Victorian Fete


Oamaru’s Victorian Heritage celebrations began 19 years ago with a fete in the historic precinct organised by a few volunteers.

It’s grown into the Waitaki District’s biggest annual event run over several days, culminating in the fete which attracts thousands of people. . .

. . . some of whom are in to Morris dancing . . .

. . . others of a more competitive nature come to claim the title in the world stone sawing championships:

(In case you’re wondering why the Oamaru hosts the world championships, it’s the only place which holds them).



It’s Benjamin Britten’s birthday.

Leaving like a jet plane


Minties, fruit chews and milk shakes are now being made in Thailand and moro bars, Eskimo lollies and jet planes will soon be made in Australia.

I’m not opposed to the shifting of production to other places per se.

If something can be done as well or better for a cheaper price somewhere else it is better for the business and the consumer if it is done there.

But I do have reservations about the manufacturing of anything we eat in places where hygiene standards might not be as high as they are here.

Australia has similar standards to ours, but I am less confident about Thailand.

Next time I need a sugar fix I’ll have to choose jaffas, pineapple lumps, chocolate fish, pinky bars and boxed chocolates which will still be made in the Cadbury factory in Dunedin.



Imagine a world were men are men, women are gorgeous and guns are shiny and desirable  . . .a glimpse of the future as imagined by a late Victorian explorer and adventurer.

This explanation of the work of artist Greg Broadmore, from Weta Workshop, greets visitors to the Steampunk exhibition at Oamaru’s Forrester Gallery.

Steampunk is tomorrow as it used to be. The punk is a rebellion against the present day preference for plastic and the disposable way of life.

For many it is a search for where society might have gone had it taken the wrong turn at the end of the Victorian era, an alternative Victorian future.

The exhibition includes a selection of work from Broadmore’s fictional universe’ of Dr Grordbort’s exhibition which will be touring China later this year and works from other artists who are part of the Victorian League of imagineers.

Works include a time machine by Chris Meder;   Teapot a young a very cheeky kakapo made almost entirely from parts from an old Welger bailer;  Helen Jensen’s dirigible and Donna Demente’s St Lucy Tomorrow.

Outside the gallery is Dugal and Meg Armor’s portable marshmallow toaster:

Donald Patterson’s steam tractor:


The ODT has a photo of Ian Clark and his steam powered beer tankard which is also part of the exhibition.

Lunch with the PM


I lunched with the Prime Minister on Friday.

It was an intimate gathering – just John Key, Deputy PM Bill English, MPs Jacqui Dean, Eric Roy & Michael Woodhouse . . .

. . .  National Party President Peter Goodfellow, board member Kate Hazlett, a hundred and something others & me.

One of the privileges of being a member of a political party is the opportunity to chat to MPs and to listen to them talk more freely than they do in public with the media present.

No-one was giving away state secrets, but we did get some of the stories behind the stories and enjoyed the banter between John & Bill.

After lunch I indulged in a little retail therapy. The shop assistant at my first stop asked me what I’d been doing. When I told her I’d been lunching with the PM, she said, “Gosh you’re lucky, he always seems like such a lovely bloke.”

I agreed with her on both counts.


John took the opportunity while in Duneidn to visit the Forsyth Barr stadium which is under construction and to which the government has contributed $15 million. While there he and Michael were recorded by the ODT doing the stadium’s first Mexican wave.

November 22 in history


On November 22:

1574 Discovery of the Juan Fernández Islands off Chile.

1718 Pirate Edward Teach (best known as “Blackbeard“) was killed in battle with a boarding party led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard.


1808  Thomas Cook, British travel entrepreneur, was born.

1819  George Eliot, (Mary Ann Evans) British novelist, was born.

1859  Charles Darwin‘s book On the Origin of Species was first offered for sale, in London.

Origin of Species title page.jpg

1899 Hoagy Carmichael, American composer, was born.

1890 Charles de Gaulle, President of France (, was born.

1913 Benjamin Britten, British composer, was born.

1914 Peter Townsend, British Equerry and air pilot, was born.
1919 – Máire Drumm, Irish civil rights activist, was born.
1928 The premier performance of Ravel‘s Boléro took place in Paris.


Ida Rubinstein, the inspiration behind Bolero. Portrait by Valentin Serov.
1932 – Robert Vaughn, American actor, was born.
1939 General Bernard Freyburg took command of the New Zealand Expeditionary force.
1943  Billie Jean King, American tennis player, was born.
Billie Jean King by David Shankbone.jpg

1943  Lebanon gained independence from France.

1958  Jamie Lee Curtis, American actress, was born.

1963  US President John F. Kennedy was killed and Texas Governor John B. Connally is seriously wounded by Lee Harvey Oswald.

1975 Juan Carlos was declared King of Spain following the death of Francisco Franco.

1977 British Airways inaugurated a regular London to New York City supersonic Concorde service.


1998  British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher withdrew from the Conservative Party leadership election, confirming the end of her premiership.

1995 Toy Story was released as the first feature-length film created completely using computer-generated imagery.

Film poster showing a toy cowboy anxiously holding onto a smiling toy astronaut (with wings) as he flies in a kid's room. Below them sitting on a bedare various smiling toys watching the pair, including a Mr. Potato Head, a piggy bank, and a toy dinosaur. In the lower right center of the image is the film's title. The background shows the cloud wallpaper featured in the bedroom.

2005 Angela Merkel became the first female Chancellor of Germany.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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