Category archive: Viewpoint

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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Suicide and older men – Part two

Our understanding of suicide is at best fragmentary. It’s complicated by our attitudes, religious beliefs, whether the deceased was a close friend or family member. The most acceptable position to settle on when someone close has committed suicide is to say,   ‘the balance of his mind was disturbed’. It offers more satisfaction than living with a lifelong unresolved quest for answers. Mental disturbance has the advantage of absolving both the subject and survivors of moral examination and uncertainty. Nevertheless, a degree of uncertainty is inevitable.

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Trees for our health…

It’s not easy being green…  and especially not in Auckland. The most common  suburban sounds here for the past five years has been the angry buzz of chainsaws. To hear them is bad enough because you know that another beautiful tree is about to  fall because, well it’s in the way of sunlight/developers/over-sized houses.  One third  of the city’s residential trees have been felled in the past five years according to the Tree Council.

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No Goodbyes (Part One)

(Part One)

Such are the ripples of lifelong hurt, it is unwise to start a conversation about suicide with people you don’t know very well. Nevertheless, the subject is bursting to be talked about.

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Compassion over competition?

It’s over… sort of. Yet something seems missing, something so boring it wouldn’t make it to the debates about the pressing issues of homeless, inequality and the other depressing social indicators.

It’s not so much a policy as a theory which has guided this and other Government’s policy since the Reagan-Thatcher years. A time so brainless it ran on the empty slogan of ‘there is no alternative’.

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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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Hooked on the Hokianga

I could write a whole catalogue of clichés to describe the beauty of Omapere and the impact it has had on my life. But, let’s just start with a couple – it’s a beautiful jewel on the Hokianga Harbour, which has totally taken my heart.

“Oma-where, Oma-what. Where the hell is this Omapere?” I remember saying.

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Turning a blind eye to torment

I can’t remember when I wrote the following paragraph about using containers in prisons to mop up overcrowding:

“My response to the use of containers to imprison convicted criminals was to ask myself the following questions: Are the containers secure? Will they mop up overcrowding? By prison standards of accommodation, are these containers humane? The answer is yes in all cases.”

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Time for public television?

“If I am in the privileged  position of being  Prime Minister, my expectation is that politics will be based around ideas and policy” –  Labour  leader Jacinda Ardern, on  Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report.

What’s this?  Ideas  defrosted  from the ice of  ideology? Policy untrammelled  by The Market, that  blinker on  political   imaginings.

So here’s an idea:

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Once upon a time in New Zealand…

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.

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