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january/february 2020

cool neighbours p hot travels p warm congratulations local news, views & informed opinions

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The January/February Issue, No. 65 8



the editor’s letter

the councillor

the second act


The councillor for the Ōrākei ward, Desley Simpson, shares her news

Sandy Burgham spares us the excess chatter about good intentions for 2020. You really just need one word

the columnists

13 the village The demolition squad moves into Remuera, Scott Milne takes over as Ōrākei Local Board chair, Dilworth says yes to girls, and more

22 the good neighbours Meadowbank friends Alan Sansom and Libby Ellis devote their morning walk to reducing neighbourhood litter

25 the prizewinners Our annual congratulations to recipients of end-of-year school awards

29 the politicians Updates from local MPs David Seymour and Paul Goldsmith

30 the investment Warren Couillault scores his card on his 2019 predictions

32 the plan Don’t doze off — what Hamish Firth is saying is really interesting

33 the suburbanist At the beach? You’re possibly lying on gritty gold, says Tommy Honey

35 the sound Andrew Dickens has some pet sounds, that may be new to your ears

36 the magpie This issue, our discerning bird has come over all arty

38 the journey First, Murray Smith gets behind the wheel for a family drive down California’s Pacific Coast Highway. Then, Kirsty Cameron has an unexpectedly cool time in the Southern Californian desert

48 the district diary What’s going on over summer

50 the cryptic Our puzzle, by Māyā

Wait until the coast is clear — mainstreet Bombay Beach on the Salton Sea in Southern California. Photo by Nico Penny. See story, page 42.




Heather Walton

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appy summer!

issue 65, january/february 2020 Editor & Publisher Kirsty Cameron editor@thehobson.co.nz Art Direction & Production Stephen Penny design@thehobson.co.nz News Editor Mary Fitzgerald maryfitzgerald.thehobson@gmail.com Writers This Issue Kirsty Cameron, Mary Fitzgerald, Murray Smith, Justine Williams, Fiona Wilson Sub-editor Dawn Adams Columnists Sandy Burgham, Warren Couillault, Andrew Dickens, Hamish Firth, Paul Goldsmith, Tommy Honey, Māyā, David Seymour, Desley Simpson

We had some cracking entries for our giveaway of two bottles of Island Gin. Distilled and bottled off-grid on Great Barrier Is, it’s a very summer-friendly tipple and a beautiful thing too, in its kina-inspired bottle. Many of you presented visions of sandy feet up on decks overlooking beaches, an Island Gin G&T in hand . . . There was also a fair number of entries from parents of young children, who love to think of a pleasant drink awaiting them once the babies are in bed. I wish we could have given away 10 bottles but in the end there were two winners: Julia Foley, because her household includes three children aged four and under; and Jolene Tan, who loves both the idea of a G&T in the company of a good book or conversation, and adding the bespoke bottle to her collection of interesting glass objects. Here at The Hobson HQ we’re heading off to find some summer sun too this January, though not anywhere quite as hot as our mid-year venture into the Southern California desert (see page 42). We also have another travel story in this issue, from reader Murray Smith, who travelled with his family down California’s Pacific Coast drive (page 38). If you’ve recently had an adventure you’d like to share with us, please get in touch. Here’s to a great summer and safe travels if you are heading away. We’ll be back with our March issue in later February.

Photographers Mary Fitzgerald, Nico Penny, Stephen Penny, Murray Smith Cover A deep dive into the blue. Photo by Stephen Penny THE HOBSON is published 10 times a year by The Hobson Limited, PO Box 37490 Parnell, Auckland 1151. www.thehobson.co.nz F: The Hobson Magazine I: @The Hobson Ideas, suggestions, advertising inquiries welcome. editor@thehobson.co.nz

Kirsty Cameron editor@thehobson.co.nz 0275 326 424 Facebook: The Hobson Magazine Instagram: TheHobson

THE HOBSON is Remuera, Parnell and Ōrākei’s community magazine. We deliver into letterboxes in these neighbourhoods, and copies are also at local libraries, cafes, and at businesses including the Vicky Ave and White Heron dairies, and Paper Plus Parnell. For more about us, see The Hobson Magazine on Facebook. The content of THE HOBSON is copyright. Our words, our pictures. Don’t steal, and don’t borrow without checking with us first. We aim for accuracy but cannot be held liable for any inaccuracies that do occur. The views of our contributors are their own and not necessarily those of THE HOBSON. We don’t favour unsolicited contributions but do welcome you getting in touch via editor@thehobson.co.nz to discuss ideas. The Hobson Ltd is a member of the Magazine Publishers Association This publication uses environmentally responsible papers.

The King's College prizegiving, held in the Holy Trinity Cathedral — see our annual report on school award winners, page 25. ICG Logo CMYK.pdf 1 05/08/2015 6:19:01 AM

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The Columnists

Left to right from top row: Sandy Burgham (The Second Act) is a brand strategist and an executive coach with a special interest in midlife change and transformational behaviours. She runs a central Auckland practice. www.playclc.com Remuera resident Warren Couillault (The Investment) is an executive director and the major shareholder of Hobson Wealth Partners, a private wealth advisory group. He is also a manager of a registered KiwiSaver scheme. Andrew Dickens (The Sound) is the host of the afternoon show on Newstalk ZB. For 13 years he was the breakfast host on Classic Hits. He grew up in Remuera. Hamish Firth (The Plan) lives and works in Parnell and is principal of the Mt Hobson Group, a specialist urban planning consultancy. www.mthobsonproperties.co.nz Mary Fitzgerald is The Hobson’s News Editor. A Mainlander who transplanted to Remuera 15 years ago, she is passionate about hearing and telling our stories. Urban design critic Tommy Honey (The Suburbanist) is a former architect. The Remuera resident is a regular guest on RNZ National, discussing the built environment. Judi Paape (The Teacher) is a parent, grandparent and highly-experienced teacher and junior school principal. A Parnell resident, her column appears bi-monthly. Contributing writer Wayne Thompson is a former The New Zealand Herald journalist, covering Auckland news. He has been a resident of Parnell for 34 years. Contributing editor Justine Williams is an interiors stylist, writer and fashion editor. The Remuera resident has been the editor of Simply You and Simply You Living.

the hobson 10

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the village

Town & Around

WRECKER’S BALL FOR CLONBERN TOP DECK The upper deck of Remuera’s Clonbern Rd carpark will be reduced to rubble this month, as Panuku Development, acting for Auckland Council, readies the site for sale. Any future development must include a minimum of 200 carparks. In early December, Auckland Council’s Finance and Performance Committee approved the sale of the fraught carpark for a future mixed-use development. Due to safety concerns, the weightbearing upper deck has been permanently closed since last March with the loss of 77 parking spaces, despite vocal criticism from several local parties who say other engineering reports show that the structure may look rough, but is safe. The demolition and restoration of the lower level of the carpark is expected to take eight weeks, presenting more problems for local businesses, in particular New World Remuera. “January is a quiet month, but February is our second busiest, after December,” says New World owner-operator Adrian Barkla. Barkla is also chair of the Remuera Business Association, which at the time of this issue going to press, was working with Auckland Transport and council to secure additional parking. One option considered is a temporary parking area on now-cleared land on the other side of Clonbern Rd, opposite the supermarket, before construction starts on an apartment complex. Foodstuffs, New World’s parent company, will be one of the interested parties once the carpark land is officially listed for sale. “One hundred per cent yes, they want it,” says Barkla. “It’s a natural

fit, and any new development on that site would struggle to work without the supermarket being part of it.” Barkla estimates that any development would be at least three years away, and until the site’s ownership is determined, any plans he had for renovation work on New World are on ice. Barkla was highly critical of the decision to close the upper deck, saying engineers reports he commissioned showed “it would cost under $30,000 to make it minimum earthquake spec.” But council’s consultant engineers did not agree. Desley Simpson, who is both Finance and Performance committee chair, and the local Ōrākei ward councillor, is well familiar with the carpark saga. “The sale presents a very exciting opportunity in the village, as any development must include a minimum of 200 car parks to serve the local community and visitors to Remuera,” she says. “Despite our best efforts, and after investigating a variety of possible engineering solutions, it became apparent that the current upper level of the car park could not be retained or just left. This opportunity and future development will ensure more parking than the site currently offers, and to that end, is a real win for the Remuera community. “Once the demolition is completed, the site will be reinstated as a single level car park for the community to use with more parking than is currently on the lower level until future development by a new owner begins.” p

the hobson 13

the village

Scott Milne, centre, and family members after his inauguration as board chair.

MEET THE BOSS He’s here, he’s in the chair. Ōrākei Local Board chair Scott Milne took Mary Fitzgerald’s questions. Next issue, Waitematā chair Richard Northey has his turn. What neighbourhood do you live in, and how long have you lived there? All the Milnes live in Kohimarama. I was born at 312 Kohi Rd. Jennie and I lived in Allum St for 18 years, bringing up our three children there. We are now in Mission Bay and they are all in their own houses in Kohi. What is your working background? I trained as a pharmacist, owning Wylies Pharmacy in Remuera for 25 years before starting the Life Pharmacy chain with a group of friends. I then had two terms as an Auckland City councillor, three years as a project manager exporting paper laminating machines, three years at World Vision in the ‘major donors’ role. I am now back in the drug industry, running a trade organisation promoting non-prescription medicines. Why did you stand for the local board? I love the ‘hood I live in, and have the time and energy. Because I’m not a huge fan of politics I thought ‘local board’ would be perfect. What board portfolios are you responsible for? I’m chair which means I am ex-officio on all portfolios, but I lead transport. What do you consider to be the top two projects you will initiate and complete in your role to directly benefit the community? I want to initiate the re-sanding of the beach next to Tāmaki Yacht Club — there used to be sand there — and the master plan for the development of the Pourewa Valley; quite possibly the most important long-term project for our board area. However, it is important to not just start stuff. We need to keep working on completing the Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive walkway/cycleway.

If you were prime minister, what would you do to improve Auckland? Use more of the vast tax take we Aucklanders collect to upgrade infrastructure, starting with hospitals, roads and schools. That way I’d be assured of re-election! What is your favourite escape in Auckland? Anchor Bay in Tawharanui Reserve, clutching a chilled sauvignon blanc. Tell us a little about your family. Jennie is a gifted funeral celebrant. We have been married 38 years and have three amazing children, whom I love to embarrass! We have a highly talented film producer, a construction project manager successfully running his own business and bringing up our gorgeous grand-daughter with his super-woman wife; and a big strong physiotherapist with amazing hands who is always fully booked. But most importantly they are all good people. They do a lot together and a lot for others. We are very proud of them and consider ourselves extremely blessed. p

THE POP-UP POPS OFF The neighbourhood will wave good-bye in the autumn to the remarkable Pop-up Globe theatre, which has stood for the past three years in the ‘Shakespeare Gardens’ at Ellerslie racecourse. The theatre is the world’s only same-size replica of the second Globe theatre, built by William Shakespeare and his King’s Company players in London’s Southbank in 1614. The vision of artistic director Dr Miles Gregory and his producing partner, the company’s commercial director, Tobias Grant; the Pop-up Globe’s companies of actors have performed 656 times in Auckland since the structure first went up in a CBD carpark in the summer of 2016, and played 99 special school matinee performances as well. There’s been a national tour to seven other NZ cities and a beachhead established after a successful foray to

the hobson 14


Well, it took the residential market a long time to cheer up and start to move again. However, the Christmas season arrived and with it the cheer that had been missing for over a year. Record low interest rates, the onset of summer, the need to make a decision by Christmas and positive media re the state of the market may have together sparked something of a revival. Buyers are back out in force. We can report a different mood and competitive bidding at most auctions. The basic question is “will it last?” Next year is election year, that can often cause things to go into wait and see mode. Our sense however is that there is a general catch up in play. As a buyer, if you were waiting for the bottom of the market you may have missed it. Similarly for home owners waiting for a good time to go to the market – this is it!

If you’re wondering what a property is worth please give me a call at any time.

Philip Oldham M 021 921 031 philip.oldham@uprealestate.co.nz


the village

Christian Tjandrawinata

Dr Miles Gregory, left, and below, actor Stephen Lovatt onstage in 2018's Macbeth.

Australia — this summer’s season in Auckland and Perth collectively employs more than 120 people, working on seven different productions. The numbers attest to the success — 650,000-plus attendances since launch, 316,883 tickets bought by Kiwis so far, 17 plays created in-house, 125 different actors employed to play 212 roles, wearing more than 1000 individual costume pieces made by the production team. Along the way, Miles Gregory has gained another child (he and wife Bob started this journey with Nancy, Adelaide and Rupert, there’s now Florence too), lost his luxurient moustache, kept his signature cap and been buoyed by how audiences have embraced the results of “an orgy of hard work, blood, sweat and tears”. “Making just one major Shakespeare production takes a phenomenal amount of energy and effort, involving collaboration between up to 30 people,” says Gregory, “so producing around four productions every season has been the greatest artistic adventure of my life. “I’m very lucky to have worked with a sensational team here in Auckland, and the creative energy that Pop-up Globe has unlocked — and continues to release — is staggering. I hope that our legacy to New Zealand is not only a new generation of Shakespeare and theatre-lovers, but new and ambitious artistic projects that harness the remarkable creativity of New Zealanders.” The Ellerslie structure will be dismantled after the current season ends in March, but the company will retain its production base in Auckland as it ventures internationally. “Right from the very beginning of this project my dream has been for Pop-up Globe to tour the world, bringing the magic of Shakespeare performed in our unique style, in this extraordinary building, to people who otherwise might never have the opportunity,” says Gregory. “We stayed at Ellerslie for far longer than we ever thought.

Originally it was built to last just 10 weeks back in February 2017, so it’s a remarkable testament to the great support we’ve received from the people of Auckland that we’ve extended our stay here for so long. “I think Pop-up Globe shows that there is a great demand for high-quality professional performance in our nation’s largest city. I hope very much that one day a Pop-up Globe theatre will return to Auckland.” — Kirsty Cameron p

The ‘Summer of Love’ season presented by Anthony Harper at Ellerslie runs until the end of March, with productions of Romeo & Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing. The Pop-up Globe will finish its final Auckland season with the first international staging of the acclaimed West End play, Emilia. For information and bookings, see popupglobe.co.nz

RAT-A-TAT ART 2020 is the Year of the Rat, the first in the cycle of the Chinese zodiac. Parnell, which has in previous years displayed artist-painted sculptures based on the year’s animal being, will this February offer rodent-themed street artworks by Auckland artist, Flox. The works will pop up around Parnell, with limited-edition prints available to buy to raise funds for the Starship National Air Ambulance. Starting on Monday January 27, the Parnell Business Association will reveal where ‘Street Rat’ art is due to pop-up around the precinct. There’ll be clues via social media, and ‘rat finds’ rewards of daily prizes. The association advises you make like the resourceful, quick-witted rat and be sure you’re quick to secure the limited-edition works. All details will be at parnell.net.nz q

the hobson 16

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the village

Artist Flox at work, left, and below, readying the ratties for the Lunar New Year.

Meanwhile, the annual Chinese New Year street party in Remuera won’t be happening for 2020. The Remuera Business Association has decided to make the event biennial, so the next party will mark the Year of the Ox in 2021. p

DILWORTH’S NEW ROLL: GIRLS The Dilworth School board of trustees wants to extend its offering to include girls from as early as 2025, and is seeking partners to ultimately create a separate girls’ school. It is envisaged a Dilworth girls’ school would replicate the Dilworth School model, providing fully funded scholarships for Y7-13 girls, covering boarding, tuition, meals, uniforms, music, arts, sports and pastoral care. Established in 1906 as a school for boys either orphaned, left fatherless or from ‘straitened circumstances’ with a bequest from James and Isabella Dilworth, trust board chair Aaron Snodgrass believes the Dilworths would be happy to bring girls into the circle of care. “While our first priority remains providing the wrap-around support required for the 640 boys in our care to flourish, the board feels very strongly that, were James and Isabella Dilworth alive today, they would see the need for girls from similar circumstances to have those same educational opportunities,” says Snodgrass. Mind Lab and Media Design School founder Frances Valintine is the first woman on the trust board since Isabella Dilworth. Valintine (above right) says the time is right for girls to experience “the Dilworth effect”.“We know that the Dilworth model works, yet the sisters, cousins and peers of Dilworth boys are being left behind because there is no equivalent school for girls in New Zealand,” says Valintine. “We believe it’s time that changed. the hobson 18

“The most empowering step we can take to break the cycle of generational poverty in our communities is to transform the lives of disadvantaged girls through education. When girls are educated, inspired and empowered, they can do anything — and become anything — they dream of. “The funds needed to provide this level of support in perpetuity, including the construction of a new school and boarding facilities, are considerable. We need assistance from partners who are bold enough to share our vision.” “For well over 100 years the board has been committed to upholding the bequest of the founder in the delivery of a free, first-class education for boys from straitened circumstances,” says Snodgrass. “Today, Dilworth boys perform better academically than other students nationally, regardless of gender, ethnicity or decile rating. Our students achieve NCEA qualifications at a level comparable with the highest decile New Zealand schools. They also continue to compete and excel in sports, music and cultural performance.” p

SUMMERSET ASKED TO TAIHOA ON TREES Parnell locals and Parnell Community Committee are appealing to Summerset over the retirement village developer’s clearance of trees from its Parnell site. Nearby residents want to see the Waipapa valley site keep the mature oaks on the corner of Ngahere Tce and Gibralter Cres. “Our request is to pause on chopping down four oaks until the village plans are revealed,” says PCC chair, Luke Niue. “Hopefully at least the two on the southern boundary near the historic Ngahere steps can escape the chainsaw.” A neighbourhood group has formed ‘Parnell Rises’ to protest the removal and petition Auckland Council to save the trees under its Urban Forest Strategy. The petition is available on change.org or via Facebook, under ‘Parnell Rises’. p

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the village

From Aroha, with love: Janet Mikkelsen, far right, with some of the Aroha team: from left, Rachel Nash, Lynda Casey, Robyn Watson, Morgan Smith.

WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT . . . AROHA FUNERALS After six years working under the State of Grace East umbrella, funeral director Janet Mikkelsen decided to step out with her own company, Aroha Funerals. We asked her to tell us about Aroha, and a bit about herself too. Why did you decided to name your new business Aroha Funerals? The name came from my time working as a nurse in paediatric palliative care. We had a document we used to work through with families about their end-of-life wishes for their child, called ‘Te Wā Aroha’. That translates as ‘a time of love’ and that seemed to encapsulate the work we do too, in supporting families at the time of death, and the days after that. The logo, with a mosaic heart, is important to us too. Morgan, who is one of our funeral directors, lost her mother to breast cancer two years ago. Her mother loved mosaics and we organised a personalised candle for her with a mosaic heart on it. I think people will respond to it in different ways – it could be representative of all the different facets of their life, or the people in it, or some would think of their heart being shattered, or a piece of their heart always belonging to that person. So, lots of different meanings. Tell us a bit about your team and what they bring to their roles I worked for 30 years as a nurse in paediatric oncology and paediatric palliative care so learnt a lot about grief, about being comfortable with death and dying, and how to build trusting relationships quickly. Rachel has worked as a funeral director for a long time and is also a celebrant and actor. She brings a wealth of experience and gentleness to her families. Robyn is also an exnurse and worked in an area that required compassion and honesty. Morgan is young and having helped with her mother’s care after death, is passionate about helping other families in the same situation. Lynda is our operations manager who supports us and

keeps the place functioning. Marion, my mother, was a counsellor and is our bereavement coordinator. Terry, my father, is passionate about cars and keeps all ours impeccably groomed! Gillian, my twin sister, is an accounting lecturer at AUT and ensures our accounts are professionally managed. I think that all of us bring warmth and aroha to the families we encounter. You’ve worked for many years with people who are bereaved and grieving. How do you cope with the burdens of grief? There are certainly some situations that are more difficult emotionally to deal with – whether it is the death of a baby or child, a young person who has taken their own life, or an elderly person who has lost their life partner and is devastated by that loss. It sometimes takes courage for us to meet with a family when the situation is clearly a tragic one. However, there will generally be lots of other people around that family that feel helpless, and at least we do have practical skills that we can bring to help them. It doesn’t stop us feeling sad but we recognise when we are feeling like that and support each other. We also have regular counselling to ensure we are looking after our own mental health. What have been some memorable special requests from the deceased or their family? We had a casket that was made into a pirate’s ship for a child that was hugely into Jake and the Neverland Pirates. We had a person who wanted a black shroud with bright pink strapping. We’ve had concrete mixers at a funeral, animals that have come, everyone singing “Edelweiss” and “She’ll be coming round the Mountain” together. Sometimes we’ve sourced particular flowers or foods that are important. We work hard to ensure we meet any requests and enjoy seeing how significant that can be for a family. What do you want families and friends to ‘take away’ from their experience of an Aroha-led service? We want them to go away feeling they have been listened to, that

the hobson 20

they have been involved as much or as little as they want, that they have no regrets, and they feel they have been totally cared for. Outside of work, what will we find you doing? I’m quite a busy bee really – when you work all day in an emotionally-laden role, it is important to have activities that take your mind away from it all. That helps us to be recharged and refreshed for the next family that comes along. Now that my children have all left home, I fill my spare time with the Stonefields choir, with Scottish country dancing, with ocean swimming, book club, and taking my little Westie for walks. I’ve just completed a BA in history and English which I loved. I’ve recently signed up for Taiko drumming, which looks great – I can’t wait! p Aroha Funerals, 427 Ellerslie-Panmure Highway. arohafunerals.co.nz (09) 527 0266

LOCAL BRIEFS Hannah, the large space showcases UnserHaus’s luxury German appliance brands, Bosch, NEFF and Gaggenau, each with its own zone and demonstration kitchens. “It’s amazing our showspace has been recognised at such an esteemed international level and particularly to be recognised in Germany, through the work of local creatives,” says UnserHauas sales manager, Sara Isherwood. “It’s a testament to New Zealand design and we’re delighted to have worked with a talent like Damian and his team.” Open TuesdaySunday, UnserHaus is also available for private events and dining experiences. 65 Parnell Rise, unserhaus.co.nz p

Auckland Transport has announced it will extend the roll-out of its resident parking scheme to all streets in Parnell from early 2020. The staggered introduction of the scheme has only served to push out all-day parkers to non-monitored streets. AT will advise affected residents how to apply for permits from February. Welcome to Our House — Parnell’s UnserHaus (Our House, in German) has collected prestigious design recognition for its Parnell showroom, awarded ‘Excellence in Retail Architecture’ at the recent German Design Awards. Created by Wellington-based Damian

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Photo Courtesy of Control4

good neighbours

Anything But a Rubbish Idea Two locals are making a big difference to the neighbourhood on their daily walk. Story and photo by Mary Fitzgerald


itterbugs and illegal dumpers are trashing our local environment every day, but working hard to redress the balance are local good Samaritans Libby Ellis and Adam Samson. For the past 12 months, the retired Meadowbank residents have walked around Hobson Bay and Ōrākei Basin every day, in all weathers, collecting and binning litter. The friends begin their walks separately, and meet in the middle of their circuit to chat and walk the remaining portion together. They collect bags of rubbish each week that has been discarded around the bay and basin paths and waterways, and is either missed or not in the remit of Auckland Council contractors. What started out as a shared desire to better their neighbourhood has in turn forged a warm friendship. Ellis and Samson first met walking around Hobson Bay a year ago.“I was new in Auckland after shifting up from Wellington,” says Samson. “I was wandering around the bay that day, got a bit lost and did not have a clue how to find my way out. I bumped into Libby and asked her how to get out, and we got talking.” It turned out they had some things in common, including being passionate about being active, and nature, the local birdlife and flora. Ellis says Alan is “wonderfully obsessional” about clearing rubbish and “that day that we met he inspired me to get started picking up rubbish too”. Samson first began his community angel work in Wellington. After retiring from lecturing in journalism at Massey University in Wellington, he had a health scare requiring surgery and then, recuperation. To regain his fitness, he set out on walks around his neighbourhood, and was unpleasantly surprised by the amount of litter he encountered. “Picking up rubbish got me walking and fit again and helped me connect with people,” says Samson. “Picking up rubbish gave me a sense of purpose.” He carried out his daily ritual for three years, before relocating to Auckland. Ellis, who’s a keen marathon runner, has lived in Meadowbank for 50 years and is a familiar face to many. “Libby can walk around Meadowbank and people will always say hello to her and stop to talk,” says Samson. Like Samson, Ellis is driven to making her world a better place.

“I am only going to be able to help other people if I get out and about,” she says. “It’s what I like to do. And now, I have these walks every day. Alan is such an inspiration – I got started picking up rubbish here every day because of him.” While a typical daily haul may include items such as paper coffee cups, food wrappers, dog poo, condoms, plastic bags, beer cans, bottles and Uber Eats bags, some objects require a bit of detective work. “We found a wallet once with money and a watch in it,” says Ellis. “We tracked the owner down and he was so pleased to get it back. A little girl lost her pencil case – we found it – a very beautiful case, and it was from her nana. There was no phone number, but I did track her mother down.” Amongst their more unusual finds was a workman’s kit, including “a hard hat and boots and tools. We got them back to the company he worked with”. Samson says it’s hard to quantify how much rubbish they collect because it varies so much, and unfortunately, it doesn’t diminish. “As soon as I step out in the morning to do this walk, there is rubbish there, even though I cleared it on yesterday’s walk,” says Ellis. “There is always rubbish. I think it’s truck loads we collect by the end of every week.” The friends see their efforts as supporting those of council contractors, and that keeping the neighbourhood litter-free is a commitment everyone needs to be making. They also urge other retirees to pitch in too. “Everyone is on about global warming, which obviously is a big thing, but we do need to have a mindset for taking care of our own neighbourhood’s environment as well,” says Samson. “We either care about the environment on any scale, or we don’t. “Don’t leave it for someone else to take care of. If retired people like us could have a walking circuit for one day a week, or a morning a week, or even just an hour a week, where they picked rubbish as they walked around the area, it would make a great difference to the environment and to the community in general. “I don’t want to get a group together formally, but it would be good to get people picking up rubbish on a regular basis and thinking about not littering at all. Don’t chuck it, bin it!” Ellis laughs that Samson gets obsessional about rubbish he can see, but cannot reach. “For weeks and weeks Alan was seeing a

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yellow plastic ball in Hobson Bay, floating in the mangroves, out of his reach. It became an obsession to get it out of the water, which he finally did.” As part of their arsenal, the pair have bought extendable rubbish removal poles to remove hard-to-reach litter, the detritus that’s blown down slopes or up into trees, or like the annoying yellow ball, out into the mangroves. Dumping, legitimately, their retrieved litter, is also a challenge. They use public bins wherever possible, but for bigger items — such as the motor mower and wheelchair fished out of the water — they rely on the kindness and skips of local businesses. “Farro and Kings Plant Barn at Orakei Bay Village are both very obliging letting us get rid of rubbish with them,” says Samson. As standard, council’s rubbish contractors are required to, at the time of bin emptying, collect all loose litter and debris within a three-metre radius of the bins. Larger items fall into the ‘illegal dumping’ category. Contractors cannot remove these items but are required to report this through to the council compliance team, who investigate further and arrange collection separately. “We have found abandoned suitcases full of clothes, a dumped lounge suite, and quite a few chairs, and mattresses thrown out on the side of the road, says Samson. “There are currently four or five cane chairs dumped at the bottom of Meadowbank Rd and I’m not sure what to do with those yet, but we will get them.” Ōrākei Basin is included within the council’s full facilities maintenance contract, which requires that areas are maintained so that litter doesn’t detract from the amenity of the site, and

‘meets the demands of the site whilst all rubbish is disposed of in a sustainable way’. The contract stipulates that ‘to effect this contractors are required to remove loose litter while undertaking maintenance. The collection of litter includes the full extent of the site including beach areas down to mean high water level.’ The contractor is required to keep the volume of rubbish bins within the specifications of the contract, that is that they ‘shall not exceed the bin’s capacity and items should not overflow — rubbish shall not exceed the height of the bin edge, and should be emptied at least once per week’. That said, Samson hasn’t yet seen maintenance contractors out on the paths removing litter. “I’d have thought to be useful it would have to be on a regular basis. The bins are often full of rubbish and overflowing with rubbish collecting around the outside. “But I don’t want to blame the council, because if everyone did their bit to chip in to pick up the rubbish it would be good for us all.”

If you are interested in contributing to volunteering to help in our local parks you can register via council’s Friends of Parks programme. Over 500 community parks have groups of supporters who care for these sites. Visit aucklandcouncil.govt.nz and check under the ‘environment’ tab for further information.

Seven Sisters – the new wallpaper collection by MissPrint. Exclusively available from Artisan, along with hundreds of other wallpaper retro designs. 31a Normanby Rd, Mount Eden artisancollective.co.nz/missprint

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Educating and empowering confident young women Baradene College of the Sacred Heart is a Catholic Girls School providing educational excellence for students in Years 7-13. Baradene is part of a global network of over 140 international colleges of the Sacred Heart.

Applications for Year 7 2021 are being accepted now and will close 3pm Friday, 13 March 2020. Academic and Special Character Scholarships available For enrolment information visit www.baradene.school.nz/enrol. For an enrolment pack please contact Felicity Lister. E: flister@baradene.school.nz T: 524 6019 ext 713

OPEN EVENING 2020 6.30pm Thursday 5 March


Baradene Auditorium, Gate 2 237 Victoria Avenue, Remuera, Auckland 1050

King’s School

Open Day Wednesday 4 March 9.00am Register at kings.school.nz Accepting applications for 2022


the prizewinners

The Honours Board Congratulations to all students who received recognition in academic, service and sports awards at end-of-year prizegiving ceremonies. Here are some of the senior winners at schools attended by our local youngsters, and 2020 leaders

ACG PARNELL COLLEGE Dux (International Baccalaureate): Yui Heo Dux (Cambridge): Tessa Barker Cambridge Proxime Accessit: Guanyi (Sammy) Chen Sir John Graham Cup for Outstanding Service to the School: Katie Lloyd ACG Founders’ Scholarship: Sidhaarth Kumar Head Prefects’ Cup: Tessa Barker, Jack Carden Deputy Head Prefects’ Cup: Maia Szecket, Travis Manning Service to Drama: Raquel Dewstow Service to Music: Alex Cooper Service to Sport: Shivani Patel 2020 Head Boy and Head Girl: Andrew Evans, Aqsa Kothiwala

AUCKLAND GRAMMAR SCHOOL B F Connell prize for Dux: Alexander Hornung Headmaster’s Prize for Proxime Accessit: Daniel Zhu Rope Cup (best all-round young man): Miller Hawkesby Torch of Tradition (devotion to the school and its traditions): Liam Wong Ian McKinley Memorial Scholarship (commitment and dedication): Benjamin Lerner Turner Cup (all-round participation): Tuamu Maka Hedges Prize (character and participation in Form 7): Russell Lee Harrison Scott Memorial Award (for diligence, determination and courage): Grayson Carter Sportsman of the Year: Oliver White Burroughs Cup (all-round effort in sport): Kaylin Daji Radford Memorial Trophy (contribution to a sport): Alexander Cassidy All photographs supplied by the schools

Auckland Grammar School dux Alexander Hornung.

The Headmaster’s Performing Arts Scholarship: Uatesoni Filikitonga

BARADENE COLLEGE OF THE SACRED HEART Dux: Mikaele Ymker Proxime Accessit: Bella Hosking Taumoepeau Cup Supreme Leadership Award: Emily Everitt

Baradene 2019 deputy head girls Sophie Everitt, left, and Cecilia Kolomatangi flank head girl Emily Everitt.

Baradene dux Mikaele Ymker.

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Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat Cup and Medallion: Sophie Everitt The Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne Pendant: Cecilia Kolomatangi Te Taonga o te Manawa Tapu the Trophy of the Sacred Heart: Hayley Rewi Chan Cup for Outstanding All-Round Achievement: Honor Browne

the prizewinners

Dedicatio Diligentiaque Trophy: Talainga Kama Pinto Cup (for celebration of diversity and inclusiveness of all cultures): Sarah Bahoo Becky Sorenson Memorial Cup (for maturity of thought and generosity of spirit): Bridie Nelson

DILWORTH Dilworth Trust Board Prize, the Don Gray Medal, the Dudley Berryman Roy Memorial Award and the Dilworth Old Boys’ Centennial Foundation Prize for Dux: Quinn Gray Dilworth Trust Board Prize for Proxime Accessit: Joji Joseph Gordon Campbell Cup for Senior Sportsman of the Year: Zach McKenzie Irish Cup for Performer of the Year: Etuate Lutui Ludbrook Cup for the Best All-round Senior Student: Anthony Bray Senior Satherley Cup for Good Sportsmanship: Anthony Bray Bill and Lynsie Cotter Achievement Award: Etuate Lutui Nicolas Cup and Prize for Integrity, Loyalty and Responsibility and an interest in the field of Business Studies: Jack Hewitt Callwell Memorial Trophy, Old Boys’ Centennial Foundation Prize: Talai’asi Moli Gibson Cup for the Head Prefect, Conolly Prize for Loyal and Outstanding Service: Elaijah Tuivaiti Rural Campus Award for Outstanding Personal Growth: Warren Ah Fook, Sam Nicholas, Jon Te’o Junior Campus Dux: Link Zhu

DIOCESAN SCHOOL FOR GIRLS Duces NCEA: Anneke Cummack, Jemima Po Dux International Baccalaureate: Shellie Hu Proxime Accessit: Lexie Preen Premiera Sportsperson of the Year: Georgia Skelton (orienteering and mountain bike)

Dilworth awardees from left: Quinn Gray, Joji Joseph and Anthony Bray.

Diocesan scholars, from left: Shellie Hu, Jemima Po and Anneke Cummack, with principal Heather McRae.

Eliza Edwards Memorial Award: Emily Bashford Dame Rosie and Michael Horton Prize: Anna Orbell, Alana Sullivan 2020 Leaders Head Prefect: Madeleine Gault Deputy Head Prefect: Francesca Masfen


Dio 2020 deputy head prefect Francesca Masfen (left), and head prefect Madeleine Gault.

Arts Honours Award: Sharon Hung (music) The Hassall Deputy Head Prefect Cup for Leadership: Jemma Couillault The Hassall Head Prefect Cup for Leadership: Katie Pearce the hobson 26

Kathleen Mandeno Scholarship: Cindy Chang Hilda Chenery Scholarship: Kelly Ding Akoranga Cup for significant contribution to learning, Prize for Proxime Accessit (donated by PTA Committee): Destiny Li Woolf Fisher Memorial Scholarship, John Williamson Scholarship, NZ Institute of Physics Prize, ME Freeman Memorial Prize for Mathematics, Einstein Award for the top science student, Penny Le Couteur Prize for

Chemistry, Mary Melrose Scholarship for excellence in Biology and Physics, Prize for Dux (donated by Miss M.F.E. Adams): Emily Varney

KING’S COLLEGE Old Collegians’ Prize for Dux of the College: Johnathan Leung Taylor Cups for Sportsman and Sportswoman of the year: Grace Freeman, Aidan Morgan Foster Prize (best all-round ability, male student): James Hancock Lawry Prize (best all-round ability, female student): Evangeline Clatworthy 2020 Leaders Head Boy and Head Girl: Charles Cleal, Estella Gapes Deputy Head Prefects: Cody Heron, Luron Iosefa, Tess Porter, Max Webb

KING’S SCHOOL Foster Cup for Loyalty to the Ideals of King’s School (Y6): Thomas Nand Glenie Cup for All Round Performance (Y6): Connor Sigley Baker Cup for Commitment to King’s School (Y7): Leander Roosen DGE Brown Plate and Award for All Round Performance in Y7: Dan Mead Major Memorial Cup: Varnan Pasupati Walker Trophy for Preparatory School Fixtures: Keanu Ezekiela Kay Award for Sportsmanship: Theo Wicks Worsp Citizenship Cup: Henry Barrell Hsu Trophy for Outstanding Contribution to Music: Henry Parker The Lazarus Trophy: Bruno Cettina King’s School Old Boys’ Cup for Outstanding Contribution to King’s School: Ricco Woodhams Greg Whitecliffe Memorial Cup for Supreme Art: Mithun Ramassh

Top: King's College Lawry prizewinner Evie Clatworthy, above, dux Johnathan Leung. Right, King's School 2019 head boy Henry Barrell with headmaster Tony Sissons.

Hellaby Cup for All Round Performance: Mithun Ramassh Headmaster’s Prize for Head Boy: Henry Barrell Victor Ludorum Trophy for Top Sportsman: Kahurangi Cotterill King’s School Dux Trophy: Ivan Ho

ST CUTHBERT’S COLLEGE Duces Crystal Sang, Jessica Zhang Old Girls’ Award for Citizenship, Waikato Old Girls’ Association Cup for Service to the Boarding House: Jessica Dallas Award for Outstanding International Sports Performance: Libby Alsemgeest, Katie Doar, Maia Fishwick Student Council Award for Support and Dedication to the College: Lucy Zhou the hobson 27

Development Cup for Y13 student most respected by her year group: Chloe Wilcox Special Award for Head Girl: Johanna Setefano Art Cup for Overall Top Achiever in Visual Art: Angel Ma Eve Brown Performance Scholarship: Megan Hails

the prizewinners

Stephen Penny

2020 Leaders: Head Girl: Ruby Sussock Deputy Head Girls: Millie Caughey, Nellie McKegg Head of Boarding: Tulyahna Polotu McCarthy

SAINT KENTIGERN BOYS’ SCHOOL Dux: Luca Toner Proxime Accessit: Thomas Hageman

SAINT KENTIGERN COLLEGE Dux, NCEA: Jesse (Xiyuan) Niu Dux, International Baccalaureate: William Feng First in Year 12: Joseph Chan (NCEA), Heeju Rho (IB) First in Year 11: Isabeau Pan

St Cuthbert's peer-voted 'Most Respected Y13 student' Chloe Wilcox, second from left, congratulated by friends and fellow award winnders, left to right, Olive Desbonnets, Nico Penny, Charlotte Ryan and Kayla Nuzum.

2020 College Leaders: Head Boy and Girl: Will Bason, Lulu Denholm Deputies: Olivia Brewster, Hayden Joyce Dux of the Middle College: Ethan Fung The Birch Cup For a Year 10 Girl showing All Round Ability: Eva Melhuish The Kururangi Cup For a Year 10 Boy showing All Round Ability: Ethan Agaimalo

Saint Kentigern College dux NCEA Jesse (Xiyuan) Niu, and dux International Baccalaureate William Feng.


Proxime Accessit: Xarya Knox

Open Day Saturday 7 March 9.30am–1.30pm Enrol now parnellcollege.acgedu.com

the politicians

Paul Goldsmith


David Seymour


t the start of the Christmas rush I joined a panel discussion on wellbeing at the University of Auckland, with a famous visiting economist, Richard Easterlin. I was a little nervous, because the last panel I joined at the university was during the 2017 election campaign. Then, only around two out of an audience of 200 said they were planning to vote National, somewhat bruising my self-esteem. Fortunately, it wasn’t a representative sample. Easterlin has studied the topic of happiness and public policy for decades, and has concluded that the concerns that are foremost in people’s minds when reporting their levels of happiness are the same the world over: jobs, living conditions, family life and health. No surprises there. The debate was a bit circular because of the false implication that some people think that the only thing that matters is GDP growth, while other more caring souls think about a broader concept of wellbeing. No one argues, or has ever argued, that the only thing that matters is GDP growth. There hasn’t been a single budget in New Zealand’s history that hasn’t focused on improving the wellbeing of New Zealanders. There has been plenty of debate and differences of opinion of how to achieve progress, but we’ve always taken a broad view. That’s why we’ve locked a third of our land mass away in the conservation estate, because we care about our environment. That’s why we’ve consistently redistributed huge sums through the tax and transfer systems to care for those in need, to provide economic security for all and to maintain our social cohesion. National has consistently emphasised economic growth simply because we want people to be better off. The economy is about people — you, me, our families, our communities. A strong economy improves our chances of finding satisfying and rewarding work. Work itself presents us with the opportunity to make a contribution to our world and the people in it. A strong economy also enables world-class healthcare, the reassurance of superannuation and a helping hand when it’s required. At the same time, of course, we recognise that money isn’t everything. Kiwis want to preserve and enhance what is special about this country – the quality of our environment, our social cohesion, our relatively high trust, low corruption traditions, our commitment to the rule of law, freedom and tolerance of different views, our sense of security. We put a lot of effort into ensuring that growth doesn’t come at the expense of our natural and social capital. That requires some pragmatism and common sense. Our response to climate change is a case in point. Most Kiwis expect that we, as a country that seeks a premium for its exports based on a clean green image, will play our part in a global effort to reduce our carbon emissions. So National supported the government’s Zero Carbon Bill. Equally, most Kiwis expect that we take seriously the impact our decisions have on our jobs, our living standards and our way of life, that we take note of what our trading partners are doing so that our actions don’t simply export emissions somewhere else. If you’re serious about improving the wellbeing of New Zealanders, you have to care about the environment and social cohesion, and you also have to care about job and wealth creation. There are often tensions between these things; a little pragmatism and common sense can take us a long way.

anuary, the year of delivery. The government budget was set entirely by the new folks. There were fees-free tertiary education, bans on foreign investment, a looming capital gains tax, school reforms and promises KiwiBuild would solve the housing crisis. February, Tomorrow’s Schools backdown. School went back with principals grumpier than usual. The government was planning to remove ‘all legal rights and obligations’ from parent-elected boards of trustees. After months of radio silence, the government quietly abandoned most of the proposals in November. March. Ugly. The Christchurch mosque attack showed humanity’s worst. New Zealanders showed the world its best. The Prime Minister’s words, “you may have chosen us, but we utterly reject you” summed up the nation’s sentiments towards the terrorist and his act perfectly. April, how not to respond. The firearm legislation has failed in every practical way. Rushed legislation is never good, neither is collective punishment of blameless people. We should have waited for the results of the royal commission. Instead we have a larger black market for firearms and an alienated firearm community. We are less safe but the government can claim it took action. May (well actually April), the capital gains tax backdown. You pay income tax on every cent of income from an investment. To tax the stock of capital, as well as the flow of income it produces, is double taxation. Proudly, New Zealand has now rejected a CGT four times. June, ACT for Freedom. Have to get a plug in here. ACT relaunched with new colours, new policies, and the same values of freedom, choice, and responsibility. If the polls are anything to go by, it is the jump-start the party has long awaited. July, winter discontent. Business attitudes hardened. Global headwinds don’t help the world, but terms-of-trade hit a high for New Zealand. The government will never admit it, but the cycle of threats and backdowns doesn’t help confidence. August, the KiwiBuild backdown. The problem with Auckland housing is that the median section costs $600,000. That’s risen 903 per cent since 1993. Phil Twyford thought the government could beat mathematics and build affordable homes on such sections. Why? Just one of those mysteries. September, Ana-Carolina goes home. Ana-Carolina is a six-yearold girl who lived almost her entire life in hospital. There are people in the ADHB who should be ashamed of their conduct. However, justice prevailed and Ana-Carolina is now living with her family. October, the disappearing cycleway. After two years of silence, Auckland Transport told us the proposed Gladstone Rd cycleway had never been remotely viable. Why we were ever told otherwise remains another one of those mysteries. November, after four years of campaigning, I saw the End of Life Choice Bill become law. Now the matter is up to the voters in next year’s referendum. If the Act comes into effect we will be, to quote Chris Bishop’s excellent speech, “a more compassionate society, a more decent society, a more humane society”. December and into 2020. 2020 will bring an election, so you’ll decide. Until then, thank you for all of your support, it is a pleasure to serve the Epsom electorate.

Paul Goldsmith is a National list MP based in Epsom

David Seymour is the MP for Epsom the hobson 29

the investment

The Forecast, Revisited


s I do each year for this edition, I will look in to the coming year and provide a set of predictions for what we expect to happen in the financial markets. Some forecasts and their rationale are outlined below. But first, let me self-check on how my predictions were from this time last year.

First, exchange rates. Last year I predicted: “. . . I think we will see the NZ dollar test the lows of 2018, primarily because I think current uncertainty concerning the US economy (higher interest rates plus China trade wars) will dissipate and see her GDP resurge and support the US dollar.” I must say that was a beautiful call, with the kiwi falling from the high 60s late last year to as low as 62 and, at the time of writing, trading at around 64. For the next 12 months, I think we will see the NZ dollar hover in the mid-60s, perhaps range-trading around current levels, as we see some support with interest rates in NZ bottoming out (read more later) but some pressure from a continued strong US-dollar as her economy continues to exhibit strong GDP growth.

Inflation. I have written for the past few years “forget about it!” and, for 2019 at least, this remained a good call. Last year I wrote: “we must continue to watch out for these tax-andtransfer policies of the Labour-led coalition which may contribute to higher inflation” and I think that still holds true, in spite of the sanguine inflationary environment we are experiencing. In fact, with the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) slashing the official cash rate a hefty 0.50 per cent to a record low of 1.0 per cent, one could be forgiven for lazily predicting a lack of inflation is here to stay. NZ central bankers have always had a tightening bias so to see the OCR that low in conjunction with a cautious tone to growth and activity forecasts tells me I am pretty safe with my continued “forget about it” prediction.

Interest-rates here in NZ. A good call last year: “. . . For 2019, more of the same: low interest rates.” Home mortgage rates, both floating and fixed, tested record lows throughout 2019 and I recall seeing a three-year fixed rate home mortgage advertised at 3.35 per cent. And no, that was not while I was travelling in the US. I think rates will stay low throughout 2020, namely because of the abovementioned low inflation environment but this year there is a caveat: by the time you are reading this, the RBNZ is likely to have announced a considerable increase in the regulatory capital the trading banks will be required to hold — something in the order of $16 billion in aggregate is the rumour. Should this be the case, banks’ overall cost of capital is likely to increase, which will likely drive a commensurate increase in interest rates. And this will be interesting as such an increase will uncommonly not be as a result of high inflation or official cash rate hikes as is typically the case, so we’ll have to see just what that means. Low inflation with increasing interest rates cannot be good though.

stronger US market gains. I think the uncertainties regarding the US outlook mentioned earlier will not come to fruition and her strong underlying GDP growth will drive earnings and stock prices”. I’m scoring myself six out of 10 for this call: the NZX 50 was way stronger than my sub-10 per cent forecast — in fact 28 per cent — but my call on the US was bang-on. The US stock market index, the Dow, has recorded over 100 all-time highs since President Trump was elected, many of them in 2019. So at the risk of deteriorating even further from the mediocre 6/10 for last year, I’m going to make the same prediction for 2020: NZ stock market sideways-to-up and the US stock market very, very strong.

Residential property prices. Remember my re-quote from 2017 and 2018: “When you hear Phil Twyford talking about the government building or facilitating the building of an additional 10,000 houses per year, just laugh!” Well, the fiasco that was KiwiBuild was canned a few months ago with the Labour-led coalition government realising what a millstone the doomed policy had become. Good call. You will hopefully also recall that for the past four years I have monotonously predicted “. . . the conditions for further price increases in 201X/201Y and beyond remain . . . strong inward migration flows . . .” I don’t see a need to change the outlook for 2020 and beyond. The rate of price rises will wax and wane but overall the trend is, and will remain, upward.

So not a bad scorecard again with my 2019 predictions for the financial markets and associated indicators. But for last year’s predictions of more serious matters, I probably fared a little worse. As we know, the All Blacks did not retain the Rugby World Cup in Tokyo. Yes, Theresa May was rolled, having failed to properly secure decent arrangements for Brexit, and was replaced by Boris Johnson. Auckland’s light rail plans have not yet officially been shelved (surely just a matter of time though?) and amazingly, Iain Lees-Galloway remains a parliamentarian. Last season, Arsenal did not regain its spot in the top four of the English Premier League and sadly, does not look likely to do so this season.

For 2020, I’m saying that Trump wins by a landslide. Brexit, finally. NZ First fades away as it did in 2011, Labour and the Greens falter with too much non-delivery for the electorate and National sneaks home. Mahé Drysdale back in the single scull and up on the podium in Tokyo! Enjoy the summer break. Safe and happy holidays. — Warren Couillault

Disclaimer: This article does not consider the objectives or situation of any particular investor. It should not be construed as a solicitation to buy or sell any security or product, or to engage in or refrain from engaging in any transaction.

Stock markets. Last year I said, “Over the next year, I’d anticipate sideways to positive (sub-10 per cent) for the NZX 50 for much of the same reasons as I raised last year, but the hobson 30

the councillor

Desley Simpson


appy 2020 to you and your family. I hope the new year begins well for you. The new decade corresponds with 10 years since the formation of the Super City. The first 10 years have certainly given the public, elected members and staff a chance to better understand the shared governance model between the mayor, councillors, local boards and council-controlled organisations (CCOs). These have been tweaked year on year and relationships strengthened term by term. However, after 10 years, we are finally looking at our CCOs. They deliver 75 per cent of our business and spend 55 per cent of our operational budget, yet the most common ‘complaint’ I hear from you relates to at least one of them — Auckland Transport (AT), Regional Facilities Auckland, Panuku Development, Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED), and Watercare. One of the last things we resolved at the end of 2019 was to approve an independent review of our CCOs which will cover three key areas: effectiveness of the CCO model, accountability mechanisms between them, and the ‘us and them’ culture that can sometimes exist. I’ll give you updates as this very important workstream develops. Talking of milestones, the Auckland War Memorial Museum recently celebrated its 90th birthday. Standing majestically on the hill known by Māori as Pukekawa in the Auckland Domain, it was built by subscriptions raised by Aucklanders in remembrance of their war dead, and completed in 1929. It was an honour to share the celebrations with many Aucklanders including Ōrākei and Waitematā local board members, and people like Hilary Reid from Remuera, who was a child when the museum opened. I hope you continue to enjoy our summer and the glorious weather, taking the opportunity to head outdoors to one of the many free events offered in our community and across the region.

Of specific note was the series of Nacra World Sailing Championships held in early December at our wonderful Royal Akarana Yacht Club. It was an immense pleasure to witness our very own America’s Cup stars, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, racing out on the harbour, proving why they are world champions! For other summer events please go to: aucklandnz.com/visit/ events/annual-events. Locally, Auckland Transport will start construction works later in January on the Tamaki Dr Cycleway. The plan is to create an improved walking and cycling route along Tamaki Dr and connect with cycle routes to Glen Innes, Parnell and the central city. As a result of feedback received during consultation, AT decided to change the design to consider our community’s views on what was proposed. The new design addresses many of the safety, convenience, and usability issues that were raised during consultation. I am glad that the voices of our residents were heard and acknowledged – the way it always should be. On a personal note, these holidays have been extra special for me and my family with the new arrival of a baby grandson. As we look forward to the years ahead – kindergarten, school and beyond — I am reminded of the importance of safety and council’s role in helping to provide this to our families and children. Safe School Travel Plans are action plans for road safety and active transport, delivered in partnership with school communities, AT, council, NZ Police, NZTA and other organisations. If your school doesn’t have a safe school travel plan, please feel free to get in touch with me. Finally, I’m always available to answer any queries you may have. Please contact me on desley.simpson@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz or check out my website desley.co.nz for more council information. Desley Simpson is the Councillor for Auckland representing the Ōrākei ward

LUNCH | DINNER | DRINKS 1-3 St Marys Rd, Ponsonby ~ 099504855 the hobson 31

the plan

Soporific Adverse Effects


iven the time of year, I have been pontificating as to what verbiage will shutter your eye and twig your mind. Will it be light-hearted and fluffy, or boringly deadly serious? The conclusion I came to reflects on how I feel at this time – a bit worn, a bit jaded and ready for a rest. And by rest I mean siestas after another lunch of leftover ham, and not having an agenda to fulfil or any dates in my diary. And the best way, apart from an overfull belly, to induce day time sleep, is to read something so dry your brain switches off, something that seems to be happening to me more and more. So let me bore you to sleep, and if I do, my job is done! Let me begin in 1991. We were young and free, and the Resource Management Act became the way our lives were governed when we wanted to do anything to the land or water. Fast-forward to 2019, and the Act has been hacked at and tinkered with, sometimes to fix an anomaly, but generally because, in the words of Environment Minister David Parker, “the RMA is responsible for managing our built and natural environment, and it has been underperforming”. And, this doozy: “It costs too much and it takes too long”. Now I have written about this before, probably too many times. And most of you just may nod, and turn the page. But those who have had to actually get a resource consent will know that it is easier to get the proverbial camel through the eye of a needle than it is to achieve a resource consent in a timely and cost-effective way. And I will tell you why — knowledge distilled after two decades of shuffling paper. The gatekeepers’ (read, council officers) interpretations of what is acceptable or what is adverse are different to that of the everyday person. While I can say that we would not have the Harbour Bridge, nor the Auckland War Memorial Museum, nor the Chelsea Sugar Works if there had been an RMA in the ‘olden days’, those are big examples which really do not affect our 800m2 of prime northern slopes real estate. What does affect us is when you are told — four months after you lodged an application and a month after your builder has

walked off the job — and after administration has spent two weeks loading it into the system — by a planner who more than likely will have no real-world experience, and will be guided by someone who only has one more year of time in council, that some addition to your house will have an “adverse effect on the environment”. What utter bullshit! We recently had the pleasure of taking BP through a hearing. One vociferous chap got a community group lathered up and then appeared at the hearing, and told the commissioners that a BP, with him as a rear neighbour, would be the end of the world. Lo and behold, following the inevitable approval and construction period, he was interviewed by the local paper about this monstrosity. And what does he say? He says they are great neighbours, he cannot hear a thing and the only negative is they should have built a door in the acoustic fence so he did not have to walk so far to get his coffee. Our minds see potential and our senses see actual. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the crux of the matter. The subjective nature of the words ‘adverse effects’ mean so little to so many — and so much to so few, that we live in the shambles that we do when it comes to resource consents and council paperwork. Even to this day, nine years since the inception of the Super City, do planners in the south, east and west have different opinions, and thus interpretation, of rules. Unless you have time and money on your side, and unless you acquiesce, you will be tortured to the gates of hell. So anyway, the latest RMA review is underway. Mr R E Bartlett QC brought this to my attention as if to engage in some lofty legal discussion with me. Cunning as I am, not wanting again to showcase my lack of intellect, I sidestepped his question with the smartarse remark: “Wake me up when they have finished.” And I mean that honestly. You can change all the words you like and improve the definitions, but until you have an outcomes-based objective rather than a subjective effects-based system, then the next RMA review is just another review around the corner. — Hamish Firth


Farewell Season Opens 7 December Romeo & Juliet Much Ado About Nothing

book now at popupglobe.co.NZ Anthony Harper Pop-up globe theatre, Ellerslie

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the suburbanist

Like Sands Through the Hourglass


uy sand son, they’re not making it anymore. This summer as you lie on it, shake it out of your togs and wash it from your eyes, take a moment to think about sand – where it comes from, where it goes and how important it is, if not to you, then to the world. The interweb will tell you that there are more grains of sand than stars in the sky (wrong of course) and yet, somehow, we’re running out. It is the world’s second most consumed resource (after water) and a critical ingredient in our lives. It was once thought that sand was formed by water crushing rocks but most sand is made when molten rock cools. The bits that cool last are the smallest bits that fill in the leftover spaces of the bigger bits. Sand is just really, really, tiny rocks. We spend a lot of time, energy and money, turning it back into bigger rocks – or concrete – the primary material of our cities. It is also used in asphalt to make roads and if, instead of cementing it together, we melt it down, we get glass and the silicon used in the chips inside your computer and your phone. In spite of the endless beaches and vast deserts, the hourglass is running down. It can be hard to think at this scale – surely beaches and deserts exceed cities and roads? Each year the world uses 50 billion tonnes of aggregate (sand and gravel) – enough to cover New Zealand. Which would make a great beach, but you’d have to go to Australia for an ice-cream. The problem with desert sand is that it is mostly useless for us. It has been eroded by wind, not water, and is smooth and round – good for shooting Star Wars sequels but the wrong shape to lock together to form concrete. For that we need the sharp angular grains that have been formed in riverbeds, lakes and the seashore. Global demand is so great that riverbeds and beaches are being stripped bare, creating a black market for sand in some countries, and the rise in sand piracy. ‘Sand Mafias’ exist in India, Mexico, Gambia, Kenya and Indonesia, excavating sand to sell on the black market. Increasing urbanisation creates demand for more buildings and roads, but also more houses. Around 4.2 billion people live in urban areas today and this will increase by 2.5 billion in the next 30 years – similar to adding eight cities the size of New York every year. The amount of sand used for construction has tripled since 2000 and the building boom in Dubai has meant that they need to import sand from Australia. Dubai, like Singapore, also uses (imported) sand to create more land through reclamation – upon which to build more buildings, with concrete, to house more people. Construction sand is mined from rivers and in Vietnam, the Mekong Delta is slowly disappearing as the sand is removed, mostly for export. The delta is home to 20 million people and provides half of the whole country’s food. At the other end of the scale, demand for high-purity silica sands – the kind used in glass, solar panels and computer chips – is rising. In rural Wisconsin, prime farmland is converted to sand mines because of the precious grains that lie beneath the soil. What can be done? Scientists are researching materials that can be substituted for sand in concrete from fly ash, the material left over by coal-fired power stations (hell, fossil fuels?) to shredded plastic (better, much better). What can you do? Think twice about the polished concrete floor in your next renovation and try – sustainably sourced – timber instead. Or if you must use concrete, make your own. At the end of the day as you shake the sand out on the beach, collect some pumice, take it home, grind it up, mix it with cement and make your own pumice-crete! A great craft exercise for the holidays. Enjoy! — Tommy Honey



Holiday Hours –

December 24th December 25th December 26th December 27th December 28th December 29th December 30th December 31st January 1st January 2nd January 3rd

12pm - 10pm Closed Closed 12pm - 10pm 12pm - 10pm 12pm - 10pm 12pm - 10pm 12pm - 10pm Closed Closed Business as usual


the second act

The Best Word For It


round the time this edition is published, most readers will have surrendered to the bacchanalian overindulgence that marks the silly season, letting keto, paleo and possibly even vegan disciplines slide and having that ‘just the one’ glass of champagne — every night. As they reach for just another canapé, their guilt is assuaged by reassuring nonsense conjured up by their ego: “It’s rude not to”, or “you only live once”, or “I don’t want to be boring”, and of course the real kicker, “I’ll deal with it in the new year”. But with research proving that the vast majority of change efforts fail (consider yo-yo dieting as a case in point), it’s time to consider that the casting of New Year resolutions is not only unhelpful but the problem itself. In other words, if you don’t want to still be a fat boozer this time next year, read on. Resolutions are usually stated in a success/failure, goalsetting way – get a new job, lose 10kgs, stop smoking. Dull and uninspirational. While they are to the point, they miss the point. They assume that once that goal is achieved, it will leave room for this incredible life to appear. But what if the reverse occurred? What if you focused on a different way of being, that then impacted positively on your relationship to your health, lifestyle, work or whatever the original goal was? I have a practice developed after years of unachieved resolutions. It’s to choose a ‘word of the year’ to anchor the year ahead, in a way that leaves plenty of room for the universe to conspire and expand what is possible. In 2012, after leaving a frankly exhausting career, I had a long list of resolutions that I had to tick off — the ‘lose weight, take up yoga, stop drinking’ variety. But it occurred to me that not only was this nothing new, but it was totally boring and ordinary, when I wanted a life that was anything but. What was I hoping for after I achieved all this? Probably a better version of my current life and that seemed a bit limiting. What if I couldn’t actually imagine how life might be? So I decided that I would go for one word as a theme and leave myself open to possibility. That word was ‘play’. I wanted to play

more and ignore tight binary constructs like ‘work/life balance’ to see what would happen. Eight different years and words later (they include ‘gender’, ‘flourish’, ‘teamwork’, ‘collaboration’), I now run a practice called Play that seems to have scooped up all my previous words into one beautiful experience. My word for 2020 bubbled up when I was meditating recently. It’s ‘movement’. This has many connotations for me. Not only about physical movement but also the effort I put into the movements I am committed to creating and contributing to. A colleague has the word ‘global’ pulling her, and we are excited to see what happens when she breathes life into that word. Another started with ‘plastic-free’ but soon realised this was a worthy, even boring, goal orientation. A few days later, the word ‘green’ presented itself, and she realised it was her life philosophy calling her in, and calling her out. It’s time for her not only to live more gently on the earth and be more connected to nature, but also be open about securing a role that supports a sustainable planet. Many people angst over not knowing what they want to DO next, but don’t realise that their thinking process will not reveal anything interesting, as it’s limited by past experiences. What would be more helpful is a fundamental shift so they could experience life differently. And it’s precisely from this new experience, a new idea might emerge. So if you want to play, don’t overthink your word. This is a creative process, not a linear, rational one. Let the word come from a deeper place within you. Throw a direction out to the ether and see what comes back over the following few weeks. Be curious, calm and creative. When the right words appear you will sense or feel excited, or even at peace with it. Words like ‘balance’ and ‘family’ are good starter words, but in a couple of years, you’ll see this is kind of bread and butter stuff versus the real deal. A special word for the year might not change your life radically in the first 12 months, but it will at least make you a hell of a lot more interesting to talk to next December when someone asks, “how has your year been?” — Sandy Burgham

Yes, even Mahé needs a navigator. J U S T N O T O N T H E W AT E R


H O B S O N W E A LT H .C O. N Z | 0 8 0 0 74 2 7 3 7 Hobson Wealth Partners Limited (FSP29782), is an NZX Advising Firm. The disclosure statement for Hobson Wealth Partners is available upon request, free of charge.

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the sound

OK, Boomers


ell it’s 2020. Hold on! How did that happen? Just like that, we’re a fifth of the way through a century that I seem to remember waiting an age to start. I recall in the 80s wondering how old I’d be in the year 2000. The answer was 37, which for a boy in his 20s was an unimaginable old age to attain. And yet here I am, 20 years older again. So in time-honoured tradition, I should right now be looking back at the decade with no name (the tens?) and figuring out the best albums and music and trends of the past 10 years. An obviously impossible task because, as Alvin Toffler noted in Future Shock, the process of change in human society has accelerated to such a rate, due to technology, that, compared to last century, every year is now a decade in itself. I guess I just answered my own question. Because change is constant, the trend of the past 10 years is that anything goes. There is no dominant genre, or theme, or artist anymore. It also means there is no past, or that the pasts are multitudinal. That was illustrated late last year, with a faux controversy that 17-year-old Billie Eilish did not know who, or what, Van Halen was. That was greeted by howls of outrage from Gen Xers, and professed disappointment in the new generation. The accusation was made that the kids were too self-obsessed and too lazy to be interested in history. You have to know where we’ve come from to know where we're going, etc. Gen X knows the boomers’ music, and they all know who Sinatra and Mozart are. I thought the shock of the Gen Xers was genuinely pathetic. Principally because the person who posed the question actually thinks that Van Halen is an act for the ages. But also the fact that Gen Xers think that their cultural references are so important to human history that they should remain perpetually relevant. This makes them no better than the boomers before them. The generation who truly believe their music is better than every other generation, and that every generation after them is a disappointment. Surely that disappointment must be tempered though, as they discover that their kids are just as self-obsessed as they are. And so it will go with every cohort to come. But before I wade any further into the inter-generational quagmire, let me just say what I’ve liked in the past 10 years, starting with the aforementioned Billie Eilish. What an album

from such a young person, and her collaborative brother. If that was the result of not knowing who Van Halen is, then let’s burn all Van Halen records so we get more. Smart, clever, technical music overlaid with smart, knowing lyrics and imagery, combining to create a particular sound. And all recorded at home on a laptop. This is what’s changed immeasurably. Record companies and recording studios and the hangers-on and svengalis have lost their power. All you need is good ideas, and the work ethic to make it happen. Lorde is the ultimate expression of this. Having made five good songs in a small studio, she gave them to the world for free through the internet, and history was made. Her albums Pure Heroine and Melodrama have made most Top 20 lists of the decade. They are astounding — the first, an ultimate outsider teen album. The second was a banging break-up album after her first break-up. Lorde was just one New Zealand artist making headway internationally in a decade where the isolation of these islands finally dissolved completely. Marlon Williams, Aldous Harding, The Beths, Miss June, Fat Freddy’s and many others now have bigger fan bases abroad than at home. So travel the world they do, making money, making art, having lives. I liked that rap grew up in the hands of people like Childish Gambino and Kendrick Lamar. At home, Avantdale Bowling Club blew my mind. Again, recorded by the artist in a converted garage and yet sounding a million bucks. I liked that artists like Beyoncé didn’t play by the old rules. Shall I release an album today with no notice? Sure. Shall it be a video album as well? Why not? While many talk about Taylor Swift being the most popular artist of the decade, she seems like a dinosaur to me. A super-tanker ploughing on regardless, while artists around her learn to be nimble. And I like that some boomers listened. Springsteen invented the stadium artist as a theatre show, something that David Byrne has followed with his ‘American Utopia’ show now in theatres. (His show by the way, easily the best of the decade.) I liked the album celebration shows such as U2’s recent Joshua Tree extravaganza. But most of all, I liked that I found more music than at any other time in my life that pushed boundaries and impressed with its breadth. Don’t let the old-timers fool you. Today’s music is the best music ever. Just open your ears and let go. — Andrew Dickens

582 Remuera Rd, Remuera Auckland 09 520 3119 | staff@sibuns.co.nz www.sibuns.co.nz

the magpie

At the Art of the Matter The Magpie wings it through the galleries

1. Justin Culina Love Knot. Hand blown glass, kinetic sculpture (knot pulls apart). 300mm length $380 each, 250mm length $180. Black Door Gallery, 251 Parnell Rd. blackdoorgallery.co.nz


2. Tony Ogle Daybreak — Whangapoua. Limited edition screenprint, 320 x 340mm, framed. $775, The Poi Room, 17 Osborne St. thepoiroom.co.nz


3. Vicky Savage Sharing the Moment. Bronze, 435 x 460mm. $3000, Parnell Gallery, 263 Parnell Rd. parnellgallery.co.nz 4. Janette Cervin Pink Sky At Night. Acrylic paint on ACM (aluminised composite material) and resin, 1200 x 1200mm. $6500, The Poi Room, 17 Osborne St. thepoiroom.co.nz 5. Kirsty Nixon Fantail No.1. Limited edition Giclée print, 440 x 610mm, framed. $895, The Poi Room, 17 Osborne St. thepoiroom.co.nz 6. Oliver Cain Banana Bowl #8. Ceramic and glaze, 470 x 250 x 500mm. $1850, nkb Gallery, 455 Mt Eden Rd. nkbgallery.co.nz

11. Louise Henderson Still Life (Ponte Vecchio), 1952. Oil on Canvas, 740 x 800mm, framed. $22,000, Gow Langsford Gallery, 26 Lorne St, CBD. gowlangsfordgallery.co.nz 12. Yuki Kihara Head with Pelvimeter (2015). C-print mounted on dibond aluminium panel, 670 x 536 x 4mm. $4250, Milford Galleries, 9A Earl St, Queenstown. milfordgalleries.co.nz


7. Francia Smeets Waiting, bird series. Kingfisher (kōtare), cast glass on timber plinth, 660 x 240 x 150mm. $3500, Black Door Gallery, 251 Parnell Rd. blackdoorgallery.co.nz 8. Hamish Allan Hooligan. Acrylic on canvas, framed, 600 x 750mm. $5500, nkb Gallery, 455 Mt Eden Rd, Mt Eden. nkbgallery.co.nz 9. Max Gimblett Many Words, 2018. Acrylic, aquasize, platinum leaf on canvas, 1270 x 1016mm. $50,000, Gow Langsford Gallery, 26 Lorne St, CBD. gowlangsfordgallery.co.nz 10. Michael Hight, Waitaki Valley, 2017. Oil on linen, 610 x 910mm. $12,500, Gow Langsford Gallery, 26 Lorne St, CBD. gowlangsfordgallery.co.nz



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10 9



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Pacifically Coasting It’s a relatively short flight, compared with getting to Europe, and once in West Coast USA, the wide open road beckons. Here, reader Murray Smith shares a recent family adventure from San Francisco to Palm Springs, while on page 42, Kirsty Cameron writes of a surprisingly great drive further south

On the road: hugging the coast on California's State Route 1

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the journey


fter a few days in San Francisco we were looking forward to the contrast of being on the road and away from the city. A road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway was the main reason we had come to California. According to MojoTravels, the top two American road trips are the Overseas Highway in Florida, and the Pacific Coast Highway in California. A couple of years ago we drove the Overseas Highway, and it was incredible, so now it was time to drive the Pacific Coast, California’s State Route 1. So starting with a detour through Golden Gate Park to see the bison and the Dutch Windmill, we were on our way. The Sutro Baths were the last stop before we really got underway. Heading south, we hugged the coast as much as possible. Being mid-July it was hard to understand that the fog would be such a dominant feature of the early part of our journey, however when the fog broke, the scenery was spectacular. Initially the GPS on our phone was more of a hindrance than a help, as it was constantly trying to have us take the fastest route to LA. There are times when old technology works best, and a paper map would have been a better guide for our planned drive over three days. The lighthouse at Pescadero was a great opportunity to get some time out of the car before a short hop to lunch in Santa Cruz. The Giant Dipper roller coaster at the Santa Cruz amusement park was closed, which meant that we only spent a short time there. My enduring memory of the amusement park would be the smell of hot sugar, making it easy to understand why there were so many large people around us. Monterey was not far away, with the old sardine factories of Cannery Row being a real attraction, along with the aquarium, which is an absolute must see. Seafood for dinner and a good night’s rest, and we were on the road again. The 17-Mile Drive along the coast and past some iconic golf courses, the Lone Cypress and some very expensive homes, and we were at our first stop at Pebble Beach Golf Course. The US Open was held there only a month earlier, and must have been a spectacular place to watch this iconic event. Carmel-by-the-Sea was not far away, a beautiful town, and I was really hoping to bump into its former mayor Clint Eastwood. Of course, it didn’t happen. On our way again, and as we approached the famous Bixby Creek Bridge the queues started to build, and it appeared that there were a lot of others wanting to get a photo of the bridge. Unfortunately the queues were for roadworks, and the carpark next to the bridge was closed, leaving us with a photo on the fly at a bad angle and dominated by the wing mirror of the car. Some amazing elevated coastal views were a feature of this part of the journey before we arrived into Big Sur. This is such a beautiful place, green and warm, and with a road dotted with eateries, there was plenty of places for lunch. We stopped at the Big Sur River Inn, and ate lunch overlooking the river, in which people sat on deck chairs keeping their feet cool. The purple sands at Pfeiffer Beach were just down the road, although you needed to be alert to find the turnoff to get there. Not far away either were the McWay Falls, where the waterfall cascades directly onto the sand. q the hobson 39

the journey

Along the coast there are more amazing elevated views, and even condors soaring too. The wildlife kept coming and at Piedras Blancas we stopped at the elephant seal colony. These giants arrived and formed a colony in 1990, and have never left. From here, it’s only a short drive to San Simeon’s Hearst Castle, built by media mogul William Randolf Hearst, and an opportunity to see how the incredibly wealthy lived and partied in the 1920s. Next, we headed south toward San Luis Obispo, passing the Madonna Inn, reputedly the kitschest hotel in the world. Then a quick stop for a bite to eat at Pismo Beach, and on through the strawberry fields of Lompoc. We ventured off Highway 1 to the town of Solvang. Settled by Danes in 1911, it’s like a small trip to another country. The architecture is Danish, and there are more

windmills in this two square miles than anywhere outside of Denmark. Then we were back on the 101 for a short drive to Santa Barbara, and our overnight stay right by Stearns Wharf. The next morning we were back on the road south again where the 101 heads inland. We continued until we reached Calabasas, which necessitated a quick diversion to Hidden Hills, to find where the Kardashians live. Can you tell that this wasn’t my idea, and I was outvoted by the wife and 14-year-old twin daughters? (They weren’t home.) After trying to brush with fame, we decided that we needed to change direction and headed back toward the sea to Malibu. It was Saturday morning and there wasn’t a single free parking spot, so we kept driving through to Santa Monica.

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Peter Furian, Robert Mullan, Lynn Yeh, Valeriya Zankovych/Shutterstock

Left, top to bottom: Monterey, the Lone Cypress on 17-Mile Drive, Dane-settled Solvang. Below, Smiths on tour: Murray, Tayla, Brylee and Nicki, standing alongside the Big Sur highway.

We stopped at the iconic Palm Springs sign, near the turnoff to the Aerial Tramway, opened the car doors, and were met with a toasty 45C. There’s over 100 amazing golf courses in the area, but I bet almost nobody would be playing in this heat. A few more minutes in the car and we were at the historic Colony Palms Hotel, where we would spend a few more days relaxing by the chilled pool. p Murray Smith is an auctioneer for Barfoot & Thompson. He lives in Newmarket

The absolute highlight: 17-Mile Drive, which takes you around the coast from Monterey to Carmel. It’s not really part of the Pacific Coast Highway, but its memorable for the combination of the scenery, the amazing coastal homes, and the world-class golf courses, such as Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill

I wish we’d known . . . to avoid using our phone as a GPS, because a paper map gives you a far better overview of the trip ahead

The best surprise: The fog! Who would have thought that in July, the height of summer, that this would be such a dominant feature of the trip, even as far south as Santa Monica

By the time we stopped for tacos at Jurupa Valley, about 100km east of Santa Monica the traffic had eased, and the temperature had risen to over 30C. For the last leg of the journey to our destination of Palm Springs, we decided that we wouldn’t wind any windows down in the car, so that we could have the full experience of the desert heat when we arrived. The contrast of the scenery from the coast to the desert was quite gradual along the journey, but still quite amazing nonetheless. More than 4000 wind turbines dominate the landscape on the way, enough to power the city of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. the hobson 41

Our rookie mistake: Inadvertently finding that we had ended up driving through Santa Monica, and then having to endure LA traffic, when our total plan was to avoid it completely

Next time . . . I’d slow the whole journey down, and spend more time in small towns and avoid the bigger cities, and take in more of California's amazing scenery

the journey

Seeking Salvation


e were never meant to be in America midyear. It wasn’t planned, or anticipated with any kind of preparedness. But circumstances meant a late change to previously well-laid plans and we found ourselves organising a break, visiting San Francisco, Palm Springs and San Diego. We flew from Auckland to San Francisco, promptly flew into Uniqlo for windbreakers — “The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco,” Mark Twain supposedly said — and had a great few days, a walk through the sequoias of Muir Woods and biking to Sausalito two highlights. We’ve previously driven the Pacific Coast route from San Francisco to LA, and the drive from LA to Palm Springs is mostly awful, rutted highways and the scenic highlight of the Skechers factory, with its vista of lorries lined up to truck sneakers to malls nationwide. So we took a short flight to Palm Springs, which we’d previously visited and loved. What we did next was the most surprisingly enjoyable part of the whole scrambled-together itinerary. To get from Palm Springs to San Diego, we elected to drive south and then west to the coast, taking the highway down through the Coachella Valley. While I’d imagined picturesque oasis towns living up to their names — Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert — in actuality, the 111 travels some distance from them, so you’re on a multi-laned affair of little scenic value, unless your interest is piqued by billboards advertising the next Denny’s or 1-800-SUE lawyers. It gets better when the pylons and wind turbines start to thin, and slices of California’s southern fruit bowl appear. Orchards of date palms begin to fill the view on either side of the road.

An hour after we left Palm Springs, we were pulling into Bombay Beach, population sub-300, and sub sea-level too. The settlement sits 68m below sea level, on the eastern shore of the Salton Sea, California’s largest inland lake by surface the hobson 42

Salvation Mountain

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the journey

area (some 890km²). The Salton Sea was created in 1905, when diversions from the Colorado River for agricultural irrigation caused tributary build-ups and overflow into the dry beds of the Salton Basin. And so the lake washed into being, and with it, resort towns like Bombay Beach, which flourished in the 1950s as a water-skiing resort. Now, it’s surrounded by abandoned buildings, and the population has shrunk away with rising salinity and the lake’s pollution. The waters are decreasing too, with regulations protecting the Colorado’s flow. In summer, when we drove through, it was deathly quiet, visitors and presumably many residents choosing cooler places north. But there was still a warm welcome and cooling iced tea at the Ski Inn. Refreshed and with even more water purchased at the adjacent store, we kept driving south, further into the Sonoran Desert.

Barely 20 minutes from Bombay Beach and within cooee of the US-Mexico border, we arrived at Salvation Mountain, an American folk art site. The ‘mountain’ is three-dimensional outsider art, a 15m high man-made structure of adobe and straw and tree branches, all covered in bright latex paint. It’s the work of the late Leonard Knight, who came to the desert from Vermont, pushed along by a spiritual awakening to spread the message ‘God is Love’. He worked on his creation for close to 30 years, and five years after his death, a dedicated not-for-profit group maintains the installation. There’s no federal or state funding, so they rely on donations of cash and acrylic paint that fades about as fast as its applied. It really was remarkable. I’m a big fan of the handmade and this is a hand-crafted hill. You can walk a path up the mountain, and find shelter from the sun in the caverns Knight created

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This page, Salvation Mountain scenes, including one of the chambers under the structure. Opposite, Bombay Beach's Ski Inn, where the coffee was cheap, the iced tea refreshing and the welcome warm.

All photos Stephen Penny, Kirsty Cameron, Nico Penny

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the journey

beneath it, which are modelled on Navajo structures and insulated by the adobe and straw construction. I wouldn’t recommend going when we did — on the plus side, there’s no crowds, but you’re limited to how much time you can withstand sightseeing in 42C. There’s no entry fee but for a simple ‘donations please’ box and a stack of flyers. Build a folkloric mountain, and artists will come. A few metres down the road is the artists’ encampment of East Jesus, which gives new meaning to living sustainably, repurposing and reusing. East Jesus — the name references both Salvation Mountain and being kind of ‘east of nowhere’ — is within the desert settlement of Slab City. Slab City was once the WWII Marine Corps training base Camp Dunlap, and takes

its modern name from the concrete foundation slabs left behind by the Army when they abandoned the area in the 1950s. Today, those slabs make for useful plinths for East Jesus and Slab City’s residents to use as community gathering places: one of the bigger ones is The Range, which draws visiting musicians and artists during the winter months, when the population swells with ‘snowbirds’, people who move between climates with the seasons. There’s a small permanent population, well off-grid, living in old buses and RVs hooked up to solar power and generators. There’s hot water springs underground. The county authorities tried to “drive the hippies out”, a Slab City local tells us, by ripping out the old concrete baths that were fed by the springs, but the ingenuity of the residents just found another way to access the hot water. “You need

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to come back in the winter,” he tells us, describing the music and performance nights at The Range, making it sound like a more intimate and chilled Burning Man (which would look to be about as commercial as the Easter Show in comparison to Slab City fiestas). Around 160km north-east lies our final destination, pretty, sparkling San Diego. To get there, we get back onto the Interstate 8, and what a nice surprise that turns out to be. In this part of the state, the roads are well maintained, widely separated and with a steady police presence that keeps everyone behaving. As we start to ascend the Cuyumaca Mountains, part of the Peninsula Ranges, the highway becomes separated by gulfs and gullies so wide at times, you lose sight of traffic going the other way. And the scenery is remarkable, giant round, smooth boulders and rocks, desert flora giving way to alpine as you rise. It’s a simply beautiful drive of around two-and-a-half hours, and with a good soundtrack, a nice end to the day. It all goes a bit pear-shaped when we get closer to San Diego and you enter your major-US city outer-rings-of-hell nightmare of knotted freeways, the nav shouting about being ready for an exit in three miles (three what?) and moving to the middle lane NOW, which would make sense if there weren’t four lanes. But until that point, it was, and is, a great day’s roadie. p

Dog-friendly and welcoming to visitors, the East Jesus artists settlement a few minutes down the road from Salvation Mountain, Imperial County, California.

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The absolute highlight: Salvation Mountain was extraordinary, but so was the drive up through the mountains to San Diego, just for the landscape

I wish we’d known . . . that the trip from Salvation Mountain to San Diego would be such an easy run. We could have fitted in some extra time to visit somewhere like Calexico, right on the border

The best surprise: East Jesus and Slab City. A bonus side to Salvation Mountain

Our rookie mistake: Going to gas up the rental Jeep Cherokee and panicking when we couldn’t find any instructions as to whether it took petrol or diesel. The rental agency wasn’t picking up the phone, and the service station guys were totally bemused at our concern because, as it turns out, no-one drives a diesel car

Next time . . . We should have skipped the indifferent breakfast at Elmer’s in Palm Springs (I have no idea why it’s recommended) and waited for the more authentic diner experience at the Ski Inn at Bombay Beach

the district diary

January/February 2020 Christian Tjandrawinata

January Happy New Year, it’s 2020! 9 Work on craft projects, share skills or learn something new, or even just meet new people over morning tea at Parnell Coffee and Craft, held the second Thursday of every month at the Parnell Library, 545 Parnell Rd. Free, 1011am 9-14 Head to St Heliers Beach for Waterworld, a floating, inflatable water park. Swings, slides, trampolines, spinning obstacles and more. Think Wipeout!, but for kids. From 10am7pm, tickets from dialled.co.nz, life-vests provided 13-16 Splash Break-Away is the ultimate in twobirds-one-stone. It’s a free, aquatic-based holiday programme, that also teaches your 11 to 17-year-olds drowning prevention competencies, including lifejacket safety, bystander rescues, safe kai moana gathering and safe boating. Run by Drowning Prevention Auckland, see watersafe.org.nz for locations and registrations 18 The 2020 Chinese New Year Festival & Market Day will welcome the Year of the Rat with traditional Chinese dance and music. Over 200 stalls, martial arts displays and games and rides for kids. Free entry, 9.30am-4pm, ASB Showgrounds, 217 Greenlane West 20 With over 180 million downloads and a sellout world tour, it’s probably safe to say the live version of the award-winning, a very funny podcast, ‘My Dad Wrote a Porno’ is going to be popular! Auckland Town Hall, 8pm, R18 show, livenation.co.nz for tickets 24-27 The Auckland International Buskers Festival 2020 is hitting the streets over Anniversary weekend with four days of international and local performers. Quay St, 12-6pm daily, free entry, but remember street performers make their living from your generosity! You can also celebrate Anniversary weekend at St Jerome’s Laneway Festival on Monday 27 in Albert Park. Tickets and lineup at lanewayfestival.com, R18, 11.25am-10.30pm 25 Gong Xi Fa Cai! Today marks the start of the Lunar New Year Festival, celebrated across Asian cultures. 2020 is the Year of the Rat in the Chinese zodiac, the first of the 12 signs.

31 The Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival 2020 is both land and water-based this year, with a waka showcase, a kai and toi (art) marketplace, kapa haka, dance and music. Captain Cook Wharf, Quay St, 6-11pm, free

February 1 The game is still afoot . . . The Pop-up Globe’s ‘Summer of Love’ grande finale Auckland season continues this month, with productions of Romeo & Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing, in the Shakespeare Gardens, Ellerslie Racecourse. See popupglobe.co.nz for times and tickets Flamboyant pianist Yundi Li is the first Chinese winner in the history of the prestigious Chopin International Piano Competition, and his award-winning exploration of the Sonata Piano Recital Tour is coming to NZ. At the Town Hall, 7.309.30pm, ticketmaster.co.nz 8-9 Head up to Matakana Country Park for the Extravaganza Fair. The Ashton Family Circus is performing, the kids will love Miss Dylan Daisy’s Magic Show, comedic musician Karl Austin will be playing some tunes and there’s also plenty of stalls and food. 1151 Leigh Rd, 9am-6pm 9 The 19th Japan Day festival offers a blend of traditional and contemporary Japanese culture; food stalls, entertainment, performances and more. Free entry, ASB Showgrounds, 217 Greenlane West, 10am6pm

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11 The live stage event In Conversation with Margaret Atwood celebrates The Testaments, the sequel to her seminal work, The Handmaid’s Tale, plus discussion and a Q&A on Atwood’s literary life. The Civic, 8pm 13 The annual Lantern Festival opens tonight in the Domain (lanterns only, food and entertainment from tomorrow) until Sunday 16, when it formally marks the end of Lunar New Year celebrations Catch not ‘the midnight train’ but an earlier one from Ōrākei to get to An Evening With the Empress of Soul. Miss Gladys Knight performs tonight at The Civic, 7.30pm, ticketmaster.co.nz 14 Say it with flowers, or stars. The Stardome Observatory and Planetarium is turning up the romance for Valentine’s Day with a show, drinks and canapes, and a gift box of romantic goodies. R18, $150 per couple, stardome.org.nz, 670 Manukau Rd 17 The International Ocean Film Tour is six inspiring short films from the seven seas, and the best water sports action of the year, packed into two hours of adventure, action and ocean life. Rialto Cinema, 167 Broadway, 6pm 21 Shhhh, it’s time for Quiet Please! The grand slam of house music is back, centre court at ASB Tennis Centre, off Stanley St. R18 event, tickets from eventbrite.co.nz, full lineup at quietplease.co.nz

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the cryptic by mĀyĀ

Set by Māyā. As fans of Douglas Adams know, the ultimate answer is 42, and all the across answers contain a term which relates to it (in some way). This term is ignored in the clue's wordplay. Answers will appear in our next issue, March 2020. Can’t wait, or need help? Visit https://thehobsoncrossword.wordpress.com ACROSS 9/10/7 Search engine holds vase and two aliens (one half human) - tempted to spend it all? (7,1,4,2,4,6) 11 The Stranglers: occasionally gross? (7) 12 Film of dancers swanning around, perhaps? (6) 13 Ammonium nitrate, a Zen master’s riddle? (4) 15 Dave’s number related to pull to the north (5,2,6) 17 Sad not to have a mount (5) 19 One’s religion (5) 20 We forsake weed - it’s put in the attic (6) 22 Stan almost reached ancient city (6) 25 Marvellous Stan, an American actor (3,6) 26 Sound made by a clock, perhaps, at a festival (9) 29 Tip: try to evade opponents (6) 31 Old name for disease caused by exercise classes (6) 32 Test at half five (5) 34 Final Tuesday starts flexible, then firms up (5)

36 Ministry partly ignores inferior diamonds (7,6) 39 Bulbous protrusion to the east (4) 40 Contradictory or contrasting microchip (6) 41 Painters from rough area (3,4) 43 He played sitar with delicacy after exchange of Roman Catholic leaders (4,7) 44 The Spanish and their leader’s consortia (7)

DOWN 1 Mess room where you might find a hookahsmoking caterpillar? (4) 2 Piper, a betrayer with good manners? (5,7) 3 Gripped by panic, lose tenor by mistake (2,5) 4 Shape Stan developed to get game birds (9) 5 Wing structures made from metal and l’eau (liquid) (6) 6 Quantity of liquor taken by mum’s keepers? (5) 7 See 9 Across 8 French article held by merchant raised the alarm (8)

14 Flummox E, for example (not D) on the floor? (5,3) 16 Type of fabric left on a small piece of land (5) 18 (Ideas set like this?) (5) 21 Doctor’s work, on paper, gives the amount that falls off (8) 23 Play 3Fs, et cetera? Results are delayed (5-7) 24 Music player’s hot with no spirit (5) 27 About a theatre in Devonport: it’s on Queen Street (5) 28 Elvis mag I distributed at about twenty (9) 30 New German Reaga’s related to little grey cells (8) 33 Relative’s little devil over musical pieces (7) 35 Article relative abbreviated to make a dissertation (6) 37 Chilean volcano hidden by rhinoceros (or not) (6) 38 Load unopened figure (5) 42 Exit, pursued by headless fairy, from contest to find the Ace of Clubs (4)

DECEMBER CRYPTIC CROSSWORD ANSWERS Across: 9 Poseur, 10 Shininess, 11 Adipic, 12 Isolate, 14 Encysted, 17 Gimli, 20 Letch, 22 Nail, 24 Tokay, 25 Nine iron, 28 Jukebox, 29 Dwight, 31 Rocket man. Down: 2 Rehash, 3/33 Candle in the wind, 4 Ringtail, 5 Apse, 6/32/1 Goodbye yellow brick road, 7 Perpetual, 8/19 Crocodile rock, 13 Snick, 14/30 Elton John, 15 Grand days, 16 Scintilla, 18 Me too, 21 Hanukkah, 23 Right on, 26 Bestow, 27 Domain.

the hobson 50

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The Hobson January-February 2020  

Summer in the city — escape with The Hobson's special double-issue. All our regular columnists, road trips, local news, and more. The magazi...

The Hobson January-February 2020  

Summer in the city — escape with The Hobson's special double-issue. All our regular columnists, road trips, local news, and more. The magazi...

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