Saturday, 5 April 2014

On the Wild Side

by Mandy Mayhem, Pirate Queen


I have been working on an exciting project with the Waitati School children. We call it a 'Bee U ty (beauty) strip' for the bees – a wildflower walk along the footpath to the school. At the moment we have cosmos, cornflowers, evening primrose and daisy flowers in bloom. We hope that by springtime this will extend from Orokonui corner to the bridge at the old general store. If you have seeds, plants, compost or topsoil you would like to donate, please be in touch 021 919 555. I live at 28 Brown St (white, wagon-wheel fence) or you could drop off to the school garden.

I encourage any guerrilla gardeners in the neighbourhood. Own the berm! Beautification projects galore! I have an abundance of granny’s bonnet seed and also evening primrose if anybody would like some to start with.

I love to mow lawns for my fitness and I try to give my neighbours on Brown St a freebie now and again. I mow around the open orchard trees and sometimes the railway walkway, art gallery, etc. Do you have an elderly neighbour who deserves their lawns mowed for free? Contact me or practise kindness with a random act of lawn mowing. It is so satisfying!

Cob-oven Making Workshop 

Recently, I attended a fun, hands-on cob-oven making workshop in Waitati. Ten of us hand-built a beautiful outdoor earth oven. The workshop was very practical and informative. The base had already been constructed and we were talked through the steps to creating the oven. It was a grass-roots, gloves and gumboots experience. Lots of squelching straw, sand and clay together to form the right cob mix. Then the layer-by-layer construction of the oven. I won’t go into detail but you can get hold of Lee Bullock on 021 024 69291 to find out more. He is in Waitati for only a limited time and is an expert in this area.

I’m planning to cob my outdoor garden bath as a starting point then construct myself a beautiful outdoor entertaining area with bench seat and oven combination.

The workshop was very well organised and social. I loved meeting new people and hope we will connect again. On the Sunday, when construction was complete, we went on an outdoor-oven tour. We visited Lyall's oven on Doctors Point Road which he made from fire bricks. We travelled up to Volco Farmhouse to see and mend a gorgeous goddess oven made by Daisy Forrest nine years ago. I was impressed by how well it had weathered over this time. The weekend wound up at Almond Castle where we cooked pizza and breads in the oven there. This way everyone got a lesson in how to use the oven and some mouth-watering ideas for future reference. Highly recommended!

Distinguished Visitors to Warrington

by Jean Strachan


It was with surprise and delight that we welcomed two unexpected and distinguished visitors to our service at St Barnabas, Warrington, on Sunday 16 March.  John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, and his wife Margaret were invited to join us by 11-year-old Maxwell Burton, son of Jan Burton, the deputy master at St Margaret’s College where John and Margaret were staying during their visit to Dunedin. 

Maxwell, who attends St Barnabas regularly when at Karitane during weekends and holidays, not only approached John and Margaret suggesting that it would be great if they would come to his church, but baked savouries for morning tea afterwards! It was an honour to worship with and talk to this warm, friendly couple after the service. A very special Sunday, to be remembered for a long time. 

Ugandan by birth, Archbishop Sentamu studied law at Makerere University and practised as an advocate in his country's High Court until 1974 when he incurred the wrath of Idi Amin, was badly beaten, and forced to flee the country with his new wife, Margaret. He studied theology at Cambridge University and was ordained priest in 1979. Consecrated Bishop of Stepney (1994) and then of Birmingham (2002), he was in 2005 enthroned as the 97th Archbishop of York and Primate of England, the second most senior position in the Anglican Church.

John Sentamu has been outspoken on a wide range of social and political issues, including family and child poverty in the United Kingdom, the use of cluster bombs, Guantanamo Naval Base detentions, the stop-and-search policy of UK police, Robert Mugabe, and opportunistic stock-market trading. 

The Sentamus were staying at St Margaret’s College, with the Archbishop spending time at the Centre for Theology and Public Issues at the University of Otago.


By Scott Willis, Project Manager, Blueskin Energy Ltd


This past month has seen the BRCT office a hive of activity. The Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman asked to visit the office in late February and that was a good opportunity to learn about the Green Party’s energy policy. Attendance at a Wellington conference in early March allowed Scott to also catch up with or listen to the energy spokespeople of the other political parties.


BRCT has joined with other organisations around the country to call for a ‘Wise Response’ to the risks associated with Climate Change and thanks to some of our Wellington supporters, our banner will be present when the petition is presented at parliament on the 9th of April.


In April we’ll have a small tent on Bland Park for the A&P Show Day. That’s an opportunity for us to catch up with you and you to catch up with us, so feel free to see us there.   


April also signals the start of our new financial year and we are getting busier. We are working on recruiting a part-time office manager, Niki’s hours have been expanded as she works on more of our projects, and we now have two newly-certified Home Performance Advisors available to deliver a personalised home energy appraisal at a very good price.


BRCT continues to provide free online and phone energy advice, support for community projects and groups, and solar advocacy. Our three main project areas this year are: Blueskin Energy Limited and the development of Blueskin wind; Climate Change Planning currently involving the Blueskin Food System Assessment (a programme which evolved out of the climate change work we did for the DCC last year but is not funded by the DCC), and Cosy Homes (‘Every Dunedin home is warm and cosy by 2025’) whereupon we are assisting the programme to get it underway and may look to expand our involvement in the programme if that’s appropriate.


BRCT’s Annual General Meeting is coming up and will be held on the 30th of May this year with Andy Barratt talking about ‘Our Food Network’ – the local food network for the greater Dunedin region. Put this in your diary and join us.


Visit us in person at the office at 1121 Mt Cargill Rd, Waitati; visit our website at or see us on Facebook Otherwise, feel free to telephone us on 482 2048.

Blueskin News Lives to Fight Another Day

by Lynnaire Johnston, President Blueskin News


Our article last month seeking volunteer help for Blueskin News was a success! Blueskin News will continue!

So many people have offered to help that we’ve not been able to take up all the offers. It’s great to know there are so many willing and able people living in Blueskin Bay who want our publication to continue. Thank you, all.

So, herewith, let me introduce the people who each month will be slaving away to ensure your copy of Blueskin News arrives on time in your letterbox.

The team who have been hard at work for months (and in some cases, years) are Craig Marshall, Rosemary Penwarden, Derek Onley, Laurence Hay (also our secretary) and Coleen Hastie. Helena Steenman joined us relatively recently.

New to the team are Mike Neill, Amber Lindsay, PJ Clarke, .ara Nokomis and Jean Strachan. We’re not sure they really understand what they’re in for but we’re very glad to have them on board.

Coleen Hastie leaves us after four years of doing not one job, but two. She has handled all the advertising administration plus acted as our treasurer and dealt with all our accounts. When she took over the role we operated a manual system. She has spent countless hours systemising us and doing more than any organisation has any right to expect. It’s no wonder she is being replaced by two people. We will miss her very much but are very grateful that her husband Neville has lent her to us for so long. You will know them both – they sell the yummy hazelnuts at our local market.

From all of us here at Blueskin News, we appreciate your messages of support and it is highly gratifying to know that you value our efforts. Viva Blueskin News!

Blueskin Energy Project (BEP)

By Scott Willis, Project Manager, Blueskin Energy Ltd


The energy policies of all political parties are of interest to us as government policies can either inhibit or support the work we are trying to do. In the last month we’ve been lucky enough to be in contact with most of the big hitters. A visit from Green Party co-leader Russel Norman was the catalyst.


Dr Norman talked in detail about the ‘NZ Power’ proposal and the Greens Solar Homes proposal. In Wellington while at the National Energy Research Institute conference, I spoke with Gareth Hughes (Green Party Energy Spokesperson), David Shearer (Labour Party Energy Spokesperson) and David Clark (our Dunedin North MP) and the manager of ‘Energy Markets Policy, Resources, Energy and Communications’ at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.


I also heard from Energy Minister Simon Bridges on the newly established ‘Smart Grids Forum’. Smart Grids should allow householders to use their electricity more efficiently by using their computer to control the use of electricity in their home. If you had PV cells for example, you might decide from your work place to use your computer to turn off the deep freeze for an hour and use the available ‘free’ electricity to do the washing. It seems that whatever ‘flavour’ the new government is in October, energy will remain a significant issue.


There is a great deal of research and industry work going into understanding and developing smarter grids.  We’re working on getting a small trial of some smart grid technology up and going later in the year to test the theory and see if it is going to be beneficial to those in the Blueskin area. It looks promising.


Thanks to some wonderful pro bono expertise which has been made available to us we continue to evaluate electricity market options – i.e. options that identify how and to whom we can sell wind-generated electricity.  


Meanwhile, Blueskin Energy Ltd (BEL) - the new company created and owned by the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust - is now working hard on an investment plan for the proposed Blueskin wind cluster. That’s a plan that spells out how it will all work financially. The years of work in developing community wind is now finally coming to fruition with the establishment of a development body, but this also signals the next significant stage: capital raising, contracts and legal agreements, all of which must be firmly in place before the first stone is turned. We’re working closely with the Hikurangi Foundation which is providing additional expertise on the financing proposal. The Trust is transferring its intellectual property and sweat equity to the development body, and is looking at its other responsibilities, such as Climate Change Planning, Cosy Homes, and energy advice – but the development of a revenue stream from Blueskin Energy Limited is essential as it will allow BRCT to deliver more back into our communities in the future.


Blueskin Energy work is primarily the Blueskin wind cluster development, but the other energy services and work (Cosy Homes, solar facilitation, community energy advice) do not stop because of the creation of Blueskin Energy Ltd – they remain as part of BRCT’s general work, to manage and resource through 2014 and beyond.


Contact us at or at the office at 1121 Mt Cargill Rd, Waitati. Telephone enquiries can be made on 482 2048. We love to have visitors!



 Russel Norman while visiting the Blueskin area