Monday 15 October 2007

Longing for home

Arriving back in New Zealand after decade away is a rather grounding and spooky experience.

I've been rather tangled up in my own world for a long while, and when I left Wellington 7 years ago, besides a brief visit to my home town of Christchurch in October 1997 for dad's funeral, I hadn't been back to this southern town for probably 15 years or so.

I arrived soon after midnight, courtesy of Air NZ. Their service measures up to their string of awards they often boast about. I was quickly handed a copy of the Dominion Post, a combination of the merged Dominion and Evening Post some years ago.

It was nice to read a paper that, when opened, disturbed the adjoining seats and comfortably covered the unfastened seat belt.

Stories in a newspaper this size, like The Australian, are always of some length and have the ability to debate issues fully. I also notice how Kiwi newspapers love to put good news, happy news, on the cover. Today's cover is all about 3 year old twins that are re-united the a miracle New Zealand doctor from Waikato hospital that separated conjoined twins at birth, in a stunning 22-hour operation, along with 55 other medical support staff.

I often wonder about those that work on tabloids these days, especially the trained and experienced writers, that are subjected to produce a 150-200 word story. It must be a frustrating environment when you want to express viewpoints and engender balance on the size of a postage stamp.
The DomPost is a truly great newspaper, as is the Christchurch Press, where I am currently visiting.
The national weekend broadsheet Sunday Star Times, that also comes out of the FairFax stable, and is a big read at 120+ pages.
The headline covers the weekend's local body elections. 20 new mayors unsettled the incumbents across the nation. In Christchurch, it was revealed that Labour MP Tim Barnett wanted to put his hand up for the job, so long as the new Mayor-elect, former TV This is your Life personality, and John Denver look-a-like, Bob Parker, stepped aside.
54 year old Parker romped in, 14,000 ahead of Megan Woods, who will return to her role at Crop and Food Research. Often local elections like this, attract winners that are known, more than those that are known for what they stand.
In the nation's capital Wellington, 5,000 last minute postal votes weighted in favour of incumbent mayor Kerry Prendergast. She will serve a third term with 11,000 votes ahead of her nearest rival. Kerry has led Wellington through a growth period with high-quality infrastructure. It's easy to see why her city was recently voted New Zealand’s best 'Quality of Life' for culture, nightlife and entertainment. It boasts varied events, accessible waterfront and stunning sculptures. This Council has promoted and enabled city wireless loop internet access across the city and high-speed broadband right across the region.
Kerry followed Mark Blumsky as Wellington Mayor, who is now a National MP. He was famous for being an accessible and highly friendly mayor. Mark often took the bus across town, and allowed anyone to sit and chat with him. I steered a business networking organisation, and Mark allowed us to use the Mayor's office for our Executive to meet.
Mark replaced Fran Wilde, who is current chair of the Greater Wellington Regional Council, which covers 813,000 hectares and 787,000 maritime hectares. The regional population is 445,400.
I've had the pleasure to work and engage with Mark, Kerry and also Fran over recent years. These folk transformed Wellington from a reputation as 'Windy Welly' to a dynamic and international renown city it is today.
I look forward to catching up with them all while in Wellington over the next couple of weeks.

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