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Thursday, 20 September 2012

Go Team!

In the wake of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, New Zealand can be immensely proud of their achievements from Mahe Drysdale to Lisa Carrington to Valerie Adams and her controversial gold medal rewarded after the disqualification of the competitor from Belarus.  I knew it.  Just one glance was all it took to realise. Touching medal ceremony at the Cloud in Auckland yesterday and wasn't it great to see John Hawkesby....remember him?? Not forgetting Sophie Pascoe, what a champion, now she's inspiring...way to go Kiwis!
The dynamics of any team can be described as camaraderie, goodwill and fellowship. A common focus to achieve the same goal successfully to be the BEST that you can be whether it was an individual effort or a team effort for the country or wider team.  I recently said there was no I in team and someone countered that and said there is a M and an E = ME. Who takes the credit, you or the team for work done?  The team of course but also important to deservedly acknowledge your own contribution. 

Who ever you are, where ever you are, no doubt you are currently part of a team, big or small.  Family, work or sport, you name it, teams are defined locally and globally.  

But what happens when members of a large team turn on each other and conflict arises within? The team's performance is affected, efforts are hampered and in the end the entire team suffers along with its reputation. Along the way competing teams zoom ahead and the disharmony creates a load difficult to progress forward.  Thirty years later, still in the same spot.

Sometimes thinking about what's best for the team, and not so much for yourself can boost the team's progress further forward than expected.  Admittedly it is a juggle though, what's best for you and what's best for the team is no mean feat by any measure! Of course within reason absolutely, not forsaking your morals, culture, religion or passions, please.

What ever you decide to do, you must try this next TEAM effort and you still have time (better late than never)!  Sign up today for the New Zealand ShakeOut earthquake drill, the first one of its kind in any country. So far more that 1.1 million people, and counting, throughout NZ have registered and will participate in the ShakeOut drill at 9.26 am on Wednesday, 26 September 2012.

Register today here: as part of a Get Ready Get Thru Civil Defence earthquake drill

I've registered, and so could you.  Go on you know you so don't want to do it, but still should.  What an awesome initiative and first country too, that's pretty cool for something that's not so cool!

The year is steam-rolling ahead, zoom, it's nearing the end of September after an August hiatus...and so begins the season Spring.  Winter is not leaving but without a fight.

Beginning to think about those team building or Christmas functions for your TEAM? Our team is thinking about a lawn bowls excursion as a team building exercise, my neighbour's awesome idea.  Should be fun (if the team decides that is)...prizes for best team uniforms even.

You don't have to play lawn bowls if you don't want to? You could be a judge or official or you could play petanque instead?  What ever you decide to do, it's all about participating in team spirit.

Happy Spring everyone:)


Thursday, 19 July 2012


Each and everyone of us expresses gratitude and thanks, for positive things that have impacted us in our everyday lives and also for the sad events which eventually have either made us view the bigger picture in a better light and perspective, or made us stop for a moment from the hustle and bustle, to think and remind ourselves what really is important to us.

Oh and good news, whether it be at work or at home, always raises the spirit and gives us a second wind that fills our sails with great and mighty gusto! (and no, I'm not talking about being famous)

What am I grateful for today?  Technology.  

What sets us apart from history and how they lived their daily lives, is the advancement of technology which has bound us closer together in more tightly knit communities, whether these are families, ethnic groups, units and departments at work or decision makers in governments. Those within these communities don't always necessarily gel, co-operate or share the same views but the communication within, is dramatically made more effective with the efficient use of computers, smart phones, ipads and tablets which enable us to use emails and social networking groups, just to name a couple.

We are fortunate to have this technology at our disposal, at our fingertips.

To be able to keep up-to-date with technology and the ever evolving way we communicate with each other and browse the world.wide.web, it is vital for any organisation to invest in the most up-to-date technology. To be involved with stakeholders or groups who have more advanced technology, can create a barriers and communication could never be the best that it can be.

And we want to be the best that we can be right?

Oh and those who refuse to accept change, the advancement of technology and the neat gadgets it brings?  Quite simply - keep up or be prepared to maybe miss the bus or train, whichever you prefer.

For natural disaster management, technology will be our advantage.  Did you know that there is a NZ Civil Defence facebook page and a twitter page?

Twitter - NZ Civil Defence

These pages aim to keep us informed with regular updates. And if the updates are not so regular, that's great news, as no news is good news!  Nothing to report means no natural disasters. To be able to read messages also, rather than to listen to someone conveying a message over the phone or radio during an emergency, is more effective as it removes emotion in an emergency situation and those who are hearing impaired are not placed at a disadvantage.

To lock and load these facebook and twitter links for yourselves into your phone or computer, may one day prove to be useful.

My last workplace held theme days, to one of which was 'do what you say you will.' I still have that badge. Today, someone quoted this phrase and reminded me how important this is. We all know it, but do we actually practice it?

Of course many of you already do - no doubt about that, give or take, given the constraints of time and the hours in a day.

We are proudly known as a DIY country. That's the Kiwi way. We could also aspire to be a do what you say you will country. It builds trust, commitment and confidence within communities.

So lets do what we say we will and get your natural disaster emergency plan sorted when we said we would prepare one....remember?

...before the sands through the hour glass runs out...excuse the pun!

And lastly, (July is here already??) I'm sure all the kiddies expressed their gratitude for this winter wonderland smack bang in the middle of Aotea exciting, I wonder what's next?

Keep warm everyone!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Leading the Way

Leadership can be described in different ways.  For a diverse many, the definition varies. What does leadership mean to you?

The power of leadership influences people and takes them on a journey giving them guidance, direction and purpose with a sense of achievement.  Leadership empowers others to achieve great aspirations and their wisdom inspires a team to perform through thick and thin with a unified purpose.  They lead by example, have vision, are effective at communicating and are great at teaching.  Young potential leaders are groomed by their peers to develop these skills that become refined over the years.

"Serve the people!" said a respected notable leader in the Auckland community.

Leadership can also mean ourselves individually as leaders, as we are all leading our own lives with our attitudes, choices, behaviour, the list goes on and on....

So how can we help lead the way with preparedness for natural disaster management?

I challenge you to ask others or at least one person, if they have thought about or have prepared themselves for a natural disaster.  Just mention it as an off the cuff, light conversation topic type of question without sounding all doom and gloom about the context of the question.  The end of the world? (Laughing) No, just a thought.  And that's all it is.
Oh and if you need to - ask yourself first.  How prepared are YOU?

By ourselves leading the way and taking control, we may even inspire others....or most likely create apprehension in those who live inside the box, who fear thinking outside the box.  It's just one of those things.  

Innovative thinking is the way of tomorrow and Auckland should embrace this concept wholeheartedly and make plans future-proofing for our grandchildren and their grandchildren.  It's not always about today.

Leading the way Auckland.....


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Lest We Forget

On Wednesday, 25 April 2012, we honour in remembrance members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who fought in Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire in World War 1 and every single brave soldier who died serving in the military for their country. However you decide to spend the day, don't forget to spare a moment for those who died for our country, or even better, brave the early morning and head out to a civic dawn service in your local community.

My memories of attending dawn services in the chilling cold all wrapped up, clutching tightly to my umbrella while singing one of my favourite hymns, Abide by Me from a rain soaked order of service are ones I am proud to have experienced. To brave the elements for that short period of time gives us a glimpse into what our soldiers so valiantly endured. To witness the marching surviving soldiers, some of them smiling with a hint of excitement in their eyes, in anticipation of catching up with old friends at the RSA for a couple of pints.  Others looking tired and frail. There was one year I wished someone had provided them with disposable clear raincoats, it wouldn't cost much to keep them dry before the second service. It's the least we could do.

I'm sure we all had a great Easter or long weekend either indulging in decadence with a good dose of chocolate eggs, attending church services or just hanging out with loved ones catching the hot sun rays.  Yes hot sun rays.  The weather forecasted for the long weekend was pretty accurate or thereabouts - yeah right!  Plus or minus a few days, they always seem to miss their forecasted target.  Wow, and what a sun-kissed long weekend it was leaving many thinking - I thought this was autumn?   

I was driving to work one morning and I heard one of the official Civil Defence announcements on talkback radio.  Extremely informative and useful information, I'm sure you've heard one.  This particular one advised the way in which a tsunami warning would be issued to the public.  A continuous warning siren sound would be heard over the radio and if you heard this - to immediately seek safety inland.  Tsunamis will occur within minutes if that and you'd basically only have enough time to instantly flee away from the swallowing water.

People with disability are highly vulnerable during these situations and just how would deaf people hear the warning announcements?  There is a captioned CD for deaf people available on preparedness at  But how would they be alerted?  And what about  people with other disabilities, how would they stay safe?  I'm sure there is a buddy system within families and communities where they would check in between buddies if there was a natural disaster.

Not to mention those who live in remote places with no cellphone tower coverage. In this day and age, there is a surprising number of places in Auckland who are without the services many of us take for granted.  How on earth would they contact others for help? Many most probably own a marine VHF radio of some sort for such emergencies. Animals can act as a natural warning of an impending natural disaster as they have senses which are tuned  into any form or sign of danger.  Helpful if you had a dog maybe, but what if you didn't...

Lets not forget 'people.'  Lets not look after some but unintentionally overlook others, not that you mean to, but we get so caught up in the bigger picture we forget the finer details, the ones that make an important lasting impression. It's like arriving in a room full of people and there are no more chairs left and they feel completely left out, overlooked. Sure you can provide them with another chair, but were they not of value in the first place to be fully prepared? If that makes sense!

Enjoy the summery weather on autumn ANZAC Day everyone.

Lest We Forget...


Sunday, 1 April 2012

Happy Autumn April

Wow.  If you thought February was freaky, check out what happened during Wild and Wilful March!  And you know I'm not just talking about the weather...

On a more serious note, the rest of February saw national acknowledgement and tribute for the anniversaries of both the Christchurch earthquake and the Japan tsunami, in remembrance of innocent lives lost in the devastation.  It was a very sad reminder of the harsh reality of natural disasters, but also a reminder that you can move forward, however difficult the future challenges.

The weather transitioned seamlessly into the month of March with a continued barrage of wild and wilful rain, wind and storms not only here in Auckland but also more dramatically in Whangarei, Northland and the capital Wellington.....though it seemed to calm at the end of the month with much needed sunshine to warm the hearts of a storm-swept population and to dry out the exhaustion - which even saw some sneak off to warmer climates for rest and recreational time off.

Today is the first day of April and daylight savings and it's almost a sense of whew, an opportunity to start a fresh month leaving all the drama of March behind with an extra hour to recharge the battery.

The aftermath of any natural disaster will leave behind phenomenal damage, some things repairable, other things beyond repair.  They say that from every adversity there is an equal or greater miracle to be experienced.  But what miracles can be drawn from such devastation?  Many would argue none.  Others may say it's the outpouring acts of humanity and compassion that people share with each other when helping and caring for others, even with complete strangers.  

Natural disasters affect everyone exactly the same.  It seems to wash away all the prejudices, meanness and selfishness that is prevalent in society.  It's that human factor that strengthens communities. It perhaps reminds you what really is important as you never know when you may need help.

There is that attitude 'if it's gonna happen, it will, there is nothing I can do about it...let it be, let it be, let it be....there isn't going to be time to flee, what's the point of preparedness.'

But what if you had time?

Whatever you decide to do with regard to preparedness for a natural disaster, it's totally up to you.  But just think, the more prepared you are, the less likely you are to rely on others perhaps?

On a better note, the weather prediction for April looks great - in fact beautiful fine weather with no rain, thunder or storms for Auckland.  Yeah right.

There's actually a tropical storm due to hit for Easter long weekend so just a heads up everyone, especially those planning to travel within New Zealand.

Happy Autumn April everyone!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Freaky February

Hot tropical sunny days with dramatic skies ending with full moon evenings.  Heart-jumping thunder and lightning with waterspouts in the Hauraki Gulf.  Flash floods in Glen Eden.

What an extraordinary freaky February Auckland - and we are only half way through the month!  Goodness knows what's in store for the remainder of the month.  Bob McDavitt has retired after over 40 years working with the MetService predicting the weather and is probably secretly relieved he didn't have to make a prediction for the rest of Freaky February. 

They say that the weather has some sort of cosmic effect on a person's behavior, especially the full moon. Anyone recently experience strange, grumpy, erratic, excitable, argumentative, even angry behaviour from those around you or work colleagues or those you work with?  Yes?  I have. Is it the weather?  Oh coupled with the trauma of resuming 5 day working weeks and the start of the working year grind, sprinkled with an all but a distant memory of what you did during the holiday break 2011, it must be.

Is it El nino?  Is it a warning from above?  Is it a-typical mother nature behaviour?

I do know there was great communication from media about the strange weather occurences that have happened such as the loudest thunder-clap I have ever heard in my life this week. When the thunder happened, shortly after colleagues informed us that it was not a terrorist explosion of a nearby building as we speculated, but thunder, as reported in the NZ Herald.  However, I didn't find out about the waterspout until the evening news...and what an impressively scary water spout that was.

But what if there was no power and no internet and what if the telecommunications server was down?  How would we be alerted?  I know that in Waitakere there is a tsunami warning siren for the locals.  I have no idea if there is warning siren in the Auckland CBD.  They probably would have the Town Hall bells tolling continuously to warn citizens of an impending tsunami. I'm positive they have a process already in place, I will find out.

Oh and just a reminder everyone.  I don't claim to be an expert on emergency management procedures and processes or an oracle of knowledge on natural disasters because I'm not. I am merely an ordinary citizen from Auckland just wondering if anyone else ever stops to think about these dreaded issues; and maybe to provoke discussion within your networks or at the very least, to provoke thought.  I am also curious as to what extent has the average Aucklander prepared themselves in light of the natural disasters occuring in other cities and countries in and around the world.

Someone said to me that blogging about this topic is so depressing and not an appealing issue to discuss with friends and colleagues let alone to even think about? Fair enough, there is nothing inspiring or fun about earthquakes or tsunamis I agree.  

Maybe this is a topic for discussion reserved for around the family dinner table, during dessert...

Enjoy the rest of Freaky February everyone. 

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Where will you be.....

Where will you be if a natural disaster strikes?

Who knows where you would be.  Nobody knows. You could be at work, at the gym, at the movies, at the beach, in a bus, asleep at night in bed and the list goes on.  The likelihood that you will be at home at the time is anyones guess, but what would you do if you were away from home at the time disaster strikes?

All workplaces have evacuation procedures in place and everyone should be confident in explaining how to evacuate the building immediately down or up the stairs, depending on your circumstances.  And remember - if you evacuate the building down the stairs in a single-file, 'apparently' it's faster and more effective than if you all went scrambling down at once.  I remember recently during a fire drill at my workplace, getting annoyed at people chatting and catching up on the way down.  Not the time and place and it really slowed the whole process down.  Though I'm sure this wouldn't be the case if it was a real emergency and we truly did need to run for our dear lives.

So my question is, have you got a plan for your family if you were not with them?  

Have you arranged to check in with each other immediately after a natural disaster by text or phone to confirm who is where?  Do you make your way home to your family or do you stay put? I guess you would assess each situation at the time and decide whatever is appropriate and safe. If your children were at school, does the school have a designated person to contact to find out about your kids? I'm certain all schools have emergency plans in place, but it might pay to find out exactly what their procedures are. Maybe even have your child's teacher's mobile phone number, but only for code red emergencies. Communication is key. So make sure your mobile phone is always charged and that you always have your phone charger with you.

These are all things we would never normally think about or even ask, but may make all the difference if disaster strikes.  

By planning and making a little effort,  we don't expel PANIC completely, but are attempting to try to reduce and manage a natural state of panic if and when disaster strikes.  

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year Resolutions

Happy New Year 2012!

Are you kidding me.  The new year has started already?

If 2011 was anything to go by....brace yourself people.  Let your instincts reign supreme and let your senses be on the alert.

I'm not talking about that issue you had during 2011 which may have seemed like the end of the world at the time - you know the one which consumed your mind completely.  You know what I'm talking about right.  That issue or perhaps minor/major change which turned everything upside down, inside out, but in the end you came through it right?  A bit ruffled and shell-shocked but you survived.  BTW thanks Dr Spencer Johnson for writing the book 'Who Moved My Cheese.'  It was a tremendous help to me during 2011.

I'm talking about the sobering reality of the recent earthquakes still haunting the people of Christchurch.  Really Mother Nature and a couple of days before Christmas?  If Christmas wasn't already stressful enough.

Did you know earlier tonight 1/1/12 at 10.05 pm, another earthquake struck Christchurch. This was the third one of the day.  Details can be found at the following link:

I think you'd all agree, our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Christchurch for enduring the wrath of natural disasters during 2011 and now on the first day of 2012. Are they aftershocks or small ones leading up to the big one I wonder? You'd think by now man would have been able to predict such natural disasters or be able to press a magic button to counter the devastation.  Only in Hollywood.  What would Steven Speilberg do? Forgive me for the very dry humour, but it pretty much sums up how ridiculous this is all getting right?!

Still, what doesn't break you makes you stronger, more resilient and tougher ready for the next challenge.  Stay safe Christchurch!

It has now come to that time of year when those New Years resolutions are ignited or reignited if you didn't succeed in 2011.  But for me the natural disasters put everything into perspective.  My New Years resolutions seem trivial, even silly when I think that people in Christchurch are in constant survival mode.

Oh, not to mention the weird and not-so-wonderful rain most parts of the country have experienced recently.  Here in Auckland the rain dampened the holiday spirit somewhat but check out what it did to Nelson...

Not so somewhat in Nelson.  'Mud seeking shelter' and 'men in trees.' (Photos courtesy of

So, what are your New Years resolutions?  Weightloss, hopes, dreams, dream partner, being debt-free or financial success?  I've got one to add to the list, a bit off the beaten track. Take a guess.  YES... spend more time planning, starting or working on a disaster plan!  We are fortunate in Auckland, as are all parts of NZ, to have agencies such as NZ Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management and Auckland Council who are working collaboratively who can assist with your plan.  They are well resourced and ready for you.

The information is out there ready for you to collect.  We just need to get a move on.  So Aucklanders or where ever you are in the world, add 'Natural Disaster Plan' to your list of New Years Resolutions 2012.  What have you got to lose?

So bring on 2012 I say....oh have you heard of Myanism and the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar?  Now that's another story - I'd recommend watching the movie '2012' if you haven't.

All the very best for 2012 and hopefully we never need to look to Hollywood for inspiration to address the seriousness of natural disasters.