Risk Management Training

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This was a one-day course that I did through Triptych Conservation Services.  It was held at the University Library and despite being midwinter the room was fuggily warm.  The course was presented by Joy Culy and Stephen Williams.  Stephen had first-hand experience of a significant fire in a memorial library in Norwich 1995.  People for the course came from around Dunedin, Invercargill, even one person who was available from Auckland.

Stuff I wrote down:

Map drawers laid criss-cross act as good suppport for documents.

Wax boxes can create a damp micro climate.  They are also flammable so archives, libraries and record services using them need to rely on good fire suppression.

It doesn’t take much water to expand a book.  We were shown a telephone directory they had prepared earlier, in a bucket, with a cup of water.  The directory absorbed all the water over three quarters of the pages.

Big collections should go back into boxes while processing.  I should have followed that advice while I was doing Hoon Hay Parish.

Document the process of managing a disaster for insurance and tracking.  In some cases the insurers may get in before the archivists.

Processing for freezing:

layer documents into plastic crates, or sturdy boxes.

bag or interweave books using freezer paper or freezer bags.  Lay the books flat or with the spine downwards to preserve its shape.

avoid loading boxes too heavy, use smaller-sized boxes if necessary.

Archives NZ or National Library have access to vacuum freeze-drying.  There is no specialised unit in the South Island.  Cost does come into play here.  Any labelling or tracking notes should be included on the paper or in the book, notes on the plastic wrap will be lost in the process.

Blotting paper can be used for air-drying, useful stuff.

Triptych has disaster kits.

Coloured archive tape leaks when wet.

Make sure everyone knows their place in the action plan.  Review and test the plan.

Co-ordinate with other institutions; keep contacts up-to-date; trust your network.

Deaccessioned material is useful for using in realistic mini-disaster exercises.  There was some talk after the event of organising doing our own exercise.  I would be keen.

I didn’t get any new advice on how to get the smokey smell out of burnt records.


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We are turning back to the light having reached the cold season of the world.  The Pleiades have heralded the turning of the world.

At Opoho Church the music group celebrated Matariki by wearing loud summer clothing.  The music was so fun that I wish we had a U-Tube page.

In the evening a couple of thousand people gathered in the Octagon to celebrate Midwinter Carnival.  Kapa Haka led the procession of paper lanterns borne by children with serious solemnity.  The high-light was a large lantern held by three people in the shape of a unicorn.  Jack Frost and the Winter Queen and her attendents were the centre of the parade followed by the membrous trees in winter.  The song-bong drummers remained as the procession left the Octagon accompanied by the dancing frozen dolls until fireworks ended the formal part of the festivities.

One of these years I should volunteer to be a steward for the procession.  That would be fun, and allow me to see it as a participant.

From Te Kooti to Tame Iti: Prophecy and Protest in Te Urewera

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The Crown becomes the agency of the Imperium.  And Te Kooti, Rua Kenana, and in these latter days the Presbyterian Tame Iti, use their religious identity to bring challenge and change from underneath.  Whose side are we on?

Hopefully this lecture from Reverend Professor Murray Rae will be available next week on the Presbyterian Research Blog.

March to Stop Asset Sales

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I went to this because anyone who knows me knows I think left-wing socialism is on the side of the angels; and it pisses off a government that I do not like.  The government says that the election gave them a mandate to privatise the state-owned power companies in New Zealand.  Well, I’m sorry.  The government was not returned to power by an over-whelming majority; and while the electorate returned a popular government, there is anecdotal evidence that many voting for the John Key party did not endorse asset sales.  As a tax-payer and New Zealand citizen I already own the  state-owned power companies.  I do not need to buy them back  through shares that will not guarantee me any security for my retirement.  Thank you very much.  It’s a bad return.

By the time I reached the starting post about ten to eleven the cul-de-sac outside the dental school was already full of people.  For once the heavens proved to be on our side and provided us with a frosty clear blue sky after several days of rain.  The numbers were less than were on hand for the Save Neurosurgery in Dunedin March, in which just about everyone who was still middle-class in Dunedin, and points further south, turned out to defend Dunedin Hospitals services.

There were plenty of banners on hand, representing political parties and trade unions who were supporting the protest organised by Grey Power Otago.  To their shame rumour has it that the Otago University Students Association want to buy shares in the privatisation sales and did not attend as a body.  The next time I do one of these things I should get a stick of dowling to bear my Southland Spirit of a Nation flag.  Its blue-green-blue tricoleur will add a big more colour.

The archivist spotted me straight away and we joined forces.  The pipers and one of the protestors were keen to get us moving at eleven o’clock.  Grey Power took the lead and we all fell in.  We marched up George Street listening to the socialist liturgy around us.  I find that protest marches are a bit like being in some one else’s church, you never quite know what’s going to happen next.

We got to the Octagon in ten minutes for the speeches.  I looked back as the march came up the rise into the Octagon.  The procession did not go back to Frederick Street as it did in the Neurosurgery march, it was still several blocks long, which represents the strength of opinion.   Addresses were given from the unions and David Parker from the Labour Party gave us a good rark-up.  We were joined in the Octagon by another member of staff from the Archives.  After the protest was dismissed and everyone scattered a cameraman from TV3 collared us as protestors who were not members of the unions and the political parties.  My friend did a soundbite that made it onto their 6pm news bulletin.  I was quite chuffed to see it.

How long before this government listens to the public if it wants to retain its weakening grasp on power?

Public Square

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The Centre for Theology and Public Issues put on a forum with four politicians: Robin Gunston, the president of the United Future Party; Metiria Turei, Green Party List MP for Dunedinl; David Clark, Labour MP for the North Dunedin electrate; and Michael Woodhouse, the National Party List MP for Dunedin.  Despite having his office closest to the Studio David was the last to arrive and recording was delayed until he was there.  He owes us all a drink!

I’m a regular at the Centre’s events and got to ask the first question: To what extent should government policy be driven by popular opinion?

Michael Woodhouse proved to be the best at answering directly to his questioners — we sat together in the front row.  He also likes the word ‘plethora’.  It’s not the worst word he could of used twice in two consecutive sentences.

It is always interesting watching panellists: on where they agree, and what is their reactions to others’ questions and responses.

Two boys from the Centre (someone was baby-sitting) got to ask the question, Will you miss TVNZ7?  The end of public service television in New Zealand means that society will further atomise as we lose a channel for shared experience.

One of the other questionners turned out to be a former camper at the Keswick Convention held at Pounawea where I was part of the Scripture Union Holiday Programme for several years when I was younger.  He is now the university pastor for the Grace Bible Church.  I will have to look out to see him again at future events.

Ending Holy Wars

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This was the title of Isak Svensson’s parting lecture for the National Centre for Peace and Conflict studies held at Holy Name Church on Tuesday.  By the end of the evening the church was very cold as the roof was being repaired and there was no heating.

Observations from the lecture:

When a conflict becomes a religious conflict quite often because alternative secular ideologies have been tried and exhausted.  Religion in conflict is a weapon of last resort.  Once it’s applied it’s like uranium.  There is no turning back.  Religious warriors will not back down.  They will continue the flight to the bitter resolution.  Even in the resolution of a conflict the after-affects will continue on.

Face to Face and Side by Side

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Irrefutable Proofis getting spam from Arabland that ends with the salutation ‘thank you in your sweat’.  I’m sure that’s a metaphor that works better in the original arabic.

I went to another meeting at Leith Valley Church.  This one was publicised as a Dunedin group meeting.  It involved visiting church consultant Caroline Kitto from Australia.  I listened carefully as I would have to report to my parish council and gave consideration to what she said.  Much of it was the same or similar to what I had heard at Yearly Meeting of Presbytery last year.

  • Christianity was successful in its first centuries because it took seriously a commission to take care of the sick and their neighbours affected the plagues that afflicted the Roman Empire.  I remembered a quote from Philip Jenkins’s The God Wars who noted that in the early centuries monks renounced the Romans’ public baths as pagan and were ripe unto heaven.  Philip Jenkins is a Christian historian and not a hostile critic of the Church.  It’s easy to say Christians did the charitable stuff better, but doctrine soon stacked up.
  • Christianity flourished in the cities.  Studiously omitting the fact that urbanisation collapsed in the western world for over a thousand years until the modern age.  History does tend to get in the way.  The collapse was less dramatic in the Asian world, where Christianity was so embedded.
  • To invite someone to church you must be their friend.  Okay, good advice, and I will consider where should Opoho church invest its resources and gifts?
  • Society rearranges itself.  It is changing at an increasing rate.  One of my favourite Sci-Fi writers, Charlie Stross, argues that we are at least a generation into future shock, and also that it’s not letting up any time soon.
  • Phyllis Trickle was quoted that Christianity shifts every 500 years, from the Fall of Rome, to the Catholic/Orthodox Schism, to the Reformation, to now.  The scale of the shift wasn’t noted.  From tribal society in biblical Israel, to local, regional, national, and now global culture.  This impacts.
  • If my church, Opoho, is a traditional worshipping church with a liberal, broadminded theological mindset, then does it count as a in-group or and open-boundary group?  Arguably it has characteristics of both.

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