Posted by on Jan 25, 2017 in Meetings

Toastmaster: John MacVicar

John did an excellent job as Toastmaster for the meeting, he communicated well prior to the meeting with all members that had Roles, giving everyone a heads up on the Theme for the meeting “Goodbye 2016” very appropriate don’t you think!  John encouraged everyone that had a speaking role to say something good about 2016, something Good that happened to them personally or in the world. Emphasizing to the speakers to only do this if it doesn’t adversely affect the flow of their speech.

Roydon Gibbs did a great job too as Sergeant at arms, bringing his great sense humor to the meeting as usual.

All the speaker introductions were well put together, giving good background content on each speaker.

Speaker 1: Dense Ford Why Save a Swamp?

Swamps are “Dirty, smelly, insect ridden, unhealthy”

Not so for Anne Flannagan she started a campaign in the early 1990 to save the Travis Swamp as it was known from housing development. Travis Swamp is a fresh water wetland in the north-east of Christchurch. It was once a traditional food gathering area for Maori and then was farmed by Europeans. Marked for development in the 1970’s the area was saved when the developers went bust. However, in the 1990’s it again faced the risk of development. Anne and a group of people who eventually become the Travis Wetland Trust started a petition to save the swamp it collected over 7000 signatures and motivated the City Council of the time to purchase the land and gazette 119 hectares as a nature heritage park.
Since the purchase for the land the CCC has worked with the Travis Wetland Trust. A 10 year development plant was creating setting out the restoration goals. A central pond was created in a low lying area, drains and waterways were naturalised to form shallow ponds and swales. A visitor center, information kiosk, bird hide and walkways were created. Weeds such as grey willow were removed and native species planted. In 2000 the Council employed a full time Ranger dedicated to Travis Wetland.
So way save a swamp?

24 years on Travis Wetland has become an important wildlife refuge; last year was the first record of Bittern breeding in the city, sightings of two rare birds the marsh and spotless crake, and coots breeding for the first time. Bellbirds, grey warblers and fantails are resident bush birds.

2016 was a good year, a milestone and icing on the cake the first regeneration of Kahikatea from a 15 year old parent tree.  The wetland is not only important for the wildlife it supports but also for the citizens of Christchurch. It is a fantastic place to walk/run (no bikes or dogs please). For many it is a safe and pleasant way to interact with nature.

Anne Flannagan died in August 1994 before the balance of the wetland was brought by the Council in 1996. A northern section of the walkway bears her name. All of us who have a love for wetlands thank her for standing up for a much misunderstood habitat.

Speaker 2: Bee Bathish. Shared with us her 10 Day meditation

Bee gave her last speech from the advanced manual “Speaking to Inform”. In her speech about ‘Vipassana’ meditation she talked about the most mentally challenging adventure of her life:

A 10 day silent meditation course! She descried the Vipassana philosophy and the structure of this intense course.

Overall a great speech, not sure if I could do 10 days of meditation? Could you??

Speaker 3: Brett Snow. The Rule Of Three or Power Of Three.

Brett gave a great speech around the “Rule Of Three or Power Of Three”.

As the principle that suggests things that come in threes are funnier, more satisfying, and more effective.  This is because having three entities combines both brevity and rhythm with information.
Brett shared with us in his speech 3 experiences from my life this past year.


He spoke about how toastmasters and how in June of 2016 he had completed a year of service as an area director of 5 Toastmaster clubs in Christchurch. This involved speaking at the clubs, creating reports of my visits to the clubs, and organising Area Contests.  When I first started the role, I felt somewhat frightful of failing or even crazier succeeding.

He went on to say how he had learned that this is natural and the best way to overcome it is by action.  I met others who provided support and leadership training. Having had previous experience in Boaters Toastmasters as the VP of Education helped tremendously. Boaters Toastmaster Club is well known as one of the most successful clubs in New Zealand and continues to have great leadership.  As a result of stepping out of the comfort zone by being an Area Director I was able to relearn that when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Second, was Improv.  Throughout 2016 he attended an evening class once a week at the Court Theatre.   Improv, is a form of theater where most or all of what is performed is created at the moment it is performed.  For example, one form of improve exercise is table topics.  At each class, he participated in different games and exercises that made everyone think faster and completely take us out of our comfort zone.  At the end of the courses, we performed in front of the public at an improv showcase.    As a result of taking the courses, I learned that it isn’t always about what you say but how.  There, Brett learned of an important principle which is called -  Speed versus Awesomeness.   The longer one waits for your response or performance, the more awesome it needs to be.

He went on to say,

One of the fun games that we performed in front of an audience was Story, story, Die….  (Call three people up to demonstrate the game).

Where Toastmasters teaches structure, improv teaches speed and Wit.  Improv also teaches how to be comfortable with the uncomfortable and is a great companion to Toastmasters.  It gives us the attitude of bring it on with life situations and lets see what fun we can have with whatever comes our way.

Thirdly, Brett took some time off this year to take 3 trips to the Bay of Islands and spend time with his Father who was elderly. He learned the importance of the role of care givers.  How patient they have to be and the difficulties they have to overcome with helping dress the elderly.  In October, Brett’s Dad passed away after living a long life.  Even though each of his 9 siblings has their differences, we all came together from different parts of the World for his funeral and to remember Dads Life.  Memories like camping out in the Alaskan Wilderness, sailing and fishing in the Bay of Islands as well as learning to do tough chores like removing gorse at the family farm.  His Dad always loved Christmas and we had some amazing Christmases.

Brett shared with us how his Dad, often would play the role of Santa Clause.  His favourite song was Jolly Old Saint Nicolas and though he lost his voice this past year, his voice returned to join in when we sang that song.  A special family memory is when my family sang it together to him at the end of his viewing before sealing his coffin for the funeral.   I learned from that experience that each life is like a speech.  It has an opening, a body, and a close.

Brett concluded his speech by reminding us “Like a speech this New Year of 2017 has Three Things. An Opening, a Body and a Close!

Brett said, “I would like to encourage and challenge you to create a Fantastic Opening for 2017!

Toasty Award: Brett Snow

Brett’s speech ernt him the Toasty award!

Overall a great first meeting for 2017, John MacVicar setting the standard for fellow Toastmasters to follow!

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