No More Babies for Napier?


From the middle of December 2013, Napier’s population will cease to grow organically. You may be “Napier bred”, but you won’t be “Napier born” – because Napier Medical Centre’s maternity wing is closing.

If you are expecting a Christmas baby and were wanting to have your birth in Napier – even if your name is Mary and your partner’s name is Joseph, there will be no room at the Inn.

For those of you who follow my blog, you will know this is of particular interest to me, as my wife and I are expecting our first child very soon. It looks like our baby may be one of the last to be born in a Napier maternity facility.

I had heard a murmuring from a fellow expectant parent and went investigating. HBDHB staff would, naturally, not reveal anything to a mere member of the public like me, but a medical source confirmed to me that the maternity side of the Napier Health Centre would close around the second week of December. That’s pretty short notice and even worse news if you are well into your pregnancy and wanting to have your child in Napier like generations before. If you want our gorgeous hometown on your child’s birth certificate, you may have to look at having a home birth.

The closure of Napier’s maternity wing, and indeed the whole Napier Health Centre has been bandied around for some time. Now it looks like they are becoming, at least in part, a reality.

It’s claimed more Hawke’s Bay women have been choosing to have their children at Ata Rangi (Hastings / Hawke’s Bay Hospital’s maternity unit). But it appears not many people know Napier actually had its own maternity facility!

With over 2000 births per year in Hawke’s Bay (that’s five births every day of the year), we surely need all the beds and maternity services we can get. So why close one?

Hastings’ maternity unit often runs out of room and will move Napier mums and their newborn babies to the Napier Health Centre to free up space. So what happens without this back up come January?

With so many births, new mums we have talked to who gave birth to in Hastings say they often felt shunted around and put through the system as fast as economically possible.

I call it being “Hatched, matched and dispatched.”

A woman we attended antenatal classes with was looking at having her baby at the Napier Medical Centre, as her mother had experienced very short labours – between half an hour and 15 minutes from “whoa to go” (or from “go to ‘Waaaah’!” technically) and there was concern she would have the same issue. Without facilities in Napier, what will happen in cases like hers? A birth certificate that reads “Born: Meeanee Over-bridge”?

Is it acceptable? HELL NO! So what can we do?

Protest! Make some noise! Vent your spleen!

Our local MPs, Chris Tremain and Craig Foss constantly claim to be “Backing the Bay”, but seem timid and sycophantic to the will of their party masters on big, local issues (can you say “Napier-Gisborne rail line”, “Amalgamation”, or “Ruataniwha Dam”?) Email or ring them. Call them out and challenge them to actually do something and “back the Bay’s babies” on this one. Chris was born in Napier, by the way, so why can’t your child be?

Minister of Health, Tony Ryall may even be worth a tune-up.

If the Right side of the political ledger fails to do anything (and I’m not holding my breath), Stuart Nash seems to have Napier’s best interests at heart and a determination to see them through.

Write, text or ring the Hawke’s Bay Today (who I hoped would have been onto this sooner), or the Dominion Post / Hawke’s Bay Sun (email: Hastings ph: 870-7802; Napier: ph 834-3700) – Where local news fails, national attention can work wonders!

This is utterly unacceptable and should not be allowed to happen!

This is not parochialism – it’s civic pride!

I love Napier more than I could ever hope to fully articulate. It is my place of birth and my home. I see no credible reason why others won’t have the chance to say “I’m Napier BORN and bred!”

A Month of Fun-Days!

Looks a bit quiet, eh?

Looks a bit quiet, eh?

#GigatownNapier needs some giddy-up!

Inner-city Napier sadly lacks activity and public events. There is a citywide sale in the slowest, coldest time of the retail year, one day of the year when you’re supposed to be randomly kind to one-another (just one?) and a prolonged picnic on Napier’s Marine Parade, which draws people to the CBD’s periphery, away from the retailers and taking custom away from its own cafes.

Cumulatively it amounts to just over a dozen days of activities, covering less than 5{3919f50c199a8627c147b24d329ff0de8aa05e3a462fa3330e11cd9ea56ed948} of the year.

The CBD marketing association ladies will claim that it costs a lot (of council / retailer funding) to run their organizations and provide the same handful of events each year. But you’ve got to admit, the region’s central city businesses don’t appear to be getting much bang for their buck and our CBD needs both bang and buck urgently!

I get sick of cost being an excuse for inactivity. What about passion, creativity and imagination? Just use Youtube as an example. A couple of people with an idea and a camera can create something for nothing that millions of people around the world can view, enjoy or be inspired by.

Last year I took to Twitter with some ideas for getting action back into Napier’s CBD. We need preferably free (or very cheap) events that both enliven Napier’s city centre and encourage more spending. I tried to think outside the square as much as possible and involve local organizations, schools, groups etc. or develop ideas that involve partnerships with local or national companies giving them event naming rights in return for their logistical or financial input and the subsequent advertising.

The companies I mention below are mentioned merely a guideline – they are ones that I follow or vice versa on Twitter. As is the order of events – I started from a Monday and went from there.

Week 1: Your Brand Here!

#1: More FM Monday: Live broadcasts, sausage sizzles, fun & games with the local radio station!

#2: Hawke’s Bay Today Tuesday: Special feature section on Central Napier: History, Then and Now pictorials, stories etc. in the paper with perhaps a pull-out coupon selection for CDB businesses combined with displays throughout town, public interactivity with editors, reporters etc.!

#3: Whittaker’s Wide & Walk to Work Wednesday: Leave the car at home, ride or walk to work and get rewarded with CHOCOLATE!

#4: TV Thursday: New Zealand TV networks love doing live crosses, so the networks can broadcast their breakfast shows from Napier! Imagine TV One’s Breakfast broadcast from cafés and shops throughout Emerson Street, or TV3’s Firstline being presented from the balcony of ‘The Dome’ with the sun rising over Hawke Bay and Marine Parade behind it!

#5: Thank Grabaseat it’s Friday: Air NZ (who, let’s face it haven’t been the most generous to Hawke’s Bay in terms of flight prices) discounts their airfares to our region; Napier puts on a city-wide party to celebrate, attract and welcome the visitors!

#6: Suzuki Swift Saturday: BMW is launching its latest X5 in Napier next week, which is pretty awesome. So why not other marques? The Suzuki Swift has become the small car of choice in NZ for quick, stylie, around-town commuting. So why not launch their next generation car in a stylie city centre like Napier?

#7: Subway Soundshell Sessions: Free / gold coin donation to see live music at the Soundshell!

Week 2: Community Involvement!

#8: Musical Monday: Buskers & school bands / orchestras play throughout Napier’s CBD! I have had a concept in my head for some time of a combined Napier high schools orchestra / band / choir / variety show at the Municipal Theatre that this could tie in with.

#9: It Takes Two to Tango Tuesday: Cafes & shops open onto the street to music & dancing lessons / demonstrations!

#10: Awareness Wednesday: Napier’s community groups, clubs, etc. stage an outdoor expo along the paved areas of Emerson and Market Street. Raising awareness of what can be done in and for this beautiful city!

#11: Theatrical Thursday: Schools and local theatre groups take to the streets to perform!

#12: Fashion Friday: Napier’s clothing stores host a combined fashion parade and use Emerson Street as the catwalk! EIT fashion / theatre / media students can assist in the production, aiding their studies!

#13: School’s Out Saturday: Activities specials & events for the young ones throughout town!

#14: Sport Hawke’s Bay Sundays: Plenty of green grass along Marine Parade and empty spaces not being used, so let’s use it for interactive sport demonstrations!

Multi-Media Week

#15: Make Some News Monday: Hawke’s Bay Today, the Dominion Post etc. open up to Napier people for them to submit their CBD stories & pics. (Also gives any thin editions a bit more bulk!)

#16: Twitter Tuesday: Encourage the public to utilise the CBD’s free Wifi coverage by sending Tweets, pictures & video broadcasting Napier to the Twitterverse! Get #Napier trending internationally on Twitter!

#17: Wifi Wednesday: Encourage the city’s people and businesses out onto the streets with the CBD’s free Wifi network!

#18: Youtube Thursday: Expose the world-wide interweb to virtual guided tours of Napier people’s favourite places and things? Create some interest and make people want to visit and check them out for themselves!

#19: Facebook Friday: Encourage the public to utilise the CBD’s free Wifi coverage by sending pictures & video broadcasting Napier onto Facebook! Get #Napier trending internationally!

#20: Snapshot Saturday: Post pics of central Napier onto sites such as Flickr, Instagram and Pintrest. Prizes for the most “liked” or creative photos!

#21: Open-air Cinema Sunday: The Soundshell doubles as an outdoor cinema for the evening!

Commercial Week

#22: Makeover Monday: Central Napier’s proliferation of women’s clothing stores, hairdressers, beauty therapists and masseuses take the fore to make Napier people look and feel wonderful!

#23: Tax-free Tuesday: A city-wide 15{3919f50c199a8627c147b24d329ff0de8aa05e3a462fa3330e11cd9ea56ed948} off Sale!

#24: Midweek Market Wednesday: Napier’s Farmers’ Market comes to town a few days early in the evening, while Inner-city shops have stalls outside during the day.

#25: Themed Thursday: City-wide storefront displays and promotions based around an event or a local / visiting national sporting team etc. Public votes on best display, specials on anything black and white (for a Magpies theme)!

#26: Alfresco Feast Friday: For an evening Emerson Street becomes Napier’s biggest outdoor restaurant, as the CBD’s eateries put on an outdoor serving to put the “Great Long Lunch” to shame!

#27: Special Someone Saturday: Treat your special someone to breakfast, shopping & more! Spend $20 or more in a store city-wide to be in the draw to win a night at The Dome / County Hotel etc.!

#28: Slow, Summery Sunday: Take a stroll through town, have a shop, have some lunch at a café and then wander up to the parade for a leisurely walk, or relaxed concert at the Soundshell!

“If All Else Fails” Week

#29: Music Video Monday: Why has Napier never featured in a music video? Let’s make one!
If No bands are forthcoming, then it could become “Manufactured Pop Monday”, evolving into a reality TV series featuring a search for local talent. How could NZ on Air refuse to fund it?

#30: Tug of War Tuesday: With so much rhetoric and spin over the amalgamation debate, let’s settle it the old fashioned way – a NCC vs. HDC / HBRC / WDC / CHBC / A Better Hawke’s Bay tug of war down Emerson Street. Winner takes all (or status quo)!

#31: “Wipe-out” Wednesday: Create a fun, crazy obstacle course in Emerson Street and invite people, individuals, companies and schools to take it on!

There are my ideas. What do you think?
• A month FULL of activities?
• 31 weeks with one event per week?
• Or can central Napier stay alive with the weak pulse and mere 5{3919f50c199a8627c147b24d329ff0de8aa05e3a462fa3330e11cd9ea56ed948} activity it currently exhibits.

Incidentally, the earliest chance of doing all the events, in order, would be September or December 2014, whose 31 days start on a Monday.

But why wait? I love my city and want to see it busy and prosperous.

Let’s get these ideas into fruition NOW!

Mission the Mark Again


If it was a joke, it would start with “Hey, Mission Concert, the nineties called!” And that’s how we got this year’s “big”, “surprise” acts.

Each member of the “UK Invasion Party” (they’ve already had to do an emergency rebranding – see below), comprising of Ronan Keating, Melanie C of the Spice Girls, Billy Ocean, Leo Sayer and Sharon Corr of the Corrs will perform for around 20 minutes at Mission Concert in February next year.

It all sounds pretty luke-warm to me:
Ronan Keating is ok, but his recent gigs on “reality” singing shows have diluted his credibility for me.
‘Sporty Spice’ was, at least, one of the Spice Girls who could actually sing (lord help our ears if they’d snared Victoria Beckham!)
Sharon Corr was the violinist, back-up singer and 1/3rd of the ¾ sensationally attractive (sorry Brother Corr) siblings that made up “The Corrs”.
Billy Ocean got out of my ears, into his car and drove off into the sunset years ago.
And I had to Google Leo Sayer before I could even recognise any of his songs.

As is the way with this age of technology, I immediately jumped online to gauge reaction to the announcement

The Hawke’s Bay Today website’s announcement was a bit drab and “regurgitated press release-ish”, but the comments section was, as always, good for a laugh.

I get very amused by comments vilifying or “knocking” the “knockers.” Everyone is entitled to their opinion. So what is wrong with someone voicing their displeasure at what they consider is another sub-standard Mission line-up?

Hawke’s Bay Today has done a better job of getting wider opinions this year.

Finding a terribly amateur mistake (organisers failed to recognise that Keating and Corr are from the Republic of Ireland and Ocean was born in the Caribbean – not the “United Kingdom” and a very quick way to get into a fight apparently) in Mission Concert organisers’ marketing (or proof-reading / sub-editing) restored a bit of my faith in balanced journalism too.

Getting the basics wrong this year isn’t a Mission Concert first, after a series of wine bottles were printed up for Eric Clapton’s (a recovering alcoholic) show six years ago.

A truer litmus test is the reactions from a wider audience – tourists who come from out of town for Napier’s events, the likes of these commenters.

Online reactions did bring up a very good point.

When Dame Kiri Te Kanawa performed at the inaugural Mission Concert in 1993, it was new, special and spectacular. It set a standard that many other wineries and venues followed.

Now virtually every winery and its dog stages “Mission-esque” concerts and events each year. Many smaller, newer vineyards, parks and venues attract much more up-to-date acts than the Mission has over its 20 year history. Meanwhile Mission acts seem, with a few exceptions, to be getting older and less recognised.

After a spate of less than impressive acts in recent years, Napier’s Mission Concert was becoming more unflatteringly recognised for its drinking and related less-than-world-class attendee behaviour. They could have released DVDs of the concerts under the brand “Baby-Boomers Gone Wild” or the like, but I don’t think sales would have been too flash.

After starting with a hiss and a roar (or rather, a Soprano and some very high notes) two decades ago it feels like the quality of Mission Concerts has dawdled off a bit. Organisers have either lost interest, or lost the plot as to what our gorgeous venue and city deserves.

We are constantly told what a modern and vibrant city Napier is and how “world class” the Mission Concert is supposed to be. But for the same price as a Mission Concert ticket, you can see the likes of Beyonce, Taylor Swift or U2. All massive draw-cards, so why waste your time or money on anything less?

Surely if the Mission Concert is such a “World class” event, it deserves world class acts – as in the biggest artists RIGHT NOW, rather than largely forgotten acts from decades ago.

The Mission, Napier and its visitors deserve far better than what they are currently getting.

Let’s go Grow a Mo’!


It’s Movember once again!

That time of year when men around the world can let their facial fungus folic in aid of a good cause. In New Zealand that cause is promoting the awareness of men’s health, particularly prostate cancer and depression.

This will be the 5th year I have grown a Movember Mo and the second year I have seriously raised money to go along with it. Last year these wonderful people helped me raise a reasonable $234. This year I’d like to raise at least $250.

If you would like to help me achieve my goal, you can donate money here and also follow the evolution of my mo.

Incidentally, following on from Mo-vember, I’ll be taking part in Decem-beard followed by Janu-hairy eary next year!