Is this the election everyone lost?

John Key didn't get an outright majority and has to deal with three other parties to be safe. Labour lost massively and now has to find a new leader and a new direction.

The Greens can cheer having more MPs, and may well be the new urban cool, now that the radicals, the recyclers of human waste, and the morris dancers have gone. But they are still well away from power, and would need to swallow some very big rats indeed to work with National.

The challenge for the Greens will be to maintain their vote if and when Labour starts to revive itself. They should not kid themselves that all of their vote is green; some of it is Labour having a short break elsewhere, because their usual political home is uninhabitable at the moment.

Des Britten honoured as Wellingtonian of the Year

Awards are wonderful and awards that recognise people who have made Wellington a better place are even better. On Thursday night at the Amora Hotel Father Des Britten, chef, fundraiser, city missioner, champion of good food and organiser of feeding the poor won the 2011 Wellingtonian of Year award.

It was a popular choice and follows last year's honour which went to long serving councillor Ruth Gottleib. Both awards recognise a life time of worthy achievement and service.

Previous winners like Marco Zeeman and Chris Parkin got theirs for spectacular achievements in a particular year. There is a difference and the respective merits can be debated. Des Britten stood out in a field of achievers however achievement is calculated.

Is this a boring election?

Is this New Zealand's most boring election ever? It must come close.  I've attended three election meetings and the exchanges have been bland, unexciting and completely lacking in passion or fireworks.

I have been following elections since 1963 (I recall that one was particularly dull). There have been titanic struggles: Clark vs Key in 2008, Lange and Muldoon in 1984, Kirk and Marshall in 1972. All of those led to changes of government. This one is not even shaping up to be close - if the polls are to be believed.

It seems that we have expended our passion on the rugby and are hanging out for Xmas, summer, the beach and a spell away from work. Elections? 'Who cares, National will win', seems to be the mood, followed by "That's ok, I like John Key."

Is Labour going to do a France on John Key?

On paper National ought to romp home in the election on 26 November, at least that's what the polls have been telling us for three years now.

The All Blacks were supposed to trounce a divided and poorly performing French team in the final. Someone forgot to tell the French who fronted up serious big time.

Labour is doing the same. Their television opening was stylish and reconnected with the heritage of the labour movement. We care, it said, and we aren't going to sell state assets. National looked like a one man band.

We won: now move on

Now that the world cup is over, there is some danger that we might have to return to our normal lives.

Of course it is great that we won the cup, and that everyone has had a good time, except the French, the English, the Aussies and the South Africans, but who cares about any of them.

Of course we can pretend that the euphoria of the cup will last forever, but it won't, even if we put the Wallabies All Blacks match on continuous play on a new channel called Channel Victory. Adding the (few) highlights of the final and a montage of appearances by John Key at the games wouldn't help much.

On the positive side the cult of Piri must surely be dead and buried. Who would have thought we'd say thank goodness for Stephen Donald.

Loony tunes at council over basin reserve flyover

What a travesty is the decision by the Wellington City Council about the Basin Reserve flyover.

Asked about two options, (with a third in the wings) the council manages to conjure up a fourth option, and to support it even though it is by far the most expensive, the least certain and has the backing of nobody other than the few councillors who voted for it.

Neither of the flyover options put forward by the NZTA are particularly attractive, but both would do the job of easing congestion round the Basin and forming part of the Ngarunga to airport through road. A flyover of any nature was always going to attractive criticism that it would be unsightly, but it would have worked and preserved the Basin Reserve at a cost of less than $100 million.

Brave Dave Crampton

Once again it took the actions of a determined individual to expose the shameful nature of the city council’s parking policies. 181 tickets worth $10 000 have been waived after one motorist, Dave Crampton, incorrectly received a ticket for parking in a clearway, and wouldn’t just lie down and take it. 

 

Rumpelteazer: a cool cat remembered

Rumpelteazer, or Rumpy as he was generally known, was a big black cat that ran the veterinary clinic in Kelburn. Recently he died, which has caused much sadness in the 'hood, as he was an immensely popular and much talked about attraction at the clinic. 

He had his own box which sat on the counter and he was prepared to accept strokes from everyone who cared to bestow their affection on him. Like most cats it was always love on his terms, and if he was bored or couldn't be bothered, he simply stood up, arched his back and stalked away, as if to say, don't bother me now.

Blue Smoke Remembered: first NZ pop song

New Zealand's first pop record went triple platinum but the award for selling 50 000 copies of the song "Blue Smoke" was presented to the singer Pixie Williams only on Wednesday night, over 60 years after the event.

"Blue Smoke, written by Ruru Karatiana, and sung by Pixie Williams was the first record to be written, performed, recorded and pressed in New Zealand. It is the icon song of the New Zealand music industry, compere and singer Frankie Stevens said at the launch function for the re-mastered CD of Pixie's songs, "and Pixie Williams is a living taonga of the New Zealand music industry."

City road and flyover proposals welcomed

At last we have something to talk about. The New Zealand Transport Agency has published two options for the development of the roads and flyover between Buckle Street, the Basin Reserve, a second Mt Victoria tunnel and on out to the airport.

My set of documents arrived in the mail box over the weekend and there was a great spread in the DomPost on Saturday. The NZTA is going all out on this. The documents sent to every household are well written and well presented; there will be lots of opportunities to see the scale models and the public consultation phase is open until 24 August. The NZTA is making it as easy as possible for people to have a say. Just send back your form in the householder. I certainly will be.