Friday, 14 November 2008

Interesting day

I had a long and tiring, but very interesting, day on Thursday. Along with 20 or so other staff from tertiary institutions around the country, I was attending a training day on Te Whanake, the new Digital Platform for "Te Ipukarea: National Maori Language Institute".

The Institute's brief is the "pursuit of excellence in scholarship, teaching and research in the Maori language" and it is hosted at Te Ara Poutama, the Maori teaching division of AUT. This entity is very similar in structure to another TEC funded institute, Ako Aotearoa - The National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence, which my department UCTL hosts at the University of Canterbury - it is funded to run projects that lift teaching in all areas of tertiary education.

The day started at 5am, and I was at the airport by 6.15 for a 7am flight to Auckland. The country was covered in low cloud, except for a 40km clear circle around Mount Taranaki - the snow-clad volcano made a spectacular sight sitting up in its circle of green, within the blanket of low white cloud.
(Left - a similar, but less dramatic, image of this effect, found on Google Images)

The day began with a formal welcome at the AUT marae, which was interesting though somewhat mystifying. The speeches were obviously warm and entertaining, though I could only make out some words and phrases. I don't get to such settings very often, so it was a useful reminder that the world is not as English as we in Christchurch assume. 

The people were all extremely nice, and the Institute has done some excellent development work.  The resources were very well integrated into AUT's Blackboard courses - we will have to come up with ways to integrate them into our WebCT-Blackboard and Moodle systems, but that won't be too hard.

After another lengthy session of farewells, we were delivered back to the airport, to discover that the 7.30pm flight was delayed by an hour - I was finally home about 10pm, after a prolonged hassle with the parking ticket machines at the Christchurch Airport. It made a long day.

Today is a public holiday in Canterbury, so Schroeder and I will go and fix (hopefully) the spinnaker pole attachment on my yacht's mast. Our new crewman Darren is very useful, even though he will be in Wellington today; he runs a roofing business, and has provided professional grade tools to do the job.

And now for something completely different; looking like a Monty Python sketch, another advert from Michael Hansen appeared in today's paper. Mr Hansen made headlines during the local body elections a year ago by campaigning against the secret spy planes that "they" were sending to fly over his home and stop him sleeping.

Now he wants the National Party to "carry out door to door enquiries" to track down an "Electronic Cruelty Machine" which is some kind of X-ray making people miserable.

That looks like a regular cap he's wearing, but I wouldn't be surprised if it had a tinfoil helmet underneath. Usually these are worn to foil (excuse pun) aliens wanting to abduct humans for ghastly sexual experiments, but Mr Hansen sounds like he needs a double-thickness model to keep the machines away.

As for Mr Hansen's repeated claims that the Labour Party is somehow involved in the loss of his car, I applaud his request that the National Party investigate this. Here is the chance for John Key to show his concern for those who were treated unfairly by the previous government. Nothing less than a Commission of Enquiry will be adequate to sort out this troubling business.

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