All govt depts, ministries to be dispersed to provinces


All government departments and ministries are to be dispersed to the provinces in a whole-of-government decentralisation programme.

“We got the message from Northland that people think the government doesn’t care about the provinces and by extension that means people think government departments and ministries don’t care,” State Services spokesperson Ms Verity Factotum said.

“That isn’t true but that’s the perception and perception is reality and therefore we are duty bound to disprove that perception, prove it wrong and re-programme provincial thinking so everyone there understands that we do in fact care,” she said.

“We can’t expect the mountains to come to Mohammad so all the various departmental and ministerial Mohammads are going to the mountains, all of which are of course in the provinces.”

Ms Factotum said the departments and ministries wouldn’t literally be shifting to the mountains as most of them were too high and too far from anywhere serving a decent latte.

“We can’t expect our staff to work at high altitude or make coffee sacrifices but they will all be moving to provincial towns.

“We’ve been working with Google Maps, AA guides and  iSite offices on the ground in the provinces to ensure we get the best fit between the offices and their location.

“We’ve discovered that Oamaru has an historic precinct, Steam Punk headquarters, the Forrester Gallery and an Opera House  which would provide good synergies for the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage.

“Hokitika is the obvious place for the Department of Conservation because most of the West Coast is basically just bush and places we don’t want to mine and we think Customs could shift to Bluff because it’s got a port.

“Relocating the Ministry of Primary Industries is proving to be somewhat more problematic because we’ve found that every provincial town has some sort of claim to servicing its agricultural hinterland and we may have to set up a separate MPI in all of them.”

Ms Factotum said they were having a similar problem siting the Ministries of Education and health because every town had a school and medical centre or hospital but they’d settled on Dunedin for them because it had a university and a medical school too.

“There’s also a School of Physical Education there which will could make a helpful and healthful contribution to government plans to reduce obesity.

“Relocating the Ministry of Tourism is also raising difficulties as every single iSite has many and varied claims to tourist attractions and again we might divide it into mini Ministries with offices anywhere there’s something to do or see.

“The Ministry of Internal Affairs could move to Eketahuna or Taumarunui as both were inland which is the geographical equivalent of internal and Treasury will go to Gisborne because it’s the first place to see the sun and we think the staff will benefit from the vitamin D.

Ms Factotum said there were still decisions to be made on other departments and ministries and some issues to be worked through. But the government had impressed upon the SSC that the relocation was a matter of urgency and all transfers were expected to be signed off by midday today.



Colin Wheeler 1919 -2012


One of North Otago’s most acclaimed artists, Colin Wheeler, died last week.

Born in Dunedin in 1919, he studied at the Canterbury School of Art and Camberwell School of Arts and Craft in London.

He moved to Oamaru in 1951 to work as art master at Waitaki Boys’ High School. Former pupils have very fond memories of his class.

I once had the privilege of visiting him in his home. He was a very modest man but his enthusiasm for his art and knowledge of the subjects he painted was inspirational.

His books of paintings of historic sheep stations which were first published in the 1960s were very popular and he has left a huge legacy of paintings of rural New Zealand.

His work also established a record of North Otago landscapes and buildings and an invaluable collection depicting Oamaru scenes. He gifted many of his paintings to the Forrester Gallery, some of which can be seen here.

His contribution to art was recognised with a Queens Service Medal.

The Artist’s Room also has examples of his work.

The Oamaru Mail pays tribute to him here and this website has more on his career.

We are amused . .


. . . we are also entertained and amazed by the talent and energy the North Otago community displays in the District’s annual Victorian heritage celebrations.

The programme  includes live theatre, the national penny farthing championships a servants and swaggers dance for the downstairs  folk,  a ball for those upstairs and the annual fete a feature of which is the world stone sawing championships.

The second annual Steampunk: tomorrow as it used to be exhibition at the Forrester Gallery is an undoubted highlight.

Join us in a journey to a distant place and time. A world styled with brass, copper and leather. A steam-powered world of blimps, balloons and coal smoke darkened skies, a magical, miraculous, mechanical world of cogs, levers, wheels clocks and glass gauges. A world that is full of mad and quirky technology. A place where Jules Verne and Monty Python might meet to share a port wine and smoke a pipe at home together . . .

I had a quick look round the gallery yesterday and will return for the long, lingering visit  required to do justice to the exhibits.

Each year more people get in to the spirit of the celebrations by dressing in Victorian clothes.

If you’re anywhere near North Otago, the celebrations provide a very good reason to visit this weekend.

Steampunk’s arrived


The Steampunk exhibition at Oamaru’s Forrester Gallery has opened.

I haven’t been inside since having a sneak peek while the exhibitinw s being set up last week, but it’s impossible to miss this outside:

A street party to celebrate the exhibition is being held this evening.

Steampunk is coming


Last year’s inaugural steampunk exhibition at Oamaru’s Forrester Gallery was an outstanding success, this year’s promises to be even better.

On Wednesday, a  large crane was involved in preparing for the installation of something big outside:

Inside, the first of the many exhibits were in place, including  Dr Gattling’s Lunar Dismembulator which was photographed by the ODT.

The Victorian League of Imagineers are behind the exhibition, Tomorrow As It Used To Be which opens this morning. They’ll be celebrating with a street party next Saturday from 6.30 to 8pm.

Oamaru is New Zealand’s Steampunk capital but there are enclaves of similar creativity elsewhere.

When we were in Kununura in northern West Australia a couple of months ago we came across this Hardly Davidson.

It’s the work of New Zealand born artist, Al Mason, whom we came across painting a mural.

You can see more examples of his work at the Lovell Gallery.

%d bloggers like this: