Dear Andrew Williams


Dear Andrew Williams

I was surprised that you, the Mayor of North Shore City,  emailed me a media release headlined Local Government Minsister Rodney Hide has misled the PM and Aucklanders and followed that with another email entitled Required Reading to understand how bad the government’s decisons on Auckland’s governance are  with a copy of Rod Orman’s column in yesterday’s Sunday Star Times headlined : Welcome to ‘grater’ Auckland.

But I presume you got my address from this blog and that means you want me to post on your emails.

I have given only cursory attention to announcements and views on the super-city proposal for Auckland.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s an important issue. Much as we mainlanders like to joke about what goes on north of the Bombay Hills, most of us do understand that Auckland is important and having more than a quarter of the population and their economy handicapped by a poorly functioning local body structure isn’t good for the city or the rest of the  country.

But it does mean, just as you probably don’t have the time or energy to concern yourself with tenure review, irrigation and other such matters of importance to rural New Zealand, I’ve been leaving the issue to people more interested and better informed than I am.

However, since you’ve taken the trouble to email me, might I say how amused I was to read this:

“I am also concerned to be advised that John Banks has been a long-time silent supporter of the ACT Party and has attended ACT Party meetings, sometimes as a guest speaker. This unholy alliance between Banks and Hide needs to be the subject of a great deal of scrutiny. Something smells here. I also understand ACT supporters received inside information on the Government’s decision on Auckland prior to the announcement on Tuesday. This raises questions as to whether this National Government is being hi-jacked by these extreme right wingers”.

If you waste 10% of a media release on this, it doesn’t say much about the strength of your case.

Yours sincerely,




Today’s contribution to poetry month was inspired by nature’s art at PM of NZ.

Blindness, by Donald McDonald is from New Zealand Farm & Station Verse, published by Whitcombe & Tombs.



I know a man

Who – raving on ‘the view’

Broke with his clumsy feet

A spiderweb,

Starry with dew.


– Donald McDonald –

Putting possums on the pill


A contraceptive for possums  has been successfully trialled at Wellington Zoo.

The treatment makes possums infertile for up to two years.

Associate Professor Doug Eckery, of Victoria University, said he hoped to have field trials underway by 2013.

“It was an exciting result, but delivery is the key,” he told the Dominion Post.

The challenge was to find a way to distribute it to wild possums, possibly using bait.

The estimated 50 to 70 million possums  in New Zealand compete with native birds for food, eat young growth of trees , destryoing forests, and sometimes dine on birds’ eggs and chicks. They also carry tuberculosis which is a danger to beef and dairy cattle and deer.

North Otago is a low risk area for TB but we  had several outbreaks in our dairy herd. It took ages to find the carrier,  a cow which had come from the West Coast. Testing isn’t 100% reliable and it wasn’t until she was culled after drying herself off that we discovered she was riddled with TB.

15,495 pests potted in Easter Bunny hunt


Central Otago has 15, 495 fewer pests after the 18th annual Easter bunny hunt.

Shooters potted 14,799 rabbbits as well as hares, stoats, ferrets, goats, possums, turkeys and a few feral cats.

Organised by the Alexandra Lions Club, the annual hunt has been responsible for culling almost 200,000 rabbits from Central Otago since its inception in 1991.

Local scouts also benefitted, being commissioned by the Lions to pick up all the dead rabbits and dispose of them in a purpose-dug pit.

  Rabbit tallies

Kills from the past 10 hunts:

•2009: 14,799 (39 teams)
•2008: 15,542 (35 teams)
•2007: 16,121 (31 teams)
•2006: 12,494 (35 teams)
•2005: 20,201 (43 teams)
•2004: 11,546 (33 teams)
•2003: 9148 (27 teams)
•2002: 7513 (18 teams)
•2001: 3694 (17 teams)
•2000: 4324 (20 teams)

•1997: 23,949 (44 teams)

The high numbers of rabbits killed in the last few years indicates that the population is rising again as resistance to RCD (rabbit calicivirus disease)  grows.

We’ve noticed rabbit numbers in North Otago increasing and in spite of regular shooting the number of young shurbs in the garden which are repeatedly nibbled indicates we’re not making much headway against them.

It’s not nearly as bad as it was in the 1930s when my father recalled there were so many rabbits it looked like hillsides were moving, but it’s a growing problem and I’ve got some sympathy with arguments for the reinstatement of rabbit boards.

Rabbits don’t respect boundaries so individual property owners’ pest control is only as good as that of their neighbours.

Reinstating boards would mean the that the effort, and money, most put into pest destruction isn’t sabotaged by the few who do little or nothing to eradicate pests on their properties.

Who was the first to discover gold in Otago? UPdated


If you’d asked me who was the first to discover gold in Otago I’d have said Gabriel Read whose name lives on in Gabriels Gully near Lawrence.

But I’d have been wrong.

The first workable goldfield was discovered by an Indian prospector, Edward Peters, three years before Read made his find.

I discovered this in this morning’s ODT because Governor General Hon Sir Anand Satyanand unveiled a plaque   in honour of Peters yesterday.

UPDATE: Didn’t Winston Peters reckon Maori orginiated from China? Maybe he also had Indian ancestors?

What would I have done?


When I first heard the news of yesterday’s daylight rape I wondered why the girl hadn’t sought help. But she did.

A 13-year-old girl pleaded for help from a stranger just minutes before she was dragged into bushes and raped in a daylight attack near a busy road in west Auckland.

Police say the girl approached a woman filling her car at the BP station on Great North Rd, in Waterview, and begged for help, after being followed by a stranger for about a kilometre from Pt Chevalier.

Police want to speak to the motorist after she reportedly told the girl to keep away from the man, before driving off.

My immediate reaction was, if only that woman had done something to help. But could I be sure I’d have done anything more?

I’d like to think so. But that’s easy to say from this safe distance without knowing all the circumstances and with the benefit of hindsight.

Crook safety standards hook anglers


Anglers in Derbyshire have been snared by over-zealous safety standards:

Thousands of fishermen come to Foremark Reservoir in Derbyshire every year to fish for rainbow and brown trout.

However the local water board has banned fishing on the dam wall after a number of anglers sustained minor injuries slipping on the rocks. Anglers are also banned from most of the rest of the reservoir for fear back casting will snare a passer-by, although this has never happened in the forty years since the reservoir was built.

Anglers now fear that hundreds of other fishing spots near public walkways will be restricted around the country as health and safety officers protect against litigation if walkers are accidentally injured.

Forty years of accident free angling count for nothing while common sense and personal responsibility are ignored again.

But the bureaucrats aren’t really concerned about the risk to anglers or passers by because this ruling has far less to do with physical safety and a lot more to do with fear of legal liability.

%d bloggers like this: