years of steady acceleration, the government has now reached an unprecedented pace in the settlement of historic Treaty claims. This is a result of the government’s goal of reaching full and final settlements in a timely fashion, and a recognition that New Zealanders want to see these historical grievances settled so we can move on – as one country.

Take a look at our progress, as at December 12, 2013, below.

treatyprogress

 

National has admitted it won’t reach its goal of all settlements completed this year, but it has made significant progress and will continue to do so.

It is determined to complete all the settlements so iwi can move from grievance to growth.

Ngai Tahu provides a wonderful example of what can be achieved in economic, social and environmental terms when they get a settlement and turn their attention to more positive endeavours than those the protesters at Waitangi waste their energy on.

 

 


Happy New Year

January 1, 2014

You know you’re growing up when you don’t have to stay up til midnight to farewell the old year;  and it’s so much easier to welcome the new one when you’ve had enough sleep.

However, you spent last night and however you feel this morning, I hope that 2014 is kind to you and yours.


Auld Lang Syne

December 31, 2013


O Holy Night

December 25, 2013


Christmas quotes

December 25, 2013
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”  ― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” ― Charles Dickens
When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs? – Gilbert K. Chesterton
Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. – Calvin Coolidge
It’s true, Christmas can feel like a lot of work, particularly for mothers. But when you look back on all the Christmases in your life, you’ll find you’ve created family traditions and lasting memories. Those memories, good and bad, are really what help to keep a family together over the long haul. – Caroline Kennedy
“I know what I really want for Christmas.
I want my childhood back.
Nobody is going to give me that. I might give at least the memory of it to myself if I try. I know it doesn’t make sense, but since when is Christmas about sense, anyway? It is about a child, of long ago and far away, and it is about the child of now. In you and me. Waiting behind the door of or hearts for something wonderful to happen. A child who is impractical, unrealistic, simpleminded and terribly vulnerable to joy.” ― Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Purple Madona

December 25, 2013

http://www.storypeople.com/productImage/SPP0138.jpg

One time on Hollywood Boulevard I saw a young girl with a baby. It was a crisp winter morning & her hair shone dark purple in the sun. She was panhandling outside the Holiday Inn & the door clerk came out & told her to be on her way & I wondered if anyone would recognize the Christ child if they happened to meet. I remember thinking it’s not like there are any published pictures & purple seemed like a good colour for a Madonna so I gave her a dollar just in case.

Copyright 2012. Brian Andreas at StoryPeople.

If you would like a daily dose of whimsy like this you’ll find where to sign up by clicking on the link.

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One time on Hollywood Boulevard...

Purple Madonna

©2013 Brian Andreas 

 

 

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Te Harinui

December 25, 2013

Another version of my favourite carol.


May your Christmas be happy

December 24, 2013

For many years Christmas Eve has been one of my favourite days.

I knew I was growing up when I was allowed to go to the late night church service which finished with a candle-lit procession outside, singing the last carol, to take Christmas to the world.

When the children were small, when they were sound asleep, when the pillow cases had been filled,  I revelled in the peace as I was left to make the pavlova and complete other preparations for Christmas Day, uninterrupted, to the quiet accompaniment of carols.

One of the most memorable recent Christmas Eves was spent in Argentina, with our friends and their large extended family. There the major celebration is on the evening of the 24th, culminating with the arrival of Papa Noel, at midnight, carrying a sack with one present for each child.

Christmas Eves there, and here, have provided the opportunity to be grateful that for the gifts that really matter, and not just on Christmas Day – loving family and friends.

Wherever, and however, you’re celebrating, I hope you’re similarly blessed.

May your Christmas be happy and may 2014 be kind to you and yours.

 


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