So Tauranga residents can save on $ and recycle all our plastics like the 6/8 largest NZ cities?

I am a ratepayerliving around Tauranga & frankly, I am sick of my kids coming home and talking about recycling 3-7 plastics when Tauranga doesn’tactually do this.

And I really hate the legacy of landfill we are leaving for our future. So I conducted an investigation.  And the shame.  Oh the shame of my findings.:

The Tauranga City Council Ten Year Plan is up for review. (Please note submissions are due by 20th April.) Central to all decisions is the ‘Decision Making Framework’. Two of the top eight points central to ‘what we want our city to be like?’ Are (1) Clean, Green valued environment; and (2) Living Well, wasting less.

Out of the top eight cities in New Zealand, Auckland, Wellington, Hastings-Napier, Dunedin, Christchurch and Palmerston-North all recycle plastics no.’s 3-7.
ONLY Tauranga City Council (TCC) and Hamilton City Council do not.

Yet even Hamilton CC are considering the option, and it will be easier for them to implement because they already charge rubbish and recycle collection onto rates.

The big problem for us, is that TCC clearly state ‘No rates-funded inorganic waste collections to be undertaken’. (Section 9.2 TCC & WBOPDC Waste Minimisation and Management Plan).

What Council is failing to do is to communicate to local cash-strapped rate-payers that it will be cheaper to consolidate rubbish collection under one contractor, recycle ALL plastics 1-7, and, if council separates glass from plastics (ie. allows fortnightly collection so glass one week paper/plastics the other), the TCC will actually make money. Ie. it is in their best interest… just speak to little old

For example: My mechanic in Tauranga, rubbish and recycle collection, currently pays $6.75 a week = $351 annually. He thinks he has a good deal.
Dunedin: $68 for recycle collection (taking the bulky 3-7 numbers reduces actual rubbish). If you then included 1 $2.10 rubbish bags a week = $177.20                            Hastings $145.20 and the cheapest is Palmerston North Annual total collection fee at $144.

No recycling? = 3 rubbish bags a week at $2.70 a pop costs you $421.20. Even 2 bags cost you $280.80 over a year.
And if, like most families, you end up with a big recycle bin and 1 rubbish bag a week it will cost you $208.40 over the year.

Tauranga residents are being ripped off – economically and environmentally. Our environmental management is NOT best practice in NZ.

All these city councils clearly state the charge in their rates, so it is not some sneaky rate increase. It is saving Tauranga residents money.

And with change you, the resident that stamps your foot up and down and can’t bear the thought of one more cent on your rates bill,  can look your kids in the eye and say you actually do care.

Just because the Tauranga Council have increased rates shockingly, it doesn’t mean we  should stick our heads in the ground.  Not at all.

For one annual lump sum of $68 (using Dunedin’s price) we can turn recycling around in Tauranga. (And I don’t see why thoughtful landlords couldn’t transparently include it in rent over the year ($1.30pw) – so that tenants don’t get a big nasty lump sum).

Tauranga’s Draft Ten Year Plan 2012-2022 is open for review, and in the full draft, Part A, pages 174-180 is the solid waste component. Their commitment to ‘progressive reduction of waste’ is a tiny 20kg (or roughly 3%) a year (but this isn’t on the plan it is on page 14 of the WBOPDC & TCC Waste Management and Minimisation plan (do Google) which is one and the same). At the moment our waste is growing at 15-17kg a year anyway. And most of the strategies are kind of, well, hopeful.

(When Taupo swapped to user pays rate funded recycling in 2002, it increased from 35% of households to 95% of households recycling, and they then are estimating by collecting no.3-7 plastics around 3 million containers additionally will be kept out of landfill! Note: Taupo has 100,000 less residents than Tauranga).

If you want to help change, make a submission. The more submissions they hear, the braver they will be at dealing with the barriers to achieving this (a) including recycling in the rates bill (b) consolidating collection under one contractor.

Here is the online submission form for you.

Whatever you say will help.

Best of luck helping our kids have a beautiful world to grow up into.


Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Mark Lynas The God Species – I can’t agree with this GMO nitrogen fix

Mark Lyna’s chapter on nitrogen and the nitrogen boundary (unlike carbon, not crossed yet) reads well.  To put it simply and clearly (as he does): Every living cell needs nitrogen: It makes leaves green, constitutes an essential part of all proteins, forms enzymes, and helps encode genetic information in DNA and RNA.  Without nitrogen our crops would die in the fields and our children would develop the awful starved potbellies of African refugee camps.

What is so tricky about getting nitrogen naturally – is that it comes from two places; electrical discharge in thunderstorms and from nitrogen fixation from leguminous plants (peas, beans and clover).  The nodules on these plants work symbiotically with the soil to produce this very precious resource.

Then we went and created synthetic nitrogen from synthesising ammonia in 1909 which enabled us to create better explosives for war.  It wasn’t until after WWII that we turned to nitrogen to boost our harvests.  The Green Revolution.  And the famines of previous centuries faded into history.

And now – every agrarian economy is fighting another problem.  Massive nitrogen runoff into lakes and rivers is creating dead zones of algae blooms and water depleted of oxygen, something the species living in our waterways regard with less than enthusiasm.  And having created the stuff, nitrogen cycles again and again, from rain to fertiliser to nitrous oxide.  (The only way to get rid of it is to stick it to another nitrogen atom and then it becomes, as Lynas says, a trouble free gas).

So what do we do?  All over the western world farmers are reducing their fert applications and understanding that there are good ratios of fertiliser to plant growth to reduce runoff.  In countries such as China, from what I understand, farmers are still applying too much but cost benefit ratios should reduce that reasonably quickly.

But ultimately we still need to reduce our nitrogen load.  Lynas suggests that organic farming is not the way to go – we need too much land which will ultimately take land away from protected forests as we seek to feed ourselves with another 2 billion in the next 40 or so years.  Fair point and worth the debate.  I’d like to talk more about that one.

But when he says that selective breeding is ‘hit and miss’, but with genetic engineering that scientists can make precise and rapid changes by selecting a gene from any species and insert it into the target crop to deliver a more nitrogen-efficient and higher-yielding crop, well, I just get all hot and bothered.

Selective breeding is slower but still definitely safer.  At this stage in the GMO debate have you heard about horizontal gene transfer?  And of course vertical gene transfer (more likely)?  Do you know that GMO’s can cross the species barrier?  Do you know that when a ‘cassette’ of traits is inserted into the plant there can be a rearrangement of genes at the site of insertation and that this can cause thousands of mutations and random modifications throughout transgenic plants?  That you can get ‘recombination hotspots’ where virus’s inserted into plants (a common way of ‘getting the traits in the plants’ ) make the plant unstable and prone to causing mutations, cancer and new pathogens?

And GMO’s are ‘GRAS’ – generally regarded as safe?   You’ve got to be joking.  Go on, do a search instead of watching your favourite reality show.  This one is bigger.

What is wanting, what is profoundly wrong about the entire GM debate – is that the science that supports the applications for approval of GM across the world, largely comes from the companies seeking to sell the product.

And until our politicians are sophisticated enough to facilitate large scale independent institutions, funded by these behemoths but uninfluenced by their enormous hairy tentacles, we will continue to see health issues squashed by the marketing machine that comprises the GM lobby and corporations – rather than fully researched and understood.  It is not for our long term benefit right now, fellow travellers.

And while this is happening and precaution is thrown to the wind I cannot support GM.

I support the idea of technology taking us into the future but our governments have increasingly assisted (and/or legislated for),  industry to fund GMO research and release applications – removing the independence of universities and research institutions to promote a ‘compromised commercially funded model’.

The God Species is a must read for both left and right wingers, and has transformed my opinions on nuclear and has focussed clearly on the planetary boundary debate.

I believe Lynas has a point with developing nitrogen fixation technologies in plants, but as respected genetist Dr Mae-Wan Ho says, flaws in the regulatory system (at least in the USA and the UK) present a scientific ‘nightmare’ because there are at least a dozen studies showing that GMO’s are hazardous to human and environmental health.

We’ve got a long way to go.

Posted in Environment, Health | 1 Comment

Victory for Independent Science – GMO libel case

World-famous independent scientist researching the risks of GMOs wins libel case against biotech association fronting a concerted campaign to discredit and victimise him Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

Gilles-Eric Séralini, professor of molecular biology at the University of Caen in France, and president of the scientific council for independent research on genetic engineering (CRIIGEN), is a leading researcher into the risks of GMOs. Not surprisingly, he and his team became the target a concerted campaign of vilification, which included Monsanto, EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) and scientific societies representing biotechnology in France: the French Association of Plant Biotechnology and the French High Counsel on Biotechnology (see [1]Defend Gilles-Eric Seralini and Transparency in GMO Risk Assessment! SiS 46).

This attach was triggered by the team’s recent thorough re-analysis of data submitted by Monsanto to obtain commercial approval in Europe for three GM maize lines, MON 863, MON 810, NK603, on which EFSA had given a favourable opinion.  In a published paper, the team concluded that the data “highlight signs of hepatorenal toxicity, possibly due to the new pesticides specific to each GM corn. In addition, unintended direct or indirect metabolic consequences of the genetic modification cannot be excluded.”

Séralini and his colleagues received massive support from scientists and civil society. But Séralini decided to sue for libel; he believed the researchers Claude Allegre, Axel Kahn, and Marc Fellous were behind the defamation and intimidation campaign in France and that is why he pursued Fellous, who chairs the French Association of Plant Biotechnologies (AFBV), in the courts. Séralini argued that the campaign had damaged his reputation, reducing his opportunities for work and his chances of getting funding for his research [2].

On Tuesday 18 January 2011, the court of Paris concluded the lawsuit and decided in Séralini’s favour, much to everyone’s surprise [3].

During the trial, it transpired that Fellous, who presented himself as a ‘neutral’ scientist without personal interests, and accused those who criticise GMOs as ‘ideological’ and ‘militant’, actually owns patents through a company based in Israel. This company sells patents to corporations such as Aventis. Seralini’s lawyer showed that various other AFBV members also have links with agribusiness companies, and so their scientific impartiality and integrity came under intense scrutiny.

The judge sentenced the AFBV to a fine on probation of €1 000, €1 for compensation (as requested by the plaintiff) and €4 000 in court fees.

Corinne Lepage, president of CRIIGEN, was delighted by the victory, as she stressed that she was not optimistic when leaving the first court session that had been held on 23 November 2010. ”One cannot any longer say whatever one wants about whistleblower,” she said. “It is the first time that a whistleblower is not on the defensive but on the offensive.”

Commenting on the court victory, Pete Riley of UK’s GM Freeze said: “We warmly welcome this judgement and are delighted for Professor Séralini. Let’s hope that we now see an end to the type of smear campaign we saw in this case and others over the last decade or so. Freedom of independent scientists to challenge the finding of scientific findings funded by an industry trying to sell seeds or chemicals is a vital element. The history of technological disasterstells us that industry and regulators are the last people to recognise and admit there is a problem. We fully support Séralini’s right to pursue his research on GM crops and wish him more power.”

Dr Brian John of GM-Free Cymru said: “This is a very gratifying outcome to a case which would never have been necessary had the GM industry followed long-standing traditions of respect for fellow scientists and honest debates with academics whose views, and research findings, do not coincide with theirs. For years now, the industry and its apologists have indulged in the vilification and intimidation of those who have the temerity to question the safety ofGM products… Some quite senior academics working for the GM industry have behaved more like thugs than scientists. Their philosophy has always been to “shoot the messenger.” Their list of victims is a long one: Arpad Pusztai, Ignacio Chapela and David Quist, Irina Ermakova, Judy Carman, Manuela Malatesta, Andres Carrasco, and many others.

“We congratulate Prof. Séralini for having the courage to stand his ground and fight back. Let’s hope his success will make GM multinationals and the regulators give independent scientists the respect that they deserve.”

More importantly, our regulators should take heed of Séralini’s findings and those of other independent scientists around the world in their persistent efforts to foist GMOs on the people.

Reposted from the Institute of Science in Society


1. Ho MW and Saunders PT. Defend Giles-Eric Séralini and transparency in GMO risk assessment. Science in Society 46, 4, 2010.

2. “Séralini vs Fellous: a GMO libel case over independent expertise and science” Corporate Europe Observatory, 9 December 2010,éralini-vs-fellous-gmo-libel-case

3. “Independent GM researcher wins court victory for defamation”, GM Free Cymru, Press Notice, 19 Janurary 2011, via GM Watch

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New Zealand: Secondary schools, mobile phones and unsupported teachers

Every kid worships Steve Jobs.  And his comment?  Technology can’t fix education.

New Zealanders aren’t talking enough about mobile phones in classrooms.

Mobile phones can be great assets.  They are calculators, cameras, audio recorders and calendars.  They provide access to the internet for information gathering.  Great.

But what happens when teenagers have unfiltered access to the internet at school? What happens when they take inappropriate photos?  When cyber bullying happens during school time?   Who is responsible for this?

And if mobiles are used for information searches, as so many sites advocating use of mobiles in the classrooms proclaim, how does the teacher assist the child to properly screen for good and accurate content?  When there are 30 kids in the classroom? How does this work?

Schools cannot filter mobile phone content.  They can filter wireless content onto school technology.

And does New Zealand have a CIPA – Children’s Internet Protection Act?

A teacher in the Bay of Plenty laughed when I asked if every teenager had a mobile. Many children have 3, as all their friends are on different plans.  So all three phones are on the kids desks at school.  Or in the bag next to the desk.

School rules may clearly state that phones are not to be at school or in the classroom during a lesson, but in reality this does not happen.

This teacher is wary of taking phones from children and putting them in a safe place, as if the phone is lost ‘on the teachers’ watch’, it must be paid for personally.  What!

When did this change?  When I was growing up and if I brought something to school it was my responsibility.  If it got lost or broken I shouldn’t have taken it to school.

The teacher can only take a mobile phone in the hand and hold it there for the lesson.  School management will not back the teacher up if it gets lost.  Parents are angry and defensive: ‘my child needs his/her phone, you have no right to take it from them’.   This sounds like a pretty shortsighted policy, that doesn’t put education first.

There is not enough discussion on this subject.  A look at the internet finds a pro-mobile phone article in the Education Review with a survey sponsored by Vodaphone. Well, that’s not exactly unbiased.

1 in 5 children report cyber bullying.  And don’t get me started on social networking sites (and the amount of time kids spend on them Vs real information searches for homework related information content).

Distracted people don’t perform well. Every organisation understands that people need to manage emails and incoming information strategically, even texting is an issue in corporate meetings.   How can we expect teenagers to do any better?

I particularly think for kids under 15, this is insane.  These kids are too young to self regulate.  Whilst in the last 2 years it could be commensurate with increased seniority.  Maybe.

Steve Jobs on technology in schools:
“I’ve helped with more computers in more schools than anybody else in the world and I absolutely convinced that is by no means the most important thing. The most important thing is a person. A person who incites your curiosity and feeds your curiosity; and machines cannot do that in the same way that people can. The elements of discovery are all around you. You don’t need a computer. Here – why does that fail? You know why? Nobody in the entire world knows why that fails. We can describe it pretty accurately but no one knows why. I don’t need a computer to get a kid interested in that, to spend a week playing with gravity and trying to understand that and come up with reasons why.”

“You need a person. Especially with computers the way they are now. Computers are very reactive but they’re not proactive; they are not agents, if you will. They are very reactive. What children need is something more proactive. They need a guide. They don’t need an assistant. I think we have all the material in the world to solve this problem; it’s just being deployed in other places.”
Full excerpt by Daniel Morrow from the Smithsonian Institute here.

My husband has worked all his life in I.T..   We want our kids to do well at school, and we know that good quality teaching has a lot more to do with concentration, inspiration and hard work than it has to with online access.

To deprive a teenager of a cell phone results in major social trauma.  Yup.  Is this what it is all about?

Interestingly, a Massey University research project found that: “Past students interviewed agreed with school staff, in the main that cell phones, as social communication tools should not be distracters in formal school time.”   One of its conclusions was that schools need ‘positive attitudes towards cell phone usage and policy formulation’.

You will concentrate more and get better grades if you don’t look at your mobile and text message regularly during class.  That’s positive.

Parents do need more information to help them understand the consequences of one teacher with 30 kids with 30+ mobiles.  They need to understand it is not just their kid with one little text message.  Teachers need more support when they make decisions based on the entire class’s interest.

Discussion and debate needs to be comprehensive and open so parents can fully understand decisions that may have lifelong repercussions for their child, and their child’s classmates.


Disclosure: I am in the digital class Native(6).

Posted in Kids & Family, Philosophy | Leave a comment

TPPA – trade talks undemocratic, are we pushing US or NZ interests? We simply don’t know.

I love how the most powerful democratic nation in the world utilises a completely undemocratic process to increase markets and opportunities for itself.

New Zealanders have many questions about what is going on in the current round of Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) talks, much of which we can only guess at.  We think the governments will be discussing IP law, foreign investment, tobacco labelling, genetically modified organisms/food (both labelling and sale and production), Pharmac, plus more.

The parties have agreed that all documents, excepting the final document, be kept secret for FOUR YEARS.

There are four internationally recognised consumer rights; the right to safety; the right to know; the right to be heard, and; the right to choose.  These rights are the outcome of the Bill of Consumer Rights presented to the US Congress in 1962.   Hmmmm the ‘right to know’……

US law over copyright and IP law is controversial, and simply serving corporate interests should not necessarily be seen as a democratic answer.   Non-corporate stakeholders need to be openly involved in negotiations, (rather than allowed a summary briefing and then dispensed with – see, and these questions need to be debated in our Parliament, not debated in some Green Room.  America may have the best lawyers but I doubt whether all the countries coming to these talks think Americans are acting in their best interests.

I have deep reservations about producing and then pushing markets for GM food.   We see a history of dumping on reluctant markets.   Canadian GM canola farmers who have recently lost access to the lucrative GM free EU market.  Canola farmers in Australia have to face the fact that non-GM canola reaches a premium over GM canola. Because rich (and many poor) nations would prefer non GM food and that is a fact.

In America the Centre for Food Safety has taken the first step towards suing the US government; by issuing a petition to the FDA to change their regulations and make labelling for foods containing GMOs mandatory.   What exactly is the TPPA discussing in regards to GMOs?

Hmmmm, the consumers ‘right to safety’ (just do a search for ‘GRAS’ & ‘GMO’) and the ‘right to know’……. makes some people think.   Makes my blood boil.

And I want to really know what ‘liberalising trade’ means when there is a likelihood that the powerhouse pulling the punches spends a stack of money on farmer subsidies. “Yup, we’ll lower our tariffs but this is completely separate from the government money we pay our farmers.”

As a member of democratic New Zealand I want to know what the hell is being negotiated for.   Why isn’t this information transparent?

Twenty years ago trade talks were largely about debating agricultural tariffs.  Talks have now upshifted to a dazzling level of complexity.   I wonder about the weight of corporate lawyers behind the transnational corporate interests pushing, just to pick one, IP law for example?   How can our own (mushroomed) experts balance that? Decision making that will affect how we operate for the next decade or more.

Who is really going to benefit?  Let us not be naive.  Or ignorant.

Transparency in democracy.  Let us openly debate our future.


9 countries are involved:  Brunei, Chile, and New Zealand are original signatories and 6 additional countries; Australia, Malaysia, Peru, Japan, United States and Vietnam are negotiating to join.

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Review: The God Species by Mark Lynas & my nuclear headshift.

For years I have felt indignant at the idea of governments foisting nuclear energy on us. Regarded France with pity at the mere thought of how that socialist dictator (my words) thrust nuclear energy upon those poor souls.

Thought how wise America was to pull back from the nuclear energy program.

And at the same time, I have felt the burden of powerlessness in the face of increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. The sick realisation that the tipping point is being reached as we watch meltwater racing out of cracks in the arctic. The mute knowledge that every time the earth went over 350ppm carbon in precious millennia in the atmosphere, a switch occurred to destroy most species within what could often be a very short space of time.

I am not used to being negative.  I am an opportunist.  But watching all my friends, and myself, operate on a day to day level that would never, ever lead to big reductions in atmospheric carbon left me shamefaced.  And the knowledge that I live in a pretty good world – and I would be naive and selfish to expect poorer people to demand any less than what I have – stays with me.  We could only desire growth.

So how?

Lynas’ book The God Species has helped me understand that we may never be perfect, but we can do a lot better if we understand the new facts about planetary boundaries (and he outlines this really well), and, the big one for me, CO2 and nuclear energy.  This book is compelling, logical and easy to understand.

The God Species has clearly helped me come to terms with next generation nuclear technology, and how it can utilise much more potential energy in uranium fission than old reactors, and even burn up depleted uranium. The book also brings into perspective, how toxic the waste emissions are from conventional power stations and oil based technologies, in addition to the CO2 that is released into the atmosphere. We seem to think nuclear is toxic, we forget about how long this CO2 is going to hang around for.

Maybe we are starting to see, with the advent of next generation nuclear power, and as a result of the tragedy of Chernobyl, a level of safety in power plants that helps the debate for nuclear move forward as pragmatic rather than idealistic.

Lynas outlines how a mix of renewables, including solar for sun drenched countries and wind for coastal, can be utilised, just like an intelligent investment fund. The argument for nuclear as green energy for electric cars makes utter sense, in comparison to the ridiculous land clearing and oil-spend that has gone on to justify biofuels.

And what makes this book so special is that we can all understand it. It’s not just for the scientific realm.

A brief net browse leaves me with some facts: The WHO in Fact Sheet No 266, states that Global Warming, by the year 2004 was contributing to over 140,000 deaths every year. Then we look at manufacture of carbon and oil based technologies. shows deaths per TWH by energy source. Fair enough – new way of looking at things. As the nuclear debate has largely centred around the tragedy of one nuclear accident, lets really look at the figures.

I think we need to change what we are actually scared of. Uranium ain’t the big boogieman anymore.  A planet that is tragically compromised and unlivable, may well be.

You can tell Lynas loves his planet. And he has had a journey, from idealistic green to pragmatic greentech custodian. And he could never be where he is now without all those years on the environmental front line.

He bags Greenies a bit, but this is a headshift for this particular Green, and I think a good one.

Bring on the R&D for greentech I say.  Even you, New Zealand.

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NZ 2011 Election: Green Technology as well as Policies will carry us into the future.

I’m a generation Xer, impressed by Keys attitude and quite liking the fact that as National claims, New Zealand’s ‘net emissions have fallen for the first time since 1990 due to gains in forestry and renewable electricity’.   Their Environment and Climate Change policy statement reads very well in my opinion.

So then I clicked across to ‘Science and Innovation’.  What? A one page press release about boosting ‘investment in the science sector to transform Industrial Research Limited (IRL) into an advanced technology institute’.   Is that all?  What about the universities, R&D, facilitating start ups?  I am stunned.  Surely this information would in a logical place on the web.

So then I look back to the above policy statement – ooohhhh – outside the policy framework, the ‘Complementary Measures’ section – that teeny tiny bit is your entire future plan for technology and the environment.

Every chat show, every current affairs program shows most people on benefits ask ‘where are the jobs’?  So where is the vision on innovation that will create the jobs? The long term strategy?  The small resourceful democratic nations we admire are embracing technologies in  ways that could be leaving us behind.

And then I go to the Green site.  I honestly would like to know why Key, with his solid background in finance, hasn’t put this forward as a policy: ‘By issuing green energy bonds to New Zealand  investors, our energy companies can raise additional capital to inject into those spin-off  companies with the best potential for long term future export earnings’.   I would love to invest in safe renewable energy bonds.  Rather than sell off assets – I want to know that government will facilitate innovation in long term renewables.

And then: ‘harnessing the clean energy sector boom with aggressive policies to encourage R&D and investment in the global renewable energy market’.  Imagine a share of this growing export sector with plenty of scientists wanting focus on this area.  Why is this not a visionary job creation policy? Instead negligable if National gets in because there seems to be no mention of it.

China’s vision and work on renewables is pretty amazing. If we can innovate to fit market gaps for new technologies you can imagine the long term benefits. Now that would be value adding.

I want a Green Fund for investment in low-carbon infrastructure and technological innovation.

Many, many scientists are now moving back to the 350ppm as the crucial planetary boundary.  Which we have passed.

Absolutely no-one I know wants to change the way they live, so unless governments take responsibility and actively, rather than reactively, instigate policies to encourage technology to lessen world emissions there is a huge chance our kids, in old age, could be living in a devastated world.

I have never been a gambler.  If this is a tipping point I want to know I am voting to do all I can.

My husband says the Nationals are not talking about new technology policies because they mustn’t consider it an election issue.

What irony if the Greens hold the balance of power with Labour.

National need to be not scared of harnessing the green vote.

I like a hell of a lot of what National is doing, but in this uncertain world I vote for my children’s future.


Posted in Environment | 2 Comments

Where is the creative vision for Tauranga’s waterfront project?

I hope the Tauranga Council will now commence harnessing the ideas of artists, architects and garden designers to come up with an exceptional vision for Tauranga’s waterfront that draws upon New Zealand’s significant creative culture.  Not just a practical vision.  And not just a boardwalk.   To look at what, may I ask?

And please, don’t just compare what we can do to Auckland, for goodness sake.

I understand that the initial architect had many profound ideas.  These were gradually whittled away and dumbed down.  Sorry, I should have said refined.

True beauty that has longevity, can take time.  But pulling together creative concepts to end up with a truly great waterfront is essential if Tauranga is to have an outdoor space that truly speaks to locals and visitors alike.  We need more than just facilities.  We need emotion and imagination.  And it can be done to budget.  And funding can be sought externally for some of the more creative ideas.

Now is the time to start seeking funding from the relevant agencies that have the long term vision to assist to create something truly dynamic and profound.

My own ten favourite ideas for the waterfront area:

  1. 5 Maori chief busts made of metal – commissions to prominent NZ sculptors.  Positioned along the promenade by the water.  I like to imagine going up to one and feeling the moko deeply imprinted on his face – weather beaten and looking out over the water.  Arousing emotion and debate within & between all who view them.
  2. Between the chiefs, stunning stone walls made with local Kaimai stone.
  3. There is a sculpture by the shore in Venice: Monumento alla Partigiana by C. Scarpa, placed on blocks emanating from the water.  The copper colour reflects the water.  Imagine a Taniwha or image from Maori folklore, dramatic and profound, surrounded by water, battered by the elements and slowly, uncomplainingly eroding. But magnificent.
  4. Children.  NO inane children’s playground. Take a cue from the Ian Potter Children’s garden in Melbourne.  But we can do it even better as they had to use New Zealand plants to make it cool and we have Trish Waugh & other great designers here in the Bay.  A long steep slope for rolling. Water spouting in summer.  A bamboo forest.  A teeny tiny stream for kids to patter in.  Ponded areas with stones for trip trapping over.  Corners to go around and find something special hidden – a live willow planted cubby house – a grotto, or whare.  A flax tunnel.  A tall viewing platform.  Textures.  Make it special – with no plastic anywhere.  Get a councillor to visit the Melbourne garden.  Designed by a local designer and implemented by local community groups.
  5. Imagine four large square rooms – built of lattice or trellised galvanised iron or similar – rather like the Eiffel tower – curved to meet in the middle.  Modern steel softened by clematis or wisteria.  12 metres square each room – maybe 1, maybe 4 making a large square – or 3 in a row to create a long room of dappled sunlight – and respite from a shower of rain.  We have skilled fitters and turners that would make these rooms incredible.
  6. We’ve all imagined the ancient oak trees of Britain.  NZ’s Puriri tree – when not forested – spreads grandly out like an ancient oak.  Over the year – feeding the birds of the New Zealand forest by its fruit and nectar.  Plant carefully to allow the passage of time so while at first they seem insignificant in the landscape, in due course they would anchor the entire garden.
  7. A rail underpass?  Why can’t the railway tracks be lowered?  Even by 4 metres? Surely we can campaign to national government for this change?  Allow the cafes and restaurants of Tauranga to look over the gardens of the waterfront.  Surely we have the technology and money to facilitate an action that would have a long term benefit to all citizens and visitors?  If we can only slightly lower and then cover them we would have a gorgeous rolling wall for children.  Get some long term perspective for short term cost.
  8. Do not plant a single palm tree.
  9. A curved river-like organic kiwifruit trellis – accenting the Bay of Plenty’s reliance on the harvest.  Grafted to higher than standard height – so tall people can walk under.   Children can play – and in the height of summer people can pick.  Yes it will require maintenance but so will a rose garden.  Maybe it will also be a symbol of the regions ability to outlast Psa.
  10. A garden of New Zealand trees – labelled, with a stone wall with the Maori myth attached to relevant trees etched on steel facades.

Every tourist region needs to have a portfolio of attractions that are strong enough to lure the visitor.  Sorry to be mercenary, but we are in an endless recession and our restaurateurs, shopkeepers and small businesses are hanging on by their toenails. We need visitors with disposable income. And now with the devastation of a oil spill on our shores this need for a portfolio of assets to attract people is painfully revealed.

So unless our councillors stick their necks out, go beyond their comfort zones and understand that we need something more than just a nice place, Tauranga will continue to lag behind other cities such as Rotorua and Taupo.

Posted in Environment | 1 Comment

The Tooth Fairy has flight parameters too.

My daughter woke up spluttering the other day as a tooth was severed from it’s last dangly stringy bit and for all intents and purposes made its way down her throat.

So, as is the practice in our family when a newly lost tooth disappears into the oblivion of snow or sand or stomach, she had to write an explanatory letter to the tooth fairy. As only a child’s writing can be written and then read by the tooth fairy.

So she wrote out a lovely note and stuck it under her pillow. But the tooth fairy didn’t come.

“Darling what were you thinking? How could the tooth fairy take that note away? Look at the size! How could a tooth fairy possibly fly and carry a note that big?”

So she writes out another note. “Well, you can try and put it under your pillow but I really don’t think it will go either. How big is a fairy?” We’d better be realistic here and think about true fairy flight capability otherwise that little gold coin just won’t appear!

So another letter written, cropped to perfection and placed under her pillow. And the coin appears.

If you can’t be realistic and think logically of all the parameters, how can you grow up to be logical?

And then a few days later the tooth in question is found on the bedroom floor. Another letter written, this time in the teeniest writing a 7 year old could possibly orchestrate.

And now to work on writing addresses on the back of letters sent to Father Christmas….

Posted in Kids & Family | Leave a comment

How to find a husband, logically.

People say to me ‘your husband is just so lovely’ and then they look at me with widened eyes that almost accusingly say ‘how did you get to deserve him?’  And I look smug.

He is the best for me.  But for years I never thought I would find him.  And from 15 to 25 I found it damn hard.  The longest I had a boyfriend that I saw regularly was 3 months.  All my girlfriends had boyfriends and careers.  Leaving Uni I had neither.  Relegated to the emotional and career scrap pile.  Any boys that liked me ending up being losers, and men I liked never seemed to be loving, to care about me enough.

I was just so lonely.  So many years of one night stands, or maybe a two week relationship if I was lucky.  So it was hard to believe that one day I would be lucky.

So what was going wrong?  Was it me?  Or was it them?  And what exactly did luck have to do with it anyway?

I left my dad behind and raced into the arms of the (perceived) successful, centre of attention pub legends had the emotional centres of dung beetles. (With apologies).  That was many years lost.

Gradually I honed my senses and worked out what I needed.  I wanted someone kind (1), loving and thoughtful, but not the rollercoaster emotional mess that would be a mad passionate creative lefty.  Actually I reckon wanting someone who was kind was the lynch pin.  And that took many years to realise.  How dumb!

I was always friends with engineer (2) types at school.  They were always the boys I enjoyed hanging out with, discussing the world with.  Their logic balanced my creative idealism.

And I didn’t want someone from a broken home with lots of emotional crap to deal with.  That was my job, my speciality.  Only so many hearts to repair without overbalancing. (3)

I am an only child, I needed someone who would be flexible and without the ego of an only or eldest child….like me.  So maybe a middle child.  (4)

And I had spent a good decade farmer hunting.  I desperately wanted a country life for me and any babies that would come out of this.  But kept falling flat in the cowpats there.  Ok so lets refine my wish.  A person from the land, with country sensibilities and values. (5) That could work.

And call me horribly practical, but having seen my father so stilted without a career, a way of life and the self esteem that comes with that, I wanted someone that was truly good at what they did, and happy with what they were doing.  Not having to buy a new car every year to prove it, but yes, a successful person. (6)

He also had to be taller than me so I wouldn’t squash him. (7)

I had worked out what I needed, for me.  Logically and practically, with the efficiency of the most practiced Indian matchmaker.  Just like Alain De Botton, the well known philosopher, I made a list of what I would require in a partner.   I just had to find him.

And I did.  It took a year or two which really, in the scheme of things, is nothing.  In a pub in the Rocks in Sydney, just like Princess Mary.  And fourteen years later I am happier than I ever dared believe I would be.  Married to my 6’2″, farm built engineer.  The second son from a happy family who is one of the most successful men I know but happy driving a small car that has done around 200,000kms.

And he is kind, and loving just like my dad was, and how I expect a good man to be.  But unlike my father  he has only known happiness, is successful in his world, and believes in himself.

Sometimes when you make enough mistakes, don’t get personal, get logical.

Because I believe you can work out what hurts you and doesn’t work for you, and make changes for a loving happy future.

(He isn’t perfect, he doesn’t read my blog because all my mass generalisations freak him out).

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment