Thursday, December 1, 2016

Spray Fever: Clean Green New Zealand? Ha!

Spring: Agrichemical spraying season by Fairlie farmers: Leah & I were both poisoned by unknown sprayed agrichemicals during November 2016.

During spring, contractor vehicles with boom spray arms on both sides of the vehicle, like pterodactyls, roamed roads & farms, spraying herbicides to prepare paddocks for crop plantings, like wheat & canola.

Beside SH8, from Fairlie to Lake Tekapo, every plastic reflector pole, 50 m odd apart, had a border of white or orange sprayed, dead grass, as mechanical mowers were too cumbersome to mow around the plastic reflector poles. Masses of herbicide was sprayed by SH8, even before farmers sprayed their paddocks with agrichemicals.

In fact, grass around every road sign & 1000s of roadside, plastic reflectors all along SH8 from Timaru to Lake Tekapo, 100 kms odd, was sprayed white or yellow by herbicides. Ditto SH79, 45 kms, Geraldine to Fairlie, tourist route from Christchurch to Mackenzie Country. Timaru District Council, Mackenzie District Council & NZ Transport Authority had lots to answer for, as SH8 & SH79 were the main tourist routes from Canterbury Plains to Lake Tekapo & Mt Cook.

Leah commuted SH8 daily from Fairlie to Lake Tekapo School where she taught. A return trek of 90 kms / day. When Leah developed flu like symptoms, without coughing, snotting & sneezing, she phoned her homeopath friend in Christchurch, who told her many people were poisoned by spray drift during spring time. Leah's wheezy breathing & sore throat persisted for 2 weeks after the poisoning.

I was poisoned as follows:

Mon 28.11.16. Hot, northwester day. Morning: As usual, I drove Leah along SH8 to Kimbell to catch her school bus to Lake Tekapo. I drove back to Fairlie, did our washing & hung it out to dry in our garden.

Our rental was one of several, old, Flax Mill cottages on Talbot Rd in the middle of Fairlie Golf Course. Lining one side of the golf course, bordering every power pole & fence pole along Talbot Rd, there was orange, dead grass, sprayed to hell. Masses of sprayed weedkiller around every pole, every 14 m along Talbot Rd. At our garden back fence was a swathe of orange sprayed, dead grass, about half a metre wide, sprayed to hell, where golf course mowers couldn't reach. All our neighbours' houses had a swathe of orange sprayed, dead grass by their back fences. The golf course car park, one house away from ours' was yellow, sprayed to hell with herbicide. Fairlie Golf Club had lots to answer for, as several roads with housing surrounded the golf course, subject to spray drift. During our 2.5 years' stay at Fairlie, so far we'd never received any warnings from Fairlie Golf Club nor Council about their spraying.

Afternoon: Picked up Leah at Kimbell & drove back to Fairlie. Both trips were hot & windy, so I drove with open car windows.

Evening. I developed flu like symptoms: Headache, weepy eyes, sore throat, weak muscles & joints. Dehydrated & feverish. No coughing, snotting, nor sneezing. Accelerated pulse & high blood pressure, like my head was going to burst. Restless night, tossing & turning in bed.

Tue 29.11.16. Hot, northwester day. Flu like symptoms again, as above. Drove Leah to Lake Tekapo School. I was too shot to climb Mt John, which I usually did on Tuesdays. I'm fit, rarely visit doctors & did lots of tramping on & near Mt Gerald Station during 2016, including tramping to 5 different mountain huts on 10 different occasions during the year.

Wed 30.11.16. Flu like symptoms reduced, persistent sore throat. Felt a bit better. Drove to Lake Tekapo & after school walked with Leah to Tekapo Spa to test my poisoned limbs. No problems there.

Thurs 01.12.16. Sore throat & flu like symptoms gone. I'd lost 1 kg body weight during the last 3 days. Hadn't a clue what the herbicides did to my body systems?

After a Google search, I realized on Monday, during, hot, windy weather, I'd somehow imbibed vaporised herbicide, either from vaporised herbicides beside SH8, like Roundup / glyphosate, or similar agrichemicals from the Fairlie Golf Course where we lived. Or Both.

Specific studies by captive govt or chemical industrial scientists touted the genetic safety of humans to Roundup / glyphosate, but I found no studies giving the overall safety of humans to Roundup / glyphosate.

Wed 07.12.16. I walked Jack Lovelock Track on the west side of Fairlie, draining waters from Albury Range to Opihi River, east side of Fairlie. The walk, observing spray pollution, about 8 kms, as follows:

Mt Cook Rd, SH8: Road verges & parkland trees by Denmark St had sprayed borders. Public footpath between Alloway St & Nixons Rd turnoff, grass verges sprayed yellow. Halls Stream Bridge by Nixons Rd turnoff, grass sprayed yellow, both sides of stream by bridge abutments.

Nixons Rd: Public footpath, grass verges sprayed yellow. Alpaca Farm fence grass sprayed yellow the entire length from SH8 to the farm driveway & beyond. All road signs & roadside, plastic reflectors, grass borders sprayed yellow. Bridge abutment, grass borders sprayed yellow. Three paddocks sprayed, orange tinged. Other farm paddocks green. Farm driveways & letterbox pole borders sprayed yellow. Driveway garden & shelterbelt on one property was so over sprayed with weedkiller that the ground was bare.

Jack Lovelock Track. Crossed three fords amongst green paddocks. Three sprayed paddocks, orange tinged, seen near Albury Range in the west. Middle Ford Stream polluted with maroon spray, flushed from gorse sprayed by the stream & farm fences. Stream water was maroon coloured on the east side of Jack Lovelock Track. In the eastern distance, several sprayed paddocks were seen on Mt Michael, tinged orange. Most paddocks were green, expect for brown ploughed paddocks or greenish-yellow paddocks due to haymaking.

School Rd: Green paddocks. Several instances of yellow sprayed grass by the roadside stream, especially where farmers had diverted the roadside stream into paddocks to water sheep. Some yellow sprayed grass swathes beside the stream were hundreds of metres long. Farm driveways & village gardens, especially Struthers Ln & west end of Fairlie, near farm paddocks & streams, yellow sprayed grass. Roadside, plastic reflectors, grass borders sprayed yellow.

Fairlie & surrounding farm paddocks were thoroughly polluted by herbicide sprays, polluting soil, water, air & food chains,

Farmer of Middle Ford Stream, crossing Jack Lovelock Track & one of the School Rd farmers where the roadside stream & stream diversions were hidden by road berms looked like they'd got away with herbicide spray pollution for years. Those farmers didn't care two hoots about their pollution, nor the health & safety hazards caused to passersby or neighbours. I'd be wary of buying local lamb for my Xmas roast.

Of course There was the NZ Biosecurity Act 1993, & MBIE govt department bossing biosecurity. There were local WorkSafe advisors & technicians, commercial wholesalers & Crown research organizations making money out of agrichemicals & spraying, like wholesalers PGG Wrightson & Farmlands cooperative selling agrichemicals to farmers. And all the little, office scientists at AgResearch & Landcare Research pontificating in papers & websites about their agrichemical research. But all those govt, safety, commercial & research efforts did not stop Leah & me being poisoned by agrichemicals.

An article in The Fairlie Accessible discussed recent flash flooding down Regent St, School Rd & Princes St. Geoff Horter, Council Utilities Manager, Mackenzie District Council, implied it was OK to poison locals & pollute local water by spraying blocked drains. Geoff said: "Stormwater drains would also be sprayed annually to decrease the likelihood of vegetation contributing to future blockages."

Clean Green New Zealand? Ha!

Fri 09.12.16. Our Fairlie doctor diagnosed blepharitis on my right, lower eyelid, conjunctivitis on my right eye & some form of mass on my right lower eyelid. (Needed specialist surgery in Timaru). When I mentioned to my GP that I'd recently been poisoned by agrichemicals, he didn't blink. Not a word from the GP. His job depended on Spray Fever silence, as he & his Dr wife had lived & worked in Fairlie for decades, monopolizing Fairlie Clinic. The next closest GP was at Pleasant Point 40 kms away, or Geraldine 45 kms away. There was no Medical Clinic at Lake Tekapo.

Leah had recently visited a Timaru optometrist who'd diagnosed cataracts in both her eyes. Bar wearing specs, neither of us had eye problems before living amongst Fairlie sprayers.

Dec 2013 when I'd driven Leah to a Lake Tekapo School job interview I developed violent hay fever, causing me to sneeze day & night for two days. The next year while living at Fairlie, Dec Spray Fever time, I also had violent, sneezy hay fever for two days. Cause: Fairlie agrichemical spray drift we encountered en route to Lake Tekapo.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Cancer all clear given to weedkiller glyphosate by New Zealand scientific review (The Press / Stuff Co).

See Glyphosate (National Encephalopathy Foundation).

See PGG Wrightson.

See Farmlands cooperative.

See AgResearch.

See Landcare Research.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Selborne Paedophiles

1989-April 1995 incl, I was employed as a biology & general science teacher at Selborne College, East London, Eastern Cape, RSA. Prior, I was trained at Durban Teachers Training College. Part time & full time, I read degrees at Natal University & UNISA & a Wildlife Conservation Diploma, Technikon RSA.

Before my arrival at Selborne College, I'd completed SADF commando conscription & had worked as a professional actor in Natal during my varsity student days. I'd worked as a labourer / clerk in England & Israel. I'd taught at 5 primary schools in Durban, Kleinzee & QwaQwa, class teaching & science specialist. I'd also taught at a Durban co-ed HS & 3 Durban boys' high schools, teaching specialist biology & general science, incl running the general science dept at Glenwood HS, a bigger boys' high than Selborne College. I'd also coached various school sports & directed many school plays & skits.

My FACEBOOK discussion on Selborne paedophiles at Selborne College, an East London boys' high school and Selborne Primary, an East London boys' primary school. The discussion was amongst Selbornian Old Boys, most of whom I'd taught, now in their 30s - 40s, two "Hillcrest Hooligans," now in their 50s, I'd taught at Hillcrest HS near Durban, a relative & a Durban North friend who'd known me for over 50 years:

FACEBOOK post: 4 Nov 2016 at 3.54 pm.

Mark (NZ): Tim Gordon talks rubbish as he had a paedophile history teacher on his staff for years at Selborne College: School governing body groups slams sex pest teacher slip up. (Cape Talk 2 August 2016).

Sheila (RSA): OMW!!!! Nov 4 at 6.00 pm.

Hamish (UK): Et al. Nov 5 at 2.43 pm.

Dylon (RSA): We old Selbornians may have an idea of who was at times a little "over friendly" or am I the only one to have noticed some odd behaviour? Nov 4 at 9.42 pm.

Cass (Aus): Absolutely. Nov 5 at 2.43 pm.

Paul V (RSA): I think he was a big water polo fan. Nov 5 at 2.10 am.

Mark: Check out: Former private school principal back in court on pornography charges. (Lowvelder 27 July 2015).

Tim Gordon, 1989-92, before he left Selborne for Cape Town "promotion," insisted I work with Neil Malherbe at Clarendon & Selborne, directing plays & adjudicating Clarendon house plays. When I refused to produce Selborne skits at the end of 1992 (during exam times) at Clarendon with NM, Tim Gordon threw a tantrum, posting a risible letter to my home implying I was an incompetent teacher. Never mind Tim Gordon moderating all my very successful biology, general science & history test & exam marks for 4 years without complaint. Nov 5 at 7.26 am.

Mark: At a Selborne athletics meeting at Clarendon, TG & headmistress wandered off in full view of boys & staff, then disappeared for an hour or so. I left early & saw TG returning fast in his car, sans headmistress, with a big grin on his face. EEJIT! Nov 5 at 8.07 am.

Cass: Ya. That wasn't Mr Malherbe who taught English at Selborne College was it? Nov 5 at 6.38 pm.

Paul V: It's Malherbe the English teacher. Nov 5 at 6.38 pm.

Cass: OMG. Nov 5 at 7,15 pm.

Denzil (RSA): It's him Cass. Nov 11 at 6.54 pm.

Cass: Who was the paedophile history teacher at Selborne College? Nov 5 at 2.42 pm.

Paul V: Hectic: Former principal found guilty of child pornography.  (Lowvelder 4 November 2016). Nov 5 at 6.43 pm.

David (UK): Indeed. He'll be sentenced next year. Nov 5 at 7.16 pm.

Mark: He & Gordon were in cahoots & caused me lots of trouble at Selborne. Nov 6 at 8.28 am.

Adam (RSA): The history teacher was Mr KH. Convicted about 10 years ago molesting little girls. Nov 11 at 8.58 pm.

David: Was KH actually convicted? I heard this at the time and it had to do initially with the grand daughter or something like that... Nov 6 at 8.59 am. [Concerned David had contacted Selborne headmaster at the time, Mr Gunn, but Gunn (history teacher) gave no info about KH. Headmasters habitually spin their schools as pure places].

Mark: Correct Adam. A nest of vipers at Selborne. See KH's Facebook profile. No mention of Selborne where he taught for years. He told me he liked Nazi leather uniforms. I was forced by Gordon to teach junior history for 2 years with KH & Peter Coetzee after my general science classes were taken away from me, no reason given by Gordon nor Max Norman who did all the timetabling at Selborne. KH did Selborne cadet band & musketry with no supervision from other staff. I once saw KH patting a boys' butt in the rifle butts. Winston Paxton did the other school band, a posher band paraded at Key Ceremonies & quadrangle concerts. Nov 6 at 9.06 am.

Lyndon (RSA): KH was not convicted. A family member lied... the whole story just vanished. Nov 6 at 10.25 am.

Mark: Do you have a link for the lying family member Lyndon? I tried to find a link for the Daily Dispatch article I read about KH years ago, but was unsuccessful. Nov 7 at 1.06 am.

Lyndon: There is no link as it was never published in any newspaper. [Huh?] The story just vanished. But the story that was in the paper was very thin to start with, a step daughter had said... Turns out it was more of an internal family feud. Nov 7 at 1.18 am.

Mark: Thanks Lyndon. Nov 7 at 1.40 am.

Stavros (RSA): But the history teachers name has been on facebook, and there you have it, the story was wrong. So now what? Your angry about something and your no saying. And that not good, cos your dragging a lot of good peoples names in the dirt. Its got nothing to do with the plays, or how he taught his classes. your pissed about something totally different. I mean this KH, did he deserve to be brought in the fray, and you are wrong, why dont you apologise now. And this post that your messenger. You are speaking on your behalf. Did you see what all happend to the messenger in that movie 300? Nov 11 at 1.18 pm.

Mark: Stavros there were media articles on KH & NM. As a former teacher & colleague of said teachers I'm linking to articles where possible & adding some of my inside info. If you find my linking & comments upsetting, you don't have to read them. I don't watch many movies nowadays, as being deaf I need captions & few movies are captioned. Nov 11 at 1.27 pm.

Adam: Guys I have edited the reference to KH. Unfortunately I never saw that the case was subsequently thrown in out. All that I recall is the story in the paper at the time. Sad that his name could be dragged through the mud in papers etc through a family feud. Apologies for this. The reference to history teacher lead me down this route. I did not intend harm. Nov 11 at 10.06 pm.

Anton (RSA): Wrong history teacher Adam? U know what I mean? Nov 13 at 12.17 am. [The other history teacher was Peter Coetzee, history HOD for many years & present vice principal of Selborne College. Headmaster Gunn, a history teacher, promoted Coetzee to vice principal].

Paul V. Jeepers, the double header. Nov 6 at 8.59 am.

Mark: Gordon created 3 more HOD posts paid by the PTA: Religious Education (Mandy), Sports Coordinator (Sandford), Public Relations (Malherbe). Makes you think ne? The crazy thing was that those 3 teachers appointed themselves to those posts with Gordon's approval. New head Gunn stopped that corruption after he arrived. BTW Malherbe was a Sunday School teacher at a local church too. Ian Forward has knowledge of that fiasco, his church connection. Nov 6 at 9.17 am.

David: Re: KH - Sounds like speculation & old grudges to me. Classic internet. [Trolling, years after David had phoned Gunn!] Nov 6 at 11.15 am.

Mark: Any better forum you recommend David? Nov 6 at 6.41 pm.

David: My comment stands... Nov 6 at 6.47 pm.

Mark: So what? Nov 6 at 11.34 pm.

Paul S (RSA): Listen here Mark justice will run its course. Do you think throwing good solid peoples names in the mix because you lost your general science classes is appropriate. Fck me get another platform to get your kicks. Very disappointed in you. Malherbe & crew will get what they deserve! Dont associate normal people with this ffs. Nov 6 at 11.41 am.

Mark: Paul what about Alan Emslie? Your pics show him as your Selborne Primary cricket coach, with Still, Fourie, et al. Nov 7 at 2.55 pm. [I was Paul S's std 8 class teacher in 1989. Paul S was once involved with a drunken absconding from Selborne hostel with another student. They both awoke in Tim Gordon's office. Neither Paul nor the absconder were expelled. In the staffroom, Tim Gordon happily regaled staff about the drunken absconding].

Denzil: Buck there are no normal people that have been named here. They are convicted criminals. Nov 11 at 6.58 pm.

Paul S: Denzil. Tim Gordon, Max Norman, Mr Forward, Mr Sandford, Mrs Mandy convicted criminals! What are you smoking boet? Nov 11 at 7.02 pm.

Denzil: He's talking about KH, AE and NM. Nov 11 at 7.03 pm.

Cass: I think it's appropriate. ANYONE who was / is involved with this fiasco is going to get what is coming to them. Nov 6 at 12.22 pm.

Mark: Thanks for your comments guys. Our perspectives are different. I worked with those creeps. You didn't. Look below the surface of what happened during those years Paul, including your "normal people." They may have been normal to you as a teenager, but to me their obsessions were abnormal and often hypocritical eg religion & sport. Nov 6 at 6.27 pm.

Alex (RSA): I would not normally comment on something like this, but Mark has a fair point. In cases like this everyone thinks the only victims are the children, they forget about the colleagues, parents and others that are affected. Nov 6 at 11.54 pm.

Mark: I've opened a can of worms. A request from a Selbornian who wishes to be anonymous: "Has anyone any comments about the Selborne Primary soccer teams about 86 / 87? Specifically the coach. I have stories which I saw with my own eyes at the age of 9. Not cool at all." Nov 7 at 1.29 am.

Jonathan (RSA): AE? Nov 7 at 1.45 am.

David: Jonathan that would probably be the coach, yes. He also had a troubled life in the end. Nov 7 at 2.14 am.

Jonathan: Didn't know him well David. I was in std 2 in '87 and even at that young age I remember the stories that began circulating. And they continued through my school career. As for the end I know nothing. Nov 7 at 2.27 am.

David: Died a few years ago. Took his life I understood at the time. Circumstances were odd is all I can offer. The sad thing is that all of those stories - true or not - sit in opposition to the experiences that 99% of us had of these teachers. My worst teachers were just fallible individuals with apparently questionable credentials when it came to working with children. Nov 7 at 5.59 am.

Mark: I'd also heard whisperings about Alan Emslie. Hearsay, like your above comments & innuendo, but enough for my wife to ensure our eldest son was not put in AE's class at Selborne Primary in 1995. Nov 7 at

Mark: Anyone who wants anonymity on this thread just message me & I'll publish your message without name. Nov 7 at 6.43 am. [Two expat Selbornians referred me to Daily Dispatch and pressreader articles about Neil Malherbe].

Stavros: Im annoyed Mark, you are actually a wanker with a huge chip on your shoulder. If you know about a teacher being up to something and you never reported it, then you are a super wanker. You have a lot to say, and you are far way, where you seem untouchable, launching your attacks, as the messenger. You are a clown. I really thought more of you.  Nov 11 at 1.29 pm.

Mark: You're welcome to your opinion on my Facebook thread Stavros. Your words show your character. Nov 11 at 1.33 pm.

Stavros: Mark. You dont know nothing of my character. Your just an annoying little man who has a huge chip on his shoulder. Bringing peoples names into disrepute for your own agenda. Your audience is small and getting smaller. You can try and patronise me and tell me about this and that, but you dont know me, and its better that way. The problem every teacher leaves something with his pupils to remember him by. you left nothing. Nov 11 at 10.24 pm.

Mark. You asked for info Stavros. You got it. I never taught you. Nov 11 at 3.01 pm.

Denzil: Is there still time to get popcorn? Nov 11 at 7.02 pm.

Hamish: Gents. A word of caution. This is not the forum to have such debates. It's public. There are accusations which cannot be validated and ultimately become personal, from any side is destructive. Education and awareness is good. Accusation and finger pointing bad. Nov 11 at 10.16 pm.

Gareth (RSA): Hamish I agree with you. Mark you got an axe to grind about the way you were handled at Selborne this is not the forum for it. Neil will get what is due to him for his crime. But to carry on like a spoilt child as you are does not show good on your personality. You had your say move on. Nov 12 at 11.48 pm.

Mark: Thanks Hamish & Gareth. Several of you Selbornian OBs want to shut me down with insults, which doesn't reflect well on Selborne. (BTW Gordon used put downs on staff just like yours). I asked David above to recommend a better forum. Any ideas? Nov 13 at 9.23 am.

Anton: Mark I agree with you 100% I know what I saw and witnessed during my schooling! So any of u cowards want to give me a call u welcome to! Pathetic really. Nov 13 at 9.47 am.

Mark: Anton you are not alone. Nov 13 at 9.50 am.

Anton: Mark have a look at the Bee Hive junior school magazines! Filled with inappropriate pics of boys in showers! Now I'm no rocket scientist, but how that was allowed I don't know! At least the photographer killed himself after being suspended! Teachers that worked with him should be ashamed of themselves. Christians, I think not!!! Nov 13 at 10.01 am.

Mark: Will do thanks Anton. Nov 13 at 10.09 am.

Cass: Yeah I agree. I also witnessed it. I don't give a damn if this is public or not, this stuff should be made public. I would never send my kids to Selborne knowing what I know now. Thanks to Mark for revealing this non-Christian predatory activity at a public school. Nov 13 at 2.13 pm.

Gareth: No one is trying to shut you up. I just believe this is not the right forum to air your comments. If you have information pertaining to the case contact the police and tell them. As for extra posts the school board or governing body of the day would have been a better place to air your views and concerns. Airing them 20 years later sounds like sour grapes. Nov 13 at 5.43 pm.

Mark: Gareth 20 years ago so what? What don't you understand about self appointed HODs being corrupt? I could've appointed myself HOD (Drama) but chose not to, as the whole stunt by Tim Gordon was staff bribery & narcissistic, like Malherbe blowing his own water polo trumpet, polishing his "reputation." Religion & Sport hypocrisy already mentioned above. Nov 13 at 6.11 pm.

Mark: Cass. Good on you. Nov 13 at 6.12 pm.

Darryl (RSA): Gareth I think you hit the nail on the head. I also don't think this is the right forum to air views. If anyone has any information it should have been dealt with 20+ years ago. I also don't think it is fair to talk about people when they are no longer around to defend themselves. Let the courts be the judge here and one day those who have offences will have to answer for whatever they did while on earth. If one has any issues with TG then take it up with him and leave the school name out of it.

I believe we have a good judiciary system that will take care of all offenders. Don't judge them via the media.

Little words to live by ... "do unto others as you'll have done to you." Nov 14 at 2.16 am.

Mark: Yawn. Do you also believe in fairies Darryl? As you're commenting on my Facebook page your hypocritical preaching is toxic to an agnostic / atheist. What's your alternative forum? A dead person is impossible to libel. I had lots to say to Tim Gordon at Selborne College 20+ years ago. But you wouldn't want to know? Fact: Teachers mentioned above worked at Selborne College & Selborne Primary for many years & affected other staff & pupils, my family & myself included. Messrs Gordon, Blumrick, Gunn, Schaffer & Voke were headmasters during those teachers' tenures. Nov 14 at 9.26 am.

Shaun: Getting a tad "uncomfortable" with this talk gents. Mr Esslemont sir, you know I appreciate your non-conformance with the "Selborne Establishment." And there were plenty of students on that side of the fence and adding fuel to this fire that is burning out of control. But. On the other side. I played Selborne soccer from U9 and have a huge amount of respect for Alan Emslie as coach and teacher. What exactly are we trying to achieve by this discussion? Nov 16 at 11.29 pm.

Mark: Discussion has been achieved Shaun. Check out Lancelot Gobbo's speech, The Merchant of Venice, where Lancelot Gobbo battles between his conscience and the fiend. That's what happened in this discussion, some vehemently for, some vehemently against. If you're uncomfortable - achieved.

I was very uncomfortable having to work with above mentioned creeps, especially Neil & history creeps. My intuition told me something was radically wrong at Selborne, tho at the time I couldn't put my finger on it. Selborne was the worst disciplined boys HS I taught in. (Gordon had no disciplinary code, just an ad hoc, mini policy). I'd taught at Glenwood HS, Northlands BHS, Beachwood BHS & Hillcrest HS, a co-ed (& 5 primary schools) before arriving at Selborne. In hindsight, abused, angry boys caused lots of discipline problems at Selborne eg. Why do my school work, homework etc? Fuck you Sir! Nov 17 at 8.27 am.

Shaun: There were plenty of great students and teachers at SC. The usual suspects with a bit of a rebel attitude. And a fair share of @holes. But I am sure that is true of all schools and life in general. Nov 17 at 9.06 am.

Another FACEBOOK post: Nov 11 at 11.24 am:

Daily Dispatch / pressreader: Convicted Neil Malherbe child porn case ex Selborne College teacher
(pressreader from Daily Dispatch 10 November 2016).

Mark: I taught with Neil Malherbe during his 7 year stint at Selborne College. His std 8 biology testing was weak. I went deaf & Neil helped me doing Clarendon house play adjudication speeches, 1989-1992. When I co-directed My Fair Lady with Neil, 1990, a Selborne / Clarendon production at Guild Theatre, Neil's direction was poor regarding costuming the 100 cast & organising props, both huge tasks which he neglected in favour of Selborne water polo coaching. Nov 11 at 11.24 am.

Stavros: Hey Mark what has made you so acid and angry? Nov 11 at 12.11 pm.

Mark: Your opinion Stavros. You're attacking the messenger. I offer observations as a biology / general science teacher at Selborne 1989 - April 1995 incl. Nov 11 at 12.18 pm.

Stavros: Not attacking anyone just want to know whats made you angry. Is it that he left you to do the  play? Is it because you werent teaching certain classes? What has made you angry? Was it the way the establishment was run? What? Nov 11 at 12.51 pm.

Ash (Fin): Very defensive Stavros, something we should know? Nov 15 at 4.06 pm.

Stavros: Im not attacking anybody, just want to know what has made you so angry? Nov 11 at 12.50 pm.

Mark: I'm not angry. Nov 11 at 12.50 pm.

Stavros: So then why state his teaching, or the other things you have brought up, what does it have to do with whats going on? His knowledge was bad about the costumes and the props, what? It is easy to slate someone but you gotta have the balls  to say why? Why has he annoyed you, and you are not saying that! Nov 11 at 12.57 pm.

Stavros: I gotta get sleep, nice chatting Mark, the sun already rising here. Nov 11 at 12.59 pm.

Mark: Already stated Neil neglected co-direction of My Fair Lady, as he was involved with water polo simultaneously. I directed as well as coached cricket simultaneously, a 40-60 hour working week with unsociable hours directing plays at night. If you'd participated in plays you'd know times involved. Nov 11 at 1.01 pm.

Mark: Neil also annoyed music director Lloy Brent (patronising casting without consulting Lloy) & choreographer Ginny Theunissen with his slackness. Never mind causing the former choreographer [Mrs Hubbard] to have a "nervous breakdown". (Tim Gordon's words). She'd bollocked Neil at a dinner party in my house together with Lloy, then a few days later bollocked Neil in Selborne staffroom before staff. Enough skande for you Stavros? Nov 11 at 1.10 pm.

Averil (RSA): Stavros Mark made an observation / gave an opinion which he's entitled to as is everyone on FB. Personally don't know the "gent" you are talking of... he's been found guilty... Nuff said. You're the one attacking Mark rather aggressively I may add. "Anger" issues?! Known Mark since 1960s... Never known him to have "anger" issues. In fact quite the reverse / opposite. Nov 11 at 4.32 pm.

Paul S: Averil you clearly don't know Stavros!! Nov 11 at 5.05 pm.

Averil: Don't need to... His attack on Mark was enough. Nov 11 at 5.39 pm.

Paul S: Please... Averil!! Nov 11 at 5.40 pm.

Averil: Ha ha ha ha ha... Paul! Nov 11 at 5.43 pm.

[Stavros repeated verbatim his onanism / clown / teacher, ad hominem attack, as above]. Nov 11 at 7.43 pm.

Dylan (RSA): Sjoe! Nov 12 at 12.46 am.

Ash: Stavros, You're a fat, ugly, bald cunt. And you can't spell for shit. Guess I'm lucky MY English teacher was concentrating on language. Good times? Nov 15 at 4.09 pm

Julie (RSA): I'm sure if Mark had noticed anything funny about Malherbe he would have reported it. The article reads that all the Heads of schools where he taught reported that no incidences were noticed or reported. I pray that he didn't interfere with any children, and they kept quiet. Nov 11 at 8.28 pm.

Averil: Absolutely Julie couldn't agree more... Stavros go over your & Mark's comments, he's in fact said nothing about your character, yet you have of his. He's stated his observations, everyone is entitled to that... And by the way, Mark's pupils hold him in high regard. He's left plenty to remember him by. Nov 11 at 9.12 pm.

Denzil: Too true! Nov 12 at 2.04 am.

Shaun: That's your opinion Stavros. I remember Esslemont as a great guy and teacher. I don't remember Malherbe for much other than water polo coach. Nov 11 at 10.01 pm.

Dylan: A fucking great water polo coach he was. Nov 12 at 12.54 pm.

Ash: I bet mate. Nov 15 at 3.12 pm.

Gareth: My two cents worth. Neil was my class teacher for a couple of years and at the time and up until this article I thought a great man. He has been found guilty of a terrible act (it could have been worse, he was in possession of, not partaking in child porn). Mark you have your issues with the man and apparently the school, but is this really the place to air them? I am sure there are lots of pupils that have issues with you and other teachers, but airing them here is not right. Nov 12 at 2.05 am.

Ash: Really? This should be made public. As a teacher myself I am entrusted with the safety of my pupils. The fact that you defend a guilty paedophile piece of shit makes me worry about how you care for your own kids. Nov 15 at 3.12 pm.

Mark: My thanks to those in support. Those in opposition, chat to KH & join the dots. Nov 12 at 7.25 am.

Louise (RSA): Mark you were a great biology teacher, and I remember the many hours both you and Leah put into The Importance of Being Earnest. (I was Gwendolyn). Wow! Such angry, touchy people around. Nov 12 at 9.08 am.

Ash: Well that explains a lot about that shitty dump of a school. Wasn't he in charge of the hostel for a while? Nov 15 at 3.09pm.

Mark: Neil Malherbe was definitely a hostel master at Selborne College during my early teaching years there, 1989, 90... Malherbe was in the hostel with Latin / English teacher Vaughan Paterson. Max Norman was in charge of the hostel at that time. Nov 15 at 3.17 pm.

Ash: Mr Paterson was not involved with this shit was he? I hope not. Nov 15 at 3.33 pm.

Mark: I doubt it Ash. He's married with kids & has taught in England for years. Nov 15 at 3.37 pm.

Ash: Good. He was the reason I became a teacher. Hell, he was the only teacher who could teach me! (Sorry for being so shitty in class mate). Nov 15 at 3.39 pm.

Mark: No worries Ash. At least Vaughan got through to you. You have turned out well. Nov 15 at 3.42 pm.

Ash: Thanks mate. I stumbled for a while, but ironically found myself in the line of work I despised the most. Who'd have thought I'd be good at it? Biology wasn't my scene, nor science or maths, so I didn't pay any attention to them, not your fault. Hehe. I still remember the day you opened my book (a few months into the year) and all I'd written was a contents page! The look on your face when you banished me to Batman's office was priceless!!! Nov 15 at 3.47 pm.

Ash: Is vaughan still around. I've heard conflicting stories... Nov 13 at 3.48 pm.

Mark: Ash. Hilarious. All is forgiven. After Selborne, Vaughan was Latin HOD at a Cape Town school for a while... Years later I received an email from Vaughan, from S England where he'd settled with his young family, happily teaching. Haven't heard from him since. Nov 15 at 4.27 pm.

Ash: Well at least that explains Mark R. Yes ladies and gentlemen, shots have been fired. Nov 15 at 3.36 pm.

A December email exchange with Vaughan Paterson discussed our expat families & our ex Selborne College lives. I commented on Selborne College, ex principal, Tim Gordon, who'd favoured Neil Malherbe, enabling Malherbe to develop his water polo cover:

Selborne College: I survived it. At times I questioned my sanity there. Before I left for NZ in 1995, Selborne was an endurance feat, no longer fun. Gordon enjoyed manipulating people, causing psychological damage, myself included. Gordon showed no conscience, nor remorse for his ways before & after he left Selborne at the end of 1992. After my many complaints to Gordon & also complaints to his new head office boss, CED director, Gordon refused to apologise for his discriminatory ways regarding libellous notes about me in boys' files, my toxic timetabling & non lab allocation for my general science & biology teaching.

[During my 6 Selborne years other teachers, often maths teachers, were favoured by Gordon with permanent labs, including Mrs Leurs (maths). Teachers hogging the 3 science labs during my Selborne time: Messrs Piderit (HOD) Ashmead (unqualified teacher at the time) Fish, Ball, Bentley. Biology teachers hogging the 2 biology labs: Messrs Midlane (HOD) Vink, Allam, Wirth. Those 10 teachers were favoured with labs, while I taught dangerous experiments & pracs without safety equipment in classrooms. Ms Schonegevel was another biology teacher without a lab. Despite the blatant discrimination, we were expected to produce results as good, if not better, than lab favoured teachers. Brief "biology teacher" Malherbe was also discriminated against without a biology lab. So much for Tim Gordon's malicious lab management].

As for Malherbe, I'd be interested to know your take on the man, as you would have insight to his Selborne hostel master days. My experience of Malherbe was that he was good at polishing his reputation, especially water polo coach, but not much good as a junior biology teacher [e.g. Malherbe's std 8 biology test was too easy, resulting in all std 8 biology classes having to resit another biology test, reset by Malherbe] & an indifferent play director. During the 6 years our paths crossed at Selborne I saw no signs of Malherbe's paedophilia. Google searches weren't available then. I didn't teach English with Malherbe & after My Fair Lady (1990) he did no more play directions, in favour of water polo coaching. (At the end of 1994 Malherbe left Selborne for DHS). In hindsight, I remember Malherbe greeting my 4 year old son backstage at My Fair Lady, Guild Theatre, with a hearty, "Hullo ...!"

My son replied, "Are you the nerd?"

After Malherbe's dinner party fracas at my home with Lloy Brent & Mrs Hubbard, I didn't invite Malherbe to my home again.

05.05.17. A Selborne teacher Facebook messaged me the 05.05.17 Daily Dispatch article regarding Neil Malherbe's sentencing. Daily Dispatch & Lowvelder reported that Neil Malherbe was given a 9 months suspended sentence, put on the child sex offenders' list & forbidden to work with children or youth.

O5.05.17 FACEBOOK comments:

Anton (RSA): Slap on the wrist! So wrong!

Cass (Aus): And to think I was in his classes...

Dylan (RSA): Me too.

Robbie (RSA): Eish!

Denzil (RSA): Very disappointing outcome.

With his RSA criminal record, Neil Malherbe will find it hard to emigrate, travel overseas, or work as a teacher again, as he will never be able to work with kids or youth again. So much for his Selborne College overseas trip with school boys in 1989 (with Vaughan Paterson above) school water polo coaching & national water polo management. His crime discredited schools he taught at like Selborne College, water polo organizations, other sports & church organizations where he worked or volunteered.

Kevin Taylor was Neil Malherbe's English HOD. Kevin Taylor was also Latin HOD at the time. Presently Kevin Taylor is Selborne College vice principal, portfolio discipline & hostel master. Kevin Taylor is still head of English. Like Max Norman, deputy principal & head of maths, Kevin Taylor has taught at Selborne College since 1979, so far 38 years.

As for Tim Gordon, Selborne College headmaster during Neil Malherbe's formative teaching years, Tim Gordon corrupted Neil Malherbe & 2 other teachers by enabling them to appoint themselves as HODs, paid HOD allowances by Selborne College, salaries paid by Cape Education Dept. Tim Gordon was a mendacious sociopath with delusions of grandeur - another story.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See No jail for ex teacher found guilty of child porn possession (Daily Dispatch).

See See former principal in child porn case gets slap on the wrist - police (Lowvelder).

See Selborne College. 

See Selborne Primary.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Week 10 & 11. Mt Gerald Station, Farewell, Mackenzie Country

Late Thurs night, 22.09.16: Luke & Jake were on their way to visit us at Mt Gerald Station when at Rolleston, Luke's van broke down, radiator boiling. Luke & Jake got help from a friend & AA to tow the van back to Luke's Christchurch rental.

Fri 23.09.16: After texts & phone calls from Luke & Jake, I drove from Mt Gerald Station to Christchurch to fetch Jake & Luke for their visit to Mt Gerald Station. Jake & Luke stayed in the 2 classrooms reconverted to bedrooms in our lake house at Mt Gerald Station.

Sat 24.09.16: Stream willows, spring leaves sprouting. At the end of Lilybank Rd, Leah & I wandered moraine hummocks with Jake & Luke, showing them: Lake Tekapo SW; snowy Hall Range, The Island, Godley River W; snowy Sibbald Range, snowy Two Thumbs Range, Macaulay River, N & E.

E side of Lilybank Rd, we climbed a tablelands hill for better views of Mt Erebus, Razorback, Mt Ajax, N & Mt Gerald, E. From that 800 m height I pointed out several walks I'd done on Mt Gerald Station: to tablelands hut; in hummocky moraine country, across Ninety Five Stream; up Ribbonwood Stream, up Mt Gerald; up Stone Hut Stream; up Macaulay River...

Returning to our lake house, in roadside paddocks we saw red deer & Hereford & Angus calves with their mothers. It was spring calving & lambing season.

Sun 25.09.16: I drove Jake to Christchurch for his 4 pm shift at Woolston Club, then I drove back to our Lake house at Mt Gerald Station. Return trip, 540 kms.

While I was away, Leah & Luke tried to find the tablelands hut, off Lilybank Rd, on Mt Gerald Station, but turned back due to mist. Instead, with Jimmy dog, they wandered wetlands where Mt Gerald streams & Coal River merged at the NE end of Lake Tekapo. They saw rare kakis, other waterfowl & Luke found a pair of rams horns drying in the sun.

Mon 26.09.16. Quiet family morning at our lake house, Mt Gerald Station, as it was Leah's sister's last day with us before flying back to Sydney.

Afternoon: I drove us along Lilybank Rd to Tekapo Spa for a farewell meal at the Tahr Bar.

Tues 27.09.16. I drove Leah's sister from Mt Gerald Station to Christchurch airport for her flight back to Sydney. Over the last 5 days, I'd driven 3 return trips from Mt Gerald Station to Christchurch.

En route, as Luke's van was bung in Christchurch, I dropped Luke off at our Fairlie rental for him to drive our Honda car back to Christchurch for him to use till his van's radiator was fixed. By the time Luke got to Geraldine our Honda's radiator was boiling due to a perished rubber hose. Luke fixed the hose at a Geraldine garage & continued safely to Christchurch. He dubbed himself "the destroyer of cooling systems."

Wed 28.09.16. Quiet morning at Mt Gerald Station tidying up, ready to farewell our lake house.

Afternoon: With Jimmy dog, Leah & I wandered Coal River wetlands at the NE end of Lake Tekapo. We threw sticks for Jimmy to fetch in streams. Jimmy, a rock hound, dived into streams & dug up stones which he carried in his mouth. We saw 11 juvenile kakis, still with their black & white plumage & DOC tags on their red legs. Other waterfowl seen: banded dotterels, gulls, terns, paradise shelducks, pied oyster catchers.

Using binoculars, we watched a distant, black Angus cow give birth to a calf. The calf lay exhausted & didn't rise. The cow was protective so we couldn't approach across the wetland. Later that afternoon we reported the difficult birth to the farm manager.

Thurs morn 29.09.16. Tidied up Leah's teaching materials, preparing for relocation back to Lake Tekapo School & our Farlie rental.

Afternoon: I drove from Mt Gerald Station to Lake Tekapo School then our Fairlie rental, to relocate some teaching materials & belongings. Bought chicken fried rice at Mt Hutt Chinese takeaway, Fairlie. Returned to Mt Gerald Station. For the next few days, we were in limbo land, betwixt & between Alpine valleys.

Fri 30.09.16. From the carpark at the end of Lilybank Rd, Leah & I walked to Stone Hut at Stone Hut Stream, 7 km return. Grand Alpine & river views while a nor'wester, rain storm brewed over Sibbald Range, Mt Erebus & Razorback.

Domestic trivia at our lake house, Mt Gerald Station, involved much cleaning, tidying & washing of clothes & bedding before our return to Fairlie. Over the last week, Jimmy dog adopted us, abandoning the farm manager's house, scavenging food from us & sleeping at our lake house.

Sat 01.10.16. Relocated teaching materials & belongings from our lake house, Mt Gerald Station, to Lake Tekapo School & our Fairlie rental.

Sun 02.10.16. Spring larch needles flushing green, poplars still bare. Final cleaning, tidying & packing at our lake house. Left Mt Gerald Station for good. Drove along Lilybank Rd & down Burkes Pass back to our Fairlie rental.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Cows stomp in critically endangered bird habitat (The Press / Stuff Co).

See Ann Brower for the sake of our high country stop tenure review (The Press / Stuff Co).

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Week 9. Mt Gerald Station, Family Visit, Mackenzie Country

Fri 16.09.16. I drove Leah from our Fairlie rental to St Josephs School, Fairlie, for Leah to teach there. I wandered around Fairlie. Grey rain clouds loured over Two Thumbs Range & Sherwood Range.

Sat 17.09.16. I drove us to Academy Motel, Creyke Rd, Christchurch, so we could pick up Leah's Durban sister at Christchurch Airport. (Rangitata River & Rakaia River flowed full after Friday's Alpine rains). Leah's sister had visited her Sydney grand children & would stay with us a week at our lake house at Mt Gerald Station, NE end of Lake Tekapo.

Christchurch Airport parking was horrendous, as Christchurch Council owned Christchurch Airport & had a monopoly on ripoff parking. (Minimum $12.50 for the first hour...) Car hire firms like Hertz clogged the airport carpark with rental cars. Surrounding airport businesses all had private carparks making it impossible for the public to get free parking anywhere near the airport. Nearby roads had yellow dotted lines roadsides, stopping free parking for miles around. Christchurch ratepayers thus subsidised tourist parking & out of town business parking at Christchurch Airport, without free parking for ratepayers or locals like ourselves.

Evening: Had a Corianders takeaway supper with Luke in our Academy Motel room. Leah & her sister enjoyed telling Luke how he resembled his Durban grandfather in tallness, kindness & work ethic.

Late evening: We visited Jake at his Woolston Club restaurant to arrange a visit to our lake house at Mt Gerald Station. Jake had moved flat again, this time to Shetland St to be close to his Woolston Club work. Despite work & study setbacks during quake years 2010-2013, our sons persevered & stayed in Christchurch for the long haul. They stayed in disgustingly expensive rentals, the rental market inflated by greedy landlords, grasping real estate agents & rental managers.

Sun 18.09.16. Morning: Wandered Christchurch Botanic Gdns, viewing blooming magnolias & daffodils. Leah's sister enjoyed seeing post quakes resumed, punters on Avon.

Midday: Shopping at Northlands Mall.

Six years post quakes, Christchurch still had a long way to go, repairing quake trashed roads, repairing quake damaged bldgs & building new ones. Although NZ govt's Blueprint Justice & Emergency Services Precinct, Hereford St, was being completed, NZ govt & Council still dithered over building other Blueprint anchor projects, like Central Library, Convention Centre, Stadium, Performing Arts Precinct, Metro Sports Facility in the CBD, the latest excuse being asbestos pollution buried in Blueprint demolition sites by errant demolishers. Fence cordoned, Christchurch Cathedral ruin was a blot on the landscape, symbol of Council's & NZ govt's botched quake recovery. Never mind EQC's repeat repairs of 10 000 botched house repairs & EQC trying to get repeat repairs cash settled instead of insisting on proper repairs by Fletcher's contractors.

By September's end, EQC boss Simpson was promoted to GNS Science, another govt agency. What a farce! Since the 2010-2013 Canterbury quakes, Simpson had bossed EQC with all its faults & insults to Cantabrians.

During our Mackenzie Country sojourn, over the last 3 years, every time we returned to Christchurch we were caught in traffic jams due to road detours & road cone obstructions. A lot of Christchurch CBD had 30 km speed limit to protect cyclists. Council was trying to make the post quake CBD pedestrian & cyclist friendly, but unfriendly to motorists, a recipe for slow CBD recovery.  

Afternoon. After a pit stop at our Fairlie rental to pick up bedding & drinking water, I drove us back to our lake house at Mt Gerald Station.

Evening: TV watched Sat highlights of ABS vs Springboks Christchurch test match. ABs thrashed Boks. Late evening: TV watched Rio Para Olympics, Men's Sitting Volleyball, Bronze Medal, Egypt vs Brazil. Egypt won.

Mon 19.09.16. School day Mt Gerald Station. Last week of the school term.. Cool weather forecast for the week. Snow patches still on surrounding high Alps, like Mt Gerald, Mistake Peak, Pikes Peak. Deciduous willows showed spring leaves. Other deciduous trees, like larches, were still bare. Mountain paddocks were greening after spring rains.

Late afternoon: I drove Leah to Lake Tekapo School for her lesson preps. While returning to our lake house Leah's sister snapped Alpine sunset pics over Lake Tekapo. Clouds pouring over Tekapo Saddle showed that Fairlie had a cloudy day.

Tues 20.09.16. School day Mt Gerald Station. The 2 boys rode their Honda motor bikes to school.

I parked my car at the end of Lilybank Rd by the carpark. Like my Macaulay River Valley walk last week, I crossed Ribbonwood Stream & Ninety Five Stream, but instead of wandering Macaulay River's true left bank again, I crossed two paddocks, passed a farm shed & wandered uphill towards Stone Hut Stream.

It took me 1 hour 15 mins to reach Stone Hut by Stone Hut Stream. Map ref BX17 084571. Distance from Lilybank Rd carpark: 3.5 kms. As it was cloudy I deigned climbing higher up Stone Hut Stream gorge towards Beuzenberg's Snake Ridge. Instead I scoffed my biltong & mandarin lunch in Stone Hut & read the visitors' book: ferret & possum trappers; geology surveyors; deer, tahr & bunny hunters; X country skiers; school tramping groups; wanderers like myself & locals.

In reality Stone Hut was an old, corrugated iron hut, with 6 bunk beds; a wood burner stove; wooden table & two wooden benches; kitchen sink, motley kitchen utensils & an outside corrugated iron, long drop toilet with grand Alpine & river views.

On my return to my car at the end of Lilybank Rd, a cold wind blew from Lake Tekapo & western ranges, so I was glad of my trusty, brown wind cheater. In my absence a wag had written PRIVATE CAR PARK in the dust on my back windscreen. Irony: I drove the station owner's Subaru Outback. Not a soul in sight, in a vast Alpine landscape. I replied: BOO.

Late afternoon: I drove Leah & her sister to the end of Lilybank Rd for snowy mountain & river views. In a chilly wind, we wandered moraine hummocks overlooking braided Godley River, Macaulay River & streams from Mt Toby & Mt Gerald. We watched the sun setting over Pikes Peak.

Wed 21.09.16. Last school day Mt Gerald Station. Treasure hunt around farm bldgs for the children & a visit to the horse paddock. I tidied up the 2 ex school rooms to morph them into bedrooms again for our sons' visit to Mt Gerald Station.

Thurs 22.06.16. Drove Leah & her sister from Mt Gerald Station to Geraldine for shopping & lunch. Stopped en route to look at the daffodil farm. Afternoon: Detoured off SH8 to Pioneer Park for tea. Pit stop at our Fairlie rental to collect drinking water for our lake house at Mt Gerald Station.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Christchurch anchor projects plagued by land contamination (The Press / Stuff Co).

See EQC looking to cash settle remaining remedial work (The Press / Stuff Co).

See Outstanding EQC boss Simpson quits (The Press / Stuff Co).

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Week 8. Mt Gerald Station, Macaulay River Valley, Mackenzie Country

Fri 09.09.16. I drove from Mt Gerald Station to Fairlie for Leah to teach at St Josephs School, Fairlie. I did my circular walk around Fairlie.

Afternoon: I drove us to Timaru for banking & shopping. There were no ANZ bank branches at Fairlie nor Lake Tekapo. Our nearest ANZ branch was at Geraldine. Rural NZ was poorly served by ANZ. Recently Westpac threatened to close its Fairlie branch, just leaving an ATM, like at Lake Tekapo. Customers like me who liked dealing with people had to deal with machines!

Sat 10.09.16. Leah taught her Woodbury & Kurow students at St Josephs School, Fairlie. Afterwards, I drove us back to our lake house, Mt Gerald Station.

Sun 11.09.16. Lake Tekapo School principal & his family visited us at Mt Gerald Station. Leah had worked with the principal for nearly 3 years. He was impressed with Mt Gerald School & the children's progress.

Mon 12.09.16. School day Mt Gerald Station. Great jubilation as the 3 children had all come first in their ski races at Round Hill ski field on Saturday. Leah hung a congratulations poster on the school door. I gave Jimmy the school dog a bowl of water to celebrate.

Afternoon: I drove Leah to Lake Tekapo School for her to teach there & for lesson prep.

Tues 13.09.16. School day Mt Gerald Station. A teacher from Lake Tekapo School visited Leah at Mt Gerald Station.

In Macaulay River Valley, between Razor Back, 1570 m & Mt Toby, 2222 m, I walked the true left bank of Macaulay River as follows:

I parked my car at the end of Lilybank Rd by Mt Gerald Station carpark, overlooking Lilybank Station & the merging of Macaulay River & Godley River below Alps, a remote area with magnificent Alpine & river valley views - Hall Range westwards, Sibbald Range northwards, Two Thumbs Range northwards & eastwards.

Below Mt Gerald, 1551 m, I crossed Ribbonwood Stream & Ninety Five Stream merge & wandered a track on the true left bank of Macaulay River to Mt Gerald Station deer fenced paddocks. Many paddock gates along Lilybank Rd & near tourist areas were padlocked to stop wandering stock due to careless trampers & tourists.

I crossed several fences & paddocks till I came to a farm track on the 800 m contour going up the true left bank of Macaulay River. I crossed Stone Hut stream fan with Stone Hut nestling by willows, higher up at the top of the fan at about 1000 m. Map ref: BX17 084571. I'd visited Stone Hut in April, during my trek up Stone Hut Stream gorge between Mt Gerald & Mt Toby.

I crossed another stream below another gorge on Mt Toby lower slopes. Looming above Macaulay River's true right bank was Razor Back, which I tramped past in about 2 hours.

I crossed Macaulay River flats below Mt Toby. The track then undulated along Macaulay River true left bank past cattle paddocks & matagouri / tussock lands with Macaulay River braiding through shingle below. In Macaulay River Valley, the braided river I passed was about 1 km wide. It narrowed further up. At one point I went down to Macauley River, but it flowed too fast & deep for me to cross, so I stuck to the true left bank. A safer crossing would've been at the end of Lilybank Rd going to Lilybank Station.

I crossed several streams flowing down to Macaulay River & saw weather station apparatus surrounded by barbed wire. The weather apparatus: 2 bucket, rain gauges, 2 padlocked steel boxes on poles, the boxes had sticker warnings not to interfere with the apparatus, giving early flood warnings for Mackenzie District Council. One of the boxes had a solar panel & aerial on top.

I crossed First Waterfall Stream by another padlocked, deer fence gate. The waterfall was high above, falling into a gorge from about 1300 m. It reminded me of Howick falls I'd often visited near Pietermaritzburg.

I crossed several more streams. Razor Back receded behind me on the true right bank. Razor Back ended abruptly in Stony Stream gorge. With my binoculars I saw a farm road zig-zagging above the S end of Stony Stream gorge towards the 1300 m contour on Razor Back & Observation Hill, 1689 m.

I continued along the true left bank of Macaulay River till I came to a private hut by Second Waterfall Stream below Mt Toby. Map ref: BX17 095624. Outside the hut were horse hitching posts & a barbed wire, horse paddock. The hut was locked, but I used the long drop toilet by the stream. The long drop had grand views of the bend up Macaulay River Valley, Third Waterfall Stream, Two Thumbs Range, including Mt Ajax, 2319 m, Razor Back, Observation Hill, Stony Steam gorge & snowy Sibbald Range.

I returned to my car at Lilybank Rd carpark, the way I'd came.

Walking Times: 3 hours to the Second Waterfall Stream hut. 3 hours return.
Distances: 8 kms to Second Waterfall Stream hut. 8 kms return. Total 16 kms.

Tramping fitness, food, water, map, all weather gear, safety gear, farmer's permission required.

Wed 14.09.16. School day Mt Gerald Station.

Thurs 15.09.16. School day Mt Gerald Station.

Afternoon: I drove Leah to Lake Tekapo School for her to teach there & for her Pilates class at the Community Hall. Afterwards I drove us down Burkes Pass to our Fairlie rental.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Week 7. Mt Gerald Station, Mt Gerald Climb, Mackenzie Country

Fri 02.09.16. I drove Leah from Mt Gerald Station to St Josephs School, Fairlie, for Leah to teach there.

I drove to Timaru for shopping, including round balloons for Leah's students to stuff with sensopathic play dough.

Sat 03.09.16. I drove Leah to St Josephs School, Fairlie, for her to teach her Woodbury students there.

Afternoon: I drove to Timaru for Leah to buy a new laptop at Warehouse Stationery, as her old laptop was bung. She used her laptop a lot for teaching prep & reports. We had tea at Pak 'n Save's Sticky Cafe. At the garage, I did our Subaru's tyre pressures, as I didn't want a blow out on rutted Lilybank Rd.

Late afternoon: I drove up Burkes Pass & along Lilybank Rd, back to our lake house at Mt Gerald Station. Our two green, plastic, rubbish bins were blown over by Alpine winds. They were blown over several times a week. Despite mature oregon pine & larch shelterbelts the homestead was prone to Alpine winds, as Mt Gerald Station was in a variable weather zone N of Lake Tekapo, high Alps on 3 sides - snowy Two Thumbs Range E, snowy Sibbald Range N, snowy Hall Range W.

Sun 04.09.16. Rainbow over N end of Lake Tekapo, due to showers over Mt Gerald Station & Godley River Valley. Intermittent wind & showers all day.

Afternoon visit by SA expat friends from Cape Town, living in Blenheim. They regularly motored to Fairlie to maintain their son's property near Farm Barn Cafe at the top of Mt Michael. Their son lived in Canada.

Mon 05.09.16. School day Mt Gerald Station.

Afternoon: I drove Leah to Lake Tekapo School for her to teach a student there & for her computer class. I wandered round The Cairns golf course.

Tues 06.09.16. School day Mt Gerald Station.

Weather forecast: 10 degrees Centigrade, clear, no wind. Perfect for climbing Mt Gerald, 1551 m. Map ref: BY17 099538. Snows had thawed on Mt Gerald west faces & up Ribbonwood Stream gorge.

Mt Gerald climb: I parked my car at the end of Lilybank Rd, crossed Ninety Five Stream & several sown grass paddocks to hummocky, moraine country at the bottom of Mt Gerald & Ribbonwood Stream gorge. Steadily rising, I crossed fences & streams & followed a vague farm track up Ribbonwood Stream gorge. Tributary streams, cutting through moraine hummocks, joined Ribbonwood Stream & Stone Hut Stream further N. My Topo50 map showed a paper road zig-zagging up Ribbonwood Stream gorge on the south side of the gorge.

About 1000 m height I left the farm track, as it would take a long time zig-zagging up the gravel track. Instead I made a beeline up sunny, N facing, tussocky, moraine terraces above Ribbonwood Stream. Above 1000 m there was still snow on the N side of Ribbonwood Stream - S facing slopes.

At about 1300 m, the border between farm lands & DOC lands, I crossed a deer fence & the farm track, which had climbed out of Ribbonwood Stream gorge then descended southwards through Mt Gerald tussock land on moraine terraces towards Mt Gerald Stream. The farm track also went N towards Stone Hut Stream through patchy snowfields on moraine tussock lands by the 1300 m contour. Mt Gerald Station's deer fence gates were padlocked at the border between farm lands & DOC lands, to stop recreationists leaving gates open for stock to escape to higher Alps controlled by DOC.

Above glacier terraces, the stiffest part of my Mt Gerald climb was the last 200 m, past rock outcrops & scree, interspersed with matagouri & snow tussock. I aimed for the wireless mast on top of the N face of Mt Gerald. The wireless mast was a power pole, a metal aerial on top. A long drop sized aluminium hut contained 2 car batteries on a wooden shelf & wireless equipment attached to a wall. The seat was a DOC trap, wooden box. Previous denizens left empty plastic bottles & other junk in the hut, too small a shelter for camping. The hut had a solar panel on top.

Mt Gerald top was a snow tussock plateau, sloping to a long, snowy hollow, forming Mt Gerald Stream catchment. Eastwards, on the other side of Mt Gerald Stream, snowy Beuzenberg Snake Ridge rose above Mt Gerald, going N all the way to snowy Beuzenberg Peak 2070 m.

As it was still sunny & windless, I wandered Mt Gerald top for 2 hours towards Beuzenberg snowy Snake Ridge. Map ref: BX17 104548. (On a sunny March day, I'd started along Snake Ridge via Rex Simpson Memorial Hut, but turned back as I'd run out of time). Northwards, across Ribbonwood Stream gorge, below Beuzenberg's Snake Ridge & between a lower snowy, Mt Gerald ridge was Ribbonwood Stream catchment, where Ribbonwood Stream meandered down through snowy tussock land to Ribbonwood Stream gorge.

A clear day, I had grand views of Macaulay River Valley, Godley River Valley & snowy Alpine Ranges:N, S & E - Two Thumbs Range; N - Sibbald Range; W - Hall Range & Gammack Range; Sublime Mt Cook & Mt Tasman beyond.

I descended to my car via the steep, N facing, tussock slope below the wireless mast & the zig-zag farm track in Ribbonwood Stream gorge. The farm track was badly eroded with tumbled rocks, top soil lumps & crossing streams. Little horse or vehicle traffic went up there anymore, as farm helicopters were de rigueur.

My Mt Gerald climb times: Ascent 3.5 hours, 800 vertical metres. Plateau top wander 2 hours. Descent 2.5 hours. Total distance 13 kms. I didn't see a soul all day. Two paradise shelducks circled me high above Mt Gerald N slopes. A chamois darted through snow tussock near the top.

Tramping fitness, food, water, maps, all weather gear, safety gear, farmer's permission required.

Wed 07.09.16. It rained most of Tuesday night, a fresh snowfall down to 1000 m on the Alps.

School day Mt Gerald Station. Variable winds & squally rain from the S.

Thurs 08.09.16. Overnight powder snow down to 700 m surrounded our lake house.

School day Mt Gerald Station.

Morning snow flurries blown horizontally by southerlies. Mt Gerald I'd climbed on Tuesday was snowy from top to toe.

I drove Leah through a snow storm to Lake Tekapo for her lesson preps at Lake Tekapo School & for her Pilates class at the Community Hall, Aorangi Cres. We had supper at Tahr Bar, Tekapo Spa. Grand views of Mt Edward, snowy from top to toe.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Week 6. Mt Gerald Station, Round Hill Ski Field, Mackenzie Country

Fri 26.08.16. Rainy day. I drove Leah from Mt Gerald Station to St Josephs School, Fairlie, for her to teach there.

Afternoon: I drove to Timaru WINZ office, Strathallan St, for me to sign on for superannuation. Two uniformed, security men stood at the front door. A friendly one with clipboard took my appointment details. Both had squiggly wires in their ears. Two unsmiling, male receptionists directed Leah & me to waiting chairs. Security had ramped up since last year's fatal shootings at Ashburton WINZ office. Timaru WINZ office was a clone of depressing WINZ offices we'd encountered over the years at Sydenham, Riccarton & Papanui, Christchurch - sour office workers, open plan offices with no privacy for clients & many intrusive CCTV cameras.

A SA immigrant dealt with my superannuation application. He hailed from SWA - Kuruman - Parow & spoke fluent German, Afrikaans & English. He offered to interview us in English or Afrikaans. We opted for English & nattered a bit in Afrikaans, At the end of the interview I said, "South African immigrants are taking over running NZ."

Shopping at Timaru Pak 'n Save, then I drove back to Fairlie.

Sat 27.08.16. Rainy day. I drove Leah to St Josephs School, Fairlie, for her to teach her Geraldine students there. Leah's specific learning difficulties teaching expertise was in high demand in Mackenzie Country, yet the MOE had no employment options for Leah in Mackenzie Country. There were so-called resource teachers hovering in Timaru, but too far away for the needs of rural children & small schools.

When Leah had attended vague job interviews in Timaru, Pleasant Point & Ashburton, principals made the right noises about teaching & learning needs for behaviour & learning difficulties children, but had no funding nor facilities for Leah's expertise. An Ashburton principal insultingly sniggered he could only give Leah teaching space in the school kitchen, as his school was crying out for more classrooms. An indictment of MOE's & school principals' planning & organization.

After more than 2 years' teaching at Lake Tekapo School, leah received a letter from the principal & BOT chairman saying they would advocate for her, whatever that meant? Last year during an ERO inspection at Lake Tekapo School, an ERO inspector told Leah, "The school is lucky to have you." The luck didn't come from the school's initiative, but came from a concerned local farmer / parent who'd head-hunted Leah, obtaining her secondment to Lake Tekapo School from Seabrook Mackenzie Centre, Christchurch. A private arrangement with the farmer / parent, Lake Tekapo School & Seabrook Mackenzie Centre. Nothing to do with MOE nor ERO.

Leah's private students from Kurow, Twizel, Fairlie, Woodbury & Geraldine were all obtained by her personal marketing & referrals from her professional network & satisfied parents. Concerned parents drove long distances transporting their children from Woodbury, Geraldine, Twizel & Kurow for Leah to teach their children at Lake Tekapo or Fairlie. It would be uneconomic for Leah to travel to teach their children. Most of her secondment in Mackenzie Country required her to commute daily between our Fairlie rental & Lake Tekapo, as it was too expensive to rent in Lake Tekapo tourist trap. Return commuting by car from Fairlie - Kimbell & bus via Burkes Pass added more than 2 hours to Leah's teaching day at Lake Tekapo School.

After a late lunch at Farm Barn Cafe, Alandale Rd, I drove us up Burkes Pass to our lake house at Mt Gerald Station.

Sun 28.08.16. Buzzed awake by the farmer flying his helicopter close to our lake house. Helicopters, busy during mustering, were quicker & more efficient than horses & dogs & less destructive of the Alpine environment by farm vehicles on farm tracks.

A sunny, nor'wester day, snows still on the high peaks. Leah & I did the 3 hour, 7.5 km, circular walk from Lilybank Rd to the 895 m tableland hill. Map ref: BY17 061532. The nor'wester was strong, so we sheltered by top rocks & scoffed our scroggin. After snow & ice thaws there was lots of mud about. We looked at the nearby tablelands hut - 4 bunk beds, log burner, dining table & chairs, double glazed windows, respite from the nor'wester. Snow topped, Mt Gerald west face loomed above, beckoning. Returning to Lilybank Rd, I slipped in mud, cracking my head, protected by my parka hood & hat. My back, bum & arms were covered in cow shit!

Mon 29.08.16. School day Mt Gerald Station. I'd refrained from blogging school activities & teaching for privacy / professional reasons. Besides classroom furniture & stationery, we had 3 laptops, a laminator & paper guillotine which occupied our big, dining room table. While Leah prepped lessons I joked, "I can add classroom cleaner, teacher aide, office manager & taxi driver to my CV." I did all that to support Leah while she taught at Mt Gerald Station.

Afternoon: I drove to Lake Tekapo School for Leah to prep teaching aids & for her computer class.

Tues 30.08.16. School day Mt Gerald Station.

Morning: Sunny, cloudless, windless. Favouring my sciatica, left leg. I drove to the carpark at the end of Lilybank Rd. I did a short walk over moraine hummocks to a row of pines, planted to stop moraine sand erosion at a high point where waters gathered from Macaulay River, Stone Hut Stream, Ribbonwood Stream & Ninety Five Stream below. Map ref: BX17: 047557. A vast, magic place where Godley River gathered waters with Macaulay River below, while Hall Range, Sibbald Range & Two Thumbs Range soared above, high peaks covered in snow.

I watched the farmer & his brother, both flying helicopters, mustering cattle below Mt Gerald from paddock to paddock. I watched a tractor / trailer & a SUV ford Macaulay River, forming wakes as they crossed from Lilybank Station to the carpark at the end of Lilybank Rd.

Afternoon: Leah & I did the same circular walk to take in magnificent views at the end of Lilybank Rd. It was a good time to snap pics of the mountains, moraines, braided rivers & Lake Tekapo. I though the area could be a good place for a movie set.

We climbed a 834 m tablelands hill & watched 2 helicopters land near the carpark at the end of Lilybank Rd. Map ref: BX17 052547. Soon afterwards, a fire engine & two SUVS arrived, all flashing hazard lights. With our binoculars we watched goods transferred from the vehicles to the bigger helicopter. The farmer's helicopter flew S over The Island to Mt Gerald homestead. The bigger helicopter flew NE up Macaulay River Valley. Was it a LANDSAR exercise, or a tramper in difficulties, or someone needing medical attention at a remote Macaulay River hut?

Wed 31.08.16. Early morning: Lake Tekapo village & Mt John were covered in brown smog from the village all the way up the E side of Lake Tekapo, covering lower slopes of Mt Edward, Mt Ardmore & Mt Richmond. It petered out as white smog over Mt Gerald. A DOC worker had burnt rubbish near a hut up Macaulay River Valley. The "LANDSAR exercise" we saw yesterday at the end of Lilybank Rd was locals trying to sort out the DOC fire. (The fire burnt scores of hectares of tussock land & smouldered several days). A film crew was at Lake Tekapo for the day, pissed off by smog. So much for Lake Tekapo being the International Dark Sky Reserve of the world.

 School day Mt Gerald Station. Sunny, cloudless, windless.

Afternoon: As Round Hill Ski Field closed for the season next week, it was time we visited. Neither of us skied, as we grew up in sub-tropical Durban. During my youth, I'd body surfed at Durban's North beach. From our lake house, the other side of Coal River we saw 1588 m Round Hill nestling below snowy Mt Richmond. Map ref BY17 116459.

In the afternoons, when we travelled back from Lake Tekapo to Mt Gerald Station we counted cars & SUVs returning from Round Hill Ski Field. In the half hour it took us from SH8 on Lilybank Rd to Round Hill Ski Field turnoff we counted more than 40 vehicles per trip. A popular ski field, but ski traffic chewed up Lilybank Rd leaving it mega rutted & potholed. After the ski field turnoff, Lilybank Rd was relatively smooth to Mt Gerald Station.

From Roundhill Ski Field turnoff on Lilybank Rd, I drove 8 kms up the steep, gravel, ski field road above Coal River S bank. The road climbed moraine terraces from Alpine red tussock & matagouri scrub to snow tussock lands & scree, from 700 m to 1350 m. I parked our car by the ski field, still lots of snow there. We had toasted sandwiches & coffee in the cafe, while Leah chatted to the farmer's wife & I checked out skiers & Alps with my binoculars.

Westwards, DOC smog hung low to about 1000 m on Mistake Peak & Pikes Peak, so the snowy peaks, cols, & couloirs of Mt Stevenson, Hall Range, Mt Joseph, Mt Haszard & Gammack Range were visible above. Snowy Mt Cook loured above the lot. Eastwards, DOC smog had cleared over Two Thumbs Range & Richmond Range.

Some Roundhill Ski Field facts & ski runs sourced from a Roundhill Ski Field info board:

Above 1500 m to Richmond Range top 2133 m

Ridge Run
The Pipe

Heritage Express Rope Tow

The Bowl
The Long Drop
How's Your Daddy

T2 Lift above 1500 m to 1620 m

Ozzi's Way
Schatzy's Way
Mik's Way
Outer Speedway

T Bar Lift

Aud's Way
Karl's Way

Platter Lift

Learners' Area

Base Area 1350 m

I drove down Roundhill Ski Field road & from the DOC Richmond Trail carpark we did a short walk on Coal River S bank to braided Coal River. I showed Leah the matagouri ravine I'd descended by a deer fence on Coal River N bank two weeks ago. Map ref BY17 071464.

Thurs 01.09.16. School day Mt Gerald Station.

Afternoon: I drove to Lake Tekapo School for Leah to teach a student there & for her Pilates class. Thereafter I drove down Burkes Pass to Fairlie for the weekend.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Roundhill Ski Field, Mackenzie Country

See Hot spots being assessed after fire burns Mackenzie back country (Timaru Herald)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Week 5. Mt Gerald Station, Tablelands, Mackenzie Country

Fri 19.08.16. While Leah taught students at St Josephs School, Fairlie, I drove to Timaru for shopping. At $2 Shop, Stafford St, I bought six squishy balls for Leah's students. She said the sensopathic feel of the plastic balls calmed students' nerves. Calmed Leah's too.

Sat 20.08.16. Leah taught Geraldine students at St Josephs School, Fairlie

Evening: We went to Carnegies, Allandale Rd, for so-called gourmet pizzas, The owner turned us away saying: "We're full." She lost our goodwill. Carnegies was another tourist trap with expensive, crap food. It was the last time we supported Carnegies. On Main St, recently opened Mt Hutt Chinese Cafe was cheaper, healthier & friendlier. We'd rather support them.

Sun 21.08.16. I chopped wood for our Fairlie rental log burner.

Afternoon: I drove along Lilybank Rd back to our lake house at Mt Gerald Station.

Evening: Rio Olympics TV watching; Women's rhythmic gymnastics. Men's double canoe 1000 m - gold medal Germany, silver medal Brazil, bronze medal Ukraine. Men's kayak four 1000 m. Women's kayak four 1000 m - gold medal Germany, silver medal Slovakia, bronze medal Czech Republic. Women's kayak four 500 m - gold medal Hungary, silver medal Germany, bronze medal Belarus. Women's triathlon - gold medal USA, silver medal Switzerland, bronze medal Great Britain. Men's marathon - gold medal Kenya, silver medal Ethiopia, bronze medal USA.

It rained all night at Mt Gerald Station. I hoped it would thaw top snows so I could climb Mt Gerald soon.

Mon 22.08.16. School day Mt Gerald Station. Snows still high on Mt Gerald, Two Thumbs Range & Hall Range. Low slopes' snows had thawed.

Afternoon: I drove Leah to Lake Tekapo School for her to teach a student there & for her computer course. I wandered around The Cairns golf course. There was lots of building activity since I'd last wandered that way: New house almost completed at The Cairns development. Another house half built. Seven weeks ago it was bare land. A new road was dug at the N end of the golf course, all the way to a new house overlooking Mt John & SH8. Heaps of gravel was dumped on a moraine hilltop overlooking The Cairns golf course. Was it foundation stone for a golf club house, or for a posh, new house?

Evening: I TV watched Rio Olympics closing ceremony, which included Men's marathon medal ceremony.

Tues 23.08.16. School day Mt Gerald Station. We were half way through our stay at Mt Gerald Station, as the school term was 9 weeks.

Mt Gerald Tablelands: Cloudy & cool, a good day for tramping. I wanted to recce the farm track going up Ribbonwood Stream gorge at the N end of Mt Gerald. There was no public road connection from Lilybank Rd to the farm track going up Ribbonwood Stream. Mt Gerald tablelands above Lilybank Rd & Ninety Five Stream catchment blocked the way.  

On Lilybank Rd, I parked my car 3 km N of the homestead & wandered east up Mt Gerald slopes through grassy, matagouri, moraine country to grassy tablelands above Lilybank Rd. Good cattle country with grand Alpine views & views of Lake Tekapo. Two weeks ago, Leah & I'd wandered tablelands when it was covered in icy puddles & snow. The snow had thawed, but there were still icy pools & streams en route.

Along a vague farm track, I followed fences & a row of undulating, moraine hills intersecting tableland terraces to about 900 m, where I found a locked, corrugated iron hut. Map ref BY17 078522. (Unmarked on Topo50 map). No one home. Grand views of Mt Gerald steep slopes above. Past the hut, at the end of the moraine hills, the farm track petered out in boggy catchment for the Ninety Five Stream.

Following a fence, I tramped N over rough, moraine hummocks below Mt Gerald & over Ninety Five Stream catchment, past prickly matagouri, over bogs & icy streams. Wet feet again. The main stream was aptly named. I crossed many icy streams, a world of pain for an unfit tramper on Mt Gerald west slopes.

Beyond Ninety Five Stream catchment, a huge hollow between Mt Gerald tablelands & Mt Gerald N slopes going to Ribbonwood Stream, I crossed Ribbonwood Stream way down Mt Gerald slopes & came out at cattle paddocks near the braided confluence of Ninety Five Stream & Ribbonwood Stream. A farm track went up Mt Gerald N end beside Ribbonwood Stream. In future, it was the track I would use to climb Mt Gerald.

Near the end of Lilybank Rd I recrossed Ribbonwood team & Ninety Five Stream & wandered back to my parked car via Mt Gerald tablelands. The 11 km circular walk took me 4 hours.

Wed 24.08.16. School day Mt Gerald Station. Leah had a report back meeting with parents. As farm staff were away, the busy farmer landed his helicopter on our front lawn & left the engine & rotor idling during the meeting. Later that morning the helicopter whizzed low over The Island.

Mt Gerald tablelands: Clouds hung about 1000 m, low over Mt Gerald & Hall Range. I parked my car 4 km N of the homestead along Lilybank Rd. I followed fences east through moraine, matagouri country to grassy tablelands above Lilybank Rd. I watched several flocks of Canada geese arrowing S towards Lake Tekapo.

From the tableland I saw a bee line across the lower end of Ninety Five Stream catchment & cattle paddocks to the farm road going up Ribbonwood Stream, N end of Mt Gerald. The N facing slopes were snowless, but there was still snow on south facing slopes & higher up Mt Gerald towards Beuzenberg ridge. A radio mast stood on top of the N end of snowy Mt Gerald. After snow thaw, climbing Mt Gerald via Ribbonwood Stream was the way I'd go.

I returned to my car via a Mt Gerald tablelands high point, marked 895 m on my Topo50 map, near the 900 m hut. Map ref: BY17 061532. The 6.5 km circular walk took me 3 hours.

During our Mt Gerald Station stay, I had a game left leg, which I favored on our walks. A couple of months back, I'd sprained my left glute while chopping wood for our Fairlie log burner. I'd had glute & thigh pain for months. A Google search showed I had sciatica, a pain in my ass. Pinched sciatic nerve pain went from my ass down the side of my left thigh, to the back of my left knee, to my left toes, giving me painfully disturbed nights & a tingling left leg after sitting. When my endorphins kicked in on my Mt Gerald walks, sciatic pain disappeared, till I cooled down...

Thurs 25.08.16. School day Mt Gerald Station.

Afternoon: I drove Leah to Lake Tekapo for her Pilates class at the Community Hall. Afterwards I drove down Burkes Pass to our Fairlie rental for the weekend.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Week 4. Mt Gerald Station, Wet Feet, Mackenzie Country

Fri 12.08.16. I did shopping at Timaru while Leah taught students at St Josephs School, Fairlie. Grand views of snowy Alpine ranges, including Two Thumbs Range, Dalgety Range. Mt Nessing, Mt Nimrod. I chopped wood for our Fairlie log burner.

Sat 13.08.16. I chopped wood for our Fairlie log burner again, as we glamped in our lounge to stay warm. Leah taught Geraldine students at St Josephs School, Fairlie.

We lunched at Farm Barn Cafe, Allandale Rd, top of Mt Michael. Grand views of snowy Devils Peak, Sherwood Range, Mt Fox, Mt Dobson, Mt Maud & Albury Range.

Sun 14.08.16. I drove along Lilybank Rd to our lake house at Mt Gerald Station. Low snows had thawed in Mackenzie Basin, but the peaks were still snowy. Lilybank Rd snow & ice was gone, the road dusty ruts again. chewed by Round Hill Ski Field traffic.

I TV watched Rio Olympics: 100 m sprint heats, cycling events & NZ hockey & rowing events.

Mon 15.08.16. School day, Mt Gerald Station. I did a 5.5 km circular walk from our lake house along Coal River N bank from the Kahui Kaupeka DOC carpark. I got wet feet crossing thawed, tributary streams & wet, muddy paddocks. I followed a fence across grassy, moraine hills on Mt Gerald lower slopes till I came to a meandering tributary in a ravine going down to Coal River. Map ref: BY17 057478.

Along the way I met a NZ falcon with a crook left leg. It perched on a fence pole on its right leg, holding its left claws against its speckled, brown chest. It flew off, then allowed me a closer look at another fence post.

Along the 800 m contour, I followed another fence above the ravine till I came to a farm track / DOC pole marked track going up Mt Gerald glacial terraces to Rex Simpson Memorial Hut & Camp Stream Hut. I'd tramped to both huts during the summer, I spotted the farmer's helicopter flying low over matagouri, moraine country on Mt Gerald lower slopes - checking cattle & red deer stock below the snow line

I returned to our lake house via the DOC carpark, where several SUVs were parked. They stayed there for days. The SUV owners were cross country skiing snowy heights, the parked SUVs all had ski boxes on top.

Afternoon: I drove Leah to Lake Tekapo School for her to prepare teaching aids & to attend the staff computer course run by a South African immigrant.

Dusk: During our Lilybank Rd return drive beside Lake Tekapo, I braked hard to avoid an Australasian harrier guarding its rabbit prey in the middle of the road.

Digression: DOC staff placed many predator traps in wetlands at the N end of Lake Tekapo to protect their released, rare, kaki black stilts, which DOC staff bred at Twizel. Daft, as ferrets & stoats were originally introduced to cull pestiferous rabbits. If DOC killed all the ferrets & stoats at the end of Lake Tekapo to protect their rare kakis, what would DOC do when rabbit & hare populations exploded again?

Evening: I TV watched Rio Olympics: Women's final heavyweight weightlifting - gold medal China; silver medal N Korea; bronze medal USA. I watched the women's marathon - 1st Ethiopia; 2nd Bahrain; 3rd Kenya. NZ men's hockey were thrashed by Germany in the last 5 minutes of play, score 3-2. NZ women's hockey did better beating Australia, score 4-0.

Tues 16.08.16. I woke & looked out of our bedroom window & watched the sun washing shadows down snowy Mistake Peak & Pikes Peak towards Lake Tekapo & Godley River Valley. A great way to start the day on sunny winter mornings.

School day, Mt Gerald Station.

Afternoon: Leah & I repeated yesterday's 5.5 km circular walk along Coal River N bank. We got wet feet crossing tributary streams & muddy puddles. Wandering lower Mt Gerald slopes, I patiently waited for snows to thaw on Mt Gerald higher slopes before I attempted higher climbs. Terrain was too icy & dangerous for high wanders. Farm roads up there on western faces were all icy.

Evening: I TV watched Rio Olympics. Men's heavyweight boxing - gold Russia; silver Kazakhstan; bronze Cuba & Uzbekistan. Women's kayak 200 m sprint - gold NZ; silver Poland; bronze Azerbaijan.

Wed 17.08.16. School day, Mt Gerald Station. A technician arrived & sorted WIFI & internet connections, so we could use our laptops.

On lower Mt Gerald, moraine slopes I did a 11 km circular walk along the N bank of Coal River from our lake house, past the DOC carpark, crossing paddocks, crossing a tributary ravine higher up, then 2 more deeper, tributary ravines in matagouri grassland paddocks, streams going down to Coal River. It was easier sidling the head of steep ravines than crossing them.

After the first ravine I crossed a fell field, getting wet feet then followed deer fences to about 900 m beyond the beginnings of the next two ravines. Map ref: BY17 075481. At the start of ravine 3 at a farm track culvert, I refilled my empty water bottle. I followed a fence towards Coal River. Beyond a gate I saw a dead red deer, mummified by snow & ice. It would rot in spring thaw. Further down a chamois ran away behind a moraine hill. Grand views of Lake Tekapo, Godley River Valley, Mistake Peak, Pikes Peak, Big Rough & Little Rough.

At a 4th ravine I inched my way down a steep, icy section of Coal River N bank, using the deer fencing as hand grips. Map ref: BY17 071464 I marvelled at how fencers sunk heavy, wooden poles & fenced the steepest slopes. It took 3 hours along N bank for me to reach Coal River from our lake house.

Wet feet again, I crossed Coal River opposite the Round Hill Ski Field carpark. The water was so cold it pinked my legs. I returned to our lake house via Coal River S bank a flattish bank on Coal River delta, unlike precipitous N bank. Return time 1.5 hours. As Coal River braided it became wider with views over Coal River delta to Lake Tekapo. From S bank I saw that ravines 2 & 3 I'd wandered past both mouthed at the same place on Coal River N bank, steep & eroded at that point. Map ref: BY17 069462. Coal River N bank continued more steeply past the 4th ravine mouth towards Round Hill, forming a gorge with ever steepening S bank. A S bank, road cutting above the gorge climbed to Round Hill Ski Field.

Afternoon: Below Mt Gerald homestead, Leah & I did a 5 km, circular walk by the trout stream to the broken wooden bridge by 3 poplars on The Island. Continuing stream side, we saw 2 black swans taking off from the wetland, NZ pipits pecking for insects & a grey heron complaining we invaded its territory. Map ref: BY17 048532. A month ago when I first did the walk I crossed many icy pools. Now after the thaw, we got wet feet sludging through mud. Through matagouri we returned to the lake house via the airstrip parallel to Lilybank Rd.

Leah took snowy peak pics while I scrutinized Mt Gerald upper snowy slopes with my binoculars. Farm roads were still icy above the 1100 m contour.

Evening: After my 16 km wandering Mt Gerald today, my TV watching Rio Olympics put me to sleep on the couch.

Thurs 18.08.16. School day, Mt Gerald Station.

Afternoon: I drove Leah along Lilybank Rd to Lake Tekapo School for Leah to teach a student there. I checked our PO Box for post & had a pie & coffee at the Chinese cafe. Thereafter I drove down Burkes Pass, sans snow, to our Fairlie rental for the weekend.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Week 3. Mt Gerald Station, Frozen Pipes, Mackenzie Country

Fri 05.08.16. It snowed all day at Fairlie. Leah's lessons were cancelled at St Josephs School, as half the snowbound students didn't arrive at school. Buses were cancelled due to snowfalls. We glamped in our Talbot Rd lounge beside our log burner. We lunched at Eat cafe. Fairlie & Alpine ranges were covered in snow: Albury, Mt Maud, Mt Edward, Mt Dobson, Sherwood, Mt Fox, Mt Michael, Devils Peak, The Brothers. It snowed all night, 10 cms.

Sat 06.08.16. Leah's Geraldine student lessons were cancelled at St Josephs School due to snowfalls, In our rental, we'd left our fin heater on in the bathroom & kept our log burner going for most of the day & night to stop pipes freezing. We'd had similar freezing winter conditions during last year's big snows in June. The year before 2014, our first year in Mackenzie Country, the winter was mild, no snowfalls in Fairlie.

We lunched at Fairlie Bakery & exchanged books at Mackenzie College Community Library. Throughout the day there were snowfalls, which soon thawed due to scudding clouds, intermittent sunshine & blue skies.

Sun 07.08.16. Before driving back to Mt Gerald Station I turned off our Fairlie rental's Toby (water main tap) to stop water pipes freezing in our absence. Mackenzie Basin was covered in thick snow. Beside Lake Tekapo, Lilybank Rd was icy in places due to compacted snow caused by Round Hill Ski Field traffic.

Our lake house water pipes were frozen, despite our leaving heat pump & fin heaters on in our absence. All water pipes were frozen except bathroom & kitchen cold water pipes. We had no hot water. Our shower didn't work. Over the next couple of days, we bucketed bathroom water to our toilet cistern to enable flushing. We boiled drinking water we'd transported from Fairlie & Lake Tekapo village. We put fin heaters near frozen water pipes to thaw them.

Evening: I TV watched Rio Olympics cycling road races: several burnouts & crashes. Before bed time, as our toilet was bung, I pissed in the snow in our garden. Minus 10 degrees Centigrade.

Mon 08.08.16. Lake house water pipes still frozen. Had to boil bathroom bucketed water to wash dishes in the kitchen sink. School day, Mt Gerald Station.

I walked the icy north bank of Coal River & watched a tractor driver feed hay to cows in the snow. I returned to the lake house via 2 icy streams, snowy cattle, red deer & horse paddocks. I checked out a neighbouring farm house, pipes were frozen too.

Afternoon: I drove along snowy Lilybank Rd to Lake Tekapo School for Leah's computer course. Evening: Return drive to Mt Gerald Station, car's temperature gauge showed outside temp minus 5 degrees Centigrade.

Tue 09.08.16. School day, Mt Gerald Station. Cold water pipes still frozen. Drinking water & dish wash water still being boiled. No shower. Hot water pipes still frozen. Toilet still bung.

I did a 4 hour, 9 km circular walk from Mt Gerald homestead, past snowy cattle & red deer paddocks by Oregon Pine shelter belts up Mt Gerald snowy & icy lower slopes. I wandered through snowy matagouri, shoving pricks aside with my walking stick. I wandered across icy swampland, myriads of icy puddles, Given icy Mt Gerald, no wonder our lake house pipes were frozen.

I watch a circle of ice, about 1 m diameter, swirl round and round in a Mt Gerald Stream eddy. I crossed Mt Gerald Stream, boots & socks sopping the next 3 hours, to a snowy farm track going up Mt Gerald slope to a low moraine ridge & an old fence line. Map ref: BY17 058524. From the ridge I had grand Alpine views of Godley River Valley & Macaulay River Valley.

I followed the snowy fence line between snowy red deer & cattle paddocks to Lilybank Rd & back to Mt Gerald Station homestead.

Meanwhile a plumber arrived to thaw the frozen pipes. He banged pipes, sawed a hole through the decking to find the Toby & left taps on inside & outside the house, to encourage water flow. After two hours most pipes flowed, but it took another day for kitchen hot water to flow. We left taps dripping all night to stop water pipes freezing again. Our heat pump & fin heaters stayed on days & nights, for weeks.

Wed 10.08.16. School day, Mt Gerald Station.

Afternoon: Leah & I went on a 2 hour, 6 km snow & ice walk on Mt Gerald Slopes, a shortened version of my yesterday's walk. On the icy farm track we bounced on a bog bubble covered in frozen alpine plants & grass. How did it form? - Decomposing organic matter? Explosive methane? Hydrogen sulphide?

Evening: I TV watched Rio Olympic highlights: Sevens rugby, hockey, soccer, rowing, cycling on Rio roads, weightlifting, medal ceremonies.

Thurs 11.08.16. School day, Mt Gerald Station. Afternoon: I drove along Lilybank Rd for Leah to teach a student at Lake Tekapo School & for her Pilates class. Afterwards I drove down Burkes Pass to Fairlie for the weekend, the Alps still covered in deep snow.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.