Last week I attended the funeral of Eric Chittenden, a chemist who spent almost all of his working life (49 years!) at the Cawthron Institute. He joined Cawthron in 1926, having left school four years earlier when he was 13. He had no formal qualifications and started in a very junior position as an assistant in the chemistry laboratories. He became a very respected soil scientist, making a huge contribution to agriculture and horticulture in the Nelson region. In fact, one of my purchases at the Founders Book Fair a few weeks back was a 1957 paper by Sir Theodore Rigg with Eric Chittenden as a co-author: a survey of soils, vegetation and agriculture of the Waimea County, Nelson.
After staying at Montrose High Country for two days, we set off for Wanaka. We were lucky with the weather, a beautiful day after recent snow which is the ideal for travelling in this part of NZ (winter is often a great time to travel). There were some iconic images waiting to be picked up, starting with this one of L. Pukaki to grab your attention:
Last week we had the opportunity to stay at Montrose High Country, a lodge on the Rakaia River in Canterbury. Only a couple of nights, not nearly enough time to explore this area. But here are some initial impressions. The lodge is tucked in under the northern slopes of Mt Hutt, a popular ski field.
I’ve just been listening to a child psychologist on national radio talking about optimists and pessimists. It reminded me of a management problem I faced at Cawthron Institute where I took rather a risk in order to communicate successfully.
The problem involved a young Ph.D. student from Japan. He had just discovered that his supervisor back in Japan had done something dishonourable, something which he felt would be to the disadvantage of his New Zealand hosts. He became deeply depressed, stuck in a dilemma which he eventually confided to another Japanese researcher working at Cawthron at the time: Dr Kawamura. Kawamura-san then spoke with the student’s Cawthron supervisor, who felt he was out of his depth and brought the problem to me. They were both extremely concerned with the student’s state of mind, even mentioning the ‘s’ word.
Recently there has been a real media circus over the use of official credit cards by politicians for their personal expenses. In particular, former minister Shane Jones who (very unwisely) used his ministerial credit card to pay for adult movies.
It reminded me of an expense claim I once submitted where the hotel receipt was about 3 m long and listed several hundred such items.
One day in the early 90s I got a telephone call from one of our clients in Christchurch. His Japanese wife had been working as an interpreter for a gentleman currently living in Christchurch who had expressed a great interest in visiting an organisation carrying out environmental research. He wondered whether the Cawthron Institute would be a good choice. I explained that we had a lot of contact with Japanese researchers at that time and he would be very welcome. The Japanese gentleman duly arrived, along with his interpreter.