This Friday’s poem is Rain by Hone Tuwhare, chosen because we’ve had some but need some more.


It’s from An Anthology of Twentieth Century New Zealand Poetry, published by Oxford, University Press, 1976.




I can hear you making

small holes in the silence



If I were deaf

the pores of my skin

would open to you

and shut


And I should know you

by the lick of you

if I were blind:


the steady drum-roll

sound you make

when the wind drops


the something

special smell of you

when the sun cakes

the ground


But if I should not


smell of feel or see you


you would still

define me

disperse me

wash over me



– Hone Tuwhare –  

Bed sharing endangers babies


When Tom stopped breathing in the middle of the night the apnoea matress in his cradle alarmed and woke us.

Because of that we were able to do CPR and call an ambulance and our GP who revived him.  Tom died later that day it but it helped us to know we’d done all we could for him.

Had that happened the night before it could have been very different because, contrary to my usual practice of taking him through to the living room to feed then tucking him back in his cradle, I’d fed him in bed and left him there. So had he stopped breathing I might not have known for hours and I’d have had to live with the knowledge that at best, because of that it would have been too late to try CPR,  and at worst that I might have smothered him.

If he’d died in bed beside me I’d have always wondered if it was my fault. Even though he had a brain disorder and we’d been told a month earlier that he was likely to die soon, there would have been doubts, questions, blame and guilt.

I remembered this when I read that Wellington coroner Gary Evans was conducting inquests  into the deaths of seven babies, including four who had dies while sharing a bed.

Auckland University professor of child health research Evan Mitchell said bedsharing absolutely increased risk of babies dying from SIDS.

Prof Mitchell said the message to not share beds was included in advice to parents on the Ministry of Health website.

“But the message is being delivered very inconsistently,” he said.

“There are a number of breastfeeding advocates … who are recommending bedsharing to improve breastfeeding rates.”

There were several initiatives that provided an alternative to bedsharing.

“At the moment we don’t know of any way of doing bedsharing completely safely — having the cot right up close to the bed so the baby’s in close contact proximity, making breastfeeding easy, must surely be the right way to go.”

Paediatrician Dawn Elder, who has studied unexplained baby deaths in the Wellington region over the last 10 years, also said more information was needed.

“Certainly there is information out there, but there isn’t enough,” she said.

The risk of bed sharing isn’t new.

It’s referred to in the Bible in the story of Solomon and the mothers arguing over whose baby lived and whose died –  1 Kings, 3: 16-22 “. . . Then one night she accidently rolled over on her baby and smothered it . . .”

It was also the subject of a poem by W.B. Yeats more than 100 years ago:

The Ballad of Moll Magee:

Come round me, little childer;
There, don’t fling stones at me
Because I mutter as I go;
But pity Moll Magee.

My man was a poor fisher
With shore lines in the say;
My work was saltin’ herrings
The whole of the long day.

And sometimes from the Saltin’ shed
I scarce could drag my feet,
Under the blessed moonlight,
Along the pebbly street.

I’d always been but weakly,
And my baby was just born;
A neighbour minded her by day,
I minded her till morn.

I lay upon my baby;
Ye little childer dear,
I looked on my cold baby
When the morn grew frosty and clear.

A weary woman sleeps so hard!
My man grew red and pale,
And gave me money, and bade me go
To my own place, Kinsale.

He drove me out and shut the door.
And gave his curse to me;
I went away in silence,
No neighbour could I see.

The windows and the doors were shut,
One star shone faint and green,
The little straws were turnin round
Across the bare boreen.

I went away in silence:
Beyond old Martin’s byre
I saw a kindly neighbour
Blowin’ her mornin’ fire.

She drew from me my story –
My money’s all used up,
And still, with pityin’, scornin’ eye,
She gives me bite and sup.

She says my man will surely come
And fetch me home agin;
But always, as I’m movin’ round,
Without doors or within,

Pilin’ the wood or pilin’ the turf,
Or goin’ to the well,
I’m thinkin’ of my baby
And keenin’ to mysel’.

And Sometimes I am sure she knows
When, openin’ wide His door,
God lights the stats, His candles,
And looks upon the poor.

So now, ye little childer,
Ye won’t fling stones at me;
But gather with your shinin’ looks
And pity Moll Magee.

We’ve come along way since then but the guilt and grief of a parent who smothered their child won’t have changed.

When our children were young there seemed to be much more publicity about cot deaths or SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and both the risk factors  to avoid and practices to keep babies safer. But the information doesn’t seem to be as widely available now.                                                         

There are still questions about exactly what causes cot deaths but some of the risk factors are well known and that’s behind the five ways to protect babies which Plunket lists:

  1. a smoke-free pregnancy and household
  2. sleeping on their back
  3. a clear face and head – free from hazards that can lead to suffocation
  4. to be close to parents when asleep (in the same room)
  5. breastfeeding.

Parents share beds with babies for a lot of reasons – it’s normal practice for some cultures, it might be warmer, they might not have anywhere else for the baby to sleep, when they’re exhausted, which is a normal state for new parents and why I had Tom in my bed that one night,  it might be easier but none of those reasons makes it a safe practice.

Dear Father Christmas #5


Dear Father Christmas,


When I wrote to you this time last year I said I was having trouble with the power toy you gave me and it got worse.


The wheels got more than a bit wobbly, some fell off completely then someone stole it from me. I blame the media, they kept telling on me and trying to show I hadn’t been a good boy.


They reckon I don’t deserve another power toy either, but they’re just jealous and I’ve told them I’ll be back playing in the parliamentary sand pit.


So if you could just give me a scandal to stir up (though possibly not one about big business because that might back fire), some fears to manipulate or a minority to persecute I’ll show them.


Yours expectantly


Goers and stayers


I read with regret what seemed to be the last post for NZBC – It’s goodnight from him and goodbye from me.

But I’m delighted that my interpretation of that post was wrong.  NZBC has more than one contributer, so the blog is continuing  and Stephen Stratford who wrote the goodbye post has started a blog of his own – Quote Unquote.

I wasn’t alone in thinking NZBC was going, Not PC did too and wrote a post (since updated to explain it’s staying) in which he opines on why some bloggers persist and others don’t.

If you don’t have a selfish reason for blogging, then you ain’t gonna sustain the time and effort required.  It’s not primarily about having hundreds of readers –- although that’s great if you can pull that off — it’s about having to say something and maintaining a forum in which to say it.

Over at Something Should Go Here, Scrubone is mulling over blog rankings and the possible manipulation of stats.

Everyone has different reasons for blogging and while a high ranking may be flattering, it’s irrelevant unless you’re trying to make money from advertising.

Some blogs are boutiques, some are department stores, some are warehouses, some go for quality, some go for quantity, a few manage both and which is which is subjective.

Those that endure are more likely to be the ones where the blogger enjoys it and while visitors and comments are part of the fun, the stats are only one measure of success.

18 mls


North Otago, at least our patch of it, got an early Chirstmas present last night – 18mls of rain.

That follows the 6 mls which fell on Monday to give us, in old money, an inch for the week so we’ve already doubled the 12 mls we got for the whole of November with a nearly three weeks of this month to go.

ORC to stick to core business?


The Otago Regional Council is considering sticking to its core business.

Chair Stephen Carins said:

His intention was for staff to put together a policy paper to go to the council next year, looking at ways the council could “focus” its agenda on “core business” for the rest of this term.

” . . . It is time to stick to core business, partly because of the economic climate.”

He said the council has been working on this for a year and it’s not a response to Local Body Minister Rodney Hide’s call for councils to rein in rates.

It may not have anything to do with Reserve bank governor Alan Bollard’s call for local bodies to to play their part in reducing costs, either.

But it’s a welcome sign that councils are aware it’s not their money they’re spending, it’s ratepayers’ money and they have a responsibility to minimise the amount they take and spend.

That’s a two way street though. If we want local bodies to stick to their knitting then individuals and organisations who think the council should help with a pet project need also accept that if it’s not core business it’s not ratepayers’ responsibility and they’ll have to look elsewhere for funds.

UPDATE: Apropos of this – Adolf at No Minister  asks why environment Waikato has $51m in reserves and wonders what reserves other councils hold.

What can Winston do?



What does a former MP do?

Cactus Kate has the perfect answer  for Winston Peters – he’s ideally qualified to promote a finance company.

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