Waitaki Dam’s 75th birthday


The Waitaki Dam was the first of eight to be built on the Waitaki River and the last to be to be built by the pick and shovel method .

Construction started in 1928. The decision to use labour rather than machines was a deliberate one to provide work during the Depression but it wasn’t easy work:

. . . working conditions were hard with cold winters, flooding, and earthquakes to work through. The work force often toiled in knee high water, and lived in temporary housing near the site. 

It was during these construction years that Kurow’s Presbyterian Minister, later to become Sir Arnold Nordmeyer, and local doctor Dr Harold McMillan, saw the working and housing conditions and the many who camped near the site hoping for work.  As a result these two men began the initial thinking around what was to become one of the world’s first social welfare assistance programmes – the Social Welfare Act (passed by Parliament in 1938).

The dam was commissioned in 1934 and Meridian Energy, which now owns it, hosted public celebrations for its 75th anniversary yesterday.

David Bruce  covered the dam’s history and interviewed some of the people who worked on it for the ODT.

Waitaki’s Deputy Mayor, Gary Kircher, blogs on yesterday’s celebrations.

This photo of the dam was taken earlier this year when Meridian was spilling water becasue the lakes were too full.

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Monday’s Quiz


1. Who wrote Requiem for a Wren?

2. Who said “Always for give your enemies, nothing annoys them so much”?

3. What is Zaire now called?

4.When were New Zealand’s first Labour Day celebrations held?

5. Which was New Zealand’s first National Park?

The Road to Castle Hill


 If you judged The Road to Castle Hill by it’s cover you’d think it was the story of high country farming.

It is, but it’s much more than that.

Christine Fernyhough’s story is not just about how she came to buy Castle Hill Station and learned to farm it. It’s also the story of her involvement with the books in homes programe and the gifted kids programes which grew from that.

The book shows us the challenges Christine faced, including those with tenure review. She also has some very good thoughts on bridging the town-country divide.

I’ve heard Christine speak twice, she’s a delight to listen to and this book is a delight to read. Louise Callan helped with the writing and the words are enhanced by John Bougen’s photos.

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Post 26 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge

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Deborah at In a Strange Land posts on The Witch in the Cherry Tree by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Jenny Williams.

Rob posts on Greg McGee’s Tall Tales, Some True  and Memories of Muldoon by Bob Jones.

Finding the Perfect Woman


The ad says she’s a hard road to find the perfect woman. It’s also hard for the contestants in Wanaka’s annual Perfect Woman contest  to prove they are that multi talented female.

Given one of the sponsors of the competition is Speights, it’s not surprising that one of the events the women who competed on Saturday had to cope with was opening a bottle of the southern man’s favourite beer without a bottle opener. They also had to change a tyre and back a truck, clear 10 balls from a pool table, play darts and describe their first task – real or imagined.

Ten were chosen for the finals yesterday. They had to sky dive, swing a gate, shear a sheep, shoot clay birds, hit a target with water from a fire hose and say in 60 seconds why a woman is better than a man. 

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While the contest is good humoured and run in a spirit of fun, it’s also an opportunity for some serious fund raising with all proceeds going to the Canlive Trust which supports women with cancer.

We left before the winner was announced but the ODT reports the competition was won by Melissa Brewster, a helicopter engineer, from Canada. It was her fourth time in the contest and this is the first time it’s been won by someone from another country.

Alice Ferguson from Wanaka was second and Anna Trevathan from Tarras was third.



On our arrival at Oakridge we were told that we had to go to the cafe downstairs rather than through to the restaurant where we’d dined on previous occasions.

We weren’t sure if this was a good thing, but our concerns were groundless. The food and the service were of the high standard we’d come to expect.

My farmer and one of our friends ordered beef, the other friend had hapuka, I chose the lamb rack served with minted couscous an asparagus and we shared a side order of asparagus too.

The lamb was succulent and tender, the couscous complimented it well and the asparagus was exactly as it should be – bright green and almost just a little softer than crisp.


We’d resisted the entrees to ensure we had room for desert – banana steam pudding for our friends and white chocolate and raspberry creme brulee for us. It was delicious.

The only complaint we had was a spot of bother we encountered when we went to book the table.

Oakridge is a resort on the outskirts of Wanaka.

It’s name has recently changed to Grand Mecure Resort Oakridge and that’s what it’s  listed under in the phone book. That isn’t very helpful when you expect to find it under O for Oakridge. It took us a bit of searching before we found it  when we rang to make a booking and I wonder how many people don’t get to enjoy a meal there because they can’t find the number listed under O where they expect it to be.

October 26 in history


On October 26:

1825 The Erie Canal opened a passage from Albany, New York to Lake Erie.

1865 Benjamin Guggenheim, American businessman, was born.


1881 The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral took place at Tombstone, Arizona.

1883 Napoleon Hill, American Writer and Philosopher, author of Think and Grow Rich, was born.

1905 Norway became independent from Sweden.

1916 French President François Mitterrand was born.

1942 The Women Jurors’ Act allowed women to sit on juries in New Zealand.

1947 Hillary Rodham Clinton, 67th United States Secretary of State was born.

Formal pose of middle-aged white woman with shortish blonde hair wearing dark blue jacket over orange top with American flag in background

1965 The Beatles were appointed Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBEs).

Four greyscale images of young men with "mop-top" haircuts, separated by a white border. John Lennon (top left) is looking towards the left of the frame (his right), with exposed teeth. Paul McCartney (top right) is facing forward with an opened mouth. George Harrison (bottom left) has his right arm raised and his tongue stuck out slightly as if licking his lips. Ringo Starr's teeth are visible, and his left eye is closed as if winking. All four are dressed in white shirts, black ties, and dark coats.
The Beatles in 1964. Clockwise (from top-left): John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison

1977 The last natural case of smallpox was discovered in Merca district, Somalia. The WHO and the CDC consider this date the anniversary of the eradication of smallpox, the most spectacular success of vaccination.

1999 Britain’s House of Lords voted to end the right of hereditary peers to vote in Britain’s upper chamber of Parliament.

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Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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