Quote of the day


. . . Taken as a group, the writings in the Bible represent human beings struggling to work out this strange notion of right and wrong, and which is which.

That is where, I think, God resides, and also where humanity lies: in our need to work out right from wrong. The fact of our flawed state as human beings means we do not get it right, and also our perceptions of God will always be similarly flawed.

This is why, in turn, I do not trust certainty in either religion or in atheism. It is often said that the proselyting atheists of the Richard Dawkins mould are just fundamentalists of a different kind, and I think this is true, in a way which goes beyond the obvious levels.

But to deal with the obvious first: there is a missionary zeal, certainly, Dawkins et al share with the more foam-flecked fundamentalists.

But mostly, both actually serve to deny humanity. In the case of the crusading atheists, they seem to be trying to extirpate something which has been uniquely human, which is this development of religious belief down the millennia.

In the case of fundamentalists, of any stripe, the restrictions they prescribe for human behaviour is a similar denial of basic humanity and to the central mystery of our existence. . . Rob’s Blockhead Blog

I think his thoughts on fundamentalists apply to politics as well as religion.

Sleep working or wakeover?


Evaluating residential services for intellectually disabled people gave me an insight into the best, worst and in-between.

Some homes were so good I’d have been happy to move in myself, a couple were so bad I wouldn’t have left a stuffed toy in their care. Most were somewhere in between but tending towards the better end.

The residents varied as people without disabilities do. Some were happy, healthy and had a high level of independence. Some were unhappy, had physical and/or mental health problems, some were totally dependent. Others had varying levels of challenging behaviour which required extra skill and patience in those caring for them.

The key to what made the homes good or bad was the staff. Some were skilled, dedicated to and respectful of the people for whom they were caring.

One was so bad that had he not been wearing a uniform we’d have thought he was one of the residents with a personality disorder.

In some houses the staff who did night duty were there only for emergencies like fire, earthquakes or severe illness. They could rely on being able to go to bed and sleeping until morning almost every night and many had never been woken. In some the night staff had more onerous duties because residents had higher needs and a few had to get up at least once every night.

Given the different requirements and duties it’s difficult to apply a single rule over pay and conditions, yet that is what the court ruling saying sleepover staff must be paid a minimum wage does.

Sleepover staff usually begin their duties in the late afternoon or early evening and are paid an hourly rate until they go to be at about 10pm. They’re paid an allowance (about $35) for that and an hour’s pay for every part of an hour they have to get up during the night. They’re then on active duty from about 7am for a couple of hours until the residents go out for the day or day staff come on duty.

The court ruling means that they’d have to be paid at least $13 an hour for the time they’re in bed. This has expensive implications not just for providers of residential services for intellectually disabled people but others who employ sleepover staff like boarding schools, student halls of residence and rest homes.

I have no problem with paying people an hour’s work for any part hour they have to get up through the night.

I understand the need to be paid something for having to be somewhere for a specific time with responsibility for other people and for having sleep disturbed, or the potential for it.

But I don’t think people can be earning $13 an hour in their sleep.

 If employers have to pay an hourly rate they would be justified in expecting their staff to do more than sleep in return for it. Would staff then be prepared to make it a wakeover – to be  awake and actively doing something through the night?

Not all would:

Hawksbury Trust chairman Richard Thomson . . .  who is also a Southern DHB member, had mixed feelings about the Court of Appeal decision, saying it could prove to a “pyrrhic victory” for workers.

For many people, sleepover shifts allowed them to do other things during the day, such as studying at university or working another job. Many people had benefited from the set-up, and it did not seem right they may be in for back-pay. However, he could also see an element of unfairness in not paying an hourly rate.

“There will be winners and losers [among the workers].”

If staff aren’t prepared to be up and active,  they’re sleepworking. That requires some pay  butI don’t think the normal hourly pay expected for actively working  is justified. 

Kathryn Ryan did a prolonged interview on the court ruling and its implications on Thursday.

Kiwiblog also has reservations but Rob’s Blockhead and The Hand Mirror support the ruling.

Blogging mothers and introversion


Discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass continued last week’s look at the results of Technorati’s state of the blogosphere survey – concentrating on blogging mothers.

We also looked at caring for your introvert.

That was prompted by my name is Stephen and I am an introvert at Quote Unquote and shy egomaniacs at Rob’s Blockhead Blog.

Apropos of introversion and extroversion – if you Google Myers Briggs Personality Types you’ll find on-line tests which help you identify where you fit. However, given that a proper MBPT identification takes several hours witha trained facilitator the results should be regarded with caution.

I’ve done the proper test twice and both times came out as an INFP (introvert, intuitive, feeling, perceiving).

During an HR session at an agri-business discussion group we were given a brief introduction to the concepts then told to put ourselves on a line with high introvert at one side of the room and high extrovert at the other. All the couples in the group ended up with one on one side and the other on the other.

NZ Book Month


Today is the last day of NZ Book Month and the post a day challenge.

It’s been fun and the challenge for me was not what to include but which books to leave out.

Deborah kept up with the calendar. In doing so reminded me of some old favourites and added several books to my must-read list.

Family, work, life and other more important things got in the way of Rob’s good intention to post each day, but what he lacked in quantity was more than compensated for by quality. 

 He didn’t get round to Bollard and Buckle’s “Economic Liberalisation in New Zealand’  which he reckoned is a real page turner; nor Malcolm McKinnon History of the NZ Treasury which he promised would have you on the edge of your seat.

Maybe next year. 🙂


Deborah has posted on a month of books and in doing so reminded me that Karen Healey became a late entry to the challenge and posts here on Margaret Mahy; and that Oswald Bastable also did some book month posts, although none on his own.

In Touch


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No woman could get in to the All Blacks, not even a West Coaster. Or could she?

In Janette Sinclair’s In Touch, Sandy Jones manages it.

This is a light hearted romp with a twist in the tail – and the tale.

Post 27 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge

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Over at In A Strange Land Deborah posts on Down the Dragon’s Tongue by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Patricia MacCarthy.

Rob’s catching up with The Shag Incident by Stephanie Johnson and two books by Barry Gustafson: His Way, a Biography of Robert Muldoon and kiwi Keith, a Biography of Keith Holyoake.

And Karen Healey has made a late entry to the challenge with: The Alex Quartet by Tessa Duder; The works of Elizabeth Knox; and Gavin Bishop.

The Road to Castle Hill


 If you judged The Road to Castle Hill by it’s cover you’d think it was the story of high country farming.

It is, but it’s much more than that.

Christine Fernyhough’s story is not just about how she came to buy Castle Hill Station and learned to farm it. It’s also the story of her involvement with the books in homes programe and the gifted kids programes which grew from that.

The book shows us the challenges Christine faced, including those with tenure review. She also has some very good thoughts on bridging the town-country divide.

I’ve heard Christine speak twice, she’s a delight to listen to and this book is a delight to read. Louise Callan helped with the writing and the words are enhanced by John Bougen’s photos.

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Post 26 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge

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Deborah at In a Strange Land posts on The Witch in the Cherry Tree by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Jenny Williams.

Rob posts on Greg McGee’s Tall Tales, Some True  and Memories of Muldoon by Bob Jones.

Jane and the Dragon


I indenitifed with Jane from the first sentence:  Jane hated sewing.

However, there’s a lot more to the heroine of Jane and the Dragon written and illustrated by Martin Baynton than a dislike of practising her stitches.

She wants to be a knight but the only one who takes her seriously is the court jester.

There’s a moral to this story about following your dream and not being frightened to do the unexpected, but it’s not heavy handed. This is first and foremost a delightful tale which is beauitifully illustrated.

The inscription in the copy on our daughter’s book shelf shows it was given to her as a Christmas present when she was four. We enjoyed reading it to her, she enjoyed being read to and a few years later, read and re-read it herself.

Back then it was just a book. Jane has now been televised and has a website.

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Post 17 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge.

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 Over at In A Strange Land Deborah posts on Down in the Forest by Yvonne Morrison, illustrated by Jenny Cooper.

Rob’s been reading Slinkly Malinki by Lynley Dodd.

The farmer takes a wife


Apropos of  International Rural Women’s Day, today’s book is The farmer takes a wife by Mary Moore, illustrated by Helen Moore.

The stories were first broadcast on National Radio, the book came after thousands of readers responded positively to them.

They tell the tales of Alice who “had married George for better or worse . . .  The better was much better than she could ever have dreamed. The worse much worse. The really bad incredible worst always had something to do with animals. . .”

Fortunately Alice has a sense of humour which comes across in all the stories and each leaves the reader with a grin.

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Post 15 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge.

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Over at In A Strange Land Deborah posts on Tane’s Weta by Jennifer McIvor, illustrated by John Rundle.

Rob’s giving us a double helping  of Maurice Gee – Ellie and the Shadow Man and Going West.



Tessa Duder’s heroine Alex is articulate, feisty, talented, determined and fragile.

She is a champion swimmer, aiming to qualify for the Olympics. She’s also a hockey player, musician and an amateur dramatist who faces health problems and a tragedy.

The book gripped me from the opening sentence, held me through to the last word and stayed with me long after I finished it.

It is the first book in a quartet and the author maintains the high standards she set in the first book in all of the other three.

Alex won the New Zealand Story Book of the Year in 1988 and it also won the Esther Glen Award for children’s writing.


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Post 14 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge.

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Rob posts on 101 Great Tramps and Grant Smithies’ SoundTrack.

Over at In A Strange Land Deborah posts on Seadog: A tale of Old New Zealand by Dorothy Butler, illustrated by Lyn Kriegler.



Sting by Raymond Huber  gives a bees-eye view of the world.

It’s the story of Ziggy, a bee who knows he’s different and his search to find out why.

It’s aimed at children but will be enjoyed by adults too. I was both entertained and educated by it.

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Post 13 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge.

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Deborah continues to meet the post a day challenge at In A Strange Land with Taniwha written and illustrated by Robyn Kahukiwa.

Rob catches up with two cook books and a garden book: Food For Flatters  by Michael Volkering;  Rowan Bishop’s  The Good Health Adventure Guide and The Yates Garden Guide.

Not part of the post a day challenge, but apropos of NZ Book Month, at The Sound of Butterflies Rachael King comments on the Sunday Star Times story with stats which indicate only 5% of the books New Zealanders buy are New Zealand books. She  says local books would sell better if they were placed with international fiction and not in a separate section of book shops.

I think she’s right. The way book shops display their wares, New Zealand books are never near the front. They are ghettoised further back where a casual browser is less likely to come upon them and the bigger the shop the harder it is to find New Zealand fiction.

Aotearoa Psalms


Since it’s Sunday, today’s offering for New Zealand book month is Aotearoa Psalms by Joy Cowley with photos by Terry Coles, who is her husband.

Joy is best known as the author of children’s books, she has also written adult fiction. I came across this collection of meditations on my mother’s bookshelf.

I especially liked this from God of The Absurd:

Tune my ear to the laughter

of your universe

and help me to understand it

as my own.

And this from Do Dogs go to Heaven?

. . . I can’t count the times God has loved me

through small furred and feathered things,

how often I’ve been taught through them,

lessons of trust and playfulness,

simplicity and self-acceptance.

And since I do believe that heaven

is not so much a place as a state of being

I can say to my own mokopuna,

“Yes there are dogs in heaven.”

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Post 11 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge.

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 Deborah has another Lynley Dodd favourite, Slinky Malinky Cat Flaps at In A Strangeland.

Rob gives us two for one at Rob’s Blockhead Blog: Ten Year’s Inside by Tom Scott and A Dagg At My Table by John Clarke.

And over at Kiwiblog David Farrar adds some facts to the figures on reading Kiwi books.

The Book of Fame


 It’s not just the story, it’s the way it’s told in the first person plural, which made The Book of Fame by Lloyd Jones stick with me long after I read it.

We’re introduced to the characters, the members of the 1905 All Black team which toured Britain, but we never know which is telling us the story because it’s always we and us.

It’s a couple of years since I’ve read this so the details escape me, but I remember being engrossed by it. A friend who was an All Black in the 1970s said it was a very realistic depiction of an overseas tour. But it’s also a story about people and you don’t have to be interested in rugby to enjoy it.


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 Post 9 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge.

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Over at In A Strange Land, Deborah delights in Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy, written and illustrated by Lynley Dodd.

At Rob’s Blockhead, Rob has posted on Allen Curnow’s selected poems.

A River Rules My Life


 Mona Anderson’s story of life on Mount Algidus Station, in Canterbury is another of those I remember when I’m tempted to feel sorry for myself.

 A River Rules My Life, recounts adventures and day to day trials of high country life and the people who lived there.

It wasn’t an easy life but the author tells the story with humour and without any self pity.


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Post  7 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge.


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Over at Rob’s Blockhead, Rob posts on The Lovelock Version by Maurice Shadbolt.

Deborah at In A Strange Land has been reading The Biggest Number in the Universe by Julie Leibrich illustrated by Ross Kaird.

Grievous Bodily


Craig Harrsion is the author of Quiet Earth  which is a very dark novel.

Grievous Bodily couldn’t be more different. It’s a laugh-out-loud story of which begins with the discovery of $100,000. That leads to chaos which the finders couldn’t have imagined including mistaken identity, thwarted lust and  close encounters with cow pats, puddings and pigs’ heads.

It’s another of the books I re-read each year and I laugh just as much with each re-reading as I did with the first.

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It’s out of print now, you’ll have to try Trade Me or second hand shops. It was read on Afternoons a year or two ago so an audio copy may still be available.

Post 5 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge.

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Deborah at In A Strange Land has been reading Mitch and Monty by Kathy Scott, illustrated by Alex Scott.

Rob posts on Ian Grant’s The Unauthorised Version at Rob’s Blockhead.

And over at No Minister, Psycho Milt doesn’t want to be reading fiction as some kind of civic duty.

Drovers Road – updated


Drovers Road by Joyce West is the first New Zealand novel I remember reading.

It is the story of four children, living with their uncle on a backblocks farm north of Gisborne.

I’d been brought up on British, Canadian and US authors and was very excited when this book showed me that New Zealanders could write books about New Zealand people and places.

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Drovers Road by Joyce West, published by J.M. Dent & Sons, 1963.

Day 1 of the book a day challenge for New Zealand Book Month.

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Over at In A Strange Land Deborah posts on the first book she read to her baby daughter, Dorothy Butler’s My Brown Bear Barney.

And Rob posts on The Stories of Frank Sargeson.

Book post a day challenge for NZ Book Month


A reminder that tomorrow is the first day of New Zealand Book Month.

Deborah at In A Strange Land and Rob at Rob’s Blockhead Blog  have accepted the challenge to write a post a day on a New Zealand book for the month. 

If you want to join in on your blog leave a comment and I’ll link to your posts.

If you don’t have a blog you’re welcome to do a comment a day instead.


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High Country Weather


This Friday’s poem is James K. Baxter’s High Country Weather.

High Country Weather

Alone we are born
and die alone
yet see the red-gold cirrus
over snow-mountain shine.

Upon the upland road
ride easy stranger:
surrender to the sky
your heart of anger.

James K. Baxter

Prompted by these photos at Rob’s Blockhead.

Did you see the one about . . .


Wave goodbye to email? at Open Parachute

Useful English System conversions/units at Something Should Go Here

Stranger in the House at In A Strange Land

 The Wesleys 10 at Musty Moments

Free Market Families at Fairfacts Media

The Stratford Theory of Numbers at Quote Unquote

The whole where you were and what you were doing when you first heard. . . etc etc at Rob’s Blockhead.

And a new (to me) blog from the Wairarapa : Bright Wings

Did you see the one about. . .


 Pipe specification  at Somethingshouldgohere

Unintentional arrogance at Open Parachute

Why economics is hard  at The Visible Hand

Worthy pursuits – cough at Rob’s Blockhead

5 ways for banks to improve their on-line banking services  at Interest.Co.NZ

S59 amendment vitimises 2nd parent at Monkeywithtypewriter

Significant risk factor for child abuse omitted at Lindsay Mitchell

Hating on Teh Fatties at In A Strange Land

Weird Art Quiz at Artandmylife

A car quiz at Not PC

Ground rules in the first, second and third person at The Hand Mirror

Undomestic godess at Pundit

A puff too far  at Macdoctor

And a couple of newish  (to me) blogs:


Birdsofparadise – from Nicole Were, a New Zealander living in Yellowknife in the northwest of Canada (interviewed for the best song segment on Afternoons by Jim Mora on Thursday)

NZ Music Month finale –


Like Inventory 2 at Keeping Stock, I realise New Zealand Music month is over, but we were in Wanaka with friends for the weekend and I didn’t have time to do a final round up round the blogs so here they are:

Keeping Stock concluded his Christian Music Sundays with two songs from Brooke Fraser: Lifeline & Albertine.

Inquiring Mind finished with some reggae from Cornerstone Roots

Rob posted three for the final day: Anything Could Happen from The Clean; The Verlaines with Doomsday and In Your Favour from Look Blue Go Purple.

I’ll leave the last word  notes to the Goodnight Kiwi:

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