Category archive: NZ History

Kiwiosities: The redoubtable miner

Bill Fox won his nickname  through his exploits as a gold prospector in central Otago  and Westland during the 1860s.  Patrick William Fox learned mining in California and so  recognised rocks in the Arrow River as similar to rock forms  that bore gold in America.  In secret, he and three partners gathered a fortune in gold.  When they came to bank it at Dunstan (Clyde) others came to track them back  through the gorges of the Arrow.

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Not the Swinging Sixties

In the big picture New Zealand prospered in the 1960s. Materialism boomed, the economy flourished, brand-new houses dotted the suburbs and pop music and miniskirts and thumbing noses at conventions, gave spice to the day.

But on the edge of the lupins and the sand hills east of Christchurch, Cheryl Nicol’s childhood memory of 60s life, was one of make-do. In her memoir, A Parallel Universe, as the title suggests, a different world existed.  Life was hard. The picture, is grim.

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Speaking Out

After much hesitation, because I did not want to offend, I put off for at least a year writing a letter to the Otago Daily Times on an issue that had been offending me for some time.

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Milking Obama…

Crass materialism leapt brazenly out of the closet in New Zealand the 80s.   Money-making was elevated to high social status beyond public service. An American import, the dominance of the mighty dollar had already taken root in other countries. Business finally reached the pinnacle of prestige. Business books proliferated: business management, business leadership, how to succeed in business and, of course, business-speak.

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Poverty then – and now…

Sometimes the stuff that spills out of  old box files on their way to the bin, are not only worth  remembering, but keeping.

One  we found  was Windows on Poverty, a 1992 Report  from the New Zealand  Council of Christian Social Services on Poverty in New Zealand.  It was well on its way to pile in  one of those  purges we hoarders  are  told  we must do.  But  caught between  the  need to clear  out stuff – and hoard,   we once more hoarded. Why? So  we don’t forget, so we don’t allow it to happen  again. Not in Godzone.

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Pushing the envelope, outside the square…

I don’t know what other boomers expected from this election but here’s what one, not a million miles from this keyboard hopes for:

Hope.  In the arid landscape of ideology over the past 30 odd years it was as precious as water – but there’s an oasis ahead and room for hope. Just look at what’s happened abroad, as Martin Jacques wrote in the Guardian recently:

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But we won…didn’t we?

The results  are in.  The swearing-inners have sworn. The dust has settled – but the whining,the utter incomprehension of the bewildered born-to-rule shows no sign of abating. Judging by the first week after confirmation that a coalition of Labour, NZ First and the Greens would be the Government, the first of the moans is the least accurate, but makes a good slogan for the newly dispossessed and it goes – and will go –  like this:

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Taken by the State

The Newsroom article, Taken By The State, republished by Stuff along with two videos of distressed children being forcibly removed from home by police officers, is harrowing viewing.

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