It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day

Although it won’t be official for a few weeks, Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party has won enough votes to govern NZ alone for the next three years. The opposition National party didn’t have a credible alternative policy, and its leadership was beset by internal and personal problems. Jacinda’s coalition partner NZ First (finally) self-destructed. The Greens, the Māori party and Libertarian ACT all did ok, but not enough to have a guaranteed role in shaping policy.

The most interesting parts of the election are the least certain till all the votes are counted: referendums on legalizing recreational marijuana and euthanasia. In my circles, sentiment seems to be leaning in favor of both, but let’s see.

Even with a pandemic delay, the campaign was blissfully short and substantive. NZ faces a lot of problems, as does the whole world. It’s not clear how this or any government will solve them… but by a lot of measures this government has in fact outperformed the entire world recently.

So congrats Jacinda and Let’s Keep Moving!!

Seven More Days

For the second time we got to be in the audience for the taping of Seven Days, a great NZ comedy panel show focused loosely on the week’s news.

This turned out to be the Election Special edition so we were treated to appearances by several MPs including Judith “Crusher” Collins, who is the Leader of the Opposition. If her party wins, she would be Prime Minister. Not bloody likely according to all the polls.

We disagree on most everything politically, but by all accounts her reputation as a person who eats babies for breakfast is undeserved.

Night Night

Our new neighborhood boasts the North Shore instance of Auckland’s traveling night market. Each Sunday evening part of the shopping center parking lot is crammed up with food and trinket vendors, and people like us wander around and buy stuff. People like teenagers wander around and try to get noticed by other teenagers. There was a pretty good guitarist, face painting, etc.

We had a perfectly good Japanese fried chicken burger. We probably won’t go back every week, but it was fun enough. More things to do and explore.

More Rainbow

There’s the homestead in the afternoon, rainbow and all.

I hoped to get the right angle so that the house was the pot o’ gold, but that would have required a drone. Next time…

A Good Kiwi Bloke

The iconic NZ outdoor work uniform: singlet, stubbies, and gumboots. It’s a look that some guys pull off better than others.

All three of those terms were on some Kiwi slang quiz recently flying around. I passed.

Your local

Although our old neighborhood had a reputation as one of the best dining districts in town, we never found a pub we loved. The closest bar had all sorts of identity issues, reflecting its owners quite accurately, and the most popular place was too Aperol spritz, pink shirt, and Mercedes convertible for us to really feel at home

But here in Birkenhead we’ve already discovered the Birkenhead Brewing Company Tasting Studio. Steve the owner brought us our nice craft beers, and the place has a good cozy vibe that has been surprisingly hard to find here. I wonder if it’s a consequence of the national no tipping policy… maybe waitstaff in the US interact with you because you pay them? Hmmm.

Anyway, although BBC’s brewing operations were suspended last year after too-rapid growth led to financial problems, the tasting room is still going strong. They’ve got hand sanitizer in Corona bottles and great sweet potato fries as part of a nice looking pub grub menu. What more could we want?!?

There will never be another Whetstone Station, but hopefully the BBC will keep our appetites at bay.

Death and traffic

The biggest external change in my life from moving into the new house is trading a 20 minute walk to work for a 45-60 minute drive. Lee’s commute is even worse, unfortunately. Still, buses and bus/train combinations are plentiful. And once I figure out the timetable a little bit better, that’s the way I will usually go. Unless I buy a scooter, but that’s a discussion for another post.

While I’m still learning the transit system ropes, I have tended to show up extra early at the bus stop… My fears of apocalyptic queues of people breathing viruses at me as they wait to get on the bus have proven unfounded.

And it’s a pretty ride over the Harbour Bridge, especially when I’m not having to drive. Above is the view in the morning, and below is a view on the way home, where yesterday I got the top front seat in a double decker bus.

A beacon in the darkness

Proud of the unruly, cantankerous residents of Brattleboro and surrounding towns! They would argue endlessly over a fifty cent rise in trash fees or what color to paint the school maintenance shed, but they’ll do it six feet apart while wearing face masks!

Chelsea Sugar Mill

That’s the Chelsea Sugar Mill, which lives at the bottom of our street. Or I guess we live at the top of its street, since it’s been there 130+ years and we’ve been here a week.

It’s New Zealand’s only sugar mill, processing some 200,000 tonnes per year, 80% for domestic use. NZ never had much of a sugar economy, not hot enough I would guess. Today, most of the raw sugar comes in from Queensland. probably on ships like the one in the picture.

In the 1880s, all the traffic would have been by ship. But today, most of that domestic production goes out by truck. Up the steep road we live near the top of. That’s a fair number of large trucks churning up a steep hill, downshifting, chugging, downshifting, chugging. It’s a feature of this property that the real estate agent entirely forgot to highlight in the brochure… sloppy work I’d say. But it’s a good thing, because if they had disclosed that, I’m sure someone else would’ve bought the house before we did! Or not.

Trucks or not, it’s still pretty cool to have our own national landmark like that. Sugar mill factory tours are suspended due to the pandemic, but I’m looking forward to learning more…

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