Moon landings and other memories

Anniversaries – a time to take stock and reflect. Those ending in round numbers seem to draw more focus.

It’s 50 years since humans landed on the moon for the first time. I’m under 50 so no “where were you when it happened” to draw on. My parents remember people going out to buy black and white TVs to be able to watch it.

Turns out the mission of watching the “live” images of landing on the moon was a game-changer for NZ television-watching too. We didn’t have a satellite to get the feed from Houston, but a day later got a copy of that “one small step for mankind” flown over from Australia. It was the first time NZ coordinated a news item to be screened at the same time through a temporary set of relay stations – prior to this the “daily” news was flown between cities, screening on different days of the week.

I do remember watching the original Star Trek series on TV with Captain James T Kirk played by William Shatner. It first screened in 1966 in the US, but I remember watching it in the 1970s as a child. “Space, the final frontier…” – why haven’t we gone back to the moon since then? I thought there would be more exploring going on, 50 years later.

My big personal anniversary is 10 years since becoming a mum for the first time. Yes, my first born turns 10 on Monday – double digits!

Those early years were pretty tough on the sleep front – both my boys weren’t interested in that sleeping-through-the-night thing other parents talked about. There was also an inordinate amount of unpleasant toileting stories, which now bring a lot of laughter with the re-telling of them.

However, those smiles were the best – and still are. I quickly determined I had given birth to the “cutest baby in the world” and sought to share those images on Facebook, particularly as we were living in Perth. I love my Facebook memories that pop up.

Another anniversary is three years since I decided to stand for Horizons Regional Council for the first time. And as I’m standing again, this will be my last column until after the election results on 12th October.

Lots of reflections over those three years, including upsetting a few people when I made it clear that being called a “girl” in a council meeting wasn’t ok with me, or interrupting a workshop to ask whether the people nodding off around the table wanted to be left to sleep or should we have a stretch.

We’re heading into election season so it’s time to start thinking about who you want representing you in local government. For me, having decision-makers that reflect our community is important. Councils have traditionally been the home of semi-retired or self-employed men, although that’s changing. We still absolutely need and value the voice and experience of business and older people – just not exclusively. The walls of our council chamber may currently look like a history of facial hair through the ages, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.   

We’ll also have a choice between First Past the Post (FPP), our current voting system, and Single Transferable Vote (STV), for future Whanganui District Council votes (unfortunately Horizons voted against giving voters the option). STV is the way we vote for our District Health Board reps and I prefer it. It allows your preferences to be taken into account rather than the current, crude win-or-lose approach.

A hot tip on voting – for the district council, you can vote for up to 12 people (no more or your vote is invalid). Your vote carries more weight if you choose less. Think of it like this, you could give a vote to someone who’s 12th on your list and they end up just beating your absolute favourite who then misses out. That’s where STV voting has an advantage – you list your preferences in order and there is no harm in ranking every candidate. In my mind, STV is a fairer system.

Good luck to all the candidates – it’s a big step putting yourself out there but we need the choice.