Burying the Lede-r,

I’m a bit disappointed that Hawke’s Bay Today appeared to try and bury the lede in their attention-grabbing story of a “serious culture issue” at Napier City Council recently.

It took six paragraphs for the article to reveal the person making the allegations is running for mayor, so one would expect the public to be alerted to the fact these claims are being made by someone with such skin in the game in the article’s headline or introduction.

Comparatively, Gianina Schwanecke over at Stuff shows how it’s done, revealing the claims’ source in only the second paragraph in her coverage of the allegations.

Cultural Challenger

Mayoral aspirant Nigel Simpson a first term, Taradale ward councilor declared in his running for the mayoralty ‘I entered local politics last election because I couldn’t figure out what was wrong in Napier City Council, after a short period inside I figured it out alright, that’s why I’m running for Mayor.”

“Taking major items in and out of the long-term plan and having a considerable number of unbudgeted items is simply poor leadership and inappropriate governance of Napier, it’s time for change.” he said.

“A significant number of opportunities have been missed by the current Council, it’s time to get Napier back on track.”

If that’s the “Mayor Dalton and CEO Jack Track” he’s referring to getting back on then I think his train is going in the wrong direction, and voters with a memory longer than three years will likely leave him at the station.

What missed opportunities he is referring to are unknown too, unless he means supporting Three Waters Reform, but Simpson, along with all bar one Napier councilor voted to support NCC’s opposition to that.

Other than obviously not being a fan of the current mayor it’s hard to know what he’s getting at.

Because there is quite a list of options:

This term’s council has failed rather spectacularly to fix many or any of the issues that were the major points of contention last local body election: Napier’s War Memorial still hasn’t been reinstated, debate continues on where Napier’s Aquatic Centre should be (at least the council appear dedicated to listening to locals this time, rather than a single casting vote deciding its fate) and whenever it rains for more than a few hours across the city wastewater is still making its way into Ahuriri Estuary, despite NCC partnering with HBRC and local Iwi to mitigate and fix the issue.

Speaking of water, as I said before NCC has inexplicably joined with other Hawke’s Bay councils in opposing the government’s Three Waters Reform.

I don’t know what they think they are doing there, as years of council underinvestment have turned their treasured infrastructure “assets” into huge, incredibly expensive liabilities that they expect ratepayers to foot the massive bill for while not receiving acceptable service from.

And thoughout all those issues this council term you may have forgotten about the global pandemic that closed borders and workplaces, disrupted workflow and supply chains and killed and incapacitated millions.

It’s remarkable any culture above fungi survived!

Change of Culture

There has certainly been a change of culture at Napier City Council, with a new mayor, controversial former CEO departing with a hefty golden handshake and now several of his lieutenants following suit, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Just ask anyone who found the previous council’s stances and actions on water infrastructure, velodrome obsession, Skating Club demolition, Aquatic Centre development, or War Memorial desecration hard to fathom or utterly repugnant and I doubt they will show much sympathy to the departure of those who led or contributed to such debacles.

The Jack / Dalton administration also saw a number of high-level managers and experts leave, or be made redundant, but Councilor Simpson chooses to ignore this in his “serious culture issue” claim.

His urging the council to leave selecting a new CEO until after the local body elections is also disingenuous, as he, the council and even the Hawke’s Bay Today know “July is the start of a three-month hiatus in which councils cannot make major decisions in the three months leading up to the local elections” as reported in another council article in HBT barely a month earlier at the end of June.

Sometimes it takes a shot of penicillin to cure a bad culture, other times a new broom to sweep out all the dead wood, or clear a new path.

Turning Over a New Page

Napier City Council may not be the only place undergoing a change of culture, as Hawke’s Bay Today has a new editor starting this month.

Chris Hyde, who had formerly been Hawke’s Bay Today news director before moving over to Stuff in Hawke’s Bay for a few months will return to take over the local newspaper’s reigns.

Recently the paper has not only been “burying the lede”, but burying local opinions under not necessarily as relevant reckons from outside the region.

And, while not new or uncommon, advertising dressed up as news is still always disappointing.

In his first Facebook post as editor Chris asked what readers wanted. The responses were resoundingly “The truth” and far more relevant local content.

Good luck, Chris – I hope you can clear a new local paper path without too much interference from out-of-touch out-of-towners and management!

Ra Whanau Ki a Koe, Breakfast!

Next week on August 11 TVNZ’s Breakfast show turns 25 – a quarter of a century on air!

Prior to 1997 live weekday morning news television in New Zealand was pretty much non-existent. We were aware places like America and Australia had it, but it wasn’t on the NZ public, or media radar.

The only similar programme I can think of in terms of live production in the mornings with such a long legacy is What Now! which has been going on Sunday mornings (originally on Saturdays) for almost 40 years.

1997 was long before the 24 hour news cycle, the spread of the internet (we still had dial-up at our house until the late 2000s) and social media, so if there was live television on New Zealand televisions in the morning it was either an All Blacks game / the Olympics on the other side of the world, or something very bad had happened locally.

Today breakfast news often sets the televisual tone and topic for the day – Covering what has happened at home and overseas during the night, outlining important events that are expected to occur locally that day and interviewing those involved. The lunchtime bulletin at midday acts as a progress report and the traditional 6pm news – the pinnacle of New Zealand’s news landscape for generations almost acting more as a roundup and post-mortem of the day’s events.

Breakfast’s first of many hosts in 1997 were Mike Hosking and Susan Wood.

Breakfast felt cool and new. It was off the cuff, like local breakfast radio, but larger, more dynamic and on screen. Live filming made it feel more genuine, original and informal than the polished, rehearsed news bulletins.

This was also before Hosking’s career and ego made the Fourth Circle of Dante’s Inferno look like broad daylight. He was more down to earth and even, dare I say it, “cool”(?) then, to the point where he was (good naturedly) parodied on What Now and the local comedy skit shows of the time.

I had dreamed of being part of TVNZ, or just TV IN NZ, ever since I was a kid growing up watching What Now, After School, Telethon, Town & Around, Children of the Dog Star and the plethora of fantastic, locally produced shows that were created in that golden era of NZ television production – the 1980s.

Watching Breakfast brought this dream into adulthood. I remember seeing a Christmas “Behind the scenes” segment at the end of the first or second season that made me want to get into television again (and develop a brief televisual crush on a bespeckled reporter named Pippa).

I’d been working in radio only a year or two before and this looked like the next logical, aspirational goal.

I never got near that goal.

I did, however, soon get a job that would see me doing breakfast television hours, just without the cameras, fame, or fortune for the next 18 years.

And now as a parent the chances of watching Breakfast much on my mornings off are few and far between, as my daughter usually wields the remote and The Moe Show, Bluey, or more recently YouTube and Disney+ rule our sole television screen, so I seldom get to see much of the show past 7am.

Missing out on a large chunk of Breakfast’s mid to late 2000s and 2010s wasn’t all bad – I did miss out the majority of the supernovaing of Hosking and Henry as hosts and their cults of “(TV) personality”.

But Breakfast did at least go where many other TV shows had never gone before – Regional New Zealand!

On the Road

With it’s early morning hours Breakfast is unlike many NZ television shows, and unlike most New Zealand media networks simulcasting across New Zealand, it actually gets out there amongst the locals and different locations across the country on a regular basis.

Breakfast has made it to Napier on a couple of occasions, broadcasting live from the Soundshell on Marine Parade, showing off our region and stunning live sunrises over Hawke Bay.

TVNZ Breakfast broadcasting live from Napier’s Sound Shell February 2020

These shows usually had one of their cast inevitably be dressed up in Art Deco attire, or some similar interactive performative element. It’s certainly something associated with the city due to the architectural style at the time of rebuilding after the 1931 earthquake, but for us locals it began to feel a bit forced, twee and repetitive, after a couple decades of being ever-present and ever-pushed by the city council’s promoters, Art Deco devotees and local tourism organizations.

Their roving reporters and weather people often get out and about, too.

The morning after the deluge of Napier’s November 2020 floods Breakfast’s Matty McLean was reporting live from a semi-submerged Whitmore Park in Marewa – the suburb hardest hit by the flooding as well as visiting and interviewing those whose homes were effected or damaged by the flooding.

This provides an important, tangible connection with viewers as it proves (at least some of) “these Auckland media people” are actually real, and not just some disembodied and disenfranchised voice or face that only exist in the form of broadcast media.

During the nation-wide Covid 19 lockdown of 2020 the show helped provide a steady stream of news, information and, most importantly, personal connection at a time when we were all quarantined at home.

During that period Breakfast even had viewers Zoom, or Skype in to be “guest weather presenters” and do the forecasts for the show.

My Twitter friend, and fellow tall, hairy Andrew F, Andrew Feldon, who runs Mouthwater Coffee in Palmerston North was one of these Sky Soothsaying Skypers. It was like l’d almost fulfilled my dream vicariously!

The Dream Team

I had a recurring dream last year in which I got to meet John Campbell in person. I’ve interacted with him on social media several times, but never “IRL” (“In Real Life”, #Hashtag, YOLO GST, PhD etc…)

In the dream I meet John on set or behind the scenes at Breakfast and he promises to get me on television, either Breakfast, or my own show. It’s unclear how, or why as the dream ends about this point and the details disappear with conciousness.

Many in TVNZ’s news and current affairs talent pool have gotten their big television break, or at least worked on Breakfast at some stage in the past quarter century.

From fame to infamy and, in some cases later on in their lives or careers, being enabled to be purposefully inflammatory and even outright conspiracy misinformationy a number of people have presented and been involved in the show, but my favorite core presenters over the last 25 years has been the most recent lineup of Indira Stewart, Jenny-May Clarkson, Matty McLean, Melissa Stokes and John Campbell.

They were almost certainly the most diverse group to host the show and together represented a wider cross-section of New Zealand than ever before.

When he left the show to pursue more in-depth journalism with TVNZ, John gave a marvelous parting monologue pointing out the diversity of the show and his fellow presenters – Te Reo now being an integral part of the show’s vocabulary, the advancement of LGBTQI+ rights, recognizing the wrongs of racial discrimination and actions like the dawn raids of the 70s, and the importance of inclusiveness and multiculturalism to modern New Zealand society and media.

The more readily outraged out there would call this “woke”, or “PC gone mad!”.

It’s not.

It’s recognizing injustice. It’s being sympathetic, empathetic and supportive. It’s shining a light into dark places that need illumination for the wrongs there to be exposed and righted.

It’s human, it’s New Zealand, and it’s beautiful.

Not a dry eye in the house.

Love your work, team!

NZ’s Next Top Breakfast Presenter

The presenter they brought in to fill John Campbell’s immense shoes (and incredibly stylie socks) didn’t last long and the fallout of that is still ongoing.

Other media networks gleefully trumpeted imminent doom for Breakfast on the eve of it’s anniversary, but that was simply never going to happen.

One fewer host does not a Breakfast show un-make.

It may be worth remembering that the stars of some of these networks had significant roles on Breakfast or with TVNZ in the past, which aided them getting where they are today. Crying “nepotism!” now may not be the stable moral high ground they think they are on.

But it did expose something that had been quite obvious to outsiders for a while now: That, like other NZ media networks, TVNZ’s talent selection processes, in this case at least, had been less than open or diverse.

The chances of Andrew from Palmy and/or Andrew from Napier getting any full-time job in television despite their best weather presenting, writing, or Tweeting efforts are microscopic compared to a favored few who somehow seem to get multiple hosting rolls across multiple networks and multiple media formats without the amateur meteorological, journalistic and social media skills, or talent.

Here’s to Another 25 Years!

Here are my suggestions for how Breakfast can keep going for another 25 years:

1/ Keep Broadening the Talent Pool:

The show has proven how reflecting a wide cross-section of New Zealand society and cultures is an important part of a truly representative media.

We constantly hear the term “a plurality of voice” bandied about in terms of goals for New Zealand media.

To me that means voices (plural) from all walks of life, from all across New Zealand on the airwaves.

To media executives in recent decades it means the same few voices simulcast across the country on a plurality of stations and frequencies who used to have their own individual voices, or the same people who host a nationally broadcast radio show in the morning being given another platform on national television in the evening, or vice versa.

This isn’t a true “plurality of voice”, and it certainly isn’t fair on all the voices we don’t get to hear.

2/ Keep Getting Out There!

The world is a much smaller place than it used to be.

Television shows that “had” to be produced in Auckland no longer do. Providing you have a good internet or satellite connection you can record and broadcast from anywhere – Even Hawke’s Bay!

Imagine getting your morning news fix with this as the live background!

Spreading assets across the country also means less chance of disruption if unforeseen circumstances cause one centralized studio to be out of action.

Despite their slogan in a recent ad campaign this is one assumption TVNZ got badly wrong.

The rapid advancement of technology also means it is far cheaper to run and maintain small-scale broadcast facilities in multiple locations. Imagine what a difference to our viewing and listening landscape reinstating teams of TVNZ and RNZ reporters across the country (not just in the main centers) would make to the diversity of news coverage!

These ideas are particularly relevant given the upcoming merger of Television New Zealand and Radio New Zealand has a strong emphasis on public broadcasting and Public Interest Journalism. There is more impetus than ever before for more NZ media to spread their wings like Breakfast has done and rove across the country telling locals’ stories.

If they need someone extra in Napier I know a guy… Even if he has a voice for television and a face for radio…

So happy 25th birthday, TVNZ Breakfast!

Here’s to another 25 years of informing, entertaining and exploring Aotearoa!

Whoa, We’re Half Way There!

Well, we’ve crossed the half-way mark of 2022!

This year has been a bit of a test of stamina and fortitude and has certainly made a lot of people feel a lot older than they are.

Personally I’ve been feeling much older, tireder and sadder than usual, and that was before I tested positive for Covid a few weeks ago.

I was fortunate to be almost completely asymptomatic while testing positive, which is great health-wise (I would have gladly felt sicker if it meant those who have suffered through their symptoms could have some relief), but it was frustrating to be stuck in quarantine while feeling fine – Much like my Adventures in Tachycardia years ago.

It’s gave me some time to write, which was great after months of being too busy, or too demoralized to do it.

It also gave me some time to think, which wasn’t such a great thing.

Because I’ve been going through a bit of a mid-life crisis recently.

Feeling My Age

After all the carry-on of recent years, like everyone else, I was looking forward to a bit of a break this year – a silver lining after a couple years of cloud.

At Christmas I got Dave Grohl’s autobiographical “The Storyteller”

I love the Foo Fighters.

I have all their albums and the last concert I went to before the “proper adulthood” of becoming a parent was their show at Western Springs in 2011. So when then the band announced they would be touring Australasia later this year I was looking forward to going and seeing. them in Wellington.

But then their drummer, Taylor Hawkins, died suddenly, and all tours were understandably canceled.

More pressingly it potentially meant the imminent end of the Foo Fighters.

They have had a fantastic run: 28 years, over 10 albums, millions of fans and a permanent place at the alter of Rock & Roll.

But the threat of losing a cultural cornerstone in my life suddenly made me feel really old.

It occurred to me that to my daughter the Foo Fighters are what The Eagles were to me – Memorable, good music, but old.

Like me.

Because this year I’ll be turning 45.

Where Did the Years Go?

Last year I applied for a promotion at the company I have been working at for almost two decades. I have been in what is essentially an entry-level position for the duration. I’ve requested training or transfer during this time, but have been constantly overlooked while my supervisors have move onward, upward, or outward with triennial regularity.

One manager even told me my position “wasn’t worth (external) training” during the “austerity years” of the Global Financial Crisis.

So when one of these supervisor positions came up I applied. It was shortlisted to myself and the office’s new university graduate, who had been with us for one year. The graduate started primary school the year I started with the company (literally – we worked it out).

Naturally the graduate got the promotion and I missed out.

I felt massively disappointed and let down, but I wasn’t surprised.

Almost 20 years is a very long time to dedicate yourself to a job with unsociable hours, doing almost exactly the same things every day, week, month and year.

It felt like I have wasted a huge chunk of my working life.

These years have also seen a lot of upheavals in and effecting my life:

Understandably it’s hard to gain or maintain momentum in such choppy seas.

While it’s been an ungrateful job not letting me develop something resembling a career, it has at least been a stable job and income, allowing us to somehow live comfortably as a single-income family making just over the average wage in a time when many multiple-income families seriously struggle to make ends meet.

It feels like I’ve already lived several lifetimes in less than two decades, while, due to the unrelenting repetition of my job it simultaneously feels like I blinked in 2013 and suddenly find myself here in 2022.

Worse still, a couple years ago my my daughter’s primary school had a Kapa Haka performance. Her school hall was too small, so they used the auditorium at my old secondary school – Tamatea High.

I sat in my old school auditorium where I did lighting, theater and orchestra, had assemblies, dances and prizegivings, in the same chairs, in the same row as three women who all went to that school with me (our daughters all happen to be friends) it occurred to me it was 25 years to the day since we last all sat there at our final assembly and prizegiving in 1995.

A quarter of a century!

Where had my life gone?!

Parental Guidance Required

Losing both parents before the age of 40 hasn’t helped.

Most of my friends still have at least one, often both parents still alive. I no longer have that moral, financial, or physical support there any more.

And sometimes all you need is your Mum or Dad just being there to tell you it’s OK, you are valued by someone.

Being a parent, my morals and values have created a bit of a paradox for me.

As I’ve written multiple time before, all I wanted to be in life (other than a radio announcer – and those aspirations have been shafted on multiple occasions) was as good a father as mine was to me.

I have gone to work for the last nine years, not for myself, but to provide a safe, warm, loving home and to ensure there is always food on the table for my wife and daughter.

(That sounds terribly clichéd, but it’s an honorable, old-school trait I got from my Dad – That said, an enjoyable job where I’m allow to develop and get to be creative wouldn’t go amiss. I continue to write in the hope that lightning might strike multiple times…)

The Saving Private Ryan scene where the old man asks his wife to “Tell me I’m a good man” breaks my heart every time, because that’s what I try to be – a good man, and a good father.

It appears that I’ve been pretty successful so far:

But that’s where the paradox comes in.

I’m succeeding at the paternal part of life, but failing miserably to get anywhere in the career side of things, and I need a change.

I can’t keep wearing myself down where “appreciation” never equals advancement, because that makes me feel un(der)valued and will make me depressed, grumpy and what I would consider to be a bad parent at home.

I also can’t just give the job up, because that erases our income, support and it will feel like I really have wasted the last 18 years of my life.

All of this as I approach 45 – Half way through my working life and a shade over half the current life expectancy for a male New Zealander.

No wonder I’ve really started going grey in the past two years.

The Portrait of Dorian Frame

Man in the Mirror

One of the main problems with aging is you can never really tell how old you look.

I have no idea what 45 year old me looks like.

When you look in the mirror you still basically see the same face you’ve always seen staring back at you.

New lines and wrinkles, perhaps a few more grey hairs, even a few scars that weren’t always there, but those are still your eyes and that is still your face.

Looking online for celebrity comparison is seldom helpful.

If you have grown up with certain stars or starlets they too look not greatly different from years before, as you are aging in parallel. For others, as their careers can rely to a large degree on their looks, the amount of care and work that has been put into maintaining a level of youth or vitality through out the years can somewhat skew any accurate visual age auditability.

All these famous faces also turn 45 this year. Yes, even Shakira!.
#Funfact: John Oliver and John Cena (top middle & right) were born the exact same day – April 23, 1977!

At the other end of the scale, trailer-wreck television shows like Jeremy Kyle often showed the ages of people who hadn’t looked after themselves so well, making those in their 20s look closer to 60.

While nowhere near as petro-chemical an intake as those on such shows, some parts of my diet haven’t changed in 30 years – I still eat like a teenager whenever I can.

Chocolate, chips and double-coated Tim-Tams are still treat staples in my diet.

I try to justify with my wife that a $1 chocolate bar is a fair courier fee when I’m sent to the supermarket to get groceries. She never seems to agree.

Illicit snacks are probably the only food I eat that hasn’t changed over the years, though.

In recent times, with rising food prices(/supermarket profits) and differing nutritional needs our family’s diet has become largely “flexitarian”, often vegetarian for us adults, with favored frankfurters or oven-baked chicken nuggets for our daughter.

The influx of such a diverse range of cultures into Hawke’s Bay over the past decade has also ensured a vastly different spectrum of food is now available with tastes and flavors so far removed from what we grew up with.

Cabbage boiled until tasteless and translucent has happily been consigned to the depths of history.

But with so many other things from our youth making comebacks, the allure of a “second childhood” midlife crisis can be hard to resist.

Many model catalogues and video game magazines gave their pages for this and other collages I made in my teenage years.

Let’s do the Timewarp

I’ve been told I “suffer from nostalgia”.

I don’t consider it suffering.

I enjoy the link with the past – fond memories of good times and those no longer with us.

The recent revival of so many pop culture icons, movie franchises and toy ranges from my childhood hasn’t helped.

Star Wars sequels, streaming series and retro toy lines, Top Gun: Maverick, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Masters of the Universe figurines and cartoon reboots.

I sold my original MotU collection after rediscovering it while clearing out my parents’ place several years ago.

With a bit more disposable income recently I started reliving a bit of my youth – returning to making models, and collecting cool pop culture items.

And then I discovered the rabbit hole of classic Tamiya radio controlled cars on YouTube.

Growing up in the 80s and the 90s was a fantastic time for tech toys, as RC cars were just coming into their element.

Japanese model making giant Tamiya were the pinnacle of those cars. Tamiya made the most amazing scale models – Tanks, cars, motorcycles, boats, planes.

Each year they released a stunning new, full color catalogue the thickness of a magazine. They were chock-full of pictures of their range of kits, fully built, painted and decaled. Sometimes there were sections dedicated to exquisite dioramas featuring their kits.

My collection of 1/35 scale Tamiya model tanks,
(Except for the Sherman (second from the left) which is italeri)

What I distinctly remember about these catalogues was their smell.

They were so big and so packed full of glossy pictures that the smell of the print would just about knock you backwards the first time you opened the latest issue (and for weeks after).

It was INTOXICATING! (or a gateway drug to substance abuse given the similar levels of paint an glue fumes modelers are exposed to on a regular basis – It’s truly amazing I never got into drinking spirits until my 30s…)

But the crème de la crème of Tamiya production was radio controlled cars.

Hot Shot, Bigwig, Boomerang and Lunchbox were the names given to some of the most fantastic “Toys” anyone in the 80s or 90s could have.

These cars were so advanced and different that the first Tamiya RC kits I saw in Hawke’s Bay weren’t even even available from hobby shops, but from a service station in St Aubyn Street, Hastings! (This is more likely just because the station owner had imported the kits themselves, but it certainly added to the kits’ advanced, “mechanical” allure!)

We never had the money for Tamiya radio controlled car kits, which were worth $200-$300 back in the 80s – a substantial amount of money!

I still have two of my original Tamiya Mini 4WD:
Super Sabre (L) and Hot Shot (R)

I was able to get a few Tamiya “Mini4WD” cars – small, vastly cheaper facsimiles of the bigger RC body styles, but twin AA battery powered, and only able to drive in straight lines.

I did get a relatively cheap Nikko radio controlled car called a Thunderbolt for a birthday or Christmas present once, and a I think Dad bought a similar one off a work colleague when the Thunderbolt lost its zap.

“Frame Buggy”. No relation.

But Tamiya cars were still the Holy Grail of autonomous off-roading. I can still picture in my mind going to an air show and seeing someone running their Lunchbox – a big, bright yellow “Monster Truck” van. It was iconic then and it still is now.

So when I saw one in my local hobby shop “Cool Toys” in Napier I fell in love all over again!

Amazingly the price tags for these cars have remained largely the same as 30+ years ago, mainly thanks to the advancement of technology making the formerly expensive parts much cheaper and more prevalent as time has gone by.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve started to build and tinker with more things too, something that my Dad exceled at, but I never had the confidence to, so these advanced kits that always looked so complex and intimidating when I was younger aren’t so scary any more.

If I get commissioned to write something again this year I know where that money is going to!

But in the meantime I’m still stuck in a rut.

Needing Traction

Having something to strive for is often often a good plan. We all have goals or targets we want to reach. Even I have a list of things I’d like to achieve each year.

But, like i said, I’m a bit lost at sea at the moment.

Static

My fatherly goal is going well, but my dreams of media domination, or at least employed participation, seem further and further away as the years go by.

I had such high hopes as a “Co-Pilot” on Bay City Radio’s Sunday morning kids show one day back in 1985, or doing Saturday “Midnight to Dawns” at Hot93 in Hastings over the summer and autumn of 1996 …

But while I would still love to be on radio, I’m at least able to recognize that it is, or rather used to be, a young person’s game.

There are young people out there who want a career in NZ media and who are better and more deserving of a shot than I am, and certainly better than many currently being broadcast who have been there for far too long.

In the 90s regional commercial radio was the domain of those in their 20s. Three to five years on air was considered a “career” then you moved on to programming, management sales, or left the station and got a “real job”.

I wish this was a new problem, but it has been going on for as long as I’ve been a curmudgeon! 😉

But thanks to simulcast networking, as well as a big dose of cronyism and favoritism a handful of those 90s 20-somethings went on to rule radio airwaves across the country for 20 or more years.

Younger talent never got a look in or an opportunity on air and what could barely be considered average regional radio at best was nationally broadcast, claiming to be “the best” the networks could offer.

The industry has suffered for this ever since, but still to this day fails to recognize or try and rectify their own systemic errors.

I say radio “used to be” a young person’s game because I wonder if it still is?

So many have been turned off radio by the same tired old voices and shtick for years and years that they now get their audio entertainment from podcasts and music streaming services.

It has become a generational shift and seen radio listenership plummet. Not that the commercial networks have ever had the self-awareness to acknowledge why people no longer listen to a favored few broadcasters who are no longer relevant to anyone but themselves and their management mates.

Traditional broadcast radio may still have a market amongst us older types who grew up with it, but I still think there are more than enough middle aged white men in the industry.

Perhaps that dream will just have to fade away.

Invisible Ink

I like writing and am told I’m quite good at it. I even get paid to write very occasionally but, as I’ve said, nowhere near enough to make a living out of it. So it’s more of a hobby, or a side hustle to relieve me of the repetitive monotony of my actual job.

I was inspired from an early age by great local newspaper journalists like Roger Moroney of what was Napier’s Daily Telegraph back then who had a real way with words and the public. He was Hawke’s Bay’s print version of a radio announcer – well respected and liked by many. When I started writing in my teens I sent my work to him for appraisal and feedback which he constructively gave.

I never went to university, or got a journalism diploma or degree, as it was a craft I was still perfecting and it seemed like such a waste to spend years and thousands of dollars I didn’t have studying how to write, research and interview like I already could.

Sadly at the time there was an obsession amongst employers of all types for applicants requiring qualifications. It didn’t seem to matter that you could do the job, you didn’t have a piece of paper to prove you’d learned about it, so no job here, sunshine!

Even today this is a stumbling block for entry into a media career with most media outlets, even if my “unqualified” writing is still better than a lot of the “officially sanctioned” stuff that gets published.

I have been fortunate to get to write for Hawke’s Bay’s premium thought-provoking glossy magazine Baybuzz on several occasions.

There are, at least, some cadetship programs being brought back after decades of dormancy.

Cadetships are essentially earn-as-you-learn-on-the-job apprenticeships in media.

John Campbell was a cadet reporter in Wellington many years ago and look at the years of marvelous work he has produced!

The cadetships I have seen promoted are tied in with Local Government Reporting or Public Interest Journalism funding and predominantly aim to increase the cultural diversity of newsrooms and coverage across the country – something that has been lacking and deserving of more coverage.

Sadly they don’t really apply to middle aged men in regional New Zealand, so my chances of becoming New Zealand’s oldest Cadet Reporter are looking decidedly slim.

Were I to get the opportunity, where would I do it, though? Locally, naturally.

I live, love, breathe, and bleed Hawke’s Bay.

In high school I would have said “The Daily Telegraph” in a heartbeat.

But what was The Daily Telegraph became Hawke’s Bay Today in the 1990s, as APN, the forebear of NZME, combined Napier’s newspaper with Hastings’ Herald Tribune.

As you may already know, the story or regional newspapers around New Zealand and the world takes a bit of a dive from not long after that time as the internet, social media and the like took off and newspaper publishers struggled to keep up.

Costs were cut and newsrooms gutted, which meant less local news, which meant less local readership and advertising, which meant more cost cutting and loss of staff covering local news… and so it spiraled – You get the idea.

Sadly the media executives (often the same or similar ones who gutted local radio) haven’t.

A friend of mine told me in 2019 that I’d “picked the worst time to be this good at writing”.

This was before Covid hit and corporate media culled hundreds of staff numbers to protect their profits during those uncertain months in 2020.

More and more content in New Zealand’s regional newspapers is now imported from other sources, locations around the country like Auckland HQ, or other branches of the network with no relevance to the regions they are being published in, or even the realities of life for most of its readers.

I can’t morally justify working for a media network than shuns investment in local comment and content, but seems happy to pay its already over-incentivised radio announcers for large, irrelevant opinion pieces.

The propensity with which their editors and executives allow what look like hack-eyed hit jobs to be repeatedly multi-platformed across their networks undermines the credibility of all the hard working journalists, and media in New Zealand as a whole.

The same tabloid-format trolls then have the gall to project the blame for a growing lack of public trust in the media and the reason for their own faults and failures on social media!

It must be a tough life working on both commercial television and state radio…

Were Hawke’s Bay Today to make a clean break from their current corporate overlords and return to their local roots, like the Wairarapa Times Age, then we could talk.

I’m not holding my breath, though.

Pro-Promotion

If you’re not from Hawke’s Bay chances are you’ve “met me” via social media.

Of all the tweets about Napier and Hawke’s Bay on Twitter I’ve probably been responsible for about 120 percent of them (*citation required).

I also, on occasion, write about places like Auckland!

I love my hometown and region and want as many people as possible to enjoy its wonders, so I spend a lot of my spare time promoting and singing its praises.

I do this for free.

I’ve always liked promotion / sales and have always had a pretty decent knack for it but that, like radio, never blossomed into a career (minimum wage retail in the 90s/00s doesn’t count).

The promotional work I did voluntarily out of high school probably did me more harm than good, and I a result I now I seldom volunteer for anything as I value my time and skills far more now than i did then.

Little has changed since.

While my social media exploits have led to meeting a lot of great people and some unique experiences, over 12 years on it still hasn’t been the doorway to opportunity and career change that I dreamed and worked towards it being.

Yet I still do it.

Professionally promoting Napier appears to be a closed shop, as I’ve applied for numerous roles and seldom even heard back that I’d been unsuccessfull. When I ask what I can do to improve.my chances next opportunity the silence is deafening.

My visions for Napier and the future of Hawke’s Bay extend far beyond just temporary tourism, and the foibles of recent Napier City Council administrations act as more of a sign of long term, systemic bureaucratic failure than encouragement to stand for election.

Over the past decades I have done my best to effect change from the outside and I’ve been reasonably successful.

But it’s been tiring and ultimately hasn’t gotten me anywhere.

“I could’a been a contender!”

What If?

How much of your life would you change if you could?

There have been a multiverse of movies, stories and shows about alternative realities in recent years.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe currently leads the pack on screens, but from way back at H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, to The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.and the recent, brilliant The Midnight Library by Matt Haig time travel and being able to change your past or future has been a literary staple and a moral mental conundrum.

In Richard Curtis’ movie “About Time” Tim learns the men in his family can go back in time and relive certain events, or fix certain things. At one point in the movie he goes back in time to help his sister who has hit rough times. He does so, and when he returns to the present his sister is much better off, but he finds his daughter is now (and always has been on this timeline) his son. He decides to go back again and let events occur as they were for his sister, who eventually comes out all right, and his family is as it always was.

One theme that continues throughout many of the time travel / multiverse movies and books I have read or watched is love and sacrifice. Especially paternal love and sacrifice.

There is a scene later on with the dad, played by the superlative Bill Nighy, which I won’t spoil for you, other than to say it’s perfect and heart-breaking and really struck home with me, as I saw the movie not long after losing my own father.

If my timeline had been different i could have been Guy Williams.

Seriously!

And not just because we both wear glasses and are about the same height…(he is ten years younger than me, though)

Guy got his big break on a show called “Dai’s Protege“, where media darling Dai Henwood mentored a bunch of prospective comedians, whittling them down to a winner.

I was working on my comedy and stand-up here in Hawke’s Bay at the time and seriously thought of entering, but didn’t because it would mean leaving my job at the time, moving to Auckland (prohibitively expensive at the best of times) with no income or place to stay, and being the “protege” of someone whose schtick I couldn’t stand let alone want to carry on as their “apprentice” (one of the only times I haven’t supported apprenticeships).

No Frame fame in this reality, but no playing third banana to Jono and Ben, or continuing on the same Pulp Comedy / 7 Days legacy of talent that has only been broken up in recent series after 20+ years of the same few people hogging the spotlight in another NZ media format.

Photographic proof of my eventual, one-off stand-up comedy career Photo courtesy of Raybon Kan

If you prescribe to the multiverse theory there are realities out there where I have had nothing but success, and others with nothing but failure.

I have experienced a reasonably health balance.

I could do without a lot of the pain I have endured in my life to date.

The disappointments, the heartbreaks, the scars, the lack of faith, the micromanagement by people with no idea of what I do or am capable of, and missed opportunities.

But those things all make me the person I am – The good, the bad and the ugly.

Ouch.

As someone once said to me:

“Life is like a heart rate – It has its ups and downs. If it’s a flat line, you’re dead!”

In the Eric Bana starring movie adaptation of The Time Traveler’s Wife (#FunFact: Rachel McAdams plays the titular wife of time traveler in both this movie AND About Time) Bana and McAdams’ characters have difficulty conceiving a baby because of Henry’s (Bana’s) time-fluid genetics. On one of his blips forward in time Henry is greeted and embraced by a girl of about 10 years old – his daughter! But she is also sad, because her father died not long after she was born.

The confliction of achieving a long held goal, but at great, or even the ultimate cost.

To be fair I wasn’t Halfway Down, more like A Quarter Up…

Half Way There

So much of what I’ve been and done seems so far away in the past, and so much of what I’ve wanted to do for a long time has always been constantly just out of reach.

My Tūrangawaewae: Tamatea, Napier!

My greatest goal in life and my greatest happiness had been being a father and a lot of time, effort and pain has gone into me becoming a dad like mine.

But now my daughter is older and amazing and inspiring I feel like i need to do something for myself, but that comes with a load of guilt.

I am so proud of her, but not proud of myself, and time certainly doesn’t feel like it is on my side any more.

I’m lacking traction and direction and I desperately need it.

I’ll continue writing because, if nothing else, I enjoy it and it is an outlet. The motivation and time to continue it is getting harder to find, though.

Woah, I’m half way there, but I’m stuck in the middle.

I don’t know what I wil do, but I know that, 35 years ago or now, giving up is something I’m never gonna do.

Bay in May

Two months ago Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay promoted an initiative to get the region’s population out and about, interacting with, and enjoying, their region’s natural features called #BayinMay.

It was a great idea, and one that our family took part in on multiple occasions across the month, often several times on weekends!

It helped that the first of May was a sunny, warm Sunday, so we headed up to Marine Parade, just along the beach from the National Aquarium of New Zealand to start ticking off tasks.

For our first task we decided to get creative, making a driftwood sculpture.

We gathered armfuls of driftwood, kelp and shells, setting a dining table suitable for Tangaroa!

While we were within arms-reach of a more than plentiful supply of greywacke (for those who are unaware, Napier’s Marine Parade beach is notoriously un-sandy) we made stone sculptures, too – I managed to get mine to defy gravity long enough to get photographic proof – With a triangular base it was more Stone-Hinge than Stonehenge.

We were on a roll(ing stone?)!

Next we went around the other side of Mataruahou – Napier Hill to Hardinge Road, Ahuriri, known locally as “Rocky Shore” because it’s a shore that’s, well, rocky:

There we studied the tidal pools and all the aquatic creatures that exist within, spotting chitons, crabs and sea slugs.

Throughout the following weeks we went from the heights of Taradale’s Sugarloaf hill to watch the sun set:

To walking around Hawke’s Bay Trails like that around Pandora Pond (Ahuriri Lagoon):

Some tasks were closer to home, like admiring “tree corridors” in places like Marewa’s Tom Parker Avenue.

Even just playing in autumnal leaves:

On a couple of occasions we went for walks up Dolbel Reserve, also in Taradale – It’s Kauri Trail is full of newly planted and established native flora.

It was a fantastic way for our family to spend our weekends together, while also learning more about nature and getting to appreciate the little local details that are so often overlooked.

And just because it was called “Bay in May” doesn’t mean you have missed your chance to experience some environmentally friendly and diverse parts of Hawke’s Bay – these are things that can be done any time of the year!

So get out and enjoy our region’s bio diversity and natural surroundings!

12 Days of Hawke’s Bay Takeaways!

As you know, each year the Frame family have a tradition of making a 12 day menu plan mirroring the traditional and Kiwi 12 days of Christmas, but with added deliciousness!

I have joked that the traditional version contains enough birdlife (partridges, turtle doves, french hens, calling birds..) that it could almost warrant a “Twelve Days of KFC”.

That gave me an idea:

Hawke’s Bay is blessed with some of the finest food producers and hospitality venues in New Zealand. The regularity with which we win big national and international awards give a general idea of just how great they are.

In recent years the number and range of these businesses has exploded. Gone are the days of Fish & Chips being the sole variety of takeaways available in the region – A multicultural smorgasbord is now available in your city, your suburb, or just at the tips of your fingers care of apps and smart devices ordering online.

So I thought, “Hey, why not do a “12 Days of HB Takeaways” and try and see just how much of a range of pre-prepared food can be sourced in the region?!”.

Now, I am based in Napier, as my brand suggests, so the majority of these will likely be Napier-based, simply because these are the takeaways I am most familiar with / have already brought from.

This isn’t sponsored content.

None of the companies listed have paid or given me free food to do this – It’s just something that I thought would be a cool idea and I thought they would be the most appropriate fit for their day / theme.

I believe in local Hawke’s Bay businesses and love seeing them succeed!

While it was intended to be a “12 Days of Christmas” list (did you know the 12 Days traditionally starts on Christmas Day, and isn’t actually a countdown to Christmas?) our regular annual “12 Days” list had a few hiccups and ran late, and with public holidays and different opening hours post-Christmas many of the places on my list weren’t open on some of the 12 Days after, so while I’m keeping the Christmas listing format, It’s essentially a 12 Days of Hawke’s Bay HOLIDAY Takeaways.

I have mixed up the Traditional and Kiwi 12 days of Christmas themes to give some variety, make it a bit easier, and diverse. There’s a good chance I may expand the list as other options arise, so come back and check it again at some later time.

So let’s take it away, with 12 Days of Hawke’s Bay Takeaways:

A Partridge in a Pear Tree / A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree = Hapi

In our usual “12 Days” menus day one almost always involves some for of vegetation or foliage – just like the Pear, or Ponga Tree.

Hapī Clean Kai Co-op is Napier’s award winning, premiere venue when it comes to healthy and vegetarian food.

Recently relocated from their original takeaway bar site down the road to Chantal’s shop on Hastings Street in Napier Hapī has gone from strength to strength and continues to gain in popularity with locals and visitors alike.

With healthy juices, vegetarian and vegan sandwiches and dishes, as well as sweet slices and, of course, coffee Hapī has become a go-to with those who want local “green” cuisine.

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Two Turtle Doves / Two Kumera = Mamacita

A visit to Mamacita, located on Havelock Road in Havelock North and Tennyson Street, Napier on the second day of the week will be auspicious, as it’s Taco Tuesday (*Available for Dine-In Only)!

Coming in hard and soft shell forms (like turtles) tacos are just one of the many options available from these favorite Hawke’s Bay’s Mexican restaurants.

Nachos, Quesadillas (“Quesadilla Thursday” is also available only for Dine-in), vegetarian and carnivore options with Ceviche, Camarones and Calamares seafood dishes available on their “Small Bites” menu.

Three French Hens / Three Flax Kete = Rock My Belly

“Chicken and Waffles” was something I had heard of repeatedly (mainly in American movies), but never tried. That was until we went to Rock My Belly, upstairs on the northern side of upper Emerson Street, Napier.

We are able to tick both theme boxes here with the French Hens AND the latticed Kete basket look of the waffles!

Southern Fried Chicken Waffles are a hit with Miss in Frame and I love the Chicken Curry Waffles.

The waffles themselves aren’t as sweet as regular dessert waffles, the thought of which was initially a bit of a put-off, making a nice flavor and texture mix overall.

Rock My Belly’s focus on great “comfort food” like this has proved very popular in the short time they have been open.

The chef’s name is Andrew, too, so you know it must be good! 😉

Four Calling Birds / Four Huhu grubs = Tu Meke Don

Again with the poultry!

Tu Meke Don, in Napier’s Ocean Boulevard (between upper Emerson and Dickens Streets) is run by Tim, Junko and their son Tane. It has been our go-to for Sushi for a number of years and a favorite for inner city workers and shoppers.

Their Karage Chicken in sushi, donburi, curries and just straight out fried is a personal favorite.

Five Gold Rings / Five Big Fat Pigs = Donut Robot

If five gold rings is what you’re after you can’t go past the delicious, crispy on the outside, soft in the middle, chocolate or berry-iced, custard filled, or just cinamon sugar dusted American-style donuts made fresh by Steve in his little “Toy Caravan”!

Donut Robot has been regularly stationed in the car park of St Paul’s Church on the corner of Tennyson and Dalton Streets, Napier for a number of years and has garnered quite a cult status and large fan base. Not only a master donut slinger, Steve is also good for a chat about the day’s local and inter/national events.

The pic above is actually of some Gua Bao I tried on a visit to Auckland a few years ago, but I intend to go to Funbuns VERY soon!

Six Geese a-Laying / Six Poi a-Twirling = Funbuns Pork Buns

A few years ago in our family 12 Days of Christmas Deliciousness we featured Tu Meke Don’s Rice Balls as Poi a-Twirling, on a similar Asian food theme here I’m nominating Gua Bao (Steamed Buns) from Funbuns to represent the Poi on this list.

Funbuns, on the corner of Heretaunga Street East and Warren Street Hastings, is a place I have yet to get to, but really want to, as I have heard lots of great stuff about!

“Can recommend pretty much everything on the menu (cocktails are frisky-fresh too). Barman is a multi award winner at HB Hospo awards. Their 12hr beef shin sharing plate & Chinese fried chicken with black tea mayo are yum!” Yvonne Lorkin c/o Twitter

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Seven Swans / Eels a-Swimming = Thai Lotus

Thai Lotus can be found right in the centre of the Taradale Shopping Centre. The building used to house the Taradale Library many years ago. Now it is home to delicious Thai cuisine!

With a wide range of stir fries, curries, satay, soups and more you’re sure to find the perfect dish – it might even be eel-like noodles swimming in a delicious curry or cashew sauce!

No photo description available.

Eight maids a-Milking / Eight Plants of Puha = Lick This

One of the best ways to cool down on a hot Hawke’s Bay day is with something Maids a-Milking can directly contribute to: Ice cream!

Lick This, in the old Marineland grandstand building makes their own ice cream on site in a massive, regularly changing range of flavors. From standards like Chocolate and Hokey Pokey, to seasonal and special flavors like Christmas Cake, Unicorn and Bacon, Banana and Maple.

They also sell gelato and, local legends, Rush Munro ice cream.

Nine Ladies Dancing / Nine Sacks of Pipis = Six Sisters

There aren’t quite nine of them, but they are all girls – Six Sisters Coffee House is in one Napier’s most iconic non-Art Deco buildings on Marine Parade, just towards the hill from Lick This.

The story goes Napier’s Harbor Master had six daughters, whom he had houses built next to each other for between Albion and Vautier Steets. These half dozen, two storey weather board buildings have become known as “The Six Sisters” and Napier’s best Bacon, Egg and Pesto Bagels (in my humble opinion) can be found at the sister second from the left when looking at the houses from the sea side.

Lucy and her team of lovely ladies (there’s about six of them all up, but they’re not sisters) serve bagels, Napier’s best coffee (again IMHO), scones, slices, biscuits, and smoothies looking out across Marine Parade to the stunning vista of Hawke Bay!

Ten Lords a-Leaping / Ten Juicy Fish Heads = Fish & Chips

It wouldn’t be a list of Kiwi takeaways without featuring Fish and Chips! (I prefer fish fillets to fish heads, personally, but won’t judge).

Napier is certainly not bereft of choice on this front, as I can think of at least three options within walking distance of my house alone!

Thank God its Fryday is my local in Marewa, but others like The Pirimai Chippy, Frying Dutchman and Charles Street Takeaway all have loyal followings.

Eleven Pipers Piping / Eleven Haka Lessons = Brave Brewing

It’s not Highland bagpipes and single malt whisky, but Brave’ Brewing’s iconic trumpet does involve pipe work!

Fast becoming one of Hawke’s Bay’s preferred craft breweries, Brave Brewing opened their new tap room and beer bar in the former Herald Tribune newspaper precinct site on Queen Street East, Hastings in 2020, after the nationwide Covid lockdown to promote and compliment their onsite brewing operation.

During 2020 and 2021’s Level 4 lockdowns Brave also took the initiative of delivering their beer direct to their customers around Hawke’s Bay and New Zealand (as you can see in the pic above). Cheers for that!


Twelve Drummers Drumming / Twelve Piupius Swinging = Vinci’s Pizza

One of Napier’s newer, and certainly most popular takeaway joints is Vinci’s Pizza at the cathedral / hill end of Hastings Street along from Hapi and Chantal.

What has made it so popular is that you can buy a single hot slice of their fantastic pizzas he perfect size for a snack or lunch, or buy a whole pizza which is about the size of a large snare drum! You can even mix it up and get a whole pizza’s worth of individual slices

Each pizza is hand-made by Vincent and his team 9nsite and, as with the personal touch of the other hospitality providers on this list, the range regularly changes with seasonal specialty pizzas along with the traditional stylea of Margherita and Quatro Fromagio.

Just before Santa went on his rounds last week I bought a slice of Christmas Glazed Ham pizza -It was fantastic!

So there you go – just a slice of the potential ideas to take away from 12 Days of Hawke’s Bay Takeaways – enjoy!

Perhaps it could be a New Year resolution to try thelist in the early days of 2022?!

If there are any local takeaways I have egregiously forgotten that fit into the 12 Days categories, please let me know and I can add them in.

Happy New Year!

AF

12 Days of Christmas Deliciousness 2021

This is, from memory, the thirteenth time Mrs in Frame has composed a special menu for the “12 Days of Christmas” in a countdown to the big day itself.

Each year we alternate between the traditional (Partridge in a Pear Tree) and New Zealand (“Pukeko in a Ponga Tree”) versions of the Christmas carol.

This year it was the turn of the traditional “Partridge” version.

Alan Partridge Shrug GIFs | Tenor

Wherever possible she tries to tie in part of the carol lyrics to the dish – i.e. “Partridge in a Pear Tree” will usually contain pears or some kind of bird reference to some degree.

Due to the rather prolific recurrence of birds in the traditional carol (Partridges, Turtle Doves, French Hens, Swans, Geese..), there may also be some sort of alliteration or similar tie-in, otherwise we might as well have the “Twelve Days of KFC”….

When all else fails, a fair chunk of artistic license is brought in. It really takes a fair bit of dedication and imagination to pull off!

I’ll do my best to explain the theory behind each dish as we go.

So sit back and have some fun as I reveal what my true love made for me over the Twelve Days of Christmas Deliciousness for 2021:

Day 1 – A Partridge in a Pear Tree: Part-ridged Pear Tart

Pretty straight forward – as stated above we usually kick off with something involving pears, this pear tart is “part-ridged” – see what we did there?

Day 2 – Two Turtle Doves: Hard shell Tacos / Nachos

Tacos come in hard and soft-shells – just like turtles!

Day 3 – Three French Hens: Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a well known French dish. My wife has been vegetarian/pescatarian for a number of years now, so the hen aspect was off the menu, until…

Day 4 – Four Calling Birds: Karage Chicken Sushi from Tu Meke Don

Tim, Junko and Tane have been our go-to for Sushi for a number of years. and their karage chicken in sushi, donburi and just straight out fried is a favorite. (While I and Miss in Frame had the chicken, Mrs in Frame had Salmon.)

Day 5 – Five Gold Rings: 5 Golden Pasties

Pretty straight forward again – Golden rings of pastry filled with: Roast Carrot & Carrot Pesto, Mushroom & Broccoli, Asparagus & Onion, Roast Capsicum Dip & Feta, and Chocolate Ganache Tarts!

Day 6 – Six Geese a-Laying: Home-made Vanilla Ice Cream

I had to ask how she figured this one, too, but it’s because the vanilla pods’ contents give the ice cream a speckled appearance like the geese at our local park (she obviously spends more time there than I do).

Day 7 – Seven Swans Swimming: Squid Ink Pasta with Garlic and Lemon

Alliteration (using a number of words starting with the same letters / sounds / syllables) is a common trick we use when doing out 12 Days of Christmas. #FunFact: When the alliteration uses “S” sounds it’s called “sibilance” like in “Seven Swans Swimming”. The only swans I am aware of locally are the Black Swans down at the park and they are outright psychotic, so we’re not going anywhere near them. This Squid Ink Pasta is black, like the swans, starts with an “S”, and is far less homicidal.

Day 8 – Eight Maids a-Milking: Mac & Cheese

The predominant percentage of ingredients in Macaroni and Cheese are produced from what the titular maids have been extracting – Milk! (bonus points for it being such a glorious staple comfort food).

Day 9 – Nine Ladies Dancing: Chickpea Carrot Sauté with Homemade Focaccia Bread

While I initially thought the reasoning here was that the Chickpeas dance around the pan as they are sautéed, like the Ladies (“Chicks”), it was actually because most of the ingredients (sans Chickpeas) came from our garden and Mrs in Frame tells me her garden makes her happy enough to dance.

This was also the first time Mrs in Frame made Focaccia Bread by hand – and absolutely nailed it!

Day 10 – Ten Lords a-Leaping: Big English Breakfast for Dinner

Lords” is a word we generally associate with England (not to be confused with “Lord’s” – the home of cricket). And this big English Breakfast of sausages, beans, eggs, etc. is fit for a, well.. y’know…

Day 11 – Eleven Pipers Piping: Shortbread

To keep in theme with Scottish pipers piping I suggested a bottle of good single malt whisky. But apparently that’s “irresponsible parenting”, so shortbread – another Scottish staple it was.

In related Scottish news – Miss in Frame took up Highland dancing this year and in her first competitive dance WON FIRST PLACE! All the more reason for a celebratory bottle, but I digress… #ProudDadMoment

Day 12 – Twelve Drummers Drumming: Pumpkin Cake

Ending on another sweet note we aligned pumpkins with their drum-like appearance to create Pumpkin Cake with cream cheese icing. Pumpkins and their gourd relatives have been used as many things aside from food for centuries, including basic drums for Twelve Drummers!

So there you go – another Twelve Days of Christmas Deliciousness completed for another year. Sorry for the delay I usually try and get these out on Christmas Eve, but 2021 has been, well, 2021.

All the very best to you and your family for 2022 – May it be more fun and fortuitous than this year, and I’ll catch you in my next post – here’s a hint – the “12 Days of Takeaways” gave me an idea!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

AF

Hello My Name is Human

“What is wrong with me”?

It’s a question we have all asked ourselves from time to time.

“Did I say that out loud, or just think it?” “Did I say that in a normal speaking voice, or yell it and everyone is just being polite?”

Such little queries are often a constant companion. Some people ignore them, while for others these insecurities can consume them.

For the most part I am happy with who and what I am, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have the occasional self-audit, or review / revision.

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Fortunate Son

My Mum and Dad had me quite late in life – Dad was 42, Mum was 37.

Spinster” was what was written in the “occupation” section of Mum’s section of their marriage certificate the year before I was born.

“Spinster”?!

Try calling a 30-something woman that today and see how many stitches you end up with!

Dowager Countess” must have already been taken in 1976.

This was the late 70s and a lot of the old attitudes and medical practices were still forefront. With my mother being an “older woman” there was a heightened chance I would be born with some form of disability, like Down Syndrome. Except they didn’t use that correct, technical name back then, they used the term “Mongol”.

I apologize for using that expression – I despise it, but I only used it to illustrate that it was something I was reminded of rather frequently for some odd reason. “You could have been a Mongol Child”.

My mother made a friend in the maternity home who had twins the day after I was born. One of those twins happened to be born with Downs Syndrome (and would later attend the Special Education unit at the same high school I went to), so maybe that was just some sort of constant reminder, or little voice of “what could have been” in my Mum’s head.

There were some worried moments when, as a child, I appeared to have a larger than normal head that required a trip or two up to Auckland Hospital for scans. But, as it turned out, it was just aware of how big I would be later in life and was getting a head start (ba-doom-tish!) on proceedings.

I grew up what generally qualifies as “normally” for an only child in the 80s – a time I remember very fondly, if not being quite lonely.

As I’ve written before television and my toys were my main friends early in life.

Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch influenced the levels of light and darkness in my world outlooks and the level and range of NZ-made television in the 80s inspired me to want to do it myself one day. It declared “We are New Zealand! We are stunning and capable of awesome things!”

School brought new challenges, but also new outlets.

As an only child you can become quite independent (you generally have to be) and very creative thanks to using your imagination to keep yourself busy or entertained most of the time.

It also meant I was a sponge for knowledge – I read and watched and listened to anything I could to keep myself amused, informed, or busy. I was a bit of a swot. It would pay off later in life when it came to quizzes, though.

My creativity took the form of writing (does it show?) and performance (mainly pretending to be presenting my own TV shows), things I excelled at until I discovered girls and those little queries started to speak up, making me think there might be something “wrong” with me.

Achey, Breaky Heart

I was a hopeless romantic when I was younger.

Well, “useless” would be a more accurate description.

I wouldn’t so much as hold a girl’s hand (other than when they had to in “social dancing” sessions of PE in high school..) until I was 21 and it was not for lack of trying!.

I shed numerous tears wondering why I was “unlovable” from Tamatea Primary School, right through to Tamatea High where I was sweet on several girls who had no interest whatsoever in this rather odd, tall, gangly young fellow.

Always the tallest kid in class, I was also always at the back, in the middle for school photos.

Perhaps the loneliness of only child-ness had just had enough, or maybe all the reading, watching and imagining had set too high a bar?

I’d read many books and watched many shows and movies about “true love” and “star-crossed lovers”.

I adored the romanticism of movies like “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, but was also somehow convinced I would be the one who “loved and lost” like Tom Hank’s character’s back story in “Sleepless in Seattle”.

John Hannah’s recital of W. H. Auden’s “Funeral Blues” in Four Weddings was just so accurate and so heartbreaking. I included it as a reading at my Dad’s funeral.

I “tried too hard”, apparently, or “didn’t try hard enough”, or maybe it was just different mindsets? With having older parents and values perhaps things just wouldn’t align.

I’ve used the expression that “I think I was 35 for about 25 years” because it wasn’t until that age, by which time I was married and a new father that women seemed interested in me at all.

By then it was too late, of course, because my heart belonged to one lady and my soul to another tiny, new lady.

It just so happened that my engagement ring was The One Ring from the Lord of The Rings movie trilogy, but rather than putting it on making the wearer invisible, mine made me finally visible to the female populace.

Foreskin’s Lament 

“Unique” is probably the best word to describe me throughout my schooling.

“Tall” was another.

“Awkward” and “Dorky” would rate up there too. Basically any John Hughes era movie stereotype that wasn’t “Preppy”, or “Jock”.

My 90s New Zealand high school experience was nothing like those movie stereotypes, thankfully.

I was discussing the experience with a fellow old classmate a few months ago and we decided than, while there were still the general “Sporty” kids, the “Munters” and “Cool / 90210” kids at Tamatea High School from 1991-1995, there was nowhere near the level of extremity or tribalism you stereo-typically see in most (American) media of the time.

There was no hatred of different types. We all, by and large, got on and accepted each other, because these were still the same people you had spent the last 5-12 years going through school with.

I don’t think I ever fitted into any of the specific stereotypes, though, just floated around the periphery, occasionally temporarily osmosing into one cell or the other.

And I liked that uniqueness.

Maybe it was the only child thing – independence, or one’s self was the only thing I could totally rely on.

But it led to a moral conundrum: What am I?

Who am I?

What sort of person do I want to be?

I wanted to be my Dad. He was (and still is, even though he’s gone) my hero.

I was never the outdoorsy, or jack-of-all-trades type of person he was, but his moral compass always pointed true north and that’s what I aspired to.

In fifth or sixth form we did a school play (see, STILL love performing!) called “Masquerade” –  A big, song, drama and dance production about the masks we put on in life (just add teenage angst, stand back, cover your ears and brace for the shock wave).

One of the older students (It must have been 5th form, because I’m sure he was a couple years older than me) named Christopher Dann did a rendition of “Foreskin’s Lament” that was just captivating.

Chris was one of the students (I think he was Dux of his year) who was bound for great, oratory things – Either a lawyer, or investigative journalist / breakfast television host.

I still hear him delivering those last lines:

“What are ya?

What are ya?

WHAT ARE YA?!

<lights cut to black>”

I find myself asking myself that same question time and time again.

A self-audit.

So.

“What are ya?!”

What Am I?

Tall. There is certainly no denying that. 6’8″, or 2.04 meters in metric terms.

Image

This can make some things difficult: Legroom in cars and planes, long pants and big shoes can be difficult to come by.

While jeans that only come part way down your shins may be all the style at the moment they were the ultimate clothing faux pas when my growth spurts kicked into hyperdrive in the 80s and 90s.

Most people think doorways are my natural enemy and whacking my forehead on lower lintels is a concern. Not so!

As you get taller you learn to go through doors on the down-step, so if you do hit your head, it’s right on the crown and snaps the head backwards with a bright flash of stars.

Shorter people will never know the struggle.

My height also means being an asshole is never really an option. (not that it was ever in my disposition to begin with) – it’s not like I can easily hide away.

I prefer to be a BFG – a Big, Friendly Giant!

I smile at people in the street, help old ladies get stuff off the top shelves at the supermarket, that sort of thing.

“It’s better to be “always remembered” than “never forgotten”.”

Dad. The only thing I wanted to be in life was a good a father and husband as my Dad was. He was kind and caring. He never swore at, or abused me, even when he was angry with me. He was calm, measured and understanding.

We struggled to become parents, having to go through IVF and certain things, like having a “Testicular Biopsy”, were far from pleasant, but we got there in the end, and my daughter is the most wonderful girl and it constantly amazes me that she shares half my genes.

Maybe it’s the idol-status I have for my Dad, but it does lead to a level of insecurity that I’m not doing a good enough job.

Losing my Dad soon after our daughter was born was a massive hit for me. He was my biggest, most constant supporter. When I lost him I lost a lot of my confidence, self belief and motivation.

I’ve had the positivity of our wonderful growing daughter to spur me on and focus upon, but I lost my safety net, my support network. That has been very hard.

I’ve made sacrifices for my daughter and family (more on that later, but that’s just what a dad does, right?

I think my daughter gets a bit sick of me asking her if I do a good job, but the other day she said I was “the best Dad” when we were playing (no bribe or purchases required) so I guess I must be doing something right.

I can’t go past a good #DadJoke, either!

O

Loyal and Dedicated. I look after my family, friends and those who do the same for me. I love my hometown and region – it’s somewhere I’ve lived all my life, I love to see it thrive and succeed and want as many people as possible to know about it, so they can share the experience too. I do everything to the highest standard I can and see tasks through to completion.

While my cricket club recognized that this year, it’s been sadly lacking for a long time in other places.

Fair. I’ve always had a strong sense of right and wrong, fair and unjust and always railed against things I thought weren’t right. It has been a backbone of much of my writing and advocacy. I also believe everyone’s story deserves telling, not just a select few.

Creative. Writing, pictures, videos, models, dioramas, and occasionally woodwork are all things I enjoy. To make, or recreate something is really fun and something I love doing.

A Would-be Hawke’s Bay Media Magnate. I love writing. I love telling my own, others’ and Hawke’s Bay’s stories, be in in a blog, a video, or radio/audio format.

I also have the voice (and face) for radio.

So What’s Wrong With Me?

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”

Despite all those positives why can’t I seem to be happy, or feel fulfilled recently?

I haven’t had the easiest decade:

IVF, the birth of our daughter, the death of my Dad, buying our own house, a Global Financial Crisis, getting Mum into a care home, a month in hospital with a peculiar heart issue, Mum passing away, a world-wide pandemic, a growing child… Hardly a flat, calm sea!

Though, as someone pointed out to me years ago, life is like a heartbeat monitor – it’s supposed to have ups and downs. If it’s flat, you’re dead!

Gallows humor, certainly, but clinically correct.

I like writing and promoting my region and, by general consensus I am reasonably good at it.

My writing has achieved me some minor local renown over recent years, though as a PR friend told me a couple years ago “You picked the worst time to be good at it” given how many in NZ’s commercial news networks have preferred to gut local newsrooms and copy and paste irrelevant reckons from Auckland talkback radio hosts into regional mastheads as rage-click inducing “editorials”.

“Premium” is not the word for the constant enabling, monetization and multi-platforming of terrible, regionally irrelevant takes like these.

Despite my best efforts over the years, I have yet to gain promotional employment here in Hawke’s Bay, and whether it’s just the pandemic, or current direction of content, but I’ve only been commissioned for one piece of local writing this year, not that I’ve had a whole lot of spare time, or motivation to write.

I’m taking what chance I have now to get some thoughts on the page, as I’m having a week off before the run into Christmas and am working the few days between then and the New Year holidays.

My broadcasting aspirations were dashed early last year with the loss of local cricket commentary opportunities and yet more centralized personnel resourcing, with the same people who do the rugby, Olympics, America’s Cup, and all the other events out of Auckland given yet more opportunities to the detriment of everyone everywhere else.

What little exposure I had been very grateful to receive on Radio New Zealand’s The Panel also quietly ceased last year.

As far as I’m aware I never said or did anything wrong on-air, or off air.

It’s not like I used the platform to tout Covid conspiracy, or was eventually let go for leaking private patient details like one of their far more regular guests who was still on multiple times after I was given the heave-ho after only a few appearances.

I was told my removal from the Panelist lineup was because the broadcasting equipment from the Napier studio was redeployed so the network’s presenters could work from home during the Covid lockdown in 2020 (and, no doubt, further extended lockdowns throughout 2021 in Auckland where many of them are now based). Water damage and repairs from Napier’s flood in November 2020 also temporarily put their office out of action not long after.

However that didn’t stop other Panelists from being on the show via phone, Skype, or other means.

While I am fully aware Hawke’s Bay has some of the best internet coverage in New Zealand, it must have escaped their attention, until they had Janet Wilson beaming in across the broadband from Haumoana on the shores of Hawke Bay a few weeks ago.

Man, they must feel so silly…

But it’s not just my creative aspirations, or dreams of local media stardom failing me this year.

After over 17 years of doing my day job, despite requests for advancement or training across multiple bosses going unheeded, I finally had the chance to apply for the position myself.

I was short-listed with the new office graduate, who has been with us for about a yearm for an interview.

Management chose the graduate, because they have a relevant university qualification – Something I have never been given the opportunity to do through work, nor the time with odd and early hours of employment, or money with a family and mortgage to do of my own accord outside of work.

All my writing and media-ing is something I have been able to do after-hours of my day job due to its odd and often early hours.

I call it “Breakfast Radio / TV hours, but without the fame or fortune.”

It has provided a constant, secure income (throughout very insecure times) that has enabled me to support my family, buy a house, pay a mortgage and raise our daughter.

But now that she is getting older and more independent I feel like I can finally do something for myself.

The inability to realise my dreams, or even gain advancement where I have dedicated myself for years has made me feel like a failure, or that I’m being selfish or don’t deserve to do what I want to do.

It’s like the rejections and disappointments of my volunteering days coming back again, and they were devastating enough the first time.

I really am done with being constantly overlooked and undermined.

So what IS wrong with me?

It’s not a lack of talent, or skill, dedication, or work ethic.

I’m tired and sad, but I am doing what I can.

I’m only human.

He’s Making a List…

Years of typing, texting & tweeting eviscerated what was already terrible handwriting…

I’ve never been one for self-help books or schemes.

My chakras are constantly out of alignment, and I’m more into Nasi Goreng than Feng Shui.

Though there is one thing I picked up from one of these sorts of books years ago that I have stuck with:

Each year one of the first things I write in my diary is a list of ten goals I want to achieve that year and ten “materialistic” things I want to do or get.

My goals for this year, 2021, can be seen above.

It’s a good little guide, or set of targets, for the year to come.

“Win Lotto” is never one of those things.

Until this year “Get a new job” was usually at the top, or near the top, of the list. This year I left it off out of sheer frustration. That turned out to be a portent of things to come.

“Effect positive change for Napier / Hawke’s Bay” has been another consistent goal that I like to think I have achieved throughout the years through my writing and social media advocacy.

But this year I feel I failed in that goal, as I got little chance to write or be published and certainly no chance of being broadcast other than social media.

When I HAVE had the time to write my motivation and self belief has been so eroded by external forces over the last 18 months that I could rarely be bothered.

I was, however, able to spend more quality time with my daughter, and that is certainly a great goal to have.

I was also recognised / rewarded for doing something I enjoy earlier this year when I was made a Life Member of NOBMCC – something I have loved doing for 15 years.

Given Covid restrictions “Travel Somewhere Nice” was something remarkable to achieve, especially as one of the places I traveled was Auckland – managing to squeeze in a visit between different stages of lockdown.

I probably would have enjoyed the overnight stay in Taupo the following Saturday more if I wasn’t still exhausted from the 10-ish hour return drive through the early morning darkness on the way to and from NZ’s biggest city..

I was also fortunate to meet more of my online friends in person, several of whom took the inability to travel overseas as an opportunity to see more of New Zealand, including my home town and region!

While I value the bigger goals more, the materialistic goals are also enjoyable – I’ve been fortunate enough to afford some luxuries this year – and helping our regional economy by buying from local businesses is a great way of helping everyone thrive.

The pile of books I have bought from Hawke’s Bay’s award winning Wardini Books this year has grown exponentially faster than I could ever hope to read them!

And there are more to come at Christmas…

Enjoying local hospitality businesses and the produce from local food and drink artisans has also been a highlight.

I still managed to achieve one of my other goals of losing a bit of weight throughout! (Only 5kg, but given the comfort eating I had been doing over the year, a rather miraculous goal…)

As we wind down 2021 and look forward to 2022 (dare we even look forward, or speculate on what could be?!) what are some of the things you would like to achieve, or buy, or do in 2022?

NOBMCC For Life

As I’ve said before, I love cricket.

I played it at every opportunity as a kid, and have been a member of Napier Old Boys’ Marist Cricket Club for the past 15 years, many of those years playing for, managing, and captaining their social team, the “Hobblers”, and I have been Club Secretary for 12 years.

I even have a 100% win record as Premier team captain, after one particularly unique game in 2015.

We are a very social club, so celebrating the connections within our club with dinners at Ten24 have also been big highlights.

Outside of Napier Old Boys Marist I have had some great cricketing experiences:

In 2014 I was a duck mascot at a Central Stags Supersmash T20 game.

Then, in late 2019 and early 2020, I got to fulfill a long-time dream by commentating Stags and Hinds Supersmash T20 cricket games for Radiosport from McLean Park, until the radio station was closed down shortly after (not my fault, I swear!).

My team-mates, club-mates and their families have become more like an extended family for me over time, especially since losing my father and mother in recent years.

It’s a given in our household that when my club or a club mate needs help or support, I just go and do it, and they return the loyalty.

It means a lot to me to have people believe in me.

It’s something I’ve struggled with and missed since Mum and Dad died.

So I was really honored to be made a Life Member of Napier Old Boys Marist Cricket Club last month.

It certainly doesn’t feel like 15 years, or 12 years as secretary, mainly because it’s still fun and something I still enjoy.

It’s also one voluntary role I have kept up because it never felt like I was being used so something, or someone else could profit, unlike other experiences, sadly.

So thank you Del, James, Glen, Dan, Stu, Scott, the Matts, Joshes and Rhys’, Tony, Nihal, Arun, Gaurav, John, Wayne, Rogan, Dave, Pete, Abby, Marion, Mary, and all the other clubmates and my extended NOBMCC whanau who have helped and supported me over the last decade and a half.

I do what I do for you!

❤️🏏❤️🏏❤️

A Visitor From Hawke’s Bay: Part Three

 

 

If it seems like years ago since I was last in Auckland, that’s probably because it was!

In 2019 I drove and flew to New Zealand’s largest city several times for sinus surgery and related pre and post-operative appointments.

When Covid 19 landed in New Zealand last year I was due to go for my final appointment, but I was too busy working solo, so it was delayed. Until the first week of the country’s month-long lockdown! Unsurprisingly that didn’t happen, either.

Earlier this year I finally got a call for that appointment again, so early one morning I once again got in my car (our new one, this time, as you will remember the previous vehicle had issues when I got to Auckland, which led to us trading it in last year) and heading north long before the sun had stretched, yawned and scratched.

Once again I hit thick fog (or cloud in some places) from the Rangitaiki Plains all the way to Tokoroa, which made driving just that bit more nerve-wracking, but made it safely and smoothly to Auckland by morning tea time.

My first stop was Mount Eden, which I had intended to climb (after summiting Mount Victoria and Maungakiakia (One Tree Hill) in respective previous visits. However, the fog had followed me and I was met with a very muggy, humid day and limited visibility from the summit and crater rim.

I fuddled around Mount Eden Village before meeting a Facebook contact who was buying some of my vintage toys – primarily my old GI Joe Tomahawk helicopter and completing the deal, which have me some spending money for the trip.

After that it was time to check into my motel for the night and walk next door to Greenlane Hospital for my appointment.

The check-up went fine, I got the all clear,  though the doctor chose to snip a bit of scar tissue inside my nose there and then which involved some sharp objects going where they usually don’t go on Monday afternoons.

After a bit of recovery time I ventured out again to investigate more of Auckland than I had been able to previously. My new car’s GPS proving invaluable in guiding me around the suburban streets.

I visited and had coffee with Jeremy Dillon, creator of The Moe Show, that I have written of previously. Jeremy showed me his company’s latest iideas and nnovations. It really is a cool company with a real “Muppet” spirit.

After that I headed out to St Luke’s Mall – somewhere I haven’t been for 30+ years to get a gift for my daughter and some clothes on special for myself (I am apparently now old enough to rank this as a genuine trip highlight?!).

After sourcing dinner via Twitter recommendations from a Thai restaurant near Potter’s Park, and its giant Wally, I headed back to my motel, via an elongated and delayed route care of Auckland’s “rush hour” (a truly oxymoronic term in Auckland, as the mass of vehicular congestion prevents anyone from rushing anywhere) traffic.

With a near-constsnt stream of traffic outside my accommodation I decided that was it for the day and stayed in, staying up surprisingly late, given the level of exertion I had exerted that day.

I woke just as early the next morning as I had the previous and, rather than face more congestion hit the highway heading south, skirting Hamilton and Waikato University  due to the fact I had missed a turn on State Highway 1B in the darkness.

I stopped for breakfast in Taupo, mainly because my concentration was starting to lag, went for a walk along the lakefront and found two model kits I was after in a hobby shop to recreate a particular favorite movie scene of mine:

 

The final stage back over SH5, the Napier-Taupo road was much easier in daylight and I was back home before lunch.

In total I had traveled a little over 1,000km in around 30 hours. An I would he travelling even more that week, as we had a family weekend back in Taupo the following Saturday – quite a paradoxically exhausting experience for me overall.

It was fun and interesting to be able to get out and see more of Auckland than on previous trips. It was also a bit odd, as the city was just coming out of a localized Covid lockdown, and perhaps a bit of nervousness or paranoia accompanied the journey – scanning and sanitizing were common practices on the trip.

 

 

Hopefully I might get to take my family back there on a holiday that doesn’t involve poking, prodding, or doctors sometime soon as, while Napier is a fantastic place and our home, it’s good to be a Visitor From Hawke’s Bay every once in a while!