Thoughts of family make cyclone personal

February 3, 2011

Like many other New Zealanders I have family in Australia and this time last year I was visiting my brother, sister-in-law and three nieces in Townsville.

A cyclone kit came up in conversation but I thought no more about it until the news that Cyclone Yasi was heading for the city.

It is impossible for anyone who hasn’t experienced it to comprehend the ferocity of a category 4 cyclone but thoughts of family have made this one personal and I am waiting anxiously for news they are all safe.


OED says pavlova is NZ’s

December 8, 2010

It’s official – the  Oxford English Dictionary has decreed the pavlova was created in NZ:

In its relaunched online edition, the OED says the first recorded pavlova recipe appeared in New Zealand in 1927.

This was in a book called Davis Dainty Dishes, published by the Davis Gelatine company, and it was a multi-coloured jelly dish.

But New Zealanders claim the meringue version also originated there, with recipes for it appearing in publications in 1928 and 1929.

Dr Helen Leach from New Zealand’s University of Otago is something of a pavlova expert.

“I can find at least 21 pavlova recipes in New Zealand cookbooks by 1940, which was the year the first Australian ones appeared,” the author of The Pavlova Story told the Daily Telegraph.

This reminds me that Deborah and Kate  made requests for my recipe.

It came from the mother of a friend. We met on our first day at high school after her parents had retired from a farm in South Otago. Our parents became friends too and, as friends do, swapped recipes, including this one.

The slow adding of sugar and long, slow cooking both seem to be important. The result is a pavlova which is crisp on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside.

Peggy Sheat’s Pavlova

4 egg whites                                pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups sugar                      1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 Tablespoons water               1/2 teaspoon vinegar *

3 dessertspoons cornflour *

Beat whites to soft peak stage.

Add water & beat to mix.

Add sugar gradually (about 10 teaspoons at a time) beating well between additions – this should take at least 10 minutes.

Add cornflour, salt, vanilla and Vinegar.

Spoon onto baking tray lined with baking paper.

Bake 140 degrees for 10 minutes,  130 degrees for 20 minutes then 110 degrees for 30 minutes.  **

Turn oven off and leave pavlova in until it cools – but only if oven is clean, if it’s not the pavlova will take on the aromas from the oven – or so I’m told because I’ve never had a dirty oven  🙂

When cool turn onto serving dish crisp side down, cover with whipped cream and pile fruit on top – kiwifruit in winter and berries in summer.

* If cooking for people with  a gluten allergy make sure you use maize cornflour & white vinegar rather than malt.

** The temperatures are from memory because the recipe is in Fahrenheit –  275 f for 10 minutes, 25o f for 20 minutes and 200 for 30 minutes. If your ability to convert temperatures from F to C is better than mine I’d welcome more accurate figures.

MP at 20

September 10, 2010

Most of the news in New Zealand about the Australian election focussed on who would form the government.

There are a lot of other stories:

Twenty-year-old Wyatt Roy won Longman, a seat taking in suburbs north of Brisbane and on the Sunshine Coast, by a slim margin for the Liberal Party at the August 21 election, which also produced other political “firsts”.

WA Liberal MP Ken Wyatt is Australia’s first Indigenous member of the lower house.  There is also a Greens MP elected at a federal election for the first time – Melbourne’s Adam Bandt.

The Australian  reports:

Mr Roy spent his first official day in Parliament yesterday sitting next to the longest serving MP, Philip Ruddock, 67, who took him under his wing.

Mr Ruddock was elected in 1973, 17 years before Mr Roy was born.

He sounds like he’s enjoying the experience, but some things will take a bit of getting used to:

The country’s youngest federal MP, Wyatt Roy, says he is uncomfortable with the formality of some at Parliament House.

“I would much rather they call me Wyatt. I was talking to some of the parliamentary staff today and I said, ‘oh no, call me Wyatt’,” he said.

“They have to call me Mr Roy, and I said, ‘well in the military you salute the rank’, and I suppose here it is about the position and not the person.”

We were in Australia on election day and saw Roy interviewed on television.

He was articulate and came across as mature for his age and very grounded. He’ll need to be because being Australia’s youngest MP will mean he is likely to get more attention than most other new MPs.

His profile is here.

Google tells me that New Zealand’s youngest MP was Marilyn Waring who was 22 when she elected. If memory serves me correctly Simon Upton was the next youngest at 23.

The independents are going with:

September 7, 2010

Independent Queensland MP Bob Katter announced he was supporting the Liberal-led coalition  earlier today making it 74-all for the two main parties.

Jack the Insider, live blogger for the Australian, says Tony Windsor has given his support to Labor.

That makes it 75-74 to Labor.

Windsor is taking questions then the other independent, Rob Oakeshott will make his announcement soon.


From Jack’s live blog:

RO says neither party has a mandate
Oakeshott talking about the new parliament and how it will function but still no decision
Oakeshott – a hard decision , line ball judgment decision. “Could not get any closer”.
Oakeshott hinting he will support Labor
On now and still not confirming which way he will go.
RO certainly likes to create suspense
I’m going to call this. Oakeshott supports Labor
Labor. RO supports Labor on rural education.
Both Windsor and Oakeshott will support the government

Tuesday September 7, 2010 3:31 
Gillard can now form minority government
Labor wins. 76 – 74

The ABC reports:

Independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott have broken Australia’s political deadlock by agreeing to back Julia Gillard in a Labor minority government.

After more than a fortnight of suspense, Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor today revealed their intention to give Labor their crucial votes, meaning it has secured the 76 seats needed to rule.

Their decision came hot on the heels of Bob Katter, who earlier confirmed he would back the Coalition, putting it on 74 votes.

Mr Oakeshott’s and Mr Windsor’s decision to swing behind Labor is a bitter blow for Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who came closer than anyone expected to winning the election. In recent days he pleaded with the country trio not to forget their conservative roots.

Julia Gillard is still Prime Minister.

It is a fragile majority and it will take a lot of skill to hold it together for the parliamentary term.

 When Jenny Shipley was leading a minority government here she said she used to wake up each day and do the numbers, and she knew she couldn’t always rely on her own team. Julia Gillard will be in a very similar position.

Goose, golden egg

June 17, 2010

In New Zealand we’ve had thousands of people marching in protest at the suggestion that the potential for mining on conservation land be investigated.

When we were in Australia a couple of weeks the papers were full of stories on the government’s proposal to levy a super tax on mining, almost all of which were in support of the mining companies.

Here’ we’d probably have people saying sock it to ’em. There people understand the part mining plays in the economy and what it contributes to the country’s wealth.

The tax is seen as the government’s attempt to kill the goose which lays the country’s golden eggs and most people recognise that hurting mining hurts them too.

Govt to Govt to get NZ apples in to Australia

April 15, 2010

Orchardists have been cautious about celebrating the news that the World Trade Organisation ruled in New Zealand’s favour in the dispute over access to Australia for our apples.

The caution is because Australia could appeal the ruling.

However Trans Tasman reports that a government to government initiative might ensure the ruling is upheld.

The Trans Tasman Political Letter says NZ is looking for a way to
settle the apple export row at Government level, after NZ’s WTO
victory. It notes NZ may have won its case in the WTO court
against Australia’s barriers on the sale of NZ apples in the
Australian market, but no-one on this side of the Tasman believes
the battle has been finally won.  

As Trans-Tasman reported earlier this week, The WTO panel has
comprehensively rejected the Aust argument, and its use of
quarantine regulation as a de facto trade barrier. Clearly the
issue should now be settled at the political level, and both
Govts may have thought it a good idea to keep the WTO report
under wraps until after the Federal election.  

Trans Tasman says each Govt received the interim report at the
end of last month, and Canberra could be wary of unleashing the
fury of Aust. Apple growers in the run-up to the election.
However with a Labor Govt in power, the influence of the apple
growers mainly in seats held by Liberal or National MPs may be
less dominant. Theoretically,the Rudd Govt should be swayed more
by the interests of consumers. The NZ Govt has been looking at
how to negotiate a settlement, based on the WTO’s panel interim

TransTasman says Trade Minister Tim Groser is expected to explore
what shape a fair and final resolution could take when he talks
with his counterpart Simon Crean on the sidelines of the Cairns
Group meeting in Punta del Este early next week.  

However Trans Tasman adds NZ knows from past experience, even
when the science has been overwhelmingly conclusive, the Aust
bureaucracy has always found a way to frustrate an outcome in
NZ’s favour. With the full weight of the WTO swinging behind NZ,
Aust will risk making itself a laughing stock preaching free
trade out of one corner of its mouth while it practises
protectionism out of the other.

The observation that the Rudd government may be swayed by the interests of consumers reinforces that the ban on New Zealand apples doesn’t just handicap our apple producers, it adds to the costs and limits choice for Australian consumers.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean had earlier welcomed the WTO decision.

“This is a great day for Central Otago growers who have pinned their hopes on gaining access to markets across the Tasman.

“It has been a complicated and sometimes frustrating journey to get to this point, but now that we’re here I know that apple growers will be relieved and delighted.

“I see this decision as a vindication for Central Otago growers who have argued long and hard that the Australian ban should be lifted.

“It will be a major shot in the arm for Central apple growers, giving the industry new hope, and new markets for the future.

“Access to Australia could be worth millions to apple growers in this country and has the potential to turn the industry around.”

The Australian market could take up to 5 percent of the national crop and be worth $20 million a year.

Not everyone is so positive, (Hat Tip Andrei at NZ Conservative) Ozy Mandias wants to send Aussies our rotten apples:

Deep down my real concern is that it won’t take them long to claim our apples as there own. As New Zealanders we are constantly being ripped off by our neighbours as year after year they take our best and claim it for themselves. From racehorses to food to bands  to celebrities they have raped and pillaged the best of our little country and the next thing on their list will be our apples. . .  

My other concern is that soon we will have nothing left in New Zealand at all. . . They say that Auckland is the capital city of Samoa. Within a few years Sydney will be the capital city of New Zealand and Wellington the capital of nothing more than a strong breeze. I hadn’t been too worried about this trend, clinging to the words of former PM Muldoon that “when a New Zealander leaves for Australia they improve the IQ of both nations”. However, I never envisaged that they would move from importing people to importing our most valuable asset, apples. I wonder if Muldoon’s quote still holds true with apples??

Ag exempt from Aussie ETS

November 15, 2009

The Melbourne Age reports:

Labor has agreed to a keystone Coalition demand that agriculture be excluded permanently from the carbon pollution reduction scheme, raising hopes that Government legislation will pass through Parliament before the Copenhagen climate summit in December.

And the Australian reports Kevin Rudd:

. . . confirmed the government had agreed with the Coalition to exclude agriculture from its proposed emissions trading scheme, to be debated in Parliament this week.

This is one of the reasons that an ETS won’t be imposed on farming in New Zealand when it’s first introduced.

If our ETS isn’t in step with Australia’s we’ll be exporting production across the Tasman, making no reduction in global emissions and depressing the economy in the process.

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