Gundry's Grumbles

Simon Gundry is a Devonport and North Shore identity, and character, who is known for calling a spade a spade. He is a director of contracting company Gill & Gundry, is an enthusiastic and active sailor (past crew-member of Ceramco New Zealand, Lion New Zealand and Shockwave) and is a life member of the North Shore Rugby Football Club.

Gundry's Gumbles

Where did this year go?

Hello readers, again it is December.  Where the hell did this year go?

Hopefully you all have your plans to see your family and your friends sorted out for the Christmas and holiday period.  Let’s make use of our beautiful surroundings over this time, walking and swimming at our beautiful beaches, walking around our parks and reserves and taking the time to enjoy a slower pace of life for a week or so. 

Last November’s earthquake, now known as the Kaikoura quake, was first of all like dodging an unbelievably big bullet, in fact it was nearly an atom bomb. Imagine, 12 hours later, being lunchtime in our Capital city, if it had struck then – with office buildings full of people and the Highway 1 between Christchurch and Picton being full of trucks and tourist traffic. The toll could have been horrific.

If we remember, the first Christchurch earthquake in September 2010 hit during the night, with no fatalities, whereas the second one in February 2011 hit at 12.51pm and caused enormous damage and killed 185 people. 

This is probably a real timely reminder of how fragile our roading network is, having to rely on one very average road between Picton and Christchurch and one State Highway from Wellington, north.  It also reminds me of how fragile the road from Auckland to Whanganui through the Paraparas which is at times only about ten feet wide, due to the extreme damage caused by the floods of early 2015.  It has also been mentioned in previous columns the road to Whangarei over the Brynderwyns on the southern side, is an abomination. Nothing ever seems to be done to it, as it seems to be in the too hard basket, but the northern side (where the road was perfectly adequate) has had millions spent on it. 

We could afford, in this country, to spend billions of dollars on our roading networks, employing tens of thousands of people, but nothing too much seems to be getting done, apart from that very slow piece of highway that seems to be taking an age to complete between Hamilton and Auckland – or is that something to do with the Taniwha lying in the swamps down there?

Another point, that I chuckled about last month, was the anti nuclear ship brigade lined up to protest the arrival of the USS Sampson into Auckland harbour in November, when they had no idea that it had been diverted to help with the rescue efforts in Kaikoura, using all their military hardware and assisting tourists out of the quake damaged town. I have heard from my impeccable sources that it was their own idea to do this, along with other overseas visiting ships, including the Australians, Canadians, Japanese and Singaporeans. It’s very good to know that should we need help here,  down at the bottom of the South Pacific, that big brother America is out there to help us as they did in the dark days of 1942 when it seemed we may be overcome by Japanese threat to come and take us over.

I have a friend who lives in the United States and was visiting in November with his wife. They were in the unbelievable situation of witnessing three world shattering events. The first one was in Chicago when the Chicago Cubs baseball team won the World Series for the first time in over 100 years. They were on the side of the road, along with hundreds of others, to witness the homecoming parade for the Cubs. A couple of days later he was in Soldier Stadium in Chicago to witness the Irish Rugby team beat the All Blacks for the first time ever, since they started playing each other in 1905. A few days later, they were in Washington DC to witness the unfolding of the biggest political story in America in over 150 years. 

I was a bit annoyed last month, after commenting about my gagging order from the Editor (actually Publisher - AB) of this magazine, Aidan Bennett. Apparently he commented that I am slow getting my copy to him every month. Just to let you know I have been writing this column for over five (actually six - AB) years now, and I’ve never been paid for this column.  That doesn’t stop them from charging me a huge fee for hosting my web domain – whatever that is. It didn’t stop them from charging a huge fee for putting a tiny sign on my building either. I used to get a copy of the magazine, cellophane wrapped, delivered to my letterbox each month and even that has dried up this year. It seems that the only one to make a buck around this place is Aidan Bennett and his beloved magazine. 

Over the last five years, I have been offered very lucrative contracts with other magazines, but as I am a real loyal bloke, ready to go through the thick and thin of life with people, I have stuck by him. He is real lucky he has his wonderful brother Dallas beside him, who incidentally is a really good yachtsman. Otherwise I may have walked.

Incidentally, Aidan in his hugely great wisdom, has named me Columnist of the Year for the last five years (not sure it was every year? – AB). The first year he awarded me a beautiful lighthouse shaped trophy, the second year a beautiful landscape shaped trophy, the third year zilch, the fourth year nothing and the fifth year zilch again to commemorate my achievement. My kids are devastated that my efforts have gone unrecognised, after I had built a trophy cabinet in my office where two lonely awards sit, vainly awaiting their cabinet mates.

Everyone, please have a happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year – spend quality time with your family and friends in our beautiful country and remember this day could be your last day, so make the extreme most of it.

By Simon Gundry

Channel Magazine: Issue 72 Dec 2016 / Jan 2017

Columnist articles by Simon Gundry