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Guest Speaker July 2nd Peter Trevathan


Guest Speaker 4 June Don Spittle:-

Don began his talk by indicating that he was interested in genealogy and his ancestors especially those who had lived in the Midlands where he had grown up. Sometimes this area was referred to as the “black country” because of its coalmines. Winter was the time when men made nails for themselves. He then gave a history of nail making. The first nails were made of wrought iron and dated back to Ancient Egypt and have been dated back to 3,400 BC. In the UK early evidence of large scale nail making dated back to Roman times 2,000 years ago. Any sizable Roman fortress would have had its “fabrica”, or workshop, where the metal items needed by the army would be made. For nail making iron ore was heated with carbon to form a dense spongy mass of metal which was then fashioned into the shape of square rods and left to cool. After re-heating the rods in the forge the blacksmith would cut off a metal length and hammer all four sides of the softened end to form a point. The nail maker would then insert the hot nail into a hole and with four blows of his hammer would form the rose head – a shallow pyramid. In Tudor times we have evidence the nail had not changed shape at all. It was not until around 1600 that the first machine for making nails appeared. Eventually, in the USA towards the early 1800s, a new machine was devised to automate the process. Soon nail making really took off, primarily in the USA and UK (with the captive market of the British Empire). [David Horne]

April, 2019 Neville Peat:-

A former ORC and DCC councillor Neville has been writing, including winning two awards, for forty years and based his talk on his book “The Invading Sea.”

New Zealand has a coastline of 19,000km of which 11,000km is open coast and 8,000km is harbour, inlets, etc.. The sea level rise with global warming will impact on coastal settlements and landforms; the time for central government planning and action is now rather than leaving 78 local authorities to deal with coastal erosion issues. Since 1993 sea levels have risen by 3.3mm per year! The greatest sea rise temperatures occur to the north of NZ and this is impacting on low lying Pacific Islands.

The need to curb and lessen green house gas emissions is important too – now as well as the future.

Climate change will affect NZ with extended periods of drought, more severe rainstorms, cyclones, rising sea levels and further coastal erosion.

March 2019


Naomi Miller was introduced by P.P. Ian Lambie. Naomi indicated that she honed her writing skills working as a reporter at the Christchurch Press Newspaper where she worked for sixteen years. Since returning home to Dunedin in 2012, families have commissioned her to write books that capture the voiced anecdote, history and reflections of one of their family members. Naomi indicated that she brings a fresh enjoyable approach to interviewing and writing. Her goal is to reflect the vitality, humour and heart of each person she writes about. Naomi finds families who commit to this process reap many rewards most notably the pride and satisfaction of celebrating a life well lived in print.

Naomi continued by saying that many people intend, at some stage in their lives, to write down their thoughts, feelings and musings into a record for their families, but are often completely overwhelmed by the perceived enormity of the task. As a skilled interviewer and writer, Naomi indicated that she had the focus and skills that not only gets the process rolling but she also had the motivation and determination to see it right through to fruition. Naomi concluded by saying that an individually crafted book of personal stories, reflections and anecdotes can become a precious family heirloom. Naomi was thanked by President Paul. (notes by David Horne)


February’s Speaker – David Horne (notes by David)

David, who has currently been to 291 countries and territories in the world, began his talk by indicating what had made him interested in travel and how he had found out about the International Travelers’ Century Club of which he is a platinum member club member. The Club, which is based in Los Angeles, is open to anyone who has been to a 100 or more countries. Currently the Club has 3 800 members scattered around the world. David indicated that some of the highlights of his travelling experience had included a trip to the North Geographical Pole on board the Russian icebreaker “Yamal” and swimming at the Pole it self at -1.4 degrees. Another highlight was visiting the remote French Sub-Antarctic islands of Crozet, Kerguelen, St Paul and Amsterdam islands, enjoying the pristine wild life there including a total eclipse of the sun! Other memorable trips have included spending three weeks in North Korea, climbing to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro (5895m) and being detained for four days in Eritrea and taken to a military court.

David then shared some of his experiences in North Korea and spoke about his voyage to the North Pole.. Asked what his favourite country was he indicated it was Greenland and told members what to do if they should get lost in a Greenland forest. (One only needs to stand up as the trees are no higher than a metre).

David was thanked for his talk, and for stepping in to speak at short notice as our original speaker was unable to attend due to another commitment.

November’s Guest Speaker (report contributed by David Horne)

Diana Hudson from the Otago/Southland Employers Association which looks after a membership of 1,500. Diana is an employment lawyer and was originally born and brought up in Taranaki but has lived in Dunedin for a long time. She worked for many companies and in various capacities. This included working for a company whose factory was causing health concerns to both its staff and the nearby community. She moved south and decided to concentrate on employment law. In 1991 she began her long career with the Otago/Southland Employers Association. There was quite a big difference as to how this organisation was when she first started working for them and how they are today! Diana explained that the O/SEA provided tailored and specialised support to Otago and Southland businesses especially in critical areas such as employment law, human resources, health and safety, business training and professional development. It was noted that the O/SEA was a founding member of “Business New Zealand” and worked in partnership with a range of businesses advocacy and business development organisations. She shared with those present what her roles were in regard to human resources and compliance management and how often she went to work “in house”. One example of this was how she spent time working with live chickens and watching the growth of free range hens. As a result of this NZ does not have the poultry diseases other countries have.

She concluded by speaking about current trends in regard to employment law. These included:- laws becoming increasingly more prescriptive; a growing increase of “unqualified cowboys” in the employment space who were often unqualified at the lower levels; a huge increase in awards for successful grievance cases; a focus on bullying and harassment which was not always justifiable; an increasing pressure from unions in regard to wage rates; a big increase of mental health issues; an increasing focus on culture and wellness in the workplace; and finally the impact of Health and Safety law. Members had the chance to ask a number of questions which Diana was more than happy to answer.


October Guest Speaker Richard Stedman (David Horne reporting)

Richard worked for 54 years in the printing and publishing trade, was Editor of the Star in the 1980 and 90s and has had a lifelong fascination with the industry. He commenced his talk by indicating that the first newspaper in Dunedin, the Otago News, was first published in 1849. He was saddened to find its first editor, Henry Graham, lying in an unmarked grave in Port Chalmers and had been largely forgotten as a local history figure. Dunedin, a settlement created by the free church of Scotland, was suspicious of outsiders. As an Englishman and an Anglican, 27 year old Henry Graham received a chilly reception from the settlement leader William Cargill and spiritual leader Thomas Burns when he arrived in 1848 with his wife and daughter to establish the Otago News. Graham set about highlighting the concerns of the ordinary people leading to a clash of ideologies and retaliation from the powerful William Cargill. Under pressure from Cargill and the representatives of the New Zealand Company, and with failing health, Graham struggled on for two years but was eventually forced to sell his printing press and equipment in 1850. The equipment was bought by a consortium, including Cargill, and was used to produce the Otago Witness in 1851 This paper started off as a four page fortnightly newspaper and became weekly from August 1851. At first this paper struggled to pay its way. In 1855 the paper had only 210 subscribers but by 1854 the paper was printing 4,500 copies a week! The newspaper’s fortune was secured in the 1850s by the influx of people into Otago looking for gold.

Dunedin’s, and in fact New Zealand’s, first daily newspaper the Otago Daily Times roled of the press on November 15, 1861. It was founded by Sir Julius Vogel, an Englishman of Jewish parentage who began his journalistic career in Australia in 1856. Most of Dunedin’s opposition papers were short-lived with only the Otago Daily Times and the Evening Star surviving beyond the early 1890s. Thus the Otago Daily Times is New Zealand’s oldest newspaper!


September’s Guest Speaker Alison Breese (David Horne reporting)

Alison, an archivist with the DCC, was formally welcomed by IPP Ian Lambie. She has worked in her position for fourteen years and spoke to us about toilet provision in Dunedin from its foundation in 1848. What has been found fascinating has been the changing social attitudes and architecture in regard to toilet provision in the city. To find the information Alison went to the Minute Books stored in the Town Hall. Up to the beginning of the 1860’s there had been no toilet provision in Dunedin. With the beginning of the Gold rushes and the increase of population of the town there was a call for public amenities. The first public toilets were established in 1861 in the Town Hall, which at this stage was located in Princes Street. In 1887 toilets were built in the Queens’ Gardens and remained there until 1912. By 1906 there were ten toilets in town – all for men! Up till then all toilets were underground – not a thing for public display! Many of these toilets were smelly and regarded as unpleasant places. Up till 1907 there were no public toilet provisions for women so from then onwards Department Stores opened up “restrooms” for ladies. The first public toilet for women was built in 1909 at the St Clair beach tram terminus. The beach had become a fashionable place to visit. In the same year two sets of underground toilets were built – one in the Lower Octagon and one at the back of Cargill’s monument. These were open between 07.00am and 11.00pm for gentlemen and 08.30am and 9.00pm for ladies. The cost of using a public toilet was 0ne penny – the urinals being free for men. The third set op public toilets were built in London Street again only for men. Shortly after that a toilet was established in Manor Place, by the Market Reserve. This is the only one of the older toilets still existing albeit closed.

It was very important that these underground toilets were made watertight. It was interesting to note that all the pubic toilets had floors and walls of white tiles. People were employed to look after and clean these toilets and usually had a room in the toilet block itself. Many were extremely proud of the cleanliness of their toilets. Gradually the underground toilets were replaced by modern ones and the idea of toilets being hidden from sight no longer was regarded as the norm.

Today most toilets in Dunedin are “Ex-O-Loos”.

At the conclusion of her pictorial presentation Alison was thanked and presented with a token of thanks by President Paul

August 2018 ~ Daphne Henderson

Past President Ian Lambie introduced and welcomed our guest speaker, Daphne Henderson.  She had spent a large portion of her life working with people with psychiatric illnesses first at Seacliff Hospital, then Cherry Farm and finally at Wakari Hospital.  Daphne began by indicating that the need for a new asylum in the Dunedin area was created by the gold rush expansion of the city and was triggered by the inadequacy of the Littlebourne Mental Asylum.  In 1876 the Provincial Council decided to build a new structure on a ‘reserve of land’ at Brinn’s Point north of Port Chalmers.  Initial work was begun in 1878.  Seacliff Asylum was one of the most important works of Robert Lawson who started work on the new asylum in 1874 and was  involved with it until the completion of the main block in 1884.
Treatment of the patients at Seacliff,  whether insane, mentally retarded  or held in the institution for what today would be classed as ‘simply being difficult’, was often very callous, or even outright cruel, a feature of many mental asylums of the times!
At the same time, Seacliff was ground-breaking in some parts of its treatment programmes with noted local Truby King appointed Medical Superintendent in 1889 – a position he held  for 30 years.  Patients were ‘prescribed’ fresh air, exercise, good nutrition and productive work.  Sir Truby King is credited as having turned what was essentially conceived as a ‘prison’ into an efficient farm.  Another of King’s innovations was his implementation of small dormitories housed adjacent to the larger asylum.  The style of accommodation has been considered the forerunner to the villa system later adopted by all mental health institutions in New Zealand. (David Horne reporting)

July 2018 _ Dave Ryder 

Dave Ryder, a former member of Probus Dunedin Central, gave us a very interesting address about the South Dunedin Blokes’ Shed.

The Blokes’ Shed was established in 2007 following an initial meeting of about 50 men of similar interests with two groups being set up – Taieri and South Dunedin. The South Dunedin Club was opened by the Mayor of Dunedin, Mr Peter Chin, with about 30 members in adjoining sheds in the grounds of Kings High School. About fifteen members attend weekly meetings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9-12. Currently there is a waiting list for new members as space at the facility is limited. Initially the club accepted donations of tools, equipment and materials however as they have a surplus of tools and implements they now only accept that which they need. Members carry out work on a voluntary basis and do very little commissioned work. Types of jobs carried out include hanging curtain rails; picnic tables for the Orokonui Ecosanctuary; park benches for the Sinclair Wetlands; bowls boxes for the Bowls Stadium; toy repairs for kindergartens and toy libraries; mobile book cases for the Hospice shop. The club uses its stock of donated material and only purchases material if required. South Dunedin Blokes’ Shed is run by retired handymen with a wide range of skills and can carry out any type of mechanical, electrical or carpentry/cabinet making work and who enjoy fellowship, companionship and fun.

Dave’s presentation was followed by a question and answer session and was thanked by the president. (information supplied by Ian Lambie

June 2018

James Montgomery from Gardens Physiotherapy Centre

James was welcomed by President Paul Turnbull and then gave a Power Point presentation. He is involved in working with some Otago Sports Teams. James pointed out that it was quite different working as a Sports Physiotherapist compared to that of an ordinary one and gave examples why. He then shared with us the various things he had done before taking on the task of being a physiotherapist.

What became his desire to become involved in this discipline was his interest in people, their health and what was necessary to keep them fit and healthy. He then went to Otago University and did a Bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy. After graduating James began his career working in a hospital, and shortly after this he branched out into private practice. Not long after this an opportunity arose for him to specialise as a Sports Physiotherapist. He summed up his philosophy in these words: “If it is weak, strengthen it; if it is tight, loosen it; if it is sore, press it!” Sports physiotherapy includes thinking about the team, the players’ families and those responsible for developing the team. James believes if it cannot be done on the sideline it should not be done in the clinic.

He has spent times working with teams in international fixtures. While working with the Black Caps he spent time on the Caribbean island of Jamaica, and in England. Later, while working with the Otago Cricket Team he visited India and while there had the opportunity to visit many of the famous sites including Agra. Currently he is a part time physio to the Highlanders Rugby Club and outlined what a team member’s day would be like at the beginning of the season. We were surprised how busy and challenging this could be – some team members had activities from 6.30am till after 9.00pm! One of the most important things for a team was building “Team Spirit” and what needed to be done to maintain this. Some changes have occurred in the Physiotherapy field and James shared these with the members present and emphasised how important it was to keep up with any new developments.

After a question and answer time he was thanked by President Paul and presented with a small gift. (information supplied by David Horne

May 2018 ~ Lindsay Campbell Alex Campbell Menswear

President Paul Turnbull welcomed and introduced Lindsay Campbell from Alex Campbell”s Menswear. Lindsay indicated that Alex Campbell, his grandfather, founded the shop we now know in 1937. Last year the company celebrated 80 years in business.

The Campbell family first settled in Riverton in 1880, which at the time was a river port. As the river started to silt up the business then

turned to the Port of Bluff. At this stage Alex Campbell moved his business to Caversham directly across the road from where Mitchell’s Tavern is today. Another shop was also opened in Princes Street directly opposite the Savoy Building. Following WW1 and the depression that followed, the business became known as “Campbell Brothers”. During this time South Dunedin was a very busy place with lots of trams. It was not uncommon for people from the north end of town to bypass the city area and come and shop in South Dunedin. Alex Campbell was succeeded by his son, Lindsay’s father. At this stage there were other branch shops in other parts of the town. In 1986 Lindsay took over the business. It was about this time the business in George Street closed. Since then shops have opened in Mosgiel and Cromwell and these are thriving. Lindsay then shared with us some of the challenges business people now face and what they needed to do to keep ahead of the times. He explained how modern technology and the internet were changing the way businesses were run and stressed the importance of keeping up with modern developments. Lindsay indicated that he did 90% of the purchasing for the business and pointed out fashions tend to change every seven years. He also mentioned what was done with surplus stock. He concluded by stating that business was still in good heart in the South Dunedin area. Following questions Lindsay was thanked by Ian Lambie. (information supplied by David Horne)

April 2018

Ian McKinlay from New New New Brewery

 Past President Ian Lambie welcomed Ian McKinlay who spoke about his brewery ‘New New New’ which he began restoring 12 years ago. Situated in the heritage area of the city not far from the ‘Oval’ sports playing fields, this building dated back to early days in the history of Dunedin and was thus a historic building and needed to be preserved. As a result of many years of restoration work, Ian McKinlay received a Southern Heritage Trust award for the best re-use of a heritage building. Using Power point photographs, members present were shown what the building looked like before restoration work began and what it looked like at different stages of the restoration project. Finally Ian showed the group what the building looked like today including the upstairs office and the factory. Ian concluded his talk by showing the building lit up in dazzling colours as it is on Friday nights. Ian was thanked by Past President Ian Lambie and presented with a small gift.

(Notes supplied by David Horne)

March 2018

Nicky Page – Dunedin City of Literature and what this means.

Nicky spoke enthusiastically about Dunedin’s development as a City of Literature along with the other twenty-eight recognised cities around the world and what it means to us. She presented a Power Point display of the highlights and future prospects for Dunedin. There are nine different categories included in the overall mantra of our City of Literature ranging from the printed word to gastronomy.

February 2018

  Neville Jemmet – Dunedin Heritage Light Rail Trust

Neville gave an illustrated address about the plan of the Trust to re-introduce the cable car and its trailer from the Southern Cross Hotel in the Exchange to Mornington via High Street. This service originally ran from 1883 until March 1957. The relaying of the tracks at $1,000 per metre would amount to $4.5 million. Cable cars would travel at 15 kph. Only in one place would the service disrupt the flow of traffic and that would be at the point where the uphill car met the downhill car.

Some of the existing, restored cars would come back into use. Neville reported on what restoration work had been done to make them serviceable. Trailers would also be coupled to the cable cars. Later on there may be the possibility of re-introducing the Mary Hill route. He also shared with us the drawings for the new terminal building which would include a cafe and museum.

The re-introduction would be over four stages with a total cost of approximately $20.56 million. It is hoped the completed project will be a major tourist attraction; and also a means of transport for Mornington residents. (notes supplied by David Horne)

August 2017

Our August speaker was club member Antony Wood who gave an inspired and at times humorous talk about himself and his life. He began from his birth in Wellington at an old villa and finished his talk discussing the pros and cons of democracy versus military dictatorship. In between he mentioned Otago people who lived near them in Wellington like the two Thomas Hunters – the philosopher one that got the knighthood when the Hunter who helped establish the Dunedin Dental School should have and had to wait eight years for his. Todd of the Todd Motor Group and Europa was another. Antony is very interested in Politics and History.

Antony has lived in Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin and has lectured at the latter three’s universities. He also spent two years lecturing at Cambridge University in the UK which for centuries was a single sex institution, including the dons. Fortunately for Antony that had changed and he was able to take a wife. His latter lecturing was about Latin American Politics.

He highlighted the fact that a number of the houses he has lived in, schools he has attended and university offices he has occupied have since been demolished! Is there a message here!!

July 2017


Prof Mark Stirling BSc, MSc, PhD

Mark is a leading New Zealand seismologist. In 2016 he was appointed inaugural Professor of Earthquake Science at Otago University where he leads a multidisciplinary Centre for Earthquake Science.

Titled “The 2016 Kaikoura Earthquake – what we saw and what we learned” Mark used a power point presentation of maps and photographs to explain Plate Tectonics; Faults and Earthquakes; Seismic Hazard Models and Earthquakes. He spoke about horizontal and vertical plate movements and the land effects, that NZ sits on the Pacific and Australian Plates and deep seismicity is mainly in the North Island and Fiordland. Hazard Assessment in NZ uses data about earthquakes from the 1840’s on using the past to predict the future. NZ’s strongest earthquakes: 1855 = 8.2 in the Wairarapa; 1929 = 7.8 at Murchison; 1932 = 7.8 at Napier; 2016 = 7.8 at Kaikoura (which is a major fault area).

The Kaikoura quake lasted two minutes with the hypercentre 2kms deep and the main shock 15kms deep; felt strongest in Ward; arrested at Cape Campbell 300kms away. Some of the faults were known to seismologists while three were not! The Hundalee and the Papatea Faults lifted the sea-bed along the coast. People commented on the shaking and the roar as water drained from the sea-bed uplift. There were 23 fault lines involved.

Wellington is very vulnerable to earthquakes. Dunedin could have a 7.0–7.3 magnitude earthquake from either the Akatore Fault (with an epicentre 10 – 50kms away) or the Titree Fault (although this ruptures about every 20,000 years).

Mark’s team has just completed seismic testing of the rail corridor from Andy Bay to St Andrews Street and also a survey of the Kaikorai Stream mouth where the Akatore Fault runs.

March 2017

Our March 7th meeting speaker was Paul Aubin, retired schoolteacher and walking tours guide, especially at Olveston and its neighbouring area. He is also a book expert and has specialist involvement with the Regent Theatre's fund-raising book sale sorting team.


Paul's talk was mainly about his days at Otago Boys High School, firstly as a pupil and later as a teacher and about some of his "unusual" teacher colleagues. As a teacher his time at O. B. H. S. was sometimes unhappy and disturbing as there were serious issues concerning the running of the school. When a book on the school's history was published it was controversial– it included various details of the "doings and misdoings" at the school. Some objected to its publication and wanted two controversial chapters rewritten, but the author considered himself a "professional historian" and was not going to flatter his account of the school's history. Paul eventually tired of the disturbing atmosphere at O. B. H. S. and left to teach at King's High School.


He was a pupil at O. B. H. S. in the late 1940s into the 1950s which he said was "a journey into total wierdness". From the start he felt insecure but oddly better prepared than some of the other pupils, adjusting to a world of canings, "lines", preps, prefects and eccentric masters. Paul's 4th and 5th form memories included experiences of one teacher who became a religious minister while still teaching, but his teaching suffered – he used teaching notes from the 1920s and sold copies to pupils and bought them back at a reduced price at the end of each year. Paul told us a minority of the teaching staff were "by ordinary standards" sane, but "most were weird or mad; two became clinically insane and two more truly sadistic."


Paul said most teachers had nicknames. He recalled such nicknames as Pussy, Black Mac, Dim, Blogs, The Pope, Mickey, Dreamy, Cheese and Creep. A typical school day involved seven periods. Pupils got up to various pranks and teachers often resorted to caning to restore discipline. Teaching methods differed among teaching staff who had their own ways of expressing their authority, earning respect, or instilling fear in pupils. One of the more sadistic teachers when about to cane a pupil "pondered" about which cane to use – " which number iron?", as in golf. Another teacher asked questions in Latin to ensure pupils concentrated and paid attention. Another teacher got pupils to read a Shakespeare play overnight to be tested next morning.


O. B. H. S., like most schools, had its ups and downs, but produced many pupils who succeeded in life, including renowned sportsmen. Paul's talk rekindled some of the school day memories from our members in question time. Unfortunately in question time we missed the chance to find out what his own teaching name was!


February 2017

Our February 7th speaker, Prof John Broughton, became unavailable and our member Rene Vink stepped in as replacement speaker at very short notice –our thanks for his kind rescue of the situation!

 Rene spoke to us about his life in Holland, especially during World War II, when it was invaded by Germany. He was the youngest of four children when his father (born in 1896) was a poor fishermen, who originally went to sea at a young age. Dutch fishing boats upset Scottish fishing boats as they had to compete in the same North Sea area. Fishing was very competitive as fish prices were high, but mines laid in the English Channel, by both Germany and England, were a great danger for fishing boats and many fishermen were killed, severely injured or lost at sea. Although the Netherlands was supposed to be neutral both England and Germany did not recognise Holland's neutrality and still laid mines. On February 2nd, 1916 an oil tanker struck a mine and only two of the 30 crew survived; two of Rene's uncles died. Germany had major

During the 1930s depression Holland's fishing industry struggled to survive and profits were not enough to buy coal to fuel the fishing boats resulting in no income for crews and boats being laid up. The situation caused a long lasting strike and boats being sold for scrap. Fish prices did improve from 1934 to 1936 prior to World War II. The Netherlands government again thought its neutrality would be respected, but found it necessary to lease big steam trawlers for navy duty. From 1938 to 1940 all Dutch men under 40 were mobilised into the Dutch services. Rene's father was in the navy.

 Many workers from the north and east Netherlands were not forced to work in German factories, but were employed to work on the coastal safety defence bunkers.

 In 1940 Rene was three years old and did not understand what was happening. He remembers, by age five, seeing a black night sky lit up with searchlights and German bombers trying to destroy Dutch steel mills. In 1942 families had to leave their homes and be evacuated to camps near the German border. Families were allocated to farms or billeted and some were split up. Rene enjoyed the rural life and said it was a great learning experience and an "awesome adventure". In 1944/45 his mother organised reuniting the family into another house, finding a suitable villa. At the end of the war they returned to their home town Ymuiden and his father was able to join the family after a war absence of a year.


Rene came to New Zealand in 1958, originally considering Spain as an option but chose New Zealand after meeting Kiwi men holidaying in Holland. He became an electrician and early in his career did contract work at Invermay.

November 2016

Our November 1 meeting speaker was highly qualified Dr. Sandhya Ramrakha, Research Manager of the world famous Dunedin Study, involving 1000 babies born in Dunedin's Queen Mary Maternity Hospital in 1972 and 1973 and of their lives and progress researched and recorded. The Study participants are now scattered around the world and each has returned to Dunedin for a one day assessment every three years to age 26, thence once every six years. This group has become the 1000 most studied people in the world.


For the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Unit Sandhya's is role includes research administrative support to the Director as well as the overall management of the assessment phases of the Dunedin Study. She joined the Dunedin Study as the lead mental health interviewer during the age 26 assessment phase, and provided clinical support for the Study members as required. Her previous career was as Senior Clinical Psychologist in the NSW (Australia) Department of Corrections.


Sandhya used data from the Dunedin Study for her Ph.D. which focused on the links between mental and sexual health, with specific reference to risky sexual behaviour. Her current research interest involves examining the mental health and psychosocial correlates and consequences of skin conditions.


Information on the babies was collected at birth then the first follow up at age three and every two years until age 15, then at ages 18, 21, 26, 32 and in March 2012 the age 38 assessment was completed. Each assessment takes almost two years to complete. For the phase 38 assessment the study team hired a number of interviewers, nurses, technicians, plus experts in each area who helped guide the research. The Dunedin Study has a very high assessment rate; the last one had 95% participation. The next assessment will be in April 2017.


Over the years the Study has collected data on the family circumstances, behaviour at home and school, personality characteristics, physical measures, medical history, cardiovascular, dental, respiratory and psychological health, employment, residential changes, relationships, children, traumatic events, Maori identity and culture, sexual and reproductive health, self harm/childhood abuse, social support, religious beliefs, illegal behaviour, domestic violence, genetic testing, blood assays – the list goes on..


As the study continues it will include ageing research as its plan covers birth to death. Sandhya recommended we should see "Slice of Life – The World Famous Dunedin Study" current Otago Settlers Museum display, running until March 26, 2017.


Dr Sandhya Ramrakha

August 2016

Our August 2 meeting speaker was the Venerable Neville Selwood, Anglican Archdeacon Emeritus of Dunedin and former R.A.F. Bomber Command navigator during World War II. He is also a chartered accountant.

Neville lived in Cromwell before returning to Dunedin and was president of the Cromwell Probus club in the 1990s. He once arranged Barry Crump to talk to his club and Barry obliged, but only spoke for about 3 minutes then sat down! However he was prepared to answer questions which he did for about an hour. The Cromwell club members thoroughly enjoyed Crump's session with them, realising his cunning ploy in not having to prepare a speech.

Neville's navigation training started in Auckland and continued in San Francisco. It initially involved identifying stars while flying in an open cockpit plane and taking bearings on three stars and calculating the plane's location from the triangle formed by these stars. It was also important to establish wind speed, which changed with altitude.

Stationed in East Anglia, near Cambridge, air crews of six per aircraft had to arrange their own crew members and Neville said he ended up, coincidently, with fellow Kiwis in his crew. Training was in different aircraft graduating up to powerful Stirling planes then Lancasters at their finishing school. Some landings were bumpy and occasionally planes did "ground loops" when landing gear problems occurred. There were over 3000 personnel at their squadron base.

Neville read out a letter of complaint from the wife of a neighbouring farmer who had to get up early each morning. She was concerned about aircraft noise at night and wanted planes to only fly during day time.

The air force had hoped to win the war from the air alone to save infantry lives, but it was not practical. There were big losses of bombers and crews, partly because German planes often flew below R.A.F. planes and targeted bombers' wings instead of fuselages to avoid bomb explosions. Towards the end of the war bombers carried food sacks to Holland instead of bombs, having to fly low as they were dangerous missions. A temporary German truce allowed for the food drops, but later the Germans fired on dykes in the north west of Holland. Bomber Command later brought P.O.Ws back to England.

Neville showed us some of his charts and log books which are part of his wartime souvenirs. He was proud of the accuracy of his log books. The 75to Bomber Command crest was initially disapproved by British authorities because it included some Maori wording, but was approved by King George the Sixth. In 2014 a Bomber Command Memorial was dedicated in London. Neville had another open cockpit flight experience a few years ago when he was a "special passenger" in a Tiger Moth which flew over Dunedin's Queen's Gardens cenotaph during an armistice day ceremony.

55,573 young men died flying with Bomber Command during World War Two; that's more than those who serve in the entire Royal Air Force today.

July 2016

Our July 1 meeting speaker was a local author, traveller and O.D.T. columnist Lisa Scott and as promised in our latest newsletter, was a very entertaining speaker. In her fortnightly "Tales from the powder room" life style column in the ODT Weekend Mix liftout tabloid she writes on a variety of topics. Her humorous style appeals to many readers, as did her talk to us.

On a trip to America Lisa innocently experienced passport/visa problems and was arrested. Despite trying to explain her situation the United States authorities jailed her for two days. Naturally the experience was upsetting and traumatic for her. In jail she encountered some "interesting" women prisoners, some jailed for drug offences. Some of the "torture" she and others had to endure included sound in the prison being turned up when inmates were dozing or nodding off to sleep and they were always being watched.

When arranging her new passport she tried to reverse the electronic tag re her "deportation" from the United States. She has sought legal help, also from the New Zealand Consulate in America and still has not heard back from the United States authorities. Lisa wrote a story of her experience on her flight home.

 Before becoming a writer she was marketing manager for five years at Dunedin's Fortune Theatre, which led to her becoming an actor. It was a great learning curve and a good start to her interesting "career". Often her writing ideas developed from observing unfortunate instances and various travel experiences. In Israel, for example, she said there was little or no service in shops and people were often rude. She has also lived in India and England.

Lisa wrote a book entitled "Kindness and Lies" and gave some copies away after her talk. She has another book on the way.

June 2016

Our June 7 meeting speaker was Kevin Flaherty from the Citizens Advice Bureau. After retiring and interested in the C.A.B. he was encouraged to become involved and now does three hours voluntary work each week. He took over from the late Noel Angus and is now on the C.A.B. Board.

 People phone or call into the C.A.B's. office in Dunedin Community House, Lower Moray Place, for assistance, guidance and advice on a number of issues. Kevin also talks about consumer issues on Radio Dunedin at 11:30 AM on Tuesdays – in fact he was "on air" after speaking at our meeting.

 The Citizens Advice Bureau helps and advises people with queries covering a wide variety of topics, problems and organisations such as care services, banking, legal advice (especially re Community Law Otago), Age Concern, support for parents of students, mortgages, immigration, New Zealand history, public library, real estate, housing, advice re forms, letters and documents, the J. P. Service, consumer, workplace and employment rights, neighbourhood support, police, driving in New Zealand, financial and insurance services, English Language partners, etc.

 The C.A.B. also runs four seminars each year, covering many of the above topics plus more, as well as helping refugees and new immigrants. It is involved with assisting recently arrived Syrian refugees. The government has cut back on some welfare services and the C.A.B. has picked them up. The Red Cross is one of the major organisations involved with the Syrian refugees and the C.A.B's. manager attends Red Cross meetings to help the C.A.B. to assist in the work being undertaken by Dunedin's Refugee Support Group as the C.A.B. will probably take on a greater role in the future. A C.A.B. volunteer is already promoting a shopping bus service for the refugees.

 The C.A.B's. service is confidential and as an independent community organisation its advice is not influenced by government or politics. When people cannot be helped directly the C.A.B. will find experts who can help. Trained volunteers will listen and provide the information, assistance or referral needed. Language is not a barrier for getting help as the C.A.B. has speakers of different languages and a dedicated multilingual service.

 In question time Kevin said university students must honour their student loan contract obligations; the C.A.B's. funding is mainly from the DCC and various charity trusts; and volunteers are always welcome.


May 2016

Bruce Hendry 

[The club is grateful to Bruce who stepped into the breach and gave the following talk on a subject of great local interest when the advertised speaker was unavailable.]

After the June 2015 floods I was concerned about all the incorrect statements being made by some council staff and our Mayor and I wrote some letters to the Council with limited response as this flood should have only been a nuisance with only some buildings with low floor levels affected. It was not the heaviest recorded rain, 1968 was heavier. There are probably more hard surfaces than in 1960s when I was responsible for the survey, design and supervision of the construction of the reticulation but not as much as is being claimed now.

In 2011 the Council had the ”Dunedin 3 Waters Strategy. South Dunedin Integrated Catchment Management Plan” prepared. This report confirms my belief. It was prepared in relation to the application to discharge storm water into the Harbour and apart from reporting on water quality covers the efficiency of the drainage system, its maintenance and confirms the likelihood of nuisance flooding of 100mm in some areas It is a pity the council don’t appear to have read it.

The flat does not, or should not suffer from runoff from the surrounding hills as this water goes to two other major conduits in Forbury Road and South Road. South Dunedin is unique as it has no open watercourses to collect debris. All the water getting into the system must be from drains from properties or street mud tanks and is pumped through the 1965 Portobello Road pumping station that replaced the now reclaimed half tide basin. Water must pass through a screen before the pumps. This screen partially blocked in 1968. Later access to it was improved..

The first accurate report released by the DCC since the flood on 30th November 2015 confirms there was a problem keeping the screen clear but it is very pleasing to know this is acknowledged and is to be addressed shortly. This report confirms the pumps with a capacity of 6.3 qumecs only pumped 4 qumecs. Imagine how the flood levels would have been reduced if 57% more water had been pumped over the period of the storm.

With the belated report released by the Council we now know that only 25% of the mud tanks on the flat were working as they should have been.

Mud tanks can be blocked by debris on the grating or by a build-up of silt above the outlet pipe which is only 300mm from the bottom of the 1m deep slump. It needs special equipment to remove this blockage and they need regular attention. If 25% of MTs were blocked in this area there is a fair assumption there will be many blocked MTs all over the city and if they are in Forbury Road and some other adjoining areas where surface water can flow onto South Dunedin they will overload the system. There is evidence this happened,

No report from Council has referred to how the Musselburgh Foul Sewerage pumping station operated to assist in lowering flood waters when waste water gully basins were under water.

A long standing problem is the surcharging of the foul sewer in Surrey Street that takes all the sewerage from Kaikorai through the old Caversham railway tunnel. This needs to be addressed. The amount of this surcharge would have a minor effect on flood levels but it pollutes rainwater.

City wide all people need to be fair and ensure they do not allow roof or surface water enter the same drainage fittings used for their sinks and bath water. Council would be wise if it stepped up its policing of this. The surcharging of manholes referred to are all foul sewer manholes. There is no way a storm water manhole in South Dunedin will surcharge as they are higher than the mud tanks in the gutters.

I feel sorry for some of the present Council managers as they have been given tasks without the historical experience they need. This is made worse by Council outsourcing maintenance. We were fortunate to have experienced maintenance staff that knew the trouble spots and would attend to them without being directed or given authority.

Since the flood, and following a public meeting arranged by MP Clare Curran a South Dunedin Action Group has been formed with persons and business reps affected by the flood, engineers etc. We have met the Council and its staff with a view to fixing the mistakes but not the blame. How successful we will be remains to be seen. At least the standard of maintenance has already improved with MTs being cleaned.

The people of South Dunedin have been let down. With an efficient pumped system and correct maintenance South Dunedin is better protected than most other near-sea-level areas. People need to be assured of this so they can sleep at night when it rains and people considering buying on the flat can do so with confidence. The flood has devalued properties.