Brillig – a nonce word explained by Humpty Dumpty as four o’clock in the afternoon — the time when you begin broiling things for dinner
Once I started a book I used to keep going.
Now if I can’t get into it I give up, preferring to spend precious reading time on something I enjoy.
That said some books are read-once and forget, others go into the favourite category to be read and re-read.
At this time of year I always re-read some of my very favourite books and today I’m grateful to the authors whose work gives enduring pleasure.
One of the criticisms of the proposed new flag is that the fern is just a sporting symbol.
Historian Dr Danny Keenan says the fern was used to represent New Zealand in many ways before it was adopted by sports teams:
The silver fern was once proudly embraced by Pakeha as a symbol of their new-found home in New Zealand.
The fern once anchored new kiwis to this landscape. It’s a shame that we have such short memories.
The major complaint against the use of the fern has been its popular use as a brand, or a logo. Some have said it belongs on sporting jerseys and vests, but not on the flag.
For those of us who care about our country’s history, this level of criticism has been a little disheartening, to say the least. The silver fern does have deep historical roots. Perhaps our modern addiction to mass consumerism, and commercial symbolism, blinds us from seeing the silver fern in its real historical context.
The fern’s appearance as a national symbol goes back to the 1880s, when Pakeha decided that they wanted to be New Zealanders, after all. Census figures in 1886 showed that native-born Pakeha now exceeded ‘Europeans’ living here but born overseas.
This new feeling of ‘belonging’ gave rise to the Native Associations, which formed after a successful inaugural meeting of settlers in Westport in 1890 (inspired by similar movements in Australia and Canada). Branches soon sprang up all over New Zealand, giving rise to an outpouring of nationalist literature, poetry, songs and landscape paintings as Pakeha searched amongst the figurative undergrowth for an organic foothold.
By 1898, there were 2500 members, with branches all over New Zealand, in centres like Dunedin, Wellington, Auckland, Westport, Thames, New Plymouth and Hawera.
Politicians and professionals, as well as ordinary folk, flocked to join, eager to solidify their sense of being a ‘New Zealander’ (a term once directed only at Maori).
Most tellingly, though, the Associations adopted the silver fern as their emblem, taking pride in its natural simplicity. Its acceptance amongst Pakeha grew rapidly. Everyone was soon wearing the silver fern badge. A fern emblem was also worn by our troops in South Africa after 1899; our first Boer War commander, Major Robin, was farewelled in Dunedin by a huge Natives Association gathering. And in Europe, after 1914, the fern was used to adorn kiwi headstones on the Western Front.
Pakeha New Zealanders had found a symbol of home they could live with – the silver fern.
Earlier, however, Tom Ellison of Ngai Tahu had introduced the silver fern to our national rugby team. In 1888 he suggested that the New Zealand Natives team adopt the fern, which they did and now wear of course as All Blacks, as do countless other sporting, civic, community and commercial associations.
As Sir Tipene O’Regan once reminded me, to Maori, the silver fern denotes strength, stubborn resistance, and enduring power, encapsulated in a natural form of native elegance. Maori have always honoured the fern, giving it a pride of place.
Early Pakeha did this, also.
Overseas, the fern has become the unmistakable symbol of New Zealand, earning instant recognition. Thanks to the early efforts of Pakeha, it’s become our national symbol. It’s more than just a mere commercial brand, which is what many commentators and academics with no sense of history would have us believe.
The silver fern was once embraced by Pakeha and survives as a symbol of organic beauty. It takes us beyond our British colonial origins, when, under the current flag, our boys went overseas and died to defend Empire, to say nothing of those 3000 Maori who died on our own soil, defending hearth and home, under attack by the same flag.
The fern represents all of us; we should be proud to see it on our flag.
The Flag Consideration Panel has an infographic on both the existing flag and the one which will go up against it in March’s referendum.
You can see information on the current flag here.
One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others. – Lewis Carroll who was born on this day in 1832.
1695 Mustafa II became the Ottoman sultan on the death of Ahmed II. Mustafa rules until his abdication in 1703.
1756 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian composer was born (d. 1791).
1785 The University of Georgia was founded, the first public university in the United States.
1908 William Randolph Hearst, Jr., American newspaper magnate, was born (d. 1993).
1921 Donna Reed, American actress, was born (d. 1986).
1933 Mohamed Al-Fayed, Egyptian billionaire businessman, was born.
1939 First flight of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning.
1941 Beatrice Tinsley, New Zealand astronomer and cosmologist , was born (d. 1981).
1944 Nick Mason, English drummer (Pink Floyd),was born.
1944 The 900-day Siege of Leningrad was lifted.
1945 – World War II: The Red Army liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland.
1951 Brian Downey, Irish musician (Thin Lizzy), was born.
1951 Nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site began with a one-kiloton bomb dropped on Frenchman Flat.
1962 Peter Snell broke the world mile record on grass at Cook’s Garden, Wanganui, in a time of 3 mins 53.4 secs.
1967 – More than 60 nations signed the Outer Space Treaty banning nuclear weapons in space.
1968 Mike Patton, American singer (Faith No More), was born.
1974 The Brisbane River flooded causing the largest flood to affect Brisbane City in the 20th Century.
1979 Daniel Vettori, New Zealand cricketer, was born.
1981 Tony Woodcock, New Zealand rugby union player, was born.
1984 Pop singer Michael Jackson suffered second and third degree burn on his scalp during the filming of a Pepsi commercial in the Shrine Auditorium.
1996 Germany first observed International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
2006 Western Union discontinued its Telegram and Commercial Messaging services.
2013 – 242 people died in a nightclub fire in the city of Santa Maria, Brazil.
Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia