Archive | August, 2010

Heathcote 150 years

31 Aug

The recent celebrations of 150 years of settlement in Heathcote were well-attended and awesomely well organised.

I got along to the church service at St Mary’s Anglican Church.  The church was itself celebrating 150 years.

Not only were the locals turned out in nineteenth century clothing, the church laid it on too.  The bishop and a host of clergy were in attendance and the altar girl completed the largely female cast.  This photo shows Bishop Penny and Mary the priest shaking every hand as the worshippers flowed from the packed-out church at the end of the service.


This next photo gives a nice view of the beautiful timber interior and the vaulted ceilings, plus a glimpse of some period dress.


What a great weekend.  Well done Heathcote Valley community for your tremendous enthusiasm and dedication.



Inspirational Linwood Playcentre

30 Aug

It was a buzz to catch up with the folk of the Linwood Playcentre recently.  They had an open day to attract interested folk and raise funds.

Playcentres are a great example of local neighbourhoods getting together to provide a benefit for their community.  Children learn and play in a family-centred environment.  Parents have the opportunity to learn professional skills and contribute to high quality early childhood education.

In this photo my city council running mate Councillor Yani Johanson is speaking with Jade, the manager of the Linwood Playcentre. Jade and Yani at Linwood Playcentre

The event hit the local news because it featured hundreds of paper cranes made by the kids to raise funds for a garden in memory of Nayan Woods.

Nayan was the four year old killed by a runaway car on Linwood Ave a few weeks back.  Like just about everyone else in this town I was deeply touched by the tragedy, which occurred on a route I travel most days.

So the Linwood Playcentre had a big day as dozens of folk flocked there, largely out of respect for Nayan and his family.  It was lovely to have the opportunity to meet Nayan’s big brother Jacob and speak with his Mum and Dad, Emma and Duncan.  I had been very impressed by their public display of forgiveness and understanding after the accident.  They were kind enough to accept my stumbling condolences and chat about the value they placed on their family being involved in the playcentre.  I went away inspired.

Yani and I were rapt to see the Linwood Playcentre raised $1,000 for its facilities during the open day.


Green Drinks – 26 August

23 Aug

Green Drinks presents… Solid Energy!

Yes folks, you read right, we have Solid Energy presenting at this Thursday’s Green Drinks.

Andy Matheson, General Manager, Renewable Energy at Solid Energy will talk about the company’s renewable energy initiatives, particularly biofuels.

5:30pm Thursday 26 August, in the No. 8 Dining Room at The Twisted Hop in Poplar Lane.  Andy will speak from 6pm.

This is a great opportunity for intelligent and discerning folk to make up their own minds about Solid Energy’s biofuels programme.  What are their motivations?  Are biofuels a legitimate answer to our energy woes?  What are they actually achieving at the moment?

Andy is a down-to-earth, approachable guy.  He is keen to tell his story, so this is a great chance to have a dialogue.

Come along and ask your questions.  I personally will be fascinated to hear what the questions and answers are on these widely debated issues.

Green Drinks is your chance to mix and mingle with the keen environmental doers and thinkers of Christchurch.  Come along, it will be great to see you.

Skinny skis & leather boots

17 Aug

UPDATE 2014: The video referred to in this article is no longer available due to the demise of

Ever found skiing hard?  Oh no you haven’t.

For those who have never telemarked, this video might seem a little anti-climactic.  We skiers have all seen videos of cool dudes shredding slopes ad infinitum.  The appeal here is in the restrictions that these particular “cool dudes” faced when this video was filmed.

The guys at have recently posted a video of telemark skiing from what I’m guessing is the early 1980s, the age of the renaissance of telemark skiing.  This was back when telemark skiing meant hurtling downhill in soft leather boots, attached to ludicrously skinny skis by a little metal clamp at the toe.

It was in those days that I was first introduced to telemark skiing.  I was working in Antarctica in 1984, washing dishes at McMurdo Base for a horde of Filipino US Navy cooks (this is another story that I will come back to someday).

We were all down there washing dishes and scrubbing floors because the idea of Antarctica, “The Ice”, was just too exciting for any of us to ignore.  We shifted heaven and earth for the privilege of serving the lowest echelons of the US military at the very bottom of the planet, the coldest place known to humankind.

So cool to be there, even cooler was the sight of a select few sneaking away from the base and out across the Ross Ice Shelf on cross country skis.  I determined that I was going to do that too.

The next season, I turned up there with my new skis, ready to endure endless hours of washing dishes and kowtowing to minor military meatheads, finding solace in the knowledge that for 36 continuous daylight hours at the end of every work week, I would be free!

So we did lots of cool travelling across ice shelves, climbed volcanoes, traversed crevasses, explored abandoned historic explorer huts, took heinously daft risks jumping across drifting sea ice gaps… and I will bore you with all that some other time.

When we returned to the temperate zone, I did my best to get down to some serious skiing on these cross-country travelling devices.  Exploring North America I worked at ski areas and caught up with some of the American Ice folk.

One of these was Bill Danford, a resident of Driggs, Idaho, living in the shadow of the Grand Teton.  Bill and one of his mates offered to take me out backcountry skiing from Jackson Pass.  We traversed along from the Pass and I watched while Bill and his mate skied, in their leather boots and skinny telemark skis, attached by just a flimsy metal clamp, down a powder filled valley; just like the guys in this video.

Try as I might, with my very best efforts, all I could manage was a series of tumbles down that valley.  I cannot begin to describe how hard it is to make a skinny ski do any sort of controlled turn on any slope, let alone powder snow, while wearing glorified tramping boots. 

These days we go out in plastic boots and fat skis, attached with solid metal plates and stiff wires.  Still a little disadvantaged compared with our fixed-heel brethren, we bend our knees and free our heels, but very much with technology on our side.

This video is, in my mind, a homage to legendary mountain man Bill Danford, deceased.  RIP Bill.

Click here to download the video from

Sewage spill into Heathcote

10 Aug

I see on page A3 of The Press today there is a report of an overflow of wastewater into the Heathcote.  392 cubic metres of “treated wastewater” overflowed from the Beckford St pumping station.

This sort of pollution is routine after heavy rain.  In a December 2008 survey conducted by URS, 76% of Christchurch residents surveyed made it very clear that the CCC should spend as much as it took to prevent sewage flowing into our rivers.  The CCC needs to clean up its act and bring forward the spending required to stop these overflows.