Thursday, January 20, 2011

Community Caring : The Mortar Between the Blocks of Significance.

Small towns can seem to be such uninspiring places. Boring, not much happens, no real sights to engage the senses. Small towns you may travel through, seldom are they places you travel to- merely the journey's gap fillers. The mortar between the blocks of significance.

Morning's coffee, sunshine, tuis singing in our kowhai trees, our community newspaper spread open. I skim through each page, headline surfing.

Front Page 1. Head Over Heels For Circus

Miss Huanhuan Zhang, 20, is pictured upside down, balancing by one hand on 6 chairs. Zirka, the animal free circus from China is playing in town. Wonderful to see humans perform, rather than deplorable animal acts.

Last time a circus came to town, my daughter with a banner demonstrated out in front of it, trying to highlight the plight of circus elephants, getting verbal abuse and physical threats in response. Shortly after, Jumbo the last remaining circus elephant in New Zealand was released from her lonely life, and is now in Franklin Zoo south of Auckland. Still lonely but she appears a lot happier there. Ideally she should be with others of her kind, but shipping costs to another elephant sanctuary in Africa, or the Tennessee sanctuary are enormous.

P 2. The summer starts here with events and pursuits.

4WD group trip fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity this weekend. Get your buggy, bikes or boots out. A long list of walks, hikes, bikeathons and buggyathons throughout the area is detailed. A Creepy Crawly Critters morning for kids to discover bush life, and feed the eels. The Deerstalkers Club open day. Fly fishing, Day out for Dogs, Discovery walks for rare North Island robins, and much more.

P 3. Tick bites may Paralyse

An emaciated spoonbill at our Waikanae Estaury, rescued by a bird tour guide who spotted the sick bird, and drove it to Nga Manu Nature Reserve, where it was found to have a severe paralysing tick infestation. Over 70 ticks removed from it's head and neck. We generally do not have a tick problem in New Zealand thankfully, tick species being few, and of very limited dispersal. This bird is thought to have collected it's unwanted parasite guests while nesting within an area where seagulls also nest.

P 4. Keeping an eye out for Poachers.

Local volunteers patrolling our protected shorelines to stop paua and shellfish poachers. Paua are a local shellfish delicacy, of the abalone species. Really yummy, sliced finely, and poached with  onion, cooked as patties. A huge trade in illegally harvested paua exists, fuelled by high prices for the flesh in demand locally and in Asian Markets. Some coastal areas are being stripped of these marine snails and populations threatened everywhere. Really encouraging to read of local communities taking on protection responsibilities.

P 5. Perfect places for family outings.

Department of Conservation announces new 32 bunk hut to meet increasing demand in our adjacent Rimutaka Forest Park. That's bound to get more people out hiking our natural forest walks.

P 11. It takes 2 and a lot of community support.

Pictured - Maria, and her son Rory not even 1 year old. Needing cochlear ear implants, and because our Government health system will fund only one implant, the community has raised extra money to enable both. Many people within our community raised funds through a variety of projects ensuring Rory got two implants. What a caring community!

Waikanae Lions Super Garden Trail advertisement. Visit many of our community's most outstanding private gardens, to raise funds for Wellington Free Ambulance. The area's annual charity fund raiser.

P 13. Wild fare forage turns up tasty treats for your summer table.

Full page article, and pictures of Rob and Johanna gathering nasturtium and wild fennel from our wild areas. I've long had Johanna's blog, bookmarked so it's good to see her featured here. Better stick an extra plastic bag in my pocket and pick a wild salad while walking the dog later. Wild rocket, and fennel would mix well with that tasteless but crunchy supermarket lettuce. Oh, and it's blackberry time also. Shopping bill will be low this week.

P 14. Pike River Miners Relief Fund donation appeal
Full page advert. The appeal kicked off with a $500,000 donation from major shareholders. Public donations are steadily flowing in for this terrible disaster where 29 miners died. As of today, the mine cannot be cleared of gas, and the finality of leaving the bodies entombed is being taken hard by the grieving families.

P 15. Kitting out new education centre.
Our local Nga Manu Nature Reserve, announces the building on site of its new children's wildlife experience facility. Set right amongst native plants at the swamp forest reserve, this will ensure children can get up close and learn about bird life and eels there.

P 22. The art of lavender.
The annual lavender flower harvest festival, at the Te Horo Lavender Creek Farm, is a great day out for the family to enjoy the gorgeous smell of lavender during the process of harvesting and production of oil. Grab your cameras for a colorful day out. The fields are lush with lavender in full flower.

Going potty for new garden art
Otaki Pottery Club's annual Festival of Pots and Garden Art this week. Potters and Oamaru stone carvers will be demonstrating their techniques. Our Kapiti Coast seems to have a complete alternative society peopled by the widest range of arty farties. They drink out of strange looking mugs, eat off weird looking plates, and have the strangest looking things growing in their gardens. Unreal.

I look up from rereading this small community's newspaper for the third time, and notice the tui has flown. My coffee has gone cold.
Small towns can be such inspiring places....

Footnote: The above community newspaper exists. Each page and headline is real, but I have supplied the accompanying editorial from reading local newspapers, and my knowledge of our area's attractions and events.

Acknowledgement must go to our Kapiti Observer for it's portrayal of our community. I thought this weeks copy was a truly positive issue, and thought it worth writing about. My community here on the Kapiti Coast.


Red Nomad OZ said...

I've had some of my best travel experiences in small communities - and that's where some of the best OZ caravan parks are too! My blog highlights 'off the tourist trail' spots - travellers seeking different experiences will want to include some of these in their itinerary!

Happy 2011!!

Jim said...

Thanks Red Oz Nomad, I read yours often as I like travel blogs that do just that- highlight places other than the usual tourist trail.
So any reader who wants a unique angle on Australia, follow over to Red Oz Nomad's site. Quirky and insightful posts on Australia.