Sunday soapbox


Sunday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse, but not abuse.

Like the life cycle of the butterfly, from the shattered cocoon of a once great place, a new and vibrant city can arise.  It will be a city and region inhabited by a resilient people and built on the foundations of a strong community. – Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae, in his address to the Canterbury Earthquake memorial service in Hagley Park.

Live life best imagined



Governor General Lt Gen Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae’s New Year message is on the theme of nationhood:

. . .New Zealand was the last major land mass to be settled and Wairau Bar is now considered one of the first major entry points for Polynesian migration in New Zealand. Rangihoua was the site of the first permanent European settlement here.

At both of these places of new beginnings, I reflected on the courage and resilience, our pioneering forebears needed to leave behind their familiar worlds, to venture into the unknown and to face the considerable challenges of a new land. Like those who followed them, the first New Zealanders came here to forge a better life for themselves. That vision of optimism and hope continues to attract people from many nations – people who see this country as a haven, a place of new beginnings, where they and their children can see a brighter future.

Today, when a quarter of New Zealand’s population was born elsewhere, we have the opportunity to ensure that our newest New Zealanders are welcomed, are valued, and are enabled to take their place amongst us. We want every New Zealander, whatever their origins, to live the life they would best imagine for themselves and their descendants. . .

Living the life best imagined – that’s an aspirational goal for each and all of us.

This wish will be uppermost in my mind in 2015, when the theme for my programme is Nationhood. This year we will commemorate a number of significant milestones: the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi; the centenary of the Gallipoli landings, the 150th anniversary of the shift of government to Wellington – and the 50th anniversary of the Cook Islands’ independence. These anniversaries will be occasions to take stock of where we are as a nation, and to think about the future we want our children to inherit. . .

In the last couple of days, we’ve spent time with ex-pat Kiwis who have come home for Christmas.

Their love for and appreciation of New Zealand reinforces the feeling we get every time we’ve been away – how blessed we are to live here and how important it is to ensure it stays a blessed place to be for those who follow us.

In thinking about nationhood and what it means to us, I like to quote Stephen Ambrose: “The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future.”

I see increasing interest in our collective histories and cultures and a willingness to learn from them. This gives me great optimism that we can look forward with hope to a nation where people – from whatever background – have the opportunity to contribute and make a difference; in the workplace, in the social and cultural realm; and in their communities. . .

Knowledge and hope, two potent guides for our individual and collective contributions to our families, our communities, our country and the world.

November 14 in history


1533 – Conquistadors from Spain under the leadership of Francisco Pizarro arrived in Cajamarca, Inca empire.

1770 – James Bruce discovered what he believed to be the source of the Nile.

1805 Fanny Mendelssohn, German composer and pianist, was born (d. 1847).

 1840 Claude Monet, French painter, was born (d. 1926).

1845 – Governor George Grey arrived in New Zealand.

George Grey arrives in NZ

1878 – Julie Manet, French painter, was born (d. 1966).

1889 – Pioneering female journalist Nellie Bly (aka Elizabeth Cochrane) began a successful attempt to travel around the world in less than 80 days.

1896 – Mamie Eisenhower, First Lady of the United States (d. 1979)

1908 Joseph McCarthy, U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, was born.

1910 – Aviator Eugene Ely performed the first take off from a ship in Hampton Roads, Virginia when he took off from a makeshift deck on the USS Birmingham in a Curtiss pusher.

1918 – Czechoslovakia became a republic.

1919 Veronica Lake, American actress, was born (d. 1973).

1921 – The Communist Party of Spain was founded.

1921 – Brian Keith, American actor, was born. (d. 1997).

1922 – The BBC began radio service.

1922 – Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Egyptian UN Secretary-General, was born

1923 – Kentaro Suzuki completed his ascent of Mount Iizuna.

1935 King Hussein of Jordan was born (d. 1999).

1940 – Coventry was heavily bombed by Luftwaffe bombers. Coventry Cathedral was almost completely destroyed.

1941 – World War II: The aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal sank after torpedo damage from U-81 sustained on November 13.

1947 P. J. O’Rourke, American writer, was born.

1948 Prince Charles was born.

1952 – The first regular UK singles chart published by the New Musical Express.

1954 – Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae, Governor General of New Zealand, was born.

1954 – Condoleezza Rice, former United States Secretary of State, was born.

1957 – The Apalachin Meeting outside Binghamton, New York was raided by law enforcement, and many high level Mafia figures were arrested.

1959 Paul McGann, British actor, was born

1965 – Vietnam War: The Battle of the Ia Drang began – the first major engagement between regular American and North Vietnamese forces.

1967 – The Congress of Colombia, in commemoration of the 150 years of the death of Policarpa Salavarrieta, declared this day as “Day of the Colombian Woman”.

1969 – NASA launchds Apollo 12, the second manned mission to the surface of the Moon.

1970 – Soviet Union enters ICAO, making Russian the fourth official language of organisation.

1970 – Southern Airways Flight 932 crashed in the mountains near Huntington, West Virginia, killing 75, including members of the Marshall University football team.

1971 Adam Gilchrist, Australian cricketer, was born.

1971 – Enthronment of Pope Shenouda III as Pope of Alexandria.

1973 – The passage of the Social Security Amendment Act introduced the Domestic Purposes Benefit to New Zealand’s social welfare system.

DPB legislation introduced

1973 – Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips, in Westminster Abbey.

1975 – Spain abandoned Western Sahara.

1982 – Lech Wałęsa, the leader of Poland’s outlawed Solidarity movement, was released after 11 months of internment.

1984 – Zamboanga City mayor Cesar Climaco, a prominent critic of the government of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, was assassinated in his home city.

1990 – After German reunification, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Poland sign a treaty confirming the Oder-Neisse line as the border between Germany and Poland.

1991 – Cambodian Prince Norodom Sihanouk returned to Phnom Penh after 13 years of exile.

 1991 – In Royal Oak, Michigan, a fired United States Postal Service employee went on a shooting rampage, killing four and wounding five before committing suicide.

1995 – A budget standoff between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress forced the federal government to temporarily close national parks and museums and to run most government offices with skeleton staffs.

2001 – War in Afghanistan: Afghan Northern Alliance fighters took over Kabul.

2002 – Argentina defaulted on an $805 million World Bank payment.

2003 – Astronomers Michael E. Brown, Chad Trujillo, and David L. Rabinowitz discovered 90377 Sedna, a Trans-Neptunian object.

2007 – The last direct-current electrical distribution system in the United States was shut down in New York City by Con Edison.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikiepdia

Have a right royal birthday


If your birthday is on November 14 you’ve got the chance to make it a right royal one:

New Zealanders whose birthday falls on 14 November are being offered a unique opportunity to celebrate their special day with HRH The Prince of Wales.

HRH Prince Charles and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall will visit New Zealand from 11 to 16 November to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The visit also coincides with the Prince’s 64th birthday and to mark the occasion Government House is inviting New Zealanders aged 18 years and older whose birthday falls on 14 November to apply for an invitation to the party.  Sixty-four people will be chosen by ballot from the applications received to attend the party at Government House in Wellington.

Niels Holm, Official Secretary at Government House, said the birthday party was a wonderful opportunity for New Zealanders to meet Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.

“That the Diamond Jubilee visit includes the Prince’s birthday is a happy coincidence that we couldn’t simply allow to pass without marking in a special Kiwi way.  And what better way to mark the Prince’s birthday than to invite New Zealanders from a wide range of backgrounds who are also celebrating their special day to join a most memorable party.”

The Governor-General, Lt Gen Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, whose birthday also falls on November 14, welcomed the initiative.

“The Diamond Jubilee visit is a chance to recognise 60 years’ of remarkable service to New Zealand by our Queen.  That we also have the chance to welcome the Prince of Wales and celebrate with him and the Duchess on this special day is, if you’ll excuse the pun, the icing on the cake!”

Applications close at 5pm on Wednesday 10 October 2012.

You’ll find the application form if you click on the link at the top of the post.


The essence of being a New Zealander


The more I travel or meet visitors from overseas here the more I realise there are usually more things which unite people from different countries than divide us.

That said, there are characteristics which make each nationality distinctive.

Some are physical, and I don’t just mean obvious genetic factors like skin colour.

The people we saw on the streets of Singapore during a stop-over looked very different from the mainly European, African, Middle Eastern and British people we’d been with for three and a half months in Spain. Among them I saw a couple walking towards us and long before I heard them speak I said to my farmer, “I bet they’re Kiwis.”

There was something about the way they walked and the way they were dressed which was familiar. Their accents, overheard as they passed us, proved me right, my ears confirming something my eyes had already recognised.

If there are physical characteristics, there is also a national character. Lt Gen Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae summed up ours in the speech at his swearing in as Governor General yesterday:

What I identify as the essence of being a New Zealander was put neatly by Sir Edmund Hillary when he said that “In some ways I believe I epitomise the average New Zealander: I have modest abilities, I combine these with a good deal of determination, and I rather like to succeed.” As a people, New Zealanders are in equal measures informal, strong-willed, competitive and yet also modest about all we have achieved. We have a strong sense of community, where public-spiritedness is appreciated and valued. We are inclined to be considerate and prepared to lend a helping hand to those in need. Yet we also like to get on and do stuff – we admire individual ingenuity and those who have a sense of adventure.

 We might not all be as good as this, but it is something towards which we can aspire.

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