Ten days in Aotearoa

As the doors swished open at Brisbane International Airport and I walked out into 35 degrees and a dusty, smoky atmosphere, I very briefly wished I hadn’t left Aotearoa behind. How I love the mellifluous way that Maori word trips off the tongue – Ao-tea-ro-a. The Maori language uses vowels more than we do in English and it also uses them in combinations. The language has fewer consonants, preferring the use of Wh to replace…

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WWI Pacifists, Conchies and Rejects

Amidst the salvo of Anzac Day stories, the people least often talked about are those who did not take part in WWI,  either because of a Christian or moral objection, for practical reasons, or because the armed forces rejected them. According to the Australian War Memorial, 33% of men volunteering for the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) in 1914 were rejected on medical/fitness grounds. Enlistment standards were gradually relaxed in ensuing years, allowing many of the…

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Australasia and World War II – things you may not have known

  I grew up in the backblocks of New Zealand, ignorant until quite recently about the impact of World War II at home, particularly friction between American and Kiwi servicemen. Prior to the 90th birthday of a family member in New Zealand, I did a modicum of research to find out what it was like for a Kiwi lad growing up in the World War II years. Amongst other things, I discovered that when this…

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Overdue letter to Ma

Hey Ma, I’ve been meaning to write this letter for such a long time – like, 50 years or more. Excuse the casual introduction but that’s the way people address their elders in the 21st century. You’d be amazed at the technology today. We email, skype (video phone calls) and tweet (too hard to explain), using hand-held telephones which can take photos, home movies and, oh, make phone calls. You can be constantly in touch…

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