Monday, April 30, 2007

Let there be light

From the end of this September kiwis will get more light. The Government has just decided to extend daylight saving up to 27 weeks, three weeks extra.

Clocks will go forward an hour a week earlier than usual - on the last Sunday in September - and back an hour two weeks later on the first Sunday in April, instead of the third Sunday in March.
It's the first change in daylight saving since 1990 and comes more than 30 years after clocks first went forward an hour to extend summer days.

It will be a huge relief to know that we'll be able to get longer days after feeling a little short changed this year when the clocks went back some weeks ago.

New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to officially adopt a nationally observed standard time. New Zealand Mean Time, adopted on 2 November 1868, was set at 11 hours 30 minutes ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. Greenwich Mean Time was established by British Railways in the 1840s but was not made Great Britain's standard time until 1880.

In 1941, due to emergency regulations in the Second World War, clocks were advanced half an hour in New Zealand. This advance was made permanent by the Standard Time Act 1945. The Act provided that New Zealand Standard Time was set 12 hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time or Universal Time. In the late 1940s the development of the first atomic clock was announced and several laboratories began atomic time scales. A new time scale based on the readings of atomic clocks, known as Co-ordinated Universal Time, was adopted internationally in 1972.

After many reviews in the intervening years, it seems that at last the Government has seen the sense to extend the daylight saving to once again and bring New Zealand in line with Australia who were enjoying longer days this summer whilst here in NZ our lights were already snuffed out.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


First ever kiwi choral concert last night. Not quite the Royal Albert Hall but nevertheless an impressive performance of Handel's Messaih performed by the Orpheus Choir and the Vector Wellington Orchestra.

Performed at the Wellington Town Hall it gave me plenty of opportunity for research on geometric tiles floors which we'd like to have in our hallway of the house. Aside from admiring ecaustic tiles the concert was pretty good too.

Wellington Town Hall is an impressive building which packs a strong punch for acoustics and rated in the top ten auditoriums in the world that includes Carnegie Hall. Who would ever know that our capital city at the bottom of the world would be so well endowed with cultural amenties.

For more information:

Friday, April 27, 2007

Domestic bathrooms

We've just spent the last two days researching and choosing, or rather trying to chose, bathroom fittings for the house. Setting off with list and budget confident that we'd crack this in a couple of hours. After all, how difficult can it be to choose toilets, baths, showers and tapware.

How naive!

After two days we've narrowed it down to about, hmm let me see, about 8 options for toilets, 4 types of baths, 5 washbasins and 5 showers. Oh yes and about 7 choices of taps! Now defeated on style and quality we need to get down to the nitty gritty the $s.

I had no idea that there was so much to choosing a toilet. Shape - round, square; Style - contemporary or traditional; Pan design - European small opening or Australasia wider opening not to mention whether it's close coupled, back to the wall, wall hung or perhaps just a pan with concealed cistern. And, you can have standard seats or soft close. The myriad of features goes on and on!

Taps are a work of art in themselves and engineering that you would never imagine. Easy clean ceramics and soft close toilet seats all go towards making the choices harder and harder. Also, whether to buy kiwi made or imported, what might be the most environmentally friendly.

After all the procrastination we've passed back the wish list to the suppliers and will now sit back and see how much they all cost. Then it will be a careful balancing act of getting what we like with what we can afford.

It's all been so exhausting its time for a break before we tackle the next decisions - tiles!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

New Posts

Eagled eyed blog readers will notice a couple of new features to Domestic Executive. New links to be able to see what's happening in Wellington Harbour and a link to Stuff, the NZ news pages.

Also, you can look at the Domestic Bliss Gallery, a selection of pictures, cartoons and photos about domestic life.

You can access all of these from the links area on the right hand side of the blog. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Anzac Day

Today is Anzac Day, a public holiday since 1921, that marks the landings at Gallipoli as an acknowledgement of the sacrifice of all those New Zealanders who have died in warfare, and the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.

Over time there have been changes in the way that Anzac Day has been commemorated, reflecting the changing features and concerns of our society. During the Second World War, for example, there was increased interest and a heightened sense of the relevance of Anzac Day; in the 1960s and decades following it was from time to time used as a platform for anti-war and other social protest.

Today, at a time when it seems New Zealanders are increasingly keen to assert and celebrate a unique identity, Anzac Day is viewed as a central marker of our New Zealand's nationhood. It promotes a sense of unity, perhaps more effectively than any other day on the national calendar. People whose politics, beliefs and aspirations are widely different can nevertheless share a genuine sorrow at the loss of so many lives in war, and a real respect for those who have endured warfare on behalf of the country we live in.

There was a dawn ceremony followed up church services and parades. For more information:

Houseblogging: essential services

The floor and essential services have been installed on site since our last visit. We now have a floor, veranda, water tank and sewage treatment system.

We also met our immediate neighbour today who was busy planting trees along the boundary to provide privacy. That saves us a job! His name is Doug has six young cows in his paddock and his parents have bought the plot close to the entrance of the sub-division, so its a real family affair.

Most importantly he's put his building plot far away from ours close to the opposite boundary, the best possible position from our perspective and affords him the best possible views from his higher ground. A sorry tale of his very sick architect though which means that his house planning is currently limited to landscaping and groundworks.

View of floor and surrounding verandas

A view from the opposite direction

The sewage treatment works, already plumbed into the site bathroom.

22,500 litres of water tank

Our underfloor insulation - a kiwi rarity!

Our first home grown food, mushrooms are sprouting all over the garden

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Countdown to being a domestic executive: 24 weeks to go

It's been a while since I looked at the countdown position and it seems that time has stood still, or I simply couldn't count earlier in the year. It is now 24 weeks until the end of my contract with MSD. If I want to have the fancy tiles in the hall and a new sofa that will be extended by another 9 weeks. But, then that's it for this executive domestic for a while as I'll be busy welcoming our first visitors and starting my domestic executive life.

This doesn't seem too long to wait but I can't help feeling a little impatient for this time to come. Reading my new birthday books on vegetable growing it's just as well I have that long to start to plan and prepare the new kitchen garden ready for full time occupation.

I've been enjoying my day dreaming for my domestic executive life on my special day as a good distraction from realising how old I am getting. I baked for the my birthday morning tea in the office - rhubarb & walnut muffins, chocolate gingercake and cheese and onion muffins (for those savoury types).

Good to make myself popular for a few moments when people were grateful for the sugar rush. There was much discussion about the need for baking when you're living in a country community and the role that the WI (women's institute) plays in the UK. This got me thinking about what exists within New Zealand for women and you won't be surprised to know that there is a few (after all NZ was the first country in the world to give women the vote).

New Zealand federation of Women's Institute's -
Rural Women New Zealand -
National Council for Women of New Zealand -

May look up my local branch when we move to Kaitoke, a whole market for my cakes and coaching!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Photoblogging: Karori Wildlife Sanctuary

To make a change from the commute to Kaitoke this Sunday (we'll be heading there on Wednesday instead) we headed off to one of Wellington's gems - Karori Wildlife Sanctuary.

Karori Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected natural area where the bio-diversity of a square mile of forest is being restored. A predator-proof fence, specifically designed to exclude 14 species of non-native mammals, ranging from possums to mice, encircles the 8.6km perimeter.

The Sanctuary is at present in a degraded state. Flora now missing from the site or rare - including large podocarp species such as rimu and totara - are being re-established. Many species of threatened native wildlife will be re-introduced. The little spotted kiwi - one of our rarer kiwi - has already been released.

It is a remarkable place with a vision that will take 500 years to achieve - It's also a pretty good place for a Sunday afternoon stroll!

The great fence of Karori - 8.6km of protection for kiwi wildlife.

Tree inspiration!

Fern tree canopies

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lounge cinemas

I can't be sure but as well as having the highest number of cafes proportionate to the population Wellington must have the largest number of cinemas. There are all shapes and sizes and a film festival running in one cinema or another all the time.

Trips to the movies were regular things when we first moved to New Zealand but after a few evenings being blown up Courtney Place by a southerly whilst we waited ages for a bus we seemed to settle into a routine of DVDs on the TV instead.

To avoid becoming couch potatoes we renewed efforts this week to get back out to the movies and think we've found the perfect solution. A lounge cinema!

Not a new concept I know but a growing breed in NZ. Small cimenas (often with more than 1 screeen) with excellent cafes with plenty of parking. The real treat is your very own sofa to sit in, complete with cushion and lovely wide arms to put your drinks and snacks on.

We went to see Notes on a scandal which was a fabulous movie and well worth watching blog readers if you get the chance. Dame Judi was very spooky but still up to the usual high standard of acting.

Anyway, the point of it all is that New Zealanders have civilised movie going into a fine art. You can get a drink (alcoholic if you like) and take it, and the accompanying nibbles with you in to the cinema. If it wasn't for the other 30 people also on sofas eating their nibbles you'd think you were actually in your own lounge.

You'll be pleased to know I am sure that there is a lounge cinema in Upper Hutt (10 minutes drive from Kaitoke) so we'll continue to be well served when we move to the country.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Let's bring it home!

As America's Cup fever starts in earnest, there's been outrage here at the suggestion that if NZ wins and brings home the cup then sponsor, Emirates Airline will want to the kiwis to defend the title from Dubai. Who ever heard of such tosh?!

Not taking any chances though, we've sent Auntie Helen to Spain and she's making in clear to King Carlos that the kiwis won't stand for any monkey business where the Americas Cup is concerned. Of course the America's Cup is coming home to New Zealand.

For all those supporters in Valencia, here's the right t-shirt for you to be wearing. Available from all Line 7 shops or online from Of course MT is already the proud wearer as his wife went to Auckland earlier in the year and all he got was a t-shirt!

Houseblogging: its turned pink

I think the house is blushing since the floor is left naked with only its joists showing. It was quite something to see the full extend of the floor plan, complete with bay windows and demarcation between the house and the veranda foundations.

That's the view that we'll see outside our bedroom window
Our veranda has arrived!

Just checking the house should be as big as it is!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Photoblogging: Khandallah viewing point

It was a beautiful autumn evening with the red sky still burning so thought we'd go photoblogging to the Khandallah viewing point.

Just to reassure readers that MT is still around, contrary to popular thought given the wide range of other photos posted recently.

Autumn evening view across the Wellington Harbour

The interislander ferry is always an impressive sight, chugging its way across the harbour

Why NZ is not as green and clean as you might think

As a rate payer there are a range of services you expect to be provided - collecting rubbish and recycling for example. The kiwi way of doing this is for people to buy special bags at the supermarket and a recycling box and then put them outside the house at the appointed time/day. This way it doesn't cost the councils anything as the contractor funds the service by selling the rubbish bags.

According to the letter we received today from Upper Hutt City Council as a Kaitoke Landowner that there is not even this basic level of service for rural properties (i.e. ours). There's been an informal arrangement for years where the contractor picked up the bags from a collection point but seems that people have been abusing this privilege and its now been removed. Seems the options currently available are to take the rubbish to the landfill or sneak your official bags outside an urban property (asking permission to do so obviously!).

But, the Council are now investigating options to provide rural areas with a refuse and recycling collection service but its going to cost ratepayers and previously rural residents have not been keen to pay the cost. I can see this one running for a while but hope they get it sorted before we move up to Kaitoke otherwise we'll be doing the elicit rubbish dumping outside of urban properties as I do the commuter run to the station.

This slice of local council life gives some explanation as to why NZ is not as green and clean as you might expect.

Friday, April 13, 2007

My precious

Do you remember how Gollum coveted the ring - my preciousssssss?

Well there's been a little strange behaviour from MT who has been protecting his coveted newspapers. Now these aren't just anyone old newspaper but three pristine copies of Saturday Guardians lovingly transported back from blighty by my friend from Jonathon at work. He's a brit too and a fellow Guardian reader.

This is like having gold in our house, a newspaper that takes longer than 10 minutes to read and has more editorial than advertising. Sheer pleasure. Sad I know but when you spend a year reading the NZ papers you'll realise how this feels too!

PS - I know Ron Hill's alter ego won't like this blog entry - but tough!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Slow news

It being Easter means that life in NZ has ground to a slower pace. I'm not complaining, its just there isn't much to report on though beyond the fact that:

- today the local commuter trains to and from Upper Hutt were cancelled due to failed infrastructure (yes, that's the line MT will be commuting on in future!)

- the politics of the social security system are hot, even though Parliament is in recess (benefit numbers have dropped by 35% in the last year with only 28,000 people receiving unemployment benefit and less than 1,500 of those are youth).

- lots of people are off sick at work (I'm wondering whether it was too much Easter chocolate)

- the temperature has plummeted requiring the hot water bottle in bed last night and a coat on for work

- An Auckland woman is recovering from the shock of receiving a reminder notice about a parking ticket, asking her to pay a $39,000 fine. A computer error I think!

- three health sector unions have taken their staff out on strike (again!)

So, all in all its a slow news week. I'm not complaining as we could do with a rest in our press office.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Scheduling myths

Guess who is back on their patch of grass!

We had our project induction meeting today for the house build. A real experience to be briefed on the finer points of health and safety on a building site. We were gutted we didn't get our own hard hats to wear and that we have to sign a book every time we go and visit our own land.

Also, for some strange reason we are allowed to speak to the electrician, plumber, joiner and project manager but not the builder (unless we want to talk about rugby, fishing, or other non build related things). There was much raising of eyebrows about this rule and we promptly broke it 10 mintues later by talking to Chris (our builder) about building our house. I am sure that there is method in their madness but we can't work it out yet!

Still, we've got a schedule - 25 weeks of planned activity. Mysterious though, they are starting the schedule three weeks later than the actual work started, no wonder they are claiming that they are well ahead of schedule.

I could tell that the schedule (or rather a bar chart) didn't live up to MT's standard of project scheduling but I was proud that he didn't go all busman's holiday on me and start giving them a lecture on how it should be done.

So starting on 26 March we have 25 weeks of planned activity, subject of course to all the usual caveats about weather, sick builders and usual excuses about why things are running late. But, hey, its a schedule and one that is pinned up in the office so I can check each week off as things progress.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Photoblogging - being a laid back kiwi

One of the wonderful kiwi characteristics is the ability to chill out and be laid back. I thought I was time I started to perfect this whilst away on our Easter break in South Cape, Hawkes Bay. It wasn't hard to do this given the beauty of the surroundings nor the company!

Below is a panorama of South Cape Cottages - with such wide open spaces there was always something new to look at.

OK - I might have spent quite a long time in this position soaking up the rays, hanging out and staring in a meaningful way to the middle distance. The weather was beautiful so it seemed a shame not to make the most of the final stages of summer.

When I finally did get up a stroll on the beach was in order. The sun was starting to set on the horizon and the late afternoon surfers were making the most of the waves.

It was busy time on the beach with those people fishing, fishing their boats out of the water or simply kicking back and enjoying the sun, sea and sand.

Even the feathered friends think looking into the middle distance is a good thing to do!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Photoblogging: House with roots

The house now official has roots. About 70 foundation piles concreted into the ground. There is now also a site office, a rather menacing looking timber saw and all the necessary amenities for the builders to make themselves comfortable in.

View across the site

Close up on the foundation piles

Bathroom installed!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Hot cross bun day

Can you believe a long standing afternoon engagement with my team to partake of the traditional Easter bun went ahead without me yesterday as I had to step into my bosses shoes and attend a meeting for her.

It gets worse. The reason why she didn't want to go was that she having a post conference party (it's been our big social development jamboree this week).

Still, it's Easter holidays now and I'm heading off with MT suffering with the same virus I had two weeks ago (boy am I in the doghouse) and hop along Naomi. At least we've packed plenty of books, magazines and DVDs.

I'm taking my laptop to catch up on my much neglected emails to friends. I won't be blogging from Hawkes Bay - no internet where we're staying!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Who can you trust

Avid blog readers will recall that last year I blogged about a rape case where serving policemen were aquitted of charges. The same police were aquitted again in a similar case a few weeks ago.

What came out at this point is that two of the defendents were actually serving prison sentences - you guessed it, for rape.

Before the cases came to court a Commission of Enquiry was established to review allegations of sexual assault and rape against police. 313 complaints of sexual assault against 222 police officers between 1979 and 2005; and 141 of the 313 were regarded as being serious enough to warrant criminal charges or disciplinary action.

The key message is that things have got to change - there are 60 recommendations from the enquiry to be implemented including a code of conduct for Police. It's fair to say that it's not been the New Zealand Police's finest hour.

If you can't trust your local bobby who can you trust.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The ground is sprouting a house

Things have been moving at a pace - the engineer decided standard foundation piles were OK rather than driven ones. That will save a few $s and have meant things have speeded up. Now we just wait for the Council to inspect and then the foundations will get concreted in and the framing can start.
Four thousand holes in Kaitoke, Wellington......
A wide view of holes and stakes to show the house building lines
The foundation piles and frame materials (yep, we've got piles)
Powerlines looking back up the drive

Typical electric companies, they want their billing meter in as fast as possible!

MT renews study of archaeology - signs of Roman post holes in NZ

Yes, still struggling with the plans !