Monday, August 15, 2011

The day it snowed in Wellington

What a great day it's been!

Actually, what a great couple of days - snow, snow, snow, snow, snow, snow, snow, snow! In Wellington! How crazy is that?

By the time we finished band practice last night it was snowing in downtown Wellington - big fat wobbly flakes of snow that reduced most of us to 6-year-olds as we pranced around outside enjoying every cold moment of it.

Hazel and I went to Alice's house for tea (we threw snowballs at Hamish on the way which was very funny) and when it was time for me to drive home it was a veritable blizzard. It was completely surreal driving carefully through the quiet streets as the snow whirled around my car like a swarm of angry white bees - something I don't think I've experienced since I was a student in the UK about a million years ago.

Here are a couple of pictures taken from my house last night:

Snow storm - view from my houseStreet lights illuminating the whirling snow

Snow storm - wider view from my houseA wider view of the snow-clad valley

MetService screenshotYesterday's MetService 3-day snow warning for Wellington - saved for posterity

This morning I was very excited to see that some of last night's snow was still there - not much - but it was definitely snow! Too cool....

Snow on the hills to the north-westI thought that was snow on the hills last night - but it was too dark to tell - daylight brings clarity, and I never imagined I'd ever see our little hills with a dusting of the white stuff!

A bit of snow in my back gardenA teeny bit of snow in my back garden this morning

Snow on the Rimutaka RangesSnow on the Rimutakas

I was in town today - and I'm so glad I was because - not content with giving us a bit of a blizzard last night - it decided to do it all over again today!

Me in the snowObligatory picture of me in the snow

Snow on Taranaki Street 1
Snow on Taranaki Street 2Snow on Taranaki Street

@stephenfry tweeted about all of us going nuts in the Wellington snow:

@stephenfry tweet 1

And then he tweeted that the whole country was losing the plot:

@stephenfry tweet 2Bless!

And someone called Ro Tierney made the most beautiful video of snow on Cuba Mall (and how happy it makes people feel). LOVE IT:

Snow on Cuba Mall in central Wellington (HD) from Ro Tierney on Vimeo.

I love the way that weird and wonderful natural events bring out the best in people - our inner child was on full display today.

The girl waiting at the bus stop this morning gave me a huge smile as I approached and told me how much she loved my coat (crazy purple felted hippy coat from Sweden).

When it began to snow this morning everyone raced to the windows to look, and then raced outside to take photos and dance around catching snowflakes on their sleeves.

The bus driver this evening was giving us all a running commentary and making sure he told everyone the route had changed 'cos the hill up to Karori was too steep and snowy for the buses to get up.

By the time I got home it was nearly dark, but I got a few shots of my street in the dusky snow-light. Lovely!

Snowy StreetSnowy street, snowy cars

Snowy street looking down the valleySnowy street looking down the valley

Winter wonderlandWinter wonderland

Snow-clad cabbage treeSnow-clad cabbage tree

My back garden - with somewhat more snow than there was this morning

Yup - for a once-in-50-years experience - this one has been pretty special.

Maybe it'll do it all again tomorrow! Fingers crossed!

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 - Snape's true character

I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 on Thursday (opening night). Woweee! Completely awesome - there were tears pouring down my face for a full half-hour during the movie.

Talk about epic! I HAVE to see it again on the big screen real soon.

Snape's "revelations in the pensive" scene reminded me that I wrote a post on a message board on 25 July 2005, the day after I finished reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. You'll recall that Dumbledore dies at the hand of Severus Snape at the end of that book. This is what I wrote. I reckon I was pretty close, don't you?

Oooh ohh! I just finished reading it last night too! I cried at the end too. I just didn't see that coming at all. Oh boy.

OK. Here are my thoughts. Apologies in advance at the length of them. Once I got started I just couldn't stop.... It's mostly about Snape ‘cos I find him fascinating.... *g*

I don't think Snape is a Death Eater. I think he's DEEP under cover and he has to stay that way. Voldemort is the most powerful dark wizard evah. He's equal in power to Dumbledore - pure evil vs pure good. Dumbledore wouldn't have been able to defeat Voldemort - of course, that's Harry's job - but I also think that he decided long ago that a double agent - a hidden enemy - would be much more likely to be able to weaken Voldemort in some unexpected way than he (Dumbledore) ever could. Thereby allowing Harry to finish off Voldemort at the end of book 7.

Did you notice when Snape was talking to Bellatrix and Narcissa about Malfoy's task that he never actually said anything specific until they had already mentioned it? He talks in very general terms - or says nothing at all - and lets Narcissa spill (some of) the beans herself. This makes me think that he doesn't know what the plan is at that stage, but wants to find out - and needs to keep under cover, whatever the price. That's why he agrees to the Unbreakable Vow - and why he twitches his hand when Narcissa puts in the final bit about doing the job should Malfoy fail. Because obviously he doesn't want to agree to that, but has to, or his cover will be blown.

So throughout the book we have Snape trying to find out from Malfoy what his task is - and Malfoy refusing to tell, thinking that Snape wants all the glory for himself. Snape has figured out that Malfoy has to kill Dumbledore - Malfoy says that Snape guessed it was him with the necklace and was angry about the fact that it could have "blown everything". Dumbledore also tells Malfoy that he had figured out he was trying to kill him. But Snape doesn't know details, and I think it's these that he's been trying to get out of Malfoy. I think that Snape and Dumbledore would have discussed it, thought through all the consequences of the Unbreakable Vow - and would have come up with a plan. The problem was, Malfoy never told Snape about the Vanishing Cabinets, and so Snape would have had no way of knowing that there would be other Death Eaters at the school that night - which kind of complicated things for him.

And once again Trelawney sees it coming in the cards. Cool.

OK. So they both know Malfoy has to kill Dumbledore. They both know that he may not be able to do it. In which case, Snape will have to do it for him. If he doesn't, his cover will be blown - oh, and he would die anyway, for breaking the Unbreakable Vow. Dumbledore believes that, in the end, Snape will be of more use to Harry than he (Dumbledore) could be. He's always looking at the bigger picture, and I reckon he knows he must sacrifice himself in order for ultimate good to triumph over ultimate evil.

Dumbledore makes sure that he gets the whole story from Malfoy before he dies - and that Harry is forced to stay where he is so he hears it all too. There's obviously stuff in there which Harry will need to know in book 7. I think Dumbledore is telling the truth when he tells Malfoy that he couldn't have spoken to him about his task, in case Voldemort used Legilimancy on Malfoy. But I think that's as much to do with maintaining Snape's cover as protecting Malfoy.

Having said that, I think Dumbledore's very keen to "save" Malfoy - to bring him back from the dark side - which means ensuring that Malfoy does not kill him. I think this is partly because Dumbledore has an abiding ability to see the best in people and to believe the best of them - and also - from JK Rowling's point of view - because I think she actually wants Malfoy to redeem himself in book 7 - for her readers' sake maybe? Bad boy turns good - "hey kids, you can stop bullying your mates and be a good guy instead" kind of a thing. Maybe?

The pleading with Snape just before he kills him wasn't to spare his life - it was to take it - something which Snape would have obviously not wanted to do (assuming I am right about Snape, of course! *g*). Snape's look of "revulsion and hatred" just before he does Avada Kedavra could be read as being towards Voldemort, and because of what he has to do, rather than towards Dumbledore. I think it's also possible that Dumbledore either knew he was going to die soon anyway from having drunk the potion in the cave - or, that he knew if he stayed alive, there was something in the potion which would allow Voldemort to read his thoughts or something (remember how he tells Harry that he didn't think the potion would kill right away, because Voldemort would want to know who had drunk it and whether they knew about the horcruxes). So he has to die before Voldemort gets inside his head, otherwise Snape's cover will be blown - and Voldemort will know that Harry knows about the horcruxes.

It's interesting also that Snape could have killed Harry as they race for the front gates - but doesn't - and that he stops one of the other Death Eaters from doing it too. OK, he says it's because he needs to be saved for Voldemort - like a mouse for a cat to play with - but then why doesn't he take Harry with him right then? Or he could just have gone against Voldemort's orders and killed off the only real threat to Voldemort's power. End of problem, Voldemort rules the world. OK, he might be a bit pissed off that Snape spoiled his fun, but still, he'd rule the world....

Did you also notice that Snape stops Harry from doing the Cruciatus curse - that's one of the Unforgivable Curses - in fact he says that to Harry as he parries away the half-spoken curse. Is this because he needs to ensure that Harry stays "pure", stays "good" and isn't sullied by the speaking of a Dark curse? [It occurs to me that this might also be why he's so angry with Harry for using Sectumsempera (which he describes as being Dark magic) on Malfoy - as well as, because, you know, he nearly sliced him open!]

And his mighty over-reaction in the chase to the school gates when Harry calls him a coward - he goes nuts! I think Snape truly dislikes Harry - can't get over what Harry's dad and his mates did to him at school - so imagine how he would feel if this upstart kid - whom he has sworn to protect at all costs - including just murdering his good friend Dumbledore for the greater good - just called him a coward when actually he's nothing of the sort. No wonder he freaks out!

And I think Dumbledore is definitely dead (much as I'd like to think otherwise). The fact that the Freezing Charm lifted from Harry once Dumbledore fell, and that Fawkes sang the lament and then flew away, makes me think that. Although, Harry does think he sees a phoenix rising from Dumbledore's funeral pyre, so maybe........ we shall see.

I think from a plot/storyline point of view, Dumbledore had to die - it is the classic Merlin/Arthur, Gandalf/Frodo pattern, isn't it? Wizard/mentor/father-figure teaches star pupil all he can, and then has to die off so that the boy hero can become a man and fulfil his destiny. (As far as Frodo is concerned, Gandalf is dead, so that still fits, even though G is resurrected.) In the end, Harry has to do it by himself. The fact that (if I'm right) Snape will help him somehow, which slightly spoils the classic storyline, is mitigated by the fact that Snape and Harry truly dislike each other, and that Snape can in no way be seen to be playing the father-figure/mentor role.

Interesting that Hogwarts may close next year, which means that Ron and Hermione are free to go with Harry on his quest with no regrets (which Hermione might otherwise have had) and that we have no regrets about missing school either, because there is no school. I also agree that Ginny isn't going to get pushed away quite so easily. It's a crap argument anyway – “I can't love you because then you'll be a target for Voldemort" I mean, Harry loves Ron and Hermione as much if not more as he cares for Ginny, so they'll be obvious targets anyway. Mind you, again going back to the "classic storyline" - the hero generally does have to kill the dragon before he wins the fair lady.... But I just think JK spent much of this book building Ginny up into a strong, no-nonsense kind of girl, who in the end won't allow the others to go off into danger without her.

And of course Ron and Hermione will get together. How could they not? She's been building up to that one since book 1!

So there you go. Did I fill a whole page???? I used to love English at school. I had a crush on my English teacher in fact. Sigh.

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

On the British class system and travelling First Class

It's an odd thing travelling First Class on Britain's trains. For a start, hardly anyone else does it, so you'd be virtually guaranteed a seat even if you didn't reserve one. The rest of the train can be completely packed - and has been on all the train journeys I've taken so far - and First Class remains more than half-empty, its passengers sitting in splendid isolation at the front of the train.

What I find most interesting is the attitude of those travelling Second Class (or whatever it's called these days). It's as if there's a barrier between First and Second which almost no-one is willing to breach when holding a Second Class ticket. They can be standing in the aisles in Second - and frequently are - but it's as if First doesn't exist, or has been rendered invisible for the duration of the journey.

When I lived in England I would never have dreamed of going First Class on the train. First class was for other people - not that we knew any, or expected to. Those other people were posh people, rich people, probably upper class people.

Being middle middle class myself, I don't think I ever met anyone who went First Class. We all crammed into Second like sardines, and if we didn't win the mad dash to get on the train first and grab a seat we'd be standing up for the duration of the journey or sitting on our suitcases next to the doors and trying not to get bowled over as people got on or off. No question of transferring to First though. Crikey! The very thought!

I think the fact that I've lived in New Zealand for nearly 20 years - where the class system is virtually non-existent - means that I have finally overcome my inbuilt (inbred?) inability to consider travelling First. But old habits die hard, and even now it does feel a bit odd.

Bringing mum down from Birmingham to Cambridge on the train yesterday was an illuminating experience. "We're in First Class" I loudly proclaimed to any and all railway officials who came within earshot - as if this would somehow bestow special powers or privilege on us - which perhaps it did. Or maybe all British Rail employees are as kind as the ones we encountered - or possibly it was mum's influence that inspired them all to be incredibly helpful and thoughtful.

Mum was a bit horrified that I'd bought us First Class tickets. I could almost hear the unspoken commentary. "We don't travel First Class! It's not for the likes of us!" But Oh My God how much better it is to travel First with a reserved seat. No need to panic about having to fight for somewhere to park ourselves for the duration, we just make our way down to the front of the train. Once there the kindly station attendant helps me to leap mum across the yawning gap between platform and train (it's HUGE in Birmingham) and there we are - seats with our names on, and nothing to worry about.

I found it fascinating to watch the other passengers stuck just outside our door in the entrance to Second Class. Out of the hundred or so people jammed into Second, only two decided to upgrade to First. With much apologetic mumbling two people ventured into First and sat down. "Gosh the train's so full.... I hope it's not too expensive to upgrade.... I'll pay...."

It was as if one is only allowed into First if there's absolutely no possibility of a seat in Second - and then only on sufferance - because of course they are most definitely not supposed to be there - not being the Right Kind Of People.

You'd think that more people would do it. It's so infinitely better in First - simply because of the space and guarantee of a seat. But they just don't. One other enterprising person was brave enough to stow their suitcase on the luggage shelves in our carriage - and would pop in now and again to get stuff out or put stuff away - but everyone else just stuck it out in Second - beyond those magical automatic doors.

For some reason no-one came to check our tickets - maybe it was the bad weather, or maybe they don't always have a ticket checker on this particular train - which meant that the two brave souls in First with their Second Class tickets didn't even have to pay extra to sit there. Happy Christmas!

I wonder if those two people will learn from the experience and do it again next time they travel by train. They say once you try First you never go back to Second - and because you're allowed to upgrade on the train if there's room in First - with the added bonus possibility of not always actually having to pay - I can't see any reason why they wouldn't.

Except for the fact that We Don't Travel First.

I wonder if my loud proclamations on the station platform at Birmingham were my subconscious talking. I wonder if, even now, I feel the need to explain why I've risen above my station (pun intended) and moved from my place in Second, up into somebody else's First Class seat. I may be the equivalent of upper middle class in classless NZ (if that makes any sense), but in England, maybe I'll always be middle middle, and therefore never truly be entitled to travel First.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pike River

Philip Larkin - The Explosion

On the day of the explosion
Shadows pointed towards the pithead.
In the sun the slagheap slept.

Down the lane came men in pitboots
Coughing oath-edged talk and pipe-smoke,
Shouldering off the freshened silence.

One chased after rabbits; lost them;
Came back with a nest of lark's eggs;
Showed them; lodged them in the grasses.

So they passed in beards and moleskins,
Fathers, brothers, nicknames, laughter,
Through the tall gates standing open.

At noon, there came a tremor; cows
Stopped chewing for a second; sun,
scarfed as in a heat-haze, dimmed.

The dead go on before us, they
Are sitting in God's house in comfort,
We shall see them face to face -

Plain as lettering in the chapels
It was said, and for a second
Wives saw men of the explosion

Larger than in life they managed -
Gold as on a coin, or walking
Somehow from the sun towards them,

One showing the eggs unbroken.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Why I will be attending the Rally of Hope to support filming of "The Hobbit" in New Zealand

I'm a strong believer in Unions and workers rights in general. Many of the rights we have as working people today are thanks to the sterling efforts of Unionists around the globe who fought for better conditions and better pay. We have a great deal to thank them for.

However, I also believe in having a decent strategy when you're fighting for change, and I think it's vital to pick your battles carefully.

Choosing to use the nuclear option at a very early stage by attempting to hold a multi-million dollar corporation to ransom when you have no aces in your hand is a risky strategy at best - and at worst (as we have seem with the whole Hobbit debacle) it can come back and bite you in the ass - hard.

It can also put the jobs of many of your fellow workers in jeopardy - and if you're on the side of the working stiff, as the Equity actors claim to be - surely that should also include the film crew, the pre- and post-production teams, the extras, the support staff and everyone else involved in or affected by the trickle-down effect of shooting (or not shooting) a $500 million movie in New Zealand?

Tomorrow the Warner Brothers executives will be here to hold emergency talks about the future of The Hobbit in New Zealand. They will be deciding on whether to spend their money here, whether to employ our incredibly talented and experienced film crews here, and ultimately they will be deciding whether or not we will be able to keep our unique title of "Middle-earth".

Do I wish that they didn't have that level of power over so many Kiwis' livelihoods? Yes of course - but the fact is, they do - and I'm hoping that a strong turnouts at the nationwide Rally of Hope to support filming of "The Hobbit" in New Zealand will serve to show Warner Brothers how much the people of New Zealand support Peter Jackson's wish to film The Hobbit here, and how hard we'll work to make sure that it happens.

I hope you'll join me.

Facebook Group here - Rally to support filming of "The Hobbit" in New Zealand:

RALLIES FOR ALL NEW ZEALANDERS, Industry & public on Labour Day Monday, 12.30 for 1pm-2pm!

These POSITIVE rallies of support are timed to coincide with the visit of Warner Bros. movie executives to discuss moving The Hobbit away from NZ. We're going to show them that we like them, we want The Hobbit filmed here and we SUPPORT Sir Peter.

These rallies will also emphasize the points other groups like film techs intend to make in the national media to influence Warners.

They are NOT protests against certain groups.

Invite ALL of your friends!!!

"Is the movie going to come or go? We don't know. Warners are coming here next Monday and we've got to fight like hell,"
Sir Peter Jackson.

Here are my placards:

Rally of Hope placard 1
LOTR Oscars: 17

Premiere of ROTK: 120,000 people

Awesome NZ locations: 268,021 km2

Skilled & experienced crew: thousands

Keeping The Hobbit in NZ: priceless

Rally of Hope placard 1
New Zealand

...these are cool too - people from all over the world are sending in video messages of support - if you can't make it to one of the rallies, you can do the same. More info on how to contribute a video here - Calling for Video Support! and view all the videos here - videosforclip's Channel.

Excellent series of questions and answers from actor Yvette Reid here - A NZ actor emailed me asking some questions about the Hobbit situation, here are my answers

The most recent Hobbit thread on Public Address - Hard News: Anatomy of a Shambles

Hope to see you at the Rally of Hope!

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Monday, October 11, 2010

The demise of Paul Henry and the rise of racism in New Zealand

When I first arrived in New Zealand 18 years ago I felt I had found the most beautiful place on the planet. And not just beautiful on the outside, but beautiful on the inside as well. The people were warm, friendly, and helpful. It was like walking into Paradise.

Kiwis would pick you up on the site of the road when you were hitching and sometimes drive miles out of their way to take you where you needed to go, or they'd invite you back to their place to stay the night and take you to your destination in the morning. At the dairy when you asked for an ice cream cone you'd get at least three scoops of ice cream instead of the mean little half-scoop one would expect back in the UK, and they always served you with a smile and a bit of friendly conversation.

I always used to say that New Zealand felt like it was set back in time by about 50 years. Back to a time when people had enough time to be nice to each other, where the pace of life was slower and where attitudes were positive, enthusiastic and generous.

I spent the first few years of my new life as a Kiwi bathed in that same kind of positivity. I joined an African drumming group in Wellington, and when we decided to branch out and start our own percussion-based world music ensemble, Many Hands, I was amazed at the number of people who thought it was a fabulous idea and were only too happy to get involved and help us make things happen.

"That'd never happen in England" I used to think to myself. "In England they're all 'ooohhhh no, can't do that, more-than-my-job's-worth, never been done before', whereas in NZ it's all 'wow cool idea, can I get involved, can I help, let me be a part of this'. It's wonderful!"

Same thing happened when I started organising dance parties and then got involved with The Gathering. All these amazing creative people jumping on board to help, people doing stuff for free because they loved the concept, all of us working together on TheG to make magic out of nothing, and all the Gatherers becoming the best that they could possibly be the moment they entered the sacred space of Canaan Downs.

But over the years I've seen I've my rose-tinted specs becoming more and more battered and damaged. The horrific levels of child abuse in this country, the anti-smacking bill backlash from Kiwis who appeared to feel it was their God-given right to hit their children, the awful statistics related to domestic violence of all kinds, our casual and brutal propensity to torture animals for fun - all these things have puzzled and deeply saddened me in this beautiful country I now call home.

The last couple of weeks have only served to damage my rose-tinted view of New Zealand still further.

I come from a country where racism was tolerated, where for many people it was the normal way to be. My dad was racist, and my sister and I spent many years fighting with him, arguing with him, and swearing at him across the dinner table (it was the one thing guaranteed to get a reaction from my parents). The level of intolerance shown by many people in the UK towards those different (in any way) from themselves was one aspect (out of many) that I despised in my fellow countrymen, and was one of the reasons that I eventually decided I no longer wanted to be English.

Somehow I thought it would be different here. That the intolerance and casual racism I saw in the UK was not a part of the Kiwi psyche at all, and that (for the most part) it didn't exist in New Zealand. I thought we were better than that. How wrong I was. How naïve.

It's bad enough that TVNZ has appeared to encourage Paul Henry's spectacularly offensive behaviour over the last however-long he's been on Breakfast for the sake of ratings.

It's bad enough that the man has been able to get away with offensive remarks about women, the elderly, homosexuality, Hispanics, Indians, Susan Boyle, families in the developing world, the treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan - always people "different" from himself, always when they're not there to fight back, very often people of a different nationality, ethnicity and/or skin colour to himself - all without TVNZ lifting so much as a finger to rein him in.

It's bad enough that this pathetic small-minded bully has been paid to disparage and offend pretty much anyone he likes by our state-sponsored public broadcaster - paid for by you and I - a public institution that in some ways represents us all, commentates on our behalf, brings us news and entertainment and everything in between and that is bound by the Code of Broadcasting Practice which, amongst other things, requires that:

Broadcasters should not encourage discrimination against, or denigration of, any section of the community on account of sex, sexual orientation, race, age, disability, occupational status, or as a consequence of legitimate expression of religion, culture or political belief.
It's bad enough that nothing was done to limit Mr Henry's ridiculous schoolboy-like behaviour until he managed to offend the Governor-General with what is, quite clearly, a racist comment.

It's bad enough that John Key was so "relaxed" about Henry's comments that he didn't make any attempt to point out during his interview that what Henry had just asked: "Are you going to choose a New Zealander who looks and sounds like a New Zealander this time... Are we going to go for someone who is more like a New Zealander this time?" was racist and offensive. A politician, especially the Prime Minister, needs to be able to think on his or her feet and respond appropriately. Not lamely laugh it off with a joke about whether the questioner is after the GG's job.

It's bad enough that it took John Key many hours (and with reference to urgent polling data I expect) before he managed to say anything that remotely resembled displeasure at Henry's racist comments. I'd have expected better than that from a Prime Minister, whatever his or her political hue.

It's bad enough that TNNZ's first comments about Paul Henry's GG questions were from their PR person Andi Brotherston, who said
The audience tell us over and over again that one of the things they love about Paul Henry is that he's prepared to say the things we quietly think but are scared to say out loud,"
Um, no Andi. NO NO NO. He does NOT speak for me. I do not "quietly think" anything remotely similar to what comes out of that man's mouth and I'm appalled you think I do.

It's bad enough that Henry's first "apology" was one of those classic passive-aggressive non-apologies so beloved of those who've been made to apologise but really aren't sorry at all.
"I sincerely apologise to the Governor-General, Sir Anand Satyanand, for any offence I may have caused. If my comments have personally offended Sir Anand, I regret it deeply."
Of course what that really means is:
"I sincerely apologise to the Governor-General, Sir Anand Satyanand, for any offence I may have caused [IF I caused any offence, which I don't think I did. I'm definitely not going to admit that my comments were in fact offensive, I'm just going to blame my victim for being offended]. If my comments have personally offended Sir Anand, [actually they were funny and therefore he obviously he has no sense of humour / is far too sensitive / is clearly demonstrating Political Correctness Gone Mad and therefore his feelings mean nothing to me] I regret it deeply."
It's bad enough that Henry's comments about Sir Anand Satyanand "not looking and sounding sufficiently like a New Zealander" were not only offensive to the GG himself, but to every single Kiwi out there who resembles or sounds like him - in other words, absolutely everyone whose skin is brown.

In Paul Henry's considered opinion, there's a certain group of New Zealanders who are "New Zealanders" and a certain group of New Zealanders who are not "New Zealanders". The determining factor in terms of whether you are acceptable to PH as a Kiwi is the colour of your skin and the way you speak. And that should offend all of us, whatever the colour of our skin or political persuasion.

It's bad enough that even after TVNZ had finally come to their senses and realised that the least they could get away with was to give PH a slap on the wrist and stand him down for a fortnight, the video footage of him laughing hysterically about his deliberately incorrect and deeply offensive pronunciation of Sheila Dikshit's name stayed up on the TVNZ website for at least two days:
"The dip shit woman. God, what's her name? Dick Shit. Is it Dick Shit ... it looks like 'Dick Shit',"

"It's so appropriate, because she's Indian, so she'd be dick-in-shit wouldn't she, do you know what I mean? Walking along the street ... it's just so funny."
...and of course his final comment - about her name being so appropriate because she's Indian is the icing on the bigoted cake.

Yes, all these things are bad enough, but it's been the response of some of my fellow Kiwis that has shocked and saddened me the most.

In Paul Henry's resignation statement he said:
I do not want to be the lightning rod for racial disharmony in this country
...which, quite frankly, I find disingenuous at the very least.

What this racist, bigoted man (and those at TVNZ who not only enabled, but encouraged him) has unleashed is an outpouring of racist comments from some New Zealanders that has shocked and horrified me, and that has rocked my love of my adopted country and my fellow countrymen and women to the core.

Some recent comments from Paul Henry's Facebook page:
Did you know indians fuck cows? that why they are holy in india . But can you really blame them. look at there women.
*Breaking News* NZ family of 3 evicted from 3 bedroom house in south auckland so 40 indians can move in!!!
If an indian baby was on fire how hard would you stomp the flames?

I would put it out with petrol

i would use bricks and a curry petrol blend.
October the 29th is international run down a rag head day all Indians killed or maimed will be eligible for points 1 point per male 2 points for females and 3 points for kids.
Paul henry is a breath of fresh air. His aura he has captivates veiwers in a way where all can laugh at what he says. NEW ZEALANDERS that is, so why is it that punjabi's are aloud 2 watch our television and make comments half way around the world on what we kiwi's want 2 watch. If they spent half the time worrying about whats in their own back yards then in others then maybe their wont so much poverty there and maybe our kiwi born television presenters wont mistake them for looking like dickshit.
India is like a sewer and the people are like turds floating in the sewer.
Im sure incest is common in india?

your goat fuckers who wipe there arses with there hands you sick fuck

naaargi buudbuud rat eating monobrow looking raabi infested povertised ridden cow and goat hailing low life monkeys ! PAUL HENRY said exactly what i needed to make me laugh that morning and i thank him. DICKSHIT OR IS IT DICK'N SHIT
I'm sorry, that's only the first page and I'm feeling sick already. I'm not going to read or paste any more. You get the picture.

I'm ashamed to be a Kiwi right now. Completely ashamed. I didn't think New Zealanders were like this.

Paul Henry may be gone from our screens (thankfully, for the moment anyway - I'm sure he'll be back unfortunately), but he's left the nasty dark underbelly of intolerance and racism in New Zealand exposed, encouraged, and out there for all to see. It's appalling.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wellington Batucada at the All Blacks game

It's very industrial underneath Westpac Stadium - all concrete pillars and not much lighting to speak of.

Somehow, when I was imagining us playing at the All Blacks vs Springboks tri-nations match last week I was picturing it being quite dimly-lit on the field as well, so it was a bit of a shock as we walked around the corner and could see the far end of the player's tunnel in front of us, with the field and thousands of yellow seats beyond. I'd forgotten there'd be floodlights! It was brighter than a very bright thing out there! Crikey!

We gathered in formation on the edge of the field just in front of the tunnel, Tim gave the signal to begin, and we began our parade.

The next 30 minutes went by in a flash. I remember concentrating my entire focus on Tim and on my caixa. I was dimly aware of players warming up on the field next to us, but I barely looked at them - I was so engrossed in the music and making sure I was playing my patterns properly. I remember the slightly muddy grass beneath my feet (it had been raining all day), and trying not to trip over the myriad of TV cables spread across our path. I remember the crowd (not massive an hour before kick-off, but not too shabby) and how much they enjoyed our playing, and I remember the beat of our drums echoing around the stadium.

As we finished each piece with a flourish, the crowd near where we were playing cheered and clapped (and we cheered and clapped back at them), and then we'd be onto the next piece, marching in time to the music as we played.

At one point a commentator placed himself and his camera crew directly ahead of us, the big camera light was switched on, and he began to talk to camera. At the time I couldn't believe that his mike would be able to pick up his voice at all - we were only about 10 feet behind him, and boy, were we loud - but sure enough through the wonders of modern technology they were able to hear him loud and clear - and see us as we marched behind him, big grins on all our faces as we passed by.

OK so he called us Batucada Sound Machine (our director Darren's samba band) instead of Wellington Batucada, but never mind - at least he referred to us!

Here we are:

We continued on our merry way as a fine misty rain began to fall, and made it around half the field in half an hour, leaving by the tunnel opposite the one we'd come in on. A final flourish, played exclusively for the guys hanging out having a fag on the upper walkway, and we were done. It seemed like only 5 minutes since we'd begun playing.

As we were driven back out of the stadium in our bus we passed by the thousands of fans still arriving at the gates - and we were so energised that it was pretty hard to stop ourselves leaping out and playing an impromptu gig for them all.

What a great night!

When I got back home and watched the match build-up on MySky I was amazed how loud we were. The poor old commentators in their glass box up in the Gods seemed to be having a bit of difficuly concentrating on what they were saying half the time - I think we must have been marching directly beneath their commentary box - and I really hope we didn't put them off.

Maybe next time (crossing fingers that there's a next time!) they'll get us to march around the opposite side of the field so our drumbeats aren't carried quite so effectively into that little glass box. We shall see...

Oh - and of course the All Blacks played an absolute stormer of a game and hammered the Springboks by a pretty wide margin for the second time in a row - Phew! Glad we didn't hex 'em with our playing! Go the All Blacks!

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