Racin’ in the Dark …

Last Saturday the Northern Sports Car Club held its 11th annual 6-Hour Endurance Race at the Pukekohe Race Track, just south of Auckland http://www.motorsport.org.nz/Circuits/pukekohe.htm. This event is part of the North Island Endurance Race Series with two other enduros (both 4 hour) held at Manfield and Taupo race circuits in the past few weeks.
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A Handful of Gravel …

Next weekend is the second round of the New Zealand National Rally Championship http://www.motorsport.org.nz/Rally/ to be held in and around Whangarei http://www.whangareinz.org.nz/ which altho’ is a few 100 kms from Auckland is the closest this city gets to a round of the NZRC presently. Anyhow, this year’s event is also a round of the Asia- Pacific Rally Championship http://www.fiaaprc.com/ (during the previous few years it’s been held in Rotorua) so we’ll have some international drivers competing alongside our local heroes … “nerves of steel on metal roads”. Using some of the most excellent ‘gravel’ roads in and around Paparoa, south west of Whangarei (which have been formerly used in the NZ round of the World Rally Championship) the two days of competition over 12-13 May will no doubt be full of action and drama. Bring on the Skids! More details here … http://www.rallywhangarei.co.nz/

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Auckland’s Very Own Magazine

For a number of years … how many …? Auckland has had its own magazine – http://www.metrolive.co.nz/. Reformatted in the last few years to a larger tabloid version it’s full of glossy advertisements, very interesting articles about today’s relevant regional topics and plenty of suggestions for things to do, place to see, food to eat, etc, etc. It’s often funny to pick it up and read the letters to the editor, finding some readers affronted enough to put pen to paper and complain that the magazine is too Auckland focussed … that’s the point! Have a browse!

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A Great Gift for Easter

With the celebration of the resurrection of Christ only ten days away I thought I’d highlight for you one of my favourite specialty chocolate shops in Auckland – for glorious, handmade, boutique chocolates it’s hard to go past Devonport Chocolates http://www.devonportchocolates.co.nz/ anytime I’m in the vicinity … it’s worth a trip across the Bridge http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auckland_Harbour_Bridge I can recommend DC’s Limoncello yachts (dark choc) and their Lavender & Honey morsels (milk choc). They sell them individually or by the boxful – beautifully giftwrapped. My other favourite thing is their chocolate logs in various different flavours … espresso is my current favourite. If you’re after quality look no further – yum!

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Raise a Little Dust

Greetings World – sorry for the long pause – but I’m back.

Had to tell you about one of our Auckland Summer Institutions which I just caught the very last bit of this season on Saturday night … Speedway at Western Springs! http://www.springsspeedway.com/

Speedway at the Springs is one of the very noisiest, exciting, action-packed things to do of an Auckland Summer Saturday Evening and for the first time in several years I finally got back to catch some of that action. I’ve been away so long (there was a time when I used to go to the Speedway once a season just to keep in touch) that they’ve even got a new class – quarter midgets … you’ve got your regular midget cars, then your TQ’s or three-quarter midgets, and now they have quarter midgets, which are just tiny – like a swarm of angry bees – but such a lot of fun to watch!

Some of the guys out there amongst it have been there a while too – like Graham Standring (No 33) in the Midgets. http://www.springsspeedway.com/default,128.sm I’m sure some of them have got ethanol running thru their veins instead of the red stuff the rest of us have …

And then the big guns come out – the Sprint Cars with their sheet metal (aluminuim) aerofoils and their 800 horsepower engines … skittering all over the muddy oval and looking like they’re ready to take flight. The action was fast and furious!

Apparently there are some people in Auckland who want to get the Speedway closed down … it’s ‘too noisy’ is their whine … as if!

Until 3 November 07 …

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The break is over

Like the rest of Auckland, I’ve been taking a summer break.

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While I was at the beach, some stuff happened but with a view like this, I wasn’t really bothered. In fact, living with no phone and no internet at the end of a dirt track in the middle of nowhere was a nice reminder that there’s more to life than fits down a broadband cable.

On the downside, the clown Bush is still in office and still can’t figure why he needs to loosen his tie more often.

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Opera in the Park

During Summer in Auckland the City hosts a number of free music gigs in our fabulous parks – click here for details … http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/whatson/events/mips/default.asp. On Saturday in a very spontaneous and unrehearsed fashion a friend and I dashed off to the newly refurbished Domain Wintergarden http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/whatson/places/parks/domain.asp#wintergardens to hear the Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artists in a two hour delight of Puccini, Verdi, Donizetti, Mozart and others. There was also an opportunity to sign up to NBR New Zealand Opera’s http://www.nzopera.com/ mailing list which I did too – their two operas this year look to be spectaular, plus there’s a couple of bonus gigs to look forward to. Watch this space!

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Zoo Music and Fun Stuff

One of the cool things about being in Auckland in the summertime is that there are so many fun things to do. This is a novel one – an evening at the zoo chilling out to your favourite local sounds and helping conservation at the same time – brilliant! http://www.aucklandzoo.co.nz/events/index.php?PHPSESSID=b55df8a4779a84496d70d46f7348af0c … at $25/person or $60 for a family pass it’s a great evening’s entertainment. Might just have to rustle up some friends and head on out to hear Greg Johnson or Nathan Haines doing their thing for some of the vital conservation projects happening around the world. Also, if you scroll down the linked page a bit further Auckland Zoo has a bunch of other neat ideas for entertaining family and friends thru’ the summer – how about checking out the Kiwis on Waitangi Day, sharing the sunset on Valentines Day or going on a Night Safari? Magic!

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Rally in Norway!

Greetings once more! As you may have figured from my username – I am a rally fan! I have been a spectator for years (mum & dad took me to my first rally when I was three!) and when I grew up I got involved with WRC Rally NZ as an assistant with the organisation of New Zealand’s best annual motorsport event which I’ve volunteered on for the last decade. Then a few years ago a dream came true and I got into co-driving with a friend of mine who owned a Toyota Levin … we did several club skids – rallies and sprints – huge fun, learing how to read notes and getting the most out of the gravel. Anyhow, some great news for some local rally boys has come to fruition this week with an opportunity to skid in Scandinavia! Best wishes to Andrew and Grant on their adventure.

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National Delurking Week is almost over!

It’s the last day of National Delurking Week where blog readers are encouraged to reveal themselves – and a little about themselves – to the blog authors and other readers!

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To celebrate, I’ll take a leaf out of my fellow Metroblogger Annika Barranti‘s book and ask Metroblogging Auckland readers to share a little bit about themselves. You may share whatever you like, but here’s a few things to get you started:

* Do you live in Auckland?

* If yes, what district do you live or work in?

* If no, where do you live?

* Are you from Auckland originally or have you, like me, relocated here?

* What is your favourite aspect of living or working in Auckland?

* What one thing would you change about Auckland if you could?

As we’re one of the youngest cities in the Metroblogging network, it would be great to hear from the folks who have found us and learn what they like or dislike. Please leave a comment below or drop me a line with your opinions or suggestions. On the other hand, if you think we’re getting it all wrong and would like to redress the balance, why not join us as an author and get your voice heard across our global network?


Iraq casualties: which people are paying the biggest price?

Unquestionably, Iraq has suffered the largest death toll per 100,000 of population with 504 deaths based on a low end estimate of 53,101 deaths from a population estimated by the CIA to be 26,783,383. However, you might be surprised by the people who follow. According to the US Marine Corps Times website, 10.4 American Samoans per 100,000 of population (65,000) have lost their lives in the conflict compared, say, to 0.77 per 100,000 of the population of New York State, which has a population of nearly 19 million. That’s some sacrifice, especially when one considers that persons born in American Samoa are United States nationals, but not United States citizens. Samoan is the fourth largest ethnic group (20,730) in Auckland, following New Zealand European/pakeha (206,937), Chinese (30,285) and Maori (29,139).

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You know you’re in Auckland when…

Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson plans to pop over from Oz – just for a cocktail party.

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Greenpeace’s Esperanza in Auckland

The Greenpeace ship Esperanza will arrive in Auckland tomorrow morning. The Esperanza is Greenpeace’s newest ship and it is on its first New Zealand.

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“Last whaling season the Greenpeace crew stopped many whales from being killed in the Antarctic. This year they will be carrying out activities designed by supporters who have posted their ideas on www.greenpeace.org.nz/whales.” says Greenpeace New Zealand.

For those who are interested in Greenpeace and their anti-whaling campaign, you can pop down to Princes Wharf and have a look around, the Esperanza will be open for public visits during the next two weekends (Jan 13/14/20/21) between 10 and 4 before she leaves for the Antarctic.

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Suck it up

Ninety volunteers in Auckland will try a new nictotine lozenge developed by Swedish researchers in a trial run by Auckland University’s Clinical Trials Research Unit. Almost three quarters of a million New Zealanders smoke and it kills about over 4.500 Kiwis a year. Unlike a good many Metroblogging cities, Auckland, along with the rest of NZ, already has a smoking ban in many public places, bars and restaurants but these faster-working lozenges may help those who want to quit.

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Timeout: A great Auckland bookshop

Being back at work when most folks are still away has benefits but also drawbacks. The lack of traffic is glorious but the lack of local cafes open for hungry business folk is not. My search for food and coffee took me up to Mt Eden this morning and, having a little more time than normal, I had a quick wander up and down the shops there and discovered the Timeout Bookshop.

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Time Out is a great example of a local bookstore: unashamedly a bookshop as distinct from a shop that sells books and other things and staffed by friendly folks like Jane and her colleague whose name I didn’t get (sorry, chap). The shop isn’t big but it is piled high with a great range of books, not to mention the odd cat and even has a separate children’s section. What’s more, they are open from 9am to 9pm, run a mailing list for interested bibliophiles, have a periodic philosophy discussion group and even open their upstairs room to book and film-of-the-book clubs. I now know where I’ll be directing people who ask what’s on my birthday list.

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