Bloke behind bird song bags Old Blue

June 26, 2009

Wildlife film maker and sound recorder John Kendrick, the man who initiated National Radio’s bird calls has been awarded an Old Blue.

That’s the Forest and Bird Society’s highest award.

Sean Plunket’s interviewed him on Morning Report today.

Philippa Stevenson has more information, inclduing a photo of the kokako which Kendrick says has his favourite bird song, at The Bull Pen.


The NZ Week this week:

June 26, 2009

The New Zealand Week is a digest of news and views from New Zealand and around the world.

It’s published on-line each Friday.

Among the stories covered this week are:


Not the first time

June 26, 2009

French rugby player Mathieu Bastareaud’s claim he’d been mugged when he was just a victim of his own inebriation wasn’t very clever.

It doesn’t help that his admission of the truth wasn’t voluntary. It only came after the police approached rugby officials here to tell them what their investigations had uncovered and the NZRFU then contacted their French counterparts.

I’m not suggesting his stupidity should be compared to an act of sabotage which resulted in a death, but it’s not the first time the French have underestimated our police force.

Could we now call that a Bastareaud of a thing to do?


The Lady of Shalott

June 26, 2009

Barbara Anderson’s autobiography,  Getting There, recounts her early encounters with literature at schoo. Reading it reminded me of poems I too learned at school, including The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Tennyson.

       The Lady of Shalott

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro’ the field the road runs by
To many-tower’d Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Through the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four grey walls, and four grey towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow veil’d,
Slide the heavy barges trail’d
By slow horses; and unhail’d
The shallop flitteth silken-sail’d
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early,
In among the bearded barley
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly;
Down to tower’d Camelot;
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers, ” ‘Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott.”

There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.

And moving through a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot;
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls
Pass onward from Shalott.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd lad,
Or long-hair’d page in crimson clad
Goes by to tower’d Camelot;
And sometimes through the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two.
She hath no loyal Knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror’s magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, went to Camelot;
Or when the Moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed.
“I am half sick of shadows,” said
The Lady of Shalott.

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro’ the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel’d
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.

The gemmy bridle glitter’d free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
As he rode down to Camelot:
And from his blazon’d baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armor rung
Beside remote Shalott.

All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell’d shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn’d like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.
As often thro’ the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, burning bright,
Moves over still Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow’d;
On burnish’d hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow’d
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flashed into the crystal mirror,
“Tirra lirra,” by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look’d down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
“The curse is come upon me,” cried
The Lady of Shalott.

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining.
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower’d Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And around about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.

And down the river’s dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance —
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right —
The leaves upon her falling light —
Thro’ the noises of the night,
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darkened wholly,
Turn’d to tower’d Camelot.
For ere she reach’d upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and Burgher, Lord and Dame,
And around the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.

Who is this? And what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they crossed themselves for fear,
All the Knights at Camelot;
But Lancelot mused a little space
He said, “She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott.”

  – Alfred Tennyson –


ORC sees sense on new HQ

June 26, 2009

The Otago Regional Council needs new headquarters and had looked at various options.

The one the majority of councillors appeared to favour was a modern design on the waterfront which was also the most expensive.

Counsellor Doug Brown went public with his concerns about that in an opinion piece in the ODT in February. His colleague Gerry Eckhoff  added his arguments against the plans last Thursday. Tuesday’s paper carried 11 letters to the editor supporting him.

Proponents of the project excused the expense by saying it would be paid for from reserves not rates. But those reserves have been built up from rates and using them for that project would have meant they wouldn’t be available for other projects which would then have to be funded from rates.

There is never a good time to impose additional costs on ratepayers. The uncertain financial environment and questions over the role of councils after the government’s review of local authorities make this an even worse time to take the most expensive option for new headquarters.

On Wednesday the majority of councillors realised this and parked the waterfront plans and agreed to reconsider all options.

Today’s ODT editorial credits the council for its restraint and suggests another, better option for the new HQ:

The front-running option, at this stage, ought to be Dunedin’s former chief post office, as long as it can be bought for a modest amount.

The building is bigger than the council needs, but it has potential and several advantages.

Converting old buildings isn’t a cheap or easy option.

But if it could be done for a reasonable price it would bring life back to a now disused historic building and also help reinvigorate Princess Street.


If they want it why don’t they pay themselves?

June 26, 2009

Criticism of government plans to stop funding hobby classes for adults continues.

Community Learning Association through Schools (Class) president Maryke Fordyce said Government had under-estimated the level of outrage at cuts to Adult Community Education.

“Initial surveys conducted by schools with learners show that adults will not enrol in night classes if course fees are increased.”

She said over 200,000 adults participating in night classes would be affected by the cuts and that the self-funding option was not viable.

“A distinctive feature of night classes is its affordability and accessibility for learners,” Mrs Fordyce said.

But why aren’t the students willing to fund them themselves?

Students in the Spanish classes I taught paid only $6.50 a lesson for 10 two-hour lessons. Had they continued for another 10 it would have cost them only another 50 cents a lesson because their fees paid the upfront costs, the biggest of which was advertising, and the taxpayer paid me.

I don’t think anyone in the class would have called $3.25 an hour expensive and given most were employed, and many were professionals, they could probably have afforded to pay a lot more.

Of course they’re not going to say that if asked because they’ll hope that if they cause enough fuss the government will back down.

But if they’re not willing to pay more directly why are they willing to pay more indirectly through the taxes which now pay the bulk of the costs?

And if they think hobby classes for adults are a priority for taxpayer funding, what other area of publicly funded education would they sacrifice instead?

Community classes do have value but they aren’t nearly as important as improving literacy and numeracy.


June 26 in history

June 26, 2009

On June 26:

1284 the Pied Piper led 130 children from Hamelin.

The oldest picture of Pied Piper (watercolour) copied from the glass window of Marktkirche in Hamelin by Freiherr Augustin von Moersperg.

1892 US author Pearl S Buck, who won the Nobel Prize for literature,  was born.

1945 The United Nations Charter was signed.

1975 Indira Gandhi established emergency rule in India.

Indira Gandhi


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