"Some weeks things come at you either too high or too low" Read Jonny's column as published in the Northern Advocate Saturday 4th March 2017

‘Don’t lowball me, man!’  It’s a phrase I recently picked up with glee from the goofball character played by Owen Wilson in the middle age male slapstick movie ‘The Interns’.  Owen’s character comes out with a great idea, when his mate responds less than enthusiastically. The lowball accusation was Wilson’s comeback line.

This last weekend was exceptionally busy and I experienced both low and highballs.  It started with a Tiaho Board meeting on Friday, which was also the last day to submit a proposal to  a major disability related Fund.

The main priority of this funding was focussing on Maori Deaf. We put a great application in. I had gathered letters of support to back up our submission, but had failed to get one from main relevant  service provider in NZ. I got a phone call from the CEO who was at the Pacific Rim Regional Conference on Disability in Samoa.

Lowball:  “Hi Jonny, I got your email about your request for a letter of support”,

 “Yes”, I said expectantly.

“We don’t give out letters of support”.

“Oh”, I said.  “Cheers.”

Highball: We were hosting Gary and Mary that evening. Gary is the main man behind the Surfability days Tiaho Trust puts on every year. I wanted to Highball them with a great dinner because they do such a fantastic job of making a relatively high risk event - taking 30 disabled people surfing and coordinating vast numbers of enthusiastic volunteers - a stress free and totally enjoyable day.

I made paua and bacon pasta. It had cream, basil, parsley and lemon zest with penne and chilli croutons.  It was proclaimed delicious by those who indulged…

Lowball:  I forgot to include the person at the table who eats dairy and gluten free.  I was reminded rather resoundingly of the need to cater for Diversity. Ahem.

 Highball: That night Gary and I discussed the next day’s structure.

“You open the day with a karakia”, Gary suggested.  

“Okay”, I said.

Saturday morning at the Ruakaka Surf Club there was much excitement. There were people from NorthAble Lynkz, students from Blomfield School, young sports people from Parafed. There were Ruakaka Lifesavers, people from the Tutukaka Surf Company, surfies and caregivers. After a great deal of hushing I managed to get out three lines of my karakia, when I was stopped in my tracks by a highly enthusiastic Gary.


I told Jeni, the Chair of Tiaho Trust, I would be leaving Surfability early as Sally and I were off to Bruce Springsteen. I explained to Jeni that we had booked accessible seating and I was taking my mobility scooter.  Jeni explained the potential for lowballing once I got there:

 “I went to a concert once when I was using a wheelchair”, advised Jeni. “And they kept on saying to me, ‘Oh you’re so lucky aren’t you? You are going to have a great time’. So patronising really.”  Lowball.

At the venue, I have to admit, the bulk of the security were absolutely charming, helpful and respectful. Highball.

 One exception was a hyper-officious traffic marshall who managed to call our gracious Indian taxi driver ‘Buddy’ 16 times in one minute. “Where’s your permit Buddy.  Ok, down here, Buddy, and to your right, Buddy, BUDDY, RIGHT BUDDY, WHERE IS YOUR LEFT HAND, BUDDY? WHERE IS YOUR RIGHT HAND, BUDDY? THIS YOUR RIGHT HAND BUDDY, RIGHT BUDDY”.  

A rude Lowball.

Our seats were great. Highball. We sat next to a wheelchair user whose friend had generous calves with an equally big guitar tattoo on one, with the American flag and the word BOSS on it. She told us she rang to book accessible seating only last week.

“They said they had run out of accessible seating so I told them to make more available and they did, for $99”.

Lowball. We paid $250 each in September. 

Bruce was great, 3 hours non-stop impassioned crow’s feet. “You should learn how to grimace nicely like he does”, Sally said. Lowball.

Trying to get back to our motel was a horror story.

Sally’s jandals broke. I managed to flip my mobility scooter in a gravel patch. Lowball.

We finally got a cab after begging, crying and waiving money around. Highball.

Sunday, we meandered slowly back to Whangas, tired and dehydrated.

I missed a call from Lindy at the Advocate.

Her voice message: “If you ring me within the hour I can put your comments on a great series of photos John (Stone) shot of the surf day”.

I was two hours late. Lowball.

I wanted to thank the Tokerau Beachboys, Halberg Trust, Fresh Choice Ruakaka, Ruakaka Surf Life Saving Club, Primo, NZ Refining, all the volunteers and participants and harp on about the joy of surfing.

We came up over the top of Brynderwyn’s to see the view of magnificent Bream Bay and the approaches to Whangarei harbour, widely yawn a welcome home.  

We finished on a Highball.

Downloadable pdf below:

Available Downloads Type Size
Up High, Down Low - Jonny's latest column from 48 Hours, Northern Advocate pdf 236 KB

Published 10/03/2017

Back to top