Back to Basics: We survived the school holidays

This week our columnist Lydia Harvey talks about surviving the school holidays even when life throws you a few curve balls.

We knew it was going to be hard. Two weeks with a house full of bottomless pits to feed and miserable weather keeping the kids in a confined space. Since I was hospitalised with seizures a little while back - which means I have no driver's license - I knew this was going to be a hard couple of weeks.

Everybody has their own ways to get through the school holidays, but with recent health issues I needed to go in to these holidays fully prepared.

So how do you go through school holidays with a health issue?

Well, for a start I wrote a list.

For the first week of the holidays I noted everything available to us in our region that was accessible by bike, foot or scooter that was free.

Skate parks, parks, libraries and museums were just a few of the places we went.

Source: 1 NEWS

We checked out local food carts and stoked up on fresh produce. 

We also had the odd day in at home and the kids played board games.

We're lucky to have family living in places like the Hawke's Bay so we grabbed the family and road-tripped up to the Hawke's Bay to spend some time on the farm.

Then we still had a whole week to go and with the coming and going, not to mention the extra kids, the extensive feeding can be overwhelming.

In week two of the school holidays I opted out of the kitchen and let the kids take over.

Armed with cookbooks, out came the scrambled eggs, cupcakes, muffins, biscuits and breads.

The fruit trees are covered in citrus and guava and the kids have become pros at making all kinds of delicious eats with what they had available.

So, is a week of kids in the kitchen worth the 10 weeks it will take to clean up after them? Absolutely, because now I know they can cook!

Almond Chocolate Chunk Brownie.
Almond Chocolate Chunk Brownie. Source: 1 NEWS

From Lydia's Garden – Almond Chocolate Chunk Brownie

1/4 of a cup of oil
1 cup of white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 roughly chopped lines of Whittaker's dark almond chocolate
1/4 cup of cocoa
1 cup of self-raising GF flour (or standard)

Mix oil, sugar and vanilla extract on low in the blender.
Then add the dark almond chocolate, cocoa and flour.
Mix again on low before lining a cake tray with baking paper and spreading evenly into the tray.
Pop into a pre-heated oven at 180 for approximately 15 minutes.
Remove from oven then drop the tin carefully on the bench to flatten it a little before returning to the oven and leaving until it cools.
Once cold, remove from baking tray dust over with icing sugar and top with grated dark chocolate.
*You can switch berries for dark chocolate or a mix of both


Lydia's daughter baking on her school holidays.
Lydia's daughter baking on her school holidays. Source: 1 NEWS

Versions of synthetic cannabis in New Zealand up to 10 times stronger than strain that saw US 'zombie outbreak'

Experts are warning there are deadlier versions of synthetic cannabis available in New Zealand which are much more potent than the one which caused the so-called zombie outbreaks in the US.

The Government's been told two deadly types of synthetic cannabis are so potent they should be classified as class A drugs.

One of these drugs has been linked to a well-known case that rocked the United States in 2016.

"The concentrations we're seeing in New Zealand are much more potent than what we saw in the Zombie outbreak in New York," Health Minister David Clark says.

In some instances, the drugs found here were 10 times stronger.

The news comes after synthetic cannabis was linked to the deaths of at least 45 people since June 2017.

"I don't think we ever anticipated we'd get new synthetic drugs that would lead to so much harm," Drug Foundation Executive Director Ross Bell told 1 NEWS.

Synthetic cannabis is already illegal - but the maximum punishment for dealers is two years in prison.

Making synthetic cannabis a class A drug would put it alongside methamphetamine, cocaine, magic mushrooms and lsd.

This would mean the police would have more power and the penalties would be significantly tougher for dealers and users.

The Government says it will make a decision on synthetic drugs in the coming weeks.

They're calling for the drug to be classified as Class A – the most harmful and dangerous. Source: 1 NEWS

Wellington bus network changes to be reviewed after council bombarded with complaints

Wellington's new bus network will be independently reviewed after ongoing complaints of buses being late, too full to board or not showing up at all.

The regional council today voted today to have the system reviewed and the results reported back by December.

Since the system was changed in July the council has been bombarded with complaints.

Councillors have also asked officers to change a route so that it began and ended in Kilbirnie, as it previously did, and for feedback on whether some other routes can be changed.

Regional council chief executive Greg Campbell said he took full responsibility for fixing the network's problems.

He said the review needed to be done quickly.

"Any commuter that is left stranded, or a bus that is late, that is of extreme concern. We have to get a clear view of what is happening. What an independent review can really do - particularly for management and council - is give a view of what has happened and articulate that well."

At the beginning of the meeting several Wellington residents addressed the council to let it know they were still unhappy with the new bus routes.

A Wellington principal said the recent re-jig of the routes was making his students late for class and putting them in danger.

St Patrick's College, Kilbirnie's rector Neal Swindells told this morning's meeting about 100-150 boys were using the new service.

"Currently our two 753 buses from the station in the afternoon are significantly overloaded and are unsafe. On Monday this week, they were both loaded to the gunnels and there were 30-odd students who couldn't get on. So what they do is they cross the road to catch the new 24 bus, which by the time it leaves St Pat's now is also overfull."

Commuters at a bus stop in Newtown. Source:


Serious crash leaves one person in critical condition, closes section of SH2 near Upper Hutt

A serious crash has left one person in critical condition and a section of State Highway 2 closed in both directions near Kaitoke, Upper Hutt.

Police say there are likely to be lengthy delays and motorists are asked to avoid the area if possible.

A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle
A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle. Source: 1 NEWS

Government reveals details of emails between Clare Curran and Derek Handley

Details of the email exchange between former Digital Services Minister Clare Curran and Derek Handley were revealed today during Parliament's Question Time. 

Ms Curran said she was not aware of RNZ's policies surrounding meetings with Minister's at the time.
Source: 1 NEWS

The messages were sent over the role of chief technology officer, with Ms Curran using her private Gmail account to send the emails. 

An offer to Mr Handley for the role was retracted by the Government last week, resulting in a $100,000 pay out to the entrepreneur. 

Acting State Services Minister Grant Robertson told the House the following about three exchanges between the pair about the role. 

First exchange

August 11: 

"Derek Handley emails Clare Curran about the chief technology officer position and questions about the role of the CTO, including resourcing for the role and potential conflicts of interest."

August 14

"Clare Curran replies to that email, confirming a call to discuss these matters."

August 15

"Derek Handley replies to that, confirming times for the call."

Second exchange

August 19

"Clare Curran emails Derek Handley regarding logistics around the next step on the process of appointment, including the content of any public statements that might be made, and refers to contract discussions with the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA)."

August 20

"Derek Handley responds to that email to Clare Curran about those issues, including the contact he has had with DIA and management of conflicts of interest."

Third exchange

August 21

"Clare Curran emails Derek Handley regarding issues that would be on the work plan of the chief technology officer and attaches some relevant background documents on those issues.

"On the same day, Derek Handley responds to Clare Curran, acknowledging the material and referring to the discussions that he is having with DIA."

Derek Handley says he’ll donate the compensation but is disappointed at the way the issue was handled. Source: 1 NEWS

The chief technology officer was intended to "drive a forward-looking digital agenda for New Zealand", said the then Minister for Government Digital Services Clare Curran, when the role was announced last December. 

The new Minister for Government Digital Services Megan Woods said the Government have put a "full stop" on the process.

Ms Curran was stripped of her position as Minister for Government Digital Services after not disclosing a meeting with Mr Handley previously.