The housing crisis remains a stain on politicians of all colours. Last month, we didn’t test how big this crisis was – we simply visited open homes in affluent and not so well-off areas. In both, young people queued to see units, once grand homes and flash new townhouses. All they sought was a home of their own. But according to a 2013 stocktake, just under 65% of households owned their dwelling - the lowest rate of home ownership since1953. ‘Declining rates of home ownership have become a defining feature of New Zealand’s housing landscape since 1991’ said the report. 1991 was the year of the Mother of all Budgets…. Some mother.

 

 

Green and gold vines amid gently tanned hills…

If I had my way on this autumn day, I’d be standing with my back to the sea, near Seddon in Marlborough, amidst grape vines with their lime green and gold lines. And I’d be looking out over gentle tanned hills, up to a great hunk of a mountain streaked with snow.

Instead, I’ve got to make do with the cover of a book.

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On being secular…

Climate change, the future of work and bog standard racism should be enough to be getting on with. But no, a political party for religious fundamentalists is about to torment us by adding its peculiar ecclesiastical code of conduct to the various tribes in parliament.

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Autumn – raking leaves and a bit of navel-gazing!

Never mind the  Pin Oak leaves  swirling in a sudden backyard leafstorm –  those russet layers of  red and  gold are the stuff  of  deferred gratification: raking them in the  backyard,  in  the pale autumn sunlight.    And forget  pulling out the spent summer crops, trimming trees and  the other gardening  chores.

Most  can be ticked off as done and dusted but the one I’ve put off  longer than usual because it’s been such a gloriously golden farewell to summer, is cutting back  our grapevine.

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Superstitions and why we have them – Rabbit kidneys

If they have faith in an old  superstition, men who are concerned about their sexual vigour should eat a generous amount of  rabbit kidneys. Rabbits are known to be very procreative, but why their kidneys were regarded as the seat of their rampant passions has never been explained. (Nor is there any suggestion that another part of the male rabbit might provide a more logical encouragement).

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The Delusions of ‘Dolphins’ in the City of Sails

Four years ago my life was tipped upside down after making a rash phone call to my friend, Barry Copeland. We had just attended a small protest on Queens Wharf where we learned of Ports of Auckland’s 90 m expansion plans to Bledisloe Wharf. When I saw the extent of the port’s proposals, it touched a nerve. That evening I called my architect friend and said: “Barry we’ve got to do something about this”.

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A view from the barber’s chair…

There’s not much to look at from a barber’s chair. On my last visit a notice at the bottom of the mirror caught my attention: “Like us on Facebook and follow your barber on Instagram.” since the barber was standing behind me with shears in his hand I was afraid to ask if it was a joke.   Perhaps it’s just in Wanaka where this kind of strange behaviour can be found? Not that I’m paranoid, but I’ve noticed that most of the books in Wanaka library are written by women – well, maybe I am paranoid, but I can read. So why is every book a world-wide best seller?

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The persecution of Israel Folau…

Back in the 1950s and sixties homosexuals were ridiculed and persecuted. Now, people who dare to criticise homosexual lifestyles are ridiculed and persecuted.

It’s time we got over our zealous mission to protect the sensibilities of homosexuals. The battles for homosexual acceptance were waged decades ago and by the end of last century the war was won. However, not everyone was won over and nor will they ever be.

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One December Dawn

(Anzac Day has  passed but in what  seems like a season of remembrance, John Anderson  recalls this little known attack – for Kiwis at least – on the seaport town of Hartlepool and the Royal Navy).

December dawns differ from June dawns on the North Sea.  In the depths of the dark, dreary December days, the same North Sea grey is flecked with wind whipped white waves.  Moreover there is a mucky mist to the day’s dawn.  On land the dawns are dull and dank, unbearable perhaps if not for the Christmas illuminations near the end of the month.

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How did I get here?

I had just celebrated one of those ‘big’ birthdays.  I found myself musing, “How did I get here so quickly?”  A question that surprised even me!  I had hit the end of one decade and was starting another.  While moving through the previous decades had been pretty effortless, this one felt different. The realisation that most of my life is behind me.  Now the future is not sometime out there but is right here, right now! 

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