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.
Category archive: NZ History
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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: