Last month was a time  for reflection, a time to take stock.  It forced us to examine who we were as a society  - and that was quickly illustrated by one symbol – the headscarves Kiwi women were quick to don nationally, in sympathy with the victims.  The shootings also prompted questions about  who we are, what we stand for and how we could use the outpouring of empathy to create  practical  ways of  better understanding Islamic culture. That won’t happen overnight, but the tone set by our PM and our  long history of seeking social justice indicates we’re already on the right path.

That damned flag!

I’ve been all over the place on this issue. I began by being unhappy with the current New Zealand flag, largely because I could never remember if it was us or Australia who had the extra star. And while this is no excuse for my lazy ignorance, I know some born and bred Kiwis who live with the same confusion. So I was ready for a change until John Key put me off.

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Apia’s Catholic Cathedral

catholic church 1It’s been described by many as Samoa’s “architectural gem” and sits proudly in Apia’s centre with a beacon-like dome overlooking the harbour. And the Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is not only a very significant building but is also an important tourist attraction.

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Perquisite Perpetual

There are times when I sleep through the nightI but such nights are rare. So thank heavens for TV 3, for sacking John Campbell and giving him the opportunity to return to Radio New Zealand.

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Viva Venezuela!

What a difference benevolent government policies can make to a society.

Venezuela’s low-cost housing programme is building new homes at a breakneck pace of over 200 a day, according to the government.  

Here, Statistics New Zealand figures show more than 21,000 new dwellings were approved last year, 26 percent more than in the previous year.

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Stars in their Eyes

FullSizeRenderWhen Freda Du Faur partied at The Hermitage in 1909, they moved the piano into the dining room, rolled back the rugs and everyone danced. By Christmas that summer, The Hermitage overflowed with mountaineers, adventurers and artists. One year later, Freda was the first woman to reach the summit Aoraki/Mt Cook.)

These days The Hermitage Hotel is more likely to see Asian bus tourists stretched back in chairs, ensconced in a 360 degree cinematic experience – viewing the night sky in its Digital Dome Planetarium: See the night sky like never before. Leave Earth. Fly to the edge of our galaxy and far beyond to the reaches of our known universe. So the promo goes.

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A hat-rack please…

hat-rack

Went shopping for a hat-rack the other day. No big deal, this was a need rather than a want – my hats had multiplied in direct proportion to my vanishing hair.

I rang a store which stocks everything from rope to paints and plants, and asked for a hat-rack.

“No we don’t sell any” said a South African accent a little too emphatically, the way some people do when they want you off the line.

“Really?”

“I’ll put you through to hardware” she said, and was gone, though Hardware was displeased.

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Stale ponds – fresh ideas…

Baby-boomers might just  identify with the description of this country:

300px-Rådhuspladsen_-_Vartorv…’it maintains a welfare state — a set of government programs designed to provide economic security — that is beyond the wildest dreams of American liberals. It provides universal health care; college education is free, and students receive a stipend; day care is heavily subsidized’.

The country is Denmark. The writer is American Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winner for Economic Sciences.   And many of those state-funded programmes paid for by taxpayers were once also ours before the 1984 election.

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Miscellany – October

adThe ends (oops… no pun intended!) that marketers will go to promote that wonder drug, Viagra.

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One_Tree_Hill,_Auckland,_March_2015Just when we had got used to calling the landmark One Tree Hill, None Tree Hill, we hear that nine trees, not just one, will finally be planted on the volcanic cone.

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