Friday, July 23, 2010

Roadtrip, Day Nine

Napier put on a pearler of a day for our last day on holiday

We love Napier, I would happily move there tomorrow. The weather, the ocean, the people, the cafes, the museum, the sea life...and more is incredible!

We decided to skip the might BOP sadly, as we were going to stay just around the corner from where we used to live at Papamoa Beach Top 10. But alas we decided home for the kids would be a better idea.

Actually met Mum and Dad in Napier before we left as they happened to be coming we were heading North...weird. They showed the correct amount of awe at the Britz Campervan. And then we headed North.

Left at around 3.30pm with the ambition of having dinner in Taupo, spent longer than we thought we would by the great lake, and ended up driving quite slowly in a heavily fogged Waikato.

Children asleep in the back, the wife and I in the front talking about our great holiday and hoping that maybe in 12 months we can do it all the South Island.

Home at 11.30pm...and now we are off to bed.

Brilliant holiday, one we will never forget.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Roadtrip, Day Nine Ten

I love Palmerston North, where else in NZ can you get served a non-alcholic beer and a kebab by a genuine Algerian terrorist?**

Upon leaving Palmy north we headed West in our Britz Campervan to meet up with friends in a little settlement outside Hastings called Haumoana. The highlight of the drive was Yummy Mummy's Cheesecakes at Dannevirke, you must try these cheesecakes! It's worth a detour just to visit the shop!

We had a first night of 'free camping', where we were not plugged into anything and just stayed by the beach and awoke to a great view...

Lunch with Keith and Paula and then off to the best Top 10 Holiday Park I have ever seen, Kennedy Park Top 10.

Kennedy Park Top 10 is simply the most impressive holiday park I have ever seen, it had something for everyone, from corporate events to family holidays...brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!!!

** terrorist accusation subject to confirmation

Monday, July 19, 2010

Roadtrip, Day Seven and Eight

Left the brilliant Wellington Top 10 Holiday Park for the bright lights of the big city...Wellington.

Basically we spent the whole day at Te Papa and was thoroughly impressed with the 'Discovery Areas.' Areas set up for kids to touch, The last time I was at Our Place was maybe 15 years ago, and the last thing that would have been on my mimd was, "How's this for kids?"...but I can now answer that's brilliant!

One child did try to escape...but she was soon rounded up :o)

After Te Papa we went off to the waterfront for a coffee, then drove North to Whitby showing the girls 'where the Prime Minister lives' along the way.

Spent the night with old freinds, then for some reason went back into Petone, we kind of fell in love with the place and just wanted to go visit. Secretly I think we just wanted to drive the Britz Campervan as much as possible so a saunter South, before heading North to Palmerston North made all the sense in the world!

Had one of the great drives of my life as we headed to Palmy, first time in my life we went over the Paekakariki Hill, the Britz Campervan ate up the kms and incline like it wasn't there.

Can I say, that the view at the top was awesome

Next stop Palmerston North

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Roadtrip, Day Five and Six

We left the lovely Ohakune Top 10 Holiday Park and decided to head up the mountain to show the kids the snow for the first time ever. Up Ruapehu (Rua - number two, pehu - to exploding number twos?) to the snow.

After the snow it was, in the words of the immortal Willie Nelson, on the road again. Down through Waiouru (to go in the water) and Taihape (to pass by the coast...or maybe 'rubber footwear with no laces') and lunch by the Rangitikei (to stretch for heaven) River.
I think the Britz Campervan enhances the view...don't you?
Straight to Wellington (land of hot air filled politicans) to spend the night at Wellington Top 10 Holiday Park.
Tomorrow, Our Place...Te Papa!

Roadtrip, Day Three and Four

We left Mangawhai Heads in the middle of the day with our Britz Campervan handling itself like a hovercraft in the terrible driving conditions. We stopped off in Auckland en route to Huntly to have a 'pit stop' night with friends on a farm.

Had a lovely night of socialing with John and Julie then hit the road early (well early for us) heading to Ohakune. Something we are going to do is investigate interesting place names using the iPhone and online Maori translation dictionary as we went around, so through the diary we will also give what we thought place names may mean. It may be wrong as some Maori words can have different meanings.

Oha - to greet
Kune - to be plump, or pregnant

So Ohakune, to say gidday to the fatties, or maybe nice to greet the pregnant?

On the way to Ohakune we stopped to have a look at some native wildlife

And saw some pretty amazing countryside

We arrived at the beautiful Ohakune Top 10 Holiday Park and parked 'white lightning' alongside a delightful stream at the back of the property

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Roadtrip, Day One and Two

Auckland to Mangawhai…then chillin’

Drove the Britz campervan from Auckland to Mangawhai, can I say that even though the ‘truck’, as we call it, is over 7 meters long, and 3.3 meters tall but drives like a small van. It’s easy to handle and has power to boot.

The kids are ever so excited that dad has a new job as ‘the bus driver’ as well.

Home made hamburgers for dinner, then crashed for the first full night sleep for all in sundry for about 10 days.

Woke up on day two with a small case of either elephantitis, massive swelling on the right hand side of my face. Off to the ‘holiday’ doctor and was told that my lymph glands were swollen. So now I have ‘holiday antibiotics’ to take for the next 10 days.

Mangawhai looks magical, so we’re off to the beach.

Afternoon is all about relaxation, lay-z-boy called my name with my current ‘read’, Keith Newman’s, Bible and Treaty.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Royal New Zealand Ballet – Carmen

Right from the beginning with the opening curtain the audience was filled with suspense with what was to come. There was a tangible excitement as the Auckland Philharmonic began Bizet’s opening score.

It was obvious right from the start, as the dancers appeared in denim, that this was no ordinary ballet. In fact there wasn’t a pair of pointe shoes or tights to be seen. It was all bare legs, bare feet, cut off jeans and the odd sneaker.

The way the choreographer fused contemporary dance vocabulary with ballet, jazz and musical theatre makes Carmen really accessible for anyone to enjoy. This is the kind of ballet that you could take a real bloke to. But some of the not so subtle moments in the bedroom scene might not be so suitable for the kids.

There were a number of duets where the graceful, sexy, sultry, ever flirtatious and confident Carmen left us in no doubt as to her power and passion. We were surprised at times how the store telling captured our attention to the point where we barely noticed any of the slick scene changes.

With the costumes being based on every day clothing, the dancers are relied upon to convey the story through their body movements – which they all did incredibly well. One of the key elements to successful story telling in ballet is the clever use of gesture. A standout example of this is the interchange between Carmen & Jose as she convinces him to set her free.

The story of Carmen changes according to the climate in which it is created. The Royal New Zealand Ballet version includes the use of technology, film and modernisation of the musical score by John Longstaff.

The story was so vividly presented that at one point I felt I could have been watching a silent movie. The music and dance complemented each other perfectly. Given that Carmen has such a well-known score it is a tall order to create such an entrancing mix of music and dance – but they succeeded without a doubt. The strength and agility of the dancers contributed greatly to the often humorous concoction.

The real strength in this performance is the way the relationships have been created. Not only between the dancers but between the dancers and the audience. I felt real emotion and connection to what was happening. The characters were believable and someone we could all relate to.

Normally I come away from a dance performance with a number of critiques but it was difficult to find fault with this vibrant and slick performance. The dancers, lighting, costumes and set were all in synch.

If you’ve never been to the ballet before - this is a great place to start!

Reviewed by Allie Carter & Natalie Dowd

Click here for ticket details

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Case against Robin Bain

The contoversial doco that screened on TVNZ last night. One of the more difficult, yet juciest, topics that talkback can't really touch...why?

The main reason is that you can defame someone by 'omission', so in a case if there are only two options in a case, as specified in this one by both judges, where 'Party A' is deemed not guilty. You cannot them claim that 'Party B' is innocent as that implies, via omission, that 'Party A' did it.

That's defamatory.

So Daivid Bain will probably not need to seek compensation from the Crown, as his lawyers will be able to go after probably nearly every media outlet in the country! I sure don't want to add and more $$$ to his settlements tonight.

The link to the complete doco.

View The Investigator: The Case Against Robin Bain in its entirety by clicking here

Who said Jews can't dance?

If it's a hoax it's one of the best, the world media (incl. TVNZ) has reported it as factual. They say the Israeli Army has disciplined the soul-diers

Click here for one of the news reports

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

David Bain...more questions!

So if you didn't see the The Investigator Special programme on TVOne tonight, you've missed one of NZs most interesting programmes this year.

The show was careful not to say that David had committed the crime of murder, but it painted a very convincing argument for why Robin could simply not have done it.

A couple of the points:
  • There was so much blood in Stephens room, but not one drop on Robin
  • There were no fingerprints on the murder weapon belonging to Robin
  • There was testimony given to support the Defense case, that seems to not only be wrong, but a blatant lie - for your reference the purchase of a photocopy machine.
The argument was well laid out, logical and seemed to point the finger away from Robin Bain very convincingly.

David Bain's legal team wrote to the producers of the documentary asking them not to show it while David Bain has a case for compensation before the courts...after seeing the documentary, you can see why.

As for my opinion, one thing about the re-trial of David Bain has always confused me. It appears that his conviction was overturned based on the evidence given by the experts organised by the defense team, however none of those experts were at the scene the day that the murder was committed. So for the overturned ruling to be correct, every expert that was at the scene of the murder has to be wrong...and all the experts that were not there, using the evidence gathered by those that were there, would have to be right.

Did David Bain kill his family? No one one ever will I suspect. But I agree with Award-winning documentary film maker Bryan Bruce, David had his day in court, and that's what the jury has decided, but Robin never has...until now.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Why is NZ such a dangerous country for adolescents?

Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor to the PM, has asked why NZ is so dangerous for adolescents. Apparently compared to other comparable countries more of our adolescents die than anywhere else. This may be death from suicide, risk taking, accident or other means.

It’s a tragic, but fascinating question. Why, in this country we call Godzone, a place where are all laid back and ‘sweet as’, do some many of our young people die for stupid reasons…compared to our kindred sister countries?

The basic information via media release from Professor Gluckman
By international standards, New Zealand teenagers have high rates of risk-taking behaviours such as smoking, drunkenness and unsafe sex.

The pressures of the teenage years can also have tragic outcomes - we have the highest rate of youth suicide among developed countries.

The Prime Minister has asked his Chief Science Advisor, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, to report on practicable actions that could improve the transition through adolescence for New Zealand's young people. The interim report from the working group, entitled Improving the transition: reducing social and psychological morbidity during adolescence, has been released today.

This interim report, produced at the mid-point of the project's reporting time-frame, identifies the issues and indicates where substantive conclusions have been reached, the direction of the working group's thinking, and the focus of ongoing work.

So here’s the thing, we talked about this this morning, and kind of started going around in circles and came to why do we have ‘troubles’ or ‘issues’ in general with many teens. The conversation included the original Gluckman thoughts then expanded.

Here’s a hypothesis to consider.

If you have a disrespectful, surly, rude teenager, a teenager who shows no respect for authority, a teen who drinks, swears, smokes, roots and is a burden on society, who’s fault is that?

Playstation? Music? Movies? TV? Societies? The teens? Peers?...

I would surmise that all these influences can play a part, but let’s be honest the parent or parents have a much greater influence on the teen through their years of life so far than any other the other external forces. Shouldn’t we point the finger at the biggest influence?

Can’t we at least ask the question, is poor parenting to blame for the slacker youth we have in NZ today?

I know it’s not as black and white as I am selling it…however at the moment all the other ‘external forces’ are getting the blame, along with the teens themselves. I don’t say this to absolve the teens of their responsibility, but to at least have a realistic conversation about the other influences that lead to the 13 year old dropping the brick off the overpass.

Think of it like this, if I owned a dog, and my dog bit you…I could end up in jail, or with a fine. If my 13 year old is out of the home and kills someone with a rock off an overpass…I can absolve myself of any responsibility.

Am I saying that owning a dog, and having a child is the same thing…No, but what I am getting at is there seems to something wrong with the above example, you need to take greater legal responsibility for a pet, than a child.

Click here for the full Gluckman report

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Shane Jones on the wireless

Further to my facetious, tongue-in-cheek tweet earlier

@patbrittenden Looks like NZs 6th most successful iwi station, Radiolive, is looking 2 replace NZs best known gardener with NZs foremost porn connoisseur

I thought I should expand.

Radiolive has had several drive time hosts, including Paul Henry, Bill Ralston and James Coleman since its inception in 2005. Currently the drive host is New Zealands best known gardener Maggie Barry. we hear today that shamed MP Shane Jones is now being given a crack at the lowly rating slot.

Click here for the story from 3News

As a clarifying statement here are the statistics.

Newstalk ZB's Larry Williams currently has 155,000 listeners, pulling 9.1% of the listening market, where at RadioLive's Maggie Barry has 45,000 listeners with an audience share of only 2.3%

'Nuf said.

Welcome ETS!

So it's finally here, the emissions trading scheme.

What will it do for NZ? What will it do for the production of Carbon? What will it do for our economy?

Answer: Nothing! Nothing! Nothing!

This is not a debate about whether man is contributing any significant way to climate change? It goes beyond that into..."if man is contributing, will the ETS do anything?"

The clear answer is "No!"

What the ETS is (as descibed so beautifully by one of my callers this morning) is the stick. It is not an incentive, it is a tax...a fee...or a fine, take your choice.

If this was going to make a clear difference with pollution in NZ, then New Zealanders would be behind it...but it wont.

A classic example is a courier company that runs around Auckland with 'Carbon Neutral' stickers on their vans...good you think they are not emitting carbon! Well no, that's not how it works. They are still emitting the same carbon out of their vehicles, they are just paying a offset fee. They are purchasing carbon credits to hide their guilty sin!

Other points of interest with the ETS that we learned about two weekends ago with the Nick Smith interview.

If you have trees that qualifies you to receive money from the ETS, then it's more like a loan than an actual payment. The money that gets paid to individual New Zealanders is nice for them, but if those trees ever come down, through natural means or by the hand of man, then the owner of the trees has to pay back upwards of 70% to the government. It's probably closer to GST than anything else, a big money-go-round that will end back with the government.

If you have trees planted before 1990 they are not eligible for a payout, but if you cut them down you will be fined for it.

In the first year, the government will be paying out over $900 million to foresters, but only taking in $400 million from the ETS...the rest will come from our taxes, we will be subsidising the ETS through our taxes.

And finally, don't believe the hype over the ETS just being on fuel and electricity, this will effect the price of every 'Goods and Service' we have. Example, if you own a book store, and your power goes by hundreds per annum, as a book store owner you'll need to recover that up goes the price of books, or maybe an employee will lose a little work. Yes some businesses will absorb the price increases, but they will still be there. Nick Smith said on air that it will effect the price of everything.

I am not pro-pollution, no one is, but let's get realistic, if anything is going to be an incentive for New Zealanders to stop producing's a carrot.