Category archive: NZ History

That was then…

One of the joys of de-cluttering for people who didn’t want to do it in the first place, is that you sometimes find unexpected treasures. Things that weren’t that special but for some reason you just couldn’t throw away.

As we foraged through paper mountains in a spare room, we found a special 100th issue of Metro magazine, dated October 1989 and called In Our time – Auckland in the Eighties.

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The Nelson fires and climate change…

Note to  self: Must stop going to the welcoming sunshine of Nelson.   Not because I dislike the  place – that’s impossible. It’s because the visits usually coincide with calamities of one sort or another.

First  a giant squid washed  ashore at Farewell Spit in 2011,  then the next year, a mass stranding of  pilot whales in Golden Bay in February 2017. And finally,  last month’s  Nelson fires –  the worst in 60 years and the third worst  in New Zealand’s history).

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Kiwiosities: Cultural  (Colonial)  cringe

The Australian expression encapsulates a similar problem that used to trouble sensitive New ZealandersThe principle is that things done or  better achieved overseas are necessarily better than those done here. During the 20th century there was an argument for this, as the infant  Dominion had too small a population to sustain some artistic enterprises and there was sense in  seeking a larger market abroad for books and paintings.

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Perspectives on Waitangi Day…

Waitangi Day…

This year we asked  some of our contributors to write about what the day meant to them. Their views show that there’s cause for celebration, potential  for greater involvement and appreciation of the day’s significance.  First off, freelance writer  Chris Horan:

Like most New Zealanders I’ve never been to Waitangi and doubt I’ll ever get there. What I’ve seen on TV has very often been divisive. However, a few years ago I happened to be in Oamaru on Waitangi Day.The event was celebrated a few miles from town. We drove over a grass track through a field ready to harvest sun-flowers.

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Apartheid’s good old days….really?

It’s a risky business looking beneath the surface of the social media midden, but hard to resist when the subject is close to your heart. I lived and worked in South Africa in 1963-64, where the reality of apartheid became a shocking formative experience for me. I’ve since keenly followed the politics of author Alan Paton’s ‘Cry The Beloved Country’, his lament for the arrival of a  rigidly segregated  country.

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Last year’s political performances…

This is my one-eyed look at last year’s political performances. I should have known better than to expect more than half-million-dollar ‘affordable’ houses from a Labour government. And the big policy announcement? Six hundred more teacher’s aides for special needs children. Surely that’s merely an admission that the ideological straight-jacket of inclusion has never suited all children.

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When Ajax visits town

The recent morning book launch of Ajax the Kea Dog was crowded out, so a second session followed for fans to meet this celebrity dog and his young Department of Conservation mate.

Sam Neill narrated the BBC documentary featuring Ajax and Corey Mosen in 2016.

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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’.

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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.

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