New Zealanders shun governmental World War I propaganda


This music video about Australia and the first world war is called The Pogues – The band played Waltzing Matilda.

The lyrics are:

When I was a young man I carried my pack
And I lived the free life of a rover
From the Murray’s green basin to the dusty outback
I waltzed my Matilda all over

Then in nineteen fifteen my country said Son
It’s time to stop rambling ’cause there’s work to be done
So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun
And they sent me away to the war

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we sailed away from the quay
And amidst all the tears and the shouts and the cheers
We sailed off to Gallipoli

How well I remember that terrible day
How the blood stained the sand and the water
And how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter

Johnny Turk he was ready, he primed himself well
He chased us with bullets, he rained us with shells
And in five minutes flat he’d blown us all to hell
Nearly blew us right back to Australia

But the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we stopped to bury our slain
We buried ours and the Turks buried theirs
Then we started all over again

Now those that were left, well we tried to survive
In a mad world of blood, death and fire
And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive
But around me the corpses piled higher

Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over tit
And when I woke up in my hospital bed
And saw what it had done, I wished I was dead
Never knew there were worse things than dying

For no more I’ll go waltzing Matilda
All around the green bush far and near
For to hump tent and pegs, a man needs two legs
No more waltzing Matilda for me

So they collected the cripples, the wounded, the maimed
And they shipped us back home to Australia
The armless, the legless, the blind, the insane
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla

And as our ship pulled into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where my legs used to be
And thank Christ there was nobody waiting for me
To grieve and to mourn and to pity

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As they carried us down the gangway
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared
Then turned all their faces away

And now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me
And I watch my old comrades, how proudly they march
Reliving old dreams of past glory

And the old men march slowly, all bent, stiff and sore
The forgotten heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask, “What are they marching for?”
And I ask myself the same question

And the band plays Waltzing Matilda
And the old men answer to the call
But year after year their numbers get fewer
Some day no one will march there at all

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me
And their ghosts may be heard as you pass the Billabong
Who’ll come-a-waltzing Matilda with me?

By Tom Peters in New Zealand:

New Zealanders shun Camp Gallipoli WWI celebration

10 April 2015

The Australian-based Camp Gallipoli Foundation announced the cancellation on Monday of its New Zealand event, telling the media that by April 1 it had sold just 102 tickets. It had aimed to attract 10,000 people to an overnight camp-out at Auckland’s Ellerslie Racecourse on April 24 to celebrate the centenary of Australian and New Zealand (Anzac) troops landing at Gallipoli in the First World War.

The abysmal ticket sales are a debacle for the foundation and the co-sponsors of the event—the Returned and Services Association (RSA), the state broadcaster TVNZ, and the New Zealand government, which had promoted the camp as part of WWI centenary commemorations.

Considerable effort had gone into promoting Camp Gallipoli. It was to feature entertainment by pop-rock band Evermore and reggae group 1814 with appearances by TV psychologist Nigel Latta and former All Blacks rugby coach Sir Graham Henry. The camp’s “ambassadors” included players from the Black Caps national cricket team and the Breakers basketball team.

Despite these high-profile celebrity endorsements the public shunned the event, which was aimed at glorifying one of the bloodiest battles of WWI. The organisers ran up against widespread and deep-seated anti-war sentiment among workers and young people, the vast majority of whom regard World War I as a never-to-be repeated catastrophe.

Camp Gallipoli Foundation CEO Chris Fox lashed out at the public for failing to buy tickets. He told Monday’s Dominion Post: “You didn’t get off your backside… I’d check your pulses to make sure that you’re still breathing.”

This prompted a deluge of 167 comments to the newspaper’s web site, most of them expressing hostility to Fox and his insulting comments.

Several readers denounced Camp Gallipoli as “tacky,” with one describing it as “an appalling ‘commercial event’ purely designed to make money out of an event in history that saw tragic losses of life on both sides.”

While advertised as “not for profit,” the camp had numerous corporate sponsors, including TVNZ, Australia’s Bendigo Bank, and the top sports bodies of Australia and New Zealand. Profits from ticket sales were to go to the RSA.

Many comments expressed revulsion at the event’s glorification of militarism. One described the camp as “rather bizarre and not my way [of] remembering thousands of senseless deaths in a war started by crazy leaders who were more than willing to send multitudes of young men to their deaths.”

“Why don’t we stop commemorating war and death?” asked Clinton Jackson. “We invaded another country. While the memory of the brave lads who were forced to kill for the pleasure of European royalty should be honoured, the actual battles should be confined to history along with its causes, religion and the narcissistic royal families.”

“I 100% agree with Clinton Jackson’s comments,” said another reader, who described WWI as a “crime” and added: “NZ was never at risk from WWI. Our young men were encouraged to go and fought for the ‘mother country’ and were told it was their duty… If you ask a lot of kiwis what they reflect on over ANZAC Day it’s most likely to be the futility of war and mankind’s continued view of it as a way to solve problems.”

Joannie similarly wrote: “I remember all our war dead on Anzac day including my dead son who served his country but to me this Gallipoli hysteria is just so over the top that it is becoming crude. Gallipoli was a disaster caused by the British which slaughtered thousands on both sides. Best buried in History I think.”

Another reader bluntly stated: “Kiwis and Aussies were used by the English masters as cannon fodder in an invasion that history tells us would have not made any difference anyway. We should not be celebrating this, but we should never forget.”

The 1915 invasion of Gallipoli, in Turkey, was a failed attempt by Britain and its allies to gain control of the shipping lanes through the Dardenelles. The fighting killed more than 87,000 Ottoman soldiers and 44,000 Allied troops, including 8,500 Australians and 2,779 New Zealanders. Hundreds of thousands more were maimed or became sick.

As a junior partner of British imperialism, New Zealand’s ruling class joined WWI to expand its wealth and seize more Pacific island colonies. In the course of the 1914–1918 war, 18,500 New Zealanders died and 40,000 were injured, out of a country with a population of about one million. In other words, approximately 6 percent of the population were killed or maimed in WWI.

Successive Australian and New Zealand governments have recast the catastrophe of Gallipoli as an occasion for nationalist celebration. The April 25 holiday, Anzac Day, is at the centre of the WWI centenary campaign, which promotes the battle as central to the “national identity” of both countries.

Several comments denounced Camp Gallipoli as an Australian import, with one declaring that “Australia have turned ANZAC day into some jingoistic fervour.” In fact, while Fox’s organisation has managed to sell many more tickets to its events throughout Australia, there are other signs of public hostility to the celebrations of militarism. Channel Nine was compelled to “burn off” its much-publicised Gallipoli television series after audiences turned off. An article berating the public for failing to watch prompted a stream of angry responses.

The Camp Gallipoli fiasco reflects widespread, albeit still latent, opposition to this intensifying militarist and nationalist campaign. At the same time, the comments to the Dominion Post indicate that there is little understanding of the purpose of the WWI commemorations.

For the ruling elite, the Anzac centenary is not simply a historical commemoration. On the contrary, the government and the corporate media are seeking to suppress anti-war sentiment and promote unquestioning respect for the military in order to condition the public, especially young people, to support future imperialist wars.

The National Party government, with the support of Labour and all the parliamentary parties, is spending more than $150 million on WWI related projects, including a new National War Memorial Park and major museum exhibitions.

A government-produced book, universally praised in the media, hailed New Zealand’s participation in WWI as “largely successful and profitable.” It endorsed the police state measures put in place during the war and covered up the opposition to the war that emerged in the working class.

Today, the world situation increasingly resembles the cauldron of inter-imperialist tensions that dominated in the period prior to World War I. The US has launched non-stop wars and interventions over the past two and half decades in a bid to counter its economic decline through military means. The National government is currently preparing to send New Zealand troops to join the renewed US-led wars in Iraq and Syria.

At the same time, the government and opposition, along with the pseudo-left organisations, have endorsed the Obama administration’s confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, and Washington’s strategic “pivot” to Asia—aimed at a military build-up against China.

The mounting popular opposition to war finds no expression in the political establishment. Every political party supports the military and intelligence alliance with the US. In 2003, tens of thousands of people marched in New Zealand against the invasion of Iraq

The celebration of WWI must be taken as a warning that the ruling elite will not hesitate to drag the country into a Third World War to defend its predatory interests. While anti-war sentiment revealed by the Camp Gallipoli fiasco is significant, unfocussed hostility will not halt the drive to war. What is required is the building of an anti-war movement of the international working class to put an end to capitalism—the root cause of war.

New Zealand musician Jordan Reyne interviewed


This is a music video series by Jordan Reyne.

By Len Phelan in Britain:

Jordan Reyne: Strong enough to be different

Tuesday 7th April 2015

In her other life, JORDAN REYNE produces excellent podcasts for the People’s Assembly. But, as she tells Len Phelan, when she isn’t engaged in that vital work she’s busy carving out a career as an innovative musician with a radical, feminist edge to her work

CURRENTLY touring Europe with Slovenian legends Laibach, Jordan Reyne is about to release a new EP entitled Maiden, which follows on from her previous records Mother and Crone.

Described as a goth-folk artist, and with a growing legion of fans in Britain and on the continent, Reyne grew up in an isolated spot on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

Cape Foulwind is a wild place,” she says, “where the nearest city is three hours’ drive and the sea never tires of hurling itself on the jagged roots of mountains. Almost no-one lives there and what little space there is between mountains and waves is often filled with rain.”

It’s a place where you can’t help but fall in love with folklore, the stories of men and women from England, Ireland and Wales who came and lost their lives there, she explains.

As a child, she found “odd ways” to amuse herself: “My habit of hollering back at the sea while banging bits of old iron was not what my parents called musical,” she says. “They made me learn to sing and play, to spare themselves the torment.”

Such early experiences shaped the music she makes today. “It’s a blend of fact and folklore — found tales and found sound from the cast-offs of coal mines and factories to homemade drums and farm implements. It’s a coming together of stories told in Celtic-style melody and hypnotic tribal beats.”

But the trilogy of EPs she’s produced tell stories which are not simply fable. “I wanted to do a project that spoke of the experiences of women at different life stages or the tales of how others see them,” she says. “Growing up in such an unusual environment made me very aware of how people’s expectation of my behaviour seemed to come from somewhere I hadn’t been.”

The EP project began after talking to her mother about her experience of old age.

She told her of what it’s like to feel the same self she’s been for her entire life but, looking incredulously in the mirror, thinks: “Who the hell is this old woman? Is that seriously me?”

How certain “kinds of people” are or should act — assumptions based on age, race, gender or religion — is an issue that exercises Reyne. “Old age invokes certain ideas on how and who one is meant to be,” she stresses. “If we have wrinkles, we are expected to be a different kind of character than if we don’t.

“If we don’t feel old — and my mother is certainly one of the most alive people I know — then our inner ideas of who we are come into conflict with what we are led to believe the facts of our physical age imply. We feel that in being ourselves, people get confused and walk away.”

Alluded to in advertising, film, popular culture and fiction, the images of the maiden, the mother and the crone have been passed down through time with certain character attributes pre-assigned and, says Reyne, “they limit our understanding of a person — we don’t let them just be.”

To counter those assumptions the songs on the EPs, reflecting three life stages, are real stories set into folkoric form, “where women battle with, or conform to, expectation. Or where others comment on how they think those women should behave.”

Her mother’s experience of being deemed invisible has a positive side, she feels. “It gives you a certain amount of leeway. As an inherently shy person, my mother often bottled what she felt, for fear of being told it was not acceptable to disagree.

“Nowadays, she has a new-found confidence to say whatever the hell she thinks. Loudly. Being outside ‘the gaze’ in everyday encounters, she can voice opinions she didn’t dare utter before.

She’ll tell the local politician on the election hustings that he’s failed to address the issues, or the pompous ex-lecturer in her book club group that he should stop imagining he is the only one in the room that knows anything. All things she would never have done before.”

The Crone EP coincides with Reyne’s adoption of “the hag” character on stage, a horned horror backed by pagan rhythms built up live with loop machines.

“The hag not only sings but screams when she feels slighted. She is political, irascible and passionate — because, for once, she gets to say what she thinks. Despite the fact that she may not be listened to.”

The maiden on the final EP of the trilogy is the innocent whose nascent sexuality is as alluring as it is corruptible.

“When I left the place I grew up, living in the city was as exciting as it was scary,” Reyne says.

“There were so many eyes and so many pictures, slogans and broadcasts that seemed to want to help you be these things that fit what was wanted from young women.”

But, she points out, the real seducer is capitalism itself, with its overwhelming messages of polarised gender, narcissism, consumption and trappings of glamour which are often pushed their way. “It is dedicated to the quirky girls — those who are strong enough to be different,” Reyne says.

And that pretty well sums up this intriguing and adventurous artist who dares to challenge the stereotyping of women so persuasively.

The music from all three EPs is being toured throughout Europe, including Britain, until November this year and the Crone EP is released on April 27, details: jordanreyne.com.

Saving sixty pilot whales in New Zealand


Volunteers care for stranded whales on Farewell Spit earlier this year. Photo: DOC

From Radio New Zealand:

Sixty beached whales refloated

Updated at 7:41 pm on 14 February 2015

The 60 remaining whales that beached at Golden Bay are being refloated, some on pontoons.

Department of Conservation staff and volunteers rushed to the Farewell Spit area to try to rescue 198 long finned pilot whales yesterday, but this morning the whales stranded again.

At high tide at 6pm tonight, up to 200 rescuers led the whales into the ocean.

DoC spokesperson Andrew Lamason said everything was so far going to plan.

“There’s a lead group of about twenty and they’re swimming out into deeper water and the remaining whales are sort of straggling, but they appear to be generally following that lead group as well. At the moment it’s looking quite positive.”

Mr Lamason said he would not know until dawn if the whales have stranded again.

Related

See also here. And here.

Hundreds of pilot whales beached in New Zealand


This video from New Zealand says about itself:

Whale Rescue Farewell Spit

24 January 2012

Volunteers work to free a pod of stranded pilot whales on Farewell Spit, New Zealand; an area notorious for whale strandings. Project Jonah CEO, Kimberly Muncaster, talks about the rescue. 24 January 2012.

This video says about itself:

13 February 2015

Almost 200 pilot whales stranded themselves Friday on a New Zealand beach renowned as a deathtrap for the marine mammals, conservation officials said.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Mass whale stranding in New Zealand kills 24 with more fatalities expected

Almost 200 pilot whales became stuck on Farewell Spit in Golden Bay, prompting nearly 100 volunteers to help refloat them

Australian Associated Press

Friday 13 February 2015 06.59 GMT

A mass whale stranding on Farewell Spit in New Zealand’s Golden Bay has left 24 of the animals dead and local authorities expect the toll will continue to rise.

Close to 100 volunteers worked on Friday to help refloat almost 200 pilot whales which became stranded on the stretch of beach.

Most of the whales that survived were refloated in the high tide, but were “swimming in a confused fashion”, said Andrew Lamason from the Department of Conservation (DOC).

“What the risk is, is you’ve got some of those whales in that pod which are determined to restrand and they’ll be dragging the ones that have been refloated back onto the beach,” he said.

But as for what caused the whales to strand in the first place, Lamason said it was part of nature.

“It’s sad but in a way it’s how nature works. You’ve gotta be pragmatic when you’re wearing my shoes,” he said.

The DOC and the volunteers called off help for the night but will be back at the beach on Saturday morning to keep the whales comfortable and healthy.

Farewell Spit is a narrow sand spit at the northern end of Golden Bay and there have been numerous previous whale strandings there.

Rare Pacific right whales are back near US coast


This video says about itself:

31 October 2011

National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry describes a magical but risky experience photographing an enormous [southern] right whale off the coast of New Zealand.

From the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California in San Diego, USA:

Research Highlight: The Sound of Hope

Rare whale species heard off continental U.S. for the first time in more than 20 years

Feb 09, 2015

Once upon a time in the ocean, North Pacific Right Whales thrived.

Their unique calls could be heard across the seas from Asia to North America. Intense whaling activities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries changed all that, decimating their population. Mid-twentieth century recovery efforts—backed by international whale-protection laws—were hampered by illegal Russian whaling in the 1960s and ’70s.

Today, only several hundred North Pacific Right Whales remain, divided into two groups: one in the Sea of Okhotsk off Russia and a second in the eastern Bering Sea off Alaska. For years scientists have been seeking any sign of the Bering Sea group because it is considered one of the most critically endangered cetacean populations in the world with only about 30 animals remaining.

Now, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego researchers have reported some good news for the precarious population with a glimmer of hope that its numbers may be rebounding. A team led by Scripps researcher Ana Širović recorded the first evidence of these animals off the continental United States in decades.

Širović and her colleagues analyzed marine mammal sounds recorded in 2013 with four High-frequency Acoustic Recording Packages (HARPs), underwater microphones developed at Scripps that capture the calls and clicks emitted by various species. North Pacific Right Whales are known to produce distinctive low-frequency sounds—acoustically classified as up-calls, down-calls, gunshots, screams, and moans—that can travel across vast distances in the ocean.

To their surprise, the team discovered two Right Whale calls in HARP data recorded at Quinalt Canyon off Washington State, the first off the continental U.S. in more than 20 years, and separately at Quinn Seamount in the Gulf of Alaska.

“We had been looking for Right Whales for some time, knowing that the chances of hearing them were pretty small,” said Širović. “So it was very exciting and I was quite surprised when we heard their calls. It was a good day.”

“Our ability to detect rare species, such as the North Pacific Right Whale, has been dramatically improved by the development of new technology for listening underwater,” said Scripps Oceanography Professor John Hildebrand, a co-author of the study, published in Marine Mammal Science.

In 2013, two Right Whales were visually identified off British Columbia, Canada, marking the first such sightings that were made in the area in more than 60 years. Širović said there is no way of definitively knowing whether the animals seen were the same as the ones that were heard.

Nevertheless, the recent acoustic recordings and visual sightings may be good signs for the population of this rare animal and these instances “may offer a sliver of hope for its eventual recovery,” the researchers said in the report.

“Given the rarity of this species, and very few visual or acoustic sightings that have occurred outside the Bering Sea, our detections are an important indicator that this population is using a larger oceanic area of the North Pacific,” said Širović. “I think we are all doing this kind of work hoping to find good things to report. This was one of those good news moments. It was a happy finding.”

Kokako in New Zealand, video


This video from New Zealand says about itself:

13 December 2014

This kokako from Tiritiri Matangi was filmed feeding on juicy leaves.

From the Bird Ecology Study Group about this:

North Island Kokako feeding on leaves

03 Jan 2015

The North Island Kokako (Callaeas wilsoni) is of ancient lineage with very few surviving close relatives. Its closest cousin is the saddleback (Philesturnus spp.).

“The video clip below was taken on Tiritiri Matangi Island, New Zealand. The island has been kept free of pests like rats, stoats and possums so that endemic bird species, which are mostly poor flyers, have a chance to re-establish their numbers.

“The tagged bird was seen on a branch at almost eye level, next to a path we took while returning to our waiting ferry.

“The bird can be seen holding down the leaf with one leg while tearing off bite-sized pieces to savour. After devouring the whole leaf, it hopped off to harvest another delectable juicy leaf.

“Its blue wattles and black mask gives away its identity.”

Teo Lee Wei & K

14th December 2014

New Zealand pigeon video


This video says about itself:

New Zealand woodpigeon feeding on yellow blossoms

13 December 2014

This pigeon was filmed at Zeelandia, Wellington. The commentaries in the video was made by our very knowledgeable volunteer guide at the sanctuary.

From the Bird Ecology Study Group:

New Zealand Pigeon (kereru)

24 Dec 2014

The New Zealand Pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) is a rather large bird, ~ 50 cm long, often sighted sitting quietly on tree branches. Its distinctive white underparts enable the birdwatchers on the ground to spot it easily.