Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind


We Won!

I’m not particularly sports minded, and I didn’t set the alarm for 5:00 am this morning to watch the World Rugby Cup (RWC) Final between the All Blacks and the Wallabies.

The RWC became something of an anti-climax for me at the end of the quarter-finals, when I realised no northern hemisphere countries would be represented in the semifinals. Somehow it’s easier to feel more pride, when we come up against our larger northern hemisphere rivals and win, than against our southern hemisphere neighbours.

It was a great effort by the All Blacks: the first team in RWC history to win back-to-back finals; and the first team to win the cup three times.

We can’t take anything away from the Australian effort. The well deserved their place in the final, and as usual they proved worthy adversaries.

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Pukeko Pong Pot


The pukeko is a bird as likely to be seen as road kill as alive and and scratching in a roadside swamp. As you’ll learn if read the original story linked to below, it’s not the most palatable bird around.

Where I grew up there was a well known recipe for pukeko, although no one knew anybody who had actually tried it:

Place a plucked pukeko in the bottom of a very large pot. Place a rock on top of the bird and add enough water to cover both pukeko and rock. The rock must be heavy enough to keep the bird at the bottom of the pot. Place on heat and bring to the boil. Boil vigorously for 8 hours, adding water as needed to cover the rock. Then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer and maintain it for 48 hours. At the end of the cooking period, carefully remove the rock and place to one side. Discard the water and pukeko carcase. Carve the rock and serve on a bed of kumera mash with seasonal vegetables. If you make a gravy, do not use the water the bird was cooked in.

For a humorous, and possible more accurate set of instructions of how to cook pukeko, click here for Philip J Bradbury’s Pukeko Pong Pot.


Treaty of Waitangi 101

This post is primarily for Kiwis who haven’t bothered to understand the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi / Te Tiriti o Waitangi. We Pakeha were guilty of ignoring the Treaty for more than a hundred years, and it is only in recent decades that an attempt has been made to redress some of the wrongs committed by the crown over many generations. We still have a long way to go, and it’s often a case of two steps forward and one step back.

Too many Pakeha have made no attempt to understand what the treaty means to Māori and to us as a nation, and in essence, want Māori to “integrate” by abandoning all that is sacred and unique about their culture and become “brown Pakeha”. They don’t want Te Reo (the Māori language) taught in schools, nor the preservation of customary rights, and especially not the partial restoration of land and and the payment of compensation for all that was confiscated from Māori after the Land Wars in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Understanding the spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi is not really too difficult – it consists of three articles. Most of us understand understand Articles I and III, but for many Pakeha and for successive governments we have failed to honour Article II. It’s time this was redressed. The video clip below explains the basic principles of the three articles.

Now that wasn’t too difficult was it?


Animism is the established religion of Aotearoa New Zealand. Really?

New Zealand, along with all nations, is acutely religious. But, more than most Western countries, the dominant religion is now the Established Religion. We are using “established” in the historical sense of a religion prescribed and protected, so that all citizens must respect and honour that particular religion’s beliefs and practices. Established religion is the religion buttressed and proscribed by the law of the land and funded by tax money.

The established religion in New Zealand is Maori animism. In historical terms it is a pagan and primitive religion, riddled with superstition and idolatry. It is an offence and provocation to the Living God. But none who want official and public respect in New Zealand dare criticise the Establishment. Those, however, who fear God more than man are prepared to call it for what it is: stale hokey pokey–a thoroughly sour, ignorant and stupefying batch of mouldy ice-cream. Every Christian who understands what the Bible says about idolatry and false gods has no hesitation in flatly rejecting Maori animism. In so doing, we have become the new dissenters.

The above paragraphs are the first two of a guest blog by John Tertullian on MandM. I believe that it would be difficult to find a more ignorant, bigoted, piece of Christocentric, Eurocentric nonsense anywhere. Perhaps part of his statement on his About page explains it: “he finds the Scriptures to be more profound and instructive than a million books.”

Although the post is rather old, it is still relevant today, as there is a small section of Christianity in Aotearoa New Zealand that still holds the same view. He, as does those of a similar persuasion confuse religion and culture, which, while they are interrelated, are not the same thing,

The purpose of Tertullian’s post was to criticise a group of young Christians who apologised for offending the local iwi (tribe). In his view apologising was an affront to God. I’ve got news for him: his God was offended not one iota.

This article and a somewhat sensationalised Stuff article, which includes a video clip of the event, give a background of what happened. Essentially, A group of young Christians climbed Mt Taranaki and had a barbecue on the summit. Sounds innocent enough you might think, but to Taranaki iwi the mountain is tapu. In English tapu is often translated a sacred, but perhaps a better translation might be not ordinary.

To Taranaki Māori, Mt Taranaki is their symbolic (not literal) ancestor, and as such, it is tapu. The summit of the mountain represents the ancestor’s head, In Māori culture, the head is the most tapu part of the body, and the top of the head even more so. By having a cook-up on the summit they offended against the tapu, and hence the local iwi.

In That Guy’s tongue in cheek article on the subject, he makes the observation: A basic rule of thumb in New Zealand is: If in doubt, just assume that it is tapu. This has nothing to do with religion, but everything to do with respecting the cultural values of the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Tertian tries to equate the reverence local iwi hold for Mt Taranaki with worship of the mountain as a god. He is way off the mark. Genealogy and reverence of ancestors is an important part of Māori culture, and as the mountain is is the “primary” ancestor, it deserves due respect.

It is important to note that the iwi made no claim that the barbecue offended any god, deity, or supernatural being. The offence was against the iwi itself. As Mr Mohi said in the Stuff article, he was disappointed by the actions of the Christians, and that they discourage such activities. There was no demand that the group should change their religious beliefs, or that they should be banned from using the mountain. All that was being asked is respect of Māori culture. Is that too much to ask? After all, Māori make up almost twenty percent of the population, and are Tangata whenua, People of the Land.

One important fact that Mr Tertian forgets is that while only about forty percent of all New Zealanders claim any Christian affiliation, however tenuous, around eighty percent of Māori are practising Christians. They have no issue with accommodating traditional practices within their faith, and as far as I know, their Christian God has shown no objection. If God okay with the concept of tapu, why can’t Mr Tertian?

As for his claim that animism being the established religion of Aotearoa New Zealand, once again he fails to differentiate between religion and culture. Aspects of Māori culture are making their way into the wider New Zealand setting. Take, for example the haka. This is now a part of the spiritual fabric of what it is to be a New Zealander, and yet there is a small minority that sees it as no more more than a primitive war dance of a stone age people that has no place in a modern society. I firmly believe we are all the more richer as a society by being able to express ourselves through haka.

Likewise, karakia has made its way into the wider community. The karakia can be thought of as a prayer, blessing or incantation and there is barely a public occasion, such as the opening of a meeting or public building or the departure of an official delegation overseas where it won’t be performed. Karakia tend to contain a blend of Christian and traditional influence, but are not required to. They can be completely secular. They use especially poetic language which means that a literal translation into English isn’t always possible, Even to a non-Māori speaker such as myself, the beauty and majesty of a karakia is undeniable. One doesn’t need to be religious a appreciate it, and in fact, when it has been attacked by religious extremists, I notice atheists come to its defence just as often as liberal Christians.

The video clip below is a karakia performed at the opening of Whales: Giants of the Deep exhibition presented by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa at the American Museum of Natural History.

Powhiri (welcome ceremony) is also now part of NZ custom, having made to transition from a Māori only custom. It is full of meaning for those who care to understand, and a belief in deities is not required to appreciate it. It’s good manners brought to the level of ceremony. One person in the clip below will be familiar to all Americans. As an aside, notice the number of US Security Service personnel accompanying her, and compare that to how many minders our Prime Minister and two senior members of the Cabinet have. Some of US security staff look extremely nervous. I hope they had been briefed on what a powhiri entails.

Hillary makes a brave attempt at the hongi (the touching of forehead and nose), although she is clearly uncomfortable in performing it. Good on her for trying. I doubt her God was in any way offended by the action. Mr Tertian’s assertion that these practices are examples of animism having become the established religion of Aotearoa New Zealand are just plain nonsense in my view.

By the way, the Neoclassical building into which the official party enters at the end of the clip is Parliament House. Although it appears to be clad in stone, it’s actually a wooden structure – even the pillars. Appearances can be deceiving.


Will the Red Peak fly?

By popular demand (and an act of Parliament) a fifth flag has been added to the list from which Aotearoa New Zealand will select a possible replacement to our current flag. Initially I didn’t like the so called Red Peak design but it has been growing on meProposed Red Peak flag.The silver fern will always be our national symbol – even more so than the kiwi, but that doesn’t mean that it must be incorporated into a new flag design. There are a number of reasons why I’m leaning towards Red peak, some of which include:RedPeadproportions-640x640

Simplicity of design. Of the five proposed flags, this is very easy to draw. Even I child can easily get the proportions right. Take any medium, preferably of flag proportions (2:1) and divide it into quarters lengthwise, and half vertically. The key points to draw the flag can be readily found on the quarter and half way intersections. What could be easier? Try finding a simple mathematical method of reproducing the existing flag or one of the alternative proposals.

NZ flagTino_Rangatiratanga-400x400Colours of two cultures. It includes the red, white and blue represented in the current flag and the black, white and red that are represented in the Tino Rangatiratanga Māori sovereignty movement flag and the colours most used in traditional Māori art. While it can rightly be argued the NZ is no longer bi-cultural but multicultural, the Treaty of Waitangi recognises the partnership between the Māori as the original inhabitants and the crown, representing those who came later.

Symbolism.newzealand_flag The triangle and chevron is a frequent pattern in Māori tāniko weaving designs. Aotearoa New Zealand is the first country to see the dawn rise each day, represented by the black and blue at the top left and right. The white chevron represents our mountains and can also represent the clouds of Aotearoa (translation: “Land of the long white cloud”). The red represents the profile of a wharenui (carved meeting house) and can also represent the volcanoes of the Pacific ring of fire on which New Zealand sits. The red and white together is the top tip of the stylised stars of the Southern Cross as portrayed on our current flag.

Scales well. At small scales complex patterns become unrecognisable. In the media rich on-line and broadcast world, flags are often used to identify countries. Think of Olympic result tables and progress charts on a web page or television screen. At very small scales the stars on on current flag disappear, and is impossible to distinguish from the Australian flag. The silver fern motif on the alternative designs becomes unrecognisable.:

Australia New Zealand Black and white fern Silver fern red white and blue Koru Silver fern black white and blue Red peak USA Canada United Kingdom Mexico South Africa China France
Australia New Zealand Black and white fern Silver fern red white and blue Koru Silver fern black white and blue Red peak USA Canada United Kingdom Mexico South Africa China France
Australia New Zealand Black and white fern Silver fern red white and blue Koru Silver fern black white and blue Red peak USA Canada United Kingdom Mexico South Africa China France

Which flags are readily identifiable at the smallest scale? There is no mistaking the Red Peak design.

So will the Red peak flag fly, or any of the alternative proposals for that matter? I would like to think so, but judging by the lack of interest I detect from most Kiwis, I suspect the final outcome will be retention of the current flag. And that, I think would be a shame.

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What a load of bull!

Whenever I travel to Whanganui to visit friends and family, I pass through the small town of Bulls (population: 1,800). There is not much that is particularly remark-a-bull about the town, except it enjoys making unforget-a-bull puns with its name. They are to be seen everywhere, which does make the town rather memor-a-bull. A large sign as you enter Bulls makes it obvious that the locals enjoy making fun of the name: Herd of Bulls? It’s a town like no udder.

Some of the puns are terr-a-bull, others are incred-a-bull. So here, without further ado are just a few of the building signs that can bee seen as you pass through.

  • Avail-a-bull: Dairy (convenience store)
  • Bank-a-bull: Bank
  • Const-a-bull: Police station
  • Cure-a-bull: medical centre
  • Delect-a-bull: Café
  • Eat-a-bull: A delicatessen
  • Everything imagine-a-bull: Farm park & café
  • Extinguish-a-bull: Fire station
  • Fashion-a-bull: Women’s apparel
  • Forgive-a-bull: Anglican church
  • Full-as-a-bull: local pub
  • Indispense-a-bull: Pharmacy
  • Inform-a-bull: The information centre
  • Irresist-a-bull: Sweet shop (candy store)
  • List-a-bull: A real estate agency
  • Live-a-bull: Another real estate agency
  • Love-a-bull: Childcare centre
  • Memor-a-bull: Museum
  • Non-return-a-bull: Plunket Society (support services for the development, health and well-being of children under 5)
  • Park-a-bull: A car park (parking lot)
  • Read-a-bull: Public Library
  • Reliev-a-bull: Public restrooms
  • ReSpect-A-bull: RSA (Returned Services Association – a non-profit society for ex-military personnel)
  • Stock-a-bull: Supermarket
  • Store-a-bull: Storage facility
  • Social-a-bull: Town hall
  • Veget-a-bull: Fruit & vegetable shop
  • Wear-a-bull: Clothing shop

They haven’t stopped at building signs. For example, wording on public rubbish bins (trash cans) urge you to be “RESPONSE-A-BULL”.

One company in particular (Palat-a-bull) has taken the Bulls branding to another level. Here’s a list of some of their products:bulls-semen-salad-sauce3

  • Genuine Bulls Cream – Cream from Bulls (cream)
  • Bulls Semen – extracted from Bulls with their consent (salad sauce)
  • Bulls Eye Chilli Sauce – This ‘lord of the ring’ chilli sauce was tested on Bulls
  • Grill-a-Bulls (a range of sausages)
  • Bulls Wool – It’s about ewe and your baa skin (a range of merino wool products)

A signpost at the intersection of two highways even includes a sign pointing to Cowes in Australia!

What makes this town so remark-a-bull is that it’s the only place in the world where you can get milk from Bulls. I think that’s enough puns for one day.


Our new flag?

Four-promoDuring November and December this year, Kiwis will select by a binding referendum one of four flags to go up against our current flag in another binding referendum early in 2016. Personally, I’ve never much liked our current flag: it’s too often confused with the Australian flag; The union Jack in the top left quadrant is a reminder of our colonial past; and the stars representing the Southern Cross can be seen on many flags from the Southern Hemisphere.

NZ flag

Our current flag

Judging from the general lack of interest in the flag debate, I suspect, that no matter which flag wins out in the referendum this year, it will lose in the face-off against the current flag in next year’s referendum. If that does happen, I for one will be deeply disappointed, as to my mind, any of the four contenders is better at making a statement about our national identity.

All four designs are based on the fern leaf. One is a stylised frond as it starts to unfurl – the koru, a common symbol in Maori art. The other three represent the silver fern – a fern species that has a special place in the hearts of all New Zealanders.

The Flag Consideration Project has gone to the effort of depicting the flag under different circumstances, so here for your edification are the four finalists.


Silver Fern (Black & White) by Alofi Kanter

Silver Fern (Black & White)

Designer’s description:

The fern has been a distinctive symbol of New Zealand for the past 100 years. Strong and simple, it represents our uniqueness as Aotearoa New Zealand and the black and white colours show our ‘yin and yang’, with the softly curved spine of the frond binding us all together as a young, independent and proud nation. Credit for the fern goes to The New Zealand Way Limited.


Silver Fern (Black & White) flying backwards from a pole on a windy day.


Silver Fern (Black & White) hanging limp from a pole as it would when indoors or on a windless day.

flying alongside other member nations, outside the United Nations in New York

Silver Fern (Black & White) flying alongside other member nations, outside the United Nations in New York.


Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) by Kyle Lockwood

Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue)

Designer’s Description

The Southern Cross represents New Zealand’s location in the southern hemisphere and each star is representative of the islands of New Zealand. The silver fern with its multiple points represents the multiple cultures of New Zealand joining together as one and growing upwards and onwards into the future. I also spent a little bit of time in the military and I wore a silver fern on my beret. The blue represents the Pacific Ocean which our ancestors crossed to get to New Zealand, the red is reflective of our history and our culture and our heritage and the white of course represents Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud.


Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) flying backwards from a pole on a windy day.


Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) hanging limp from a pole as it would when indoors or on a windless day.


Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) flying alongside other member nations, outside the United Nations in New York.


Koru by Andrew Fyfe


Designer’s description

As our flag unfurls, so too does its koru. The koru represents the fern frond, but is also reminiscent of a wave, a cloud, and a ram’s horn. In Māori kowhaiwhai patterns the koru represent new life, growth, strength and peace, and for this reason has taken a special place in Aotearoa’s visual language.


Koru flying backwards from a pole on a windy day.


Koru hanging limp from a pole as it would when situated indoors or on a windless day.


Koru flying alongside other member nations, outside the United Nations in New York.


Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) by Kyle Lockwood

Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue)

Designer’s description

The silver fern: A New Zealand icon for over 160 years, worn proudly by many generations. The fern is an element of indigenous flora representing the growth of our nation. The multiple points of the fern leaf represent Aotearoa’s peaceful multicultural society, a single fern spreading upwards represents that we are all one people growing onward into the future. The bright blue represents our clear atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean, over which all New Zealanders, or their ancestors, crossed to get here. The Southern Cross represents our geographic location in the antipodes. It has been used as a navigational aid for centuries and it helped guide early settlers to our islands.


Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) flying backwards from a pole on a windy day.


Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) hanging limp from a pole as it would when indoors or on a windless day.


Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) flying alongside other member nations, outside the United Nations in New York.

silver fern

The silver fern

What is notable by its absence is my preferred design of the silver fern on a back background. I’m taking a reasonable guess that it is missing, because it would win hands down in a four-way competition. But it is a sporting symbol – originally representing the All Blacks, and now waved anywhere a NZ sports team competes. Being a sports flag, a great many would hesitate selecting it as a national flag. In a two way face off with the current flag, it is unlikely to do as well as one of the short listed flags.

So there you have it. I have a choice to make, but I’m undecided as yet. I’m leaning towards the Alofi Kanter Silver fern, but I like the inclusion of the Southern Cross in the two Kyle Lockwood designs. It gives some continuity with our current flag. Wnich flag stands out the best for you?


So what is MMP?

When discussing politics with people from around the world, one question I am frequently asked is how does Mixed Member Proportional representation (MMP) work. There are only a handful of countries that use MMP to elect their national legislature, Aotearoa New Zealand being one of them, so I understand the curiosity.

My attempts at describing the system are usually unsuccessful, as I tend to give an overly detailed explanation which bores the pants off the other person. So to avoid me wasting my time, and that of anyone curious, I have located a clip that explains it more succinctly than I ever could. It is explained in a North American accent, so you don’t need to struggle with a NZ accent, and it makes liberal use of a “Kiwi” connection.

Currently there are seven political parties represented in the New Zealand Parliament


How religious are your leaders?

During last year’s general elections, a question of a religious nature was posed to the leaders of political parties. This was unusual, as we Kiwis in general believe that religion (or lack of) is a personal matter, and not relevant to holding office. Nevertheless, the question was asked, and the response from the leaders of the major parties is shown in the clip below.

One politician is notable by his absence, and that is Winston Peters, the leader of New Zealand First. But as he is well known for his ability to avoid answering questions, even after a ten minute reply, perhaps his absence is understandable.

If you don’t live in Aotearoa New Zealand, do you find your politicians as honest and diverse as ours when it comes to religion?