Time of no holds baa-ed fun rolls round

Every rock pool has its own community of barnacles, small fish, shellfish, seaweed and algae. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Every rock pool has its own community of barnacles, small fish, shellfish, seaweed and algae. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Every December we hold our AbacusBio annual golf tournament, ‘‘Abigba’’, a highly contested event where colourful costumes are encouraged and non-golfers are plentiful.

The actual winning of the event is secondary to the giving out of the individual award, the ‘‘Golden Balls’’ trophy — a rather unusual looking trophy of two golf balls mounted in a flesh-coloured stocking, hanging precariously from a wooden frame. The initiator of the Abigba tournament, Peter Amer, selects the winner of the trophy every year and there is no transparency or discernible methods to his selection. I am pleased to say I won the award some years ago. No-one has won it twice —perhaps this is my year to break records and have my name engraved for perpetuity a second time.

The Golden Balls trophy is awarded at our Christmas function, to be held this weekend.

The winner of the award is not to be applauded in the traditional sense for their victory —no clapping or cheering is allowed. Instead the winner walks to the podium to the loud ‘‘baaing’’ (as in a sheep noise) by the rest of the company — hence the name Abigba.

Dr Anna Campbell
Dr Anna Campbell
The giving of the Golden Balls trophy is a joyous time — the look on newbies’ and interns’ faces as the baaaaaa warbles from the back of the room is a sight to behold. It seems to me that traditions, meaningful or otherwise, are often what pulls us together and as we hurtle towards Christmas they come out in force.

Last week I attended my first New Zealand Cricket Board meeting in Auckland (what a privilege). As I returned to Dunedin and our golfing shenanigans and then spent my Saturday morning watching cricket at Sunnyvale, supping a wonderful latte from the Village Green Cafe (what a great asset that community centre is) and then spent Sunday in full collapse mode, struggling to leave the couch — I thought to myself how lucky we are to live in our community at the bottom of the world —Otago, New Zealand.

When I studied biology at school, I spent time examining rock pools, exploring the ecosystem at a small and detailed level. Every rock pool had its own community of barnacles, small fish, shellfish, seaweed and algae. From rock pool to rock pool the temperature changes and at any time of day the tide shifts the community dynamics. The rock pools are remarkably resilient given the daily and seasonal changes they face, but occasionally tidal forces or unusual climate events alter their ecosystem for good. Species which have long thrived start to struggle, new species enter and change the dynamics.

There has been a lot written about 2020 being a year of unprecedented challenges and I suspect the ongoing ripples are still likely to knock a few of us off our various rocks. In my role at AbacusBio, I have always loved working at a national and international levels.

It is an honour to learn from other cultures and serve in the improvement of food and fibre production wherever I go, but I am conscious that my ability to do that is because of the incredibly supportive, resilient environment —or rock pool — I spring from.

As a community we work together to make many decisions, whether that be at council, business, school or family levels. Our challenges are to act with a nod to the future while also looking after those around us who are swimming against the tide. Our challenges are to make decisions without vested interests while still looking after our own and our family’s health.

As I wandered around the cricket pitches on Saturday, watching my daughter’s all-girls cricket team in a magnificent battle against a local boys’ team, chatting with parents and making sure my dogs didn’t go too nuts chasing the low-flying birds — I thought, what better place to be than here in Otepoti/Dunedin to prosper with the challenges ahead. 

Our little rock pool is a special place to be —a big baaaaaaaaaaa to you all!

- Anna Campbell is managing director of AbacusBio Ltd, a Dunedin-based agri-technology company.

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