It has been one of those cluster weeks. Things you arranged ages ago suddenly all seem to occur at the same time.

Someone rings me back in February or April, or November last year. It's so and so and they want me somewhere in late July and because it's months away and because the person is a good person, I say yes.

Sometimes I get a cluster of events happening because of my own hopeless organisation. This week has been one of those.

Along comes the Food Show, which is a great do this weekend and I'm up to my neck in olive oil and great conversations with the people who flock along.

It was also the week of the Bakel New Zealand Pie Awards. This has become one of the most unpretentiously enjoyable events on the Auckland social calendar and I have hosted their big night the last four years in a row.

The awards acknowledge those I have come to see as the real people of our food and hospitality industry.

The people who make these pies and submit them for competition are people right round the country who own and run the cafes at which we buy our morning and afternoon coffees, or at which we snatch a bit of lunch, a roll, a bit of quiche, something savoury, a muffin, whatever we feel like fitting into a busy day.

These people and these places contrast rather positively with the flasher food outlets, the restaurants, the daylight robbers.

Such restaurants, thanks to Cuisine and any number of other pretentious, glossy organs with big notes on themselves - magazines devoured by the provincial bourgeoisie as bibles - talk in their pages all kinds of nonsensical food blather in articles written by a small army of high-falutin free-loaders called food writers to whom anyone producing any kind of quality food product has to suck up.

I tell you honestly - and I don't eat much fish because I find it tasteless so I don't know how good our chefs are at fish - but our chefs do know how to do a delicious steak. I'll give them that.

With anything else, it seems to be generally unnecessarily complicated. I cry out for a pasta dish that isn't sodden, over-rich and drenched in fat. Why can't it be prepared and presented simply?

As for fish, I worry more about the world fish population - the fish stocks - than I worry about global warming, frankly. And given the retarded ripening of the olives in Hawke's Bay this year, one cries out for a bit of global warming to hasten it.

But fish. It always amazes me, the deafness of fishermen and the fishing industry to the monstrous environmental damage the world's commercial fishermen cause to the oceans and the ocean floors.

But, as I say, I don't eat much fish, except when it's fish and chips, and so I leave the fish alone and they leave me alone. There will come a time soon when recreational anglers and even Maori, God forbid, might have to lay off the fish for a while.

Anyway, the Pie Awards. Over the past five or six years, they have become a darling of the news media. This has happened because the Pie Awards are, well, Kiwiana. They represent a warm-hearted, decent New Zealandness.

But above all, their popularity is a tribute to the tireless work of the woman who promoted them and was dedicated to them, Catherine Saunders, a much-loved figure in the PR and broadcasting world in Auckland.

Catherine gets people to do all kinds of things. No one says no to Catherine because no one wants to say no to Catherine. Despite what she has been through in her life, Catherine is one of the world's positive people.

Baby Boomers will remember Catherine as that exquisitely beautiful, clear-skinned television announcer and newsreader in the early 60s who later appeared regularly on Beauty and the Beast. She speaks like no one else I have ever met in New Zealand.

She has the instinctive ability to construct in conversation the most finely balanced sentence. She is also very funny.

Catherine, who retired from the Pie Awards once and for all this week, tells me that the first of the media to take any notice of the Pie Awards were a couple of the younger, alternative, emerging fellows - Marcus Lush and Jeremy Wells.

Paul Casserley was there too, later the brains behind Eating Media Lunch. Those boys all got the Pie Awards. The first of the mainstream media to do so was Phil Armstrong, my late, dedicated radio producer, who used to regale me with stories of the pies and the pie-makers as we sat at work outside on the footpath in the early morning. He said they were real. That mattered to Phil.

Yes, they're real and they are about the normal people, the strugglers, and about strugglers getting recognition.

They are about decent men and women with small businesses being invited to a great night out in Auckland and being able to go back to their businesses of seven or eight staff the next day - in Rotorua or Havelock North, or Whangarei or Oamaru - to show them what their efforts have achieved, a certificate for a win in a particular pie category or perhaps, most wondrously of all, the trophy and the silver rolling-pin for the Supreme Pie Winner.

And these small-business people could put their win in lights outside their shops, written large, New Zealand's Best Pie. Not bad.

And what began to happen some years back was that nearly all the winners were immigrants, and so it was this week.

People from Vietnam or Cambodia with small bakeries who get up at two or three in the morning to get their work under way, husband-and-wife teams, people who struggle with English, hard-working people who came here with nothing.

People from entirely different culinary cultures who have learnt to make our pies better than any of their locally born competitors. These people do not sit on their arses on the benefit.

When their names were announced the other night to enormous cheers, the award went officially to the man but in nearly every case the wife walked up to share the trophy.

As for Chris Carter, speaking of being real, how would you know? He's done it now, that's for sure. It's all over Rover in that department. He is so much a goner he is out of sight.

Q+A will be hard work this morning. We feature the first televised debate between the leading mayoral candidates for Auckland.

With disrespect to none of these dedicated men of public service, election debates like this are always a challenge and more than a little like herding cats.