Matariki 2022

The none stars of Matariki

It’s now Saturday June 25th. Kia ora!

I haven’t written for several days. We went to Napier and saw my daughter there, but it’s been wild and cold weather this past week; not so cold now, though.  It was very good to see her: she’s very well, and wearing (and keeping on) warm clothes! It was strange in Napier:  Café de Laos and The Boardwalk Restaurant seemed to be permanently closed, despite having been busy and seemingly thriving concerns. The motels all had No Vacancy signs out, but when we went shopping on Wednesday there were very few people in the shops.  At Farmers I bought two pairs of gloves, and two very soft jerseys, one for me (pale green), and one for her – blue! She tried it on, and opted to wear it. We had lunch at a busy café, and dined at the restaurant where we were staying. There were other diners there, but we were well spaced out.

The IDP meeting was held via zoom. I fired up my computer early, and it worked just fine – probably the best zoom session I’ve had. All attendees zoomed in. Then we took our RAT tests – negative, thankfully, and went to pick up our daughter – not going into her house.  It’s good to see that Hōhepa are still taking measures to minimise contact, and keep everyone safe.

In Napier there seemed to be very few people wearing masks, except in shops and cafés. But then, their Covid 19 infections are much fewer than here in Wellington.

It was a rushed trip, but our motel had a quiet heat pump, and a spa bath as well as a separate shower. It also had rather nice toiletries. We ate delicious omelettes on the way north, having driven past my favourite café – sadly, closed. On our return, we went to a café we’d been to and enjoyed previously – now under new management, but the food was all right.

The new Transmission Gully highway is superb!  I think it’s wonderful, and the expressway is ever inching closer from Pekapeka to Te Horo; there are changes around Otaki, too, both before and afterwards. Perhaps next time we drive north this road will be completed. There are lots of road improvements along the way, too – and lots of trucks.

The January 6 Committee hearings have been mesmerising, as each new showing builds on the previous one’s revelations. Ones that spring to mind immediately include the testimony of Rusty Bowers of Arizona, the testimony of Shaye Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman; and yesterday, the testimony of Rich Donohue and others at the Department of Justice. It is all just horrifying, and most of the testimony comes from Republicans, who were loyal Trumpists. The Committee is still gathering testimony. What happens next?  The FBI has executed search warrants on the home of Jeffrey Clark, the man Trump was going to make Acting Attorney General. While we are digesting the startling and terrifying implications of this, I learnt this morning that the US Supreme Court has rescinded Roe, making abortion illegal in the US; furthermore, Justice Clarence Thomas has warned that other rights are in his sights: gay marriage, contraception, and some sex acts. At this unbelievable news, we are all reeling. In the US, there are, predictably, huge protests. While I would prefer not to have an abortion, it happens, and it should be safe and legal – the state has nothing to do with personal morality.

Yesterday was Matariki,  celebrated for the first time as a public holiday. In Napier, there were bonfires set up along Marine Parade. I am not one for early morning starts, but there were celebrations all around New Zealand.

Today we went shopping at New World in Thorndon. It wasn’t too busy. There were no raspberries, alas, and no potato-topped pies, but there were good salads. We got bread and ice cream, and bought pies for lunch. 

Yesterday there was no Covid 19 report, so today’s report covered yesterday as well. There are 8,638 new community cases, and there have been 24 deaths. There are 316 people in hospital, including 4 in Intensive Care. The total number of deaths is now 1,455.

Eleven of those who died were in their 80s, and seven were aged over 90. One person was in their 50s, one in their 60s, and four were in their 70s. Thirteen were men and 11 were women. Most of those who died were from the North Island: six from Auckland, three each from Waikato, Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki, and one each from Bay of Plenty, Wairarapa and Wellington.

The new community cases detected over the past two days are in Northland (217), Auckland (2693), Waikato (522), Bay of Plenty (295), Lakes (131), Hawke’s Bay (256), MidCentral (256), Whanganui (94), Taranaki (195), Tairāwhiti (76), Wairarapa (99), Capital and Coast (811), Hutt Valley (338), Nelson Marlborough (343), Canterbury (1401), South Canterbury (93), Southern (723) and the West Coast (90). Five cases are people from unknown areas. There were also 211 new cases at the border over the past two days.

So the totals are still pretty crazy.  A friend of mine went to a family gathering last weekend, and many of them have Covid 19. 

It’s now Sunday June 26th.

This morning I went to church. There were few people there, but it was quite wonderful. We had lots of organ playing, including a Trumpet Voluntary by John Stanley played at the end of the service. A friend of mine who passed away recently had told the organist she would like this played at her funeral; in the event, there wasn’t a funeral service at the church for her, but it was lovely to hear this played. I looked up the composer on my phone, to find that he went blind from an accident when he was two.  Nevertheless, he was a fine composer and organist.

The sermon today was interesting; the gospel text was the last verses of Luke chapter 9, where Jesus seems unfeeling in telling would-be disciples to follow him, and not bury one’s father or say goodbye to one’s family. The point the minister made was that Jesus would take care of things, provided one put Him first.  The minister also spoke very carefully about the Supreme Court ruling in the US, where the Roe v Wade ruling has been overturned. He spoke about the difficulty of loving those with very different political views. The other reading was from Galatians 5, about loving one’s neighbour as oneself. I have to think that the Supreme Court’s ruling demonstrates supreme cruelty to women, and a lack of trust in their ability to make decisions. JD and I spoke about our decision-making when I was expecting our daughter, and the risk (admittedly small), that she would be handicapped (as it turned out, she was).  This was not a difficult decision for us; we would not terminate the pregnancy, but we were given medical information in a non-judgmental way; our decision, our chosen way forward would be respected whatever it was.  We might have to wrestle with our consciences, but the state, far from condemning us, would provide suitable medical care and support.

The actress Sharon Stone has spoken movingly about her experience of miscarriage, that it is both a physical and emotional kind of grief and distress. Surely there should be sympathy for women in these situations, where the whole experience of child-bearing (and child-rearing) is fraught with mixed emotions – mainly joy, but also pain and discomfort; although reliable contraception is more readily available, the whole process is random. All one can do, really, is not use contraception, and leave the rest to God/nature/chance or whatever you believe in. It’s so ironic that the time of ovulation (the peak time for getting pregnant) is the time when the woman tends to feel most like having sex.

Later, in Prayers for Others, the person doing this named and spoke about the stars of Matariki.  She also spoke about floods in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and in China too. I thought she spoke very well.

After church, seeing that I’d missed my bus, I had morning tea – a long black coffee and a cheese scone. Then I went to catch the next bus. It was fine and sunny by now. When the bus came, it rushed past me and past the bus stop! I had to walk very fast to catch the bus, hoping that one of the passengers on board would ask the driver to wait for me.

The Covid 19 report for today is as follows: there are 4,429 new community cases, and there’ve been 6 deaths. There are 332 people in hospital, and 7 of them are in Intensive Care.

Of the deaths, it’s reported that one person was in their 50s, one in their 60s, two in their 70s, and two aged over 90. Five were male and one was female. Three were from the Auckland region, two were from Canterbury, and one was from Waikato.

There were more new community cases reported in the Canterbury (741) and Capital and Coast (413) DHBs, than in the Auckland region, where 409 cases were reported. Today’s other new community cases were reported in the Northland (91), Waikato (274), Bay of Plenty (129), Lakes (65), Hawke’s Bay (121), MidCentral (122), Whanganui (39), Taranaki (105), Tairāwhiti (20), Wairarapa (48), Hutt Valley (169), Nelson Marlborough (185), South Canterbury (76), Southern (356) and West Coast (29) DHBs. There were also 86 cases recorded at the border. Those numbers remain stubbornly high.

In Ukraine, the war drags on. There seems to be a great deal of misinformation. Lithuania is not allowing passage to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad (formerly Konïgsberg),  and consequently Putin has threatened them. However Lithuania is a member of NATO, and so they shouldn’t be too afraid. President Zelensky continues to travel around his country, and bravely address the nation every night, as the war drags on. More effective weapons have arrived, reportedly, but distribution and training are an issue, before they can be used effectively. Putin is rumoured to have changed his military command yet again. Threats and brutality continue. Russian forces are said to be in control of the city of Sievierodonetsk. This situation is just so sad, while Vladimir Putin looks increasingly unwell. What a strange place the world is.

That’s it for now.  We hope the Covid 19 figures will improve here, as many activities try to run themselves again after two and a half years of cancellations and postponements.  What a handbrake Covid 19 has been. Till next time. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

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