Home

I have spent the last week and a bit at home, New Zealand. During that time I spent four days in Auckland catching up with friends and five days on the road with two Australians visiting Waitomo, Taupo and Rotorua.

During the last six months I have been trying to fit into Australian culture but it has been a long and hard process to do so. Returning home I expected to have changed enough that I wouldn’t quite fit back into New Zealand culture either. However, within half a day of being back I felt as if I had never left – finally there were people who could understand my accent, my mannerisms, and accept me just as I am.

Being back home has left me questioning where my true home exactly is. I am a born and breed fully blooded sixth-generation Kiwi. I am not European, I am Pacifica, I am Pakeha, and I am proud of my New Zealand heritage.

There is a far too cliché saying that states “home is where the heart is”. For me, the last six months have been an interesting journey into the heart. For the first three months of living in Sydney I was immensely lonely. Not knowing anyone crushes the human spirit. Of course making friends is a solution to loneliness that challenge is simpler on paper than it is in reality. After six months I have begun to build a number of friendships in Sydney, however, it will be many years until the number of friendships will even get a chance of rivalling those I have in Auckland.

So where is the heart now? I feel like it is in the middle of the Tasman Sea, torn between two different countries, and buried under a sea of emotion. A few weeks ago I had someone attempt to convince me that emotion was a bad thing and that showing your emotions was a sign of weakness. However, I see emotion as a strength, it gives us feeling, lets us know when things are going well, and when they are not. Emotions can be soul destroying though; especially when you let the downward emotions overrule the confidence ones.

It is with a bit of sad emotion that over the next sixth months I see myself fishing this heart out of the sea and continuing the westward shift towards Australia being my home – at least in the short term. While New Zealand will always be my whakapapa (origin), Australia by virtue of work is now my residence, and it is within that context that in order to move forward in my life I need to work in. I may be a stranger in a foreign land, but when in Rome you must do as the Romans do, however you must never forget your past, where you came from and who you are.

Rainbow Warrior bombing 25 years on

Today marks 25 years since French Secret Service agents, allies of New Zealand, committed the first and only act of terrorism ever in New Zealand’s history when they bombed Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior ship while it was docked in Auckland killing one person; an act of war committed by an ally against a pacifist organisation.

I was born two years after the bombing, however, the bombing not only changed New Zealand history it also had an important role in shaping my political views. When I was at primary school during the 1990s the French resumed nuclear testing at Mururoa and during that time Greenpeace sent their replacement Rainbow Warrior II ship from Auckland to protest the testing. My connection to the two ships comes through primary school friends, the father of one of my friends was onboard the Rainbow Warrior when it was bombed in Auckland harbour in 1985 and parents of other friends were onboard the Rainbow Warrior II and other ships when they were detained by the French in 1995.

So 25 years on where are we? Once France had finished “testing” aka bombing the shit out of an island in the middle of nowhere because apparently no one would care they signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty, since then France has not detonated another Nuclear Weapon. However, Pakistan has, India has, North Korea has. The work of Greenpeace has slowed the Nuclear Winter but I don’t think we are out of the autumn yet.

Today Greenpeace have blogged links to 4 videos on the Rainbow Warrior.

They have also posted a long blog remembering the ship, the life lost, and what the Rainbow Warrior achieved.

There is also the remaking of the song Anchor Me done for the 20th Anniversary

And who can forget French Letter (audio only, can’t find the video):

Finally a year and a half ago I blogged on why it is so important for Kiwis to never forget the Rainbow Warrior.

This is why Auckland will never be a “World-Class” city

Jon C at AKT reports that the platforms at the new Onehunga train station will only be 55m in length, whereas the new electric trains will be 70m long.

KiwiRail says the platforms are of a shorter length because of “constraints on keeping the line away from nearby apartments”, electric trains could run to Onehunga but people would only be able to travel in the front two of the three car trains.

Not only is Auckland 100 years behind most of the developed world in getting an electric rail system (remember that Britomart is the only underground diesel railway station in the world!) we can’t even get the size of the platforms right. This would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

Meanwhile in Sydney next week sees the commencement of the 4th Metrobus route from Bondi to Chatswood with 80,000 people per week capacity. The Metrobus system in Sydney has been a great success with bus running so frequently they don’t need timetables. In Auckland there has been the Link bus for a number of years working on this system, but how about seeing it on routes like the Northern Express, Dominion Road (ARTA are launching the “B.Line” here), Great South Road, New North Road, Great North Road.

There is a reason why “Public Transport” in Auckland has been called an oxymoron and this stuff up in the length of the train platforms is yet another example of it.