Friday, May 28, 2010

Save our Pohutakawa tree - a Taita icon in danger of destruction by the chainsaws of the Hosanna Church

Lower Hutt in New Zealand. Looking eastwards f...Image via Wikipedia
Save out Pohutakawa tree -  a Taita icon in danger of destruction by the chainsaws of the Hosanna Church...

Last weekend a group of current and former Taita residents and identities met in High Street, Taita, to discuss and protest at the proposed destruction of the 150 year old iconic Pohutakawa tree which was planted long before there was a suburb called Taita; long before the old Taita Hotel itself was constructed in 1890. There was only farmland and later market gardens in this district. High Street, one of the main arterial routes through the City of Lower Hutt for many decades was just a horse track through which the stage coach from Wellington passed through on its way to the Wairarapa. They changed horses just up the road from the site of the former Taita Hotel, now the Hosanna Church, at the original Taita hotel which later burned down.

The new owners of the Taita hotel site, purchased some years ago by the very last of the hoteliers, Ricky Briant and Huia Gordon, are in the process of redevelopment work on the site. The new owners have in the words of some Taita residents, arrogantly and ignorantly disregarded the feelings, sentiments and sense of history of the area and residents. Taita is the original name for the area which includes Taita North ( including the community of Pomare and the industrial area of Wingate)  Taita South, Avalon and Naenae. This explains why the cemetery in Naenae is called the Taita Cemetery. Avalon Park is the site of the old Taita speedway. But once the Avalon area was subdivided the owners of the new houses there did not want to be associated with those state house tenants in the north. They were described in the Hutt News a few years ago by one well known Taita identity, as a "bunch of snobs".  Words  he still sticks to!

Technically under New Zealand law, the Hosanna Church owns the Pohutakawa tree because it is on the site; but morally nobody owns such an iconic tree that precedes the Taita borough and suburb of Lower Hutt City. This tree was played on by children waiting for their parents, and used in a variety of ways over  the years. The tree has also been hacked around and defaced by contractors in recent years. A story in the Taita Times mentioned how the tree was used as an early post office - people used to leave and collect letters in a box nailed to the tree. No stamp being necessary those days.

We were told at Sunday's meeting that there had been no support from the Hutt City Council or interest from the media. I hope this addresses that problem. The local Labour MP has allegedly only taken interest in the tree protest when he found out that a National candidate had pledged support. We hope there will be some real cross-party support from our politicians and potential candidates at this year's local body elections. Come on over for a talk Mayor David Ogden.

This tree has mana, and  is a symbol of generations past. While the busy working class suburb has fallen on hard economic times since the unfortunate 1980/90's, many people remember that in the early days of the suburb it housed returned servicemen and their families. While it has changed over the years and now houses the economically disadvantaged as well as the working class, the spirit of Taita still burns brightly in the hearts of those who have, and still call Taita home. I'm mainland born from Christchurch and Canterbury, but Taita has been my home and suburb since 1972.

Imagine if you can, the late Sir Walter Nash, former prime minister of New Zealand, stopping under the shade of what was then a much larger and widespread Pohutakawa tree during his campaigning in Lower Hutt. The old gentleman would turn in his grave if he found out the Taita tree was under attack from Christians armed with chainsaws. Sir Walter was a devout church going Christian from the old school; those from the Hosanna church would undoubtably learn much from him, regarding Christian charity and regard for the feelings of their neighbours. They could simply read their bible and find an appropriate story there. The future is in their hands. I sincerely hope that they will initiate some dialogue with those who want the tree saved.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Manuel Jose Enigma - the ancestor of thousands of Ngati Porou...

All we really know about this important ancestor is expressed in the poem 'The Manuel José Enigma' written by Hal Hovell of Te Araroa in 1981. Manuel Jose the ancestor of thousands of Ngati Porou.

The Manuel José Enigma

You came to live on foreign shores a Castilian man alone,

Landed at Port Awanui, at Taumata made your home

You gave away a whaling life, at trading tried your hand,

A solitary Spaniard, in a raw, unbroken land.

Manuel José, where did you come from? What did you leave behind?

Were the seas you travelled troubled, the times hard or kind?

What lies hidden in your past, forgotten with passing time?

Shame or bloody glory, pain or violent crime?

What made you leave your native shores to sail the southern seas?

Perhaps love unrequited, or some bold adventurous creed?

Now in the 1980s your descendents live far and wide

In this land that you adopted, under the Southern skies.

Though they descend from five wives, the family ties are strong

And the Spanish blood you gave them provides the common bond.

You remain their enigma, the Paniora with no past.

At Awanui, the last living link, an olive tree stands fast.

They have gathered in your memory, and raised a cross on high,

On the hill at Taumata within sight and sound of tide.

How many times did you stand there, and view that lonely scene?

Was there regret and sorrow for what you'd left across those seas?

Whatever thoughts filled your mind as you stood there alone,

We, your surviving family, are glad you made it home.

And we will stand here filled with pride and dignity as long

As the Paniora Blood remains to keep the family strong.

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Three Strikes law introduced in NZ...

New Zealand government "Beehive" and...Image via Wikipedia
Three Strikes law introduced in NZ...

New Zealand has introduced the three strikes law for serious criminal offenders.

Strike One: Sentencing with a final warning.

Strike Two: Sentencing as normal, but no parole.

Strike Three: Maximum sentence for that particular crime. Life for murderers.

The legislation, known as the Sentencing and Parole Reform Act, was passed through Parliament yesterday.

One criticism of the new law was that it would take away judges ability to pass minimum sentences for murder. However, many judges seem to give criminals too much leeway; so the new law will make things straight forward after the third offence.

Acknowledgements: Peter Petterson

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Beaver: A singing career that began boldly on a red Leyland bus has ended...

BEAVER:  Never quite comfortable with her status as a social and cultural figure, daughter Kate said.

A singing career that began boldly on a bright red Leyland bus has come to a quiet end.

Beaver, one of the founding members of travelling performance co-operative Blerta, died at Mercy Hospice in Auckland yesterday after a six-year battle with cancer. She was 59.

Born in Lower Hutt in 1950 as Beverly Joan Morrison, Beaver was just 20 when actor and musician Bruno Lawrence spotted her performing at a local club and convinced her to jump on board his new project, Blerta – the Bruno Lawrence Electric Revelation and Travelling Apparition.

Beaver was a childhood nickname she adopted as a stage moniker and which stuck for the rest of her life, even out of the limelight.

She toured the country with Blerta – which included Bill Stalker, the father of her two children – between 1971 and 1973, dropping out for the group's 1974 Australian tour and rejoining when they returned.

Blerta was a springboard for a long and successful singing career, which included being named jazz performer of the year at the 1988 New Zealand Music Awards for her album Live at Ronnie Scott's.

She acted in the Blerta television show and in films, but it was her singing that people remembered and paid tribute to yesterday.

"What always amazed me about Beaver was her remarkable voice," co-performer Hammond Gamble said. "She was kind of born to sing."

Former Supergroove frontman Karl Stevens, who met and performed with Beaver while he was still a teenager, said she was "a proper old-school musician who knew her craft and had honed it".

Elder daughter Fritha Stalker said Beaver was "a very lovable person who inspired protective instincts in almost everyone she met with her innocence and good humour".

Younger daughter Kate Stalker said her mother never quite felt comfortable with her status as a social and cultural figure. "She was just a family girl. What mattered to her was her grandchildren and her great-nieces and nephews."

Everyone who met Beaver loved her, she said. "Even the nurses [at the hospice] this morning were having a cry because she was such a lovely lady".

Acknowledgements: Kate Newman

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What the 2010 budget means for kiwis and their families...

450 mm by 450 mm (18 in by 18 in) Handicapped ...Image via Wikipedia

What the 2010 Budget means for Kiwis and their families...

Budget: increase in health spending:

DHBs will receive the lion's share of a $2.1 billion increase in health spending, mental health and disability services also get financial boosts

The Government will spend an extra $2.1 billion on health over the next four years.

District Health Boards will directly receive $1.4 billion extra over four years. Health Minister Tony Ryall says DHBs will also receive a large share of the extra funding going to targeted initiatives, such as elective surgery and medicines.

There will be a $40 million increase in spending on mental health over the next four years. Mr Ryall says in addition, it is expected DHBs will allocate $174 million to mental health from the new $1.4 billion.

Earlier this month, the Government announced $24 million of new spending over four years for a pilot programme to assess the feasibility of a national bowel cancer screening programme.

It says about $186 million over four years of lower priority spending has also been identified and shifted to high priority and frontline public health services. The new priorities include 20 new medical training places in 2010/11 and the second tranche of the Government's initiative to establish 200 new training places annually.

Funding for medicines will increase by $80 million over the next four years, with $40 million of this to be met from DHBs' budgets, and an extra $40 million being invested by the Government.

There will also be an extra $10.2 million in the current 2009/10 year for electives including cardiac surgery, an extra $51.5 million over the next four years for additional elective surgery and an extra $8 million over the next four years for breast reconstruction surgery.

Disability support funding boost:

The Government has announced an extra $93 million for disability support services over the next four years. Health Minister Tony Ryall says it means the Government is spending more than has ever been spent on disability support services.

Of the new funding, Mr Ryall says $72 million will improve access to disability support services and includes:

- $25.5 million for home and community support services. - $3.4 million for other disability support services. - $21 million for residential services for people with intellectual disabilities. - $7.9 million for supported independent living. - $2.7 million for respite care.

Disabilities Issues Minister Tariana Turia says it is welcome news for the people living with disabilities.

"I am delighted Budget 2010 has delivered on many of the commitments disabled people and their families have been seeking for some time."

Acknowledgements: © 2010 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

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Monday, May 17, 2010

NZ"s first prison guard fatality at Waikato prison...

List of New Hampshire state prisonsImage via Wikipedia
New Zealand's first prison guard fatality at Waikato's Spring Hill Corrections Facility...

Prison officer Jason Palmer killed in the line of duty. The inmate charged over the killing of a prison officer at Waikato's Spring Hill Corrections Facility has appeared in court.

The 21-year-old was flanked by seven prison guards as he stood in the dock at Hamilton District Court to face a charge of common assault.

Waikato police are awaiting the the results of a post-mortem examination and say further charges are likely.

A Waikato prison inmate was awaiting transfer to a high security prison at the time of the fatal attack, the Department of Corrections says.

Jason Palmer, 33, an officer at the Spring Hill Corrections Facility in Waikato, was punched as he was letting the inmate out of a cell on Saturday afternoon.

He suffered irreversible brain damage in the attack and died yesterday at Middlemore Hospital. He was married with two children, aged 5 and 2.

Department of Corrections chief executive Barry Matthews said it appeared Mr Palmer was punched shortly after he and two other prison guards opened the segregated inmate's cell.

He fell back and hit his head on the floor as the other two guards restrained the prisoner.

Although there had not yet been an autopsy, Mr Matthews said it appeared a combination of the punch and the striking of his head on the floor caused Mr Palmer's fatal injuries.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

"You've got dead ears mate." - Kiwi actor Russell Crowe storms out of BBC interview...

"You've got dead ears mate." Kiwi actor Russell Crowe storms out of BBC interview...

Kiwi born and Australian adopted actor Russell Crowe storms out of BBC interview...

Russell Crowe swore and stormed out of a BBC interview after he was accused of making Robin Hood sound Irish in his latest film.

The New Zealander was questioned about the accent on Radio 4 by interviewer Mark Lawson.

Crowe, 46, took offence to suggestions that there were hints of Irish in his portrayal of the Nottingham legend in the movie Robin Hood that was released on Wednesday.

The star said: "You've got dead ears, mate - seriously dead ears if you think there's an Irish accent."

Lawson then asked Crowe if the accent was meant to be northern. Crowe replied: "No, I was going for an Italian ... missed it? F*** me."

The actor then walked out of the interview after Lawson asked whether it was true that he wanted to say his famous line from Gladiator: "I'll take my revenge in this life or the next."

Crowe can then be heard muttering, "I don't get the Irish thing, by the way. I don't get it at all."

The actor has been criticised for the accent he has given Robin Hood in the film.

He has claimed in some interviews that he was seeking a Yorkshire accent because several academics believe the outlaw was from there, and not Nottingham.

Crowe has been involved in a number of verbal and physical altercations which have earned him a reputation as a Hollywood bad boy.

When part of his appearance at the 2002 Bafta awards was cut out to fit into tape-delayed broadcast, he used strong language during a row with producer Malcolm Gerrie.

Later that year, he got into a punch-up with New Zealander Eric Watson, co-founder of Hanover Finance.

Infamously, in June 2005 in New York, he was arrested after he threw a phone at a hotel concierge who refused to help him place a call when the one in his room did not work. The worker suffered cuts to his face.

Crowe was charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

Acknowledgements: MSN Entertainment News

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Is Phil Goff and Labour finally coming in from the cold...

PAIHIA, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 05:  Labour Par...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
 Phil Goff:  Today we may  have for the first time seen the sort of Policy leadership that might actually deliver the economic turnaround that could see us catch up with Australia, says the Productive Economy Council.

The policies announced today by Labour could see a New Zealand that generates its own savings pool to invest in its own companies, to create superior profits from the innovation in science and technology, and to earn superior margins for our exports and pay our employees superior salaries, says PEC spokesman Selwyn Pellett.

"The fact that he is looking at savings, banking requirements and monetary policy aligned to stability and growth of the economy is music to exporters' ears. Finally someone seems to understand that standing on the throats of exporters to stifle internal inflation results in a low performing economy," says Pellett.

"If the generalities of this speech are turned into solid coherent policy there will be significant debate at the next election between those who want to increase their wealth through asset inflation and those that want to earn their incomes from designing, building and selling our innovative products to the world. Asset wealth creation benefits a select few at a cost to many. It creates no jobs, increases national debt and has us selling off our farms and companies to foreigners, which means profits are repatriated instead of reinvested. An innovative, export-led economy delivers superior wages, savings and local ownership and reinvestment," he says.

"Phil Goff is 100% right that the attraction of Australia is about higher wages not lower tax," says Pellett.

"What Goff has missed out of this speech is a need for a broad based capital gains tax, an increase in the retirement age, and the return on interest for student loans."

"Goff and Labour have it wrong when targeting those that earn and pay high tax in this country. This group actually pays 70% of the net tax contribution after factoring in the effect of Working for Families and other benefits on the government's revenues. A tax reduction to this group may well be appropriate," says Pellett.

"What isn't appropriate is the massive avoidance of tax we have by a section of society that manages its affairs behind blind trusts and LAQCs. As John Walley from NZMEA has often said, lower, wider and simpler tax policies benefit us all."

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Monday, May 10, 2010

GST rise will benefit overseas firms - NZ retailers claim...

New Zealand dollarImage via Wikipedia

GST rise will give overseas web firms edge say NZ retailers.

New Zealand retailers say the looming rise in GST will give online merchants overseas an even bigger price advantage.

Private imports under $400 in value come into the country free of GST so the rise from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent - likely to be announced in next week's Budget and imposed in October - makes overseas-sourced goods even more attractive.

The sharp appreciation of the New Zealand dollar against European currencies during the past six months has made online shopping even cheaper, although retailers who import from that region have also benefited.

Retail Association chief executive John Albertson said his members wanted GST on all goods bought privately overseas, excluding gifts. This would help New Zealand businesses and give the Government tax revenue worth as much as $500 million.

"It's not a fair cop. We don't mind competing but it's very hard competing with 15 per cent already tied behind your back," he said.

Especially galling for retailers was when customers used them to research products in their shops then bought them through overseas websites.

"You'll get people putting staff to tremendous trouble trying on sports shoes, say 'thanks very much' and go off an buy them online," Albertson said.

It is estimated between $1.2 billion and $3 billion is spent on goods by New Zealanders and, according to researchers The Nielsen Company, 17 per cent of this is spent overseas.

Most overseas online shopping is done in Australia and the United States.

Easy-to-ship goods such as DVDs, CDs, computer software and books are the most popular, accounting for more than 35 per cent of online buys abroad in each category.

More than 40 per cent of online spending on travel-related services is done through overseas websites, Nielsen says.

Albertson said the problem of tax on online purchases was an international one. In the US courier companies were charged with collecting state taxes in some cases. Albertson said it might be possible to collect tax through credit-card transactions.

Acknowledgements:  Grant Bradley

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A memorial to the late Sgt Nathan John Blackler...

Richard Pearse Airport, TimaruImage via Wikipedia
A memorial to the late Sgt Nathan John Blackler...

"I do not consider myself dying of cancer, but living despite it. I do not look upon each day as another day closer to death, but as another day of life, to be appreciated and enjoyed."

Sgt Nathan John Blackler


Funeral Service

Timaru SBS Stadium

Timaru, New Zealand

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