Sunday, March 31, 2019

As-Salaam-Alaikum


Prime Minister’s speech at the National Remembrance Service.
Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern
Prime Minister


E rau rangatira mā, e ngā reo, e ngā mana Tēnā koutou katoa.
(I acknowledge amongst us today our distinguished leaders, speakers and those who bear authority)

Ngāi Tahu Whānui, tēnā koutou
(My greetings to the whole of Ngāi Tahu)

E papaki tū ana ngā tai o maumahara ki runga o Ōtautahi
(The tides of remembrance flow over Christchurch today)

Haere mai tātou me te aroha, Me te rangimārie, ki te whānau nei,
E ora mārire ai anō rātau, E ora mārire ai anō, tātou katoa.
(So let us gather with love, in peace, for this family, so that they may truly live again, so that we all may truly live again)

 
We gather here, 14 days on from our darkest of hours.

In the days that have followed the terrorist attack on the 15th of March, we have often found ourselves without words.

What words adequately express the pain and suffering of 50 men, women and children lost, and so many injured?

What words capture the anguish of our Muslim community being the target of hatred and violence?

What words express the grief of a city that has already known so much pain?

I thought there were none. And then I came here and was met with this simple greeting.

As-Salaam Alaikum.  Peace be upon you.

They were simple words, repeated by community leaders who witnessed the loss of their friends and loved ones.

Simple words, whispered by the injured from their hospital beds.

Simple words, spoken by the bereaved and everyone I met who has been affected by this attack.
 
As-Salaam Alaikum.  Peace be upon you.

They were words spoken by a community who, in the face of hate and violence, had every right to express anger but instead opened their doors for all of us to grieve with them.

And so we say to those who have lost the most, we may not have always had the words.

We may have left flowers, performed the haka, sung songs or simply embraced.

But even when we had no words, we still heard yours, and they have left us humbled and they have left us united.

Over the past two weeks we have heard the stories of those impacted by this terrorist attack.

They were stories of bravery.

They were stories of those who were born here, grew up here, or who had made New Zealand their home.

Who had sought refuge, or sought a better life for themselves or their families.

These stories, they now form part of our collective memories.

They will remain with us forever.

They are us.

But with that memory comes a responsibility.

A responsibility to be the place that we wish to be.

A place that is diverse, that is welcoming, that is kind and compassionate. Those values represent the very best of us.

But even the ugliest of viruses can exist in places they are not welcome.

Racism exists, but it is not welcome here.

An assault on the freedom of any one of us who practices their faith or religion, is not welcome here.

Violence, and extremism in all its forms, is not welcome here.

And over the last two weeks we have shown that, you have shown that, in your actions.

From the thousands at vigils to the 95 year old man who took four buses to attend a rally because he couldn’t sleep from the sadness of seeing the hurt and suffering of others.

Our challenge now is to make the very best of us, a daily reality.

Because we are not immune to the viruses of hate, of fear, of other. We never have been.

But we can be the nation that discovers the cure.

And so to each of us as we go from here, we have work to do, but do not leave the job of combatting hate to the Government alone.

We each hold the power, in our words and in our actions, in our daily acts of kindness. Let that be the legacy of the 15th of March.

To be the nation we believe ourselves to be.

To the global community who have joined us today, who reached out to embrace New Zealand, and our Muslim community, to all of those who have gathered here today, we say thank you.

And we also ask that the condemnation of violence and terrorism turns now to a collective response. The world has been stuck in a vicious cycle of extremism breeding extremism and it must end.

We cannot confront these issues alone, none of us can. But the answer to them lies in a simple concept that is not bound by domestic borders, that isn’t based on ethnicity, power base or even forms of governance.

The answer lies in our humanity.

But for now, we will remember those who have left this place.

We will remember the first responders who gave so much of themselves to save others.

We will remember the tears of our nation, and the new resolve we have formed.

And we remember, that ours is a home that does not and cannot claim perfection. But we can strive to be true to the words embedded in our national anthem.

Men of every creed and race,
Gather here before Thy face,
Asking Thee to bless this place
God defend our free land
From dissension, envy, hate
And corruption, guard our state
Make our country good and great
God Defend New Zealand

Ko Tātou Tātou

As-Salaam Alaikum.

Monday, March 25, 2019

That Guy John Wareham

John Wareham

I’ve written about John in June 2017, in December 2014 and November 2011…… Obviously I hold him in high regard – as I do Denis O’Reilly – John is heading back to New York to run a programme for Harlem’s at risk youth… here’s Denis’  farewell thank you to all John has done for New Zealand.

KR


18 March 2019
That Guy John Wareham

Some years ago I had a ring from Saatchi & Saatchi chief Kevin Roberts, a man I’ve always found to be inspirational, generous, and unflinchingly courageous. Seems a New York friend of Kevin’s, a guy called John Wareham, had run into a problem on our local shores. Back in New York, John had created and run a highly successful prisoner rehabilitation programme in maximum security prisons for twenty years. John had also just published a book on that whole subject, ‘How to Break Out of Prison.” Kevin had arranged for John to run a week long teaching gig at Waikeria Prison. But, hardly had John stepped off the plane in Auckland, than a bewildered senior Waikeria prison manager took that book title literally and cancelled the gig. Don’t let that person near the Bible. Anyway, I got that Saatchi call to see if I could put John’s time down here to good use. Brian Sweeney of SweeneyVesty and publisher of NZEDGE.COM suggested the connection. He knew Kevin, John, and me. So, I recruited a group of former prisoners and invited John and his wife Margaret to meet them in my home at Pa Waiohiki, Taradale. John did his thing and I saw the nod-meter going in his audience. He passed the test. We were going to work together.

In 2005, faced by escalating gang tensions and political conservatism, supported by the Wili Fels Memorial Trust, I persuaded John to fly out from New York to create and lead a weekend retreat for three gangs: Black Power, Mongrel Mob, and the Sensible Sentencing Trust. That weekend was transformational for everyone, so much so, that the New Zealand Herald declared John a “miracle worker”. John came back again in 2011, this time to facilitate another forum. This time we gathered at the Otatara Pa, with NZ Police representatives, 30 Mongrel Mob fathers and sons, and 30 Black Power fathers and sons. Another series of transformations followed, resulting in the creation of the ‘Otatara Accord’—a formal pact between Black Power and Mongrel Mob, which has in turn resulted in the observable reduction of regional gang violence.

Brother in Red and Brother in Blue Whakawhanaungatanga


Hugh Lynn at Otatara

Another time, supported by the late Dr Ian Prior, working from the Strathmore Community Hall, Wellington, John Wareham formed a group of Black Power into a debating team. Within a week he inspired them to challenge a top Wellington Parliamentary Debating Team (undefeated for six years) to a moot. The motion was, “Pakeha Owe Maori a Decent Living” and Black Power were allocated the negative! We held the debate at the Michael Fowler Centre in front of an independent adjudicator. Not only did the Black Power team win the debate, they also had the best speaker!



Wellington is blessed to have an organization called the Consultancy Advocacy and Research Trust (CART). Its core mission is to support the disposed and marginalized whanau on the social periphery.   In 2015 John Wareham, and his wife Margaret, returned to his hometown of Wellington. With such a treasure at hand I naturally invited John to join the CART Board. When the health of our then General Manager began to fail, John stepped into the breach, taking over as executive manager, pro bono. One of the first things he did was to create the Black Power Film Festival. It ran at the Paramount to sold out audiences of all colors and stripes and put the CART name onto the front burner. John was subsequently appointed Chair of Trustees, and handled that key leadership role with dedication, intellect, imagination, and tenacity.

With funding difficult to secure and always at risk a small NGO such as CART always faces headwinds and choppy seas. Sometimes we encounter perfect storms and we’ve just passed through one and are about to face another. Our Board works pro bono and generously give of their time. The going can be tough, and John faced some tricky challenges in his time as Chair. John is 79, youthful, energetic, and sharper than ever, as witness that in the past three years he has written and a produced a play, has published a schooldays memoir, and has yet another life-changing book with a New York publisher.

Right now, John is heading off to New York again for several months, having been invited to run a series of programmes for ‘at risk’ Harlem youths. The downside for us is that John has chosen this time to resign from the CART board. Happily, he leaves us with a clean slate following a deep audit going back five years. Yet, as I say we’ve got more challenges ahead. John’s dad, Jack Wareham was a nuggety winger for the Wellington representative rugby team. Like his father John is quick of wit and fleet of foot. The necessary play of the day is to bring the ball back into the forwards and set up a rolling maul. As an old man prop, I’ve willingly accepted the pass from John Wareham. I’ve let him know I’m going to run it up the guts, hard. He’s done his bit. We wish John and Margaret well in their fresh effort abroad, and on his return home we will have an after-match drink and reflect on the game just gone. Then we will set out preparing for a fresh match, John’s nascent pilot project to reduce recidivism in our nation’s prisons.

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Happiness Formula





In the Year of the Pig (“Happy as a pig in xxxx” springs to mind), I’m moving on from my Brexit rant as promised.  There’s a movement sweeping the globe – from academic institutions, management consultants, think-tanks and media commentators – The Happiness Movement.  Of course all these people are obsessed with counting it, measuring it, and developing metrics and league tables for it – which takes away some of the Happiness as far as I’m concerned.

Maybe you’ve already seen where your nation, town, company ranks in its particular league table or maybe you haven’t.  Either way, this isn’t about measuring Happiness.  It’s about doing it.

Some tips to make you happier:
·       Spend more time with Family, friends and most importantly on You.
·       Life Life Slow.  Live in the now, not yesterday, not tomorrow.  Focus on living in the moment.
·       Live Life, Love Life.  Be grateful for what you’ve got, not what you’ve not.
·       Finish work early – and don’t tell anyone.  Nip out at 1pm Wednesday for a decadent lunch with friends – and don’t think about work.
·       Wear trainers every day for work and play.
·       Listen to The Beatles – their early, happy-go-lucky stuff – Sgt Pepper and before.
·       Write something physically with a pen – a letter, a poem, a song, a blog.
·       Go somewhere new.
·       Give someone you care for something they’d never have bought themselves.
·       Go for a solo walk by the sea, or in the woods – off season.
·       Binge on an entire series of your favourite guilty pleasure TV show.
·       Watch Guardiola’s Manchester City at The Etihad.
·       Smile!

KR

Monday, March 18, 2019

From eldest son Ben



In Darkness comes light. Through adversity comes strength.
Through pain, comes change.
The tragedy that New Zealand suffered has been one of total shock, out of the blue and incomprehensible.
A nation mourns. Yet the nation rebuilds. There is no division, there is only unity. And Jacinda Ardern leads that unity and is redefining leadership.
With more than 5 million kiwis globally, they all feel the pain and the grief that the incident caused.
Actions are already been take on gun control, donations have already reached record levels, today Hakas are popping up all the over the country.
This is how a nation stands strong in adversity. Together and as one.
The country is a different place to one it was this this time last week.
But it will be a stronger one soon.
God defend New Zealand.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Christchurch 15 March 2019


Friday, March 15, 2019

BREXIT – An abject failure of Leadership




I’ve resisted the temptation to rant for so long.  Too long.
It’s David Cameron’s fault.  He should be locked up in his writing shed until it’s all resolved.
·       His arrogance in calling a referendum – a dereliction of duty.
·       His decision to step down and avoid the calamity he wrought on an unsuspecting nation – an act of supreme petulance.
·       His naivete in setting the bar at 51.49 instead of the US model of 66.30 – almost criminal.

I am just so pissed off.

So sorry.

End of rant.

Normal service (Radical Optimism) will be resumed next week.

KR

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Stand Up and Fight



Liverpool poet, member of The Scaffold, founder of The Mersey Sound, President of The Poetry Society, CBE and a Freeman of the City of Liverpool, Roger McGough is performing his new book ‘joinedupwriting’ at one of my places of work (Lancaster University) on Saturday 30th March with his band LiTTLeMACHiNe.

This’ll be the first performance of the new book, at 81 years young – his 75th published book.  (Come on you slackers – get writing!!!)  Roger says it’s his first performance of the new book and he’ll be reading some poems for the first time.  About death, politics and serious stuff – but mainly like they’re funny!!

One of Britain’s best loved poets.

My favourite.

A hero since I was 15.

Check out www.rogermcgough.org.uk and www.littlemachine.com.  Read Summer with Monika.  And here’s three verses from a favourite:

PAY-BACK TIME

O Lord, let me be a burden on my children
For long they've been a burden upon me.
May they fetch and carry, clean and scrub
And do so cheerfully.

Let them take it in turns at putting me up
Nice sunny rooms at the top of the stairs
With a walk-in bath and lift installed
At great expense.....Theirs.
It's been a blessing watching them develop
The parental pride we felt as each one grew.
But Lord, let me be a burden on my children
And on my children's children too.

KR