It's marmageddon and the fear of dwindling Marmite supplies has seen panic-buying across the country.

The shortage is because the country's only Marmite factory in Christchurch has been closed due to the quake since November and, although the production team has relocated to Sanitarium's Auckland factory, the jars won't be rolling off the conveyor belt until July.

Some people, like the Prime Minister, are sanguine about switching to Vegemite - the Australian-made (and vastly superior) alternative yeast extract spread.

John Key confessed that he's a consumer who can move between the brands and doesn't mind which spread covers his toast.


Unlike the Prime Minister, I don't swing both ways. I'm a Vegemite girl through and through. That said, I can understand the grizzles from Marmite fans who say the spreads taste different.

Of course they do. Marmite is sweeter - it's made for a less refined palate. Vegemite is more savoury and salty - more sophisticated, if you will. Marmite is for people who like factory-made fish fingers. Vegemite is for those who appreciate oysters fresh from the shell.

Despite the fact that I'm enjoying smearing my Vegemite on my Vogels with liberal abandon each morning, Marmite-lovers have my sympathy.

Accept no substitutions. Stay true to your extract. And those who are bi-Mites should offer their jars of Marmite to those who are mono-Mites as a gesture of support until the crisis has abated.

"Please explain" sends a chill

Although I work in the media - perhaps it's because I work in the media - it's a hell of a shock getting a please-explain call.

The editor phoned me this week and said my name was linked to a story the paper was working on about people receiving free hospitality from SkyCity in return for being one of their "brand ambassadors".

The benefits were substantial - supposedly cash and credit for meals and drinks.

I went hot and cold; equal parts mystified and furious that I'd been implicated in what I was sure the Herald on Sunday would turn into a significant story.

For the record, I was once given a debit card for $1000 as a thank you for MC-ing numerous charity functions.

I was offered a free weekend at the hotel but could never take it up because the Irishman saw no point in staying in a hotel when we had a perfectly good house down the road, and there's absolutely no fun in bouncing round a hotel room on your own.

It's not uncommon for charities and their main sponsors to offer a thank-you gift when you've MC'd for free, even though you tell them it's not necessary. I suppose it makes them feel better about hitting you up the next year. So, after turning down a couple of offers of nights at the Grand, a card arrived in my name with $1000 on it.

About the same time, I was asked if I'd be one of their brand ambassadors, but I didn't see how that could work. I told the SkyCity person that I would always be happy to MC their charity functions but there'd be a conflict of interest if I was working in the media and being paid, in effect, to promote SkyCity.

While I have no problem with them - I think they're good corporate citizens - I'm only free to say that because I'm not on the take. It was a conversation at the end of a fundraiser some years ago, it was never put as a formal request and that was the end of that. Apart from the one-off thank you, that was it.

I've continued to MC charity functions but I've paid my way at the hotel for meals ever since.

At the time of writing this, I have no idea how my name has been connected to a story on brand ambassadors. But I tell you what - even though you're blameless, there's nothing like a call from one of your own kind to chill your blood.

I can't imagine what it must feel like to be sitting on a secret and getting the call.

Smith's honour intact

Nick Smith did the right thing this week. Falling on his sword was the honourable thing to do. Indeed, throughout this sorry affair, the Honourable Doctor Nick Smith has earned his honorific.

Sure, it took him 24 hours to resign from Cabinet, but that's a blink of an eye when you consider the drawn-out resignations of other ministers.

He was obviously very sorry to be leaving his portfolios but he was dignified in his resignation speech.

He declared his love for, and fidelity to, his wife and did not, at any stage, embark on a mud-slinging retaliation against the "friend" who was the catalyst for his downfall.

With friends like Bronwyn Pullar, who needs enemies?

It was her constant badgering of her "friend" that resulted in him writing a reference to support her claim against ACC when he was the minister for that government department.

Simply not good enough for a minister in a New Zealand government, and he knew that.

He should have resigned when his letter was revealed - if only because we would have been spared hearing Winston Peters utter the word "sex" in Parliament.

He said it with such distaste he could have been Rick Santorum's running mate in the US presidential race.

But it's over now. Nick Smith has done the right thing and he should be left to get on with his life.