Waitangi weekend again – and a man was close to tears. Nothing unusual there. It’s what the place does to some. What was different this year was that the man was Pakeha – no let’s pass over that pejorative for another description: he was white.
Well, it was a long time coming but John Key finally put a smile on my face. Okay, I’m prejudiced but I still think he was by far New Zealand’s most mediocre leader. So why was he so popular? Was he popular? Television news certainly thought so; the PMs smiling face was on the screen daily whether the events he attended were newsworthy or not. Television, and the media generally, loved him.
We bought our diaries the other day. (I know – riveting – but stay with me!) The ‘other day’ was unfashionably late, nearing the end of the first week of the New Year. Just a few days earlier, crowds all over the world had gathered to celebrate the arrival of 2017. Like most of us they made their resolutions – and like most of us, probably forgot them the next day.
Old friends should never be treated like this: interned in sunless corners, jammed upright until their spines crumble; bandaged, but with half their pages inexplicably missing.My books were freed recently by the arrival of our exuberant Westie wallpaperer and so ended up in piles all over the house. But in them we found reunions everywhere.
We are in the great hall of Auckland Grammar, tip-toeing up the stairs to the balcony overlooking the stage and the ground floor. In the belly of the domed hall, some 2,000 students wriggle in tightly organised rows, their collective chatter sounding like some human beehive.
Vegan and vegetarian options have become noticeable in shops and restaurants in the last few years. This is a trend in most western nations. (Vegans don’t eat any meat products. Vegetarians may eat dairy products). The Telegraph reports that in the last ten years the number of vegans in the UK rose by 360%.
The other day some friends talked about Auckland’s homeless and how awful the conditions must be sleeping rough. Auckland’s Spring was having an identity crisis, reverting to the chills and rain of Winter, dallying briefly with its sunnier self – then plunging into yet another sodden bout of seasonal recidivism. So these comfortably housed friends were right – how ghastly it must be to live day after day on the streets or crammed in the hothouses of cars at night.
How did we get to this point at which homelessness is so overwhelming, but at the same time beginning to slip down the news agenda? How could it be fixed they asked? They shook their heads sadly, but history has some answers…