Happy 90th Pete Seeger


Listeners’ Requests on 4ZB usually provided the background music for Sunday dinners when I was a child.

Among the songs we listened to, were Little Boxes, Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,  If I Had a Hammer and turn, Turn, Turn, written by Pete Seeger who turns 90 tomorrow.

Bowscawen Act candidate for Mount Albert


Act list MP John Bowscawen has been selected as his party’s candidate to contest the Mount Albert by-election.

I doubt that even he believes he could win but if he did then, as Kiwiblog explains,  Hilary Calvert, number six on Act’s list would come in to parliament to replace him.

If National list MP Melissa Lee was selected as the candidate and won the next on her party’s list, Cam Calder, would enter parliament and if the Green candidate,  list MP Russel Norman , won the seat then the Greens would get a 10th MP from the list.

With any of these scenarios the party which won the seat would also get an extra list MP and have a total of one more MP than they do now, as they would if a candidate who wasn’t already in parliament on the list won the seat.

If a Labour list MP stood and won then the next one on their list, Judith Tizard, would enter parliament but since no list MPs are standing if their candidate wins they keep the seat but wouldn’t get anyone else on the list and either way they finish with the same number of MPs as they have now.

However, if their candidate lost the seat Labour would not be entitled to another list MP so have one fewer MP than they do now.

The National-led government has a comfortable majority so that wouldn’t make any difference to the balance of power this time. But if the government and opposition numbers were very close a gain of an MP for one and a loss for the other, increasing the difference between them by two, could be significant.

I understand that once a list MP is in parliament s/he keeps her/his seat even if a by-election win gives her/his party one more MP than the list vote at the general election entitled them too.

I also understand why a list MP winning a seat his/her party held allows another list MP in because that retains proportionality.

But I don’t understand why a list MP winning a seat her/his party didn’t hold, which maintains proportionality, entitles the party to another list MP while a party which lost a seat isn’t entitled to another list MP in replacement when both scenarios upset proportionality.

Carol Ann Duffy UK’s first female poet laureate


Carol Ann Duffy was annointed poet laureate  in Britain yesterday.

She is the first woman to hold the post in the 341 years since Charles II gave the inaugural post to John Dryden.

It is a great day for women writers,” said Duffy, who described the laureateship as “tending the flame” of poetry. “It highlights the way that women writers have changed the landscape of literature in this country … though I think guys will be pleased as well.”

Ten years ago, she was reportedly ruled out of the laureateship because Tony Blair was concerned about how a gay poet laureate might play in middle England. Tonight a spokesman for Tony Blair denied this had been the case.

British Prime Minsiter Gordon Brown :

. . . called Duffy “a truly brilliant modern poet who has stretched our imaginations by putting the whole range of human experiences into lines that capture the emotions perfectly”.

Duffy has published more than 30 books – plays and children’s stories as well as poems that mix accessible modern language with traditional forms such as the sonnet. Her work often displays a sly, feminist take on history and contains a strong vein of social commentary.

She was born in Glasgow and is creative director of Manchester Metropolitan University’s writing school.

 Her works include “The Worlds’ Wife”  about which Wikipedia   says: The collection takes characters, stories, histories and myths which focus on men, and in Duffy’s renowned feminist way, are twisted to look at the woman behind the man.

One of these is Anne Hathaway:

Slice of Heaven


Today’s contribution to NZ Muisc Month was launched in 1986 and my first memory of it was watching Footrot Flats at the movies.

It’s Slice of Heaven  by Dave Dobbyn.

UPDATE: Keeping Stock posted on NZ Music Month yesterday which prompted me to challenge him to post a song a day. He’s accepted the challenge and his contribution today is For Today by Netherworld Dancing Toys.

Inquiring Mind has also accepted the challenge starting today with  Dominon Road by the Mutton Birds  as a catch-up for yesterday and E Te Kai by Whirimako Black for today.

Tomato soup/sauce


 It’s the time of year for surplus tomatoes which provides an opportunity to make my favourite soup/sauce.

You need:

Tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, tomato paste, basil, oregano, thyme, salt.

If fresh tomatoes aren’t available or are too expensive tinned tomatoes are fine (and sometimes have better flavour than fresh).

Puree tomatoes (if you don’t have a food processor or prefer a chunkier soup/sauce you can mash them instead) and put in a large pot.

Saute onions and garlic in a little oil until soft but not stewed.

Add to tomatoes.

Add tomatoe paste, stir to mix then bring to boil.

Add basil, thyme, oragano and salt and simmer for at least 20 minutes. Stir often to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Like many good soups and sauces the flavour improves with time.

I haven’t given quantities because it’s a recipe that doesn’t require exact amounts but relies on the cook’s judgement based on regular tasting.

You can make just enough for a meal or two, but I usually cook it in bulk and bottle and/or freeze it.

If I’m using a big pot – what my mother called a jam pan – I’d use enough  fresh tomatoes to get it more than 3/4 full after pureeing, or 14 tins, and at least 12 pottles  (140g each) of tomato paste.

I like onions and garlic so use heaps – at least 12 big onions and two heads of garlic  and I think at least 6 teaspoons of each herb – you need more if using fresh herbs – for a big pot. 


You can serve it as soup or use it as a sauce for pasta and pizza.

If you preserve it, you’re allowed to leave the jars sitting on the bench for a few days so you can take pleasure in the results of your industry.


Labour’s newest MP brings diversity to caucus


Labour’s newest MP isn’t brand new, Damien O’Connor was the MP for West Coast Tasman until the last election when National’s Chris Auchinvole won the seat.

O’Connor was formally declared elected to parliament as a list MP  yesterday to replace Michael Cullen.

He adds to the diversity among his party’s ranks – he’s a middle-aged, Pakeha, rural man and – I think – the only one in Labour’s caucus who has been a farmer.

Do ducks know the date?


My morning constitutional often takes me past the biggest of our irrigation ponds which is home to a variety of wild life.

I’m not sure if I’m imagining this, but it seems that the ducks which normally don’t worry too much about the dog and me walking past have got increasingly flighty over the last couple of weeks.

Is it possible they know duck shooting opens today?


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