Sunday, 7 December 2008

A really special gift

First stop on Thursday was the Christchurch office of the New Zealand Council of Social Services to meet Sharon and for Conor to generate even more paper for the Seminar. I went to the pharmacy for more lemsips - both Conor and I still not right! Sharon was up to her eyes in press calls. The council had increased rents on their social housing by 24%. ChchCOSS had taken them to court claiming that they had not followed due process. The court had agreed, and the high profile mayor was loudly and publicly throwing his toys out of the pram.

The final seminar was held in a very beautiful community house that in one incarnation had been a youth hostel. It was also a beautiful day so we made the most of the garden too.

Q - Why do Kiwi's always take their shoes off?
A - Because they can!

The seminar was opened by Wally, a Kaumatua in training. While I don't understand Maori the words of welcome and blessing are melodic and I had kicked off my shoes, sat on the window seat enjoying both the breeze and Wally's words. I came back to earth - but not my shoes - when I was asked to join Wally for a presentation. Conor and Jane had arranged a truly beautiful pounamu (greenstone) for me and had had it delivered to Sharon so that it could be blessed and presented. It is a Koru - an unfurling fern that denotes new beginnings, growth and harmony. After blessing the pendant Wally put it over my head and I shed some tears. Jane and Conor - it is a truly wonderful gift and absolutely a treasure. Thank you so much.

The Seminar was another success - though this one generated the first comment that my contribution wasn't relevant to what was important in the sector in NZ. Not a bad response from about 100 participants across the conference and the three seminars. Generally all of the feedback has been positive providing a great basis for Workplace Wellbeing to develop and expand on the issues that have been covered. It's great for me that I have had the opportunity to be part of it all.

From the seminar we adjourned to the Oasis Hotel, officially to debrief and meet up with Sharon's sister Fiona but actually for long, cold G&T's - well deserved! From the hotel we went back to the motel to collect my and Conor's luggage and to drop off Anne who was staying another night before flying home to Sydney the next morning. Hugs and astonishment - Anne will be 67 in a couple of months! She's planning to retire in a year or so. Hope I look that good at 66!

Sharon then took Conor and I to her house at Waikuku beach where Murray, her husband, was organising the BBQ. After a great meal we went for a walk on the beach and I got some pictures of a spectacular sunset. Caught a glimpse of Muggsy the cat but she was in the huff - doesn't take quickly to strangers!

Yet another night when I was asleep as my head hit the pillow.........

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