Saturday, 28 June 2014

"Bainne na mbó ar na gamhna"

I have had this photo of an old school house in my collection a long time and today when I was looking at it,  the words "Bainne na mbó ar na gamhna" came into my head. I think it means "Cows' milk for the calves". The verse from an old Irish drinking song about the school goes like this:

    Then when I was a young lad of six years or so,
    With me book and my pencil to school I did go,
    To a dirty old school house without any door,

I have sung this song countless times in all parts of the world and still enjoy hearing it sung by the   Clancy brothers and other Irish singers.

Coincidentally, the shot was taken at Okariti  New Zealand where Te Ara (NZ Encyclopedia) records "there were ‘shindies’ between Irish Catholics and Orangemen (a Protestant group) at Ōkarito in 1865." Okarito is on the west Coast of NZs South Island where many Irish people settled.  In 1868  when news reached the West Coast that three Fenians had been hanged in Manchester, there were funeral processions in Charleston and in Hokitika, where 1,000 people broke into the cemetery and planted a wooden Celtic cross.

Soon after, the attempted assassination in Australia of Queen Victoria’s son Prince Alfred, by a suspected Fenian, triggered a minor panic on the West Coast of NZ. Eight hundred special constables were sworn in, the 18th Regiment was sent south, and Larkin, Manning and five others were arrested. Both men received one month in jail and a fine of ₤20 for seditious libel.

 The lyrics to the Juice of the Barley are: 
In the sweet county Lim'rick, one cold winter's night
All the turf fires were burning when I first saw the light;
And a drunken old midwife went tipsy with joy,
As she danced round the floor with her slip of a boy,
Singing bainne na mbó is an gamhna
And the juice of the barley for me.
Then when I was a young lad of six years or so,
With me book and my pencil to school I did go,
To a dirty old school house without any door,
Where lay the school master blind drunk on the floor,
At the learning I wasn't such a genius I'm thinking,
But I soon bet the master entirely at drinking,
Not a wake or a wedding for five miles around,
But meself in the corner was sure to be found.
Then one Sunday the priest read me out from the altar,
Saying you'll end your days with your neck in a halter;
And you'll dance a fine jig betwix heaven and hell,
And his words they did haunt me the truth for to tell,
So the very next morn as the dawn it did break,
I went down to the priest house the pledge for to take,
And in there in the room sat the priests in a bunch,
Round a big roaring fire drinking tumblers of punch,
Well from that day to this I have wandered alone,
I'm a jack of all trades and a master of none,
With the sky for me roof and the earth for me floor,
And I'll dance out my days drinking whiskey galore,
 It is interesting to study how and why the Irish came to New Zealand in large numbers.

Conditions in Ireland

In the 19th century Ireland’s rural people were landless labourers, or peasants renting a few acres with limited productivity. Their misery was intensified by other factors, including:
  • land division by inheritance
  • the transfer of land used for crops into sheep and cattle farming (which reduced work opportunities)
  • industrialisation (which destroyed the supplementary income from domestic spinning and weaving).
In the late 1840s there was a devastating potato famine, in which over a million people died.

Scale of Irish migration

Throughout the 1800s, and particularly after the famine, the Irish streamed away from their homeland to seek a better life. Often younger sons went first and were followed by other family members in a chain migration.
In the 70 years after 1850 about a million Irish crossed the Irish Sea to England or Scotland. Over four million sailed for the new worlds of America and Australasia. As a result, Ireland’s population almost halved.

Immigration to New Zealand

In 1845 the Dublin University Magazine described New Zealand as ‘the most recent, remotest, and least civilised of our colonies’. It was the most expensive to reach – over four times the cost of crossing the Atlantic to America.
The majority of Irish emigrants went to North America; Australasia took no more than about one in 13. For the first half-century of European settlement in New Zealand the number of migrants from Ireland was small. Almost none came direct from the potato famine. Until 1852 they comprised less than 15% of immigrants from the United Kingdom.

Assisted immigrants

The New Zealand Company offered assisted passages to organised settlements in New Zealand. However, the company did not consider illiterate Irish peasants to be ‘desirable emigrants’. Under 2% of the company’s settlers were born in Ireland, despite the fact that a few of the early New Zealand Company settlement leaders, such as John Robert Godley in Canterbury and Edward Stafford in Nelson, were of Anglo-Irish background. This group were members of the Anglican élite who saw their situation weakened at home by Catholic emancipation and the emergence of Irish nationalism. Few of the Irish joined them. In 1848 the province of New Munster (Wellington and the South Island) had a mere 175 Irish inhabitants.

New Ireland?

Despite the small numbers of Irish in New Zealand in the 1840s, the islands were given Irish names. In a Royal Charter of 1840 the ‘Northern Island’ became New Ulster, the ‘Middle Island’ New Munster, and ‘Stewart’s Island’ New Leinster.
In 1846 two provinces were also named New Ulster and New Munster. New Ulster extended north and east of the Patea River mouth, while New Munster consisted of the rest of the North Island and all of the South Island and Stewart Island.
These provinces were abolished in 1852.

Irish in Auckland

By 1851, in contrast to Wellington and the South Island, a larger proportion of Auckland’s population (2,871 out of 8,840) were of Irish background. Few had come direct from the homeland; many had arrived via Australia. (The convict settlement in New South Wales included large numbers from Ireland, and over a third of the United Kingdom migrants to both Victoria and New South Wales during the 19th century were Irish.)
Men of Irish heritage such as Jacky Marmon and Frederick Maning were to be found among the early gangs of traders, whalers and sealers, and in the 1840s numbers in Auckland slowly grew.
There were also significant numbers of ex-soldiers. Some of these were discharged from British regiments brought to New Zealand in 1845–46. Others came with the largely Irish Royal New Zealand Fencibles. Arriving in 1847 with wives and children, they provided protection for the area south of Auckland town. This military influence helps explain the large representation at that time of Auckland immigrants from County Dublin, a common recruiting ground.

 The numbers of Irish immigrants began to rise sharply during the 1860s, and by 1871 they comprised over one-fifth of New Zealand’s immigrant population.


There were three main reasons why the Irish immigrated during this period:
  • The discovery of gold attracted many who had previously migrated to Australia. They came first to Otago from 1861, and then in more pronounced numbers to the West Coast from 1865.
  • Irish were significantly represented among the soldiers who were discharged during the New Zealand Wars, and there was a continuing migration into Auckland.
  • Despite the fact that Canterbury’s emigration agent John Marshman was advised, ‘Irish emigrants should be refused altogether’, about a quarter of the immigrants assisted by Canterbury province were Irish, many of them nominated by family members already there. 1

Catholics and Protestants

There were significant differences among these groups. On the West Coast there were twice as many men from Ireland as women, they were commonly from Munster in the south-west of Ireland, and most were Catholic.
Elsewhere, in Auckland or among Canterbury’s assisted migrants, Ulster in the north-east of Ireland was well represented, with a majority of Protestants. There were several significant settlements of Ulster people near Pukekohe and Kawakawa. About 850 of the Pukekohe settlers came from Ulster in 1865 and 1866 as part of the Waikato immigration scheme, which aimed to provide a buffer between Auckland and the King Movement Māori further south. They were joined by about 500 Irish who came after a sojourn in South Africa and were predominantly Catholics from the south-west of Ireland.


Compared with other immigrants in this period (and with Irish migrants to other places), the New Zealand Irish were slightly older and rather more prosperous. This partly reflected the fact that they had often spent time elsewhere, particularly in Australia. There were also on average more Protestant Irish immigrants than in other parts of the world.

 Bias against Irish migrants

During the great immigrations of the 1870s and early 1880s the Irish were well represented. They comprised over one-fifth of New Zealand’s settlers during those years. More than a quarter of those assisted by the New Zealand government were Irish.
This seems surprising, as in the early 1870s there was controversy in New Zealand about alleged bias against Irish immigrants. It was true that many regarded the Irish as less desirable because of their Catholicism and their reputation as drunken and disorderly. Also, in October 1872 only eight (of 116) government recruiting agents were based in Ireland. Of 124 advertisements for immigrants, only 15 had been placed in Irish newspapers and then only around Belfast and Londonderry in Ulster.

Assisted immigrants

Despite the alleged bias, the Irish took advantage of assisted passages in two ways:
  • Catholic families who had migrated to New Zealand in the 1860s used the system of nomination to bring out other members of their families. A high proportion of these came from Munster, especially from counties Kerry and Cork.
  • Others responded to the special efforts made to attract Protestant families and single women (as domestic servants) from the north. Indeed during the 1870s more Irish women than men migrated to New Zealand.

Leaving from Ireland

During the 1870s and early 1880s the vast majority of Irish immigrants boarded their ships at Glasgow or London. There were two exceptions – Caroline Howard’s recruits and the Katikati settlers.
New Zealand’s agent general, Isaac Featherston, had responded to accusations of anti-Irish prejudice by appointing Mrs Caroline Howard as an immigration agent. She proceeded to recruit young women from a workhouse in Cork. When they arrived in Dunedin aboard the Asia in 1874, there was an outcry about this importation of ‘certified scum’. Mrs Howard was able to arrange for two further sailings before being dismissed.
A second group of vessels sailed direct from Ireland carrying a more acceptable class of passenger. Protestant families from Ulster came to Katikati in the Bay of Plenty, aboard the Carisbrooke Castle in 1875 and the Lady Jocelyn in 1878. They were part of George Vesey Stewart’s settlement. Stewart was a gentleman entrepreneur from County Tyrone who hoped to repair his fortune by land speculation in New Zealand. Through political contacts he obtained 10,000 acres (4,000 hectares), and eventually attracted four groups of settlers from Ulster.

Catholics and Protestants

Catholics from the south-west and Protestants from Ulster formed two distinct streams of Irish immigrants to New Zealand in the great migration of the 1870s and early 1880s. But as in the 1860s, only about 60% of the Irish migrants were Catholic, compared with over 80% in the homeland.

Declining numbers

As the century came to an end the number of Irish immigrants fell to under 10% of those coming from the United Kingdom. Also, among the Irish there was a clear dominance of people from Ulster.
In 1921 Ireland’s three predominantly Catholic provinces and three counties of Ulster achieved independence from the United Kingdom. This left only six counties of Ulster in the north, where there was a majority of Protestants. After this, few came from the south, but there was a steady trickle of Protestants from Northern Ireland in the 1920s and again after the Second World War.
During the 1970s the violence of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland induced some to escape to New Zealand, although the numbers were never large.


A visible community How far did the Irish in New Zealand remain a visible community, clustered together in common activity? While they did initially go to particular places in New Zealand, this was partly because they were attracted to specific occupations such as goldmining, and partly because of the importance of family nomination and chain migration in settling. It is possible, too, that among the Irish Catholic community there was a desire to seek mutual support against the generally held suspicion that the Irish were drunken and disorderly.

Provincial differences

In the early years of settlement there were distinct variations between provinces in the numbers of Irish. The census of 1871 revealed that Auckland, and more notably the South Island’s West Coast, had more Irish-born than the country as a whole. By 1881, after the great migration, Canterbury had joined them.
In Nelson province there was a striking difference between the areas around Nelson city, where the numbers of Irish were low, and the areas north of the Grey River given over to goldmining. Here the numbers of Irish were very high.
Particular centres had strong Irish populations – Onehunga in Auckland, Charleston in Nelson, Greymouth in Westland – and there was a notable Irish Catholic farming community in south Canterbury.
Within the cities it seems that Irish Catholic neighbourhoods arose around the church. In Christchurch, for example, there was a disproportionate number of Catholics in the streets near the Barbadoes Street cathedral and the church in Addington. East Hamilton was known as ‘Irishtown’. But these neighbourhoods were never exclusively Irish Catholic – they were not ghettoes, nor ethnic enclaves as in North America. The geographical segregation of the Irish rapidly declined, and by 1916 their distribution was not significantly different from overall population patterns.


Initially the Irish congregated in certain occupations – single women as domestic servants, single men on the goldfields. But these occupations were unlikely to be long-term pursuits. The Irish slavey quickly became the colonial spouse, and dreams of large gold nuggets were replaced by more realistic hopes.
As in other new worlds, they worked as navvies building railways and roads, and the itinerant character of these jobs was one factor which encouraged dispersal.
The Irish were also attracted to the police force. At the turn of the 20th century over 40% of New Zealand’s police were Catholic. Men of Irish Catholic background were among New Zealand’s most influential police commissioners (St John Branigan, John Cullen and John O’Donovan).

The community in the 1930s

By the 1930s Irish Catholics were still well represented in government service, in transport and in occupations associated with gambling and drink. They were more likely to be in unskilled jobs, and they were spectacularly over-represented among prisoners.
But elsewhere the differences were marginal. By 1936 the proportion of Catholics in the police force was 22%. Marked clustering of place and occupation had lasted little more than one generation.

Irish identity

In culture as in settlement a separate Irish identity was most evident in New Zealand during and immediately after the major Irish migration of the 1860s and 1870s. (One aspect, however, remained distinct for many years – the culture of the Irish Catholic Church.)

St Patrick’s Day

From the 1860s, St Patrick’s Day was celebrated with sports, horse races, dances and drink on the West Coast. In the main centres this continued until after the First World War.
After parading in the streets, schoolchildren gathered at Newtown Park in Wellington or the Domain in Auckland for gymnastics and athletics. If the figures for Irish convictions for being drunk and disorderly are accepted as evidence, there was a clear propensity for them to carry to the new land their enjoyment of the pub.


Hibernian (the Latin word for Irish) societies were first established in Greymouth in 1869. They were dedicated to cherishing the memory of Ireland, promoting Catholicism and providing mutual aid to members. By 1921 there were 84 branches throughout the country. But the membership was always small (only 3,499 in that year) and the society hardly represented widespread Irish interests.


More significant expressions of Irish culture came in politics. The long struggles in Ireland for land reform, home rule rather than English rule, and eventually independence were a major concern of British politics throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Many in New Zealand followed these debates and crises, and expressed their sympathies in a number of ways. Occasionally it came in the form of civil disorder. There were ‘shindies’ between Irish Catholics and Orangemen (a Protestant group) at Ōkarito in 1865. In Christchurch on Boxing Day 1879, 30 Irishmen attacked an Orange procession with pick-handles, and in Timaru 150 men from Thomas O’Driscoll’s Hibernian Hotel surrounded Orangemen and prevented their procession.

Free speech on trial

Three times, Irish Catholic New Zealanders have been brought before the court on charges of sedition.
In 1868 John Manning and Father W. J. Larkin spent a month in jail for expressing ‘Fenian’ sympathies in their Hokitika newspaper.
In July 1918 Thomas Cummins and Bert Ryan were sentenced to 11 months with hard labour for a ‘seditious’ article, commemorating the Easter Rising, in the Green Ray.
In 1922 Bishop James Liston went on trial in Auckland for alleged sedition in his St Patrick’s Day speech. Helped by the brilliant Irish nationalist lawyer P. J. O’Regan, Liston was found not guilty.

New Zealand Fenians

The most infamous disturbance occurred in Hokitika in 1868. The previous year John Manning had set up the New Zealand Celt newspaper. With Father W. J. Larkin he expressed support for a group of nationalists in Ireland known as Fenians. When news reached the West Coast that three Fenians had been hanged in Manchester, there were funeral processions in Charleston and in Hokitika, where 1,000 people broke into the cemetery and planted a wooden Celtic cross.
Soon after, the attempted assassination in Australia of Queen Victoria’s son Prince Alfred, by a suspected Fenian, triggered a minor panic on the West Coast. Eight hundred special constables were sworn in, the 18th Regiment was sent south, and Larkin, Manning and five others were arrested. Both men received one month in jail and a fine of ₤20 for seditious libel.

Visiting Irish politicians

These forms of civil disorder did not last beyond 1880. Thereafter Irish migrants’ sympathy for the nationalist cause was more commonly expressed through receptions and lectures for visiting Irish politicians.
One such event was the visit of John and William Redmond in 1883. This drew particular support from working-class Irish who had set up Land Leagues (later Irish National Leagues) in New Zealand.
British Prime Minister W. E. Gladstone’s conversion to the support of home rule for Ireland won over New Zealand’s middle-class Irish. The visit by nationalist politician John Dillon in 1889 became ‘little less than a great Irish carnival’. 1 There were successful visits by other nationalists: ex-land-leaguer Michael Davitt in 1895, Joseph Dillon and John Donovan in 1906, and William Redmond again in 1911, when 1,700 attended his Wellington meeting.
 Thanks to Te Ara for permission to run these segments.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Release Peter Greste

I knew Peter Greste very well during the two years he worked in Afghanistan in 1994-95 and he was a professional committed to telling the truth and in those days, would put his neck on the line to get the story. Gutsy, accurate, selfless, I admire him deeply. I took this photo above in a carpet shop in Kabul with Lola Clarke in 1995.  Peter is on the right.

Today three al-Jazeera journalists have been sentenced to seven years in jail in Egypt, after being found guilty of spreading false news and supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian who heads the network's Cairo bureau, and Australian correspondent (and former BBC reporter) Peter Greste were jailed for seven years. Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed received a 10-year sentence.

The BBC are running an article today on Peter and his colleagues 'Peter Greste represents all journalists'. Please read and see how you can help Peter, Mohamed and Baher. Send messages to your nearest Egyptian diplomatic missions and protest on social media. It should not be a crime to tell the Truth

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Reflecting on kayaking and canoeing in New Zealand

I was a late starter to kayaking and didn't begin until the age of 34 when I took over as Director of the New Zealand Outward Bound School at Anakiwa.
 Greg Bell taught me to paddle on the small artificial lake in Palmerston North, before departing for Anakiwa where I got my river and sea kayaking skills up to quite a considerable level, culminating in a double crossing of Cook Strait. a 10 hour solo cross in of Cook Strait from Raumati to Cape Jackson, then an attempt on crossing the Tasman sea with guru Paul Caffyn. I enjoyed teaching kayaking at Outward Bound and later family outings. In NZ celebration of 150 years of modern history, I was in a team which won the NZ outrigger canoe championships.
Don Johnstone was the greatest white water kayakists I ever paddled with. Once 5th in the world Slalom Champion I got to know Don well and wrote a number of articles on him in an attempt to get him sponsorship for his world championship competitions. Here is Don on the Mangahau River.

Heading to the Waiho river on a dirty day at Franz Josef . I did quite a lot of rafting and a little kayaking here, as well as down the Wanganui and Whataroa rivers.

My Chinook which I brought off Max Grant was my first and only sea kayak that was my vessel for three crossings of the Cook Strait, along many sections of the West Coast of South and North Islands, and down a lot of NZ rivers and in triathlons.

After a long day approaching Mana island after leaving Makara at 6 a.m., paddling to the entrance of Tory channel on the South island, then back to Mana Island,  then into Plimmerton.

Did a lot of sea kayaking along the South Westland coastline. Paddled with Kevin Baker from Gillespies beach to Okarito beach one sunny day, he on a surf ski and me in my trusted yellow Chinook. Photo: Bob McKerrow
Resting with friends on the mainland before paddling round Mana Island. I did a few trips around this delightful island. Photo: Bob McKerrow

Paddling in a Canadian canoe on Lake Horowhenua.

Out on Auckland harbour.
On the kayaking leg of the mid-winter Brass Monkey triathlon, Lake Ianthe, South Westland.

Rafting the Landsborough river during the endurance event 'Raid Gallouise.' Photo: Bob McKerrow

Paul Caffyn, the world's greatest living kayakist. Paul and I attempted a crossing of the Tasman Sea from Port Arthur in Tasmania.

Below, the Coast to Coast kayaking leg below.

The great Don Johnstone, probably NZs greatest white water kayaker. Photo: Bob McKerrow
On Lake Manapouri at the end of the inflatable canoe leg in the Raid Galloise.

A kayaking meet on Auckland's North Shore. I remember Graham Eggar was there.

I had a crack at Outrigger canoeing and was in the winning crew that took out the NZ veterans championships. I am in the pink T shirt. This is where I met All Black Michael Jones and paddled with him frequently on the Waitamata.

Quiet mornings keeping fit on Auckland harbour were times I remember. A time for reflection.

Rafting the Waiho river from near the snout of the Franz Josef Glacier

Supervising  students going over the Rai falls, Malborough on an Outward Bound Course

 In the middle of Cook strait with Adrian Kingi whom I did a double crossing from Makara to entrance to Tory Channel, and back to Mana Island and Plimmerton.

The views I got from the sea in my kayak are like no others as you are so close to the water and the landscape rears up at you.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Trans Tasman solo kayaker to get food drop today.

 Scott Donaldson training in his specially designed sea kayak for his attempt on a solo crossing of the Tasman Sea from Australia to New Zealand. 

In 1988 I joined Paul Caffyn in an attempt to be the first kayakers to paddle the Tasman Sea. After two hours into the trip, we had to return to shore for adjustments to the front cockpit I was sitting in. The rudder cables were cutting into my knees.

 Once on shore we were served a summons by the Tasmanian Police and forbidden to make another attempt on the Tasman Sea. 

 Paul Caffyn, arguably the best sea kayaker in the world in terms of achievements. Photo: Bob McKerrow

 Many kayakers  have embarked on failed attempts to make a solo crossing of the Tasman, perhaps the most infamous by kayaker Andrew McAuley, (pictured right) whose body has never been found.
McAuley was just 65km from his destination at Milford Sound on the South Island of NZ when he disappeared in 2007.

So I am following with great interest the current attempt by Scott Donaldson to cross the Tasman Sea. In today's paper I read the following:

Help is on the way to stricken kayaker Scott Donaldson, and at this point, his rescue pilot will be footing the $2000 bill.
Helicopter Services BOP chief pilot John Funnell will take three small container loads of water and freeze-dried food to Donaldson, 43, who is located 560 km off the coast of Taranaki and has been running low on supplies.
Donaldson's wife Sarah requested Funnell's assistance but said she was not able to pay for it.
"Someone had to do something", Funnell said.
He said Donaldson had not been working for the past two months and had been "light on sponsorship."
Funnell hoped to offset the mission's cost by selling photographs of the rescue to news media.
Back Country Cuisine in Invercargill had donated the food free of charge.
He had undertaken practice drops over the past three to four days. "We've done rescues before but haven't for a while, so we just wanted to hone our skills and make sure we accurately place the load in front of him [Donaldson]".
Funnell was joined by Donaldson's wife packing the containers in Taupo yesterday.
He said she described her husband as being physically fit and having a strong mindset.
He had been in text contact with Donaldson, whom he hoped to reach by about noon.
Notwithstanding five metre swells, Funnell will drop the supplies via parachute from the Piper aircraft so Donaldson could undertake the final two weeks of his voyage.
"There's no thought of getting him in", Funnell said.
Donaldson was sailing from Coff's Harbour, New South Wales to New Zealand on behalf of the Asthma Foundation to raise awareness for the need for physical activity. 
New Zealander Scott Donaldson begins kayak quest to cross Tasman Sea

On April 25, The Australian ran the following article under this heading.
A NEW Zealand man has set off from NSW on his quest to become the first person to kayak solo across the Tasman sea.
Scott Donaldson left Coffs Harbour at 9.00am AEST on Thursday after an aborted attempt on Wednesday.
A tracking page on Mr Donaldson's website - - was last updated at 10.05am AEST, with the adventurer posting a simple message: "All good".
He is aiming to land in the Taranaki region in the west of New Zealand's north island, but admits he's at the mercy of Mother Nature.
"The wind has the most say in where to land ... let you know a few days out," he wrote on his website.
Many rowers have embarked on failed attempts to make a solo crossing of the Tasman, perhaps the most infamous by kayaker Andrew McAuley, whose body has never been found.
McAuley was just 65km from his destination at Milford Sound on the South Island of NZ when he disappeared in 2007.
Mr Donaldson is undertaking the challenge in partnership with the Asthma foundation, to raise awareness of the importance of aerobic activity.

I wish Scott a safe arrival in New Zealand and pray all goes well. It is a very adventurous and dangerous undertaking.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Tacloban Declaration and climate change

A rich literature on  initiatives vis-à-vis integration of indigenous and traditional knowledge with scientific research today exists, which challenges societies to find ways by which the outcomes could be translated into climate change strategies. The Asian Monitoring Trends (AMT) Bulletin (conducted by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy) further cites that it is in Southeast Asia where 60% of the world’s indigenous peoples live. They are vulnerable in almost every aspect and they also live in the most vulnerable ecosystems. But they hold valuable traditional knowledge which must be considered in the planning of climate change strategies.
Here are examples of indigenous knowledge:  The Kenyah tribe in Borneo understands the effect of the El Nino drought and plant new crops in the drying river beds during droughts. They have diversified their food sources with wild foods, such as starch from wild sago palms.  Some indigenous peoples have seasonal forecasts based on intimate knowledge of plants and animal cycles.  They also use changes in the appearance of the sky or sea and animal behavior in their early warning systems. In some Filipino communities, you will find families storing harvest rice in the attic to keep mice away with rising smoke.
AMT also notes that in the region, most climate change programs are taking place in large urban cities like Manila and Jakarta. But the ones that are affected or are faced with greater risk (such as Tacloban) are located far from the centers of power. Furthermore, these smaller and less urbanized cities and towns suffer from lack of institutional capacity and are, therefore, incapable of immediate and adequate response.
But the Declaration does recognize what experts note as a necessary condition for ensuring success, which is that such strategy must  be “multidimensional.” This means there must be adequate coordination among stakeholders involved, and  balance achieved in the allocation of resources for institutions, infrastructure, and human resources. The Declaration also recognizes that such efforts can only be implemented by governments or large international organizations with the active participation of  every sector of society. 
 by Florangel Rosario Braid
June 17, 2014

Monday, 16 June 2014

‘Tacloban Declaration’ on disaster preparedness drawn up in Manila

 President Benigno S. Aquino III and European Union (EU) Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Kristalina Georgieva arrives for the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) at the Diamond Hotel in Roxas Boulevard, Manila City on Thursday (June 05) with the theme: “A Stronger Asia-Europe Partnership to Meet the Challenges of Mega Disasters.” The Philippines aims to contribute to the new global architecture on disaster management with the ASEM Manila Conference document to be called “The Tacloban Declaration” which will embody new policies and principles for DRRM. Also in photo is Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin. (Photo by Rey Baniquet / Malacañang Photo Bureau / PCOO)

I was delighted the Swiss Red Cross was able to second Catalina Jaime Sanchez  to the Swiss Embassy in Manila to assist with organizing this very important Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM). The Swiss Red Cross Concept on Disaster Management is very much in alignment with the guiding principles of
The Post-Haiyan Tacloban Declaration, and I know the Philippine and Swiss Red Cross will embody this in their recovery planning.

Below is a report on Meeting.

MANILA, Philippines – In the end, the message was clear: Everyone has a stake in building more resilient communities, and the world must act now so that lives would be spared from the “new normal” of mega-disasters.

Some 280 government leaders, scientists, academics, experts and representatives of nongovernmental organizations, civil society and international organizations from around the world underscored the global imperative of disaster preparedness through the Tacloban Declaration, closing Manila’s three-day hosting of the Asia-Europe Meeting’s (Asem) Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Conference.
The experience of the Philippines and the global humanitarian community in responding to Supertyphoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) served as the centerpiece of deliberations on the declaration that wrapped up Friday afternoon.
The document was drawn up in remembrance of more than 6,000 people who perished in the rampage of what is considered the strongest typhoon to ever hit land.
The four-page declaration is aimed at introducing “new elements to the global discourse and filling in gaps left by other DRRM platforms,” according to a copy of the document released by the Department of Foreign Affairs Friday night.
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario described the declaration as the meeting’s contribution to the “global framework for disaster risk reduction and management for the next 20 years,” building on principles stated in the 2005 Hyogo Declaration on DRRM that lapses next year.
“The Conference adopted the Post-Haiyan Tacloban Declaration, which captured the commitment of the Conference’s participants to advance DRRM cooperation and collaboration, drawing on the best practices developed and lessons learned after Supertyphoon Haiyan/Yolanda,” said DFA Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Maria Zeneida Angara Collinson, conference chair, in a statement.
The declaration underscores the role of all stakeholders—national and local governments, international aid organizations, NGOs, civil society and private individuals—in taking urgent collective action in building grassroots resilience, with the effects of climate change already a reality.
In the document, the conference acknowledged “that DRRM factors/stakeholders have their own comparative advantages and unique roles in DRRM, which should be recognized, harnessed and maximized through coordination mechanisms and partnerships.”
It also emphasizes how DRRM “is an important investment for sustainable development.” According to various estimates, every $1 on preparedness measures saves a country at least $4 dollars in response costs.
The Tacloban Declaration recognizes the “central role” that national governments play in DRRM, particularly in the event of large-scale disasters and in engaging other humanitarian actors towards instituting programs that promote disaster preparedness measures and efficient response mechanisms.
At the same time, the document affirms  “the important role of the local government as first responders and builders of local resilience,” and recognizes the need for DRRM principles to be translated into practical measures that could be implemented on the ground.
Notably, the declaration seeks to institutionalize measures that the Philippine government implemented in the wake of Yolanda, including the transparency mechanism for international aid through the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH), and the “build back better” principle incorporated into the country’s overall rehabilitation plan.
The Aquino administration created the FAiTH website as international assistance flooded the Philippines amid tremendous relief needs in the Visayas immediately after the typhoon. It serves as a public monitoring and tracking tool for all foreign aid disbursements in response to concerns over government’s handling of the billions of dollars pledged and sent to the country to help in relief and recovery efforts.
Commending the Philippine initiative to establish FAiTH, the conference encouraged humanitarian actors and national governments “to incorporate enhanced financial tracking mechanisms such as FAiTH in their operations to promote trust and confidence of the donor community and the beneficiary community.”
Asem also cited the “need to build back better during the recovery and reconstruction phase,” calling on the international community to provide wider access to scientific and technological innovations that could support the development of disaster-resilient physical and socio-economic infrastructures.
The declaration calls for greater cooperation between government and the private sector, urging the latter to “exercise responsibility and contribute to disaster risk prevention, preparedness and mitigation, disaster response, recovery and rehabilitation.”
The declaration also calls  for “the protection, empowerment, and resilience building of vulnerable groups,” including the elderly, the differently abled, women, children, indigenous groups and the displaced, citing how disasters could further worsen their poverty and vulnerability.
It vows to “support a people-centered approach to DRRM, bearing in mind that they are at the core of humanitarian assistance and development.”
The Tacloban Declaration will be presented at the 10th Asem Summit in Milan in October.
Senator Loren Legarda, a long-time DRRM advocate who spoke about the role of women in disaster preparedness during the conference’s plenary session, hailed the declaration as an important contribution to the global discourse on resilience-building.
“The Post-Haiyan Tacloban Declaration will help us in our aim to increase the understanding of disaster and climate science, impacts and policy responses, encourage disaster and climate-proofing of development plans and learn from successful experiences of communities and other countries,” said Legarda in a statement sent by the DFA Saturday.
“It is evident that reducing disaster risks and adapting to climate change have become the greatest humanitarian and development challenges of our time. With the concern and involvement of all nations, we will be able to rise as one human community towards safer, resilient societies,” said Legarda, who authored the country’s climate change and DRRM laws.

Thanks to the Manila Times for permission to run this article.

Henrik Beer the great Red Cross leader

A very historic photo I unearthed yesterday of Henrik Beer Secretary General of the Federation IFRC, from 1960 to 1982. For those who knew most of the IFRC secretaries generals from 1930 to 1995, they unanimously agreed Henrik was the best we ever had. A committed humanitarian all his life, he perfected humanitarian diplomacy long before the phrase was coined. I was a cyclone shelter delegate in Tamila Nadu in 1980 to 82 when Henrik paid his last field visit before he retired in early 1982. Henrik is the balding man about to step into the car with a young Carl Naucler to his right after inaugurating one of the 233 cyclone shelters we built along the Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu coastlines.  For more information on Henrik Beer, you can read on my blog:

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Who will win the 2014 FIFA World Cup?


Huddled round a transistor radio in the highlands of  Central Vietnam in 1974 listening to the FIFA world cup, I remember the Netherlands (or clockwork orange as we called them) opened the scoring via a John Neeskens penalty in the second minute, only for Paul Breitner to equalise with another penalty in the 25th minute before Gerd Müller scored the winning goal in the 43rd minute, claiming West Germany's second FIFA World Cup. The Dutch had their star Johan Cruyff, and their Total Football system which had dazzled the competition. At school I had many Dutch classmates whose parents migrated to NZ after the War and I felt close to the Dutch as a race. Hardworking and athletic, I admired them so I am backing the Netherlands to win this World Cup.

Why do I take this stance so early on in the series? Winning football world cups is about identifying breakthrough initiatives and rehearsing and practicing them until they become natural and instinctice.The Dutch team have a breakthrough strategy that will be revealed piece by piece, game by game.

The article in the Daily Telegraph on 15 June backs my theory on breakthrough initiatives

For as long as anyone can remember, Dutch teams have played 4-3-3. But Louis van Gaal, the man who helped to create both the modern Dutch blueprint and the modern Spanish blueprint, ripped them up and started afresh

  Holland’s 5-1 win over Spain on Friday night – a shock with which the world of football is still struggling to come to terms – was held in many quarters as a return to classic Dutch values, after the organised thuggery of the 2010 World Cup final. On BBC television, Thierry Henry evoked Johan Cruyff, saying that he and coach Louis van Gaal (photo below) “brought Total Football to Barcelona and the Spanish squad; I think tonight, the Dutch got their style back”.

In one sense, this was true. Holland played with a verve, a swagger and a purpose that we have not seen from them since at least the late 1980s, when a team containing Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten swept to the European Championship under Rinus Michels, himself the architect of Total Football at Ajax in the late 1960s. The sight of blue shirts (not orange, unfortunately; thank the sages at Fifa for that) swarming all over the world champions was a sight to stir all football fans of a certain age. The Dutch were masters of their craft once more.
But if you study each of their five goals in turn, the picture becomes a little fuzzier. Three of the goals came from long diagonal balls over the Spanish defence. Another, Stefan de Vrij’s oh-god-I’m-about-to-crash-into-the-post header, came from a set-piece from the left. And one more came from the leaden boot of Iker Casillas, allowing the ball to squirm away so Robin van Persie could win it.
Then there are the statistics. (photo below)

In a resounding victory, Holland had just 43 per cent of possession, and committed 18 fouls to Spain’s five.
So was this the return of Total Football? Or have Holland and Louis van Gaal managed to create something completely new?

For as long as anyone can remember, Dutch teams have played 4-3-3. At Ajax, 4-3-3 is the formation they play from under-9 level all the way to the first team. It is not so much a philosophy as a religion. Under Cruyff, Barcelona adopted the same style, winning the European Cup for the first time in 1992 and setting a blueprint that all future managers – Van Gaal included – felt obligated to follow. The influence of Cruyff and Barcelona is evident in the Spain side of recent years: short and sharp passes, quick interchanges, fluidity in the final third, and ruthless pressing without the ball.
When Van Gaal took over the Holland job after the disaster of Euro 2012 and started planning for this tournament, 4-3-3 was the logical way to go. He had perhaps the world’s best winger in Arjen Robben, one of the world’s best strikers in Van Persie, and attacking midfielders in Wesley Sneijder and Kevin Strootman who could link defence and attack. 

Strootman was the key to the system. A strong, quick runner with exceptional vision, Strootman’s ability to carry the ball out of midfield at speed and set defences on the back foot gave Holland a wealth of angles going forward. Just 24 years old and at Roma, he has invited comparisons with Roy Keane and Yaya Toure.
“Strootman is a player who brings a balance to the entire team,” Van Gaal said. “I will have players like Rafael van der Vaart and Sneijder, of course, but no one will be able to replace Kevin.”
Then, in April, Strootman got injured. The one player who made the system work was out of the World Cup. For Van Gaal, a man who admits he needs time to get teams playing in the system he wants, now had no system and no time.
As he mulled over his options, one – the nuclear option – presented itself. The full-backs Daryl Janmaat and Daley Blind often looked exposed when playing in a back four. Perhaps an extra central defender would give them more cover. Perhaps introducing a second defensive midfielder would create more space further up the field for Robben. All the evidence pointed to a three-man defence.
And yet. Van Gaal was the man who helped to create both the modern Dutch blueprint and the modern Spanish blueprint. Could he really bring himself to rip up both? 

                                  Robin van Persie outstretches to head in a brilliant goal.

Van Gaal and Cruyff do not get on. Van Gaal claims the feud goes back to 1989: the story goes that Van Gaal was having dinner at Cruyff’s house, left abruptly because he was informed that his sister had died, and Cruyff got offended. Cruyff, for his part, describes this as rubbish. “You wonder whether he has one or two screws loose,” Cruyff said of Van Gaal in 2009.
However it started, the tension between the two is very real. In 2011, the Ajax board tried to hire Van Gaal as a technical director. Cruyff, a fellow board member, went berserk when he learned of the appointment, taking Ajax to court in an attempt to block it on the grounds that he had not been consulted. Cruyff won, and the appointment was overturned.
Cruyff and Van Gaal were both steeped in Ajax tradition and share many of the same ideas of football, not least a steadfast belief in 4-3-3 and quick passing. But there is one fundamental difference between them. 

 Robin van Persie right showing his class throughout the Spain vs Netherlands match.

Cruyff won pretty much everything there was to win at club level, played in a World Cup final, charmed an entire generation. Van Gaal, an enterprising and cerebral midfielder six years his junior, joined Ajax in 1972 with hopes of emulating him. He left after a year without making a single first-team appearance. Despite spending almost a decade at Sparta Rotterdam, his playing career was unremarkable. By his own lofty standards, it was a failure.
Perhaps that shaped their differing views of football. Cruyff played Total Football in its purest form, with 10 outfield players all theoretically interchangeable in their roles. It required outrageous talents, thrilling individuality and pure instinct. To play the Cruyff way, you had to pack the team with gifted individuals and allow them to ‘feel’ their way through the game.
For Van Gaal, stars were of secondary importance. The system was king. If a player didn’t fit into the system, or didn’t want to fit into the system, he was out. This is why Van Gaal is such a fiercely divisive character amongst players: like Jose Mourinho, he decides very quickly whether he wants you or not. If you’re his guy, great. If not, it might be worth a quick call to your agent.
At Barcelona in 1999, he insisted on playing Rivaldo on the left. Naturally, Rivaldo wanted to play in the centre. Rivaldo was temporarily dropped, but despite losing the battle he won the war: Van Gaal was sacked at the end of the season.
Two years later, Van Gaal was back. Within three weeks, and before a ball had even been kicked, Rivaldo saw what was coming, and left. “Van Gaal is the main cause of my departure,” he said. “I don't like Van Gaal, and I am sure that he doesn’t like me, either.”
At Bayern Munich, he fell out with Luca Toni and Lucio, the latter testifying that “Van Gaal hurt me more than anyone else in football”. But for those he identified as having potential, the rewards could be lucrative. Under Van Gaal’s tutelage, Bastian Schweinsteiger was transformed from a winger into one of the world’s best midfielders. David Alaba was turned from a midfielder into a marauding left-back.
“You have to play as a team and not as individuals,” Van Gaal said earlier this year. “That's why I’m always going back to the vision, then the team, and then which players fit in my system, a 1-4-3-3, because I’m always playing that.”
Except now, even that was being questioned.
The Ajax and Holland sides of the 1970s sometimes played what could be classed as a 3-4-3. Ruud Krol would play as a sweeper, occasionally mopping up behind the defence, occasionally stepping into midfield to form the base of an attack. It was an attacking system, based on possession and smooth transitions.
The 3-4-3 that Van Gaal played on Friday night was essentially a reactive formation designed to combat Spain’s dominant midfield. The wing-backs did not venture too far forward, and with midfielders Nigel De Jong and Jonathan de Guzman essentially screening the back three, Holland reverted to a 5-2-3, or even a 7-3, without the ball. And seeing as this was Spain, they were quite often without the ball.
There was a crudeness to them, too. From the very start, Holland were physical in the challenge and spicy in the tackle. The first foul, by Ron Vlaar on Diego Costa, came after just 20 seconds. The second, by Janmaat on Xabi Alonso, came after less than five minutes. Both looked so blatant they might almost have been premeditated to knock Spain off their stride. It may not have been 2010 exactly, but 18 fouls to five tells its own story.
Then, when Holland got the ball, they would move it not with short passes and intricate triangles, but with long diagonal balls, unleashing the pace of Robben and the movement of Van Persie, exposing Spain’s high line and creaky defence.
Was it classically Dutch? Van Gaal argued that it was.
“For five weeks in a row we’ve been focusing on this system, because 4-3-3 is what we played in the qualification matches,” he said after the game. “This is really the Dutch school with wingers. But it’s more than that. The Dutch doctrine is exercising pressure playing in a compact way, but also switching positions.”
But was it the return of Total Football? It’s a hard case to make.
Perhaps the greatest irony of all was that Spain, as ever, were playing a very similar style of 4-3-3 to the one that Cruyff and later Van Gaal had pioneered at Barcelona. Van Gaal’s fingerprints are all over Spain’s recent successes: he gave Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes their Barcelona debuts, oversaw the progress of Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas at La Masia (although famously, he shoved a 14-year-old Pique to the ground the first time they met).
It was Bayern Munich who offered the blueprint for overcoming tiki-taka, when they demolished Barcelona 7-0 in the Champions League semi-final last year. Van Gaal’s protégés Schweinsteiger, Alaba and Robben were all in that side.
Now, with Holland, he has done it again, and in so doing may well have struck another nail in the coffin of modern possession football, a doctrine he helped to create. If that sounds fanciful, then at the very least he has played a leading role in its two greatest catastrophes.
Like Rembrandt, perhaps Van Gaal has finally managed to kill the very thing he created.