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97 FEBRUARY 2007
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postcard from leon fulcher

From Pauanui, New Zealand

Hello Everyone! Hi especially to anyone of you huddled down during the Northern Hemisphere winter! Alas, to confirm: our Summer Holiday in New Zealand is progressing well. Our first weekend on New Zealand's Coromandel Peninsula, 3 hours south of Auckland, there was opportunity for beach walking. It is in that “beach-walking sort of mindset” that I write this Postcard. On the second beach walk along Pauanui foreshore, I discovered the following sign marker that someone had cleverly posted along the boundary between grass and beach. My hypothesis was that a creative teenager came up with the idea.

Playful historic sign “nothing happened!

The blossoms of the Pahutakawa Tree appeared again as usual

There was another little signboard a dozen metres up the beach saying “On this day in 1779, Captain Cook spotted a seagull over this beach.” It made us laugh, and also started me thinking about what might have happened if this was that day. And what would you know? The blossoms of the Pahutakawa Tree; bright red visuals against dark green foliage clustered along New Zealand coastlands, known as the South Pacific Christmas tree. I’m almost certain those Pahutakawa trees would have bloomed back in 1883 had anyone noticed. That made me start looking for what other “happenings” might have been overlooked as one continued down the beach.

Superman was found walking on Pauanui Beach

And wouldn’t you know it, there was the caped crusader! A young superman trudging up the beach to join his family. Whether in 1883 or 2007 one might have encountered a range of “events” during routine walks on a beach. And isn’t it reassuring that there was a “Super Kid!” The Scout Leader in me noted how some families on Pauanui Beach were playing and swimming in the surf “away from the flags”. This meant minimal surveillance was provided for those playing in the surf. “It’s a good thing Superman was on duty!” Just think of the number of times that safety issues like these are highlighted in Child and Youth Care work!

Then we came to that area of Pauanui Beach where the public can “swim within the flags”. It is here that surf lifeguards are on duty from 7 am until 7 pm, doing voluntary service to their community. I’m told surfing was pretty good along that beach during my visit, and young people were catching waves throughout the long summer day. Safety first is an essential requirement of water sports activities in Child and Youth Care work. These requirements should be thought of as a checklist or guidelines for good practice, not obstacles to including water sports activities as part of a social development programme for children or young people.

At Pauanui Beach, Most Families Swam Between the Flags!

So, while an anonymous sign maker asserted that nothing happened on 1 September 1883, I can report that a whole lot was happening on that beach 125 years later. What one sees depends on what one is looking for. What they see, and what meaning they make of what they see and hear matters “even in the South Pacific! Ya'all stay cozy!

The International Child and Youth Care Network

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