I am still reeling this week from finally meeting the man of the moment, Richie McCaw, who wandered into our local Bay of Plenty Times cafe haunt Love Rosie Bakery with girlfriend, Gemma Flynn.

It shouldn't have been surprising that Richie should be taking a break in the Bay. Gemma, after all, is a Tauranga girl. Now that he has retired from the All Blacks maybe Richie will finally pop the question, and move to the Bay with Gemma. We have always known this is the best place in New Zealand to live and now it's official.

As we reported this week, the Bay of Plenty has knocked Auckland off the top spot as New Zealand's best-performing region in the latest ASB/Main Report Regional Economic Scoreboard, as business confidence booms, the job market sizzles and real estate agencies report a record year.

So a Bay home for Richie and Gemma makes sense.


In the meantime, I am happy with this week's addition to my selfie collection. Next time John Key comes to Tauranga I would have to tell him: "Sorry John, I have retired from selfies."

So I thought.

When I met my 8-year-old daughter from school, I announced loudly, "Well, guess who mummy met today?"

A gaggle of excited girls gathered around. I got out my phone to show me and Richie. They turned away disappointed.

"We thought you meant Taylor Swift," my daughter explained.

A T-Swizzle selfie was a long shot but do-able given that she was in the country filming a music video in Auckland.

In my wildest dreams I mooted the idea of a road trip to Auckland with my daughters. Lucky I didn't, as one more vehicle at Bethells Beach might have propelled the dotterel bird species into extinction.

For Auckland conservationists allege that Taylor and her crew put the rare native bird at risk while they were filming. NZME reported that Waitakere Ranges local board chairwoman Sandra Coney posted on Facebook her concerns for the endangered coastal bird.


"Taylor Swift filming at Bethells this week. Permission was given for I think two vehicles, instead there were about a dozen. Parks not happy at all," she said.

"We are trying to minimise vehicles on beaches for good reasons but at Bethells there are baby dotterels. We have developed a dotterel management plan as there is a heap of filming out there, and we welcome it as economic activity that should leave no footprint, but Taylor's lot did not respect the environment or the conditions of their consent."

There were no reports of any dotterels harmed or in any danger. The local film production company behind Taylor Swift's Bethells Beach music video said the film crew adhered to the dotterel protocol at all times, following guidelines provided about the birds' nesting sites. The conservationists have got their feathers in a twist over nothing, in my view.

I agree with Facebook poster's view, "That care needs to be taken that these birds suffer no harm is a given [sic] but the conservationists also need to get off their high horses and get a life. What a bunch of drama queens!"

Maybe turkeys should seek the help of these conservationists to set up a safe haven on our beaches.

These birds might be heading for extinction or, at best, unemployment if the Auckland Regional Migrants Services (Arms) has its way. Its patron, Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy says she agrees with the agency's policy of avoiding the word Christmas, by referring to "happy holidays" and "season's greetings" and other euphemisms instead.

Arms is planning a "festive lunch" instead of a Christmas lunch, so non-Christians won't feel excluded.

Bah humbug. Devoy writes in a first person piece below this column, "The Global Peace Index announced that we live in one of the most peaceful nations on earth. As well as one of the most peaceful nations, New Zealand is also one of the most ethnically-diverse nations on the planet. "

Then why would Arms and Devoy support a policy which in my view unnecessarily causes strife where there is none? I have not heard a surge of complaints about the the word Christmas from non-Christians. If someone didn't want to celebrate Christmas, that is up to them, but why would they want a "festive lunch" if there is nothing to celebrate?

Why would Arms take away the joy of Christmas from those who do want to celebrate it, whatever their religion? Language is meant to clarify and communicate, not hide the truth. Christmas is quite simply Christmas.

In my view the Race Relations Commissioner is busying herself with this issue instead of more pertinent race issues. It makes a mockery of the role.