New Year honours


Two dames and four knights have been created in the New Year honours.

Trelise Cooper has been honoured for services to fashion.

Alison Paterson has been honoured for services to business which includes significant service to agriculture.

She is chair of Crown Irrigation Investment and Farm IQ,  Stevenson Agriculture and New Zealand Formulary, which is developing markets for furnishing fabric made from wool and rice. She was a director of 
She is a director of Landcorp Farming, and PGG Wrightson.

The new knights are:

Dr Noble Curtis, of Rotorua for services to Māori education;  Archbishop David Moxon, of Rome for services to the Anglican Church, Bob Parker, for services to local body affairs and the community and Peter Vela, ONZM, for services to the thoroughbred industry.

The first link takes you to the full list at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s website.

Southern and rural people honoured include:


Former Southland mayor Frano Cardno who is profiled in the ODT.


John Coles, former Waimate mayor.

Tom Lambie,  a pioneering organic farmer, former president of Federated Farmers, representedboard member of Trade Liberalisation Network,  New Zealand on the International Federation of Agricultural Producers, former chair of the Landcare Trust, and is Chancellor of Lincoln University and an ECan commissioner.


Former Waitaki mayor Alex Familton.


Former Oamaru police officer and current scout leader Derek Beveridge.

Former Waitaki mayor Alan McLay.







Dame Kiri in concert


The $10 million refurbishment of Oamaru’s Opera House wasn’t without controversy.

That’s a lot of money for a small town.

But the leadership of the project by then-mayor Alan McLay and then-deputy, now Waitaki MP, Jacqui Dean, prevailed.

Last night the building got the seal of approval from Dame Kiri Te Kanawa who in opening remarks in which she described Opera House as a little gem and spoke of the importance of heritage.

This was the third time I’d heard her in concert. The first was at Millbrook, the second in Dunedin’s town Hall but this was the best.

There was no need for a microphone in the Opera House seats only about 500 people.This created an intimacy as she held us spell bound through a selection of opera and lighter songs.

She had us laughing, and also crying. Danny Boy is a family favourite, we sang it at our son, Dan’s funeral, but we weren’t alone in having tears in our eyes when she sang it.

Her accompanist, Professor Terrence Dennis, was a performer is his own right.

The ODT reports on Dame Kiri’s visit  here and here.

It was a very special night in a gem of a building with a star.

Race is on for Waitaki mayoralty


Several months ago someone whose name I’ve forgotten and of whom I’ve heard nothing since, announced he was going to stand for Mayor of Waitaki.

A few weeks ago the incumbent, Alec Familton, announced he was seeking re-election.

Now there’s another contender – deputy mayor Gary Kircher has used his blog to announce he plans to seek the mayoralty too.

I might have said it’s difficult for a sitting councillor to defeat a sitting mayor because both could be judged on what the council has – or hasn’t – done.

But three years ago Alec, who was a sitting councillor, defeated then-Mayor Alan McLay.

Then there were big issues, including controversy over the Opera House development and steep rates rises.

It’s been much quieter on the local body front in the past three years which will make it more difficult to mount a challenge.

However, the race has just begun and if a week is a long time in politics, anything might happen in the four months between now and the election.

Double-Decker bus for sale


If you have a spare $50 to $55,000 and a penchant for double decker buses, former Waitaki mayor Alan McLay has a deal for you.

The double-decker Bristol he’s owned for seven years is on the market.

He’s used it for transporting community groups and private parties around the district one of which was our staff Christmas party a few years ago. That I’ve refused to go on another such tour is a reflection on the behaviour of some of the passengers on that trip and not on the bus or its very capable driver.

Sally Rae has the story of the bus in the ODT  (from where I copied this photo):

Alan McLay says his double-decker bus was good for public relations while he was mayor. Photo by Sally Rae.

Nikken Seil Dream Over


Dr Hirotomi Ochi  bought Teschmakers, a former Catholic girls’ boarding school, and 500 hectares of land in 2001 to set up an international centre in North Otago for health sciences and the growing and processing of organic foods.

But he died nearly three years ago. Now his company, Nikken Seil is selling the 22ha it bought north of Oamaru to establish a business park and the sale of the school and surrounding land is expected to follow.

Nikken’s principal shareholder Dr Hirotomo Ochi, who died in October 2005, bought Teschemakers for about $500,000 in 2000, and from that sprang the idea of the business park and the purchase of about 500ha of farmland to produce organic foods for processing.

Dr Ochi was also the principal shareholder in food company Nikken Foods, but since his death the projects – which could have created hundreds of jobs – have languished.

Former Waitaki mayor Alan McLay yesterday said the business park land was still “a huge opportunity long term”.

“Nothing has changed, except the possibility of having Japanese enterprises and industries. It’s given us the opportunity for a much-needed industrial area for the town,” he said.

The international college was a big dream and the company spent hundreds of thousands of dollars restoring the old school buildings, including an historic homestead which was destroyed by fire part way through the restoration, and rebuilt.


 The school ought to be worth a lot more than its $500,000 purchase price now the buildings have been restored  – if someone with a new dream can be found to buy it.


 Waitaki Mayor  Alex Familton agrees with his predecssor that there is still potential for a business park.


%d bloggers like this: