Years ago, it would have been the late 70’s, and I was working on an arts employment project with Para Matchitt and Jacob Scott at Otatara, the arts campus of the then Hawke’s Bay Community College, I ran into an …
From P to Parihaka and the Pentagon, Den travels the inspirations and issues that make us lively in Aotearoa 2006: the continued exposure to te reo Maori and the repetitive cultural rituals that refuel the soul; the Parikaha Interational Peace Festival and a debate held on the site of Te Whiti’s house about an alternative approach to methamphetamine; a new sense of cultural fusion in Taranaki; new projects at the Waiohiki Creative Arts Village in Hawkes Bay and the Mokai Whanau Ora project in Wellington; Maori Television; media tripe; and Kiwi or Iwi? – “will we be brave enough to use a bicultural approach to create a sense of place and space rather than a division?”
9,000 New Zealanders will be imprisoned by the 2010. About a billion dollars is being spent on building more prisons. Denis notes Finland had a higher rate of imprisonment than NZ, but halved it. Via a Whanganui gang scrap between the Mongrel Mob and Hells Angels, a run-in with Mayor Michael Laws, and a salute to Robert Muldoon’s “intelligent pragmatism and genuine humanitarianism”, Denis makes a challenge for sustainable strategies that are inclusive, that invest in people’s lives and help them find what is more meaningful in their lives than substance abuse and self-defeating behaviour.
Denis traverses the 125th anniversary of Tareha Te Moananui MP and the continuum of Maori cosmology, the execution of Stanley Tookie Williams, the “P-Promise” in the Hawkes Bay, Chris Tremain’s maiden speech in Parliament, and a Massey University report into methamphetamine use in New Zealand. “The nature of my effort is to mitigate harm and to maximize potential, reduce drag, increase sail, turn criminals to legitimate taxpayers, whatever little shibboleth best sums up the current call to action. Maybe I’m tired and its pre-holiday blues. I’ve had this notion of Sisyphus finishing one haul with his rock up the hill and getting ready for another. On the other hand, that’s what I do so I need to find satisfaction in my travail.”
With $750m going into building new prisons, a 15% projected increase in prison populations, an 85% recidivism rate and 61% of all offenders being Maori, Denis calls time to “whoa!”. There’s got to be a better way, he says, so in tandem with NYNZer John Wareham, Denis starts growing a cadre of change agents. He charts a debate with Wellington’s Darkside and TelecomNZ executives on the subject that “That Pakeha owe Maori a decent living” - and concludes with a Kevin Tamati story from the sidelines of Hawkes Bay rugby league.
Denis welcomes his new mokopuna to the world, reflects on the bedrooms of the nation, looks up Muldoon and reminds us there’s no kiwi without iwi. A road trip down south for a special family occasion precipitates a journey through family memories and New Zealand’s history. Graduation day, Paddy O'Reilly's Store, Operation Hurricane, Darksiders, the communes and the co-op movement, Black Power and Baxter.
Globalisation has allowed us greater access to cheaper labour, products and services - this unfortunately includes drugs such as 'P'. Community and 'social' development have been identified as one way to counter the effects of an increased domestic trade. Denis heads back to school, hits the books, and along with the latest research findings, outlines recent health, education and employment initiatives. And, if you wanted a history lesson on Rugby League, look no further.
The Tui sings for contemplation, and Denis reviews the peaks and valleys of the past few months. The importance of attending Tangi, the passing of a Pontif, a visit from the P-Funk Allstars, Napier's Pilot City Trust and Policing in an election year. An indepth run down on the attendees, readings, gang engagement, and uplifting success of March's Heretaunga symposium “Self, Race, Drugs & Justice in New Zealand”. A reflective poem of farewell and new beginnings.
Denis and John Wareham (NYNZer who coaches leadership in the world’s top corporations) team up with Black Power and the Mongrel Mob, the Eagles Foundation of America and the NZ Sensible Sentencing Trust for a transformational symposium “Self, Race, Drugs & Justice in New Zealand” at Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, Hastings, 4-6 March 2005. Plus a tour to the frontline of methamphetamine, and to Waitangi 2005.
Working the real stuff... a supported housing community at Waiohiki - a place that might have a 'P-free whare' status... the Waiohiki Creative Arts Village... addressing suspicion and distrust... looking for keys to unlock a system set on assuming the worst... the Eagles Foundation of USA... the Mokai Whanau Ora project, Aotearoa... "working for things other than money"... working for a high traction entry into 2005...
"…At the conclusion of the haka two of the warrior group stepped forward and placed upon the ground a black guitar case. They opened the case and fell back into line. The challenger, eyes flashing, gesticulated to the visitor to pick up the contents. He did so; it was a 12 string Maton 425 "acoustic electric" guitar. The legendary guitarist and rock icon Joe Walsh had just accepted the first challenge of the 'Sinners Tour' a project initiated by Mokai Whanau Ora, designed to raise awareness about methamphetamine use in New Zealand and to bring a message of hope, in that , with help, recovery is possible."
"Life was cool, busy, and pretty low stress until when, two years ago, a friend, a Black Power leader, in a bout of methamphetamine induced psychosis took a knife and gutted himself. His death was a shock, both in manner and cause. When the news reached me I drove through the night and arrived at dawn at the gates of his ancestral marae where he lay, in state. There, beside him I stayed, in the Maori way, with his family and child and relatives and friends, and gang brothers, for the days of mourning, speeches and prayers, haka and song, until the time came to return him to his mother papatuanuku, the earth. And the emotion of these days fired my desire for action, kia whakarite, the desire to put things right."