Monday, December 26, 2011

Reading NZ News - 2 Cities

It is now Boxing Day in both Sydney and Dunedin. I have been reading the Dunedin News.
An article written by a Dunedin journalist currently with family in Christchurch is quite sad.
" I pass the abandoned church where Christmas carols will not be sung "this happy morn". I pass the Postshop from where no Christmas cards were sent and a row of shops whose eftpos machines were silent this holiday season. I pass, also, the place where in February a man, quietly eating lunch in his van, was crushed to death."

Then I read about Christmas day in Dunedin There were 2 cruise ships in port and the Taieri
Gorge Railway carried 520 cruise ship passengers ( a record number)and other tourist sites recorded high numbers.

Comments (after finding many shops closed)
""But it's a beautiful place, and we'll be back," she said."

"This stop is a chance to get a decent cup of coffee, because you don't get it on the ship.

"We planned this to be a relaxing day, just sitting here, looking at the Robbie Burns statue."

While so proud of Dunedin and so thankful to be living there, I feel so sorry for Christchurch.
Jan Porter, of Brisbane, agreed. She was happy just to sit and admire the city's beautiful buildings.

"I even appreciated the seagulls - they're cheeky."

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Prayers again

Quite shocked to learn of renewed large quake activity in Christchurch and leading up to Christmas. Enough to make me try and post on this wretched IPad.
Fortunately no severe injuries nor destruction except more liquefaction which must be heartbreaking. However the psychological stress will be severe.
Perhaps I should not leave the country as the first quake in September 2010 I was in Norway, the next big one, Boxing Day 2010, I was in Sydney, the worst one Feb 22, I was in NZ but down the far south on Stewart Island. The next big ones, last June, I was in Europe and now this lot the day after I flew back into Sydney.
One day in Sydney and I dislike the humidity, showers, some heavy and traffic. Fortunately I am not driving. Dunedin has sunny but not extreme temperatures for Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas

I have never been a person for Christmas. Well I suppose I was as a child.  Easter is always more significant to me. Bishop Kelvin in his latest post has probably indicated one reason why.

I must say I am heartily sick of the whole Jesus is the reason for the season routine that I am supposed to be spouting at the moment. Let's get real! In solidarity with my distant pagan ancestors, I  have a decorated tree in the corner of my living room and over the next few days fully intend to indulge in the ancient, pre-Christian practices of feasting, giving gifts and singing carols. What's more, I will be doing the whole darned thing on the Saturnalia,  December 25. We humans had been celebrating in this way for centuries before we Christians wandered into the festivities, looked around, liked what we saw and surreptitiously forged our name on the bottom of the ownership papers. Of course it is all a load of pagan nonsense, but that's the point really.

Emmanuel. God with us. God fully present in the human condition, as much in the raucous celebration of the Saturnalia as in the witness of a peaceful sunset. As much in the worried crowds on Christmas Eve combing through the bargain racks on George St. as in the half hour of silent prayer. God is not, cannot be absent. 

It is almost a lost cause to try and equate the Christmas activities around us with the wonder of the Birth of Christ.
Our family gave up giving presents to each other aeons ago. I enjoy exchanging cards and, despite the cost, prefer real cards to internet ones. I enjoy Christmas lunch especially plum pudding. However it is now just 3 of us on Christmas day. I did not put up any decorations this year as it is pointless, no-one except the electricity meter reader would see them. The cards have been displayed.

I am flying across the ditch this afternoon to Sydney and will return on January 2nd. The forecast is not too hot but possible showers nearly every day. After a weekend of rain we now have a run of sunny days in Dunedin forecast until Christmas. I managed to garden at last yesterday and planned to spend an hour there today but it is looking increasingly unlikely. The airport shuttle is due at 2.30pm.

I would prefer to stay home and work in the garden. However I hope to enjoy Christmas Eucharist at St James King Street.  I will miss St John's Roslyn but most of my friends will be away with family anyway.  I really think we have Christmas at the wrong time of the year in the Southern hemisphere.  My doctor, who is from the UK, returned there for Christmas and said while it would be cold he preferred Christmas in the UK.

I have turned commenting off because I am leaving my beloved laptop at home and taking the hated Ipad. That was the biggest waste of money (NZ$1000) this year. I thought it would be like my Mac but have great trouble using it. I will have access to my sister's mac but not my bookmarks and passwords. I cannot find how to transfer these to my Ipad.

Enough grumbling

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hooray, they have gone.

The Dunedin Octagon occupiers have gone. They have been there 66 days.
Online comments from our city paper.
Our Mayor said
"While most people would agree with many of the issues raised, "the issues the group chose to highlight were overshadowed by the rights and wrongs of occupying a public space.
"I believe there is a residue of support for the causes they are highlighting, but the message I am getting from the community is why are they there this is our space and it looks awful." 
 One online comment to our local newspaper (my bold).
'Did the protestors achieve anything?
Did they? Absolutely. The proved beyond any doubt that there are people with great passion matched with equal parts of stupidity alive and well in Dunedin. The protestors claimed to represent 99% of the population. Not only do I think that rich, but I strongly suspect they thought that they had a mandate to do so despite quite a few of the 99% being against them. 

Of the people I mix with, the majority thought their protest pointless – not because their goals weren't genuine enough, but because they utterly failed to meaningfully convey those goals. No one anywhere could have pleased these protestors. They wanted to change something but they each had a different something! 

I support the right to protest. However when that protest is as poorly defined as the Occupy movement is, I think that right becomes weakened. I strongly doubt the protest had broad public support.  
My message to the protestors: we all know of the problems of capitalism, please go and invent a new economy and prove it can work – this should about 5 decades. Then get back us on your solution. We'll be delighted to know more.'
'This is the best Christmas present the Octagon could have received. Thank goodness it’s over.

We will all be able to walk again through our beautiful Octagon with our heads held high and without the embarrassment of chalk graffiti, tattered tarpaulins flapping in the breeze and lawns turned to mud.'

The council spent $3500 replacing the turf after the number of tents had dwindled a few weeks ago, They will be assessing today what more will be needed to repair the damage.

The photos of an Episcopalian bishop (retired) climbing a fence in his purple cassock to break into private property in New York was embarrassing. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Australia's Third Woman Bishop

And the First in NSW. Very pleased to see the Diocese of Canberra-Goulburn has appointed Archdeacon Genieve Blackwell as Assistant Bishop. It will apparently be 20 years next February since that diocese first ordained women priests. (It was the 2nd such ordination in Australia and I was present. I have always said the first, which was in Perth, was a bit far. )
At that time there were court cases as the Diocese of Sydney tried to prevent it going ahead. Apparently Sydney has been more cooperative this time.  Archdeacon Blackwell was once a student of Moore College and was taught by (now) Archbishop Jensen.
''I very much admire Genieve Blackwell,'' Dr Jensen said. ''However, I regret I am not able to take part in the service for reasons of conscience.''

The Bishop of Newcastle  will replace Jensen at the consecration. I presume the Bishop of Canberra-Goulburn Stuart Robinson will also be involved. (Do you need 2 bishops to consecrate a third?) 
I was disappointed when Bishop Robinson was appointed from the Sydney Diocese. It is amazing how some change when they move out.

Still we only have women as assistant bishops. Apparently the consecration of women as Diocesan bishops is still blocked in Australia.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Election Thoughts

On Saturday I voted in the New Zealand Elections. I was allowed to vote as a permanent resident. In Australia I would need to be a citizen.
As a citizen it would be compulsory to vote in Australia so turnout is about 95%. In New Zealand it is only compulsory (even for permanent residents) to enroll and so the turnout was less than 70%.  Of those, 48% voted for the party led by a man who was once head of a leading foreign bank in London. So much for the claims of the occupiers that it is 99% against the 1%. I wonder how many of them bothered to vote.

Of course the result was expected so I cannot be disappointed.

In Australia there is preferential voting so you need to number every square on the voting paper.  Most states and the Commonwealth have 2 houses of parliament so there are 2 voting papers. The upper houses vary but most have a complicated system of voting and the paper can be huge (often referred to as table cloths).

In New Zealand there was one A4 size paper requiring 2 ticks. One for the local member and one for the party vote. I voted for the local Labor member who was elected. (Dunedin votes different from much of the country usually electing 2 Labor members).
My party vote was Green and I was pleased to see their vote increased to 10% and there will be 13 members of parliament.

As in Australia, it is difficult for the smaller parties to win an electorate but in NZ the party vote allows them to gain members in the parliament close to the proportion of votes they gain across the country. In Australia the complex upper house voting usually achieves a similar result in the upper houses only.

There was a referendum to revert the NZ system back to First Pass the Post similar to UK and I think the USA. Thankfully it lost. Under FPP it is very difficult for smaller parties to be elected and I would see no point in voting in future as my preference is definitely Green party.

At least the result was known a few hours after the polls closed. In Australia it can take days before a definite result. There is haggling about forming a government. However the National Party only needs 2 more in order to control the house. These will be provided by 2 parties each with one member. One party (ACT) is even further to the Right.
We wait to see who the Maori party will support. They supported National in the last parliament but it is believed this lost them votes. They are strange bed fellows.

I must admit that when National were elected to Government 3 years ago, it was a point against my move to New Zealand. However, although I do not agree with many of their policies they are not as bad as the centre right party (Liberal/National)  that often dominates Australia politics.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Music continues

I am on a high today (with a slight headache due to age)

Three nights of music in Dunedin.

Wednesday night it was the New Zealand Symphony and their string ensemble presenting  "Strings Possessed"
The guest soloist violin was Ilya Kaler with their own Hiroshi Ikematsu on double bass.
The program was:

Sonata No. 6
BOTTESINI Gran Duo concertante
PAGANINI Il Palpiti variations by Rossini

Thursday night was to hear  Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir present Voices of Aotearoa with music including Maori instruments and pieces by New Zealand composers such as Helen Fisher, David Griffiths and David Hamilton as well as Britten, Purcell, Hildegard. The progam is listed at

Finally Friday night was very different.
Elton John in Dunedin's new covered stadium. I bought my tickets in February. It was stupendous. Perhaps for me the most moving moment was when he told us he was in a most happy period of his life with his partner and young son then sang "Can you feel the Love Tonight"

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Some Christians!

Sometimes I could cringe. I have begun volunteering on our local tourist railway which runs 6 hour trips up the gorge for cruise ships (83 this season) I will write about this one day.

Soon after they board at the wharf, we serve sparking wine, orange juice or a mixture. The co-host in my carriage, who knew I go to church, told me that one group said to her. "We do not drink alcohol, we are Christians."
My comment to her "I am a Christian and I love wine."
Naturally we are not allowed to drink while working on the train.

There can be many reasons why people do not drink alcohol and I respect most of them. "No thanks, I do not drink, orange juice for me" would have been an easy (and common) response. 
This was not a good way to witness to the Gospel.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Sad Day

Yesterday the Christchurch Cathedral was deconsecrated. This is to allow for its partial demolition which will enable the removal of many valuable and heritage items.

I first attended the  Cathedral on November 5th, 2006. By chance they were celebrating 125 years since the cathedral was consecrated. I took the photo below on October 24th,  my first day in New Zealand after I had decided to move here permanently, my mother having died 3 months earlier.  It happens to be the first photo I ever took with my first digital camera.

I would have seen the cathedral on visits to Christchurch in 1967, 1970 and 1973 but do not remember going inside. They were state school tours and a visit would  not have greatly interested most 16 year olds.

I worshipped there again on January 16 this year. The September earthquake had done some damage but nothing compared to what happened on February 22.

I am sad at its loss and can only feel sorry for those to whom it meant so much in their spiritual life. Of course the very name of the city shows the importance of the cathedral.

I refer to Liturgy for a discussion of "deconsecration". All beyond my understanding.  I just feel very sad.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Thank God for the Maori

Read Liturgy for the complete details

Here in New Zealand, Tikanga Maori has rejected the Anglican Covenant.
This effectively means that the Province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia will reject the Covenant next year.
Statements made to which I give three cheers.

Seconding the motion, the Rev Don Tamihere said the Covenant was not about homosexuality.

“It is about compliance and control.

“We are being asked to sign over our sovereignty, our rangatiratanga to an overseas group… To a standing committee over whom we have no choice or control. And they have the power to recommend punishment.

“The proposed Covenant offers us nothing new – or nothing we need as Anglicans, as Hahi Mihinare, or as disciples of Jesus Christ.

“We don’t need it to have faith in Jesus Christ: We already have a covenant that binds us to our saviour, Jesus Christ. And that is the only covenant we need.” 

The Rev Ngira Simmonds (Manawa o te Wheke) pointed out that to be Anglican means to be in relationship with people – even if you don’t like them.

“We want this church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia to focus, instead, on acting for the restoration of justice.”

 I note that the Diocese of Sydney has also rejected the covenant but for very different reasons. Speakers urged support of GAFCON and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans as a better way to respond to the current issues in the Communion.

Of course they do not want to be told to desist from their un-Anglican practices.

I am not sure how this will play out when the Australian Provincial Synod meets. Sydney usually holds about one third of the votes. However I no longer really care as Aotearoa New Zealand is my spiritual as well as physical home

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Get rid of these occupiers

This is not going to make me popular but I have stopped reading most of the bloggers on my right and am thinking of blacking out my blog. Knowing how few readers I have that would probably be as futile as the actions of those occupying my beloved Octagon.

They have a sign saying they will not move until capitalism is destroyed. In that case they will be there long after I am dead and buried. Their spokesman who shouted in the council chambers and took his dog in with him to make just as much noise is a known communist and rabble rouser in the city. If we had communism he would not be allowed to make his protests.

In my youth (50's and early 60's) I was attracted by communism but was concerned by the atheism involved. It is wonderful in theory but does not allow for the greed of human nature. Even the early church in the early glow of Christianity had Ananias and Sapphira.

I am still a Socialist and believe that Capitalism needs moderating by government action. Most in the USA would call that communism. We have seen how the people opposed Obama's attempts to provide a more acceptable health scheme. While it is not perfect by any means, countries like Australia and New Zealand do moderate capitalism. The Scandinavian countries do it even better. The USA is a basket case and that is the reason I say the USA has nice scenery and some nice people but I am always glad to leave. Here there is no need for people to beg in the streets nor go homeless in our countries. The few cases are generally due to mental problems or those who fall through the cracks. The churches and other groups are always campaigning for improvement.

The main problem is from a few people who exploit the social system, allowing politicians to campaign to remove such benefits. People are shown on welfare with wide screen TVs and of course smoking. I noticed young people smoking in the occupation camp the other day. They are supporting the worst of the multi-nationals. I would remove all health benefits from people who continue to smoke. I have to move away at bus stops or cover my face with a handkerchief when walking down the street. as I am allergic to cigarette smoke.

If there had been a march or even a few days occupation, I would have supported the aims but to occupy our city's beautiful meeting area for over 3 weeks has just antagonised so many of us. The buses from the cruise ships (83 this summer) which are so important to our economy pull up there. I have friends coming on a ship in early December and this morning my sister said "arrange to meet them under the Robbie Burns statue". I snorted. "I can't, it is occupied" and she was horrified. The occupations in Sydney and Melbourne have been removed by police. To my knowledge they have not returned. Of course police brutality was claimed but this is always a tactic of such groups.

The Dunedin City Council offered the occupiers another park away from the centre, but they refused. Yesterday the laws were invoked and they were told to leave by 8pm last night. As yet the police have not acted. If I and some friends decided to camp in the main street, we would have been moved very quickly and rightly so. Photos have shown dishwater running down the path. They are using the nearby council provided toilets which have always been very clean, I now go several blocks away to the toilets provided by the multi-national owned shopping centre.

The irony is that in our democratic elections at the end of this month, the Prime Minister is riding high in the polls. Wikipedia provides the following:

In 1995, he joined Merrill Lynch as head of Asian foreign exchange in Singapore. That same year he was promoted to Merrill's global head of foreign exchange, based in London, where he may have earned around US$2.25 million a year including bonuses, which is about NZ$5 million at 2001 exchange rates.[3][8] Some co-workers called him "the smiling assassin" for maintaining his usual cheerfulness while sacking dozens (some say hundreds) of staff after heavy losses from the 1998 Russian financial crisis.[4][8] He was a member of the Foreign Exchange Committee of the New York Federal Reserve Bank from 1999 to 2001.

These occuaptions are driving more people into his arms. It is not 99% against 1%. Probably 70% or more of our population, while annoyed at the actions of the 1%, are doing quite well. The 1% do not use the city central park or meet friends there, they have their own mansions and chauffeur driven cars.

The situation at St Paul's has also saddened me. These people would never go near a church and would probably oppose the church if they had power. They are laughing up their sleeves knowing the church people are wusses, scared to be seen taking action.

We do not have the problems of the dysfunctional USA government. It is bad enough that we import so much like Coca cola and Stsrbucks, we do not need their occupation movements. Even our education systems have been damaged by importing American ideas.
I can never understand why just to the north there is a so much better society with similar history and culture in Canada.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

All Saints Day

There are just a few days of the year when I want to be back worshipping at St James, King Street. I make it for Christmas and sometimes for Easter but not for All Saints Day.
I am thankful to be at St John's Roslyn which is certainly more friendly and today was packed with people of all ages, care needed not to fall over young children at coffee, thankful for having raised over $18,000 at the Parish Fair yesterday.

However the final hymn was one of my favourites "For All The Saints". I learned it at St Philip's Eastwood where I worshipped in the early 1960's and we often sang it at Evening Prayer, a service packed with young people, evangelical but Anglican. It has sadly now gone the way of most of Sydney diocese.

Today we only sang 4 verses. I could not help being wistful for St James where it would be the Introit and would need all 8 verses to allow the procession to move 3 times around the church led by the censer, followed by the Cross, then the wardens and the parish banners, the choir and finally the altar party of at least 6 and finally the President wearing his cope.

Of course I only attended St James for 3 years when I finally discovered it amidst the sea of today's Sydney evangelicalism where they would have no idea of a Saint's Day.

I have searched Youtube for a suitable version but there are none with processional choirs sung well with gusto so will have to provide one from Cardiff in St David's Hall and only 4 verses.

Wonderful words of praise set to music by one of my favourite composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams.

And our vicar, Eric has posted the sermon for today.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Favourite Advertisement

I hate TV adverts. In Australia I watched the ABC 90% of the time. Owned by the government, it did not have adverts although program promos took up a lot of time but they were between programs, not interruptions.  Here in NZ the 2 government stations have adverts and are indistinguishable from commercial TV.   Therefore I now watch very little TV.
However I can watch one advert over and over again. Probably helped by the fact that the last pet I owned (he was actually owned by my sister ) was Terry, a Fox terrier , almost indistinguishable from the dog in the add ( I believe there were 3). He died in 1971. I have not had a pet since.

It has just won NZ advert of the year. I actually voted, I usually would not waste money on such things.  However, although I love the advert and  the followups, I oppose all forms of gambling.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Reunion Update and other matters

The reunion went well and I think it was worth all that money. The bus to Christchurch was bearable - just 3 others onboard,  I think overseas students. The problem was that we arrived at the airport at 2.30am and my plane left at 7am. I seem to spend far more time than I like hanging around airports. The captain said we would take less than 3 hours but, as we approached Sydney, the heavy air traffic meant we circled over the Tasman twice and landed nearly 3 and half hours after takeoff at 8.25am Sydney time.  I only took hand luggage and the customs officials were unusually cooperative so I was on the train just after 9 am and at my sister's home before 10am.

I slept until 1 pm, had lunch then lay down again until nearly 3, showered and changed, and set off for the reunion at 3.45.  I felt remarkably ok. It was not far away and was set for 4pm till late.  There were only about 15 of us, including one teacher.

Only one, Dennis, could have been said to have been in my group at school but it is strange how guys who hardly connected at age 16 can be very easy to be with now we are 66 plus. I guess those 5 years at a rather remarkable school give us a bond. I left at 10pm and the few who remained did not look like staying much longer.

The teacher, Rod, was my Latin teacher which I only studied for 3 of the 5 years. However he was also the teacher-in-charge of the school Christian group so had an enormous influence on me.  He went on to become Principal of one of the leading Anglican schools. At one time there was trouble over homosexuality at the school and I wrote to him and we met for afternoon tea.  He expressed regret that he had not been able to help me at the time I was at school.   However in the late 50's homosexuality was never discussed.  I did not understand my feelings until I studied psychology at university.  I have a feeling he would have advised me to see psychiatrists who, in those days, treated people with "sexual disorders".  Receiving such treatment at age 27 was bad enough, I do not know how I might have coped as a teenager. 

Rod has always expressed pleasure at meeting me again and asked if I had a partner.  I told him I felt more at home in the Dunedin diocese than in Sydney and let him deduce what he might from that.  My feelings for him are mixed as are my feelings about my evangelical upbringing.  It developed my faith and gave me a strong sense of Christian certainty but at the same time I blame it for many of the problems I have had to deal with over the years.

My best mate at school, Peter,  sadly died of cancer in 2004 and I missed him at the reunion.  Rod was also important to him and visited him in his last weeks.  He also became a teacher and a Christian School Principal.  A week before he died, I rang him and we were discussing some of the hymns we loved to sing such as "Blessed Assurance".  I remarked that things had seemed so much simpler in those days and Peter replied that they sure were and real life was really far more complicated.

I knew Dennis, like me, had met up with another in our group about 10 years ago. Trevor was brilliant and gained higher degrees in both English and Science. but sadly has bipolar disorder and a problem with alcoholism. He had a difficult time at school due to his extreme feminism.  I lunched with him at the time but feel guilty that it was so unpleasant that I never repeated  it.  Dennis said that, when they met, he found his overt homosexuality hard to deal with, I stated that was not a problem for me and let Dennis deduce what he might from that.

Sydney from Watson's Bay
On Wednesday I slept in, booked my last free flights with United Airlines (to Sydney and back next Easter) then went to the city with my sister. After some shopping, we walked to the Quay and caught a ferry to Watson's Bay for seafood lunch. The Harbour was sparkling but not too hot, one thing I do like about Sydney.

Thursday I flew home, this time with Jetstar who cannot match Air New Zealand for service. They are a subsidiary of Qantas and I always say "I am an Australian, I never fly Qantas." I waited another 4 hours at Christchurch airport for the Air New Zealand flight back to Dunedin in a very small plane which struck turbulence over the Northern hills. I was very relieved when we came down out of the cloud and I saw Mt Cargill (the highest local point) was still comfortably below us.

Tomorrow, Sunday,  I will be spending my first day as a volunteer on the Taieri Gorge Railway which takes passengers from cruise ships up into the scenic area behind the city. There are over 80 cruise ships visiting Dunedin this summer so that should keep me out of mischief.

Monday, October 17, 2011


I knew that reunions, and unfortunately also funerals, would be a problem when I moved to New Zealand. I missed Garry's funeral back in April.

In August I went to Australia for 12 days primarily for a reunion of the school where I taught for 15 years. I combined it with a holiday in Victoria. The actual reunion was disappointing mainly because it was for all students at a school which is celebrating 60 years this year. There were not many attending that I knew and there were no name tags. Guys my age were asking me if I was a student at their time and it was hard to decide if anyone was someone I taught.  I had black hair and no glasses in those days.  I only stayed about 2 hours. Fortunately I flew over on frequent flyer points.

Tomorrow is a reunion of my own class after 50 years and I have managed to get cheap flights. However the flight leaves Christchurch at 7am tomorrow and, rather than stay at a motel (and check out about 5am), I am catching the Knightrider bus which leaves Dunedin at 9.30pm and arrives Christchurch airport at 3.15am.  I will arrive my sister's home about 10am so hope I can get some rest before heading out for the reunion about 4.30pm.

I am only staying 2 nights and flying back on Thursday.  Fortunately, while flying into Christchurch,  I managed to get a flight onto Dunedin for the same price as the bus. I will have to pay for the shuttle from the airport to home but will be home 5 hours earlier.

I do hope this reunion is better and makes the trip worthwhile.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

This makes me Angry

I do not know how much news about the ship on the reef near the port of Tauranga. NZ is reaching the world outside Australia and New Zealand.

Hopefully a window of good weather over the next few days will allow authorities to pump out much of the oil.
The authorities seemed to have reacted like stunned mullet for the first week.At least thousands of volunteers are now joining the army and other professional groups to clean up the beaches and finally being given some training.
Some birds and anilmals are being rescued but over 1000 seabirds have died.

Fishermen and tourist operators are facing economic loss.
My anger is that the Greek owners of the ship have apologised but why was their ship registered with Liberia and manned by a Filipino crew. These seems to be ways of shipping companies minimising costs and reducing compliance with regulations. Full details will not be known until a long and costly inquiry is held. Apparently they are only liable for a maximum of 14 million dollars.
However it seems there were questions about the ship recently while in port in both Perth, Australia and Bluff, NZ. The captain was celebrating his birthday on board when the ship ran aground in good weather and both he and the 2nd officer have been charged in court. Locals say ships often go close to the well charted reef probably to save fuel.
As we are discovering in inquiries into the Pike River Mine Disaster and even some of the buildings flattened in the Christchurch earthquake,  there is suspicion that some cost cutting has occurred.
As usual we see big business maximising profits and to hell with the consequences.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Praise God from Whom all Blessings flow.

From my friend Birdie in Indianapolis for whom I asked prayers on September 1st

I am finishing my fourth course of chemo, which will bring a new wave of cluelessness. But that's okay, because today's exam showed NO MEASURABLE TUMOR in my breast—and the last exam said the same about the node tumor. The large tumor measured six by seven centimeters at the start of chemotherapy, and the node was three centimeters. The kind of cancer I have (triple negative) is not always responsive to chemo, so we didn't know what to expect.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's working. I am so thankful and full of hope for my future. Hope is the stuff of life.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Music in Dunedin

If health matters create the only real downside of my move to New Zealand,  Music certainly makes up for it.
Last Wednesday I attended a performance by  the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra at the Town Hall. It was excellent. The second half was Beethoven's Ninth Symphony "Ode to Joy"
The soloists were all Kiwis who are now making names for themselves overseas.
Madeleine Pierard soprano
Simon O’Neill tenor
Jonathan Lemalu bass
Sarah Castle mezzo-soprano

Simon studied at Otago University and Jonathan grew up in Dunedin. They were accompanied  by the NZ Chamber Choir and the  City of Dunedin Choir. I think about 100 voices. The conductor was Pietari Inkanen who is the Musical Director of the Orchestra and is originally from Finland.

By chance, I also heard Beethoven's Ninth just 4 weeks earlier when I went with my sister to hear it played by the Australian World Orchestra and the Sydney Philharmonia Choir at the Sydney Opera House.  I am far from being an expert but I thought the performance in Dunedin was just as good if not better.  It would have been helped by the fact that I was sitting much closer at one third the price.

In Sydney the first half was Brahms Academic Festival Overture which was also enjoyable and a modern Australian work "Vexations and Devotions" by Brett Dean who also conducted his own piece. It was one of the most horrible things (I would not call it music) I have ever had to sit through.
I was therefore a little nervous at seeing the first half in Dunedin was also a modern piece  Kaitiaki, Words by Witi Ihimaera and music by Gareth Farr. However it was also enjoyable, very impressive in parts. It was written especially for this performance. Ihimaera says the work is, for him, a mihi aroha or a greeting of love across space and time to honour Beethoven.

A week earlier I also attended the Town Hall for a "Last Night of the Proms" by the Southern Sinfonia and the City of Dunedin Choir.  This is usually held in February but the Town Hall will be closed for renovations next year and they decided to hold it to coincide with the  England team playing several Rugby World Cup matches in Dunedin.
I always love this and think it was actually better than in February. They also played the 1812 Overture, another favourite of mine,  and had a cannon.

The week before the Sinfonia played for the G&S society's performance of Utopia Ltd.
I also attended the Sinfonia in August with Brahms Symphony No 1 and Nikolai Demidenko playing Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 3.  Unfortunately the NZ Symphony's visit in August was cancelled due to the heavy snow.  I could add a short Organ concert in the Cathedral one recent Saturday afternoon.

As mentioned the NZSO musical director and regular conductor is Pietari Inkanen who is very cute.
I have found an interview he made with the violinist Hilary Hahn who also played at an earlier concert here in Dunedin.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Lord of the Dance

I enjoyed the final hymn at church this morning. However, with Ireland to play Italy in the final Pool match of the Rugby World Cup here in Dunedin in a few hours, I think there might be some bias at play. I will be supporting Italy mainly because an Italian win will be better for Australia but I am in the minority.
Lots of choice on Youtube but, sorry my American friends, they have to pronounce dance properly for me to select this version.


With 4 Rugby Union matches today and one Rugby League Grand Final match (Auckland Warriors) in Sydney, I am feeling a bit over it all,  but there were friends at church going home to watch all 4 Union matches and also try to catch as much of the League as possible.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Health Matters 2

The most worrying and complicated thing about moving from Australia to New Zealand has been Health Costs. When I previously visited New Zealand, I took out travel insurance and I usually take it out now when I return to Australia although last year I found it cheaper to take out world wide insurance for 12 months but that has now run out and, as I do not plan to travel anywhere other than Australia for the next year, I have not renewed it.

However both Australia and New Zealand provide reciprocal medical facilities for each others citizens. My main worry would be the need to be medically evacuated home.
I discovered that once I could prove my intention to reside permanently in New Zealand (either after 2 years or, in my case,  purchasing a home) I was entitled to the same medical benefits as any New Zealander.  But there are differences.

The good side is medical prescriptions. In Australia a prescription medicine usually costs $34. 20 and if one is on long term medicine eg blood pressure, you visit the doctor every 6 months and receive a prescription with 5 repeats each costing $34.20.
When I became an aged pensioner the cost went down to $5.60.  There is a safety net but you need to have more than about 52 prescriptions in a year before that applies.

In New Zealand a prescription costs just $3 and while you must visit the doctor every 3 months each prescription covers 3 months supply. I take 2 blood pressure tablets each day and one for cholesterol. These cost me a total of $3 per month in New Zealand while in Australia they would now cost me $17.40 and were $102.60 before I reached age 65. Strangely a prescription from a specialist (eg the antibiotics after today's surgery) costs $15.

Visiting a General Practitioner (family doctor/primary health care) is more complicated. In Australia the visit may be over $40 but you take the receipt to Medicare (paid for in a tax surcharge) and receive just under $30 refund. Some Medical clinics bulk bill, ie you pay nothing, just sign a form and they collect the refund. Usually such clinics charge after hours or if you make an appointment rather than just turn up and wait. It is not allowed to insure for primary health cover.

In New Zealand the charge may also be $40 - $50 but, after you register with a medical clinic, it is reduced to $25 for a visit. You can take out insurance at a very high cost. There are safety nets for high users.

Specialists in Australia are similar to General Practitioners, you pay the bill and go to Medicare for a refund. It depends on the specialist as to how much they charge over the Medicare amount. To gain a refund you must have a referral from a General Practitioner.

In New Zealand the Specialist is free if you are referred by a GP and are prepared to wait (unless it is urgent). You can avoid waiting by going to a private specialist (as I did with my skin cancers) but then you must pay.  Similarly with hospitals.

In Australia I had Private Health Insurance. As I had been insured since starting work, I was fully covered. The government paid 30% of the cost and besides hospital procedures I was covered (with limits)  for physiotherapy, prescription glasses, dentists etc. The insurer is not allowed to vary the cost as you age (except by regulated cost of living amounts).

I have just looked into private health insurance in New Zealand. After over a month of forms and inquiries to my GP, I was offered insurance at much the same price as in Australia but it only covered hospitals and had so many exceptions, based on my medical history, it was not worth it.  It would also increase as I got older. My main worry is non urgent items such as joint replacements. I will either have to wait or if it is too painful try to find the money. As I already have arthritis the insurer would not cover me.

In Australia I paid $250 (the agreed excess) for my one stay in hospital for back surgery in 2003. In 2006 I attended the hospital with chest pain (and was told my likelihood of a heart attack was almost nil) and agreed to be treated as a private patient. I therefore received a newspaper in the morning and a taxi voucher back to the railway station.

New Zealand does have an excellent accident cover although some people do not think so. You cannot sue anyone for compensation. The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), paid for by employers and car registration, helps to pay for the cost of injuries from work, home and sports or other leisure activities. 

Ambulance cover is subsidised but I have joined the Ambulance service for $35 per year and so it will be free.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Health Matters 1

A. There was a wonderful conclusion to our service this morning.  A few weeks ago I first noticed a lady who had great difficulty making it up the aisle to communion. She was using crutches. My friends told me it was wonderful to see her in church at all as she had suffered from a brain tumour.  It was removed then regrew, needing a second operation.  At one stage she lost the ability to speak and was completely incapacitated.  She lost her hair due to radiation therapy and apparently it is regrowing a different colour.  I recognised her husband but not her.

Today, after the vicar made the usual announcements, she stood and, in tears, told us her oncologist has declared her completely free of cancer. Her husband then thanked the congregation for all their prayers. We erupted in spontaneous applause. The vicar said he felt he should pray but noted the final hymn was more appropriate so we sang 'All hail the power of Jesus' name'.

B. Birdie, my friend in Indianapolis with breast cancer reported that at the beginning of her second chemotherapy treatment they told her the tumours had already shrunk noticeably. She has lost her hair and now has a cold which does not help.  Her third chemo dose is on Monday so continued prayer please.

C. Far far less important, I had my yearly skin cancer checkup back in late July.  The (seemingly very young) doctor took  4 biopsies. Two were nothing but there was a squamous cell cancer on my upper arm and a basal cell cancer on my back, I had a basal cancer on my forehead two years ago which was far more unpleasant.  The cancers were cut out 3 weeks ago after I returned from my visit to Australia.  I was looking forward to the stitches being removed last Tuesday when the doctor rang me on Monday to say the pathology showed he had not removed all of the basal cancer from my back, it had longer roots than normal.  So now I have to undergo the surgery again tomorrow. My main annoyance is that it will further delay my garden renovation.  I have been madly spreading top soil and bark in cold rain yesterday and even snow today as I will not be able to lift anything too heavy again for the next 10 days.  And then there is the additional cost.  I will have spent over $2000 on the whole sorry saga.  In Australia I would have got half to two- thirds back from Medicare.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mixed News from New Zealand

First the good news.
The Diocese of Dunedin has rejected the Covenant. I learned this from Bishop Kelvin's blog but it is now on Taonga as well. Bishop Kelvin writes "We discussed the Anglican Covenant and agreed with the suspicion of clause 4 which seems to be current in most of the New Zealand Anglican Church. By a reasonably large majority we do not want our church to subscribe to it."

I do not understand the implications of another vote.
There was "a motion asking us to accept that people in such relationships (same sex)  should not be denied ordination because of those relationships"..."In the end, an amendment was proposed which affirmed that sexual orientation was not a barrier to ordination, but which removed any reference to relationships." Bishop Kelvin thinks this is "the situation which has been the case in the Anglican Church for many years." I am not so sure, it depends in which part of the Anglican Church one resides and I do not believe it solves anything.

However the bad news is that the Diocese of Wellington has supported all four sections of the proposed Anglican Covenant. The bishop spoke in favour and the vote (only taken on section 4) was
Clergy : 63 for; 41 against.
Laity : 52 for; 44 against.

This is disappointing.  They state "We must preserve unity, and the Covenant will help us do that. And we don't want to find ourselves no longer in full communion because we have not signed the Covenant".
I think they are namby pamby and lily-livered. They want to remain in communion even if it is wrong.  New Zealand might end up in full communion with the homophobic dioceses but out of communion with TEC and Canada.

I  am definite on this:
If the Province signs up to the covenant, I will be disappointed. But if the covenant members then eject TEC and/or Canada, I will remove myself from the parish and not enter and Anglican Church in New Zealand again.

We wait on the other dioceses Three Maori and three Pakeha plus the diocese of Polynesia.
I know the Diocese of Christchurch has postponed a vote until next year. They had more important matters to consider.  The Diocese of Nelson had their synod in August but there is nothing reportd however it is the evangelical diocese and already has  statement condemning same sex marriage. The Diocese of Waikato/Taranaki had their synod last week but there is no news yet.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Go Auckland

I am indebted to Fr Bosco Peters at Liturgy for the following wonderful news.
First we learnt that the Auckland Diocese had rejected the Anglican covenant or at least Clause 4.2.
Now comes the (for me) much greater news,  that the Diocese has passed a motion which allows for persons in committed same-sex relationships to be considered for ordination.

The Bishop of Auckland, Bp Ross Bay, indicated in his charge that he was not opposed to ordinations of people in a committed same-sex relationship.
Then the synod passed the following motion.

That this synod:
(1) holds that sexual orientation should not be an impediment to the discernment, ordination and licensing of gay and lesbian members to any lay and ordained offices of the church; and further
(2) holds that persons in committed same-sex relationships likewise should not be excluded from being considered for discernment, ordination and licensing to any lay and ordained offices of the church.
(3) commits to an intentional process of listening to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, organised by the Archdeacons in consultation with the gay and lesbian community;
(4) commits to an ongoing process of discussion within the ministry units, asks the Archdeacons to facilitate this, and invites responses to those discussions to be submitted to Diocesan Council by 31 March 2012; and
(5) commits to support the process and work of the Commission to be appointed by General Synod Standing Committee as resolved at its meeting in July 2011.
This motion was put in parts, and members voted via a paper ballot. The most contentious clause, (2), passed by nearly a two-thirds majority.

The previous Bishop of Dunedin, Bishop George Connor ordained Rev Juan Kinnear, a man in a same-sex partnership who is now an associate priest in our cathedral.  I know the present bishop, from his sermons while a vicar,  has no personal opposition but worries about the divisions that might result, sort of the 'weaker brethren' argument.    The bishop of Waiapu centred on Napier, Bishop David Rice, was Dean of Dunedin cathedral at the time of Juan Kinnear's ordination and defended the ordination to the press.

There was strenuous opposition from one parish within Dunedin.  It is obviously a parish I have no intention of ever visiting.

However this leadership by Auckland, the largest diocese in new Zealand is great news, may it lead to further developments within the Province.

Thanks to Rev'd Stephen Donald for this information

The Waiapu Diocesan Synod has affirmed that sexual orientation is no barrier to ordination, and is asking for a liturgy to bless same-sex relationships.
The full motion is:
Given that Waiapu has followed a policy of sexual orientation not being a barrier to ordination; and given that there is not and has not been an agreed "moratorium" on ordinations of those in same-sex relationships;
a) this Synod affirms that sexual orientation is not a barrier to ordination, and
b) this Synod asks General Synod to move forward with the provision of an authorised liturgy for the blessing of same sex relationships to be adopted by dioceses who wish to do so.

They have apparently also rejected the Anglican Covenant 

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Victorian Holiday

As mentioned, the shuttle bus easily made it to my house on the Wednesday morning after the heavy snowfall. The main road up to my hillside suburb was cleared to 2 lanes on Tuesday.  I photographed people tobogganing on it the day before. The next street was cleared for one lane but my street was ignored. However I saw people in 2WD leaving for work that morning. There were still snow showers but I had also cleared my front path so I could wheel my bag up to the gate.  The planes were flying and mine was just 25 minutes late but I had a 4 hour layover in Auckland anyway.

I had wanted to visit a close friend the next day. He is always busy with children and grandchildren and left with his wife on a tour of Turkey, Greece and Croatia the following week. He suggested I stay with them the first night.  He met me at the station which is the end of the line that goes through the airport (or rather under it).  However I was very tired by the time we retired for bed, it being 2 hours later back in Dunedin.

On Thursday I went back under the airport and through the city to my sister's home in time for lunch.
On Friday I was back at the main city train terminal for the 8am train to Melbourne.  An elderly lady sat next to me from Moss Vale to Cootamundra (about 10am to 1pm) then a young man took the seat.  After a little while he must have noticed that the lady across the aisle was reading a history of New Zealand (she was doing a PhD on timber cutting).  He asked her about it and said, while he lived in Melbourne, he was a Kiwi and, when I asked, he said he had lived until the beginning of this year in Dunedin and just graduated from the University of Otago.  Life has such strange coincidences.

I spent the weekend in Melbourne. I have been there quite often so walked around the gardens, travelled on the trams and trains including out to the bayside suburbs and attended Choral Eucharist at the cathedral.

On Monday I went by train to Ballarat (population 96,000) and on Wednesday by bus to Bendigo (92,000) then back to Melbourne by train on Thursday before catching the overnight train to Sydney.
Cobb & Co Coach at Sovereign Hill

Miner's Camp, Sovereign Hill

Sovereign Hill Mine

Chinese Store, Sovereign Hill

     I visited Ballarat and Bendigo in 1987.  They are the 3rd and 4th cities in size in Victoria and were important gold rush cities in the 1850's.
I knew Ballarat had some important museums so decided to stay 2 nights there and 1 in Bendigo. However I much preferred Bendigo as a city.

My motel in Ballarat was near Sovereign Hill, an open air museum with over 60 buildings recreated as they would have been in the mining era of the 1850s. Gold was discovered nearby in 1851 and the 2nd largest nugget in the world (the Welcome Nugget weighing 69 kg,(2,200 ounces) and containing 99% pure gold was found in 1858.

I wandered around the Chinese village, went down a mine, saw gold being poured, no samples given out, rock being crushed by stampers and went through miners' houses and typical shops. I did not try gold panning and all I bought was some boiled lollies which I gave to my sister but she did let me have about 3 or 4.  It was much the same as I remember back in 1987 but some exhibits have now made use of modern technology.

On Tuesday morning I went to the Gold Museum opposite which did not exist on my first visit. In a modern building it had lots of information about Ballarat and gold mining and the uses of gold throughout history.
I decided to walk into town with a detour to the Eureka Stockade. Again I had visited in 1987 but I did not do my homework.  It was closed for major renovations so all  I achieved was a blister on my toe.

Back in town, after some much needed coffee, I caught a bus to Lake Wendouree.  I found, as a senior citizen, I could get an all day bus pass for about $1.50 so even less need for that blister.  The lakeside was very pleasant and the botanical gardens were picturesque although it was a little early, spring had not really sprung as yet.  Flowering trees became more obvious the next day as I travelled to Bendigo which is 200 metres lower.  I was pleased to discover the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War memorial which has all their names engraved.
Ducks on Lake Wendouree

Botanical Gardens, Ballarat

Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial

Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial

       In Bendigo I had a tour of a mine which only closed in 1954. The 75 minute tour took us 61 metres below the surface. There is a longer tour which goes down over 200 metres and you experience actual mining. As the guide said,  you pay to experience hard work. I think I am past that now.

The ticket also gave me an hour ride on the so-called "talking tram" through the city  but it was getting late and I decided to leave it until the next day, also visit the Chinese migration museum and garden as well as  follow a walking guide brochure to see the many old buildings in the city.  It meant I would get to Melbourne only a few hours before my overnight train left but as the weather forecast was good, I thought that would be better as I had only planned museum visits in Melbourne which, hopefully, I will visit again anyway.
Bendigo Talking Tram
Chinese Gardens Bendigo

Town Hall Bendigo

Impressive Catholic Cathedral, Bendigo

Not so impressive Anglican Cathedral, Bendigo

The train left Melbourne on time but came to a halt in less than an hour and we were informed there had been a fatality ahead, not our train.  We sat in one spot for over 3 hours but thankfully I had a sleeper so went to bed. I woke when the train started moving but did not look at my watch but we arrived in Sydney at 10.30am instead of 7am as timetabled. However breakfast was served about 7am instead of the planned 5.30am.

So again I had a shortened time with my sister before heading off for the reunion that had been the main reason for my Aussie visit.  I will leave that for a later post.
Building, Bendigo

Buildings, Bendigo

Buildings, Bendigo

Building, Bendigo

Building, Bendigo
Garden, Bendigo

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Prayer please

I managed to get out of Dunedin 2 weeks ago despite the snow. I will blog about my Australian experiences later but more important is to ask for prayers for a fellow blogger, Birdie. 

Birdie blogs at Strelizia and I had the greatest pleasure in meeting her in Chicago nearly a year ago. We had a fun time driving down Michigan Avenue in her convertible and then cruising on the lake before lots of chat over lunch and finally being trapped in the lift, thankfully not for long, at the carpark.  Her efforts to develop gay acceptance in her Presbyterian church leave me full of admiration. I met Birdie on the Brokeback Mountain site and I do not think she frequents the Anglican/Episcopalian blogs that I mainly visit.

Birdie lives in Indianapolis and, after hearing of the stand collapse at a Fair in that city, I contacted her and her reply was that while she was not at the fair she was waiting to learn about a lump on her breast. The following week the news first got worse as she learned it was cancer and it was invasive but then thankfully some good news that it had not spread.
However Birdie begins the first of several chemotherapy treatments this week and faces a mastectomy around Christmas time.
Please pray for her, her family and close by friends as they support her, and the medical staff as they make all the decisions they make about her treatment.

Heavenly Father, giver of life and health: Comfort and relieve your servant Birdie., and give your power of healing to those who minister to her needs, that she may be strengthened in her weakness and have confidence in your loving care; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Update Weather in Dunedin

24 hours later. Photo taken 11.15am
It was sunny then, you can see my footprints when I collected the daily newspaper earlier.  It was delivered but there is no school, buses are not running and they have advised only essential travel.
The following were taken at 12.40pm

But now 10 minutes later the sun is out again. I may go for a walk.

Road from city to airport was closed this morning but now open but that does not mean the road up the hill to me is open.  However all flights were cancelled until 12 when I last looked but cannot access the site at the moment.

Oh Oh, started to snow again, perhaps I will not walk just yet.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Weather in Dunedin

For several days the forecast has been that the mother of all storms would start Saturday night and continue to Tuesday.

My plans

1. Tickets for the Southern Sinfonia Saturday night.
2. Church Sunday morning. Last for 2 weeks due to my trip to Australia
3. Movie Club Sunday afternoon
4. Regular afternoon walking group Monday
5. Tickets to NZ Symphony Monday night
6. Regular walking group Tuesday
7. Shuttle booked for 8am Wednesday to airport to catch plane 9.45am for Auckland         
    then onto Sydney.


The forecast was for snow to commence that evening. As I brought in more firewood, put shovel and yard broom handy and completed some landscaping/planting that I did not want to leave for 2 weeks,  I wondered whether I should risk the journey down the hill to the Town Hall for the concert.   Neighbour said the meteorologists are always spreading doom and gloom and he takes no notice.

At 5pm the snow forecast for the evening was removed from website so at 7pm I headed for the Town Hall and enjoyed the concert. When I came out it had been raining and the temperature was below 4’C but no snow or ice and I drove home safely.


7am There had been a dusting of snow overnight  but sky was mainly clear.
8am Begins to snow,  then clears and sun comes out
9.15am Prepare clothes to wear to church
9.20am Heavy snow, put off getting changed
9.40am Usual time to depart still snowing so decide not to go
10.00am Service must be starting,  sun out,  snow melting.
10.30 Regretting decision not to go.
11.00 Service probably nearly finished, snowing again quite heavily.
11.30 Sun out, road probably clear.
12.00 Snowing again but not heavy at the moment. However think I will miss the movies  at 1pm. The problem is will I be able to drive up the hill after 3pm.

The snow is pretty but there is a downside. Photo taken at 11.15 Sunday

Walking in Dunedin

Nearly every Tuesday I join a group to walk in nearby areas. Two recent walks were cancelled due to snow and by the forecast next Tuesday will be also. Last Tuesday was a glorious day and the temperature rose above 11'C although it was only 3'C in the morning. We walked to Heyward Point.
First we were above the entrance to Otago Harbour and looking across to Taiaroa Head Lighthouse where the albatross nest. 

Then we walked around the Point with a few sections not meant for people like me who suffer from vertigo.

Lunch was at KaiKai beach.

We had to gain permission to cross a farm. I do not mind sheep but young inquisitive heifers are a different proposition. I waited until I had passed the gate before taking this photo.