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.



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


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.


What’s your favourite carol?

December 24, 2013

There are some beautiful Christmas carols.

Silent Night, O Holy Night, O Come All Ye Faithful, Away in a Manger, When A Child is Born, Little Drummer Boy . . .

But if I had to choose just one, it would be Te Harinui.

My mother chose it for her funeral, and I always remember her with love and gratitude when I hear it.

For someone who has everything . . .

December 24, 2013

A tubemaster from Brix.

It’s a simple idea and it works, not just to get the most out of a tube but also to save arguments about who squeezes it how.

blix 2

blix 3


blix 1

It does not, however, solve the problem of people not putting the lid back on.

That will have to wait for another clever invention.

The Santa Brand

December 19, 2013

The clever people at the Quiet Room have come up with a Santa brandbook:

You need to pop over there to see it properly, but here’s a taste.

santa 3







santa 1










Happy NZ Day

December 7, 2013

Happy NZ Day.

From the NZ Day Facebook page:
NZ DAY 07.12.13
The very first ever NZ DAY!

#itsagooddayto …celebrate our Kiwi spirit.

Today (07.12.13) we are bringing Kiwis together to do some good and to be the very best we can be for ourselves, each other, our communities and our environment.

It’s the Kiwi way. It’s what we do.

And we are having a load of fun while we’re doing it!

We are creating history today and in a few years we can look back and proudly say we were right here at the very beginning.

Get behind it and get involved. . .



THANK YOU so much for being passionate Kiwis and getting behind it and getting involved. We are creating history today and in a few years we can look back and proudly say we were right here at the very beginning.

Have an awesome celebration and please take some pics, tag NZ Day, and use the hashtags #nzday and #itsagooddayto.

We hope you have a thoroughly enjoyable day with your friends, whanau and communities.

Aroha nui, Sunil and the New Zealand Day Trustees — at Aotearoa New Zealandnz day badge

Celebrate Victorian Christmas at Totara Estate

December 7, 2013

Totara Estate, the birthplace of New Zealand’s meat industry is hosting a celebration of Victorian Christmas tomorrow.

Christmas trees and evergreen decorations adorned Victorian homes with beautiful homemade decorations. Making your own gifts and Christmas cards was also an essential Christmas activity.

Visitors will be shown how to make all sorts of hand crafted decorations including peg doll angels and santas, decorated cookies and popcorn chains. Everyone can have a go and take them home for their own Christmas tree or gifts.

There will be a story corner with traditional tales. Fun and games were also part of the celebrations and will include skittles and horseshoes and there will be revival of some good old fashioned Christmas parlour games for everyone to join in like pass the parcel and pint the tail on the donkey.

All good Victorian Christmas parties involve carol singing and listening to festive music and tea will be served with a traditional festive treat to delight the taste buds.

The Victorian Santa was often dressed in forest green rather than the red we know of today – and he will be calling in to Totara Estate with a sack of goodies. The Christmas tree is ready with a treat for Santa and carrots for the reindeer of course.

The celebrations will progress through the afternoon so plan to arrive promptly to enjoy the full experience. Victorian party dress welcome – but not essential!

The delightful Totara Estate shop, with its heritage and rural theme, will be open if visitors wish to find some Christmas gifts with a 10% discount for visitors who join the Christmas celebrations.

What: Victorian Christmas Celebration at Totara Estate

When: Sunday 8th

Time: 1pm – 4pm

Where: Totara Estate, 8km South Oamaru on State Highway 1

More on Totara estate here.

Grammar test, Food Switch & buy-nothing Christmas

December 3, 2013

Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

You can’t write proper English under pressure – which tests your grammar, spelling and reactions.

Food Switch – an app for your mobile phone which scans bar codes of food products, gives you their nutritional value and suggests healthier alternatives for those higher in fat and sugar.

Buy Nothing Christmas - suggestions for gifts using your hands, heart and imagination rather than money.

A Scottish Soldier

November 30, 2013

It’s still St Andrew’s day.



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