Do you know that in December 2005 the first civil partnerships were allowed to be registered in Britain?

In the same month the Cronulla riots broke out as thousands of white Australians demonstrated against ethnic violence, resulting in a riot against anyone thought to be Lebanese.

An American immigration judge ordered John "Ivan" Demjanjuk, known to Nazi extermination camp survivors as Ivan the Terrible, deported to Ukraine for crimes against humanity committed during World War II.

And a well-travelled, well-credentialed journalist was unleashed upon the unsuspecting readers of the Bay of Plenty Times.

Yes, folks, it was 11 years ago, almost to the day, when I first shocked the gentle people of this region with my views on what was happening in the world, in New Zealand and in the city.

By crikey that was a long time ago.

I remember there being letters from shocked readers asking who was this person? And how could he say things like he did?

But eventually you got used to me and I like to think Tuesdays were my day for you to enjoy, get grumpy about, or nod in agreement with my views.

But now, I am hanging up my Bay of Plenty Times keyboard.

Newspapers are living things and it was decided that a bit of rejuvenation was needed on a Tuesday and so I will no longer be writing for you.

Change is a good thing - as my darling lady and I have done in our lives.

For the past three months we have been living in Rarotonga where I am deputy editor of the Cook Islands News.

Our kids were mostly at university, or working, and so we thought it the perfect time to travel, very pre-retirement, and have a bit of an adventure.

What better place to start a period of extended travel than in the Cook Islands?


It's beautiful, warm and I get the chance to be on the road as a senior reporter, photographer and writer. I'm having a ball.

On our horizons after my contract is over, whenever that is, is a lengthy photographic trip around the United States.

The aim is to work a series of short-term contracts as a photojournalist, but spend at least six months living in New York City and photographing the Big Apple.

However, the ultimate aim is to buy a stone cottage in the south of France and spend a few years enjoying, what to us is, the best country we have visited.

Last year we did a trip down some of the canals of south-west France and we had a Saul-on-the-Road-to-Damascus experience while on the Canal du Baise.

Tootling along at 6km/h, steering our rented 30-foot canal boat through some pretty countryside, and sampling truly exquisite regional foods, wine and brandy, we had an epiphany.

Life really can be like this.

It didn't take much thought for us to decide there has to be more to life than either working in retail management with unhelpful staff, or doing night shifts.

We have already picked a village in Aquitaine in which to buy a house, or a bed and breakfast, although there is an attractive cottage nearby that also could have our names on it.

That will be our base for at least five years of European exploration where I can easily fly, drive or train to newsworthy hotspots.

Failing that, we will just visit exciting new places about which to write travel stories and take photos.

I shall miss the wonderful connection many readers have made with me and hope you have all enjoyed the discussions my columns have started.

I would be horrified to think you agreed with my views all the time, but equally as stunned if you haven't thought me correct on at least one occasion in my more than 500 columns.

I will continue to write travel articles for the NZME regional papers and the Herald, as well as on my tourism website For my photos and online views you can go to and, if history is your thing, then check out

I bid you all farewell and I hope you make the most of what life offers.

You can always drop me a line at when you get a moment.

As they say under the blue skies of Rarotonga "aere ra" and my warmest wishes to you all.