PO Box 2 Blackball

Paul Maunder's blog




Gaza bites, Gaza hurts. It’s everywhere and nowhere, in the air, in the land, yell it, shout it: No, Stop, Please, Stop.

So the supermarkets have got facial recognition. It’ll never be quite the same going in there. Aware. Bloody hell. Aware. The sniper’s scope with a cross in it. They don’t need a wooden cross on a hill today. A sniper will do.

Two million imprisoned, kept alive by aid and at the mercy of the jailers – for whom they are animals. I remember while researching a film on madness in the 1970s, spending time at the old Kingseat Hospital in South Auckland. One day, hearing strange cries from the back of the large grounds and investigating, I came across a unit devoted to elderly ‘handicapped’ – the mongoloid, the brain damaged… They were literally confined in a cage. I was told that they were people who had never been socialised, could scarcely feed themselves. It was a shocking image,

Who are the unsocialised ones in Gaza? The Trump ‘mob?’ ‘clan’ – neither of those words will do – mafioso is better. They assume more and more the model of the Hunger Games (perhaps the most political book in a decade). Netanyahu and his henchmen? It is one of those appalling situations to which we assume indifference, forget about for months. The US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, an axis of evil to which we bow for reasons of trade. No, best forget it, focus on rugby or the garden, or local shenanigans. There are no drones dispensing tear gas or rockets in the middle of the night, no sniper towers, no occupying army, no border crossings to negotiate. We’re okay, All we have to put up with are some homeless, some kids in poverty and facial recognition cameras in the supermarket. We’re sweet. Except for a conscience that won’t quieten. In frustration. In despair.

What was it like for the townspeople near the death camps? Did they know? Were they aware? Or were they simply minding their own business and watching the grass grow?

Isn’t it time to boycott the US. I’m tired of paying attention to the dysfunctional empire. We are overwhelmed by its culture, its ridiculous foreign policy, its inane leadership, its control of knowledge and information and pharmaceuticals, its media… Time to divest. Time to boycott. Time to seek other friends. We’ll be poorer but we’ll be able to confront the mirror.


On the one hand I want to write about spring, the transformation as the willow trees clothe their branches, as daffodils push into the light, as new growth appears on seemingly dead sticks of blackberry, as myriad blossoms decorate the apple tree, as ducklings play in the pond, bopping one another like unruly kids, as lambs appear and grow ridiculously fast, as people load their cars with plants at the garden shop, as each day brings confusion as to what to wear.

But on the other side of the planet, a hurricane drops three feet of rain on Haiti overnight, before swatting the coast of Cuba before heading for the southern US state. As I ponder the Ministry of Business and Innovation report on economic development for the Coast, I find it alarming that climate change is not mentioned. How can educated experts write about future development without considering the greatest threat facing us, or mention precarious work, or inequality, or the region-city divide that is growing in alarming proportions… Midweek, Grant Robertson gave his talk on the future of work and its relevance to the Coast. A good talk, a nice man, but the local leaders were absent, apart from a token presence by Development West Coast – too busy beavering away at the MBI recommendations, which have immediately become Holy Grail.

In Albert Mall, I watched a group of Chinese tourists take excited photos of a Camelia bush and the Chinese restaurant. Is the tourist experience largely nonsensical? If it becomes the main driver of an economy does the sense of nonsense pervade?

Marama Davidson and some other prominent women headed across the sea to Gaza. The Israeli Defence Force seized the boat, detained the occupants temporarily before deporting them – a ritual of recent times. At least they’ve learned that it is better not to beat them or kill them. A stunt, sneered Judith Collins. Potentially embarrassing, said the PM. Climate change shouldn’t be mentioned, nor should Gaza – both unpleasant topics, like child poverty. Aaron Smith is much better news: a bit of scandal, a penitent All Black.

But it is spring. Down on the field there are now three hares cheekily tormenting the dogs. Can’t catch me.

After a passing rain storm, the drops of water falling from the willow tree create a mosaic of small eruptions in the puddle below. Mesmerising – as the starling chicks in the roof tap and scratch a new life for themselves.

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