Category archive: Nostalgia

Kiwiosities – Niagara’s gold

A sensational sea disaster in 1940 was then followed by a spectacular attempt to recover a cargo of gold, worth more than 2.5 million pounds. The Niagara was nearly 50 kilometres off Whangarei Heads, bound from Auckland for Vancouver when she struck a German mine on June 19, 1940.

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Once upon a time in New Zealand…

I remember when the government helped young people to move up in the world. It was a time when all mothers got the Family Benefit, which could be turned into a deposit (capitalised) on a house with an affordable State Advances mortgage. I also remember when inexpensive night school classes for school certificate and university entrance were common. And also affordable university evening extension courses leading to professional qualifications. Labour and National governments abandoned the leg-up philosophy as well as collective responsibility. Union protection was replaced with individual contracts and, conveniently, a low wage economy.

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Last stop for prickles…

He’d been lying overnight in the debris of  leaves and kindling from seasons past. Hiding like the rest of us from July’s  polar blast we thought. He’d buried his nose in the pillow of leaves and created one hell of a mess – sticks and leaves and dirt scattered everywhere on the path.  We let him slumber for the weather remained bleak and lots of people were doing much the same in rather more cozy  beds.

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There is nothing like a Knight…

I’ve been thinking about John Key for some time. John who? Yes, exactly. The New Zealand electorate’s love affair with John Key, which is still far beyond my understanding, seems to have ceased the moment he gave up being prime minister. It is as if he was swallowed by the hole of regretful memories. Does anyone remember why they loved him? Or is it a case of being embarrassed by a teenage romance best forgotten? Forgotten until recently, that is, when he popped up with a knighthood.

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The PM Confessionals

 I watched Radio New Zealand’s Guyon Espiner’s interviews of past prime ministers on the computer to check out the body language as well as the words. I took notes of the  show (The Ninth Floor),  but with my prejudices it’s just as well I didn’t try journalism as a career. So let me state from the outset  that Jenny Shipley is far and away my least favourite PM. She reminds me even now of a bossy head girl who’s never had a moment’s self doubt.

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The Fence

From the archives

She turned 90 last week, the years growing while she shrinks.

She welcomed us from behind the bars of the grill on her back door, her smile – one part surprise and nine parts scepticism. It said: You remembered – finally.

Her leg, which always gave her trouble, is swollen and bandaged, but in every other way, neither she nor the house she’s lived in for 50 years has changed. The same silvery hair, sensible shoes, and curiosity about little things. The same spiritedness too – and the same hurt, though initially it doesn’t surface.

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‘Boarding School Syndrome’

Boarding school  syndrome’ was the title of an insightful article from the UK ‘Guardian’, sent to me by my London-based sister last year. It got me thinking, or more accurately remembering things I’ve tried to erase from my memory.

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To Waiheke with love

Bumped into an old friend the other day. Goes by the name of Waiheke. Used to know the place well when the S.S. Baroona chugged into the channel and about an hour later, discharged us on to Matiatia’s humble wharf.

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Going off the rails…

Were we supposed to go WOW!  when the Government announced it  would  build a rail  link to Auckland  airport by… 2030? Maybe 2050?

TV3 news (sorry,  Newshub)  carried the story  last month.   And it  featured something  so familiar  that it  felt  like déjà vu,  yet there it was on  our TV screens.  

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Memory Road…

There’s dark green bush all around us; I can see it through the windscreen. I’m sitting between Mum and Dad in the Land Rover and I’m frightened. That’s my first memory and, for a long time, I didn’t know its origin. Was it a ‘false’ memory from the family’s stories of our baby days we loved to hear?

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