Thank God it is over

November 27th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT reports:

An ear-splitting shriek of joy and relief rent the air at Dunedin’s Gigatown office last night as the city was named the winner of the Gigatown competition.

The win came after a massive online push from residents and supporters that lifted the city above its five competitors to the top of the competition.

Seconds after the annoucement, Mayor Dave Cull was at the podium in Wellington accepting the prize he said would have a real effect on Dunedin residents.

”This will affect their lives, it will affect their children’s job prospects, it will affect their educational possibilities, it will affect their medical services, it will affect their retail, it will affect every aspect of our lives.

”This will enhance the possibilities for our whole community.”


Thank God I never have to see another #giga tweet in my life.

Congrats to Dunedin for winning though. Having all residents with access to a gigabit connection will be cool.

Pro Oil and Gas Otago

January 21st, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT reports:

A group of Dunedin businesses is moving to claim the high ground as debate intensifies over the arrival of oil companies in Otago waters.

However, with Anadarko’s drilling ship, the Noble Bob Douglas, due by the end of the month, protest group Oil Free Otago has also warned more protest action could be expected.

The warning came days after a group of four Dunedin businessmen created a new group, Pro Oil and Gas Otago, to spell out their support for gas exploration off Dunedin’s coast.

The group’s Facebook page has attracted more than 1300 ”likes” since Saturday, including from pro-drilling city councillors Andrew Whiley and Mike Lord, and support was continuing to climb.

Spokeswoman Robyn Broughton, of Dunedin, said the group wanted to counter ”scaremongering” by opponents of oil and gas exploration, and planned to meet representatives from the Dunedin City Council and oil companies.

A public event designed to demonstrate the city’s willingness to embrace the industry and its potential economic benefits was being discussed, although plans were yet to be confirmed, she said.

The city had an opportunity for ”astronomical” economic benefits from a natural gas find, but public debate to date suggested the city would not welcome the industry.

”I don’t want to see my grandchildren raised in London or Europe. I want something that will encourage our young people to come home … [gas drilling] has the ability to do that,” Mrs Broughton said.

It’s nice that some people are prepared to speak up for economic growth.

Their Facebook page now has almost 3,000 likes.


14 seats to vote for is too many

October 15th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT report:

The Dunedin City Council will consider switching to a single city-wide ward and giving community boards more powers after some voters complained of being disenfranchised, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull says.

Mr Cull told the Otago Daily Times yesterday he had heard directly from up to 30 people, mainly in the Waikouaiti Coast-Chalmers ward, upset at being unable to vote for city councillors in this year’s election.

”They really resent not having a say on the whole of council, when the vast bulk of the population do.”

Wait a second. What do they mean that they didn’t get a vote? Is there some law saying that people who live in that area have to pay rates but don’t get a vote? Are the good people of Waikouaiti like the people of DC (who don’t get to vote for Congressional representation)?

Mr Cull was commenting after voters in the Waikouaiti Coast-Chalmers ward were left with no say on who would represent them for the next three years.

Incumbent Cr Andrew Noone was elected unopposed for the ward’s only seat, leaving voters in the ward able only to influence the races for the Dunedin mayoralty and Chalmers Community Board.

That’s totally different. They didn’t get a vote because no one stood. You fix that by having someone stand, not by abolishing wards.

As a result, he was ”really sympathetic” to the idea of one city-wide ward, and expected a proposal for change would be considered by the incoming council.

Such a change would allow all voters to vote for all 14 city councillors, he said.

I think that will lead to inferior decision making by voters. It is hard enough to identify three or four people worth supporting in a ward. Having to select 14 out of say 40 or so candidates will just lead to more people not voting.

I think Councils should go the other way – single Councillor wards. You vote for one Councillor for your local area, just as you vote for one MP. That way you are picking say one person out of three or four (which means you an properly research your choices) that the blind luck of 14 out of 40. or so.

The Dunedin mayoralty

October 1st, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Pete George (who is standing for Mayor) blogs:

In a televised mayoral forum current mayor Dave Cull accused me or councillors of lying about claims of Greater Dunedin councillors working together.

I believe the evidence shows that Cull is trying to blatantly mislead the public about his Greater Dunedin ‘group’, about their motives and what they have done during the current term – in other words, he appears to be the one who is lying.

The dispute is over whether the Greater Dunedin group is just a loose association or effectively a party that if they gain the majority of seats will rule the Council. There have been reports that they do meet as a caucus in the Mayor’s office with other Councillors excluded. Now any group of Councillors can meet as they like – but transparency is important. If you are a caucus, then be open about it.

Save the Cook!

January 18th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Vaughan Elder at the ODT reports:

The future of historic Dunedin student watering hole the Captain Cook is unclear.

DB Breweries’ lease of the bar runs out at the end of June, and the operations manager of Cook Brothers Bars, which subleases the bar, believed the bar would most likely close when the lease ran out.

”I would find it hard to believe that anyone would [take over the bar],” Guy Randall said.

However, Noel Kennedy, one of three directors of Orari Street Properties Investments Ltd, which owns the building, said there was no question of the Cook closing, ”and we will be fighting to make sure that never happens under our watch”. Various parties were being spoken to about taking over the lease, including DB, but ”nothing has been finalised at this point”, he said. …

The Captain Cook Tavern, known as the Cook, was established in 1860 and stands as the last of the three main student pubs in North Dunedin. The Gardens Tavern and the Bowler were earlier bought by the University of Otago, for conversion into academic facilities.

Dunedin would not be the same without the Cook. Oh, so many hours spent there. I hope it survives.


March 16th, 2012 at 5:12 pm by David Farrar

Sir Loin at Roarprawn blogs:

These men are sought in connection with a violent gang rape of Dunedin City Council ratepayers and BNZ shareholders last night. Another man, Steve Tew , is assisting police with their inquiries. Police advise members of the public that this organised criminal group is hazardous to local body financial health and should under no circumstances be approached. Any siting should be reported to 0800 ORFU FU.

“Otago Rugby Football Union Staff List and Office Holders

President Sir Eion Edgar
Vice President Adrian Read
Chairman Wayne Graham
Deputy Chairman Laurie Mains
Director Richard Bunton
Director Dave Callon
Director John Faulks 
Director Willis Paterson
Director Russell Cassidy
Director Andrew Rooney
Director John Hammer”

Heh, sadly true.

A Monarch cruise

July 9th, 2010 at 5:11 pm by David Farrar

Yesterday afternoon I spent four hours turning into an iceberg, but having a great time, on an award winning Monarch cruise along the Otago Harbour to see the sights, and especially the seal and albatross colonies.

It is a must do if in Dunedin, but do make sure you keep warm. The boat can provide jackets, but gloves are useful also.

The house with the glass house outside is the official residence of the Vice-Chancellor. It comes with the job, and looks very nice I have to say.

UPDATE: I am informed that in fact the VC’s house is slightly to the left, out of sight. The guide said it was the one with the glasshouse, but in fact it is not.

Around halfway along the peninsula, is Port Chalmers. And in the background is the historic Iona Church, built in 1883.

That building is part of Otago University – the Portobello Marine Laboratory. It hosts their Marine Studies Centre and they have the boat also. Now that would be a fun degree.

Shags galore. No Austin Powers jokes please.

The old lighthouse at Taiaroa Head.

A couple of sun bathing seals.

What a wing span, Magnificent.

An adult albatross feeding a baby one. The baby is well fed as almost as big as mum. The guide mentioned that somewhat unusually the baby gets fed by two female albatrosses and the father is missing in action!

A larger group of seals.

The water was rough – the swells got over three metres at one stage, and pretty much everyone at the front of the boat got soaked.

Also saw a penguin in the water, but didn’t manage a photo of it.

A thoroughly worthwhile cruise. I wasn’t sure about doing it, as it would take up an entire half day (so much to see in so little time), but am very glad I did. A great experience.

Otago Museum

July 9th, 2010 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

I was meant to go to Otago Museum just for the Aztec chocolate making demonstration. In a fit of good timing, it was bitterly cold and raining, so hot chocolate was most appealing.

To my surprise Otago Museum is radically different from the austere institution it was when I was living in Dunedin. There were great fun exhibits, including an indoor rainforest, and I’d put this down as a must see for anyone with kids or enjoys being a kid!

This game is called mindball and is seriously cool. Both persons put on the headbands with sensors that read your alpha and theta brainwaves. The challenge is to reduce your brain activity, ad the ball in the tube will move towards your opponent.

Now this is quite challenging as if you see yourself losing you will start to think about it, and this will make you lose even faster.

As my mind is normally multi-tasking around five things at once, and I go near suicidal when I am left without stimulus for even a few minutes, I thought I would lose badly at this game.

But it seems I have the ability to pretty much close my brain down – I was basically flat-lining the graph as I thought of nothing but the paint. So after defeating various munchkins, I retired undefeated.

As I said, they had a tropical rainforest indoors. It is kept heated to around 26 degrees which made photos hard as the lens would fog up.

And an indoor waterfall to boot, which you could go behind.

There were scores and scores of beautiful butterflies in the rainforest. You don’t see the colour when they are at rest, but when they fly they have a wonderful blue colouring.

I almost stood on this wee fellow. They don’t get the best of lives – one fell into the pond with the turtles and ended up as, well let us just say the turtles were happy with the variety in their diet.

This was also seriously fun. You use a rope to lift golf balls up the top and there are around six different ways they can travel down, through a great combination of pipes and tunnels. My favourite was when they bounce off the drum.

As I said at the beginning, this is such a cool way of getting kids interested in science, whether it be physics, chemistry or biology.

Dunedin Stadium

July 9th, 2010 at 12:28 pm by David Farrar

As sad as I am to see the end of Carisbrook, the new Dunedin stadium is exciting. If I was a ratepayer I might have some concerns over the cost, but a well located stadium does make a huge difference to a city.

Wellington would not be the place it it today if the stadium had ended up in Porirua. The location at the Railway Station is perfect.

Likewise the location of the new stadium in North Dunedin, within easy walk of 20,000 students is a big plus.

As most will know, it is going to be a covered stadium (one could do that with the cake tin also if one had a big enough bath plug), and that should help fill the seats on cold winter days.


June 21st, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

For those who don’t know, Dunedin will be hosting the NZ International Science Festival from 6 – 11 July:

Tickets are on sale now for the seventh New Zealand International Science Festival and can be purchased online at or by phoning 0800 SCIFEST.

  • Visiting experts attending the festival are Tom McFadden, a ‘science rapper’ and biologist from Stanford (USA); Tim Jarvis AM, a British Antarctic adventurer and environmental scientist; Mr Andrew Greensmith, a University of Otago graduate and specialist plastic surgeon based in Melbourne; NZ chef and author Julie Biuso and Julie Woods, known as ‘that blind woman’, who are teaming up to deliver an extraordinary ‘dining in the dark’ experience.
  • This year the festival is taking place in Dunedin over six days from 6 July – 11 July, 2010, and the theme is Everyday Science: Food for Thought.  In addition to the visiting experts, the festival involves many local organisations, volunteers, institutions, external event organisers, and a range of local and national sponsors and funders.
  • Planned events will explore the following topics: the future of our global water supply and the balance between the economy and our environment; medical advances in paediatric plastic surgery; an ‘on the edge –inspirational women in science breakfast’; why we are what we eat; greenhouse gas – no laughing matter; vitamin D deficiency – is it a concern? The festival will also host the world premiere of the recent University of Otago Medical School documentary, Donated to Science.
  • There are over 200 dynamic interactive events to interest all ages and open up the world of science to everyone.  The festival programme includes talks, films, debates and a live cabaret show, Dante’s Laboratory – Science of Sin – not to be missed. The ever-popular University of Otago Expo will take place on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 July.

I’m going to down in Dunedin for four days of the festival, and blogging about it. I wish I could spare the time for the entire week, as there look to be so many great things to go to. Some of the ones I plan to attend are:

  • When Yes Means No! How females control male reproductive success
  • Cadbury World Sensory Tour
  • The Science of Wine Making
  • On The Wild Side – Cruise with Monarch
  • Science as Art Photo Exhibition
  • Ancient Aztec Hot Chocolate Ceremony
  • The End of the Line – Sustainable Fishing Documentary
  • Dante’s Laboratory; The Science of Sin
  • On The Edge – Inspirational Women in Science
  • Exploring the South Pole
  • Café Sci – Walking the Tightrope; Balancing Our Economy and the Environment
  • Dining In the Dark Experience

Being in Dunedin is fun enough by itself. With all this stuff to go to, it will be even better.

The Nude Blacks

June 19th, 2010 at 4:59 pm by David Farrar

Tourism Dunedin informs me:

Nude Blacks provide perfect pre rugby entertainment in Dunedin

19 June 2010

Dunedin’s Nude Rugby International took place this afternoon between the Nude Blacks and the Welsh Leeks in the lead up to the last All Black test match at Carisbrook.

Fourteen naked players competed in front of a curious crowd of 300 at Logan Park, in the shadows of the under construction fixed roofed stadium Forsyth Barr Stadium at University Plaza.

Event organiser Ralph Davies from Head first Travel said “Unfortunately, the weather was fine for the game.”

“We prefer Antarctic southerlies and about three degrees just to challenge the players a bit,” he said.

The match between ‘The Nude Blacks’ and an international team was refereed by Former All Blacks Richard Loe and John Timu Past referees have included ex All Black Josh Kronfeld and a blind referee.

As with most years there was the obligatory fully clothed streaker who was escorted from the field by a nude policewoman.

Only in Dunedin!

Farewell the Gardies

June 18th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

NZPA report:

Dunedin student pub The Garden Tavern, known as Gardies, will close its doors for the final time this weekend after being sold to Otago University this year.

Up to 1500 people were expected to descend on the Castle St pub this weekend, with Saturday its last day of business, the Otago Daily Times reported.

A very sad day. May the scarfies farewell it in style.

Police-funded buses would transport students from North Dunedin to the central city to minimise the disturbance to residents, Inspector Dave Campbell of Dunedin police said.

What a very smart idea.

Editorials 23 April 2010

April 23rd, 2010 at 8:52 am by David Farrar

The Herald supports discounts for late consents:

The Government has now provided details of the stick intended to “incentivise prompt processing” of consents. If the process exceeds statutory timeframes, a council must apply a discount of 1 per cent per working day, up to a maximum of 50 per cent.

The initiative is highly welcome. Figures released by the Environment Minister, Nick Smith, illustrate how the problem has become progressively worse over the past decade.

During that period, late consents increased from 18 to 31 per cent, despite a ninefold increase from 3 to 28 per cent in consents where councils allowed themselves a 20-day extension. …

Before these regulations, councils had no incentive to process resource consents on time. Given that, it is probably unsurprising that almost a third of applications are being dealt with outside the statutory time limits.

Discounts may not deliver total satisfaction to ratepayers but, at the very least, they are a substantial step in the right direction.

I am confident the incentives to process on time will have an impact.

The Press talks volcanic gloom:

The nightmare the international aviation industry has feared for years has come to pass with the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull.

Iceland’s apparent isolation from the busiest air corridors in the world counted for little once upper-level winds conspired to blow the volcano’s massive plume of potentially damaging ash directly across much of the British Isles and on to parts of mainland Europe.

It seems preposterous for the whole world to be held to ransom by what, in geological terms, is a pipsqueak volcano.

The Dom Post looks at the UK election:

On May 6, they must decide if they want another five years under Labour, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown, or to throw in their lot with his rivals, the Tories’ David Cameron or the Liberal Democrats’ Nick Clegg. Until last week, opinion polls showed the Conservatives at or about 38 per cent, Labour about 31 per cent and the Lib Dems on about 20 per cent. Things changed markedly, however, last Friday.

That was when party leaders engaged in the first of three live TV debates, a first in Britain. Opinion polls since show a remarkable shift. This week, a Populus poll for The Times, for example, showed Mr Clegg’s party had risen 10 points in a week to 31 per cent, Labour down five on 28 per cent, and the Tories down four on 32 per cent.

The latest daily YouGov poll has Conservative 34%, Lab 29%, Lib Dems 28%. This would give Labour the most seats.

Even if the Lib Dems do not do major damage to the Tories on May 6, Mr Cameron’s party reportedly needs a national swing greater than any modern leader has achieved, in order to win even a single-seat majority.

It will be tough for them to get a majority, rather than just a plurality.

The ODT fights for Dunedin Hospital:

The threats to Dunedin Hospital and consequently to Dunedin itself, the Dunedin School of Medicine and the people of the South keep recurring.

Dunedin regularly has to staff the ramparts and fight for its hospital’s advanced status and that battle might soon begin again. Neurosurgery services, so often threatened in the past, are under fire with proposals that all six South Island neurosurgeons be based in Christchurch. …

As Dunedin School of Medicine dean Dr John Adams said this month, the loss of neurology has the potential to affect the whole teaching environment.

The service deals with about 350 patients a year, including scheduled surgery and, most significantly, emergency treatment. In accident situations, for example, it is a very long way from Te Anau or Invercargill to Christchurch, even by helicopter, when half an hour can be crucial to survival.

Dunedin to be flooded

April 13th, 2010 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT alarms:

Dunedin could face some stark choices by the end of the century, with sea-level rise expected to force either the retreat from, or complete evacuation of, South Dunedin, St Kilda and St Clair.

Dunedin will just be one giant swimming pool!

A report on climate change and its effect on Dunedin includes a prediction of an upper level for sea-level rise of 1.6m by 2090.

Okay that is 1600 mm over 80 years which is an average rise of 20 mm a year.

Predicting the upper range for sea-level rise was also “problematic”, he said, with the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggesting 0.6m, but more recent research suggesting 1.6m was a more prudent prediction.

I prefer to wait for the IPCC to update their report, rather than have people cherry pick individual more alarmist pieces of research.

The IPCC report said that the likely increase in sex levels was 180 to 590 mm, which is an average rise of 1.8 to 5.9 mm a year – between one tenth and one third of what the ODT story reports.

So how likely is a sea level rise of a massive 20 mm a year?

What has been the rise so far in NZ?

Consequently, sea levels around New Zealand have risen on average 1.8 mm/year over the last 40 years with the total sea level rise over the last century of 0.17 m.

So the rise over the last 100 years has been 1.7 mm a year and last 40 years has been 1.8 mm a year. So that is 10% of the 20 mm Dunedin will be flooded scaremongering.

Now in the last 17 years, sea level rises have been greater – an average 3.1 mm a year. That is consistent with the IPCC 590 mm increase, but still a long way off the 1600 mm talked about in the ODT article.

Also one has to understand that to get an average of 20 mm a year over 80 years, you need quite massive increases in the latter section to make up for the current slower rises.

If you assume a linear increase in the average annual rise, then the amount of annual rise has to increase by 0.45 mm a year. What this means is that by 2020 the rise will be 7 mm/yr, by 2030 12 mm/yr and by 2090 it would be 39 mm/yr.

Is anyone willing to bet money that by 2020 the average sea level rise will be 7 mm/yr?

Backbenches in Dunedin

April 13th, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The live-to-air pub politics TV show is heading to Dunners for a Dunedin special.

WHEN: April 14, Wednesday night at 9.10 pm ( come around 8-30)

WHERE: The Robbie 374 George St, Dunedin


The Mayor and other guests in the audience..come for a beer!


Editorials 3 March 2010

March 3rd, 2010 at 1:01 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald wants the driving age raised even further:

This is a very conservative Government. If there was any doubt about the caution of John Key’s Cabinet it has been dispelled by its decision on the driving age.

Last year its transport officials floated the possibility of raising the age from 15 to 16 or 17 with restrictions until age 18. In January the Herald canvassed its readers on the subject.

The vast majority, 80 per cent of a Nielsen survey of 2300 people, thought the age should be at least 18. A few, 6.5 per cent, thought it should be 20. The Government’s decision: 16.

Personally I am glad the Government did not raise the age to 18 because of responses to an online survey.

I’ve always said tying it to the school leaving age is sensible,

The Dom Post says welfare is a safety net not a right

First it was Christchurch’s Harris family. Theirs is one of the homes into which the taxpayer deposits about $1000 a week in welfare benefits, and who have gained $30,000 extra in “special” benefits since 2000, because they persuaded Work and Income that they “needed” new tyres for their 2007 Chrysler saloon, and to fence a swimming pool at a property they own in the city.

Now it is Benjamin Easton, a man who cheerfully admitted last week that he was quite capable of earning, but who has chosen instead to live on the dole and rent a council flat. He was doing so, he said, so he could bring “the people’s challenge to the courts”

Benjamin will be having his say at Backbenches tonight, and of course he is also commenter here.

The Press examines South Canterbury Finance:

Since the company known today as South Canterbury Finance (SCF) made its first loan in 1926, it has grown to become one the largest finance companies in New Zealand.

Over this period it has played an important role in providing capital to businesses and individuals, especially in the South Island. Like so many other finance companies, however, SCF has struggled during the recent recession, and made a loss of $154.9 million in the second half of last year. But unlike many of these other companies, it is controlled by a millionaire in Allan Hubbard, who has the confidence and the means to produce a rescue package for SCF.

The deal announced this week is consistent with the commitment given by Hubbard last year when he said he would be prepared to use his personal wealth, which the National Business Review “rich list” put at $550m last year, to back his company. …

Hubbard is renowned not for high-living but for being a generous philanthropist and a businessman with integrity. And that integrity was visible this week in the rescue package for SCF and its 40,000 investors.

Give that man a knighthood!

The ODT is not impressed with Airways Corp:

Dunedin International Airport chief executive John McCall has every reason to be outraged after jet flights last Thursday night were diverted to Invercargill because no traffic controller was available.

Here is an essential service, supplied by the government-owned Airways Corporation, that did not deliver.

That failure not only inconvenienced 237 passengers and many of their friends and relatives, but also trashed the reputation of the airport and the city.

Diverting the passengers to Invercargill is surely cruel and inhumane punishment!

Why the Sevens will stay in Wellington

February 7th, 2010 at 11:40 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post is worried:

The vultures are circling. As the Wellington sevens kicked off in bright sunshine yesterday (is it ever any different in the capital?) word emerged that both Auckland and Dunedin are contemplating bids for host rights to the New Zealand leg of the international sevens circuit when it comes up for grabs again in 2012.

I don’t think there is any need to worry.

The Sevens won’t go to Auckland for two reasons:

  1. No one will turn up
  2. No one will notice they are on

Auckland is notoriously unreliable when it comes to attending sporting events. And the Sevens are more than a sporting event – they are a two day festival, and part of the festival is seeing people all through town in their costumes. You won’t in Auckland.

As for Dunedin, you have to be crazy to hodl the Sevens in Dunedin.

In one sense Dunedin would be a great venue. The venue would sell out easily, and the locals would definitely love dressing up and attending. It could almost do as well as Wellington.

But the problem is that half of Dunedin would get burnt to the ground, as the cost of hosting it.

Students (and others) in Dunedin start burning couches and generally rioting after just a couple of hours of drinking. You’d have to be mad to want to host a game which is basically two days of non-stop drinking rugby.

Can you imagine 25,000 students and others pouring out of the stadium after NZ wins (or loses) the Sevens. George Street would disappear in the rioting.

New Dunedin slogan needed

January 13th, 2010 at 1:35 pm by David Farrar

The ODT reports:

“I am Dunedin” is to be dropped as Dunedin’s slogan and a nationwide search is now on for a new slogan and promotional strategy.

I am Dunedin is rather lame. Dunedin is not – Dunedin is great, but the slogan is lame. Still not as bad as that Auckland Eh slogan a few year ago.

Wellington is lucky to have struck a great slogan a couple of decades ago, and doesn’t need to keep looking for new ones.

The Dunedin Stadium

April 1st, 2009 at 10:41 am by David Farrar

Douglas to Dancing covers a meeting about the Dunedin Stadium, where an estimated 1,800 opponents turned up.

I was there when the meeting was held, and not surprised they got 1,800. Almost every shop in town carried posters advertising it. Now normally it is the commercial sector that most favours stuff like stadiums as they get the tourism benefits. The fact so many local businesses think it costs way too much, let alone the residents, suggests it is seriously lacking in support.

The meeting called for Rodney Hide as Local Government Minister t scrutinise the decision making process around the stadium. It will be interesting to see what Rodney does.

Dunedin photos

March 29th, 2009 at 9:34 am by David Farrar


The lovely view from the Otago University Staff Club. Almost enough to make you want to become an academic.


Auckland Girl looking lovely.


And this is Austrian Girl, who accompanied me to the wedding, despite the fact we only met on Friday 🙂

The wedding was great, as weddings tend to be. I got to make the Best Man speech, which went well despite a total lack of written notes. Mark Blumsky was a superb marriage celebrant and it was just one of those great days.

I’m surprisingly healthy this morning, despite three days of reasonably non stop festivities. Even went for a jog to shake off the black russians.

Don’t fly back to Wellington until Monday, so today will be a nice rest day. I have to say everytime I visit Dunedin again, I remember how much I used to love living here. If I was a member of the Green Party I would make it compulsory for all university students to study at Otago. It’s a great campus, culture and city.

World Famous in Dunedin

March 28th, 2009 at 10:32 am by David Farrar

Had a great night out on the town in Dunedin last night. Started the socialisation at the University staff club around 3 pm having caught up for an old mate, Ross Blanch, for the first time in around 19 years. Ross was elected OUSA President in 1986 in a by-election when the then President quit to join the Labour Research Unit. Ross was actually declared the loser by one vote on the day voting ended (which prompted much alcohol to drown sorrows), but then the next day in the recount they found one vote had been placed in the wrong pile, and he then won by one vote (which prompted much alcohol to celebrate).

Nowadays he is very respectable managing the Clubs and Socs Centre, and is filling in for a year as the General Manager of OUSA. After drinks at the staff club with Ross and Andrew Geddis, I headed to the Cook to meet bloggers Bryce Edwards and Geoffrey Miller. Geoffrey does the ACT Watch blog “From Douglas to Dancing” and is just visiting Dunedin from Germany where he normally resides. Also in the group was a young Austrian socialist, who is here as part of her “masculinity studies” academic research. What a great research topic I thought – so she gets to study Kiwi males out on the town 🙂

After a few drinks at the Captain Cook we went to Mou Very – the self titled Smallest Bar in the Universe.

It was here that the Austrian gained the impression that I am a famous person. As we squeezed through the alleyway, a guy in the alleyway looked at me and asked if I was David Farrar. Then as we went outside, I had a brief chat with the owner (who I had done some polling for in 2007 when he stood for Mayor). Then we sat down on the pavement seats and were engaged in an animated discussion when a gentleman walking past stopped and asked the group if one of us was David Farrar, as he had heard me on National Radio but did not know what I looked like. God – I know my voice can be distinctive but that is weird to be recognised on voice alone. The gentleman was actually visiting from Timaru. Then finally a few minutes after that a IT tech and his girlfriend passed by and greeted me.

We then headed further south to the Octagon and went to Pequeno, where the stag party had been the night before. The waitress of course greeted me by name, further cementing the impression everyone in Dunedin knows me. We then took a corner booth and had several rounds of cocktails.  Pequeno is a gorgeous hidden away bar, and I recommend it thoroughly to anyone else visiting NZ.  The booths even have curtains around them so you can have total privacy. Mind you the staff were a bit alarmed, when we pulled the curtains so we could take a photo of our Austrian colleague’s tatoo!

I am technically half Austrian, so was interesting to talk to about Vienna, as I am planning to visit there next year.

Finally got home on Saturday morning. Partying in Dunedin is proving to be very tiring, and I may need a holiday to recover from it!

Key in Dunedin

August 14th, 2008 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT reports on John Key’s visit to NZ. Dunedin is the most left voting city in New Zealand, so the report is interesting:

An assured National Party leader John Key kept to the party message during a visit to Dunedin yesterday.

He showed no signs of any nervousness about the forthcoming election campaign.

In earlier visits to Dunedin, Mr Key appeared to lack some self-confidence and had leaned heavily on the local knowledge of list MP Katherine Rich as he was introduced around the traps.

Speaking without notes, Mr Key delivered from memory the bulk of the speech he gave at the recent party conference in Auckland.

Questions posed to him by members of the Otago Chamber of Commerce attending the “meet the leaders” forum were answered without hesitation.

A number of people have said that John is often far better speaking without notes.

But it was out on the street that Mr Key showed how much he had grown as a campaigner.

During walks in the lower half of the Octagon, George St and the Meridian shopping centre, Mr Key (without being accompanied by Mrs Rich) had no problem walking up to people, shaking their hands and exchanging pleasantries.

Ducking and diving into shops and over to people walking along the street, he showed a campaigning prowess he had not previously demonstrated in the city.

On walking into a hairdressing business, Mr Key was handed the telephone and proceeded to have an impromptu conversation with a caller.

He finished by telling the manager the appointment was all booked in.

People called out, “Good luck, John”, as he walked along George St.

I wouldn’t get too excited about this, and start predicting two two Dunedin seats are about to become marginal, but as I said this is a very leftish city not known for welcoming National leaders.

In another ODT story, they report that it is highly likely National’s list (due on Sunday) will result in at least one National MP in Dunedin.

The good old Captain Cook

July 10th, 2008 at 3:03 pm by David Farrar

Oh what memories this story in the ODT brings back of the Captain Cook and life in Dunedin.

The twice-yearly Cook-a-thon at the Captain Cook Tavern in Dunedin was a colourful and fun affair yesterday, marred by 10 arrests for mostly disorderly behaviour offences later in the afternoon.

More than 1000 students dressed in outfits from power rangers, male fairies, a policeman in speedos to Oompa Loompa’s to celebrate the start of the University of Otago second semester.

Hundreds queued for the 10am Cook-a-thon start, with about 500 in the tavern by noon, paying $25 for a T-shirt, jug of beer and three meals during the day.

Those not wanting to queue set up parties in Clyde and Castle Sts.

I was interviewed by the lovely folks from Road Trip Nation in Wellington yesterday, and by coincidence quite a bit of the conversation was about my university years and life at Otago. It really is a unique experience. I can never work out why people study anywhere else 🙂