Category archive: Viewpoint

Hooked on the Hokianga

I could write a whole catalogue of clichés to describe the beauty of Omapere and the impact it has had on my life. But, let’s just start with a couple – it’s a beautiful jewel on the Hokianga Harbour, which has totally taken my heart.

“Oma-where, Oma-what. Where the hell is this Omapere?” I remember saying.

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Turning a blind eye to torment

I can’t remember when I wrote the following paragraph about using containers in prisons to mop up overcrowding:

“My response to the use of containers to imprison convicted criminals was to ask myself the following questions: Are the containers secure? Will they mop up overcrowding? By prison standards of accommodation, are these containers humane? The answer is yes in all cases.”

What I was really concerned about was contained in the following paragraph:

“I am more concerned with the policy of ‘doubling up.’

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Time for public television?

“If I am in the privileged  position of being  Prime Minister, my expectation is that politics will be based around ideas and policy” –  Labour  leader Jacinda Ardern, on  Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report.

What’s this?  Ideas  defrosted  from the ice of  ideology? Policy untrammelled  by The Market, that  blinker on  political   imaginings.

So here’s an idea:

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Once upon a time in New Zealand…

I remember when the government helped young people to move up in the world. It was a time when all mothers got the Family Benefit, which could be turned into a deposit (capitalised) on a house with an affordable State Advances mortgage. I also remember when inexpensive night school classes for school certificate and university entrance were common. And also affordable university evening extension courses leading to professional qualifications. Labour and National governments abandoned the leg-up philosophy as well as collective responsibility. Union protection was replaced with individual contracts and, conveniently, a low wage economy.

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Death is full of surprises

I never imagined I’d sit with my mother as she died.  Or view her a few days later.

But then I never imagined we would be right there in our kitchen with our vet, Brendan, as he gave Bill his last injection.  The ‘we’, included Suzy,  Bill’s canine litter-mate of thirteen years.

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Weeds in the mind’s garden….

 A friend who had been away from home for several weeks was complaining about how much the weeds had grown in his absence. And worse, before he could attend to this, he had to take another unscheduled trip, which left no competition between him and the rambling mini forest (okay – a wee exaggeration!) on his return.

With  my  background in psychology, this led me to reflect on our minds and the weeds we let grow, sometimes unwittingly, and the way those plants can take over our thinking.

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Could do better…

This morning my sister sent me a copy of my 6-year-old nephew’s report.  It was a surprisingly good read!

Writing school reports is a dying art.  Please don’t get me wrong.  I have been a teacher for much of my life and I completely understand that it is no longer possible or acceptable to say just what you think about your students.  As teachers drown under mountains of paperwork, face rising class sizes and exacting standards of political correctness there is little option but to follow carefully set guidelines.

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Of rage and compassion…

Little Auckland has some of the problems its truly large cousins suffer from.

Sometimes it’s a comic opera of irritations and at others, flashpoints which could turn nasty. Road rage for example. Or more curiously – supermarket trolley rage. Come on, I hear you say. That’s silly – but not if you’re elderly, routinely civil and at the receiving end.

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Autumn keeps on giving…

It is a beautiful autumn day with the most perfect interplay of clouds and light playing on dappled trees. The vivid yellow, orange and almost red leaves on the season’s palette are stunning. And beneath them, crinkled and in sepia,  leaves carpet and the lush green of lawns, rustling and whispering: “The show’s not over… not yet!”

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The PM Confessionals

 I watched Radio New Zealand’s Guyon Espiner’s interviews of past prime ministers on the computer to check out the body language as well as the words. I took notes of the  show (The Ninth Floor),  but with my prejudices it’s just as well I didn’t try journalism as a career. So let me state from the outset  that Jenny Shipley is far and away my least favourite PM. She reminds me even now of a bossy head girl who’s never had a moment’s self doubt.

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