Sir Brian Lochore tribute and farewell service

09/08/2019

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

04/08/2019

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

14/07/2019

Stories from migrants to the Waitaki District:


Milne muses

16/06/2019


Gliding On to knighthood

03/06/2019

Decades of successful playwriting have been recognised with a knighthood for Roger Hall:

He has delivered dozens of hit plays and just received a knighthood, but Sir Roger Hall says there’s no secret formula but “putting your bum on the chair in the morning and working hard”.  . .

He paid tribute to his wife’s support throughout his career for theatre and television, especially before he made his name with sold out public service satire Glide Time in 1976.

“She’s been a very loyal supporter for all those years when I was struggling to be a writer and make myself known. When I was teaching, I came home one day, and she was sitting at home with a baby in her arms and I said, ‘I’m sorry, I want to give up teaching and go writing full-time.’ And she said, ‘Well, that’s what you better do,’ which was a brave decision.”

He followed up his debut play with a string of other hits featuring middle-class “everyman” New Zealanders, including Middle-Age Spread, which played in London’s West End for 15 months. It was also made into a film, with American magazine Variety describing the star, Grant Tilly, as an “Antipodean Woody Allen”.

Several of his works were successfully adapted for the small screen (Gliding On, Neighbourhood Watch, Conjugal Rites, Market Forces) and he won a script-writing award for his work on Spin Doctors.

He organised the first New Zealand Writers’ Week and successfully campaigned for the introduction of New Zealand Theatre Month, which was held for the first time in September 2018.

All this from a man who sailed from England to New Zealand at 19.

“I owe everything to New Zealand, really. It gave me a good university education and it got me away from the class system and it gave me a feeling I could do anything here if I wanted it.”

The late great comedian John Clarke once described Sir Roger’s work as “identifying faults and follies which highlight small monsters in ordinary people, and sometimes excite our sympathy as much as our laughter”.

“John is a very shrewd observer and I was very flattered to get that comment. That sort of comedy has always appealed to me, the mixture of funny and sad.” . .

I saw Glide Time at Dunedin’s Fortune Theatre and have been to almost every other play Hall has written since.

In each of them I remember thinking I’ve heard conversations like that, and then thinking I’ve had conversations like that.

This is one of the secrets of his success – an extraordinary ability to write about ordinary people in a relatable and entertaining way.

The full Honours List is here.


“I did not choose to be a victim, but I chose not to harm others.“

26/09/2018

Maanki didn’t choose to be a victim but she chose not to harm others:

I am Māori. Tuhinga o mua Ngāti Hāmua a Te Hika a Pāpāuma. Ko taku iwi Ngāti Kahungunua a Rangitāne.

I am Scottish, I am English, I am a New Zealander. I am not defined by the colour of my skin.

I am a victim.

I did not choose to be a victim.

I am a victim of my father’s hand. My father was brought up on the Pahiatua Marae. His mother was young, she became a victim of a kaumatua’s violence. He was conceived by violence, a tamaiti (child) of rape. The rapist was a family member.

My father was taken from his mother, away from his whānau, his iwi and his marae after his father was incarcerated. He went on to live in state care until a foster family was found. My father was taught violence by the people who were supposed to protect and nurture him. Anger followed him, the violence forever ingrained in his heart. He knew right from wrong, he had a choice. He did not stop the cycle of abuse, and he punished me for the actions of his past.

I was a child when it started, an adult when it stopped. Like his father, he was incarcerated for crimes of child abuse, violence and rape. I did not choose to be a victim, but I chose not to harm others. I broke the ongoing cycle of generational abuse. The cycle of abuse that was carried through three generations of Māori stopped with me. . .

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – These are the words of Viktor Frankl a concentration camp survivor.

Maanki’s abuse wasn’t at the hand of strangers, driven by political ideology but by her own father, carrying on the violence he had been a victim of himself.

She has had the strength and the compassion to end that cycle of abuse.

Take care of our children. Take care of what they hear, take care of what they feel. For how the children grow, so will be the shape of Aotearoa.” Dame Whina Cooper. Mohio ana ahau ko wai ahau, e mohio ana ahau ki te wahi e tu ana ahau. Me puta te huringa – I know who I am, I know where I stand. Change must happen.

At the recent Justice Summit in Wellington,  Cabinet minister Kelvin Davis shared these words: “As Māori we need to take care of our own, rather than closing our doors. We need to face up to and free ourselves from the violence that many of our people, our whānau, struggle with.”

If we want to see fewer Māori in prison, our whānau broken apart because dad is in prison and mum is now in rangi (heaven), we must free ourselves and our whānau from the increasing level of domestic violence and abuse in our homes. The drugs must stop, the high level of drinking and violence among our own must be gone.

How many of our fathers are incarcerated, because their fathers taught them the only way to deal with anger was violence, to punch their way through a situation. How many of our whānau have lost a mother, a child, a brother from our people’s own hand.

We can’t choose our parents and children learn what they live. But they can be like Maanki and choose not to repeat it.

The blame needs to stop. It is not the police, the system, the state, the Government, the justice system or even the Pākehā who made a man beat his wife to death, to rape an innocent stranger, to murder their own child or to sexually abuse a daughter or son.

Blaming doesn’t solve problems. People have to take responsibility for their own behaviour regardless of what has been one to them.

No, it was a choice, a choice made by a perpetrator. Māori make  up 51 per cent of the male prison population, and 60 per cent of the female muster.

No child asks to be harmed, nor to watch their dads beating their mums. If we were all true to our Māori traditions, our tikanga respecting the mothers of our children, our whānau, our honour, keeping our whānau safe would be paramount. Māori need to take an honest inward look at their own ongoing behaviours first. Our children need to have the chance to grow up safe, educated and free from violence.

Davis went on to say: “We need to do something together to create a different future for Māori and for their whānau.”

This cycle needs to stop. The men, the fathers, the grandfathers, the elders in prison who have abused their own need to stand up, take ownership and responsibility and say “Enough”. No more blaming everybody and everything for the crimes offenders have chosen to commit.

Prison is a punishment for those who have committed crimes; prison is not based on the colour of your skin. If you are sent to prison it is because you committed a crime, a choice made only by you.

To see a future with fewer Māori men and Māori women in prison will take more than talks and hui. It starts with Māori, rethinking and reteaching the respect, the whakaute, to our children and to one another. It will be a hard, long road but one that will benefit out future generations, to help our tamariki grow not as offenders, but strong, happy iwi that will have a positive influence on future generations to come.

Hapaitia tea ra tika pumua ai te rangatiratanga mo nga uri whakatipu – Foster the pathway of knowledge and strength, independence and growth for future generations.

This reminds me of a story related by Anthony Robins in Awaken the Giant Within.

He told of two men who went through childhood with their father in prison or out committing the crimes which led him back to prison.

One went on to follow his father’s example. The other got an education, had a successful business, married happily and had children and gave back to his community.

Robins asked both men the same question: why did you follow this path?

Both gave the same answer: with a father like mine what else could I do?

It is easy for someone like me, brought up by parents who loved each other and their children, who has a happy marriage with love and support from wider family and friends to talk about making the right choices.

It is so much harder for those who haven’t had good examples to follow and don’t know that love. But Maanki knows how bad the wrong path is, has chosen to take the right one and is providing an example of how to stop the cycle.


Calling 175,000 Richie McCaw fans

03/09/2018

Kurow is calling on 175,000 fans of Richie McCaw to help fund a statue of their hero in the town:

The small Waitaki town of Kurow needs 175,000 Richie McCaw fans to help erect a bronze statue of the All Blacks great, right where he kicked off his legendary career.

It was hoped the life-sized statue of the most capped test rugby player of all time would bring economic growth and more visitors to the Waitaki Valley.

McCaw grew up in the Hakataramea Valley just across the Waitaki River from Kurow where he began playing rugby for the local club. . . 

Kurow-local Bob Watherston had a dream to erect the bronze statue of the world’s greatest rugby player.

The former chairman of the Statue Project Committee passed away in November last year, missing out on seeing his dream fulfilled. . . 

Along with the Waitaki Valley community, Watherston’s daughter Chrissy Watherston was picking up the slack and has created a Givealittle page, asking for the public’s help.

Watherston asked for 175,000 of McCaw’s fans to pitch in and donate $1 to help get the statue project over the line. . .

Will a statue of McCaw bring more people to the town?

One of Colin Meads attracts fans to Te Kuiti but it is on a main road between other places.

Kurow would require a detour for most travellers but even if the statue doesn’t bring people to the town it might stop those who are passing through.


New Zealand’s Inside Stories

11/07/2018

New Zealand Story has just released the first three ‘Inside Stories’ for its ongoing series promoting Aotearoa – the Global Film, Ingenuity Film, and Food & Beverage Film.

Each video is fronted by a range of highly acclaimed individuals including tech entrepreneurs, scientists, inventors and famous actors, and aims to bridge a narrative about New Zealand that isn’t hobbits, the All Blacks and beautiful landscapes to the rest of the world.

Each of the three videos is connected to a wider campaign that provides authentic insight into New Zealand stories from the eyes of global and local identities. The campaign argues New Zealand’s reputation for outstanding natural beauty is only part of our story, and showcases our pool of artists, business people, entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators whose stories are just as awe-inspiring as our landscapes. . .

 

It’s fair to say the rest of the world knows very little about New Zealand, and to get the point across NZ Story plans to release a multitude of smaller stories to create a narrative big enough to demonstrate that New Zealand’s contribution to the world is limitless and impossible to ignore.

To do so, it wants to recruit hundreds if not thousands of people who have played a part in our global presence. It has already interviewed immigrants, expats and everyday Kiwis, speaking to everyone from school kids to pensioners and everyone in-between, covering stories about food and wine, culture and invention, business, creativity and much, much more.

But it needs your help and asks you to become a New Zealand storyteller by sharing our story with the world to help tell the world what New Zealand has to offer.

You can read more at Inside Stories.

You can follow New Zealand’s Inside Stories on YouTube ; Facebook ;

LinkedIn ; Twitter and Vimeo.


Feds award farming leaders

28/06/2018

Federated Farmers presented its annual awards to farming leaders last night:

The awards recognise the hard work of those in the agriculture sector and the ceremony acts as a stage for the recipients to be celebrated on, says Fed’s national president Katie Milne.
“What we’ve seen this year has just been tremendous. Incredible talent. The work that goes on out there in the community is just non-stop so to have the awards is a great way to say thank you and to encourage initiative.”

The awards winners are as follows:

The Outstanding Advocacy Award recipient is Motueka’s Gavin O’Donnell.

The award recognises the hard work of a member that through their tenacity and drive positively affected national or regional policy for the benefits of our farmers.

Gavin, a former head of Nelson Federated Farmers, was nominated for his skills at influencing and communicating the ‘good news’ stories.

The Innovator of the Year Award recipients are Palmerston North’s James Stewart and Mat Hocken.

Federated Farmers uses this award to highlight those who have invested time, effort and resources into finding smart ways to make New Zealand agriculture more efficient and effective.

They were nominated for their work in boosting connectivity. They are the founders of AgTech Hackathon, an initiative designed to link farmers with smarter on-farm solutions.

The Farming Message Award winner is Five Forks’s Lyndon Strang.

The award is for an individual who through writing, public speaking and other forms of media use has done a fantastic job sharing the importance of agriculture with New Zealand’s wider communities.

The primary reason for Lyndon’s nomination was the way he led by example in his area when it came implementing new farming practices, and when Mycoplasma bovis broke in South Canterbury, Lyndon was an approachable voice for local media and helped break down the technical gobbledygook surrounding the disease for the public.

The Federated Farmers Emerging Advocate Award recipient is Gore’s Bernadette Hunt.

The award celebrates an up-and-coming member who champions the needs of their fellow farmers, and is a positive role model for other young farmers with clear goals for the future of the industry.

Bernadette was nominated because of her outstanding contribution in the lead role for Southland during the M. bovis outbreak. 
She also liaised with the Ministry for Primary Industries over declaring a medium scale adverse event due the extended period of dry conditions.

The Federated Farmers Columnist of the Year Award goes to Marton’s Richard Morrison.

The award is the organisation’s chance to thank someone who has made an ongoing effort to communicate the work of the entire group to the wider population through regular column writing for a national, regional or local publication.

Richard puts together thoughtful and often thought-provoking columns that would resonate with thousands of readers – both urban and rural.

The Federated Farmers Provincial Service Award winner is Timaru’s Bob Douglas.

The award recognises the unsung heroes of the provinces who year after year, decade after decade, have contributed to the smooth running of the province and provided outstanding service.

After almost 20 years working as South Canterbury’s provincial secretary and treasurer Bob Douglas has had his years of service recognized.
Bob is known for schooling countless emerging local Federated Farmers’ leaders in meeting protocol, teaches them debating skills and the rights of the Chair.

The Federated Farmers Outstanding Contribution to Federated Farmers Award went to Masterton’s Anders Crofoot.

The award recognises a member who works to promote our advocacy organisation and the agriculture industry by championing the needs of their fellow farmers.
Anders has shown tremendous skill in initiating successful mediation and dissecting the daunting Resource Management Act. 
He has also contributed to the national advocacy work of Federated Farmers serving six years on the board. He has an ability to talk to people of all backgrounds and make information accessible to everyone.

The Federated Farmers Membership Growth Award went to Wanganui.

The award is to recognise the efforts of provinces who actively work to boost membership for Federated Farmers.

This is an outstanding achievement for a smaller province. But Wanganui was not the only team to perform well over the past year. There was exceptional work happening throughout the nation. A special thank you to the teams in Golden Bay, Tararua and the Waikato.


Untouchable Girls

04/06/2018

The Topp Twins, Jules and Lynda, have become Dames in the Queens BIrthday Honours.

They were rebels, activists. Now they’re dames.

Entertainers Jools and Lynda, the Topp Twins, were appointed Dame Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Or as Jools – sorry, Dame Julie Bethridge Topp – puts it: “The rebels got their medals.” . . .


Sir Bill has earned his title

04/06/2018

Former Prime Minister, long serving MP and genuinely good man, Bill English has more than earned the title conferred on him in the Queen’s Birthday honours.

Wallace, the electorate he first won, and Clutha Southland the biggest general electorate in the country, which it grew into under MMP were blue seats.

But it takes hard work, a genuine interest in people and the determination to make a positive difference for them to earn the loyalty and respect from constituents he did.

In the run up to the 2001 election and its aftermath he showed a lot more loyalty to his colleagues and some in the party than they did to him, but as he told us during the election campaign last year, he got back up again.

He did that through hard work, determination and focus not on ideology but on what was wrong and how to make it better.

Soon after he became Finance Minister he called a meeting of senior people from the welfare ministry.  One question he asked was who was responsible for getting people off benefits.

The answer was no one. Bill said that had to change and under his leadership of the social investment approach it did.

The way New Zealand came through the GFC, the focus on the quality of spending rather than the quantity, and the willingness to spend more upfront to reduce long term costs are a very positive reflection on him.

So is the very healthy state that his government left the books in.

The position of Finance Minister demands gravitas. When he became Prime Minister he showed his warmth and wit, and also,the strength of his family.

He isn’t only a good politician, he was an exemplary boss.

One way to judge a politician is by the way they treat their staff. Joanne Black wrote this of Bill:

On my worst day in the Beehive, I inadvertently emailed a sensitive document to someone outside the building with the same name as the intended recipient, who worked for another minister. The person who received it behaved honourably and nothing came of it, and the next day it became public anyway, as intended.

But I will never forget my torment when I realised there was nothing I could do that could fix my error. That was the only occasion I have ever deliberately banged my head against something – my desk, in this case. (It hurt, and it didn’t bring back the email. I do not recommend it.)

Key’s chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson, came in to work out what to do. I went to Bill’s office and waited for a meeting to end so I could tell him what I’d done. He listened, looked down at his papers and said, “Bugger.”

Although my actions must have disappointed him, he did not raise an eyebrow, much less his voice. You need to be more than just a decent person to succeed in politics.

A minister and a Prime Minister who were not only politically on top of their game, but also believed in public service and were calm and humane in that high-stakes environment, inspired great staff loyalty. . .

Another way to judge a politician is by the way they value volunteers.

The grapevine told Bill that I was facing a very difficult situation. He was Prime Minister at the time and there were several particularly challenging matters he was dealing with but on a morning when he had many much more important matters to deal with, he took the time to phone me.

When I thanked him, I said we were immensely grateful for the practical and moral support we were getting, that it really did help to know people cared and that friends all round the world were praying for us. He said, “I will be too,” and meant it.

He is a good man who served his people and his country well. He is no longer in politics but he will still be in service.

For all that and more he has earned his knighthood.

The full Honours List is here.


Sir Colin Meads’ funeral

28/08/2017

Sir Colin Meads’ funeral is being live-streamed on the All Blacks’ Facebook page.


Service, sacrifice and successes

05/06/2017

Former Prime Minister John Key is now Sir John and heads the list of 186 New Zealanders recognised for their service, sacrifices and successes  in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

GNZM
To be a Knight Grand Companion of the said Order:

The Right Honourable John Phillip Key, of Auckland. For services to the State. . . .

Services to the state doesn’t really sum up what any PM does. Theirs is also services to the people.

That demands a great deal of hard work and sacrifice and their families have to make sacrifices too.

That all living former PMs have been recognised with a similar honour (Order of New Zealand, Damehood or Knighthood) doesn’t mean that the honour was perfunctory.

Sir John led New Zealand through a particularly difficult period which included having to deal with the global financial crisis, the Pike River mine disaster, the Canterbury and Kaikoura earthquakes and their aftermaths.

He led a team in which current Prime Minister Bill English played a vital role.

They turned a forecast decade of deficits into surpluses and allowed current Finance Minister Steven Joyce to present a Budget this year.

That provides choices over the provision of services and infrastructure that must be the envy of every other country.

The team forged important new trade deals which will contribute to on-going economic stability.

Another of the new knight’s legacies is the cycleway network that is leading to the creation of jobs, providing exercise opportunities for locals and bringing domestic and international tourists.

The flag referendum is regarded by many as a failure but I think it sowed the seeds for inevitable change.

Sir John was, and remains ambitious for New Zealand and New Zealanders.  Unlike one of his predecessors he was determined to leave the country and its people better for his service, and he has.

Others to receive titular  honours are:

DNZM
To be Dames Companion of the said Order:

Mrs Julie Claire Molloy Christie, ONZM, of Auckland. For services to governance and the television industry.

Emeritus Professor Peggy Gwendoline Koopman-Boyden, CNZM, of Hamilton. For services to seniors.

KNZM
To be Knights Companion of the said Order:

Mr Graeme Dingle, ONZM, MBE, of Auckland. For services to youth.

Mr Michael Niko Jones, MNZM, of Auckland. For services to the Pacific community and youth.

Professor Timoti Samuel Karetu, QSO, of Havelock North. For services to the Māori language.

 


Riverstone Castle on Prime

04/06/2017

Dot and Neil Smith are dreamers, but not in the sleepy, never get anything done way.

They are people who work hard to make their dreams come true.

. . .It’s a bit like Grand Designs on steroids. Dot Smith and husband Smithy (aka Neil) start with a bare paddock. Smithy, who has been dragged around innumerable castles in Europe, said to her one day: “What if I dug you a hole in the ground there and we put a little island in the hole and put a castle on there?”

Well, it’s not so much of the little. This is a massive project. The completed Riverstone Castle, built from solid Oamaru stone quarried locally, literally sits on an island. There’s even a dungeon.

But as with every good home building show, this one is just as much about the people as the build.

Pink-haired, 60-something Dot is clearly a romantic, but not in any drippy way. This is a woman who, with her family, has worked hard to run a successful empire that includes six dairy farms, an award-winning restaurant, giftware shops and gardens to die for. But she loves a fairytale.

“You’ve got to make a bit of romance happen in your life, otherwise when you get to 65 or 70 you’re a bit past all the other romantic parts,” she says. “So we’ve got to make little fairy stories where we go.”

When told, “Most people your age would be scaling down”, Dot says, “No, I’m scaling up”. . . 

Dot: Queen of the Castle screens on Prime at 8:30 tonight.


John Clarke 29.7.48 – 9.4.17

10/04/2017

John Clarke, satirist and comedian extraordinaire has died.

Born in Palmerston North, he studied at Victoria University before heading to London, where he gained a break through with a part in the 1972 Barry Humphries comedy The Adventures of Barry McKenzie.

Clarke came home a year later, and was in the cast of New Zealand’s first sitcom, the student-flat comedy Buck House.

By then, Clarke had already pioneered his iconic character Fred Dagg in short TV sketches and a Country Calendar ‘spoof’ edition. . .

Clarke moved to Australia where he continued to delight audiences as a writer and satirist.

For 25 years he and Brian Bryan Dawe poked the borax at politicians in Clarke and Dawe.

You can see some of his work at Mr John Clarke, read his bio at NZ on Screen and listen to an interview with Jesse Mulligan at RNZ.


Bunny Walters 31.5.53 – 14.12.16

14/12/2016

Bunny Walters, one of the 1970’s iconic New Zealand singers has died:

. . .  A descendant of Ngāi Te Rangi, Mātaatua waka, Walters was 63-years-old.

Walters was best known for his hits Nearest thing to Heaven, Take the money and run and Brandy. . . 


When no-one was watching

11/12/2016

Some of the reaction to John Key’s resignation has been gracious.

Some, from people who don’t know the person but don’t like his politics, has not.

This tribute is one of the gracious ones. It’s from Jake Millar who found a good man who changed his life when no-one else was watching:

It was C.S. Lewis who once said “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”

This is perhaps the greatest lesson I have learnt from our outgoing Prime Minister John Key, a man who changed my life by doing just that.

When I was 15 years old, on Saturday September 4, 2010, my father, Rod Miller, died in a skydiving plane crash in Fox Glacier, which killed nine people.

It was the worst plane crash New Zealand had experienced in 17 years, and it tore many people apart.

It was a rough time for New Zealand. The very same day Christchurch experienced its first major earthquake, destroying the city. And just over one month later, the West Coast was hit with another tragedy, after 29 men died in the Pike River mine disaster.

It was how Key reacted to these terrible tragedies, particularly the one closest to my heart, where I first began to truly respect him, and appreciate him as a remarkable leader.

Following the plane crash, Key took the four-hour return drive from Hokitika to Fox Glacier to visit the crash site, and pay his respects to the victims.

Key’s humanness and kindness inspired me during this difficult time, so I wrote to him as a 15-year-old, thanking him for caring, while asking him for some advice in regards to my own future.

I was amazed to receive a very personal letter back directly from the prime minister.

Not only did he address all of my points issue by issue in an extremely kind and personal way, but he also enclosed a card, saying he wanted to meet me. 

Several months later, Key, while visiting the West Coast to see the victims’ families of the Pike River mine disaster, came to our family home in Greymouth for whitebait sandwiches, a cup of tea and a chat about my future.

He didn’t publicise the visit for political profit. No media were invited. He did it out of the goodness of his heart, because he wanted to help, and because he cared.

It was the goodness of Key’s heart that inspired me to try my hardest in life, and strive to be the best version of me that I could be.

I vividly remember being inspired by the fact that Key had lost his father as a young kid, before achieving his childhood dream. I remember thinking, ‘if he could, why couldn’t I?’ . . .

The point to all of this is not that I’m something great, but that it’s all been inspired by that early spark of inspiration: when Key wrote to me.

I remember running into Key at a National Party function years after our first meeting, and he asked how my mum’s art business was going. He had only met her once, years earlier. This showed how much he truly cared.

Whether you loved or hated his politics, as prime minister, Key was a good man. He had integrity. He cared about the people he represented. He did the right thing, even when no one was watching. . . 

The longer I observe and participate in politics the more I see good people doing their best to do good for the country and their people.

The outgoing PM was one of these, his presumptive successor, Bill English is the same, whether or not anyone is watching.

P.S. – you can read more about Jake Millar here.


366 days of gratitude

27/07/2016

Last week’s funeral was for a man in his 90s, sad but the natural order of things.

Today’s was for a man who was only 58, sad.

But he was a man who packed more into those 58 years than many others would have in twice that time, including saving several lives while risking his own as a helicopter pilot.

Today I am sad that his life is over far too soon but grateful that he lived in a way that made the world so much better for his being in it.

 


Chasing Great

07/07/2016

The official trailer for Chasing Great, the story of Richie McCaw and the path to the 2015 World Cup, has been released.

IMDb has the plot summary:

All Black captain Richie McCaw has lived his dream with characteristic precision and calculated determination. He’s 34 and perhaps the best rugby player ever. But the dream is almost over. He is old by professional sport standards and everyone is asking when he’s going to retire. Before his career ends Richie McCaw sets his sights on a risk-all attempt to win the Rugby World Cup back to back. No team has won it a second time in a row. No captain has won it twice. He will either end his career on an impossibly high note or take a nation’s dreams down with him. Chasing Great follows Richie McCaw through his final season as he attempts to captain the All Blacks to the first ever-back-to back World Cup win. Until now Richie McCaw’s achievements have been well documented, but little is known about the man himself. He has never courted the media and remains intensely private. Chasing Great takes the audience inside his world for the first time and what emerges is a very personal insight into high level international sport and a revealing psychological profile of the mind of a champion. Natural strength, hard work and sacrifice only get him so far. To become the best he has to master his mind. The mental toughness and self knowledge that McCaw has honed and worked to attain over the later years of his career has elevated him from a great player into perhaps the greatest ever. . . 

This film is about more than rugby and sport.

It’s the story of a country kid who worked out what he wanted to do and what it took to not only do it but do it to the best of his ability.

It launches on September 1.

 


Bob Berry MNZM

06/06/2016

Whitestone Cheese founder Bob Berry has been awarded an MNZM for services to the industry.

Mr Berry, who is semi-retired and lives at Lakes Hayes, said he was delighted to accept the award on behalf of all those who had contributed to the boutique cheese-making enterprise.

The company employs 60 people and Whitestone is a recognised brand in the United States, Australia and the Pacific.

Mr Berry was born on D-Day 1944, was brought up in Karitane, attended Waitaki Boys’ High School and on leaving school worked for stock and station agency Dalgety and Co.

He began farming a hill country property near Waikouaiti in 1972 and bought another farm at Maheno in 1982.

Mr Berry and his wife, Sue, decided to diversify into cheesemaking in 1987 during the rural downturn.

“I was sick of being a price-taker rather than a price-maker,” Mr Berry said.

“A lot of farmers exited farming during the ’80s and started all sorts of enterprises.”

Mr and Mrs Berry set up their cheese-making factory in a garage with the help of Evansdale Cheese founder Colin Dennison, and slowly built up their knowledge base by employing cheesemakers from Europe and elsewhere in New Zealand.

“All have contributed something to our recipes and the regional styles we have developed.”

The company was now putting out more cheese per day than it did during its entire first year, processing about 55,000 litres of milk a week.

Mr Berry said his favourite cheese was the company’s “flagship” Windsor blue.

He was a founding member of the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association, served as chairman for five years and is a life member.

He continues to sponsor many community initiatives through the company, including contributions to and sponsorship of the Oamaru Opera House and the Alps to Ocean cycle trail.

Whitestone Cheese is now run by his son, Simon.

This is  well deserved recognition for service to the industry, business in general and the community.

Other southern rural people honoured include:

Stewart Barrnett, who received an ONZM for services to agriculture and business.

Mr Barnett (73), who spent 34 years with the former PPCS, now Silver Fern Farms, 22 of them as chief executive, said he was extraordinarily lucky to work for a farmers co-operative during his career as it gave him the chance to meet many people in the industry.

He also played a role on New Zealand producer boards, particularly the meat and deer industry boards.

“The meat industry involved me fully; it was constantly evolving.” . . .

Bev  Clark received an MNZM for services to health.

A champion of health services in southern rural towns, Bev Clark, of Wanaka, has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Born in Winton in 1942, and now retired from her various health advocacy roles, Mrs Clark has a long history of fighting to retain and improve health services.

While farming at Hokonui, in Southland, with husband the late Boyd Clark, Mrs Clark became involved in the successful battle to retain, and improve, maternity services in Winton, spending eight years as chairwoman of the Central Southland Health Trust and the Winton Birthing Unit.

Mrs Clark said last week, at one point her husband joked she should move her bed to the unit because of the amount of time she was spending there.

In the late 1990s, Mrs Clark became involved in an even bigger battle, to retain and upgrade Clyde’s very rundown Dunstan Hospital.

As chairwoman of the board of Central Otago Health Services Ltd, she was one of those who took on Labour health minister Annette King.

In 2003, the board threatened to resign over the state of the hospital, and Mrs Clark recalled being accused of “blackmailing” the government and being described by Ms King as “petulant”.

But a public meeting of 1000 people backed the board and the government agreed to put in $7.6million, with the community adding about $3million more.

Mrs Clark has served as a director on the Southern Regional Health Authority and the Health Funding Authority, has chaired the Consumer Liaison Committee for the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners and was a council member of their division of Rural Hospital Medicine.

She also spent six years on the New Zealand Psychologists Board.

Mrs Clark is a marriage and funeral celebrant in Wanaka and is a founding executive member, treasurer and life member of the Celebrants Association in New Zealand. . . 

She has more than earned recognition for the years of work fighting for and helping to maintain and run rural health services.

Stuart Heal, a former CEO of the rural co-operative CRT received an MNZM for services to cricket andd the community.

Dr Garry Nixon regards his MNZM as recognition of the importance of rural hospital medicine as a specialty.

 . . .Dr Nixon (55), of Alexandra, has been a medical officer and rural hospital doctor at Dunstan Hospital since 1992 and was instrumental in establishing rural hospital medicine as a specialty.

He has served as a researcher, teacher and lecturer in rural health at the University of Otago and has introduced several specialty training modules to benefit rural patients.

One of those modules – the certificate of clinician-performed ultrasound programme – has been recognised as a world-class programme of special benefit in remote rural areas.

Dr Nixon was made a Distinguished Fellow of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners in 2010.

In 2014, he was appointed chairman of the university’s health science division’s rural working party and, in 2015, he was made the director of the postgraduate rural medical programmes at the Dunedin School of Medicine.

His aim is to promote the vocation of rural hospital medicine to ensure the career is sustainable and attractive to doctors in the future.

“What gives me the most satisfaction is the opportunity to work with young doctors as they’ve been coming through – they’re a great group.”

There was still a lot of work to do in rural health in terms of bringing it into line with other specialties in medicine so it had the same status and supports, Dr Nixon said.

The full Honours List  includes:

DNZM

To be Dames Companion of the said Order:

The Honourable Ellen Dolour France, of Wellington. For services to the judiciary.

Ms Karen Margaret Sewell, QSO, of Wellington. For services to education.

KNZM

To be Knights Companion of the said Order:

Mr Robert George Mappin Fenwick, CNZM, KStJ, of Auckland. For services to conservation and business.

Mr Michael Friedlander, CNZM, of Auckland. For services to philanthropy.

Mr Christopher Robert Mace, CNZM, of Auckland. For services to science and education.

Mr Matiu Nohorua Te Rei, of Wellington. For services to Māori.

The Honourable Ronald Leslie Young, of Greytown. For services to the judiciary.

CNZM

To be Companions of the said Order:

Professor John Renata Broughton, ED, of Dunedin. For services to Māori health, theatre and the community.

Ms Janice Amelia Dawson, of Auckland. For services to governance.

Mr George Gerald Farrant, of Auckland. For services to heritage preservation.

Ms Myrlene Dawn Jones, OBE, JP, of Auckland. For services to netball and education.

Dr Dianne Christine McCarthy, ONZM, of Blenheim. For services to science, business and women.

Dr Thomas Ernest Miller, of Auckland. For services to medical research.

Ms Jennifer Mary Prince, of Wellington. For services to children and children’s health.

Professor William Te Rangiua Temara, of Hamilton. For services to Māori and education.

Other awards for agribusiness and rural people include:

ONZM

To be Officers of the said Order:

Mr Mark Joseph Greenwood, of Te Puke. For services to biosecurity.

Mr Christopher Morton Kelly, of Wellington. For services to agriculture.

Mr Samuel Kevin Prime, MBE, of Kawakawa. For services to conservation and Māori.

MNZM

To be Members of the said Order:

Dr Maurice Rewi Alley, of Palmerston North. For services to conservation and education.

Mr Gerald Brackenbury, of Lower Hutt. For services to conservation.

Dr Andrew Ian Dennis, of Nelson. For services to conservation.

Mr Andrew Graeme Lowe, of Havelock North. For services to conservation.

Mr Mervyn Douglas Thomas Utting, of Gisborne. For services to sheep dog trials.

QSM

Mr Ruari Ingram Foley, of Waimate. For services to the community.

Mr Gary William Fowler, JP, of Hikuai. For services to the community and agriculture.

Mrs Jennifer Anne Gallagher, JP, of Darfield. For services to the community.

Mr Jacob Cornelis van Dorsser, of Rotorua. For services to the environment.

 


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