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What dreams are made of

Tesia with her first trainer Lance Noble


Early every morning on the dark grey sands of a beach near Waiuku, a three-year old bay filly racehorse Tesia is cantered in training for her next race.

Ears pricked and known as a thinker, this filly by the Australian Guineas-winning stallion Pins is only a small horse but her 19 owners have patiently been waiting while she puts on condition and builds up strength for the next opportunity to prove herself, and perhaps offset their monthly bills.

Based in Auckland, Matamata, Rotorua and Wellington, the owners wait with anticipation for every email that their syndicate manager Leigh Noble sends them – whether the news be that Tesia is eating up well, has thrown a shoe and stood on a nail or, when a yearling, got involved in a kicking fight and was recovering from a kick to a hock.

Occasionally the owners watch the videos of Tesia’s earlier six races and keep their hopes and enthusiasm alive as they remember her never-say-die attitude in her first three races as a two-year-old, when she ran first, fourth and fourth.

In her first race at Avondale in December 2015, despite beginning ‘awkwardly’ as the race record notes, Tesia astounded her owners and even seasoned commentator George Simon by squeezing through a narrow gap between two leading horses, urged carefully on by her jockey Cameron Lammas. She held on to her lead, despite a late challenge by another filly O’Rachael, who has now earned over $50,000 in stakes and is rated higher than Tesia.

In her second race at Ellerslie on Boxing Day 2015, Tesia was only just beaten to third place by Mongolian Falcon, a colt who has since gone on to earn $128,000 in nine races. In fact she ran the last 600 metres of the 1,100-metre race faster than the three who finished ahead of her, including the winner Gasoline who has since been sold to a Hong Kong buyer for an undisclosed sum after earning $43,000 in four races.

In her third race in January 2016, in another baking-hot day at Ellerslie, Tesia led the 1,200-metre field until the last 200 metres when she was overtaken by Sacred Elixir, who has since gone on to earn over $1 million in 13 races in New Zealand and Australia. Second to overtake her was The Soultaker, who has now earned $99,000 from seven races. And third was What Choux Want, the only filly to beat her that day, who has now earned $76,000.

Why has Tesia apparently slipped in form and to date only earned $7,525 in stakes, plus an $8,000 winning Pearl bonus?

Since those three races she has become a little bit of an enigma and a handful. Although friendly to visit in a paddock, and described as ‘kind and honest’ by her two successive trainers Lance Noble and Graham Richardson, she fought her young jockey Shaun McKay all the way down the back-straight at Hastings in the prestigious Hawke’s Bay Breeders Gold Trail Stakes in September to finish last.

In November, back again under the experienced hands of Cameron Lammas, she finished a credible sixth behind mares that were a year or two more developed than her, but seemed a bit lack-lustre.

A decision was made to spell her as she was losing condition, perhaps not enjoying the strict routine of a racing stable and looked like she was going through another growth spurt. Like a teenager developing at a different pace to her peers, she needed to be cut some slack.

Off she went to a paddock on the fertile grasslands of Matamata to be well-fed and attended to by Jon and Karin Hogan. The result after four months was a much more muscled horse.

In pre-training at Waiuku since late February with Moira and Kieran Murdoch, she is now happy in her work and environment – galloping down the beach in the morning, devouring her feed, spending the rest of the day outside in a paddock and coming into a stable each night. When her fitness is re-established, training will begin in earnest for her next race.

With her race form now reading 8X06X, she won’t be a favourite but that won’t stop several of her owners travelling hundreds of kilometres to watch her gallop 1.2km in just over a minute.

As one of those owners, I can say that owning a share in Tesia has led to some highly enjoyable shared interests with others. These include an interest in her welfare and in the dreams of her winning another race. For me, it has also been an introduction to a new world – horseracing – where I’m continually learning. I’ve even taken up riding lessons.

With others, I believe we’ll enjoy Tesia’s best once she has matured as a four year-old and, even if she doesn’t win another race, we’ll enjoy whatever she achieves and ensure when her racing days are over that she has a good life in the next stage of her career.


To view a video of Tesia’s first race, select 2 December 2015 in the race day calendar on this site, click on Avondale and then click on the Race 2 heading.

Representing your interests

Speech to the Western Ward, Meet the Candidates event


Porirua City Council Elections 2016


Tuesday 27 September 2016, 7pm-9pm

Titahi Bay Intermediate School


Kia ora tātou and Fakaalofa lahi atu

Thank you Renee and Sarah of the Titahi Bay Community Group for this opportunity to speak to you all this evening, particularly at a school that I attended in the early 1970s when my parents lived in Elsdon and we had returned from living in Niue.

My name is Chris Wilson and I’ve lived in Porirua City for 28 years now, the last four years in Titahi Bay.

My father was a public servant and my mother a teacher and it is with the same spirit of service that I have offered myself as a candidate for this ward. I believe candidates should be representing voters’ interests.

One of these interests I believe is to help minimise residential rate increases. This helps home-owners and, indirectly, those renting. I think we can further diversify our rating base by encouraging more high-value businesses to locate to Porirua. I know from large companies I’ve spoken to, like Webster Drilling, that Porirua City is ideal for their business with good transport connections, cheaper rentals and attractive recreational features for their staff. I think as a communications consultant myself that the council could mount a much stronger campaign to promote the city throughout New Zealand. If we can attract more high-value businesses, and further diversity our rating base, we can help take the pressure off residential rates.

My own view is that the previous council was overly prudent in its last 10-year plan. It focused on achieving a balanced budget in five years’ time, during a period of high investment where it was also finding, for example, $20 million-worth of link roads for Transmission Gully. I think the council can afford to come back to a balanced budget over a longer period, allowing it to invest in a few key things that are going to make a real difference along the way to the people of Porirua.

I believe one of these things should be adoption of a Living Wage by the council, and submissions this year on the annual plan supported that. A Living Wage not only helps council employees but has a flow-on effect to the wider community.

I’d also like to see council give a higher priority to upgrading stormwater systems so we see an end to flooding of homes and businesses in Porirua City.

I support the revitalisation of the city centre and would also support as part of this project providing shelter for pedestrians walking between Porirua Station and North City shopping centre.

I’d like to see better train and bus connections in the city, including to Elsdon and Titahi Bay. Can we get a Sunday bus service for Elsdon, for  example? Better public transport would particularly help those on low wages or those wanting to reduce their carbon footprint.

Similarly, I would advocate for council to improve walking and cycling infrastructure over time. We’ve invested in our roads – now it’s time for footpaths and cycleways so we invest in the health of our people and help reduce carbon in this era of global warming.

I think Porirua’s recreational attractions, beautiful landscape and cultural diversity are a real point of difference in the wider Wellington region. I think council should continue to invest in these, including keeping near the top of the agenda building a decent performing arts space. I think we should have another look at this as part of an enhanced Pataka complex because Pataka has become a real ‘go-to’ destination for visitors to Porirua.

I hope this gives you a taste of the interests I’d be representing on council, should you vote for me.  

Kia ora

[Authorised by Chris Wilson, Unit 23, 26 View Road, Titahi Bay]

Journeys of storytelling

Over five years ago, I travelled with a Wellington trade delegation to the Shanghai World Expo. I was sitting at a table with some representatives of the Shanghai districts and we swapped business cards, mine having been translated into Chinese.

It sparked a conversation between the locals who then wanted to know more about my business. I asked our translator why this had happened and he said it was because my trade name, All Told, had been translated as “achieving your full potential”.

As a result, an emotional connection had been made, rapport was built across the table – and cultures – and in the end I was able to help those I was dining with make a business connection with New Zealand.

I set up All Told over six years ago now. That process involved studying the principles of good storytelling – not to be confused with creating fiction – and how those principles could be applied to help New Zealand exporters. I shared the main principles here .

What I found over the last six years is that ‘storytelling’ became a buzzword applied to all types of subjects as diverse as leadership and annual report writing. Most recently, I have even heard a bishop of the Anglican church talk about the need for better storytelling to engage communities (not too revolutionary though, when you think about it). Work came in from a variety of businesses and government agencies.

Some of the people who use the word ‘storytelling’ do it without much understanding of the principles but it’s always good to hear the word being used because it demonstrates an appreciation of there being better possibilities to how they are presenting themselves at the moment.

Recently, however, I have been reflecting more about a deeper experience of storytelling – when you take part in someone else’s story and achieve your full potential in ways that go beyond earning a living for yourself to helping other people.

Taking part in another’s story

There are a couple of personal examples that spring to mind. One was cycling 800 kilometres in eight days in Thailand in January 2013 for Hands Across the Water. This is a charity that initially began helping orphans after the terrible 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and now helps hundreds of children at risk in Thailand.

To qualify for this ride you first have to raise A$10,000 for the charity. This requires you learning and telling the story of Hands and the children as part of your fundraising. You have to appeal to people’s hearts and minds. This storytelling effort for no financial gain – you also have to pay for your own travel expenses – is something you do for vulnerable children, who you meet at the end of your ride.

It was an experience that took me way out of my comfort zone and at the end I became part of the Hands story itself as I made my own ride. Motivated to make a second ride after meeting the children, I recorded a second story in 2014 in a blog that others read, and were then motivated to help the children too. I’m one of dozens of Hands riders who have done the same.

After those two rides, I became ‘wired’ to noticing other experiences of the same order. For several years I have been a member of the Kaimanawa Heritage Horses Association and last year sponsored a Kaimanawa foal for six months while she was prepared for rehoming. During that year a documentary of three sisters’ work to tame several Kaimanawas was screened in prime time TV. The Kaimanawas and the three Wilson sisters – who were already successful in showjumping circles – became household names.

In November last year, Kelly Wilson autographed her book For the Love of Horses for me as I journeyed with three busloads of horse lovers on a tour of the Volcanic Plateau to see the horses in the wild. For me it was a powerful reminder of how other people had gone out of their comfort zone to tell a story about those marginalised in this world – in this case wild horses with no perceived value except as dog food. In so doing, the Wilson sisters had begun living a much greater journey and inspiring others.

I think there is nothing like the satisfaction of engaging hearts and minds as we make a living, but nothing like the warmth of doing the same for a story that is much greater than us individually, and for which we receive no financial recompense – just the lasting pleasure of having taken part.

Presenting a cohesive face internationally

Here is my written submission to the Local Government Commission, which began hearing verbal submissions on its proposal for local government reform in the Wellington region this week:

"I think greater Wellington is too small a city to have the number of local councils we have. Within Porirua, I read of our council deliberating on usually relatively minor matters. We should concentrate democratic, coordinated and considered decision-making at a regional level – not at the area levels of the greater Wellington city. I think the proposed structure strikes an excellent balance. Its territory recognises the interconnectedness between the different areas too.

 "I also believe it will be easier for greater Wellington to present a cohesive face internationally and within New Zealand with this new structure. Having taken part in the Wellington mayoral trade delegation to Shanghai in 2010, I know that you introduce yourself from New Zealand first and  Wellington next. You leave it there, as most people living an overnight plane trip from New Zealand will need Wellington described to them. You don’t usually have an opportunity to talk about the local areas.

"There are though some distinct areas of difference within greater Wellington. For example, the population profile of Porirua. It seems to me, however, that this new structure will allow these differences to be represented.

"While I live in Titahi Bay, Porirua, most of my work comes from Wellington where I commute to most working days. This new structure will allow me an opportunity to contribute ideas to the wider city.

"I also like the idea to retain local economic development offices, which can have their fingers on the pulse.  (I drafted three economic development strategies for the Porirua City Council in 2012.) However, the offices need to stay coordinated too across the greater city.

"I’m not so sure about the retention of a couple of the other responsibilities at a local level. I suggest decisions on both local transport and events need to be made in coordination with the greater city so that synergies are maintained.

"The structure looks a good basis to begin, however. I support the intent behind it."

 Asked what I thought good local government would look like, I wrote:

 "Good local government will represent the people to continue to develop a city that is collegial, creative and aspirational. Good local government will continue to support reliable green transport (including better options for cyclists), high quality entertainment and recreation, and a culturally-diverse educated population where people feel they have a  role to play in the city’s future."

What do you think?

Bridging a trade divide

Many times in my career, the courage and acumen of New Zealand exporters has inspired me.

This happened most recently when I interviewed Bob Richards of Wine Technology International Ltd for a case study for the New Zealand Export Credit Office (NZECO).

Bob related how he appeared to be in a bind.

“It was a stressful situation,” he said. “I had to assess from all angles the risk associated with the deal. Without the deep level of trust I had in my partner, and the knowledge I had of the industry, I wouldn’t have proceeded.”

Ultimately a high level of confidence was required.

Similarly, when I interviewed another exporter, Neil Cullen of Wimpex Ltd about a deal he was working on, he said at the end a leap of faith was needed.

After 18 months of exponential growth, his company had landed a large export order but it needed a big investment in machinery and stock to realise it. How could Wimpex secure the order and maintain its cashflow? You can read how it achieved it here.

I have also written a case study on NZECO’s assistance for New Zealand Apple Ltd.

The brief has been to communicate in compelling, plain English what are complicated trade financial arrangements.

I hope the confidence, calculated risk-taking and hard work you will read of in these case studies will be an inspiration for you too in your ventures.



Proposing city initiatives

Last month, the Porirua City Council published the third economic development discussion document I had largely drafted for them. The three documents are strategies for global business, and the digital and services industries.

I was delighted to work with the council on this project, as I have lived in the wider city for 25 years in the seaside ‘villages’ of Plimmerton, Pukerua Bay, Whitby and now Titahi Bay – 20 minutes north of Wellington City.

I first met the council’s economic development manager, Chris Lipscombe, on my trip to Shanghai in 2010 with the Wellington mayoral delegation. It was great to sit around the table with him again, and his colleague Sakirin Sapeas, sip some Chinese tea and share their thinking and enthusiasm.

Each of the discussion documents needed to summarise international, New Zealand and Wellington regional trends in plain English for the city’s residents. They also had to be structured in an inviting way and propose half a dozen recommendations for the council to act on for the city.

The council didn’t have a lot of money to plough into these recommendations, although it is uniquely positioned to act as a catalyst for them. The work drew on my 20 years of experience in economic development and trade.

As well as assisting my local city, the project was an opportunity to discover some fascinating trends in the digital and services industries, and also in trade.

Did you know for example that ultra fast broadband applications could reduce missed school days in New Zealand by 25 million?

That the services industry accounted for 71 percent of New Zealand GDP in 2011?

And that there are 20 exporters in Porirua City with a turnover of over $10 million?

After a consultation phase, the documents will set out planned activities from next year and long-term goals.




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