Venue for Visitors

I’ve finally been to see the new Visitors’ Centre at the Botanic Gardens, and, frankly, it didn’t impress me.

Botanic Gardens Visitors' Centre

Botanic Gardens Visitors’ Centre

I thought the building looked like a plastic glasshouse (if that’s not an oxymoron), and not at all attractive from the outside.  Have you seen it?  What did you think?

“I was surprised it looked like this
our much-praised garden edifice.”

Sign of Sadness

We’d never seen a sign like this before on Waimairi beach

Seal sign

Seal sign

A person there told us that the seal had now died.  Its corpse is the black spot in the centre of this photo – it must have been just a pup, as adults are bigger with a browner coat..

Dead seal

Dead seal

The New Zealand fur seal dives deeper and longer than any other fur seal.  Sadly this one won’t be diving any more.

“A long and happy life at sea
for this young seal is not to be.”

Stimulating Sessions

I spent this afternoon at the WORD Writers and Readers Festival and enjoyed three excellent sessions.

Island Lives was a discussion with Tina Makareti and Charlotte Randall, facilitated by Morrin Rout.

Tina’s book “Where the Rekohu Bone Sings” is set in the Chatham islands and reflects her Moriori ancestry.  She spoke of how it reflects her obsession with identity and the value of stories to recover a culture.  She said being on an island gives the freedom of isolation.

Charlotte Randall’s “The Bright side of my condition” is set in the Snares Islands in the 19th century, and depicts the superstitions and ignorance of the time.  I haven’t read the book, but gather its climax comes when a man is thrown off a cliff and survives death.  Charlotte lamented that no-one who’s reviewed the book has really understood what it’s about.

Aunty and the Star People is the title of Gerard Smyth’s latest documentary which was completely sold out at recent New Zealand Film Festivals.  Its subject, Jean Watson is an amazing woman, and this session was a conversation between her and Gerard.  Jean is 80 years old and has spent the last 30 years developing and maintaining an Illam – a home for deprived children in Southern India.  Among the books she’s written is “Stand in the Rain”, a fictionalised account of her ten year marriage to Barry Crump.  During this time she had two sons who were adopted out because the couple were poor and adoption was the socially responsible option at the time.  Jean follows Vedanta, an ancient Indian philosophy which affirms the oneness of existence, the divinity of the soul, and the belief that all religions are basically the same .  Much of Jean’s writing is existential, and she explores the idea that time is an illusion.

A Novel Relationship This engrossing session featured authors Owen Marshall and Laurence Fearnley, and editor Anna Rodgers discussing how they work together, in a panel led by Chris Moore.  All of them were very articulate and open about their experiences.  The first draft of a book is just the beginning, and the better the writer, the more they appreciate the editor and her respect and care for their book.  It was noted that self-publishing is beginning to be of a higher standard as people come to understand the need to have an editor and a designer.  any budding author would have gained lots of useful information.

“The afternoon was just a treat
with fascinating folk to meet.”




Imminent IceFest

An outdoor exhibition of photographic images of Antarctica has been set up in front of the Cathedral in the Square.

Antarctic images

Antarctic images

The official opening will be this Saturday.  It’s all part of NZ IceFest. 

“People and penguins on the go
all pictured mid the ice and snow.”

When I was at The Monastery last week I wrote the following poem:


When someone you love has gone
Weep . . . . . , accept, and go on.

It seems that you may drown in tears
All sourced from an infinite well
Moments of comfort stem the flow
Is that the shore?  It’s hard to tell.

When someone you love has gone
Weep . . . . . , accept, and go on.

Years, even decades, may pass
And anger replaces a tear
How dare they go, and leave you so?
You need them, but they are not here.

There’s still a corner of my heart
Of which those loved ones are a part
A memory sometimes will surprise
And bring the tears back to my eyes.

So, is the loved one truly gone?
I weep . . . . ., accept, and go on.

Ruaumoko strikes with violent hand
A city shakes and falls
So much that’s loved is torn away
Crushed in those crumbling walls

The place we loved has gone
We weep . . . . ., must accept – and go on.

Through all of this the seasons turn
As nature’s cycle ebbs and flows
There’s always hope – new life will come
Transition keeps us on our toes.

Some weep, some accept, and we all go on.

Party Policies

With the General Election just a month away it’s time to nail our colours to the mast – or rather to the fence.

Sign on the Cottage fence

Sign on the Cottage fence

I haven’t been an active Green for some years now, but I’m pleased to be able to help by hosting a billboard on our prominent corner.

This morning I discovered Vote Compass, a website developed by political scientists and hosted by TVNZ.  It’s quick and easy to answer some questions about your views on various issues.  The site analyses your answers, then tells you how your views line up with the published policies of political parties.  I’d encourage everyone to try it, especially those who don’t have the time and energy to check policies before they vote.

Of course Green came out top for me, but I was surprised to find my views align more with Mana policies than with Labour (Internet party is not included in this exercise).  I’ve spoken to several left-leaning people today, who said they’d also been surprised to find Mana so high in their results.   I must admit I know very little about Mana policies, but my respect for them has now risen.  Maybe Kim Dotcom was wise to choose them as his political partner.

“The billboard shows that I am keen
that people all should please vote Green.”

Horticultural Hamilton

A trip to the Hamilton Gardens was offered as part of the week’s programme at The Monastery.  Because the weather was drizzly, I opted for just a short visit, but if I’d known how wonderful the gardens are I’d have chosen a longer visit, despite the rain.  These gardens explore the history, context, and meaning of gardens.  I headed for the Productive Gardens, took a wrong turn, and found myself in the Italian Renaissance Garden, “an interpretation of 15th-16th Century Renaissance gardens that sought to rationalise and improve upon nature.”

Italian Renaissance Garden

Italian Renaissance Garden

I then wandered into the Tudor garden which incorporates various forms of fantsay popular during the Tudor era.

Tudor Garden

Tudor Garden

The Sustainable Backyard was inspiring, and I was impressed the woodcarving mural, created by volunteers Derek Merwood and Megan Godfrey.

Carved mural

Carved mural

The river was particularly attractive.

HG River (Small)

I also met pigeons

HG Pigeons (Small)

and ducklings

HG Ducklings (Small)

before my brief visit was over.  Have you been to the Hamilton Gardens?

“Another time I’d like to stay
within the gardens all the day.”



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