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Guest writer for NZ Weekend Gardener

Mike is reguarly invited to write for NZ weekend gardener.  His organic garden knowledge, whimsy and practical skills add to the magazines offering with a smattering of off the wall humour to boot.   In this pic he's assembling a wine bottle gate - a pioneer alternative to metal hinges.

Taranaki's fringe garden festival

It is almost a garden voyeur's paradise again with the Taranaki Fringe Garden Festival back for the sixth year.

Organiser Michael Self reckons it is the biggest yet, with 90 gardens and places of interest on the agenda.

"Last year we had between 45,000 and 49,000 visitors and we are hoping to build on that this year," Mr Self said at the event's launch.

More than half of the guests come from outside the region. "We still have plenty from Taranaki but we get visitors from all over the world."


Call for Manaia berm orchard

A green-thumbed South Taranaki councillor has a fruity idea for Manaia's road berms.

Mike Self wants to turn the town's expansive grass verges into mini orchards and create a unique tourist attraction.

He said its 13 streets have about 36 hectares of unused "farm land" in front of them, which could be turned into a community-driven plantation.

"We need to think outside the square. Instead of having mowed roadside berms we need to look at other options," he said.

"Why not look at establishing an orchard? There's enough area on the front of most sections to put about 10 trees, without mucking up car parking, which could give a nice yield."


Call to pull arts funding

Another north-south stoush is brewing in Taranaki this time over arts funding.

Barely a week after the battle of the bridges whimpered to a no-result, South Taranaki councillor Michael Self says his district should pull its funding from Taranaki's major arts trust because its focus is all about New Plymouth.

The comments have been dismissed as "ignorant" and "naive" by Taranaki Arts Festival Trust chief executive Suzanne Porter, while mayor Ross Dunlop believes his council's money is still well spent.


Wizard in waiting for Whangamomona throne

Whangamomona is proud to be its own kingdom and now a wizard wants the throne.

Mike Self believes time spent in the hamlet and his years as "Woodiwifff" the wizard of Manaia, has given him the diplomatic skills to bring Whangamomona to new heights.

He threw his purple bowler hat into the ring to offer the far-eastern Taranaki town a fresh perspective when it decides on its president at the annual Republic Day on Saturday.

"I'll bring that touch of magic powered by the forces of good because the forces of evil are assembling in Wellington."


Vote-rigging part of the fun of Republic Day

Possum-skinning, whip-cracking, sheep-racing and a healthy dose of presidential race-fixing were all part of the entertainment for townies and country folk who ventured to Whangamomona on Saturday for Republic Day.

Although the target of 5000 wasn't reached due to a shortage of trains, those who braved the stomach-churning bends of the Forgotten World Highway 43 were rewarded for their efforts.

Endless action and no sign of the sweltering heat that turned the tar road into a jandal-trapping goo two years ago ensured the biennial event went off without a hitch.

The lack of steam-powered transport did nothing to stop Goy and Alison Yelavich from making the long journey from Auckland.

Tale of lottery and loyalty wins hearts and a prize

Manaia's "Lotto Man" Michael Self admitted to having a "wee tear in the eye" as he watched the annual Fair Go Ad Awards last week.

The heavily-bearded and shaggy-haired Mr Self appears in a series of NZ Lotteries commercials featuring Wilson the loyal fox terrier, and now finds himself stopped in the street by fans of the ads.

The original 2 1/2-minute epic received 60 per cent of the audience vote in the annual Fair Go awards.

Mr Self said he was rapt at the recognition and the way viewers found the story-telling in the commercial so touching.

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