Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Taking a Break

I'm taking a break from this blog as I am overseas. I've started a brief travel blog if you'd like to see where I've been. Leave a comment and tell me what's happening in Otautau.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Aparima exhibition

Aparima Hotel, built approx 1866

These are the final days of Aparima - Five Peaks, a little exhibition at the Otautau Museum. This display features pictures of Aparima's founding families - the Becks, the James', the Keens and others, plus many class photos from the Aparima School. Pictured above is the Aparima Hotel, built approximately 1866. Look at all those tussocks!

The museum is expanding its opening hours to include Wednesday afternoons in addition to being open Sundays, 2-4pm. So you'll have more opportunity to glimpse these rare photos while they are here. The exhibition ends Sunday, 31 August. The next display will feature the Holt Park sports days and sports complex. Contact Graham Barkman to contribute photos or memorabilia and to find out how you can get involved in the museum.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Thanks to New Writers

Just wanted to acknowledge we have new writers on the blog - JDH - who recently contributed great photos of native birds and a sugar water recipe. I've made a small batch this morning for the many waxeyes who visit my backyard. Thanks, JDH! And a while back we had Sprout who contributed a post on biocontrols (bugs that control pest plants). Thanks, Sprout!

I believe everyone has something unique and interesting to contribute and so I'm inviting you to become a writer on the blog. You don't need heaps of experience. You don't even need to be a good speller! Send me an email and tell me what you'd like to write about. This is a community blog ready and waiting for your contribution. Email me for more details.

Thursday, 14 August 2008


This is Hekeia, or Bald Hill, with a dusting of snow on it. Hekeia was named long ago after a chief from Hawaiki. The hill has a flat top and, at 800 meters, is the highest part of the Longwood Range. It stands midway between Otautau and Tuatapere. This picture was taken on 14 August, just near the refuse station on Lieman Street, Otautau. Proof that the weather is still providing cold days.

I looked on the net for information about Hekeia and found something interesting. A long time ago, historian Herries Beattie spoke to the Maori at Colac Bay, gleaning their stories and traditions. They said that a karara (big lizard; also ngarara in the North Island) lived on the west side of the hill. This excerpt about the karara was taken from the Journal of Polynesian Society website:

It killed men who were out hunting wekas, and finally chased a man named
Taiari. He ran zigzag to escape it, and it became
jammed between two trees and was killed. Another account says its habitat was the west side of Hekeia (Bald Hill). It may be added that on the west side of the Waiau River at Clifden are caves called Te-ana-o-te-karara.

So Hekeia is not just a bald hill with snow. Others knew it as a remembrance of an ancient chief and for the fierce creature that lurked on the other side.


It seems our Main Street just keeps growing. VetSouth is the latest business to emerge in our fair town. They provide veterinary services and products. Come in and say hello to Georgette Wouda, Veterinarian, and Tania Hudson, Customer Service. They are happy to help with your farming needs.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Rugby - 100 Years Ago

We lost the Plate final and Western Banner challenge at the weekend to a very deserved Waiau Star team. But it's great to see Otautau put in a very strong season with several good wins. I predict even better campaigns in the years ahead. Here are some photos of the big crowds who came to support the teams at Holt Park.

Digging through the old Otago Witness on the PapersPast website, I found this little bit of history from 12 Aug 1908. A hundred years ago, we had also lost the bid for the banner to a very dominant Orepuki side. Otautau, in fact, didn't win the Western Banner until 1910. So if cycles and timing mean anything, our turn may come soon. (These newspaper images are from PapersPast).

Friday, 8 August 2008

Attracting nectar feeding birds to your garden

This winter, for us, has been a record for the number of garden visits from native birds. Whatever the reason, I would guess that most people could attract these wonderfully entertaining visitors to their gardens with very little effort. Time spent in the garden is brightened by their liquid notes.
At any one time we have had up to 7 tuis in this tree either feeding or, latterly, in courtship displays. We also regularly attract bellbirds and waxeyes.
These photos show the simple set-up. Plastic coated bicycle hooks screwed into the trunk of the shrub are bent to accommodate the rim of a small jam jar. Copper wire twisted round the rim holds the jar in place. PLEASE POSITION OUT OF THE REACH OF CATS. The shrub (Olearia dartonii) provides plenty of perches for birds to queue up, or escape from a tui in an aggressive mood!
Our two jars are topped up daily with sugar water: half cup of raw sugar in 400ml water.
It also helps to plant other shrubs and trees which provide fruit (Coprosma spp in a hedge is ideal), nectar (e.g. cherry, quince at this time of year - the list is much longer for later on. I think we benefit a great deal from a stand of Euclyptus gunii nearby) and shelter (our birds love to retreat into the native beech trees we have planted.
Good luck. The more of us who feed these birds, the more the whole township will benefit from their beauty and song.
Others may like to comment and add any useful tips. I am by no means an expert.

Takitimu Mountains

One thing we do not lack in Western Southland is magnificent scenery. After today's hail and hints of snow, I'm sure the Takitimu Mountains are even more captivating. My advice - stop your car. Too many times I veered into the other lane while admiring the view on my way back from Winton. I finally stopped and got these pictures. (Click to enlarge).

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Olympics v Western Banner

After four years, it's finally time for the global epic that is the Olympics. It's always an unparalled spectacle, and for the first time in history Beijing, China makes its debut as the Olympic host. The high emotion of the opening ceremony, the march of nations and the first few days of events will undoubtedly grab our attention this weekend.

But wait - this Saturday is also Otautau's chance at sporting glory. The Western Banner challenge is once again at our feet. A little more than a month ago, the Otautau Rugby team challenged Waiau Star for the Banner in Tuatapere and lost. This time, things are different. We have the hometown advantage and as one writer said 'arguably one of the best playing fields in Southland'.

I found a little information about the history of rugby in Otautau from Ken Bye's book Trial by Fire, Trial by Water. The Otautau Rugby Club was formed in 1875. But it wasn't until 1905 that the first challenge for the Western Banner was staged. Orepuki won it for 5 years in a row until 1910 when Otautau took it off of them. Subsequent Otautau wins occured in 1914, 1920, 1922, 1946, 1947, 1960, 1967, 1975, and 1981. Apparently there were quite a few years when Otautau didn't have a senior team and so was not in the running for the banner.

So it's been since the 1980s that Otautau could claim 'best in the west'. Let's give them all the support we can. Kick-off will be at 3pm, Saturday, at Holt Park - Otautau Aparima Logging v Waiau Star. After the game, you can go back to the tv. The splendour of the Olympics will still be on.

P.S. Does anyone have a photo of the Western Banner?

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