This is a wonderful, insightful piece written by Mike Julianelle

As a parent, your schedule is often dictated by the needs of your child, especially when that child is young.

The necessity of getting a toddler home for a nap — as well as the need to get them to bed for the night before the sun has even gone down — can cripple your day. Being sequestered in your home for a few hours is usually better than dealing with a public meltdown from an overtired toddler, so sometimes, the trade-off is worth it. Still, raising a toddler can be rather suffocating.

In fact, it’s uncanny how many aspects of the parenting experience remind me of prison — complete with a sadistic little warden who harbors a Napoleon complex.

10 Ways Having a Toddler is Like Being in Prison

      • You can’t do anything without constant supervision
      • Every morning begins with someone screaming at you to wake up
      • You’re always terrified something bad will happen when you’re in the shower
      • You’re always terrified someone is going to crawl into your bed in the middle of the night
      • Meal time is fraught with tension
      • Someone’s always watching you go to the bathroom
      • You never get to choose the movie and then it’s hard to hear it over all the hooting and hollering
      • You’re always terrified someone is going to punch, bite, tackle, stab or attack you with some kind of makeshift weapon
      • Contraband — like booze, chocolate and adult entertainment — must be smuggled in and consumed in secret
      • Conjugal visits are hard to come by, require intense scheduling, and are often interrupted. BONUS: One Way Having a Toddler is NOT Like Being in Prison
      • Being placed in solitary confinement is a reward, not a punishment.
      • (The advantage of being a ‘grandy’- you can leave and go back to ‘the outside’.)Thanks, Mike Julianelle!! 🙂



Maori film director, writer, painter, comedian and actor named as one of “ten new directors to watch”, Taika Waititi has been honoured by his alma mater, Victoria University. Ka pai! My favourite Waititi film is ‘Boy’. I taught for a number of years at a small rural school in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, not far removed from the district Waititi’s film is played out in and this made ‘Boy’ more special to me. I suspect a lot of white Kiwis will not have watched the film with my eyes and this is a pity because what was presented was a snapshot of what life is like ‘out there’. For each of the young people who lived, played, fought and went to school at Waihau Bay (Raukokore in the film)  I can picture one of my pupils from those many years ago ‘just down the coast’. Whanau dominated things, everybody struggled but wanted for little (other than material possessions) and everybody had dreams of other places. To use the vernacular it was ‘hard case’, and at the same time touching.And my son joined the ‘Crazy Horse Gang’– hahaha!

Look around for the ‘Boy’ DVD and take a look- I’m sure there’ll be enjoyment in it for you.


What a lovely weekend away. As I joked several times, it was nice to have a family get-together that didn’t involve someone in a box! (‘Course that’s even better since I’m getting very close to being next in line!!!) However, to the weekend.
My nephew Scott, a fine young soldier was marrying his long-time partner, Cristin, a lovely young lady from Boston who has trained and qualified as a vet in New Zealand. They have lived in Christchurch for some time and were fortunate enough to have no personal injury and little property damage in the recent earthquake. None of their weird pets seemed to suffer, either! We were, of course on tenderhooks given the festivities were to be on the southern side of Banks Peninsular, but assurances were given that the lodge was unaffected and food and drink was available in abundance (just as well because there are certain members of the whanau that do ‘in abundance’ quite well!) The venue was Mt Vernon Lodge above the delightful seaside village of Akaroa, a French-flavoured settlement established as an outpost to support French whaling operations in the southern oceans. To drive down a street in New Zealand called “Rue Lavaud” or “Rue Benoit” or to pass through another wee village called Duvauchelle is a novel experience. Of course one can get ‘authentic’ French cuisine too at the many cafes and restaurants that are to be found along the beautiful bay front.

I was looking forward particularly to this weekend because it was an opportunity for many in our family to see each other again after several years, and to share the pleasures of the new additions to the family- my grandsons, my niece’s brand new baby boy, my brother’s new partner and her children, and all of the various Dwyers who Cristin brought with her to ‘the clan’. The one sad element was that my son, Campbell would not be with us as he is a month away from ending his 6 months active service in Afghanistan.

Friday was arrival day for most and after we picked up daughter Kimberley from the airport we dodged Christchurch and made our way out to Banks Peninsular. Check in wasn’t until 2pm but as the sun is over the yardarm somewhere in the world at any time of the day, we stopped at the Little River pub for a bit of refreshment. From here there are options as to how to get to Akaroa so we decided see something of the peninsular. The road rises steeply out of Little River until it reaches the summit where it branches to head eastwards to Little Akaloa and the Eastern Bays, or southerly more directly to Akaroa. We headed east. The road winds across the backbone of the peninsular offering spectacular views all around. The peninsular was once a volcano (actually I guess it still is!) and thus the slopes are pretty severe all around, views are extensive and the warnings of ‘Steep Slope- Change Down’ are frequent. We dropped down very quickly from the Summit Rd to Little Akaloa, a tiny settlement nestled in a tight inlet that looks as if must be just crawling with crayfish and awash with cod. We stopped at the delightful little church that perches on a hill looking down the bay to the sea. The interior has maori carving and kowhaiwhai motifs as features- not unique in New Zealand but notable enough for it to be worth the time, as is the graveyard that is part of the church grounds and which has some very old and interesting headstones. Sadly there two brand new mounds of earth that signified some local families had a less than merry Christmas. The next bay, Okains, is so different in nature with an extensive sandy bay with a meandering stream emptying into it. The stream is of importance to the local people as there is a marae and a boat-shed that shelter two Maori waka taua (war canoes). These were handsome craft some 20m in length and carrying intricately carved bows and stern posts. These would probably be paddled by as many as 30-40 warriors and I was told they are, every Waitangi Day and on other special occasions. I have seen waka taua on the the water and it is a very impressive experience with the chanting of the paddlers and rhythmical beat of the paddles catching water and thumping against the boat’s sides. There is also a country museum here but we didn’t have time to do it justice so left it for another day. The road rises steeply out of Okains Bay and heads further down the peninsular past Le Bons Bay and thence drops down quickly to Akaroa. All along the road are continuing spectacular views and my daughter and I mused on what it must have looked like in pre-European days before the clear-felling of native bush to make way for sheep! The entry to Akaroa is quite sudden and the extent of Akaroa Bay hits you as so notably different from the steep hills and ridges of the inland roads.

Obviously one of the first things you notice is the use of French language- street names, signage, restaurant and cafe names. One wonders if there’ll be accents when you speak to locals!!! (No there aren’t- well, not French anyway.)The main street, Rue Lavaud dawdles (you definitely don’t feel like hurrying in Akaroa!) through the ‘CBD’ but then prosaically becomes Beach Rd as it follows the beach around to the ‘other half’ of the settlement that features the pier and beach-side dining and tourist outlets. The buildings are lovely- most, apart from modern accommodations are very colonial by nature and have been maintained to enhance their effect. Wysteria or rambling roses drape many verandahs, picket fences border beautifully tended gardens, and not a parking meter in sight!! We mooched around the place for a wee while but then decided a good way to fill in the while we had before check-in would be lunch! You are spoiled for choice in this wee town, and the range is from footpath or beach-front to casual cafe or full-blown restaurant fine dining. The fish in the ‘fish and chips’ was beautifully light battered fresh cod and home-made chips, the open steak sandwich was ribeye with tangy chutney and aeoli on fresh-toasted home-baked roll with salad and chips, and the ‘bruncher’ a nicely presented oriental seasoned pork dish with salad and chips. (What is it with chips with absolutely everything? I don’t really care how good they are, I think it’s overdone and possibly fills the role of plate-fillers!) Oh, and the sun was definitely over the yardarm locally so Kimberley and I had another beer. Satisfied we drove the short distance from the beach-front, up Rue Bulgarie (which goes past Rue De Mal- wonder of the doctor lives there?) and arrived moments later at the lodge.

And so to meetings, greetings, hugs and hellos (and beer or wine, or wine or beer!). Lots of preparations yet to be finished and then a BBQ tea and socialising to set the scene for the big day tomorrow. I think I’ll do that tomorrow!

Schools As Parents?

All societies have social ills of one kind or another but in New Zealand we seem to be advocating a system of remedy that ignores the core of a successful society- family and positive parenting. Child obesity is a problem? Schools can teach ‘healthy eating’. Children and youth have no respect for people or property? Schools can teach ‘life values’. Children arrive at school without having eaten breakfast? Schools can establish ‘breakfast clubs’. And so it goes on. When are we (the government) going to put the responsibility for curing these (and many other) ills firmly back where they should first be addressed? WITH PARENTS and in the family!!!

Kia Kaha, Kia Maia, Kia Manawanui My Son

…and above all return safely to us in 6 months time.

My son, Campbell has today left for a 6 month posting to Afghanistan with OP CRIB 17. He is to be stationed at Bagram Airbase just north of Kabul where he and a small contingent of Kiwis will maintain communications and logistics for the wider spread NZ force. (The larger group will go to Bamian province to replace those currently working there.) Obviously he is very excited about this operation as is any soldier about overseas service, and his previous experience (when posted there in 2005) has not deterred him from wanring to be back in this sad country.

Our hearts and thoughts go with him, and all of the other young soldiers who are in country. May you all be safe, and return home in one piece as soon as can be.

Should we be there?
What some Kiwis think

Cezar Taylor, just 6 months old has died because he was shaken and beaten by the ‘partner’ of his mother. WHEN WILL IT END!! New Zealand continues to languish near the top of the list of countries that are unable to protect their children. WHEN WILL IT END?? Babies are being beaten. Babies are being shaken. Babies are being neglected (by being left alone while their parent(s) go out drinking or gambling). Babies are being deprived of the one simple thing they deserve- Love. If you care for/love something you will not abuse it. Is it because they suffered abuse when young? Is it because they didn’t experience love when young? Is this pay-back? WHEN WILL IT END???

How will it end? A friend of mine suggested castration should be used as a punishment but sadly would be too late in many instances. With any luck there will be some rough justice when the bastards responsible for these abuses arrive in whichever prison they are sent to. (Then the bleeding heart liberals will raise a hue and cry about the safety of inmates in NZ Prisons.)

I believe whanau (it is Maori Language Week and we are expected to use Te Reo, but I use the term intentionally) must take responsibility for many of the instances that have achieved notoriety in recent years. Families are not blinkered for any other reason than choice. If they choose to pretend not to see, or to not do anything about improper actions they DO see against their mokopuna they are as guilty as the animals who carry out the abuses.


World Wide Whanau

A couple of years ago a member of my whanau went on a bit of a pilgrimage to the Middle East to sort of retrace his father’s war-time exploits and to pay homage to our and other NZers forebears who had made the ‘ultimate sacrifice’. One of these was my namesake, my father’s brother Norman Murray (no, I’m not called ‘Norman’) who died in the defence of Maleme Airfield in Crete, 20th MAY, 1941, and lies at rest in the Souda Bay Allied Cemetery.

Souda Bay Allied Cemetery, Crete.

While on the island my cousin left an entry in a visitors’ book, and not one to use few words when many can do just as well, he left a decent amount of information. Probably thinking no more about the visitors book he continued his hikoi and ultimately returned home tired but well satisfied with his efforts.

Some months later I received from him a group email in which he let the family know about a Polish couple who had been holidaying in Crete, had read the visitors’ book entry, were intrigued and had contacted him. They intended returning for another holiday to Crete in the not too distant future and very generously inquired as to whether they could take anything to Souda Bay to Uncle Murray’s grave for him.

I thought this ‘random offer of kindness’ was at least worthy of a reply and so I did with a general introduction of myself, my relationship to the author of the visitors’ book entry, and a sincere thanks that they should make such a generous offer. I included a message and a family photo. In a very short time I got a reply from Malgo and Roman, a Polish couple who live in Lodz, letting me know that they would, indeed take my message and print the photo that I had sent in digital format and place it on the grave of our uncle.

I subsequently received another email from Poland with photos attached of Uncle Murray’s gravesite with our family photo and I have to admit there was a lump in the throat and a tear in the eye as I read the kind message and opened the attachments.

What wonderful people Malgo and Roman are- total strangers thousands of kilometres across the World who read an obscure entry in a visitors’ book and offered to carry wishes and objects for no other reason than that they are wonderful people. I am happy to say we have developed our relationship through the convenience of email, have exchanged gifts and family details, and I am now delighted to consider Malgo and Roman good friends.

I am looking forward to my daughter visiting them in Poland as part of her OE some time later this year, and am quite jealous of the welcome I know she will get from this delightful couple. Who knows, one day we may even shake each other’s hands! (…although I  think I would prefer a kiss from Malgo- after all she is part of my World Wide Whanau!)

What a better place this world would be if a lot more people had the same friendly, unselfish and helpful attitude of the Grzybowskis of Lodz, Poland.