Friday, 30 December 2016



Summer brings it's difficulties as well to the Islanders.

The Mainland, over the water there, is only an hour away if one is using the Kawau Cruise's big Kat, which means Kawau Island is a very popular place for day-trippers , especially to visit Mansion House, their cafe, two beaches, the bush walks, and the large parkgrounds. Summer has been slow to make an appearance this year. The Flowering Black Chestnut still has flowers on it and one of the resident Peahens has only just hatched her chicks. Pardon the quality of those two photos.


I have been taking my morning walk early to escape the crowds, but not early enough it seems over the last two days. I am not sure why but many tourists seem to have forgotten common courtesies - "It's all about us and having a great holiday," seems to be their attitude. I don't understand why, not only the children being allowed to chase the peahen and her baby chick, but the adults as well as the children will chase the male Peacock to pull a feather out of his magnificent tail.

But the particular gripe I have is about the walking tracks, which at the most, shoulder to shoulder is 3 people wide. I used to have to step off the path if I saw a crowd coming towards me. I refuse to continue doing this. Now, walking as usual on the far left, I just stop and stand still and smile a hello. Time and time again it happens - they get angry with me as they keep walking until they bang face-on into me or their shoulder bashes into mine as they pass. As if I jumped up out of nowhere to attack them. Never an apology - and no, they are not Asian, Asians smile hello and re-adjust their group as they come towards me.

I wrote the below poem over 10 years ago and is in my book, "Words Over The Water."

Is it my age
or have I finally become
an ethnic resident
- someone a little odd
to be vaguely looked at
then ignored
by the tourists
who walk our paths
two and three abreast
waving around their octopus arms
with shouted exclamations
of, look at this! Photograph that!
And naturally expect me
to be deferential and step off
the path to allow them to pass.

I'm tempted to wind ropes
of flowers and shells
around my neck,

let my stomach roll out,
and wave around a medicine stick
of clattering bells and chicken bones
and demand back my half of the road.

Thursday, 22 December 2016


IT IS THE FINAL COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS and the Island is jumping. The rental holiday houses are already full and the carpark on the mainland that serves the Island is near capacity. Yesterday (Thursday) was the final day for me to do last minute shopping, but more importantly to
have lunch with my youngest daughter and my sister - we chose a brilliant summer's day.

It is the Pohutakawa in flower that is a feature of the Island. It starts to flower around six weeks before Christmas Day and by Christmas Day it is in its full glory. It's often known as New Zealand's Christmas Tree. The nectar is very sweet as every kids knows when the tip the flowers up to shake them onto their waiting tongues it - the giveaway is that their their noses are covered with pollen.

Here is a selection of photographs to show how they become a part of our Christmas-time scenery, finishing up with looking from the carpark out to the entrance of the harbour - our Island is further out and of sight from here - and the final one is: we are on the water taxi, on our way back to the Island, shopping bags of last minute groceries, (oops, including a big bag of potting mix) and I am now all ready for Christmas.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016


IT IS COMING UP TO CHRISTMAS and thoughts turn to putting up a Christmas Tree - an Island themed Christmas Tree, a small, Island themed Christmas Tree because there is no suitable space for a tree except in front of the ranch-slider windows and that's where I put my favourite chair to catch the morning sun....think Islands, think palm, think themes, think symbols pertaining to Christmas.  

Think, Yes!!  On the buffet would be perfect. So here is the result for Christmas 2016.

Monday, 12 December 2016


LESS THAN A HUNDRED YEARS AGO NORTHLAND NEW ZEALAND WAS  A THRIVING GARDEN OF EDEN... Now it is classed as a poor area, financially. Yes, I know, I keep banging on about the shortsightedness of how so many New Zealand Railways have been, and are still being, closed down, and the disastrous effect it has had on the life-blood of all the rural communities of New Zealand.

Northland is an excellent prospect for upgrading into decent railway as it is not prone to earthquakes and it also has an excellent Shipping Port available in Whangarei. In comparison to the rest of New Zealand their roads are not up to the standard needed  for the high volume of goods being transported either. But caravans of huge trucks use these roads everyday, 24 hours a day, which means the roads we do have, break up in a very short time and having to be endlessly repaired. Maybe travelling by bus is faster for passengers - but the choice between being jammed into a bus seat, to travelling by railcar as I used to in the late 1960s and since been closed? Give me the railcar every time. I am sure tourists would think exactly the same.

So read the below article on what Northland was like, when there was a good transport system - as observed by O.N.Gillepie 1935, and I found in the archives when I was researching the Tung Oil Industry. ( As an aside:  Tung Oil in the days when I was going to school, was put on all NZ classroom floors during the school holidays. The big market for it ended when artificial varnishes were discovered. It is still used though and is a main ingredient in Haarlem Danish Oil. Vegetable turpentine from Pinus Pinaster  ( which is also easily grown in New Zealand and was first brought to Kawau Island as a trial crop by Sir George Grey in the 1800's) is another main ingredient.

To be able to print this article I had to edit out all the photographs within the article for copyright reasons, but do go to link below as the photographs are fascinating. I have put some of the key sentences into bold italics.

So go to:  - New Zealand Electronic Text Collection

From the : The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Vol 10, Issue 2. May 1st, 1935


The title of this article is deliberately chosen with a kindly purpose. It treats of a part of New Zealand whose inhabitants should be “telling the world,” as they say in U.S.A., yet it is comparatively little known even in the big city nearest to it.

Scene 1: Central Hotel, Auckland, 8.15 a.m.
“Hullo, where are you going?”
“Oh! North Auckland—Keri Keri Ohaewai and other spots. Been there?”
“Never. You'll find it hard to get about up there. Where are those places, anyway?”

Scene 2: The Homestead, Keri Keri, 5.10 p.m.
(Reflecting) What a joke! A comfortable train journey, a short ride in a luxurious service car on a perfect road and here we are! Hard to get to!
The train winds out through the wide-spreading suburbs of Auckland, slips past the Waitakeres, and at Helensville we get a glimpse of a river steamer. Thereafter the scenery is notable, particularly the lovely bits where the arms of the Kaipara Harbour cross and crisscross in little blue sounds. At Maungaturoto we get out for lunch, and notice that the air is warming up. From here on the country is rolling and hilly, well filled with settlers facing an awful perplexity, for there can be no weather to growl at. The rainfall is good, and the temperature steady, winter and summer.
In no time we skirt the side of the fascinating Whangarei Harbour. There are miles of this Riviera drive, the water is azure satin, and the hill contours gentle and beautiful. In the far distance is the startling profile of Manaia, a mighty and exact replica of a prone mountain god gazing at the sky.
Then we reach the capital of the North, Whangarei; but of this delightful little city in the making we shall talk later.

There is a pleasant interlude here for refreshment, but, as all the way from Auckland, my camera friend has been hard to dissuade from poking his lens through the carriage window to get a “shot,” I am glad to get away again.

The next episode of the serial is much the same until Otiria is reached. Instead of the anticipated bone-shaker, a magnificent service motor bus stands there with half a dozen brethren. This was a merry half hour. My neighbour was, he told me, a little hard of hearing as he was seventy-four. I could not catch his name, but from his red cheeks, white whiskers and blue eyes, he ought to have been called “Union Jack.” It appeared that he had forty miles to do after he got to Kaitaia, and was doing that little bit on a push bike. I registered surprise and he explained that it was geared for the hills. He helped to prove the statement made to me later by a settler that no one north of Whangarei ever died unless he was run over or gored by a bull.

The Keri Keri Homestead is a luxurious private hotel with beautiful gardens. From the dining room there is a perfect view of the exquisite Keri Keri falls.
The surprise to the visitor from the South is the nature of the country from the railhead into Keri Keri. The scene is English downland, like a Surrey panorama. The second growth totaras and the neat puriris are exactly like those little trees we used to get in the Noah's Arks. They dot the landscape, and with the smooth rich pastures, the lazy sheep thickly clustered, the well-kept fences and homesteads, they make a parklike effect which has the ordered beauty of older lands.
One forgets that this is the oldest part of New Zealand. I played a hymn
on a sweet toned old pipe organ in the Waimate North Church, where there are tombstones in the churchyard dated 1834, and the great trees overtop the spire.

At the edge of the dreaming loveliness of the Keri Keri Inlet stands the oldest stone building and oldest two-storey wooden dwelling in the Dominion. The stone building is a busy store and cigarette placards cover up the date. Totara lining boards one hundred years old are nailed to the walls in simple fashion and are so free of warp, that in the dark, you could not tell that the whole wall was not one smooth plank. Upstairs is the Bishop's study and the famous letter recording the first use of a plough in our land.
This fine stone building was erected to keep watch on the Hone Heke Pa that surmounted a low green hill across the narrow sound.

It is a strange but inevitable turn of the wheel of history that is bringing this region, first of all New Zealand to be loved and settled by Englishmen, back to its original pre-eminence. 

Here I pause to make the prophecy that this district will one day be the most prosperous part of our whole Dominion, and be a hive of human activities of every kind.  

Keri Keri settlement, inaugurated and established by the North Auckland Land Development Corporation Ltd., is an indescribable place. It has, at first blush, the air of a large and prosperous garden suburb, but proves to be something far different on inspection. There are numbers of overseas settlers who contrive, in some way, to make the long bench on the verandah of the corner store look rather club-like. Men were drifting about the place when we arrived, clad in shorts, all sun-tanned, an odd one a little ostentatiously “rolling his own” like a real colonial.

Down the cross-road is   the utilitarian factory building that has, in the words of the song, “changed the whole course of their lives.”   The factory collects the passion fruit at each gate, the farmer's job being to grow and pick them.
Here is a settlement of primary producers who get their money fortnightly throughout the year, and the price is fixed for a long term. They ought to be happy and they look it.
I found an old Wellington friend and he took me to see passion fruit vines, planted in November last, and now bearing fruit. The soil is a dark loam, easily worked, and varying little in quality throughout the settlement area. The combination of warm, even temperature, copious, gentle rains and sunshine, produce a growth that is unbelievable.

By the courtesy of several settlers, I am able to make positive statements about this amazing profit-making paradise. Naturally, the pioneers had the usual experience, and the early difficulties were stern and plentiful. Luckily for the block, men of ample means and unbounded courage and enthusiasm took up land and developed it. Passion fruit is the staple crop, but oranges by the ton are in sight, as the species suitable to the locality has been found after much experiment, and this, the Washington navel, is definitely better than any orange we import. I do not say this after eating one or two, either. My friend of the camera reckoned that I would be a rich orange colour all over if I did not stop! The lemon is of easy and luxuriant growth, cures well, and we often buy them in our cities thinking they are imported.

After detailed examination, I find it to be a fact that one acre of passion fruit in full bearing, will produce from £50 to £80 per annum. One man can, without strenuous effort, look after two and a half acres single handed. The first cost of the land, of breaking it in and of planting, is by comparison trifling, and building is less than two-thirds of city cost. Electric light and other amenities are available.

Grapes grow freely in the open, and down below the unique homestead of glass and concrete belonging to Mr. Little (whose pioneering work and expenditure should get a monument one of these days), there are magnificent hillside terraces of vines and other plants, the result of years of experiment.

The inlet at Keri Keri, showing the oldest stone building and the oldest wooden residence in New Zealand.
Fine houses, spacious gardens, carefully tended drives, ornament vista after vista. The settlement numbers two hundred already, and they are arriving all the time.   No one can visit this place without a twinge of jealousy. Here are people living a Garden of Eden life of ease and making a profitable income from it. Even the rain is only liquid sunshine. Here is a land where it is really true that “every prospect pleases.”

Any man who retires on a pension (often just enough to let him see his club once a month and potter on a quarter acre suburban section) should have a look at Keri Keri. If he does not decide to come here, he should have a look at himself. There is a safe outlook here, too, for the young working farmer, whose practical experience would prove to be gold mounted.

The word that has done North Auckland more harm than anything else is used to describe its land—“patchy.” The word would be better if the size of the patches were known. The truth is that the area of good land is very large. After all, the peninsula is responsible for a seventh of New Zealand's dairy production. A farm of 450 acres close to Keri Keri is carrying 1,700 breeding ewes, and 90 odd cattle and horses. The owner is a skilled and ingenious farmer, but the bare facts are almost incredible. There is no end to which this land can be put, particularly having in mind the fact that the climate is actually “winterless.” The steady beneficent temperature and abundant rainfall remove at one stroke the two main disadvantages of California, where irrigation is universal, and the expensive smudge pot is absolutely necessary to cope with the numerous frosts.

It is obvious that there is still endless exploration to be done in the methods of using this unique combination of soil and climatic conditions.

All vegetables can be grown here all the year round. Potatoes, yams, kumeras, revel in this soil, and so do all the melon tribe whose tasty and more exotic varieties have only to be known to be appreciated in our country. Grapes ripen in the open air in riotous profusion. Almond, fig, peach, nectarine, and all fruit trees are assured bearers of heavy crops, and early is a mild word when their fruits ripen. All small fruits, similarly, do excellently. You have the feeling, wherever you look, of the fecund ease of growth of everything, and yet the place is free of tropical disabilities. The narrow shape of the peninsula, with its myriad of deep indentations of the sea, give this immunity and add to the riches of the plant life, a legacy of health and strength. One settler, commenting in his dry way on what the land seemed able to do, cracked this joke, “I believe if you dropped a wooden toothpick, it would start to root.”

I left Keri Keri with a feeling of regret and I am going back at the first opportunity. Our illustrations are restricted, naturally, owing to space considerations, but they convey some idea of the progress of this, a most important undertaking of national interest and a contribution to our country's welfare.

The road to Kaikohe is a perfect one, through lovely country, well stocked and closely settled. Kaikohe is a clean and sweet country town, modern and progressive. I was advised there to take a trip to the property of the New Zealand Tung Oil Corporation. Here is another staggering surprise.

A plant crop which is an innovation is subject to two criticisms, firstly will they grow, secondly, who wants them, anyway? Henry Ford is planting them in Florida, so he apparently wants them, among others. I saw them growing, in all stages, so that is beyond doubt. Like most New Zealanders, the only tung oil I had heard of was spelt a different way and was the property of a lady with a blackboard and a pointer. However, all joking apart, this colossal undertaking is being managed with such care, prudence, and zeal, that success is deserved. We passed through seven miles of plantation, all bounded by road frontage. There are vast nurseries, both of tung trees and of varieties of shelter trees. In this climate and in this soil, shelter trees grow in eighteen months, and the groves are being gradually
and scientifically intersected. Painstaking research has established the best varieties of seed, the best and quickest growing shelter trees, and the cheapest and swiftest cultivation methods.  I was delighted to see the vim with which the Maori workers, men and women, were doing their work. There are three large working camps. This is another work of national importance, giving the variety we badly need to our list of exports.

I now worked back to Whangarei. The fascinating newness of the Maori place names, makes a new music for the ear all about this district. Ngunguru, Matapouri, Poroti, Kailiu, Whananaki, Ngawha, Pataua, Tutakaka, Nukutahwiti, Waimamaku, sound all about, and, of course nobody knows what they mean. Don't, however, ask about Waitemata, that's a beer!

And so, to Whangarei. This is a bustling, heart-warming town, with the New Zealand provincial capitals' air of being a small city. It is beautifully situated, with two imposing streets of fine buildings and striking suburbs full of beautiful homes. The gardens are rich with flowers and everywhere there is a sub-tropical brilliance of scene. The night airs are cool.

The hotels are good, fit for any city, as will be particularly seen from the picture we show of the modern lounge from which our host, Mr. Powell, took us down the harbour to one of the legendary spots in all New Zealand, the “Hen and Chickens,” the old men's home of the tuatara lizard. There are good golf links, one tennis ground has fourteen grass courts, the motor parks are up-to-date, and the public grounds, particularly Mair Park with its natural swimming pool set in natural bush, are worthy of a metropolis.
Scenic beauties of all sorts, from the great Wairoa Falls, to the picturesque beaches of Matapouri and Ngunguru, are within easy reach.

Whangarei has its own personality and is the rightful capital of this New Zealand Elysium.
Before I conclude, I want to stress one point.   Years ago, a member of Parliament, in a natural anxiety to get something done to please his constituents, coined the phrase “The Roadless North.” Now that kind of epithet has a habit of sticking, and there is still an impression that the district is difficult of access and full of terrors for motorists. Nothing of the sort exists to-day. Led by that model of practical management, the Whangarei County, the northern counties have modernised the whole network of roads, which are uniformly excellent. The train services likewise. The timetables are convenient for all centres and junctions, luxurious car services act as feeders at all important points, and the connection, both ways, with the Southern trunk lines is efficient and speedy. I repeat that the Northland is as easy to reach and travel over by road or rail as any part of the Dominion.

I have tried to tone down the adjectives that seem to press for outlet while I write this article. Honestly, however, my story is suffering from suppressed superlatives. Our land is so lovely in so many ways, it is such a pocket world of beauty, that claims for leadership in attractiveness for any one district, are impossible of answer. But no one can blame the dweller in the Northland for saying that his is the best of all. The pity is that he does not seem to have said it long enough and loud enough. And lastly, and above all, the Northland is a land of opportunity, a land of golden chances.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016



Great excitement - to call into the Kawau Cruises Office at Sandspit Wharf on my way home last night to find Lin was there taking delivery of our  latest Kawau Island Bookworms book ISLAND PASSAGES. Of course I had to have my copies immediately. ( Yes sister Diana, of course I have already got you one 😄)

Here is a photograph I took of the cover.

Inside the book there are the stories, the poems, the photographs, as  the Islanders tell of their experiences of not just living on an Island, but their tales, many amusing, of learning to be innovative and adapting to a life without cars, that we share with each other when we gather together around a 'bring a plate and bottle' BBQ.

ISLAND PASSAGES  are already going quickly, Lin told me today when I was talking to her.  They make such an ideal Christmas gift, so if anyone would like to order one to send off as a present in time for Christmas, they would have to be quick.

The price is $NZ 20.00  or US$ 15.00 and of course, postage is extra.

To order: emailing Lin is the quickest method, so go to

It is also available as a Kindle eBook on Amazon or

Friday, 2 December 2016



It is seriously coming into our summer season now and for the last three or so days the sun has stayed out and suddenly the garden needs watering again.

The countdown to Christmas is underway in earnest.The Universities have closed until the new term starts again at the end of February or beginning of March and the Secondary Schools have finished their exams for the year. Father Christmas is now in his ho-ho element and the end of year Christmas Party functions have started.

I'm running a bit behind. I need to go over to the Mainland to get Christmas Cards and catch up with friends before they are off on their holidays to go camping, touring or to the family bach/crib/holiday house and won't return until sometime after mid-January.

Selecting from what is available in just our bay, here are just a couple of  pictures of the various Island holiday houses available to rent - which will you choose? The one right on the water's edge at        $NZ 325,00 a night- or the one hidden away in the bush with childrens'adventure playground at $NZ 160,00 a night?


If instead you want to buy your own  holiday home, then the prices range from  $NZ 2,000,0000 plus for waterfront home with acreage, boatshed with extra self-contained accommodation, own wharf and  boat launching rails, storage sheds and own deep water mooring.

Or for $NZ 420,000 a two bedroom as-new home on a flat fully fenced quarter acre section with outside sheds and vegetable garden


Tuesday, 29 November 2016



The book is due any day now and we can't wait. An earlier post talked about the last 3 books the Kawau Island BOOKWORMS members have written and how well they have sold. It seems everyone is fascinated by Islands.

Now here comes our fourth book. ISLAND PASSAGES. More news coming soon.

In the meanwhile, this time there are stories, poems and photographs on the theme of our getting from there to here. Because we have no network of roads, we have to use other methods for just the everyday matter of getting to our homes, let alone the more difficult and innovative way of building, getting in groceries, and visiting one another as each bay is separated from the others and the land is steep.

Kawau Island is At 36.42 degrees South and 174.84 degrees East, Time Zone 12 hours ahead of GMT in winter and 13 hours ahead in summer and 8 km from the mainland wharf of Sandspit, New Zealand, lies a small piece of land surrounded by sea, known as Kawau Island. Kawau being the Maori name for the local shag which nests here in large numbers.
Kawau Island’s size is 5,000 acres. It’s 8 km long , 5 km wide, and nearly split in half by Bon Accord Harbour, which geologically is known as a drowned valley. Most of the island is owned by a family trust, 500 acres owned by the Department of Conservation, and the remainder is divided up among the Islanders.
This little island is home to approximately 60 full-time residents; a holiday home to hundreds more, and a fantasy island to visiting cruising boats and the boatloads of tourists and holiday makers in summer.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

How I Finally Finished My Book


I have made a commitment to have my forthcoming book of poetry at the publishers by the end of March 2017 at the very latest. The motivation is there, but so are the distractions. I found I was getting to the stage of my head getting to the blank stage and starting to feel blah. So I'm going to start limiting myself to two sessions and then calling it a day. I'll let you know how I go.

Thursday, 24 November 2016


If they keep trying can they rescue the King Dragon?

Not ten minutes, not five minutes, but three minutes! A very surprised King Dragon, who had been asleep in a vault for ten years finds himself on a football field in front of Miss Grey, a class of children, his wife, his sons and all the dragons of his town. “Yikes!” he said, or something like that – he had said it so loud that it sounded like a plane’s sonic boom. The birds flew out of the trees and the school’s windows rattled.

Theo’s mother rushed up and threw her arms around her husband. “You are safe, she whispered. “You are safe.”

And everyone: Miss Grey, Theo, Room Nine, the town of Dragons were so teary-eyed and turning to look at each other in delight that they stopped their wishing and ‘pop.’ Miss Grey, Theo and the class were once again alone on the football field. The class rolled around the ground in laughter. “We did it!” “Did you see how many dragons there were?” “The poor king, he had no colour from being locked away for so long.” “I thought all kings had a crown?” said Marie. “Whow your dad is huge,” Matthew says to Theo and squeezes his hand. Miss Grey is wiping tears from her eyes yet laughing too. She claps her hands, “I think an early lunch would be a good idea,” she calls out. “It is time to return to the classroom.”

Theo is not really enjoying his lunch, even though he loves jelly and icecream. “Miss, I do want to stay for this last day, but my heart also wants to go and be with my father.”

Theo, I understand and of course you want to be with your family. Class, class, stop a moment. Theo needs to go back home, but first he wants to say goodbye and I have a couple of things I want to give him before he goes. First she hands him his school report in its envelope and then a shiny silver cup. It is engraved with the words, Class Nine. The Most Improved Student. And underneath in beautiful script writing was written, Theodore Acidophilus Junior.

Theo gave Miss Grey a very cold, shiny oval red stone. And then somehow, though everyone was a bit upset, he managed to thank Miss Grey for being his teacher and the class for being his friends and the class sang ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow’ and Theo added Hip Hip Hooray at the end in his deep grumble voice and was gone.

Miss Grey, to stop the children being sad about Theo leaving, hurried the children to finish tidying away from having lunch and do their chores before packing their schoolbags for one last time of being in Room Nine.

The parents were already arriving in the school hall and soon the children would join them for the Prize Giving. Then the summer holidays would start.

It was so hard to sit still and listen to Mr Thoroughgood and his long speech. Then it was time for the Chairman of the Board of Directors to hand out certificates, cups and prizes for all the good schoolwork the pupils had done and everyone clapped and clapped. And then Mr Thoroughgood stood up again. “There is just one more thing,” he said.

The whole school did a little sigh. Would Prize Giving never end?”

I have a special certificate for everyone in Room Nine. On Parent Day, with the help of a clown, who I know was Matthew’s uncle over visiting from Greece, a Mr Theodore Acidophilus Junior, they raised $82 in total for two shade trees for the school grounds,” Mr Thoroughgood was saying.

Miss Grey and Room Nine suddenly felt very sad. They wished that Theo could be with them and be hearing the headmaster saying this.

Mr Thoroughgood continued, “And together with the Parent Committee and the School Directors we have decided on two Red Pin Oaks. They will be planted alongside the painting of the dragon on the school hall wall.

There was a lot more clapping. After a moment Mr Thoroughgood had his hand up to stop the clapping – “And one more thing. We have also decided that the painting of the red dragon that appeared on the school hall wall, so mysteriously, is to now be the School Mascot. From now on our football and basketball teams will be known as the Red Dragons. Miss Grey would you come up here please and accept Room Nine’s certificates.

There was lots of cheering and so much clapping that Room Nine’s hands hurt. Miss Grey went up onto the stage and collected all the certificates and as she was returning to her seat who did she standing in the doorway at the back and giving a little wave? It was Theo with his Dad.

For the first time that year she forgot to think quickly. “I am so glad you could be here Theodore Acidophilus Junior, “she called.

Everyone turned around, but was not sure who she was talking to, except for Room Nine who were also smiling and waving.

Mr Thoroughgood is quietly pleased that Miss Grey is leaving the school to go and teach over in Australia. There is something odd about that teacher, and Room Nine had been just as odd as her.


In the car on the way home, Matthew’s mother turns to him and asks, “what did the headmaster mean by saying that an uncle of yours was over from Greece and was staying with us?”

“Do you mean Mr Theodore Acidophilus Junior? replies Matthew. “I think it was a teacher-only joke.” And Matthew and Arion start giggling.


Tuesday, 22 November 2016


THE RESCUE OF THE HEADMASTER. He can't swim and keeps sinking...

“I better go ahead and have a look,” says Theo. “No one can see me.” Jack you bring the surfboard down into the water. I may need it” And Theo shook the sand out of his wings and was away.

Mr Thoroughgood was in the water. He had been in the middle of photographing some crabs when he had stepped backwards into air, and splash! – down into the sea.

He was holding on to a rock, but it was slippery and he kept sinking and swallowing water. “Help,” he had called again and again. But with the noise of the seagulls and the crash of the waves against the rocks no one could hear him. He could not hold on much longer. He was losing consciousness, and was thinking of all the things he would miss if he was dead.

And in this semi-dream state he sees a, a what? A red dragon hovering over him. “I must already be dead,” he says aloud. “Hello angel, I did not know angels looked like red dragons”

Theo hearing him talk, knows he is not too late. “Hold that rock for just a moment longer, headmaster,” calls Theo. And quick as a flash Theo is back with the surfboard. “Here let me pull you up onto the surfboard and I’ll tow it to shore.”

By this time the teachers and parents were on the rocks looking for a way to get to Mr Thoroughgood. “I have found his camera.” someone calls. “I can see the headmaster,” someone else calls. And there is their headmaster half lying on a surfboard, and there is spray flying up everywhere as it speeds to the shore.

“Look, there is Theo pulling the surfboard by a rope!” Marie points, forgetting at that moment that Theo is Room Nine’s secret. But everyone is so busy being worried and talking to each other only Room Nine understands what she is saying and starts cheering – “Go Mr Thoroughgood!” Soon everyone is cheering, “Go Mr Thoroughgood!” and they start scrambling over the rocks back to the beach to meet him.

Some teachers rush into the water and pull the surfboard onto the beach. Then they drag the headmaster up the sand a little way and are pressing the water out of his lungs. Suddenly the headmaster is coughing and out comes lots and lots of water. Mr Thoroughgood opens his eyes and looks around. “How did I get here?” he asks.

Everyone looks at each other and realise that they are not quite sure. Some think they saw him grab a surfboard that just happened to be floating by. Some thought they saw him paddling very fast. Some were so busy watching their feet as they went over the rocks they only saw him as he arrived on the beach. Some though, knew that Theo had saved their headmaster.

Mr Thoroughgood is not sure what he knows. One minute he was drowning, thinking his life was over, and then next, a red dragon, just like the one in the painting on the school hall wall, is talking to him. Is in the water beside him. Is pulling at him. Is making sure he is hanging on tightly to a surfboard. Is flying ahead, pulling the surfboard to the shore.

Mr Thoroughgood felt much better after someone gave him a hot coffee with lots of sugar in it. Then he changed out of his wet headmaster-clothes and into a parent’s spare bathing suit and with a towel around his shoulders sat in the sun to warm up and ate his lunch. Everyone was very glad he was safe. He was very glad he was safe too and that he had not lost his camera.


On Mr Thoroughgood’s office wall there is a photograph of the whole school taken on the beach. In the front is the surfboard that rescued him. But he is a little puzzled. There are those 6 children from Room Nine being strange again. They have their arms out as if they are hugging a large someone, but there is no one there, just an empty space.

Next to this photograph is another photograph. One of the red dragon painting that appeared mysteriously one day on the outside of the school hall. Mr Thoroughgood thinks he is the only one who knows why the photograph is there. But Room Nine and Miss Grey know.


Last Day of the School Year

On Friday Miss Grey arrived early. It was the last day of the school year. This afternoon was the Prize Giving, but there was a lot to do before then. She already had written all the pupil‘s school reports and put them in their envelopes to be given to the parents
The lessons, pictures and stories had been taken down off the walls. She had checked that all the library books had been returned. But there were still the cloakroom and storeroom to be tidied and the class needed to empty their desks and stack them. She had made three different coloured jellies and had two big tubs of strawberry icecream in a chilly bin for the class ‘end of year party.’

But before the class arrives, Theo is there. He is highly excited. He tries to get out of his mouth all his words at once.

“Just stop a moment, Theo. Right, now take a big breath and start again. Slowly” says Miss Grey.

It seems that his Mum, being proud of how well her son was doing at school and then his rescue of the headmaster, had finally told the other dragons where her son had been disappearing to in the past months. Also she mentioned how he originally got there. Why even she and the baby had gone  ‘pop’ and arrived at the school one day where she had met his teacher and all the children.

But as the dragons all discussed this wonder, the thought suddenly came to them: if the class could have a dragon friend because they wished so hard for him to be there, then….then. Could they wish for the King so hard to be with them he would ‘pop’ and escape the vault he was locked in at the London museum?

But maybe just their wishing would not do it; but combined with the class, who they already knew could do it...?

“But, Miss Grey, I told them it was the last day of school today. And I had not asked you. So no one knew, And I did not know if we could…?”

“Could what?” asked Miss Grey with a sinking feeling.

“If we could all concentrate and wish my whole town of dragons to be here, and at the same time they also wish to be here – then when we are all here together we give a really great big wish for my Dad, the King, to be with us?”

                                                         * * *

Mr Thoroughgood looked out his window and saw Miss Grey and all of Room Nine with their eyes closed, sitting in two straight lines on the football field. He wonders what they are up to this time sitting out in the hot sun like that, then shakes his head, he has given up understanding Room Nine and anyway he is busy writing his speech for this afternoon.

But Room Nine knows exactly what it is doing. It is wishing hard to have the whole football field filled with dragons! Five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Nothing. Sixteen minutes and ‘pop’ there was the whole football field, and the tennis court, and the playground full of dragons of every colour and size. Miss Grey stood up and placed a finger to her lips – “shh” – but the dragons are too amazed to make a sound. It was the rustling of their wings that sounded like a sudden wind in the trees.

“I am so glad we can help. Are you ready?” Miss Grey asks. “O k, all together, concentrate!”

The dragons gave out their love for their King and wished hard he was here. Theo and his mother wanted him home even more. And the class really really wished to see a real Dragon King.

Friday, 18 November 2016



We are supposedly into summer here now and it's only five weeks to New Zealand's close down for three weeks from Christmas day for our annual summer holidays. The weather forecast for today predicted passing showers - did I miss the mention it was going to be windy as well?  A steady 35 knots and gusting higher - ( that's 40.3 miles per hour) and remembering that America's Cup races are cancelled when blowing 20 knots. Some yachts were already taking a long weekend break and arrived at the Island yesterday, but some hearing the updated marine forecast and were scooting back home at dawn. Others tucked into sheltered Bays for the night. I talked to a couple of yachties who had decided to come ashore and stretch their legs and they reckoned it was more scary on land listening to the trees being battered. than being out at sea.

Cathedrale St. Joseph de Noumea.

This is for my friend Jean who is having a hard year and now one of our mutual friends is in the process of passing over into the world of mystery.

We went on holiday to Noumea in 1966. My first visit overseas.


The hard cobalt of the sky
and the unrelenting heat
of the mid-day sun
drove her up the wide steps
into the shade of the portal
of the French Cathedral; then
walk further on through

the open doors into the cave
of a cool sanctuary - lit
by a pattern of broken shards
of pure colour scattered
over the pews and knave
from the high surround
of steepled windows:

and up through the floor,
from the walls, from the ceiling,
breathed an Eolian music
from the wandering breeze
that sighs over the singing reeds
of the unattended towering
pipes of the Cathedral organ.

To her, it felt as if the Cathedral,
the time, the colour, the music,
had come into a perfect harmony
then paused,
                   waiting on her arrival.

An hour carefully staged to remind
her soul of their previous love
and lives together – and today’s
gift is to ensure those memories
will stay close to her

through this life as well.

Copyright: Lois E Hunter 

Wednesday, 16 November 2016


The Little Red Dragon - what is Miss Grey going to ask them?

Miss Grey hesitates so long the class gets a bit restless. Then she continues, “Before we take everything down off the walls that we put up for Parent Day, Theo would like his mother and baby brother to come tomorrow to see them. I would like to try an experiment. Tomorrow as you are coming to school I would like you to wish very, very hard, for them to come and maybe they too can ‘pop’ and just appear. Do you want to try?”

“Oh, whow!” “Yes!” “A grown-up dragon, how big will she be?” “I am going to try.” “Me too.”

“Hush, off you go now and join your families, just try your best and we’ll see what happens tomorrow. Theo, come here. I’ll help you out of your clown costume and wash your face for you.”


Theo’s Mother Visits Room Nine

On Thursday morning Matthew is on the train, concentrating. “Please come, Mrs Dragon. Jack and Amy are each walking to school, they chant as they walk. ”Come in Mother Dragon.” Marie is on the bus singing a little song, “Please come little baby dragon, bring your Mummy too.” Janice and Michael are brought to school in their parent’s cars. They are tapping their fingers in time to whispering, “come, come, Mother Dragon.” And everyone else in the class, each in their own way are calling in Theo’s mother to visit their class.

Miss Grey had kept waking in the night and worrying if she had made a mistake. Theo is a lovely friendly red dragon, she loves him very much But, maybe his mother is a mean dragon. A huge, fire-breathing dragon. Maybe Theo’s mother doesn’t like teachers or worse, scares the class?

Miss Grey arrived early to school. But so does most of the class. “Is Theo here yet?” “Has Theo brought his mother” They ask as they come in the door.

Not yet. Not yet. Nine o’clock, and still not yet. But at five past nine, and ‘pop’ and there is Theo laughing, “ho ho ho” and “ha ha ha” in his deep grumble voice. “They are right behind me,” he says, and ‘pop’ there stands his mother, a really enormous dragon, at the doorway. She can’t get in! She closes up her wings even tighter, takes a deep breath, and with a bit of a squeeze and a bit of puffing she is in the classroom.

“Good morning Miss Grey, says Theo’s mother, “It is so nice of you to ask me to visit” Then she turns towards the class and smiles, “Oh, all the children. My son talks about you all the time.”

Theo’s mother is coloured silver and soft rainbow colours like the scales of a freshly caught snapper. Her eyes are deep gold, her folded wings are like midnight blue velvet and all her long nails are bright red. But her baby under one arm, though eleven years old, is only the size of a cat and is the same dull brown as a lizard.

Miss Grey has a great big smile on her face. She is so relieved to see that Theo’s mother is here. Of course she is kind; isn’t she is Theo’s mother after all. And most wonderful of all, she is seeing a live fully grown dragon right in front of her! But she just answers: “I am so glad we could help you to come. If you look over here I shall show you Theo’s schoolwork. He works very hard at his lessons and his handwriting is the best in the class.”

“I’ll hold, (and it sounded like ‘jingloh’), for you Mum while you talk to Miss Grey.” And Theo lifted up his baby brother and took him over to meet his friends.

“He doesn’t look much like a dragon yet,” says Michael, “more like that lizard we found at the park.”

“Yes, why is he brown?” “He has one red eye and one blue eye!” “Can he talk yet?” “Can he walk?” “Does he like yoghurt too?” “Is he really seven years old?”

So many excited questions the class is asking and Theo answered them the best he could. His brother was more interested in trying to catch a girl’s hair and put it in his mouth when one came close enough.

“Class, Class,” Miss Grey interrupts.” Theo’s mother would like to talk to you. We can’t pronounce her Dragon name, but she is happy for you to call her Mrs Acidophilus.”

“Hello everyone, says Theo’s mother.

“Hello, Mrs Acidophilus,” answers the class. “Hello Mum,” answers Theo.

“I would like to thank you all very much for looking after my son. You have been very kind to him. In our country, Theo is a prince. His father, the King, has been missing for ten years. I have just learned this week that an explorer mistook him for a statue and he has been locked in a vault in the London Museum all these years.

The eyes of Miss Grey and the class got bigger and bigger. Theo is a prince. His dad is a king locked away in the London Museum That would mean that Theo’s mother, who was standing there in front of them, is a queen dragon. What a shame they can’t tell anyone else. No one would believe them.

Marie puts up her hand. ”Please Mrs Acidophilus, why do you think most people cannot see dragons? Only our class can see Theo.”

”Do you think it is because humans are too busy to think about dragons, therefore they don’t exist? Theo’s mother answers,. “I nearly forgot to think of humans, or to believe they actually existed, until Theo told me all about you. What do you think Miss Grey?”

Miss Grey answers: “You are probably correct, it seems such a pity we don’t know more about dragons, especially after getting to know Theo.” Then she remembers Mrs Hall wanting to keep a lizard in a jar, and adds, “But maybe most humans are not quite ready yet to understand and be kind to Dragons.

Miss Grey then introduces Theo’s mother to everyone individually in the class. Theo’s mother looks at all the work they have done through the year. She looks at the paintings, the sun and planets hanging from the string that went from one corner of the ceiling to the other, all the books in the library and the two new ones about dragons. She looks at the story board with all their photographs on it. Then Miss Grey takes her to look at the original painting of the red dragon on the school hall wall.

“I am amazed,” says Theo’s mother, when she returns to the classroom. “You are very clever children and now Miss Grey says you are going to sing me some songs. I shall stand over there and listen. Theo would you pass me back your baby brother?”

And the class sang their six favourite songs, one after the other. They were concentrating so hard on remembering all the words and the second part harmonies, they did not notice when the Queen Dragon and her baby went ‘pop’ and were no longer there.

The School’s Beach-Picnic

Theo did not expect the ocean to look so big.
He walked very close to Matthew as they walked down the sand towards the waves. Jack and Amy were walking behind to scuff over Theo’s big dragon footprints.

“Will the sea be just as easy to swim in as your swimming pool?” he asks Matthew.

“Much easier,” replies Matthew. “Salt water makes you float better than fresh water. Don’t drink it though, it will make you throw-up.”

“Wait for us,” call out Michael and Janice as they run down the beach just in time to join their five friends enter the water. The seven of them dive head first into the first wave together and their heads rise again laughing.

“I could stay in the sea and swim all day – look at how well I can float.” calls Theo.

Matthew gives Theo’s tail a pull to see if he can duck him, but Theo keeps floating on top of the water like a big red balloon. Theo and his friends were having so much fun they nearly missed hearing the whistle blown for the 3rd time calling them in for lunch time.

They chose to sit under a tree a little apart from the others to eat their lunch and then, because it was such a warm day and they were tired from all their swimming, they lay back in the sand and before they realised it were asleep.

“Have you seen Mr Thoroughgood? We can’t find him anywhere” Miss Grey was standing in front of them looking anxious. They woke with a start.

“No Miss, no we haven’t” they chorus.

But then it is Theo who remembers. ”Yes I did see him. Just before we came in for lunch. He was out on the rocks over there. I think he was taking photographs.”

Miss Grey rushes away to call out to the other teachers and parents. “The rocks, the boys saw him on the rocks over there!”

They get up and follow the crowd heading for the rocks. It is not long before someone is pointing and calling, “Over there. I think I can see a head in the water way over there.”

Jack suddenly remembers the conversation he had with Mr Thoroughgood on Parent Day. “But he told me he can’t swim!” he says in an urgent voice to the others. “What if he drowns?”


Tuesday, 15 November 2016


The little Red Dragon  and Miss Grey is coping surprisingly well, considering....

Miss Grey was anxious all weekend about Theo’s weekend visit. She need not have worried. They bounced into class on Monday morning. “High five Miss Grey,” they called laughing. And she laughed and high fived them in turn. “This morning instead of me reading you a story would you boys like to tell the class about your weekend? You have ten minutes.”

Matthew started. ”It was easy all the way. We took the collar and lead for the train. We had a marvellous weekend. Only my brother Arion realised Theo was there. He got a surprise to see a live red dragon. You should see how well Theo can swim.”

“And Arion says I can hold my breath under water much longer than any of them,” interrupts Theo.

Theo is interrupted by Jack. “And don’t forget who opened the cage to pat the guinea pigs and let them escape.”

“But I found them again,” protests Theo.

“And we spent all Sunday morning looking for them,” continues Matthew, “we looked everywhere.”

“But I found them again,” repeats Theo sounding hurt.

Jack starts to giggle. “And you nearly gave that poor neighbour a heart attack when she heard you talking into your cellphone as you flew over the top of her head.

“Well I was just phoning to tell you I could see the guinea pigs running in the orchard,” says Theo, “and that I would go and get them – no one told me I shouldn’t fly.”

“Fly? Theo can fly?” gasped the class.

“He is good at flying, if he has enough room.” Matthew says finishing the story. “But he forgot the guinea pigs were not invisible. While Mrs Wilson was still shocked from hearing Theo talking, she saw our two guinea pigs flying past her by themselves. She had been collecting eggs, she told Mum later on the phone, and was so upset she dropped the whole bowl of them.”

“And, and…” Matthew was laughing so much he could hardly finish to say. ”Mum told her they couldn’t be our guinea pigs because ours were still in their cage.”

By now Matthew was laughing hard, so was Jack and the class is also joining in. Theo looked confused for a moment, then was laughing too. Ho ho ho, ha ha ha, he laughed in his deep grumble voice.

Miss Grey was also laughing, but quietly. She understood perfectly how Mrs Wilson would feel, trying to convince anyone she had heard an invisible voice talking in the sky and how she had definitely seen two guinea pigs flying by.

Parent Day

The school year will be over in another three weeks. Then it is the long summer holidays. But before then there are three special days. Parent Day. The School Beach-Picnic Day. And Prize Giving Day.

All week the classroom walls were being decorated with paintings and stories. There are a couple of strings going from one side of the ceiling to the other. One string has more paintings clipped to it. The other string has bright coloured paper models of the sun and the planets hanging off it. Theo is very proud of the sun. He had made and painted it bright yellow, all by himself. He also has one of his stories and two of his paintings pinned on the walls.

The morning before Parent Day Miss Grey has a nice surprise for the class. She has a big story board in front of her. “Remember how I took your photographs with my red cellphone last week? Well here they are!” And she turned around the storyboard and everyone’s photograph was on it. “I want you to write, in your best writing, on these pieces of paper I am going to give you, a sentence about what you like doing. I shall paste them underneath your photograph. Theo why are you picking up your library book? I have a photograph of you too”

Theo joins the others in the rush to see the photographs. He says, “Look Matthew, I am right up the top under the title ‘Room 9 - Class Mascot.’ And Miss Grey has put up a photograph of the red dragon the class painted on the school hall wall. “And, and, she has added my name underneath the same as everyone else! Theodore Acidophilus Junior,” Theo reads out loud, “I do like my name.” And Theo goes away and writes on his piece of paper to be pasted under his photograph, I like stories, singing and swimming. I also paint pictures.

But Theo is not looking forward to Parent Day. He will be the only one who will not have any family coming to admire his schoolwork. Miss Grey keeps saying never mind, and that she is so proud of how much he has learnt and his handwriting is by far the best in the class. But it is not quite the same. Theo asks Miss Grey, “Should I stay home on Parent Day? I think I will be in the way if I am at school.”

But Miss Grey answers, “I had been thinking about what you were to do on Parent Day. I have a couple of ideas, but let’s ask the class and see if there may be a better idea Theo.”

And before Theo knew it, on Parent Day he was going to be at school but be dressed up as a clown.

“You will need your tail up to fit into a costume,” suggests Amy.

“And you will need a big fluffy wig to hide most of your face,” says Jack.

“And we can paint the rest of his face white, says Michael, “or better still make him a hood and paint a clown face on it?”

Miss Grey adds, ‘Theo that will mean you can talk as much as you like and you can go wherever you want in the school. But, class, we will need a roster to have one person with him all the time, just in case something goes wrong. You will carry a basket to collect donations towards buying two big shade trees for the playground. I shall bring in the basket and write a sign for it.”

And that is how Theo came to be dressed as a clown on Parent Day. It was another sunny day. There was a big crowd of mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles and lots of little children too small to be schoolchildren, going in and out of classrooms, up and down stairs and walking around the school. There were running races and hurdles on the football field. A school band played for half an hour in the school hall. There was dancing in bright coloured national costumes from the schoolchildren who were born in different countries. There was a candyfloss stall painted by Room Nine with new paints, a sausage sizzle and pony rides.

Theo was having a wonderful time. Ho ho ho and ha ha ha, he laughed again and again. Everyone had taken turns to keep him company, but Matthew, Janice, Amy, Michael, Marie and Jack took the most turns. They had collected $62.20 in donations by two o’clock. It was only another hour to go to home time when Mr Thoroughgood stopped to talk.

“Hello, you are doing a wonderful job as a clown, everyone loves you, Mr? Mr?

“Mr Theodore Acidophilus Junior.” quickly answers Jack. “He does not speak very much English. He is Matthew’s uncle visiting them from Greece.”

“Oh, thank you young Jack, do tell Mathew’s parents how much the school appreciates his contribution to the enjoyment of the day,” replies Mr Thoroughgood using the long words he loves to use; but then says. “Never mind, I shall tell them myself. I can see Matthew’s parents standing over there talking to Miss Grey.” And he starts to walk towards them.

“Oh, Mr Thoroughgood, Sir,” Jack catches at the headmaster’s sleeve. “A while ago you were telling us a story about sailing ships. Did you see them on your holiday to London last year?”

Mr Thoroughgood turned back to Jack, and for the next ten minutes Jack and Theo heard how some of the old sailing ships had been rescued and re-painted and looked good as new. They were now in the London Museum. Mr Thoroughgood’s ancestors had been sailors. “Unfortunately I don’t like sailing, I can’t even swim,” ended Mr Thoroughgood. He had forgotten all about going to talk to Matthew’s parents and walked off to watch a demonstration of Tai Chi.

“$82,” exclaims Miss Grey at home time. That will buy two very nice trees. Did you have a good day everyone?” And then she looked at all their happy, smiling faces and laughed. “Yes, I can see you did. Now before you go and join your parents who are waiting outside on the playground, there is one last thing I would like you to do.”

Sunday, 13 November 2016


Slam all the doors. Close all the drapes.
Pull out the phone from the wall.
This is the night of the witchy-walk
and the moon is on the prowl

and coyly slides from hill to cloud
voluptuous in her glorious gold
she is here to woo, to tempt your soul
her face alight with love and lust.
Quick close those curtains tighter!

The moon is getting impatient now,
around the house she goes,
her longing fingers
poking and pleating
under the eaves
along the streets
over the sea

she climbs the sky
to beam out her power

Any who look on her beauty now
will be moonstruck, go ga ga
slide down into a delightful la la land
as the love-lorn moon
weaves spells with your soul

until you're lost to love
and roam around the witchy nights.

So switch on the lights. Turn up the sound,
get your whole house pumping,
Tonight is not the night to mope at windows.
Don't touch the whisky. Keep drinking coffee.

Copyright: L E HUNTER

Saturday, 12 November 2016


                                       Here at the Island it is coming into the summer season and our sixty something resident-population is increasing weekly. Some will come in for the whole summer, some just for the weekends - and then there are the gathering numbers of pleasure boats returning to our harbours as well. The fish are back!!! -  and the boats are coming in with good catches of Snapper, Kingfish and Kahawai. I don’t own a boat but my neighbours are making sure I don’t miss out and spoiling me with a share of  their fish. Last night it was fresh snapper , a couple of days earlier it was smoked Kingsfish. Life is good.

Bacchus Comes to the Table

His senses are first nudged
by the rising aroma
from the entree snapper,
grilled to gold with salt and butter

then the astringent burst
of cut lemon, nothing other
added, before the knife parts.
The fork gathers up the first offer

toward his mouth and the fish
looks so good he won’t linger
before another forkful will come
to his lips – but oops, feels his error

for the tongue encounters small
sharp bones within the texture.
He won’t swallow yet. Replaces
knife and fork for thumb and forefinger.

And his palette, as never before,
is being pushed, way further,
as tongue, lips, the whole cave
of his mouth now hover

in an art of taste and sort – the mouth
becoming so sensitive it’s closer
to pain. Fish slow on the tongue.
Lick fish-juice from fingers. Is it vulgar

when finished to only be able
to murmur, ah! And again, ah!
With every sense focused, aquiver,
for the next course he’ll encounter.