Lock, Stock and two smoking barrels

Well two barrel lock sets actually… I’ll fire the proof reader later.

Knowing as I do how much you really look forward to the latest Land Rover repair and maintenance post; here’s another.  I have successfully fitted two door locks to the magnificent machine.

When I purchased the Landy it had no door locks.  Apparently it’s not uncommon for these ex Army ones not to be fitted with door locks.  I suppose the soldiers take their guns and wallets with them when they leave the vehicle.  I suppose also they rely on the enemy not being dishonest and nicking their vehicles when they’re all asleep in their tents at night.

I’m sadly not so trusting.  I like to be able to leave it parked with a small chance that it’ll be still in the same place when I return to it.

So I fitted some locks.  Another mechanical miracle.  I am becoming quite the mechanic.

There is the small issue of the fact that neither door window can be locked and it’s a canvas topped ute, so you can climb in the back… but one step at a time.

Oh and a friend has suggested a name for the beast.  I’ve not given it one yet.  Josh suggested Landy Calrissian.  I thought it rather clever and may yet adopt it.


I think I might change my name to Colin.



I’ve given myself a scare this week.  I have successfully replaced the speedometer cable in my Land Rover.  As in, I did it.  By myself. Me.

I took the mighty machine (for those living under a rock it’s a 1985 ex Army V8 Land Rover Series III 109) into the local Land Rover specialists to have the indicator stalk replaced.  When I used the indicators the headlights would go off.  This made for some rather exciting night driving as you can imagine.  I was sick of trying to drive on only straight roads.  When I collected the Landy from the mechanics it has a shiny new indicator and all systems were go, but for the absence of any speedometer reading.

The cable had broken in the act of removing the instrument panel.

The chap at the mechanics grabbed a new cable and asked me whether I was ‘very mechanically minded’.  I think he mistook my look of horror and bewilderment as assent.  He sold me a new cable and gave me some hurried instructions on how to perform the replacement task.

I returned home (at a speed never to be known) and consulted my Repair Operation Manual Issue 2 Land Rover Series III.  Every home has a copy.   It showed a lovely little diagram, similar to the ones I saw in my youth for assembling model aircraft.  I never managed them by the way.  I always ended up with the glue stuck on my hands and the Humbrol paint over the cockpit window.

I then set to the task at hand.  The first thing that became apparent was that the diagram omitted to show the other wires and cables and engine looking things surrounding the cable.  There were quite a few of these and I daresay they were important and necessary.  I resolved to try and leave them alone.

I was prepared for much swearing, some cursing and generally a tantrum followed by a trip back to the mechanics.

To my absolute surprise (and believe me here. I was very surprised) I was able to make the repair.  For some unknown reason I had the right tools for the job, I have no recollection of ever having purchased them nor where I learned of their use.

I was able to insert part A into part B and all of that.

Things went where they were supposed to and I didn’t end up with a small pile of nuts, bolts and springs at the end.

I took the beast for a test drive and it worked.  The bloody thing worked!

I’ve decided that I shall now have to change my name to Colin (I am of the opinion that all Land Rover enthusiasts are called Colin and have thick glasses and a serious knowledge of all things Solihull).

(The truth is, is that I am worried.  I am worried I’ll end up buying a pair of overalls, and I’ll start listening to the radio as I’m adjusting something beneath the bonnet.  But no.  I am not that person… that’s Colin).20160131_142131_24095903864_o

Marking Five Years Since the Earthquakes Began

Today marks five years since the first big earthquake that hit my hometown, Christchurch.

It doesn’t take long for me to evoke the memories of the shaking and noise that we woke to in the wee hours of 4 September 2010.  The fear, the need to calm our children, the certainty that we needed to get out of our seaside home and up the hill and away from any tsunami.  The adrenaline, the cold, the exhaustion of the aftershocks and the sheer relief when the daylight came and we saw the damage to the city but learned that no one had been hurt.

How quickly that was to change.  The subsequent aftershocks, the death of my mother five days later and then the separate and more devastating quakes that were to come.

It was a truly surreal time.  We lived through what we described at the time as “the new normal” with interruptions to services, infrastructure and nearly every part of our lives.

I wouldn’t wish those events on anyone.

I’d like to say we are a better city and country for having survived it all.  Certainly in the period after the quakes we took more care of each other, we looked in on our neighbours, we shovelled liquefaction, we took more time to appreciate each other and less on material crap.

How quickly we seem to have forgotten all that.

There are many who have used the disaster to line their own pockets. In the case of the government they’ve cynically used the quakes to drive their repulsive neo-liberal agenda, closing schools relocating services and generally disenfranchising Cantabrians from any real say or role in the rebuild of our city.

But we are lucky.  We survived and our lives have returned to normal. We live in a country that has the financial resources and framework to rebuild.  The city is healing and it is not surprising that it is doing so despite all the delays.

Humans are resilient creatures overall.

It’s interesting to note that this anniversary comes at a time when the world is facing the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War.  That disaster is entirely the result of human greed and aggression.

Perhaps a great way to say thank you to all those who helped us at our time of need would be to help those who need us now?

Donate to the Red Cross Appeal for Syria


Another post about the post. This one is the last post (about the post)

So I am whole again.  My passport arrived this morning, by the hand of our wonderful local courier, Josh.

(You may need to read my earlier post about the post to make sense of this entry)

I managed yesterday  to get through to that one person at NZ Post in Auckland who was able to physically go and sight the parcel.

It was not damaged (at all!!).   Look at the photo below.

So the nine day delay and subsequent belly acid was all for nothing.

I could rant, I could rage… or I could just accept that such things happen.   Someone somewhere was following a procedure, a process, a rule.

It could have been worse.  Life is worse for so many others, I get to visit Uganda for the first time.  That’ll be interesting.

All is well again in my universe.

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So here’s a post about (NZ) Post

I’d prefer not to have to write this post.  But I need to record it.  After all it has been weighing on my mind all week and is driving me mental.

NZ Post have got my passport.  They’ve had it for 8 days and I am having some trouble getting it back.

It is (as far as I know) sitting in a building in Auckland at the moment, rather than on my desk with my travel papers.

I sent it to the Ugandan High Commission in Canberra, Australia, in order to get a visa for entry into that country.  I am attending an Ease of Doing Business conference in Kampala next week.

I sent my passport along with other requisite items and payment to the High Commission last week.  Part of the package included a self-addressed envelope and payment for a courier return. I purchased one of NZ Post’s plastic self sealing envelopes for the return voyage.

I factored in that things might be a little tight given the ANZAC Day holiday but figured that I’d be OK overall.

I began to get a little anxious earlier last week and established from the very helpful person at the High Commission that it had been dispatched to me on 23rd April 2015.  I was able to obtain the tracking number from them also.

When I entered this into the NZ Post system it happily tells me that my package arrived in New Zealand on Sunday 26th April.

So on Friday morning (having waited for the courier to no avail) I contacted NZ Post via their live chat service.  They advised that the parcel had been damaged and that it was sitting at the Christchurch depot.

Courier Post (1)

I telephoned NZ Post and sought more information but was told that it was in Christchurch but that they couldn’t put me through to the depot.

So I drove to the Courier Post depot at the airport, only a 40 minute drive each way.  Was told that the parcel had been among others that had been saturated and had been sent back to NZ Post for damage assessment.

I said that I’d pop over to NZ Post and chat to them (their postal centre is around the corner at the airport), but was told that the parcel had been returned to the damage team in Auckland.

I have now spent three additional days telephoning the NZ Post contact centre trying to get someone to understand that I need to know whether the passport is damaged (as I’ll therefore need to urgently get a replacement) or whether it is just the packaging and that I just really need my passport.  If it’s just damaged packaging they can repack it and I could have it overnight.  All would be wonderful.

Each time I ring I get a different, very polite and attentive person but each time nothing happens.  Things get logged into computers, people make notes as to the urgency of the matter but nobody, not one person actually understands and follows up.

The person I spoke to this morning told me that the parcel is back in Auckland and was in the building that she was talking to me from.

I am really sick of talking to contact centre staff.

I want to find one person at NZ Post with the initiative to take off their headphones and walk to the damaged parcels room, talk to the person there, find my parcel, look at it and call me…

That’s what will make the difference.


Like so many young New Zealanders, Katherine and I have made the pilgrimage to ANZAC Cove in Turkey.

We visited in 1993 as part of our big OE (overseas experience) year.

It was a sobering experience and one I was pleased to have made. We went on an organised tour of the sites of the major battles.  It was a very long day and I remember struggling to take in the statistics on the number of deaths, the wounded and the futility of the whole thing.  Much was made of the clever way in which the allied forces escaped under subterfuge.

I remember later in our travel going on to the battlefields of France and reading of men who had survived the horror of Gallipoli only to be slaughtered on their first day in France. Senseless waste.

It is important that we stop and think about the wars that have marked our civilisation especially those described as World Wars.

We have learned so little and I find the recent statements by the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand on the anniversary of this event to justify sending personnel to Iraq to be truly repugnant.  New Zealand could do so much more to set an example and to provide humanitarian assistance.

Gallipoli2 Gallipoli1 Gallipoli Gallipoli6 Gallipoli5 Gallipoli4 ANZAC Cove

Some thoughts on the late Lynn Saunders

This 27 January marks the 12th anniversary of the death of Lynn Austin Saunders.  Lynn was my first ever ‘real’ boss and a registry-man of some repute.

I thought it might be nice to record a few words about the man.

At the time of his death, in 2003, Lynn was the Regional Manager of the Insolvency and Trustee Service.  Formerly he had been the Regional or District Manager of both the Companies Office and Insolvency Service for Christchurch and surrounds.  He had a long career in the public service, he had served nearly 40 years.

Lynn was a rather remarkable man.  He was a significant mentor of mine and I believe we grew to become friends over the years.  We were sort of neighbours in that he lived in the port suburb of Lyttelton and I over the hill in Sumner.  Lynn had grown up in Sumner.

When I applied for a role with the Commercial Affairs Division of the Department of Justice it was Lynn and another legendary chap Robin MacDuff (the office solicitor) who interviewed me for the role. I remember with some amusement the interview as I had not long left the monastery, having decided that the life of a monk was not for me.  One of Lynn’s questions was to ask how I might cope should a fellow staff member use bad language.  I gave some answer or another (that must have been satisfactory).  I laugh now as I am frequently told I swear like a sailor…

I have long been of the view that there is a correlation between the effectiveness of an employee, their loyalty (and longevity) in a role and the quality of their induction.  I attribute this believe a lot to my own experience and that of others who started in their roles under Lynn’s management.  There are a number of those staff still employed by the Ministry today.

Malvern House - Lynn
Lynn in his office, Malvern House days.

Lynn had no formal university qualifications as he had pretty much worked from the moment he left school.  He was lucky in that the public service in which he worked didn’t need such things.  Lynn was extremely intelligent.  He had an incredible ability to get to the heart of an issue and to develop a strategy or process to resolve or improve it.  He was a master a business process reengineering.

Lynn was the brains behind some of the biggest changes in customer experience in the Companies Office in his day.  The ‘shuttle’ Annual Return, the ‘abstract’ or CommAff1.  He played a significant part in the development of the Companies Act 1993 and in the development of the early iterations of the Companies Office computer systems (that so much of my own life has revolved around).  What is equally impressive is that while he was contributing so generously to the New Zealand Companies Office he was doing the same for the Insolvency Service.  His capacity for work was equal only to his capacity for a beer (which was significant!).  He was always looking for the next opportunity for improvement, he contributed to national committees on nearly everything and was very well regarded by his management in Wellington.

He instilled a culture of assistance for clients rather than annoyance.  Drilling staff to ensure that they assisted a client in getting a document registered the first time rather than playing ping pong with rejection letters (Those who knew Lynn might enjoy the reference to ping pong as he had significant involvement with the Hoon Hay Table Tennis Club for many years).

He was a very supportive manager and was able to provide meaningful and constructive career (or personal) advice.

Lynn managed an office in an era where social clubs were the norm and where staff socialised regularly.  We had some ripper parties back in the day and Lynn managed always to balance the ‘party’ and the ‘boss’.

I am very grateful to him for all he taught (either overtly or through my observation), he was a wonderful man and I think of him often, I hope it says something of his leadership that I do.

Lynn as Santa. Always an office ritual in the days before political correctness.