Word of the day


Stochastic – involving chance; conjectural; random; probabilistic; randomly determined; having a random probability distribution or pattern that may be analysed statistically but may not be predicted.

Walk with the dreamers


Photo: Thoughts for the new year............

From Smile Project

Ending year on high


My first tramp up Mt Roy was with my best friend, the youngest of four in a family of keen trampers, when we were 10 or 11.

We started lagging when we were near the top but her father fed us chocolate and talked us up the last stretch.

I’ve done the eight kilometre walk up the 1,578 metre high peak several times since then but in spite of good intentions for the last few years the last time had been New Year’s Eve, 1999.

Those good intentions finally translated into action on Saturday. In the company of my farmer, our daughter and niece I tackled not only Mt Roy but neighbouring Mt Alpha and the skyline route down to the Cardrona Valley.

We started the ascent at 6.30 am, had three brief stops and reached the top at 9:20. That was about 20 minutes faster than I’d managed 13 years previously.

On a fine day, as it was when my my farmer did the tramp a year earlier, you can see Mt Aspiring:

mt roy hp

When we did it on Saturday it was cloudy, but the views were still impressive.

mt roy hp

The ridge track between Roy and Alpha starts with a steepish descent before it climbs again.

My farmer warned us it was hard and he was right.

The track was narrow, steep and in a few places a bit scrabbly.

mt roy hp 5

As I was going slow step by slow step up a particularly steep stretch I was beginning to think if there was another bit like this it would be a bit too far when I reached the top, about an hour and 15 minutes after leaving Mt Roy.

mt roy hp 4

mt roy hp 2

The forecast had promised temperatures of 24 degrees in Wanaka but at an altitude of 1630 metres and with a chilly wind it was less than half of that on the top of Alpha.

We sheltered in the lee of the peak for water and a sandwich then began the descent.

The track starts down through snow tussock then gets narrower and overgrown but it wasn’t nearly as steep as the ascent had been.

There were a couple of downs and ups near the valley floor,. By this time I was thinking I’d had enough up and our feet appreciated the chance to cool down when we had to ford a couple of streams.

Soon after that a sign told us we were crossing private land and it was an easy walk from there to where we’d parked a car on the Cardrona Road about 10 kilometres from Wanaka.

The whole trip had taken 8 hours and 15 minutes.

We passed several people doing the tramp in the opposite direction. It would be less strenuous going up but much harder going down – especially the first stretch from the top of Alpha.

When we got back I consulted The Lake Wanaka Region by Neville Peat and read:

Mt Roy: 8 km, 3 hr, hard.

To enjoy this one you need to be fit. Here’s why, with it’s ziz-zags stretched out, the track measures 8 km, and from the foor-of-te-mountain starting point to the summit you will climb more than 1,200 m (4,000 ft). . .

Skyline route: For really fit trekkers; an alternative route back to Wanaka involves following the summit ridge south through Mt Alpha and down Spotts Creek to the Cardrona Valley . . .

I wouldn’t say I’m really fit but if I hadn’t been walking regularly and included hills most days I wouldn’t have even contemplated doing the tramp. I could have done a longer distance on the flat with no problems but  was at the upper end of my tolerance for hills.

I took walking poles for the first time and found they helped.

I wasn’t stiff on Sunday but my legs were tired when I did the Waterfall Creek – Ironside Hill walk that afternoon and I was a bit slower than usual going up Mt Iron on Monday.

But it was good to finish the year on a literal and figurative high. As I write this, three days after the climb, the endorphins are still flowing.

DOC information on the tramp is here and says it will take 10 – 11 hours.

It’s alpine country and anyone doing it ought to be prepared for all weather.

If it’s not a beauty contest. . . ?


Nineteen women aged 17 to 25 entered the  2012 Miss Alexandra Swimsuit Competition.

. . . Judges Jacqui van Dam, Tim Riwhi, Carolyn Lyons and Amber Kinnaird said it was not a beauty pageant – it was about style, confidence and personality. . .

No doubt the judges knew what it was they were judging.

But if it wasn’t a beauty contest, why were the contestants in swimsuits and why only women?

Don’t men have style, confidence and personality?
Update – Credo Quia Absurdum Est has the first Tui Billboard of the year after finding an even better quote:

“It’s not about a beauty contest, just the personality that comes through in the questions they are asked and the confidence they have when they wear their outfit – the colours and how the bikini suits the personality”

Hmm – I bet a bikini wouldn’t suit some personalities no matter how sparkling they are.


Fleur honoured for service to food


Fleur Sullivan has been named as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the food industry.

. . . Although Fleur’s Place was named by Cuisine magazine as one of the ”100 best things about New Zealand” in 2010, she said her abiding principle as a restaurant owner had always been to promote local produce, whether in North or Central Otago.

”Food is part of our identity and cultural heritage and the aim to keep the connection between the food we eat and the land [and] ocean it comes from preserves, supports and promotes a sustainable system.

”So it is great to be recognised at the grass-roots level for my contribution to this industry.”

Ms Sullivan is also a member of the New Zealand Restaurant Association’s Hall of Fame.

The award could also have been given for services to tourism.

Fleurs Place attracts visitors from all around New Zealand and the world.

The food lives up to its reputation for quality and freshness but Fleur is also a vital ingredient in the restaurant’s success.

Other southern rural people honoured include:

Emeritus Prof Roger Field, Wanaka, for services to education and land-based industries.

Emeritus Prof Roger Field has had a 41-year involvement with Lincoln University, where he promoted agriculture and the land-based industries of New Zealand as vice-chancellor. . .

Geoffrey Watts Neilson, Mosgiel, for services to agriculture.

Geoff Neilson (70) played a leading role in the eradication of the hydatids disease in New Zealand. . .

Peter Thomas Cummings, Lawrence, for services to agriculture and the community.

For about 50 years, Peter Cummings (70) has been ”very much” involved in serving his community. . .

Another recipient of an honour from the south is Dunedin poet Diane Brown who received an ONZM for services to writing and education.

. . . Brown has a long-standing voluntary involvement with the New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA) and has tutored a wide range of creative writing courses.

She was creative writing co-ordinator and tutor at Aoraki Polytechnic from 2001 to 2011, taught creative writing courses at Paremoremo Prison and recently established Creative Writing Otago – an online creative writing school. Brown has published six books, including Before the Divorce we go to Disneyland (1997), Eight Stages of Grace (2002) and Here Comes Another Vital Moment (2006).

She has won the Michael King Writer’s Studio Inaugural Residential Fellowship (2005), the Montana Book Awards Best First Book of Poetry for Before the Divorce we go to Disneyland and the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship (1997) and was a finalist in the Montana Book Awards in 2003.

She also won the 2012 Janet Frame Memorial Award.

The south gained a new knight in the New Year’s honours list – Julian Smith, OBE is now Sir Julian.

The Dunedin businessman – the chairman and managing director of Allied Press, publisher of the Otago Daily Times – has been made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to business. . .

Like most other successful business people he is also a philanthropist.

The full honours list is here.

Rural recipients, or those with rural links include:

Mr Mark Wiremu Solomon, of Christchurch. For services to Māori and business who was also knighted.

Mr John Kenneth Buck, OBE, of Havelock North. For services to the wine industry and the arts, CNZM.

Dr Philip Seabrook Yates, of Auckland. For services to agribusiness, ONZM.

Mr Ian Trevor Corney, of Taumarunui. For services to agriculture, MNZM.

Mr John Graham Hartnell, of Christchurch. For services to the community and beekeeping, MNZM.

Professor Vincent Ernest Neall, of Palmerston North. For services to Earth science, MNZM.

Mr Peter James Ombler, of Te Puke. For services to the kiwifruit industry, MNZM.

Mr John Raymond Wheeler, of New Plymouth. For services to the horse racing industry, MNZM.

Mr Ross Malcolm Gordon, of Methven. For services to Land Search and Rescue, QSO.

Mr Noel Dawson Anderson, of Riverton. For services to the Coastguard, QSO.

Mr Raymond Baker, of Auckland. For services to the Jewish community and the racing industry, QSO.

Mr Warren David Barker, of Fairlie. For services to the community, QSO.

Mr Frederick Charles Cooper, of Gore. For services to the community, QSO.

Mrs Mavis Jessie Davidson, of Owaka. For services to the community, QSO.

Chief Fire Officer Raymond Peter Dever, of Tolaga Bay. For services to the New Zealand Fire Service, QSO.

Chief Fire Officer Ian Moffat Lindsay, of Winton. For services to the New Zealand Fire Service, QSO.

Chief Fire Officer Robert James Lunn, of Greymouth. For services to the New Zealand Fire Service, QSO.

Every time the New Year and Queens Birthday honours are announced people think of those not included who would be at least as deserving.

Anyone can nominate someone for an honour.

Information on how to nominate someone and a link to the nomination form are here.

I have made two nominations.

One was successful the other, equally deserving and supported by references by a wide range of people, was not.

I am sure it had nothing to do with the worth of the nominee and everything to do with the then-government’s view of my political links.

I am pleased that this government sees beyond politics when recommending recipients of honours.

Real economics learned from farming


Rodney Hide recalls what he learned about economic reality in Bedford truck:

I see how men work, and how a good day’s work satisfies them. I get to know machinery and how a big job is steadily chipped away until it is all done.

I learn that there are no boring or useless jobs, that the bigger the challenge, the greater the satisfaction when it is all done.

I learn what it is to do a day’s work and to drink a cold beer with men after a hot and dusty day. And I learn economics.

The farmers grow the wheat, the flour mills make the flour, and the baker makes the bread. I see the entire production chain in a truck with my dad.

Our job is to get phosphate to the fertiliser works, the super to the planes, the wheat to the mill, and the barley to the brewery.

No one organises it. But the entire production chain is tightly synchronised by prices. I see the farmers figuring out what to grow based on expected prices and the cost of things. I see the trucking firms figuring out the best way to get the produce to market.

No one can sit back in Wellington and plan it all. They don’t know what my father knows, which is the best way to town to beat the cops, the paddocks that get you bogged in winter, and how to get that old Briggs & Stratton motor on the auger kicked in the guts on a cold morning.

The price system enables each of us to use our best abilities to do our job while invisibly co-ordinating our actions to ensure they mesh to produce to best effect what people want.

Years later, I sat at the feet of Nobel Prize winners being taught economics. It wasn’t a dry and crusty subject to me. It was a living, breathing subject that I had learned criss-crossing North Canterbury in a Bedford truck.

I got to see first-hand the total failure of centrally planned economies. They fail because they never allow the likes of my father to get the job done. Prices are set by central committee, not the interaction of free people pursuing their own happiness. The prices are wrong and, as a result, their economies planned chaos. . .

This is part of a tribute to his father who died last week.

January 2 in history


366 – The Alamanni crossed the frozen Rhine River in large numbers, invading the Roman Empire.

533 – Mercurius became Pope John II, the first pope to adopt a new name upon elevation to the papacy.

1492  Reconquista: the emirate of Granada, the last Moorish stronghold in Spain, surrendered.

1818 The British Institution of Civil Engineers was founded.
1860  The discovery of the planet Vulcan was announced at a meeting of the Académie des Sciences in Paris.

1871 Amadeus I became King of Spain.

1873 Thérèse de Lisieux, French Roman-Catholic nun, was born (d. 1897).

1896 – Sir Lawrence Wackett, Australian aircraft engineer, was born (d. 1982).

1938 The first official New Zealand airmail to the United States departed Auckland for San Francisco aboard Pan American Airline’s Samoan Clipper, a Sikorsky S-42B flying boat was piloted by Captain Ed Musick.
First official airmail flight to San Francisco
1947 David Shapiro, American poet, literary critic, and art historian, was born.
1949 Luis Muñoz Marín became the first democratically elected Governor of Puerto Rico.

1955  Panamanian president Jose Antonio Remon was assassinated.

1959  Luna 1, the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon and to orbit the Sun, was launched by the U.S.S.R.

1967 Francois Pienaar, South African rugby player, Sprinbok, was born.

1971 – The second Ibrox disaster killed 66 fans at a Rangers-Celtic football match.

1974  President Richard Nixon signed a bill lowering the maximum U.S. speed limit to 55 MPH in order to conserve fuel during an OPEC embargo.

1975  Reuben Thorne, New Zealand All Black, was born.

1999  A brutal snowstorm hit the Midwestern United States, causing 14 inches (359 mm) of snow in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and 19 inches (487 mm) in Chicago, where temperatures plunged to -13°F (-25°C); 68 deaths were reported

2001 – Sila Calderón became the first female Governor of Puerto Rico.

2002 – Eduardo Duhalde was appointed interim President of Argentina by the Legislative Assembly.

2004 – Stardust successfully flew past Comet Wild 2, collecting samples that are returned to Earth.

2006 – An explosion in a coal mine in Sago, West Virginia trapped and killed 12 miners and left another in a critical condition.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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