Wicked Wild Woman Waiheke – but we need to talk about that hill start

Last Sunday was Valentines Day so what better way to celebrate than by giving your heart and legs calves and glutes a good old workout.

Once again the fantastic crew of women trail runners and their supporters organised a fun and empowering event where you can run and walk (there was plenty of walking ahem) around the bush trails of Waiheke for 8km.  Like last year I was blown away by the fun and friendly atmosphere.  And how lucky we are to live in such a special part of the world.

A new feature this year was the hill start. Right at the very beginning had to get to the top of the “fire break”.  I despite my protestations I don’t usually mind hills too much, and have been know to run up the Bullock Track.  But bloody hell, this was a killer, once I ran about 25% of the way up I knew I would have to walk the rest.  And when I finally got to the top I knew I would be walking for a bit longer.  Big respect for the women who ran all the way up and got places in the Queen of Mountain event.  And Lauren you and I have got a lot of work to do if we can going to be competitive in that – just saying.

Killer Hill – The Fire Break.  I am not at the back I am not at the front


Anyway I managed to scramble my way around the rest of the course, and I was a bit sorry I didn’t take my phone to take some photos – it was glorious.  And it wasn’t like stopping to take photos would slow me down.  The cicadas and tuis were going making plenty of noise which harmonised nicely with my moans, groans and reminders to myself that it can’t be that much longer now.

But at end (and yes I finally I got to the end) there was bubbles and chocolate, a yoga stretch class and bar b q – what more could intrepid Wild Women want?

Chocolate scoffed ready for bubbles and bar b q

Here I am at the finish, very glad it is over.  I am rocking my Rejoov Runners shirt.  This is the running group Sister Julie belongs to.  Their awesome coach Greta is going to put together a running plan together for me so I can have a good time at the Queenstown Half Marathon.  (I mean a good time completing it, I am well aware I could also have a good time sitting on the sidelines cheering on others drinking wine)

So thanks again fabulous Waiheke people, I for one really appreciate all the hard work you put into this event.  And you didn’t even ask to check my passport.  I will be back next year.  But can we talk about that hill start?


What is the TPPA anyway? A rough Natty Bugle Guide

Last week I got a request from my cousin Brenda in Australia to explain what the TPPA was about.  I am very touched, and slightly disturbed in her confidence in me.  But as at the time I was trying to negotiate how to get a team of League Players from central Auckland out to Papakura by 4pm on the Friday of a long weekend, I was a bit bit distracted.

Handy hint, leave at least 90 minutes before.  You really know Auckland traffic isn’t great when Sydney boys comment on it.  But we did get manage to get there in time.  If we have to do it again next year, I might stick us all on the train.  Imagine the excitement on the Southern line if that happened.  Hey the train was good enough for the Kiwis in London.  Anyway I digress – that happens sometimes.

But Brenda, trust me I have been considering your assignment all weekend, when I haven’t been wondering how I will retrieve towels borrowed from Eden Park, letting the catering team know when a hoard of hungry men would be arriving and translating Maori words for coach Mary.

So here goes, and as always this has the Natty spin on it, so you mightn’t agree at all or you find you want to do a bit more research on it yourselves, and that’s a good thing.  Because the TPPA and what it means for us is a bit deal, and we need to be informed and know what is going on.  Frankly, trust us it will all work out fine, certainly doesn’t work for me.


What is the TPPA?

The nice people at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, have provided an answer to that question.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a free trade agreement that will liberalise trade and investment between 12 Pacific-rim countries: New Zealand, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Viet Nam. 

And they have even provided a link where you can go and link where you can go and look at their analysis and read the document yourself

For detailed information about TPP and to view the text of the Agreement, see www.tpp.mfat.govt.nz

All good, it’s a free trade agreement.  On February the 4th, all the partners signed an agreement that they would get their governments to consent by having the relevant bills passed in their parliaments in the next 2 years.  And Happy Days, we get freer access to 11 markets, so we can more easily sell stuff and make money and we will all be better off.

So what’s the big deal, why are people objecting to this?

  • These very complex negotiations have taken place in secret.  Apparently we just have to trust that our government knows what’s best – hmmm, about that
  • The document which has now been released is a 1600 page beauty.  It was released on the 6th of November last year, and Mr Key signed our agreement on the 4th of February this year.  So interested parties – like the people of New Zealand have had less than 2 months to look over the document properly, and really examine what the ramifications are, not a lot of time at all
  • This isn’t just about trade however, it is also about applying a set of standards for trading in the region.  The concern is, what if those standards are not the same as the rules and regulations our government already has in place.  Whose the boss, boss?  Do NZ rules apply in NZ or will it be TPPA rules?
  • One of the most contentious provisions is that corporations will now gain greater rights to sue governments for introducing legislation that harms their investment.  Apparently we shouldn’t worry about that because that type of clause has been included in Trade Deals before and we have never been sued before – so relax it’s all good bro

Why are some Maori upset about the TPPA?

As the very wise Annabelle Lee said, don’t expect Maori to get excited about signing a document regarding sovereignty in February. Let’s face it we are still dealing with the ramifications of the Treaty of Waitangi 176 years later, and that it only has 3 articles in it.

Although the TPPA agreement includes a specific provision “preserving the pre-eminence of the Treaty of Waitangi”. Maori do not feel they have been consulted enough at all on how this impacts them.  And to be honest just because there is a special provision for Maori, is it really acceptable that other indigenous cultures in the countries will not get the same.

I think the main issue is that Maori feel if they really are equal partners in New Zealand, as upheld in the Treaty of Waitangi, why were they not involved in the TPPA negotiations?   Maori are still dealing with the consequences of when someone comes calling with a piece of paper saying sign this it means better trade conditions.  Which  I think makes it even more insulting that this was signed the day before Waitangi Day.

And the Pharmac thing?

Pharmac negotiates the purchase of our medications, and wherever possible purchases cheaper generic drugs that no longer have intellectual property protection.  But now in the TPPA, the length of time for intellectual property protection has been extended, which is good for the companies that own these drugs.  Not so good for Pharmac however which has to purchase them.  But the government says don’t worry about it, we will just pay a bit more for our drugs because it will all work out in the end.

Why did those protesters have to be so disruptive and block the traffic anyway?

Ummm, they were protesting.  There are a lot of people who are not happy about how this has been handled, and how it feels like this is just being pushed through. I didn’t think the disruption was any worse than when the Mad March traffic starts up again.  Certainly traffic seemed to be flowing very smoothly throughout the city by 3pm.  Try heading out to Papakura on the Friday of a long weekend, if you want traffic disruption.

They didn’t even seem to know what they were protesting about.  They just seemed like a rent a crowd

Well I have to say that since starting this assignment – thanks Brenda.  I have really gained an insight into how complex this really is  And it isn’t that easy to come up with a nice easy soundbite about why the TPPA isn’t a good idea and is worth protesting about.

But for what it is worth here is my sound bite

The TPPA is a huge piece of legislation that will have major ramifications on how our country is governed and conducts it’s business.  From what I have seen, there is not enough protection for the ideals and rules that New Zealand that are already in place.  The New Zealand people including our treaty partners Maori have not been consulted enough on what these changes mean for us now and in the future.  I am not convinced that the trade benefits outweigh all of the other risks and costs the TPPA will bring.

And finally because I don’t have any interesting pictures to add to this post.  I will just add the clip of Stephen Joyce and the flying dildo because funny and clever.  Love it.


And no John Key you don’t get to play the I am horrified and this is terrible card after the shenanigans and pony tails you have pulled.



Dragon Lady at the Auckland Nines

2016 honestly been all about the awesome.  As if January wasn’t enough with my fantastic birthday celebrations, this weekend I got to be Dragon Lady again with the St George Illawarra Dragons at the Auckland Nines.

First things first, the Dragons did not go well in the comp.  We didn’t win a game.  Personally I think we were a bit unlucky, there were some calls that did not go our way at all.  But we did have our chances and unfortunately didn’t take them.  The team was bitterly disappointed.

What did I actually do – apart from take selfies?  My role was to help the help the team manager make sure the team were at all of their activities, that their accommodation and food were sorted, and that nothing was left on the bus.  And trust me, getting a team of men and all their gear to a variety of events is a bit of a logistical exercise, and gosh these boys can eat.  So if they have finished training and are ready for dinner – dinner had better be ready.

The great thing for me was having done this role last year, I was more confident about what I needed to do.  The Dragons are a well organised, nice group of people who are easy to work with.  That certainly helps as well.  They obviously take what they do very seriously, but they manage to do it without being Prima Donnas.

The highlights for me this weekend – in no particular order

  • The team club visit out to Papakura on Friday afternoon.  The Papakura Sea Eagles went to a great deal of effort to make sure that the Dragons felt welcomed and appreciated.  As I told the boys they got a far better Powhiri than the TPPA delegates did
  • The genuine interest the team displays in Maori and New Zealand culture.  I was constantly being asked, what does this word mean, what is this place like?
  • Seeing the Rainbow Flags flying over the Aotea Centre while the Team Fan Day activities took place
  • Feeling proud of the organisation at Eden Park, and how impressed the team were with the ground and the atmosphere at and around the Nines
  • Meeting Raelene Castle!!!!  Raelene Castle is such an inspirational woman.  She is CEO of the Bulldogs, a top sportswoman in her own right, and she has such a lovely manner about her.  And she is a Kiwi – fabulous.  I think I was more star struck meeting her than Shaun Johnson.
  • Being on the sideline with our boys warming up while the Warriors were playing.  The crowd went wild
  • Being on the sideline, when the streaker ran on to the field.  The crowd also went wild
  • The Kiwi Ferns winning their series against the Jillaroos
  • Getting a kiss from Benji Marshall when he arrived at the airport.  He remembered me from last year.  Can I just say Maori and Polynesian boys know how to treat old ladies
  • Getting to know some of the Kiwi guys in the team.  Kalifa and Sebastine are just lovely, I really hope they have both have a great season
  • Admittedly it was a young side, but realising that 6 of them were younger than Lauren, and I was old enough to be the mother of all of them.  Just as well I have come to terms with being 50, that’s all I’m saying
  • Realising that my hair was so much crazier than Josh Dugans.  Hat hair not a good look when you are going for that cool selfie

I am sorry that the team didn’t go better at the Nines.  But I hope that the experience helps them once the Premiership competition starts up.  I also hope they don’t go looking anywhere else next year when they need a Dragon Lady for the Nines – it really is the best job ever.

And finally Mary K who writes an excellent blog called Ladies Who League and is a passionate Parramatta Eels supporter (she was one happy camper as you can imagine)  She wrote what I think is an excellent summation of the event.  Not everyone is a fan of the Nines, there is the risk of players getting hurt before the proper season even starts, and some just see it as an unnecessary distraction, but she is quite right it is a fantastic celebration of Rugby League, and Auckland does a great job of hosting it.  Long may it continue.







Fifty Schmifty

Well that was all a bit embarrassing, after all the weeping, wailing and angst I put Mr Brett through – I freaking loved turning 50.  I did say to myself the next day – what was all the fuss about?

Feeling so Up right at this moment

I do think my very clever friend Anne did put it best when she sent me these very wise words

Totally know what you mean. I think it might be a hangover from our 13 year old selves who mentally divided people into four categories;
0-25 = young
25-50 = middle-aged
50-75 = old
75+ = dead

I had definitely put myself into the old – closer to dead than anything else category, and that really was a bit silly.  Or was it?  Because after all Mr Brett did take pity on (wanted to be as far away as possible) from my weeping, wailing and angst and did send me to the most amazing place. Escape Haven in Canguu, Bali.

Instead of worrying about the big 50 I got to

  • eat amazing food
  • fall over countless times into waves
  • not learn to surf – sniffle
  • do some fantastic yoga
  • fall over doing fantastic yoga – bit of a theme there.
  • drink Bloody Cold Bintangs
  • learn another language (Australian – where did you think I got the Bintang request from)
  • see another country and culture completely different to anything I had ever experienced – no I don’t just mean the Aussies
  • make some lovely and special (in a good way) friends
  • swim in the Indian Ocean
  • play with balloons and eat cake
  • gain an appreciation for footpaths and good drainage
  • see the prison, where Sharpelle had been incarcerated.  The Aussie girls keep pointing it out to me – did they have their suspicions?

I really loved my time in Bali, but I will completely honest I loved it because I was in a bubble of calm and luxury.  Out on the streets it was pretty raw and full on.  It took ages to get anywhere because the roads are so narrow and crowded.  You have got people at you the whole time looking to make a dollar, and who can blame them – that is how they survive.  There are soldiers and security and police carrying huge as guns, checking every car that goes into a hotel or major resort for bombs.

And yet you would come across magical moments like a blessing at a temple on a street corner.  As I have mentioned before Bali is a real mixture of the spiritual and the material.

A religious ceremony just on my morning walk.
A footpath – there weren’t many but the ones they had were pretty
I had my suspicions this was Hitler’s Bali Villa but I may be wrong about that
One day we rode this little funicular down to the ocean where we drank Bintangs
Bintang on the Indian Ocean, also an entrant in the twitter #kneewars
Breakfast first course
The board that bucked big time
The lovely and special (but in a good way) friends I made

I know I am extremely lucky to get the opportunity to have the “Escape Haven” Bali experience.  So in honour of that, I will try to keep eating amazing food, try new experiences where I may get to fall over, eat cake, drink cold beers, hang out with lovely and special people and be appreciative every day of a well constructed footpath – it is the least I can do.