Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Interpretive Trails

I am inspired by this video Foraging for food in the wild. We should have interpretive trails here and everywhere!

Posted by: Christy Martin

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Raw Milk

We need to stand up for our Raw Milk!

Raw milk is under the consideration of MAF at present, as a new food bill is being proposed, and they have asked the public for submissions. 
They don’t intend to remove raw milk completely, but there are some restrictions they suggest, that we are able to make comment on. 
 If you have any interest in health and healthy food in New Zealand, now is the time to have your voice heard by sending a short and ‘as simple as you like’ letter to MAF.
The more voices that are heard and counted, the more seriously they will have to consider the impact of any decision they make. 

It needs to be in your own words. If you are not sure what to say and have limited time ,you could just send them an email telling them you think it is important for all New Zealanders to be able to choose what they want to eat and drink and where they source it from. But the more submissions posted to them to deal with has a big impact.
If you have any testimonials to raw milk’s health improving benefits, then please tell them your story.
Have a look at this website, set up especially for this event. You will get ideas for submissions.                    
You must start off with the next three lines.
Submission to MAF:
“Proposals for continuing to legally provide for farm gate sales of raw drinking milk”
MAF Public Discussion Paper No: 2011/11
Email your submission to  
or Post (your submission will have more impact)
Food Policy Team
Biosecurity & Food Directorate
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
PO Box 2526
Wellington 6104
New Zealand
If you have more time to think about this, and want to write more, then here is a summary of their preferred proposal.
1.Milk could only be sold directly to the person/family who will drink it. 
2.Dairy farmers could sell only 6 litres per person per day 
3.Dairy farmers could sell a total of only 120 litres per day 
4.Milk must be picked up directly from the farm dairy 
5.Milk cannot be sold from local stores or farmers’ markets 
6.Reasonable animal health and hygiene requirements would need to be met, but the need for a comprehensive Risk Management Programme will not be required nor enforced.

You can find the MAF Public Discussion Paper no: 2011/11 at:
If you would just like to say more, here are a few questions to give you some things to talk about that are relevant to the discussion.
1. Do you think a dairy farmer should only be allowed to sell directly to the consumer?  With no shops, farmer’s market, or retail sales?
2. Do you think it is reasonable to restrict each person to buying 6 litres per day?  Does that mean if someone wanted 20 litres to make cheese that they would have to visit the farm 4 days in a row to pick it up?
3. Do you think it is reasonable to restrict a dairy farmer to selling 120 litres per day?  Will this limit the number of people living in cities, for example, being able to find a close enough source of raw milk it they wish to?
4. Do you think it is reasonable to expect everyone buying raw milk to have to pick it up from the farm personally?  Would this discriminate against some people, for example people living in cities an hour or more away from a small raw milk provider?  Or people who are housebound?  Or cannot drive?
5. Animal health and hygiene regulations will need to be discussed much more fully at a later date, and may be beyond the scope of your interest. (Ask me more if you want to know more)
6. Your own experiences, and any testimonials and health benefits you or anyone you know has had from using raw milk.  Give this heaps, this is really important, to let them know there are hundreds of people out there who have benefited from drinking raw milk.
7. Your conclusion or summary, or request to them.  Or your understanding about the safety and benefits raw milk offers.

When you have finished, you must include your name and physical address.
You may email, but not as effective. 

Saturday, 26 November 2011

ROOTS...local food

We have decided to live our truth and go for what we believe in and create the future that we want to see. We have always believed that choosing the easier road is not always what it seems to be. We aim to take no shortcuts. We are starting with nothing, nothing but our vision. We have jumped from the paradigm of working for someone else trapped in another mentality to creating a future and being present in exactly what we want to see happen. We are grateful for that in its self is a freedom of the mind.
People say all sorts of things like you need money… you need crockery… plates...riedel glasses and so the list goes on and on. This fear mongering that you need money, that you will never make it without those special pieces of paper. We see it differently. We believe that you need the community and people that believe in what you are doing. So we have started our new adventure that will lead us to making our dream come true of having a restaurant so we started a local food service called Roots. We do not need new things. In starting we thought that there is such amazing craftsmanship here in Aotearoa. So the research began in plates and kitchen items. There is such amazing ceramics from the 60s and 70s. Who cares if all the plates look the same! It is more fun to have a story and uniqueness and that sense of local, which really to me in this spectrum says real and quality. So Giulio found people with all of these ceramic NZ crafted plates. They are beautiful. He explained what we are doing to an older gentleman and bought some plates from him. The gentleman then called him back and said that he would love to help out, that he was literally swimming in too much NZ ceramic dishware and that Giulio could take what he wanted at no cost just because he believed in what we are creating and wanted to help us out! We are now realizing if we explain what we are doing maybe people will want to join in or contribute in some way, anyway that they can. It does not have to be with even giving us anything, but just words knowing that what we are creating is also something that others want to see happen and are excited about.
Our concept of food…this should be a book, however, here are some of Giulio’s words from his blog about our project:
“These are very exciting times for us, we have decided to start our own food service focused on everyone who wants to taste honest local food.
Lyttelton is surrounded by food, and by my own experience in the last 10 months I have been eating leaves, herbs, nuts, fruits and flowers that I forage during my daily walks. We are so lucky to have the Farmer’s Market every Saturday, and now starting the spring season we can find something new every weekend. Lyttel Piko is my favorite shop, you can find almost everything there and it is the starting point of my whole food based pantry.
The philosophy is local – organic – biodynamic – animal welfare supporting the local producers and suppliers. It is my dream to create a sustainable food service that supports the community and the community does the same in return. When I think in food I think about sharing, in the end that’s the whole purpose of my craft, but it is not only food, it is food made with respect and love, it is nourishment for our body that is why it has to be healthy and nutritious.

Our food is an invitation to the senses, to experience new flavors or a different culture or a completely new food experience, who said that it is not right to start eating sweets before savory??
Everyone is welcome. Peace”
We offer local food parties (breakfast, lunch, dinner, tapas) as well as cooking classes, and any other cooking needs whether it be for the holidays, a neighborhood get together… you name it…contact us. Christy and Giulio 021 120 8083

Posted by: Christy Martin

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

for urgent sale: good sort needed.

Macbeth Performance Structure 
Donor or Purchaser:  As Good Intentions Turn into a Nightmare 
A project that started with great community intentions has quickly turned into a nightmare. The Loons, with the help of Pete Evans, secured precious community earthquake funding from Project Lyttelton to purchase a cover for an outdoor stage. The cover enabled the very successful production of Macbeth to take place in Lyttelton for the Arts Festival. All was going well, the stage was erected and the show played on. The bills were paid and then the show finished at the end of September. 
Project Lyttelton and Pete Evans were both keen to enable Lyttelton to maintain this temporary stage so that more shows could be performed and the community would have another focal point until The Loons could reopen. Money raised by the Matakana Market for Lyttelton earthquake recovery was earmarked for more live performances in Lyttelton, and so this money was allocated to keep the structure going.  
We all hoped the stage could remain and the shows could continue on. 
Thats when the red tape started to get in the way. No longer was the stage considered a temporary structure.  A building permit, structural engineering report, fire reports, inspections etc were new requirements from the council. Our desire to keep shows rolling was stalled.  
Too expensive, time consuming and frustrating.  Two weeks ago the decision was made to sell the stage cover and just wind the site up. Two weeks of Trade Me later, there is still no buyer, but the debts keep mounting.  Unless a buyer or a donor can be found we are going to have to use vital community funding to pay off the structure. Is there anyone out there who would like to help, or a community, or project that has need of such a structure?  It can readily be       
reconstructed in a day. It will already be deconstructed and can be picked up with a normal trailer.  
Please contact Pete Evans 021 328 707 or Wendy Everingham 021 047 6144 if you can help the Lyttelton Community out. 

Sunday, 13 November 2011

open day at the community garden

Flower gardens grow flowers.
Vegetable gardens grow vegetables.
Community gardens grow community.

In the rain and wind we gathered.
The bar-be-que and cups of tea were kept on the go the whole morning to keep away cold and weariness.
And the distill provided an evocative centrepiece.
Stinging nettle distilled as we stood around it, checking the fire and the warmth, timidly tasting and smelling the hydrosoil that appeared.

Foraged elderflowers were also celebrated; their smell, their taste and sheer prettiness reminded us that it was indeed Spring in the midst of a Southerly blast..

Elderflower frittters:
Elderflowers dipped in batter, fried in oil with a sprinkle of icing sugar.

Elderflower cordial:
20 elderflower heads (flowering now)
1.5 litre water
800gm-1kg sugar
30gm citric acid
3 lemons
Make a hot syrup with the sugar, water and citric acid and then pour over flowers. Use a large bowl. Let stand in a sunny spot for 24 hours.
Strain through muslin.
Use straight away or bottle for storage: heat the syrup again until about to boil, heat the bottles at 100oc for 15 minutes, then using a funnel pour and cap bottles.

We shared knowledge and skills, enjoyed the visitors who braved the weather and celebrated the garden and the community anyway.

Friday, 11 November 2011

what water shortage?

At this time of the year and in particular, this year because of pipes being munted from the recent earthquakes, we hear a lot of talk about water shortages.
A couple of nights ago within half an hour of arriving home and in the steady rain, I managed to collect 120 litres of water off my carport roof......and then dinner was ready.
You do the maths but I dear say,  it could be a water tank shortage rather than a water shortage.

I know the detail of my collection because we have a half completed water harvesting system at home.
Let me explain....
>We live in an old bach with guttering which I would say is probably just as munted as the city's stormwater system.  We have large barrels under each dodgey area.
>We have six of these barrels fed by the carport downpipe. These were connected but over winter discovered that the connections were leaking and so had pulled it apart to try a different system...and then it rained.
> From the 20 minutes of bucket collecting on Wednesday we now have a rubbish bin filled with water (ready for seaweed to be added and made into liquid fertiliser for the garden) and a wheelie bin.

As you can see the system isn't that efficient at the moment but we are working on it and do the best we can and catch what we are able.
Each step raises our consciousness:
> When our family began to put buckets in our showers we quickly discovered how much water we used with each visit. Some of us chose to shorten our showers, some of us turned the water off while we washed and others showered less often. Different solutions suit different people.
> Using a small container in our sink for washing dishes reminds the girls to rinse their dishes without running the tap.
> Being inspired by composting toilets for Christchurch we have been peeing in a bucket for a while now and using the diluted solution to water our non-edible plants. The Christchurch sewerage system is severly compromised from the earthquakes but still we flush pure clean water down the toilet. The bucket system is a great alternative to having the yellow settle in the bottom of the toilet and happily gets us outside more!
>We still bucket the water from the barrels..we are happy to do know, a "chopping water, carry water" kid of meditation in the middle of our busy lives.

As we raise our consciousness about our water usage, we engage further with our water project at home and plan on fixing the plumbing to our tank system.....just as soon as the rain stops.
Next week I plan to check the guttering at the community garden - a little late in the season but doing the best we can.
How are you managing store, re-use and save water in your own home?

written by Jacinda, also at

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

real wealth

Lying in bed at the end of a day I reflect on the wealth that surrounds me.
Here is a day in the life of Margaret…
I talk to my two hens as I feed them their warm mash, check their water and
pick up a still warm egg. This is like a meditation process for me,
grounding me at the start of the day.

Tuesday mornings in term time I do a regular Timebank trade with Lyttelton
West School helping with the Early Words programme. New entrants get a great
start to learning to read through this work. Timebanking is based on
reciprocity, not just of time spent, but also in the pleasure it brings to
both parties. Who can resist the welcome from a five year old, “Oh,
Margaret, it is so lovely to see you again!” – makes me smile and imagine
what great modelling her parents are doing.

On my way home I drop past the Portal (Project Lyttelton’s office) to touch
base, a few little details but it is a social visit really!
Project Lyttelton has started a new project looking at how we can build
resilience into food supplies in the Harbour Basin. Each project we
undertake has a champion to run with it (me for this one) and an advisory
group to support and direct the process. I’m just firming up this advisory
group today and send out a Doodle to arrange a time for all to meet. Doodles
are so much more efficient at planning meeting times than interminable
Lunch – based today around my favourite whole grain bread from the Farmers
On my way to my next meeting I pick up a supply of ionized water from Lyttel
Piko. A Chinese firm gifted our community this ionizer to help ease our post
-earthquake situation. This water is lovely – so much nicer than the
chlorine smelling water we have for the time being.
A meeting at Coffee Culture. I talk with the student working at the counter
and get her email as she wants to be on the contributors’ list of those
writing for the Lyttelton News.
Today at this meeting I am talking with our two newly appointed community
development workers for the food project along with the liaison person from
the funders. There is so much energy here, ideas, development of ideas,
plans, directions, sharing networks and resources. We all recognise that
prioritising is going to be important!
A quick hike up the hill back home, pulling a few weeds out of the cemetery
steps as I slip through the excluded zone. (I’d rather pull these weeds,
often isolated ones, than see them being blasted with spray.)
I pack the car because tonight I am going to my upholstery evening class,
re-covering an arm chair. The preparatory pulling out the staples takes a
long time though.
3.30pm. Eleven of us meet with Professor Bruce Glavocic at the Portal to
have an unstructured conversation about our individual and community
experiences and feelings related to the earthquake. This was quite a
reflective conversation. We learned of successful models of engagement,
recognising we have one such on our own doorstep in Waimakariri. It was
great that we had biscuits and seeded lemon muffins to hold us together – we
talked to nearly 6 o’clock!
I was a bit late for class, but that seems to run on glide time. I
discovered at the bottom of the box (I had stripped the chair eons ago –
before the earthquake – and stored the fabric pieces for future patterns) my
staple puller AND my dressmaking scissors – what joy! I’ve been looking for
those for ages!
Returning home I completed what I was scheduled to do with a section of work
on our Project Lyttelton’s monitoring and evaluating programme.
Satisfaction level is very high! This is what I call wealth! Being
surrounded by a loving world, doing what feels meaningful work, creating,
sharing and being extended.
As I lie in bed reflecting, a feeling of deep gratitude flows through me.

written by Margaret Jefferies, chair of Project Lyttelton

Monday, 10 October 2011


Over the past 50 years money affairs have become a far more private matter as people turn away from their neighbours and communities and towards the ever-consuming, self-absorbing task of growing their own personal money tree/s. This has evolved a culture which is consumer-driven; a culture where individualism and competition are king and the trust and connectivity that we rely on for fulfilling human relationships undercut.

We, the people on the ground, are all part of this ever-evolving culture. With each pattern of action we make, we create the culture around us and affect the culture of our community.
Here in Lyttelton we are developing a strong culture around localised economics; we no longer try to convince people it's a good idea, local people know about it and are part of the change.
Here are just 3 examples:
> the Timebank now beats at the heart of the community; people use it alongside and instead of the monetary system.
> the Harbour Pool, a collective of households who pool their savings to share with others in the group at no interest, is expanding as the concept becomes more known by a wider range of households.
> as networks are strengthened, gifting - choosing to give away goods rather than receive monetary gain from them - becomes something that we do more often.
The cultural shift happens as we depend less on the market economy and turn back towards each other.
The cultural shift happens as the values that underpin these strategies also become the values of the community.  All of these strategies build trust and cooperation in the members and therefore provide platforms upon which reciprocity is supported. As we nourish these non-competitive alliances, the culture as a whole becomes more connected and concerned for others well-being.
And so this local cultural shift in Lyttelton turns away from individualism and competitiveness and promotes the common good.
It feels good to reclaim the agency that we have in our lives and remember the bigger picture. When I receive a gift I am not just saying thanks but also undermining the market economy that rips the heart out of local economies and people's lives.
It feels good to be part of positive cultural change.
What's exciting you about your community's cultural shift?

written by Jacinda, also at

Saturday, 8 October 2011

a workshop on resilience

Building Resilience:
Community Organising now in Otautahi/Christchurch

4pm – 7pm Friday 4th November (with dinner and social time to follow) -
9am – 4.30pm Saturday 5th November

This workshop is a place to gather the learnings from the last 14 months, link people together and strategise for the coming year(s)

The aims for this workshop are:
·      To share learnings from participants experience of community organising and community building
·      To envision communities that are strong, sustainable, and participatory in Otautahi/Christchurch
·      To share ideas about how these visions can be brought to fruition and plan collaborative next steps

Kotare is a national organisation, based in Hoteo North near Wellsford, that supports social movements through the provision of workshops ( Kotare acknowledges that we are not on the ground in Otautahi/Christchurch. We are working with local people on the organising and design of this workshop.

Who For: This workshop is for people engaged in community organising and community building in Otautahi/Christchurch and the surrounding area. Suggestions of people to invite are very welcome. Numbers are limited, so get in quick!
Venue: St Ambrose Aranui-Wainoni Church hall, 309 Breezes Rd
Cost: $0-$150 sliding scale for each workshop. Please self-assess your payment and consider your means when deciding what to pay.
Registration: Registration is required.  Please register as soon as possible and no later than Friday 28th of October by contacting Tanya, contact details below.
Facilitation team: Tim Howard and Tanya Newman
If you would like to know more about the workshop, please feel welcome to contact Tanya Newman at or phone 02102769112

Thursday, 6 October 2011

achieving the outcome we want

I was sent a link to the Jerusalem Journals
The author starts the piece with the fact of the Palestine Authority submitting an application to the UN for full statehood.
She questions ‘if people want to self-define, why do they need permission from the UN or an external body?’ She goes on and says that ‘institutions are no longer the place from which we must ask permission for our autonomy.’
I found the piece really interesting, especially when placed in context with what is happening around the world at this time. And also what is happening for us locally.
A few days ago I went with others to the Community Board meeting where a delegation was putting forward the desire that we (people of Lyttelton) no longer want to solve our earthquake initiated issues by the usual method of consensus whereby we get to share our ideas with Council – they take them away, filter through them, they come up with a draft plan and then they come back to us for further comment.
There is too much at stake and we want the best outcome possible.
Their style of consensus is not giving us the best outcome. There is too much processing going on in there without constant reconnecting with the people it is effecting. We want to be partners in our destiny. We have the passion and the expertise. We no longer want some boffins with their expertise solving our issues for us – we want full involvement. We won’t be shut out.
There is a spirit that is arising around the globe as people start questioning the systems that have been in place for so long. They are largely not working effectively, causing considerable harm to the planet and are disempowering for many, people and all other species.
I listened recently to Bruce Lipton talking about using our energy wisely . He says it better than I can summarise – so go and listen. But a thing he is talking about is that we need to place our energy where we are getting an outcome that we want to achieve.
I have the feeling that many of our governing bodies are never going to produce what needs to happen. They are based on outmoded and highly inefficient systems. They are Leviathan like.
So I do even question what is the point in going to the community board to ask the question? It is polite I guess. But creating any change? I want to place my energy in a different direction. One I know that will produce results.

written by Margaret Jefferies, chair of Project Lyttelton

Friday, 30 September 2011

Lyttelton Food??

Looking at the food that surrounds us in restaurants does not entice me to eat anywhere but at home or at a shared pot luck with all the others in Lyttelton (which is pretty much always delicious, diverse and seasonal). With the occasional moment where we all make pumpkin soup because… that is what we have at the time of the year. However, wouldn’t it be great to be able to go out and converse while eating real Lyttelton food? The number one restaurant in the world is Noma in Denmark and they have created the New Nordic Cuisine Manifesto, which can be applied anywhere in the world. In fact, we should apply this Manifesto right here in Lyttelton. Have a look at the aims of the New Nordic Cuisine:

1. To express the purity, freshness, simplicity and ethics we wish to associate with our region.

2. To reflect the changing of the seasons in the meals we make.

3. To base our cooking on ingredients and produce whose characteristics are particularly excellent in our climates, landscapes and waters.

4. To combine the demand for good taste with modern knowledge of health and well-being.

5. To promote Nordic products and the variety of Nordic producers – and to spread the word about their underlying cultures.

6. To promote animal welfare and a sound production process in our seas, on our farmland and in the wild.

7. To develop potentially new applications of traditional Nordic food products.

8. To combine the best in Nordic cookery and culinary traditions with impulses from abroad.

9. To combine local self-sufficiency with regional sharing of high-quality products.

10. To join forces with consumer representatives, other cooking craftsmen, agriculture, the fishing, food , retail and wholesale industries, researchers, teachers, politicians and authorities on this project for the benefit and advantage of everyone in the Nordic countries.

“We’re not against fish, and we like meat – in fact, we’re not in any way sectarian – but plants are the DNA of the Nordic kitchen. And in a world where a billion people are starving, where global resources are under massive pressure and where we will be three billion more people by 2050, it would be great if we could spread the joy of eating vegetables,” Claus Meyer

What is the DNA of our food here?

Let your food thoughts marinate on the following photos...

Posted by Christy Martin

extended film series



Hosted at The Portal (up the driveway between the playgound and the pool off Oxford St.)

6PM: Shared meal. All welcome
7pm: Film screening.

Monday 3rd October: SCHOOLING THE WORLD
"You have an institution that is in place globally that is branding millions and millions of innocent people as failures." - Manish Jain
"these people aren't failed attempts at being us, they are unique answers to the fundamental question: what does it mean to be human and alive." - Wade Davis
A film that challenges our Western education system, especially when introduced into indigenous societies. This film helps us deconstruct our Western world view and challenges our assumptions about the success of our education system.
This film is shot in the same country as The Economics of Happiness and extends many of the themes.

A film that tells the story of a grassroots movement for localisation that is bubbling up from the cracks of a faltering global economy, in every corner of the world.
Check out the trailer here.
Back by popular demand….if you missed out the first time, make sure to catch it this time and see how Lyttelton is part of this worldwide relocalising movement. Open to discussion afterwards.

Everyone very welcome.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011


What is community? I suspect it takes many forms and has no one look about it and yet it seems to me that it must have some form that makes it different than other living things. When I think about the things it means to me, it feels like people knowing each other and having a relationship simply because of something we share – it certainly does not need to be a physical place as we all know about design communities, on-line communities, etc. and in all of these we share some sense of connection. And it is the fabric of what we share collectively that seems important to me.

In Lyttelton, here are some of the things I think we share. I would love to see others to add to my thinking as I would love to see what you think we share and what makes us a community. 
I would love to hear what others think of what makes their community as well.

I think we share a love of this beautiful environment that we live in – the steep sloping hills and the view of the harbour. I also love the fact that this is a working port and that simple fact will not allow this place to get too trendy or ritzy. I am not sure we all share this love. I think we share a love of the essence of what we all think Lyttelton is – and I don’t think we would all agree what that essence is, however, I think many of us would say its ‘gritty honesty’, its eclectic nature and its amazing creativity - in so many forms. I love that we all have different things that we love and though they are different – we are all passionately about them.

I think many people love it because this is where their family hails from for many generations and they grew up fishing off the docks, flying down the steep streets in their homemade racers, and knowing that their families are not far from them at all times. I don’t have those same memories, but they are mine as well because I have heard them so often. I can’t claim them, and I love the images just the same. I think what I love most is that I don’t ever feel alone here – that if I have a need, someone is always there to help me out.

I am a wanderer who has come upon this place and shall stay here now – my wondering has come to an end because I have found my place- my community

written by Sarah van der Burch

Sunday, 25 September 2011

seed magic

Oh Spring, you love to do this to us. Warm us up with clear, still days, lulling us into thinking we have made it through into the warmer months and then, as though unexpectedly, you send us back into wintery temperatures.
But even though it may be cold and blustery outside, we can still dream about our feet in the warm earth, plant seeds and prepare for the hard work ahead.

And if you don't believe in magic, find some seeds to plant.
A morning playing with the different shapes, sizes and colours of seeds will astonish and delight.
Doing this with a child helps.
Just slowing down and looking, we remember how dependent we are on these little bundles of potential.
Their shear abundance will convert you for sure.
Plan to save some seed in the coming season. Beans and peas are easy. Tomatoes are simple too.
Even just let some of your plants go to seed and see what happens around the base of the parent plant.
Share spare seedlings with your neighbours and friends. Always.
Supporting your local seed bank also is a great way to get a little closer to your seed; they will hold less common varieties to experiment with and have seeds better suited to your bioregion.
Check out the southern seed exchange if you are local.
Seed guardianship keeps the seeds where they belong; in the hands of gardeners and farmers or in the earth, feeding families. Corporate laboratories and distribution centres are no place for seeds of life itself and if you're not convinced watch Vandana Shiva talk about the future of food and seed and check out the NZ Food Bill 160-2 .
These will inspire you to keep going.
Whatever you choose to do in particular, choose to do the good work and take the next step.
Begin on your path of seed guardianship.

written by Jacinda Gilligan, also at

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Home Sweet Home

Everyone in Lyttelton has issues with their house after the earthquake. Maybe there are only a few cracks in the interior gib-board walls or a door and window doesn't shut, the floor is uneven and you feel constantely drunk when walking over it. There might be more serious issues with leaking roofs, collapsed foundations and unstable retaining walls. Some people had to leave their houses altogether: to wait for repairs, for destruction or rebuilding or because of rockfall threats.

Our house is still habitable, but will need large sums of money to fix up, and our insurance might well say that it is cheaper to rebuild. This suddenly has made me become more interested in the different kinds of housing that are out there.

I am not the only one. One of the silver linings after a disaster is the outside- of- the- box-thinking that happens in its aftermath. I always have been interested in modular housing, and I want to share the latest of these with you.

Here is the link to an innovative company :

Their pod-houses are either round or oblong and can be combined into different sizes.

There are many advantages to the pods:
  • no structural earthquake/hurricane/flooding damage possible
  • easy and fast to errect by only 2 people.
  • energy efficient.
  • the designs are pre-approved for use anywhere in New Zealand having been tested thoroughly during the NZ Building and Housing certification process. Building consent should be issued within 10 working days.

Even the prizes are very reasonable: $75.000 for a two bedroom house, $10.000 more for each bedroom.

As far as I can see there is one major drawback: the building material is polyethylene,- yes, the stuff we all hate as supermarket plastic bags are made out of it.

Wikipedia ( ) says about polyethylene:

'The political environment has a divided approach towards the use of plastic. As plastics are mainly based on oil or natural gas, there is a general trend, as well as political pressure, towards increased use of renewable sources...
...Other elements go in favor of increased use of plastics. The low weight reduces energy use and cost related to transportation compared to goods made from wood or paper ... In this respect, plastics are considered to have a favorable environmental profile. However, there is no clear consensus whether or not increased use of plastics reduces CO2 emissions.'
The Breezepod website says that their houses are 100% recyclable, as the whole pod, including roof is all out of the same material.
Me, I've always been a wood-person - old villas and log houses and maybe straw bale houses. I never considered living in a house made of plastic.
Look at the website and let me know what you think!

written by Bettina Evans

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

NZ Food Bill 160-2

If you live in Aotearoa and enjoy buying food at your local Farmers' Market or have a favourite roadside stall you like to frequent or if you like to swap seeds with friends at your local community garden, or, in fact if you are at all interested in the food you eat then you need to check out NZ Food Bill 160-2. 
Be prepared to be enraged. 
Below is taken from the Nexus website
What are the problems with the Food Bill?

- It turns a human right (to grow food and share it) into a government-authorised privilege that can be revoked by the Governor-General.

- It makes it illegal to distribute "food" without authorisation, and it defines "food" in such a way that it includes nutrients, seeds, natural medicines, essential minerals and drinks (including water).
- It will push up mainstream food prices by subjecting producers to red tape and registration costs. Food prices are already rising due to increased energy costs and commodity speculation, while effective disposable incomes are falling.
- Growing food for distribution must be authorised, even for "cottage industries", and such authorisation can be denied.

- Under the Food Bill, Food Safety Officers can enter premises without a warrant using all equipment they deem necessary, including guns (Clause 265 - 1). Police can be Food Safety Officers, and so can members of the private sector, as at Clause 243. So Monsanto employees can raid premises like houses or marae without a warrant, backed up by armed police.
- The Government has created this bill to keep in line with its World Trade Organisation obligations under an international scheme called Codex Alimentarius ("Food Book"). So it has to pass this bill in one form or another.
- There are problems with Codex also. Codex will place severe restrictions on the content of vitamins, minerals and therapeutic compounds in food, drinks and supplements etc. The Food Bill means that non-complying producers can be shut down easily - thus it paves the way for the legal enforcement of Codex food regulations.

What are the implications for Food Security in NZ?
- The bill would undermine the efforts of many people to become more self-sufficient within their local communities.
- Seed banks and seed-sharing networks could be shut down if they could not obtain authorisation. Loss of seed variety would make it more difficult to grow one's own food.
- Home-grown food and some or all seed could not be bartered on a scale or frequency necessary to feed people in communities where commercially available food has become unaffordable or unavailable (for example due to economic collapse).
- Restrictions on the trade of food and seed would quickly lead to the permanent loss of heirloom strains, as well as a general lowering of plant diversity in agriculture.
- Organic producers of heirloom foods could lose market share to big-money agribusiness outfits, leading to an increase in the consumption of nutrient-poor and GE foods.

If you want more, check it out herehere and here
Join with the world's poor who are also fighting similar laws in their own countries.
Sign the petition, write to your MP and generally make a racket.

Posted by Jacinda Gilligan, also at

Thursday, 15 September 2011


 The art of distillation goes back quite some time… hundreds of years. I use a hand-crafted copper distiller.

If you can imagine walking through a rose garden in full bloom or a forest of eucalyptus or peeling an orange, those beautiful scents that you inhale are similar to what it is like to distill as the "essential oil" is the essence of that plant. It is a beautiful thing to work with plants in this way. The resulting distillate is the full make-up of the plant, rather than just the essential oil, you get the fullness of the plant that you are distilling, all of it’s properties.

A few of the plants that I have distilled in the past for different purposes have been thyme, eucalyptus, rose geranium, lemon verbena, and Echinacea. Each one delicious and healing in it’s own way.

Just the other day I went for a walk and cut some fresh branches from a eucalyptus tree as you use the leaves and twigs. I went home and distilled. The result was a beautiful eucalyptus hydrosol. There are over 300 varieties of eucalyptus trees. I distilled Eucalyptus leucoxylon,    the one with the red blossoms. The following is a good resource for the various uses of eucalyptus. 

I like to use it as a house spray, for steam inhalation, to add to a footbath, creams or to washing. 

 If you are interested in distilling please let me know and we can stay in touch.

Written by: Christy Martin