Help Is On Its Way


Happy Birthday Beeb Birtles.

Battery powered taxi saves $200 a week


The taxi which took us to Wellington airport yesterday was powered by petrol and battery.

The driver said it had plenty of power in the city and on the open road and it saved him about $200 a week on fuel.

With savings like that it won’t be difficult to persuade more people to swap to battery powered vehicles.

But when they do, how will roads be funded?

The petrol they use attracts a tax but, at least for now, electric vehicles aren’t required to pay for road user charges which are levied on diesel vehicles.

Asparagus season


If there’s one vegetable which persuades me of the sense of eating fresh food, in season, as close as possible to where it’s produced, it’s asparagus.

The best meal of this late spring/early summer delicacy I’ve eaten was espárrago de la plancha – asparagus from the grill – at the Parador de Malaga Gibralfaro, in Spain.

It was cooked fractionally beyond crisp, bright green and its natural flavour was enhanced by a hint of some from the fire over which it had been cooked.

We’ve tried to emulate it on the barbeque but never quite captured the taste and texture.

Another favourite way to serve the vegetable is to steam it lightly then roll it in fresh, thin sliced bread with grated blue cheese.

Lightly is the operative word. I think the reason many people don’t like asparagus is because their first taste is of the tinned variety which is soggy.

It’s also delicious baked with a tiny splash of olive oil and sprinkle of rock salt.

It enhances a quiche or roulade, can be stir fired, barbequed, wrapped in bacon and baked, in savoury muffins or pasta, covered with breadcrumbs and grated cheese and baked, added to a salad, served hot with wholegrain mustard in sandwiches, or in an omelette or frittata.

Or simply steam until it’s al dente and enjoy it by itself.

A cunning plan to counter MMP?


Phil Goff’s channelling of Winston Peters is uncharacteristic.

Nothing in his past pronouncements or behaviour suggests he’s a racist.

Why then would he attack Maori as he did this week?

There are now only three wee parties in parliament, Act the Maori Party, the Greens (the other two are creations of their leaders and will disappear when they do).

Under MMP it is very unlikely one of the major parties will govern alone.

The Greens agenda is not just environmental it’s social and economic and their policies on all these are very left-wing. That makes it much more likely they would support Labour than National.

That leaves the Maori Party in a very powerful position in the middle, able to go left or right. Except that this week, Goff made it much, much harder for them to support Labour and therefore much harder for his party to get back into government under MMP.

Could it be his reference to pork bone politics is not just an attack on the Maori Party and a dog whistle to racists, but a cunning plan to undermine MMP too?

Possums down, birds up


What’s bad for possums is good for native birds.

The extermination strategy has resulted in a drop in possum numbers from 60 to 70 million in the 1980s to around 30 million and as possum numbers have decreased, native bird populations have increased.

Forest and Bird spokeswoman Helen Bain said the drop was a factor in exploding numbers of tui in the Wellington area. “We’re getting a lot of anecdotal reports that numbers are up. I was in town the other day and I would have seen about 20 of them.”

Possums would raid the nests of native birds, such as tui, taking eggs, chicks and sometimes even adult birds, she said. “If we get possum numbers down, native birds and plants come back big time.”

One of the methods used to control possums is drops of 1080 poison which is controversial. Hunting and trapping are used where possible but 1080 is the only practical method of extermination in some areas.

Possums not only destroy trees, they eat birds eggs and compete with some native species for food.

They also carry bovine tuberculosis which can infect farm animals.

Their fur, now known as paihamu in the fashion industry, is wonderful by itself or mixed with merino wool. But the animals are pests and if 1080 is the only way to protect our forests, native birds and farm animals from them then this is one case when the end justifies the means.

November 28 in history


On November 28:

1520 Three ships under the command of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan reached the Pacific Ocean, becoming the first Europeans to sail from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.

1582 William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway paid a £40 bond for their marriage licence.

1628  John Bunyan, English cleric and author. was born.

1632 Jean-Baptiste Lully, French composer, was born.

1660 12 men, including Christopher Wren, Robert Boyle, John Wilkins, and Sir Robert Moray at Gresham College decided to found what became the Royal Society.

 Mace of the Royal Society, granted by King Charles II.

1757 – William Blake, British poet, was born.

1814  The Times in London was for the first time printed by automatic, steam powered   presses built by the German inventors Friedrich Koenig and Andreas Friedrich Bauer, signaling the beginning of the availability of newspapers to a mass audience.

1820 Friedrich Engels, German philosopher, was born.

1821 Panama separated from Spain and joined Gran Colombia.

Flag Coat of arms


1829  Anton Rubinstein, Russian composer, was born.

1843 The Kingdom of Hawaii was officially recognized by the United Kingdom and France as an independent nation.

Flag Coat of arms

1893 Women voted in a general election New Zealand for the first time.

1904  Nancy Mitford, British essayist, was born.

1905  Irish nationalist Arthur Griffith founded Sinn Féin as a political party with the main aim of establishing a dual monarchy in Ireland.

1912  Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire.

1919  Lady Astor was elected as a Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. She was the first woman to sit in the House of Commons.  (Countess Markiewicz, the first to be elected, refused to sit).

1933  Hope Lange, American actress, was born.

1948  Beeb Birtles, Dutch-Australian musician/singer-songwriter; co-founding member of Little River Band, was born.

1960  Mauritania became independent of France.

1961 Martin Clunes, British actor, was born.

1962  Matt Cameron, American drummer (Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, was born.

1964 NASA launched the Mariner 4 probe toward Mars.

Mariner 3 and 4.jpg

1975 East Timor declared its independence from Portugal.

1977 Greg Somerville, New Zealand rugby union footballer, was born.

1979  Air New Zealand Flight TE901, a DC-10 operated sightseeing flight over Antarctica, crashed into Mount Erebus, killing all 257 people on board.

1987 South African Airways flight 295 crashes into the Indian Ocean, killing all 159 people on-board.

1991  South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia.

2008 An Air NZ Airbus A320 crashed off the coast of France.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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