By Stan Stewart.
There have been complaints from my Editor. “When are you going to stop writing these namby-pamby, bleeding heart, feel-good kind of pieces? When are you going to get stuck into some real issues? Take on some controversy? Shake some bushes?”
Well, the boss asked for it, so here goes.
For a start, let’s lay to rest some controversies that have plagued New Zealand – Aussie relationships for years.
Who invented the pavlova? Clearly indisputably, this glorious dessert is as Australian as Billy Tea or kangaroo stew. Chef Herbert “Bert” created the pavlova at Sachse Hotel in 1935. It was named by the house manager, Harry Nairn, who remarked it was, “as light as pavlova” (Anna Pavlova was a Russian Ballerina who had toured Australia).
That’s the fact. Kiwi upstarts who claim otherwise, should get with the programme and pull
their heads in.
Then there is the question of the nationality of the greatest racehorse of all time – Phar Lap. I
know he was running round bandy-legged in a New Zealand paddock when he was a young one.
However, it was only when he came to Melbourne that he began to take shape as a racehorse.
It was Aussie training and the Aussie spirit that propelled him to being the greatest horse in
Another bit of fake news debunked.
Ok Editor, you want me to take on some controversy? What about this?
In the novel, ‘Tom Brown’s School Days’ I read about this strange and barbaric game called
Rugby. But living in Melbourne, Australia, that was the last I heard of it. In the Australian
state of Victoria, they play ‘footy’ – Australian Rules Football. In all my growing up and adult
life, I had never heard of Rugby. It was not on the telly nor in the papers. The only sport was
Footy – Australian Rules Football.
In Melbourne, you can’t eat filet mignon in a fine restaurant without having a screen playing footy games somewhere in view. It might be a current game or last week’s game or last year’s Grand Final, it doesn’t matter. I think it’s a fact that ‘Melbournites’ can’t digest a steak without watching footy.
It was an enormous shock to come here and be surrounded by Rugby – two different kinds – I can’t tell the difference. Now here’s a suggestion that could lift New Zealand’s status as a sporting nation. Ditch Rugby and take on Aussie rules. I am sure those big guys could be taught to jump and they would look great in smaller shorts!
There you go Editor. If the above is not hard-nosed and gritty, I don’t know what is!
I am writing this on Easter weekend. For all of my life, this weekend has been full of services and ceremonies all revolving around the Christian Easter stories. For the last three years, because of my life situation, Easters have been different - not better - not worse - just different.
I have loved coming to Whitianga again. The physical beauty of the place, the friendliness of the people and even the challenge of rising tides and broken roads have all stimulated me. This Easter, perhaps because I am living in this idyllic place, I have kind of switched off from world news. I am enjoying this scenic environment and the social bubble of life on the Coromandel. Almost daily I hear of people referring to our life here as, ‘living in Paradise’. I understand why they say this, and I am also grateful to live in this privileged, scenic and social environment.
But I am aware of something different to what does not fit the notion of Paradise.
There is a lot of pain here. I am talking about personal pain. Physical factors like the broken roads, eroding beaches and sea level rise cast a pall over the brilliance of our paradise. Another source is disrupted relationships. Many people feel betrayed or let down by people they trusted. And in all of this, I am not just an impartial, detached observer.