Tag Archives: New Zealand

Waitangi Day


Today February 6 is a public holiday in New Zealand – Waitangi Day.  It celebrates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi the nation’s founding document that was signed on this day in 1840.

The document was signed on behalf of Queen Victoria by William Hobson and by various Maori chiefs representing their tribes.  NZ Maoris are tribal and there is not one Maori nation and so the Treaty had to be taken around the country for signing by other Maoris.  The two versions of the Treaty (one in English and one in Maori) are not identical and over time there has been much debate as to what the two sides actually agreed.

The Treaty gives Maoris the rights of British Citizenship and rights to their land.  The English version of the Treaty promises to:

  • protect Māori interests from the encroaching British settlement;
  • provide for British settlement; and
  • establish a government to maintain peace and order.

while the Maori understand it to :

  • secure tribal rangatiratanga (most often defined as chieftainship); and
  • secure Māori land ownership
Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Treaty Grounds, Waitangi

Traditionally celebrations are held at the Treaty House in Waitangi.  Politicians and other leaders are welcomed onto the marae, (a sacred open meeting place) by Maori elders.  Recently there has been a lot of dissension and Waitangi Day has become the focal point for Maori discontent.

However, apart from the Treaty we do have the Waitangi Tribunal where claims by Maori for redress for breaches by the Crown  are made.  The claims and settlements have been a significant feature of race relations since 1975.

Successive Governments have attempted to compensate Maori for the loss of their land and quite large settlements have been awarded.  This too has caused dissension particularly among the Pakeha (the Maori word for those not Maori) and some of the Maori tribes who have not received compensation.

So while February 6 should be a day of rejoicing and celebration, it is regularly marked with protest.  This year the Prime Minister, John Key was ‘drowned out’ by protesters when making his speech.

Our peaceful bi-cultural nation is hurting under the arguments and protests and in the end nobody wins.


All Gone!

Yes it’s true.  The big red Santa boot has gone, removed, put into the trash can and now can be forgotten.

So what else is on my mind today?

Twenty tattooed Maori heads are about to be repatriated from France.  At a  ceremony on Monday at Quai Branly museum in Paris, presided over by the French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand and New Zealand’s ambassador,  the heads encased in a box, were handed over.

Maori Warriors

Photo copyright EPA

In the 18th and 19th centuries Maori heads with intricate facial tattoos or moko, were often kept as trophies from tribal warfare. But with the coming of the white man, it became fashionable for  to collect these heads  by private individuals and men were in danger of being killed simply for their tattoos.

These heads are revered as ancestral remains by Maori, who hold it an insult that they should be on display in overseas museums.   Those from the museum in France have not been on display.  We are told that over the years French museums, anthropological researchers and private collectors have preserved and simply stored the heads.

Since 2003 the NZ government has been attempting (and succeeding in some degree) repatriation of these body parts.  And while more than 180 heads and skeletal remains have been repatriated to New Zealand since that time,  about 400 are estimated to remain in the UK alone.

The heads will be brought to Te Papa our National Museum and then will be distributed to the tribes to whom they belong. Some are readily identifiable but others are not, and Maori tribes are unwilling to accept body parts of anyone other than their own.  Because of this, Te Papa have some 500 unidentified body parts in storage.

As a Pakeha (non Maori New Zealander) I applaud the government’s actions  in repatriating these artifacts.

The Pohutakawa Tree

Pohutakawa tree

Image via Wikipedia

“I think perhaps I’ll never see
A more magnificent  tree
Than our pohutakawa on display
With gorgeous blooms each Christmas Day.

Those dangling roots in search will cling
To cliff or rocks or anything
And nature put this gem so long ago
Where other trees just couldn’t grow.

Thus in pohutakawa’s ancient past
A gene had formed to make it last
And claim today triumphantly
That it’s New Zealand’s Christmas-tree.”

When noodling (my elder sister’s word) around thinking about what to write today’s post on, I came across this poem.  I don’t know the author but it was in a collection of New Zealand poems on http://homepages.xnet.co.nz/~hardy/poetryNewZealand.html.

The Pohutakawa is regarded as our New Zealand Christmas tree and the Maoris say that if they produce plentiful blossoms then we shall have a good summer.  This year, summer has been late in coming but has now arrived.

So happy Christmas to all.  And by the way, for those interested, I have a new cast on today that looks like Santa’s boot.  Loads of fun in the orthopedic department today – everybody was in holiday mood.  And the good news was that I was in and out, x-rayed, new cast and all in just over one hour!  Whoo hoo.

Santa boot

I have many more attractive shoes!

In Accepting This Award…

Katherine Hepburn

Katherine Hepburn via Wikipedia

Katharine Hepburn won Best Actress a record four times. She never once showed up at the Oscars to accept the award. But her multiple wins prove that, back then, if they thought you deserved it you won.

A couple of days ago I wrote a post that meandered through my thoughts.  Among the things I wrote about were Awards, and accepting or declining them.

One of the comments I received on the post made me think that perhaps my ramblings could have been misconstrued and might have been considered rude.  Of course, this was not my intention and if anybody took the ramblings in this way, I sincerely apologise.

As I said in that post my concern was for the question of having to nominate several other bloggers for this award.  I find this difficult to do as I follow so many great bloggers and read some others to whom I haven’t yet subscribed. How do you pick and choose from the list?  In the past I have got around over my concern about this by nominating all those on my blogroll.  Cheating I guess!

Sometimes a few days pass before I read all the posts waiting in my in box.  A few days after I published the post I read that I had been awarded the Leibster Award by fellow blogger the island traveler.

Liebster blog award

So as I am a woman, and it is well known that we change our minds (I’m also blonde so make of that what you will) I will accept both these awards with grace but in doing so will cheat again and instead of nominating five (or is it fifteen?) bloggers to receive the award, I nominate all those on my blog roll.  You have all entertained me, made me think, taught me many new things and kept me on my toes in the nine months since I started on this blogging journey.  We have connected in a way that I wouldn’t have thought possible before this time.  So thank you all and please accept this award as an early Christmas present.

Versatile blogger award

Also please accept the versatile blogger award.  This was graciously awarded to me a couple of weeks ago by Janet at thoughts to mull.   I hope that Janet was not offended by  the remarks in my earlier blog.

Again I nominate all of you on my blog roll to receive this award.

This award calls for me to tell you seven things about myself  If you have been following me in the past months you will have seen these things (or some of them) before.  If so, please take it as written/read/said.

  1. I consider myself blessed in that I  had a great upbringing in a loving and secure family environment.   I know from reading some of the blogs and talking with friends that this was not afforded to everybody.
  2. I was blessed in my relationship with my husband aka the dashing (not so) young Scotsman, that lasted 41 years until his untimely death in 1998.  I say that I grew up with him and have him to thank for the woman I am today.
  3. I am blessed in my two grown children who now each have two children of their own.  I like and respect the people they chose to be their spouses and of course, I love my four sturdy, bright grandsons.
  4. I am blessed in that I have two sisters, one in London in the UK and one in Los Angeles , California with whom I am very close.  I say that the best friends of all are sisters.  We don’t see each other very often now but we are in regular contact via the phone and more particularly emails.
  5. I am an English woman who chooses to make her life in Godzone otherwise known as New Zealand/Aotearoa (the land of the long white cloud).
  6. I am a trained life coach and in recent years have spent time helping people come to terms with grief and loss.
  7. I am “retired” and now spend my time helping a Real Estate agent friend in her business, running courses mostly on Self Confidence building, writing, blogging and I volunteer at the local hospice each week.

So there you have it.  Thank you once again for reading my posts and thanks to those who consider them worthy of awards.  I hope that my making my own rules for acceptance doesn’t step on anybody’s toes.  And as Peter Ustinov said :

“To refuse awards is another way of accepting them with more noise than is normal”.

Note – just re-read the post and see that the word ‘more’ was left out of the quote by Peter Ustinov. 

A Walk in the Bush

View of bush

Bush as it was before settlers came

It had been a beautiful morning and I had been at the computer for hours.  So I decided to take Madam for a walk in the bush.  What is ‘the bush’? In New Zealand, it is the native forest, which once covered most of the land. Dense and dark, it was alive with birds, insects and lizards, but sometimes impenetrable to humans.

Much of it was cleared by the settlers but here in Wellington we are fortunate to have the Otari Native Botanic Garden and Wilton’s Bush Reserve.  This is the only public botanic garden in New Zealand dedicated solely to New Zealand native plants.

BushwalkThe reserve consists of 100 hectares of native forest, and five hectares of plant collections. Some of Wellington’s oldest trees are here, including an 800-year-old rimu.  The reserve is owned and managed by the Wellington City Council

Bushwalk 4

The area now known as Otari Wilton’s bush was originally covered in forest.  The name “Otari” is Māori for “Place of Snares”.  The bush/forest was cleared by the settlers for farming and timber.  Then in 1860 a far-sighted local farmer, Job Wilton, fenced off a 7 hectare block of land from cattle.  This was the beginning of the reserve.


Paths have been created to allow one to walk freely in among the trees.


This is a native NZ flax with strange bright flowers growing on it.  I couldn’t find the name tag for the plant alas.

By the time we arrived it had started to rain but the dense bush gave good shelter to us.  At first I was surprised that there was little birdsong but once the rain stopped the birds came out and we saw many of them flying around.  Native birds here include tui, kereru, fantail, silver eye, kingfisher, grey warbler and morepork.

We spent about an hour wandering the paths and taking photos with my trust i-phone – how I love that small phone.  Then it was time to go home, but Madam aka Lotte and I shall return again soon.

Home again

Another exciting day for one small dog, comes to an end and she finds somewhere to rest her tired little legs.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Lunch in the Garden

Monday was a holiday – Labour Day – so we took ourselves off for lunch with some friends.

It was a dull, overcast, windy day in Wellington when we set off, but when we arrived there some 1.5 hours later the sun was out and lunch was set outside.

lunch settingA really sunny spot in which to have lunch.

JasmineLots of paths to wander.  Jasmine with its strong and distinctive scent,
always reminds me of New Zealand whenever I am away.
This one was growing up a tree trunk

Blue potThis old blue pot was nestled snugly amongst the ferns

Seat and rhodosSeats are scattered around the garden where one can sit to take in the scene

bluebell pathA shady plot under the trees

StudyThe studio has its own outside seating in case one wants to sit in the sun

the garden pathWe can see where this path leads

a place to sitA shady place to rest on a hot day with a cool drink
after tending the garden

water featureAnother seat with another view

As you can see my friend is a keen gardener and has turned this 3/4 acre garden into a virtual haven.

It was a lovely afternoon; great food, good company, loads of laughter, fantastic scenes and fine wine to quaff as the day wore on.  What more could one ask for?

“After all, Eden was garden… the garden is a place to go for quiet contemplation, a source not only of food but also of spiritual renewal and intimate contact with life’s most basic processes. 
Ed Smith “The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible”

Note – all photos taken with my trusty I-phone with the blessings of the gardener and her spouse.

A Holiday Weekend

“The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other.”
Mario Puzo, The Family

Here in New Zealand the 4th Monday in October is Labour Day.  So most people have a long weekend.

Many years ago just before the holiday my husband asked me “Would you like to go to Taupo for the weekend?”   I jumped at the idea.  It seemed to have been a long time between Public holidays.  The one before this had been Queen’s Birthday in June.

Lake Taupo is the biggest lake in New Zealand and is renowned for its boating activities, fishing etc.  Taupo, the town, sits on the edge of the lake and is roughly half way between Auckland and Wellington.  As a fisherman my husband knew all the best spots in which of the rivers around Taupo.  We kept a launch at the lake and so we were all looking forward to the holiday weekend.

The instructions were for me to rent a car on Friday afternoon, pick up my son from school and drive to the hotel.  The rationale being that we didn’t need two cars in Taupo.  Oh, and would I mind coming by his office to pick up a couple of things?  He would follow us after work bringing my daughter with him.  I should point out that he was employed as National Marketing Manager for a hotel-owning company.

We duly did as we were bidden.  When I arrived at his office I was greeted by one of his assistants who had several large advertising placards, and a couple of boxes all to be delivered to the hotel.

I really didn’t understand why we couldn’t all travel together.  But I found out when I arrived at the hotel.  A new restaurant was to open that night and much of the material, advertising and otherwise, was snugly sitting in my rental car.

I was surrounded by activity and at one stage was asked if I could hang some cafe curtains – this, of course, was many years ago when these were the in things.  They then found all sorts of things for ‘the boss’s wife and son’ to do.   Having never been involved in an opening before I was amazed at how much still had to be completed before they opened for business at 7.30pm.

My husband and daughter duly arrived and he took off to see what was happening.  When he came back he had a comment and another request to make.  They were short staffed and could I help?  The two other company executives were also staying in the Taupo for the weekend and they needed extra waiting staff.  So my daughter (I think she was probably 13) and the other two wives became waitresses for the night.  I thanked my husband politely for the offer with some comment like “I’m not wearing that uniform” and so he/they decided that I could be maitre’d for the evening.

A whole new experience.  Long before the advertised opening time, a queue had formed outside the entrance to the restaurant and then the doors were opened.  It was like a feeding frenzy of the sharks as people pushed and jostled to be shown to a table.  All was going well.  The customers seemed to be happy but where was my husband – oh right, he was in the kitchen giving a hand.  My daughter was playing waitress very happily and horror of horrors I spied my son who was all of 11 years old, speeding across the restaurant with a Cona coffee jug full of hot coffee, in each hand.  He was thoroughly enjoying himself, doing whatever anyone asked of him.

We had a couple of complaints from customers and each time I simply ‘comped’ their meals.  I didn’t have the authority but those in authority were busy playing sous chefs, busboys or wine stewards.  So I made the decisions for myself.

Eventually, at around 2 am the restaurant was empty.  We all helped to straighten things up and then sat with feet up with a well-deserved coffee or was that a gin in my hand?  My children were dead on their feet but they had thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

And we had the next three days of the holiday weekend to enjoy the pleasures of Lake Taupo.  But after that, I was always a little wary of the question “Would you like to go away for the weekend?”

I still have the Robert Carrier Cookery Course book that they gave me as a thank you.  Can’t imagine what they gave the children and what they did with it.

“Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories.”
Judith Baxter, Mother, grandmother, blogger and friend.















More Scorpions


Via Wikipedia

Those danged scorpions are certainly buzzing around my brain today.  I am on a rant about the oil spill in the Tauranga Harbour.  I wrote about this a few days ago and this disaster is unfolding as we speak read.

The ship ran aground last Wednesday.  It was a clear, calm, sunny spring day in the beautiful harbour.  Astrolabe, the reef on which the boat foundered, is apparently well documented in all charts available for these waters.  We are told the auto pilot was on at the time of the grounding.  So, where was the crew?  Questions are being asked about this and also whether the master had been drinking and where he was at the time.

We hear that the master has been arrested overnight and charged under Section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act.  This covers “Dangerous activity involving ships or maritime products.”  According to the Dominion Post (our local newspaper) he has been charged with “operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk” under the Act.


Photo - Dominion Post showing containers sliding into the ocean.

And now today we hear that some seventy containers have slipped into the sea; some are floating and some are sinking.  These containers will certainly cause shipping hazards and no doubt the wreckage of these (and any other) containers will wash up onto the pristine beaches of Mount Manganui and Papamoa.  These two beaches are already covered with oil and the wild life is greatly affected by the spill.

Attempts to remove the oil from the ship have been hampered because of the bad weather.  And the weather forecast for the next few days isn’t good.  Swells of up to 5metres are expected, with rain and high winds.

The crew was taken off the ship yesterday because of safety concerns.

So this disaster is unfolding in front of us.  The Environment Minister, Nick Smith, has said that this was New Zealand’s worst maritime environmental disaster.  The ramifications of the master’s actions will resound around our country for many months and years.

The residents of Mount Maunganui where the oil has reached land, are taking matters into their own hands and cleaning up the beach, even though authorities have asked them not to.  They are not prepared to wait for the official cleanup.  A public health notice has been posted warning that the oil is toxic and should not come  in contact with the skin. From the video it is clear that people are not heeding this warning and are removing the oil globules with their unprotected hands.

Massey University’s wildlife centre in Palmerston North is being temporarily shut down as all of its staff are helping the animals affected by the Tauranga oil spill.   Speaking from the spill response centre in Mt Maunganui, wildlife centre director Dr Brett Gartrell said the centre would be closed from Friday, though two staff would stay until then to release animals there back to their homes.

Dr Gattrell said “Only common species had come in so far, but there were grave concerns for the endangered New Zealand dotterel. There were 60 pairs of the birds in the area, which made up a substantial part of their total population of 1700.  He added that “They’re the most endangered birds that are in this area.”

The wildlife centre was working with the Department of Conservation to establish if there was any need to pre-emptively capture the birds to avoid oiling.

I understand from my blogging friends that not much has been reported about this around the world.  Yesterday on BBC News there was a clip (from Sydney, Australia) about it.  But it is a major disaster and I shall continue to keep you updated on it as it unfolds.

Sunday, Rugby and Oil Disaster

Sunday – a beautiful sunny summer day greeted me on waking up.  this puts everyone in a good mood.  As John Denver sang “Sunshine almost always makes me high”.

Rugby – There is an air of excitement in our town this weekend.  We have had two quarter-final matches of the Rugby World Cup played here.  Yesterday Wales beat Ireland 22-10 and today Australia meet South Africa.  Given the (sometimes) friendly rivalry between New Zealand and Australia I imagine that many NZers will be hoping for a South African win.

The city has an air of festival about it.  Flags from all the competing nations are flying and many cars have flags of their favourites flying from their cars.  People are walking around with painted faces and in all, everybody seems to be enjoying themselves.

The City Council has got behind this weekend and has designated a large fanzone with giant screens so that those without tickets to the match can watch.  Streets around the stadium have been blocked to traffic as has an area around the fanzone.  This makes getting around a trifle difficult for the rest of us, but heavens, it’s only one weekend.

Oil Disaster – Here is an update on the disaster unfolding in our waters.

  • Our Prime Minister, John Key warned of a potential environmental disaster.
  • Gareth Hughes, the Green Party’s marine issues spokesman said New Zealand was not geared to cope with the potential disaster. “This has to be a wake-up call for the government in regards to its deep-sea oil plans and energy strategy.”
  • The Leader of the Opposition,  Phil Goff said it was not possible to stop all oil exploration, “but we are going to make it conditional on every environmental safeguard being put in place to stop any disaster occurring. We cannot afford a disaster like the Gulf of Mexico”.

So all of our politicians are moving into the picture but what is actually happening to ameliorate this disaster?  We are told that experts and equipment are arriving from around the world.  Most, if not all, experts on how to deal with such an environmental disaster are in the northern hemisphere and take days to arrive here.


Picture - Sunlive

The effect on the sea life and birds is yet to be seen.  We do know that already there are birds being seen covered in oil.  Tauranga resident, Tommy Kapai, who sailed his yacht around the stricken vessel yesterday said he saw a dead penguin floating by.

But nowhere have I seen or read about blame being laid at anyone’s door for this disaster.  We are told that the ship was on auto pilot at the time of the grounding.  Where were the members of the ship’s crew?  Shouldn’t they still be in charge even if the auto pilot is on?  What has the Captain said about this?  Who will be responsible for the massive clean up?  The questions keep coming but no answers are given.

As John Hanlon sang way back in the 1970s –

  “Damn the dam cried the fantail,
As he flew into as he flew into the sky,
To give power to the people
All this beauty has to die

Note – This song was taken up as the anthem for the Save Manapouri Campaign.  This campaign waged between 1959 and 1972 in New Zealand to prevent the raising of the levels of lakes Manapouri and Te Anau as part of the construction of the Manapouri Power Project.

And as Joni Mitchell says in the Big Yellow Taxi –

“Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
till it’s gone

A Disaster Unfolding


There is a major environmental disaster looming just 410 ms (about 260 miles) away from here.  In the lovely Bay of Plenty harbour of Tauranga, a ship has gone aground carrying 1700 tonnes of heavy fuel oil.

Read the report in the Dominion Post this morning.

I have told you before about the pristine beaches that abound around our country.  Tauranga has fabulous beaches and is a favourite place for all manner of water activities.  Families flock to its beaches in the summer months.


Dolphins and whales regularly visit this harbour and surrounds, many species of game fish are in the waters as well as the smaller fish that call these waters home.

“Tauranga marine life expert Graeme Butler said the fuel leak into the pristine waters was already a disaster.
This could not have happened at a worse time, coming into spring and the breeding season,” he said. “This is going to have a significant impact for many years to come.”
Mr Butler, who owns and operates a whale-watching and dolphin watching charter out of Tauranga, said the waters around the ship were teeming with rare and endangered wildlife.
“A blue whale and her calf were spotted in the area where the ship is only last week,” he said.”

We are coming up to Labour Day (24 October) and many will have planned to travel there for the long weekend.  No doubt those plans will be affected as will the livelihood and hopes, of the businesses in the region.

We are told by Government Ministers and spokespersons for a variety of organisations, that all is being done as quickly as possible, but are we seeing the beginnings of another Gulf of Mexico situation here?  Have we learned nothing in the intervening months about transporting vast amounts of oil through our waters?

Added to the oil problem we are told that the ship is carrying ‘hazardous cargo’ but what the nature of this is we are not told. We will have to wait and see what news of this is shared with us the people who are most affected.