Monday, December 25, 2023

Controversy in Italy


Nativity scene deviates from tradition with two mothers of the Baby Jesus. CREDIT: CIRO DE LUCA/REUTERS

 Unconventional Nativity Scene Sparks Controversy in Italy

In a quaint hamlet near Naples, Italy, the Church of Saints Peter and Paul has become the centre of a heated debate as its nativity scene deviates from tradition, featuring two mothers of the Baby Jesus instead of the customary Mary and Joseph.

The unconventional display, curated by Parish priest Father Vitaliano Della Sala, aims to reflect the diversity of modern families. Father Della Sala defends the portrayal, stating, "I wanted to show with this scene that families are no longer just the traditional ones." He emphasizes the evolving nature of families in society, including children from separated and divorced parents, gay couples, single individuals, and young mothers.

This departure from the conventional nativity scene has ignited anger in Italy, a predominantly Catholic country where nativity scenes hold cultural significance. The controversy is indicative of ongoing culture wars as the country undergoes increased secularization and embraces multiculturalism.

Father Della Sala, known for his alignment with LGBT and left-wing causes, asserts that his stance is in line with Pope Francis's recent groundbreaking decision allowing priests to bless same-sex couples. However, Senator Maurizio Gasparri of the Forza Italia party criticizes the LGBT-themed nativity scene, claiming it "offends all those who always had respect and devotion for the Holy Family."

The Pro-Vita & Famiglia (Pro-Life and Family) group has launched an online petition urging the Bishop of Avellino to intervene, garnering over 21,000 signatures. The group argues that the nativity scene contradicts the Church's teachings on the family and legitimizes same-sex parenting and surrogacy, despite surrogacy being illegal in Italy.

In the midst of the controversy, Italy's parliament is actively discussing legislation that would criminalize surrogacy, including penalties for couples seeking the practice abroad. Additionally, a proposal from Senator Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy party aims to protect Catholic-themed activities in schools, preventing school directors from halting events such as Christmas plays and nativity scenes. The unfolding situation highlights the intersection of religious tradition, evolving societal norms, and legislative considerations in Italy.

Pigeon Post News, Richmond.

Sunday, December 24, 2023



"Santa's Triumph Over Adversity: 

A Christmas Tale from the Past”

The first special Christmas children's story:::

Back in 2021, when the whole world was going through a tough time because of a big sickness, Santa Claus decided to spread some joy. People were feeling sad, especially the kids who were stuck at home and had worn out all their toys. Santa knew he had to do something special, so he told the news people to come to the North Pole to hear about his plan. I was there too and arrived at the Snowy Wonderland very excited to be invited into Santa’s pristine and busy workshop.

Santa shared that his elves were working extra hard in the workshop to make new toys for all the kids. But there was a problem - Santa's toy-making machine couldn't keep up with the demand and the toys couldn't be sent around the world as usual to be stockpiled because the ships were delayed. So, Santa had a clever idea. He asked the smart workers at the Waimea Menzshed to help him make a new toy-making machine and tiny drones to deliver presents everywhere before Christmas so Santa could pick them up on his way around the world.

Wunorse Openslae, the reindeer expert, had a job too. He had to make Santa's sleigh bigger and better, so it could carry more toys. Rudolph, the reindeer with the red nose, was in charge of leading the team through the night sky, even when they faced tricky challenges.

Mrs. Claus, who usually creates wonders in the kitchen, excitedly joined Santa on this adventure. A young elf named Sugarplum Mary took over the kitchen duties, making sure there were sweet treats for everyone.

Even though there were no Santa parades that year, the elves worked with the shop owners in Tasman and Nelson to make the towns look Christmassy. They put up big Christmas trees, sparkling lights, and made everything feel magical.


To help Santa get into houses without chimneys, Mrs. Claus used her fairy wand. Kids were asked to leave nuts and fruit under their Christmas trees instead of cookies, and Santa loved the healthy options.

Santa couldn't join the parades, but he had fun cruising through the hills of Nelson and Tasman in his bigger magic sleigh. He visited local businesses and kids were excited to see him.


Alabaster Snowball, the elf who watched over kids' behaviour, noticed that everyone had been nice that year. With so much goodness, Santa had a lot of extra work.

As Christmas got closer, kids worldwide talked to Santa in special virtual Santa rooms, sharing their wishes. Everyone wondered what Santa would give Mrs. Claus for Christmas.

After Christmas, there was a rumour that Santa might go fishing in Golden Bay that year. Even though he forgot a present for the Pigeon Post News editor, everyone agreed that Santa had done a great job delivering presents all around the world in such hard times.


"Santa's Resilience: 

A Christmas Miracle in 2023"

The second special Christmas children's story:::

In 2023, Santa faced new challenges, but he didn't give up. The elves in the North Pole worked hard to make toys, but this time, things were tough because everything was more expensive in the North Pole. Bushy Evergreen, the elf in charge of toys, had an important job.

Santa gathered his elves and had a special meeting. Alabaster Snowball, a very clever elf, suggested making the toys extra special with a touch of magic. After a sprinkle of North Pole magic, the toys became even more precious. 

Elf Alabaster Snowball inspecting the Volunteer Richmond Fire Truck.

Santa's reindeer team, led by Rudolph, faced storms in New Zealand. It was tough, but the reindeers were strong, and they made it through. The storms, instead of stopping Santa, added extra magic and excitement to his Christmas adventure.


As Santa flew through the stormy skies, the big Christmas trees in Nelson and Richmond also the Christmas star lights in Richmond showed him the way. In Motueka, new Christmas lights sparkled like stars, and the Christmas Lilies from Tasman gardeners filled the air with a lovely smell. These things helped Santa in the bad weather.


Santa's elves also went to the Richmond Volunteer Fire Brigade. They used their magic to fix up the old fire truck, making it shiny and ready to keep the community safe as Summer was fast approaching in the Southern Hemisphere. Santa’s elves told me secretly that the Richmond Volunteer Fire Brigade was hoping for a shiny new truck for Christmas and were wondering how it would be transported and wrapped but, Santa’s magic is very special so perhaps it could happen - keep an eye out at the fire station.

Richmond Volunteer Fire Brigade Fire Truck. Elf Alabaster Snowball at the top and elf Bushy Evergreen sitting on the bumper of the Fire Truck.

As Santa delivered toys, parents noticed something special about them. Alabaster Snowball's magic had made them more than just toys – they were filled with warmth and love. The kids loved their presents so much it didn't matter this year what they received from Santa.

The storms in New Zealand didn't stop Santa's sleigh. Rudolph's glowing red nose led the way, and the kids woke up to a magical Christmas morning.

In the end, Santa showed that Christmas is about more than just gifts. It's about love, kindness, and coming together as a community. The tale of Santa's resilience in 2023 became a story to share and remember, bringing smiles to kids and grown-ups alike.


MERRY CHRISTMAS from all of us at Pigeon Post News, Richmond. 2023.

Friday, December 22, 2023

With long summer days take an extra step in keeping yourself and others safe.


Tasman Emergency Services tackling road safety together

December 2023

Police, Hato Hone St John, and Fire and Emergency New Zealand want everyone to enjoy the summer period but remind the public to take an extra step in keeping yourself and others safe.

With long summer days, and people travelling around our beautiful region, people are asked to take care with their day-to-day movements.

Inspector Hamish Chapman, Road Policing Manager in Tasman urges extra caution when on the road, as a driver and passenger.

“We ask that motorists take extra steps to mitigate risks whilst driving. Wearing your seatbelts, driving to the conditions, drive fresh and follow speed limits.”

Speed is often a behaviour overlooked by drivers when travelling but it can single-handedly be the difference from walking away from a crash, to not surviving, less speed means less harm.

“Roads will see more traffic, so please be patient, whether you are driving down the road or across the country. Your life is not worth risking to arrive at your destination slightly earlier than scheduled.

“Drivers can expect to see more checkpoints throughout summer. If you are drinking, make sure you have a sober driver, there is no excuses for getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.”

Hato Hone St John Area Operations Manager Anne-Maree Harris wants the public to step up and take more responsibility for their safety at some of this summer’s hotspots.

“The Tasman District is well known for its beautiful lakes and waterways so please take care in and around the water. If you are boating, wear a correctly fitted life jacket, and ensure if you are swimming at a beach or river, children should be supervised at all times.”

It is also important that you let people know your plans in case of an emergency.

“Whether you are on land or the water, please let someone know where you are planning to go, as well as the relevant times. If you do need help, emergency services will be able to locate you a lot easier.”

Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s Community Risk Manager in Nelson Marlborough, Steve Trigg, is urging people to head to this summer.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re heading away these holidays or spending time with family at home, people should jump online and check it’s alright to burn.

“Our simple 3-step tool tells you whether you can light your fire or do your outdoor work safely, what the fire risk is and what you should do to stay safe.

“Whether you’re firing up the pizza oven or the charcoal barbecue, or using a chainsaw or a mower, it’s important you check first and make sure you are keeping safe.

“The best way to stop a fire is to not start one in the first place.”

Don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun by seeking shade during the hottest part of the day, regularly reapplying sunscreen, and staying hydrated throughout our long summer’s days.

If you are planning to head along to a party or festival, check in with your mates. Make sure you have a plan to get there and back safely, make sure your phone is charged, look out for one another, and always have a backup plan. 

Keeping each other safe is everybody’s responsibility, if you see anything that requires urgent emergency response, please call 111.

Police, Hato Hone St John, and Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

Pigeon Post News, Richmond.

Concern is growing over Christmas Mince Pies with metal in them

Christmas Mince Pies Recalled

Christmas Mince Pies recalled due to metal concerns

New Zealand Food Safety is supporting Woolworths in its recall of its Summer Berry Mince Pies due to the possible presence of fine metal.

"The concern with this product is that some fine wire may have got into these mince pies due to a manufacturing problem," says New Zealand Food Safety deputy director-general Vincent Arbuckle. "Two consumer complaints have been received but fortunately no injuries have occurred."

This recall affects 2 batches of mince pies sold at Woolworths, Countdown, SuperValue and FreshChoice stores nationwide:

Summer Berry Mince Pies 360g with a 12/06/2024 best-before date and

Summer Berry Mince Pies 360g with a 13/06/2024 best-before date.

Carefully check the best-before date as not all batches are affected. For the latest information about batch details, and photographs of the affected product, visit New Zealand Food Safety’s recall page. If you have bought any of these mince pies, they should not be eaten, and can be returned to the place of purchase for a refund.

If you have consumed any of this product and are concerned for your health, contact your health professional, or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for free advice.

The batches under recall have already been removed from store shelves and have not been exported.

"As is our usual practice, New Zealand Food Safety will be working with Woolworths to understand how the contamination occurred and prevent its recurrence," Mr Arbuckle said.

The vast majority of food sold in New Zealand is safe, but sometimes problems can occur. Help keep yourself and your family safe by subscribing to our recall alerts. Information on how to subscribe is on the New Zealand Food Safety food recall page. 

Ministry of Primary Industries.

Pigeon Post News, Richmond.

Effective today - Forest Track Closures - MOTUROA/Rabbit Island

Tasman District Council


Effective Friday, December 22, 2023. Today

Moturoa/Rabbit Island, a cherished recreational haven in Tasman, stands as one of our region's most favoured destinations, boasting natural features, pristine beaches, and well-trodden trails. As stewards of this beloved space, we prioritise the protection of our forests and the safety of all its users, in collaboration with our forestry partners at PF Olsen.

In adherence to this commitment, effective Friday, December 22, 2023, we are implementing precautionary measures to mitigate fire risks associated with the prevailing El Nino weather pattern and the potential for extended periods of warm, dry weather. While we anticipate welcoming rain during the Christmas period to alleviate fire risks, we remain vigilant.

To enhance safety, we have taken the following steps:

  • Closure of Internal Forest Tracks:
    • Bird Road
    • Tawa Road
    • Cooper Road
  • (See attached photo for reference - marked in pink)
    Additionally, Barnicoat Road, although normally closed to the public, is included in the closures to reinforce safety protocols.
  • Areas Remaining Open:
    • Public recreation areas, including Rough Island, the Great Taste Trail, Conifer Park, Mapua Road, Faulkners Track, and the beach, will remain open for public use.

As the situation may evolve with changing weather patterns, we commit to providing regular updates to keep you informed. We urge all visitors to adhere to marked trails, follow posted directions and safety signs, and promptly report any signs of fire by calling 111.

While Moturoa/Rabbit Island undergoes these temporary track closures, our vigilance extends to other significant forestry areas at Kingsland and Tunnicliff, which, at present, remain open to the public.

Your cooperation is crucial in ensuring the safety of our community and preserving the natural beauty of Moturoa/Rabbit Island. We appreciate your understanding and vigilance during this period.

Our barbecues now fully gas operated and bonfires on the beach are not allowed, so the only smoke visible should be from your burning steak or sausage!  


Tasman District Council Communications.

Pigeon Post News, Richmond.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Christmas Weather News Release


MetService Christmas Weather

Christmas: Warm and muggy weather


Covering period of Thu 21 - Mon 25 December

The weather around Aotearoa New Zealand has been generally settled and warm these last few days, but MetService has been keeping a close eye on the moisture spreading across the country this weekend which brings the potential for rain to many places, maybe even into Christmas Day.

High pressure and warm, humid air drifting across the country has meant temperatures around Hawke’s Bay, Canterbury, and Central Otago have been up around the high-twenties with some spots exceeding 30°C. This warmth looks to continue through the weekend and into next week but riding alongside the heat will be the potential for rain.

Friday brings the risk of showers popping up in the west and south of the South Island but it’s Saturday when the more widespread rain begins to move onto the country. This northwest flow of rain continues into Sunday and there’s even potential for a few heavy showers in the mix, mainly across the North Island.

Current models signal that some of the weekend’s moisture will hang around on Christmas Day. However, it looks to be more broken up than the rain of the weekend, and for many parts of the country there is a chance of passing showers on the 25th and a couple heavier showers could pop up. With the weather coming in from the northwest, it does look like eastern areas of both the North and South Island have the largest chance of a dry Christmas Day.

MetService meteorologist Lewis Ferris warns: “Those hoping to have a day at the beach on the 25th will need to keep a close eye on the forecast over the weekend and it’s recommended to have a wet weather plan in case those showers do happen to turn up at your place.”

Those with rain in their Christmas Day forecast currently, shouldn’t give up all hope as there is some wiggle room around the distribution and timing of wet weather. Even if a bit of rain turns up, the temperature looks to be on the warmer side of average and if the cloud breaks, the sunshine will dry things off quickly, but you’ll notice the high humidity.

Looking further ahead, the week between Christmas and New Year looks to remain warm but with a mix of rainy days and more settled ones.

MetService Communications

Pigeon Post News, Richmond.

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