Monday, November 28, 2011

Election Thoughts

On Saturday I voted in the New Zealand Elections. I was allowed to vote as a permanent resident. In Australia I would need to be a citizen.
As a citizen it would be compulsory to vote in Australia so turnout is about 95%. In New Zealand it is only compulsory (even for permanent residents) to enroll and so the turnout was less than 70%.  Of those, 48% voted for the party led by a man who was once head of a leading foreign bank in London. So much for the claims of the occupiers that it is 99% against the 1%. I wonder how many of them bothered to vote.

Of course the result was expected so I cannot be disappointed.

In Australia there is preferential voting so you need to number every square on the voting paper.  Most states and the Commonwealth have 2 houses of parliament so there are 2 voting papers. The upper houses vary but most have a complicated system of voting and the paper can be huge (often referred to as table cloths).

In New Zealand there was one A4 size paper requiring 2 ticks. One for the local member and one for the party vote. I voted for the local Labor member who was elected. (Dunedin votes different from much of the country usually electing 2 Labor members).
My party vote was Green and I was pleased to see their vote increased to 10% and there will be 13 members of parliament.

As in Australia, it is difficult for the smaller parties to win an electorate but in NZ the party vote allows them to gain members in the parliament close to the proportion of votes they gain across the country. In Australia the complex upper house voting usually achieves a similar result in the upper houses only.

There was a referendum to revert the NZ system back to First Pass the Post similar to UK and I think the USA. Thankfully it lost. Under FPP it is very difficult for smaller parties to be elected and I would see no point in voting in future as my preference is definitely Green party.

At least the result was known a few hours after the polls closed. In Australia it can take days before a definite result. There is haggling about forming a government. However the National Party only needs 2 more in order to control the house. These will be provided by 2 parties each with one member. One party (ACT) is even further to the Right.
We wait to see who the Maori party will support. They supported National in the last parliament but it is believed this lost them votes. They are strange bed fellows.

I must admit that when National were elected to Government 3 years ago, it was a point against my move to New Zealand. However, although I do not agree with many of their policies they are not as bad as the centre right party (Liberal/National)  that often dominates Australia politics.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Music continues

I am on a high today (with a slight headache due to age)

Three nights of music in Dunedin.

Wednesday night it was the New Zealand Symphony and their string ensemble presenting  "Strings Possessed"
The guest soloist violin was Ilya Kaler with their own Hiroshi Ikematsu on double bass.
The program was:

Sonata No. 6
BOTTESINI Gran Duo concertante
PAGANINI Il Palpiti variations by Rossini

Thursday night was to hear  Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir present Voices of Aotearoa with music including Maori instruments and pieces by New Zealand composers such as Helen Fisher, David Griffiths and David Hamilton as well as Britten, Purcell, Hildegard. The progam is listed at

Finally Friday night was very different.
Elton John in Dunedin's new covered stadium. I bought my tickets in February. It was stupendous. Perhaps for me the most moving moment was when he told us he was in a most happy period of his life with his partner and young son then sang "Can you feel the Love Tonight"

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Some Christians!

Sometimes I could cringe. I have begun volunteering on our local tourist railway which runs 6 hour trips up the gorge for cruise ships (83 this season) I will write about this one day.

Soon after they board at the wharf, we serve sparking wine, orange juice or a mixture. The co-host in my carriage, who knew I go to church, told me that one group said to her. "We do not drink alcohol, we are Christians."
My comment to her "I am a Christian and I love wine."
Naturally we are not allowed to drink while working on the train.

There can be many reasons why people do not drink alcohol and I respect most of them. "No thanks, I do not drink, orange juice for me" would have been an easy (and common) response. 
This was not a good way to witness to the Gospel.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Sad Day

Yesterday the Christchurch Cathedral was deconsecrated. This is to allow for its partial demolition which will enable the removal of many valuable and heritage items.

I first attended the  Cathedral on November 5th, 2006. By chance they were celebrating 125 years since the cathedral was consecrated. I took the photo below on October 24th,  my first day in New Zealand after I had decided to move here permanently, my mother having died 3 months earlier.  It happens to be the first photo I ever took with my first digital camera.

I would have seen the cathedral on visits to Christchurch in 1967, 1970 and 1973 but do not remember going inside. They were state school tours and a visit would  not have greatly interested most 16 year olds.

I worshipped there again on January 16 this year. The September earthquake had done some damage but nothing compared to what happened on February 22.

I am sad at its loss and can only feel sorry for those to whom it meant so much in their spiritual life. Of course the very name of the city shows the importance of the cathedral.

I refer to Liturgy for a discussion of "deconsecration". All beyond my understanding.  I just feel very sad.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Thank God for the Maori

Read Liturgy for the complete details

Here in New Zealand, Tikanga Maori has rejected the Anglican Covenant.
This effectively means that the Province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia will reject the Covenant next year.
Statements made to which I give three cheers.

Seconding the motion, the Rev Don Tamihere said the Covenant was not about homosexuality.

“It is about compliance and control.

“We are being asked to sign over our sovereignty, our rangatiratanga to an overseas group… To a standing committee over whom we have no choice or control. And they have the power to recommend punishment.

“The proposed Covenant offers us nothing new – or nothing we need as Anglicans, as Hahi Mihinare, or as disciples of Jesus Christ.

“We don’t need it to have faith in Jesus Christ: We already have a covenant that binds us to our saviour, Jesus Christ. And that is the only covenant we need.” 

The Rev Ngira Simmonds (Manawa o te Wheke) pointed out that to be Anglican means to be in relationship with people – even if you don’t like them.

“We want this church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia to focus, instead, on acting for the restoration of justice.”

 I note that the Diocese of Sydney has also rejected the covenant but for very different reasons. Speakers urged support of GAFCON and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans as a better way to respond to the current issues in the Communion.

Of course they do not want to be told to desist from their un-Anglican practices.

I am not sure how this will play out when the Australian Provincial Synod meets. Sydney usually holds about one third of the votes. However I no longer really care as Aotearoa New Zealand is my spiritual as well as physical home

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Get rid of these occupiers

This is not going to make me popular but I have stopped reading most of the bloggers on my right and am thinking of blacking out my blog. Knowing how few readers I have that would probably be as futile as the actions of those occupying my beloved Octagon.

They have a sign saying they will not move until capitalism is destroyed. In that case they will be there long after I am dead and buried. Their spokesman who shouted in the council chambers and took his dog in with him to make just as much noise is a known communist and rabble rouser in the city. If we had communism he would not be allowed to make his protests.

In my youth (50's and early 60's) I was attracted by communism but was concerned by the atheism involved. It is wonderful in theory but does not allow for the greed of human nature. Even the early church in the early glow of Christianity had Ananias and Sapphira.

I am still a Socialist and believe that Capitalism needs moderating by government action. Most in the USA would call that communism. We have seen how the people opposed Obama's attempts to provide a more acceptable health scheme. While it is not perfect by any means, countries like Australia and New Zealand do moderate capitalism. The Scandinavian countries do it even better. The USA is a basket case and that is the reason I say the USA has nice scenery and some nice people but I am always glad to leave. Here there is no need for people to beg in the streets nor go homeless in our countries. The few cases are generally due to mental problems or those who fall through the cracks. The churches and other groups are always campaigning for improvement.

The main problem is from a few people who exploit the social system, allowing politicians to campaign to remove such benefits. People are shown on welfare with wide screen TVs and of course smoking. I noticed young people smoking in the occupation camp the other day. They are supporting the worst of the multi-nationals. I would remove all health benefits from people who continue to smoke. I have to move away at bus stops or cover my face with a handkerchief when walking down the street. as I am allergic to cigarette smoke.

If there had been a march or even a few days occupation, I would have supported the aims but to occupy our city's beautiful meeting area for over 3 weeks has just antagonised so many of us. The buses from the cruise ships (83 this summer) which are so important to our economy pull up there. I have friends coming on a ship in early December and this morning my sister said "arrange to meet them under the Robbie Burns statue". I snorted. "I can't, it is occupied" and she was horrified. The occupations in Sydney and Melbourne have been removed by police. To my knowledge they have not returned. Of course police brutality was claimed but this is always a tactic of such groups.

The Dunedin City Council offered the occupiers another park away from the centre, but they refused. Yesterday the laws were invoked and they were told to leave by 8pm last night. As yet the police have not acted. If I and some friends decided to camp in the main street, we would have been moved very quickly and rightly so. Photos have shown dishwater running down the path. They are using the nearby council provided toilets which have always been very clean, I now go several blocks away to the toilets provided by the multi-national owned shopping centre.

The irony is that in our democratic elections at the end of this month, the Prime Minister is riding high in the polls. Wikipedia provides the following:

In 1995, he joined Merrill Lynch as head of Asian foreign exchange in Singapore. That same year he was promoted to Merrill's global head of foreign exchange, based in London, where he may have earned around US$2.25 million a year including bonuses, which is about NZ$5 million at 2001 exchange rates.[3][8] Some co-workers called him "the smiling assassin" for maintaining his usual cheerfulness while sacking dozens (some say hundreds) of staff after heavy losses from the 1998 Russian financial crisis.[4][8] He was a member of the Foreign Exchange Committee of the New York Federal Reserve Bank from 1999 to 2001.

These occuaptions are driving more people into his arms. It is not 99% against 1%. Probably 70% or more of our population, while annoyed at the actions of the 1%, are doing quite well. The 1% do not use the city central park or meet friends there, they have their own mansions and chauffeur driven cars.

The situation at St Paul's has also saddened me. These people would never go near a church and would probably oppose the church if they had power. They are laughing up their sleeves knowing the church people are wusses, scared to be seen taking action.

We do not have the problems of the dysfunctional USA government. It is bad enough that we import so much like Coca cola and Stsrbucks, we do not need their occupation movements. Even our education systems have been damaged by importing American ideas.
I can never understand why just to the north there is a so much better society with similar history and culture in Canada.