I note with delight that amongst the many winners at the Rotorua Westpac Business of the Year Awards on Saturday, Artisan Cafe won Retail Business Award 2017.

Owner Milani Thompson just happens to be a very special person whom I nominated some while back for the Rotorua Volunteer of the Year Award. A bit prematurely it transpired as Milani, husband Greg and two sons hadn't quite attained New Zealand citizenship at that stage, being South African immigrants.

Milani first came to the attention of the Vic Reid-initiated (in 2011) U3A Cooking for One class and in 2013 when she attended the class along with three other trainee chefs. As the then current class tutor was "moving on" it was fortuitous for the group that Milani chose to take his place and we have been honoured to have her with us since as a fully qualified chef and tutor.

Her role is absolutely voluntary as she wishes to "give back to the community" that has embraced and welcomed her and her family to NZ.


In spite of going into business as Artisan Cafe in April 2016, with all the accompanying headaches on occasion, Milani has not wavered in her intent and commitment to "pay it forward" and continues to be mentor/tutor on a fortnightly basis for the Cooking for One class. She's an absolute gem with untold patience. Thank you Milani.

I'd love for this to be a public acknowledgement of Milani's achievements/worth.


Exercise in futility
I get it now as regards this craze to build cycle tracks everywhere. It's an expensive social experiment to get cars off the road and force people to exercise.

However, it does not solve the problem of getting the weekly groceries in, as they can be heavy and bulky with supermarkets no longer just down the road. Times have changed and food is no longer picked up almost daily as it once was.

It is my view that to get people away from their cars is a forlorn hope, as do-good theories just don't work. After two years of lack of use, I think the Green Corridor has proven my point.

While petrol and diesel powered vehicles are on the way out, electric vehicles are on the way in, as are electric bicycles. Is that not saying something?

The dream of theorists to have bicycles spread around the town for anyone to use as needed, then leave for others to use, is unrealistic. I believe in China this has resulted in a large number of wrecked or broken down bikes littering the town and nobody has the responsibility of repairing or caring for them.

In Europe and America, the same schemes have been tried and ended with all the bikes being stolen. So much for community ownership!

What it proves is these ideas are dreamed up by people who have no understanding of human nature, or how the real world works.