TV3 is live streaming the funeral of Nelson Mandela here.
Talkback last night was full of criticism of New Zealand’s delegation to Nelson Mandela’s funeral.
Prime Minister John Key will lead a small group of New Zealanders to pay respects to Nelson Mandela at his official memorial service in South Africa.
“Nelson Mandela was a global icon for freedom who united South Africans following apartheid,” says Mr Key.
“Madiba’s achievements demonstrate what can be attained through forgiveness and reconciliation. His vision for South Africa was one of freedom and equality. It remains an inspiration to the world.”
Mr Key will be accompanied by the Minister of Maori Affairs, Hon Dr Pita Sharples; Leader of the Opposition, Hon David Cunliffe, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Rt Hon Jim Bolger; and former Foreign Minister and Secretary‑General of the Commonwealth, the Rt Hon Sir Don McKinnon.
“This distinguished delegation reflects the mana of Mr Mandela, and the highest regard in which New Zealand held him,” says Mr Key.
“New Zealand has a close friendship with South Africa, built on the solid foundation of Commonwealth, sporting and personal ties. New Zealanders felt an emotional connection with Nelson Mandela and our sympathies are with the people of South Africa at this difficult time.’’ . .
The critics don’t seem to understand that this is about respect for Mr Mandela, not politics and not the past to which they cling.
Attempting to politicise this is disrespectful to the man and what he stood for – reconciliation and forgiveness.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the father of the nation, died on December 5 2013 at the age of 95.
President Jacob Zuma made the announcement from the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Thursday night. He said Mandela passed away at 20:50 in his Houghton home surrounded by his wife, Graça Machel and members of his family.
Zuma said Mandela would have a state funeral and that the flags would fly half-mast from December 6 until after the funeral.
Zuma called on South Africans to “recall the values for which Madiba fought”. . .
Mandela became the symbol of the struggle against apartheid after he was convicted in the Rivonia Trial of charges of sabotage and was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island.
At the end of his trial, Mandela gave a now iconic speech in which he said: “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” . . .
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.
If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.
It always seems impossible until its done.
There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.
There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.
After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.
There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.
In my country we go to prison first and then become President.
I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man.
Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.
A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.
There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.
If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness.
Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement.
In acknowledgement of Armistice Day, in memory of those who served and with gratitude for peace:
In Flanders Fields by John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
The New Zealand War Memorial in London.
British actor Nigel Davenport has died:
Nigel Davenport, the actor, who has died aged 85, will be best remembered for playing dark, strong, rakish toffs, aggressive heroes, scowling villains – and for what he himself called his “dodgy” eyes.
Whether in films, plays or on television, Davenport’s power largely derived, some thought, from his expressive gaze. It could be even more striking in close-up. Amiable or disturbing, it caused tough guys to wilt and pretty girls to sigh. . .
He appeared in more than 40 feature films, ranging from a detective in Peeping Tom, via a tough guy among conscripts in The Virgin Soldiers, to a resourceful psychopath who (in Play Dirty) wipes out a whole army encampment on the grounds that “I didn’t like the tea”. He was also the game warden in Living Free who resigns in order to capture lion cubs and transport them to a distant game reserve, and Lord Birkenhead in Chariots of Fire. . . .
Not a Perfect Day for him and those who loved him, but this is one of the songs which will outlive him:
Mr McCully, who was on the flight, said: “We clearly knew that there was a capacity for this to have an untidy end, and we were enormously relieved that it didn’t.”
He was one of 117 passengers on an RNZAF Boeing 757 to Antarctica carrying which had to circle the Pegasus airstrip near Scott Base for 2 hours on Monday and made two aborted approaches before making an emergency landing in reduced visibility and freezing fog.
The Law Commission is consulting on ideas for changing burial laws.
The terms of reference for the review (which can be found here) are very broad. As well as assessing whether the Act remains fit for purpose, we have also been asked to consider whether, and to what extent, the law should:
- protect the diverse cultural and spiritual needs of individuals and groups with respect to burial and cremation;
- protect land used for human burial, ensuring it is adequately maintained and our cultural heritage preserved;
- provide better guidance and assistance to the bereaved when decision-making at the time of death gives rise to serious disagreements; and
- whether the is a case for stronger consumer protections with respect to the funeral and cremation sector.
Among the issues being considered is allowing people to be buried on family land.
We visited a farm earlier this year with a private cemetery.
The owners had wanted to establish one but were told by lawyers they couldn’t. However, while tidying up the paper work one of the owners happened to read that religions could establish private graveyards.
He did some research, found there was little if any law pertaining to what constituted a religion for this purpose, established one, called it a Christian religion, got the paper work sorted, invited an Anglican bishop to bless the land and that was that.
The family has subsequently built a small chapel beside their cemetery.
There are sensitivities and health considerations around burials and I can see problems if people wanted to start burying bodies on small urban sections.
But I don’t see the need to go through the palaver the people we visited did to establish a graveyard on larger land holdings like farms which are usually passed on through the family.
MP Maryan Street has withdrawn her End of Life Choice Bill from the members’ ballot.
The Bill was promoting voluntary euthanasia which is often called the right to die.
It would also give the right to kill.
It would give people, including doctors, the right to offer, provide and ultimately administer fatal medication.
I have twice given doctors permission to not resuscitate a child.
Tom was just 20 weeks old, Dan five years, both had degenerative brain disorders and both had stopped breathing when I was asked if I wanted treatment to continue.
That isn’t what this Bill is about.
Nor is it about pain relief as part of palliative care.
There might be a grey area now about pain relief which gets to the level where it could be fatal but there is a huge gulf between alleviating pain and deliberately killing someone.
If we ever consider our own mortality most of us would choose to die without pain and with all our faculties intact.
Life and death aren’t always that tidy and palliative care isn’t always optimal.
That is a very strong argument for better palliative care, not an argument for euthanasia.
Our lives are our own but the right to kill is a big and very serious step on from the right to die.
Macdoctor has several posts on the issue.
A phone call yesterday told us a man had been murdered in our neighbourhood.
Further reports on the grapevine haven’t been confirmed.
Police are just saying a man died suddenly and can’t confirm if it was suspicious.
Whatever happened, it’s very sad for those who knew him and if it was the result of crime, it’s far too close to home.
Families of the men who died in the Pyke River mine have been given some hope that the bodies will be recovered.
The Government has approved conditional funding of a staged plan to re-enter and explore the main tunnel leading up to the rock fall at the Pike River Coal Mine, Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges has announced.
The decision follows approval in principle of the re-entry plan risk assessment by the Solid Energy Board.
Mr Bridges said the Government will fund the estimated cost of the plan, at $7.2 million.
“Our criteria are that any re-entry into the tunnel up to the rock fall is safe, technically feasible and financially credible. Safety is paramount, and the High Hazards Unit of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has reviewed the plan and is comfortable with it,” said Mr Bridges.
“This is a highly complex and technical operation and it will be carefully managed in stages, with a risk assessment undertaken at each stage. Ensuring the safety of workers is an absolute bottom line for the Government and Solid Energy.”
Mr Bridges said the scope of the operation did not include entry into the main mine workings which is blocked by the rock fall.
“The Government cannot comment or speculate about re-entering the main mine until the tunnel re-entry has been successfully achieved,” Mr Bridges said.
Some of the families might have accepted that body recovery is unlikely, others haven’t and that will be an obstacle in the grieving process.
This is a first step which will give families hope but it gives no certainty.
Awful as the waiting and wondering must be for the relatives and friends of the men who died, the safety and lives of rescuers must take precedence over the recovery of bodies.
Pixie Williams, also known as Pixie Costello, and best known as the singer of Blue Smoke, has died.
The song, written by Ruru Karaitiana and sung by Ms Costello, marked the beginning of the New Zealand recording industry, being the first record to be wholly produced in the country.
Chris Bourke, author of Blue Smoke: The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music, says the song is important.
“There’s always been music in New Zealand. What the significance of Blue Smoke is it’s the start of an industry where there’s a local record label putting out local records by local artists and written by locals as well. Blue Smoke really got things rolling.” . . .
He was explaining his theory that every child should have a pet that dies and asked me if our daughter, then aged 11, had.
I said yes – a cat, several lambs, a calf, a horse – oh and a grandmother and two brothers.
He was a little nonplussed by the last three but regained his composure and said that was good, because if children learn about loss and recovery when they’re young it will help them cope with it later in life when, faced with other, possibly greater losses and disappointments.
Few if any people go through life untouched by challenges and if children are protected from all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune when they’re young they will be ill-equipped to deal with much more painful ones when they’re older.
Parents naturally want their children to be happy but protecting them from events and situations that make them unhappy provides false security.
So too does protecting them from failure.
A Perth school is cutting back on praise because it’s concerned that society’s focus on boosting self-esteem leaves many struggling to cope with failure on leaving school.
St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls wrote to parents explaining why it introduced strategies this year to minimise praise, reduce reward stickers for participation and provide work that was deliberately too difficult so students could experience failure.
Junior school head Julie Quansing-Rowlands said the prevailing wisdom in schools for many years had been that building up children’s self-esteem would lead to high achievement.
But recent research showed this simplistic approach backfired.
Over-praising meant children were less able to cope with disappointments they faced later in life.
She wrote an article in the school newsletter in response to parents’ questions on why their children were no longer getting 100 per cent on tests and homework.
She said research had found that children who received top marks could develop the perception that learning was easy.
“When they do finally experience failure, they are unable to cope with this feeling,” she wrote.
“Praising children for the 100 per cent or the A-grade develops the perception that success is linked to a state of being smart and to achieve that mark, students have been known to risk cheating.
“Giving students the label of smart does not prevent them from under-performing but may actually cause it.”
Heaping praise on students also gave them a false sense of their ability and led to a sense of entitlement.
“We want to give students praise for what they have control over,” she said. “They don’t have control over their IQ because that’s what they’re born with but they have control over how much work they put in and their perseverance.”
. . . Ms Quansing-Rowlands said as well as teaching academic subjects, schools had to help students develop life skills, such as the resilience and persistence they would need to survive in the real world.
“What we’ve found now is that some children can’t cope with criticism or the fact they didn’t get a sticker for participating,” she said.
Social researcher and author Hugh Mackay said schools such as St Hilda’s were on the cutting edge of a new way of thinking.
“We’re beginning to understand that it actually damages children to constantly praise them, constantly tell them they’re special and build up their self-esteem,” he said.
“New research is demonstrating that it’s not self-esteem but self- respect and self-control that really are the best predictors of how well kids are going to perform in high school.”
Mr Mackay said society’s obsession with the pursuit of happiness and self-esteem was driving the idea that everything had to be fabulous – avoiding pain, suffering and disappointment.
“Whereas everything in our culture says adversity is the great teacher and you don’t build resilience in kids unless they learn to cope with failure,” he said.
Parents and schools have a duty to prepare children for the real world.
That requires the ability to deal with good times and bad, life and death, success and failure.
Children who are helped to deal with disappointment and loss when they are young will be better able to cope with them when they’re older.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; . . .
The author of Ecclesiastes was right.
There is a time to die.
There is also a time to let those we love die and I am saddened by the report which says Nelson Mandela’s former wife, Winnie, and their daughter, Zindzi, say they’ll never agree to just let him go, as he struggles for life.
There is a time when letting go is humane and an act of love, when refusal to do so is an act of selfishness.
I have on two occasions had to make the decision to let a child go.
The first time Tom was only 20 weeks old.
We’d been told a month earlier that he had a degenerative brain disorder and was unlikely to live long.
He’d stopped breathing, been resuscitated but was in a critical state.
His doctor asked me what I wanted the medical team to do.
I said if he was able to help himself they should do all they could but if it was a matter of prolonging the inevitable they should let him go.
The doctor said they’d done all they could, handed Tom to me and he stopped breathing a few minutes later.
Seven years later I faced a similar decision.
Our second son Dan had the same brain disorder that had killed his brother. He was in hospital for an operation and got an infection which he wasn’t able to fight.
When he stopped breathing the doctor asked the nurse to summon the crash team but I said no. Dan’s paediatrician had said if ever something like this happened it would be best to let him be.
The doctor asked if I was sure, I said yes and he respected that decision.
This isn’t quite the same as the imminent death of an elderly man but the principle is.
There is a time when it is right to fight for life and a time when it isn’t.
There is a time to die and a time to let those we love die.
Families of politicians, willingly or not, have to share their spouse, partner or parent with the public.
That must be difficult enough when the politicians are engaged in public life, it is even worse during private times when family should come first.
Someone’s final days are such a time.
Life is fatal.
There comes a time in everyone’s lives when death is inevitable and any attempts to prolong life are inhumane.
That’s the time to let go and let the dying one know that.
Like Brian Edwards I’ve been disgusted by the ghoulish response to Nelson Mandela’s dying.
He’s an old man, an ill man.
He was an important political figure but now he’s a private citizen.
There will be time for others to celebrate his life and mourn his death when he is dead.
This is a time for his family and close friends.
They and he should be spared the public death watch.
English author Tom Sharpe has died.
The BBC has an obituary here.
A man, believed to be a soldier, has been beheaded in a machete attack, believed to be an act of terrorism.
Prime Minister David Cameron said there were “strong indications that it is a terrorist incident” and the UK would “never buckle” in the face of such attacks.
Footage has emerged showing a man wielding a bloodied meat cleaver and making political statements.
There are unconfirmed reports that the dead man was a soldier. . .
Londoners lived with the threat of IRA terrorist attacks for years.
A reminder of this came today with police charging a 61 year-old man for the 1982 Hyde Park bombing which killed four soldiers and seven horses.
Then there were the 2005 underground and bus attacks and now this act of madness.
So sad, so evil.
The BBC has photos, warning, one shows a suspect with bloody hands.
Caroline Starks, two, was killed after her brother accidentally shot her while playing with his own .22-calibre gun – called My First Rifle. . .
The young boy had been playing with a Crickett gun, specially designed for kids, which was given to him last year.
Crickett guns are manufactured for kids by the Keystone Sporting Arms firm on a web page that boasts of their “child-friendly” rifles. . .