Auckland adventures


When you have young children sometimes it seems that life will be like that for ever. But day by day they grow and change and then without you noticing the transition you realise they’re not children but young adults.

If you’ve done enough right and not too much wrong, as most of us do, with a lot of love and a little luck, there will still be times when they’re happy to have your company. And so it is I’m in Auckland for a couple of days of mother-daughter time.

Packing in a hurry I’d forgotten that Auckland is warmer and wetter so I arrived overdressed with three layers of merino, and undershod with boots that don’t do puddles. But those are minor quibbles.

Flights were delayed so there was time only for a quick trip to the supermarket when I arrived last night – and my first experience of a self-service checkout.

The French Market this morning delighted the senses. There is something about the sight, sounds and scents of food from open air stalls that makes it all so much more appealing than the same things ever are neatly stacked on supermarket shelves.

The tastebuds were tempted further by a trawl round Sabato and lunch at Zarbo.

As we wandered past the Bendon shop its themed dressing rooms were mentioned which seemed like a good excuse to pop in and try something on. I had a quick peep in the Geisha, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn cubicles before choosing the Victorian one.

The assistant had given me instructions on how to deal with the cross over straps and warned it could be a little difficult to remove. Oh dear.  Once many years ago I got myself into the single leg of culottes in the mistaken belief it was a skirt and had to summon someone to help me out of them. I didn’t have to ask for assistance today, but handicapped as I am by tennis elbow, it was a close call.

Urban-rural rift’s a myth


The urban-rural rift  is a myth a forum organised by the Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science concluded. But there is tension where country and town conflict in lifestyle land.

A day-long discussion at Massey University, to look at the link between town and country, was set against the backdrop of the sale in the past year of 46,000 hectares of farmland in lifestyle blocks of less than four hectares.

About 100 scientists, academics, farmers, students, lobbyists and other interested observers at the event organised by the Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science heard from nine speakers – a politician, an historian, a bureaucrat, an economist, a walkways commission member, a geography professor, a local government planner, a farmer and an environmental manager.

Historian Jock Phillips looked at how we got to where we are.

As New Zealand’s population changed from being rural to urban last century a romantic myth began to grow of the farmer as a larger-than-life sporting and war hero.

This lasted till the 1980s when it began to disintegrate amidst the humour of the Footrot Flats cartoon and television’s Fred Dagg.

A rift began to open, according to Dr Phillips. Rural people did not like being made fun of and at the same time two issues arose that further polarised town and country.

They were the 1981 Springbok Tour and homosexual law reform.

“These cultural issues became a battleground where people came to terms with their rural and urban identities,” he said.

These issues are often given as ones on which there was an urban-rural divide. There may be figures to back up this contention but anecdotal evidence suggests country people’s views weren’t markedly differnt from those in town.

The rift had closed in recent years as farmers had learnt to take on urban values, he said.

For example, country shows had changed to appeal to town visitors – where once pigs were shown in pens now they raced over obstacle courses.

But if this goes too far shows lose their rural character and they become just another event. We went to the Melbourne Show last year, most of it was just side shows and entertainment with stock and country exhibits looking like an after thought. The Upper Clutha Show in Wanaka hs got it right – with high quality exhibits which appeal to town and country yet it still retains its rural character.

City life and values had become central and country people had been forced to turn to that world. They could no longer assume their children would want to stay on the land.

One speaker at the AGMARDT breakfast at last week’s National Bank Young Farmer contest said in the old days the bright offspring were sent away to the city and the slower ones stayed back on the farm, but it’s the other way round now 🙂

Dr Phillips said that while the physical rural image had been dented it had gained values of science, technical knowledge, education and specialisation.

“It is the making of modern agriculture and horticulture.”

However, some stereotypes still remained in the thinking of urban people.

Many children had a Fred Dagg image of farming and did not see it as a viable career and some city dwellers yearned to escape to the country, seeing it as a “geriatric rest home”.

I wouldn’t think many of today’s children recognise Fred Dagg because it’s more than 30 years since John Clark took the character across the Tasman. As for a resthome, if that’s what you want surely you’d be better in town close to public transport and healthcare?

Other address came from Kapiti Coast District Council strategy planner Gael Ferguson and Rangitikei sheep and beef farmer Ruth Rainey.

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Poll tightens


The latest Roy Morgan Poll show an increase in support for both National at 52% and Labour at 31% – both up .5. But a new Fairfax Media- Neilson poll  shows National down 3 to 51% and Labour up 5 to 35%.

A rolling average of polls has had National about 20 points ahead of Labour for months and the Fairfax poll is the smallest gap since last year.

John Key’s rating as preferred PM dropped from 43% to 39% and Helen Clark’s rose from 30 to 32.

I am not surprised the gap has tightened but I am surprised it has done so now when the truckers’ protest gained so much support which suggested a high proportion of anti-government sentiment; and when we’re facing recession.

Labour can’t be blamed for external factors including the price of oil, but had they not squandered the good times we’ve been experiencing the country would be better positioned to weather the bad.

The Morgan poll results were:

National Party support at 52% (up 0.5%) clearly ahead of the Labour Party 31% (up 0.5%), if an election were held now the National Party would win. Support for the Greens was 7.5% (down 0.5%), NZ First 6.5% (up 2.5% to its highest level since September 2006), Maori Party 1% (down 1.5%), United Future 1% (unchanged) and ACT NZ 0.5% (down 1.5%).

If ever there was a case for requiring people to take a comprehension test before they vote, it’s in that increase for NZ First 🙂

The Fairfax poll result in percentages: National 51 (54 last month) Labour 35 (30) Green 5 (7) NZ First 4 (3) Maori Party 2 (2) Act 1 (1) United Future 0 (1).

Preferred PM: John Key 39 (43)  Helen Clark 35 (30)  Winston Peters 3 (2).

The trend is more important than a single poll and this will not spook National. But it will hearten Labour and if Clark thinks her attacks on Key have been working we can expect them to not only continue but worsen.

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