Word of the day


Wellaway  – an expression of sorrow, grief, woe or distress; a lamentation.

Thursday’s quiz


1. Who composed Bolero?

2. Who said: Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”?

3. What is the capital city of Andalucia?

4. What was Sir Keith Holyoake’s middle name?

5. It’s dolor in Spanish, douleur in French, dolore in Italian and pāmamae in Maori – what is it in English?

Degrees of separation


One of the men who died in the Pike River mine is the cousin of one of our staff.

That won’t be unusual in New Zealand where our small population results in very few degrees of separation and that is why today it’s not an exaggeration to say the country mourns.

If we don’t know someone, we’ll know someone who knows someone who died, who is grieving, and/or who is helping.

Kiwiblog has delivered some well deserved bouquets to some of those involved.

I second that and make particular mention of the politicians.

We usually see what divides them but from the start of this tragedy we’ve seen the common humanity which unites them. West Coast Tasman MP  Chris Auchinvole and list MP Damien O’Connor have been there as MPs and Coasters doing what they can to support the people they serve.

As Prime Minister John Key said:

 New Zealand stands shoulder to shoulder with you. Though we cannot possibly feel this pain as you do, we have you in our hearts and our thoughts. Like you, we had all longed for that miracle to occur-that your men would be returned home to you. Tonight, on behalf of the people of New Zealand, we send our sympathy to the children who have lost their fathers, to the parents who have lost sons, to the wives who have lost their husbands, to the girlfriends who have lost their partners, to the siblings who have lost their brothers.”

What can you do to help?


While the country is focusing on the deaths of the 29 men who died in the Pike River coal mine, life and death – which is a part of it – are going on for other people in other places.

Today friends are holding a memorial service for their daughter who died after a riding accident overseas. They will be just one of many families facing up to the death of someone they love.

Every day someone dies as the result of illness, accident or crime. Almost all leave behind people who loved them and they have wider friends and family who want to help but don’t always know what to do.

The following suggestions are adapted from a piece I wrote on the death of a child for North and South in 1991.

Please don’t ask “how are you?” unless you really want to know the answer.

How are you?” has become a meaningless greeting to which the expected answer is “fine”. But I am not fine. At best I’m a bit fragile and a lot of the time I’m far worse – I feel upset, hurt, bewildered, angry, guilty. These and other normal feelings which follow the death of someone you love are not the things of casual conversation. If you are not prepared to hear about them, please choose another way to greet me.

Don’t expect too much of me too soon.

If I’d broken my leg it would be in a cast and you wouldn’t expect me to get back to normal for months. You can’t bandage a broken heart and you can’t see the scars. But they need time to heal and I need time to come to terms with the realisation that “normal” from now on is life without the one I loved.

Don’t ignore the death or the one who died.

You wouldn’t have any trouble talking about good news. If I’d just won Lotto it would be the first thing you would mention. Bad news is different – you probably don’t know what to say or how to say it. But the death is the biggest thing in my life and it helps if you acknowledge that.

Be honest, and try to avoid platitudes.

“This is awful, I don’t know what to say” is more real and more honest than clichéd phrases that may not be true anyway. Time alone doesn’t heal, the fact we have each other is irrelevant because drowning people can’t save each other and there is no comfort in the suggestion that any god would will a tragedy.

Don’t think that having, or being able to have, other children or other relationships will be of any comfort now.

People can’t be replaced. I loved the one I lost for who he was as an individual, not as an interchangeable piece in a set and mourning for him, at least at first will strain rather than strengthen bonds with others in my circle.

If you want to help, make a specific offer or just do something.

Saying “if there’s anything I can do” might make you feel better, but I’m unlikely to take you up because I probably don’t know what I need and I’m unsure what your “anything” means. However if you turn up with food, an offer to babysit,  or just a listening ear, your kindness will be gratefully accepted.

Practice, don’t preach.

However weak or strong my faith, and whatever your beliefs and mine, this is no time for sermons.

Be sensitive.

I find it hard to believe life in the outside world is still going on when my private world has collapsed. I hope this death won’t leave me bitter. But when I’m struggling with the weight of my own feelings I may not be able to appreciate your joys or sorrows.

Don’t expect me to follow a prescribed pattern of grieving.

Denial, anger, guilt, depression and acceptance are all stages in the grief process but no two people will go through them in the same way. I’ll have good days and bad days, sometimes I’ll cope with a lot, at other times I’ll be undone by little things. It may seem illogical, but feelings often are.

Don’t confuse control with coping.

A stiff upper lip probably means I’ve got a tight rein on my feelings, not that I have come to terms with them. You may not be comfortable with crying or screaming but they are far healthier than numbness, which can be a sign of denial.

Keep in touch.

I’ll always be grateful for the practical and moral support you gave immediately after the death and I know you have to get on with your life. But grief doesn’t end with the funeral and occasional phone call, note or visit will let me know you haven’t forgotten.

This death has left me emotionally shattered. It will take time to put the pieces together, to start looking outwards again. But when things get really bad, knowing there is a friend who cares enough to give practical support will help heal the grief wound.

November 25 in history


On November 25:

1034 – Máel Coluim mac Cináeda, King of Scots died. Donnchad, the son of his daughter Bethóc and Crínán of Dunkeld, inherited the throne.

1120 – The White Ship sank in the English Channel, drowning William Adelin, son of Henry I of England.


1177 – Baldwin IV of Jerusalem and Raynald of Chatillon defeated Saladin at the Battle of Montgisard.

Schlacht von Montgisard 2.jpg

1343 – A tsunami, caused by the earthquake in the Tyrrhenian Sea, devastated Naples and the Maritime Republic of Amalfi, among other places.

1491 – The siege of Granada, the last Moorish stronghold in Spain, began.

Granada 1492 Detail.jpg

1667 – A deadly earthquake rocked Shemakha in the Caucasus, killing 80,000 people.

1703 – The Great Storm of 1703, the greatest windstorm ever recorded in the southern part of Great Britain, reached its peak intensity. Winds gusted up to 120 mph, and 9,000 people died.

1755 – King Ferdinand VI of Spain granted royal protection to the Beaterio de la Compañia de Jesus, now known as the Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary.


1758 – French and Indian War: British forces captured Fort Duquesne from French control. Fort Pitt built nearby grew into modern Pittsburgh.

1759 – An earthquake hit the Mediterranean destroying Beirut and Damascus and killing 30,000-40,000.

1783 – American Revolutionary War: The last British troops left New York City three months after the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

1795 – Partitions of Poland: Stanislaus August Poniatowski, the last king of independent Poland, was forced to abdicate and was exiled to Russia.

1826 – The Greek frigate Hellas arrived in Nafplion to become the first flagship of the Hellenic Navy.

Hellenic Navy Seal

1833 – A massive undersea earthquake, estimated magnitude between 8.7-9.2 rocks Sumatra, producing a massive tsunami all along the Indonesian coast.


1835 Andrew Carnegie, British-born industrialist and philanthropist, was born (d. 1919).


1839 – A cyclone in India with high winds and a 40 foot storm surge, destroyed the port city of Coringa. The storm wave swept inland, taking with it 20,000 ships and thousands of people. An estimated 300,000 deaths resulted.

1844  – Karl Benz, German engineer and inventor, was born (d. 1929).

1863 – American Civil War: Battle of Missionary Ridge .

Battle of Missionary Ridge McCormick Harvesting.jpg

1867 – Alfred Nobel patented dynamite.


1874 – The United States Greenback Party was established consisting primarily of farmers affected by the Panic of 1873.

1880 John Flynn, Founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, was born.

1880  Elsie J. Oxenham, British children’s author, was born.

1890 Isaac Rosenberg, English war poet and artist, was born.

1903 – By winning the world light-heavyweight championship, Timaru boxer Bob Fitzsimmons became the first man ever to be world champion in three different weight divisions.

Fitzsimmons wins third world boxing title

1905 – The Danish Prins Carl arrived in Norway to become King Haakon VII of Norway.

1914  Joe DiMaggio, American baseball player, was born(d. 1999).

1915 – Augusto Pinochet, Chilean dictator, was born (d. 2006).

1917 – German forces defeated Portuguese army of about 1200 at Negomano on the border of modern-day Mozambique and Tanzania.

1918 – Vojvodina, formerly Austro-Hungarian crown land, proclaimed its secession from Austria–Hungary to join the Kingdom of Serbia.

1926 – The deadliest November tornado outbreak in U.S. history struck on Thanksgiving day. 27 twisters were reported in the Midwest, including the strongest November tornado, an estimated F4, that devastated Heber Springs, Arkansas and killed 51 with 76 deaths and over 400 injuries in all.

1936 – Germany and Japan sigedn the Anti-Comintern Pact, agreeing to consult on measures “to safeguard their common interests” in the case of an unprovoked attack by the Soviet Union against either nation.


1940 – World War II: First flight of the deHavilland Mosquito and Martin B-26 Marauder.


1943 – World War II: Statehood of Bosnia and Herzegovina was re-established at the State Anti-Fascist Council for the People’s Liberation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

1947 – Red Scare: The “Hollywood Ten” were blacklisted by Hollywood movie studios.


1947 – New Zealand ratified the Statute of Westminster and thus became independent of legislative control by the United Kingdom.

1950  Alexis Wright, Australian author, was born.


1950 – The “Storm of the Century“, a violent snowstorm, paralysed the northeastern United States and the Appalachians, bringing winds up to 100 mph and sub-zero temperatures. Pickens, West Virginia, recorded 57 inches of snow; 323 people died as a result of the storm.


1952  – Agatha Christie’s murder-mystery play The Mousetrap opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in London later becoming the longest continuously-running play in history.

StMartins theatre London2.jpg

1958 – French Sudan gained autonomy as a self-governing member of the French Community.

Flag of Sudan

1960 – The Mirabal sisters of the Dominican Republic were assassinated.


1963 – President John F. Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

1970 – In Japan, author Yukio Mishima and one compatriot committed ritualistic suicide after an unsuccessful coup attempt.


1973 – George Papadopoulos, head of the military Regime of the Colonels in Greece, was ousted in a hardliners’ coup led by Brigadier General Dimitrios Ioannidis.

1975 – Suriname gained independence from the Netherlands.

1977 – Former Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. was found guilty by the Philippine Military Commission No. 2 and sentenced to death by firing squad.

1982 – The Minneapolis Thanksgiving Day Fire destroyed an entire city block.

1984 – 36 top musicians recorded Band Aid‘s Do They Know It’s Christmas in order to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia.

1986 – The King Fahd Causeway was officially opened in the Persian Gulf.


1987 – Typhoon Nina pummelled the Philippines with category 5 winds of 165 mph and a surge that destroys entire villages. At least 1,036 deaths are attributed to the storm.

1988 – German politician Rita Süssmuth became president of the Bundestag.


1992 – The Federal Assembly of Czechoslovakia voted to split the country into the Czech Republic and Slovakia from January 1, 1993.

1996 – An ice storm struck the central U.S. killing 26 people. A powerful windstorm affected Florida and winds gusted over 90 mph.

1999 – The United Nations established the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women to commemorate the murder of three Mirabal Sisters for resistance against the Rafael Trujillo dictatorship in Dominican Republic.

2000 –  Baku earthquake.


2005 – Polish Minister of National Defence Radek Sikorski opened Warsaw Pact archives to historians. Maps of possible nuclear strikes against Western Europe, as well as the possible nuclear annihilation of 43 Polish cities and 2 million of its citizens by Soviet-controlled forces, are released.

2008 – A car bomb in St. Petersburg killed three people and injured one.

2009 – A storm brought 3 years worth of rain in 4 hours to Jeddah sparking floods which killed over 150 people and sweep thousands of cars away in the middle of Hajj.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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