Red Alert

Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Someone had to do it…

Posted by on December 24th, 2010

It’s not my favourite Xmas song by any means but it is wonderfully camp and unlike the ‘timeless’ classics this one is unashamedly trapped in the 80s.  George Michael’s coif alone is worthy of mention.

Although I wish I could tell the woman in the very orange parka to stop torturing herself coz she’s seriously barking up the wrong tree….


Food for thought #1

Posted by on January 1st, 2010

Food. I’ve been doing more than eating it. I’ve been truly experiencing it and enjoying it in recent days. We’ve had a week in our former home region of Marlborough which brands itself the Gourmet Province. We have eaten fat fresh cherries, luscious apricots, chunks of local smoked salmon, delicious cheese made in the Marlborough Sounds, fresh vegetables drizzled with virgin olive oil. All bought from the wonderful farmers market that celebrity chef Chris Fortune helped set up some years ago. The food is all local, mostly seasonal. It tastes and looks better. Such local markets are now established in many centres. Christchurch has several, including a Saturday morning French market. They provide an alternative to supermarkets, often at lower prices. And you can often ask the grower about what you are buying. We had a delightful chat to the cheesemaker, who told us about her return to the family farm to fill a niche in the Marlborough foodscape. You just can’t do that at Countdown.

Meantime, I’ve picked up a book in the Blenheim house we borrowed from friends for Christmas. The Omnivore’s Dilemma explores factory farming in the US. It’s a very timely read given the plans to house dairy cows in the Mackenzie Basin. I’ll relate some ugly truths about industrial food production in America in my next post-and some rising issues here in NZ. Meantime, if you are on holiday somewhere and you haven’t ventured into a local farmers/food market, go and give yourself a New Year treat.


Social media and people power

Posted by on December 27th, 2009

It’s the time of year to be contemplative. Colin James’ piece in the Press yesterday invoked us to remember the conundrum of Christmas, the darkness and the beauty of  humankind, and invited us to promote the good of humans and not to trade in the bad.

Optimism, I hope, is my nature. In that spirit, here’s two other pieces to contemplate. I hope you’ll read them.

They are each about the emerging power of social media and how it is being used (and could be used) as a force for change by groups of people who feel oppressed. Disturbingly, how it can also be (and already is) used as a means to oppress and restrain.

Both pieces are about the balance of power between citizens and the state and how technology is fueling social movements. Both are published in Prospect Magazine.

1. How dictators watch us on the web by Evgeny Morozov. A disturbing account which argues that while the internet is meant to help activists, enable democratic protest and weaken the grip of authoritarian regimes, it doesn’t—in fact, the web is a boon for bullies.

2. The net advantage: Media guru Clay Shirky responds to criticisms in Evgeny Morozov’s piece on why dictators benefit from the web. Despite pitfalls, he says, the internet remains a positive force for democracy.

The points I’d like to make are: I believe that people who work together will inevitably find a way to make change. Even if they are at the vanguard of a movement that takes a long time to be effective. That those with power will try to fight back and use any means to do so. But ultimately change cannot be held back when enough people want it.

That direct engagement between governments and people are crucial. That people want to know they are listened to and that making government (the state) too distanced from the population results in fracture and disharmony.

And that we, in New Zealand, are very fortunate to live in such a stable democracy. But we too have a lot to learn. We can learn from these struggles and choose to promote the good.


Yes I did get up that early, but it was August!

Posted by on December 27th, 2009

Sunrise at New Brighton Pier

I have had feedback from recipients of my Christmas card this year inquiring whether I had taken the photograph myself – yes I did.  It is Sunrise at New Brighton Pier on August 2, 2009.  I have decided to share it on Red Alert, so you can all enjoy the beauty of the electorate I have the privilege to represent .    And for those who have asked about whether I have had any training, well a certain Minister would call it a ‘hobby class’, but I did attend an Adult Education class at Papanui High School a few years ago and it has excited a passion for photography that far exceeds my natural talent!  I will try and share some of my holiday snaps with you.  Seasons Greetings!


Roll out the lazy hazy crazy days of Xmas lay-offs

Posted by on December 16th, 2009

Less than two weeks before Christmas and that good old Christmas redundancy feeling is upon us. You have to wonder whether the timing’s deliberate, or just insensitive, but the Christmas redundancies are mounting up :

  • Taxrefunds in Oamaru are planning to make 67 staff redundant at its call centre.
  • Twenty-eight jobs at Yarrows bakery in the Taranaki will be gone by Christmas.
  • Longveld Engineering is laying off up to 17 workers, depite being named both Waikato Business of the Year and Manufacturing Business of the Year.
  • The final 80 workers will be out of a job at Lane Walker Rudkin by Christmas.
  • Up to 50 union members and other call centre staff at Colmar Brunton will be made redundant with no redundancy compensation.
  • Staff at Waikato Rugby Union headquarters have taken 10-15 per cent pay cuts to avoid Christmas redundancies.

These are the ones in the media this week, but there’s more we don’t hear about.  53% of employers in a recent EMA survey reported they used redundancy as a cost cutting measure in the past year.

fair-deal-badge-120Then there’s the redundancies my friend told me about at the weekend, where three of his workmates were told they had no job after Christmas and by the way, there would be no redundancy pay either.

But don’t give up.  My Redundancy Protection Bill campaign is still alive and kicking. I’ve postponed the bill until March to allow for more campaigning time. More unions and groups are joining in, and the petition and postcards will be out at public events over the summer.

PS:  This is my Christmas card to you all.