NZ Music Month – the challenge


Keeping Stock reminds us that it’s New Zealand Music Month and reckoned he wouldn’t be able to post one Kiwi song a day.

As my post on the top 10 quintessentail Kiwi tunes  showed, my knowledge of modern music is sorely lacking but I reckon I could come up with 31 songs.

I’ve issued a challenge and will show the way with the song that identifies travelling Kiwis all over the world.

We probably don’t sing it  it as well as Kiri Te Kanawa and we might to have to resort to  a bit of la, la, la-ing but anyone who considers her/himself a New Zealander must know this one:



Poetry month finished yesterday, but today is Friday when I post a poem anyway.

Afternoons  by Philip Larkin comes from The Whitsun Weddings,  published by Faber.



Summer is fading:

The leaves fall in ones and twos

From trees bordering

The new recreation ground.

In the hollows of afternoons

Young mothers assemble

At swing and sandpit

Setting free their children.


Behind them, at intervals,

Stand husbands in skilled trades,

An estateful of washing,

And the albums, lettered

Our Wedding, lying

Near the television:

Before them, the wind

Is ruining their courting-places.


That are still courting-places

(But the lovers are all in school),

And their children, so intent on

Finding more unripe acorns,

Expect to be taken home.

Their beauty has thickened

Something is pushing them

To the side of their own lives.


     – Philip Larkin –

Following fashion folly on farm


Take a navy guernsey over a striped shirt with the collar turned up, add a denim skirt and top it all off with pearls or a fob chain and what have you got? The magazine in which I read this description called it the country clone and wasn’t impressed.


I’ve failed to master the art of stand up collars, am more likely to be in a tee shirt anyway and prefer jeans to skirts. But I have to admit the general affect is much the same as the one the fashion writer described so disparagingly.


I understand her lack of enthusiasm because the wool and denim ensemble gets more points for comfort than style. But that’s precisely why we country women choose it – because although it’s predictable it’s also practical. It may not be sufficiently stylish to claim the label classic but because this look is never in fashion it never goes out of fashion either. And while they may be a long way from the look of the moment on city streets the “country clone” clothes are well suited to a quick sprint across a paddock if the wearer is called on to lend a hand before she dashes off to town.


You may be able to opt for style if the nearest you’ll be getting to the great outdoors is a gentle stroll down a well paved foot path and you can favour fashion if you have nothing to pick up but the groceries. But when you might have to rescue an old ewe which has cast herself in the cattle stop before you leave your property and you know your shopping list might include sacks of seed, containers of drench or grease-encrusted parts for the irrigator it pays to choose clothes to suit.


Just how necessary it is to put function before fashion was brought home to me the day I decided I had the luxury of enough time to dress with care before going in to town. I’d just added the finishing touches to my ensemble when there was a knock at the door, it was the dog-dosing man looking for someone to help him. My farmer was away at a sale and I had no idea where the other men were but when asked I had to admit I knew which name went with which dog so there was no reason why I couldn’t act as doser’s assistant.


It may be possible to remain immaculate while catching and holding thousand-acre dogs but I didn’t manage it. I’d taken the precaution of exchanging my shoes for gumboots but they didn’t protect my tights from a liberal splattering of mud. I also acquired a patina of dog hair on my skirt; the imprint of one of King’s very large paws on the front of my blouse and the perfume with which I had splashed myself lost its battle with what could best be described as “eau de kennel”.


Next time I had a yearn to dress up for town I ignored it and reached for my jumper and jeans. It may be fun to follow fashion and I do enjoy donning smart clothes for those occasions when it’s necessary to play ladies. But, even though the dog dosing man doesn’t call anymore, when choosing an outfit for every day wear the question I ask myself is not whether it’s fashionable but: how will it look with gumboots?


© homepaddock

Staitsm and Sanctimony


Brilliant column from Rob Hosking in the NBR: Statism and Sanctimony – the Clark-Cullen Years.

I recommend reading it in full so will jsut give a couple of teasers:

One small example of the shift in attitude since the change of government was in an exchange .  . .  at a select committee a couple of weeks ago.

Labour and Green MPs were worrying about tax cuts, and what people would do with those cuts. . .

English simply observed people would do with their money what they thought was right for them, and he wasn’t going to get into nagging them about it.

Isn’t it a relief to know someone trusts us to make our own decisions with our own money?

We have heard a lot from Labour and its apologists about how grateful we should be for the way Cullen got the government debt down.

There are two responses to that.

First, New Zealand’s business sector also got its debt down over that period, and, with a few unwise exceptions, resisted the temptation to gear itself up. Our business sector should be equally congratulated (and the fact it is not shows, again, the underlying statism being exhibited.

The more important point, made by the OECD in its recent report on New Zealand, is that private debt ballooned over that period – and a more balanced approach to tax reductions over the Labour government might have ameliorated that.

 Taking more than was needed and using too much of it to increase the dead weight of the state has left us in a much worse position than we would have been had Labour not been convinced the state knows best and individuals can’t be trusted with our own money.

Do unto others still applies


My class at a language school in Spain was asked what we would do if we found a wallet.

There were 12 students from eight countries. I was the only New Zealander and the only one who said I’d try to return it to the owner or hand it in to the police. The others asked if that was typical of  Kiwis.

I said I thought it was but the reaction to the woman who found $1,700 and handed it to police  made me wonder if I was wrong.

Breakfast called her the last Good Samaritan  and expressed surprise at the honesty.

But this shouldn’t be news, it should be normal behaviour and I was relieved to hear on Jim Mora’s Afternoon’s yesterday there are plenty of other Good Samaritans  and that honesty isn’t unusual.

Whether you abide by the eighth commandment, thou shalt not steal; the golden rule do unto others as you would have them do unto you,  variations of which are found in many religions; believe that what goes round, comes round, or that virtue has its own reward, honesty is the best policy.

It’s a sad reflection on other countries that this isn’t normal, but we can be grateful that at least in this little corner of the world taking what isn’t yours or making no attempt to return something you find to its rightful owner, intact and entire, is regarded as wrong.

Losing fear and ignorance of disability


Dan had a degenerative brain disorder which left him with multiple disabilities. He passed none of the developmental milestones so could do no more when he died, 10 days after his fifth birthday,  than he could the day he was born.

He didn’t appear to see or hear, he couldn’t support his head or move himself. He couldn’t even smile.

We used to say he couldn’t do anything but in spite of that he taught us a lot.

Because of Dan we lost the fear and ignorance we might have had about disability and through him we learned to accept people as people regardless of what they can or can’t do.

Had he been born a generation earlier, Dan would almost certainly have been put into an institution rather than living at home as he did. That wasn’t always easy for us because he required 24-hour care and while the policy had changed, the system wasn’t up to speed with the support needed to meet the challenges of life in the community for people with multiple handicaps and their carers.

But we had wonderful support from family and friends, his doctors and organisations like Plunket and IHC and we weren’t aware of any discrimination against Dan, or us when we were with him.

Not everyone’s experience is so positive. That is almost always because of ignorance and we have Dan to thank because we’re not guilty of that.

This is posted as my contribution to Blogging Against Disabilism Day – and I tip my hat to In A Strange Land for directing me to it.

Did you see the one about . . .


The Next Einstein won’t be British  at NZ Conservative

Why is science important?  at Open Parachute

A Green Conundrum  at Frenemy

Alcohol & Addiction Part II at the Visible Hand in Economics

Incentives Matter Bible File  at Anit-Dismal

Gob.Smacked  at The Hand Mirror

The Great Tamiflu Swindle  at Monkey with Typewriter

Press complaint: exploitation of mental illness at Kiwipolitico

Autumn in the Park  at Half Pie

Compounding errors  at Kismet Farm

Labour still don’t understand big electorates


Labour is still questioning the increase in funding to enable MPs in the biggest electorates to employ another member of staff.

This was agreed to in the coaltion deal between National and the Maori Party and recognises that although the number of people in every  electorate is similar, it’s much more difficult to service them over a large geographical area.

Darren Hughes doesn’t understand the situation:

Does he think it’s appropriate to overrule the unanimous decision of the all party Parliamentary Service Commission chaired by an independent person to achieve a result that predominately benefits the National Party and the Maori Party by nearly a $1 million a year,” questioned Labour MP Darren Hughes.

Oh dear, Darren, you’re showing why there was a blue wash through the Maori seats and provinces in the election, you and your party don’t understand the needs of people in large electorates and the difficulty of servicing them.

The funding isn’t for MPs personally, it’s for an extra staff member and associated costs to help them serve their constituents and to help constituents access their MPs more easily. The funding doesn’t predominately benefit the National and Maori parties, it benefits people in their electorates.

The electorates which will get extra funding and the area they cover in square kilometres are:

Te Tai Tonga




West Coast-Tasman


Te Tai Hauauru










Te Tai Tokerau




To understand how big these electorates are, compare them with the size of the 10 smallest ones:

Mt Albert


Manukau East




Christchurch Central








Te Atatu


North Shore


Mt Roskill




East Coast and Taranaki King Country which are bigger than Hauraki-Waikato and Northland which is almost as big, won’t get any extra funding.

East Coast


Taranaki-King Country




TV3’s report on the issue isn’t qutie right either. It says:

After 3 News revealed the 10 MPs holding these seats were to get an extra $92,000, political parties got together and decided that was too much.

TV3 didn’t “reveal’ this. It wasn’t a secret, Kiwiblog and I both posted on it last November when the coaltion deal was announced.

Royal Show to go


If the Canterbury A&P Show was under threat, agriculture in New Zealand would be in a very sorry state.

What then does the demise of the Royal Show at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire say about the state of agriculture in Britain?

If the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the fire-sale of Merrill Lynch were powerful symbols of the end of the City as we had come to know it, then the demise of the Royal Show, the premier farming event of the British calendar at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire, is a totem of the end of our countryside.

A&P Shows in New Zealand had some pretty lean years in the wake of the 80s’ ag-sag but most have done better in recent years, partly as a result of better farm incomes but also by adapting to attract urban people with little or no knowledge of , or interest in, farming.

Fortunately not all British Shows are under threat and those which are thriving:

. . . aren’t anymore about red-faced, burly farmers looking for a new bull and horny-handed sons of toil trading harrows. . .  They have an obligation, if they are to survive, to entertain as well as to trade. And, sad as it may be for those who have farmed the land for generations, that is a rubric for the countryside itself.

If farming is in terminal decline . . . then other uses for the countryside have to be developed and encouraged, beyond building new homes across swathes of it. And that requires both imagination and a new covenant between town and country.

As matters stand, the two are more estranged than ever. . . The new appointment of the South Downs as a National Park only serves to show how the Government believes that rural beauty is to be corralled, rather than integrated in to the rest of our economy. As a nation, we need to decide what we want from our countryside.

They also need to decide how much they’re prepared to pay for it. Farming certainly isn’t in terminal decline in New Zealand and is probably better placed than other sectors to withstand the recession. One of the reasons for that is that we were forced to enter the real world in the 1980s in contrast to our British counterparts who are still dependent on subsidies and find they and their incomes are governed by political whim rather than their markets.

But although we’re standing on our own feet there are still people and groups with strong views on what they want from and for our countryside and who want to tell us what to do and how to do it.

There is some comfort in the knowledge that the government has a better understanding and appreciation of farming than the previous one because here, as in Britain,  farmers are very much a minority and the rural-urban gap is very wide.

That’s one of the reasons that A&P shows are important, not only are they a  measure of how farming is doing, they’re also a plank on bridge between town and country.

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