Arise Sir Tom

July 18, 2020

Captain Sir Tom Moore has been knighted by the Queen.

The Queen has knighted Captain Sir Tom Moore in her first official engagement in person since lockdown. The 100-year-old, who raised more than £32m for NHS charities, was knighted in a unique outdoor ceremony at Windsor Castle. The fundraising hero walked 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday, he originally wanted to raise just £1000 for charity.


Nikki Kaye retiring from parliament

July 16, 2020

National’s Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye has announced she’s retiring from parliament:

“Yesterday I advised the President and Leader of the National Party Judith Collins that I have decided to retire at this election.

“I made the decision not to stand for Leader or Deputy on Monday and I offered my support to Judith prior to the caucus vote. While Judith made it clear to me that I would be part of her Senior leadership team and Education spokesperson, I am ready to retire. I believe Judith is absolutely the right leader for the Party at this time and I will be supporting Judith and the Party to win this election. New Zealand needs National.

“While I don’t think it was possible to predict the events that have occurred, what I have learned from breast cancer and other life events is you can’t always predict what is around the corner. I have huge respect and admiration for Todd, Michelle and their family as they work through this difficult time. I hope that people continue to show compassion for Todd.

“I have spent most of my adult life serving the public and the National Party. This is personally the right time for me to leave. Cancer has taught me that life can change in a moment and I am ready for the next chapter.

“It has been a privilege to serve as MP for Auckland Central for nearly 12 years, Deputy Leader (briefly) and as a Cabinet Minister in the Governments of both the Rt Hon Sir John Key and Hon Sir Bill English as Minister of Education, ACC, Food Safety, Civil Defence and Associate Immigration and Education.

“I have been very proud to progress the large investments in school infrastructure, the roll out of fast uncapped school internet connections and progressing digital fluency and second language learning. I am also proud of delivering significant ACC levy cuts and passing legislation ensuring greater transparency of ACC levies, food safety reform, cell alerts for civil defence and recovery legislation.

“As the first National MP to win Auckland Central in our country’s history it has been an absolute privilege to serve four terms. I have loved being a local MP progressing projects such as a conservation park for Great Barrier, a number of local school redevelopments, the City Rail Link and apartment law reform. I intend to support the party to find a candidate quickly to ensure Auckland Central continues to have a National MP. I want to thank the people of Auckland central, Waiheke and Great Barrier Island for their support over the past 12 years.

“I have always tried to be a strong advocate for freedom and personal liberty during my time in Parliament particularly around conscience issues. I also hope that the work that I have done in areas like education has made a positive difference to young people.

“I will never forget the compassion showed to me by the people of New Zealand when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am grateful for all the opportunities the National Party and our great country has provided me.

Holding and winning Auckland Central is testament to Nikki’s talent and ability to win cross-party support.

No-one who knows her doubts her capacity for hard work and this tribute from the Ministry for Families shows that:

“It is a sad day for all New Zealanders and those of us working around child protection” says Debbie Swanwick, Director of child advocacy group Ministry for Families.

Her comments follow the announcement today that Nikki Kaye is retiring from politics.

MFF is a consumer led group of people who are having issues in keeping children safe, whether that be through the family court, with Oranga Tamariki or when engaging with government departments.

“Having worked around politicians for most of my life I have never met a politician more dedicated to her work than Nikki Kaye. Her commitment to helping our agency protect children and deal with government departments to deliver justice for them has been inspiring” she says.

Swanwick talks of taking calls from Nikki on a Saturday morning on the Wellsford netball courts following up issues regarding a School Principal bullying a child with an anxiety disorder that were not being addressed by the Education Department. “There is patchy cellphone coverage through there too but nonetheless Nikki Kaye kept calling to ensure the matter was resolved for this child, on the weekend and sometimes late on a Friday night”.

Most recently Nikki Kaye’s office has been following up every week regarding a child uplift that had been conducted by Oranga Tamariki despite the agency being clearly informed there were no concerns regarding the child’s welfare, including by the child. On the day of the uplift the child also clearly disclosed to OT and the police that they were removing her from a safe home which should have halted the uplift. The report writer from Whirinaaki had also disclosed to the child on the day of the uplift that they could see no reason why she wouldn’t be returned home on the day she was uplifted. The child was finally returned six weeks later after some dedicated involvement by Nikki Kaye’s office.

Kaye touched on the work she has done for young people in an interview with the Herald. “She was very humble in what she said though. She has been a game changer for young people in this country and I hope she continues to work in this field” says Swanwick. “She will be sadly missed”.

“These are the stories and the work that the public don’t often hear about. Nikki Kaye has been instrumental as a member of the opposition in ensuring that government departments be made accountable for their actions. Politics is a very demanding career and not for the faint of heart but this is one politician who has done more than any other I know in the area of child protection. We wish Nikki well in her future endeavours” says Swanwick.

I met Nikki when she was first standing for National, admire what she has achieved and appreciative of what she has done for the party, the people she has served and New Zealand.

I know that she has worked hard on many issues. A young woman who has been working with her on one has nothing but praise for Nikki’s determination to do what is best for the people involved and her commitment to do it in a way that isn’t partisan because of her belief it is too important for politics.

She has more than earned a life after parliament and I wish her well.

 


‘Collective Hug’ for drought-stricken farmers

July 16, 2020

Farmers stricken by drought in Hawke’s Bay who could face their toughest test in the next 6 to 8 weeks as winter bites, have received a ‘Collective Hug’ to give them a lift:

. . .The 1200 farms in the region today received a simple act of kindness made possible by one woman’s hard work.

Diana Greer is the organiser in chief of the “Collective Hug”, a project for drought-stricken Hawke’s Bay farmers. . . 

 


Dame Vera Lynn 20.3.17 – 18.6.20

June 18, 2020

Dame Vera Lynn has died:

Dame Vera Lynn, who has died at the age of 103, was Britain’s wartime Forces’ Sweetheart, and remained one of the country’s most potent symbols of resilience and hope.

With songs such as We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover, she inspired both troops abroad and civilians at home during World War Two.

As Britain’s cities came under attack, her wistful songs, with their messages of yearning and optimism, were heard in millions of British homes.

And 75 years later, the country turned to her once again as it faced another stern test.

She was born Vera Margaret Welch on 20 March 1917 in the London suburb of East Ham, the daughter of a plumber.

She discovered her talent for singing at an early age and was performing in local clubs when she was seven. By the time she was 11, she had abandoned school for a full-time career as a dancer and singer in a touring music hall revue.

She had also adopted a new stage name, Vera Lynn, borrowing her grandmother’s maiden name. . . 


Queen Dot of Riverstone Castle

June 11, 2020

Dot dreamed of having a castle when she was a child,.

Many years and a lot of hard work with her husband Neil later, they’ve got it.

They’ve earned every moment of joy they get in their new home; and the special code of compliance from the Waitaki District Council, designed to fit its setting:


You’ll Never Walk Alone

April 25, 2020

Captain Tom Moore set out to raise a few hundred pounds for the UK’s NHS.

He’s helped to raise more than £28m, that makes him not just a hero but a super hero.

He’s also become the oldest artist to score a number one hit – just in time for his 100th birthday next week.

 


Earth Angels

April 15, 2020

Hegsy and The Elements pay tribute to essential workers:


A pop of positivity

April 9, 2020

We passed the halfway point of the four-week lockdown last night.

There is very little chance we will get out of lockdown earlier and it is too soon to know whether it might extend beyond four weeks.

The decline, slow as it is,  in the number of new cases of Covid-19 gives reason for hope that four weeks might be enough to eliminate the disease, or at least get the spread so low it can be contained and the likelihood of that would be increased if all new arrivals are quarantined.

National launched a petition on Monday  calling for mandatory quarantining at the border and it had an unprecedented response:

. . .With the large number of cases overseas, experts, like epidemiologist Professor Sir David Skegg, say a blanket quarantine is needed to ensure Kiwis with the virus don’t return to the country and nullify any success our domestic lockdown measures have had. 

Likewise, the National Party leader told The AM Show that implementing a mandatory quarantine was about making sure the four-week lockdown wasn’t in vain.

“As we make sacrifices as New Zealanders, as dads can’t see their babies in hospital, as people can’t go to their loved ones’ funerals, let’s do some of the things that really matter,” he said.

“We know where COVID-19 is coming in from, it is offshore, that is where most of the cases are. This is urgent.” . . 

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield also appeared supportive of tighter border control on Tuesday.

“I agree with what Professor Skegg was saying, that, actually, if we’re going to go for the elimination approach, which is our extended keep it out, stamp it out, and for when we move down out into Alert Level 3, we need to be very confident we are not letting new cases into the country at the border,” he said. . . 

In the meantime, business not as usual goes on.

The regular newsletter from my MP, Jacqui Dean is usually full of what she’s been doing around the electorate.

The latest one is different as she is working from her lock down base.

She, like other electorate MPs, has been busy helping people in need of support, information  and advice.

She has also had time to notice the good things people and businesses have been doing:

A pop of positivity

Cardona Distillery

I visited Desiree and the team at Cardrona Distillery last year. It’s a wonderful family run business and I was impressed (but not surprised) by their offer of free hand sanitizer to locals who need it.

Prince Albert

We humans are social creatures and The Prince Albert in Wanaka has come up with a clever idea to keep their regulars connected. They’ve moved their weekly quiz night online, something I suspect could be a highlight on many social calendars in the coming weeks.

Bringing out the books

Geraldine’s new bookshop The Page and Post Booksellers has been offering a daily story time session through its Facebook page. Cromwell Community Board Chair and Goldfields School Principal Anna Harrison has done something similar by reading children’s books and posting the videos on YouTube.

Whitestone Taxis

Whitestone Taxis have offered to deliver Meals on Wheels to people in Oamaru without taking payment from Waitaki District Health Services. This news left me in no doubt that there are some absolute gems in this electorate. What a kind and generous offer.

Supermarket superstars

Frontline supermarket staff all deserve a round of applause at the moment but I’d like to give a special mention the owner-operators of supermarkets in our small towns who are going above and beyond in taking orders and delivering groceries to those who need it. I started to compile a list of the towns where this is happening and it just got too long – a wonderful reflection of community spirit.

Digital Libraries

Here’s a quote from the Waitaki District Libraries website that couldn’t be more appropriate in times like these:

“Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.” ~ Anne Herbert

Their buildings may be closed but libraries are still there for you either on the phone, via email or social media, and you get your good reads using the digital platform.

Visit: https://library.waitaki.govt.nz/

https://codc-qldc.govt.nz/

#codclibraries #digitallibraryopen

When so much in the media is bad news, it was refreshing to read this pop of positivity and there’s plenty more.

Riverstone Kitchen chef Bevan Smith is live streaming cooking demonstrations.

Cucina chef Pablo Tacchini is live streaming cooking demonstrations too.

Netball NZ is offering free online fitness classes – Netfit.

Otago Museum has a range of activities including online jigsaw puzzles and Te Papa has online jigsaw puzzles too.

If you can add to th epop of positivity, pleaes do.


Life Vest Inside – Kindness Boomerang – “One Day”

March 15, 2020

LifeVestInside


More love and compassion – Elton John

February 5, 2020

Thoughts from Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour:

 

* Thank goodness the people who wanted a roof on Forsyth Barr Stadium prevailed.

It was pouring with rain in Dunedin and it was cold but at least we were dry under the roof.

* The oldies are still the goodies.

The audience had a wide age-range, including people who wouldn’t have been born when Elton started performing 50-odd years ago but young and old were dancing, singing and enjoying themselves.

* Technology enhances the act.

It was a performance on stage and screen that was aurally and visually spectacular.

* More love and compassion.

That was Elton’s message on what the world needs more of and he’s right.


Deserved honours

January 1, 2020

Each time the honours lists come out someone opines that they are achronistic and we should be rid of them.

I disagree. It is good to recognise ordinary people doing extraordinary things Among whom, in this year’s honours list is Sir Robert Martin.

Robert Martin wanted a leader that looked and sounded like him, and when there wasn’t one, he decided to fill the gap.

Having spent more than 30 years advocating for the rights of disabled New Zealanders, Sir Robert has been made a knight companion in the New Year’s Honours list.

He has a learning disability and spent much of his childhood inside institutions and living with foster parents.

He was a witness at the inquiry into abuse in state care. The knighthood doesn’t make up for the shocking abuse he suffered there but all he’s achieved in spite of that makes him more than worthy of it.

Sir Robert said he was both proud and humbled to receive a knighthood for services to people with disabilities.

“I couldn’t have got where I’ve got to without the assistance and also the support I’ve received over the many years from other people with learning disabilities.”

It was his concern for those around the world who still did not have a voice that drove him to be an advocate.

That drive took Sir Robert right to the United Nations, where in 2018, he became the first person with learning disabilities to chair a meeting during a session.

He served on the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for the 2017-2020 term, and was seeking re-election.

“In a lot of places around the world, people with learning disabilities are still much invisible…” he said.

“People with learning disabilities are part of our world, part of our communities and part of our societies.”

Sir Robert said he had been advocating for disabled New Zealanders for as long as he could remember, because there was never anyone else to do it. . .

Sir Robert wanted a leader that looked and sounded like him, and when there wasn’t one, he decided to fill the gap.

“That’s why I fought tooth and nail for the likes of People First, the only organisation in New Zealand that speaks for, and on behalf of people with learning disabilities.” . . 

I had the pleasure of meeting Robert at an IHC conference more than 20 years ago. He was engaging and humble. He had already achieved a lot then and has done a lot more since.

 


Clive James 7.10.39 – 24.11.19

November 28, 2019

Clive James, worsmith and broadcaster has died.

Broadcaster, critic, poet, TV presenter and prolific author – Clive James cheerfully criss-crossed the boundaries between high and lowbrow.

He was as much at home hosting a Shakespeare documentary as he was at fronting a programme showing people suffering indignities on Japanese TV.

His sardonic tones graced a host of TV documentaries in which he brought his own acute observations to bear on a wide variety of subjects.

A journalist on The Sydney Morning Herald once wrote: “His gift and lasting contribution has been to recognise that mass appeal does not translate into lack of substance.” . . 

Roger Franklin pays tribute to him at Quadrant:

. .  . As New Republic put it in 2010, attempting to explain Clive’s significance to American readers:

But try, if you will, to imagine that David Letterman also wrote long, charming critical essays for The New York Review, published more than 30 books, issued memoirs that moved readers the way Frank McCourt’s do, knew seven or eight foreign languages, and composed poems that were printed in The New Yorker, and you are getting close.

When England loses Clive James, it will be as if a plane had crashed with five or six of its best writers on board.

A devoted, dear and longtime friend of Quadrant, Clive’s wit and insight pepper our archives. Below, a sampling of the many reasons the world is today so much poorer for his passing. But first, as a reminder that five decades’ residence in England had not in the least thinned or in any way diminished the Australia that was in his blood, an expat’s memory . . 

 

 

His writing survives him at clivejames.com


The science of kindness

November 10, 2019


The story of Cucina

November 7, 2019

Is there any small town more blessed by culinary delights than Oamaru?

Award-winning Riverstone Kitchen is a few kilometres north and the wonderful Fleurs Place a few kilometres south. Then there’s Portside on the harbour beside the Little Blue Penguin Colony and in the centre of town, at the entrance to the historic precinct,  is Cucina.

It’s owned by Beef + Lamb NZ ambassador chef, and multi Beef + Lamb excellence award winning chef Pablo Tacchini and his wife, Yanina Tacchini.

The restaurant features fresh, local produce.

Given they are Argentinean, the delicious meat they serve is no surprise but the Cucina menu also features fish, house-made pasta and vegetables.

 

Cucina is one of Oamaru’s gems and Pablo and Yanina make it sparkle.

If you are passing through town before Cucina opens in the early evening, Tees Street Cafe is open from early morning to late afternoon.

It is owned by Pablo and Yanina too and shares staff and the kitchen with Cucina.

You can read more about Pablo and Yanina in the ODT, and the Oamaru Mail,


Ian Cross 6.11.25 – 3.11.19

November 3, 2019

New Zealand has lost a wordsmith:

The journalist and author Ian Cross has died aged 93.

He is best known for his classic novel The God Boy but in a wide-ranging career he achieved distinction in other spheres, notably as editor of The Listener and chairman of the Broadcasting Corporation.

A journalist for many years, he began writing fiction in his spare time.

His four years as Listener editor in the 1970s helped to expand the magazine to an unprecedented mass circulation, and he then served as executive chairman of the Broadcasting Corporation before retiring in 1986. . .

You can read more at Wikipedia.

 


Thanks IHC

October 30, 2019

People with intellectual disabilities and their parents owe gratitude to IHC which has just turned  70:

On 25 October 1949, 22 parents met in Wellington. A notice had been placed in the Evening Post the previous day calling for ‘parents and guardians of backward children in the Wellington district… to attend a meeting … to consider the formation of a parents’ association’. 

The meeting elected Hal Anyon as interim president and his wife Margaret Anyon as secretary/treasurer, plus two committee members. At the following meeting, on 23 November, 50 people formed the Intellectually Handicapped Children’s Parents’ Association. Within three years there were a thousand members in several branches around New Zealand. In 1994, following several name changes, the large nationwide organisation became the IHC.

Those founding parents were brave and stroppy. They had to be. In 1949 there was widespread discrimination against people with what was then called intellectual or mental handicap. This situation was a legacy of decades of eugenic assumptions in which disabled people, particularly those with intellectual or learning disability, were considered defective and likely also deviant. Widespread assumptions of ‘tainted heredity’ and shame meant parents were strongly advised to hide their disabled children away from families and communities in institutions and forget about them. Many mothers were powerless to fight the removal of their child in the face of state authorities. . .

Both our sons had brain disorders which left them with multiple disabilities.

Tom was only 20 weeks when he died. Dan survived five years without passing any developmental milestones.

Looking after him got harder as he grew physically without developing intellectually and IHC’s support was invaluable.

Just how good the organisation was, was summed up by the manager of the local branch when we were trying to work out what was best for Dan.

He said, “Let us know what you need and we’ll work out how to provide it.”

I served on the branch IHC committee for several years which increased my admiration for the work the organisation does in supporting and advocating for the intellectually disabled and its members.

They continue to face challenges, one of which has resulted in a mother taking the government to court to prove her disabled son isn’t her employer:

An independent disability advocate has filed papers asking the Employment Court to decide if people with intellectual disabilities have the mental capacity to be employers.

The government is promising to change this, but advocate Jane Carrigan doesn’t want to wait and is going to court. . .

In order to get funding, Ms Fleming has to be an employee of her disabled son, a relationship the Ministry of Health has already admitted is a mere fiction.

Independent disability advocate Jane Carrigan said for too long the ministers and their ministries have indulged in what she calls tricky and technical conduct, by creating sham employment relationships.

And in doing so, the ministers had removed themselves from their responsibilities under the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act, she said.

“This allows the ministry to step back in the very cynical name of choice and control and say to people with disabilities – the majority of whom I might add have an intellectual disability – ‘well there you go, you’re the employer, you have the choice to employ who you want, the control to manage how your employment relationship works’.”

Ms Carrigan said that was ludicrous.

“The so-called employer is usually lying in bed with nappies on and has no capacity to manage the employment relationship intellectually. And even those people who are only physically disabled, many of them, because they are high/very high needs, will rely on a family member to do all the employment relationship stuff,” Ms Carrigan said.

Ms Carrigan said if there was an employment relationship it was between the carer and the Ministry of Health and she wanted the court to say so. . .

Thanks to those brave and stroppy parents who formed it, IHC’s advocacy has resulted in a lot of improvements to care and support for intellectually disabled people and their families in the last 70 years.

I am very grateful for the help it gave us and also aware of the help others still need and the battles still to fight.


Sir Brian Lochore tribute and farewell service

August 9, 2019

Sir Brian Lochore was farewelled yesterday.

You can listen to and watch the service here (it begins at about 1:05)

The tribute below is from the All Blacks.

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Sir Brian Lochore 3.9.40 – 3.8.19

August 4, 2019

All Black, captain, selector, coach, farmer, community stalwart and good man, Sir Brian Lochore has died.

Lochore, All Black #637, represented New Zealand in the black jersey on 68 occasions, including 25 Tests. He was the All Blacks Captain in 1966 and went on to lead the team in 18 Tests.

In 1985-87 Lochore become the All Blacks coach, with his crowning achievement winning the 1987 inaugural Rugby World Cup.

He was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to sport and the community and also inducted to the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 1999. On Waitangi Day in 2007, he received the country’s highest honour, the Order of New Zealand.

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew said Sir Brian passed away surrounded by family.

“It is with great sadness and grief that we announce that Sir Brian succumbed to his battle with cancer, earlier today. We have lost a genuine legend of our country, an unwavering figure on the field, and a highly respected figure off it. His family has lost a devoted husband, father and grandfather and for many of us, a great friend.

“It is not over-stating the facts to say that Sir Brian Lochore, was the saviour of New Zealand rugby on several occasions and many of us have lost a great mate. Our hearts go out to Pam and their children.”

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “It’s with great sadness that we have heard that one of New Zealand’s tallest kauri has fallen.

“Sir Brian Lochore is one of of the most respected men in New Zealand, not only in rugby but all facets of New Zealand life, as well as being hugely respected and held in high regard around the world. . . 

Lochore’s standing in the community, not only in rugby but also in farming, saw him involved in many committees while he also served a term as chairman of the national sports funding organisation, the Hillary Commission and his contribution to New Zealand across all fields was acknowledged in 1999 when he was knighted and he received the country’s highest honour, the Order of New Zealand in 2007. His contribution to New Zealand Rugby was acknowledged when he received the Steinlager Salver for distinguished service in 2003, an award repeated on the international stage when he received the International Rugby Board’s (World Rugby) Vernon Pugh Award for distinguished services in 2006.

He was also a trustee of the New Zealand Rural Games Trust which I chaired for a couple of years.

Working with him was a pleasure and a privilege.

His death leaves a big hole, not least among his family and friends to whom I offer sincere sympathy.


New nesters

July 14, 2019

Stories from migrants to the Waitaki District:


Milne muses

June 16, 2019


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