View from other side of fence

23:15, Feb 18 2013

Having a column is nothing short of a privilege. The opportunity to voice one's thoughts to tens of thousands of people is not something I take lightly. It is in that vein I introduce myself to readers of the Manawatu Standard.

Manawatu has a special place in my history and my heart. I lived and worked in the region for six years in the 1980s and loved every minute of it.

I supped at the fountain of diesel fumes as one of New Zealand's first female locomotive assistants for the then New Zealand Railways Corporation. I went to "loco school" in Palmerston North before being posted back to my home town of Whanganui. From there, I went to Christchurch, gained experience on express trains, before finally transferring back to Palmerston North again.

Eventually I took redundancy during my electrification training - remember that? The great white hope of the rail network. "Think Big" on steel wheels. I digress, but you can be assured I have firm views on the deliberate running down of our once world-class rail system by successive governments.

From there I started working for Manawatu/Rangitikei Federated Farmers which, through a series of convoluted twists and turns, eventually led to me experiencing the giddy heights of farming politics by becoming president of Whanganui Federated Farmers in 1999. Farmers were my tribe.

My family background is both dairy and sheep farming and I felt I wanted to give something back. Ultimately, though, what I gave back was leaving most of those rural political perspectives firmly behind.


Sadly, over the last decade, I have watched successive farming leaders turn, just as we needed them most, into petulant, money-is-god, environmental-vandal excusers. The One Plan outcome, and their collective reaction to it, only serves to prove my case.

Be assured you'll be reading much more on my views about dairy farming, cow numbers, Federated Farmers, water quality and how it's all going within the context of climate change.

I also spent some years smelling the fear and sweat on fraudsters caught by my own fair hands while running my private investigation business. Interestingly, while my clients were mainly insurance companies, I learned they could be equally devious. Indeed, at times, even more so. Having been through the "Manawatu floods" (but in the Rangitikei), and losing a rural home and everything in and on it, I now have an even greater appreciation of how truly awful insurance companies can be.

Enough negativity. My one true passion is reserved for birds of prey. Falconry. I get down with the eagles, falcons and hawks on a regular basis in such exotic locales as Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The hunting is awe-inspiring. The food not so much.

Recently, the sport has become legal in this country (subject to strict regulations), so my trusty harrier hawk and I will fill you in on some of our joint rabbit hunting adventures.

All in all, I hope to show that I am more than just a one-hit wonder, one-dimensional or one-eyed. Having lived a little, and as a gay woman within that life, I aim to offer something a bit different from the straight old line. Pun intended.

My motto. Why should the boys have all the fun?

In no particular order, I like guns, pest eradication, books, opera, American trucks, well-trained dogs, raptors and the smell of aviation fuel.

An important part of my column is giving you a glimpse into my world. I never view it as a forum to unfairly bash individuals. Institutions? You betcha. People in denial? Like a shark on blood.

Nor will I use it as a vehicle to display ignorance or vitriol just for the sake of it. I'm a great believer in doing that stuff in the privacy of my own home.

However, I must be entertaining or you simply won't commit. To achieve this, racism and sexism is a road some columnists like to go down. I see that as both intellectual laziness and a cheap shot. I much prefer expensive shots.

My interests lie in a multitude of directions and my writing will mirror that. Social commentary, human behaviour, wildlife, environment, the state of our country and the planet. I guarantee you won't always feel comfy.

What I can promise you is that my writing will always reflect the premise that we are all "real" Kiwis, no matter how we look or speak or what we do for a living.

That we all have a place in this country and the world regardless of gender, income, sexual orientation, age, or race.

That we are all entitled to our views and there is no need for anyone to take things to heart if we happen to disagree. Unless you enjoy it, of course, in which case fill your boots.

Life is short. None of us will get out alive. It's not personal.

Manawatu Standard