• Black Friday

    As everyone who watches television or is on the mailing list for any of our major stores will confirm, “Black Friday” has become the longest running commercial extravaganza and celebration in our history. Although its origins are obscure (presumably dreamt up by American salesmen a few years ago), it has now extended itself beyond any one particular Friday and threatens to cover the whole of so-called “Black November” and then to transmogrify into something called “Cyber Monday”.
    Such longevity means that it has accordingly replaced Christmas as the premier sales opportunity of the year. Its new status was confirmed to me when we received – alongside the latest news of supposedly wonderful bargains – the salutation “Happy Black Friday!”. In today’s world, we now, it seems, truly worship at the shrine of commerce.

  • Instability Built In

    The long and contested process of negotiation to arrive at a new government, comprising three separate parties and with three different sets of priorities, signals strongly that the new government (if we get one) will be inherently unstable and will fall apart at the seams as soon as it faces any difficult decisions. And that risk is exacerbated by the fact that the only one of the three party leaders with any experience of government is Winston Peters!

  • Prog-Gress?

    Over recent days, the media (and, not least Matthew Hooton in the Herald) have, not surprisingly, been full of comment on the failure of Christopher Luxon’s much-touted negotiating skills to materialise. It may be, however, that the episode casts yet further light on his personality defects.

    Keen-eyed and keen-eared observers may well have heard Luxon talk repeatedly about the “progress” that either has or has not been made. “Progress” is of course desperately needed, but that is not exactly what Luxon talked about. He described something that sounded like “prog-gress”.

    Now, the prefix “pro” denotes moving forward, but “prog” has no meaning. So, we are left with an etymological puzzle – and, in any case, why does a New Zealand Prime Minister find it necessary to sound like an American?

    Could it be that we have elected a leader who is unsure of his own identity and who finds it necessary to pretend to be something he clearly is not? If so, we are in deeper trouble than we might have thought.

  • The Rugby World Cup Question

    My question about the Rugby World Cup Final. How could any rational person, let alone anyone who knows anything about rugby, have reached the decision – a red card for Sam Cane, but a yellow card for Siya Kolisi?

  • A New New Zealand

    When I returned to New Zealand in 1994, after a 32 year-long stint in the UK, I was gratified and reassured by what I found in the land of my birth. All of the familiar Kiwi virtues were there – the sense of belonging, the care for others, the drive for collective as well as individual success.

    As I contemplate the immediate future, however, I am less confident that these virtues will remain. We now face the next phase in our development as a nation with a different set of values. We can now see emerging an economy that is run in the interests primarily of property developers and landlords – and, even more worrying, one where the fall guys are tenants, employees, beneficiaries – and, as some would have it, those who are disparagingly dismissed as “bottom feeders”.

    And, rather than building a genuinely bicultural future, in which our two foundation races and cultures are able to live peaceably together and to learn from and gain strength from each other, we are in danger of acting on the mistaken assumption that a gain for one is a loss for the other.

    We are almost certainly less likely to play our full part in meeting the challenge of climate change and more likely to neglect our natural resources of clean rivers and streams and bush-clad hills and valleys, all of which will concede primacy to the drive for profit.

    When we have achieved so much in creating a country and a society that is the envy of the world, how sad that we should be poised to throw it all away.