Sunday, 24 March 2013


by Chris Le Breton

Following the first meeting of the syndicate six weeks ago, we are now FIFTY strong including two schools!

Chris and Scott made contact with Solar City, one of the commercial suppliers, and they have just last week supplied BRCT with a revised budget with, we are told, reduced prices from what they had originally offered. Within the coming few weeks we expect to make a recommendation, looking at ways to draw on their expertise and the warranties they can give, whilst partnering with Hagen, and possibly local installers too.  We will then be able to contact all those who have expressed interest.

If you want to get solar PV on your roof, and are up for joining this innovative community initiative, to benefit from favourable prices, contact

Saturday, 23 March 2013


by Lyn Hastie

Blueskin Garden Club will be at Blueskin on Show on 13 April (see our schedule elsewhere in this issue). We will have tents up and here we will host our Spud-in-a-Container Competition, scarecrow making as well as a plant stall.  We hope there will be something for everyone to take part in. Now's the time for jamming and saucing so bring along your exhibits and we'll see what folks in our area are best at. There are fruit and vegies, baking, novelty, eggs, preserves and flowers. There will be certificates for place-getters and, of course, BIG $$$$$$ for the heaviest crop and heaviest potato. The spud judges are not part of the competition. We will have a trailer at the gate of Bland Park to take your spud entries as we realise some of them will be quite heavy. Scarecrow making is for anyone and everyone to take part in. We will have all the requirements and we hope to have almost everything pre-loved. The finished products will be put together for a photo and then you may take them home. Looking forward to a great day and lots of entries. Any queries to Lyne 482 2822 or Lyn 482 2896.


by Scott Willis  

An intense week in Wellington at the end of March helped cap a very full month for Blueskin energy. As the guest of the NZ Wind Energy Association invited to present on our project, I valued not only the interest in community wind, but also exposure in a sector that is actively working on the transition to a low carbon future. We learned, at the conference, of the significant risk we all face if we don't make a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. We learnt of the massive subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and the 'free market' principles applied only to renewables. We heard from politicians, international experts, developers, ecologists, industry and, of course, community. So what does all this mean for Blueskin? Firstly, it means a great deal of interest in the model we're forging. Secondly, it reveals a great deal of goodwill, even from the big players, towards community wind which is truly at a different scale and with a different focus to 'big wind'. But don't forget, industry is populated by real people who love low carbon technology and who have found a place to follow their passion. And if we all directed economic activity towards simply building greater resilience, rather than shareholder profit, things would look very different. Not that economics don't matter – far from it, in fact. Rather, let's get a correct hierarchy of values: (a) low carbon; (b) healthy society; (c) sound local economy.

So how are we going on that? We're currently continuing the data collection and correlating the new 30 metre data against the long-term 10 metre data. Parallel work streams are taking place, including working on an appropriate legal form to take us into development, ensuring we have the resources in place to get us to 'go' at the correct time and place to push the green button. At a bigger level, the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust (BRCT) has approved an annual plan which includes continuing to deliver projects to build the local economy and deliver good community outcomes, whether in improving our homes and health, doing strategic planning, or saving residents' dollars as we invest in sustainable options.

Back to energy news. In Wellington I also had an opportunity to visit a trial hybrid renewable energy generation and storage system on Somes Island along with some wonderful bird life. A small robust wind turbine, solar panels, and a lead-acid battery bank are the conventional elements of off-grid generation and storage. But what is innovative is the electrolyser that uses excess electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen and store the hydrogen in what they call 'earth batteries'. That hydrogen can then be used as needed, from different locations, either directly for heating/cooking, or converted back into electricity. In other news, the second Energy Advice Workshop in Pine Hill (a partnership between BRCT, Presbyterian Support Otago and the Pine Hill community) will have been completed by the end of March.

Visit us at:, or at the office at 1121 Mt Cargill Rd, Waitati (on Waitati School grounds). Telephone enquiries can be made on 482 2048 (the wind cluster) and 482 2207 (energy advice) and for any information about the solar project email Chris Le Breton at

Blueskin Energy Project: Wind rose, 20 February - 20 March 2013

Warrington Surf Life Saving Club

Devon Familton
(L to R) Albert Baeumer, Abby Clayton, Levi Turoa and Isabella Aldrich
Madison Lobb, Eli Familton and Oscar Lobb


 by Dawn Hope
Sports News
Warrington Surf Life Saving Club has a national champion!  On 21-25 February Devon Familton competed in the New Zealand Under-14 Championships held at Mount Maunganui. This event attracts around 800 athletes from 40 clubs all over New Zealand.  Devon won gold in the Girls' Under-13 Surf Race and then bronze in the Run Swim Run. She also made the Diamond final -- this is an event that consists of a swim and then board paddle.
On 2-3 February Warrington hosted the Southern Region Ocean Athletes.  This event saw competitors from clubs in Otago, Canterbury and Otaki in the North Island.  The team of Isabella Aldrich, Albert Baeumer, Abby Clayton and Levi Turoa won a silver medal in the Under-11 Mixed Beach Relay. Devon won golds in Under-13 Surf Race and Diamond, plus silver in the Run Swim Run.
Over the season our Nippers compete in four Otago competitions at different surf clubs and gain points for the season.  The season ends with the Otago Championships held at Warrington.  This year we congratulate three of our junior members for a successful season:  Under-8 Girls – Madison Lobb (3rd); Under-10 Boys – Eli Familton (2nd); Under-10 Boys – Oscar Lobb (3rd).

We also congratulate: Arthur Ibbotson for gaining a silver medal in the Under-19 Men's Double Ski at the Nationals; Sam Todd a gold medal at the South Island inflatable rescue boat (IRB) event; Carina Doyle who competed at Rescue 2012 – the World Surf Life Saving Championships.  Carina has also been selected for the World Championship squad 2013-14.

Lifeguard and Beach News
Life-guarding at the beach this summer has been busy with lifeguards between the flags 11am – 7pm every day of the summer holidays. Ryan Thom, Carina Doyle, Sam Smith, Imogen Doyle and Arthur Ibbotson all gained work as professional lifeguards and Charlotte Ibbotson travelled to Eastern Region in the North Island to work as a lifeguard for the summer.
Our six patrols of about six lifeguards each completed over 1,000 hours of voluntary patrolling. A road trip to Invercargill had six lifeguards complete a weekend patrol at Oreti and then later another trip to Oreti to support the Foveaux Strait swim.  We also did one patrol at Campbell's Bay to support Kakanui's Big Day Out, led by Tarn Neuman, Warrington Surf Life Saving Club Life Guard Coordinator.
A full day of training was enjoyed each week of the school holidays and Tarn, Imogen Doyle, Claudia Muldrew, Jack Nicoll, Ryan Thom and Sam Smith gained their IRB drivers' award this summer.
This winter Warrington Surf Life Saving Club will be recruiting once again and running training programmes for new lifeguards. There is something for everyone; surf swimming, board, ski or canoe, IRB qualifications, first aid and rescue communications.
Club News
Mid-March saw the end of the 2012-13 season and we celebrated with a shared lunch at our annual prize-giving.  Congratulations to the following members for an outstanding season of fun at the beach: Highest Achiever MaleEli Familton; Highest Achiever FemaleMadison Lobb; Most Improved Swimmer Abby Clayton; Junior AwardAnthony Lobb; Most Valuable Contribution to ClubDevon Familton; Under-8 Achievement MedalSylvia Baeumer; Under-10 Achievement MedalJordyne Harris; Under-12 Achievement MedalKayle Harris; Under-14 Achievement MedalSarah McNaughton.

If you are interested in joining Warrington SLSC please email us at and 'like' us on Facebook and we will let you know what is going on and when.


by Lisa Hall

Howdy everyone!  Hope you are all enjoying our gorgeous summer weather (just doesn't seem right to be hoping for rain, does it) and getting out and about. 

We have been enjoying the dry spell with loads of water play, making lots of huts, enjoying the swings and playground equipment as well as exploring things frozen in ice, learning Japanese calligraphy, outside painting, LOVING dressing up in our new dress-ups and generally just having loads of fun with our friends.

It's been lovely to have our roll growth continue with lots of younger members beginning and we have recently purchased more toys and games suited to their level.  It was so exciting to see the children open up their new big 'treasure box' to see all the new purchases inside.

We are getting excited about the Blueskin Show where we will be having several games for people to play with prizes to win.  One of the games is a very interesting-sounding 'Splat the Rat!'  Come along and find out what all the fun is about.

If you are around and feel like some company, fun, friends and lots of lovely learning come and join us on Wednesday and Friday mornings, 9:15am to 12:15pm.  We'd love to see you.  Ph 027-227 7329

Friday, 22 March 2013


by Gerard Collings, Chair

Dunedin City Council draft Annual Plan

The Dunedin City Council's long-term plan has previously foreshadowed fiscally difficult times.  The council have now imposed further expectations that have resulted in staff applying significant scrutiny on almost every dollar to be spent.  As ratepayers we are undoubtedly all supportive of the council refining expenditure and reducing the need for additional rates.  The DCC are currently consulting on the 2013/14 draft Annual Plan (AP) with submissions to close at 5:00pm on 9 April.  It is now more important than ever that we all take the opportunity to voice our view -- our endorsement or concern -- and our ideas on how the city should operate.  We all have an opportunity to participate either through the board or directly to the council.  A wise man once told me if you can't be bothered to vote, don't complain.  The same could equally be said of participating in the annual plan process.
Unfortunately the date of the Blueskin A&P Show will not provide an opportunity to present the draft AP as we have done in previous years.  Therefore we thought it might be useful to outline various matters that are to be covered in our submission;
  Stadium Debt
Whether we wanted the stadium or not the reality is it is here and it has to be paid for.  The 
Waikouaiti Coast Community Board (WCCB) support the DCC's efforts to reduce the level of debt as quickly as possible, in a manner that is affordable for our communities.  We have previously expressed, and will continue to, express, our support for operational surpluses to be applied to repayment of council debt.
  Establishment of an Events Attraction Fund of $400,000 per annum to secure major stadium events
In January the WCCB expressed its opposition to the DCC seeking additional rating for this fund. The draft AP now proposes to reallocate funds out of the tourism and marketing, and the economic development budgets.  If we are to support this initiative the board will want to be satisfied that the fund provides a direct cost benefit to the stadium, thereby reducing the level of reliance on council funds. The WCCB will also want an assurance that if the DCC do reallocate from existing budgets, the council will still seek to provide enhanced support for both tourism and economic development in our area.
  Revision of the rates remission policy for Land Voluntarily Protected for Conservation Purposes
The council are, in our view, making a significant change to this policy, a change that the board does not support.  We recommend that those currently receiving a remission under this policy make themselves aware of the proposed changes (see page 69 draft AP) and submit accordingly. 
   Performance Targets
The draft AP sets a number of 'performance targets' in order to measure its success, failure and service-level delivery.  The WCCB are concerned that a number of the targets proposed will not provide a meaningful measure of the effect of the DCC's investment.
  Increased Landfill Charges
The board are not supportive of an increase in landfill fees.  We are also not supportive of the proposal to remove the per bag charge at landfills.  We believe that service levels should be maintained and fees be kept at existing levels.
  Blueskin mega skip days
We continue to support the provision of this service
  Other Fees and Charges
in addition to the landfill charges, the board notes other proposed changes to the schedule of fees.  In some cases these are the result of a small shift to balance between the costs covered by rates and those provided for by user charges.  We are generally supportive of this approach provided the balance is maintained at a fair and reasonable rate.  We do not, however, support an increase in fees where this might be applied merely to reduce rates.  Therefore the board will be looking closely at the policies that dictate the split between rates and user pays.
  The amalgamation of Toitu Otago Settlers Museum and the Chinese Gardens
We are supportive of the amalgamation due to the perceived operational efficiencies that this should achieve.
  Transfer of city marketing functions to Tourism Dunedin
We are supportive of the function transfer as we believe it will reduce the potential for duplication of effort and should provide for operational cost savings.  We will however be seeking an assurance that a greater effort will be made in promoting our area.
  Ongoing work to reduce operational costs
We are supportive of the ongoing efforts by the Chief Executive and staff to reduce operational costs within the council.  We will, however, be seeking assurances that these cost savings will not come at the expense of necessary capital replacements to critical infrastructure such as water mains, roads etc.
  Waitati Toilets
The board will continue to highlight the need for public toilets in Waitati.
The draft AP is available at the library, DCC's website and from the council.  As always board members are happy to hear from members of the community who want further information, or wish to express their ideas. I strongly urge you all to take the time to make yourself familiar with the draft AP's content and participate in the consultation process.

Blueskin Bay Library

An official opening for the Blueskin Bay Library extension is scheduled for May.  Once again, a special thanks to all those in the community who have assisted in making this project a reality.
Copies of DCC documents out for consultation are available from the DCC office and through the council's website
The WCCB's next meeting is at 5:30pm on 10 April at the East Otago Events Centre, Waikouaiti; our following meeting will be at 5:30pm on 29 May at the Warrington Surf Life Saving Club rooms.  Members of the public are welcome to speak at the board's public forum, however those wishing to do so need to advise Wendy Collard, our Governance Support Officer (phone 474 3374), before 12 noon on the day prior to the meeting.  Remember, you can view the board's meeting agendas, reports and minutes at either the Waikouaiti or Blueskin libraries or through the DCC's website at
Members of the board are only too happy to hear (by phone or email) from members of the community about any issues within our area.

Board Contacts
The Board

Gerard Collings (Chairperson),
Alasdair Morrison (Deputy),
Andy Barratt,

Andrew Noone

Geraldine Tait,

Les Pullar,

Mark Brown,

Songstress to share waiata in Waitati


 By Tania Turei


Christchurch singer Ariana Tikao will perform a one-off concert at the Waitati Community Hall, on Friday April 19.

She has recently released her third solo album, "From Dust to Light" and is looking forward to being back in Otepoti (Dunedin). "It is one of my favourite places, and it's such a bonus to be performing in Waitati!" Tikao says.

The new album, which is receiving high praise here and internationally, was primarily inspired by the devastating earthquake in her hometown. "Dust rose above the city that day from crumbling buildings. As you can imagine, it not only affected us physically, but emotionally and spiritually," says Ariana. "From the wreckage though, people are picking themselves up, forging ahead into new growth and opportunities."

"From Dust To Light" is a crossover album showcasing Tikao's stylistic development and experimentation. It presents crystalline vocals and spacious meditative song structures with sparse, lush instrumental enhancement. Tikao alternates from English to Te Reo – in particular her native Kai Tahu dialect from the South Island.

"I write specifically with South Island Maori historical and cultural themes in my lyrics and musical language," says Tikao. "I do not try to imitate with my musical style. I just write how the song wants to come out and try and work with the songs as individuals."

Tikao has not been resting on her laurels since her previous album release. She touched the nation in February 2012, performing "Whakaaria Mai" at the Christchurch Earthquake Memorial in Hagley Park. She is performing in the upcoming Cavell Leitch New Zealand Jazz and Blues Festival in Christchurch and is also planning a tour of France in mid-year.

Her performance in Waitati will be very community-focused, and will include a potluck supper afterward.




By Hilary Rowley

Sunday March 17 saw another successful Blueskin Bay Harvest Market. The final one of the season will be part of the A&P Show at Bland Park on Saturday (not the usual Sunday) April 13. Bring your apples and pears to this one, it's your last chance of the season to get them turned into delicious juice. Bring your excess produce to sell or trade, too.
I have noticed lately that real estate agents have been using the tag "the local Harvest Market" in their advertising to make Waitati more enticing to house buyers. They fail to mention there are only three of these wonderful events a year. Should we have more? Or fewer?
The Rosella parrots have been tasting (and not liking) our apples. I suppose the more fruit trees everyone plants, the more fruit there will be to share with the birds. Or will there just be more birds?
My father, a retired beekeeper, told me the other day that bumble bees can do everything a honey bee can do except make honey and wax. Could it be that our obsession with honey bees is for selfish reasons because we want their honey? We still have plenty of bumble bees pollinating everything, if the huge numbers seen on our lavender this summer are anything to go by. It doesn't mean we should do less about the problems honey bees are having, but we can worry less about our future pollination problems. The question is, are the pesticides and diseases affecting the bumblers, too?
There was a lovely crop of elderberries this year so I picked a bucket full, sprigged the fruit off the stalks with a fork and started a batch of elderberry wine. My 5
½ lb of cleaned fruit (excuse the mixed measurements, I was adapting an old recipe of my father's) was put in a sterilised barrel, and had 5¾ lb of sugar and  5½ litres of boiling water added along with ½ tsp yeast nutrient. When the temperature got down to 25ºC, I added the yeast, a packet of VR21 from the chemist. This fermented in our hot water cupboard for two days before being strained through a jelly bag into two big sterile glass bottles with air locks on top. The specific gravity at this point, measured with a hydrometer, was 1090, so it will be dry, and not too alcoholic. It is bubbling away in the hot water cupboard as I write. The thing to remember about homemade wine is that good wine takes time, so it will be maybe four years after its been bottled before we try drinking it. That is the theory anyway.


Thursday, 21 March 2013

The day after Auckland's traffic gridlock

by Rosemary Penwarden

The day after news reports of Auckland's traffic gridlock, Derek and I wandered down to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary. Within 20 minutes of leaving my house I was under a fuschia tree watching two saddlebacks calling to each other. One was closely followed by an opportunistic fantail, grabbing at the tiny insects being disturbed by the saddleback's sharp beak. Two riflemen were squeaking and hopping nearby. A South Island robin, hearing my footsteps, swooped in and sat silently beside me, waiting for mealworms. Bell birds came, looked and noisily left. Tomtits stopped by, see-see-seeing at each other, and kereru tipped and dived overhead.

Back on the track, a takahe popped his head through the long grass, solemnly fixed my eye, and proceeded to silently explain his expectations. The plastic takahe feeding trough was empty; my job as a human was to fill it. When I did not oblige he gave me a resignedly disappointed look, turned his glorious wide crimson beak back towards the currently dried up swampy spot below the track and quietly stalked away, plastic colour bands softly tinkling.

I haven't driven my car in ages. Even Dunedin's traffic feels like an affront to sanity. Viva Waitati. (Don't tell the Aucklanders.)


by Sue Hensley

Noise of a mechanical kind will be heard from the Orokonui Ecosanctuary 1-7 April. Four artists: Dave McGhie from Wellington, Russell Moses, Port Chalmers, Rory McDougall, Hokitika, and our very own Tania Turei from Waitati will be creating sculptures with natural materials in a modern way.  Come and watch the sculptors at work. Cost is included in the usual gate entry price. Also, Russell Beck, author, former director of Southland Museum and well known carver, will talk about his work on Sunday 7 April at 1:00pm in the Visitor Centre.

The robins have had another good breeding season and the occasional bird has been seen on the top tracks. As numbers increase we expect to see more birds adventure out of their preferred pine habitat.  The saddleback story is a little gloomy with neither female from the December Ulva Island transfer having been sighted recently. Perhaps female saddlebacks are more choosy than we think? One saddleback pair remains at the lower end of the reserve, although there is a strong suggestion that both are males.

Many of the kiwi-call monitoring team are on a steep learning curve identifying the sounds of the night. Although there are only half a dozen or so noisy night creatures they make up for it in having varied calls. Even the native owl, the morepork or ruru makes several calls other than the commonly known "more-pork". Listeners were treated one night to a long chorus of calls and responses from at least four birds in the area. One bird called more than 60 times. Leader Val Fay also had one perch not far from her.

The honey fragrance of the Easter orchid is once more in the forest and the track to an easily seen one is now open.

News and events can be found on or on our Facebook page. The Visitor Centre and café are open daily 9:30 – 4:30pm.


Ah, well then, it’s a Starling.

by Derek Onley

Starlings don't get noticed much but there are three times of year when they do. One is in November, when the young ones are screeching for food from their nest at about 5:30am in the roof somewhere above your bed. The other two times they manage to threaten the reputation of ornithologists.

Late in the spring, when the flax is flowering a typical phone call might be:
"There's this funny bird in my garden. It's got an orange head."
"What's it doing?"
"Walking around on the lawn."
"Has it got a short tail?" I ask. "Yes."
"Ah, well then, it's a starling."
"I'm sure it's not."

In autumn:
"There's a funny brown bird in my plum tree. It's the colour of a thrush, but not spotty on its breast."
"What's it doing?"
"Pecking at the plums."
"Ah, well then, it's a juvenile starling." (Juveniles are not glossy black and spotty like their elders, but the colour of a flat white.)
"Can't possibly be!"

Starlings were introduced into New Zealand in 1862 and 1863 to eat grass grubs. In the 1970s the now defunct Department of Scientific and Industrial Research put up thousands of nest boxes on fence posts in Hawkes Bay to encourage them. Being scientists, they didn't put up thousands of nest boxes on other equally grass-grub-infested farms, in order to have "control sites" for comparison. I've never been so cold in my life as I was out there in a bleak, brown paddock checking the 879th nest box in early spring; a southerly howling in the barbed wire fences bringing snow low down on the hills inland. Fearing hypothermia we had to abandon the checks and retire to the truck to drink tea and heat up. Despite all the effort, the results were inconclusive.

Very few people would dream of encouraging starlings onto their properties nowadays. They are generally regarded as pests, or at least a nuisance. Orchardists and viticulturists – and a certain local community board member – hate them with a vengeance, so much so that shooters are sometimes employed to blast at them to protect their crops. (The community board member has considered this option.) One does wonder what else gets shot as flying bird identification skills are not usually up to much; bellbirds? Hopefully they spare the fantails. In Australia, where native birds threaten vineyard's livelihoods, owners are obliged to be less bloodthirsty and protect their crops with nets or other means.

Starlings are very sociable for much of the year, feeding and roosting in large flocks. I'm not sure who counted them but a million is often claimed for the roost in the Somerset Levels, where birds from all over Europe spend the winter in the balmy (relatively speaking) climate of Britain. In Blueskin Bay you may see a group of a hundred or so chattering away in the top of a tree in the evening before taking flight and heading off to join other tight flocks, all heading in the same direction. About ten years ago there was a roost of several thousand on Rabbit Island, but I haven't seen that lately and nothing approaching that nice round figure of one million has been reported in New Zealand.

In the breeding season they're a lot less sociable. Males roost in likely looking nest holes from late winter onwards, claiming them for the coming season. They perch nearby, flicking their wings while squeaking and whistling and embellishing their songs with imitations of oystercatchers, bellbirds, phones, weed eaters and if the Irish are to be believed, fairy music; all intended to show off to females and warn off other males. If the song is not deterrent enough they will resort to violence. There have been instances of males locked together, claws sunk into each other's flesh, unable to get apart as they fight over the better real estate. Females are a bit less belligerent but there's some suggestion that an errant few try to forego their maternal duties by laying their eggs in someone else's nest.

Starlings lay eggs in October or November. You might find a pale blue unspeckled egg lying on the ground around this time, apparently often due to the less maternalistic opportunists being thwarted by the legitimate nest owners. In Otago only a few birds manage two clutches a year. The young fledge around Christmas and gang together just in time to descend on your ripening plums and grapes.

It is such a common bird that it is hard to believe that in Britain starlings have decreased by 70% over the last few years. The main reason appears to be the decline in pastoral farming and the use of agricultural chemicals. Enjoy them while you can.