Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Christchurch Quake Memorial & Port Hills Fires

Fri-Sat 24-25.02.11. Two days after opening of Christchurch Quake Memorial, remembering 185 people killed by the 22.02.11 quake, Leah lectured at Seabrook Mackenzie Centre, London St. A Civil Defence state of emergency still went on due to mostly extinguished fires on the Port Hills. The Port Hills fires had raged for days, causing a firefighter helicopter crash (ex SAS soldier / pilot dead) razing 9 houses & endangering many others. Residents of several endangered streets on the Port Hills were evacuated. Port Hills were fire blackened from Dyers Pass south-westwards towards Coopers Knobs. After 3 years of quakes, 2010-2013 incl, it was the second disaster hitting Christchurch in 6 years.

Friday, while Leah lectured, I looked at the new Quake Memorial off Oxford Tce by Avon River S bank. The Memorial consisted of 3 black, stone steps on the riverbank below a curved, white, marble wall below Oxford Tce. Names of the 185 dead were carved on the marble wall. I mingled in a crowd looking at the Quake Memorial. Access from the E side of the wall was a stone ramp for wheel chairs beside stainless steel banisters & balustrade. W side access, off Montreal St Bridge cnr, was stone steps & stainless steel banisters.

Amongst 8 stone & wooden benches, 6 maple saplings were planted on the top step below the wall. Below the E ramp & W steps, were young native plantings, like kahikatea, tussock grasses, astelias & hebes, as well as some exotic plantings, like young camellias & rhododendrons.

Wreaths of flowers had been placed on the steps below the marble wall by families of the dead & dignitaries at the 22.02.11 Memorial Service. Bereaved had come from all over the world for the opening of the Quake Memorial, as many overseas people had died in the quake, like Japan's Toyama School students,

Wreaths & sympathy messages were still there when I visited: Governor General Reddy, National govt Speaker Carter, National PM English, Mayor Dalziel, Labour opposition leader Little & many wreaths by embassies & organisations involved & affected: Toyama School, USAR. LANDSAR, NZ Fire Service, St John, NZ Red Cross, NZDF, NZ Police, Civil Defence, Green Party, Ngai Tahu, US Embassy, Turkey Embassy, Malaysia Embassy, Japanese Embassy, Korea Embassy. Philippines Embassy, Samoan Embassy. Chinese Embassy, Ireland Embassy, Canada Embassy, ...

After Leah finished lecturing on Friday I took her to the Quake Memorial for another look. On the pavement above the Quake Memorial ramp, a big, brown, pounamu stone lay on a plinth, fountain water flowing over the jade.

Saturday, I looked at Port Hills fire damage. Fires had started on the Port Hills on Feb 13. Slow Civil Defence declared a state of emergency on Feb 15.

From the top of Bengal St, I viewed blackened Sugar Loaf Hill above & below Dyers Pass. Marleys Hill was completely blackened except for green trees on top. The valley below Dyers Pass & Marleys Hill was blackened from top to bottom.

Near the end of Shalamar Dr, a fire warning sign stopped me driving to the end of the road. Similar view as above, but showing valley houses weren't destroyed, as firefighters had stopped fires encroaching farmland on the valley floor.

Worsleys Rd: At the valley bottom, a St John ambulance was parked by a Civil Defence tent with CD bods strutting about in orange, Hi Vis vests. I drove up Worsleys Rd, but before fire endangered housing near the top I was turned back by a CD road block & two clip boarded, CD bods in orange, Hi Vis vests. Having survived 3 years of quakes & multitudes of NZDF soldiers at roadblocks & obstructive CD, cop, Council, CERA, SCIRT bods in orange or yellow, Hi Vis vests, I vowed: "The next useless CD bod who stops me can go to hell!"

I drove to the top of Westmoreland Hts, parked my car & climbed through a new CD fence with a fire warning sign attached it. On the grassy hilltop, I had good views of fire endangered housing at the end of Worsleys Rd & fire blackened Port Hills, including Sugarloaf, Dyers Pass, Marleys Hill, Hoon Hay Valley, Cass Peak. The hillsides were fire blackened to ashes & fire blackened stumps, but valley farms & housing were saved by firefighters.

Some housing at the end of Worsleys Rd was bordered by scorched earth & razed trees, Firefighters on the ground & helicopters carrying monsoon buckets had their work cut saving those fire ringed houses.

In the distance where a forest once grew, I saw a smoke cloud & a digger quelling a hotspot, amidst scorched stumps & ashes. A brown helicopter circled above.

I drove along Cashmere Rd to Hoon Hay Rd where a clip boarded, orange, Hi Vis vested, CD bod stopped cars at a road block. I drove further along Cashmere Rd to take pics of Hoon Hay Valley & the fire damage on Port Hills above. Hoon Hay Valley farms & housing were OK, but Port Hills above were fire scorched, blackened. Several walkers, bikers & joggers passed while I watched the CD bod road blocking public at Hoon Hay Rd.

I drove past Halswell Quarry Reserve to Kennedys Bush Rd. Both Reserve entrances were road blocked by clip boarded, orange, Hi Vis vested, CD bods. Public banned. Parked on Reserve grass were 2 NZ Fire Service helicopters. During my drive, I'd watched one of the helicopters circling Port Hills, looking for hot spots.

End of Kennedys Bush Rd: I parked my car & wandered to a clip boarded, orange, Hi Vis vested, CD bod's road block, while other cars & bikes about-turned.

CD bod: "No pedestrians! No rubberneckers! Only residents allowed!"

Me: "I've been here many times before. I'm doing no harm. I've come all the way from Timaru. I want to see what I've watched on TV news all week. I'm taking photographs to show Timaru people!"

CD bod: "Phew!" I wandered past him to the end of Quarry Hill housing, which I'd seen develop over many years, while Luke had piano lessons with a SA expat down Kennedys Bush Rd. Over the years, I'd walked Kennedys Bush area to Hoon Hay Valley & up to Summit Rd & Cass Peak.

Port Hills fires had almost reached Kennedys Bush Rd housing, the reservoir above housing bordered by scorched trees & fire blackened hillsides. A swathe of lilac, fire retardant had been flown in, covering unburnt grass between the reservoir & housing. Port Hills further west were fire blackened towards Coopers Knobs. I thought Port Hills, Governors Bay side, would be fire blackened too. During my Kennedys Bush Rd inspection, a brown helicopter clattered above, then landed at Halswell Quarry Reserve.

The Port Hills fires, state of emergency was only lifted a week later. Orange, Hi Vis vested, CD bods took their time declaring a fire state of emergency, then buggered public around for two weeks. The excuse: hot spots had to be stopped.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Port Hills Fires

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cataract Surgery, South Canterbury Eye Clinic

During 2016, Leah's eyes were painful, so she visited her Fairlie GP who said she had cataracts & needed to see an ophthalmologist. There was a long waiting list for ophthalmologist appointments at Timaru.

Breadwinner teacher Leah needed good eyes at Lake Tekapo School, St Joseph's School, Fairlie, working with private students at Fairlie & lecturing Specific Learning Difficulties topics at Seabrook Mackenzie Centre, Christchurch.

Leah's 3 year teaching contract ended at Lake Tekapo School, so at year's end we moved to Pleasant Point, after Leah got a Resource Teacher Literacy post at Timaru. Leah would need good eyes to commute daily by car from Pleasant Point to Timaru. Her new job also needed good driving eyes to South Cantebury schools from Timaru to Waimati southwards, Peel Forest northwards & Twizel westwards, requiring her regularly visiting & advising 40+ South Canterbury schools.

Wed 15.02.17. South Canterbury Eye Clinic appointment: Over 2 hours, Leah was seen & tested by 2 ophthalmologist nurses & an ophthalmologist to assess her for placement on the 4 month waiting list for cataract surgery at Timaru Hospital. Leah was told NZ state would pay $3000 for cataract surgery in one eye.

If Leah wanted cataract surgery in the other eye she would have to go through the whole bureaucratic nonsense again, seeing staff at South Canterbury Eye Clinic again to get on another waiting list for cataract surgery in her other eye. Or if we had the money, opt for cataract surgery by a private surgeon & pay his private fee. Meanwhile without cataract surgery on both eyes simultaneously, Leah's sight would be marginal & glasses defunct, while waiting for surgeries in separate eyes several months apart.

South Canterbury Eye Clinic gave Leah a handout - CATARACT SURGERY INFORMATION - PUBLIC which read:

Cataract is a clouding of the natural lens, the part of the eye responsible for focusing light and helping to produce clear, sharp images. The lens is contained in a capsule within the eye. Over time the lens changes, making images blurred or fuzzy.

For most people, cataracts are a natural result of aging but can also be caused by certain medications or injury to the eye.

In cataract surgery, the clouded natural lens is removed and, in most cases, a permanent intraocular lens (IOL) implant replaces the natural lens.

Eye tests at the Eye Clinic

The nurse puts drops into your eyes to make the pupils bigger [Leah's pupils became as wide as blackberries] so that the Ophthalmologist can examine the eye. He can advise you of possible risks and outcome you can expect from the surgery. He will get you to sign a consent form for surgery.

The nurse checks both your distance and reading vision and questions you to determine how your reduced vision is impacting on your life. Your eyes are measured on two different machines to obtain the exact lens strength required. You may also have had the operation explained to you and have been given written information. The nurse will also ask you questions about any other health issues, medicines you may be using, medication allergies and whether you have been in hospital before.

The office staff will get you to sign a form to give your permission to put your name on the waiting list. The office staff will get contact details for you and your next of kin for the Hospital.

You will be given a prescription for the post-operative eye drops, Please get this filled when you get your surgery date. Inform staff if help is required for the post-operative drops.

You have been placed on the list for cataract surgery. The Hospital Booking Office staff will notify you of the date when your surgery is scheduled. You will be sent admission information. Read the hospital information and the fact sheet and keep them.

If you take Warfarin you will be asked to have a Blood Test prior to surgery. Cataract surgery is usually done as a day case meaning you will be discharged from the hospital on the same day as your surgery.


You are advised to stop smoking at least six weeks before your operation as smoking causes anaesthetic complications, can damage the eye's blood supply and impairs the body's healing ability. Eye Clinic or Hospital staff can refer you onto quit line. Please contact them prior to admission if you wish to take advantage o this service.

Discharge planning

Arrange for someone to take you to and from the hospital and to the post-operative appointment. You won't be able to drive yourself. You should either arrange to stay with someone, or have someone stay with you on the first night in case of unanticipated problems. [Like what?]


* You will be advised by the Hospital or Ophthalmologist, but normally if your surgery is under local anaesthetic you will eat a light meal prior to admission.
* If you are having a General Anaesthetic or sedation you will receive fasting instructions from the Hospital. / Anaesthetist.
* Take your normal prescribed medication as usual unless told otherwise. Diuretics (water pills, e.g. Furosemide) may be omitted. You will be advised if there is any alteration for diabetic medication. Remember to take all your medications with you. The hospital will advise you about Warfarin according to INR results.

Do not wear any make-up (other than moisturiser) or nail polish.

On the day of your surgery

Go to the Day Patients on Level 4 of the Hospital. You will be seen by the Ophthalmologist performing your operation; you will sign the Consent Form, if it has not been signed, for the operation and a mark is placed over the operative eye.

You will also be assessed by the anaesthetist; and asked to sign Consent for the Anaesthetic. The Anaesthetist decides the type pf anaesthetic most appropriate for you - local anaesthetic - numbing of the eye before you have your operation, you may require light sedation or a general anaesthetic.

About one hour before your operation, drops will be placed in your eye to dilate the pupil. [Blackberry wide again]. Once you are taken to the operating theatre, other drops will be placed in your eye to numb the surface, and any other Local Anaesthetic will be given before the operation. If you are having a general anaesthetic you may not require these numbing drops. You will be asked your details and the operation you are having several times during your hospital stay - this is called 'Safe site surgery' and is recommended by the WHO (World Health Organisation).

During the operation

[Two pics of a plastic lens being folded into place with a surgical instrument behind the iris. Caption: Inserting the new lens].

The theatre nurses will make you comfortable on the theatre table.

You will be given a constant supply of oxygen during surgery and the clear, light, plastic, sterile drape will be lifted off your mouth and nose.

The procedure will be explained to you and you will be asked to warn them if you need to move or speak. It is important that you don't move any part of your body or talk. The ophthalmologist has instruments inside your eye and any unexpected movement you make could therefore result in damage to your eye. [Why not use a head brace?] He can usually stop and remove his instruments from your eye, or let you know when it is safe for you to move or cough.

The actual operation usually takes about 10-20 minutes per eye. so that is the only time you will need to be still for.

The time from when you arrive at hospital to the end of your surgery, will be subject to differing circumstances which cannot be controlled. [Like what?]

After the operation

You will return to the day ward with a cover over the eye which stays in place until the next day. After a light snack you will be free to leave.

The nurse will give you:

* an instruction sheet with contact phone numbers (in case of problems). [Like what?]
* eye drops should be collected prior to returning home, so the eye drop regime can be commenced when the cover is removed the next day - these drops will help settle inflammation.
* if the eye is uncomfortable, take Panadol (not Asprin or Disprin) [Why?] to relieve the discomfort.

Don't be alarmed if clear vision does not return immediately following your cataract surgery. In some cases this can take several days. [Why?]

If you have glaucoma: you may be given Diamox tablets to take morning and evening for 3 days. Restart glaucoma drops the day after surgery unless instructed by the ophthalmologist. You will be given an appointment for 1 week after surgery to ensure the eye pressure is normal.

After the surgery

You will be phoned by the Eye Clinic nurse the morning after your surgery.

Tinted glasses will be more comfortable outside as the eye will be light sensitive. Either sun glasses, or prescription tinted glasses will be suitable.

It is quite normal to feel a slight sensation of something in the eye for a while after the operation. This is part of the healing process.

Wear your own glasses if they help, they may not. The Eye Clinic in Timaru will see you again for the follow-up after the operation and will advise you whether to change your glasses at that stage.

You do need to be aware that normally the artificial lens placed in your eye during the operation is for distance vision, so you will require glasses for reading. [Misinformation. See later information].

Contact the Eye Clinic on ... if you experience any of the following problems:

* Pain
* Worsening of vision after initial improvement
* Discharge / Infection


* Use your common sense. If it hurts don't do it.

* Follow the instructions of your eye drop regime.

* Carry on with normal activities as you feel comfortable.

* Avoid dusty or dirty environments.

* If working, expect to be off work for up to 2 weeks.

* Driving will depend on the vision of the other eye, how quickly the operated eye recovers, whether you need glasses and your own self confidence.


* Don't rub the eye.

* Don't use your handkerchief to wipe the eye. Remember the wound is not yet healed and could provide an easy entry for infection. [Blame the patient for crap surgery].

* Don't get water in your eyes for three days after the surgery, refrain from washing your hair yourself for 3 days, as again the wound is not healed and could become infected [What about wet tears, blepharitis, etc?]


It is very important to always wash your hands first, as infection in the eye may be disastrous


Method: [11 bulleted steps, how to put drops in your eyes].


Method: [7 bulleted steps for somebody].


 If you have any questions that are not covered here, please call the clinic.


This depends on the individual. After your post op assessment, we will tell you for sure. We take into account, e.g. the vision of your other eye, whether you need glasses adjusted. [Costly].


You should avoid reading for the first few days. TV is fine.


You can wear your old glasses in most cases until your follow-up.


After your eye drops are completed. If it is on your licence to wear glasses to drive, you must ensure you get your licence changed if you no longer need them.


Yes after a few days, but please don't get dirty water in your eye.


Some mild discomfort is common in the first few days, but may continue for some time. Please contact us if concerned.


Please avoid flying for at least two weeks. If you must fly, ask us for advice first.


[A 4 week table with daily tick boxes, to be ticked 4x/day when using Prednisoline eye drops].



Prednisoline 4 times/day for 4 weeks commencing the morning after surgery


Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See South Canterbury Eye Clinic

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Southern Cochlear Implant Programme Assessment, Costs, Communication

1. Background: In Durban I wasn't born deaf. As a 30 year old adult, I started going nerve deaf in Durban, after working on noisy onion packing machinery at Kibbutz Grofit, Israel in early 1982. In Dec 1982, the loud noise of my shooting a run over dog in Durban aggravated my nerve deafness. In 1983 I taught biology & was boss of the general science department at Glenwood Boys HS, Durban, where I started going deaf. I battled to hear boys' questions, had vertigo & loud noises were painful. Intermittently, I had good hearing days & deaf days, sometimes lasting weeks or months, then a series of good hearing weeks or months.

My nerve deafness worsened over the next decade, while I continued teaching at Durban, Kleinzee, QwaQwa & East London & doing a 3 year stint of DeBeers personnel work at Kleinzee & Koffiefontein mines. With my vertigo I started having blackouts & nystagmus. In desperation I saw doctors, ENT specialists & audiologists in Durban, Kleinzee, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth, East London. They all made megabucks out of my deafness, examining me & telling me my deafness was worsening & I must buy expensive hearing aids. I bought my first analogue hearing aid in Bloemfontein in 1987. I found analogue hearing aids painful & useless.

My last 6 teaching years were at Selborne College, East London, where my deafness worsened. 1994, my last teaching year, I couldn't hear a thing. I bluffed my way through teaching, lip reading & persevering with my useless analogue hearing aid. 1993, from East London I applied for NZ residence. My deafness was passed in my medical by NZ Immigration Service.

Before emigrating from East London, South Africa to NZ, I bought expensive Starkey in-the-ear, analogue hearing aids. My family & I arrived in Christchurch NZ in 1995. The Starkeys proved painful with loud noises & useless. The Starkeys broke & after a year I asked my East London audiologist for a refund. After evasions he repaid some of my money.

In Christchurch NZ I stopped teaching as I was too deaf. I'd tried retraining as a NZ teacher at the end of 1995, but dropped out of the teacher retraining course as I couldn't hear school kids nor teachers properly, even with my analogue hearing aid. In 1996, I read a post grad horticulture diploma at Lincoln Uni. I dropped out after a semester as I doubted the diploma would find me work. Thereafter I did labouring / clerical work in Christchurch for a couple of years before stopping & going on the dole. Teacher wife, Leah became breadwinner while our 2 sons grew up in Christchurch.

Over the next 2 decades in Christchurch I saw NZ audiologists, doctors & an ENT specialist. (Never mind NZ doctors milking WINZ for deaf & depressed Sickness Beneficiaries, a long story). They couldn't cure my nerve deafness. Early days, an audiologist gave me 2 Phonak, shop soiled, analogue hearing aids. Useless. I acquired another pair of  Phonak analogue hearing aids after a deaf friend died. Useless. I bought a Widex digital hearing aid which proved adequate in quiet environments over the next 18 years. It was useless with any background noise like at restaurants. I didn't buy 2 expensive Widex digital hearing aids, as I'd had so much trouble with analogue hearing aids.

Once our sons settled into their Christchurch jobs, after 3 years of Christchurch quakes, Leah got a 3 year teaching contract at Lake Tekapo School. We moved to Fairlie & 4 days a week Leah commuted to Lake Tekapo School. One day a week she taught at St Josephs School, Fairlie. During that time my old, Widex digital hearing aid played up, with intermittent, loud, beeping noises which disturbed me, my family & anyone else within hearing aid beep range. In mid 2016 I took the Widex to a Timaru audiologist for hearing aid repair. (Other hearing aids I had had also needed expensive repairs over the years). The audiologist looked at my old Widex, gave me the usual audiogram, beep test, pronounced my profound deafness & gave me 2 Bernafon digital hearing aids, an improvement on the Widex.

She said as my deafness was so profound, I was eligible for one Cochlear Implant, via the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme.

At the end of 2016 Leah got a teaching job in Timaru, advising 40+ Southern Canterbury schools about literacy resources. We moved from Fairlie to Pleasant Point for Leah to commute to Timaru.

2. Southern Cochlear Implant Programme Assessment:

For rich folk the Cochlear Implant Assessment costs $750. I didn't pay, as I was referred by the Timaru audiologist.

In Dec 2016, I received a letter from the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme, based at St George's Hospital, Papanui, Christchurch, informing me of my Cochlear Implant Assessment which would take place over 2 days in January 2017. The letter incl a claim form stating I could only claim travel & accommodation costs after 6 visits to Christchurch. That meant stiff petrol, car wear & tear & motel costs for us, just to tell me once more I was profoundly deaf & needed a Cochlear Implant.

Despite my new Bernafons, as I lip read Leah well, Leah attended the following appointments with me as my interpreter:

Thurs 19.01.17. St George's Hospital, morning appointment, 2 hours with an audiologist: She spoke clearly in her quiet office, but I needed Leah to interpret quite a lot, as the audiologist was a UK expat with a Pom accent. She listened to my deafness story, gave me the usual audiogram beep test & pronounced my profound deafness. (Duplication of my Timaru audiologist's audiogram). She emphasized a Cochlear Implant was expensive, that the waiting list was about 140 & the Cochlear Implant Programme only had annual funds for 20 Cochlear Implants per year. She later posted me a copy of her assessment report & audiogram, recommending I needed a Cochlear Implant.

Thurs 19.01.17. St George's Hospital, afternoon appointment, 1.5 hours with a rehabilitationist who would oversee my rehab if I had a Cochlear Implant. She spoke clearly & eloquently in her quiet office. I heard her well. Like me she wasn't born deaf, but went deaf later on. She'd paid for her 2 Cochlear Implants by mortgaging her house. Fine if you had a house to mortgage. I didn't.

Like the audiologist, she emphasized that Cochlear Implants were expensive, that NZ govt only provided one Cochlear Implant for each deaf person on the programme, annual funding was low, that the waiting list was long & I'd have a long wait for a Cochlear Implant. She said as I was now on the Cochlear Implant waiting list I would never be bumped off the waiting list, which happened with other state medical waiting lists.

She suggested I write to my MP & Minister of Health to enquire why state funding was scarce for Cochlear Implants? She gave me a grant application form to apply for a Cochlear Implant grant, but emphasized there was no guarantee I would get a grant soon & should apply every year. (Rigamarole of getting annually inflated quotes). Maximum grant was $45000 per Cochlear Implant & surgery. (Eight years ago the grant max was $25000, showing inflation & troughing service providers). If I ever got a Cochlear Implant via SCIP, later on I could apply for peripherals, like repair or replacement of processor, repairs after warranty, consumables & spare parts. Cumbersome funding for dubious hearing benefits. I told her I was sceptical of the SCIP.

As I'd found in the past in South Africa & NZ, medical people used deaf people to milk money for themselves & not for deaf people. In the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme office at St George's Hospital there were was a receptionist, clinical coordinator, doctors, audiologists, rehabilitationists (for adults) & habilitationists (for children) all slurping salaries from the deafness trough, even before I saw an ENT specialist.

Fri 20.01.17. Specialists at Nine, Caledonian Rd, afternoon appointment, half an hour with an ENT specialist. In his quiet office he didn't speak clearly & Leah had to interpret most of what he said. He went through ENT mumbo jumbo I'd heard before in SA & NZ that I was deaf, I had wax in my ears, that he must check my ears while I lay on his couch... He showed me a Cochlear Implant device & a plastic ear model with a Cochlear Implant. He answered my questions & reiterated state Cochlear Implant funding was scarce. The Cochlear Implant operation would take place at Forte Health, Kilmore St. Post Christchurch quakes, Forte Health was built, a private clinic funded by doctors with shares in Forte Health.

The Cochlear Implant was glorified trepanning where the ENT specialist drilled a ledge on my skull bone, planted the implant on the bone ledge, short circuited my perfectly normal outer & middle ear with an implant electrode wire covered in plastic which he inserted into my cochlear to stimulate my auditory nerve. He then stitched my skull skin closed. About a month later, after skin & bone healed, the implant processor hanging on my outer ear & attached to a magnet in my skull implant would be activated. The audiologist & rehabilitationist would enable me to use the device.

Snag: The ENT specialist wanted to place my Cochlear Implant in my "good" ear, which enabled me to still hear with my Bernafon digital hearing aid. The rationale was that my "bad" ear would take longer to rehabilitate with a Cochlear Implant. If the ENT specialist botched the implant operation, or the implant malfunctioned, there was no going back to my digital hearing aid.

The ENT specialist gave me a Cochlear Implant Advice Sheet which read:

Usually takes 1.5-2.5 hours under a General anaesthetic:

The anaesthetist will assess you on the ward before your surgery. I will see you on the ward or occasionally at the anaesthetic room.

Steps once asleep and practical points to know:

Antibiotics given through the drip

Reduces likelihood of wound infection or the rare complication of meningitis. [Complication huh? After drilling a hole in my skull!] Should have vaccine prior to surgery date.

Hair shave behind and above ear

Will grow back.

Site for Receiver Stimulator marker

For bilateral or second side implantation every effort to be made to align the implants symmetrically. However due to the curvature of the skull and the healing process they do not always end up at the same level on the skull e.g. different height above ear.

Incision made behind ear

Top of ear may feel numb afterwards. Usually recovers within 3 months.

Bone drilled to expose 2 nerves

Taste nerve:   may have metallic taste. Usually recovers within 3 months.
Facial nerve:  rarely weak face post op. If present it is usually temporary.

The inner ear / cochlea is then entered

Balance may be affected. Common in first 24 hours, may last a few weeks.

Electrode wire inserted

Full insertion is usual but rarely insertion is incomplete. "Device failure" is when the electrodes don't all function. Occasionally some electrodes need to be turned off. The audiologist will adjust the MAPing for these situations.

Hearing may go completely in that ear. Ringing / tinnitus may sometimes increase as nerve endings die off. This usually improves over time. [Sounded dodgy. Cortical cells destroyed to accommodate electrodes which may or may not work!]

Wound closed

Hidden stitches used. Do not need to be removed.

Head bandage applied

Stays on for 48 hours.

You will be in recovery for 1-2 hours

I will ring your contact person if you wish.

On the ward:

You will receive 2-3 doses of antibiotic. You will have an X-ray the following morning to document the position of the implant. You may be discharged from hospital afterwards. A prescription for pain relief will be supplied. Most people remove the bandage themselves the next day (as well as the underlying dressings). However, if you would prefer, you can see your GP practice nurse or come back to the ward to have it removed.

After you go home:

You should keep the wound dry. A family member or friend may wash your hair if you hold a cup over your ear and use a hair dryer to dry any water that gets on the wound. You should see your GP in 1 week for a wound check. If you are from Christchurch I can see you at this time. It is normal to feel a small bump behind your ear.

"Switch on" is usually 2-4 weeks after surgery. The implant programme will organise this with you. My secretary will organise an appointment with me around this time also.

3. Costs: After seeing the ENT specialist, Leah & I went back to St George's Hospital to enquire about costs for a Cochlear Implant. Days later, I received an email giving costs of Cochlear Implant devices & long term maintenance costs, but wanting me to email around for estimated Radiology, Anaesthetist, Surgery, Hospital costs, as follows:

*Radiology pre op CT Scan: Cost unknown, no quote given by SCIP, surgeon, radiologist
*Post op X-ray:                         $101.60

*Anaesthetist 3 hours in theatre: $1800.00

*Surgery pre op visit:                $114.50
*Surgery:                                 $4700.00

*St George's Hospital theatre time (120 mins): $2290.00
*Medical Supplies:                                        $4500.00
*Recovery:                                                    $350.00
*Accommodation per night                            $655.00

Medical costs were sick.

The Southern Cochlear Implant Programme supplied the following costs, administered by deaf troughers & tax minions, wanting their cut from the deaf before any Cochlear Implant:

Please find below our charges and fees. All prices are GST inclusive and may change without notice. These charges are subject to our Terms and Conditions:


Prices provided here are accurate as at 25 November 2016 but may change at any time. [Inflated by manufacturers, retailers & wholesalers slurping the deafness trough]. For implant prices and fees, please request a formal quote valid for 30 days. [Making any quote request a waste of time & energy].

Equipment Manufacturer

Our programme offers the choice of 3 equipment manufacturer's systems, Cochlear Limited, Med-EL and Advanced Bionics. Selection is done in consultation with you and clinical staff. Your personal preference may not be available under some circumstances based on clinical grounds - this will be made clear to you at the time of consultation.

Invoicing and Payment

Payment should be made against our GST invoice at the time of consultation. All SCIP related services and equipment (Assessment Fees, Cochlear Implant equipment, Consultation Fees, Spare Parts, Batteries and Repairs) are payable on invoice at the time of consultation.

For initial implant system charges only, 10% deposit at time of confirmation is required. [I wasn't confirmed, just on a nebulous waiting list]. Balance can be paid in 3 monthly instalments, with the first payment required prior to surgery. [I must invest in more Lotto tickets]. After the first 2 years, follow up appointments at SCIP are invoiced at the hourly rate quoted and payment should be made at the time of consultation. [A money making factory for SCIP paid by CI recipients, similar to deaf troughing audiologists, audiometrists & WINZ doctors].

Payment for all other specialist services (ENT Fees, Hospital Fees, Anaesthetist Fees and Radiology Fees) [Above] is via the specialist or provider concerned, subject to their own Terms and Conditions. The SCIP is not responsible for costs, prices, or the Terms and Conditions of other providers. [SCIP just flogs Cochlear Implant devices, support equipment, consumables, captive audiologists & rehabilitationists / habilitationists].

Speech Processor Upgrades

Your speech processor will need to be updated at some stage in the future. Currently the approximate life of a processor is 7-8 years. [As opposed to my cheaper Widex hearing aid which needed major repair after a couple of years & lasted about 15 years before going bung over the next 3 years].


The Cochlear Implant, speech processor and consumable parts are warranted against defect and failure. Please consult the relevant manufacturer's terms and conditions for specific warranty terms.

Travel and accommodation assistance

Patients who fund their own Cochlear Implants are therefore also required to fund their own travel and accommodation costs. Please be aware, that when you come to Christchurch or Lower Hutt [Northern Cochlear Implant Programme] for your Cochlear Implant appointments you may need accommodation. You may also need to stay in Christchurch two - three days after surgery following discharge from St Georges Hospital (this is dependent on recovery) and another two days at time of switch on. [The ENT specialist's Terms & Conditions I read & signed wanted my surgery at Forte Health, another deaf troughing, money making factory].

Bilateral Patients

Simultaneous Cochlear Implant Procedures

Some patients who are provided a Ministry of Health funded Cochlear Implant system may elect to fund a second simultaneous implant system at the same time.

Please be aware that only those costs associated with the publically funded procedure will be met out of Ministry of Health funds. Any treatment costs, including unforeseen costs, [botch ups?] not associated with publically funded procedure must be met by the patient. [Sounded dodgy].

As part of the pre-implant assessment process the clinical staff will, on clinical grounds, recommend an ear for unilateral implant. This recommendation will be done prior to surgery. This ear will then be deemed the funded ear; the other ear will become the private ear and any treatment costs associated with this private ear must be met by the patient. [Would my hearing coordinating brain then become part funded, part private too?]

Sequential Cochlear Implant Procedures

Some patients with an existing Ministry of Health funded Cochlear Implant system may elect to fund a second (sequential) implant at a later date. [After cortical cells were buggered by the first deaf troughing op].

Please be aware that any costs associated with the privately funded ear must first be met by the patient and the Ministry of Health funded services cannot be used to subsidise private procedures. [Resulting from botch ups by SCIP surgery].

This includes the cost of travel and accommodation to attend appointments for treatment procedures associated with a privately implanted system.

Any treatment costs, including unforeseen costs, [dodgy] not associated with the publically funded procedure must be met by the patient.

[The above SCIP Terms and Conditions avoided the fact there was little funding from the Ministry of Health for Cochlear Implants].

For questions regarding our Terms and Conditions please consult either the Finance Administrator or the General Manager. [Hopefully they lobbied MPs & the Ministry of Health for the long SCIP Cochlear Implant waiting list].

Cochlear Implant System - Equipment only

                                                                    Cochlear            MED-EL     Advanced Bionics

*Implant system (implant & speech processor)  $30190.00          $30190.00   $POA
Bilateral system (sequential or simultaneous)           $25357.50
Applicable to patients with existing Cochlear Ltd device - valid until February 2017

My wife recently bought a second hand, 1300cc, Toyota Vitz for $6000, incl h.p. to commute daily from Pleasant Point to Timaru. Go figure, as evidently profoundly deaf people were ripped off by Cochlear Implant pricing, hospital care, anaesthetists, surgeons & radiologists. Cochlear Implant & MED-EL Implant pricing being identical, looked like monopoly pricing. Over 3 years ago when I went to my Christchurch audiologist & GP about my wavering Widex hearing aid, neither mentioned the SCIP, but both encouraged me to buy expensive hearing aids.


Consultation Fees - Audiology, Habilitation / Rehabilitation

Cochlear Implant Candidacy Assessment (Audiology, Rehabilitation) $750.00 [Ripoff. Described above].

"Meet and Greet" pre op discussion [ENT surgeon described above]. No charge. [He got his cut from his whopping surgery fees, above].

Post implant Follow-Up (Audiology, Habilitation / Rehabilitation)

*All appointments first 2 years post switch-on               $5400.00 per implant
After 2 years post switch-on                                       $200.00/hour per implant

A 40% discount on consultation fees is offered for simultaneous recipients on the second ear.

[And the SCIP wanted me to lobby NZ govt MPs for funding. A Google search showed that SCIP troughers had asked CI candidates like me to lobby MPs for years].

On-going Equipment and Spare Parts - representative costs

Below are representative costs for some consumable items that may be necessary for on-going maintenance of your Cochlear Implant system:

Cochlear                                  Med-EL                                       Advance Bionics

Std Rechg Battery      $315       Battery pack frame      $465          Please Enquire
Battery Holder           $205       Coil with magnet         $800
Coil                          $212       Coil cable                   $165
Coil-cable                 $127

Med-EL spare parts cost more than Cochlear spare parts.

Other consumables:

Disposable Batteries 10 pk  $32
Dri Briks 3 pk                   $18 [Ripoff - silica gel in plastic packages for use in a plastic jar].

Speech Processor Repairs

Cochlear                                   Med-EL                                      Advance Bionics

Warranty period     5 years         Warranty period     3 years            Please enquire
Warranty repair      No chg         Warranty repair      no chge
OOW repair          $488.75        OOW repair           $592

MeD-EL processor repairs cost more than Cochlear processor repairs.

Speech Processor Upgrade                  Cochlear          Med-EL             Adv Bionics

Usually required after 7-8 years             $8360.00         $11040.00         $POA

Med-EL processor upgrade cost more than Cochlear processor upgrade.

Cochlear Implant device & Med-EL Implant device cost the same, but Med-EL spare parts, processor repairs & processor upgrade cost more. As both Cochlear Implant device & Med-EL Implant device cost the same, why were Med-El's maintenance & repair costs more then Cochlear's?

None of the above costings showed any cost of failure of the Cochlear Implant in my skull, nor cost of surgery failure.

Totaling *asterisk costs, bare minimum costs for the Implant device, surgery & 2 year follow up, the grand total $50101.10 exceeded the $45000 grant.

$50101.10 single Cochlear Implant cost exceeded Leah's gross annual teacher salary.

Medical expediters needed to pull finger to reduce astronomical costs for Cochlear Implants.

4. Communication: 13-14.02.17. After posting a grant application for $50101.10 for one Cochlear Implant to the SCIP at St George's Hospital, I emailed the following to the National Rangitata MP & National Minister of Health:

Cochlear Implant Funding - Southern Cochlear Implant Programme.

I am a NZ resident of 22 years, emigrated from South Africa in 1995. I have over 20 years' full time experience as a teacher & personnel officer in SA. I wasn't born deaf, but gradually went profoundly deaf over 30 plus years due to Grofit kibbutz farm machinery noise in 1982 causing my deafness. Analogue hearing aids proved inadequate & I stopped teaching on arrival in NZ. Digital hearing aids are still inadequate for my profound deafness.

Presently I live with my wife at Pleasant Point. My teacher wife is breadwinner, commuting daily to Timaru. My two adult sons, ages 30 & 25, live and work in Christchurch.

After referral by my Timaru audiologist, last month at St George's Hospital, Christchurch, I was assessed by the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme, which found me eligible for a single Cochlear Implant. I was informed the Cochlear Implant waiting list was 140, but there was annual funding only for 20 Cochlear Implants.

My Google search found there were Cochlear Implant funding shortages for years, as well as astronomical rising costs for Cochlear Implants, surgery & Cochlear Implant maintenance & repairs thereafter.

With the present status quo, I must wait for years for a Cochlear Implant. Recent quotes give costs about $50101 for a single Cochlear Implant, done via the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme. Our family cannot afford to pay for a private Cochlear Implant. Never mind expensive, ongoing repair & maintenance costs.

A Cochlear Implant would greatly improve my hearing & quality of life. My wife has had a deaf husband for 34 years of our marriage. My sons have always had a deaf father.

Please let me know why there is so little NZ government funding for Cochlear Implants?

Thank you.

Mark JS Esslemont

P.S. More info about Cochlear Implants & the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme Assessment & Costs can be found on my Woza Wanderer blog...

17.02.17. I received a form letter from the Clinical Coordinator, SCIP, dated 14.02.17, which read:

You were recently seen by our Centre for a cochlear implant assessment by our Clinical staff.

The results of the assessment indicate that you meet the candidacy criteria for a cochlear implant. This means that you are likely to derive more benefit from a cochlear implant than your current hearing aid or hearing aids.

Although you are a suitable candidate, public funding for cochlear implant surgery is limited and is therefore prioritized. [How?]

Based on your clinical assessment, you do not meet the threshold [Profoundly deaf not deaf enough huh?] for a publically funded implant and as a result are referring you back to your local provider with advice for management of your hearing loss. [A waste of resources as my new digital hearing aids were useless with any background noise]. This may include a review of hearing aids [done over more than 30 years of deafness] referral to a hearing therapist, [trougher] the provision of assistive devices such as FM systems [risibly expensive] and other community supports [already sussed over many years: trougher orgs; deaf culture sign languages; loop systems in cinemas, courts, churches, lecture halls; amplified telephones; caption telephones; TV captions...]

While you don't meet the threshold for a publically funded implant at the moment, you remain on the programme. If there is an increase in funding and you meet the threshold [what?] at a later date, we [who?] will advise you at the earliest opportunity. If your circumstances have changed since your original assessment and you feel you warrant a review of your clinical priority [what?] please contact our clinic. A change in circumstances may include:

* A significant change in your hearing. [My hearing changed to profoundly deaf over many years].
* Increase in difficulty hearing at work [don't work, deaf for years] in education [I stopped teaching after leaving SA & couldn't hear lectures at Lincoln Uni in 1996 despite my analogue hearing aid] or at home. [Without hearing aids I'm completely deaf].
* Caregiver responsibility [N/a. Leah & sons were my unpaid interpreters].
* The effect of your hearing loss on your quality of life and mental health. [Crap. Huge financial, social & emotional costs. The bulleted points were discussed at my SCIP assessment, rendering them repetitive & patronising in a form letter].

A request for a review of your clinical priority should be supported by information from your GP or other health care provider. [Troughers. e.g. In 2011, when I saw my GP & Bay audiologist in Christchurch about getting new digital hearing aids via WINZ, they were both duplicitous: checking my blood pressure, referring me for blood tests, referring me to the GP's unqualified wife for hearing aid advice, or trying to dupe me to buy mega expensive digital hearing aids. Neither GP nor audiologist referred me to the SCIP in Christchurch].

You may proceed with a cochlear implant at your own cost through our private service at any time. [$50101.10 for one implant. Cough]. Please contact us if you wish to pursue this option. [SCIP screened & solicited both state & private patients simultaneously. No separation of SCIP state & private costs. e.g. private ENT specialist on SCIP milked either state or private patients with exorbitant costs].

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about this [sick] letter....

Copy: Audiologist... Timaru.

The risible thing about the letter was that the SCIP's audiograms showed me more profoundly deaf then my Timaru audiograms done a few months ago. i.e. SCIP's audiogram curves were lower than my Timaru audiogram curves. A significant change in my hearing.

Letter dated 20.03.17 from the Southern Hearing Charitable Trust Grants Committee:

"Thank you for your recent application to the SHCT Charitable Grants Committee.

The Committee received 15 individual applications and had $50 000 to allocate from a single benefactor. The Committee met on 1 March 2017 to consider all applications.

The limited availability of charitable funds means that the Committee was unable to approve all applications and on this occasion your grant application has been unsuccessful.

The Committee would like to thank you for taking the time to apply. In the event that further charitable funds become available at a later date then we will notify you of this and you may apply again."

Busy work for bureaucrats who expected waiting listers to applying year after year for a grant which presently only covered one Cochlear Implant as above. What a farce! Cochlear Implant candidates were also expected to lobby current MPs for funding to enrich said bureaucrats & medical staff. What a con!

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont

See Cochlear Implant

See Med-EL Cochlear Implant

Monday, January 2, 2017

Burkes Pass Heritage Walk

01.01.17. Leah & I'd whizzed over Burkes Pass many times during the last 3 years, along SH8 to & from Fairlie & Lake Tekapo. Over the 3 years that Leah worked at Lake Tekapo School, we'd seen Lake Tekapo become Lake Tackapo, a plague of tourists passing through - cars, freedom campers, hitchhikers, busloads of gawpers overloading carparks, public toilets, motels, hotel, campsites & buying tourist junk. Tourists also drove poop vans, er campervans & locals' SUVs towed boats & caravans en route to Aoraki / Mt Cook, Twizel, Wanaka & Queenstown.

Tourists bought expensive gewgaws at Lake Tekapo tourist trap shops & expensive junk food at cafes, restaurants & bars. Despite the overloading, Lake Tekapo was developing a new supermarket, new self cleansing toilets, revamped Youth Hostel, new star gazing & mountain gazing businesses, taking over the Domain, near the new footbridge crossing over Lake Tekapo outlet to Church of The Good Shepherd.

Most tourists didn't stop at Burkes Pass village, about half way between Fairlie & Lake Tekapo. We stopped at St Patrick's Church, 1872 & wandered the Heritage Walk beside SH8 to Burkes Pass Cemetery, a favourite spot for the local traffic cop catching tourists speeding down Burkes Pass. The Cemetery had settlers' graves, farming families' graves, mountaineers' graves, even the Lupin Lady's grave. She'd polluted Mackenzie Basin with nitrifying, Russel lupin plants, scattering lupin seeds all over the place. Never mind Mackenzie Country also polluted with rabbits, hares, stoats, weasels, tourists, Himalayan tahr, chamois, grassed paddocks, wilding conifers, red deer, sheep & cattle. Farmers had to make their millions somehow in the Southern Alps.

We wandered back past the church, past Paddys Market Homestead (now private), site of the Blacksmiths Shop (private) & Motel, which doubled as a local Artist's Studio, near the faux Musterers Hut, filled with old, musterers' junk. Just after the wooden Musterers Hut was built by locals, a truck missing the corner smashed the hut to smithereens, while the builders were boozing at the hotel across the road. The Musterers Hut was rebuilt again.

At the site of old Burkes Pass Hotel & Stables was a cafe & tourist trap shop, a shed selling coffee & expensive, wooden, garden furniture. The shed posed as an old garage, selling Yank motorist gewgaws, mostly painted aluminium.

Along SH8, we wandered past The Stone House, the Rabbit Board House (now both private) & the School House where farm students had paddocked their horses. Burkes Pass School, now a Community Centre, had several classrooms to accommodate 50 students during its heyday. The school had a wooden porch & first floor balcony, designed for spectacular views of Mt Burgess & Mt Maud. Nowadays those mountain views were obscured by trees.

Further down SH8 were 3 restored cob cottages: Elm Tree Cottage & Alma Cottage (now private). Anniss Cobb Cottage, a roofless ruin with a tree growing inside for decades, by a swamp, was semi restored with a corrugated iron roof, wooden doors, sash windows. Cob bricks made of mud & straw were left on a verandah for all to see. Outer walls showed raw mud plaster. The cob cottages reminded us of millions of mud huts we'd seen in Africa.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Clean Green New Zealand? Ha!

Spring: Agri-chemical spraying season by Fairlie farmers: Leah & I were both poisoned by unknown sprayed agri-chemicals during November 2016.

During spring, contractor vehicles with boom spray arms on both sides of the vehicle, like pterodactyls, roamed roads & farms, spraying herbicides to prepare paddocks for crop plantings, like wheat & canola.

Beside SH8, from Fairlie to Lake Tekapo, every plastic reflector pole, 50 m odd apart, had a border of white or orange sprayed, dead grass, as mechanical mowers were too cumbersome to mow around the plastic reflector poles. Masses of herbicide was sprayed by SH8, even before farmers sprayed their paddocks with agri-chemicals.

In fact, grass around every road sign & 1000s of roadside, plastic reflectors all along SH8 from Timaru to Lake Tekapo, 100 kms odd, was sprayed white or yellow by herbicides. Ditto SH79, 45 kms, Geraldine to Fairlie, tourist route from Christchurch to Mackenzie Country. Timaru District Council, Mackenzie District Council & NZ Transport Authority had lots to answer for, as SH8 & SH79 were the main tourist routes from Canterbury Plains to Lake Tekapo & Mt Cook.

Leah commuted SH8 daily from Fairlie to Lake Tekapo School where she taught. A return trek of 90 kms / day. When Leah developed flu like symptoms, without coughing, snotting & sneezing, she phoned her homeopath friend in Christchurch, who told her many people were poisoned by spray drift during spring time. Leah's wheezy breathing & sore throat persisted for 2 weeks after the poisoning.

I was poisoned as follows:

Mon 28.11.16. Hot, northwester day. Morning: As usual, I drove Leah along SH8 to Kimbell to catch her school bus to Lake Tekapo. I drove back to Fairlie, did our washing & hung it out to dry in our garden.

Our rental was one of several, old, Flax Mill cottages on Talbot Rd in the middle of Fairlie Golf Course. Lining one side of the golf course, bordering every power pole & fence pole along Talbot Rd, there was orange, dead grass, sprayed to hell. Masses of sprayed weedkiller around every pole, every 14 m along Talbot Rd. At our garden back fence was a swathe of orange sprayed, dead grass, about half a metre wide, sprayed to hell, where golf course mowers couldn't reach. All our neighbours' houses had a swathe of orange sprayed, dead grass by their back fences. The golf course car park, one house away from ours' was yellow, sprayed to hell with herbicide. Fairlie Golf Club had lots to answer for, as several roads with housing surrounded the golf course, subject to spray drift. During our 2.5 years stay at Fairlie, so far we'd never received any warnings from Fairlie Golf Club nor Council about their spraying.

Afternoon: Picked up Leah at Kimbell & drove back to Fairlie. Both trips were hot & windy, so I drove with open car windows.

Evening. I developed flu like symptoms: Headache, weepy eyes, sore throat, weak muscles & joints. Dehydrated & feverish. No coughing, snotting, nor sneezing. Accelerated pulse & high blood pressure, like my head was going to burst. Restless night, tossing & turning in bed.

Tue 29.11.16. Hot, northwester day. Flu like symptoms again, as above. Drove Leah to Lake Tekapo School. I was too shot to climb Mt John, which I usually did on Tuesdays. I'm fit, rarely visit doctors & did lots of tramping on & near Mt Gerald Station during 2016, including tramping to 5 different mountain huts on 10 different occasions during the year.

Wed 30.11.16. Flu like symptoms reduced, persistent sore throat. Felt a bit better. Drove to Lake Tekapo & after school walked with Leah to Tekapo Spa to test my poisoned limbs. No problems there.

Thurs 01.12.16. Sore throat & flu like symptoms gone. I'd lost 1 kg body weight during the last 3 days. Hadn't a clue what the herbicides did to my body systems?

After a Google search, I realized on Monday, during, hot, windy weather, I'd somehow imbibed vaporised herbicide, either from vaporised herbicides beside SH8, like Roundup / glyphosate, or similar agri-chemicals from the Fairlie Golf Course where we lived. Or Both.

Specific studies by captive govt or chemical industrial scientists touted the genetic safety of humans to Roundup / glyphosate, but I found no studies giving the overall safety of humans to Roundup / glyphosate.

Wed 07.12.16. I walked Jack Lovelock Track on the west side of Fairlie, draining waters from Albury Range to Opihi River, east side of Fairlie. The walk, observing spray pollution, about 8 kms, as follows:

Mt Cook Rd, SH8: Road verges & parkland trees by Denmark St had sprayed borders. Public footpath between Alloway St & Nixons Rd turnoff, grass verges sprayed yellow. Halls Stream Bridge by Nixons Rd turnoff, grass sprayed yellow, both sides of stream by bridge abutments.

Nixons Rd: Public footpath, grass verges sprayed yellow. Alpaca Farm fence grass sprayed yellow the entire length from SH8 to the farm driveway & beyond. All road signs & roadside, plastic reflectors, grass borders sprayed yellow. Bridge abutment, grass borders sprayed yellow. Three paddocks sprayed, orange tinged. Other farm paddocks green. Farm driveways & letterbox pole borders sprayed yellow. Driveway garden & shelterbelt on one property was so over sprayed with weedkiller that the ground was bare.

Jack Lovelock Track. Crossed three fords amongst green paddocks. Three sprayed paddocks, orange tinged, seen near Albury Range in the west. Middle Ford Stream polluted with maroon spray, flushed from gorse sprayed by the stream & farm fences. Stream water was maroon coloured on the east side of Jack Lovelock Track. In the eastern distance, several sprayed paddocks were seen on Mt Michael, tinged orange. Most paddocks were green, expect for brown ploughed paddocks or greenish-yellow paddocks due to haymaking.

School Rd: Green paddocks. Several instances of yellow sprayed grass by the roadside stream, especially where farmers had diverted the roadside stream into paddocks to water sheep. Some yellow sprayed grass swathes beside the stream were hundreds of metres long. Farm driveways & village gardens, especially Struthers Ln & west end of Fairlie, near farm paddocks & streams, yellow sprayed grass. Roadside, plastic reflectors, grass borders sprayed yellow.

Fairlie & surrounding farm paddocks were thoroughly polluted by herbicide sprays, polluting soil, water, air & food chains,

Farmer of Middle Ford Stream, crossing Jack Lovelock Track & one of the School Rd farmers where the roadside stream & stream diversions were hidden by road berms looked like they'd got away with herbicide spray pollution for years. Those farmers didn't care two hoots about their pollution, nor the health & safety hazards caused to passersby or neighbours. I'd be wary of buying local lamb for my Xmas roast.

Of course There was the NZ Biosecurity Act 1993, & MBIE govt department bossing biosecurity. There were local WorkSafe advisors & technicians, commercial wholesalers & Crown research organizations making money out of agri-chemicals & spraying, like wholesalers PGG Wrightson & Farmlands cooperative selling agri-chemicals to farmers. And all the little, office scientists at AgResearch & Landcare Research pontificating in papers & websites about their agri-chemical research. But all those govt, safety, commercial & research efforts did not stop Leah & me being poisoned by agri-chemicals.

An article in The Fairlie Accessible discussed recent flash flooding down Regent St, School Rd & Princes St. Geoff Horter, Council Utilities Manager, Mackenzie District Council, implied it was OK to poison locals & pollute local water by spraying blocked drains. Geoff said: "Stormwater drains would also be sprayed annually to decrease the likelihood of vegetation contributing to future blockages."

Clean Green New Zealand? Ha!

Fri 09.12.16. Our Fairlie doctor diagnosed blepharitis on my right, lower eyelid, conjunctivitis on my right eye & some form of mass on my right lower eyelid. (Needed specialist attention). Leah had recently visited a Timaru optometrist who'd diagnosed medical problems in both her eyes. Bar wearing specs, neither of us had eye problems before living amongst Fairlie sprayers.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Cancer all clear given to weedkiller glyphosate by New Zealand scientific review (The Press / Stuff Co).

See EPA glyphosate report released (EPA NZ govt).

See Glyphosate (National Encephalopathy Foundation).

See PGG Wrightson.

See Farmlands cooperative.

See AgResearch.

See Landcare Research.

See NZ govt Biosecurity Management.

See Spray Drift NZ.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Selborne Paedophiles

1989-April 1995 incl, I was employed as a biology & general science teacher at Selborne College, East London, Eastern Cape, RSA. Prior, I was trained at Durban Teachers Training College. Part time & full time, I read degrees at Natal University & UNISA & a Wildlife Conservation diploma, Technikon RSA.

Before my arrival at Selborne College, I'd completed SADF commando conscription & had worked as a professional actor in Natal during my varsity student days. I'd worked as a labourer / clerk in England & Israel. I'd taught at 5 primary schools in Durban, Kleinzee & QwaQwa, class teaching & science specialist. I'd also taught at a Durban co-ed HS & 3 Durban boys' high schools, teaching specialist biology & general science, incl running the general science dept at Glenwood HS, a bigger boys' high than Selborne College. I'd also coached various school sports & directed many school plays & skits.

My FACEBOOK discussion on Selborne paedophiles at Selborne College, an East London boys' high school and Selborne Primary, an East London boys' primary school. The discussion was amongst Selbornian Old Boys, most of whom I'd taught, now in their 30s - 40s, two "Hillcrest Hooligans," now in their 50s, I'd taught at Hillcrest HS near Durban, a relative & a Durban North friend who'd known me for over 50 years:

FACEBOOK post: 4 Nov 2016 at 3.54 pm.

Mark (NZ): Tim Gordon talks rubbish as he had a paedophile history teacher on his staff for years at Selborne College: School governing body groups slams sex pest teacher slip up. (Cape Talk 2 August 2016).

Sheila (RSA): OMW!!!! Nov 4 at 6.00 pm.

Hamish (UK): Et al. Nov 5 at 2.43 pm.

Dylon (RSA): We old Selbornians may have an idea of who was at times a little "over friendly" or am I the only one to have noticed some odd behaviour? Nov 4 at 9.42 pm.

Cass (Aus): Absolutely. Nov 5 at 2.43 pm.

Paul V (RSA): I think he was a big water polo fan. Nov 5 at 2.10 am.

Mark: Check out: Former private school principal back in court on pornography charges. (Lowvelder 27 July 2015).

Tim Gordon, 1989-92, before he left Selborne for Cape Town "promotion," insisted I work with Neil Malherbe at Clarendon & Selborne, directing plays & adjudicating Clarendon house plays. When I refused to produce Selborne skits at the end of 1992 (during exam times) at Clarendon with NM, Tim Gordon threw a tantrum, posting a risible letter to my home implying I was an incompetent teacher. Never mind Tim Gordon moderating all my very successful biology, general science & history test & exam marks for 4 years without complaint. Nov 5 at 7.26 am.

Mark: At a Selborne athletics meeting at Clarendon, TG & headmistress wandered off in full view of boys & staff, then disappeared for an hour or so. I left early & saw TG returning fast in his car, sans headmistress, with a big grin on his face. EEJIT! Nov 5 at 8.07 am.

Cass: Ya. That wasn't Mr Malherbe who taught English at Selborne College was it? Nov 5 at 6.38 pm.

Paul V: It's Malherbe the English teacher. Nov 5 at 6.38 pm.

Cass: OMG. Nov 5 at 7,15 pm.

Denzil (RSA): It's him Cass. Nov 11 at 6.54 pm.

Cass: Who was the paedophile history teacher at Selborne College? Nov 5 at 2.42 pm.

Paul V: Hectic: Former principal found guilty of child pornography.  (Lowvelder 4 November 2016). Nov 5 at 6.43 pm.

David (UK): Indeed. He'll be sentenced next year. Nov 5 at 7.16 pm.

Mark: He & Gordon were in cahoots & caused me lots of trouble at Selborne. Nov 6 at 8.28 am.

Adam (RSA): The history teacher was Mr KH. Convicted about 10 years ago molesting little girls, Nov 11 at 8.58 pm.

David: Was KH actually convicted? I heard this at the time and it had to do initially with the grand daughter or something like that... Nov 6 at 8.59 am. [Concerned David had contacted Selborne headmaster at the time, Mr Gunn, but Gunn (history teacher) gave no info about KH. Headmasters habitually spin their schools as pure places].

Mark: Correct Adam. A nest of vipers at Selborne. See KH's Facebook profile. No mention of Selborne where he taught for years. He told me he liked Nazi leather uniforms. I was forced by Gordon to teach junior history for 2 years with KH & Peter Coetzee after my general science classes were taken away from me, no reason given by Gordon nor Max Norman who did all the timetabling at Selborne. KH did Selborne cadet band & musketry with no supervision from other staff. I once saw KH patting a boys' butt in the rifle butts. Winston Paxton did the other school band, a posher band paraded at Key Ceremonies & quadrangle concerts. Nov 6 at 9.06 am.

Lyndon (RSA): KH was not convicted. A family member lied... the whole story just vanished. Nov 6 at 10.25 am.

Mark: Do you have a link for the lying family member Lyndon? I tried to find a link for the Daily Dispatch article I read about KH years ago, but was unsuccessful. Nov 7 at 1.06 am.

Lyndon: There is no link as it was never published in any newspaper. [Huh?] The story just vanished. But the story that was in the paper was very thin to start with, a step daughter had said... Turns out it was more of an internal family feud. Nov 7 at 1.18 am.

Mark: Thanks Lyndon. Nov 7 at 1.40 am.

Stavros (RSA): But the history teachers name has been on facebook, and there you have it, the story was wrong. So now what? Your angry about something and your no saying. And that not good, cos your dragging a lot of good peoples names in the dirt. Its got nothing to do with the plays, or how he taught his classes. your pissed about something totally different. I mean this KH, did he deserve to be brought in the fray, and you are wrong, why dont you apologise now. And this post that your messenger. You are speaking on your behalf. Did you see what all happend to the messenger in that movie 300? Nov 11 at 1.18 pm.

Mark: Stavros there were media articles on KH & NM. As a former teacher & colleague of said teachers I'm linking to articles where possible & adding some of my inside info. If you find my linking & comments upsetting, you don't have to read them. I don't watch many movies nowadays, as being deaf I need captions & few movies are captioned. Nov 11 at 1.27 pm.

Adam: Guys I have edited the reference to KH. Unfortunately I never saw that the case was subsequently thrown in out. All that I recall is the story in the paper at the time. Sad that his name could be dragged through the mud in papers etc through a family feud. Apologies for this. The reference to history teacher lead me down this route. I did not intend harm. Nov 11 at 10.06 pm.

Anton (RSA): Wrong history teacher Adam? U know what I mean? Nov 13 at 12.17 am. [The other history teacher was Peter Coetzee, history HOD for many years & present vice principal of Selborne College. Headmaster Gunn, a history teacher, promoted Coetzee to vice principal].

Paul V. Jeepers, the double header. Nov 6 at 8.59 am.

Mark: Gordon created 3 more HOD posts paid by the PTA: Religious Education (Mandy), Sports Coordinator (Sandford), Public Relations (Malherbe). Makes you think ne? The crazy thing was that those 3 teachers appointed themselves to those posts with Gordon's approval. New head Gunn stopped that corruption after he arrived. BTW Malherbe was a Sunday School teacher at a local church too. Ian Forward has knowledge of that fiasco, his church connection. Nov 6 at 9.17 am.

David: Re: KH - Sounds like speculation & old grudges to me. Classic internet. [Trolling, years after David had phoned Gunn!] Nov 6 at 11.15 am.

Mark: Any better forum you recommend David? Nov 6 at 6.41 pm.

David: My comment stands... Nov 6 at 6.47 pm.

Mark: So what? Nov 6 at 11.34 pm.

Paul S (RSA): Listen here Mark justice will run its course. Do you think throwing good solid peoples names in the mix because you lost your general science classes is appropriate. Fck me get another platform to get your kicks. Very disappointed in you. Malherbe & crew will get what they deserve! Dont associate normal people with this ffs. Nov 6 at 11.41 am.

Mark: Paul what about Alan Emslie? Your pics show him as your Selborne Primary cricket coach, with Still, Fourie, et al. Nov 7 at 2.55 pm.

Denzil: Buck there are no normal people that have been named here. They are convicted criminals. Nov 11 at 6.58 pm.

Paul S: Denzil. Tim Gordon, Max Norman, Mr Forward, Mr Sandford, Mrs Mandy convicted criminals! What are you smoking boet? Nov 11 at 7.02 pm.

Denzil: He's talking about KH, AE and NM. Nov 11 at 7.03 pm.

Cass: I think it's appropriate. ANYONE who was / is involved with this fiasco is going to get what is coming to them. Nov 6 at 12.22 pm.

Mark: Thanks for your comments guys. Our perspectives are different. I worked with those creeps. You didn't. Look below the surface of what happened during those years Paul, including your "normal people." They may have been normal to you as a teenager, but to me their obsessions were abnormal and often hypocritical eg religion & sport. Nov 6 at 6.27 pm.

Alex (RSA): I would not normally comment on something like this, but Mark has a fair point. In cases like this everyone thinks the only victims are the children, they forget about the colleagues, parents and others that are affected. Nov 6 at 11.54 pm.

Mark: I've opened a can of worms. A request from a Selbornian who wishes to be anonymous: "Has anyone any comments about the Selborne Primary soccer teams about 86 / 87? Specifically the coach. I have stories which I saw with my own eyes at the age of 9. Not cool at all." Nov 7 at 1.29 am.

Jonathan (RSA): AE? Nov 7 at 1.45 am.

David: Jonathan that would probably be the coach, yes. He also had a troubled life in the end. Nov 7 at 2.14 am.

Jonathan: Didn't know him well David. I was in std 2 in '87 and even at that young age I remember the stories that began circulating. And they continued through my school career. As for the end I know nothing. Nov 7 at 2.27 am.

David: Died a few years ago. Took his life I understood at the time. Circumstances were odd is all I can offer. The sad thing is that all of those stories - true or not - sit in opposition to the experiences that 99% of us had of these teachers. My worst teachers were just fallible individuals with apparently questionable credentials when it came to working with children. Nov 7 at 5.59 am.

Mark: I'd also heard whisperings about Alan Emslie. Hearsay, like your above comments & innuendo, but enough for my wife to ensure our eldest son was not put in AE's class at Selborne Primary in 1995. Nov 7 at

Mark: Anyone who wants anonymity on this thread just message me & I'll publish your message without name. Nov 7 at 6.43 am. [Two expat Selbornians referred me to Daily Dispatch and pressreader articles about Neil Malherbe].

Stavros: Im annoyed Mark, you are actually a wanker with a huge chip on your shoulder. If you know about a teacher being up to something and you never reported it, then you are a super wanker. You have a lot to say, and you are far way, where you seem untouchable, launching your attacks, as the messenger. You are a clown. I really thought more of you.  Nov 11 at 1.29 pm.

Mark: You're welcome to your opinion on my Facebook thread Stavros. Your words show your character. Nov 11 at 1.33 pm.

Stavros: Mark. You dont know nothing of my character. Your just an annoying little man who has a huge chip on his shoulder. Bringing peoples names into disrepute for your own agenda. Your audience is small and getting smaller. You can try and patronise me and tell me about this and that, but you dont know me, and its better that way. The problem every teacher leaves something with his pupils to remember him by. you left nothing. Nov 11 at 10.24 pm.

Mark. You asked for info Stavros. You got it. I never taught you. Nov 11 at 3.01 pm.

Denzil: Is there still time to get popcorn? Nov 11 at 7.02 pm.

Hamish: Gents. A word of caution. This is not the forum to have such debates. It's public. There are accusations which cannot be validated and ultimately become personal, from any side is destructive. Education and awareness is good. Accusation and finger pointing bad. Nov 11 at 10.16 pm.

Gareth (RSA): Hamish I agree with you. Mark you got an axe to grind about the way you were handled at Selborne this is not the forum for it. Neil will get what is due to him for his crime. But to carry on like a spoilt child as you are does not show good on your personality. You had your say move on. Nov 12 at 11.48 pm.

Mark: Thanks Hamish & Gareth. Several of you Selbornian OBs want to shut me down with insults, which doesn't reflect well on Selborne. (BTW Gordon used put downs on staff just like yours). I asked David above to recommend a better forum. Any ideas? Nov 13 at 9.23 am.

Anton: Mark I agree with you 100% I know what I saw and witnessed during my schooling! So any of u cowards want to give me a call u welcome to! Pathetic really. Nov 13 at 9.47 am.

Mark: Anton you are not alone. Nov 13 at 9.50 am.

Anton: Mark have a look at the Bee Hive junior school magazines! Filled with inappropriate pics of boys in showers! Now I'm no rocket scientist, but how that was allowed I don't know! At least the photographer killed himself after being suspended! Teachers that worked with him should be ashamed of themselves. Christians, I think not!!! Nov 13 at 10.01 am.

Mark: Will do thanks Anton. Nov 13 at 10.09 am.

Cass: Yeah I agree. I also witnessed it. I don't give a damn if this is public or not, this stuff should be made public. I would never send my kids to Selborne knowing what I know now. Thanks to Mark for revealing this non-Christian predatory activity at a public school. Nov 13 at 2.13 pm.

Gareth: No one is trying to shut you up. I just believe this is not the right forum to air your comments. If you have information pertaining to the case contact the police and tell them. As for extra posts the school board or governing body of the day would have been a better place to air your views and concerns. Airing them 20 years later sounds like sour grapes. Nov 13 at 5.43 pm.

Mark: Gareth 20 years ago so what? What don't you understand about self appointed HODs being corrupt? I could've appointed myself HOD (Drama) but chose not to, as the whole stunt by Tim Gordon was staff bribery & narcissistic, like Malherbe blowing his own water polo trumpet, polishing his "reputation." Religion & Sport hypocrisy already mentioned above. Nov 13 at 6.11 pm.

Mark: Cass. Good on you. Nov 13 at 6.12 pm.

Darryl (RSA): Gareth I think you hit the nail on the head. I also don't think this is the right forum to air views. If anyone has any information it should have been dealt with 20+ years ago. I also don't think it is fair to talk about people when they are no longer around to defend themselves. Let the courts be the judge here and one day those who have offences will have to answer for whatever they did while on earth. If one has any issues with TG then take it up with him and leave the school name out of it.

I believe we have a good judiciary system that will take care of all offenders. Don't judge them via the media.

Little words to live by ... "do unto others as you'll have done to you." Nov 14 at 2.16 am.

Mark: Yawn. Do you also believe in fairies Darryl? As you're commenting on my Facebook page your hypocritical preaching is toxic to an agnostic / atheist. What's your alternative forum? A dead person is impossible to libel. I had lots to say to Tim Gordon at Selborne College 20+ years ago. But you wouldn't want to know? Fact: Teachers mentioned above worked at Selborne College & Selborne Primary for many years & affected other staff & pupils, my family & myself included. Messrs Gordon, Blumrick, Gunn, Schaffer & Voke were headmasters during those teachers' tenures. Nov 14 at 9.26 am.

Shaun: Getting a tad "uncomfortable" with this talk gents. Mr Esslemont sir, you know I appreciate your non-conformance with the "Selborne Establishment." And there were plenty of students on that side of the fence and adding fuel to this fire that is burning out of control. But. On the other side. I played Selborne soccer from U9 and have a huge amount of respect for Alan Emslie as coach and teacher. What exactly are we trying to achieve by this discussion? Nov 16 at 11.29 pm.

Mark: Discussion has been achieved Shaun. Check out Lancelot Gobbo's speech, The Merchant of Venice, where Lancelot Gobbo battles between his conscience and the fiend. That's what happened in this discussion, some vehemently for, some vehemently against. If you're uncomfortable - achieved.

I was very uncomfortable having to work with above mentioned creeps, especially Neil & history creeps. My intuition told me something was radically wrong at Selborne, tho at the time I couldn't put my finger on it. Selborne was the worst disciplined boys HS I taught in. (Gordon had no disciplinary code, just an ad hoc, mini policy). I'd taught at Glenwood HS, Northlands BHS, Beachwood BHS & Hillcrest HS, a co-ed (& 5 primary schools) before arriving at Selborne. In hindsight, abused, angry boys caused lots of discipline problems at Selborne eg. Why do my school work, homework etc? Fuck you Sir! Nov 17 at 8.27 am.

Shaun: There were plenty of great students and teachers at SC. The usual suspects with a bit of a rebel attitude. And a fair share of @holes. But I am sure that is true of all schools and life in general. Nov 17 at 9.06 am.

Another FACEBOOK post: Nov 11 at 11.24 am:

Daily Dispatch / pressreader: Convicted Neil Malherbe child porn case ex Selborne College teacher
(pressreader from Daily Dispatch 10 November 2016).

Mark :I taught with Neil Malherbe during his 7 year stint at Selborne College. His std 8 biology testing was weak. I went deaf & Neil helped me doing Clarendon house play adjudication speeches, 1989-1992. When I co-directed My Fair Lady with Neil, 1990, a Selborne / Clarendon production at Guild Theatre, Neil's direction was poor regarding costuming the 100 cast & organising props, both huge tasks which he neglected in favour of Selborne water polo coaching. Nov 11 at 11.24 am.

Stavros: Hey Mark what has made you so acid and angry? Nov 11 at 12.11 pm.

Mark: Your opinion Stavros. You're attacking the messenger. I offer observations as a biology / general science teacher at Selborne 1989 - April 1995 incl. Nov 11 at 12.18 pm.

Stavros: Not attacking anyone just want to know whats made you angry. Is it that he left you to do the  play? is it because you werent teaching certain classes? What has made you angry? Was it the way the establishment was run? what? Nov 11 at 12.51 pm.

Ash (Fin): Very defensive Stavros, something we should know? Nov 15 at 4.06 pm.

Stavros: Im not attacking anybody, just want to know what has made you so angry? Nov 11 at 12.50 pm.

Mark: I'm not angry. Nov 11 at 12.50 pm.

Stavros: So then why state his teaching, or the other things you have brought up, what does it have to do with whats going on? His knowledge was bad about the costumes and the props, what? It is easy to slate someone but you gotta have the balls  to say why? Why has he annoyed you, and you are not saying that! Nov 11 at 12.57 pm.

Stavros: I gotta get sleep, nice chatting Mark, the sun already rising here. Nov 11 at 12.59 pm.

Mark: Already stated Neil neglected co-direction of My Fair Lady, as he was involved with water polo simultaneously. I directed as well as coached cricket simultaneously, a 40-60 hour working week with unsociable hours directing plays at night. If you'd participated in plays you'd know times involved. Nov 11 at 1.01 pm.

Mark: Neil also annoyed music director Lloy Brent (patronising casting without consulting Lloy) & choreographer Ginny Theunissen with his slackness. Never mind causing the former choreographer to have a nervous breakdown. (Tim Gordon's words). She'd bollocked Neil at a dinner party in my house together with Lloy, then a few days later bollocked Neil in Selborne staffroom before staff. Enough skande for you Stavros? Nov 11 at 1.10 pm.

Averil (RSA): Stavros Mark made an observation / gave an opinion which he's entitled to as is everyone on FB. Personally don't know the "gent" you are talking of... he's been found guilty... Nuff said. You're the one attacking Mark rather aggressively I may add. "Anger" issues?! Known Mark since 1960s... Never known him to have "anger" issues. In fact quite the reverse / opposite. Nov 11 at 4.32 pm.

Paul S: Averil you clearly don'r know Stavros!! Nov 11 at 5.05 pm.

Averil: Don't need to... His attack on Mark was enough. Nov 11 at 5.39 pm.

Paul S: Please... Averil!! Nov 11 at 5.40 pm.

Averil: Ha ha ha ha ha... Paul! Nov 11 at 5.43 pm.

[Stavros repeated verbatim his wanker... clown... teacher, ad hominem attack, as above]. Nov 11 at 7.43 pm.

Dylan (RSA): Sjoe! Nov 12 at 12.46 am.

Ash: Stavros, You're a fat, ugly, bald cunt. And you can't spell for shit. Guess I'm lucky MY English teacher was concentrating on language. Good times? Nov 15 at 4.09 pm

Julie (RSA): I'm sure if Mark had noticed anything funny about Malherbe he would have reported it. The article reads that all the Heads of schools where he taught reported that no incidences were noticed or reported. I pray that he didn't interfere with any children, and they kept quiet. Nov 11 at 8.28 pm.

Averil: Absolutely Julie couldn't agree more... Stavros go over your & Mark's comments, he's in fact said nothing about your character, yet you have of his. He's stated his observations, everyone is entitled to that... And by the way, Mark's pupils hold him in high regard. He's left plenty to remember him by. Nov 11 at 9.12 pm.

Denzil: Too true! Nov 12 at 2.04 am.

Shaun: That's your opinion Stavros. I remember Esslemont as a great guy and teacher. I don't remember Malherbe for much other than water polo coach. Nov 11 at 10.01 pm.

Dylan: A fucking great water polo coach he was. Nov 12 at 12.54 pm.

Ash: I bet mate. Nov 15 at 3.12 pm.

Gareth: My two cents worth. Neil was my class teacher for a couple of years and at the time and up until this article I thought a great man. He has been found guilty of a terrible act (it could have been worse, he was in possession of, not partaking in child porn). Mark you have your issues with the man and apparently the school, but is this really the place to air them? I am sure there are lots of pupils that have issues with you and other teachers, but airing them here is not right. Nov 12 at 2.05 am.

Ash: Really? This should be made public. As a teacher myself I am entrusted with the safety of my pupils. The fact that you defend a guilty paedophile piece of shit makes me worry about how you care for your own kids. Nov 15 at 3.12 pm.

Mark: My thanks to those in support. Those in opposition, chat to KH & join the dots. Nov 12 at 7.25 am.

Louise (RSA): Mark you were a great biology teacher, and I remember the many hours both you and Leah put into The Importance of Being Earnest. (I was Gwendolyn). Wow! Such angry, touchy people around. Nov 12 at 9.08 am.

Ash: Well that explains a lot about that shitty dump of a school. Wasn't he in charge of the hostel for a while? Nov 15 at 3.09pm.

Mark: Neil Malherbe was definitely a hostel master at Selborne College during my early teaching years there, 1989, 90... Malherbe was in the hostel with Latin / English teacher Vaughan Paterson. Max Norman was in charge of the hostel at that time. Nov 15 at 3.17 pm.

Ash: Mr Paterson was not involved with this shit was he? I hope not. Nov 15 at 3.33 pm.

Mark: I doubt it Ash. He's married with kids & has taught in England for years. Nov 15 at 3.37 pm.

Ash: Good. He was the reason I became a teacher. Hell, he was the only teacher who could teach me! (Sorry for being so shitty in class mate). Nov 15 at 3.39 pm.

Mark: No worries Ash. At least Vaughan got through to you. You have turned out well. Nov 15 at 3.42 pm.

Ash: Thanks mate. I stumbled for a while, but ironically found myself in the line of work I despised the most. Who'd have thought I'd be good at it? Biology wasn't my scene, nor science or maths, so I didn't pay any attention to them, not your fault. Hehe. I still remember the day you opened my book (a few months into the year) and all I'd written was a contents page! The look on your face when you banished me to Batman's office was priceless!!! Nov 15 at 3.47 pm.

Ash: Is vaughan still around. I've heard conflicting stories... Nov 13 at 3.48 pm.

Mark: Ash. Hilarious. All is forgiven. After Selborne, Vaughan was Latin HOD at a Cape Town school for a while... Years later I received an email from Vaughan, from S England where he'd settled with his young family, happily teaching. Haven't heard from him since. Nov 15 at 4.27 pm.

Ash: Well at least that explains Mark R. Yes ladies and gentlemen, shots have been fired. Nov 15 at 3.36 pm.

Coda: A December email exchange with Vaughan Paterson discussed our expat families & our ex Selborne College lives. I commented on Selborne College, ex principal, Tim Gordon, who'd favoured Neil Malherbe, enabling Malherbe to develop his water polo cover:

Selborne College: I survived it. At times I questioned my sanity there. Before I left for NZ in 1995, Selborne was an endurance feat, no longer fun. Gordon enjoyed manipulating people, causing psychological damage, myself included. Gordon showed no conscience, nor remorse for his ways before & after he left Selborne at the end of 1992. After my many complaints to Gordon & also complaints to his new head office boss, CED director, Gordon refused to apologise for his discriminatory ways regarding libellous notes about me in boys' files, my toxic timetabling & non lab allocation for my general science & biology teaching.

[During my 6 Selborne years other teachers, often maths teachers, were favoured by Gordon with permanent labs, including Mrs Leurs (maths). Teachers hogging the 3 science labs during my Selborne time: Messrs Piderit (HOD) Ashmead (unqualified teacher at the time) Fish, Ball, Bentley. Biology teachers hogging the 2 biology labs: Messrs Midlane (HOD) Vink, Allam, Wirth. Those 10 teachers were favoured with labs, while I taught dangerous experiments & pracs without safety equipment in classrooms. Ms Schonegevel was another biology teacher without a lab. Despite the blatant discrimination, we were expected to produce results as good, if not better, than lab favoured teachers. Brief "biology teacher" Malherbe was also discriminated against without a biology lab. So much for Tim Gordon's malicious lab management].

As for Malherbe, I'd be interested to know your take on the man, as you would have insight to his Selborne hostel master days. My experience of Malherbe was that he was good at polishing his reputation, especially water polo coach, but not much good as a junior biology teacher [e.g. Malherbe's std 8 biology test was too easy, resulting in all std 8 biology classes having to resit another biology test, reset by Malherbe] & an indifferent play director. During the 6 years our paths crossed at Selborne I saw no signs of Malherbe's paedophilia. I didn't teach English with Malherbe & after My Fair Lady (1990) he did no more play directions, in favour of water polo coaching. (At the end of 1994 Malherbe left Selborne for DHS). In hindsight, I remember Malherbe greeting my 4 year old son backstage at My Fair Lady, Guild Theatre, with a hearty, "Hullo ...!"

My son replied, "Are you the nerd?"

After Malherbe's dinner party fracas at our home with Lloy et al, I didn't invite Malherbe to my home again.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Selborne College. 

See Selborne Primary.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Week 10 & 11. Mt Gerald Station, Farewell, Mackenzie Country

Late Thurs night, 22.09.16: Luke & Jake were on their way to visit us at Mt Gerald Station when at Rolleston, Luke's van broke down, radiator boiling. Luke & Jake got help from a friend & AA to tow the van back to Luke's Christchurch rental.

Fri 23.09.16: After texts & phone calls from Luke & Jake, I drove from Mt Gerald Station to Christchurch to fetch Jake & Luke for their visit to Mt Gerald Station. Jake & Luke stayed in the 2 classrooms reconverted to bedrooms in our lake house at Mt Gerald Station.

Sat 24.09.16: Stream willows, spring leaves sprouting. At the end of Lilybank Rd, Leah & I wandered moraine hummocks with Jake & Luke, showing them: Lake Tekapo SW; snowy Hall Range, The Island, Godley River W; snowy Sibbald Range, snowy Two Thumbs Range, Macaulay River, N & E.

E side of Lilybank Rd, we climbed a tablelands hill for better views of Mt Erebus, Razorback, Mt Ajax, N & Mt Gerald, E. From that 800 m height I pointed out several walks I'd done on Mt Gerald Station: to tablelands hut; in hummocky moraine country, across Ninety Five Stream; up Ribbonwood Stream, up Mt Gerald; up Stone Hut Stream; up Macaulay River...

Returning to our lake house, in roadside paddocks we saw red deer & Hereford & Angus calves with their mothers. It was spring calving & lambing season.

Sun 25.09.16: I drove Jake to Christchurch for his 4 pm shift at Woolston Club, then I drove back to our Lake house at Mt Gerald Station. Return trip, 540 kms.

While I was away, Leah & Luke tried to find the tablelands hut, off Lilybank Rd, on Mt Gerald Station, but turned back due to mist. Instead, with Jimmy dog, they wandered wetlands where Mt Gerald streams & Coal River merged at the NE end of Lake Tekapo. They saw rare kakis, other waterfowl & Luke found a pair of rams horns drying in the sun.

Mon 26.09.16. Quiet family morning at our lake house, Mt Gerald Station, as it was Leah's sister's last day with us before flying back to Sydney.

Afternoon: I drove us along Lilybank Rd to Tekapo Spa for a farewell meal at the Tahr Bar.

Tues 27.09.16. I drove Leah's sister from Mt Gerald Station to Christchurch airport for her flight back to Sydney. Over the last 5 days, I'd driven 3 return trips from Mt Gerald Station to Christchurch.

En route, as Luke's van was bung in Christchurch, I dropped Luke off at our Fairlie rental for him to drive our Honda car back to Christchurch for him to use till his van's radiator was fixed. By the time Luke got to Geraldine our Honda's radiator was boiling due to a perished rubber hose. Luke fixed the hose at a Geraldine garage & continued safely to Christchurch. He dubbed himself "the destroyer of cooling systems."

Wed 28.09.16. Quiet morning at Mt Gerald Station tidying up, ready to farewell our lake house.

Afternoon: With Jimmy dog, Leah & I wandered Coal River wetlands at the NE end of Lake Tekapo. We threw sticks for Jimmy to fetch in streams. Jimmy, a rock hound, dived into streams & dug up stones which he carried in his mouth. We saw 11 juvenile kakis, still with their black & white plumage & DOC tags on their red legs. Other waterfowl seen: banded dotterels, gulls, terns, paradise shelducks, pied oyster catchers.

Using our binoculars, we watched a distant, black Angus cow give birth to a calf. The calf lay exhausted & didn't rise. The cow was protective so we couldn't approach across the wetland. Later that afternoon we reported the difficult birth to the farm manager.

Thurs morn 29.09.16. Tidied up Leah's teaching materials, preparing for relocation back to Lake Tekapo School & our Farlie rental.

Afternoon: I drove from Mt Gerald Station to Lake Tekapo School then our Fairlie rental, to relocate some teaching materials & belongings. Bought chicken fried rice at Mt Hutt Chinese takeaway, Fairlie. Returned to Mt Gerald Station. For the next few days, we were in limbo land, betwixt & between Alpine valleys.

Fri 30.09.16. From the carpark at the end of Lilybank Rd, Leah & I walked to Stone Hut at Stone Hut Stream, 7 km return. Grand Alpine & river views while a nor'wester, rain storm brewed over Sibbald Range, Mt Erebus & Razorback.

Domestic trivia at our lake house, Mt Gerald Station, involved much cleaning, tidying & washing of clothes & bedding before our return to Fairlie. Over the last week, Jimmy dog adopted us, abandoning the farm manager's house, scavenging food from us & sleeping at our lake house.

Sat 01.10.16. Relocated teaching materials & belongings from our lake house, Mt Gerald Station, to Lake Tekapo School & our Fairlie rental.

Sun 02.10.16. Spring larch needles flushing green, poplars still bare. Final cleaning, tidying & packing at our lake house. Left Mt Gerald Station for good. Drove along Lilybank Rd & down Burkes Pass back to our Fairlie rental.

See Cows stomp in critically endangered bird habitat (The Press / Stuff Co).

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont