Posts by Paul Smith

Bye Blossoms, G’day Geckos…

In South Auckland’s Ihumatao, a peaceful group of Maori activists continues the campaign it began in 2015. Their aim?  To stop Fletchers building 480 homes on what they believe is sacred land.

And a few miles away in the leafy suburb of Mt Albert early last month, middle-class Pakeha began their protest.

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Musical mayhem…

Bob strolls to the new coffee house not far from his home. The sun’s out, shadowed now and then by fluffy white clouds. He’s on his way to meet his old friend John and despite the weather he wears his faded raincoat – because, as he always  tells everyone in summer and winter,  you just never know with Auckland weather.

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Impeachment piffle…

The day  Congress decided to begin an impeachment inquiry into President  Donald Trump,  cable  news network MSNBC ran a  documentary  on  world-wide protests  by  millions of young people.  It featured the real life impacts of  climate change  almost everywhere in the world –  from  Paris where a  prolonged heatwave   had killed dozens,  to  Kabul, where determined  women marched (with  men guarding them),  and most pitifully, in little Guatemala.

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Rugby rules…

TVOne News led with it. At first glance The New Zealand Herald  looks like it did too. Last  month, the newspaper had just  two words on its front page: IT’S ON! Which we already knew so it hardly  qualified as news.

Both media  outlets were covering the same  story, the Rugby World Cup. Thing is the Herald wasn’t – well, not exactly. The front page,usually the pride of newspapers, was a wrap-around.  At its bottom was a line which proudly proclaimed that this was an ad for the chain store  Harvey Norman… The real Granny Herald  hid inside,  shamed perhaps by its commercial  needs.

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October miscellany

Our Kiwi friend loves her new home in Australia’s Sunshine Coast except that… one morning when she opened the doors to another glorious day, she saw  this on her back deck… a python. It basked on the desk railing, all 3-4 metres of it, and sent our friend scurrying back inside.

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‘NO JUNK MAIL!’

Apart from people, letterboxes are the most pedestrian sights on any street.  Without a  second glance we walk past  every one except our own, which is perhaps the way things should be.  But like everything else  post-digital, letter boxes are no longer the proud receptacles of mail – handwritten letters, invitations, birthday  cards and their  more sombre messages of condolence.

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Among his souvenirs.. new shoes

To say he had a beard would be an understatement- his whole face bristled with pepper and salt whiskers so thick they looked like an uncut hedge. In one of Auckland’s coldest winter spells, he wore a coat which had seen too many winters and was at least two sizes too big for him. And then there were his shoes, or perhaps one of  them. It  remained  staunchly unflappable while  the other had  clearly given up the pretense of being a shoe,  and its uppers flopped open with every step he took.

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Democracies in retreat…

Last year Freedom House, the much respected freedom watchdog issued one of its most compelling reports:  Democracy in Crisis. The global report warned that democracy faced its most serious crisis in decades.

So what was its call to arms this year?  Democracy in Retreat.

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