Thursday, 27 September 2007

Try this one! Explore The Bush

I would like to share a note I got from Simon Nathan about "the Bush." The bush is in the heart of every New Zealander. Our souls and wairua are firmly planted in the bush whether you are Maori, Pakeha or Asian.

Dear Bob
Te Ara has just launched the latest section. Called "The Bush", it contains
106 illustrated articles on landscapes, plants and animals of New Zealand as
well as conservation and outdoor recreation. Just click on:
In particular I thought that you might be interested in the section called
"Bush and Mountain Recreation", with articles on Mountaineering, Tramping,
Walking Tracks etc. If you poke round, you will see that I managed to get
one of the classic photos of Teichelmann, Newton and Graham in the
mountaineering article.
best wishes
Simon Nathan

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Who was Tom Crean ?

Tom Crean

The house where Tom Crean was born.
I am truly delighted that Tom Crean has at last been acknowledged on stage throughout Europe, North America and many other parts of the world. by Aiden Dooley's one man play, Tom Crean Antarctic Explorer. If you live in Geneva it will be shown next months. See my previous posting.
I spent 13 months on Antarctica as a 21 year old and and visited the hut that Crean stayed in as a member of Capt. Scott's 1910-12 Terra Nona expedition when Scott and his companions died after reaching the South Pole. It was wonderful experience visiting the hut that was home to Crean and his comrades for two cold years. I would like to tell you a little about Tom Crean.

Tom Crean served both Scott and Shackleton and outlived them both.

Tom Crean (20 July 187727 July 1938) was an Irish Antarctic explorer. He was born in the town of Annascaul in Co. Kerry. He joined the Royal Navy when he was 15 years old, lying about his age to get in.
Tom Crean was on three of the four major British expeditions to Antarctica. Two of these were expeditions led by Robert Scott aiming (amongst other more scientific goals) to reach the South Pole: the 1901-1904 National Antarctic Expedition on Discovery and the 1911-1913 expedition on Terra Nova . The third was the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition on Endurance led by Ernest Shackleton.

Terra Nova
On this expedition in 1911, Captain Scott said he could only really trust a handful of people, William Lashly, Edgar Evans and Tom Crean. Crean and Lashly, along with Lieutenant E.R.G.R Evans formed the last support party to leave Scott on his way to the South Pole, while Edgar Evans, Wilson, Bowers and Oates continued with Scott. Crean, Lashly and Evans turned back 146 miles (268 km) from the pole on 4 January 1912, and faced a 750 miles (1206 km) return journey back to the camp.
Around the beginning of February, Lieutenant Evans became seriously ill with scurvy. Starting on the 13 February, while still 100 miles (160 km) from the safety of the camp, Crean and Lashly had to pull Evans on the sledge, slowing the trio down further while their food supplies were getting dangerously low. Evans asked to be left behind as he feared all three would otherwise die, but Crean and Lashly refused (Evans would later say that this was the only time in his naval career where his orders were disobeyed). With 35 miles (56 km) left (4-5 days of travel with only two pulling the sledge), and not more than 1-2 days of food left it was decided one of the two had to walk for help while the other stayed behind with Evans. Tom Crean volunteered. It took him 18 hours to walk the 35 miles over the ice to reach the camp, and, with only three biscuits and some chocolate to eat, he collapsed just after reaching the camp at 3:30am on the morning of 19 February. He had arrived at the camp only half an hour before a fierce blizzard which probably would have killed him, and which delayed the rescue party by a day and a half. The rescue was successful however and Lashly and Evans were both returned to camp alive, unlike Scott's polar party. Crean and Lashly were both awarded the Albert Medal for saving Evans' life.

Like Scott, Shackleton deeply trusted Tom Crean. After their ship, the Endurance, was destroyed in the ice during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, the crew had to sail the life boats across the Weddell Sea pack ice and then travel by boat to Elephant Island. When they arrived, they rebuilt one of the lifeboats - the James Caird and six of the men including Shackleton and Crean sailed to South Georgia for help. This has become known as one of the most extraordinary small open boat journeys in history. Because they landed on the uninhabited south coast of South Georgia, three of the men, again including Shackleton and Crean, had to walk across to the other side in a remarkable 36 hour journey which was the first crossing of the mountainous island. They arrived at the whaling station at Stromness, tired and dirty, and prepared for the rescue of the other 22 men still on Elephant Island, 22 months after sailing from South Georgia.

Later life
After returning home, Crean saw service in the First World War, and retired from the navy in 1920. He married and opened up a small pub called "The South Pole Inn." Throughout his life, Crean remained an extremely modest man. When he returned to Kerry, he put all of his medals away and never again spoke about his experiences in the Antarctic. It has been speculated that this may have been because it was seen as dishonorable for an Irishman to have served in the British Military at that time. He became ill with a burst appendix in 1938. He was taken to Cork which was the nearest hospital where such a condition could be treated but he died before he reached the hospital there.

Crean is commemorated in at least two place names: Mount Crean (2550 m) in Victoria Land, and the Crean Glacier on South Georgia.
Crean is also commemorated as the inspiration for Endurance Brewing's signature Pale Ale
He is also remembered in the 2001 TG4 Documentary 'Ciarraíoch san Oighir' (A Kerryman in the Ice).
Crean is portrayed, telling of his life and adventures, in a one-man play titled Tom Crean, Antarctic Explorer, written and performed by Aidan Dooley. The play premiered in New York in 2003, and has toured around the world, including a run Off-Broadway in the summer of 2007 at New York's Irish Repertory Theatre.

Tom Crean finally makes it

The Geneva Literary Aid Society proudly presents

Tom Crean - Antarctic Explorer
Written and Performed by Aidan Dooley
Fringe First WinnerEdinburgh Fringe FestivalBest Solo Performance Award WinnerNew York International Fringe Festival

Aidan Dooley gives a compelling solo performance in this ripping good yarn... - The New York Daily News

Aidan Dooley's one-man show is a charming, funny, perfectly pitched account of an ordinary man who helped to turn the wheels of history. - The Scotsman

This one-man show is a genuine pleasure.... - The Guardian

This magnetic revelation of a fascinating character simply compels a standing ovation. - The Irish Times

Date and time: Wednesday 17 October 2007, 19:30
Venue : The AULA, Collège des Coudriers (15a, Avenue Joli-Mont - opposite Balexert)
Tickets: CHF 25 -- Box Office and Refreshments from 18:30
Cause: The Global Network of People Living with AIDS
Proceeds from this event will support people living with HIV. GLAS acknowledges the assistance of the Geneva English Drama Society (GEDS) and kind support of the Anglo Irish Bank (Suisse) SA.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

The story makers

In July I posted Traditional Celtic Story Tellers. Story telling or story making is what life and communication has centred round since people first began dwelling in caves.
Some years ago when living in India I used to entertain my young boys by going to the BBC website CBeebies and we would pass many an enjoyable hour playing games, making stories and singing songs. We lived in India for six years before coming to Indonesia and so many of our stories centred around tigers, elephants and Mahouts. I tried to take the story making further, by taking the story outside to a local forest on a dry dusty hill. I called my walking stick of staff, the Tiger stick and we would go to the local forest and hunt imaginary tigers. My boys frequently remind me of those fun days tiger hunting in Delhi.
In the age of computers, playstations, PSP etc, we are losing the art of story making or story telling and I make it a point to tell at least two stories every night before the boys go to sleep. Tonight I told one about a human butterfly..
I recommend if you want to become a better teller of tales go to The Story Makers at BBC's CBeebies

'Imagine, imagine, imagine a story!' chant the characters in this programme.

The Story Makers
The scene is set in a library where, after it closes at midnight, the magical Wordsworth family and puppets, Jelly and Jackson, pour objects and ideas into a story-making machine. This machine always needs the magical ingredient, and this is - imagination! Three exciting stories emerge as filmed insert, a puppet story and an animation. Children are drawn into the exciting stories. The technological world in which we now live doesn't always offer children scope to be imaginative. More than ever, they need opportunities to be creative, to imagine, to dream, to stop and wonder and explore and to develop a sense of awe and wonder of the world. These skills are essential if effective learning is to take place.

The programme has the potential to develop a love of books. Parents/carers can extend the programme content by further developing a love of the written word. Parents/carers might like to take children to their local library, look at books and magazines together or invent their own lively stories-perhaps during a long car journey. Playing with words can promote an enjoyment of language and can be a springboard to future success in learning.
Happy story making and in next posting, I would love to tell you our favourite story, written in Bangladesh called Bhombal Dass..

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Red Hatted Sue


Red-hatted Sue
How well I remember
Your beauty on opening day
Last September.

You hold your net
With such grace and poise
And scoop with a rhythm
Not a sound, not a noise.

When the ‘bait' was running
A few weeks ago,
You showed no emotion
How my admiration grows.

Re-hatted Sue
I can never forget,
Watching kilos of whitebait
Running into your net.

My heart jumped with envy
For you and your style,
But I am still waiting
For that first smile.

I’m dying to ask you
How you cook your 'bait',
With egg or onion
Or do you eat them straight ?

I’ve got some good recipies
In my refurbished kitchen,
And would love to serve you
Inanga and pigeon.

So Red-Hatted Sue
I fantasise when I’m baiting,
Every day at the river mouth
While you are waiting
For you clearly
Are the best catch
There’s no net big enough,
No man that’s your match.

I seriously think
I’m the one for you,
We could live in a baiters shack
Just me, and you
Red-Hatted Sue
Bob McKerrow

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Michael Jones still the best

I have written at least twice about Michael Jones being an outstanding rugby player, a fine human being and a role model for young and old alike. He is currently coach of the Samoan rugby team which played gallantly against England last night.

I came across this article this morning. Brilliantly written Tony Smith.

Was fellow All Blacks flanker and now Samoan coach Michael Jones a better player than Richie McCaw is?

When the greatest player in rugby union history says the game is getting too soft it's time for the powers-that-be to set down the gin tumblers and take notice.
Michael Jones, the All Blacks' all-time best and now Samoa coach, says if the trend towards sanitising the sport continues, he'll encourage his son to play rugby league.
Jones the Christian who once quipped that he tackled so hard because he had been taught that it was "better to give than to receive" says he would probably consider playing league too if he was still pulling on a pair of boots now.
The Iceman's utterance on the eve of the all-important Samoa-England World Cup clash was seized upon by genuflecting English pressmen with all the reverence of an epistle from the Archbishop of Canterbury's lips.
And quite right too. Jones is revered by rugby people throughout the world.
Which begs the question why is he not accorded the status he deserves in his own land?
New Zealanders still cling to the myth that Colin Meads is our greatest All Black. Pinetree was a true totem, a legend when the All Blacks pack was feared throughout the world. No one wishes to belittle his feat of 55 tests across 14 seasons. His longevity, his toughness, and his athletic ability with the ball curled up in that massive mitt, was a sight to behold.
But nostalgia is a powerful drug. Once it has you hooked, it's desperately difficult to kick.
It is now 20 years since the 1987 All Blacks revolutionised rugby on their way to winning the inaugural world cup. Footage of that first tournament has been aired more often this month than a politician's dirty linen. The re-runs show Michael Jones at his mercurial best before the tragic knee injury which reduced him from superhuman to the ranks of mere mortal.
Richie McCaw is a modern-day marvel on the openside flank and better at the breakdown than Jones. But for sheer skill, pace, eye for a gap and thunderous tackling, no one before or since comes within cooee of the softly-spoken West Aucklander.
Jones, who also played 55 tests spread across 12 seasons, was so good he could have played for the All Blacks at second five-eighths or centre.
Even Will Carling, the ex-England captain and centre acknowledged as much in rating Jones as No2 behind 1970s Welsh halfback Gareth Edwards in his best 50 rugby players of all-time in a recent Daily Telegraph newspaper promotion.
Meads was 14th behind Jonah Lomu (4th) and Zinzan Brooke (9th) but ahead of Sean Fitzpatrick (18th), Buck Shelford (22nd), Dan Carter (23rd) and McCaw (27th).
While Meads' status in many Kiwis' eyes is clearly based on his playing feats, he has also been venerated for the image he projects as a rugged rural man of the land, the "Man Alone" laconic cocky with a fence post balanced on one shoulder and a sheep slung over the other, the type of bloke you'd like to have a beer with.
By contrast, Jones is a deeply religious, abstemious, university-educated Samoan New Zealander from suburban West Auckland, a true Pacific community leader, a representative of the new New Zealand. His celebrity has been confined to the sports pages. There has never been a whiff of controversy around his career.
Kiwis also like Meads because he has been a bit of a character. The King Country lock was sent off against Scotland at Murrayfield in 1967 and was involved in a couple of other unsavoury incidents in internationals. He was a New Zealand Rugby Union councillor when he unwisely travelled as manager of the rebel Cavaliers tour to South Africa in 1986 in defiance of a High Court ban. Yet it says much for Meads' mana and rugby's redemptive qualities that he was welcomed back into the fold after a brief penance and went on to manage the All Blacks at the 1995 world cup.
Meads has also made a significant contribution off the football field in his King Country region, in particular through his championing of the IHC fundraising cause.
Yet in terms of rugby role models there is none better than Michael Niko Jones, who has done much to advance the Pacific New Zealanders' cause.
Throughout his long career he stuck steadfastly to his stance of never playing on Sundays. Whether it was for Waitemata or the All Blacks, he remained true to his principles.
His beliefs were universally respected but came at some cost. Jones was unable to play in the 1991 Rugby World Cup final against Australia in Dublin. Would the Wallabies have won had he been in the No7 jersey instead of Mark Carter?
He was also omitted from the 1995 world cup squad because several Sunday matches were scheduled for the South African tournament. Would the All Blacks have lost to South Africa in the final staged on a Saturday, incidentally with Jones at No6 in the backrow beside Zinzan Brooke and Josh Kronfeld?
Meads deserves respect for his durability and his ability to play through the pain barrier. Who can forget his battle to play with a broken arm in South Africa in 1970?
Jones's genius was unprecedented before his knee collapsed at ruck against Argentina at Athletic Park in 1989. It was the kind of injury which would have ended the career of a less committed player.
Yet Jones sought the best surgeon he could find and proved a model patient through a painstaking rehab.
He was back on the All Blacks' flank 18 months later and reinvented himself from the world's best openside to the top blindside flanker of the early 1990s.
Yes, Michael Jones is still the best rugby player New Zealand has seen and it is no surprise to see his views on the sport treated with the solemnity of the Sermon on the Mount.

By TONY SMITH in Edinburgh - Fairfax Media Sunday, 23 September 2007

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Waiho River mouth - a poem

Waiho River Mouth

Ribbon-like white
Streaks the high horizon,
Where the ice oozes
Vertical to green.

From timeless boles
Ancient spars signal time
In dark leaf-stained water
Ancient insects cavort.

Starfish swim in rock pools
Flecked with glacier dust
Rivers retreat from intruders
Slicing the scarred landscape

Friday, 14 September 2007

Indonesia earthquake. Update

Indonesian Red Cross volunteers taking an injured woman to hospital

Here is the latest update on the earthquake in Indonesia
Indonesian Red Cross Society (PMI)
Brief summary of situation
After a strong earthquake struck the west coast of Sumatera with a force of 7,9 on the Richter scala on September 12th 2007, BMG (Meteorology and Geophysics Agency) reported that after 32 hours, 48 earthquakes with 4.5 – 7.7 magnitude on Richter scale, for which three tsunami warnings were promulgated even it was cancelled after two hours.

Impact for this earthquake reported in Bengkulu was 6 districts affecte: Bengkulu City, North Bengkulu, Mukomuko, Kapahyang, Seluma and South Bengkulu and North Bengkulu is the most affected district. It is reported that 10 people have died and 14 peoples injured, also reported 267 houses totally damaged, 3.119 houses sustained heavy damaged and 3.202 houses light damaged, and for public facilities, it is reported 17 schools building, 24 worship places and 12 offices building damaged, also reported airport in Bengkulu is accessible with small and medium aircraft, also road condition is possible to pass with motorcycle, car and medium truck with 7 tons capacity. Electricity in Bengkulu and some part of Sumatra were disturbed because electricity power plant were affected by the shock. In terms of health services for earthquake victims, M. Yunus public hospital officer in Bengkulu announced the temporary tents will keep serving for one week ahead.

In West Sumatra province: 5 districts affected: Padang City, Pesisir Selatan, Pariaman, Solok and Mentawai district. Pesisir Selatan was the most affected district, also reported 4 people died, 5 people badly injured and 10 people sustained light injuries, and for infrastructure damage reported 2.318 houses heavy damaged, 344 medium damaged and 1.601 lightly damaged.

Minangkabau Airport (international commercial air port) still functioning as well as Tabing air port (military air port).
The need for both provinces to cope with earthquake are:
1. Platoon tent
2. Tarpaulin
3. Blanket
4. Mosquito nets
5. Water and sanitation
6. Lantern

Actions taken by Red Cross
National Level
- Dispatched relief item such as 2.000 pcs tarpaulins, emergency medicines for 1.000 patients, 485 pcs mosquito nets (from Jakarta Central Ware houses), 150 family kits, 1.500 hygiene kit (from Padang Regional Warehouse), 500 pcs Kerosene stove (from Surabaya Central Warehouse) to Bengkulu
- Dispatched relief item such as 500 pcs Hygiene kits and 500 pcs tarpaulins to Pesisir Selatan district from Padang Regional warehouses
- Assessment consists with PMI NHQ Staff with Watsan, Relief and PSP Expert and IFRC was on the field to analyze the need.

- Satgana (disaster response team) Evacuated patients in M. Yunus Public Hospital
- Established platoon tents as field hospital near M. Yunus Public Hospital
- Set up temporary shelters for survivors
- Giving ambulance services
- Conduct damaged assessment in Bengkulu city, North Bengkulu and Mukomuko district
- Team assessment from PMI NHQ, Federation and Chapter Bengkulu formulated service delivery plan regarding last situation
- Coordination with local government and other actors on the field

Padang ( West Sumatra )
- Evacuated patients in M. Jamil Public Hospital and evacuated victims on the ruins buildings
- Conduct damage assessment in disaster areas
- PMI Padang City established 50 temporary tents for IDPs
- Established post command on the location
- Satgana helping the patients on the hospital
- Satgana and CBAT (Community Based Action Team) established 4 unit tents near the hospital in Painan district
- Giving ambulance services
- Coordination and close communication with actors on the field
Close coordination through out the movement PMI NHQ, Federation Indonesia Delegation, PNSs, Donors, APDMU and Secretariat Geneva is on going.

DMIS will update for any change situation
Actions taken by others (if any)
- Vice chairman of Bakornas PB on Natonal level stated an emergency response 6 days for Bengkulu province and 4 days for Padang city
- BMG announce the tremors still going on until two weeks
- Air force dispatch 2 Hercules aircraft, 1 unit aircraft type CN-235, 1 unit Fokker 28, 2 unit helicopter Puma type, and 2 unit helicopter Bell type to mobilised medical and relief items
- Health department dispatched 1 tons medical, 3 tons of infant food, and 1 ton food
- Social institution on district level in Padang dispatched food relief items
- Satkorlak in two provinces always standby and gave the early warning system and instructed direction for community
PMI NHQ DM Team telp +6221 7992325 ext 202, email
Primary contact
Mr. Arifin Muh. Hadi, Head Of DM Division; Mobile: (+62 811) 943952; Telephone: (+62 21) 799 2325 ext. 222; e-mail:
Secondary contact
Ms. Aswi Nugroho, Head of Communication Department, PMI; Mobile: (+62 816) 1667227; Telephone: (+62 799 2325) ext. 201; Fax: (+62 21) 799 5188
Tertiary contact
Jeong Park, IFRC DM Delegate Indonesia; Mobile: (+62 811) 826614; e-mail:

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Earthquake in Southern Sumatra

I have played a support role to the Indonesian Red Cross response to the earthquakes that struck Indonesia’s Sumatera Island since Wednesday, 12 September 2007.
The first occurred at 18.10 local time, measuring 8.4 on the Richter scale, with its epicentre located at 4.517° south and 101.382° east, 130 km south west of the province’s capital Bengkulu. Potential tsunami alert message was issued by BMG (Badan Meteorologi dan Geofisika/Meteorology and Geophysics Agency), but was revoked within the next two hours after the first quake.

Several aftershocks were reported with magnitude varying between 5.2 – 5.7 on the Richter Scale along the west coast of Bengkulu, with the largest one being a 7.8 Richter scale quake which occurred on Thursday, 13 September at 06.49 local time. The epicentre is located at 2.526° south and 100.964° east, 185 kilometres south east of Padang, West Sumatera, The BMG office also issued a tsunami watch but again lifted it within a few hours.
Late last night, Thursday 13 Sept., another earthquake occured just before midnight near Bengkulu. It measured 6.8 and a Tsunami warning was issued.
Indonesian Red Cross, PMI, assessment teams (which includes Fachri our DM manager) continued their assessment at first light this morning.
As an initial response, locally, PMI volunteers have been dispatched to assist with evacuation processes. In Padang, PMI have established an emergency health post in cooperation with ORARI (Organisasi Radio Amatir Indonesia/Indonesian Amateur Radio Organisation). They have also erected four emergency health posts nearby M. Yunus hospital in Bengkulu to assist with the handling of patients and mobilized three ambulances to assist with evacuation on the field.

The PMI Headquarters has started to send resources from Jakarta to the PMI Chapter in Bengkulu, such as 1,000 standard earthquake medical packages (consisting of, among others, anti septic solution, bandages/tourniquets, etc.) and 2,000 tarpaulins. Additionally, a number of 1,500 hygiene kits and 150 family kits have been be disbursed from the PMI’s warehouse in Padang, West Sumatera.
The national Red Cross coordination centre is next to my office in Jakarta and it is impressive to watch staff and volunteers collecting information, contacting remote communities and building up a picture of the damage and the needs. using the latest satellite technology, the are able to zoom in to the remotest island and locate even the smallest community and to guide assessment teams to those spots. They work round the clock with fresh batches of staff and volunteers coming in to relief exhausted workers when required. The Indonesian Red Cross at community level is responding quickly and meeting rescue, first and and medical needs, and providing tarpaulins.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Empowering communities to improve

Villagers mapping their community needs in Mundon Village, Gununkidul, Java.
On Tuesday amd Wednesday ( 11 and 12 Sept. 07) I was in Yogyakarta monitoring some of the work we are doing with the Indonesian Red Cross in the aftermath of the hige earthquake which struck on 27 May 2006, killing 5,749 and injuring over 38,000 people. The Red Cross provided over 119,000 affected families were provided with relief packages including tents and tarpaulins by Palang Merah Indonesia (PMI) and the International Federation within the first three months of the operation.
Nearly 3,000 were provided with water and sanitation services, over 23,000 treated by PMI-Federation medical services while over 12,000 bamboo houses were constructed within eight months to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. The effectiveness of working with community cash transfers will now continue as an integrated community-based risk reduction pilot project, named COBA, in six villages. Training in the initial phase of thepilot project has begun.

Let me explain how our COBA project works.
COBA pilot project – integrated community-based risk reduction (ICBRR) in a recovery setting
The preparation phase for COBA has started with some training for PMI volunteers. Village mapping training and alternative media, using the simplest media tools, training have completed. Village mapping is an important part in
the risk- reduction process activity. This is a media to represent information of land surface and its surrounding.
This skill will enable communities to increase their awareness of their village and will play an important part in decision making on area planning programmes during disasters. Alternative media is also useful as a
communication media within the village community, PMI and other stakeholders such as local governments andother agencies.
Another important media tool is community radio which is being planned. There will be another training on community radio establishment and broadcasted programmes for volunteers to share knowledge and skills to identified resource persons in the village. This media is excellent for
information dissemination and working with the community will increase its sustainability.
Surveys will be conducted in the initial, middle and final phases to measure the programme’s effectiveness. In COBA,two type of surveys will be used: KAP (focus on the target village and non-target village as the control) and baseline
(focus on the targeted village only) surveys. A KAP (knowledge, attitude, practice) survey will be conducted, outsourced to Gadjah Mada University and Sanata Dharma University of Yogyakarta. The initial phase of the baseline
survey was completed recently by volunteers.

So for me, it was a wonderful experience spending time in the village of Mundon, watching this very empowering process for improved community development.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

That fearsome Haka

Many of you will have watched the All Blacks beat Italy last night, and I wonder how many of you saw the traditional and sacred Haka. What is the significance of the Haka ?

The Te Rauparaha Haka is the most common, but since 2005 there is another version, the Kapa o pango Haka:

These are the words of the Te Rauparaha Haka:

Before the Haka is performed by the team, the Haka leader, normally an All Black of Maori descent, will instigate the Haka and spur on those who are to perform the Haka with the following.

Ringa pakia
Uma tiraha
Turi whatia
Hope whai ake
Waewae takahia kia kino

Then the team starts the Haka as a group,

Ka mate Ka mate
It is death It is death
Ka ora Ka ora
It is life
It is life
Ka mate Ka mate
It is death It is death
Ka ora Ka ora
It is life It is life
Tenei Te Tangata Puhuruhuru
This is the hairy man
Nana i tiki mai whakawhiti te ra
Who caused the sun to shine again for me
Upane Upane
Up the ladder Up the ladder
Upane Kaupane
Up to the top
Whiti te ra
The sun shines!

The haka is a war dance. The words are chanted loudly (shouted) in a menacing way accompanied by arm actions and foot stamping. A haka was traditionally performed before charging into battle.
The Maori pronunciation is basically one vowel per syllable, with the vowels having the European rather than English sound. The `wh' is aspirated almost like an `f' (f is good enough for most people).
As for what it all means, about 140 years ago, a great chief named Te Rauparaha of the Ngati Toa tribe (based just North of present day Wellington), was being chased by his enemies. He hid in a kumara pit (the local sweet potato) and waited in the dark for his pursuers to find him. He heard sounds above and thought he was done for when the top of the pit was opened up and sunshine flooded in. He was blinded and struggled to see those about to slay him, when his sight cleared and he instead saw the hairy legs of the local chief (reputed to have been exceptionally hirsute) who had hid him. Te Rauparaha is said to have jumped from the pit and performed this haka on the spot, so happy was he to have escaped.

Kapa o pango haka:

This haka was first performed by the All Blacks versus South Africa on 27 August 2005 at Carisbrook, Dunedin. The All Blacks won 31 - 27. This haka was written by Ngati Porou's Derek Lardelli. This haka will only be performed before special test matches.Kapa o pango kia whakawhenua au i ahau!Let me become one with the land

Hi aue, hi! Ko Aotearoa e ngunguru nei!
This is our land that rumbles
Au, au, aue ha!
And it's my time!
It's my moment!
Ko Kapa o Pango e ngunguru nei!
This defines us as the All Blacks
Au, au, aue ha!
It's my time!
It's my moment!
I ahaha! Ka tu te ihiihi
Our dominance
Ka tu te wanawana
Our supremacy will triumph
Ki runga ki te rangi e tu iho nei, tu iho nei, hi!
And will be placed on high
Ponga ra!
Silver fern!
Kapa o Pango, aue hi!
All Blacks!
Ponga ra!
Silver fern!
Kapa o Pango, aue hi, ha!
All Blacks!

Monday, 3 September 2007

Bankrupcy of purse or life?


It appears in Jason Elliot's book 'An Unexpected Light'. Jason stayed with me twice during his journey in Afghanistan. I shared it with him It was written by Hayden in his book, Wanderer.

I have always wanted to sail the south seas, but I cant afford it,
What these people cant afford to do is not to go.
They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of security, and in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine and before we know it our lives are gone.
What does a person need really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in and some form of working activitythat will yield a sense of accomplishment.
Thats all in the material sense. And we know it.
But we are brainwashed by our economic system until weend up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of timepayments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade. The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on theshelves of patience. Before we know it the tombis sealed.

Where then lies the answer? In choice.

Which shall it be; bankruptcy of purse or Bankruptcy of life?

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Meeting with Sonia Gandhi

Sonia on the left, and a clean-shaven Bob on the right

"Life is meeting," wrote Sir John Hunt. When you work for a major humanitarian organisation, you get opportunities to meet famous people. Some you remember vividly, others you forget. The four that stand out in my mind are Indira Gandhi, Bill Clinton, Sonia Gandhi and President Karzi, President of Afghanistan.

I met Bill Clinton in Ahmedabad, India after the huge earthquake that affected Gujarat. He was in a very relaxed mood when he joined a group of us to discuss how his new organisation could help the affected people. His inquiring mind, pithy questions and ability to quickly distill the key facts from a barrage of people trying to impress him, were the qualities I remember.

Purely by chance, I met Indira Gandhi in March 1975, as a young man en route to Nepal from Vietnam. I had a 24 hour stop in Delhi and sadly, Padmaji Naidu died just before my arrival. She had been a mentor to Indira Gandhi and had a huge influence on her life. As Padmaji was President of the Indian Red Cross, Indira wanted someone from the Geneva headquarters to attend. As I was coincidentally passing through Delhi, I was met and whisked away to buy white clothing, the colour for mourning in India. A few hours later I arrived at the funeral service and Indira Gandhi took me by the hand, thanked me for coming, and I was next to her throughout the ceremony.

Sonia Gandhi was different from her Mother in Law. More reserved and part of a dynasty which has fascinated India and the world for over 75 years. I met her on the 10th of May 2005.

It was with a sense of awe I waited with my colleagues in the ante-chamber that had photos of Sonia's late husband Rajiv Gandhi, his Mother Indira, and her father Nehru. There was a touching family photo of Sanjay and Rajeev Gandhi wearing shorts with their Mother Indira, and Grandfather Nehru. The only photo that was not part of the dynasty, but a key figure in Indian history, Mahatma Gandhi.

We were invited into a huge library and this very attractive lady, immaculately dressed in a blue Shalwar, warmly welcomed us. Books lined every wall and there were four large models of sailing ships on top of the book shelves. I recognised one as an "East Indiaman" which carried tea from India to Great Britain. My good friend Murli Deora, the then Vice President of the Indian Red Cross and now Minister of Petroleum, told her about the extensive work the Red Cross had done for those affected by the earthquake in Gujarat some years earlier, and the work we were doing then for the victims of the Tsunami. She showed deep knowledge of the Red Cross. After a group discussion with her, I had a one to one talk with her about the work her daughter was doing with a young Afghan friend of mine, for slum dwellers in Delhi. She smiled, as only a mother can, with pride, when hearing about her daughter. She came cross as caring, deeply concerned and warm.

I met her daughter Priyanka twice. She is a remarkably strong and focussed young women. We were discussing ways she could help promote the work of the Red Cross in South Asia.

Hamed Kazai, President of Afghanistan is another man that leaves a strong impression on you. I met him in mid 2003 in Kabul. A humble man with a huge responsibility on his shoulders as he tries to bring some semblance of stability to a war-torn country. Tall, handsome, dignified and sharp, he speaks with conviction and clarity on the future of his country.