Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Gardens in the Central City

Earlier this month (7th November, 2013) was the first time I have had the opportunity to walk through the Central City of Christchurch since before the earthquakes began, more than 3 years ago. Half the time I kept becoming mystified as to where I was; you don't realise how much you take buildings as land marks for granted until most of them are no longer there and there were surely more gaps now than there were buildings. But people have been filling some of those gaps with art and gardens and we have beauty amongst desolation.  


A garden featuring NZ flax (botanical name Phornium) is on the corner of Gloucester and Colombo Streets, Central City. Note the cranes and the scaffolded building in background. The building is the Theatre Royal which has received tremendous support from Hobbit star, Sir Ian McKellan; British actor, Miriam Margolies; New Zealand group, Flight of the Conchords; and actor and writer Richard O'Brien. This support has now enabled restoration work to begin. 


This garden whare (whare is house in te reo Māori) is sited in front of the STILLbroken Anglican Christchurch Cathedral in the Square. Personally I'd keep this wee whare and knock down that pakaru cathedral, a colonial copy of  English Gothic Revivalist tradition (which is in itself a copy from an earlier time - I mean, how totally FAKE can you get - but there is no accounting for taste and folk I suppose.

Close up of the Garden Whare roof. This picture has become my current desktop picture. 


A community garden built from pallets and other recycled and found objects where once there would have been large buildings. This garden can be found along High Street, between Manchester and Madras Streets, and you can see Manchester Street in the background.

More than three years later and we still have broken buildings (this one in High Street) partly because there are just so many to demolish and partly because of the insurance industry swinging the lead. If this one hangs around much longer it will become a garden itself. Nature is doing good work here.

 A garden streetscape also created from recycled and found objects. Flowering cabbage tree (cordyline australis or Ti Kouka in te reo Māori) and more broken buildings in background and I think I see a sliver of a view of the Controversial Anglican Cardboard Cathedral built to sustain parishoners and tourists alike, until the rows over the old one are finally resolved and a new "proper" Anglican Cathedral is built. Or the old one is restored. Or a replica of that old colonial Gothic Revival is built. Or something. 


Not really a garden. This is an installation by artist Peter Majendie called Reflections of Lost Lives, Livelihoods and Living in the Neighbourhood. The 185 individual white chairs commemorate the 185 lives lost on the 22nd of February, 2011. Originally this installation first placed in February 2012 was planned to stand for only a week but people want it to remain. It is a fitting memorial I think.   

Friday, 15 November 2013

Me Hokona Atu Ngā Rawa O Aotearoa

My friends and I protesting the sale of New Zealand assets

For the last two years I have been attending Te Wananga o Aotearoa in order to finally learn to speak te reo Māori fluently. At the end of this second year we must take part in a debate. This is my "speech", first in te reo Māori and then below in te reo Pakeha (English). My thanks to our tutor Arama Cooper for such fine teaching this year, my team mates, Sandra and Kylie, and to Benni in America for her help with the final hurdle. Kia ora koutou. 


Tēnā koutou katoa.   Tēnā koutou ki te rōpu ātete.

Kua whakanui mātau mō tōu koutou whakaaro ātete, engari, kei te hē tāu kōrero! Me kī tino he kaingākau atu ahau ki te whaikōrero, heoi anō, kāore koe e puta he tautohenga ngoto!

Nō reira, ki te hokona atu te kawanatanga i ngā rawa o Aotearoa, ka aha tātou katoa? Ka taea e au te whakaara ngā tohenga nei, notemea, ka umere nui ahau, a, he kōrero nui tāku. 

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini. Ka rangahau whānui mātou katoa i te kaupapa nei.

Tuatahi, me titiro tātou i ō tātou tāhuhu kōrero. Kei te mohio tātou katoa i ngā whenua raupatu i ngā wai o mua. Kei te mohio tātou, roa kau iho i hainatanga te tangata i te Tiriti o Waitangi, i tahae ngā taonga e te Paremata o Pakeha Koroniara i timata, nei. Me ako tātou katoa i te matakana o te Paremata, a, ngā kowaruwarutanga o ō ratou ture, ēwhea he huanga ano mā rātou, a, me o rātou hoa pukoru hōhonu hoki. Kua roa te wā e tātari ana i ngā ngau Māori kia mahia ki a rātou. Ki te hokona atu e te kawanatanga i ngā rawa o Aotearoa, me pēhea ngā hēnga e i whakatika ai?

Nō reira, ā te wā, kua whakatinanatia ngā hinonga e te kawanatanga, anei e whai ake ana, he  huarahi, he arahanga, he rerewei, he hungarau whakawhitiwhiti whakaaro, he hiko, arā noa atu hokiMā ēnei hinonga hou kua tipu ngā mahi mō tātou tīpuna. He nui te tāke mā rātou hei utu mō ngā hinonga hōu. He tangata mate ētahi, he tangata whara ētahi. I whaia ngā rawa hou e ngā tangata katoa o Aotearoa, hei paingā mō te marea!
Kei te whai tātou ngā rawa! Ko koutou, ko au, ko tātou katoa!

Engari, i roto i ngā tau waru tekau, i hokona atu te kawanatanga ngā rawa. I kī ratou, he tino pai te tūmataiti i ngā rawa! I kī a ratou, kāore anō ngā mahi kia ngaro! I kī a rātou, he ngā wai te utu! Harahara aitu, harahara ā tai! I piki ake koremahi! I piki ake utu! I piki ake hāhoretanga! I piki ake whakamomori!

No reira, kei te pirangi ahau i te kōrero i te Poutāpeta o Aotearoa. Ki te pakeke koutou katoa i pēnā ahau, ka mahara koutou katoa te Poutāpeta o Aotearoa (NZ Post Office). He Kawanatanga Tari. He whaia marea. He toritori te Poutāpeta o Aotearoa. I whakahaere te tari i te hungarau whakawhitiwhiti whakaaro, he waea, he mēra ngata, a, i whakahaere te pēke i te whakahaere ratonga, he penihana kohi, he rēhita whānautanga, he mārenatanga, he matenga, he waka whenua, a, i hari te pouka whakaata me te ika raihana moni rēhita; me he pōti whakauru! 

I te tau kotahi mano e iwa rau, e waru tekau mā whitu, i toritori te Poutāpeta o Aotearoa i te pakihi toru, me i rangatōpū rātou. Ko Telecom, Ko Poutāpeta Aotearoa, Ko Peke Poutāpeta. I whakahaere ratou i State Owned Enterprises (SOE), a, i whakahaere ratou i te pakihi tauhokohoko, a, i hanga rātou ngā hua nui. I te tau kotahi mano e iwa rau, e iwa tekau, I hokona rāwāhi Telecom e te kawanatanga, ki ngā kamupene e rua Amerika mō e whā piriona, e rua tekau mā rima miriona tāra. A muri i tera, ka rere rāwāhi ngā hua nui. I whakaaro a Telstra Clear e wha rau miriona tāra te moni whiwhi i ngaro ki tangata kē ia tau. Kāore a Telecom i hiahia ki te whakawhanake pakiaka mō te ipurangi, a, i whakapae a Telecom i nanati meake nei e te Kaipakihi Ā Iwi Tirohanga Hou niupepa. Inaianei, kua hīrere tonu tātou. Kua hokona ā tātou take kawanatanga o tēnei wa i utu a Chorus ki te hanga i te pakiaka rā, he pīrangi nō tātou.

Mea rawa ake, i hoko anō hoki ā tatou rawa Tereina Aotearoa, a, Rererangi Aotearoa hoki. I whakahē te rangatira paraiweti. He whakatauira noa iho. Engari! Pupuritia ōku hoiho! Kātahi anō te Kawanatanga ka pānui ka hoko ia ngā wāhi nā anō. Kua whakaingoa ngā pāti ātete i hoko ngā wāhi nā me whakatoatoa te kawanatanga! Ae. Nō reira, he whakatauira anō. He rārangi pūmau.

No reira, he aha tutuki te paraiweti? 

Kua tutuki te paraiweti i ngā kamupene tāwāhi whairawa, a, he tino ruarua ngā tangata whairawa nei. Ko Graeme Hart he whakatauira. I hokona ia i te Tari Kaita Kāwanatanga tino ngāwari. He whai taonga i te rawa i te ao nei. Heoi anō, Ināianei, i te tau nei, kei te kānataraka atu ngā Kura Hautaka, i te mea ai, he hua kore ēnei mea. He ngaro tikanga ā iwi.

He aha kē atu tutuki?

I roto i ngā tau kotahi mano, iwa rau, iwa tekau, i paraiweti ētahi kamupene hiko i pōhēhē ki te utu maha, a, ki raro i te moni whakaangao, i pōhēhē moana tuihera kau, a, he hiko panga pouri i a Tamaki Makaurau.

Ināianei, me ariari tonu ki a tātou katoa, tē rangatiratanga paraiweti rā pōhēhē ngā rawa kōhuhu, a, kōre moni whakaangao. 

Kua kī ahau, “E  hia motunga o te weka i te māhanga!”

I te rua tekau tau tērā, he i ngā ture ā taiao mārō. Inaianei, kei te haina te kawanatanga tēnei wā i roto i ngā kirimini mārō ahakoa, pēnā te TPPA. Kua tua atu te TPPA i te aweawe te ao o whakahekenga utu here, me, te hokohoko tokonga, nei. Kua whakahei ia hiko tahi ki ngā kaporeihana, a, kua takahe i runga ngā pānga kaiwhakapau, ngā pānga kaimahi, me ngā pānga taiao, ahakoa, kua roroku te hiko o te tau tangata o ngā iwi o te ao i te whawhai ngā kaporeihana rā. 

Kua kī ahau ki a koutou katoa, “Kāore hokona atu e ngā rawa o Aotearoa! Kāore hokona atu e meake nei o ō tātou tamariki, me ō tātou mokopuna! Kāore hokona atu e ō tātou mana motuhake! Kāore hokona atu e ō tātou rangatiratanga!"

Kia ora koutou mō te mea angitu i te kōrero ki pēnā kaupapa kōrero whakahirahira, a, kia ora mō pēnā kaiwhakarongo pai.

Greetings to you all. Greetings to the opposing team. We have respect for your opposing view but what you are saying is wrong! I must say, I really enjoyed your speech, however, you have not produced a telling argument!

So, if the government sells away the assets of Aotearoa, what will happen to us all? I have the ability to present this subject because I have a big voice and I have plenty to say! But my strength is not mine alone, it comes from the collective group. We have all researched this subject extensively.

Firstly, we should look at our history. We all know about the land confiscations in the past. We all know it wasn’t long after people signed the Treaty of Waitangi, the stealing of taonga by the Colonial Pakeha Parliament began. We should all have learned to be wary of Parliament and the intricacies of their laws which benefit themselves and their wealthy mates. Māori have waited a long time for the wrongs that were done to them to be put right. If the government sells away our the assets of Aotearoa, how will those wrongs be made right?

So, in due course, subsequent governments implemented infrastructure schemes (projects), such as roads, bridges, rail, communications technology, electrical supply and more. These new projects created jobs  for our tipuna. They were also taxed heavily to pay for this new infrastructureMany people who worked on these projects were killed or maimed. The new assets were owned by all the people of New Zealand for the common good. We own the assets! You, me, all of us!

But, in the eighties, the  government sold some of our assets. They said, privatising would make the assets more efficient! They said, no jobs would be lost! They said, prices would be cheaper! It was a disaster! Unemployment rose! Prices rose! Poverty rose! Suicide rose!

So I want to speak about the New Zealand Post Office.

If you were old like me, you would remember the NZ Post Office. It was a Government Department. It was publicly owned. The NZ Post Office was very busy. It controlled communications technology, the phone, the snail mail; and it ran banking; and it controlled services, collecting pensions, registering births, marriages, cars, and collecting television and fishing license fees; and enrolled people to vote. 

In the year, nineteen eighty-seven,  the New Zealand Post office was split into 3 businesses and corporatised. The businesses were Telecom, NZ Post and Post Bank. They were operated as State Owned Enterprises (SOE) and expected to operate like commercial businesses, and to make profits. In the year nineteen ninety, Telecom was sold overseas by the government, to two American companies for NZ$4.25billion. After that, all the massive profits flew overseas. Telstra Clear estimated the loss of income to Aotearoa to be some 400 million per year.

Telecom did not develop the infrastructure needed for the internet, and the National Business Review paper accused Telecom of strangling New Zealand’s advancement. Now we are in catch-up mode. The current government is spending our taxes to pay Chorus to lay that infrastructure we so badly need.

The next thing, we were forced to buy back NZ Rail and Air New Zealand. The private owners had run them to the ground. But! Hold your horses! The government has just announced that it intends to reduce its shareholding in Air New Zealand again! Opposition parties have labelled the newest share float as arrogant! Yes. So these are just some examples. There are more. The list feels endless.

So, what has privatisation achieved? Privatisation has achieved riches for some overseas companies and a very few people here. One such example is Graeme Hart. He bought Government Print at a bargain basement price. Now he is wealthy in the goods of this world. However, this year, School Journals are being contracted out because they are seen as profitless. Another kiwi icon lost.

So, what else has been achieved?

In the 1990s the privatisation of some electricity companies led to rapid price increases and under-investment which resulted in low lake levels and electricity blackouts in Auckland. 

It is now very clear to us all, that private ownership leads to asset stripping and little investment.

I say, “once bitten, twice shy!”

In the last twenty years, international law has become more rigid. Now, our current government is signing us into even tighter agreements like the TPPA. The TPPA reaches far beyond the realm of tariff reduction and trade promotion. It grants unprecedented power to corporations and infringes upon consumer, labour and environmental interests, while weakening the power of nation states to oppose the corporations.

I say to you all, "Don't sell away the assets of Aotearoa! Don't sell away the futures of our children and our grandchildren! Don't sell away our sovereignty. Don't sell away our dominion over our land and sea!"

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to such an important topic, and thank you for being such good listeners.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Stand Up & Fight (Feed the Kids) - Jevan


On 8 November, 2012, MANA leader Hone Harawira's Feed the Kids Bill was drawn in Aotearoa/New Zealand's Parliament. It asks the government to feed 100,000 hungry kids in decile one and two schools. In June Parliament will decide whether to support the Bill or not.

Together we can make it happen. Visit and download the track from www.feedthekids.org.nz to find out how you can help.

I want to say this.

It absolutely horrifies me that children in this country go to school without having eaten breakfast, often without any lunch. Our children shouldn't be hungry. There is no need for it. And it is really easy for people to jump up and down and blame the parents - that's what a lot of people do. Without thought for the bigger picture. Okay I know there are parents out there who, for whatever reason, don't take proper responsibility for their kids but I will argue that these people are a really small percentage in our country as they always have been.

What is different from times past, is the ever-widening gap between the very rich (like John Key for example, in his mansion up in Auckland) and the low-waged people and those that have no jobs at all. And those people in Canterbury, by the way, who are paying huge rents for broken houses that are costing a fortune to heat. Not leaving a lot in the budget for food. Imagine the juggling act. Do we pay the rent? Or do we heat the house? Or do we feed the kids? How do we manage all this? Do we go to the local Food Bank for help and after a few times they might say, you should be budgeting better? With what, the parents might say?

There's been plenty of times in my past when I have stayed in the house on a winter's day without heat, only turning the heater on half an hour before the kids were due home from school. It's no fun, believe me.

How long do people think a box of cereal might last, if you have 4 or five hungry kids? You hear people say these things, cereal's cheap. Or a loaf of bread. No it's not. And it's a crime when milk is dearer than coca cola (which has no nutritional value whatsoever) in our country which is overloaded with dairy farms for crying out loud. People overseas pay less for milk produced in Aotearoa/New Zealand than us Kiwis do.

The MANA Party say "feeding the kids should be our first priority as a nation". And they are right.



Monday, 29 April 2013

Trees or Rafters.


Two Monday mornings in a row I've walked into the office to be told of a suicide. Two young women, both young mothers, both with issues around drug and alcohol. Both leaving behind young children.

And I find myself do angry. Angry at the way motherhood is so undervalued that young women like these find themselves feeling so crap. Angry at the excessive greed of the corporate drug-runners making their fat profits, the huge marketing budgets. They make their money and the people who cannot cope wind up broken.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Thatcher Fucked The Kids - Frank Turner

Thatcher, Reagan, Roger Douglas in Aotearoa and all the others of your ilk; this song is as much for you as for Thatcher.


I do not mourn her.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Gardening Forever, Housework Whenever


A cup after my own heart. How could I resist? Well I couldn't. As you see.