Thursday, May 19, 2016

Remaining an Anglican in Aotearoa/New Zealand?

I am travelling in Europe. Today I am in Prague. I find it difficult to find time to blog about my travel experiences. Perhaps I will post a compilation of my messages and photos sent to friends after I have returned home.

I have found it difficult to blog on church matters ever since the despicable meeting of Primates in January when the Episcopal church was so badly treated. Ever since then, and even before,  I have looked more deeply into my beliefs and generally decided that I have been mistaken for over 60 years.
At about age 7, I made a decision for Christ at a CMS Beach Mission on the South Coast of NSW.
Of course ,having a deeply devout Mother, it was not my first experience of Christianity, it is just my earliest memory of definitely deciding such things for myself.
I now think my life would have been a lot happier if I had not made that choice.
I now consider that the modern church and religion to be one of the greatest hindrances to the development of humanity. I only attend church because I love the ceremony and music of Anglicanism especially Anglo-Catholicism and a few elderly ladies depend on me for transport.

I had some hope things might improve at the NZ General Synod held a few weeks ago but again the conservatives have had their way and any possibility of merely blessing same-sex marriage will not occur for at least 4 years. They bless dogs.
As I regularly state: "The only time I feel a 2nd class citizen in New Zealand is when I enter a Church."

I left Australia and became a New Zealand Citizen and one driving force was the much more enlightened attitudes of New Zealand Society and Government.  I also  considered the church to be more enlightened. However even there, the conservatives manage to keep control. In a post a few years ago I said I felt like throwing coffee over the vicar of St Matthews, Dunedin and was criticised by my then curate because. "He was a brother in Christ" If such people are brothers in Christ, I no longer want to be called a Christian. They can go to Hell (except I no longer believe in an after life)

The only person who gives me some hope at the moment is the current Bishop of Dunedin and I want to draw attention to two recent posts he has made since the Synod ended.

Two More Years  and Pulling Together

I will write more when I have more time. Now I must experience Prague.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Ignorant Prejudice even in Dunedin

There have been articles in our local paper about increasing acceptance of different sexualities in our local schools even Catholic schools. However it has brought at least one neanderthal out of the woodwork.

I was too busy becoming a citizen last Wednesday to read our local paper but have discovered an opinion piece written by a man who describes himself as a retired teacher and I am very glad he is retired. Thankfully all the replies have been dismissive of him.
His opinion is disgraceful and ignorant. I can only post a few bits.

"I think the ODT ought to be more careful about publicising the lifestyle choices of seriously confused young people, and the views of older people who would exploit them Adolescence and the courtship/dating time of life are always confusing.

They're confusing even if you're normal: if, for instance, you know that you're a boy, and that you find girls attractive and disturbing.

You have to meet girls, figure out which particular girls you're most compatible with, get to know them, find out if they like you, deal with the mind-altering effects of being in love, negotiate tactfully how far to go with them sexually (in accordance with your value system, if any), and decide together whether you want to get married.
Imagine how much more confusing and difficult to be told at a tender age - implicitly or explicitly - that your nervous interest in the opposite sex may indicate not that you're attracted to them but that you're attracted sexually to your own sex - and that that's OK!

And perhaps now to be told furthermore - by a school teacher or counsellor - that despite anatomical evidence, you may not "really'' be a boy (or a girl) after all.

That you can make up your own mind!

And that you should try everything before deciding!

Now, I think that this whole business of sexual "orientation'' and gender "identity'' is a) nonsense, and b) dangerous nonsense.

Human sexual preferences are obviously not carved in stone (or our DNA): why otherwise are we seeing now such an historically unprecedented increase in non--normative sexual behaviours?

These matters are obviously very malleable.
In the past they have been supported by convention and religion (pretty much every religion) and common sense.

I went to school with two chaps who were, in the view of the rest of us (it was a boys' school), somewhat effeminate.

On reflection, they were bullied - though only slightly (nothing physical, and we didn't have cellphones).

Neither of them in later years pursued homosexual lifestyles, nor sought gender re-assignment.

Not only were those "options'' not then acceptable, they were, more importantly, not then fashionable.

Indeed, most people were hardly aware of them.

That's not a bad thing.

We don't have to be aware of everything.

If you're going to choose, why not choose some thing easy and conventional, that is sanctioned by history, that is more psychically challenging and interesting than hooking up with your own gender, and will likely produce a family without technological intervention?

The LGB label gets extended every couple of weeks (LGBT, LGBTI, LGBTQ, LGBTIQ) as people develop new modes of sensual experimentation."

My online reply has not been printed, possibly too late. I have thought of sending it to the print version but it is probably too long and I cannot see how to reduce it.

Thankfully I was too busy becoming a Kiwi citizen to read the ODT the day this article was printed. As a gay man I have found nothing but acceptance since moving to live in Dunedin but know there are pockets of prejudice everywhere. Unfortunately such prejudice in the parliament of my birth country, Australia means it is falling way behind NZ in social development.
I am also a retired teacher, now over 70 and am well aware of the harm done by the attitudes when I was growing up. Effeminacy (what a horrible word) is not necessarily an indicator of one's sexuality  I learnt to hide that just for self preservation. At school I had no idea of what my feelings for other boys meant and it was not until I studied psychology at university that I discovered it to my horror. Choice did not come into it. As a law abiding, church going young man I would have done anything to choose otherwise.
Psychiatric treatment (now discredited) was useless. Fortunately I was able to break my engagement which had been encouraged by the psychiatrists but I have met many men my age who married. The luckier ones divorced, others agreed with their spouses to live an outwardly "normal" married life while having same-sex relationships and some sneaked out whenever possible to meet men. I am sure there are some who just live a conflicted life hiding their innermost feelings. Thankfully in today's society young men (and women) can follow their natural feelings in an open and less conflicted way.
I certainly took many girls out and apparently some saw me as a"catch" and obviously was very attracted in ways other than sexual to my ex-fiancee. Even today most of my friends are women.  However it was not until I had my first serious long term gay relationship (in my late 30's) that I realised what had been missing. That inner buzz and feeling that you do not want to let the other person out of your sight.   While wistful, I rejoice that young gay people can experience that today without the dread of social opprobrium.
I have only met a few transexual persons (and Mr Hardesty it is not the same as homosexual, your ignorance is abysmal). I do not really understand but from my own experience I want to see them receive the same acceptance and assistance that young GLB people now largely do. While confusing to us oldies, I understand the need for adding to the alphabet of people who do not conform to what use to be seen as 'Normal". In fact it is people with views like Mr Hardesty who are now abnormal.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

The Journey is Complete

Last Wednesday, March 2nd, I joined about 70 others at the Dunedin Town Hall and became a New Zealand (Aotearoa) citizen.
I find I first mentioned moving to New Zealand on this blog in 2006 shortly after my mother died.
The first major comment was just after my first visit to Dunedin in November that year.

However it had been in my mind for many years and I first visited and fell in love with the country in December 1966. Obviously no blog references at that time but I did write a detailed diary of that trip.
Between (now) amusing description of my first real plane flight (I did have a brief flight from Canberra to Sydney as a small boy) I wrote:
"New Zealand came into sight. Land of long white cloud was true. We could see right across to the other side. We came down over fields - very green with hedges."

I never dreamt  (then just 22) that, towards the end of my life, I would retire to live in New Zealand and eventually become a citizen.

My move here in January 2010 is well documented in this blog.

I am very proud to be a Kiwi.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Apology to 78ers

In August 1978, I attended the National Homosexual Conference at Paddington Town Hall in Sydney. It ran from Friday to Sunday.  My diary shows that on the Saturday we formed the Gay Teachers and Students Society but I went home afterwards. I am not sure why I did not go to the city march that followed.  In those days homosexual activities were still illegal (did not change in NSW until 1983) and I was a teacher in a Catholic Boys' High School, so had to be careful.  In those days even State school teachers were at risk if their sexuality became known.

In my diary I write that I went to communion on Sunday morning then to the Conference but left in disgust and drove to Watson's Bay. I was angry but probably also my mind was in turmoil. Partly relieved that I had escaped the police brutality and arrests of the previous night but also ashamed that I had not been brave enough to take part in what began as a public celebration of Gay Pride but developed due to police action into riots, beatings and arrests. 53 were arrested, had their names published int the City newspapers and many lost friends, jobs and even family as a result.
In 1979 I did attend the protest march which was peaceful partly because it had prior permission. These were the forerunners of today's world famous Sydney Gay Mardi Gras now held at the end of summer  (this year March 5) and a big tourist attraction.  In recent years there has been a contingent from the NSW police force marching in uniform.  How things have changed.

Last week the NSW parliament moved a motion apologising to those who were arrested and beaten that night. It was moved by an openly gay member of parliament but passed unanimously with many of the original 78ers in the gallery.

The Sydney Morning Herald has also apologised for publishing the names and the article is here

The parliamentary member who moved the motion Bruce Motley-Smith is a member of the conservative Liberal Party now in Government in NSW.  He has been in a same-sex partnership for over 20 years and gratefully acknowledged his partner Paul McCormack in his maiden speech.

I am including a supporting speech by a member of the Greens party.

I have also found an interview with 2 guys that I knew in those years but have not seen for many many years

As the 1978 evening Stonewall parade moved down Oxford St towards Hyde Park, the police became agitated by our chants of "Out of the bars and into the street" as some did just that. As Peter notes, we knew that the baars and police were colluding to make money from our justified fears. The police did not like us getting away with that! So they started pushing us along, cancelled our permit, and tried to arrest Lance Gowland, who was driving the lead "float" with our music on it. It was only then that we headed for the Cross. And it was when we thought we had got free of them, and heading peacefully for home, that we found ourselves trapped and then attacked. See "It Was a Riot" ( a police riot) published by Sydney's Pride History

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Vale Rod West

 I have learnt this week of the death of Roderick West.  His funeral was on Friday and it is one of those events I would have made every effort to attend, if I had not moved so far away.
His obituary is in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Rod arrived at Fort Street in 1957 as a teacher in this 3rd year of teaching.  I arrived at the same time as a First year (now called Year 7) student.  He was therefore just slightly more than 10 years older than me, not much today but a huge gap then.  However this probably made him the youngest of my  teachers at that time. He taught me Latin for 3 years and was the teacher in charge of the Inter School Christian Fellowship in which role he had a tremendous influence on me.  He left Fort Street at the end of the same year as me to teach in the UK although I see he returned to Fort Street for 2 or 3 years, by which time I was also a teacher elsewhere in Sydney.  He then moved into the Private School system, teaching his most illustrious pupil, Prince Charles in 1966 at Timbertop in Victoria and becoming headmaster of Trinity Grammar School. He certainly changed that school around, it did not have a very good reputation for a private school when I was still at school.

I, of course, idolised him as a student although today I might wonder whether his influence was so ideal.  He was certainly one if not the most important encouragement for me to become a teacher. Although I was already well involved with my church, he certainly developed and deepened my involvement.  In 1959, at the First Sydney Billy Graham Crusade, a large number of students from my year went forward and, although I doubt whether many are still involved in religious activities today, they still express great regard for Rod. As the article states, he has maintained close links with many of his students and he seemed to have a special interest in those of us from his very early teaching career.  I feel the same, still being in close contact with some students from my first high school.

My later contacts with Rod have been brief. As youth fellowship leader in the Anglican church at Concord West,  I invited him on behalf of the Rector to preach at the Evening Youth Fellowship and as I read the service I was proud to wear my recently acquired academic hood along side him although whether he wore the Sydney Uni BA hood which had inspired me or the London BD hood he gained later, I do not remember. It must have been in the late 1960's.

In 1975 I visited him at Trinity Grammar. He was in his first term as headmaster and had advertised a teaching position. I was struggling at a very difficult school after my travel leave in 1974.  It was not an official job interview and I was reluctant to leave the State system (I did leave probably just 9 months later for the Catholic system) and he was still unsure as he had just taken on the role of headmaster and probably wanted to be perfectly correct in procedure.

I am certainly glad I did not move to a school in the Sydney Anglican diocese.

I visited him again some time in the 80's. I am not sure of the details but it was a result of some news of homophobia at the school which led me to write to him and tell him of my sexuality.

As the Herald article states Rod was "Evangelical in terms of doctrine but favouring a breadth of vision"

All I remember from the cordial meeting was his statement that he wished he had known when I was at school as he might have been able to help.  Of course in those days I had no understanding of my feelings. Such matters did not get mentioned, certainly not in the Christian circles in which I mixed and  not even in the press, except in very derogative terms. I had to study psychology at university before I had any understanding.  And knowing what I do now, I am very glad I did not receive any of the help, however well intentioned, that was common at that time.

I met him twice since. First for the 150th anniversary of Fort Street in October 1999. I sat next to Rod at the dinner.  I attended that dinner with my best mate from school days. Peter also became a teacher, of modern languages and later the Principal of a Christian school in Canberra so kept more contact with Rod. Peter was to die of cancer 5 years later and I know Rod went out of his way to meet with him at that time.

Then in October 2011, having moved to Dunedin,  I flew to Sydney to attend a dinner as my year group of 1961 reached the 50 year mark. There were not many men there, none of my group but Rod was present and I am glad I met and talked with him.  Most of the men were from the prefect and sports group and most had been in that cohort from the Billy Graham Crusade, They were still meeting regularly once each year with Rod but I now lived too far away to join them.
In the short speech Rod gave, he mentioned me as the only other teacher present, of course now also retired. I have no contact with any of my year group since Peter has died. I am still considering whether to contact Stuart, Rod's nephew but also a student in my last 2 years at Fort Street. He is a noted academic especially on Evangelical history but has been critical of some of it.

So I have mixed feelings now that I have a strong antipathy to anything evangelical and blame its teachings for causing me much misery.  Rod was very much the focus for that aspect of my development but his friendship on later meetings show that his attitudes were broader than most in that camp.  I know he had more influence on me than any other teacher, for much of which I am grateful and although I now have many doubts about that time of my life, I can never know what may have developed if Rod had not been such an influence.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Senator Ian MacDonald and ANZAC

Queensland Senator Ian MacDonald has been quoted as saying.

"If Kiwis want a better deal on controversial deportation laws and access to social welfare, New Zealand should become Australia's seventh and eighth states."
Senator Ian Macdonald also disputed the need for an easier path to Australian citizenship for Kiwis, saying he believed it was "not a terribly onerous thing to do".

I have sent him the following email. Information inside brackets was not included.

'I was born in Australia in 1944 and lived and worked all my life there until in 2010, at age almost 66, I migrated to live in New Zealand. 

I was given the age superannuation backdated to the day I arrived.  Centrelink pays my (Australian) age pension to the NZ government but, due to the assets test, it is just over half the amount I receive from the New Zealand Government. (Everyone who is 65 and over receives the full age pension in NZ but it is taxed, Australian age pensions depend on involved assets and income tests requiring me to send regular information about major expenditure).  I also received a Gold card within a few weeks giving me all senior transport concessions. I was able to register at a pharmacy and medical centre immediately to receive the same benefits as if I was a NZ citizen. After 2 years I can have the same access to hospital care for non urgent surgery. (Urgent surgery was available immediatey as for Kiwis in Australia)

I was asked to register within a month and, after a year, I received full voting rights. (This was as a resident, you must be a citizen in order to vote in Australia).  As I have left Australia permanently, I have lost my voting rights there. This would not happen to a US citizen nor to a NZ citizen as long as they returned for a visit every 3 years.  I return to Australia at least twice per year to visit family.

For the first 4 years I was not required to pay tax on my Australian income  - shares and term deposits and  I have received a ruling that I need not pay tax on my Australian private superannuation fund.

In September this year I applied for citizenship. I now fullfill the 5 year residency requirements and, after a check there was no criminal record, I received a letter granting me citizenship 10 days ago.  I will probably swear my allegiance at a ceremony at the beginning of February and then apply for a NZ passport.  I am unsure as to whether I will renew my Australian passport as I would only use it to enter and leave Australia. The NZ passport is more highly regarded around the world.

I now have many friends whose children have migrated to Australia. One tells me his son has lived in Queensland for nearly 20 years, his children were born there but he cannot get citizenship as his job as a postman is not one Australia values. (I have never worked for a wage in NZ)

So almost daily I am embarrassed at the completely opposite reception I have received here in New Zealand compared with that for those who have gone the other way. The ANZAC tradition is not just words over here. This includes an article in our local paper today referring to an interview you gave saying "NZ could join us”.  I am sure my friends will be insulted as am I, having just become a proud Kiwi.  As I tell people, Australia is my country of birth but New Zealand is my country of choice.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Sunday, September 27, 2015

New Zealand Flag

This is descending into farce. Let us hope it results in no change at all, however it is still a waste of Government funds.
For overseas people - the current flag.

The original Four contenders

The latest addition known as the Red Peaks Flag which has been added to the list due to the Green party support of the National Party.

My email to Metiria Turei MP,  Co-Leader of the Greens, a list Member of Parliament but she regularly contests the electorate in which I live.

I live in the electorate you contest and have voted Green for a number of years due to my concern for the environment.
I am utterly flabbergasted at the Green support of National last night. If this meaningless flag gets up, I will never vote Green again. My preference is to stay with what we have but I would accept the flag with the red southern cross and the silver fern (I preferred the koru but see no point in creating a petition for it). At least they represent our country. The red peak flag could just as well represent outer Mongolia.
Lack of money for our hospitals, education, climate change reduction and environment protection  should be of more concern to the Green party than assisting John Key in wasting money for his vanity project.

Metiria Turei MP
Metiria Turei MP

The Koru flag, not in the chosen.

My post many years ago re Australian and New Zealand Flags.

Friday, June 19, 2015


Vienna has been warm, apparently unseasonably, with most days reaching 30’C.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I really enjoyed the light operetta, Grafin (Countess) Maritza on Wednesday.  I went to both Siegfried and Gotterdammerung (Twilight of the Gods) by Wagner and so fulfilled a dream of seeing all of the Ring Cycle in the Theatre.  They are not for everyone and I would not quickly go again, with Siegfried taking 5 hours and Gotterdammerung nearly 5 and a half (each with 2 half hour intervals) but the music is glorious. I was lucky in timing, as each was presented just twice this year.
That was on Thursday and Sunday.

On Friday I went on a round trip to the Wachau-Danube Valley. The train took me to Melk and the huge Benedictine Abbey sitting up above the town. Photo 1 is in the Abbey church, Photo 2 is part of the extensive gardens and Photo 3 is a view from the Abbey over the countryside.

After lunch, I boarded a ship for a 2 hour journey down the Danube through the Wachau Valley.  The photo shows the castle at Durnstein above the town. This was the castle where King Richard of England was held captive on his way home from the Crusade. There were a number of castles along the river.

I left the ship in Krems and returned by train to Vienna.  On Saturday I went to Schonbrunn castle but just spent my time in the extensive gardens.

That evening I again went to the VolksOper (Light Opera) and saw Carmina Burana, ancient poems set to music to create a cantata by Carl Orff in 1936.  This is usually a recital by Symphony and Chorus but this performance was put on by the Vienna City Ballet.

On Monday I went hiking in the Vienna Woods but chose a short hike, probably just 8km but up 300 metres, due to the heat. The views over the city were not very good due to the heat haze. That evening I went to the much shorter but bloodthirsty opera, Salome by Richard Strauss.

Yesterday, I flew to Dubai where the temperature was 40’C. Today I found my way to the Historical museum at the Al Fahidi Fort, not easy when you make a wrong turn in the heat.

However the underground and airconditioned museum told the story of the development of Dubai. Then I wandered in the huge Dubai Mall, apparently the world's largest but only bought a much needed juice and lunch then a book for the plane. Outside I took a look at the world’s tallest  building, Burj Khalifa but did not pay the $50 to go up to the top.

Tomorrow I will make the long flight back to Sydney and then it will back to Dunedin on Monday.

Thursday, June 04, 2015


The weather has certainly improved for me, thanks for your good wishes. Sorry if I sent the bad weather to Dunedin.
As you can see from the photos it gradually got better during my 5 days in the Salzkammergut region of Upper Austria. It is now quite hot in Vienna but I know I must not complain.
The blue skies have made it hard to choose the photos to post.

I fell in love with the town of Hallstatt when I stayed there back in 2008. It is a UNESCO heritage town on the edge of a lake with wonderful mountain views. However to get there you must catch a ferry over the lake from the train station so this time I chose to stay in the bigger town of Bad Ischl instead and have easier travel to the various lakes and mountains.  I had an apartment right in the centre of town with shops and restaurants underneath and my window looked down on the river rushing below. However the bedroom and bathroom were up a narrow winding staircase from the lounge/kitchen which became a bit tiresome.

On the day after my arrival (Saturday) my departure was delayed due the panic caused by a misplaced credit card (I had hidden it from even myself). Once solved it was too late to do what I planned (left to Sunday) and probably just as well as there were still clouds and one or two brief showers.

I caught a bus to Bad Gilgen and waited an hour (over a coffee of course) for a ferry that took me along the Wolfgangsee to where a steam cog railway went up to Schaftsbergspitz at 1732 metres. I have included this photo showing a bit of the train and track.

On Sunday the bus went in the other direction to Obertraun and the Dachstein chairlift. Here 2 cable cars lifted me up to 2100 metres and a  20 minute walk (difficult at that height ) took me to the 5 fingers viewing platform.  This photo shows the platform and explains why I had to pluck up all my courage to go out on it

from where this photo looks down over the Hallstattersee mentioned above.

You can see there were clouds but it was possible to get a photo with some patience and jostling as only 2 people can stand on each of the 5 fingers at any one time.  The next photo is the view from the path across the Dachstein Mountains

I returned back down the top cable car and took a tour of the Dachstein Ice Cave. This involved climbing 70 metres to the entrance where we met the guide who then told us it was 0’C inside but not to worry as we would be climbing 500 steps to keep us warm. I was probably the oldest and while I can manage the steps, I would prefer to take a bit more time. However I probably handled the temperatures better than the mainly Asian young people with me. The ice shapes were intriguing. I think this photo is the best of my attempts to show them.

On the way back I stopped for an hour in Hallstatt.  Being Sunday afternoon 31st May, I found it much more crowded than my previous visit in late April  2008. The views were still great and the town probably improves in the evening after the tourist coaches leave. I bought  an ice cream.

Monday I caught the train to Gmunden on the Traunsee and, again after an hour over coffee and cake, it was on a rather small ferry along the lake to Ebensee. It is a beautiful lake and the photo also shows just one of the many water activities even on a week day.

At Ebensee I walked a kilometre to another cable car (they get a bit addictive) this time only 1600 metres but apparently one of, if not the first cable cars in Austria. There were lots of ski chair lifts at the top but not in operation at this time. I walked about 35 minutes each way looking at the views one of which is in this photo.

On Tuesday I was again on the train past Hallstatt to Bad Aussersee then a bus to AltAusseer which is on a smaller lake and I was able to walk around it in about 2 hours (6 and a half km). The final photo shows one of the views.

Unfortunately rather than wait and catch the bus back I decided to walk not realising it was another 5 km although much was along the river bank. The bus passed me at the last stop before the town so only about 5 minutes quicker.

I never got round to visiting the museums and castles in Bad Ischl. Left that to a rainy day which never came.

Yesterday I again packed up and caught the train to my last stop in Europe, Vienna.  I have a lovely apartment and the owner has been most helpful. Opera is my main interest here and, after rushing to pick up the tickets before 5pm and then buy a few foodstuffs as today is a public holiday (Ascension day) and even supermarkets close on public holidays as well as Sundays, I went to the Volksoper  (Folk Opera) which was my 4th visit there.  I did not know much about the light opera Grafin (Countess) Marizka by Emmerich Kalman but the music, staging and dancing were delightful. Fortunately English is displayed above the stage although I found it a bit above my line of sight to see the action and I gather some contemporary jokes were added to the script but not in the English. Many of the songs are still running in my head especially ‘Komm Zigany (Gypsies)’ and ‘Komm mir nach Varazdin’ (I visited Varazdin in Croatia back in 2013.)

Today I am relaxing, as I have a much heavier opera (Wagner’s Siegfried) at the Staatsoper starting at 4pm this afternoon and finishing at 9pm