Monday, April 24, 2006

Sideswipe

Mike Moore Autos in Palmerston North has just the vehicle for the moody maiden.

By Ana Samways

A reader swears she heard Tagata Pasifika presenter Beatrice Faumuina say one of the highlights of opera singer Jonathan Lemalu's career was singing in the convent garden. Maybe someone could enlighten Beatrice that Covent Garden has nothing to do with the Catholic Church!

* * *

Norml News, which is a great read, has kindly provided some tips about how to get stoned the healthy way. Including: use organic cannabis; sterilise your bong/pipe between sessions; don't share joints and pipes because of the risk of meningitis; avoid cannabis when pregnant.

And my favourite, "mixing cannabis with alcohol can make you more out of it than you intended".

* * *

Murray Hunter writes: A very lucky man is how police describe a visitor to Whangamata who was processed for drink driving and had a reading of exactly 400. The man had just turned 20 and the legal limit for 20 and over is 400. A 17-year-old has a 150 limit. (Source: Coastal News)

* * *

Website B3ta asked its readers for stories from great teenage parties they'd been to. As expected most involved trashing houses and throwing up, but there was this: "To ensure numbers we invited everyone. And then they [apparently] invited everyone else. We ended up with approximately 150 people in our house, most of whom we didn't know. Did they wreck it? Did they have sex in our beds? No. In fact they protected our stuff. So much so, that when my mate went to get some money from his room he was stopped by a bunch of guys who thought he was stealing. Did they believe him when he said it was his room? No. They beat him up for stealing." (Source: b3ta.com)

* * *

See, oil is a finite resource: An advert on the toilet wall at St Lukes cinema complex spotted by Michael Geraghty says BP and St Lukes shopping complex have come together to offer shoppers a $10 petrol voucher for every $150 spent at the mall. This is a limited offer and only while stocks last.

Editorial: Treading Solomons tightrope

Restoring order to a failing state is one thing, defending its Government is quite another. New Zealand and other contributors to the regional peace-keeping force in the Solomon Islands need to be alert to the difference.

Our military and police contingents were sent to the Solomons three years ago to deal with a breakdown of law and order against a background of ethnic unrest. The mission was successful, up to the point that the country held its first peaceful election this month under international observation. The riots that erupted after the election, causing additional forces to be sent from this country and others, have a different cause.

The main issue in the election campaign was the suspected corruption of the previous Government, said to have received kickbacks from Taiwan for being one of the few governments in the world to give official recognition to that country. At the election, the Prime Minister's party lost more than half its seats but no other party gained an overall majority. When the 50-member new Parliament met last week to select a Prime Minister by secret ballot, they chose Snyder Rini, who had been Deputy Prime Minister in the previous Government.

The next day crowds in Honiara converged on Parliament. Driven back by Australian federal police using tear-gas, the mob pelted police with stones, injuring several and setting fire to police cars. Then it turned its attention on the Chinese area of the city, looting and torching shops, watched by Solomon Islands police, who reportedly did not intervene to protect the property of long-established Chinese families.

The protests were led by supporters of a rival candidate for Prime Minister, Job Dudley Tausinger. They accused Chinese businesses of bribing members of the Government and backing the selection of Snyder Rini.

In response to the violence, Australia has sent an additional 110 soldiers and 70 police. New Zealand rushed 25 more Army personnel and 30 police last week to add to its standing force of 82 in the Solomons. A further 53 soldiers left for Honiara yesterday. The reinforcements have restored order using street patrols and a dawn-to-dusk curfew imposed on the capital.

Now comes the hard part. The peace-keeping forces must tread carefully to avoid being tarred with sympathy for either side in the political contest. Already damaged buildings have been daubed with graffiti attacking the intervention forces as well as Mr Rini. It is impossible from this distance to make any judgments of the political protagonists. Mr Rini rejects corruption allegations and denies that his bid for power is backed by Taiwan interests.

It could equally be that his opposition is backed by Beijing. Both Taiwan and the People's Republic accuse each other of spending lavishly for recognition from states such as the Solomons. Both deny they had any influence on the Parliament's choice of Prime Minister. Mr Rini is confident he will survive a vote of no-confidence to be moved against him in Parliament which resumes today. His opponents are equally confident they will gather the numbers to defeat him.

Whatever happens, nothing will be resolved unless the losing side is prepared to accept the result. That is the essence of democracy and it cannot be defended indefinitely by external forces. The most that peacekeepers can do is protect people such as the Chinese shopkeepers who become scapegoats for political frustration. Outsiders have to be extremely careful when they stand between an angry people and their Parliament. The Solomons plainly have issues only the citizens can resolve.

Nigel Prickett: Forgotten conflict that made us who we are today

On Anzac Day we remember New Zealanders who gave their lives for this country and the life we enjoy. We pause for a while to remember that our freedoms and way of life have been bought at a cost.

For many, this was the cost of life itself; for others it has meant the loss of loved ones.

Commentators have drawn attention to the increasing numbers turning out for Anzac Day services in recent years. There will be many reasons for this, including a realisation that the young men and women who took part in World War II are now reaching the end of their lives, and that by recognising those who remain we acknowledge them all.

Also, in a changing world it is a chance to assert our identity as a community and to come together in things that we share, forgetting for a moment things that may divide us.

It is not original to say that New Zealand found itself as a nation through war. The particular New Zealand expressions of courage, independence, mateship and sacrifice of tens of thousands of young men on the battlefields of South Africa, Gallipoli, Palestine, France, Crete, north Africa, Italy, the Pacific, Korea, Malaya and Vietnam have helped define us and create for us our place in the community of nations.

But in making our country what it is, another war has also been important. The 19th century New Zealand Wars between Maori and European played a big part in changing this country from being mostly Maori in character and ownership to one dominated by Pakeha.

Right now we are engaged in renegotiating, through the Waitangi Tribunal process and in the political arena, a relationship that has been very unequal since then.

Behind the renegotiation is a growing knowledge and understanding of how the past has shaped the present. Research for the Waitangi Tribunal has given Maori communities a chance to have their stories heard.

The fighting that took place over much of the North Island from the 1840s to the early 1870s was hugely important in making our country what it is. The story of the wars deserves to be known.

Like the overseas wars we remember on Anzac Day, the New Zealand Wars also have stories of pride and courage, dreams and sacrifice.

For the small population at the time there was a considerable loss of life, possibly as many as 3000, or more if we include those who died as a result of war-related privation and misadventure.

Which raises the question of remembrance. It surely is time we recognised the commitment and the hopes for this country for which so many Maori and Pakeha gave their lives. In recognising this sacrifice we will learn important things about our past, which can only help understanding in the present.

There has been discussion of a Vietnam War memorial. A good argument is made that it is needed not just to remember sacrifice but also to heal wounds. This can only be supported.

But the New Zealand Wars are the forgotten wars. There is nowhere we can remember and pay respects to who lost their lives, and think about what was happening at that time, in the way all such memorials give an opportunity for reflection as well as remembrance.

Thousands of people gave their lives in our own country, in places we see every day. But we drive past not knowing what happened there. A conflict which created the country we know and which took place for many years over much of the North Island plays little or no part in our national identity.

A national memorial would remember the loss, add to understanding and help to heal wounds.

It is the aim of the Queen's Redoubt Trust and Ngati Tamaoho Trust and other partners to create a New Zealand Wars Memorial at Pokeno, South Auckland, where we can remember all those Maori and Pakeha who lost their lives, and learn where, when, how and why this happened.

This is to be associated with a proposed New Zealand Wars Interpretation Centre at the restored historic site of Queen's Redoubt, where British troops prepared for the July 1863 invasion of the Waikato.

We believe this is an important national project.

* Nigel Prickett is chairman of the Queen's Redoubt Trust.

Danny Keenan: We came of age on battlefields of New Zealand

The decision of the Maori TV channel to devote extensive coverage to Anzac Day celebrations is really bizarre. When the decision was made public, Maori TV officials couldn't contain themselves - their enthusiasm was palpable.

Anzac Day, after all, is a national icon. This is the day when, in 1915, our boys spilled their blood on the beaches of Gallipoli, when New Zealand "came of age" as a nation, or so the rhetoric goes.

New Zealanders have been sold this idea for generations; that it was some military event, on the far side of the world, that caused us to realise ourselves as one people; that there was a new awareness of New Zealand, forged in the heat of a war in which we had little interest, though it did cost us 160,000 lives.

What direct interest Maori have ever had in this event is never made clear; perhaps Maori TV will spell this out.

As a flagship of sorts for Maori, I wonder how carefully Maori TV thought the issue through before jumping on board the Anzac celebrations.

There is a larger issue here; and it's about Maori fighting alongside or against the Crown, and where this should sit within our national consciousness. For or against the Crown - you can't have it both ways.

The belief that Maori show prowess in battle has always earned Maori a certain grudging respect from Pakeha. It has been even better when that prowess - that energy for killing - has been harnessed by the Crown to do the nation's bidding.

In 1899, James Carroll wanted to take a Maori contingent to Samoa to subdue a Samoan uprising. In 1900, Carroll asked that a native contingent be sent to the Boer War - it was wrong he said that "brown sons of Briton" should be denied their chance to transport their energy to Africa, thereby demonstrating their loyalty to Queen and Empire.

The impediment, as Carroll knew, lay partly in London - Britain was reluctant to allow non-white citizens of the Empire to fight whites.

In New Zealand there was no such reluctance. Maori were permitted to do the Crown's bidding by fighting other Maori, and many did.

In 1914, Maori were initially recruited for garrison duties. But after the losses at Gallipoli, when New Zealand "came of age", Maori were recruited for combat.

At last, said Carroll, Ngata and others, Maori could show themselves to be the equal of the Pakeha, in recruitment, fighting skills, and casualties.

The result was the Pioneer Battalion, all volunteers, which sailed for Egypt and France - Maori prowess harnessed in defence of nation and Empire.

And so Maori unwittingly contributed to the myth of nationhood and Gallipoli; they became a race of subaltern participants in the creation of a national story which, at least as subtext, was also a story of their own demise as a nation.

What the Maori TV channel doesn't seem to understand is that commemorating Anzac Day is, in part, a recognition of the destruction of Maori nationhood. The battle fought at Gallipoli was fought for nation and Empire; it was not fought for Maori.

There were battles, of course where Maori fought for Maori, on our own soil, across a 30-year period after 1840, as the Crown struggled to secure its grip upon the mana whenua of Maori.

The Crown, initially through the use of the British Army, was prepared to seek and destroy Maori who stood against the colonial ideal of establishing a new nation called New Zealand.

The Armed Constabulary was later established to carry the fight to Maori still in the bush, with other Maori recruited in large numbers to do the Crown's destructive bidding.

Those tribes which fought with the Crown in the 1860s later rushed to enlist in the Pioneer Battalion (and the later Maori Battalion). Those tribes which rebelled against the Crown, in defence of what they regarded as a Treaty right, did not.

In 1915, Waikato Maori refused to enlist in the Pioneer Battalion, and were conscripted by way of punishment.

Few Waikato Maori were at Gallipoli in 1915 when blood was tragically spilt. But they were present in numbers at Rangiriri in 1863 when they carried a terrible burden for all Maori by engaging the British Army, in the hope that the planned invasion of the Waikato might be prevented.

But the British Army shelled and shot its way through the Tainui citadel, marching into the Waikato. From this point on, there would be no stopping the Crown from forging a new nation out of the battlefields of New Zealand.

As George Grey had stated years earlier, a New Zealand nation could not exist alongside autonomous Maori. It was one or the other.

New Zealand did not come of age on the beaches of Gallipoli; it came of age on our own battlefields, like Rangiriri. The war that mattered - that forged the nation we are today - was fought on our own soil.

* Dr Danny Keenan is Associate Professor of Maori Studies at Victoria University in Wellington.

Dean Parker: The heroes who did not fight

Anzac Day commemorates that Sunday in 1915 when the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces landed to take part in the invasion of Turkey.

In a curious conflation of opposites, the mass grave that followed became the cradle of our nationhood (although with the rival for this title currently being the tour of the 1905 All Blacks, you do have to ask: what is it about historians and a whole lot of blokes going overseas?).

An untried people (us) went and held their ground (actually someone else's), thus proving themselves worthy of whatever it is you prove when you cravenly follow some British Lord of the Admiralty's cunning plan and spend seven months getting massacred and then abjectly slink away in the dead of night, whipped by those you considered racially inferior.

Commemorate? Oh, come on. Rather gather at the crossroads at midnight and collectively vomit.

On Anzac Day we should remember those who tried to resist war.

"There is no conception more inspiring, no condition nobler, no call that rang more grandly in the ears than that of war!" trumpeted the New Zealand Herald in 1914.

So half of all eligible men volunteered for nobility. But half didn't.

By late 1915, the casualties from Gallipoli were such that the New Zealand Government began preparing to conscript the able-bodied.

The anti-war movement responded. A national anti-conscription conference was held in Wellington in January, 1916, with delegates representing 18,500 trade unionists. The conference gleefully decided that if the ruling class wanted to have a war, it should be done properly.

Soldiers should be put on the same pay rate as the highest wage-earner. All incomes above that wage should be appropriated for the war effort. All industry should be seized by the state and operated for the benefit of a people at war.

This was going to the heart of the matter, of course, for there were those happy enough to give their sons to the war but not their property.

The Government went ahead in August, 1916 and introduced conscription of manpower, but not of wealth, and among the conscripts were those who refused to serve - conscientious objectors.

There were four types of conscientious objector: Christians who took the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" at its word; socialists prepared to fight in a war against capitalism but not one between imperialists; Irish who, understandably, would fight for anyone provided it was against England; Waikato Maori, who found it ironic to be asked to fight for King and country as they had once fought for their own King and lost their country.

Thousands of conscientious objectors were imprisoned and punished in an effort to make them recant. Among them were leaders of the new Labour Party, founded in 1916 by the national Anti-Conscription Committee and the union movement.

A number of conscientious objectors were shipped to the frontline trenches in Belgium and tortured.

So many defaulters and deserters were skipping out of the country that the Government introduced passports. "Your passport originates from a forgotten mass attempt to evade military service," James Belich tartly notes in the second volume of his New Zealand history.

In the Waikato, Te Puea Herangi led a passive resistance campaign against conscription of Maori.

In Christchurch, women from the pro-war White Feather League out on a patrol to abuse war shirkers were assaulted by mill workers' wives.

But here are my heroes in the war resisters' ranks. Of the 34,000 who declined all forms of service in the war when asked, 11 brave souls gave their reason as simply "scared". Let's commemorate them.

* Dean Parker is a member of the New Zealand Writers Guild and the Workers Charter initiative.