Monthly Archives: March 2017

Tim Walker’s Tremors

I am jolted awake. This has been happening a lot of late.

I lie there in bed. My eyes are squeezed shut. I am contemplating; I am anticipating.

My body has tensed. Every limb, each muscle has become leaden. I daren’t move for fear of missing the next shake.

A film of perspiration has formed on my skin. The sheets are clinging to my body; it feels disgusting yet I refuse to move. I think I can feel a continuous rumble coursing through my body. I’m not sure.

Is it my imagination or is the bed quivering slightly?

Still with eyes closed I listen. I listen for the telltale audio of wall-hangings vibrating against plasterboard.

There is no sound.

Tentatively I shift my head on the pillow. The sound in my ear is deafening; smooth linen against two days’ of stubble.

My bedroom is deathly quiet, although I swear the bed is trembling beneath me.

I remember the first shake. I think about the jolt that so abruptly tore me from my sleep. I go back, recollecting step by step. From the recovery-position on my left side, still tensed, motionless as I have been for what is ostensibly the last two hours but is probably more like twenty or thirty seconds, I think back.

I remember.

I recall seeing the explosion of white light in my subconscious as the fragile bliss of slumber was shattered. I recall my top leg being jerked upwards and outwards by the sudden tremor. I then recall the barely discernible rustle as my bedclothes resettled over me. I clearly remember the shock of the event; similar to the 9000 volts of a cattle fence, I recall the momentary terror of my heart being gripped, clamped then squeezed as if inside a vice. I recall the heat too, like ducking into a hot car on an icy morning I recall the rapid shift in body temperature, the way the uncomfortable heat seemed to engulf me, the way my flesh seared from the panic that is total confusion.

I think then about the movement; I recall the way the bed seemed to be vibrating under my left shoulder, but how it never came to anything more than that. Had there been other tremors, I wondered, other movement that I hadn’t felt? I recall lying there in wait, vigilant, almost in expectation of another, even more sizeable jolt. I recall the foreboding, the fear, the dread that had gripped me; the initial jolt had been so large, so how big would the subsequent tremors be? I recall, moments later, thinking it odd that there had still been only the one, but then, perhaps there had been others. Maybe there had been earlier rumbles but I had simply slept through them..? No, surely not. For a sleeper as light as me that was an unnerving thought.

I remember then how as I became less tense the movement appeared to stop. Or was it the other way around? I remember further my mother’s recently imparted wisdom on restless leg syndrome and how it is due largely to a magnesium deficiency. I remember her additional homily on mineral supplements and how, given my high level of physical exertion, I should be particularly careful to never run out.

Unmoving once more and now from the central comfort afforded by a king-sized bed, I think about my empty magnesium bottle; through a sleep-addled mind I curse my absentmindedness in forgetting to buy more last time I was in town.

Last thing I remember contemplating is the decision to wash my sheets in the morning.



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Minnie Rahl

Photography by D Fisher-Ancy


Tim Walker’s Bottled II

It’s a polarising query: is New Zealand’s fresh water resource genuinely depleted, or is it still as abundant as many believe it to be?

One need only to be present on the West of the South to witness the monumental waste of water that takes place there during a Canterbury Plains nor’ wester; millions of litres of clean, fresh, drinkable rainwater drench the Coast and its nearby hillsides, only to then succumb to gravity’s compelling dictatorship, resulting in the overfilling of rivers and the swelling of streams, the swamping, breaching, the inundation of otherwise subdued waterways, before those millions of litres of fresh, clean and very drinkable water, in a race largely uncontested, are lost to the ocean, never again to be seen in desalinated form…

Auckland Super City’s most recent crisis (all other Auckland crises notwithstanding) is regarding a shortage of clean water, after the largest rainfall in decades overwhelmed the city’s filtration system, overflowing and blocking it with mud and silt deposits, thus precluding Auckland’s ability to generate the usual quantity of potable water for its many humble residents.

…Surrounding the nation’s fresh water issues it is typically our farmers who end up wearing the ‘villain’ tag; either their livestock are polluting existing waterways or, in an effort to keep the land productive to ensure those stock continue to thrive thereby upholding a large part of the New Zealand economy, they are depleting the water table through excess irrigation…

This Auckland predicament has (among other things) raised the question: Is the country losing its valued fresh water resource? Going hand in hand with that query, as one might expect, is renewed speculation regarding the concept of yesteryear, of ‘Kiwi water export’; unsurprisingly, given protesters’ supposed detestation of anything that is beneficial to either progress or finances, and given further that somebody stands to profit from the aforementioned prospective deal, the ‘Kiwi water export’ notion is again being feverishly condemned by lobbyists.

…Alas when it comes to this topic I am aware I am guilty of repetition, but for some reason it just annoys me to the point of exasperation, and I therefore feel it must be (again) said: in New Zealand we have a number of self-appointed, self-righteous ecologists who despite spending a lifetime as Auckland citizens hence having never actually experienced rural life thus with no actual knowledge of what goes on in the real world let alone knowledge of how a farm is operated or indeed what exactly is required to run said farm, feel it is within the self-appointed-ecologist-skill-set to then claim to know exactly what farmers are doing wrong and certainly what they must immediately do to rectify that wrongdoing…

Originally this ‘water export’ initiative was an Ashburton dream where, as documented in the first ‘Bottled’, a fully operational water bottling plant could have employed hundreds of Ashburton locals and injected potentially millions of dollars into the economy of this Mid Canterbury township yet, again as documented, it came down to more of an ownership issue; officially, at least according to what the nation’s protesters were ranting, essentially it was townsfolk water and the townsfolk didn’t want someone else having it.

…I think the reason this particular water issue exasperates me so is largely because I cannot abide wastefulness of any variety; the fact that these (all too often) Northern eco-warriors (usually) acting on behalf of the South and (invariably) by implication the entire nation, would rather stand by as billions of cubic metres of clean, fresh, very much drinkable water – that’s a Rangitata, a Waimakariri, and a Hurunui summer combined – flows its moist and merry journey eastward to reach the coast and cascade out its respective river mouth where it will then ever-so-minutely dilute the vast body of water that is the world’s salt-infused ocean, than to see southern farmers, often stricken by summer drought, tap into that bountiful water table, to harness its valuable wetness and to distribute it over the land – or, as in this case, to bottle that water for export – sending it over instead of into the ocean, to perhaps make some money from its world-renowned crystal-clarity rather than sitting idly by in your self-righteous-self-appointed-self-important-ecologist chair and watching it dissipate amid trillions more cubic metres of unequivocally undrinkable water because the instant that fresh water reaches the ocean, it’s no good to any person…

On the matter of bottling water for distribution, also profit, Prime Minister Bill English was heard to say, “Well, of course, it would come down to a matter of ownership, wouldn’t it – who owns the water?” (Regarding which, if recent Treaty negotiations are anything to go by, he should know the answer to that one, but if not, here’s a clue for you Billy-boy – it is not the Government but nor is it strictly the Opposition.) Therefore if bottling for distribution does take place, these ‘owners’ of New Zealand water will assuredly expect recompense for their efforts; meantime Fiji locals have had no problem bottling and distributing their water – they don’t even expect a profit and while Kiwi water might be ‘pristine’, theirs is ‘miracle water’.

…I chuckled when I read the closing line of the original ‘Bottled’; of course it was in reference to all that pristine Kiwi water that farmers are frequently being vilified for spraying over the land, despite its apparent excess and which, despite also New Zealand’s apparent abhorrence of intolerance, is still too good for the stomachs of foreigners.

‘Best let it go back in the ocean where it belongs, eh.’



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Owen T Waters

Photography by Sal D Waters


Tim Walker’s Sprawl

Auckland city’s continued expansion could soon mean the end of New Zealand’s bountiful horticultural industry, leading to the importation of our fresh produce.

With each housing development around Auckland, a little more of the nation’s most valued agricultural land is being lost…

To urban folk looking to become a part of the Super City of Auckland this might seem a trivial issue; to the nation’s market gardeners whose life is the land, and who just happen to be situated on some of the most productive land in the country, this is everything.

…In Pukekohe, home to an abundant variety of soil found across just five percent of the country, growers have for years been witnessing these fertile lands being encroached upon by the sprawl of Auckland housing development…

The fact that more houses need to be built in and around Auckland is not up for dispute, nor is the fact that building more houses would go some way to reducing the ever-climbing cost of those houses; what is bound to be up for dispute however is the question of whether Kiwis are willing to essentially exchange astronomical house prices for a similarly ridiculous rise in the cost of living – which is the likelihood if New Zealand is no longer able to maintain its self-sufficiency thus has to import the bulk of its fresh produce at a much greater expense.

…Housing minister Nick Smith believes that existing landowners are ‘quite capable of making the decision’ of whether to sell their blocks to the farmers, or to make way for additional housing development by subdividing their land; although when the vendor’s financial gain for subdividing is threefold what the growers would be expecting to pay, in this money-driven world it doesn’t really seem to be much of a decision at all…

It is easy in the current economical climate for one to become fixated on Auckland’s so-called housing crisis, while overlooking the fact that this ‘housing crisis’ is in no way the only issue in New Zealand; farmers – who before tourism took off were the backbone of this nation and who continue to play a vital role in upholding the economy – still have a livelihood to maintain.

…To some – less informed, more ignorant – city-dwellers the term ‘farmer’ is synonymous with ‘wealth’, ‘greed’, or ‘lifestyle’; when realistically, as I have seen firsthand, ‘farmer’ is more akin to terms such as ‘little expendable cash’, ‘hard work’, ‘long hours’ and particularly, ‘no weekends’. The further misguided belief that farmers have little regard for ecology and that they exploit the land for their gain is simply preposterous…

Farmer’s are the caretakers of the land and, unlike housing production where ‘the land’ will be largely forgotten in place of the dwellings under which it rests, so long as it’s under the care of a horticulturalist that land will only ever be improved.

…Without doubt this area of unusually fecund land around Pukekohe would be infinitely better suited to be growing New Zealand’s future in agriculture than it would be growing lawn grass yet, when a significant portion of our population is crying foul over Auckland house prices, foresight and indeed rationality is easily overlooked.

Ultimately, in order to make room for new residents and the houses they will require, Auckland Super City does need to continue to expand; ideally though it would do so over less productive land than it is currently attempting to sprawl.



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Val U Abel

Photography by Patch O Lund

Tim Walker’s Swimmable

Having lived all my life on the arid plains of Mid Canterbury I have yet to find a river, a stream, a lake, a pond or even an especially large puddle, in which I could not swim.

That said how exactly does one define the term, ‘swimmable’?

Water quality is obviously a significant factor, but then who decides which body of water is to be considered ‘acceptable’ and which should be deemed ‘contaminated’?

The Opposition are bemoaning the Government’s promise to ‘make 90 percent of New Zealand lakes and rivers swimmable by 2040’, maintaining that rather than cleaning up supposedly polluted waterways they plan to simply lower the ‘swimmable’ standard…

This strategy sounds hilariously reminiscent of a certain Helen Clark led Labour Government where she was able to essentially wipe out New Zealand’s unemployment with her questionable concept of paying the nation’s bums benefits thereby altering their status from ‘unemployed’ to ‘invalid’ while in the meantime practically bankrupting the country before passing the reins to John Key and his National party where they then did their best to steer the gig clear of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.

…The problem is here, an Auckland, Wellington, or Christchurch local’s evaluation of ‘tainted’ water – the aforementioned groups no doubt having become accustomed to a city water supply which is actually less clean water than it is dead water and is about as far from their beloved pristine water as water can be – is probably any clear liquid that doesn’t stink of chlorine. This is considerably different to my own evaluation of the same watery liquid; having grown up drinking water-race water – the same water-race in fact that ran through countless farms across the Canterbury Plains before reaching our house/taps/stomachs – I am not particularly fussed about so-called ‘water quality’. Providing it’s free-running and doesn’t smell rancid I’ve never had any issue drinking New Zealand water…

As for water swimmability however, well, that’s a different topic altogether; I mean, if it’s not chlorinated to the point of making our supple eyes burn and blonde hair turn green, how do we know it’s safe to immerse our tender little torsos amid it’s wonderfully moist depths?

…Mind you I’m not a soft-cock either. I’m not the kind of guy who peels or even washes very well his vegetables before consumption, or indeed the kind of person who has had their lives so heavily influenced by the insidious nature of media scare-tactics that I simply must go out and buy every cleaning product on the market with the intention of eradicating from my house every germ or micro-organism in sight – sorry, not in sight…

I recently spent time surrounded by some of New Zealand’s most beautiful landscapes and beside some of our most – genuinely – pristine waterways. On this North Canterbury farm, bordered on one side by the almighty Hurunui River (which, sadly, on reflection I would deem not swimmable, given the way the millions of tons of crystalclear water pulsating their way down that gorge would undoubtedly pulverise my mortal body on the rocks) in conjunction with a few thousand sheep scattered over the hillside, on the lowlands they in fact graze several hundred head of cattle.

…The Opposition, joined by an idiot band of eco-warriors, maintain the Government, as well as lowering ‘swimmable’ standards in order to meet their goal, in their impending quest to ‘clean up rivers and streams’ they supposedly plan to ‘overlook’ many of New Zealand’s ‘fundamental’ waterways…

It wasn’t unusual during a dry morning on the farm, out shifting irrigation on the quad bike, after crossing a stream to then dismount before heading back to this picturesque bubbling brook, dropping to the press-up position, and to slurp mouthful after mouthful of the purist water I have ever tasted.

…Presumably these people doing the complaining have never been to the South Island, let alone drunk from a Rangitata, Waimakariri, or a Hurunui rivulet because – cesspools like Lake Ellesmere and Forsyth aside, which on account of a lack of flow and an excess of birdlife all pooping about the place is admittedly disgusting – the majority of Canterbury’s waterways are in good condition and certainly, they are swimmable…

Of course there was often a herd of cattle languishing upstream in the neighbouring paddock but, like me, they didn’t make a habit of discharging waste in the same place they drank.

…I heard the other night on the News one of these idiot eco-warriors ranting about how the Government’s clean-up plan would ‘neglect the rivers and streams of Banks Peninsula’, which ‘desperately need cleaning up’; I almost choked on my scotch – I’d always thought that if I was ever asked to give an example of one place in New Zealand where the water is ‘pristine’ (obviously this thought had originated prior to tasting Hurunui’s water), I would have recommended Banks Peninsula’s rivers and streams…

Maybe the Government should lower the standard of ‘swimmable’ water because if people up top are asserting that the majority of Southern waterways are polluted to the point of earning the label ’not swimmable’, well, there must be something giving a false-positive.

…My guess is that, typical of all things eco-warrior, half a story is all they require to cause a fuss on subjects about which they otherwise have no clue, therefore this speculation that Banks Peninsula water is unclean is likely based on a trip the idiot took to Duvauchelle where he probably sat by the ocean and breathed, and yes, the smell of rotting seaweed coupled with bird faeces in that place is egregious thus the belief that no clean fluid could possibly exist amid a stench so foul/fowl is quite understandable.

Ultimately the Government can do, or not do as is the predicted belief, as it likes; I will continue to drink New Zealand water straight from the source regardless.



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Du Cuddle Poop

Photography by N Karleen Waters