30 November 2013

When the river runs dry

Broken River (image via Bats)
Broken River
by Ralph McCubbin Howell
Bats Theatre, Wellington
23 November - 7 December 2013

Last night I caught a performance of the play Broken River at Bats, performed in what looks like a vacant shop premises on Victoria Street. Playwright Ralph McCubbin Howell has created an appealing and interesting glimpse of rural New Zealand for city-dwellers to ponder on, focused on the politics and emotion of water in a small rural settlement gearing up for a big irrigation scheme. The proposed dam might make some dairy millionaires, but it also sets the locals against one another as they debate what's to be gained and what might be lost. Into this environment comes researcher Nick (Paul Waggott), a 30-odd former local boy who has spent the past dozen years in London and is now returning to run a consultation process on the scheme. Pretty soon he discovers that things are not as he left them, with his old flame Brook (Erin Banks) having found a new partner and started a family. Intertwined with the modern-day tale is the tragedy suffered years before, in which Brook's brother lost his life in the town's river, and the appearance of a mysterious mute stranger in a white suit, whose motives are unclear and who generates plenty of suspicion in the insular community.

The cast gives a commendable performance, particularly Banks, who played a supporting role in Two Little Boys as Bret McKenzie's girlfriend, and Waggott, a Newcastle-born Englishman whose performance is reminiscent of a younger Simon Pegg (who also did a season with Bats back in the '90s). Equally big plaudits should go to the design aspects of the play. The performance area is dominated by a marvellous plywood art installation (or 'kinetic sculpture', if you prefer) mimicking a revolving crop irrigator, which arcs over the actors and provides a backdrop for all their scenes. It's plumbed with a water supply too, so several scenes in the play are liberally sprinkled with H2O - country rain, a sabotaged irrigation pivot, and a shower scene (not too Psycho, thankfully). Here's hoping the play is never performed in winter-time, or the actors will get pneumonia. The river is represented by scores of empty plastic milk containers, packed together and illuminated from beneath, which works surprisingly well.

Aside from the dramatic impact of the play, Broken River is also an environmental allegory about the perils of intensive dairying and non-sustainable water use. But it's not a preachy, townies-lambasting-cockies moral tale. The playwright (who must clearly be taken seriously because he has three names) grew up in Waikari in North Canterbury and knows rural life. Far more than I do, at any rate.

You should definitely investigate Broken River if you're seeking an interesting and well-crafted night of theatre for a mere few dollars.

See also:
TheatreMacbeth, 21 November 2013
Theatre: Eigengrau, 1 October 2012
Theatre: White Cloud, 16 September 2012

27 November 2013


Tasmanian Musem & Art Gallery, from Constitution Dock
Last week I enjoyed exploring Tasmania for my first time, starting off like most visitors with a couple of days seeing the sights in the capital Hobart. Flying in from Melbourne I was impressed with the wild scenery of the sparsely-inhabited west coast of Tasmania, where the hills still sported a dusting of spring snow. Hobart itself is situated on a marvellous harbour at the head of the Derwent River, and it was this river that I crossed into town in the airport shuttle, taking the Tasman Bridge and quickly depositing me at my accommodation for the next four nights, the YHA in Argyle Street.

The hostel boasts a superb location, one block from the Town Hall, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, and the Maritime Museum. While it offered good value as a base to explore the capital, there was hardly any communal space, so whenever I returned to my rather small dorm an elderly American guy was always perched on a slender cane chair tapping away on his laptop - there's no lift and it was on the third floor, so he tended to make only one trip out per day. He must've been from a warm state or perhaps he was a devotee of the Scandinavian art of sauna, because he kept the room's heater blasting at top setting whenever possible too. In addition, during my first night at the YHA I learned that the Hobart city fathers are quite proud of the clock on the General Post Office - also one block from the hostel - because it tolled every hour throughout the night.

After arriving on Saturday night I sprung into sightseeing mode on Sunday morning. After taking some supplies to the waterfront to eat in a deserted Mawson Place next to the Constitution Dock, where the Sydney to Hobart yacht race finishes each year, I set off on a self-guided walking tour to get my bearings. This took in the splendid government buildings built with plenty of convict slave labour from local stone, and the slowly awakening Hobart waterfront, which is dominated by the grand edifice of stone stores and factories built by the IXL Jam founder Henry Jones, which now house tourist shops and accommodation and part of the University of Tasmania. Passing through the grounds of the Tasmanian Parliament, I then headed up the hill to affluent Battery Point, which overlooks the downtown area. Taking a left turn into the kempt enclave of Arthur Circus, an oasis of genteel cottages set around a circular village green, it was then time to descend to the famous Salamanca Place, a sweep of Georgian stone shops that boasts a bustling market on Saturdays that's popular with locals and tourists alike.

Former IXL jam factory, Hunter St
Husky in the Bernacchi Tribute statue, Franklin Wharf
Salamanca Place
Following a quick bite to eat, I set out to visit the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG), which is centred on the old Hobart bond store. The impressive architecture housed some interesting exhibits. I enjoyed the glimpse of a stuffed echidna from the Victorian era, which had seen better days, and the gleaming imagery of a Tasmanian hydro-electric power advertisement in which the pylon wires vibrated with a booming, capital-letters 'PROSPERITY', in case the message wasn't rammed home. I also enjoyed the story of Hobart local Maggie Aird growing up in the 1950s, who used to run with her brother to meet the river ferry at 6.05pm every work day, to meet their father: "It wasn't until I was much older that I realised that Dad wasn't on that ferry. He caught the Zinc Works punt and bus to the Clarence Pub every night and had a drink or two until the ferry came in"'. I also liked the official Royal Australian Navy enlistment form from 1920, which inducted young Miss Nancy Bentley into the King's service:


Usual place of residence: Port Arthur, Tasmania
Trade brought up to: Nil
Religious denomination: Church of England
Can swim: Not tried
Date of actually volunteering: 15 November 1920
Period engaged for: Until fed up
Stature: 3 feet, 2 inches
Hair: Light brown
Eyes: Blue
Complexion: Fresh
Marks: Scar, right wrist

It is not recorded how long it took Seagirl Bentley to become fed up.

Brougham coach, TMAG
Carrying on the nautical theme, my next stop was the Maritime Museum of Tasmania, a smallish private museum overlooking the waterfront at the bottom of Argyle Street. It covered the maritime history of the island fairly well, with the expected features on Abel Tasman, colonial shipping and shipwrecks, and harbour ferries. I was also interested to learn about the barque Otago, which was once owned by the adventuring author Joseph Conrad, and which ended its days in Hobart and gave its name to a bay on the Derwent. Hopefully suitable material for a future blog post.

Old port buildings, Franklin Wharf
My second day was set aside for a trip upriver to what has become Hobart's leading visitor drawcard - the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), located on a small peninsula about 6km up the Derwent River. In a state known for its conservatism, MONA is a bastion of way-out confrontational modern art - or at least it has a fair sprinkling of confrontational pieces amongst a broad collection with all sorts of material, housed in a remarkable warren of galleries excavated from the Tasmanian sandstone.

The best way to visit is via the MONA ferry, a custom-built (and locally-made) catamaran that plies the route from a pier in downtown Hobart to the gallery. After arriving on the peninsula, visitors climb 99 stairs, enter the facility, and collect their handy iPod-style guide, which is integral to the museum experience. Then they immediately descend back down a spiral staircase (or use the lift, if they're soft) deep into the sandstone bunkers of MONA. The towering smooth stone faces down there make it seem like nothing less than a modern-day pharaoh's tomb. And in a way it is, because MONA is a cabinet of curiosities as much as it is a conventional art gallery.

The electronic guide removes the need for captions on the walls, and as every artwork has an RFID locator, the device can tell the user about all the nearby artworks at a single touch. You can vote on whether you like or dislike an artwork, and then see what other people thought about it. And in another clever idea, if you provide your email address, the device will remember every artwork you looked up, and send you a little interactive map so you can remember your visit. Here's my map below, which omits the first few rooms of the gallery because I was just looking at things at that stage, rather than using the device properly.

MONA personal visit map

Perhaps that was for the best, because the first few rooms contained the Red Queen exhibit, and some of it was generally not my cup of tea. This was the area of MONA marked as 'not for kids', or at least proceed with caution. It was confrontational, certainly - after all, it's not every day you see a 20-foot-large nude portrait of a transsexual in an art gallery, and I could also do without the enormous and explicit portrait of explorers Burke and Wills, although it was clearly meant to be satirical. But still, I'm glad I saw this part of the exhibit, because interspersed with the attention-seeking art were smaller curiosities that proved interesting, like the mummified head of an Egpytian cat from the seventh to the first centuries BC, or the thought-provoking and bleakly humorous cast of the remains of a suicide bomber made of chocolate.

Moving on through the remainder of the galleries I relished the eclectic jumble of modern and ancient, conventional and avant garde:

  • A trampoline adorned with giant Buddhist bells, which sends a serene clangour reverberating through the sandstone halls. 
  • A room populated with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, each of which is full of books with blank white pages covered by a white dustjacket. 
  • A huge human head with perspex windows in the skull to allow observers to view the clockwork strobe-flickering dreams within. 
  • A Porsche Carerra morphed into a 'fat car' with the addition of bulging polystyrene curves.

If you're in Hobart, MONA is definitely a must-see. The gallery asks that visitors don't post pictures of the artworks, but you can view them on its website. Instead, here's a photo of the underground entranceway to give you an idea of the impressive architecture.

MONA entrance hall, 11.11.13.

After taking the ferry back to downtown Hobart, I spent my last evening in town enjoying a film (Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa) at the State Cinema in North Hobart (375 Elizabeth St). The next day I headed out for a Tasmanian roadtrip, starting of course with the world heritage site at Port Arthur.

Following this trip I did return to Hobart a few days later to return my rental car and fly back to the mainland. Having an hour or two to spare, I took the Hyundai for a spin up to the summit of Mt Wellington, the 1271-metre mountain that looms over Hobart and the Derwent, providing a spectacular vantage point from its summit. I have to say that the drive up the snaking, narrow road to the top sent me into a cold sweat, with sweeping vistas and enormous cliffs looming ever nearer. At the top an icy microclimate offered chilly winds but also the relief of terra firma. Here's the view from the observation platform (click to enlarge):

Mt Wellington panorama, Hobart

25 November 2013

Viva Maria!

Viva Maria! promo poster (source)
Tonight's final Film Society outing for the year was the tremendous Latin American farce by Louis Malle, Viva Maria! Released in 1965, the film features the charms of not one but two French cinema superstars - Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau. The 31-year-old Bardot is simply stunning of course, but the 37-year-old Moreau (known around the world for her famed role in Truffaut's Jules et Jim and many other films) more than holds her own, and her involvement was critical in getting the film made in the first place.

The plot - which is commendably coherent but as daffy as humanly possible, sees Bardot and Moreau's characters, both named Maria, meeting up in a travelling circus roaming the backblocks of Latin America. Moreau is a traditional singer, while Bardot, a trained explosives expert who is the daughter of an Irish Republican anarchist (!), joins the circus as Moreau's partner to escape the authorities - most of whom she already seems to have blown up at some point in her short but beautiful life.

Quickly the Marias discover that what Bardot's Maria lacks in stage presence, she more than makes up in initiative. The Marias' stage act becomes a saucy French striptease (strictly PG-rated - don't watch if the sight of bloomers distresses you), bringing down the house in every pueblo the circus visits. But soon they are caught up in the dastardly dealings of the cartoonish dictator of San Miguel and his evil and equally OTT henchman Rodriguez. The Marias vow to bring down the hated oppressor of the peasantry and liberate the masses with their own unique brand of steely determination and (literal) drop-dead gorgeousness. As befits a highly-trained and silky-tressed revolutionary, Bardot is allowed to shine as she rolls up her sleeves, pouts coquettishly, and blows up sundry opponents with a swiftly lobbed incendiary. The film also contains the best use of a machinegun in a western setting until The Wild Bunch in 1969. After all, wouldn't you rather see Brigitte and Jeanne cheerily decimate dozens of foes rather than Peckinpah's stubbly heroes?

Aside from the action, Viva Maria is packed full of the silliest, most delightful jokes. In the early scenes of country hysteria as everyone drops everything to see the marvellous mademoiselles perform their dainty striptease, Malle shows a peasant farmer pushing his way to a ticket booth to pay for an entry ticket with a live chicken; cutting to the ticket attendant's side, we see her place the chicken carefully alongside several other live chickens already paid in full. Bardot's supposedly chaste and virginial Maria, now without the protective influence of her father, is encouraged by Moreau's Maria to sample the joys of romance - but being Bardot, one fellow will simply not suffice. She collars three, and returns to the circus the next morning in their carriage, giving each beau a friendly peck on the cheek to bid them adieu, and then proceeds to chalk up their names on the walls of her caravan as a trophy. (Pretty soon she runs out of wall space). And as the circus passes through a parched, dusty desert, the camera pauses for a few seconds as the troupe encounters a previous traveller down the same road - a full horse and rider skeleton fixed in riding posture, with a straw hat perched jauntily atop the man's skull. Just imagine how much effort that must have required for a five second joke!

The trailer below gives a good idea of Viva Maria's charms, but contains an irritating Greek chorus of American voices interspersed amongst the action, so presumably it's from the dubbed American version. Needless to say, if it's even available these days, on no account should you see the dubbed version. It's French or nothing!

See also:
Music: Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot, 'Bonnie & Clyde' (1968)
Movies: Ruggles of Red Gap, 17 September 2013
Movies: Film Festival 2013 roundup, 12 August 2013
Movies: Tabu, 28 May 2012

24 November 2013

Neil Finn on Morning Becomes Eclectic

A 45-minute clip of Neil Finn appearing on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic show in Los Angeles hosted by Chris Douridas, 19 November 2013. Backing from LA string wizards the Section Quartet, plus New Zealanders Victoria Kelly on keyboards and Chris O'Connor on percussion. Setlist:

  • Dizzy Heights
  • Impressions
  • White Lies & Alibis
  • In My Blood
  • Sinner
  • Better Than TV
  • Recluse
  • Distant Sun

See also:
SetlistNeil Finn at Poisson Rouge, New York, 21 November 2013 
News: 'Neil Finn brings strings for solo show at Largo', LA Times, 19 November 2013
Review: Neil Finn & Paul Kelly, Goin' Your Way, The Australian, 16 November 2013  
BlogPajama Club, Wellington, December 2011
Blog: Crowded House, London, July 2010
BlogCrowded House, London, June 2007 

23 November 2013

Houghton Bay

On an idyllic windless Wellington spring afternoon, a secluded sandy cove on the south coast awaits.

See also:
Wellington: Wright's Hill Fortress, 29 October 2013
Wellington: The creatures beyond the Devil's Gate, 25 May 2013
Wellington: Highbury to south coast walk, 17 February 2013

21 November 2013

Who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?

The trailer for the National Theatre production of Macbeth by Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh, featuring Branagh as Macbeth and Alex Kingston as Lady Macbeth - seen last night at the Lighthouse Cuba here in Wellington. The performances were as strong as expected, and the staging in the deconsecrated St Peter's Church in Manchester was excellent, making full use of the nave, which was filled with clingy, rain-moistened turf. All the better to soak up the blood, I expect, particularly that of the cast-member who was reportedly struck by Branagh's sword and sent to hospital after one performance.

19 November 2013

Best New Zealand provincial news item ever

Burning jandal 'nuisance'

Seventeen fire officers were called out to Waimea College at 3.40am yesterday to deal with a flaming jandal.

Richmond Volunteer Fire Brigade station chief Ralph Lonsdale said the jandal had been set on fire deliberately and was "burning furiously".

"We're now waiting for the other jandal to catch fire, wherever it is."

He said the fire was near the tennis courts, and the brigade regarded it as a nuisance fire.

Waimea College associate principal Graeme Smith said this morning that he had not heard anything about it.

The Richmond brigade also attended a vehicle accident in Hope's Main Rd at 2.30pm yesterday.

- Nelson Mail, 18 November 2013

See also:
NZ: Canny vandals take note, 27 August 2013

08 November 2013

Is the world still out there?

Do you think our building owner might be skimping slightly on the window-cleaning budget? (Luckily this was taken yesterday; today they were finally scrubbed clean after months of waiting).

07 November 2013

MPs departing Parliament

With the recent news that increasing numbers of MPs, chiefly from the governing National Party, will not be standing for re-election in 2014, here's a summary of the members who have already left Parliament during this current term, the ones who have already announced that they will retire in 2014, and some possible additional retirees who have been mentioned in the media.

Departed since 2011 election (sorted by departure date)

Paul Quinn (National)
MP 8 November 2008 to 15 December 2011. Provisionally returned to Parliament on election night 2011, following the counting of special votes Quinn was not returned. 

Dr The Rt Hon Lockwood Smith (National)
14 July 1984 to 14 February 2013. 28th Speaker of the House 2008-13, Minister of Education 1990-96. Appointed as High Commissioner to the UK in March 2013. 

Charles Chauvel (Labour)
1 August 2006 to 11 March 2013. List MP who departed to work for the United Nations in 2013.

Hon Parekura Horomia (Labour)
27 November 1999 to 29 April 2013. Minister of Maori Affairs 2000-08, and MP for Ikaroa-Rawhiti 1999-2013. Died at home in Tolaga Bay in April 2013, aged 62. The first MP to die in office since Rod Donald in 2005.

Dr Jackie Blue (National)
17 September 2005 to 20 May 2013. List MP appointed as Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner from June 2013.

Aaron Gilmore (National)
8 November 2008 to 26 November 2011, 19 February 2013 to 27 May 2013. Controversial list MP who resigned in May 2013. 

Hon Lianne Dalziel (Labour)
12 October 1990 to 11 October 2013. Minister of Commerce 2002-04/2005-08, ACC 2001-02. Left Parliament to run for the Christchurch mayoralty. Sworn in as Mayor on 24 October 2013.

Announced they are not standing for re-election in 2014 
(sorted by date first entering Parliament)

Ross Robertson (Labour)
Electorate MP since 1987, currently for Manukau East, age 64.

Hon Bill English (National) - to List
Deputy PM and Minister of Finance since 2008, former Leader of the Opposition 2001-03, electorate MP since 1990, currently holds Clutha-Southland, age 52. Retiring from electorate MP duties to move onto party list at 2014 election. 

Hon Tariana Turia (Maori)
Minister for Community & Voluntary Sector 2002-04, 2008-present, Disability Issues 2009-present, for Whanau Ora 2010-present. MP for Labour 1996-2004, for Maori Party 2004-present. Currently MP for Te Tai Hauauru since 2002, age 69. Retiring from politics at 2014 election.

Hon Phil Heatley (National)
Minister of Housing 2008-13, Fisheries 2008-11, Energy 2011-13; MP for Whangarei since 1999, age 46. Reshuffled out of Cabinet and lost ministerial rank in January 2013, and chose to retire in 2014.

Paul Hutchison (National)
Electorate MP since 1999, currently for Hunua, age 65.

Hon Chris Tremain (National)
Minister of Internal Affairs 2012-present, MP for Napier since 2005, age 47. Opted to retire in 2014. 

Chris Auchinvole (National)
MP since 2005, currently a list MP, age 68.

Hon Kate Wilkinson (National)
Minister for Labour 2008-12, Food Safety 2008-13, Conservation 2010-13. MP since 2005, initially a list MP, but since 2011 MP for Waimakariri, age 56. Lost ministerial role in January 2013 reshuffle, and chose to retire in 2014.

Hon Pita Sharples (Maori)
Minister for Maori Affairs 2008-present, MP for Tamaki Makaurau since 2005, age 72. Retiring from politics at 2014 election.

Katrina Shanks (National)
List MP since 2007, age 44.

Cam Calder (National)
List MP since 2009, age 61.

Rumoured to be considering retiring / going onto party list

Hon Annette King (Labour)
Minister of Health 1999-2005, Police 2005-08, MP 1984 to 1990 and 1993 to present, currently MP for Rongotai, age 66.

Lindsay Tisch (National)
Electorate MP since 1999, currently for Waikato, age 66.

John Hayes (National)
MP for Wairarapa since 2005, age 65.

Eric Roy (National)
MP 1993 to 2002 and 2005 to present, currently MP for Invercargill, age 65.

Shane Ardern (National)
MP for Taranaki-King Country since 1998, age 53.

See also:
NZ: Parliament - Former MPs 2006-present
NZ: The role of campaign spokesperson, 22 October 2013
NZ: Leaving the House, 13 November 2008

06 November 2013

A thrilling turn for the epistolary

Although Lost in Showbiz doesn't really care to have the effluent of Fleet Street in the house, it is dimly aware that Steve Coogan's been in a bit of a bate with newspapers of late. The temptation to throw the baby out with the bathwater must be immense – and yet, if only the comic and actor would heed the wise words of Andreas Whittam-Smith, former editor of the Independent, who once observed that to write an open letter was an act of journalistic madness.

Last weekend, you may be aware, Coogan opted to respond to a column by the Observer's David Mitchell by writing him an open letter, also published in that newspaper. Mitchell consequently wrote an open letter of reply to Coogan, which was itself published in the Observer – at the very same time at which his frequent comic partner, Robert Webb, was engaged in another, unrelated act of open letterdom somewhere across town. Webb was displeased by something Russell Brand had written to readers in the edition of the New Statesman the latter guest-edited last week, and has written an open letter to Brand about it all, which is published in this week's New Statesman.

What a thrilling turn for the epistolary public life has taken! In fact, it is to be hoped that by 2019, all political debate in this country will be framed by various comedians writing frothingly cordial letters to each other.

Even now, some funnyman or funnywoman could be dipping a fountain pen in to the special open-letter ink, and preparing to join this esteemed fray, like the various unreliable narrators of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. "My dear Vicomte MacIntyre …" "I received your letter, Madame de Millican, but suggest on that contrary that …" "Would you do me the immense courtesy of having a word with yourself, Chevalier Carr?"

- Marina Hyde, 'Calling all comedians: stop writing tetchy open letters to each other', Guardian, 31 October 2013

[Brand has since replied to Webb's reply. Free publicity for all concerned, I guess]

See also:
Comedy: David Sedaris - Entertaining house guests, 29 September 2013

05 November 2013

100 years on - The Battle of Featherston Street

Today's Dominion Post reports on a small parade in Wellington to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Featherston Street, the most violent episode in the fraught industrial dispute known as the 1913 Great Strike.

In 1913 violent street clashes occurred in Wellington when rural anti-union sympathisers deputised as 'special constables', who were better known as 'Massey's Cossacks', clashed with stone-throwing watersider sympathisers. On this day 100 years ago this erupted into the Battle of Featherston Street, in which the mounted 'Cossacks' made repeated charges to break up unionist sympathisers and succeeded in reclaiming the wharves to allow strike-breaking labour to access the facilities. Ultimately this defeated the watersiders' strike and resulted in the failure of the 1913 strike. But as the history texts point out, 1913 was a pivotal year for New Zealand workers, because six of the strike leaders (Bob Semple, Peter Fraser, Paddy Webb, Bill Parry, Dan Sullivan and Michael Joseph Savage) went on to become Ministers in the first Labour government in 1935, and of course two (Savage and Fraser) became Prime Minister.

These famous photos were taken at the height of the Featherston Street clashes, showing the impromptu cavalry formations and the billyclubs carried by the specials. It is worth pointing out that despite the violence of the 1913 strike, there were fortunately no fatalities.

Charging the strikers (via NZHistory)
Fleeing the charge (via NZHistory)

The editorial in the Dominion of the following day (6 November 1913) unsurprisingly takes the side of the employers, arguing that the radicalism of the strike was harmful to the national interest:

The employers have no desire for industrial trouble. They are anxious to co-operate in the most friendly way with their workmen for their' mutual advantage and for the public convenience and welfare. They want some adequate of good faith in order that business may be carried on without sudden interruptions and unnecessary friction. They believe that the machinery of the Arbitration Court is the best means available for obtaining this security. It may not be a perfect method, but it would be fair to both parties and also a protection to the great third party to all industrial disputes—the general public. The crisis which has now disorganised the industrial life of New Zealand has made it quite clear that, however the present trouble may be settled, permanent peace cannot be restored until the sober-minded and law-abiding section of the workers, who really form the vast majority, take the control of the labour fighting machine out of the hands of the revolutionary extremists.
As for the conflict in Featherston Street, the Dominion was firmly on the side of the Cossacks, who were pelted by bystanders with debris and rocks, like an occupying army:

The conduct of the mounted specials under these trying and dangerous circumstances was such as to win for them the admiration and respect, of every decent minded citizen who witnessed it. Their pluck and endurance were magnificent. Almost invariably they were attacked from behind or from some point of vantage where their cowardly assailants knew they were beyond reach of immediate punishment. When, as was imperatively necessary from time to time, they charged the rioters, they sent them scattering in all directions for shelter, from which they emerged when all was clear again to resume their dastardly tactics.
A different perspective was offered by the workers' paper, the Maoriland Worker, in its next weekly issue published on 12 November 1913:

The "Evening Post" records that a "hail of road metal" greeted the specials as they galloped into Featherstone [sic] Street. This is not quite accurate. Still, it is a fact that the people were thoroughly aroused by the dastardly conduct of the invaders, and a good deal of stone-throwing took place. "There were times when the only chance a man had to save his own life was to stop his cowardly assailants with a stone," said one resident who was interviewed by "The Worker." Near the Government Railway Department Offices, where the mass of people was greater, and therefore more completely at the mercy of the bludgeon-wielders, one of the worst of the attacks by the "specials" was made. Exasperated by the conduct of individual scabs, as well as by the outrages along the line of march, the people retaliated,with stones, sticks, bottles — indeed, with any weapon to hand. The whole army of horsemen suddenly wheeled around and galloped furiously upon the people, who as soon as they had recovered from the effects of the rush, fusiladed the enemy with every available missile. Repeated charges were made by the perpetrators of the lawless law, and men, women, and children were either struck at or savagely bashed with the batons and axe-handles wielded by the scabs.

See also:
History: The end of six o'clock closing, 9 October 2013
History: 120th anniversary of NZ women's suffrage, 19 September 2013
History:  The bleakest day in NZ history, 12 October 2012

02 November 2013

TV flashback 1986

As the past two instalments of my Listener TV flashbacks have been popular, I thought I'd split the difference. After a glimpse at the viewing fare on offer on 15 April 1981 and 15 April 1991, the best option seemed to be to split the difference. So here then is a snapshot of the television on offer on the two Television New Zealand channels broadcasting on 15 April 1986.
Listener cover, 15 April 1986

The Listener's cover story highlights the premiere of a new television live-action adaptation of Stephen Ballantyne and Bob Kerr's graphic novel Terry & the Gunrunners (clip). This popular series is a reminder of New Zealand's now-waning proficiency in producing kidult dramas - back in the 1970s and 80s this was a niche in which TVNZ excelled. The politics page also ends with a brief nod to the biggest story of the day, the cowardly French secret service bombing of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland in July 1985:

Do French spies Dominique Prieur and Alain Mafart know something we don't? Seeking a splash of colour in their drab prison lives, each has taken out a subscription to the Listener. Not for the usual year, but for six months only. Are they planning on going somewhere later this year?

It seems they did have travel plans - in June 1986 the New Zealand government was heavied into accepting a payout from France in return for allowing the two agents to depart their New Zealand jail and reside for three years on the French Pacific island, Hao Atoll. France breached the agreement, and both agents were back living in France before the three years was up. 

C128 ad, Listener 1986
The standout advertisement from the April 1986 Listener was the full-page ad for the Commodore 128 home computer, the stepping stone between the hugely popular Commodore 64 and the imminent Commodore Amiga. According to the ad, the 128 offered peerless computing flexibility:

Using the Z80A microprocessor the 128 transforms into a business computer running CP/M Plus version 3.0, the latest version of the most popular business operating system for 8-bit micro computers. Famous programs such as dBase II, Wordstar, Calc-star and all of the most used applications together with many specialist packages; 80 columns. The C128 CP/M mode reads various 5 1/4" CP/M disk formats.

ONE - 15 April 1986

3.00 Sesame Street - 'Today presenting the letters H and Q, the number 3, and wearing glasses - relax, you're not alone. Also Te Whakapiri Maori with Jimmy McLean and Anahera Bowen'.
4.00 After School - with Olly Ohlson
4.05 Hans Christian Andersen Fairy-tales: Little Ida's Flowers
4.30 Video Dispatch: 'Lloyd Scott presents news & current affairs for younger viewers, with reporters Vicki Wilkinson-Baker, Kerre Woodham and Hannah Wallis'.
5.00 The Flintstones - Hanna Barbera's stone age cartoon (1960-66, 166 episodes)
5.30 Dr Who - Frontier in Space (2/6, from 1973) - 'Accused of being Draconian spies, Jo and the Doctor (Jon Pertwee) are taken back to Earth' (BBC, 1963-89, 2005-present, 798 episodes) 
6.00 Happy Days - ever-repeated 1950s comedy (1974-84, 255 episodes)
6.30 News
7.30 Then Again - 'Annie Whittle asks the question: "Whatever happened to...?" Following up the forgotten files are Kevin Milne, Judy Callingham, Caroline McGrath and Warwick Burke'.
8.00 Family Ties - Michael J Fox-featuring family sitcom (1982-89, 176 episodes)
8.30 Miami Vice - Swish Floridians popularising white dress jackets* (NBC, 1984-89, 111 episodes) -  'Tale of the Goat: Tubbs gets an inside look at voodoo worshipping which covers up big business'.
9.30 Return to Eden - Australian drama featuring Rebecca Gilling (miniseries 1983, 22-part series 1986).
10.30 Brass - ITV 1930s 'oop north soap satire - 'There's a gathering of clans in Utterley village, which will settle old scores in a final reckoning (Final)' (1983-84, later revisited by Channel 4, 1990).
11.00 News
11.05 Mackenzie - BBC drama series from 1980 including supporting role from Tracy Ullman.
12.05 Closedown

TWO - 15 April 1986

3.30 The Mary Tyler Moore Show - Ground-breaking CBS comedy (1970-77, 168 episodes)
3.55 Eight is Enough - Over-fecund family comedy (1977-81, 111 episodes)
4.55 Country Calendar - TVNZ's perennial rural magazine show (1966-present)
5.15 Small Wonder - Robot family comedy (1985-89, 96 episodes)*
5.45 News
5.50 Te Karere - Maori news (1983-present)
6.00 Sons & Daughters - Australian soap. 'An unexpected arrival at Fiona's property augurs well for her future' (1981-87, 972 episodes)
6.30 The Young Doctors - Australian soap. 'Life at the Albert Memorial Hospital' (1976-83, 1396 episodes)
7.30 Who's the Boss? - Sitcom. Spawned the 2nd-best misheard lyric ever** (1984-92, 196 episodes)
8.00 Wild South - NZ wildlife doco, on Lake Ellesmere's swans.
8.30 Tuesday Documentary: Conquest - celebrating the history of the world's space exploration programmes.
9.30 Eye Witness News - 'The latest news and background stories with Angela D'Audney in Auckland and Lindsay Perigo in Wellington'.
10.00 Freud - 6-part BBC serial on the life, work and ideas of Sigmund Freud, with David Suchet in the title role.
11.05 Mission Impossible - CBS thriller (1966-73).
12.00 Closedown

* Having left acting in 1991, Small Wonder's Tiffany Brissette, who played V.I.C.I. the android, is now a nurse in Boulder, Colorado.

See also:
TV: Justine Bateman - Interview (1983)
TV: Dr Who - Frontiers in Space (clip)

01 November 2013

Use careful watch, choose trusty sentinels

The man who failed dismally as a lookout when he nodded off while his three mates burgled the Te Ngutu Golf Club has received community work. Police were alerted to the burglary and arrested the group who broke in and were busy stealing golf clubs.

Sickness beneficiary Jason Teremoana Rangi, 28, of Hawera, appeared in the New Plymouth District Court yesterday and admitted he was involved in two burglaries on the night of October 10. The court heard he had no previous convictions and lived with his parents.

Judge Max Courtney said Rangi was acting as a lookout for the others "albeit not a very good one" because he went to sleep in the car. However, he was a party to the burglaries, and therefore equally as guilty as the others.

The police summary says on October 10 the four, who were intoxicated, had first burgled a house in rural Kaponga, taking a large number of items from a freezer in the garage. On the way back to Hawera, one mentioned money kept at Te Ngutu Golf Club on Katene Rd.

Rangi stayed in the car but fell asleep while the other three broke into the pro shop and began stealing golf clubs. Police arrived and caught the trio in the area next to the pro shop.

- Lyn Humphrey, 'Nod costly for lookout', Taranaki Daily News, 1 November 2013

See also:
NZCanny vandals take note, 27 August 2013
NZHold the front page!, 20 May 2012 
NZA sunny day over Taranaki, 27 August 2011