Belated Wake Up- Before It’s Too Late

July 12, 2011

“The fact that she has never appeared (on the honours list) I think is a condemnation of our government.“  Prof. Graeme Wake*

Our civic and military honours system, in its various iterations with or without knights and dames, has often led to some curious awards, refracted through that part of the party political spectrum currently in favour. Over a long period of time, there have been some even curiouser non-awards.

Short Quiz
Which Kiwi, nicknamed the White Mouse by the Gestapo, garnered the following post-World War II awards for wartime bravery but hasn’t made it onto any national New Zealand civic or military honours list in the more than 65 odd years since her incredible wartime exploits?
Australia: Companion of the Order of Australia; George Medal
Commonwealth of Nations: 1939-1945 Star; France and Germany Star and bar
United Kingdom:  Defence Medal and bar; War Medal 1939-1945 
France:  Legion d’Honneur; Croix de Guerre with two palms and a star; Medaille de la Resistance 
United States of America: Presidential Medal of Freedom  with Bronze Palm
New Zealand: Nil, zero, nothing, not a sausage

Yes, that’s right, Wellington born Nancy Wake, who will turn 99 next month and still retains her New Zealand passport after a childhood move to Australia, is a heroine without honour in her own country, apart from a Kiwi Consolation Prize:  Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association Badge in Gold.

Relative Graeme Wake, a professor in industrial mathematics at Massey University’s Albany campus, says Ms Wake was physically frail and living in a rest home in England but her mind was still very sharp.*

Prof. Wake has recently approached his MP, Parliament Speaker Lockwood Smith, in a new bid to have his famous relative honoured by New Zealand.

See my 14 June 2009  blogpost  Nancy Wake-the path of most resistance* for more on the incredible veteran.
Email Lockwood Smith  supporting an appropriate award for Nancy Wake in the next Honours List.

Postscript  8/8/11   It has just been announced that Nancy Wake has died in London aged 98*. See video tribute below.*

*Blinks  Nancy Wake’s incredible story     8/8/11   Vid

#Lyall Lukey 12 July 2011  My other less serious blog


The Kahui Hooha-a King Hit?

July 9, 2011

“I think they’ve gone weak at the knees … We sell Mein Kampf by Hitler and the Communist Manifesto. You can buy any range of books. People have chosen this one and it’s really because of cyber-bullying.” Ian Wishart, author of Breaking Silence: The Kahui Case

Breaking silence? For some people it was more like breaking wind. Just the news of Ian Wishart’s impending book Breaking Silence on the Kahui case and its timing caused blogospherical hysteria which led to the Warehouse and Paper Plus to put a ban on stocking the book, sight unseen.

However, the Whitcoulls bookstore chain, or what’s left of it, took a more measured approach: “a decision on whether to stock the book will be made once the book has been completed and Whitcoulls has been able to evaluate its contents. Until then it is premature to make any further comment.” *

It was full term for the omniscient Mike Hoskins who declared on TV 1’s Close Up* that he didn’t need to read it to know what’s in it.  His instant intuition and uncanny mindreading ability renders Speed Reading obsolete and will save many trees. 

Journalist Wishart is writing the book, with some help from Macsyna King, the mother of twins Chris and Cru Kahui who died in 2006 in unexplained circumstances.  There are no royalties coming King’s way: three pieces of pizza and the opportunity to tell her story are her only reward for collaborating.

From the Inquisition to the Third Reich and beyond,  book burning and book banning-and sometimes author barbequeing-were the inflammatory tactics used by the powers that were to keep their ideologies intact.

In this case the book banning bandwaggon was driven by social media-little brothers and sisters, not Big Brother. Publicity about the impending book at the time of the delayed coronial enquiry into the death of the twins ignited a new Facebook group urging people not to buy it. The Macsyna was definitely not going to become the new ballroom craze in 2011.

But according to Wishart  “She wants the same thing that 50,000 people on Facebook want. She wants answers and she wants people to learn from the mistakes that she’s made and she wants people to see how quickly a life can slip into hell and what you need to do to bring it back.”

 Wishart says that his book is a biographical narrative, beginning with King’s early life and how she started going off the rails.

Families Commissioner Christine Rankin told the Close Up  programme New Zealanders need to read the book because the problem of child abuse was so serious that a better understanding was needed. “Most people go home to their ordered house and their ordered lives and they think most people live like that. There are thousands and thousands of New Zealanders that do not.”

There wasn’t even a conviction for drunk and disorderly in the Kahui case after family ranks closed in misguided loyalty.   After Chris Kahui’s acquittal King is the only real alternative if police decide to charge someone after the inquest into the deaths. Kahui’s acquittal on murder charges in 2008 protects him from further prosecution.

Child abuse in New Zealand is a national shame.  A 2004 UNICEF report 2004 on Child Maltreatment put this country third from bottom of OECD countries.  In each year of the 1990s there was an average of more than 3,000 known cases of neglect, sexual abuse or violence against children. The figures for this century won’t be any better.

For that reason Wishart’s new book  shouldn’t be banned; it should be required reading, with a compulsory short answer test.

Anything that puts the spotlight on child abuse through neglect and violence and reminds us of the sad roll call of dead children like Lillybing*, Nia Glassie* and the Kahui twins should be welcomed not proscribed.

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*Blinks   Vid Lillybing counts – excuses don’t

#Lyall Lukey 9 July 2011  My other less serious blog