July 29 in history

29/07/2009

On July 29:

18 36 the Arc de Triomphe was inaugurated in Paris.

1848 the Tipperary revolt took place in Ireland.

1981 Police used batons to stop Springbok tour protestors marching up Molesworth Street.

1981 Prince Charles and lady Diana Spencer were married.

Sourced from Wikipedia and NZ History Online.


July 25 in history

25/07/2009

On July 25:

1603 James VI of Scotland was crowned the first king of Great Britain.

James I of England from the period 1603–1613, by Paul van Somer I (1576–1621)
James I of England from the period 1603–1613, by Paul van Somer I (1576–1621)

1837 the first commercial use of electrical telegraph was demonstrated between Euston and Camden Town in London.

1981 Anti-Springobk tour protestors derailed a rugby match in Hamilton.


Generation gap 2

18/10/2008

John Roughan’s column is worth reading in full  .

It’s one of few realistic views on student fees, allowances and costs I’ve read and concludes:

Announcing their living allowance would gradually lose its parental means test, Helen Clark said her “dream has always been to enable our young people to have the kind of support that my generation had”.

Her dream is unduly romantic; our generation did not live as well at university as today’s students do. A student of today dropped into a campus of 1970 would notice the clothing, vehicles, bookshops, cafeteria food and general surroundings much plainer and poorer.

About the only thing more lively in 1970 was the politics and it would strike today’s students as immature. It was generationally embarrassing in Tuesday night’s television debate when Helen Clark could not believe John Key had not taken sides on the 1981 Springbok Tour.

It is not hard to believe a 20-year-old commerce student with conservative views and a new girlfriend was among those not particularly interested. He spans the generation between me and my kids and makes mine seem suddenly dated.

When I consider the economy we have given them, it is not tertiary costs and their debt that I regret, it is the housing debt they face because the baby boomers never learned to invest in anything more productive. Most of my generation never learned to invest in themselves. That’s the difference.

And is one of the reasons too many of my generation – for I’m a baby boomer – didn’t invest in themselves is because we were brought up with governments doing too much for us?

I think that’s part of the problem and one of the reasons we should be very careful of Labour and other parties on the left who think the government should do more because we’ll pay dearly for it.


Generation gap 1

18/10/2008

The Herald editorial points out that the issues of one generation are lost on another.

Since the 1981 Springbok tour, there has, in fact, been no episode that any generation could regard as being of a similar defining nature. Could it be that such a signal event has now arrived?

Generations have been able to immerse themselves in a world dominated by computer technology, the web, galloping globalisation, deregulation and a rising Asian influence without economic hardship or even fear of its intrusion.

The dramatic events of the past few weeks have changed all that. Governments have remade the economic landscape. The worst may be yet to come. If so, this could, indeed seem to be an episode of unarguable importance. But will it be so when prosperity returns? And will questioning during a 2035 leaders’ debate of a candidate’s attitude to it appear largely beside the point?

I’d disagree with the statement that there has been nothing of a defining nature since 1981 because the ag-sag of the mid to late 80s was a defining issue for me.

But that proves the Herald’s point that what was important for some wasn’t  and isn’t necessarily for others, especially if they were young or not even born when it happened.


Urban-rural rift’s a myth

19/07/2008

The urban-rural rift  is a myth a forum organised by the Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science concluded. But there is tension where country and town conflict in lifestyle land.

A day-long discussion at Massey University, to look at the link between town and country, was set against the backdrop of the sale in the past year of 46,000 hectares of farmland in lifestyle blocks of less than four hectares.

About 100 scientists, academics, farmers, students, lobbyists and other interested observers at the event organised by the Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science heard from nine speakers – a politician, an historian, a bureaucrat, an economist, a walkways commission member, a geography professor, a local government planner, a farmer and an environmental manager.

Historian Jock Phillips looked at how we got to where we are.

As New Zealand’s population changed from being rural to urban last century a romantic myth began to grow of the farmer as a larger-than-life sporting and war hero.

This lasted till the 1980s when it began to disintegrate amidst the humour of the Footrot Flats cartoon and television’s Fred Dagg.

A rift began to open, according to Dr Phillips. Rural people did not like being made fun of and at the same time two issues arose that further polarised town and country.

They were the 1981 Springbok Tour and homosexual law reform.

“These cultural issues became a battleground where people came to terms with their rural and urban identities,” he said.

These issues are often given as ones on which there was an urban-rural divide. There may be figures to back up this contention but anecdotal evidence suggests country people’s views weren’t markedly differnt from those in town.

The rift had closed in recent years as farmers had learnt to take on urban values, he said.

For example, country shows had changed to appeal to town visitors – where once pigs were shown in pens now they raced over obstacle courses.

But if this goes too far shows lose their rural character and they become just another event. We went to the Melbourne Show last year, most of it was just side shows and entertainment with stock and country exhibits looking like an after thought. The Upper Clutha Show in Wanaka hs got it right – with high quality exhibits which appeal to town and country yet it still retains its rural character.

City life and values had become central and country people had been forced to turn to that world. They could no longer assume their children would want to stay on the land.

One speaker at the AGMARDT breakfast at last week’s National Bank Young Farmer contest said in the old days the bright offspring were sent away to the city and the slower ones stayed back on the farm, but it’s the other way round now 🙂

Dr Phillips said that while the physical rural image had been dented it had gained values of science, technical knowledge, education and specialisation.

“It is the making of modern agriculture and horticulture.”

However, some stereotypes still remained in the thinking of urban people.

Many children had a Fred Dagg image of farming and did not see it as a viable career and some city dwellers yearned to escape to the country, seeing it as a “geriatric rest home”.

I wouldn’t think many of today’s children recognise Fred Dagg because it’s more than 30 years since John Clark took the character across the Tasman. As for a resthome, if that’s what you want surely you’d be better in town close to public transport and healthcare?

Other address came from Kapiti Coast District Council strategy planner Gael Ferguson and Rangitikei sheep and beef farmer Ruth Rainey.

Read the rest of this entry »


Clark Shoots Messenger

30/06/2008

A tape of Helen Clark’s speech to a journalism conference in which she criticised the media has been released after an Official Information Act request by a member of the public and the intervention of the ombudsman.

On the tape, Clark is severely critical of journalists for their alleged lack of knowledge of world events, historical context, and “letting the facts get in the way of the story.”

Shouldn’t the criticism be for not  letting the facts get in the way of the story?

She claims TV3 political editor Duncan Garner had told a seminar that “politicians always lie”.

“I’m sorry, politicians don’t always lie. I’m quite appalled by that statement. I think it’s important that scrutiny is not confused with cynicism,” Clark said.

Of course politicians don’t always lie, but Garner says what he actually said was that the first instinct of politicians when cornered was to lie.

Clark says there are large gaps in journalists’ general knowledge, and in geography, sociology, and economic matters.

“Very few journalists have any comprehension of the range of relations New Zealand has, the range of issues New Zealand is involved in.”

Most journalists were too young to remember seminal events in the country’s history, she says.

“Today’s political editors of the two main TV channels were barely in their infancy, if born, when Norman Kirk brought the troops back from Vietnam, the Springbok tour, sent the frigate to Mururoa – events that to many of our age group were seminal events,” Clark said.

“Muldoon and David Lange are basically ancient history too and world war one and two are antedivulian.”

Lack of institutional knowledge in newsrooms is a concern but she’s got to remember that it’s not only young people who don’t share her memories of what she considers important. It’s 27 years since I started journalism and I don’t remember Kirk bringing the troops back from Vietnam – I would have been at high school at the time.  The Springbok tour happened a few months after I started work and I remember reporting on it, but it isn’t nearly as important to me as it obviously is to her.

Clark said trends in journalism included “making the story all about them”, a “rush to judgment” on blogging, a refusal to send journalists on overseas trips, and competition that was leading to inaccuracies.

“There wouldn’t be a day go by when something isn’t just plain wrong,” she said.

There are journalists who blog but not all blogs are journalism and not all rush – some of us take a carefully considered path to judgement 😉

I’ll concede that mistakes happen too often and it must be frustrating – but sometimes it’s not the reporting that’s wrong when it doesn’t reflect your own view.

Clark said New Zealand was fortunate to have a free media, however, and politicians still needed journalists as much as the media needed political news.  

Clark courted journalists when she became Prime Minister, and she got a pretty gentle run for a time. Now they’re reporting a different view of the world from hers and she’s taking it personally.

[Update: Karl du Fresne has another view on the media here]


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