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november 2020

when town goes country p big plans for parnell p a park poem local news, views & informed opinions


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The November Issue, No. 73 8


the editor’s letter

the heritage


Writer Debra Millar and photographer Jane Ussher left town to see the country, and found a wealth of architectural history

the columnists

12 the village The push to clean up the waters of Waitaramoa Hobson Bay continues; Summerset reveals plans for the Waipapa Valley; the Ōrākei Local Board’s David Wong revs up for our questions; a poem for Robbie’s Park; and more

22 the politician An update fromEpsom MP David Seymour

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

36 the menu Lauraine Jacobs whips up a very more-ish puff pastry tart

38 the magpie This month our shopping bird has gone very high tech

40 the district diary What’s going on around here in November

42 the cryptic Māyā’s puzzle of the month

24 the investment A US market analyst’s warnings make interesting reading for Warren Couillault

24 the arriviste Colin Hogg is happy to shop local, even if it means broadcasting his taste in gin

26 the suburbanist Give that man a prize! Tommy Honey on innovative, award-winning ideas

27 the second act When life gives you Covid lemons, sometimes you just need to make lemonade, as Sandy Burgham finds

28 the sound Andrew Dickens is counting down to the triumphant return of musicals to theatres near us

Early morning stillness at Okahu Bay, captured by Rendell McIntosh


issue 73, november 2020 Editor & Publisher Kirsty Cameron editor@thehobson.co.nz Art Direction & Production Stephen Penny design@thehobson.co.nz Writers this Issue Kirsty Cameron, Debra Millar, Wayne Thompson Justine Williams Sub-editor Dawn Adams

arely into the second week of October stacks of Christmas cards, crackers and wrapping paper were on display at Paper Plus in Remuera. It did feel a bit early, like seeing hot cross buns for sale in February, but it also made me feel pretty happy that we are close to being through and out the other side of troublesome 2020. While we have two more issues to produce before a summer holiday break (our December issue will be in letterboxes from November 21 and our combined January-February edition is published on December 19), we are already thinking ahead to 2021. For our first issue published in the new year, March, we’re going to feature a very special portfolio of locals: The Hobson’s Heroes. And we want your nominations, please! If there’s a local you think is deserving of recognition for community acts, volunteering or general good works, please let us know: email editor@thehobson.co.nz And another reason to look forward to a bright and shiny new year: 2021 is the Year of the Ox on the lunar calendar, which chases away this current Rat year — and we’ve had plenty to be ratty about. An ox is strong and robust: strengths that sound just what the doctor ordered.

Kia kaha,

Columnists Sandy Burgham, Warren Couillault, Andrew Dickens, Hamish Firth, Colin Hogg, Tommy Honey, Lauraine Jacobs, David Seymour, Desley Simpson Photographers Stephen Penny, Jane Ussher Cover A horse homed in suitable style in one of New Zealand’s heritage rural estates, photographed by Jane Ussher as part of a new book, Homesteads. See The Heritage, page 30.

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

THE HOBSON is published 11 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

THE HOBSON is Remuera, Parnell and Ōrākei’s community magazine. We deliver into letterboxes in these neighbourhoods, and copies are also at local libraries, cafés, 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.

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He’s on a roll: our art director, Stephen Penny, featured in the October issue with his newly published book, The 1981 Springbok Tour Protests. His second project to come out of lockdown is Punk Shots: Auckland 1978-80, a photo collection of the noisier parts of the Auckland music scene of the day. Available through Flying Out (flyingout.co.nz), the first print run of 100 copies sold out in less than a week, and a second edition is being snapped up.

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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 chairperson and CEO of Hobson Wealth, one of New Zealand’s leading private wealth advisory groups. He is also the chair of kōura Wealth, a registered KiwiSaver scheme manager. Andrew Dickens (The Sound) is the breakfast host on radio station Gold, and hosts Monday afternoons on Newstalk ZB. 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 Urban design critic Tommy Honey (The Suburbanist) is a qualified architect-turned-academic. The Remuera resident is a regular guest on RNZ National, discussing the built environment. Author, music writer, columnist Colin Hogg (The Arriviste) was born in the deep south. He spent many years living in other parts of Tāmaki Makarau, before relocating to Remuera from Wadestown in recent times. The Hobson’s food editor, Lauraine Jacobs MNZM lives in Remuera. A former food editor for Cuisine and the Listener, she has published several best-selling cookbooks. She is a passionate champion of NZ ingredients. 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 (The Magpie) is an interiors stylist, writer and fashion editor. The Remuera resident has been the editor of Simply You and Simply You Living.

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I’m done with the garden. I’ve thrown in the trowel.

the village

Town &Around TURNING OF THE TIDE Hapua Thrive is one of the community groups active in raising awareness of the highly-contaminated waters in Waitaramoa / Hobson Bay. They were invited to update The Hobson. Work continues to be carried out by Healthy Waters/Watercare to reduce sewage contamination predominantly around the Newmarket and Hapua streams where humans and dogs may contact the water. The Safeswim project has provided a good start to the investigations, however the kayak steps and the streams around Shore Rd Reserve and Bloodworth Park are still too contaminated to be safely used at any time. This will not be resolved before the end of next June. The contamination concentrations are huge, and well over the upper limit where there is a one in 20 chance of illness from contact with the water. For a small number of people, it can be life threatening. We also know that there is usually a delay between the illness and the water event and the causal connection is often missed, so it is important to let your health professional know if you, your children or dogs have tummy upsets, ear, nose, chest or skin infections, and there has been recent contact with the water around the bay. Positively, the investigation areas have been expanded slightly to the west and east of these streams. Although initial results are also terrible, the information is being passed on to Watercare for resolution. Also this summer Tinana/Wilson’s Beach is to become an official ‘safe swim’ beach. The volume of water and flushing from the tide around this beach means that is can be safe to use at times and these times will be made available to the public, via Safeswim’s website, safeswim.org.nz. We have learnt three key things to share. First, that proactive inspection and more regular maintenance — cleaning of the pipes — by Watercare is key to ensure the network is operating to its full capacity. Many faults have been found and it has taken many months to check the reviewed 23 Engineered Overflow Points. Access was very difficult for some and there are many more to be done. Second, the public reporting nasty discharges to Auckland Council or Watercare is very helpful. It means staff have more chance of solving the problem if they can see when the discharge is happening and trace the source. The problem is recorded in the incident register that helps justify investment. Thirdly, the wet weather overflows from capacity constraints still need to be addressed to stop sewage pollution. The Newmarket gully project for example will have a big impact on improving the water quality and its projected completion in 2016 was one of the grounds for granting Watercare’s discharge consent many years ago. This lack of action is concerning and we understand its completion is not dependent on future separation work. The situation is clearly so bad already that it can’t be ignored any longer. Something meaningful, however, has started in the eastern isthmus and the tide has turned. The problems are being exposed, accountabilities questioned and some improvements are being made or at least proposed. There is a greater understanding that there is a large gap between how people thought the infrastructure was working and how it actually is. Many have tried and are trying to work towards solutions. Strong public support, active leadership and investment is needed for timely and significant improvements to be made.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei are working hard on gathering whānau support for a written expression of what healthy water means to them, desired outcomes and actions in their Water Action Plan. Others can do the same and come together to ensure sound practices and solutions are implemented for now and the future for Waitaramoa Hobson Bay. Of course resource is needed but if everyone does their bit well the monetary and environmental costs are reduced. For now, calling the pollution hotline, supporting funding in Auckland Council’s long term plan and targeted rates, planting trees, and talking with your colleagues, family and friends all do make a difference to the health of Waitaramoa Hobson Bay and help turn the tide. Water pollution hotline: 377 3107 watercare.co.nz p

HERITAGE IMPACT TO BE HEARD A developer’s proposal to build a six-storey apartment block behind the art deco façade of the Marriotts’ store building in Parnell Rd has drawn a total of 96 submissions — 37 for, 58 against and one neutral. Of these, 24 submitters want their say at the public hearing of Andra Trading Ltd’s resource consent application for 401-403 Parnell Rd to be held November 30 to December 2 in the Auckland Town Hall. A report on the proposal in The Hobson’s October 2020 issue incorrectly said there were 80 objections. Opposing submitters include Parnell Heritage and the Parnell Community Committee, who say the apartment block plan exceeds the allowable height and scale in the Parnell Special Character Area. On the other hand, Dave Pearson Architects say the developer has mitigated the impact on the character values of the area by keeping the shop front façade and setting the new building back to reduce the apparent height and bulk. — Wayne Thompson p

SUMMERSET SHOWS ITS PLANS Residents of Parnell living close to a planned retirement village are keen to have their say now that Summerset Group has asked Auckland Council to publicly notify the resource consent application. Summerset, one of the country’s biggest operators of retirement complexes, plans to build a retirement village for up to 532 people on former railway land west of Parnell Station, and its resource consent application asks for greater height in parts of the development than is permitted under the Auckland Unitary Plan. Graham Roberts is one local who is concerned about the impact of buildings of three to eight storeys, as described in an “assessment of effects,” released last month by the developer’s planning consultants, Bentley & Co. “This is the first time we have seen what they propose,” says Roberts, who lives near the planned village. “It’s going to be a glass tower to optimise use of their land and not to blend in with Parnell and the Auckland Domain. One of our concerns was that our properties would be in the shadow of the tall buildings.” Roberts says Summerset was talking to residents of Gibraltar Cres, whose homes overlook the Waipapa Stream valley and railway, but “the relationship has been strained” since early January, when he, with others, tried to stop Summerset contractors felling four old oak trees on the site before a request for council protection could be

the hobson 12



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Images showing both the Waipapa Valley site and a render of one of the planned buildings, as shown in Summerset's resource consent application. Auckland Council has confirmed that the developer's request to publicly notify the application will happen this year.

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the village


Parnell Festival of


and over is expected to increase from around 90,000 at present to around 144,350 by 2029, a jump of around 60 per cent in less than a decade. “With Summerset’s high standard of design, building maintenance and landscaping, we are sure the proposed village will be an asset for the Parnell community,” said Smail. “Residents at the proposed village will be frequenting nearby shops and amenities, which together with the jobs created will boost the Parnell economy. Summerset’s investment in the proposed village will exceed $300 million.” Parnell Community Committee chairman Luke Niue says the plan to build three storeys higher than the Unitary Plan’s maximum for the area is a concern, as is the impact on the neighbouring properties’ outlook to the adjacent Domain, and the loss of mature oak trees. “The height and bulk of the development needs a public hearing to understand the issues and to look at ways to mitigate. There are ways to modify the layout so it has less impact on the old villas.” — Wayne Thompson p

MEET YOUR BOARD MEMBER David Wong is enjoying his second term as a member of the Ōrākei Local Board. He and wife Helen have lived in Remuera for more than 20 years — their adult children Samantha, a doctor; software developer Declan; and accountant Davina — all went to local schools. Wong enjoyed a lengthy career in banking, capital management and insurance both here and overseas. He currently works for a subsidiary company of the NZX. He took The Hobson’s questions. Tell us why you stood for election for a second term. It’s important to carry on the work initiated in the previous term, with continued focus on our parks and reserves and ensuring a clean green environment for future generations. And ensuring the Auckland Unitary Plan is followed, and large developments do not overwhelm our landscapes and neighbourhood. Also, forging ahead with the Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr walkway with stages two and four [nearing] completion.

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decided. “The site is a desert without the trees. We needed them as a visual buffer from the concrete buildings,” says Roberts. “We asked Summerset to plant substantial trees for a buffer but haven’t heard back. We are not trying to stop development but it would be better if we sat down and talked.” That opportunity will come given Summerset has requested that the resource consent be publicly notified. The site of 23,716m2 was purchased by Summerset from KiwiRail and the council. The plan is for staged building of 316 units in eight blocks of varying heights. Blocks on higher land near neighbouring buildings off Cheshire St will be four to six storeys, and those nearer the railway will be the tallest, interspersed with those of lesser scale. In a statement to The Hobson, Summerset’s general manager, development, Aaron Smail says it presented a consultation document to nearly 30 interested parties either face-to-face or via Zoom during lockdown, “Not all of our neighbours wanted to see the presentation, and we respected their decision. Out of those that did see the consultation presentation, the majority gave positive feedback. We have also received letters of support from key organisations in the area, including the Auckland Museum, the Parnell Business Association and Auckland Transport,” Smail said. “We believe these meetings and presentations, alongside our specific request that council publicly notifies our resource consent application, shows Summerset’s commitment to a robust and transparent consultation process. Public notification will give stakeholders and interested parties an opportunity to formally comment on any aspect of the resource consent application, including height and size of the buildings. “There are a large number of positives to building a retirement village in Parnell, and in regenerating what is currently a poorly used site around the Parnell train station. Summerset are part funding a new underpass to the north of the station linking the Parnell community with Carlaw Park and beyond. Other plans include upgrading the Waipapa Lane pedestrian access down to the Parnell train station, and developing a green space for public community use at the southern end of the site adjacent to the Waipapa Stream.” Summerset also noted that there is a growing need for more retirement units in Auckland where the population aged 75 years

What board portfolios are you responsible for? I’m responsible for landowner approvals, which involves granting permission to applicants for activities on parks and reserves and public areas under the jurisdiction of the board. This may include events like the Ellerslie Santa Parade, Pink Ribbon motorcycle fundraising rides and triathlons along Tamaki Dr. I also support the planning and consenting lead on consent applications and undertake full analysis on major developments which exceed Unitary Plan thresholds. And I also enjoy being a trust member on the Barfoot & Thompson Stadium (aka East City Community Trust). What are the projects or improvements for your area that you’re especially keen to see come to fruition? One key initiative the current and previous board has been working to plan and execute is the new Meadowbank Community Centre. This project will provide a spacious multi-use and contemporary designed centre for all the community to congregate and participate in various activities, serving all generations of our ward. Did you grow up in Auckland? I’m originally from Wellington, where my parents

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11:10 AM

the village

owned a greengrocers. My education at Wellington College — where I was one of a handful of Asian boys to play rugby — and later Victoria University held me in good stead to follow a career in commerce and banking. What’s your favourite part of Tāmaki Makaurau? The panoramic view of the Kaipara Harbour from the 14th hole at South Head Golf Club is spectacular. In spite of my 22 handicap. What’s something about you that may surprise people? I’m an honorary colonel. I am a keen Rotarian and led a group study exchange to Kentucky in 2012, where I was bestowed the honorary title of ‘colonel’ from the Governor of Kentucky. It was similarly awarded to Muhammad Ali and Elvis Presley. You hold a magic wand. You can use it to make one key project come to life in your city. What would it be? I am currently reading Elon Musk’s biography and share a similar vision for Auckland. There would be no more combusted-fuel vehicles clogging our roads. Instead, electric vehicles and greater networks of electric public buses and trains. How would you spend a day free of responsibility or commitments? Riding my Triumph Bonneville T100 motorcycle up through Wellsford to Matakana for lunch and a quiet beer. p

CHECKING IN ON COVID COPING At the time of going to press with this issue, community transmission of Covid-19 in New Zealand had been stamped out, with the only cases picked up at the border and quarantined. But as international developments show, the Covid crisis is far from over. For registered nurse Alex Steele, working and coping in a frontline care business through Auckland’s Covid-19 lockdowns, it’s a little bit of déjà vu. In 2012, Alex was working as a nurse to the royal family in Saudi Arabia, when the MERS virus struck. While from the same biological family of coronaviruses, MERS-CoV — Middle East Respiratory Syndrome — is not as easily transmitted, but still called for strict public health measures. The Hobson asked Alex what she learned from that experience that is helpful in understanding and managing our response to the current crisis, and in particular, how that applies to her role in elder care as the Auckland team manager of Miranda Smith Homecare. This is your second medical crisis, having worked through MERS before this time of Covid-19. What have you been able to bring to planning for care during the current pandemic, that you learned from dealing with MERS? Although nowhere near the pandemic levels we are seeing with Covid-19, MERS-CoV was and is, still a life threatening respiratory illness predominantly in the Arabian Peninsula. There was acute care setting up of MERS-CoV specific wards, similar to Covid-19 units here in NZ, and healthcare staff received training around the

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the village

positive and armed with evidence-based practices: I exercise regularly, keep in touch with my family and friends in Australia, set clear time boundaries when working from home, and take a deep breath. And a glass of vino on a Friday also helps! While your current work is often concerning the elderly, what advice would you have for anyone experiencing anxiety about Covid-19 and its risk in NZ? I completely understand how anxiety-inducing this situation is – some days I can’t look at the international news. But what I do feel is that we are in one of the safest places in the world right now and if we can all follow those simple guidelines around hand and cough hygiene, appropriate mask use and be conscious of how we act in our communities, we are doing the best thing. I really feel for young people, those trying to study and those who are feeling vulnerable and afraid – it’s the unknown. But they are not alone and what we have seen is a plethora of groups and organisations who are able to support our community during this time – reach out. I personally am grateful to be in New Zealand during this time, although I am unable to visit my family in Tasmania. I think Kiwis are a genuine, kind, helpful and friendly bunch of people and I feel blessed to be taken into the Kiwi fold – I have relied heavily on my husband, friends and colleagues. A real positive has been a strengthening of these relationships and my ties to New Zealand.

Miranda Smith Homecare's Alex Steele at her own home. Photo courtesy of Alex.

illness – what the Center for Disease Control recommendations were, and the appropriate use of PPE and policies and procedures around contact, transmission and isolation requirements. The Covid-19 response here was identical – we knew straight away we had to arm our carers with the knowledge, support and PPE that would allow them to continue with their vital work safely. We also worked closely with our clients and their families to keep them updated on our pandemic response policies and procedures, especially during that initial stage four lockdown which was incredibly distressing, particularly for our more vulnerable older clients who may have had some of their other supports stopped during this time. MERS was brought under control once it was understood it was passed from camels, and we all hope that in the near future, Covid will also be brought under control via a vaccine or by some elimination strategy. Having dealt with such ‘unknowable’ new viruses twice now, how do you remain positive that a cure/ management plan will be found? I think knowledge and credible scientific information is key. There is so much misinformation out there, which can cause anxiety and uncertainty. The CDC and World Health Organization would be my go-to for up-to-date, accurate and evidence-based information. I, like most people I think, found Auckland moving into a second lockdown quite upsetting and uncertain – I feel anxiety around yo-yoing in and out of lockdown levels. However I know we have a duty of care to our clients who are vulnerable and our carers who are potentially placing themselves and their families at risk by continuing their vital work. So I know I need to remain calm,

Do you have any special recommendations to your healthcare staff and their charges about keeping ‘positive’ or looking after mental health as well as physical care during this time? We have regular check-ins and surveys with our carers around changes to practice, health and wellbeing and how they are feeling. We are lucky that we know each of our carers personally and we can phone them and have a chat to see how they and their families are. This was especially important during the lockdowns. Miranda put together care and information packs for both our carers and clients and we focused on basic resilience – regular exercise, good nutrition and sleep. The carers know they can contact us anytime if they need support and our on-call service is available to offer support outside of working hours. Given you’re in the frontline of managing care for vulnerable people, what is your own strategy for coping with this added stress? I have absolutely felt the stress of Covid-19, especially working from home which I found isolating and counter-intuitive to what we do. I know ‘self-care’ gets mentioned frequently, however what worked for me really was simply a routine which included exercise, good food and sleep. I got up at the same time each day, got dressed for work and tried to keep my virtual work day as close to ‘normal’ as possible with things like daily team meetings. Miranda herself is based in the Hawke’s Bay and was a fantastic support to all the managers around the country trying to manage their teams during lockdown as she was unable to travel to each office as she normally does – thank goodness for Zoom! I needed to be on top of our clients’ situations and their needs as well as be fully available to our carers, whether that be a phone chat, delivering PPE or providing additional educational resources and advice. We may have also had a few office Zoom quiz nights with my husband being an excellent bartender! I saw so much chat about weight loss and gain, or learning a new language in lockdown, spring cleaning, redoing the bathroom and I decided that was not going to work for me – I didn’t need any more challenges. I was gentle on myself and focussed on keeping our carers and clients safe and cared for and then allowed myself plenty of down time. p

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ENVIRO FORUM: NOTE THE DATE The Ōrākei Local Board is hosting the inaugural ‘OLB Enviro Forum: 2020 Vision Towards Tomorrow’ on November 1, at the Remuera Golf Club. Described as an opportunity to bring together environmentfocused community groups and individuals to meet and discuss the projects they are working on, with the view of sharing ideas and synergy, it’s the first of what the organisers hope will become an annual forum. Numbers are limited, so please email orakeilocalboard@ aucklandcouncil.govt.nz to reserve a place. More can be found on the board’s Facebook page: facebook.com/orakeiLB Pictured are David Gauld (left) and John La Roche, two local environmental heroes who volunteer on pest control in the Pourewa Valley. John will be one of the speakers at the event.

FLORAL FUNDRAISER During the second lockdown, Parnell residents Rendell McIntosh and Jillian de Beer had a good old garden clean out, making use of the mild weather and the enforced home stay. While this activity wasn’t unusual, the Judges Bay couple potted up redundant clivia, roses and more, erected a sign and set up an honesty box to raise money for Sweet Louise. The result of their industry was $422.50 raised for the charity, which offers support to those living with terminal breast cancer. “There were some great stories,” says McIntosh of his pop-up plant shop. “Three little boys next door raided their money boxes to contribute $8.50 towards some plants too.” p

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the village

A POEM INSPIRED BY ROBBIE’S PARK The final steps in placing the National Erebus Memorial in Parnell’s Dove-Myer Robinson Park is now with the Waitematā Local Board, as landowner. Granted the necessary consents by Heritage New Zealand, the board must now consider the application by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. At the October 20 board meeting (after The Hobson went to press), the lobby group Save Robbie’s Park expected to present an update, noting that it’s 12 months since community feedback was sought. Local feeling is strong about the memorial sculpture, Te Paerangi Ataata - Sky Song. Opponents say it will take up precious green space, that there is no connection between the 1979 tragedy and the park; and that it’s altogether too imposing. Those in favour point to the TEAL/Air New Zealand workshops once being nearby on Tamaki Dr, and say the memorial in a quiet park is a fitting tribute to the 257 lives lost, and to the recovery teams. Adding his voice is Parnell poet Nicholas Gresson, who was moved to write this work. Resolute in Naked Air As though it were a ball I threw the world in the air and caught it. I did not drop it I did not hold a light to the world I just held it, you see we have to. This ball my home for eighty years, and others’ home too, trees, grasses, birds, fallen lost debris with this and that and everything else too. I slowly let the ball down and saw the clouds move, chatted over contacts, human histories, I dressed for life again let laughter mix with wine. And the places before me were once again the flooded plains, burnt pines, waiting to feel the sun again. In the chain of words there’s talk of pasture yields, financial crises, a wanton virus, memorialisation, something of passion to believe in, and still on the agenda talk of a site in Dove-Myer Robinson Park. Well, I’ll put the case of Ruby in Remuera and what she does is cut hair and smile (upheavals all around her) her smile a doorway to laughter, to life the advent of this and that. I’m home inside the hour, younger now, and they’re still talking about Dove-Myer Park how best to ruin it, flatten the daisies, scorn the prayers of savages and saviours. While on a cliff edge in naked air memories and pōhutukawa cling resolute against intrusion. © Nicholas Lyon Gresson 2020 p

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the politician

David Seymour


t the time of writing, we are 10 days from the election. At the time of reading, you’ll know what happened. If I am your former MP, thank you for the faith you put in me for two terms. If you’ve re-elected me, then (regardless of whether you personally voted for me) I am here to serve you for a further three years. In that case, my office will be open at 27 Gillies Ave, behind Westfield and beside Newmarket School, as usual. Whether it’s taxation, regulation, immigration, education, or any other government-related problem, I may be able to help you, your family, or business. It’s my job to have your concerns represented in our political system as well as possible. The office number is 522 7464 and my email is mpepsom@ parliament.govt.nz Regardless of the election outcome, our country will face some familiar challenges. Front of mind will be how we upgrade our public health response. The objectives should be to maintain elimination without resort to lockdowns and safely reconnect with our friends, family, and colleagues around the world. We must do this despite the virus being present in other countries, perhaps for years to come. It comes down to being able to isolate the virus rapidly when inevitable outbreaks occur, without having to restrict human movement in a damaging way. But there will be longer-term problems that still require a solution. Given this column is written when short run politics is up in the air, here is a longer view. Sometimes it is helpful to look at our present in the context of our history. I’d like to take this opportunity to share a thesis about our country. It is that we move in 50-year cycles of golden weather, followed by stagnation and descension, then revolution. 1840 is year zero for all intents and purposes. To my knowledge, we’re unique in the world being a country formed by agreement. It was a revolution of sorts, and a positive one. The problem with the Treaty is not what it says, but how it’s been honoured in the breach then wildly overinterpreted. That we are all equal and have secure possession of our treasures was a wonderful basis for a country. There was golden weather, for some at least, as New Zealand became stupendously wealthy off trade and extractive industries. But it wasn’t sustainable, it led to wars, grievances, and recessions. The next revolution came in the 1890s. Dick Seddon’s Liberals introduced the beginnings of the New Zealand state as we know it. There was income tax (five per cent in 1891), the Old Age Pension (almost nobody lived long enough to get it) and the first successful political party. The Liberals live on after a series of successor parties as the National Party today. There was also social agitation, marking Kate Sheppard as one of the greatest ever New Zealanders.

We roared through the early century, notwithstanding scars on the heart from World War I and influenza, but again it couldn’t last. Micky Savage’s Labour Party took power 19 years after its formation in the mines of the West Coast and gave us the modern welfare state, with comprehensive social insurance from the cradle to the grave. We couldn’t stop a world war, but its aftermath was milk and honey for New Zealand, until it wasn’t. The WWII generation overplayed their hand, personified by Muldoon’s defiance of a changing world. The economic model had to change again and, like the 1890s revolution, economic reform came with greater social inclusion and human rights. It was time to honour the Treaty and recognise gay rights to boot. Through the 90s, productivity actually grew at a respectable rate. By the early 2000s, we had Huffer, the America’s Cup, and New Zealand Music Month. For the first time an identity that didn’t involve the Queen or a black singlet. But we are back in stagnation, perhaps descension, again. Productivity growth is in the tank. There is an emerging culture war about what you’re allowed to say. While we’re a first world nation that punches above its weight in many areas, we have some social indicators where we lead the world in the wrong way. This term of Parliament, we’ll approach four decades since the last revolution began. We are approaching a time when we will have to reinvent ourselves anew. We’ll need to ask why our institutions don’t work as well as they might, and how we can redesign them so they do. If you’re reading this and I’m still your MP, with a little luck I’ve also brought a greatly expanded ACT caucus into Parliament, hearing you and generating better ideas for the next period of policy renewal that our country looks scheduled to have. David Seymour is the MP for Epsom

Paul Goldsmith, National list MP based in Epsom, chose to sit out this issue, with full-on election campaigning underway at the time of the deadline. His regular column will return next month.

the hobson 22

the councillor

Desley Simpson


his month Auckland Council is 10 years old. Yes, it’s been that long since amalgamation saw Auckland Regional Council join with seven territorial authorities to form the so-called Super City. Unprecedented in terms of scale in New Zealand, it was hoped that the new Auckland Council with one mayor, 20 councillors, 21 local boards and what was then six big council-controlled organisations (CCOs) would unite the region, be more efficient and deliver value for the then-approximately 1.4 million ratepayers. A decade on, albeit in the midst of a global public health and financial crisis, I thought I would reflect on some of the highlights. While the Super City’s first decade has not been without its setbacks and controversies, there have certainly been some significant achievements. I’ll start with the obvious one. Has the Super City model actually saved ratepayers any money? I’m pleased to be able to report, yes. Each year since the formation of Auckland Council, we have set savings targets. Up to the end of June, we have actually saved $1.89 billion of cumulative savings. With this being the tenth year, I’m confident that figure will exceed $2b. In essence, even though we have gone from about 1.4 million people in 2010 to about 1.7 million people in 2020, we are operating with approximately $2b less than we would if we had not focused on saving ratepayers’ money. This year alone, our Emergency Budget has a savings target of $120m. Three months into the year we have found $69m of that. They do however tell me that finding cash savings is a bit like weight loss — it starts out being easy but the last few pounds are the hardest. I give you my absolute assurance however, we will meet that $120m target! But what benefits have we seen locally? I’ve loved championing and delivering investment in our ward as both your local board chair previously, and now councillor. When I look back over the 10 years, highlights for me have included a number of new and upgraded sports fields (17 of them 2014-16), a number of new playgrounds and some significant environmental projects, such as improvements to Waiatarua Reserve, New Zealand’s largest urban wetland project. Some of the bigger projects I’ve advocated for and delivered include the Ōrākei Basin perimeter walkway and the Hobson Bay walkway, both well used and loved by a huge number of recreational walkers and runners. I haven’t always seen eye to eye with Auckland Transport, but an absolute highlight for me was one of our smaller transport investments, the installation of a roundabout at Shore Rd and Victoria Avenue. This took a lot of lobbying but has made a huge difference to traffic flow at that intersection, in fact it’s hard to remember how difficult it used to be to turn out of Victoria Ave against the traffic. And while I’m on intersections, the Tamaki Dr/Ngapipi Rd signalised intersection has also proved a success managing some 33,000 car movements each day. The raising of Tamaki Dr up to half

a metre in places where it has flooded so badly in the past finally got the green light. It is currently in construction and a welcome addition having been incorporated into the new separated cyclepath project on the causeway between Ngapipi Rd and Solent St. Whilst I’m sure cyclists will be very pleased once this is completed, the question I’m asked most often about those works on Tamaki Dr is will there still be four vehicle lanes once that project is complete? I’m pleased to be able to report yes (I’ve even heard AT’s CEO confirm that at a community meeting). Another big project happening in the ward is the Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr shared path. We have finally (and that’s a big finally) achieved funding for the last two sections. Stage three is in construction and will join up to the existing section that runs along the rail line next to the Ōrākei Basin. Stage four will begin next year. But not all our regional investment can be seen. More recently we have begun a large project to improve the water quality of Okahu Bay. This includes the upgrade and separation of old combined waste/stomwater pipes improving our below the ground infrastructure and ensuring sewage doesn’t flow into the harbour. But having briefly looked back, now we look forward. Currently we are working on planning for the second decade of Auckland Council. It’s going to be tough, as we juggle the financial constraints Covid-19 continues to challenge us with. Having said that, I’m committed to continue to push for regional investment into our ward. This will include tackling the expensive, but in my opinion necessary, water quality issues that plague Hobson Bay and also working with both the Waitematā and Ōrākei local boards on funding plans that deliver more localised investment. Desley Simpson is the Councillor for Auckland representing the Ōrākei ward

the hobson 23

the investment

the arriviste

Yielding to Speculation

Absolutely, Positively Auckland

recently came across a piece from a well-known and highlyregarded American financial market commentator and author, James Grant, which sounded some worrying alarm bells on the current state of financial markets and monetary settings. Grant is of the view that the US Federal Reserve is causing major structural problems with its prolonged low interest approach and seemingly endless provision of liquidity. Here’s a great quote from him: “Distortion in the cost of credit is the not-so-remote cause of the raging fires at which the Federal Reserve continues to train its gushing liquidity hoses. But the firemen are also the arsonists. It was the Fed’s suppression of borrowing costs, and its predictable willingness to cut short Wall Street’s occasional selling squalls, that compromised the US economy’s financial integrity.” That is to say, the Fed’s relentless provision of liquidity in order to keep borrowing costs low — and in turn keep share and bond market prices high — will end in doom. And I don’t use the word “doom” lightly, as Grant believes the resulting degree of speculation, overvaluation and ‘malinvestment’ in today’s markets as about as bad as it’s ever been. (I am not embarrassed to admit I had to look up the meaning of ‘malinvestment’ which is ‘the action or fact of investing money in an ill-judged or wasteful way’. That’s a great word!) Remember that at present, global interest rates are at their lowest levels in all of history, at least since they began being recorded a few thousand years ago. Grant’s thesis is that all sorts of unnatural distortions to the free-flow operating of the market and economies comes from these low, low interest rate settings, distortions that by definition would otherwise not have occurred and will therefore be very damaging to economies. Essentially the argument is that investors needing income will take increasingly large risks to obtain it with both savers and investors, the latter, lulled by cheap money, being forced to accept worse and worse choices inan attempt just to earn a buck. And we’ve seen this yield compression here in New Zealand too of late: in September, the Auckland Council issued a 30-year bond – the first of its kind and of that term in this country – at an annual interest rate of 2.95 per cent. The issue raised $500 million and I know that investor appetite exceeded $1 billion. That is huge and unprecedented demand for such a long-term, low yield security, but shows just how much demand is out there for yield, and quality yield in particular. Amazingly, at the time I wrote this article, these bonds were trading in the secondary market at 2.50 per cent, meaning the lucky or savvy holders of the bonds have earned a capital gain of about 9 per cent in just a few weeks. My head of investments here at Hobson Wealth tells me such a large gain so quickly has never happened before in the NZ bond market. Apart from the distortions to usually rational decision making, an orderly and free market tends to foster one of the concerning aspects of the ‘zero-interest’ world in which we find ourselves, the seeming hyper-inflation in the cost of retirement. Once upon a time not that long ago, $1m in the retirement account would generate between $50,000 and $80,000 per annum in income from which the retiree could live a happy life. Now that $1m might get you $10,000 if you’re lucky! What does this income shortfall do to the retiree and the market? They will chase yield as mentioned earlier, and take more and more risk to get that yield. So, when an expert like Grant warns that today’s markets are at one of the most dangerous levels of speculation in history, I think we should all pay attention. I’m not saying a correction or crash is imminent, just to exercise caution. — Warren Couillault

uckland is currently top of the New Zealand gloom charts as the most pessimistic region in the country, overtaking Otago where, for once, they might be pleased to hear Auckland’s beating them at something. But I can’t say I’ve been feeling the pessimism out there on the streets of my particular suburb where, if anything, there’s a pervasive chirpiness in the air. Or is that just the sparrows? There are certainly a lot of those in Remuera. But not a lot of gloom. And I only mention the pessimism survey as an example of yet another of the silly surveys that seem to be enjoying a boom in the hands of a careless and headline-hungry media. Caught, where we all still are, in the midst of an endlessly-challenging year, I would have thought it’s not the time to consider how empty the glass is but rather how full it might shortly be. Paint me rose pink and call me a foolish optimist if you will, but I insist that things are going to get better and I’m hanging out for the results of the next happiness survey, if there is such a thing of course, which I doubt. Meantime, we can all be doing our bit to move things in an upward direction. My big impulse at the moment is to try and shop local which, in a place like Remuera, is perfectly possible. Almost all human needs seem to be catered for, sometimes within walking distance. There’s a proper-sized village just up the road from our front door and we’re trying to work our way through every retail option on offer, except perhaps the school uniform shop and the funeral director. And we often go back to the places we like. Though there is a liquor store I won’t be going back to, and thank goodness there’s a choice of outlets. It was all about a bag – a bag ungiven when I popped in for a bottle of gin. Not a crime, of course, but I didn’t want to have to walk home through the village with my fondness for strong spirits on full and public display. Neither did I want to advertise my rather cheap tastes in said strong spirit, tending, as I do, to buy what’s on special. This one was a large bottle. I asked for a bag at the counter. “No,” said the man, interrupting the phone call he’d been engaged in throughout my visit. “You’ve got bags under there,” I said to him. “I can see them.” “Too small,” he said and went back to his phone friend, leaving me to walk out onto the street, sun glinting off my great big, boldly-labelled bottle of gin. It was such a wrenching experience, that by the time I got home I really needed the drink. Back in the village a few days later, I tried a massage place, hoping someone in there might have a cure for the stiff neck I’d been suffering for several months in near-silence. The guy in the place had fingers so strong he could have pried open safe doors. When I came back out after my massage, I felt an inch taller and as weak as a baby. It was marvellous and I barely made it home. When I’ve got my strength back, I’ll check out the village’s other massage place, though all this village support might kill me. Meantime, spring is buffeting us towards what is predicted to be an even longer and hotter summer than perhaps ever before in Auckland. I can’t wait to bake and I’m already considering my summer wardrobe. I’m terribly out of practice with decent weather after our recently-completed six years in Wellington failed to produce a single season that seemed at all like summer, though I might have blinked and missed it. To be fair, on the good side of the weather ledger, Wellington has gifted me with a nonchalance towards gusty weather that means even the windiest Auckland day blows by barely noticed. It’s a wonderful thing and I’ll always be grateful to the capital for it. — Colin Hogg



the plan

Axing the RMA, Will it Help?


he much-maligned Resource Management Act 1991 (and all the subsequent amendments) looks set for the chopping block. Blamed for everything, the nearly 30-year-old rule book has finally found a common voice — National were the first to call for its demise (gone by lunchtime) and Labour followed suit. It is proposed to replace it with two new acts. Firstly, a Natural and Built Environments Act which would streamline the planning process by reducing the number of plans from over 100 to just 14. Then, a Strategic Planning Act which would set long-term plans for growth and ensure that all the other related planning laws, like the Local Government Act, the Land Transport Management Act and the Climate Change Response Act, were integrated. All of this is designed to have an outcomes-based approach rather than an effects-based approach. ‘Overly restrictive planning rules’ have been blamed for its demise. A lack of housing and affordable housing are other arrows to the heart. The strange thing is that the RMA does not set planning rules — council officers in local councils do and then they write the definitions, and they interpret them. And all of that malarky and ‘we know best’ attitude just means getting anything done becomes costly and time consuming. The question has to be asked – what problem are we actually trying to solve? In short, most people agree that resource consents cost too much, take too long and can be uncertain as to outcome. The Unitary Plan, conceived under the RMA, shows that rules can be written that are simple and provide for housing choice. However, delays and the over-analysis of effects that do not exist and a lack of coordination between CCOs like Watercare and Auckland Transport will not change just because the RMA is thrown out. What we need is a mindset change by way of legislative enabling. Let me tell you what we deal with daily, by way of a recent example. We got resource consent for nine terraced houses. A council engineer advised our rather standard stormwater solution was not valid. After two weeks of to and fro, and at great cost, we had to push this up the chain to management — who took one look at the plan and signed it off. We then lodged the subdivision

consent, the engineering approval and lastly, the building consent. At each juncture, a different engineer wanted a different stormwater result. We are talking about two detention tanks and a pipe – standard fittings. This is not an unusual experience. And this is not the RMA or the building code or any other piece of paper – the problem is the administration. If you are changing the RMA, you better make sure you change the mindset of the people administering it. Here’s what needs to changed: must be mandated to provide for • Councils intensification. That includes enabling infrastructure. nationwide must have standard engineering • Councils designs and allow specific peer-reviewed design. must respond in a timely way to growth • Councils requirements and not constrain development. must be allowed to issue bonds for • Councils infrastructure that are paid back over time through development contributions, which are set fairly.

must proactively use the Local Government • Council Act to ensure that infrastructure is not an impediment.

should be made by readily available • Decisions commissioners who have experience in development. must speed up their response times and use • Councils an evidence-based approach. local government election cycles (rather • Four-year than the current three). • And most importantly, the attitude of councils. No system will ever be perfect but until you define the problems you cannot provide the solution. I don’t think the RMA is the reason we have the issues we do. Rather, it is a pervasive ‘gatekeeper’ mindset. The crux is that councils have to work for us, and not the other way round. I take solace from Winston Churchill: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Some days it feels like hell, but what choice do we have? — Hamish Firth

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

the hobson 25

the suburbanist

The Zeitgeist Awards


he American business magazine, Fast Company, turns 25 this year. It focused from the start on technology and innovation. It launched its website the same year it published its first print issue and it is now known more for its pixels than its platens, its code than its codex. More than this, it has also become a bellwether for the overlap between business, technology and social change. This is best seen not through its content – which is leading-edge – but through an annual competition for new ideas, the ‘Innovation by Design Awards’. This year, thousands entered, 500 were ‘honoured’ and there were winners in 29 categories. It is within these categories, that evolve over the years, that the zeitgeist lies hidden. There are those you’d expect from a technology/business-oriented publication – finance, products, user experience and workplace – that have been in the awards for some years. But each year new categories emerge, often in the design world (this year, not ‘data’, but ‘data design’) but more recently there has been a focus on wellness and sustainability – both categories in their own right, along with ‘social good’, ‘health’ and ‘mobility’. Within the winners of these broad categories can be seen a reflection of 2020, the issues of global concern and the innovations to address them. Supernatural – winner of ‘apps and games’ – is a VR fitness app that lets you work-out in virtual locations from around the world; you can sweat in an Ethiopian volcano or fly down a Swiss alp. Perfect for a continuing Covid world where gyms and international travel are both out of favour. Clove won the fashion and beauty award for a slip-on, fluid-repellent shoe designed for health care workers. The Resolution Medical Lattice Swab, winner of the health category, is a nasopharyngeal swab used for Covid-19 testing. A US company, Carbon and Resolution Medical, designed, manufactured, and launched the new swab featuring a lattice tip in less than three weeks, thanks to 3D-printing techniques and are now scaling up to produce up to a million

swabs a week. Cura (social good) is an intensive care unit for Covid-19 patients made from converted shipping containers. The workplace winner was ZShield Flex, a face shield with an adjustable neck mount that makes is easier for service industry workers to work for hours at a time in comfort. But 2020 is not only about Covid-19. Scandinavian architects Sn0hetta took out the sustainability award with a net energy positive building in Norway that produces twice as much electricity as it consumes. Sproute, winner of mobility, is a navigation app that ignores the shortest route in favour of parameters of your choosing – the best-lit streets, perhaps, or the most interesting landmarks: perfect for those who want to take time not try and beat it. The sports and recreation award went to Checkerspot and their WNDR Alpine Intention 110, a ski made of an algae-based composite that significantly reduces the petrochemicals in its manufacture. People with disabilities might welcome Dots (students section), a body-gesture recognition system that allows you to customise your own interface; or the Logitech G Adaptive Gaming Kit, which has an array of buttons and triggers to make it easier to play video games. The South Morning China Post had the best graphic design with its use of infographics, illustrations, maps and animations to tell the story of Hong Kong’s anti-government protests. And my favourite – in this challenging year – is the winner of the best design Asia-Pacific award. It went to the BadGood app, created by Raymond McKay and Laura Cibilich, the married cofounders of New Zealand-based creative agency RUN, and computer scientist Suranga Nanayakkara. It lets you shake, scream or type your frustrations into your phone to relieve stress. Good for home-schooling, leaving your face mask at home, or missing a deadline. — Tommy Honey

David Seymour MP for Epsom

For an appointment, please contact me on 09 522 7464 or mpepsom@parliament.govt.nz

Epsom Electorate Office Level 2, 27 Gillies Avenue, Newmarket the hobson 26

Promoted by David Seymour, MP for Epsom, 27 Gillies Avenue, Newmarket

the second act

Attitude Wins end fully catered tours sold out, and he’s now on to luxury bike tours. He is also running a side hustle painting baches, where he simultaneously gets to travel and enjoy the sunshine. Meanwhile my sister, who likes to be busy and industrious, immediately signed up for training to be a Healthline worker, as did many others in the travel industry, fielding calls from worried citizens. She found the whole thing fascinating, and moved on to working for the Electoral Commisison. Below her pay grade? Who cares! She is more interested in the realisation that at 58 and after 40 years in the same industry, she does have extraordinarily transferrable skills. She has never once mentioned ageism in employment and due to her happy disposition and willingness to roll up her sleeves, she is also now working two days a week at my husband’s television production company as an assistant. The team loves having a mature person with initiative and wisdom who also has skills in logistics and operations. Because she is curious and willing to learn, a new career in production management may be calling. When I asked her and her husband how they are feeling about being in a second act by default, they only report upsides. She has a sense of liberation – having always served her clients with 100 per cent care and loyalty, she now gets evenings and weekends to herself. He reflects on how he has been released from endless supplier meetings and the seminars that often occurred after business hours. “It turns out that most of the time I might have been chasing my own tail,” he told me. “Now I get to go to the gym at a reasonable hour and start work at 10. Whether I am working from the boot of a car or a bach I am painting, no one cares.” And they are finally getting to use a stack of free luxury weekends at lodges around New Zealand — prizes won for industry excellence that they rarely had the free time to take up. Of course I understand the devastating impact of Covid-19. But when things are taken out of your control, it is good to remember that the only thing you have mastery over is the way you handle a situation. And there can be a renewed sense of optimism to be found within that. — Sandy Burgham

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the hobson 27

AKL6394-01 - August 2020


may be Pollyanna searching for silver linings in a Covid cloud but I am noticing reinventions by default. Indeed, if you or your business have not been impacted by coronavirus, you are either delusional or extremely privileged. For most of us, there has been some impact, forcing a different way of working at the least. But aside from essential workers in supermarkets and the like actually being appreciated, I am observing a few people, who despite being radically impacted financially, have emerged in a good space. They are members of my own family and were in the first sector decimated – the travel industry. We are grafters in my family, with little tolerance to negativity or whining, preferring to just get on with things. One of my sisters is particularly good at being resourceful and frugal, a trait she inherited from my father who, in his 70s, famously did Japan on $20 a day, including a beer. I have always thought she was born in the wrong era and would have thrived having to ‘make do’ in the Depression. Put it this way, she reveled in making jam through the autumn lockdown, using fruit she foraged on her daily run. She and her husband have run a flourishing travel business for years, sending many wealthy clients on luxury holidays and taking calls 24/7 when luggage didn’t appear on carousels in remote corners of the globe. Suddenly, the whole thing unravelled. While they were initially swamped with clients seeking refunds and repatriating their adult children, business was soon reduced to a trickle. Like others, the first lockdown brought some relief with government support and good weather, but soon they had to face the music. They wasted no time responding to their circumstances. After downscaling their business premises and reluctantly reducing head count, they got on with the business of financial survival with a certain gusto. Expert in outbound luxury holiday and high-end business travel, my brother-in-law figured that clients would still want to get out and enjoy a holiday. So he flew to Queenstown and visited tour operators who collectively were facing financial ruin. Soon he had put together package deals using as many of these local suppliers as he could. Within a few weeks, four Queenstown/Fiordland high-

the sound

Life is a Cabaret, old chum!


Lyndon Katene

Mormon. The irreverent and hilarious musical created by the have recently returned to the demi-monde of breakfast radio makers of South Park lampoons The Church of Jesus Christ of after a gap of nearly a decade. I am now the host of the 6-9am the Latter-day Saints while somehow reaffirming that faith is a show on Gold 105.4. A power-pop rock station playing the good thing. It was brilliant and often rightly described as the best greatest hits of the 70s and 80s. musical of our day. Interestingly I am also still the Monday afternoon and It was a big set, it was a big international cast. Hotels were occasional fill-in host on Newstalk ZB. Welcome to the post-Covid full of the cast and crew. But within days it was all over and the media world where survival favours the people who can do two players had to go home. I hate to think of the expense, and the jobs for the price of one. insurance bill. It also broke my 24-year-old son’s heart. He had Weekdays has now seen a return to waking at 4am, something tickets for the show the day after cancellation. He’s a musicals I’ve discovered gets harder the older you get. There’s an old saying nut and it’s rubbed off on us all. I blame the parents for exposing that says nothing good happens after midnight. I can tell you that him to far too many Disney sing-alongs as a child. not a whole lot good happens before 5am either. His passion for Joseph and Most days at 4.15am will see the Amazing Technicolour me slamming the car into cruise Dreamcoat was so great that at control and chug-a-lugging water the age of four, he convinced his while floating down the motorway preschool to put on a production. towards town with my eyes Of course he was Joseph, watering and my brain churning because he already knew all the along thinking why, why, why. words after bingeing on Donny But on the first day of October, Osmond’s production. (Check it something happened that roused out, it’s great.) me from my self-pitying routine. Both my boys also formed a As I looked to the city, I noticed powerful love for Les Misérables that the Sky Tower was lit vivid after the movie with Hugh red. A red that pulsated. It was Jackman. This despite Russell quite a sight to see the giant Sky Crowe’s clunky Inspector Javert. Tower throbbing red and piercing The love was so much that two the blackened night sky. I had no days after arriving in London five idea why and my guesses are far years ago, the jet-lagged Dickens too livid to reveal. family struggled to the West End At work I discovered an email to watch the production — to find from arts sector publicist Sandra a Javert who sang beautifully but Roberts. She told me that around never convinced as a character, the world iconic entertainment which forced us to reassess venues were being illuminated Russell. red to highlight the damage the We also went to the Amici pandemic has done to the live Trust staging of Les Mis last year. entertainment sector. No mass Frankly it was better than the gatherings. No events. In New West End version we saw. And Zealand buildings lit included this from semi-professionals places like Hamilton’s Founders in Auckland. We were all so Theatre and the Isaac Theatre Can't take my eyes off you . . . hit musical Jersey Boys is the story of the Four Seasons. It's booked for the Civic for a season from next April. impressed. Royal in Christchurch. It also But the greatest heartbreak included rugby stadiums like FMG for my musical-loving family is around the mega hit, Hamilton. in Hamilton, and many others. Both my boys have You ubed and Spotified the musical so much Which all reminds how big the Covid crisis has been to so that they know every word. This is impressive when you see how many people. From the performers like the actors and musicians, many words there are and how fast they are rapped. As a family, and sports people. To all the ancillary staff — the directors and we swore to attend the Melbourne production which was to open backstage crew, sound people, etc. The ushers, the owners of this year. Well, we all know Melbourne and 2020 doesn’t mix. cafes on the main streets who served the pre-show meals. The Covid-19 has done terrible things to the entertainment taxi drivers and the buses that delivered the punters. industry. There is nothing anyone can really do other than And of course the publicists, like Sandra. All her work basically furloughing the facilities and hoping that the workers can return ceased, plunging her and many others into a forced semiat the end of this crisis. But trust us. We’re there and eagerly retirement. Poor old Skip, as she’s known, spent time frantically waiting. The venues, the buzz, the quiet as the light goes down promoting the Amici Trust season of the musical Mary Poppins. and the roar as the lights go up. The journey and the resolution. Only to frantically promote its postponement and then its reTheatre has existed since the dawn of time. This has not been emergence. the end but a pause before a new imagining. Bring on Covid: The So let’s talk musical theatre. Just days before Lockdown 1.0, Musical. The show must always go on. — Andrew Dickens I was lucky enough to go to the opening night of The Book Of

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The Acland family's Mount Peel Station, Canterbury. The first high-country farm settled in the area, it was founded in 1856 by friends John Barton Arundel Acland and Charles George Tripp, a year after they migrated from the UK. Within two years they were sending their first wool clip to London, not long after, they married sisters and split their holdings into four stations. Acland built his 20-room homestead on Mount Peel between 1865 and 1867.

the heritage

A Grand Tour A record of some of New Zealand's grandest country estates is captured in a new book celebrating both the architecture and stories of the houses

With many of Remuera and Parnell’s earliest grand houses now only remembered in photos and archives, a new book, Homesteads: The Story of New Zealand’s Grand Country Houses celebrates colonial-era houses that are still standing, albeit beyond the city limits. The work of writer Debra Millar and photographer Jane Ussher, Homesteads records the months they spent touring the country capturing both the architecture, interiors and the stories of rural homes, some dating from the 1860s. The work is a testament to both the architectural riches and the historical significance of these remarkable edifices, all of them still lived in today, as author Debra Millar recounts here for The Hobson.


emote rural homesteads are some of the most substantial houses ever built in this country and were rooted in English architectural traditions, much like the large town houses of those who prospered in colonial New Zealand. Today, many of these impressive properties continue to house fifth- and sixth-generation descendants of the station founder, and form the heart of a farm that is still large by today’s standards, although generally a fraction of its original acreage. For their present-day occupants, the demands of living in and maintaining such massive houses must seem overwhelming at times. Annual maintenance budgets are large, but even then work often has to be staged to make it affordable and tasks on lengthy ‘to-do’ lists require constant reprioritising. Like their Remuera and Parnell counterparts, these mansions were completed when domestic labour was plentiful and affordable. At Merchiston homestead in Rangitīkei two men were once employed full-time just to cut firewood to fuel the 23 fireplaces, all of them built to a different design. And on Longbeach Estate near Ashburton, where a workforce of up to 150 was housed, farm labourers would assist with household tasks between harvests.

At other homesteads, full-time gardeners tended expansive grounds, often planted with rare exotic species that were imported by pioneering station owners intent on creating shelter as well as a reminder of the English countryside they had left behind. Their legacy – sprawling park-like gardens that are as celebrated as the homesteads themselves – are mostly maintained these days with just minimal paid help. In the 19th and early 20th centuries station homesteads fulfilled myriad functions — family home, accommodation for domestic staff, a setting for social gatherings, and the administration centre for the farm — but their amenities were similar to those found in large town houses. A library, generous drawing room, often a ballroom, and outside croquet lawns and tennis courts for weekend parties, were features of many rural properties. It was not unusual for an architect from a main centre to be commissioned to design these large rural homes, so similar stylistic influences can be found in a central town house and a house in a remote rural location designed by the same architect. Occasionally, an architect would also have input into the design of outlying buildings such as utility buildings, stables and a carriage house, especially on properties where horses were used for sporting pursuits such as hunting and racing. q

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- built in 1900. The original stables, now restored, feature stalls with turned Horses are still held — and housed — in high regard at Pukemarama Station, Manawatu, kauri balustrades and totara cobbles. Cam and Rachel McKelvie and their children are the fourth- and fifth-generation of McKelvies to live at Pukemarama. While Cam's great-grandather bred and raced horses, polo is a multi-generational passion — the station has hosted the Savile Cup national championship.

the heritage

Even the most everyday fittings can tell a story. Remote Puketiti Station on the East Coast belonged to the Williams family. Arnold Williams extended the house in the 1930s when he married and acquired three stepsons: a new bathroom included a basin for each boy. All three served in WWII but only one, Des, survived. Des's godson, Dan Russell, is the present owner, and the basins remain in memory. Below, Oruawharo, Hawke's Bay. Abandoned, the 1879 homestead was saved from potential demolition when it was bought by Aucklanders Peter and Dianne Harris, who have undertaken extensive restoration over 20 years. The spectacular rimu ceiling in the ballroom was part of an 1898 addition.

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the heritage


n other cases, a series of alterations might add to a humble cottage over a number of years, rendering it almost unrecognisable. As farming returns improved and station owners prospered, more elaborate additions would be commissioned to add to a homestead’s grandeur. At Gwavas Garden in Hawke’s Bay, a second-storey and tower, designed by the leading architect Charles Natusch, was added to the homestead 10 years after its completion in 1890. Nearby, at Oruawharo homestead, which was completed in 1879, a grand ballroom with an ornate carved rimu ceiling was part of a two-storey wing added in 1898. Even more so than in town, fire was a constant threat, but a homestead that succumbed to fire would often be rebuilt on a more impressive scale and with extra amenities. Materials used in each homestead’s construction reflected its location, with timber used in the North Island where it was plentiful, and brick and stone more common in the south. At homesteads such as Mount Peel, in the Canterbury high country, bricks were made from local clay and fired on site due to the difficulties of transporting building materials to such a remote location. In some homesteads, Māori decorative influences are the result of local iwi being engaged to carve staircases and internal finishes. Over time, the southern hemisphere climate played a part in their design, with wide verandahs affording shade in summer, just as they did on city villas. Design influences and modern conveniences made their way from town into the country, too. At Pukemarama Station in Manawatū, the country villa completed in 1900 would look just as at home in Remuera – until you discover the stable block, built at the same time as the house. Here, ornately turned kauri stalls demonstrate the value placed on horses by James McKelvie, who founded the station. He would no doubt be pleased that the current owners, Cam and Rachel McKelvie, have recently restored the historic stables, which are now used by their children, fifth-generation descendants of James. Despite their ongoing demands, New Zealanders can feel reassured that many important homesteads are in the care of present-day owners committed to maintaining them as a valued part of our built heritage. — Debra Millar

Homesteads: The Story of New Zealand’s Grand Country Houses, text by Debra Millar, photography by Jane Ussher, Point Publishing. RRP$75, available now at good booksellers.

Built between 1906 and 1908, Merchiston Station, Rangitikei, was the ambitious dream home of Edith Hammond, whose brother, James McKelvie, was another station owner (Pukemarama, previous page). The double-height hall, above, is at the centre of the house — the banisters and columns, and - Hauiti carvers. Edith's greatthe wordwork in the billliard room, right, is believed to be by local Ngati grandson and his family live in the Category 1 heritage-listed homestead today.

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the menu

Puff Magic


any restaurateurs tell me that the most important thing they consider when writing their menus is the language that’s used to describe their food. For years, anything that mentioned pastry or cheese has been sure to be a big seller as those are two ingredients that are perennially popular. Recently it has become fashionable in sophisticated places to become rather minimal when writing a description of the food, so when you read something like “potato | ancient grains | clams” you really have no idea that this will be a risotto-like dish made with a combination of heirloom grains like amaranth, millet, kamut wheat, freekeh, farro, barley and more, cooked slowly in a savoury broth with cubes of delicious agria potato and freshly opened clams, airfreighted directly to the restaurant from Cloudy Bay in Marlborough, and added near the end of the cooking time. It will of course be an enjoyable surprise but for my money I prefer a more fulsome description before I order. There’s no such simplicity in most recipes as every ingredient is listed in the order the cook will use them, and a careful reading of the method should give a pretty accurate idea of how long or how difficult the task ahead is. As the quality and

consistency of products improve there are many things that make cooking easier and to save on the precious time we are constantly reminded we do not have much of. Packaged breadcrumbs, excellent chicken, fish or beef stock, prepared vegetables, frozen berries and fruits, precooked pasta, pizza bases, pastry and more can be real time savers for busy people. When I finished my London Cordon Bleu training, I would always make my own buttery pastry, but now we have the choice of several super pastry options to buy that take the tedium out of baking. The quality of pastry is important and many a pie, tart or dessert can be totally ruined if the pastry is thick, stodgy or soggy. Regardless of how delicious the filling in any tart, it is the pastry that makes or breaks the tart’s success. Everybody wants pastry that’s crisp and light, and has a buttery flavour. Filo is an old time favourite, and you can use either butter or olive oil to brush between the layers but success only comes when the cook works at speed, as the layers crack quickly when exposed to air. Either butter or olive oil need to be heated so they thin out and can be spread easily and lightly with a pastry brush, and the filo pastry must be covered with a clean damp cloth while working with it as it dries out really quickly.

the hobson 36

Excellent buttery flaky puff pastry can be found in the supermarket freezer. It is sometimes sold in rectangular sheets already pre-cut, which can be annoying when you want to bake in a round tart tin. My favourite pastry is the prerolled frozen flaky puff pastry made by Paneton, available in our local stores. Here’s a tip. If you have leftover pastry, never scrunch it up into a ball. Layer all the pieces of pastry on top of each other and gently roll them together. You will maintain that lovely layered effect puff pastry produces when cooked. This month’s recipe is perfect as the entertaining season arrives. The tart combines those two best-selling items from restaurant menus: cheese and pastry. I used Paneton’s Ready to Use Flaky Puff Pastry but this tart is also wonderful when made with about 10 layers of filo, carefully brushed with oil or butter. — Lauraine Jacobs

Potato, Fennel, Olive and Cheese Tart 500g pre-rolled flaky puff pastry (or filo pastry) 4 medium potatoes (Red Rascal or Agria) 2 medium fennel bulbs 3 tbsp olive oil 1 egg, beaten well 150g mozzarella cheese 3 tbsp grated parmesan 3 tbsp pitted olives (Salvagno) 2 tbsp chopped herbs

Allow to cool.

Line a 30cm x 20cm tart tin with the pastry and heat the oven to 220°C.

Bake the tart until everything is golden and aromatic, about 25 minutes. Allow to stand for at least 10-15 minutes before serving.

Slice the potatoes thinly using a mandolin or very sharp knife, add salt and steam with a little salt over boiling water until tender. Allow to cool. Slice the fennel, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add, stirring occasionally until it is soft and golden.

Christmas Foodkit Everything you need for the perfect three-course Christmas feast. Delivered or pick up in-store.


Brush the pastry with the beaten egg. Layer the cooked fennel into the tart case, spreading it evenly. Cover with potato slices. Cut the mozzarella into slices and lay these on top of the potatoes. Scatter the top with the olives and finely chopped herbs (dill, parsley etc), adding some freshly ground black pepper and the grated cheese.

Serves 6, or can be cut into small squares to accompany drinks.

for it all






the magpie

Techno Probe The Magpie is switched on and tuned in to shiny new gadgets

1. The Sonos Arc speaker is designed to enhance your TV watching and it’s as pleasing on the eye as it is on the ear. Designed with the help of Oscarwinning sound engineers to emphasise the human voice, it will lessen the “what did he say?” couch commentary. $1599, sonos.com/en-nz 2. A lack of shut eye hits us all from time-to-time. The Dodow is a natty little device designed to soothe your racing mind and slow your breathing. It moves you gently into the Land of Nod by cycling your breathing to a soft light pulsing onto the ceiling, easing you to sleep or back into nigh-nighs. $70 from shop.edensleep.co.nz 3. The Magpie could take to this like a duck to water. So cool, so good-looking, the Fillup holds two litres of water and keeps it cool. BPA-free, eco-friendly, and so much nicer than those nasty plastic bottles. Cup included, it’s around $212 plus shipping from fluidstance.com 4. Feast your eyes on The Frame by Samsung. The technology gives a gorgeous viewing experience and the art-style frame means it can hang elegantly or stand on its tripod. Available

shizzle. Super compact and unbelievably lightweight, this little gem approaches the technology of hair drying differently as you might expect, but absolutely no less effectively. If you can, you should. Available in three colours, $599, dyson.co.nz

in three timber frame finishes, models start from $1161. harveynorman.co.nz 5. You’ll never be locked out of the nest again with this natty little Bluetooth, wall-mounted Key Safe by Masterlock. Not a totally new concept, but now you can open your smart lock with your phone, or set temporary codes for tradies or visitors, and it’s all able to be monitored. $252, from bunnings.co.nz

9. The Salter Cook Bluetooth Recipe Thermometer allows you or the household chef to not only monitor what’s in the oven via a phone app it also suggests perfect pre-set temperatures for meat, confectionery, preserves and more. $99.99 from chefscomplements.co.nz

6. Bose Sleepbuds are designed specifically to sit comfortably in the ear and cancel out the noise of neighbours or snoring bedpals. There’s an accompanying app to deliver relaxing sounds, or you can simply utilise the noise-masking technology. You can also set a personalised wake up. $419.95, bose.co.nz

10. Drones go high, GoPro keeps up with your on-ground activities. GoPro Hero9 Black has what the makers refer to as a ‘beastly’ 23.6mp sensor for brilliant resolution video and stills. With more battery life than previous models, a new front display, rear touch screen and waterproof to 5m, this thing is coming with you! $729.99, noelleeming.co.nz

7. Now you see what I see with the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom Drone. Epic zoom and resolution and over 30 minutes in flying time, so forget about those usual family holiday snaps and get the real lie of the land. So much fun, incredible results. $3599 from dronedepot.co.nz

11. Logitech G (for gaming) G733 Lightspeed Wireless Gaming Headphones keep gamers looking cool, sounding sharp and the memory foam ensures comfort while keeping match fit. $279.90, logitech.com/en-nz

8. While a touch on the expensive side, the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer is the




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the hobson 39

the district diary

November 2020 Dates and events correct at the time of going to press, but please do check for changes due to any restrictions on gatherings 1 You need to register to attend the Ōrākei Local Board’s inaugural OLB Enviro Forum: 2020 Vision Towards Tomorrow, to be held at the Remuera Golf Club. See the board’s Facebook page or email orakeilocalboard@ aucklandcouncil.govt.nz The Ladies’ Litera-Tea will fill you with womanly words, wisdom, wit and cake. An eclectic mix of female authors, poets, politicians and more to entertain and inspire you. Raye Freedman Arts Centre at EGGS, 1-5.30pm, womensbookshop.co.nz for tickets 6 The Meadowbank Night Market has food trucks, artworks, jewellery, produce and more, as well as live music and entertainment for the whole family. Meadowbank Shopping Centre, cnr St Johns Rd and Gerard Way, 4-8.30pm 7-8 It’s the annual Great Auckland Bargain Book Sale, which raises money for projects by the Tāmaki Lions Club, the East City Community Trust and local sports clubs. BYO bag or box and stock up on books, puzzles, records. Free entry, Barfoot & Thompson Stadium, 203 Kohimarama Rd, Sat 9am-11pm, Sun 7am-3pm 14 Join the Pink Ribbon Walk to celebrate breast cancer survivors, remember those we have lost, and raise awareness and funds towards the work of the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation. Don your pinkest outfit and gather at the Domain from 2.15pm. Info and registrations at pinkribbonwalk.co.nz Feeling fit? Run on down to the one-day popup market for Hard Tail fitness clothing at St Heliers Church & Community Centre, 100 St Heliers Bay Rd, 12-2pm StarJam’s End of Year Concert celebrates

Into the Sounds, by Guy Harkness. It's one of the works available for purchase at Grammar's fundraising Art House Tour, November 2021.

the spectacular talents of young Kiwis with disabilities as they put on an evening of entertainment that’s sure to inspire. Victory Convention Centre, 98 Beaumont St, Freemans Bay, 5pm-8pm, tickets from eventfinda.co.nz 15 The Parnell Festival of Roses is in its 26th year, and the family-friendly festival amongst the blooms has plenty to offer with kids' activities, music, food and craft stalls. Dove-Myer Robinson Park, Gladstone Rd, 11.30am-4pm 20 Enjoy art and beautiful homes on the Auckland Grammar School Foundation Trust Art House Tour. The fundraiser opens with an auction and soirée tonight at the school, and continues tomorrow, when eight beautiful homes, stocked with art to admire and purchase, open up to visitors. Tickets from community.ags.school.nz/arthousetour2020

21 Bring a picnic blanket and enjoy the outdoor setting of Tu Meke Tamariki!, an interactive reading by author Malcolm Clarke of his award-winning book, Tu Meke Tūī! Cornwall Park, 11am-12pm, outside the Huia Lodge Discovery Hub, free Chill out, unwind and enjoy a day of homegrown music and entertainment, great food, art and craft stalls and more, at the Grey Lynn Park Festival 2020. Grosvenor St, 10am-6pm, free entry 22 Auckland Transport will have a team of qualified instructors at Eden Park from 10am2pm to work alongside parents helping kids #learn2ride as part of the Kids Learn 2 Ride Summer Series. Drop in any time during the session, free

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the cryptic by māyā

Set by Māyā. Answers will appear in our next issue, December 2020. Can’t wait, or need help? Visit https://thehobsoncrossword.wordpress.com

ACROSS 1 Was sweet, but is now prime (9) 9 Smear around scented oil on chest (6) 10 Trousers used to redirect fluid? (9) 11 Sticks to English county (6) 12 Start game of pool quickly - or make a meal of it? (9) 13 Aimless decision by referee? (2-4) 17 Heard son earlier (3) 19 Care for railway and greenhouse (7) 20 Spar from wreck of steel whaler’s hull (7) 21 Heard Cockney cast as First Lady (3) 23 Rang for ma, starts off to get nanny (6) 27 Put off backing over quaint interior, and passed it on (9) 28 Cave right in to German leader, eg Bismarck (6)

29 Diseased amateur injected, gets bent back (9) 30 Team of nature spirits guarding key (6) 31 Sentimental proposal to lay in fizzy ale (9)

DOWN 2 Fears headless misses (6) 3 Recording I almost describe as like “Lord of the Rings” (6) 4 Offer advice, if I say that will be representative (6) 5 Whistle blower was an enigma (7) 6 Short underwear suggested by logician (4,5) 7 Throws wobbly about Galadriel’s evaluation of singular form of 8 (4-5)

8 Nature spirits we own have us finally surrounded - us! (9) 14 Treebeard tried for promotion, got too deeply involved (9) 15 Forecasts for grand organs (9) 16 Engaged in hotter action in bed (9) 17 Heard half a lemur? I see (3) 18 Heard solver, or heard member? So I heard (3) 22 Volcano is central to energy in Asian republic (7) 24 It’s dim to fool about, wild-heart! (6) 25 Sticker for clever stand-up shows (6) 26 Wilder with Virginia Lake? (6)

OCTOBER CRYPTIC CROSSWORD ANSWERS Across: 1/27 Greenpeace, 4 Sotto voce, 10 Sword arm, 11 Eerily, 12 Genera, 14 Glaciers, 15 Bustard, 16 Troupe, 17 Elytra, 19 Portnoy, 21 Tiramisu, 22 Unwell, 23 Shoots, 24 As needed, 26 Odd man out. Down: 2 Raw, 3 Earners, 5 Oh my God, 6 The Easter Bunny, 7 Vertigo, 8 Chlorophyll, 9 Marama Davidson, 13 Embellished, 18 Tea room, 19 Pounamu, 20 Nowhere, 25 Etc.

the hobson 42

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Profile for The Hobson

The Hobson November 2020  

The magazine for Auckland's inner-eastern neighbourhoods, The Hobson connects, informs and entertains every month. This November, our cover...

The Hobson November 2020  

The magazine for Auckland's inner-eastern neighbourhoods, The Hobson connects, informs and entertains every month. This November, our cover...

Profile for thehobson