Friday, 30 July 2010

Kowhai Is Back on the Menu

This gorgeous bird has been hanging around my neighbour's property lately. He or she has seen me clicking away before but goes back to eating the tasty kowhai leaves undisturbed.
We've had such good weather these last few weeks. The frosty nights melt into warm, sunny days. No doubt these kowhai are preparing for new growth again, and somehow the kereru know it.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

It's Not Christmas, But...

It's not Christmas, but aren't these cards interesting? These were created in the 1970s by the Otautau Women's Division of Federated Farmers. They are just regular Christmas cards but stapled inside are a host of recipes for all kinds of tastes. The recipe below "Dream Square" sounds very '70s and is probably delicious. A friend of mine gave me these, and I thought what a great idea. They're compact and attractive and carry the spirit of goodwill and home-cooking within them. So, while it's not technically 'the Season', I couldn't resist sharing these little presents.

Rainbow Town

With all the rain, yesterday we were graced with some very big rainbows.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Western Southland Health Shuttle

Today we got our first long look at the new Western Southland Health Shuttle as it was being blessed into service for St John and the Western Southland community.

Pictured left are Leah Boniface (St John Riverton Area Committee), Perry Ferguson (St John Riverton Area Committee Chairman), and Peter Ayson (St John Otautau Area Committee Chairman) opening the ceremony.

A crowd of supporters and volunteers listened as Peter Ayson and Perry Ferguson acknowledged how the shuttle came to be through large contributions by the Riverton Area Committee and the Takitimu PHO; and what it will take to keep it going - more financial contributions, volunteer drivers, and a scheduler to coordinate appointments, patients and drivers. The key role of scheduler will be taken on by Pat Stearne. Twelve drivers have already signed up but there is a need for more.

Leah Boniface laid her hand on the vehicle and blessed the vehicle with a solemn yet uplifting prayer.

The shuttle is a smart-looking Toyota van with not too many k's on it. One of its features is a seat that swivels out of the vehicle and can be lowered for easy access.

The shuttle will be housed at the Otautau St John premises but is available for all of the Western Southland area. It is to be used for all ages who need transportation to medical appointments.

The shuttle is a great asset for the district - thanks in particular to the financial help of the St John Riverton Area Commitee and the Takitimu PHO.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Citizens Speak for Saving the Hall

Tonight, at the monthly Wallace Community Board meeting, a crowd of approximately 30-40 residents showed up to address the Board over the issue of the Otautau Town Hall. It has been a longstanding issue with deeply felt convictions on both sides.

Eight prominent citizens (including Tom Dahlenburg, pictured above) spoke against the Board's decision to sell/demolish the town hall; one person spoke in favour.

The first to speak was Peter Campbell (not pictured) who expressed the novel but plausible idea, using the figures stated in the Council's commissioned seismic report, that if he lived a life of 75 years, 6 to 7 times over, and spent all of his time, 24/7, in the town hall, he would have only one chance of being present in the event of the kind of earthquake that would cause the roof to collapse and the walls to give in. He said it is impossible to predicts acts of God and that a professional's 'theory' of what 'could' happen is having too much sway on the Board's decision to remove part of the infrastructure of the town. He also expressed a need for leadership and vision for the town - and that if other towns could be successful, so could we.

Peter Ayson (pictured left) spoke on behalf of the Otautau RSA. The RSA is one of two tenants in the town hall, and therefore has a vested interest in the future of the building. They organise Anzac Day which culminates at the town hall and is one of few longstanding community gatherings left in the town. Mr Ayson described how the RSA came to be involved with the town hall many decades ago and how opposed they were to being shifted out. He stated firmly that the RSA was not going anywhere and insisted that the Board renew their lease now.

Graham Barkman (not pictured) spoke on behalf of the Otautau Garden Club who have been in existence nearly 80 years and produce the incomparable, annual Flower Show at the hall. He stated that finding another suitable and affordable premises has been fruitless. He said that if the town hall goes, so will the flower show, and so may the Garden Club.

Raewyn Black spoke on behalf of the Western Southland Floral Art Club who are the other tenants in the town hall. She stated that not only do they have their own storage needs to provide for but also those of another (now defunct) arts group. She said there seemed to be no suitable premises in Otautau and that the group would have to consider moving out of the town altogether.

With every speaker, the mood felt a little more grim. The Board seemed unmoved, and even the chairperson at the end of the meeting said rather dispassionately that nothing had been presented that they hadn't already considered.

When everyone had had a chance to speak, the Board carried on with its usual business. Only a few residents got up and left. Most stayed to watch the proceedings of the meeting. It felt like a sit-in from the 1960s or the haka stand-off between the Welsh and the All-Blacks in 2008. The residents weren't budging and neither was the Board. But, in the end, it's the Board's decision, and they weren't going to change it.

I felt a gloomy disappointment at the prospect that this is indeed the end of the matter. I'm not sure what is more depressing - losing this great venue with all its untapped potential or having a community board that doesn't seem to tackle problems with any creativity, lateral thinking, vision for the future or reverence for the past.

But even with the unfortunate track record of losing the Holt Park Pavilion, the Post Office, the Railway Station, the Wallace County Council offices, and the old flour mill, it's still possible there might be a happy ending. We might get lucky - some rich person, some endowment fund, some lotto winner might come our way. At this point, Serendipity is the only hope.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Shave-Off A Success

The Great Otautau Shave-Off was a great success, raising thousands of dollars for the South Island Ronald McDonald House. See photos on Flickr. The participants look positively radiant.

Election 2017

Election season has swung into gear with the next General Election on Saturday, September 23rd - 7 1/2 weeks away. Not much has changed with...