12 Days of Kiwi Christmas Deliciousness (2014 Edition)

For more years than I can now remember, my wife has been coming up with a special 12 day menu to celebrate the “Twelve Days of Christmas”.

She alternates each year between the traditional and the New Zealand version, otherwise known as “A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree”

Some of the dishes have direct references to the songs, others have used a fair chunk of artistic licence – I’ll do my best to explain as we go.

So sit back and enjoy as I reveal what my true love made for me over the Twelve Days of Kiwi Christmas Deliciousness for 2014:

A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree
1 Pukeko
Penne Pasta with Carrot-top Pesto:
The heavy “P” count is an alliterative reference to the Pukeko, with the Carrot-Top Pesto representing the Ponga Tree’s foliage – as they look quite similar.

Two Kumara
2 Kumara
Baked Kumara Wedges:
Self-explanatory, really 

Three Flax Ketes (“Kits”)
3 Flax Kits
Aubergine Croquettes with Kohl Rabi and Cabbage Slaw:
This is kind of a “two-for-one” deal – the slaw pieces are like the flax that is woven to make the woven ketes / bags, while the croquettes, once crumbed and fried actually looked quite like them too!

Four Huhu Grubs
4 Huhu Grubs
Coconut Crusted Prawns with Vermicelli Salad:
The prawns are very Huhu Grub- looking, and vermicelli looks like worms. The salad is the undergrowth they live in / feed off.

Five Big Fat Pigs!
5 Pigs
Pork Burgers with Bacon, Apple and Fennel:
Big Fat Pigs make Big Fat Pork Burgers! The Bacon is an added bonus, while a feed of apples and fennel would keep your average Kuni-kuni quite happy.

Six Pois a Twirling
6 Pois
Bacon Wrapped Poisson with Home-grown Vegetables:
Poi(sson) was the obvious play on words, the bacon is wrapped around the bird, like the poi’s cover is wrapped around it.

Seven Eels a Swimming
7 Eels
Eggs Benedict Swimming in Hollandaise Sauce:
Eggs for “Eels” and they are swimming in Hollandaise, just as eels swim in creeks.

Eight Plants of Puha
8 Puha
Spinach, Potato, Asparagus and Pea Salad with Tarragon Mayo:
Pretty obvious once again – Puha is a green, leafy, wild vegetable, so we made a salad heavy on the greens and replaced Puha with slightly more mainstream spinach.

Nine Sacks of Pipis
9 Sacks of Pipis
Pomegranate Ice Cream:
The Pomegranates represent the pipis – they’re a similar shape and, like pipis in the low-tide sand, they need digging out!

Ten Juicy Fish Heads
10 Juicy Fish Heads
Fish and Chips!
Each year we try to fit a takeaway into the 12 days, mainly to give us a break from cooking, so what could be more Kiwi Christmas to represent fish heads, than Fish and Chips! 

Eleven Haka Lessons
11 Haka Lessons
Steak with Roasted Beetroot, Broccoli and Carrots:
All good Haka-performing All Blacks know the importance of a good steak and vegetables in their diet. Like the steak, some rugby players are also quite “Beefy”.
We had intended to do a cauliflower puree (to represent the common rugby injury of “Cauliflower Ear”), but ended up doing broccoli instead.

Twelve Piupius Swinging
12 Piupius
Squid Ink Pasta:
As the title indicates, Piupius sway – as do squid tentacles! The Squid ink Pasta also represents the different coloured flaxen strands that make up piupiu skirts.

We hope you’ve been inspired to try some of these, or your own version next Christmas.

From the Napier in Frame family to yours, we wish you a Merry Kiwi Christmas and a safe and happy New Year!

Why I Believe in @NZSecretSanta

Around this time for the last few years Twitter in New Zealand has been a-buzz with Christmas cheer.

The good folks at NZ Post’s Social Media Department came up with the idea of a nation-wide “Secret Santa” scheme – just like the family or office version, but on a much grander scale. I took part for the first time last year and did it again this year.

The trick to being a great SMSS (Social Media Secret Santa) is you have to be a bit of a ninja and investigator. The person you are given to be Secret Santa for can’t know you’re doing it – it’s all very sneaky-sneaky.

Fortunately, most people leave less-than-subtle hints on what they would like. Others just leave it up to the elves, but very good SMSS’s delve deeper and come up with something unexpected and wonderful.

What my Secret Santa got me was far more special than I could ever imagine.

The parcel arrived on my doorstep last Friday (speaking of ninjas, I’m pretty sure our courier driver is one – Drop, Knock, GONE!) and Mrs in Frame told me not to open it until Christmas. I lasted just under 24 hours.

While she went down to the shops and left me minding a sleeping Baby in Frame, I snuck a look at the parcel – expecting it to be wrapped up inside the box it was sent in.

It wasn’t and what I saw made me start crying.

This is what was in the box:

I had an EXCEPTIONAL Secret Santa!

Whomever they were, they had scrolled through my 80+ item blog (that poor, poor, Secret Santa…) and found the blog I wrote about losing my Dad earlier this year.

More importantly, they read one of the last paragraphs and did something my Dad never got to do – soldered up a pair of angel wings for my daughter – his “Little Angel”.

It was a beautiful, heart-felt gift and I thank them with every ounce of my being. Somewhere in New Zealand’s Twitterverse someone is getting a lifetime supply of good Karma!

But it didn’t stop there – I couldn’t resist spreading the good cheer and immediately tweeted a picture of the gift and a link to the blog they got their inspiration from – The response was phenomenal!


This is probably the only time that I’ve ever “gone viral” (other than when I had Chicken Pox last year…).

115 “Favourites” (people “liking” the post), 30 “Retweets” (people sharing it with their followers) and those numbers are still climbing!

This blog, which usually gets only 15-20 views a day (50 if I write something very popular or scandalous), blew out to a massive 542 views on the Saturday I posted the link and a further 110 on Sunday.

The positivity and love was wonderful – and all because of one little heartfelt gift.

I’ve said it so many times before, but I’ll say it again, because I mean it:

Thank you, my Secret Santa!

I hope you have the Merriest Christmas and the Happiest New Year!

Now She is One


“It’s been a day of tiny triumphs, It’s been a week spent in despair” once sang Jon Toogood of Shihad.

Well, We’ve had a similar, albeit far more enjoyable experience (as opposed to the hassles we went through to have her) over the last twelve months and I was able to reflect on it a few weeks ago, when our daughter turned one year old.

In twelve months we have watched her grow from a tiny, almost animatronic-like being that slowly opened and closed her eyes, made the odd noise and spent most of her time sleeping, feeding and pooping – to a smart, social, highly interactive little girl.

She loves people and they love her. Walking around town carrying her or pushing her in the pram, I have never been so attractive to women – they all want to look at our smiling, giggling, lovely little lady.

She has become an incredibly quick study. We say “good girl” and she claps her hands. We leave the room and she waves goodbye.

Just last weekend I blew her a kiss and she returned the favour. Then, when feeding her lunch, she started picking up bits of her sandwich and began feeding me. She wouldn’t take “No, it’s your lunch” for an answer!

She is incredible and her mother and I love her very, very, much.

Happy first birthday, Baby in Frame!

Dibble Dribble

A rebuttal of my letter that appeared in the HB Today on Monday 15 AND Saturday 20 December 2014. DOUBLE Dibble Dribble??!!

A rebuttal of my letter that appeared in the HB Today on Monday 15 AND Saturday 20 December 2014. Does that make it DOUBLE Dibble Dribble??!!

Apparently by questioning the logic behind the MTG Foundation members spending the price of an average house in Napier on a single piece of sculpture an MTG Foundation member named Peter Gascoigne claims I am helping in the “dumbing down of modern life”

Wow! I never thought I was that influential!

Unfortunately, rather than elaborate on just HOW I am assisting in the downfall of modern society, Mr Gascoigne proceeds with the tried and tested method of unsupported claims, snobbish stereotyping and completely ignores the fact I have said nothing about the look of the Dibble sculpture, rather focusing on how a quarter of a million dollars could have been better spent!

MTG’s shortcomings have been widely recognised and criticised over the past twelve months and a lot of the responsibility for those problems should rest with past and current members of the Napier City Council who oversaw its redevelopment.

But surely anyone with such a large stake in MTG as their own foundation would be doing anything they could to assist in curing theses ills and ensuring as many of the region’s artistic works from their collection are properly looked after and are seen by as many people as possible – ensuring a higher patronage and a more successful future for the MTG. A quarter of a million dollars would certainly go some way to helping that.

The MTG Foundation and its members may have “no desire” or obligation to help contribute to the storage and display aspects of the facility meant to house the foundation’s own treasurers, but that doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t. That’s not “dumbing down” anything – that’s being sensible!

As for saying my “comments seem part of the crusade to make art galleries and museums attractive to people who don’t want to go there” – Mr Gascoigne couldn’t be further from the truth.

I want EVERYONE in Hawke’s Bay to go to their Museum, art Gallery and Theatre. Because the stories, treasures and history they contain are not just yours or mine, Peter, but EVERYONE’S! From the smallest child to the oldest pensioner; From Maori Taonga to high-end conceptual art snobbery – these are the treasures of Hawke’s Bay and everyone deserves to see them!

His parting shot takes the cake, though:

“Best of all, there is no ludicrously high admission fee to see (the kowhai sculpture)”

Of course! Why bother paying to actually go into Napier’s MTG (in doing so seeing, supporting and raising money for the complex and the HB Museums Trust’s extensive collections), when you can see just one single piece donated by “thrilled” MTG Foundation members for free across the road?

Now that is a “stunning piece” of logic indeed!

Just Not Cricket

"What, Ho?" HELL NO!

“What, Ho?” HELL NO!

Sometimes an advertisement or press release comes along that shows just what can be done by someone who has almost no idea about what they’re doing.

I found just such a piece last week when I read an advertising blurb for “The Legends of Cricket Art Deco Match”

With the Cricket World Cup coming to Napier in March, local events revolving around the tournament and cricket in general are a great way to get people involved.

It’s just such a shame that whoever came up with this concept dropped the ball.

An “Art Deco” themed (of course! There is nothing else to Napier after all, is there?) celebrity cricket match is to be played at Hastings’ exclusive Clifton County Cricket Club in late February, a week before Napier’s matches start.

“The Legends of Cricket Art Deco Cricket Match will be a Twenty-Twenty game of gentle spectator cricket.

We’re taking cricket back to basics; to before it became all flashy. The legends of Cricket Match is about good, honest cricket.”

Um, no.

“Twenty-Twenty”, more commonly known as“T20” (it gets its name from each team’s batting innings lasting a maximum of twenty overs) is a “flashy” as cricket gets.

It’s quick, it can be a bit crass to purists, who call it “Hit and Giggle” and it’s BIG money in India, where the Indian Premiere League has made T20 one of the richest (and some would say the dodgiest) parts of the game.

So the event’s promoter gets a “golden duck” on their first delivery.

Onto the next ball: I have been playing club cricket in Hawke’s Bay virtually every summer Saturday for around ten years now and while I have heard of Clifton County Cricket Club, I have never seen them play, or played against them. This is because the club appears to be the only one in Hawke’s Bay to play only who they want, when they want.

I don’t consider that to be a fair representation of Hawke’s Bay’s cricketing community to be portrayed to visiting international cricket fans and media.

Just as the Cricket World Cup is a global event with teams from all over the world, club cricket in Hawke’s Bay is just as diverse. In my grade alone I’ve played with and against people from all walks of life – 12 year olds to pensioners, men and women – We have New Zealanders, Australians, English, Indians, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, Welsh, Canadians and Cook Islanders. The other week we even faced a guy from Thailand – somewhere I was unaware even knew of the game!

Every week we get our draw from Hawke’s Bay Cricket and that weekend we all represent our clubs and teams against whomever our opponent is that game. There is no picking and choosing.

Off stump is uprooted – two wickets from two deliveries. Our bowler goes back to their mark and begins their run-up for the hat-trick:

“This is a piece of lush Hawke’s Bay turf surrounded by undulating hillside and with views out to the glistening South Pacific, this is the stuff cricket lovers can only dream of.”

One of the reasons the grounds are so “lush” is because:

“All proceeds will go to the New Zealand Department of Conservation initiatives within Clifton County Cricket Club, aimed at creating habitat and eco-systems to reintroduce native flora and fauna.”

So rather than raising money for helping develop young Hawke’s Bay cricketers, or improving grounds, pitches and nets for Hawke’s Bay cricketers in general, you’re helping raise money for landscaping CCCC’s own grounds. How nice.

They have even had help form an unusual source – Napier City Council.

Napier mayor Bill Dalton and the Napier City Council have been very supportive of the Clifton club recently – despite it being located firmly in Hastings District Council territory (whatever you do, don’t mention Amalgamation!). Council staff assisting CCCC in preparing their pitch and outfield and Mayor Bill penned a letter of support.

The only council-based correspondence Napier cricket clubs with junior and senior competitions, development and community involvement get, by comparison, is their annual, ever-increasing ground fees bill.

When Napier City Council put forward their plan to redevelop their Park Island Sports Grounds a few years ago, our cricket club which is located at the park, made suggestions including having our own clay pitch within the club grounds. We even offered to maintain it ourselves. We’re still waiting for a reply.

Middle stump topples, the bails go flying – A hat-trick! Three wickets from three consecutive balls!

Double standards and snobbish overtones abound in this proposed event.

It’s. Just. Not. Cricket!

So here’s my counter-proposal:

Have a PUBLIC GAME. Host it somewhere central – Napier’s Nelson Park, or Hastings’ Cornwall Park – or even have one game at each ground over the fortnight the Cricket World Cup is being hosted in Hawke’s Bay.

The game will be Napier vs Hastings – the mayors of each city on opposing teams (as usual) with local club players, identities, maybe even some kiwi “celebs”, international sports stars and visiting World Cup players to make up the ranks.

Have interchangeable players / fielders with those on the side-lines (mostly the keen kids) able to “tag-in” to play for a few overs.

Bring the family, bring a picnic!

Gold coin entry / donations go to developing Hawke’s Bay Cricket initiatives for all clubs, or another local charity like the Cancer Society.

THAT is what a charity cricket match in Hawke’s Bay should be!

The ball sails over the fielders, over the boundary and out of the grounds – a massive six – What a shot! The crowd goes wild!

Hawke’s Bay and Cricket deserves better!

Way to go, Mo!

The evolution of my 2014 Mo

The evolution of my 2014 Mo

As I wrote back at the start of last month, I once again took part in “Movember” this year.

For four weeks my upper lip and jowls became an adoptive home to a huge, hairy caterpillar, a façade of facial fungus.

And while my mo mutated, I did my best to raise a bit of mo-ney for the Movember Foundation.

While it was a bit of a slow start, I finished with a furry flourish of florins and this year I managed to raise a total of $311 – smashing my previous record of $234 in 2012!

Mo Evo

So I have a few people to thank:

Peter and Mary Nixon from my cricket club who donated $10

My old schoolmate Karrie Stephens form Black and White who donated $10

My Christchurch cousin Leisa Thomas who donated a whopping $100

Our wonderful mortgage broker (and carrot cake baker) Judy Steiner from Mortgagelink Hawke’s Bay for her $20

The staff at NOW’s head office who did a quick whip-around and raised $16

Lyn Bailey form the HB Project for her $20 to put me over the $300 mark

And finally, my workmates, who donated a massive $135 in a whip-around on the last working day of Movember.

Thank you all for your support and donations in making this my most moneyed Movember!

A Giant Christmas Bauble for MTG

Napier's MTG has a new neighbour, a 4 meter tall bronze and gold kowhai blossom (Right)

Napier’s MTG has a new neighbour, a 4 meter tall bronze and gold kowhai blossom (Right)

Is it just me, or does the MTG saga just keep getting stranger and stranger?

I’ve just read that the museum’s own foundation has now donated a giant bronze and gold kowhai sculpture to the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust and it will be displayed opposite the museum on Tennyson Street.

Now, I’m no art expert, but a four meter tall sculpture made of bronze with 24 carat gold petals (we’ll see how long they last in Hawke’s Bay’s current economic climate) must surely have cost the MTG Foundation thousands and thousands of dollars. Never mind the added cost of its’ base’s construction and ongoing charges for its permanent lighting care of the Napier City Council.

So does this mean the MTG Foundation would rather spend a sizable amount of their money on a giant, shiny bauble than using those same funds to ensure their own museum had enough suitable storage space, or was functional and attractive enough to locals and visitors to make them want to come back time and time again?

After all, what is the point of having a “MTG Foundation” – otherwise known as “The Hawke’s Bay Museums Foundation Charitable Trust” (so did they ‘donate’ this sculpture to themselves?) as collectors and protectors of the region’s treasures if there’s nowhere to properly store these works and when they are on display no one wants to go see them?

Perhaps a review of the foundation’s priorities is in order?

Ducking out to the Cricket

"Quack, Quack!"

“Quack, Quack!”

Well, I had an interesting night last Friday!

The “Georgie Pie Super Smash” was in town, with New Zealand’s domestic cricket teams fighting it out for T20 supremacy. As you know, I love cricket, so when the call went out for people to give a hand I readily volunteered. You probably even saw me there, but I doubt you would have recognised me.

Aside from the cricket, there were other events around the ground on the weekend – a bouncy castle, trade stalls on Saturday and Sunday and team mascots roaming the grounds.

I was one of them.

Well, more precisely, I was an impartial mascot – I was a giant duck! (careful on the spelling there, buddy…)

Whenever any batsman got out for zero runs or a “Duck” in cricket, it was my job to tramp out onto the field, pack a hissy fit and then dejectedly drag my bat back to my post on the boundary until the next duck happened.

There were three on the night I was dabbling as Daffy – which made me not only the tallest duck of the weekend, but also one of the busiest.

It almost didn’t happen, though. As the game was just getting under way an thunderstorm rolled over Napier pelting the ground in a mini down-pour and adding some special effects to proceedings as thunder rolled and lightning arced across the sky (cue nervous glances to the giant metal light towers surrounding the ground)

The ground announcer proceeded to play Prince’s “Purple Rain”, followed by Guns & Roses’ perfectly timed “November Rain”.

I love 90’s rock, so couldn’t resist waddling out to the field and launching into an epic “Ducky Hendrix” air guitar cover of Slash’s great guitar work on his bat to entertain the crowd… right up until “November Rain” was mercilessly cut short (somewhere around Saturday the 22nd) and faded into the next song, just as the biggest, best guitar solo of the song was about to kick in.

Duck’s head dropped disconsolately, his posture slouched and once again he trudged off the field dragging his bat.

Ducky Hendrix had left the building.