For much of my juvenile life in England, New Zealand existed only as a kind of mysterious dual oceanic blob on our household globe. At my boarding school I do recall clearly however that my oddly omnivorous reading included a book on the 19th century Maori wars. From that I remember especially a vast solitary trek being undertaken by the sole British military survivor of an inland skirmish which apparently went horribly wrong. If I had any particular further interest in NZ when young this was largely because a cousin with whom I shared a lot of my childhood departed suddenly for that far distant land when he was turned down very unexpectedly for entry to Britain’s major military college Sandhurst on medical grounds. He had always intended to follow his father’s distinguished career as an army officer and was, among other accomplishments, a crack shot. Very strangely however Richard was followed not long afterwards by his father and mother when my maternal grandfather’s timber business passed suddenly and unexpectedly outside his control. My grandfather had always pencilled in passing this whole business at some time over to my uncle Reg who had been severely wounded in the first world war. All of a sudden three vital members of my mother’s family exited more or less permanently from our lives.
My cousin Richard’s first job in NZ was to manage a farm for a childless Scottish couple in Otago. At first he was allowed to read for only half an hour following ‘tea’ at 5.30 – apparently to save electricity. However, eventually my highly personable cousin was allowed out just a little bit later in the evenings to shoot possums by flashlight but most unfortunately bagged the childless couple’s beloved cat one evening while so doing. The ground was unfortunately frozen and Richard apparently walked a very long way before finding a suitably secret burial ground. I learned about this incident only when my wife and I stayed with him on his macadamia farm near the Bay of Islands maybe forty years after it occurred. I was in NZ to cover the opening of Te Papa in Wellington for the Australian. I was not especially impressed by the museum’s overwhelmingly simplistic attempts at political correctness and was also amazed to find the museum adjacent to a massive firm of pawnbrokers. Such companies had largely disappeared from the streets of Britain decades earlier.
Whenever I thought about the matter at all I still tended to see New Zealand much as I had first imagined it. How wrong could one be? From my wife’s point of view one of her maternal great grandmothers was the first white child to be born in the north of the North Island which apparently gives her a lifelong right to live in NZ herself. The husband of that particular great grandmother subsequently founded Pearson’s Sand Soap and Driza-Bone and also cleared much of the rainforest around Robertson in NSW – but I digress.
At a recent Speccie writers event I had the great good fortune to meet Amy Brooke whose superb book The 100 Days: Claiming Back New Zealand (Howling at the Moon Publishing 2013) has alerted me to the frightening extent to which the worldwide tentacles of post-modernism have transformed a decent if somewhat backward country into something at least as virulent as its much larger neighbour Australia. My innocent view that small pockets of genuine democracy and intelligent decency may still exist clearly could not be more wrong. I have personally seen and written at length about the horrid tansformations post-modernism/neo-Marxism has wrought in Britain and Australia and could not be more complimentary about Amy’s analysis of New Zealand’s broadly parallel plight. Amy Brooke belongs to a small group of international writers who can see with absolute clarity the mess we are inflicting on ourselves. I was personally trained to fight physically against the Russian forces of occupation in Germany in the 1950s during my compulsory military service and have always utterly disagreed with communism in all its global manifestations. Communism gained its major foothold in the USA initially through that country’s universities such as Columbia where refugees from Germany’s communist Frankfurt school were most perversely invited to teach. By now these anti-democratic doctrines seem to have wiped out nearly all opposition even in ostensibly Western countries such as New Zealand thanks largely to local lecturers and teachers. How I wish I could have introduced all such to pre-1989 communism as my wife and I personally experienced it in countries such as the USSR, Georgia, Latvia, Poland, East Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The world’s largest ever communist power PRC is camped virtually on our doorsteps in the South Pacific. Is the English language version of The Black Book of Communism published by Harvard University Press somehow miraculously unobtainable in South Pacific democracies? My uncle Reg who spent the last years of his life in New Zealand lost a lung and was seriously ill for a long while in the first world war during which he nevertheless sent back humorous and beautiful drawings from the front. As a senior officer in the second world war he volunteered to travel in the first allied landing craft on D-day to help calm younger soldiers. I have a suspicion that his last years spent, I think, in the timber business near Hamilton in NZ’s South Island were not altogether rewarding ones. New Zealand’s recent politicians and educationalists have hardly covered themselves in glory in my eyes or those of Amy Brooke. Without hesitation I place her The 100 Days: Claiming Back New Zealand as essential reading for all intelligent inhabitants of her country as well as those elsewhere who can remember the kind of democratic principles for which so many once offered their lives.