Gallantry case progress

Kathy Stewart, the mother of Private David Stewart, with Chief of Army Major General John Boswell at the dedication ceremony. Photo / NZ Defence Force

From WO1 (rtd) Bob Davies, via ONWARD BAR…please note that this is massive progress but not a battle won yet…

For non-Kiwi followers, David Stewart gave his life on Mt Ruapehu in August 1990 to ensure that other soldiers in his group survived the blizzard that had trapped them on the mountain…

David Edward Whawhai Stewart NZBM

The Minister received us warmly and listened carefully to our arguments. It was clear he was aware of the issues and had familiarised himself with the facts. He let slip that he had been talking to a number of people including our late friend and champion, Sir Wira Gardiner, whose influence clearly stretches beyond the grave.

Besides the three of us it has been a real team effort that included Dr Jim Mather (ex-RNZA officer), David Samuels (ex-RNZIR officer), Brigadier (Rtd) Phil Gibbons, Hon Col 1 RNZIR, Lt Col Logan Vaughan, CO 1 RNZIR, WO1 Chad Halley, RSM 1 RNZIR, Rear Admiral David Ledson, Chief of Navy (Rtd), Sir Jerry Mataparae, GG (Rtd) and Karl du Fresne (journalist).

Whereas before I was not optimistic. I am now. But no whooping and hollering yet. We should hear by the New Year. Here was our argument in a nutshell:

On 13 August 2022, 32 years after the tragedy, David Stewart’s sacrifice was recognised when the theatrette In Wellington Lines, home of his unit, the First Battalion, the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, was named after him.

Hopefully, by New Year, or possibly in the New Year’s Honours List, David Stewart’s New Zealand Bravery award will be elevated to the New Zealand Cross.

It’s long overdue…

Crunch day

Well, this is it…crunch day. Tenders for my home close at 4PM this afternoon.

This is the Banking Ombudsman’s response to our letter yesterday.

If you would like to help and think it appropriate, please call the Banking Ombudsman and point out that she was not asked to direct ANZ to do anything.

Our expectation for this complaint is that she will not simply look into it or make some enquiries of ANZ. Our expectation is that she will challenge ANZ’s conduct in this matter on the grounds that it breaches its obligation under the Code of Banking Practice to “…act fairly, reasonably, and in good faith, in a consistent and ethical way…” An appropriate response, without conceding our position in this issue would be is a 8 week campaign for a tender after the Christmas period.

Nicola Sladden
Banking Ombudsman

04 282 0173

021 808 059

If you don’t agree, no worries, each to their own…

It comes down to this…the Banking Ombudsman…


Formal complaint – ANZ New Zealand tender process

Good morning (it is here while the sun shines and a little dog sleeps at my feet)

Narrowing it all down

You are both familiar with my case and, I suspect, still following it.

The forcible auction scheduled for 11AM on 8 November was cancelled at the last minute, after people had started to arrive for it. ANZ did not communicate this to me or its reasons for a last minute cancellation. I had cooperated fully with the agents’ marketing plans and open homes…in fact, a month of open homes was great motivation for house work. I, with many others, assume that ANZ’s sudden cancellation was a result of its discomfort after 1 News started to ask inconvenient questions about its original reckless lending and its conduct subsequent to my challenges to that lending.

On 15 November, I learned – almost by accident – that ANZ was selling my home by tender, closing at 4PM tomorrow, Friday 30 November. I don’t believe that I was intended to know of this development. When there was no visible marketing after two working days (the tender period was only twelve working days in total), I raised my concern with the real estate agency which stated that it was operating under instructions from ANZ’s Customer Financial Well-being unit. Early the following week, a listing was posted online but it was not until the afternoon of 15 November (six and a half working days remaining in the twelve day tender period) that a sign was placed on the front fence. ANZ has still not contacted me to inform me of the tender or its reasons for cancelling an auction that had considerable credible buyer interest.

I believe, and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise, that ANZ New Zealand did not intend for me to learn of the tender until it had closed tomorrow. Nor have I had any formal notification from the agents other than a request for an viewing tomorrow morning which I have agreed to. It is ANZ’s responsibility, either directly or through Bell Gully, to communicate with me with regards to the forced sale of my home. It is not the responsibility of the real estate company, my ex-partner, or someone who just happened to hear of it to tell me of this.

The scheduled auction offered the best opportunity for the best return for all parties. It had been well-marketed for over a month and all the open homes were well-attended. From comments made to me prior to the cancellation, and the number of people who came to the auction only to be turned away, there was considerable interest in the auction around the Ruapehu District. Many of these people did not know of the tender until I told them of it. It is unlikely that a poorly-marketed tender will realise the same return as a well-subscribed well-marketed auction. There is no logic- or business-based reason for ANZ to adopt a form of sale that is less likely to realise the same return as the original auction. If ANZ had legitimate reason to cancel the auction, it could have simply rescheduled the auction after a suitable period to re-engage the market.

The only reason that ANZ would have selected a form of sale which reduces its returns is because it seeks to avoid media interest and the subsequent public spotlight on its activities. In doing so, it seeks to further penalise me for its actions and will still fall short of avoiding that media interest and public spotlight on its conduct.

In its action this month alone, ANZ has failed in its obligation under the Code of Banking Practice to me and my former partner to‘act fairly, reasonably, and in good faith, in a consistent and ethical way’:

  • Is it fair that ANZ put me through the stress of a second forced sale after only a week since it cancelled the first one? Is it fair that it do this without even the courtesy of telling me?
  • Is it reasonable that it adopt a form of sale likely to reduce its own return as well as mine? Is it reasonable to do this without a proper period of market engagement?
  • Is any of this ethical, by any standard of ethics?
  • Are ANZ’s actions consistent with obligations, not just under the Code, but to its shareholders to realise the best possible returns? I also note that Antonia Watson, ANZ’s Managing Director Retail and Business Banking, in our recent correspondence, bemoaned the fact that ANZ will ‘need to write off a substantial portion of the monies owed to us after settlement is due’.
  • In fact, is there anything inANZ’s actions or conduct that could be considered fair, reasonable or ethical?

Nicola, in our most recent meeting, you cited this specific clause in the latest version of the Code, for banks to act fairly, reasonably,and in good faith, in a consistent and ethical way as granting you greater powers to hold banks in New Zealand to account. Now is your opportunity.

It IS that simple….

Please consider this email a complaint against ANZ New Zealand’s management of this phase of its recovery process. Specifically that ANZ New Zealand has failed to meet its obligation under the Code of Banking Practice 2018 to act fairly, reasonably, and in good faith, in a consistent and ethical way. It has failed to communicate its intentions for the forced sale of my home to me; it has failed to communicate the reasons for cancelling the scheduled auction that offered the best return for all parties; it has caused me considerable additional and unnecessary stress through these failures on its part.

I do not need to raise the findings of the highly-critical FMA and Reserve Bank reports in to banking culture and conduct in New Zealand that have been released this month. ANZ’s actions are consistent with the findings of those reports especially with regard to the accountability and ownership of board members to properly measure and report on conduct and culture risks and issues.

My expectation for this complaint is that your office will not simply look into it or make some enquiries of ANZ. My expectation is that you, the Banking Ombudsman of New Zealand, with the support of the chair of the board of the Banking Ombudsman Scheme, will challenge ANZ’s conduct in this matter. An appropriate response, without conceding my position in this issue (which ANZ has already accepted in writing BTW) would be is a 8 week campaign for a tender after the Christmas period.

There is no wiggle room on this. Previously your office has very carefully avoided comment on the issues and evidence we have placed before it.

Where we provided a legal opinion that ANZ erred in not informed me of the additional lending, your office did not explore this further because ANZ disagreed with that advice.

Where we requested a review of my case through the chair of the board of the Banking Ombudsman, the QC appointed to that review was specifically constrained to only consider the process followed and NOT the issues raised.

Where we provided evidence of quite blatant obstruction and deception on the part of ANZ New Zealand, your office was silent.

This time, we expect better and more.

Subsequent to your advice at our last meeting, I have investigated resolution of the outstanding issues through other Government agencies. They have all responded that they consider the Office of the Banking Ombudsman to be the most appropriate agency for investigation and resolution of these and similar issues. While I tend to agree with your logic on this, the Government, at this time, does not.

I expect that you both move in similar professional and probably social circles as Antonia Watson, David Hisco, Sir John Key and other members of ANZ’s management team and board. While they remain ultimately accountable, they may be unaware of the actions of minions further down their food chain. I do not expect that you will have any great challenges reaching out to the right people to resolve this.

My deadline is 4PM tomorrow afternoon. If the forced sale of my home via a flawed tender proceeds tomorrow afternoon, nothing will change bar my living arrangements and that I will probably no longer be able to home my two fur babies. I will continue to seek accountability and restoration from ANZ Zealand and the Office of the Banking Ombudsman.

To that end, this email is also a request for all information held by the Office of the Banking Ombudsman that mentions me by name, refers to me or my case(s) by any other unique identifier, or otherwise discusses the issues that I have raised with your office. This includes but is not limited to any and all correspondence or other communication between your office and ANZ New Zealand; your office and the Privacy Commission, the Commerce Commission and/or the Serious Fraud Office; any Member of Parliament or other elected officer; and between your office and the board of the Banking Ombudsman Scheme. It also includes any internal communications or dialogue.

Simon O’Neill

PS I apologise for any references to the Baking Ombudsman.They are subliminal slips. After five years of this, my mind desperately wants to be elsewhere.

After five years of enduring ANZ, anyone would feel like this…

Six Days


The SAS assault on the Iranian Embassy in April 1980 is still one of the seminal moments in special operations and counter-terrorism. Although the obvious inspiration for Lewis Collins’ 1982 Who Dares Wins, this action has been largely ignored by the entertainment community. Until the Bin laden raid in 2011, this lack of attention has probably not seen as a bad thing by the special operations community.

We had Ultimate Force with the bloke from EastEnders, and then The Unit led by the melting moments Terminator but it wasn’t until Six that we started to see some credible small screen special operations. On the large screen, Blackhawk Down was really an anyman story of soldiers at war, The Great Raid was pretty tame and also the tale of a large scale operation. The Odd Angry Shot is an Aussie classic but more COIN than SO. For the most part, the most significant of special operations have been largely ignored by credible story tellers…Even the first that I remember, Entebbe, has only been told  well once and that is the Israeli Operation Thunderbolt (still worth a watch if you can find it on Youtube)…

I read Bill McRaven’s (the ‘make your bed’ guy)  Spec Ops when it was first published – passing the time during a week in Waiouru Hospital in 1996 – and it must have been a tough decision to not include it as one of the case studies. It contains all the elements of McRaven’s theory of relative superiority and would certainly have survived scrutiny against his principles of special operations: simplicity, security, repetition, surprise, speed and purpose.

I was discouraged from buying Six Days for a long time because of its 90 minute run time – 90 minutes or less always suggests to me ‘made for TV’, never a good sign – and I was wary of whether it would be worth watching or just be loosely based on reality.

I need not have worried. It is very good and gets all the key elements of the story into 90 minutes without feeling crammed or forced. Watching the credits (as I do if the remote is beyond my reach), I could see why as I recognised, with surprise, some of the consultants’ names. More so when further credits revealed that this is very much a Kiwi movie production-wise as well: another result of Helen Clark’s decision to invest in and support our fledgling movie industry in the early days of the Lord of the Rings saga.

Six Days is a great account of a small team that pulled off a nigh impossible task under the most challenging conditions, not just those of a task never attempted before but one conducted under live TV cameras and global scrutiny. All part of Margaret Thatcher’s hard line of terrorism, and a harbinger of that same hard line two years later when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands.

Searching for it just now, I was pleased to still be able to find Spec Ops on a shelf. When we Bookabached the Lodge while living in Waiouru, we pitched the library as one of its features. That was a little naive as library holdings diminished over that winter – a good reason to inventory everything so you actually know what might be missing and not just tearing the place apart looking for something that’s no longer there.

Nana doing Nana stuff 010.jpg

Moving here was the first time  that I was able to have all my books unboxed and shelved since leaving home. Having to rebox it all up again for an indefinite period will be like losing a bunch of old friends:  Kindle just isn’t the same has holding old paper in your hands or glancing around for a reading target of opportunity…

Bill McRaven did much more than just write a book but it may be most remembered popularly for his ‘make your bed’ speech – better than ‘Wear Sunscreen’…

Part of the reason behind this big writing jag at the moment is that I was disappointed to see that my blogging efforts for 2018 fit onto a single WordPress preview page. The rescue helicopter campaign was unexpected – a reminder that stupidity can break out anywhere at anytime – and consumed way more time and effort than expected. I was writing so much in support of our helicopter bases, that it was a challenge to take up the keyboard for anything else…making up for that now…getting back into the swing of a post a day if I can…setting challenges to get me out of bed and keep me of the couch…

A bit of experience is a dangerous thing

Wilderness mag experience.JPG
I saw this article (PDF)on a friend’s FB feed. This is Wilderness magazine, a consistent purveyor of poor advice about Tongariro National Park.
The title of the article should be “when a bit of experience is a dangerous thing“. While there is always the opportunity for something to go wrong with the most experience people on the most well-planned activities, a rather common thread is ‘enough experience to be dangerous’ where true experience might dictate suppressing the reflex and letting a ski/pack/whatever slide to either be recovered in a planned methodical process or simply written off.
A large proportion of the people ascending Ruapehu in winter probably don’t have enough of the right experience. Remember that the experience counts, not when things are going right, but when they go wrong…
The best analogy for this is that of an airline pilot, paid a lot of money, for painlessly cruising from destination to destination on autopilot. It’s pretty cruisy…right up to the point where you lose both engines on take-off…
That’s when real experience cuts in…not the experience that allows to walk with crampons to the Crater Rim….the experience that means that everything thing you do is a the result of a considered decision that takes into account all the factors in play in a given situation…that consideration might only take a split second but it still happens…
Experience is not doing a winter guided tour of the Crossing with crampons and ice axes under supervision. That may be the start of your alpine journey but a Hillary you’re not. No, it doesn’t make any difference or make you any more experienced watching Youtube how-to vids on cramponing and ice-axes…at best that is just technique…it ioffers nothing about the environment, reading the ground, reading the sky, being confident to tuyrn back…
…A 200km/h wind will blow anyone off a mountain. A slab avalanche will kill any skier who gets in its way, no matter how much avalanche awareness training they’ve done. A swollen river will consume any tramper who doesn’t respect its power…
No. They won’t…not if you have the knowledge and experience to avoid that environment in the first place. At that applies to rescuers just as much as rescuees: sometimes you just have to sit on your hands until the conditions are suitable for a risk-mitigated approach – not necessarily safe but where risks have been identified, discussed and mitigated before being accepted.
A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing…it breeds false confidence and complacency…that awesome feeling of being ten foot tall and bullet proof that every firefighter knows when they finish their recruit course…
But, in the light of cold hard reality, it’s just the start of the journey…

…Approaching Crater Lake, I could feel my skis starting to slide perilously. Conscious of the lake, I stopped to put on ski crampons for extra security. I almost didn’t.Let that sink in: I almost didn’t….

True experience isn’t going with the flow, it isn’t being swayed by peer pressure…it isn’t a careless reflex action…in an unforgiving environment, thought comes before action…that’s experience…


The corollary to Know Before You Go is If You Don’t Know, Don’t Go. This video is a cautionary tale, not an instructional. Watch it as ask…what am I doing?

Wise words. I take this away with me: Climb hard, be kind and humble, and live fully.

Take this away. Is your experience good enough for what could happen?

That’s the real question…

No apologies if this sounds harsh and unforgiving. Rescues take too great a toll already on our small communities…volunteers pulled away from jobs, families and homes, all too often on rescues that were avoidable if people had only thought…


Elvis had it right


Saving our rescue helicopters


Our communities care!!!

Signatures continue to roll in…read the comments and see how many lives have been touched and changed by this rescue helicopter…

This is one comment from a respected guide, ambulance officer and rescuer:

This helicopter, being based in Taupo means it responds quickly to the Central Plateau area when weather in other areas might prevent other helicopters from reaching this area. It is outfitted and equipped the way it is largely by public donations and suits the environments it operates in, servicing not just remote locations but also the highest altitude highways in the North Island, the two largest commercial ski-fields in New Zealand and the busiest one day hiking track in New Zealand and the largest area Lake in New Zealand.

NZ Mountain Safety Council identifies the Central North Island as an area where the highest number of outdoor activity incidents resulting in injury occur each year.

Most importantly, the intimate knowledge that has been accrued in terms of flying in local mountain weather conditions, the capabilities of the ground teams that the helicopter works with, their resources and team culture will simply not be able to be replicated by a helicopter and crew that is based out of district. This understanding of how people operates goes in both directions, with ground crews needing to train with the helicopter and crew frequently to make rescue and other emergency work go smoothly and safely.

On numerous occasions each year Greenlea Rescue is been one of several attending road crashes and other major incidents, so reducing the number of these resources is creating an unacceptable risk, especially should any of these machines experience any unforseen mechanical issues, having a quick substitute nearby will serve the public to a level that they deserve and expect.

Should an incident occur on our local mountains Greenlea can uplift a ground team and have them at the patient’s side before a Hamilton based machine could even get into the general area. Discontinuing funding for this helicopter and removing it from service will lead to lives being lost.

Local Members of Parliament, district councils, business groups and individual businesses have come out in support of the Greenlea Rescue Helicopter.

Following on from Keep the Taupo Rescue Helicopter and Joining the Rescue Helicopter dots…

On Thursday night, a colleague sent me a copy of the first part of the NASO Request for Tender document for the provision of air ambulance services across New Zealand. Friday, I was working all day on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and so have only been able to examine this document this morning. Incidentally, while up on the Crossing, yesterday, the Greenlea Rescue Helicopter performed an evacuation of a hiker with a broken ankle.

Here, regardless of whether it is operating in an air ambulance or search and rescue role, we refer to these helicopters as rescue helicopters. We do this because that it what they do, regardless of whether they are operating at the time under and ambulance or search funding stream – the same service receives funding from various government agencies depending on its role at the time.

If yesterday’s broken ankle patient had been injured crossing the street, an ambulance would have been called. In this instance, the ambulance deployed was the Greenlea Rescue helicopter, based in Taupo. Let’s not get wrapped around the axle with semantics.

NASO AA coverage current

This is the original map used by the NZ Herald and included in Thursday’s post. This image is drawn directly from the RFP. The Statement that “…The figure below illustrates the 95 percent coverage from bases that currently provide Services…” is inaccurate. This map purporting to show the bases that currently provide [air ambulance] services omits the bases at Rotorua (229 missions) and Taupo (237 missions) , bases that, according to stats published by the Herald, are busier than the base at Tauranga (203 missions) that IS shown on this map.

This map implies that existing base locations are already capable of providing credible air ambulance services to the Central Plateau. Those of us who live and work here know that’s simply not true. Even if, under the new structure, each of the proposed bases supported multiple aircraft:

the additional flying time is still a factor that cannot be mitigated away.

The crews would still lack the intimate local knowledge that makes our local rescue helicopters so effective.

While our current fight is to retain the rescue helicopter bases at Taupo and Rotorua, it’s probably worthwhile to take a look at some other aspects of the RFP document.


Performance Class 1 essentially means that a twin engine helicopter can safely land, take-off or continue in flight if it suffers the loss of an engine.

Our current single-engine helicopters operate safely and effectively. Modern single-engine helicopters are not falling out of the sky on a regular basis, here or overseas. If anything, ongoing advances in engine technology are making modern engines more and more reliable – why do you think more modern airliners e.g. Boeing 757, 767, 777 and 787 can safely operate over large bodies of water with only two engines (no spares)?

Could NASO please share the statistics and data that support this call for twin-engined helicopters with no doubt greater capability but commensurately higher operating costs? You can ask NASO for this information here: It’s interesting to note that of all the agencies contacted since this issue erupted, NASO is the only one to not respond.

The time to have developed a national helicopter fleet was in the mid-2000s when the RNZAF replaced its existing fleet. If government agencies at the time had been able to work together, it is quite possible that a larger fleet of aircraft could have been acquired to meet not only Defence needs but those of Police, SAR and medical services…

two patient cap

How often does a rescue helicopter in New Zealand have to carry two patients? My assumption  would be less commonly than cases where there is only a single patient. More than one patient increases the requirements for clinical crew, especially where a critical patient might require the ongoing attentions of two paramedics.

St John Ambulance is moving to a single stretcher ambulance fleet. Noting that land ambulances are similarly broadly distributed, it is interesting that St John does not perceive a trend for multiple patients per vehicle…

Could NASO please share the statistics and data that support this requirement? Again we can ask them here:

One of the objectives for the interim Emergency Air Ambulance Service that this RFP seeks to replace was “…That it is essential that people get the right care, at the right time, in the right place from the right person...” Will NASO still be able to meet this standard, especially in regard to AT THE RIGHT TIME…?

It’s nice that NASO wants to move to a single integrated air ambulance service across New Zealand. Certainly it might make the bureaucracy easier.

But is what we have at the moment really broken? Can we afford a shift to single provider model?

Is there a single provider than can provide this service across the country?

Is this RFP ultimately just blowing in the wind…?

That NASO failed to consult with affected communities is indicative that this RFP may be driven more by efficiency than effectiveness. Surely, as part of developing the requirements for the tender, NASO would need to talk to local communities e.g. councils, Police, SAR, etc to get a feel for the true need? Surely, a savvy government ofice would ensure that affected Members of Parliament were read into the plan before the story broke…?

Something smells…

Garlic Shrimp on cauliflower mash


A bit fuzzy 😦

Sugar Soil sowed the seed of this recipe a while ago but for some reason – possibly trying to work out the difference between prawn and shrimp – I stumbled across some other similar recipes that I amalgamated…sadly, and I’m normally pretty good at this now, I didn’t note the original sources….

I’m amazed at the broad range of things that we can do with the ever so humble cauliflower – and I need to pre-make a batch of cauliflower buffalo bites for late night munchie attacks – and this one is another quick and easy winner…


Cauliflower Mash:

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups Vegetable Stock

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons of coconut butter

2 teaspoons of fresh rosemary

1/3 cup of vegetarian Parmesan ‘cheese’

Garlic Shrimp:

500 grams of raw shrimp, shelled and de-veined

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 slices bacon

1/3 Cup red wine

1/2 onion, chopped

1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes

 a pinch of dried oregano

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste


Place the cauliflower florets in a medium sized saucepan with chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium and cover, allowing to cook for 15-20 minutes or so, or until the cauliflower is very tender and easily mashed.

Once the cauliflower is tender and cooked through, pour off any excess stock that remains and reserve.

Using a food processor, puree the cauliflower with the coconut oil.

Add the parmesan ‘cheese’, rosemary, salt and pepper and mix well.

If needed, add a drizzle of the reserved broth if the cauliflower is too dense. Set aside.

In a large saute pan, cook the bacon until it’s crispy.

Set the bacon aside on paper towels until cool, then chop into small pieces.  Set aside.

In the bacon drippings, add the onion and cook over medium high heat until softened.

Add the minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano, and saute for about a minute, stirring frequently.  Stir in the red wine.

Cook a minute or two, then add the shrimp.

Cook, stirring frequently to turn the shrimp, until the shrimp are pink and opaque on both sides.

Place the shrimp and sauce over the mashed cauliflower and top with crumbled bacon.

Season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh oregano.

It’s pretty hard to go wrong with this one. It makes enough for two decent-size servings with enough of the mash left over for another meal.


This is the left over mash the following night, with rissoles made from some left-over quorm and a pack of vegetarian mince I bought on a whim from the Taumarunui New World. I mixed the remaining bacon into the mash before I reheated it…

Taps Off – really…?

Chapman water_0001

This attack on the Ohakune Volunteer Fire Brigade was published in this week’s edition of the Ruapehu Bulletin. It is an apparent response to this notice published by the Ohakune Volunteer Fire Brigade a fortnight or so ago:

As of today our water delivery price will be going up to a minimum charge of $200 then anything over the 1 hour there will be an extra charge of $25/15 minutes.
We have had to renew our water carrier approval license and also now need to do regular water hygiene checks. With part of the requirement we need to do a yearly audit so now we also have to pay the council for the water, I do want to make it clear that this is not at the council’s request it’s a requirement for our certification.
We are no longer allowed to deliver water with the same truck that was used for fire service duties so as a brigade we still wanted to maintain servicing the community in both water deliveries and fire fighting capabilities so we purchased another tanker at a huge cost to the brigade.
This is still a voluntary and non profit making service with continued running costs rising we have been forced into these changes. Any outstanding invoices owed to the brigade you have 2 weeks to clear on old pricing then from the 1st March you will be charged the new rates.
CFO Keith Watson

The Ohakune Volunteer Fire Brigade is as its name suggests, and like all the other fire brigades in the Ruapehu District, a volunteer fire brigade. That means that all its members freely give of their own time to provide this essential service within our communities. This commitment comes at the cost of significant disruption to personal and professional lives, is not without frequent physical risk, and comes with the sole reward of a job well done.

On top of its significant commitment to maintaining (it’s not all riding on a fire engine under lights and siren: there’s a major training requirement for all members as well) and delivering an excellent firefighting capability in Ohakune and the broader Ruapehu District, the Ohakune Brigade voluntarily provides a water delivery service in the community. The only payment sought for this service is to cover the direct costs of compliance, certification and delivery: there is no profit margin and no person gets any financial reward for providing this service.

Just a little sidenote on the Ohakune Volunteer Fire Brigade’s tanker capability. This is community-funded i.e. the Ohakune community raised the funds for these tankers themselves. In addition to providing a great capability to Ohakune firefighting operations, the new 18,000 litre tanker (18,000 litres is about 9 times what a normal fire engine carries onboard) provides a reliable water supply for firefighting in areas not supported by mains water supplies and where there may not be an available alternate water source like a stream or water tanks.


18,000 litres of water on the hoof (c) Ohakune Volunteer Fire Brigade

To be this into a local context, while the main water supply in National Park Village is being repaired this week, there will be insufficient guaranteed mains pressure for firefighting in the Village. To ensure a viable water supply during this period, the big Ohakune water tanker will be ‘attached’ to any major firefighting callouts in the Village.

Chief Fire Officers are busy people. They have to:

maintain the same skills as their firefighters.

be prepared, at the beep of a pager, to deal with a range of contingencies including flooding, fallen trees, detaching roofs, assistance to ambulance, motor vehicle accidents, hazsubs spills and leaks, and  a whole raft of different firefighting challenges.

be on top of all the administration required to make a fire brigade function.

do all this without pay or reward beyond the knowledge of a job well done.

Chief Fire Officers have better things to do than endure and respond to vexatious and petty attacks from the likes of John Chapman.

John Chapman signed his letter as a member of the National Park Community Board. I have spoken with members of the National Park Community Board and at no time have any concerns regarding the water delivery service provided by the Ohakune Volunteer Fire Brigade been raised with the Board, let alone discussed at a Board meeting or progressed to a resolution of any form. I would think if the National Park Community Board was going to adopt any resolution regarding this service it would be one of support and appreciation.

Certainly, support and appreciation has been the unanimous and common theme amongst members of the National Park community since Mr Chapman’s letter was published.

It’s unlikely but perhaps some members of John Chapman’s own community in the Waimarino-Waiouru ward have some concerns about the increases in water delivery costs. This is something that they would need to raise with the Waimarino-Waiouru Community Board, a group quite capable of managing local issues within their own ward. Not only is in appropriate for John Chapman to (ab)use his position on the National Park Community Board to launch an attack on a matter in another ward, his actions implies that Community Board in that ward is unable to function without Mr Chapman’s input. That is most definitely not the case.


This from comments on the letter on Facebook. John Chapman, it would appear, is actually a local firefighter himself, rural, I believe. One can imagine that his brigade’s next training session may be somewhat ‘interesting’, the conversation potentially robust…

This is not the first time that John Chapman has (ab)used his position as a community board member to launch petty attacks against local community members. Last year he conducted a campaign against the Chair of the National Park Community Board because she would not bow down before his (allegedly) superior political experience. His motion of no confidence in the Chair was soundly defeated with community members speaking on behalf of the Chair and acknowledging her long commitment and contributions to the community.

More recently, John Chapman took advantage of his position on the National Park Community Board to read out an interminable personal statement relating to his vendetta against anti-1080 signage at Waikune. This related to provocative statements he had made on the National Park Community Facebook page – this purports to be representative of the community but is really just another soapbox for John Chapman – which had resulted in some backlash from the community. His actions on this page are totally independent of his membership of the National Park Community Board and Mr Chapman needs to learn that actions have consequences and that the Community Board is not there to act as a shield when his actions generate consequences. The targets of this vendetta attended this meeting and it is a credit to them that they calmly opted to not rise to his provocation, leaving him alone in the mud.

Perhaps it’s time for Mr Chapman to consider whether he truly does represent the community of the National Park ward. If he hopes to do more for the community, then he needs to reconsider his game plan. If he hopes to use his Community Board activities as a springboard for higher office, he should realise that his current conduct is unlikely to endear him to the voting public.

If John Chapman thinks community board membership is just about lashing out at those who dare to disagree with him, maybe he needs to stand down and seek such solace in some overseas socialist nirvana…




Green Take 2

via WordPress Daily Prompt Jolly

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.


A second take on green, revisiting no-cheese cheesecake #4, Nadia Lim’s avacado, lime and coconut ‘cheese’cake

I’ve pretty perfected my no-bake cheesecake base, adapted from this blueberry and beetroot cheesecake:

1 1/2 cups of coconut almond meal leftover from homemade almond coconut ‘milk’ production. You could make the meal directly by blending a cup each of raw almond and coconut flakes.

3/4 of a cup of dates, chopped, optional to top up to a cup with raisins

1 tablespoon of coconut oil, melted to a liquid

A pinch of salt


Put the meal in the food processor and blend, slowly adding the dates until the mix turns a deeper brown as the oils mix with the meal.

Add the coconut oil and salt and blend.

Pour the base mix into a prepared (I use a baking paper base) springform baking pan.

The topping is dead easy. You’ll need:

5 medium firm ripe avocados

1 cup of lime juice (I use the bottled stuff as the limes up here are poor dry things with hardly any juice

a pinch of salt

1 cup of coconut cream (I skimped as I only had a 150ml can)

2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

1/2 a cup of maple syrup

1/4 cup of vanilla sugar (I have this big jar of it that I Hardly use because it’s , like, y’know, sugar)

2 tablespoons of gelatin (actually used closed to 1 1/2 as the box wasn’t quite as full it it made out)

2 tablespoons of cold water

3 tablespoons of boiling water


Place all the ingredients, except the gelatin and water, in the food processor and blend until the mixture is smooth.

Mix the gelatin powder with cold water and leave it to swell for a few minutes. Add the boiling water and mix well to completely dissolve the gelatin (make sure there are no little lumps!).

Add the dissolved gelatin mixture to the food processor and blend with the avocado mixture until it’s all very smooth.

Without too much mussing around, pour the topping mix into the springform pan and spread into an even layer. If you muss around too much, the topping will strat to set in the food processor.

Place the pan in the fridge for a couple of hours until ready to serve.

Nadia Lim recommends a berry coulis to go withe ‘cheese’cake. I made one by blending a mix of strawberries (tis the season), blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. I’m not particularly sold on this as it is a tart topping on an already quite tart ‘cheese’cake – I think cream, whipped or straight, and vanilla ice cream make for a better accompaniment for this…

This is a very simple and very fast ‘cheese’cake to knock up. Depending on the availability of avocados, it may be a bit pricey…not tested but the original recipe says it can be frozen so there is scope to knock a few up when ‘cados are cheaper and freeze them til later in the year…

MHAW Photo-a-day Challenge – Oct. 15 – Nature is key to…

…health…but what sort of image depicts health…?




The Challenge

Mental Health Awareness Week in New Zealand is 9-15 October this year. Each year, the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand runs and sponsors a number of awareness activities.

The MHAW Photo Challenge runs from 1-15 October  Each day participants post an image that is their take on that day’s theme:

Oct. 1 – My view
Oct. 2 – Gratitude
Oct. 3 – Light
Oct. 4 – Water
Oct. 5 – Small treasures
Oct. 6 – Nature indoors
Oct. 7 – Bush walk
Oct. 8 – Art
Oct. 9 – Pop of colour
Oct. 10 – MHAW Lockout
Oct. 11 – Papatūānuku (Mother Earth)
Oct. 12 – Creature
Oct. 13 – Spring
Oct. 14 – Love my backyard
Oct. 15 – Nature is key to…