Milne muses

June 16, 2019


Gliding On to knighthood

June 3, 2019

Decades of successful playwriting have been recognised with a knighthood for Roger Hall:

He has delivered dozens of hit plays and just received a knighthood, but Sir Roger Hall says there’s no secret formula but “putting your bum on the chair in the morning and working hard”.  . .

He paid tribute to his wife’s support throughout his career for theatre and television, especially before he made his name with sold out public service satire Glide Time in 1976.

“She’s been a very loyal supporter for all those years when I was struggling to be a writer and make myself known. When I was teaching, I came home one day, and she was sitting at home with a baby in her arms and I said, ‘I’m sorry, I want to give up teaching and go writing full-time.’ And she said, ‘Well, that’s what you better do,’ which was a brave decision.”

He followed up his debut play with a string of other hits featuring middle-class “everyman” New Zealanders, including Middle-Age Spread, which played in London’s West End for 15 months. It was also made into a film, with American magazine Variety describing the star, Grant Tilly, as an “Antipodean Woody Allen”.

Several of his works were successfully adapted for the small screen (Gliding On, Neighbourhood Watch, Conjugal Rites, Market Forces) and he won a script-writing award for his work on Spin Doctors.

He organised the first New Zealand Writers’ Week and successfully campaigned for the introduction of New Zealand Theatre Month, which was held for the first time in September 2018.

All this from a man who sailed from England to New Zealand at 19.

“I owe everything to New Zealand, really. It gave me a good university education and it got me away from the class system and it gave me a feeling I could do anything here if I wanted it.”

The late great comedian John Clarke once described Sir Roger’s work as “identifying faults and follies which highlight small monsters in ordinary people, and sometimes excite our sympathy as much as our laughter”.

“John is a very shrewd observer and I was very flattered to get that comment. That sort of comedy has always appealed to me, the mixture of funny and sad.” . .

I saw Glide Time at Dunedin’s Fortune Theatre and have been to almost every other play Hall has written since.

In each of them I remember thinking I’ve heard conversations like that, and then thinking I’ve had conversations like that.

This is one of the secrets of his success – an extraordinary ability to write about ordinary people in a relatable and entertaining way.

The full Honours List is here.


“I did not choose to be a victim, but I chose not to harm others.“

September 26, 2018

Maanki didn’t choose to be a victim but she chose not to harm others:

I am Māori. Tuhinga o mua Ngāti Hāmua a Te Hika a Pāpāuma. Ko taku iwi Ngāti Kahungunua a Rangitāne.

I am Scottish, I am English, I am a New Zealander. I am not defined by the colour of my skin.

I am a victim.

I did not choose to be a victim.

I am a victim of my father’s hand. My father was brought up on the Pahiatua Marae. His mother was young, she became a victim of a kaumatua’s violence. He was conceived by violence, a tamaiti (child) of rape. The rapist was a family member.

My father was taken from his mother, away from his whānau, his iwi and his marae after his father was incarcerated. He went on to live in state care until a foster family was found. My father was taught violence by the people who were supposed to protect and nurture him. Anger followed him, the violence forever ingrained in his heart. He knew right from wrong, he had a choice. He did not stop the cycle of abuse, and he punished me for the actions of his past.

I was a child when it started, an adult when it stopped. Like his father, he was incarcerated for crimes of child abuse, violence and rape. I did not choose to be a victim, but I chose not to harm others. I broke the ongoing cycle of generational abuse. The cycle of abuse that was carried through three generations of Māori stopped with me. . .

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – These are the words of Viktor Frankl a concentration camp survivor.

Maanki’s abuse wasn’t at the hand of strangers, driven by political ideology but by her own father, carrying on the violence he had been a victim of himself.

She has had the strength and the compassion to end that cycle of abuse.

Take care of our children. Take care of what they hear, take care of what they feel. For how the children grow, so will be the shape of Aotearoa.” Dame Whina Cooper. Mohio ana ahau ko wai ahau, e mohio ana ahau ki te wahi e tu ana ahau. Me puta te huringa – I know who I am, I know where I stand. Change must happen.

At the recent Justice Summit in Wellington,  Cabinet minister Kelvin Davis shared these words: “As Māori we need to take care of our own, rather than closing our doors. We need to face up to and free ourselves from the violence that many of our people, our whānau, struggle with.”

If we want to see fewer Māori in prison, our whānau broken apart because dad is in prison and mum is now in rangi (heaven), we must free ourselves and our whānau from the increasing level of domestic violence and abuse in our homes. The drugs must stop, the high level of drinking and violence among our own must be gone.

How many of our fathers are incarcerated, because their fathers taught them the only way to deal with anger was violence, to punch their way through a situation. How many of our whānau have lost a mother, a child, a brother from our people’s own hand.

We can’t choose our parents and children learn what they live. But they can be like Maanki and choose not to repeat it.

The blame needs to stop. It is not the police, the system, the state, the Government, the justice system or even the Pākehā who made a man beat his wife to death, to rape an innocent stranger, to murder their own child or to sexually abuse a daughter or son.

Blaming doesn’t solve problems. People have to take responsibility for their own behaviour regardless of what has been one to them.

No, it was a choice, a choice made by a perpetrator. Māori make  up 51 per cent of the male prison population, and 60 per cent of the female muster.

No child asks to be harmed, nor to watch their dads beating their mums. If we were all true to our Māori traditions, our tikanga respecting the mothers of our children, our whānau, our honour, keeping our whānau safe would be paramount. Māori need to take an honest inward look at their own ongoing behaviours first. Our children need to have the chance to grow up safe, educated and free from violence.

Davis went on to say: “We need to do something together to create a different future for Māori and for their whānau.”

This cycle needs to stop. The men, the fathers, the grandfathers, the elders in prison who have abused their own need to stand up, take ownership and responsibility and say “Enough”. No more blaming everybody and everything for the crimes offenders have chosen to commit.

Prison is a punishment for those who have committed crimes; prison is not based on the colour of your skin. If you are sent to prison it is because you committed a crime, a choice made only by you.

To see a future with fewer Māori men and Māori women in prison will take more than talks and hui. It starts with Māori, rethinking and reteaching the respect, the whakaute, to our children and to one another. It will be a hard, long road but one that will benefit out future generations, to help our tamariki grow not as offenders, but strong, happy iwi that will have a positive influence on future generations to come.

Hapaitia tea ra tika pumua ai te rangatiratanga mo nga uri whakatipu – Foster the pathway of knowledge and strength, independence and growth for future generations.

This reminds me of a story related by Anthony Robins in Awaken the Giant Within.

He told of two men who went through childhood with their father in prison or out committing the crimes which led him back to prison.

One went on to follow his father’s example. The other got an education, had a successful business, married happily and had children and gave back to his community.

Robins asked both men the same question: why did you follow this path?

Both gave the same answer: with a father like mine what else could I do?

It is easy for someone like me, brought up by parents who loved each other and their children, who has a happy marriage with love and support from wider family and friends to talk about making the right choices.

It is so much harder for those who haven’t had good examples to follow and don’t know that love. But Maanki knows how bad the wrong path is, has chosen to take the right one and is providing an example of how to stop the cycle.


Calling 175,000 Richie McCaw fans

September 3, 2018

Kurow is calling on 175,000 fans of Richie McCaw to help fund a statue of their hero in the town:

The small Waitaki town of Kurow needs 175,000 Richie McCaw fans to help erect a bronze statue of the All Blacks great, right where he kicked off his legendary career.

It was hoped the life-sized statue of the most capped test rugby player of all time would bring economic growth and more visitors to the Waitaki Valley.

McCaw grew up in the Hakataramea Valley just across the Waitaki River from Kurow where he began playing rugby for the local club. . . 

Kurow-local Bob Watherston had a dream to erect the bronze statue of the world’s greatest rugby player.

The former chairman of the Statue Project Committee passed away in November last year, missing out on seeing his dream fulfilled. . . 

Along with the Waitaki Valley community, Watherston’s daughter Chrissy Watherston was picking up the slack and has created a Givealittle page, asking for the public’s help.

Watherston asked for 175,000 of McCaw’s fans to pitch in and donate $1 to help get the statue project over the line. . .

Will a statue of McCaw bring more people to the town?

One of Colin Meads attracts fans to Te Kuiti but it is on a main road between other places.

Kurow would require a detour for most travellers but even if the statue doesn’t bring people to the town it might stop those who are passing through.


New Zealand’s Inside Stories

July 11, 2018

New Zealand Story has just released the first three ‘Inside Stories’ for its ongoing series promoting Aotearoa – the Global Film, Ingenuity Film, and Food & Beverage Film.

Each video is fronted by a range of highly acclaimed individuals including tech entrepreneurs, scientists, inventors and famous actors, and aims to bridge a narrative about New Zealand that isn’t hobbits, the All Blacks and beautiful landscapes to the rest of the world.

Each of the three videos is connected to a wider campaign that provides authentic insight into New Zealand stories from the eyes of global and local identities. The campaign argues New Zealand’s reputation for outstanding natural beauty is only part of our story, and showcases our pool of artists, business people, entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators whose stories are just as awe-inspiring as our landscapes. . .

 

It’s fair to say the rest of the world knows very little about New Zealand, and to get the point across NZ Story plans to release a multitude of smaller stories to create a narrative big enough to demonstrate that New Zealand’s contribution to the world is limitless and impossible to ignore.

To do so, it wants to recruit hundreds if not thousands of people who have played a part in our global presence. It has already interviewed immigrants, expats and everyday Kiwis, speaking to everyone from school kids to pensioners and everyone in-between, covering stories about food and wine, culture and invention, business, creativity and much, much more.

But it needs your help and asks you to become a New Zealand storyteller by sharing our story with the world to help tell the world what New Zealand has to offer.

You can read more at Inside Stories.

You can follow New Zealand’s Inside Stories on YouTube ; Facebook ;

LinkedIn ; Twitter and Vimeo.


Feds award farming leaders

June 28, 2018

Federated Farmers presented its annual awards to farming leaders last night:

The awards recognise the hard work of those in the agriculture sector and the ceremony acts as a stage for the recipients to be celebrated on, says Fed’s national president Katie Milne.
“What we’ve seen this year has just been tremendous. Incredible talent. The work that goes on out there in the community is just non-stop so to have the awards is a great way to say thank you and to encourage initiative.”

The awards winners are as follows:

The Outstanding Advocacy Award recipient is Motueka’s Gavin O’Donnell.

The award recognises the hard work of a member that through their tenacity and drive positively affected national or regional policy for the benefits of our farmers.

Gavin, a former head of Nelson Federated Farmers, was nominated for his skills at influencing and communicating the ‘good news’ stories.

The Innovator of the Year Award recipients are Palmerston North’s James Stewart and Mat Hocken.

Federated Farmers uses this award to highlight those who have invested time, effort and resources into finding smart ways to make New Zealand agriculture more efficient and effective.

They were nominated for their work in boosting connectivity. They are the founders of AgTech Hackathon, an initiative designed to link farmers with smarter on-farm solutions.

The Farming Message Award winner is Five Forks’s Lyndon Strang.

The award is for an individual who through writing, public speaking and other forms of media use has done a fantastic job sharing the importance of agriculture with New Zealand’s wider communities.

The primary reason for Lyndon’s nomination was the way he led by example in his area when it came implementing new farming practices, and when Mycoplasma bovis broke in South Canterbury, Lyndon was an approachable voice for local media and helped break down the technical gobbledygook surrounding the disease for the public.

The Federated Farmers Emerging Advocate Award recipient is Gore’s Bernadette Hunt.

The award celebrates an up-and-coming member who champions the needs of their fellow farmers, and is a positive role model for other young farmers with clear goals for the future of the industry.

Bernadette was nominated because of her outstanding contribution in the lead role for Southland during the M. bovis outbreak. 
She also liaised with the Ministry for Primary Industries over declaring a medium scale adverse event due the extended period of dry conditions.

The Federated Farmers Columnist of the Year Award goes to Marton’s Richard Morrison.

The award is the organisation’s chance to thank someone who has made an ongoing effort to communicate the work of the entire group to the wider population through regular column writing for a national, regional or local publication.

Richard puts together thoughtful and often thought-provoking columns that would resonate with thousands of readers – both urban and rural.

The Federated Farmers Provincial Service Award winner is Timaru’s Bob Douglas.

The award recognises the unsung heroes of the provinces who year after year, decade after decade, have contributed to the smooth running of the province and provided outstanding service.

After almost 20 years working as South Canterbury’s provincial secretary and treasurer Bob Douglas has had his years of service recognized.
Bob is known for schooling countless emerging local Federated Farmers’ leaders in meeting protocol, teaches them debating skills and the rights of the Chair.

The Federated Farmers Outstanding Contribution to Federated Farmers Award went to Masterton’s Anders Crofoot.

The award recognises a member who works to promote our advocacy organisation and the agriculture industry by championing the needs of their fellow farmers.
Anders has shown tremendous skill in initiating successful mediation and dissecting the daunting Resource Management Act. 
He has also contributed to the national advocacy work of Federated Farmers serving six years on the board. He has an ability to talk to people of all backgrounds and make information accessible to everyone.

The Federated Farmers Membership Growth Award went to Wanganui.

The award is to recognise the efforts of provinces who actively work to boost membership for Federated Farmers.

This is an outstanding achievement for a smaller province. But Wanganui was not the only team to perform well over the past year. There was exceptional work happening throughout the nation. A special thank you to the teams in Golden Bay, Tararua and the Waikato.


Untouchable Girls

June 4, 2018

The Topp Twins, Jules and Lynda, have become Dames in the Queens BIrthday Honours.

They were rebels, activists. Now they’re dames.

Entertainers Jools and Lynda, the Topp Twins, were appointed Dame Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Or as Jools – sorry, Dame Julie Bethridge Topp – puts it: “The rebels got their medals.” . . .


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