One way to blank out the world is to de-clutter, and downstairs, 25 years of papers awaited the shredder.  Up first, old letters,  some humbling, others hateful. I’d written a column for the Listener which upset those who, to put it mildly, disliked Jews - and the  confluence of  dog-eared hate mail along with the slaughter in  a Pittsburgh synagogue  was disturbing. Worse was to come.  The Otago Daily Times reported  a racist  taunt  aimed at  a Southland Philipino family visiting  Wellington.  A woman greeted them by saying:  ‘This country is for white people only…"  So 1950s, but then racism, like rust, never sleeps.

 

A sleepy lagoon, a tropical moon…

Absent-mindedly listening to ‘Radio NZ National’ some years ago, my attention was suddenly focused on the words of an elderly caller.

She was reminiscing with then afternoon host, Jim Mora, about her favourite music. Apparently, she’d grown-up in the King Country milling settlement, Rangataua, just south of Ohakune.

The woman remembered fondly a band that used to play the occasional Saturday night in the local hall in the late 30s. Two things stuck in her memory – the small woman who played the piano, and the large Maori man who played the drums. Apparently, the woman had a ‘great sense of rhythm’.

Continue reading

Another day in Auckland…

Another day in Auckland and another tree falls. No, not just one but three – all native Puriri.

“Where will the wood pigeons go now?” an anguished neighbour asks as the chain saws roar and a wood chipper finishes the job, grinding once proud trees into garden fill.

Continue reading

Shattered….

‘Christel is at shattering point’ the back-cover blurb says of Kirsten Warner’s The Sound of Breaking Glass. Shattering.

But I’m still feeling shattered.  And I’m already three days out from finishing the novel.

There’s a lot going on in this book.

Continue reading

Partisanship on the rise…

Decades after the damage was done, it has finally become acceptable for economists to admit that neo-liberal economics is a politically manipulated means of ensuring that the rich and powerful become more rich and powerful. But with that madness in decline, another has sprung up.

This one is harder to define,  but  people are angry. Intolerance, and partisanship are on the rise. Hard-won laws of justice are threatened. I believe the New Zealand media’s response to US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, is our small contribution to a growing hysteria.

Continue reading

Godzone – the way we want it?

 Media interests, particularly television, give us, or most of us, exactly what we want; the gossipy, exciting, human interest side of politics that requires no thinking. So much so that we tend to forget that Parliament exists to debate and determine the principles and policies that serve the public interest.

So I was pleased and pleasantly surprised when an editorial in the Otago Daily Times raised questions about policy: “What do we want our public health system to look like? Do we want it to be world class and free? Or a safety net with no-frills care for those unable to afford health insurance?” The answer to this question may not be as predictable as we think.

Continue reading

Spring and Creativity

Outside there’s a colourful riot of flowers cherry and pink blossoms and  the joyful Springtime chorus of  our birds.   Out there drunk and disorderly,  cheeky Tuis dangle from Kowhais sucking the nectar   from the trees’  golden flowers.

I do love this long awaited time of the year especially this year when  dreary winter  lingered too  long.

Continue reading

Max’s Dogs – four legs good…

Dog Jacket‘The more I see of men, the more I love dogs’

This worthy philosophy has been attributed to many different people, depending on  which book of  quotations  you pick up. Its origins appear to be French. In the late 1600s the Marquise de Rabutin-Chantal, better known as Madame de Sevigne, wrote in a letter to her daughter: plus je connais les hommes, plus j’aime les chiens – the more I know of men, the more I love dogs.

Continue reading

Kiwiosities: Our National Parks

The gift of the summits of Mt Tongariro to the nation by Te Heu Heu Tukino IV in 1887, initiated New Zealand’s magnificent series of national parks. A network of parks and reserves now protects around 33% of New Zealand’s land area.

Continue reading