Ciao, Antonio!

Antonios has been a landmark feature on the corner of Carlyle St since 1990

Antonios has been a landmark feature on the corner of Carlyle St since 1990

A Napier foodie era came to an end last night as Anthony Larrington-Lewer made, cooked and served his last pizzas.

“Who?” you may ask.

The name may not be too familiar, but his nom de plume ”Antonio” and the location of ‘Antonio’s Pizza and Pasta’ on the corner of Carlyle and Tennyson Streets has become a landmark ever since moving there in 1990.

Over the years thousands of people must have sat at the lights on that corner on their way home from town, wondering what’s for dinner and suddenly been struck by an urge to have pizza!

Originally opening in lower Emerson Street in 1979, Anthony never expected to be still making pasta and pizzas 35 years later, but “this is the way things happen” he tells me as we stop in to buy our last “authentico Antonio” pizza, pasta and garlic bread.

35 years is a very long time in any business, but even more so in the food industry – especially when you consider that same period saw such an immense increase in the number of and uptake of fast food outlets within close proximity of Antonio’s.

KFC, Pizza Hutt, McDonalds, Burger King, Dominoes, Burger Fuel and various other Chinese and Indian restaurants and takeaways have all sprung up nearby, yet Antonio’s just kept going.

His secret? Probably the natural, authentic way Anthony did things.

He hand-made and kneaded the pizza dough and made the bases for each pizza as they were created. People loved watching their pizza being made in front of them.

He used natural ingredients with no swathes of sauce smothering everything and made good, basic, Italian-style pizzas. Margherita (cheese, tomato sauce and basil or oregano – said to represent the red, white and green of the Italian flag), Marinara (seafood) and Napoletana (originating from Naples).

There were also personal touches – The restaurant was kept as low-key and natural as possible – Anthony intended it to be like going for dinner at your Italian grandmother’s house.

Anthony has great personality and wicked sense of humour as his answering machine message showed:

“So sorry, Antonio, he not here…. I think…. HEY, ANTONIO, ARE YOU HERE?!”

He even bought one of the original “Art Deco is SO Last Century” T-shirts I made years ago and wore it loudly and proudly every Art Deco Weekend.

Thursday was Anthony’s last “public” open day, he is having a private function tonight (Friday) to say goodbye to friends and loyal customers.

Antonio’s won’t be going away completely, though. Anthony has sold the business and plans to stick around and help out the new owners out a bit. He is looking forward to retirement, though and “doing all the things he’s wanted to do”.

So “Arrivederci, Antonio!” Getting a pizza in Napier won’t be quite the same without you!

"Antonio" (Anthony Larrington-Lewer) serves us up one of his last pizzas

“Antonio” (Anthony Larrington-Lewer) serves us up one of his last pizzas

NiMBY City Council

Napier City Council is scared development of the former Caltex site (far left) will be detremental on Napier's CBD. But seem perfectly happy for it to clash with the Marewa Shopping Centre (far right)

Napier City council is scared development of the former Caltex site (far left) will be detremental on Napier’s CBD. But seem perfectly happy for it to clash with the Marewa Shopping Centre (far right)

Property developer, “Matvin Group” has bought the vacant former Caltex service station site on the corner of Georges Drive and Kennedy Road in Marewa, Napier. They plan to turn it into “a six-store retail complex”, but Napier City Council and its subsidiary, Napier Inner City Marketing is concerned these new shops could harm Napier’s CBD.

Oh, for goodness sake!

I can’t help but notice that just a few weeks ago, I read about Napier councillors welcoming with open arms a home décor store, not unlike those we already have in central Napier, into their new site in Ahuriri – even further away from the CBD.

But two councillors do own businesses in that area, so I guess that makes it perfectly fine…

Council staff recommended granting permission for the Marewa development, but suggested it only contain businesses that won’t compete with central city stores.

So, as councils do, NCC:

Passed the decision off to a hearings committee and employed an “independent commissioner” to oversee proceedings:

The committee was to be chaired by former deputy mayor Kathie Furlong and include current deputy mayor Faye White and long-term councillor Mark Herbert.

I’m a little concerned at the “independence” of the committee, though. Furlong was Napier City Council’s representative on the Napier Inner City Marketing board for many years until her retirement from council. She has since been replaced on the NICM board by none other than Faye White!

“Napier Deputy Mayor Faye White said the committee was still deliberating after the “lengthy” 6-hour hearing, and an outcome was expected “by the end of the week”.

And an “economic effects” consultant’s report was commissioned:

“The report, by Adam Thompson of Urbecon, concluded the new development would have either no effect or a very limited impact on existing retailers, and it was not necessary to limit the types of retail businesses at the proposed site.

However, council planners said in their report on the consent application, despite Mr Thompson’s assessment “there remains concern that the proposed development could contribute to what appears to be a trend of declining retail occupancy rates within the CBD”.”

Napier Inner City Marketing’s latest manager did something her predecessors never did – addressed this elephant in the room / CBD:

“We already have quite a significant amount of untenanted spaces in Napier.”

Is this is the fault of a few shops over a kilometre away in Marewa? No!

Outrageously high rents have taken business away from Napier’s CBD. Long-term empty shops, like the giant, boarded-up and half-abandoned Mid City Plaza have scared potential business away from Napier’s CBD.

NICM’s goals include promoting the central city and attracting diverse and vibrant businesses to the CBD. So why have they been so unsuccessful in filling the numerous empty shops in recent years?

The developers have at least shown some flexibility and agreed to alter their plans to suit the council.

“Matvin Group had offered to restrict the type of businesses at the site to “convenience” retailers – including food and beverage sellers, chemists, hair dressers, butchers, florists and dry cleaners – that were unlikely to be located in the CBD. That restriction has been included in a list of conditions council staff have recommended the hearings committee include in granting consent for the development.”

Here we have a major problem. Marewa Shopping Centre, mere meters away from the site being developed, already has long-established businesses providing those exact same things! You can’t tell me that replicating these businesses in such close proximity would have an adverse effect on the existing Marewa businesses!

I live just down the road from this development and half expected the site to become a Carls Jr or Wendy’s Drive-thru / Fast Food Takeaway – something that would be quite well suited for the site and most people wouldn’t mind.

However, the amount of noise and disruption a drive thru would cause to the suburban houses and streets surrounding it and a lack of space for parking makes it reasonably impractical and kind of rude to the neighbours.

So we are left with the current development debate.

As usual, it doesn’t do a thing to address what is central Napier’s biggest problem in recent years, but rather continues a NCC trend of deflecting blame. Such posturing is typical and sickening.

Napier deserves better!

There’s Something About a Magpie!


While a number of ITM Cup unions are struggling and NZRU chief Steve Tew bemoans the fact that only a couple of provincial unions are making more money from ITM Cup gate receipts than they are from the NZRU’s financial support one union has been flying high this season and it’s done so on black and white striped wings – the Hawke’s Bay Magpies!

I wrote a while ago that the higher level elements of rugby in New Zealand have become all about the money and not the mana.

The difference between the community-based, “grass roots” HB Magpies winning back the Ranfurly Shield and the “corporate brand” known as the All Blacks hitting Napier at the same time in September was quite noticeable.

With high ticket prices and sponsors’ endorsements to fulfil, the All Blacks seemed a bit distant.

The Magpies, by comparison, paraded the ‘Shield across the bay, let the public have photos with it – the whole nine yards.

It instilled a level of provincial pride not seen for some time in Hawke’s Bay and a sense that the public were truly part of the team.

The Magpies have gone on to defend the shield and we will now hold it through the summer into next season.


As holders of the Ranfurly Shield, Hawke’s Bay has contracted “Magpie Fever”!

Wherever you go, there is black and white bunting. Ranfurly Shield pictures abound (sometimes it’s actually the genuine item). HB Magpies flags flutter from passing cars and there are more Hawke’s Bay Rugby jerseys being worn around town than I have ever seen before – Kooga must be making an absolute fortune!

The other organisation reaping the rewards is the Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union, who are expecting to make an almost million dollar profit from their extremely successful season.

But unlike bigger rugby franchises, the Magpies are paying back their fans:

HBRFU commercial and marketing manager Jay Campbell announced this week that tickets for all covered seating at McLean Park (the Harris, Graeme Lowe, Rodney Green and Chapman stands) when the Magpies take on Northland in the ITM Cup Quarterfinal this Friday night will be almost half price – a mere $17.50 (equivalent Ranfurly Shield match tickets cost $32.50).

“The rugby union said the match was an unbudgeted extra, and Mr Campbell said it was now time for the public to benefit.”

Another crowd of 12,000 at Friday’s game would mean around 75,000 people had been to McLean Park to watch the Magpies and All Blacks this season – An attendance record well in excess of anything since the Magpies’ legendary 1966-69 Ranfurly Shield reign.

HBRFU hoped to attract the crowd straight from work on Friday, opening the gates at 5.30pm and entertainment would include a band and children’s face-painting (mainly in black-and-white, of course!).

“This is all to thank the sponsors, the families, the public for what has been a truly remarkable six weeks of rugby in Hawke’s Bay,” Jay said.

This is an awesome result for not only the HBRFU, its players and management, but the whole Hawke’s Bay region. It proves what determination, passion and loyalty can produce. All of Hawke’s Bay benefits as a result!

PS: The All Blacks, meanwhile, went on to break their record winning streak with a loss to South Africa and their commercial partner Air NZ TRIPLED the cost of airfares to Samoa for the week of the ABs first ever test there. Sigh!

More Megalomaniacal Monopolistic Media Meddling!

If it's a choice between these two blowhards, I'll pick Sacha McNeil, Michael Wilson & Marcus Lush every time!

If it’s a choice between these two blowhards, I’ll pick Sacha McNeil, Michael Wilson & Marcus Lush every time!

It’s a sad indictment of New Zealand media that, rather than invest in new talent, we are once again dished up the same old “stars” that have been doing the rounds for years.

But now it’s even worse! Not only are they taking all the TV hosting positions, they’ll be “cross-medium” – taking up TV, radio and internet time simultaneously!!

Each year around the country hundreds of young, talented journalism, media and broadcasting students graduate and to what?

A tiny job market made even tinier by “NZME” (formerly The Radio Network and APN – we might as well lump “State Broadcaster” TVNZ in there as well, as they constantly interact / work with NZME affiliates) and Mediaworks (TV3, The Edge etc.) simulcasting their content across the nation from central studios and offices in Auckland with as small a staff as possible and evidently no great plans of expanding operations, or their talent pool.

Goodbye three years of study, over $30,000 in student loans / course costs and any hope of ever being the next Jay-Jay, Mike, Dom, Fletch, Vaughan, Megan, Hosking, Henry, Tom, Dick, or Harry!

Bring back the days of “Live and Local 24 Hours a Day” regional radio and other media, I say!

A bigger talent pool enabling graduates to get that all important, almost mythical in its rarity – EXPERIENCE and far more community interaction with their media.

After all, TV, radio and print are such intimate forms of communication – just you and the paper / screen / speakers that it seems absurd, almost insulting than some remote studio hundreds of kilometres away is the one telling you (or not, as the case has become) what is happening in your town

Death to Art Deco?


I was told by someone a few years ago that after learning that Deco-themed weddings had become de rigeur and several had been included in weekend celebrations, an Art Deco Weekend guest speaker opined:

“Judging by the amount of grey hair of local devotees present tonight, I wouldn’t be too surprised if there weren’t a few upcoming Art Deco themed funerals!”

His comments weren’t overly well received at the time, apparently. But his idea obviously struck a chord somewhere, as at the next Art Deco Weekend, a “Death By Chocolate” event will be held at Dunstalls Funeral Parlour in Napier.

Funeral Director Paul Dunstall is an old family friend of mine. He is a great guy with a wicked sense of humour, so this comes as no real surprise.

But it does also raise two interesting points:

1/ When WILL there be an Art Deco Funeral.

2/ Having been Napier’s main tourist event for well over 20 years now, when will Art Deco Weekend start to die off?

Why haven’t we “Boldly Gone” anywhere yet?

Why aren't we "Boldly Going Where No-one Has Gone Before" yet?

Why aren’t we “Boldly Going Where No-one Has Gone Before” yet?

A co-worker sent me a link today that I found very interesting and roused my inner Trekkie. It’s from and titled “Why We Live in an Anti-Tech Age”

“Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, billionaire investor and author, is among those challenging the notion of innovation and progress. Thiel, who earned undergraduate and law degrees at Stanford University, spoke at the Gartner Symposium/IT this week about why the march of progress seems to have stalled.

“We live in a financial, capitalistic age, we do not live in a scientific or technological age,” said Thiel. “We live in a period were people generally dislike science and technology. Our culture dislikes it, our government dislikes it.”

From the 1960’s to the 1980’s we were bombarded with stories and images in books, TV and movies leading us to believe that one day in the near future, normally sometime around the almost-mythical year 2000 (so, fourteen years ago now), we would all have flying cars, have colonies living on the Moon and Mars and “Boldly go where no one has gone before!” across the universe.

And it wasn’t all just “Science Fiction” either; there was a world-wide technological race. President John F Kennedy encapsulated the “Space Race” portion of it in his “We promise to go to the moon” speech

“During the 1950s or 1960s, technology meant computers and rockets, underwater cities, new forms of energy and all sorts of supersonic airplanes. Since then, though, there “has been this narrowing” view that technology is mostly information technology”, Thiel said.

We certainly do seem to have plateaued, possibly even technologically declined since, as rather than create grand new things, we have merely altered and refined smaller items – Just look at the likes of the “iPhone” – an idea that had its inception in Star Trek’s “communicators”. But rather than moving onto teleport technology, we merely get a further refined iPhone in slightly different colours every few years.

“Economist Robert Gordon, in a paper for the American National Bureau of Economic Research in 2012 said there is an absence of the type of innovation that advances civilization in fundamental ways. True innovation is something like air conditioning, the combustion engine or the telephone.”

Rather than scrapping NASA’s manned space programme, why didn’t they focus on getting humans further into the solar system and universe? Where is our “Warp” technology?

It’s all pretty depressing, really. We go from being the species that aspired to the stars and reached the moon to, fifty years later, being seemingly even more stuck on this large round rock hurtling through space than we were back then!

If you follow Star Trek folklore, you’ll know that the humans are allegedly set to make first contact with another race (the Vulcans) on April 5, 2063 after the Vulcans pick up readings of Earth’s first “warp flight”.

That gives us just under 50 years to create and perfect the technology. Not utterly unrealistic considering, with government backing, the “Manhattan Project” created the nuclear bomb in a mere three and a half years.

But what “Why We Live in an Anti-Tech Age” highlights is the need for society, big business and governments to get behind such audacious developments and help push them along.

Until then, the closest we’ll get to boldly going where no one has gone before is this!

The Hairs on My Chinny-Chin-Chin

Separated at birth? Two fine examples of rugged, antipodean handsomeness! 

Separated at birth? Two fine examples of rugged, antipodean handsomeness! 

What do Hollywood stud muffin, Hugh Jackman and I have in common?

Quite a lot, evidently!

We’re both:
• Fine examples of rugged, antipodean handsomeness.
• Rocking pretty kick-arse beards at the moment.
• And we’ve both been diagnosed with the same type of skin cancer.

Yes, his Wolverine-ness and I have both had “Basel Cell Carsinomas” removed.

But never fear – neither Hugh, nor I will be shuffling off this mortal coil any time soon! BCCs are the most common form of cancer. In terms of skin cancers they are one of the “better ones” (if there is such a thing – sounds like an oxymoron to me) to get and while rarely fatal, do have a nasty habit of spreading and tend to ulcerate their surrounding skin making them quite unsightly in the long-run. So they are still considered “malignant” and best removed as soon as possible.

They are most commonly a result of over exposure to ultra-violet light, making sun-loving Australians like Hugh and cricket playing New Zealanders like myself prime candidates. My surgeon tells me there might also be a fair dose of heredity in contracting them too. Both my Mum and Dad had BCCs removed, so it was only a matter of time before I was next.

Earlier this year Hugh took to social media to encourage others to wear sunscreen and get any dodgy moles checked after he had a second procedure to remove a BCC from his nose.

In a couple weeks’ time I’m going under the knife again, too, to get some more removed. This time from around my face and ear.

It’s one of the reasons I’ve been growing a beard over winter – not to hide them, but because my moles are around my hairline, so I will be undergoing a very severe buzz-cut before surgery and decided to enjoy some facial hirsuteness while I could.

My wife loves my beard, calling it “the least douchey beard I have ever seen” (That IS a compliment… I think…) – she appears to have a pathological hatred of the current “Hipster Beard” trend.

Working in the office of a forestry company, I’ve gone more for the “Full Lumberjack” look. “And I’m OK” with that!

My new cranial aerodynamic-ness will come in handy with the cricket season fast approaching and I won’t have to fuss about with my hair in the morning for about three months. It will, however, also show off the aftermath of surgery rather obviously.

But I will wear my scars with pride. They certainly aren’t my first and won’t be my last. Like the frown and smile lines around my eyes and face, they will show I’ve lived (and will continue to live) a full life. I’m sure Hugh will do exactly the same!

If YOU have any suspiscious moles or spots on you skin, PLEASE see your doctor, or somewhere like Molemap to get them checked out! It may be nothing at all, it may result in a small scar, or it could save your life!