Category archive: NZ History

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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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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‘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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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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Beached whales – and bravery…

First, an early morning recollection from the day before: a friend describing a short story which captured the pitiful cries of whale calves separated from their beached mothers.

Then this: on a country road where the occasional car usually dawdled, most now zipped along at highway speeds.

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Charlotte Bronte said it long ago

With hope borne of nothing more than a fresh year, I dream on: That we all woke up to the inequity that has passed for national values for too many years. The reckless obsession with the glittering lights of our economy, dairying and tourism, illustrate how self-interest has overtaken public interest as a legitimate goal. I couldn’t resist showing, with minor deletions, Charlotte Bronte’s view of this clash of values in Shirley, published in 1849:

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Another year, another Waitangi

Waitangi weekend again – and a man was close to tears.  Nothing unusual there.  It’s what the place does to  some.   What was different this year was that the man was Pakeha – no let’s  pass over  that pejorative for another description: he was white.

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