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19 April 2015

Gallipoli rose - cistus salviifolius


ANZAC day is a little more special for our family this year.


It's the 100th anniversary of our New Zealand soldiers landing on the Gallipoli penninsula - where a couple of our forebears were killed in action among others that served and returned home.

One, will be actively commemorated with the honour of being asked to lay a wreath in a dawn ceremony in New Zealand; and the memorials of both will be visited in Turkey.  [Close family were offered a very late ballot to attend the dawn and ANZAC services - a once in a lifetime opportunity they are taking albeit in primitive and challenging conditions].

So as we rally our troops (the children that is) to get up before the sun rises on Saturday, we stand with family up and down the country and around the world to honour the men and women who gave their lives for our freedom; and to find a short moment of solitude to be grateful for the present and future we have together.


I have the opportunity to assemble the wreath being laid here in Aotearoa and thought others might be interested in the Gallipoli roses that I made for it (above).



  • White felt
  • Scrap of yellow felt
  • Pin with yellow head
  • Yellow embroidery floss (I used 6-stranded)
  • Needle
  • Glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Disappearing fabric marker
  • Template

The felt I used was somewhat stiffer than the soft acrylic you can usually buy - more like cardboard.  Either ought to be fine but I liked the idea of it holding it's shape.

Download the template for the petals, trace and cut 5 pieces from the white.  Cut one circle for the centre back also from the white.  Cut one piece from the yellow felt for the stamen area at the front.



Cut a length of floss and strip it (separate the strands from each other and then put them back together again - you could probably skip this step but it's habit for me so I do it regardless).  Use all 6 strands together and sew from the front to back and return leaving about a 6 mm tail on both ends before you cut it.  You don't fasten the floss at this point so be careful not to pull them out accidentally.  Continue until the centre of the yellow felt looks as if it has enough 'stamens'.  Push the pin in from the front through the centre of the yellow felt.

Take the circle of white felt and lay it in the middle of your work area.  I marked the centre with a pencil to help laying the petals in the right place.  Dab a little hot glue on each petal point and apply to the circle in a clockwise direction, overlapping by a few mm.  The 5th petal will be over both the 4th and 1st and that's okay.



Push the pin with the yellow felt through the petal pieces and when you've got it in the right place apply a dab of hot glue to fix (bearing in mind you want a point of the yellow felt to be centred in each of the petals.  This fixes the floss stamens at the same time.



Pin directly into a foam wreath or cut off the pin stem and sew a small safety pin to the back to wear this week.  

I plan to use the pin to twist around the rosemary and olive wreath I will make on Tuesday.

[Download the template for a rose to wear as well.]





NZ Government website for the 100th commemoration of ANZAC day - find a service to attend.

Auckland Museum online record of all who fought - Cenotaph - find your ancestors and add their stories.

14 April 2015

Organs are simply not conventional dinner conversation unless you're eating steak and kidney pie or calves fry and bacon.  We barely spare a thought for how our body works until it doesn't.

This is something though that you are brought face-to-face with every time you renew or update your driver's license.

Question 4 asks whether you would like to be an organ donor or not.

Statistics, I have seen quoted, suggest that our opt-in rate is a little under 50% which is higher than I thought it might be considering there is little or no easily accessible official information to help us decide.   The actual number of donors who end up in a situation to offer their organs is around 45 people per annum.

It took me a few emails and trolling the internet to start to answer the questions I had.

Let me signpost 3 resources to help you.  The first is the Statement of Death and Organ Donation (pdf) from the Australia New Zealand Intensive Care Society, another is a website called Give Life NZ that has it's own FAQs, and the last is Organ Donation NZ's FAQ.


Here is a 10-point summary of what I found out:

  • There is no legal definition in New Zealand for death.

In New Zealand, death and organ donation are covered by the Human Tissue Act 2008, which uses the words ‘satisfied… that the individual concerned is dead’ without statutory definition. *

  • We can donate heart or heart valves, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, skin and eye tissue subject to medical tests and matching needs.  A person's prior general health also dictates what may be used. 
  • Checking 'Yes' on your driver's license form is only an indication that you want to be recognised as someone who would consider organ donation.  Presently this is not interpreted as implicit consent.  No particular organs are stipulated.
  • At present only organs from people who end up brain dead in the intensive care unit can be used.
  • There is a series of stages one may pass through in the dying process.  Where a person is at determines what they may donate.

Dying is a process rather than an event. The determination and certification of death indicate that an irrevocable point in the dying process has been reached, not that the process has ended. *

  • It is your family that make the final whether or not to allow organ donation and sign the consent.  Any operations are usually completed within 6 - 12 hours after death is pronounced so they don't interfere with any bereavement plans.  [No anesthetic is used as a person who is brain dead can not feel.]
  • Two doctors must run through tests to determine death.  I'll spare you the specifics as they are in the ANZICS document.  It is after the second doctor declares that a patient is brain dead that the official time/date of death is recorded.  [It seems that family are often allowed to be at these examinations on the understanding or with the guidance of a liaison who will explain the process.]
  • "There is no documented case of a person who fulfils the preconditions and criteria for brain death ever subsequently developing any return of brain function." *
  • Organ Donation NZ co-ordinate the surgical transplant team (independent of the ICU team), the matching with a compatible recipient, and the subsequent after donation support a family may need.
  • Your body will not appear disfigured if organs are removed. It will have stitches like a normal operation.


If the standards of care are abided by, and people could genuinely benefit from a mortal tragedy, it seems logical to check 'Yes' on your driver's license.   You don't have to wait until you are filling out another paper form, simply phone the NZTA to have it changed on the license register 0800 822 422.


To be honest, I am dubious about the state-funded medical system at the very best of times, so that doesn't help at all.

Vega said something though that I am mulling over, when I told her what I was contemplating ... "Mum, you are always helping people so I think you would want to." She may just sway my decision.


* The ANZICS Statement on Death and Organ Donation, Edition 3.2, 2013.

07 April 2015

Theory test work station


There is little difference between the process for sitting the theory test for your class 1 and that of 2, 3, or 5 except remembering to take your completed medical examination form with you.

I went in today so let me walk you through exactly what happened.

Initially I only intended to apply to sit my test at a later date but found that no appointment is required so there was no time like the present to sit the 2L and get it over with.  I had already told myself that it was more than likely I would have to come back and re-sit (as I'd heard modern day driver licensing was hard) so this would save me an extra trip!


You hand over your filled-in DL1 - driving license application form; your medical examination certificate; and two forms of id - one of which must include a photo; and your driver's license if you haven't already used that as your photo id.  [If you have a photo driver's license you only need that as the sole id - not two forms.  More information on the new requirements for identity documents is here]  The clerk will hold onto your license.  You pay your application fee and your theory test fee; sign a digital slate for the signature that will appear on your new license; and sit down to have your photo taken.  There are no mirrors and you do not get to see your photo on screen - they simply take one photo and if they are happy it meets the criteria for the license that's it.

If you have a mobile phone it is taken from you at this point, usually with your handbag and put behind the counter; and you are escorted to the testing work station.

All the stations I have seen are simply in the main foyer / room of the testing agent.  Music is going in the background; vehicles are being brake-tested outside; children are crying; and staff are talking to members of the public behind you.  It doesn't make for a quiet conducive space to concentrate in especially when it's school holidays [what was I thinking?].

The clerk instructs you to enter a 4-digit pin code from a piece of paper, and you read the opening page of the test instructions.  If you have understood that, you click to start the test and question number 1 appears.

This is when the 30-minute timer starts and the clerk walks you through answering the first question.  You are informed that if necessary the test time may be extended; and to let them know at the 5-minute-to-go warning that you will need more time.  Being told this made me quite concerned that I too would need this time.

You are advised that if you know the answer to the question you select the (large) button and click on 'next question' where it will be revealed if you got it correct or not.  If you get it correct it automatically proceeds to the next question albeit rather slowly.  If you get it wrong it will show you the right answer and you will need to click 'next question'.  If you are not 100% sure of the answer you can click on the 'next question' button and this activates the question coming up again at the end of the test for you to have another go at.

I thought this functionality of the test was considerate.


So there I was in a noisy environment (noisier than having 5 children at home looking over my shoulder, whining, asking questions etc!) staring at an antiquated-looking computer programme (think very early huge rounded-corner box buttons) in a non-ergonomic set-up, navigating with only a corded mouse, and taking one question at a time.

To be honest, the questions were a lot easier than I expected, especially after so thoroughly studying via drivingtests.co.nz .  There was only ever 1 correct answer required out of either 2 or 4 possible answers, and no 'check all that apply' ones,  There weren't even, in my mind 2 very close answers that would have you oscillating twixt the two if you weren't quite sure.

The outcome:  I passed.  100%.  Wahoo!


With the theory completed you return to the clerk (or due to the influx of secondary school-aged children I had to wait for a bit) to receive your temporary paper license which you also sign.  [As an aside ... these DLE-sized license books are bound on the left hand edge like most cheque books and consequently are not easy for left-handers to sign.  Perhaps clerk's can rip it from the book before asking you to sign to mitigate this for everyone?]

You are told that your new license ought to be sent out within 21 days but that if it isn't please call the 0800 number on the front of the temporary license before it expires.


Then you go out and celebrate!  Vega was with me so we shared a passionfruit - mochaccino ice cream sundae.


One thing that concerned me was that the test was too easy; and that cramming had been used by others (just that same morning) to pass their class 1 theory that afternoon. I seriously doubt those high-schoolers will retain anything in even 2-4 weeks let alone for the duration of their practical driving requirements or beyond. How can answering only 35 questions really show a thorough understanding of the road rules? Even the student's accompanying teacher was bragging about their sure-fire system that they used to get their students to pass; as if passing was the ultimate result and real in-depth understanding didn't even factor into the equation. It makes me feel more unsafe on the road.