28 February 2015

The old rivalry

If you have a long cricketing memory, you will remember that time in 1946 when the mighty Australian cricket team, flushed with the joys of Allied victory in World War 2, deigned to play little New Zealand in a one-off test at the Basin Reserve. It was the first time Australia had been willing to play New Zealand in a test, despite the smaller country having been playing test cricket since 1930. Predictably, given the imbalance in experience and talent, the test was a massacre, with New Zealand dismissed for 42 and 54 and Australia winning by an innings and 103 runs in only two days. There the Allied spirit ended, because following that victory Australia would not play New Zealand in another test match for 27 years, or indeed any sort of international match. New Zealand was simply not worthy of Australia's time. Naturally, the lack of exposure to the world's top team limited the growth of the New Zealand team and was part of the reason it took many, many years for New Zealand to establish any sort of consistency in test cricket.

Now consider today's pivotal ODI at Eden Park between the joint hosts of the 2015 Cricket World Cup, Australia and New Zealand. It will hopefully be a tremendous occasion. But if you examine the record books, it can be seen that increasingly we are returning to the days when Australia avoided playing New Zealand as much as possible. In the last five years New Zealand has played 97 ODIs, and Australia sits low in the table of opponents, alongside Bangladesh and Zimbabwe:

ODIs opponents, past 5 years
Sri Lanka
South Africa
West Indies

The regular ODI rivalries of old, where New Zealand toured Australia regularly and often popped up in the ODI tri-series, is a thing of the past. Shamefully, New Zealand has not been permitted to play an ODI in Australia since a five-match Chappell-Hadlee series in February 2009, six years ago. (The series was drawn 2-2). And Australia has not played ODIs in New Zealand since a five-match Chappell-Hadlee return series in March 2010, which Australia won 3-2. 

Perhaps this will generate some slight advantage for New Zealand, given that the Australian squad will have comparatively little experience playing New Zealand or playing at Eden Park. But ultimately it seems like a great shame that two neighbouring countries play cricket together so infrequently, and I would argue, to the detriment of both.

See also:
Cricket: NZ v England, Wellington, 21 February 2015
Cricket: Old Young Guns, 16 February 2014
Cricket: 9504 days, 12 December 2011

26 February 2015

Shipowners and the 1951 waterfront lockout

The 1951 waterfront lockout - 'the big blue' - still casts a shadow over New Zealand history. Robert Chapman suggested that smashing the unions 'was eventually to transfer the role of being the normal party of government from Labour to National'. Most commentators have also focused on the political fight between the government and the unions. Recently, though, Anna Green has put the shipowners back into the picture, highlighting their stevedoring operations. Stevedores organise and supervise the loading and discharge of ships and it was an extremely profitable business. In 1937 Shaw Savill said that 'stevedoring paid the SS and A Co. so handsomely that they would not lightly abandon it'. Geo H Scales Pacific did very well out of stevedoring in the postwar years. Yet despite the profitability of stevedoring, the lines paid its supervisors badly and went to counter-productive lengths to cut costs. According to Green, 'In pursuit of maximum profits, the shipping companies engaged in a policy of minimum investment on the waterfront. Ambitious to secure a fast turnaround in port while employing the cheapest possible labour, they came into constant conflict with the waterside workers, culminating in the extremely damaging dispute of 1951'.

- Gavin McLean, Captain's Log: New Zealand's Maritime History, Auckland, 2001, p.158-9. 

For more on the dispute, see the above-quoted Anna Green, British Capital, Antipodean Labour: Working the New Zealand Waterfront 1915-1951, University of Otago Press, Dunedin, 2001. 

25 February 2015

A former sub-editor's favourite typos

There have been innumerable "typos" (typographical errors) that have tickled [former Evening Post sub-editor Stephen Moffatt's] fancy over the years, and many that have made the blood boil or resulted in less-than-friendly emails or phone conversations.

"A reporter covering a sheep sale rang the story through to the office and it emerged that there had been a good yarding of 'two-tooth youths'.

"Jewels have often featured: 'the man had a $75,000 18-carrot gold diamond ring'; and 'the British high commissioner got his jewels back, including a $30,000 diamond neckless'.

"Following a fatal accident involving a horse: 'the horse was granted name suppression'.

"We've had a headline, on a story about a school playground, referring to a 'jungle jim'; we've had the Pope 'beautifying' three nuns in a headline; and another headline, on a yarn about a meat company boss, referring to him as 'meat head'.

- 'Long-time journalist a witness to many changes', Dominion Post, 21 February 2015

24 February 2015

NZ459 AKL-WLG timelapse

Two brief time-lapse videos of takeoff and landing this afternoon on Air New Zealand's NZ459 from Auckland to Wellington. It was a smooth trip in an Airbus A320, and a great day for flying. And before you ask, there's no problem using your phone like this on an A320, as long as it's turned onto flight mode and has wi-fi and Bluetooth turned off.

21 February 2015

NZ v England, Wellington

Carnage. A day-night match that was wrapped up even before the stadium lights were required. Fewer than 50 overs needed for both innings. The best ODI bowling by a New Zealander, and the fastest fifty in World Cup history. So dominant was New Zealand in their eight wicket win over England, fans actually left the ground early rather than wait around for the winning runs to be struck. Whatever England is doing with its ODI team at the moment, it's certainly not working. But with individual performances akin to Tim Southee's 9-0-33-7 (which led to this crowd chant in his last over) and Brendon McCullum's boundary-laden 77 from 25 balls, nothing should detract from the utter ruthless dominance that New Zealand displayed. I can't quite bring myself to believe it, but perhaps the confidence this side has built up will actually allow them to compete with the likes of Australia and South Africa in this World Cup.

Southee bowls from the northern end
A full house at the Stadium
Yet another McCullum boundary

For what turned out to be a historic match, it was a bit disappointing to see the intrusion of ICC meddling, which diluted some of the presence and spectacle of the match. While the camera-work was tolerable, the absence of the steady-cam lady who zooms around on a Segway reminded attendees that Star TV have excluded nearly all of the excellent local TV crews in favour of imported cut-rate contractors. New Zealand camera crews are, I think, amongst the best in the world. But ultimately Star is able to do this because the Government specifically legislated to allow visa exemptions for events like this.

A source of much crowd dissatisfaction was the pig-headed decision to enforce a mandatory 45-minute dinner break during the New Zealand chase, despite the home team requiring only 12 further runs to win the game. At that stage the New Zealand run rate was a whopping 12.4, so if there had been a moment of sanity the game could have been allowed to play on and conclude within a mere handful of deliveries. Instead the Stadium resounded to a chorus of booing and perhaps a third of the crowd departed, robbing the huge win of some of the crowd support it deserved.

And during the unwanted innings break the likeable comedian Ben Hurley, who is often entertaining during New Zealand matches, had to compère a pointless foot race between spectators dressed up in giant costumes depicting World Cup sponsors: a giant TV, an inflatable soft-drink bottle, a mammoth trainer. A proud moment for international cricket, this was not. In fact, the somewhat sour taste of the enforced intermission was summed up by the sight of TV commentators Ian Smith, Shane Warne and Ian Botham preparing for their pieces to camera by the boundary, with the glimpse of a spectator's outstretched middle digits protruding into the shot.

Smith, Warne & Botham, and an unimpressed fan

Perhaps they were on day release

@CWCWhiteboard's message to the England fans

See also:
Cricket: NZ v Pakistan, 1 February 2015
Cricket: NZ v England (2nd test), 16 March 2013
Cricket: England v NZ (1st test, Lord's), 21 May 2008

16 February 2015

From New Zealand troopship to Confederate raider

CSS Shenandoah, via Wikipedia

A noteworthy ship that sailed under the Shaw Savill flag in 1863 with troops for New Zealand was the Sea King, which later was to achieve much notoriety as the Confederate raider Shenandoah in the American Civil War. The Sea King was a full-rigged, auxiliary-screw ship of 1152 tons, built by Alexander Stephen & Sons in their Kelvinhaugh yard for Robertson & Co. of Glasgow. She was the first composite-built screw steamship and the first to challenge the tea clippers in the China trade. Her speed on trials was eleven knots. While fitting out she was spotted by agents of the Federal Government of America, but before they could buy her she was taken up by the British Government to carry troops to New Zealand. 
The Sea King sailed from Woolwich on November 11, 1863, with some 300 troops, 37 women and 69 children, and called at St Vincent for coal fifteen days later. When nearing the meridian of the Cape on December 23 she encountered a heavy gale which caused deck damage and during which the troops were battened below for ten hours. She arrived at Auckland on January 27, 1864, after a passage of seventy-seven days made mostly under sail. 
From Auckland the Sea King went up to China and loaded for London, where an agent of the Confederate States arranged for her transfer to American control. With an ample supply of coal, ostensibly for a voyage to Bombay, she put to sea without arousing the suspicion of the British authorities. Off Madeira she was met by another vessel with guns and supplies and handed over to Confederate officers who commissioned her as the Shenandoah. During a cruise of six months under the command of Lieutenant Waddell, she destroyed thirty-seven Federal ships. The Shenandoah was lying in the Aleutian Islands, off Alaska, when Waddell learned of the end of the war and decided to run his ship to some European port. After a passage of 23,000 miles in 122 days the Shenandoah arrived in the Mersey where she was given up to the naval authorities. Her ship's company were released unconditionally and she was handed over to the American consul. In later years she became the Sultan of Zanzibar's yacht and was wrecked on the African coast in 1879. 
- Sydney D. Waters, Shaw Savill Line: One Hundred Years of Trading, Whitcombe & Tombs, Christchurch, 1961, p.16-7.

On 29 January 1864 the Daily Southern Cross newspaper provided a detailed run-through of the particulars of the Sea King upon its arrival in Auckland, and congratulated 'the owners, captain and officers on the successful issue of its first voyage'.

On 8 November 1865 in London, The Times opined on the Shenandoah's unwelcome arrival at Liverpool, and argued that 'it would have been a great relief to ourselves, though little advantage to the United States, had the Shenandoah been simply excluded from the Mersey and left to rove the seas till she should fall into the hands of her pursuers', i.e. the US Federal Navy forces.

15 February 2015

Chinese New Year parade

Photographic highlights of the Chinese New Year parade in Courtenay Place, Wellington, this afternoon.

Wellington City Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown

Wellington Chinese Operatic Society

Plus a not-very-well-framed dragon video, caused by trying to multi-task and shoot video and stills at the same time.

Eddie Izzard: The Milkman of God

Eddie Izzard
Force Majeure
Michael Fowler Centre
14 February 2015

It's always a treat when veteran comedians from the Mother Country expend the effort to fly around the world to entertain colonial audiences, because many don't bother or presume that they would struggle to fill venues here. Luckily there is a strong community of UK comedy-lovers in New Zealand, and I think a particular centre of excellence of aficionados here in Wellington. I've seen the world's premier action transvestite, Eddie Izzard, play in Wellington twice before in the last decade, which shows that he's a recidivist Wellington visitor from way back. Last night's show was another example of the benefits of expert-level absurdist comedy garnished with a commendable level of respect for an audience's ability to follow relatively complex material. 

After the requisite hero's welcome, Izzard launches into a series of loosely-linked digressions into a suitably deft ramble through the mysteries of human nature, the follies of history, and man's inhumanity to man (and chickens). His outlook is humanitarian with a philosophical bent, as illustrated by his sojourn into the ethics and logic of human sacrifice to the gods, which culminates in the self-defeating notion of a holy man bringing forth a hundred virgins to be sacrificed to a vengeful god, only to find that behind his back the assembled sacrifices have, er, 'disqualified' themselves as subjects for virgin sacrifice. Force Majeure proceeds onwards with a stately mix of Dadaist interpretations of history, including a satisfyingly daft running joke involving Julius Caesar's military advice being provided by Marc Antony who happened to be a chicken in disguise. Much fun is also had with Liam Neeson's craggy performance in the stinker Clash of the Titans, which surely must sit alongside Colin Farrell's Irish accent as Alexander the Great as the most legendary Hibernian accents in cinematic depictions of classical civilisations. Now all we need is a film casting Jedward as Romulus and Remus and cinema can be considered complete. 

Izzard is at his most engaging when he delves into his own life for material, such as the oft-discussed episode when as a teenager he was caught stealing makeup and manages to extricate himself from serious trouble by claiming it was all either a ruse to join the SAS or to win the affections of a French girl he met on an exchange trip. The second half of Force Majeure benefits from this material and the in-built callbacks to earlier discussions that reward an audience that pays attention and credits us with a modicum of intelligence. Similarly, Izzard's foray into standup comedy in French and German (to which he has recently added Spanish) permits forays into multi-lingual comedy, a highlight being Izzard's impersonation of Martin Luther trying to nail his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg Castle in 1517 during a howling gale: 'Wo ist These sechs? Ach, es war Scheiße'. Capped off with a resoundingly successful lampooning of dressage riding and a triumphant return visit by the fabled Mr Stephens, the head of the Death Star canteen, Eddie Izzard's Force Majeure was a top night out in the capital, and strongly recommended for comedy fans in other centres.

To round out the evening, Izzard returned to the foyer of the Michael Fowler Centre for a stand-up Q&A session with the audience, in which he handled questions about his TV and film roles and announced that he plans to run for Mayor of London in the next five years or so. This is canny stuff from Izzard, because it will help to prepare him for the duties of a politician, and as he observed, if Georgina Beyer can become a mayor and MP in New Zealand, why can't an action transvestite become Mayor of London?

See also:
Comedy: Bill Bailey, 2 November 2014
Comedy: Reginald D. Hunter, 8 May 2014
ComedyJosie Long, 5 May 2013

10 February 2015

Public transport comes to Onehunga

During the 1860s the first regular public transport service [between Auckland and Onehunga] was started by Captain Henry Hardington. His horse-buses left from outside the Exchange Hotel which was convenient for passengers arriving by ship from Wellington and New Plymouth. It was still not a very comfortable trip and passengers in wet weather could be called on to alight and assist in cutting manuka branches in order to get the vehicle over the swamp near Royal Oak, or sometimes they would be required to walk up Khyber Pass putting a shoulder to the wheel on the steeper part of the incline. 
Hopes were high for a better transport system when tenders were called in 1864 for a branch railway line between Auckland and Onehunga. Financial difficulties and a difference in opinion over the terminus site at Onehunga led to to a halt in construction. It was not until 1873 that the line was completed and passengers were able to commute to Auckland in under twenty minutes. In December the official opening took place when a special train, crowded with eminent citizens from Auckland, arrived for the function and a luncheon celebration at the Railway Terminus Hotel. They were regaled with turkey, goose, chicken, hams and other delicacies with a choice selection of red and white wines. The train is reported to have left on the return journey two hours behind schedule. In 1878 the railway line was extended to the wharf, and was the main transport link between Auckland, Taranaki, Wellington and the South Island until 1908 when the Main Trunk Line was opened. 
- Janice C. Mogford, Onehunga, a Brief History, Onehunga Borough Council, 1977, p.25

The New Zealand Herald of 25 November 1863 records an advertisement for Henry Hardington's Onehunga coach service and his general hires. This was the first year the Herald was printed.

The New Zealand Herald of 7 February 1865 mentions 'taking a seat in one of Mr Hardington's conveyances', and in the same paper on 4 April 1865 there's also a note that Hardington ('that enterprising provider of coach accommodation for the public') had 'placed [horse-drawn] omnibuses on the road between Panmure and Auckland. They will leave either place twice a day at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m'. So it would appear that Hardington's transport empire was already growing. His obituary published in 1887 indicates that perhaps his coaching business started as early as the 1850s, although this in unclear, and other sources suggest a date of 1860. Hardington Street in Onehunga, a short step from where I grew up, is named after him.

See also:
Transport: What if Auckland's Subways were actually subways?, 17 March 2013
BlogMemories of long-dead dogs, 30 June 2011
Transport: Avondale to Onehunga tramlink, 31 October 2010

06 February 2015

Waitangi Day, Makara Peak

Karori Park

En route to Makara Peak

Makara Peak summit

West Wind & South Island

Waitangi Day 1890

In contrast to the elaborate commemorations now established, on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi there was rather less fuss. This is no great surprise, because from an 1877 judicial ruling until the passage of the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975, the Treaty was regarded as a 'legal nullity' by the Crown. 

If the newspapers of the day are anything to go by, there was little official recognition of the 6 February anniversary. In fact, until 1934 the commemorations (what little there were) focused on 29 January instead, that being the date in 1840 on which Captain William Hobson arrived in the Bay of Islands with his officials to commence drafting the Treaty. (For that same reason, the 29th is still commemorated in the north as Auckland Anniversary Day). Formal annual commemorations of the treaty signing did not commence until 1947. 

So perusing the nation's newspapers on 6 February 1890 elicits very little in the way of Waitangi news. Some papers made brief mention to the signing but counted the anniversary from 5 February when the text was put to a gathering of northern chiefs on the lawn at Waitangi, as opposed to 6 February when the document was actually signed by those present. Here is the full contents of the Thames Star's discussion of Waitangi Day on 6 February 1890:

- Foresters' excursion to Coromandel to-morrow.
- Professor Swallows' concert in the Academy to-morrow evening.
- Yesterday was the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in the Bay of Islands.
- The Rarotongans leave Auckland to-morrow for their Island home.
- Bush fires are raging in some parts of the Waikato, near Taupiri and Mangawhare. Ohaupo was surrounded by flames, and rain is eagerly looked for to save much valuable property.

Both the New Zealand Herald and the Waikato Times also carried advertisements for a Government-printed publication of William Colenso's Authentic and Genuine History of the Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Here's the Waikato Times' advertisement:

To be issued by the Government on honour of the celebration of the  
on the 29th January. 
"Authentic and genuine history of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand, February 5th and 6th, 1840, being a faithful and circumstantial narration of events which happened on that memorable occasion, with copies of the Treaty in English and in Maori, and of the three early proclamations respecting the founding of the Colony. By Wm. Colenso, F.R.S., F.L.S., etc." 
Price, 1s ; Postage, 2d.

On the then day of commemoration, 29 January 1890, Wellington's Evening Post issued a splendidly curmudgeonly slice of humbug regarding the public holiday:

Our usual budgets of cable messages and telegrams are missing to-day, owing to the closing of the Telegraph Office. Having already celebrated the actual Jubilee of the colony in a fitting way, the citizens of Wellington are to-day paying little heed to what has been aptly described as the "red-tape Jubilee," beyond anathematising the official "cussedness" that brings about the closing of banks and public offices at a time when the ordinary business of the city is in full swing. A meagre string of streamers from one foreign-going vessel in port, and the decoration of the tower and roof of the General Post Office, make up the sum-total of the outward appearance of rejoicing.

03 February 2015

Neither confirm nor deny

In 1985 following the New Zealand Government's rejection of a proposed US Navy visit to New Zealand by the USS Buchanan, the then Deputy Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer flew to Washington to try to defuse the growing diplomatic impasse over the country's anti-nuclear policy and its implications for relations with the US and the ANZUS alliance. In his 2013 memoir, Palmer discusses his meeting with US Secretary of State George Shultz:

The Secretary of State said at one stage in the conversation the most persuasive thing any American said to me during the whole visit. He told me he knew New Zealanders. They were from a small, law-abiding country with a very direct sort of democracy. They were not going to accept the ambivalences on the issue [of nuclear weapon-armed vessels] that were accepted by some of the Asian countries. Deception, lies and dissembling would not work with them. If New Zealanders said there would be no nuclear weapons in their ports, that is what they meant and that is how it would be. That is why he thought the US could not go down the road I was proposing. I felt, myself, that this was the most persuasive reasoning I had heard. The rest of the world would know too that we were forthright and direct. We would only let in ships without nuclear weapons and that would compromise American policy. It has been suggested that I was upset by Shultz's stance. I was not. I understood it. He was saying 'we can't go there. You will have to decide what to do now'. Some of the [New Zealand] diplomats may have felt I should have offered more, but there was nothing more in my brief to offer. It had been worked through thoroughly before I arrived. I knew from that moment there was no way through, and although efforts went on for months they all came to nothing, as I knew they would.
- Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Reform: a memoir, VUP, Wellington, 2013, p.481.

The Fourth Labour Government would go on to enact the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act 1987, which remains in force.

01 February 2015

1st ODI vs Pakistan, Wellington

In an odd little addendum to the mammoth seven-match ODI series against Sri Lanka, which New Zealand won 4-2, Pakistan have also arrived and are playing two ODIs against New Zealand in preparation for the World Cup. The first was held yesterday, a day-nighter at Wellington's Stadium. The conditions were perfect, with almost no wind and warm temperatures, in line with the run of amazing summer weather the capital has been enjoying these past few weeks.

Pakistan was put into bat, doubtless because of the few spits of rain that wafted around in the morning but failed to cause any problems for the game. The visitors' batting seemed tentative and the run-rate failed to accelerate, with wickets falling at steady intervals until number eight batsman Shahid Afridi arrived. Afridi, who is getting on for nearly 400 ODI appearances, took to the New Zealand bowling with his traditional manic onslaught and struck 67 from 29 balls including nine fours and three sixes, making it all look rather easy. Captain Misbah-ul-Haq was the other fifty in the Pakistan innings, comprising 58 from 87 balls, but few others contributed and in the end the innings limped to conclude at 210 all out in the 46th over. All-rounder Grant Elliott was the top wicket-taker (4.3-0-26-3), but both the experienced Kyle Mills (10-2-29-2) and the former test specialist Trent Boult (9-0-25-2) impressed with their frugality.

New Zealand's response kicked off with an ironic round of applause for opener Martin Guptill for surviving his first ball, having fallen for a golden duck twice against Sri Lanka. Captain Brendon McCullum did his usual carve-'em-up attempt, which sometimes comes off but usually results in a quick-hit fizzer, as it did in this match (17 from 12). Guptill and Tom Latham soldiered on at a reasonable run-rate without dominating the attack, but once Ross Taylor and Grant Elliott came to the crease the match was truly won. In an undefeated if generally unexciting stand Taylor and Elliott put on 112 runs. Both scored fifties, with Elliott's being the quicker of the two (64no from 68), which saw New Zealand win the match by seven wickets even before 40 overs of the chase were completed. Elliott was later named man of the match, and the teams head on to Napier for the second and final match in a couple of days.

Mohammad Hafeez 0 (5) b. Mills

Keep your head up, Adam Milne!

Shahid Afridi 67 (29)

From the Stadium mezzanine lounge

Brendon McCullum 17 (12)

See also:
Cricket: 2nd T20I vs West Indies, 16 January 2014
Cricket: Wellington v Canterbury T20, 8 January 2012
Cricket: NZ at the 2011 Cricket World Cup, 30 March 2011