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January 2008

Amber-Lee Cruickshank • Nuclear Weapons Tests • Stem-cells • The Divinity Code

Issue 84

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Volume 8, Issue 84, January 2008






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Is this some of the evidence the police have been waiting for? IAN WISHART has the real story on the disappearance of Amber-Lee Cruickshank: the drug deals, the intimidation, the dirty tricks, the police corruption that may have influenced the case

A breakthrough scientific announcement last month is paving the way for global stem cell research programmes without having to use human embryos for experiements. MELODY TOWNS backgrounds this major discovery and what it means






More than 500 kiwi servicemen were exposed to atomic bomb tests as human guinea pigs. Their kids refer to themselves as “glow babies� and report ongoing health issues of their own. STEPHEN MAIRE argues the case for government acknowledgement of their plight

In this extract from his just-released new book, IAN WISHART reveals just how little we actually know about human history on planet Earth, and the implications as science makes stunning new discoveries



Cover: iStockphoto


EDITORIAL AND OPINION Volume 8, issue 84, ISSN 1175-1290

Chief Executive Officer Heidi Wishart Group Managing Editor Ian Wishart Customer Services Debbie Marcroft NZ EDITION Advertising

Contributing Writers: Melody Towns, Selwyn Parker, Amy Brooke, Chris Forster, Peter Hensley, Chris Carter, Mark Steyn, Chris Philpott, Michael Morrissey, Miranda Devine, Richard Prosser, Claire Morrow, James Morrow, Len Restall, Laura Wilson, and the worldwide resources of MCTribune Group, UPI and Newscom Art Direction Design & Layout

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Heidi Wishart Bozidar Jokanovic

Tel: +64 9 373 3676 Fax: +64 9 373 3667 Investigate Magazine PO Box 302188, North Harbour North Shore 0751, NEW ZEALAND AUSTRALIAN EDITION Editor Customer Services Advertising Tel/Fax:

Editorial The roar of the crowd Miranda Devine on the Oz election Laura Wilson on turangawaewae Mark Steyn on Ho, ho, ho Richard Prosser on terror Chris Carter on silent lambs no longer


Ian Wishart Debbie Marcroft 1-800 123 983

SUBSCRIPTIONS Online: By Phone: Australia 1-800 123 983 New Zealand 09 373 3676 By Post: To the PO Box NZ Edition: $72 Australian Edition: A$96 EMAIL All content in this magazine is copyright, and may not be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher. The opinions of advertisers or contributors are not necessarily those of the magazine, and no liability is accepted. We take no responsibility for unsolicited material sent to us. Please enclose a stamped, SAE envelope. Inquiries in the first instance should be made via email or fax.


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Peter Hensley on risk-taking Amy Brooke on feebleness Why birds fly south Chris Forster reviews 2007 Eight glasses a day? Peanut allergies Atlantic Canada A Marxian approach The Merc CL500, Nissan X-Trail Gotta haves Holiday reads Chris Philpott’s CD reviews The latest new releases Bourne Ultimatum, Chuck & Larry

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EDITORIAL A summer to reflect


must admit, watching politics unfold in 2007 has been like watching the wheels fall off Fred Flintstone’s car. When the year began, David Benson-Pope was still the Minister for Social Development, albeit a lame duck Minister after a series of revelations in a number of media including this magazine. Labour was still leading the polls, and the political mismanagement that came to categorise the year had not yet set in, put up its feet and cracked open a beer. But if a week is a long time in politics, a year is an eternity. Who would have thought Labour, United Future, NZ First and the Greens would all end the year forming a political suicide pact over the Electoral Finance Laws? Kiwi soldiers didn’t die at Flanders Field and a host of other memorial sites that “The only reason we cover these the Prime Minister likes things, by the way, is because to haunt, just to watch democracy wither on the public servants (including vine back home through a politicians) are supposed to be big-sister regime hiding its iron-fist policies inside a servants of the people, not serving velvet glove PR spin. The themselves or abusing power” TV pictures of old diggers marching up Queen St on a pro-democracy rally – in New Zealand for heaven’s sake, not Suva – bedecked in their medals, must not only have given the Beehive heart palpitations but will surely have wrecked any chances of further veterans’ compo deals. I have warned in this column before that minor parties who climb into bed with a dominant government risk the fate of all who sell themselves to the highest bidder, especially when the dominant partner has effectively run the Jolly Roger up the mast of constitutional government in a brazen attempt to hijack the coming election. The Greens sold out on abolishing the Privy Council – which would have been a check and balance on the worst excesses of Labour – and they also sold out on the Harry Duynhoven law (making a previous illegal act legal). The minor parties have also sold out on the legislation legalising previously criminal behaviour such as the $800,000 pledge card overspend. The politicians and their PR advisors cynically believe the average punter is thick, and that voters have very short memories and don’t vote on principle. They figure that if they can offer you massive tax cuts in the budget,


you’ll forget the naked grab for power and cement them in office forever. Yeah right. As the Aussie election showed, a government can deliver an absolutely brilliant economic performance and still get turfed for failing the attitude test. One thing’s for sure, this government has one hell of an attitude, and I can’t wait for the electorate to test it. From Investigate’s point of view, it has been a busy year. In March we had the sight of Helen Clark wearing a hijab while Islamic terror sympathisers were allowed in to lecture crowded New Zealand mosques. In June and July our investigations into police corruption dominated the news, as did the Air New Zealand troop flights – a distracting but terribly amusing political sideshow in August. This issue, with major new information on the disappearance of little Amber-Lee Cruickshank from the shores of Lake Wakatipu all those years ago, will hopefully spark memories and lead to the capture of whoever took the child. The possibility that South Island police corruption played a part in the failure to bring anyone to justice is a further sign that Investigate’s call for a Commission of Inquiry into the Police needs to be looked at seriously. The magazine has continued to gather information about the activities of a number of senior staff at Police National Headquarters, including the Commissioner, and is waiting with interest to see the outcome of a Police Complaints Authority investigation into issues uncovered in the July edition of Investigate. The only reason we cover these things, by the way, is because public servants (including politicians) are supposed to be servants of the people, not serving themselves or abusing power. We continue to believe that a level playing field, and one law for all, is the only way to nurture a true democracy. Despite all the troubles of the world, I’m reminded that the sun still rises each day and summer in NZ is a great place to be. Have a fantastic holiday season.




A clinical psychologist in private practice in Washington DC recently opined in The Washington Post about the lost art of instilling respect in children. The concept of “all my mother had to do was shoot me a look” has been replaced by a “feeble nod of parental acquiescence and an earnest acknowledgement of how hard it is to be a kid these days.” She reflects from observing children and parents interacting in her office that not only are kids unafraid of their parents, parents are afraid of their kids. We’re not talking about the fear of “the bash”, verbal abuse or unwanted sexual attention which as a community we should be taking all steps to eliminate. It’s the healthy fear which leads to respect – a respect for the authority of parents, teachers, and the police. Politicians, with the support of the UN, Children’s Commissioner and Youth Law Project to name a few, have sought to increase children’s rights without considering the vital role of parents. For example Article 13 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child says that every child should have the right to ‘‘information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice’’. Does a child have a right to access internet pornography, or does the parent have the right to restrict this access? Articles 15 and 16 of the Convention argue the right of a child to associate with others, the right to protection from interference, and the right to privacy. Yet what happens when children want to start dating, stay out late, engage in sexual activity, or view objectionable video games or movies at home? Whose right is more right? Other recent examples include a teenager who attempted to ‘divorce’ her parent because she didn’t like the family rules. She used the ironically named Care of Children Act 2004 which effectively moved authority away from parents towards the State – a parent now only has ‘day to day care’, no longer ‘custody’, and the Act reinforces the concept of children’s ‘rights’; recognising children as independent entities rather than members of their families. Young girls (some well under the age of sexual consent) are being sneaked off by schools to get contraceptives or an abortion without any parental knowledge. This is happening far too often with the sanction of school counsel-


ors and Family Planning Association and endorsed by a majority of MP’s when voted on in 2004. And the anti-smacking law sends a clear message to parents that they are no longer primary guardians of their children. The State and its agencies know better how to raise your children and parents who responsibly correct their children will be liable to prosecution and CYF intervention. Meanwhile, child abuse rates are unchanged and the real causes unchallenged. Ironically, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child also acknowledges the important role of parents in raising a child with appropriate direction, guidance, and correction. It recognises the right, and duty, of parents to provide direction and guidance in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child. Yet the recent Care of Children Act says that age and maturity should not be factors when considering the views of a child. Any parent knows that the capacity of a child is very different to the capacity of an adult. That is why we have laws protecting children from sexual involvement and exploitation, driving vehicles, voting, drinking alcohol, watching violent and sexually explicit movies. That’s why we say “no pudding until you eat your peas”, and “get to bed now!” That’s why we train and correct children in a way that is different to how we deal with adults. This issue is what is called cognitive dissonance – the holding of two contradictory ideas in one’s mind simultaneously. On one hand, a parent is responsible for the actions of their child in the community and school, but at the same time their role is being undermined by growing pressure on mothers to work and enroll their child in daycare, criminalising effective methods of parental correction, providing the Independent Youth Benefit, provision of contraception and abortion without the consent or even knowledge of the parents, and the recent example of a school dobbing in a parent to CYF for giving their child a light smack. Dr Michael Reid in his book “From Innocents to Agents – Children and Children’s Rights in New Zealand” says that children are no longer being seen as innocent and vulnerable, but as full human beings needing support to assert rights to autonomy and independence. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is part of a wider attempt to undermine “what some saw as oppressive parental rights to control children.”

at Christmas!

Real stories for childre AMY (AGNES-MARY) BROOKE is the only New Zealand author whose wonderfully imaginative, wise and magical stories have been compared to those of C.S. Lewis, Susan Cooper (The Dark is Rising) and Ursula Le Guin. However, her immense appeal to young readers has not prevented her books being blacklisted for nearly two decades by the left-wing children’s writing establishment for challenging its rigid demands for politically

n – or

correct, edgy, manipulative stories on sociopolitical issues – and teen angst. With it now stipulated that children’s writers “tackle issues” judged to be “contemporary” and “relevant” – we have entered the area described by The Economist as “a matchless area for adult propaganda.” Amy’s uniquely real stories extend young readers imaginatively – those “voyages of discovery for readers and characters alike” – to which they return again and again.

grandchildren The Third Star & other stories

The latest book for the young (and young at heart) by Amy Brooke

“Quite simply NZ’s best children’s writer… Amy Brooke’s stories are a voyage of discovery for the characters and reader alike.” Mike King Who will speak for the Dreamer?

“I have read it twice. It is wonderful. Why have I not read your books before? Your storytelling skills are superb…the narrative is illustrative without being heavy, the story is chilling enough to enthrall – a wonderfully spiritual, uplifting ending. I love it”. Kerry Greenwood – acclaimed award-winning Australian author “I have totally, completely enjoyed my first read of Who will speak for the Dreamer? I found it electrifying – an amazing work to galvanise young thinkers – brilliant.” Pam Nevill

Night of the Medlar


“A beautiful story … exciting from the first to the last page…a satisfying ending with all loose ends and predictions tied up... its story line has the potential to become a children’s classic. Very highly recommended for primary and junior secondary students who enjoy mystery and magic.” Jackie Pittman. Australian Review. “Certificate of Merit awarded to Agnes-Mary Brooke for the best book this year read by the Johnson Family…I really enjoyed Night of the Medlar…The story was so life-like and really exciting. I hope you write another book soon.” Shelley Johnson, 12.

The Mora Stone

“What a fabulous film it would make! Just loaded with action, colour, suspense, exotic stuff, romance, and battles!” Kathryn Asare. Listed on a Yahoo site as one of the best five fantasy books to read, The Mora Stone was nominated by the Children’s Literature Foundation of New Zealand Inc. in the top ten Notable Senior Fiction for 2001, and included on the initial list of nominees for the prestigious international Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature in the US Mythopoeic Awards for Children’s Literature. Check out Amy Brooke’s fifteen (to date) brilliant stories for young readers on her website and order in time for Christmas from your local bookstore, or Nationwide Books | | (03)366 9559.

Mark Raffills, Director, Dry Crust Communications, P.O. Box 3352, Richmond, Nelson |

What lies behind a Christmas tree with a strangely glowing blue light shining like a star? And what is happening in the deep forest behind? And if the Little People themselves were to come back at Christmas, now why do you think that would be – and how would they be getting here? In this book of magical stories for children, a grey cat is not what it seems; animals have adventures we can only suspect; a very naughty child escapes dire consequences – just: and a brave, hungry little mouse has something wonderful happen to him at Christmas! “Janet (11 years) loved reading this book. She says that it was very original, and that you’re the best New Zealand author.” Lyn Smith INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008, 

The huge irony is that the more the state undermines the authority of parents, the less responsibility parents will take for their children. If the government wants parents to be responsible parents, they must firstly respect their authority. A child’s rights should never be at the expense of the parental right to nurture, protect and set boundaries in a family setting. Rights of children have been shifted from simply (and rightly) protecting vulnerable children to granting them rights that are destructive to them, to good parenting practice, and to the welfare of the whole family in which they are being raised. Children will have plenty of rights, and responsibilities, to worry about when they become adults. Bob McCoskrie, National Director Family First NZ


Good to see some honesty for a change (Richard Prosser Dec., 2007) when it comes to understanding New Zealand’s failure at the Rugby World Cup. Addressing his three points though, first, while he’s right that we came second, there can be no avoiding acknowledging this was principally down to the referee who was the same nationality as the country the winner would face. Conflict of interest? You bet, and the All Black management must be held accountable for letting the game kick off with that conflict in place. Sure, the players weren’t good enough on the day, but to win by two they were going to have to be better by thirty. Why don’t we just put concrete boots on them? Second, the mentality of the players is that deep down, they expect to lose. Losing has become a viable option. All dealt with later by a spell of grief counselling from the friendly quack. Winners expect to win all the time, and do so by knowing where all the pegs fit and go about putting them in the correct holes one by one, as they must. Losers like the All Blacks hope to win, want to win, but have no plan about how that is achieved apart from wishful thinking. The same noises emanated from the Netball camp prior to their demise at the hands of Australia. Nice smiles. Then when the game started who was going to win was obvious from the looks on the faces of the players. The New Zealand women were worried, the Australians showed steely resolve and were even a bit scary. Third, it isn’t professionalism per se. It is a culture of sham commercialism, where it is all marketing and branding. Winning, the most important valuable commercial trait of all, has become secondary or even irrelevant. Rather than recruit players from the young High School ranks, they need to wait for players to emerge as adults before selecting them. The American university system operates much this way. It is hands off these players prior to completing studies and becoming professional. In New Zealand that should be a trade or education for a time before they can become eligible for Super 14. Ken Horlor, Christchurch


The self-proclaimed champion of “tolerance, inclusivity, and diversity”, gay MP and Minister of Education Chris Carter, displays appalling yet consistent intolerant hypocrisy in his questioning of a constituent’s religious affiliation prior to entering into a legislative discourse regarding the Electoral Finance Bill (“are


you a member of the Exclusive Brethren?”). Imagine applying this affirmation of affiliation in the wider social arena, as a qualifier to open debate, without being attacked by the “tolerance police”: “are you gay?”; “are you Maori?”; “are you Muslim?”; “are you a woman?”. The implication of Chris Carter’s self-proclaimed “standard question” on the current Electoral Finance Bill debate affirms that a positive answer to the question dismisses a sector of society from inclusion in the debate – the very outcome that he rails against on behalf of the gay community. In 1935, (borrowing from Erasmus) former Governor-General, Lord Bledisloe, warned New Zealanders in his 1935 farewell speech: “In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” Could someone please, buy Chris Carter a much-needed eye patch? Steve Taylor, Auckland


I thought the following might be of interest to Investigate readers. It pretty much sums up our current PC state of affairs: Shooting in Butte, Montana Shotgun preteen vs. illegal alien Home Invaders Butte, Montana November 5, 2006 Two illegal aliens, Ralphel Resindez, 23, and Enrico Garza, 26, probably believed they would easily overpower home-alone 11 year old Patricia Harrington after her father had left their two-story home. It seems the two crooks never learned two things: they were in Montana and Patricia had been a clay shooting champion since she was nine. Patricia was in her upstairs room when the two men broke through the front door of the house. She quickly ran to her father’s room and grabbed his 12 gauge Mossberg 500 shotgun. Resindez was the first to get up to the second floor only to be the first to catch a near point blank blast of buckshot from the 11-year-old’s knee crouch aim. He suffered fatal wounds to his abdomen and genitals. When Garza ran to the foot of the stairs, he took a blast to the left shoulder and staggered out into the street where he bled to death before medical help could arrive. It was found out later that Resindez was armed with a stolen 45 caliber handgun he took from another home invasion robbery. That victim, 50-year-old David Burien, was not so lucky. He died from stab wounds to the chest. Ever wonder why good stuff never makes NBC, CBS, PBS, MSNBC, CNN, or ABC news.... Now that is Gun Control Thought for the day: Calling an illegal alien an “undocumented immigrant” is like calling a drug dealer an “unlicensed pharmacist” When are people in New Zealand going to wake up? Name and address supplied


I am sick and tired of the bad attitude TV and newspaper news media promote toward the police. The news media complain because the police searched a village and removed bombs, military weapons and some of their users. By backing anarchists



       , started as a result of many years of family boating leading to a careful consideration of the joys and drawbacks of owning and maintaining various types of recreational watercraft. Today’s busy lifestyle coupled with its ever increasing demands on time and finances, makes sole ownership of a boat a questionably viable proposition. The concept of fractional ownership is well established overseas, and it is great to now be able to offer it to the NZ boating public. Own A Ship offers  shareholdings in a number of brand new and near new boats. A  share in one of the boats gives you  days guaranteed useage of the boat in each calendar year and unlimited standby days, i.e. if the boat has not been booked by another owner by am the day you want to use it, then you are welcome to take it out for the day with no deduction off your allocated  days which is a great bonus. The  days are divided into “peak and off peak”, i.e. days are divided into  peak days (public holidays and weekends) and  off peak days As a lot of owners have little interest in being on the water during the very busy season anyway, the possibility is strong of having standby days during peak periods as well. Research shows that the  days are as many days annual boating as the average boat owner currently uses, and with a walk on/walk off management program, maintenance, cleaning and high yearly running costs become a thing of the past. The professional team take care of all the boat owning hassles for you while you reap all the benefits. In this way it is very much like charter, but then as an owner it is very UNLIKE charter in that you OWN your share in the vessel and it can be treated as you would any other asset, i.e. sold, traded or retained – whatever your preference. Online booking system allows you to book the boat directly, or you can phone Ownaship to book and the boat will be ready with optional extras that you have requested, i.e. dinghy, linen, BBQ, lifejackets etc.

can you have confidence in ownaship as a company? Yes you can. The Principals of the company have been well established in successful business in the NZ community for the last  years and

have substantial assets both in NZ and Offshore. They have enlisted the services of leading Auckland professionals in the legal, accounting and banking environs to ensure that the rights and investments of boat owners are protected. This ensures that each Boat Owning Company has been approved and Registered by the NZ Securities Commission before making equity shares available to the public.

who would benefit from owning a boat this way? 0 Any person who appreciates the benefits of vessel ownership, but realises that the time and financial burden of sole ownership makes poor sense in today’s busy world. With Own A Ship you have the benefits of owning with few of the drawbacks at a fraction of the cost. 0 Any person who realises how little they would actually use their boat especially when compared with the time and money they will expend on its upkeep! 0 People who realise that charter is a non-productive expense and are looking for better utilisation of their hard earned finances. 0 Busy people who don’t need the time hassles of sole ownership boat maintenance. 0 Those who would like a bigger or better boat than they could otherwise ever afford. 0 Those with the desire to own a luxury boat without the huge outlay normally associated with ownership of that type of vessel.

    :      ,                          .    . : ... | : @..




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and suppressing the truth the news media are supporting law breakers. Instead we must commend the police for protecting us from possible serious attacks. A napalm bomb was detonated in a guerrilla-style exercise in a training camp in the Urewera Ranges. This is an act of terrorism and war and must be dealt with urgently and quickly. There are military-style weapons involved. It was military-style activities that they were training for. There was a significant risk, and the police acted to stop this risk continuing. Taxpayers have been funding the activities of Tame Iti through the Tuhoe Hauora Trust, a government funded Maori health provider. The Wananga is also reputed to have been funding his so-called ‘bushcraft’ activities. This is indescribably bad Labour policy. It’s time we stopped knocking the police and began thanking them for doing their best to keep our society a safe place to live in. Denis Shuker, Hamilton


We have all but finished the first seven years of the new millennium. The late Pope hoped that it would be the millennium of peace, and I think we all joined him.  Dr. Francis Schaeffer said that there is a flow to history and culture.  This flow is rooted in what people think because what we think will determine how we act.  Our society is breaking down and Dr. Schaeffer pointed out that as the Roman Empire declined and violence was out of hand, the Romans tried to solve their problems by abandoning their form of democracy and setting up a totalitarian state under a Caesar.  But this was not the answer and Rome became a ruin.  A country is only as great as the hearts of its people.  If we live for self we will live with violence and crime.  If we love one another we will live in peace and harmony.  We celebrate the birth of Jesus because He is the only Source of unselfish love – He is the only One Who can help us.  We need to turn back to Him.  Milton Wainwright, Woodville


The type of thinking – or world view – or “possessed”, emotive, non-thinking, that comes to expression in so-called “political correctness” will ultimately cause a greater holocaust than the combined efforts of the Bolsheviks/Communists, the fascists and the Nazis.

In fact, these three departures from normal human rationality and compassion are not qualitatively separate or different evils, but simply variants of the same one. Political correctness is nothing less than the modern West’s version of this 3 in 1 (so to speak ), evil. This is so, because while the Bolsheviks/Communists, fascists and Nazis fought with all the powers of Hell against everything that the then, still widespread and strong Judeao-Christian value system held sacred, political correctness (by sickly-sweet stealth), seeks to gradually eradicate these bedrock values from the human psyche altogether, thereby eliminating the very foundations of social order. Whether or not such a catastrophic eventuality actually comes to pass depends, like so much else, upon the free will of human beings ; but to the degree that is does, then to that same degree the very lowest aspects of human nature will be given free reign. Unfolding current events testify to the fact that post-1960’s generations have been increasingly deprived of a grounding in true values – i.e. in a shared understanding of what is right and good, and of what is wrong and evil. If this trend continues then the above turn of events will inevitably come to pass, at which point unprecedented world chaos will erupt. Such an horrifying state of affairs, as any discerning observer of current events can see – or at least sense – is even now throwing its shadow before it. Now, here’s the crucial point. It is undeniably the political, atheistic, Socialist Left which created and drives political correctness. After all, the very term “political correctness” originated in the 1930’s in Lenin’s Communist Russia ; and it is the Conservatives – unjustly blanket-labeled “Right-wing” by the Left – (which coined both epithets), who oppose it. Does more need to be said? In short, the long prophesied division of mankind into good and evil factions, or into the “sheep” and “goats” (to employ Biblical terminology), is right now coming to pass in the (socalled) Right/Left divide – which is unmistakably at work in every social sphere and controversy. Indeed, it’s not going too far to say that this ideological/ philosophical conflict is at the very heart of all these constant, escalating, and seemingly irreconcilable confrontations. Unlike the non-Western world, (generally speaking), it is not religion, politics, philosophy, world-view etc. per sec, which



There’s been recent media coverage on police concern about drink driving. It is time we faced facts. Fact. It is NOT an accident that you drink, or do drugs. Fact. It is NOT an accident that you then, already impaired by one, or both, drive. You make a decision to do so. Therefore it should be called murder if someone is killed. Fact. Drink driving IS a crime. That is why courts impose penalties. And if it is a crime, drink drivers are criminals. And criminals FORFEIT ALL their “RIGHTS” the moment they offend. Now, make the penalty fit the crime. Appropriate penalty should start with meeting ALL medical and/or funeral expenses, and that is before the courts impose any other penalty. And if the victims and family for any reason do not want “Blood Money”, the equivalent amount must be given to a charity of the victim’s choice. And if that bankrupts the offender, so what. He at least can make a new start eventually. An innocent victim very often can’t. Chris Groenestein, Te Awamutu


nowadays sets Westerners against each other, but the Left/ Conservative divide within these things. Thus, the misnamed Left/Right rift among Western peoples – (which has been incipient since approximately the 16th century, but first came to outer and bloody expression with the French Revolution), is, in all likelihood, the long prophesied schism of mankind. Not for nothing is the Latin root of “left” sinistrorse or sinister. Nor is it mere coincidence that “right” has its double meaning – or that the good and holy always “sit at the right hand of God”. In naming themselves the “Left”, the Jacobin extremists of the French revolution unconsciously gave us a clue. There is, of course, a relatively small percentage of people, (among whom must be included the immensely powerful “elite” groups who operate at the very top of global politics and finance), who can justifiably be described as “right wing”, and who are equally evil in their characteristic way, but this is an entirely different matter. The overwhelming majority of those, who for the sin of disagreeing with Left-wing ideology have been labeled “Right-wing” are ordinary decent folk who, on the best of grounds, still believe in “old-fashioned” values. Hopefully is goes without saying that in human affairs we cannot speak of anything totally evil or of anything totally good, or of anything, at this stage, completely beyond redemption. However, the potential for such an eventuality is there before our eyes. Colin Rawle, Dunedin


In National Geographic magazine’s October 2007 fold-out map – “Greenhouse Earth” – an Earth diagram at the bottom says, “Less tilt brings cooler summers and less melt”. However, in the reference book “Origins” (pages 248-255), re Milankovitch Cycles, its illustration states, “Small-diameter polar circles (less tilt) lead to a warmer earth.” The National Geographic map, re Earth’s orbit, says “More elliptical (oval), corresponds to warm periods”. But opposing this, Origins states, “An elliptical orbit causes the intensity of sunlight to vary by as much as 30 percent during a year. Geological frequent fluctuations in the extent and thickness of permanent ice are believed to be a result of eccentricities (more oval) in the Earth’s geometry.” The National Geographic map shows the Earth’s circular orbit containing its oval orbit, while Origins illustration shows each can be part outside the other! Which diagram is correct? If National Geographic’s science department is in error, concerning Earth’s orbit and tilt, then to what extent is some “Global Warming” data faulty? Michael Lincolne, Nelson

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MIRANDA DEVINE Nelson’s new Trafalgar


t 8.30 on the morning of the Liberal leadership ballot in Canberra, two senators named Judith were sitting in the Qantas departure lounge at Sydney Airport waiting for the flight to Canberra. Victorian senator Judith Troeth had rushed back from Beijing and West Australian senator Judith Adams had raced back from her mother’s sick bed in New Zealand. They expected Thursday’s 9.20am flight to land in Canberra at 10.10am, leaving plenty of time to get to Parliament House for the vote at noon. Former defence minister Brendan Nelson had been quietly counting numbers and, by Wednesday night, believed he had 50 of a possible 90 votes. But supporters of for“He has a gift for communicating, mer environment minisusing homespun anecdotes from ter Malcolm Turnbull were equally optimistic, counting real life to appeal to people’s  up to 55 votes. Both candibetter natures” dates couldn’t be correct. Every vote would be crucial. At Sydney airport, 9.20am came and went with no sign of QF1471. Senators Troeth and Adams began to fret. Their flight had been cancelled and Qantas wasn’t finding them new seats. Three planes took off without them. The pair finally landed in Canberra at 12.15pm but, by the time they walked into the party room, it was all over. Nelson had just been declared leader, beating Turnbull by three votes, 45 to 42. Nelson’s camp believed the tardy senators would have voted for him, anyway, bringing the tally to 47-42. But Turnbull’s camp also claimed them, which would have meant a knife-edge result of 45-44, casting doubt on the legitimacy of Nelson’s win. Senator Troeth would not reveal her intentions but Senator Adams, on the phone from New Zealand after her return there, was more forthcoming, saying they would have “cancelled each other out”. “I was going to help Brendan,” she said, and she gathered from their conversations at the airport that Troeth would have backed Turnbull. Adams is close to Senator Julie Bishop, whose bloc of West Australians were key to Nelson’s victory. Turnbull lost votes during his public campaign for the leadership, repudiating John Howard on such touchstone


issues as saying sorry for stolen generations. This “policy on the run” without consultation “frightened a number of people”, said one MP, who voted for Nelson, as did “standover tactics” employed by Turnbull supporters. There were offers of campaign funds, and MPs were pursued to restaurants. Another turn-off came after the ballot, when Turnbull offered Nelson “speaking tips”, said the MP. “We could all see it in the party room ... But Brendan behaved in an absolutely exemplary way. There was just a feeling in the party room that we don’t want shenanigans ... There is enough self-interest in that room to ensure Brendan gets a decent run.” Nelson is an impressive politician, whose courteous manner disguises a steely resolve. He has a gift for communicating, using homespun anecdotes from real life to appeal to people’s better natures. It strikes a chord. Early on he identified the work of Reverend Bill Crews at Ashfield teaching underprivileged children to read using phonics. As education minister he drew on the experience: “How is it we can live in a country where a boy at the age of 12, with neither a physical nor intellectual disability, can seriously [say], ‘I didn’t realise it’s the black stuff that you read.” On saying “sorry”, he tries to achieve the “synthesis” Noel Pearson speaks of, transcending the polarity of the culture wars. “It is critically important to how we see ourselves as a nation [that we] reconcile with our Aboriginal history both symbolically and in a practical sense,” he said after his leadership win. “Yet our generation cannot take personal or generational responsibility for the actions of earlier ones which in most, but not all cases, were done with the best of intentions.” And “there are children [currently in the news] who have died because they have not been removed. Just because something for understandable and emotional reasons may have superficial appeal doesn’t make it right”. While much has been made of his ALP roots and early activism, the Jesuit-educated GP has consistently shown a concern for the underdog and rejection of injustice that transcends party lines. He would make a wise and compassionate prime minister if ever he had the chance. SYDNEY AIRPORT LIMO’S At Sydney Airport, about 500 metres from the domes-

tic terminal, is a jostling microcosm of human enterprise inside a chain-link fence. It is the hire car holding yard, where about 500 nicely dressed men (and a few women) mill around, smoking and talking in dozens of different accents, their gleaming Holden Caprices and Ford Fairlanes in neat rows, waiting for the planes to land. For the $8235 price of a licence, these drivers have bought a slice of the Australian dream: they know if they provide a better service than the next guy, they can make six-figure incomes. Well, that was until Macquarie Bank bought Sydney Airport in 2002 and started squeezing them so hard their livelihoods are in jeopardy. They have put up with new fees, exorbitant fines and increasingly draconian regulations, but they say the latest squeeze is unbearable, and they suspect Macquarie Bank is trying to drive them out so it can use its own limousines. The Macquarie Bank-led Sydney Airport Corporation Limited has sent each driver an “agreement” to be signed by the end of this month, laying down a raft of rules and penalties that the drivers say will strangle business. Drivers who don’t sign face being locked out. Steve Kremydas, the owner of A1 United limousine service, who has the support of at least 500 other drivers, says they are so angry they are considering blockading the airport. “They can’t control our business and what we do,” he says. They used to pay nothing to enter the airport; now it’s $3 (taxis pay $2.50). The new agreement would force them to purchase credits on an airport access card that allows the airport owner to deduct money to pay fines and arbitrarily block a driver’s access to the airport. For the driver to discover why he is locked out, he must pay $20. If he is desperate to pick up a client, he must pay $30 for a temporary pass. “People got more rights in Guantanamo Bay,” said Vladimir, a Serbian driver. Further eroding their profits are draconian fines, supposedly to

prevent touting, of $1500 to $5000 if a driver can’t provide the name, phone and company affiliation of their passenger. “They’re treating us like drug pushers or criminals,” Kremydas says. Another driver, John Murphy, 60, a Vietnam veteran with 30 years in the business, brought a crippled, elderly woman to the airport recently, stopping in the designated limo bay to escort her safely inside, only to be fined $1500. “We’re doing the right thing but we’re being stopped from providing the service,” he says. The drivers also are disgusted by the filthy toilets at their holding yard. The floors are sticky, two cubicles are missing toilet-roll holders, one cistern could double as a shower and two sinks leak. “If you go to Bangladesh, the toilets are cleaner,” said driver Mohammad Ali. Yet the drivers are banned from using the clean toilets inside the terminal, and when Kremydas and Murphy walked to Terminal 3 for a decent coffee at Gloria Jean’s one day, they were ejected by airport rangers. Kremydas concedes there are a handful of drivers who “do the wrong thing” and tout for fares, but he sees a deeper motive for the crackdown. It’s boom time for hire cars as Sydneysiders are increasingly willing to pay the roughly $25 premium, whether it is so that elderly relatives and children will be looked after, or simply because the service provided by regular cabs at peak times has become so unreliable. The drivers believe Macquarie Bank wants to cash in by forcing them out and using its own limo fleet, having recently launched a luxury taxi service called Apple. But the drivers, many of whom are migrants who have overcome all kinds of adversity, could hardly be a more formidable foe. The millionaire factory’s bespectacled bankers are in for the fight of their life, and you just know the rest of Sydney will be cheering on the underdog.



LAURA WILSON A sense of belonging


f you’re in sunny Northland these summer holidays, the town of Paihia has something to offer, apart from tacky bars and even tackier hotels. Owning the title of New Zealand’s oldest European settlements has done little to protect the port towns of Russell and Paihia to date. Courtesy of historically-disinclined developers the towns have endured decades of makeovers, the latest a kind of mini-Ibiza, the Spanish isle famed for bars, babes and beaches. But a few metres back from the beachside clamour a unique initiative is being established that threatens to rekindle Paihia’s identity as the town where Maori and Pakeha relations were forged. Somehow, rather miraculously, a small strip of waterfront land has escaped the developers clutch and “In the decades before the remains empty except for mammoth Norfolk Pine, signing of the Treaty, Paihia aa gnarled lemon tree and a Maori and Pakeha lived and pile of fenced-off rubble. The rubble is all that’s left raised their children in a bilingual, of Paihia’s beginnings as a bicultural settlement with an Mission village. It’s a pile of extraordinary level of harmony” handmade bricks that once housed young English couple William and Jane Williams, who followed brother Henry out here two years after his arrival in 1826. Over by the gnarled lemon tree stands a new structure. It’s a replica of the Maori-built whare of raupo reeds slung over totara poles that provided shelter for the young English explorer, Henry and his wife Marianne, their brood of initially three children (which swelled to eleven) and their travelling companions Mr and Mrs Fairburn. When first erected some 180 years earlier its archlike shape earned the 11 metre long dwelling the title, ‘Beehive’, and not unlike its Wellington descendant, it became the home of thoughts, dreams and collaborative plans for those with the unthinkable task of shaping a new nation. Behind the re-built Beehive stand two unlikely collaborators. Locals, Elisabeth Ludbrook and Wiremu Wiremu carry in their bones the experiences and determination of their forbears. On Wiremu’s side, the Maori who chose this seaside spot and offered it to their English guests, and on Elisabeth’s side the fresh-off-the-boat William’s family. 180 years on, after Treaties, wars and cultural divide


have done their best to separate them, the two families have refound each other and are intent on rebuilding a past that stands testament to a little known truth. That, in the decades before the signing of the Treaty, Paihia Maori and Pakeha lived and raised their children in a bilingual, bicultural settlement with an extraordinary level of harmony. Extraordinary on two notes. Firstly, Missionaries were not renowned for their easy-going natures, and yet some fifteen-plus pearly-white children were allowed to roam free with neighbouring Maori kids, teaching each other their languages, snaring birds and climbing trees. Secondly, the Ngapuhi Northland tribe were not known for their pacifism, rather; for being warriors amongst warriors. Whilst their far-reaching coastal raids continued, culminating in rows of heads displayed on stakes outside the encampment, the English families were never laid a hand on. The bond of trust between the two groups was sufficient that the English men could depart on frequent sailing voyages of up to six months duration, leaving wives, children and frequent guests in the protective hands of local Maori. To Wiremu and Elisabeth, this is a past worth celebrating, and more importantly one that lives on today in the widespread affection between the two, now greatly dispersed, groups. Ludbrook committed herself ten years earlier to saving this special piece of history from the backwash of popular anti-missionary sentiment that swept the country, drowning any favourable stories in a flood of post-colonial regret. For a decade she knocked at the doors of disinterested government-sanctioned historians, funding providers, tourism bodies and potential investors trying to save the historic site from its certain future as a fauxMediterranean apartment block. Just before the auctioneer’s gavel fell in the developer’s favour, Ludbrook’s own wider family stepped in and bought the property through a benevolent Trust Fund. Years of struggling to raise further funds and support to rebuild the original settlement followed, but it wasn’t until Wiremu stepped in that any physical progress was made. Within weeks of hearing Ludbrook’s plan he had summoned a group of down-on-their-luck teenagers from nearby Moerewa and instructed them in the art of traditional Maori carpentry on the rescued section. Totara poles were hand cut, peeled free of bark and

tanalised over an open fire. All joins in the framework were handhewn in place of nails. Raupo from a local swamp was draped in thick layers over the frame and lashed with flax twine. The result is a homely, organic form, the completion of which bought the teen apprentices to tears. This was no surprise to Ludbrook and Wiremu, who describe the land as having a powerful presence, and the potential to heal present ills simply by honouring the past. Many of the unsuspecting teens would have had far-reaching connections to the site, similar to that of Wiremu whose twice-Great Grandfather was taken in and raised by the community. It seems Wiremu and Ludbrook have been living parallel des-

tinies, and while their paths have only recently crossed they are unequivocal about their vision for the long-forgotten property of their ancestors. In a word, they see celebration. A living village that recreates for visitors the principles of love and partnership as they existed between Maori and Pakeha. As Wiremu puts it, ‘there’s so much negativity about today, what our young people need to see is that we have got so much to offer each other.’ For this reason, the raupo whare stands unfinished, a reminder to all who visit that there is much left to do and that they too can play a part. To visit the site of the unfolding village, head for the unmistakeable Norfolk pine on Paihia beach or contact




The right not to have your feelings hurt


he holiday season is here and that means it’s time to engage in the time-honored Christmas tradition of objecting to every time-honored Christmas tradition. Australia is a gazillion time-zones ahead of the United States – it may even be Boxing Day there already – so they got in first this year with a truly fantastic headline: “Santas Warned ‘Ho Ho Ho’ Offensive To Women.” Really. As the story continued: “Sydney’s Santa Clauses have instead been instructed to say ‘ha ha ha’ instead, The Daily Telegraph reported. One disgruntled Santa told the newspaper a recruitment firm warned him not to use ‘ho ho ho’ because it could frighten children and was too close to ‘ho’, a U.S. slang “When I said the right not to be term for prostitute.” If I were a female resioffended is now the most “sacred” dent of Sydney, I think I’d right in the world, I certainly be more offended by the didn’t mean to offend persons of a assumption that Australian and U.S. prostitutes non-theistic persuasion” women are that easily confused. As the old gangsta-rap vaudeville routine used to go: “Who was that ho I saw you with last night?” “That was no ho, that was my bitch.” But the point is the right not to be offended is now the most sacred right in the world. The right to freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of movement, all are as nothing compared to the universal right to freedom from offence. It’s surely only a matter of time before “sensitivity training” is matched by equally rigorous “inoffensiveness training” courses. A musician friend of mine once took a gig at an elevator-music session, and, after an hour or two of playing insipid orchestral arrangements of “Moon River” and “Windmills Of Your Mind,” some of the lads’ attention would start to wander and they’d toot their horns a little too boisterously, and the conductor would stop and admonish them to bland things down a bit. In a world in which everyone is ready to take offence, it’s hard to keep the mood muzak evenly modulated. For example, when I said the right not to be offended is now the most “sacred” right in the world, I certainly didn’t mean to offend persons of a non-theistic persuasion. In Hanover, New Hampshire, home to Dartmouth College, an atheist and an agnostic known only as “Jan


and Pat Doe” (which is which is hard to say) are suing because their three schoolchildren are forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Well, okay, they’re not forced to say it. The Pledge is voluntary. You’re allowed to sit down, or, more discreetly, stand silently, which is what the taciturn Yankee menfolk who think it’s uncool to sing do during the hymns at my local church. But that’s not enough for “the Does”. Because the Pledge mentions God, their children are forced, as it were, not to say it. And, as “Mr and Mrs Doe” put it in their complaint, having to opt out of participation in a voluntary act exposes their children to potential “peer pressure” from the other students. U.S. courts have not traditionally been sympathetic to this argument. The ACLU and other litigious types might more profitably explore the line that the Pledge of Allegiance is deeply offensive to millions of illegal aliens in the public school system forced to pledge allegiance to the flag of a country they’re not citizens or even legally-admitted tourists of. Let U.S. now cross from the New Hampshire school system to the Sudanese school system. Or as the Associated Press headline put it: “Thousands In Sudan Call For British Teddy Bear Teacher’s Execution.” This month, Gillian Gibbons, a British schoolteacher working in Khartoum, one of the crummiest basket-case dumps on the planet – whoops, I mean one of the most lively and vibrant strands in the rich tapestry of our multicultural world – anyway, Mrs. Gibbons was sentenced to 15 days in jail because she was guilty of, er, allowing a teddy bear to be named “Mohammed”. She wasn’t so foolish as to name the teddy Mohammed herself. But, in an ill-advised Sudanese foray into democracy, she’d let her grade-school students vote on what name they wanted to give the classroom teddy, and being good Muslims they voted for their favorite name: Mohammed. Big mistake. There’s apparently a whole section in the Koran about how if you name cuddly toys after the Prophet you have to be decapitated. Well, actually there isn’t. But why let theological pedantry deprive you of the opportunity to stick it to the infidel? Mrs. Gibbons is regarded as lucky to get 15 days in jail, when the court could have imposed six months and 40 lashes. But even that wouldn’t have been good enough for the mob in Khartoum. The protesters shouted “No tolerance.

Execution” and “Kill her. Kill her by firing squad” and “Shame, shame to the U.K.” – which persists in sending out imperialist schoolma’ams to impose idolatrous teddy bears on the youth of Sudan. Whether or not the British are best placed to defend Mrs Gibbons is itself questionable after a U.K. court decision this week: following an altercation with another driver, Michael Forsythe was given a suspended sentence of ten weeks in jail for “racially aggravated disorderly behavior” for calling Lorna Steele an “English bitch.” “Racially aggravated”? Indeed. Ms Steele is not English, but Welsh. Still, at exactly the time Gillian Gibbons caught the eye of the Sudanese authorities, a 19-year old Saudi woman was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail. Her crime? She’d been abducted and gang-raped by seven men. Originally, she’d been sentenced to 90 lashes, but her lawyer had appealed and so the court increased it to 200 and jail time. Anybody on the streets in Sudan or anywhere else in the Muslim world who wants to protest that? Cue crickets chirping “Allahu akbar”. East is East and West is West and in both we take offense at nothing: Santas saying “Ho ho ho”, teddy bears called Mohammed. And yet the difference is very telling: The now annual Santa suits in the “war on Christmas” and the determination to abolish even such anodyne expressions of faith as the Pledge of Allegiance are assaults on the very possibility of a common culture. By contrast, the teddy bear rubbish is a crude demonstration of cultural muscle intended to cow and intimidate. When East meets West, when offended Muslims find themselves

“In an ill-advised Sudanese foray into democracy, she’d let her grade-school students vote on what name they wanted to give the classroom teddy, and being good Muslims they voted for their favorite name: Mohammed”

operating in western nations, they discover that both techniques are useful: some march in the streets Khartoum-style calling for the Pope to be beheaded, others use the mechanisms of the west’s litigious, perpetual grievance culture to harass opponents into silence. Perhaps somewhere in Sydney there’s a woman who’s genuinely offended by hearing Santa say “ho ho ho” just as those Hanover atheists claim to be genuinely offended by the Pledge of Allegiance. But their complaints are frivolous and decadent, and more determined groups are using the patterns they’ve established to shut down debate on things we should be talking about. The ability to give and take offense is what separates free societies from Sudan. © Mark Steyn, 2007

Barbara Doyle’s Mystery intrigue & murder weekends in true Agatha Christie style

Friday Night Supper 8 p.m.

with a pleasant Introduction to your Fellow Sleuths

Two Nights B & B

at Albert Number Six Whitianga

Saturday Tour

Day’s exploration and adventure on the Coromandel Peninsula in Coromandel at Barry Brickel’s Driving Creek Railway | Rapaura Watergardens NZ No 1 Koru Cafe for lunch Square Kauri with the pleasure of climbing to hug it | Coroglen Hotel for a few minutes of relaxation in a real country Pub | Back to Whitianga | Fancy Dress and Dinner 7 p.m.


IT’S WHAT YOU HEAR THAT COUNTS. Tour arrangements can be slightly different depending on town and weather. ph 07 8660036 • 6 Albert Street Whitianga INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008, 21




raig Harrison’s great New Zealand novel, published in 1976 and set in far-off 1985, concerns a Maori rebellion against a dictatorial New Zealand Government. It is a very long time indeed since I read the book, but memory tells me there are some spooky parallels between the future of Harrison’s foretelling, and the present of today. I don’t mean the Maori rebellion, of course. Let’s get that sorted right from the start. There is no great sentiment for devolution or sovereignty amongst the wider Maori community. There never has been. Tuhoe might bluster about it from time to time, and various others may like a little more in the way of self-determination, but outside of a relatively “Keep the population worried small number of extremabout something which doesn’t ist individuals and groupings, the majority of Maori exist, and it’ll take their minds  are happy enough to be off the real issues.” New Zealanders, and canny enough to recognise the costs and effort required to establish a new State, or even a State within a State. And a few predictable sound bites on the six o’clock news, featuring suitably aggrieved Maori complaining about colonisation every time the media feel they can get away with running yet another story about Maori being picked on, doesn’t translate to a groundswell of support for tino rangatiratanga amongst the mainstream of Maori New Zealanders. There is no 100,000 strong army of disaffected Maori secretly training in our hills and suburbs, awaiting the order to overthrow the State and kick the white man out of Aotearoa. So why does the perception remain that such a situation exists? Probably because it suits the purposes of the Powers-That-Be, to have people believing it. Keep the population worried about something which doesn’t exist, and it’ll take their minds off the real issues. We are regularly reminded, for example, that “the Army is mostly Maori”, presumably to keep us nice and frightened about the danger of an impending native rebellion, and further presumably, to secure our acquiescence to the ongoing erosion of our rights and freedoms, in the name of ensuring our safety in an ever-more dangerous and terroristriddled world. Nice try; unfortunately, however, it isn’t true. The


Army is not mostly Maori. Maori enlistment in the Armed Forces is around 29% for the Army and 24% overall, besides which, the vast majority of Maori who join the military are good balanced people who want to serve their country and do a professional job. They are a far cry from the bitter and twisted half-caste racists of academia and the media, who forment grievance and division where none should be, and who seek to further their own ends, by playing off post-colonial white liberal guilt, against the very real anger and resentment of the socio-economically repressed and deprived in this country – many of whom happen to be brown. No, there is no Maori terrorist movement poised to storm the Beehive, lopping off the heads of politicians, displaying them on taiaha stuck into Parliament’s lawn, and declaring a new Republic of Maoritania. More’s the pity on the second point, at least; I reckon a good few Pakeha would be right behind them if they did. I say this because even if the first element of Craig Harrison’s futuristic tome isn’t about to come to fruition, the second one certainly is, in that we are fast becoming a dictatorship. This October just passed has seen the introduction of two particularly insidious pieces of legislation, the Terrorism Suppression Amendment Bill, and the Electoral Finance Bill. Under the amended TSA, the Prime Minister of the Day can now decide unilaterally that any organisation or individual is a terrorist, and declare them as such. If the PM decrees that the allegations against such a person or organisation should be “classified”, because of “security concerns”, then neither the people concerned, nor their lawyers, may be allowed to hear the nature of those allegations in the first place – but that won’t prevent the State from locking them up indefinitely. There is no provision for appeal, nor will the Courts have any say in the matter; our Parliament has voted, 108 in favour to 13 against, to give the Prime Minister absolute power. Naturally, we are assured that this power will not corrupt. No, no. We are civilised people who respect the values and traditions of democracy. This is New Zealand, after all. It only looks like Zimbabwe or Libya or East Germany. So what do you have to do in order to be labeled a terrorist in New Zealand, to have your phone tapped, your mail opened, your car bugged, and your email intercepted and examined by the SIS?

Well apparently putting on a balaclava and some camouflage pants, and running around the hills with an old .303 whilst texting a mate to say that the Government should be got rid of, will do it. Indeed, a few Vietnam-vets and a couple of teenagers, plus one highly tattooed – and rather silly – showman, and a handful of old, non-military firearms, are apparently sufficiently threatening to the Realm of New Zealand to warrant the minions of the State frisking little old ladies and school children at gunpoint, and banging two dozen peace activists and artists up in prison without charge for a couple of weeks. So where does this leave someone like me? This writer has, apparently, more firepower than the Tuhoe Nation, and my views on what should happen to Helen Clark and her cronies are no secret to anyone. Should I be listening for strange clicks on my phone line, and scanning the dusty roads of Central Otago for menacing black cars; or will I be safe as long as I keep my guns and my politics separate, and my email correspondences with “persons of interest” limited? I do want a revolution in New Zealand; but I want it via the ballot box, because history has told us, time and time again, that the only lasting and peaceful changes which can be brought about, are those which have the support and agreement of the People, and that such support can only be given freely, and based on information which is both truthful, and freely available. Which brings me to the Electoral Finance Bill. This, in my considered estimation, is one of the most truly evil instruments of repression ever crafted in the sullied forges of the political Left’s ever more deranged and desperate collective mind. It is a blatant attempt by the Labour Party and its supporters to prevent others from campaigning against them, while at the same time protecting their own sources of financial support from equally secret backers such as the Unions. Their excuses about third parties, and foreign money, and elections being bought and sold, simply don’t hold water. So the Exclusive Brethren ran adverts telling us we should have a proper military again (hear hear), and printed pamphlets calling the Greens a bunch of Reds. So what? Advertising doesn’t buy votes. In fact in New Zealand it is more likely to lose them. A quote from an open letter from a friend of mine, to a Green Party MP, says it quite succinctly: “I am somewhat surprised to learn that you give credence to the flawed belief that money buys votes. In my 50+ years of casting my vote I have come to the conclusion that most people, (over 95%) vote for policies, not the number of times (money) the policies and the leaders of the various parties appear in the media. A few facts should substantiate my claim. In 1996 NZ First and Labour spent almost the same amount of money, yet Labour got twice the number of votes. In 1999 National spent 50% more than Labour, yet lost the election by approximately 10%. In 2005 Labour spent 30% more than National yet received only 2% more votes than National.” Under the new regime, not only will the amount of money which third parties are allowed to spend on promoting the policies and politicians of their preference be restricted, but those third parties themselves (anyone outside of Parliament or not standing directly for office) will have to register with an agency of the State in order to be permitted to air their views. The blogger, the anonymous writer of letters to the editor, the man on the soapbox on the street corner, will be outlawed. Those financial donors to the National Party who prefer to keep their political

“So the Exclusive Brethren ran adverts telling us we should have a proper military again (hear hear), and printed pamphlets calling the Greens a bunch of Reds. So what? Advertising doesn’t buy votes. In fact in New Zealand it is more likely to lose them”

affiliations private, and the Trusts through which their support has long been funneled, will be compelled to declare their allegiances openly, and limited to how much support that may give. Worst of all, their donations may not be given directly, but must be channeled through the Electoral Commission. For the Trade Unions who support Labour, conversely, it will remain business as usual. If that isn’t blatant corruption and Nazi-style oppression of free speech, I don’t know what is; and I say so now, because if I wait till after the Bill is passed, my editor won’t be allowed to print it. Yes, it really is that serious. Well, I’m not going to get off my soapbox. I fully intend to ignore the new Bill, as I believe it is the duty of all good citizens to do, with all bad laws. What can they do about it? Sue me? Come and get me? They can’t charge me with sedition anymore; maybe they’ll declare me a terrorist and freeze my assets. Two things concern me greatly about the degree to which New Zealand has already slid, on the slippery slope towards dictatorship and corrupt Government. One, through the Electoral Finance Bill, is the quite petulant disregard for the concept of fairness, and the principles of democracy itself, on the part of the political Left, in the face of diminishing voter support. Lying, cheating, and changing the rules to give yourself an advantage, is not the behaviour of people who are prepared to admit that the tide of public opinion has swung, and who embrace the abiding fairness of the democratic process even if it means them not getting their own way. It is the behaviour of people who have become corrupted by power, who no longer wish to serve the people but to control them, who seek to justify their abandonment of principled conduct, by claiming that theirs is the greater morality. The second is the willingness of our Police Force, through institutionalised paranoia, bias, or perhaps diminished competence, to mistake Public Bar chatter, and wannabe role-playing, for conspiracy, treason, and plot. Where were the Good Cops in Ruatoki, who would stand up and say “No”, in the face of orders to do the Wrong Thing? Where will they be when the Government tells them to come and take away our rights to free speech? New Zealanders do have cause to be worried by events in the hills of the Ureweras, in the broken October of 2007, and in Parliament. But it is not Tame Iti and his Angry Clown Act which we should fear; it is the raw and accelerating corruption of our own dear Maoist Government.



CHRIS CARTER The rise-up of the lambs


ho would ever have thought that the year 2008 would bring with it the conditions that inevitably have led, Praise the Lord, to the long overdue revival of the true Kiwi Spirit. Here we have all been in a state of moral hibernation, almost mindlessly allowing the most appalling people to run amok in Parliament pursuing an agenda taken almost directly from the playbook of psychosis and general wickedness, and yet at last, not unlike the fabled Rip Van Winkle, unaccountably a great awakening has suddenly occurred. Not since the declining moments of the Muldoon era, when folk suddenly came to realise that no one person has the right to dominate all of our lives, “I have never in my life either heard to simply feed an ego and to relentlessly pursue an nor read of such abject nonsense unhealthy need for unquesbeing uttered by anyone other than a tioned dictatorial power, we seen such a quick certifiable lunatic as we have heard have loss of support for a curbeing bounced around Parliament rent and previously welllate 2007 as various Labour Party regarded politician and her band of now completely Muppets stood up in the House confused acolytes. Indeed if it is true that to essentially and very publicly absolute power inevitably confirm, that they wish to support leads to corruption then the banning of Free Speech” perhaps what we are now seeing is an almost natural occurrence in that – to quote a very Kiwi expression – “She’s all over, mate, the day you start to believe your own bull****!” Worse, of course, having long been surrounded by folk whose prime duty has been to heap songs of praise and cries of Halleluiah to every action and uttered Prime Ministerial thought, that now, on the admittedly rare visits to places of worship, Dear Leader probably expects to be the recipient of, rather than the giver of such acts of devotion. That Helen of Mt Albert has yet to Herod-like call for the nation’s new born male children to be done away with, perhaps is but an oversight, but certainly her increasingly irrational insistence of the passing of laws and legislation in recent months, quite plainly and solely designed to keep her in her now exalted position, has finally been


recognised by the ordinary Kiwi for what it is...a cynical attempt to hold onto power at any cost. Worse, much worse, has also come in the realisation that if these kinds of political tactics are deemed appropriate as we begin the run up to the next election, then what might follow should they produce the desired effect and return the Clark Government to power almost beggars our imagination. Which brings me to some of the recent legislation that I think may well have brought about a somewhat belated recognition on our part, as to what these followers of the left hand path are all really about. “Where to begin?”, they cried! Well how about with the sudden and apparent need to legalise the murky world of knock-shops and of sex-workers, (previously and more commonly known as brothels and prostitution). Both good and bad outcomes come along with all attempts to modify society’s attitudes, and to legalise something that had by its sheer size been pretty well accepted in any case perhaps had some merit. What was, however, the collective opinion of the population at large regarding this legalisation of a previously criminal activity? Well of course we were not consulted were we? The Clark Government having the numbers or the voting fodder depending on how you look at it, simply passed the necessary laws whilst not even deigning to listen to those who may have felt that legally providing the conditions for youngsters to now line the streets of South Auckland hocking off their bodies for another jolt of methamphetamine would probably do little to promote a better society. Nevertheless, the insidious destruction of family and family values has long been the aim of the more rabid socialists, whereby they feel that it’s only by supplanting parental authority with State control that the true Marxist nirvana can ever be achieved, so it came as no surprise when the “Working For Families” scam then came into being. Having all but driven most middle New Zealand families into the poor house with a taxational regime in fact designed to achieve precisely that, part two of this long term nanny state takeover was enacted that made thousands of New Zealand families little else other than state beneficiaries by the simple ploy of giving them some of their own money back! Much was made of this act of state generosity with millions being spent in advertising on TV and the Press as to how Helen and Co were

helping the NZ Family, when in fact this was never the intention or indeed the actual effect. But generate votes it most certainly did. People didn’t imagine for a moment the manipulation possible and available to any party prepared to spend millions of taxpayers’ dollars in the media to promote such a dodgy and twofaced scheme, which really was to persuade them that when the tiger smiled, it really was just very happy, and had no intention at all of simply having their families for dinner. Socialists, having always had a close affinity with the finer points of the Seven Deadly Sins, are well aware of the public’s very human failings in the envy and avarice department, and so quite naturally most Labour policy is specifically designed to play on these basic if somewhat primeval human attributes. The interest free Students loans scheme announced on the eve of the last election being a wonderful example of how supposedly open handed generosity can so easily persuade the seekers of something for nothing to vote for just about anything at all! Well we’ve now seen the figures as to what all this pre-last-election generosity is actually going to cost the country, with even those who so eagerly embraced this shameless political bribe at the time, now being ever more ashamed of themselves. Time around about now though to examine more recent events that have led to this most likely eradication of Labour’s chances at the next election. Two pieces of legislation, the first, one might easily think was relatively innocuous...The Anti Smacking Bill introduced and then relentlessly promoted by the one time Marxist radical and professional protester Sue Bradford, then eagerly adopted by Labour, and sadly by other Parties as being a wonderful means to further interfere in the running of the NZ family unit. Well who would have ever thought that to smack, or not, a recalcitrant nipper’s little pink backside would cause such a fuss? Suffice it to say that letters to the editor for many weeks suggested that the only people really happy with this new law tended to either have no kids at all, or were biologically prevented from having them! But the biggest mistake this administration has yet made has come along with the so called Electoral Finance Bill. Forget about Labour Ministers who lie, or end up in court charged with all manner of alleged criminal offences, who feather bed their departments with party activists and seriously expect none of us to notice, who set about denying their own supporters a car to drive by passing legislation guaranteed to price them out of their reach, no, the final straw that has broken the back of this little cabal of ultimate power seekers has been the law that seeks to silence free speech and even damn near thought itself. What on earth were Helen and Co even thinking, that they genuinely believe that by the stroke of a pen they might muzzle the each and everyone of us? Tell me, are they nuts or just plain dangerous? I have never in my life either heard nor read of such abject nonsense being uttered by anyone other than a certifiable lunatic as we have heard being bounced around Parliament late 2007 as various Labour Party Muppets stood up in the House to essentially and very publicly confirm, that they wish to support the banning of Free Speech. Just about every respected organisation in the land told them that this iniquitous EFB is going to be, in effect, a large sharpened political stake that inevitably will be driven through Labour’s politi-

cal heart, and yet these tossers, now so obsessed with a belief in their own political importance just cannot see that they are, with every word they utter in support of this Bill, simply committing political suicide. Sadly, the lack of a written Constitution has allowed for what is in effect, little other than a major corruption of our inalienable and absolute rights of free speech .That certain politicians feel that they may, at will, try to take this away from us says much about the arrogance that almost is inevitable amongst people who have enjoyed almost untrammelled power for far too long. Fortunately here in New Zealand dwell a people that are largely peaceable and not normally given to revolution and the application of the kinds of punishment usually visited upon such political wretches. Perhaps a reversion to the more time honoured practice of developing policy then allowing the people of New Zealand to freely argue and discuss it without legal hindrance may in part rehabilitate Labour’s currently soiled reputation. If not, then it appears currently that actually rigging the next election by ballot box stuffing is the last possible corrupt step that Labour might yet try. Meantime may we hope for some urgent recognition that a return to sanity on the part of the Parliamentary Labour Party is preferable to the erection of a guillotine and the construction of a fleet of non carbon producing tumbrels? Matter of fact le Marseillaise could well make the NZ top twenty given the right circumstances, and it is after all, such an arousing anthem, particularly at World Cups. Chris Carter appears in association with, a must-see site.

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from here to

eternity The vanishing of Amber-Lee Cruickshank

Explosive new evidence, including the names of several potential new suspects, has been uncovered in one of the country’s most baffling crimes. IAN WISHART has the exclusive full story





t is one of New Zealand’s most perplexing homicide investigations – the disappearance of two and a half year old Amber-Lee Cruickshank on the shores of Lake Wakatipu 15 years ago. If Amber were still alive today she’d have just completed her NCEA exams and be preparing for a long hot summer before tackling university or perhaps a job. Instead, she vanished without trace in October 1992, sparking a massive police and civilian search of the tiny settlement of Kingston, on the southern tip of the lake. At least, that’s the official story. What you are about to read will shock you. If you thought a recent Sensing Murder episode on the case was disturbing, you haven’t heard the half of it. Investigate magazine is taking the unprecedented step of naming several potential suspects allegedly implicated in the disappearance of the little girl, in the hope that publicity will either clear the men we are naming, or alternatively solve the case once and for all. Before the Sensing Murder programme screened in October, both that show and Investigate magazine were approached by a South Island couple who claimed to have fresh, explosive information on the Amber-Lee Cruickshank case. The couple have lived in the tiny settlement of Wreys Bush, where Amber-Lee and her mother Nicky Cruickshank were staying, just before the tragic abduction. Before we give you the new claims, however, first we will give you the official version of what happened. On October 17, 1992, the two and a half year old girl disappeared from a lakefront property at Kingston. Her mother Nicky and father James, both involved in drugs, had been pre-occupied with trying to extract the contents of some opium poppies in the garden, and each thought the other was watching AmberLee. Some time around 7pm that evening, as twilight fell over the lake, the couple realized that Amber had vanished. They and the others staying with them at the lake mounted a frantic search, assuming the toddler had perhaps wandered down to the shore or explored a cubby-hole under one of the local houses. Neighbours joined the search, police were called, but Amber had simply melted away into thin air. Complicating matters was that the crib was straddled by roads at both its back and front entrances, so someone could wander in or out from either end of the property. The search made national news headlines as the country held its breath, wondering whether Amber had simply drowned in the lake while her parents weren’t looking, or whether something more sinister had taken place. Over the past 15 years, every so often the case has been resurrected, but never with a result. This time around, it’s different. Sleuthing by producers of the Sensing Murder TV programme concentrated on the obvious possibility that – with mother Nicky’s background in drugs and prostitution – perhaps Amber’s disappearance was not a random accident but a form of payback over a drug deal gone wrong. This was a theory the police had explored but somehow blindingly failed to nail down at the time. It was a theme the show’s “psychics” developed in their own approaches. A few days before the Sensing Murder show aired, however, Investigate received this email: “A guy called Paul Girvan in the early 1990s lived at Wreys Bush, Southland. At the time we thought that one local police


officer was involved in the drug trade with him. Me and a lot of other neighbors in the district had a lot of trouble with him and his gang-related associates, mostly White Power boys. “A woman at Otautau named Nicky Cruickshank, was living with a guy called James Gill. They got a loan from Social Welfare to buy a house in Otautau. She had two or three kids at the time. She was also a heroin addict and worked locally as a prostitute to pay for her drugs, mainly supplied by Paul Girvan and associates. Quite a few other younger women were also involved in the district, working as prostitutes for him to pay for their drugs. They traveled from this area mostly to Invercargill. “It got to the stage where Nicky was not making enough to pay for her drugs, so Paul Girvan arranged for her to live in Kingston in a bus or camper van and rented her house out to a guy called Graeme Mulvihill (I’m unsure about spelling) and a woman called Shirley Trainor. Shirley was an Auntie of Nicky’s kids. Nicky also had a 6-year old boy, called Harley, who Paul Girvan kept at Wreys Bush while Nicky was living in Kingston and working as a prostitute in Queenstown, to make sure that Nicky didn’t shoot through and not pay for her drug bill. In this way he kept control of her. “At the time we did not know how widespread the problem was among the hierarchy of the police or just how deeply involved Mr. Girvan was with the local police. For a couple of months, Nicky lived in Kingston with James Gill and tried to work in Queenstown to make enough money. Apparently, she was not making enough to pay the bills. “Afterwards, we heard how the girl went missing. “Apparently, there was a party at Lumsden arranged by Girvan and his associates. Allegedly, Paul Girvan took the little girl off Nicky at the party on the Thursday night at Lumsden. The story goes, that Nicky was told to wait until the following afternoon and to then report the child missing at the lake edge. This whole story was told [by us] to the local police two days after the child went missing. We were virtually told to mind our own business as it had nothing to do with us. “It was then that we started to learn that there was something seriously wrong with a lot of the local police officers. “But, getting back to the situation with what happened to the little girl. The facts are, as we know them, that Mr. Paul Girvan took the girl – the day before she was reported missing – through to Christchurch. On the way back from Christchurch, he stopped in to see a guy called Philip Tucker, just south of Christchurch. He arrived back in Southland about midnight of the day that the child was reported missing and while the police were still searching for her. How we know this is because a guy called Albert Dacony, who was a contract shearer at Ohai, was also a friend of mine. He told me the next day that something seemed wrong about the whole situation. At the time it was big news in Southland about the girl going missing. “If anyone ran out of petrol at night in the district when the garages were closed, Albert used to sell them a bit of petrol to get them by. Albert told me personally, that Paul Girvan had been in the night before at about 1:00am. Paul said he had just got back from Christchurch and needed to go to Kingston to help look for the missing girl but did not have enough fuel. With no garages open on the way up there he had to get fuel before he could go. He said he was going up to Kingston to search for the little girl. In my opinion, it was just a cover.

“The next day, Shirley Trainor came up to our place – the woman who was renting Nicky’s house off of Paul Girvan and who was an Auntie of the little girl – and told us that Paul had sold the girl to pay for the drug bills. She was very upset and didn’t know who to talk to or what to do about it, because at that time she knew more about the Police being involved in local drug deals than we ever did. Paul Girvan seemed to have full immunity from prosecution for assaults, burglaries and other criminal activities that he was involved in, in the district. We went to the local police again and told them that the girl was not in the lake but had been taken to Christchurch and sold. We were told to shut up and mind our own business. After a while, Nicky was given back her son and her house at Otautau. Following that incident, a few months later, me and a few people in the district – farmers and other business people – petitioned John Banks, the Minister of Police at that time, to get rid of the local Police Officer, [name deleted for evidential reasons]. We still did not realize how bad the situation really was with very high-ranking people in this district and to this day they are still involved in the supply of drugs here. “After we petitioned John Banks, in less than 10 days [the police officer] was removed from the district. The local paper printed a

story – “Local constable unfit for duty in Ohai district”. “If this information is relevant to any of the enquiries being carried out by your program please use it. But please do NOT notify the local Southland Police regarding this. Go to the proper authorities in the North Island and start a proper investigation…” One of the reasons our informant contacted Investigate was because of our exposure of widespread police corruption in the South Island earlier this year. Not trusting South Island police, our source wants some kind of independent investigation into the case. We also managed to corroborate the existence and locations of a number of people named in his report, by comparing against old Electoral Rolls, phone books and similar public information sources, as well as talking to a large number of locals. Girvan’s father was a coalminer, and the younger Girvan grew up in the Nightcaps/Wreys Bush area of Southland. But Paul Ernest Girvan fell foul of the law in the late 1980s in the far-off bright lights of Christchurch. It wasn’t until a property came up for sale in 1990, courtesy of the McGregor family in Wreys Bush, that anyone realized Girvan was back. “We bought this place here in 1989,” recalls a local resident Mike Chalklen. “Up the road was another five acres and a INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008, 29

house going for $17,000. We went to see them about it but they said they’d just sold it. And a week later I saw Constable Brown from Ohai mowing the lawn, and I said, ‘Oh, the bloody police must have bought it!’ “Two weeks later a guy called Paul Girvan, who used to live in the district years ago – he moved into the house. And then we found out he’d just been released from Christchurch prison for beating up a young woman.” Chalklen reckons Girvan had some kind of special relationship with the police, and that some of the house purchase money may even have come from police. “I can tell you the house was sold, the local cops were mowing the lawns, and then this criminal shifts in. He’s in Christchurch now. He’s supposed to have sold this corner house here but the people who bought it off him bought it on time payment, when he left here, and he’s never actually signed it over from what I gather. The people have already paid him but they’ve never been able to get him to sign it over.”


halklen, or “Chalkie” as he’s known to friend and foe alike, is also one of those locals who believes Girvan or Girvan’s associates know more about Amber-Lee’s disappearance than they’re letting on. He points to the commonly-known fact that Paul Girvan had Nicky’s six year old son living with him. “Harley, he went to the local school, when he lived at Paul’s house – it’s all on the record – Takitimu School in Nightcaps. He was staying at Paul’s place because Paul moved Nicky out of her house at Otautau and put her in a bus at Kingston to work, to pay for her drugs.” But doesn’t that fly in the face of the official line about a road trip to Kingston? “That was all bulls**t!,” mutters Chalkie. “She was up there to work, live in Kingston in the thing there, and go to work as a prostitute. She couldn’t pay her bills, and Paul got a good offer for her kid. “And you can’t tell me it doesn’t happen here in New Zealand as well as overseas. It happens all the bloody time. We had to put up with that s**t in the district and you don’t realize how bad it is, especially when they get immunity from prosecution.” Chalklen says he was one of the ones who signed the petition to get the local police officer booted out of town, but he doesn’t want all police tarred with that brush. “They’re not all bad. There are some bloody good police officers down here, but the bad ones outweigh the good, and the young ones that have come into the police force have to leave. They walk in here after three months and tell me – and I’ve met one or two – and they say ‘we can’t work with this s**t’. And I say, ‘what s**t, the drugs at Ohai?’, and they say, ‘No, the police we work with’.” So what happened to Girvan, then, we asked? “Last we heard of Paul Girvan he was living in Christchurch and his wife was working with Helen Clark’s husband, that guy Davis.” Investigate cross-checked. Electoral records reveal Girvan’s wife was named Michelle Anne Girvan, and sure enough, we found a Michelle A. Girvan in the sociology unit at the University of Canterbury. Michelle Girvan even received a mention in dispatches from Davis in one of his sociology papers


from 1996 at the Christchurch School of Medicine, where he wrote, “We would also like to acknowledge the contributions made by our summer student, Michelle Girvan, to Section 1. The project was supported by the Public Good Science Fund.” A 2001 paper by Girvan officially lists her mentor as “Supervisor Professor Peter Davis Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences.” Through a process of elimination, the magazine tracked Girvan to Wellington where she now works as a policy analyst for the government in a building adjacent to Parliament. That trail also leads us to her husband, Paul. “Ian Wishart?” he queries down the phone. “Ian Wishart? Did I go to school with you in Oamaru?” Pleasantries aside, we get down to the nitty gritty of some pretty serious allegations. Firstly, did he have Nicky working as a prostitute in the area? “No, no that is not correct. I never had Nicky working at all at any stage as anything. Nicky did work as a parlour girl I believe at one stage but she never worked for me.” Investigate pressed the point: “The locals down there are saying that she did work for you, and that you set her up on the bus in Kingston as a favour perhaps to help pay off her debts?” “Well that’s an interesting one,” chuckles Girvan, “I haven’t heard that one before. But did the locals also tell you that I was responsible for Amber’s disappearance? Because I was supposed to have sold her to a bike gang to pay off a drug debt of mine.” It seems the allegation sent to Investigate has a long pedigree. “What’s the story behind it?” we ask. As Girvan tells the unfolding story, he and Chalkie used to be “best mates”: “I had a problem with a local man in the area, he lived for hunting, he lived to go pig hunting, this man. I used to spend a lot of time at his place, killing time, talking about our next hunting trip, we were that close friends that I could walk into his house without knocking, go and fill the jug up, and put the jug on and then while I was doing that calling out ‘Who’s having a cup of tea?’ “Because, like me, they were tea wives. Everything revolved around a cup of tea. Before you went out to start the car you had a cup of tea. Before you went out to feed the lamb or feed the calves, you had a cup of tea. When you’d fed the calves you come back in and have another cup of tea. So that’s the lifestyle we had.” It all changed, claims Girvan over the phone, when allegations were made that Chalkie was a pedophile. “I didn’t know what to do, so I stayed away for the next fortnight, three weeks,” says Girvan. “Then I heard through two different friends of mine, whom I’d introduced to this man Chalkie, because they were a bit like me, wanting to do a bit of pig hunting etc. I wasn’t able to go when they were ready, but I said Chalkie would go hunting at the drop of a hat. “Anyway, they both came to me and said, “what the f*** have you done to Chalkie?” And I said I didn’t know, “why, what’s going on?”. “Both of them, at different stages of the same weekend told me that he had said to them that the next time I came to his house upsetting his home he was going to run out the front door when I came to the back door, and he was going to have a piece of four by two, come up behind me and smash my head, then break a couple of windows, then ring the police and tell

them that I had come down to smash him over. “So I went to the local policeman in Otautau, an alcoholic whose name I can’t remember, and I told him I’d like him to come to Chalkie’s place to keep the peace so I could ask him what I’d done wrong, and rectify it and apologise if I had to. “Time went by, and my friends and I were out hunting one night, my dog was running up the road and got hit by a car, and died. In the process of organizing my dog’s burial my friends and I happened to drive past Chalkie’s drive the next day, and we saw Chalkie up his drive. So I thought, OK, that’s cool, I’ve got a witness, and we drove up so I could have a talk to Chalkie about this problem. “I got out of the car, and put my hands on the boot to show I had nothing. “What’s happened, can you tell me what I’ve done”. “He didn’t say anything until he walked up to me, within striking distance, then he punched me in the head and said, ‘This’. “He nearly knocked me over because I was so taken aback. Then he swung at me again, so I thought, whatever, if you’re going to fight me like that mate and you’re not going to talk, I’m not going to take a hiding from you. “I would have knocked him to the ground at least six times

with my fists, because I have been a fighter in the past of reasonable repute. And he was like a madman. Each time, I said to him, ‘Mike, what are we fighting for, tell me mate, what do you want to kill me for?’ “My mate was sitting in the car with the window down, watching with his eyes wide open. Then his wife appeared and tried to drag a waratah out of the ground, and my mate thought she might try and slug me from behind so he stepped out of the car and laid a hand on the waratah. His wife said she needed it to move the cattle, but my mate told her that perhaps it would be a good idea to move the cattle a little bit later. She raced up the drive and over to the house, which was probably a hundred and fifty metres from where we were, and dragged the rifle out. She made a big hoo-hoo of getting the rifle, loading it and cocking it so that we could see. “My mate said , ‘She’s got a rifle man! Let’s get out of here man, she’s gonna shoot!’ “I said, ‘Well, you drive down the end of the driveway, she’s after me, not you!’ So I knelt down beside Chalkie, who was lying on the ground at that stage. I kept him between her and me, hoping that if she INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008, 31

was going to shoot she might think twice in case she shot him. It worked. And I asked him again, what’s this about? He kicked me in the face and punched me in the balls, so then I booted him in the head. Somebody rang the police, and when they arrived at his place – we’d left by then – he told the policeman, and this is the policeman’s own words, ‘The man was standing there in a pool of his own blood, pouring from his head and face, and told us that ‘nothing’s happened, f*** off, get out of the road!’. “So the policeman said, OK, there’s nothing I can do about that, but after that happened he wrote to the Minister and Commissioner of Police saying there had been a cover up and why wasn’t I brought up for assault?” Yet in the statement that he made, he said that fearing for his safety he attacked me. From then on in, this person had it in for me.” As Girvan tells it, he was constantly being persecuted by Chalkie. He found himself being interrogated by police one day because Chalkie’s son had complained Girvan threatened him during a school fun run. Girvan denies it, and claims he never threatened anyone; that the charges were just trumped up. “They were taking me into Invercargill for questioning, and as we passed Chalkie’s house that’s when the copper told me, don’t you know we’ve had information laid that you were responsible for Amber-Lee going missing – because I was in the past associated with Highway 61 in Christchurch – that I had to pay a drug debt off to the Highway 61 and I sold them the daughter. “The copper said to me, ‘Calm down Paul, has anyone come to talk to you about that part of it?’ I said no, and he said, ‘We heard that weeks and weeks ago’. He said, ‘Just think about that. Think about it before you say anything more, or do anything’.” According to Girvan, police never questioned him about the allegations then and have not to this day. But the police did tip him off that Chalkie was one of the sources. Why they did that remains unexplained. On the face of it, then, we have an immense feud between two locals, Mike Chalklen and Paul Girvan. One calls the other a child abductor, whilst an allegation of pedophilia is flung back in return. What then, is Girvan’s response to some of the specific allegations from locals, such as the suggestion that he had Nicky and other young women working as prostitutes? “No, Nicky never ever – and this is as God is my witness, Ian – Nicky never ever worked for me in any aspect of sexuality, sex for sale. She never worked for me in any manner at all. She would have been working for herself. We knew each other, and that’s it.”


here is, however, a backstory. Nicky ventured into prostitution at the age of 16, and Girvan, who admits “I was old enough to be her dad” also admits sleeping with the teenager. “I had known Nicky since before she got pregnant with Harley when she first came to Christchurch. Some people who I know and I had dealings with – as in trying to break their bloody heads because they were the ones who got Nicky onto the needle in the first place and I tried to get her off it, and the next thing Nicky was in working as a parlour girl. I said to her, ‘Nicky, I can cope with you being a parlour girl as my friend and maybe even as my girlfriend, but I cannot handle 32, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008

you being on the needle. I cannot cope with a relationship with that’. So we stopped our sexual relationship.” Girvan says it was his relationship with another heroinaddicted prostitute that landed him in jail in the first place. “I served the full amount of my sentence. I actually went up twice. I went up for marijuana for sale (251gm), and while that was happening, my girlfriend – the lady I was living with at the time – we had a problem and I ended up trying to control her. She went mental on me. “As a child, growing up you go to the movies, you see the movies, and when a woman goes all hysterical and mental a man slaps her in the face and says ‘calm down lady, settle down!’ That’s what I did to my girlfriend. And then I grabbed her and held her really really tight to stop her from bouncing around the walls, because that girl was a needle merchant as well. And her reaction was to bounce around and go screaming off the walls, doors and ceiling when she got upset. “So I grabbed her, not quite a bear hug but a big hug and we fell on the bed and I wrapped my legs around her to keep her still, tried to calm her and talk with her. And she said ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, you’ve broken my ribs!’. So I released her, and she said she was still really sore, so I called her an ambulance. They asked what happened and I told them. “In all I did six months and two weeks jail, for the marijuana and the assault. Total, for my whole life.” It is unfortunate but – Girvan says – entirely coincidental that two young women he was sleeping with both happened to be heroin addicts and prostitutes. He says the allegations from Chalkie and others are water off a duck’s back. “I don’t care, I don’t care what they say, because I know in my heart, and I know as God is my witness may he strike me dead right now. I grew up as a Roman Catholic, and I went to St Kevin’s college in Oamaru for four years. You don’t make that kind of statement lightly. As God is my witness may he strike me dead if I’m telling a lie.” “So as God is your witness did you put girls on the game?” “No sir. I never put Nicky out there to work, I never organized for her to do that. I knew she was doing it and I knew where she was working, but I didn’t put her in there to do what she was doing.” “And as God is your witness, did you put any other women in that position?” “The woman I went to jail for, she asked me, because we were living together at that stage and she said she wanted to do it. I said I’d see if I could handle it. I did, until our relationship ended, but I didn’t put her on the game, as such. It was her choice, she wanted to do it. My finances were OK, I wasn’t rich but my finances suited me and I could live on my income that I was under at that stage. If they wanted to work on the game that was their choice and their decision. I was their partner, sure enough, but I never put them on the game or asked them to go on the game. That was their choice.” In fact, says Girvan, he was so anti the heroin-traffickers who got Nicky hooked that he actually rescued her from a gunman at one point back when they both lived in Christchurch in the 1980s. “This episode with these mutts that were going to shoot her with this cut-down 303 rifle – they’d got her hooked on the needle and they weren’t going to let her get away, and that’s why she was on the game.

Harley Cruickshank

“Nicky had started on the game before she got pregnant with Harley, because these f***ers had turned her on to the hard stuff. She came to me and said they were telling her she had to do this and that and they weren’t going to let her go. “I went around and had this almighty blue on this particular day, and I ended up climbing through the toilet window, kicking the door in, belting him over the head with the bottle and taking the rifle off him. “It was Nick Shirley who was the initial needle merchant who got her hooked. It was him that was going to squeeze the trigger. He actually did squeeze the trigger, but the recoil – he was holding it down so it wouldn’t go up over her shoulders, he was going to shoot her in the gut, so he pulled it down and it went off between her legs. “The sound of the shot in this flat, the sound of the rifle shot, froze everybody for that split second. And that was when I knew, it’s now or never, I’ve got to do it quick, because it was a bolt action one. When I kicked the door in and came through, I had a ball and chain in one hand and an empty vodka bottle in the other, everybody was just frozen. That’s the time you’ve got to do it, straight after.” According to Girvan, he disarmed the gunman and gave him a hiding. Nicky Cruickshank chuckles and remembers it slightly differently.

“It was actually a girlfriend of mine threw him [the gunman] up against the wall that did more than what Paul did. He just happened to be outside. That girlfriend was only 15. I was 16.” When their sexual relationship ended, their friendship didn’t. Girvan remained on the scene when Harley was born in 1986, and claims some credit for shielding the child from some of his mother’s lifestyle. “We’d always kept in touch with Nicky along the way, and Nicky during the school holidays was quite happy to send Harley down to stay with Michelle and I, because we had five acres. Harley. Harley’s a good kid, he’s a brilliant boy, and I regret that I couldn’t get Nicky off the needle. I could handle marijuana no problem, but the needle I couldn’t handle. I would have been happy to have stayed with Nicky, stayed with Nicky fullstop, but for the needle. I really had a good relationship with Harley, and I’d like to think, Ian, that because of my influence that was there with Harley I do believe he’s turned out not a bad boy. He may not ever be Prime Minister of New Zealand, but he’s not likely to do bad either.” When we suggest that Girvan sounds like a diamond in the rough, he laughs, but the interview continues: “The locals are saying you were involved in drug supply in Wreys Bush, your response to that?” “No, I didn’t supply any drugs to anybody. I did purchase INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008, 33

and consume. I will be honest, I have been guilty of purchase of marijuana and consumption of marijuana. The only other drugs I did get into was the alcohol. I drunk quite a bit of alcohol down there. I still do, when I’m not driving. I don’t get drunk every night, but I do have a few bourbons.”


n the early 90s, soon after Girvan moved back to Wreys Bush, Nicky and her new partner James Gill arrived in nearby Otautau, and began hanging out with Girvan and his mates, some of whom were drug dealers. “Some of them would have been, yes,” admits Girvan. “Nicky’s life in that area was her own life. Hers and James’. They were both feeding each other on the needle scene and for that I didn’t overly like him – because of the kids as well – so we didn’t get on good. It was because of Nicky that I allowed James to be around, put it that way.” So far, then, Paul Girvan has denied supplying drugs in the Wreys Bush/Nightcaps region, denied “As God is my witness” that Nicky was working as a prostitute for him, or that he had put any other young women on the game in the area.” Nicky Cruickshank, for her part, is adamant she was not working for Girvan either. “He’s been a good family friend over the years,” she tells Investigate over the phone. We ask her about the alleged Lumsden party, where it is suggested Amber may actually have been taken from her. She says she has no knowledge of a Lumsden party. Girvan, on the other hand, believes there might have been one. “I cannot say yes for sure. I believe there may have been a bit of a gathering but I wasn’t there. I seem to recall there was, but that would have come from overhearing Nicky or James talking about it, but I cannot say yes.” The Sensing Murder show had focused in on a possible suspect involving the letter ‘K’ – this apparently resulting from a prediction Nicky had received way back in 1992 just before Amber disappeared. While Sensing Murder found one man with a ‘K’ in his name associated to Nicky, Investigate found three: Ken Barrett, Kevin Renton and Kevin Redhead. As possible suspects, all are interesting characters but only two – Renton and Barrett – stand out. Ironically, both Mike Chalklen and Paul Girvan agree that Kevin Renton is a possible fit to the crime. “He’s one of Girvan’s heavies that lived up here with him and also at Nightcaps,” growls Chalkie. He’s been in and out of jail for all sorts of s**t, but he does deals [with the police]. The last time a big P lab got done down here at Riverton, he got PD and all the rest got five years.” The TV programme suggested the suspect would be a hunter, with a four wheel drive. “Yeah, he does a bit of hunting, a bit of running around. He always runs around in a big Landcruiser. That’s all he ever drives around in,” agrees Chalkie. It may sound convincing, until you realize that virtually every red-blooded male in Western Southland is into hunting and fishing and generally has access to a four wheel drive. “He was working for Paul all the time,” remembers Chalkie. “He’s a big bugger and he acts like a heavy, but when somebody catches him by himself he squeals like a little girl. But he runs around like a heavy, and all that sort of BS.”


Girvan also calls Renton a “squealer”. “He squeals like a girl alright. He squeals like a stuck pig, that’s what he’s like. He’s weak. He walks around when he’s got his things around him, his big four wheel drive, he comes across as being a big man, very confident of tackling anything in his way in life, but when the chips are down, as I say – this man who was half his size, he was a little fella, and I was there one afternoon talking to him and this fella came in and he was really really angry, and Kevin just ran out of the house, left his house and ran up the street. Any time anything went wrong he ducked under his mother’s apron strings, ran back to mum.” Girvan admits he used to hang out with Renton. “Renton lived only five miles away, and he was okay to hang out with for a while if you could get past the BS.” He also admits Renton supplied drugs to both himself and Nicky. “He was in the supply area, I don’t know who and how many that he may have supplied. He used to make out ‘I grow here and there, I’ve got my four wheel drive, I go hunting a lot and I find a lot’. Put it this way, if it weren’t for the drugs being supplied, Nicky wouldn’t have had anything to do with him. I don’t know what drugs were being supplied to whom or which way, because one might have swapped with the other.” When we asked Nicky about Renton, initially she remembered little about him. “Paul would have a better memory than me after the 15 years I’ve endured, or 25 really, but yeah.” After a while, though, memories came back. “It’s the first time I’ve heard his name in lots of years, but yeah, now bells are ringing in my head. He lived in Nightcaps if I remember rightly, but I can’t remember what the falling out was with him.” According to Paul Girvan, however, Renton had the personality type to carry out such a heinous crime as the abduction of a child. “I’ve actually called that son of a bitch mongrel bastard, ‘mate’ in the past. I used to get quite a bit [of marijuana] through him, I’ll be honest. He’s made comments that he’d like to go shooting people because then he doesn’t have to argue with them face to face, and he could get them from a distance. He always talked about that kind of stuff. A big boy but a big coward. “I do believe Kevin was the man who picked up that little girl, because little girls don’t go to total strangers that easily and he was well known to Nicky and James and to the kids. I do believe that if he was the person, he would have picked that kid up thinking ‘I’ll make her pay’, especially if he thought they’d shafted him or ripped him off for drugs or whatever, because he was that kind of person.” It is this aspect of the case that has baffled police. Amber-Lee did not just wander off and drown, because her body would have been found in the grid search of the lake bed by police. She has never turned up. Only abduction remains as a possibility. Yet the tiny back-blocks settlement of Kingston is not the place where a random stalking pedophile killer would hang out to abduct a child. The chances of Amber being spotted by a passing stranger and taken are slim to nil. Which then leaves only a targeted abduction as the most likely scenario. Was Amber sold to a bikie gang as a child sex toy at the age of two? Clearly Nicky Cruickshank wasn’t mentally prepared for

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the idea that her child was dead, because she accuses Sensing Murder of railroading her. “They took me by surprise. I had no idea I was going to be told she was murdered, let alone have her neck broken, on national TV with the cameras rolling. That was a bit of a shock really, I wasn’t ready for that at all. I felt like I was being interrogated by them. And then to come home to no support, that was even worse. “Over the years I’ve been wondering what happened to her, thinking she was alive actually. Right up until May (when Sensing Murder was filmed).” So an abduction and sale of the child fits more with Nicky’s own expectations than hearing the news that Amber had probably been murdered. Girvan is himself convinced that Renton did it, but says the man is hard to pin down. “I don’t know his movements, he was a liar right from the start off, he would tell you he was in Invercargill when he might have been out the back of Te Anau. He would say he was visiting his brother when in fact he was seeing a mate of mine at Tuatapere.” Although Nicky admits Renton is a possible suspect, he wasn’t the first that came to mind. Another man she was involved 36, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008

with was cannabis grower Ken Barrett, who just a few days earlier had accused Nicky and James of ripping off his cannabis plantation. Friends of Barrett’s recall “he was furious, making all sorts of threats, mouthing off”. If anybody had a motive to “make her pay”, Ken Barrett would be that man. With a strong tendency to violence, as well as drug use and a criminal history, Barrett disappeared the same day Amber did, and didn’t return for three days. He was later overheard saying “Nicky didn’t deserve her”, in reference to the missing Amber. Could Barrett have followed the housebus up to Kingston and snatched Amber from the lakehouse? He was certainly well known to the child, which explains how he could have got close without raising an alarm. He also is a hunter and four wheel drive owner, although as we’ve already established that’s nothing unusual in the deep south. Could Barrett have pulled up somewhere on the highway 15km north of Kingston, where Lake Wakatipu reaches its deepest point of 378 metres (1240 feet), rowed out in a dinghy in the dead of night and dumped the child’s weighted body into a watery grave impossible for authorities to reach? Neither Kevin Renton nor Ken Barrett are believed to have been interviewed by police investigating the original disappearance of Amber-Lee Cruickshank back in 1992. For a start,

Taken by TVNZ during the original search in 1992, Nicky Cruickshank and James Gill comfort each other

Nicky didn’t mention their names to police, or the fact that she’d just had a major falling out with at least one of them. And to return to the original conspiracy theory, could either Renton or Barrett have been carrying out such a gruesome task on behalf of someone else, like Paul Girvan? Despite the vicious feud between Girvan and Chalkie, and the names they call each other, the magazine has found nothing to substantiate either the claim that Girvan got rid of Amber, or that Chalklen is remotely guilty of the counter-accusation of pedophilia. Investigate has not been able to crack the essence of the relationship between Nicky and Girvan as it relates to Harley, but it is an interesting one. “Harley’s 21 now, so I’ve known Paul as long as that,” Nicky tells Investigate. Girvan on the other hand is proud of his father figure role to the boy, and the fact that he had custody of Harley the very day Amber, Nicky and James left on the tragic roadtrip. “Because as soon as – Amber left my place that morning, that night she disappeared – and Nicky left my place and turned her son over to myself and my wife, legally had turned her son over so we were his legal guardians. “They left my place at Wreys Bush, from memory it was around 1030, 11, around about that time, late morning, before lunch. The tour was on its way, they were going to cruise around

the island – they didn’t know for how long. But they had left Harley, the oldest child, with myself and my wife, to look after as our son and send him to school and look after him.” It was later that evening, says Girvan, that Shirley Trainor – the relative who’s alleged to have implicated Girvan in the disappearance – knocked on his door. “It was Shirley and another woman that came to my house in Wreys Bush on the Saturday night. They had heard that Amber-Lee – don’t ask me how – that Amber had gone missing and they wanted to come up and blather over Harley. They were half-pissed and I told them ‘Piss off, you’re not seeing the boy, he’s in bed, he’s asleep, he does not need to have this happen. Go away, and we’ll talk about it in the morning!’ “But that started the ball rolling for me once I heard that. But they were crying and drunk – I don’t know about totally drunk but they were under the influence anyway – and really upset and wanted to get there. They just wanted to upset the boy and he didn’t need to be upset.” The commotion did eventually wake, Harley, however, and Girvan’s voice noticeably cracks as he describes grabbing his coat to join the search, and what he told the little boy. ‘We’ll come back when we find your wee sister, mate.” “And I, I came back after a week after we’d been looking for INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008, 37

her every day and I came back and it was the hardest thing I had to do, was tell him we couldn’t find his sister. “Even now it still catches me,” he says after a moment, “that I told him, ‘No worries mate, she’s gone and got herself lost, and me and Mario are going up there now, you stay here and keep an eye on the wee farm, you keep Michelle company and look after the dogs for me, because when we find her we’ll come back’. “And I stayed up there for a week and we still didn’t find her.” Girvan denies making a flying visit to Christchurch, and says he and his mate made a beeline to Kingston the moment they heard. But out of the Girvan/Chalkie feud has come a list of possible suspects names, and for the first time ever a thorough backstory to the case.


he story of Amber-Lee’s disappearance is the story of a small town in rural New Zealand, where the dark side intersects with besuited, middle-class TV news reporters briefly providing a window into a largely unseen world before flitting off onto the next topic. When we told one of the local Catholic nuns who used to provide social services in the Nightcaps area that Paul Girvan had put his hand on his heart with God as his witness that he hadn’t supplied drugs or put young girls into prostitution, Sister Anne snorted derisively. “Oh, Lord, give us a break! He’s the biggest liar and sleazebag you could ever want to meet. No, he couldn’t be trusted as far as you could kick him. What rubbish! “He did drugs coming out his ears. He was a supplier, he was a ringleader, he was the ringleader down there. Yeah, it was well known that he was the one to be feared, and any orders he gave to the young fellows around him, they did. But he was the one doing all the intimidation and stuff.” What kind of intimidation? “There was a lot of stealing from some local farmers, and then to stop them from telling anybody what was happening they would threaten them by going and shooting across the roofs of their houses and things like that. And they would make verbal threats to say, ‘We’ll get your kids and your wife’, a lot of intimidation and things like that. They would wait at the school busstop for kids to get on and off, and just being there, intimidating them.” Sister Anne says the church received a range of complaints from many different families about a criminal gang led by Girvan. “Oh yes, definitely. We had a situation where we were trying to remove a mother and two daughters away from Nightcaps. One of the daughters was involved with a young lad associated with Girvan, a teenage daughter, she was only 15. The day we were moving them this young fellow turned up and caused a scene, then he took off in a car to go and get reinforcements to come back [to prevent the family from leaving town]. Father Paul [Dijkmans] took off with the mother and the two children in the car, he took off to Dunedin. He said to me he’d ring me and let me know where they were when he got there, and I was left to lock the place up. And I’ll tell you what, my nerves have never been shaken so much in my life. I didn’t stick around to wait for them to turn up, although later on I did see the car cruising.” “What was the point of intimidating the kids?” “To get at the parents, to stop the parents from going to the police, mainly,” says Sister Anne. 38, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008

The police, she adds, were either powerless or worse. “In actual fact, I was pretty instrumental in going into Invercargill and complaining about the guy that was at Ohai because he seemed to be in league with them and people were not feeling very safe. And he was moved on.” As to Girvan’s claim that he had nothing to do with prostitution: “He was well known for drugs and prostitution in the area. That was the big fear, that their children would be taken into prostitution. The family that we moved, that was the deep down problem there, was the prostitution.” “In the sense the girl was being groomed for it?” “Yeah. And her mum was a single mother whose husband had died a few years before and being struggling to get on, she came to Nightcaps and ended up getting into trouble there. “Because we were involved in the church, the parish community, we were the people they came to for help and support. They were really fearful, they were really frightened for their lives at one stage. Chalkie put up an electric fence on his gate to stop them and I had to tell him he wasn’t allowed to do that and better take it down. “Girvan was intimidating Chalkie’s children all the time. Other children and the bus driver saw him there.” As she helped lead the community revolt against Paul Girvan and his associates, the nun says even she became concerned for her own safety. “At one stage I was fearful of Girvan, and the local people if I was going to Nightcaps for a meeting, one of the men would follow me halfway if not all the way home to Otautau if I was going back late at night. We were all fearful of what he would do and they were fearful that if I was out on my own that he would ambush my car because I was actually a threat to him, and he knew it. But I was not going to put up with his nonsense.” Sister Anne says she does not regard Chalkie as a liar. “Chalkie is an unfortunate poor old fellow, but he’s honest. He’ll tell you straight up as it is, I’d go on Chalkie’s word before I go on Girvan’s word, any day.” Given the weight of the evidence in this story, several major questions emerge. Why did local Southland police refuse to interview either Girvan or apparently any of the potential suspects in the disappearance of Amber-Lee Cruickshank? Why did police fail to act against a criminal gang that the local Catholic church leaders say had the entire town in thrall? Why was Nicky apparently too afraid to name any potential suspects in the disappearance back then? “I’m going to write to the Maori Party in the next week or so,” says Chalkie, “and ask them to set up a drug rehabilitation centre at Ohai for children between the ages of 12 and 15 on drugs. There’s 600 to 800 people at Ohai, 300 kids, and at least 150 are drugged out of their frigging brains from 10 and 12 year olds upwards. “The cop shop’s one side of the road, and the drug dealer’s the other side. And he’s been operating for five years without any prosecutions. He has everything there! You can see the house from the frigging police station!” As police re-examine the Cruickshank case, they now have the names of Kevin Renton and Ken Barrett to work with. But tough questions will be asked about the police inquiry back in 1992, and the whole case adds weight to the need for a Royal Commission into Police Corruption.



stem cell BREAKTHROUGH Japanese and US scientists believe they may finally have cracked the stem cell code without having to use human embryos. MELODY TOWNS examines the implications for a massive breakthrough in health research worldwide



ith unlimited applications in the treatment of many human diseases, stem cells have been the controversial promise of a cure for many debilitating, life threatening diseases including Cancer, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes and Heart Disease just to name a few. Stem cells can be generalised into two types, Embryonic Stem Cells and Adult Stem Cells. There are 220 types of cells that can be found in the human body ranging from blood cells, heart cells, brain cells and nerve cells and the amazing thing about embryonic cells is that they can be coaxed into any number of the 220. In fact according to, “Some researchers regard them as offering the greatest potential for the alleviation of human suffering since the development of antibiotics”. Adult stem cells carry similar potential as embryonic stem cells however they are limited in their flexibility. While adult stem cells are currently treating more than 70 diseases and ailments, the difficulty remains in their limited quantity and flexibility being only able to reproduce a few of the 220 cells in the human body. The use of the two varieties has been the basis of a very personal ethical debate across the world, that was of course until recently when new research may have just vetoed the argument offering instead a new light in the form of skin cell research. The controversy started in 1998 when researchers at the University of Wisconsin and ��������������������������������� the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore MD found a way of harvesting stem cells from embryos and maintaining their growth in the lab. Since then scientists have been able to estimate that with adequate stem cell research cures and new treatments for two billion people suffering with such diseases around the globe may be possible. From bone loss, broken bones, brain damage due to oxygen starvation, severe burns, some forms of cancer, diabetes, Lou Gehrig’s disease, heart disease, hepatitis, incomplete bladder control, Huntington’s, leukemia, lupus, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, Parkinson’s, spinal cord injuries, and even stroke, stem cell research is an ethical debate that will affect nearly every person at some stage in their lives. In fact, The Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research estimates that stem cell research shows promise to develop cures and/or new treatments for 100 million Americans alone who currently suffer from a wide variety of diseases and disorders. Describing an embryonic stem cell, William Walker has written, “In an embryo, cells form an outer layer which later become the placenta. But cells located in the inner layer have not determined what they will eventually be. These ‘pluripotent’ cells could become many of the 220 types of cells in the human body.” In fact, according to a Dr. Berg as quoted on, “It is this pluripotentiality (or ability to give rise to possibly all cell types and tissues), that makes the embryonic stem cell so promising for both a basic understanding of differentiation and the development of cell therapies”. Not only can stem cells divide in the lab to produce more stem cells but also it is their ability to transform into any one of the 220 cells in the human body that could potentially make them the answer for nearly every degenerative disease on the planet. It has been suggested that embryonic stem cells could actually be used to create entire organs, therefore ending the 42, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008

battle of organ donation around the world. In the ethical debate concerning stem cell research these predictions may be impossible to ignore. Preliminary research is promising and includes a successful treatment of a Parkinson’s-like disease in rats that showed a 75% improvement in motor function over 80 days. Not only that but human heart cells have actually been made, as James Thompson, University of Wisconsin, has demonstrated. Researchers have implanted heart muscle cells from grown stem cells into mice and actually watched them repopulate with the heart tissue and integrate in with the host cells. A pig has received a urinary sphincter for its bladder control and the possibilities of stem cell research, whether you agree with it or not seem endless.


Extracted from very young human embryos, stem cells are mainly taken from surplus embryos at fertility clinics, and are, for the use of a better term, taken from the “left over embryonic pile” where in-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures take place. With what is estimated to be hundreds of thousands of embryos left in surplus in fertility clinics, parents are asked to make the decision of what to do with their own 16 odd individual embryos left in surplus. With four decisions to choose from ranging from donating the embryos to another infertile cou-

Brave New World

The stem cell discovery ushers in a new age of medicine, reports Tina Hesman Saey


ple, preserving them for the future, donating them for research or having them discarded, many choose to discard due to the expense of preservation, the emotion associated with donation and the lowered chance of a successful pregnancy once frozen embryos are thawed. The ethical debate is stemmed from pro lifers who, although they may acknowledge the huge benefits of such research, have suggested that the use of embryos in research is playing with human life. Under the agreement that a few days old person is actually still a human being, many believe that by extracting the embryonic stem cells you are in fact taking the life of another. By viewing a five day old embryo as a potential human life, pro lifers say that because it has the ability to grow into a fetus and then into a newborn baby, what stem cell research then is essentially doing, benefits aside, is destroying the life of someone who potentially would be born and live as a human being like us on this earth. Under this view then, what is in fact happening in the minds of pro lifers is mass-murder. Robert George, a professor of moral and political philosophy at Princeton notes that embryos possess the epigenetic primordia for internally directed growth and maturation as distinct, selfintegrating, human organisms. Because of this, he regards an embryo as being already – and not merely potentially – a living member of the human species.

here are breakthroughs, and then there are breakthroughs. This one could be the medical equivalent of fire and the invention of the wheel. Scientists are giddy about the news that researchers have learned how to reprogram skin cells to act like embryonic stem cells. The cells could be some of the greatest tools modern medical science has ever devised. Many people imagine they will provide replacement parts for damaged or injured organs. Someday they might. But not soon. Before paraplegics walk with regenerated spinal cords and diabetics get fresh-from-the-petri-dish pancreases, the stem cells will advance medicine in immediate ways. They can: n show scientists what goes wrong with cancer cells and how to stop them. n replace animal models for diseases with human tissues grown in the lab. n cut years off drug development. n open research to more scientists because these stem cells do not involve human embryos. “We’re on the way now,” says Dr. Michael Creer, director of laboratory medicine at St. Louis University and former director of the St. Louis Cord Blood Bank. “The opportunities are expanding enormously. What we think might work today could well change in the next few months “We still don’t fully understand or appreciate what is possible.” When researchers in Wisconsin and Japan announced last month that they had independently engineered skin cells to behave like embryonic stem cells, the achievement seemed to be the pinnacle of stem cell science. Until then, human embryonic stem cells could be produced only by destroying embryos. But no one knows how long it might be before stem cells can be used to replace or repair organs. “People have to understand that we’re not ‘there’ yet,” warns Dr. Steve Teitelbaum, a Washington University pathologist. Jim Huettner, a cell biologist at Washington University, is one of the few people with firsthand knowledge of what human embryonic stem cells can and can’t do. Huettner runs the only laboratory in St. Louis currently conducting research with human embryonic stem cells. Researchers in his lab transform the stem cells into nerve cells to learn more about how nerves develop and which conditions lead a cell to become a certain kind of nerve – for example, one that will make muscles contract or the variety that gathers light, such as those in the retina. The research lays the foundation for the day when doctors might create nerves from stem cells to help patients walk or see again. The new technique that can convert human skin cells into INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008, 43

stem cells means that Huettner isn’t likely to be alone in working with human stem cells for long. Teitelbaum studies bone diseases in his laboratory. He and his colleagues have coaxed embryonic stem cells from mice to make a type of cell that breaks down bones. They plan to use the mouse cells to mimic human bone diseases. But the mouse cells are still only a model. Teitelbaum is excited about the prospect of being able to take skin biopsies from children with crippling inherited bone diseases, make stem cells from their skin and then create bone-remodeling cells in the lab. Armed with those tools, Teitelbaum and his colleagues should be able to figure out exactly how the bone-building process goes awry in each patient. The cells also could be used to screen for drugs that will control bone-making. Alzheimer’s disease, ALS and many other diseases also could be modeled in the lab and used for drug screening, Teitelbaum says. What isn’t likely to happen soon is for stem cells to be grown into replacement parts, however. Adult stem cells in the form of bone marrow transplants, including umbilical cord blood transplants, have been used clinically for decades. Some other types of adult stem cell therapies are now in clinical trial, but results have been mixed and none are used routinely yet. While the pace at which stem cell science is progressing may seem like a crawl, Huettner says the research has been speedy. After all, it took decades of trial and error to get bone marrow transplants to work and decades after that before they became routine, he said. Human embryonic stem cells were first isolated in 1998. “It’s not unreasonable that it’s taking this amount of time,” Huettner says. Existing embryonic stem cells probably won’t be used in people because they are contaminated with animal sugars that would cause the human immune system to reject them if transplanted. President Bush’s 2001 executive order bars federally funded researchers from working with newly developed stem cells that are harvested from embryos. The new technique bypasses the need to create an embryo so it doesn’t fall under Bush’s ban, but cells made this way probably won’t make it to the clinic anytime soon either. That’s because they are created by inserting four genes into the skin cell’s DNA using a retrovirus. Sometimes those insertions can disrupt healthy genes and turn a cell cancerous. Most scientists agree that researchers will need to learn to reprogram the cells without using the viruses before they will be used in any sort of treatment. Stem cells themselves have the power to become any type of cell in the body. If they are injected into the body, they will do just that, forming a benign tumor called a teratoma – a jumble of hair, teeth, skin, bone and other types of tissue. That’s one of the ways the two groups tested whether their reprogrammed skin cells really were stem cells. To avoid tumors from stem cells run amok, doctors must be sure that all of the cells they intend to transplant into a patient have converted into mature cells of the type that interests them – a spinal cord neuron, for instance. Now, about 90 percent of the stem cells in Huettner’s petri dishes can be coaxed into becoming a nerve cell of some variety, he says. Scientists are learning to purify raw stem cells from the mature cells they 44, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008

want with mouse cells, but will need to repeat the work with human cells, Huettner notes. Even with pristine cultures of nerves or other replacement cells, the challenges of healing disease are enormous. While stem cells have been touted as a possible cure for Alzheimer’s disease or spinal cord injuries, it’s unlikely that a new neuron could wire into the brain or spinal cord in exactly the same way the damaged cell did, Creer says. “The current idea that you can just throw a stem cell in and it will develop the way we want it to and find a happy place to live is a little bit naïve.” But stem cell technology could help researchers learn how to coax the brain to repair itself. And replacement brain cells and spinal cord cells can form entirely new connections. That means a person would need to learn to walk again the way a baby does and would have to relearn things Alzheimer’s disease robbed from their memory. With new stem cells in hand, the sky is the limit in terms of the medical accomplishments researchers can hope to make. “Every time we think of an obstacle, we can think of an equally imaginative solution,” Creer says. Others recognize the hurdles too but share his optimism. “There are challenges that will take a reasonable period of time to overcome, acknowledges Teitelbaum. “The yield is phenomenal if we can get this to work.”


1956: First successful bone marrow transplant in identical twins. By the time doctors succeeded, experimentation with bone marrow, which contains blood-forming stem cells, had been going on for almost 30 years. 1973: First successful bone marrow transplant with an unrelated donor. It would take almost another 20 years before such transplants became routine. 1981: Scientists in England and California independently isolate embryonic stem cells from mouse embryos. July 1995: Congress bans federal financing of research on human embryos. July 1996: Dolly is born. The lamb is the first clone of an adult mammal. November 1998: A researcher in Wisconsin becomes the first to isolate and cultivate human embryonic stem cells. The cells are derived from fertilized human eggs. August 2001: President George W. Bush announces that federal money will pay for research on existing stem cell lines but not new lines. November 2004: California voters approve a measure to spend $3 billion over 10 years on embryonic stem cell research. August 2006: A Japanese group reprograms mouse skin cells to form embryonic-like stem cells. November 2006: Voters in Missouri pass Amendment 2. The measure ensures that any federally approved stem cell research is legal in Missouri. November 2007: New Jersey voters reject a measure to borrow $450 million for stem cell research. November 2007: The Japanese group that first reprogrammed mouse skin cells and the Wisconsin researcher who isolated human embryonic stem cells independently report reprogramming human skin cells to make stem cells.

Pro-life groups take a strong stance on the subject with many making statements that emphasise their stance on the subject. Focus on the Family have previously issued a statement in which founder Dr. James Dobson states, “In order for scientists to isolate and culture embryonic stem cells, a living, human, embryo must be killed. It is never morally or ethically justified to kill one human being in order to help benefit another. By requiring the destruction of embryos, the tiniest human beings, embryonic stem cell research violates the medical ethic of ‘Do No Harm’.” Right to Life Committee Spokesperson Douglas Johnson agrees, stating that any embryo destruction for use of stem cells involves the murder of “non-consensual human subjects.” While pro-lifers are not concerned with the use of adult stem cells, it has not really been until now that this has been an option due to their limited research options. While the debate has been raging back and forth between the for and the against, (with even President Bush making a stand on stem cell research and effectively banning it in the US) the debate over embryonic research could soon be a thing of the past, with the life of embryos no longer up for discussion thanks to last month’s developments with adult skin cells.


One of the most exciting developments to come out of biological research in the last decade may in fact be the end of the controversy and the start of a new beginning where human life is not up for discussion. American and Japanese researchers may have found the answer, in adult skin cells! By deprogramming skin cells into an earlier state, Wired magazine state that, “ The technique essentially reverts mature cells to an embryo-like state. Normally, skin and other mature adult cells are locked into their biological fate. Scientists say the cells have “ differentiated.” But in the new research, scientists added genes to mature cells that turned back their cellular clocks, or de-differentiated them, restoring them to an immature, un-programmed state”. Experimenting on a mouse, researchers have shown that there is an alternative way to get valued stem cells without the controversy. News in Science reports: Three studies published today in the journals Nature and Cell Stem Cell show various ways to turn the clock back and make an ordinary cell act like an embryonic stem cell, the body’s ultimate master cells. A fourth, also published in Nature, showed a way to use discarded, abnormal embryos from fertility clinics to make embryonic stem cells. All the researchers worked in mice and say it will be a while before they can demonstrate their techniques using human cells. In one of the studies, Professor Rudolf Jaenisch of the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts and colleagues turned mouse skin cells into embryonic stem cells. They identified four proteins, or factors, that are only active in mouse embryonic stem cells and not in adult cells. “You introduce those four factors, which induce or kick these cells into a process which we call the reprogramming process,” Jaenisch says. The ordinary skin cells, which normally would only make skin and which would die in the lab after a while, instead proliferated in lab dishes. And when injected into other mouse embryos, they created chimeras, animals with the genetic characteristics of two different individuals. This opens the possibility of using stem cells to treat genetic disease, some scientists say. Japanese researcher Professor

Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University and colleagues, who invented this technique, report similar findings in a second paper. Furthermore, on November 21, 2007, the New York Times reported that, “Until now, the only way most scientists thought such patient-specific stem cells could be made would be to create embryos that were clones of that person and extract their stem cells. Just last week, scientists in Oregon reported that they did this with monkeys, but the prospect of doing such experiments in humans has been ethically fraught. But with the new method, human cloning for stem cell research, like the creation of human embryos to extract stem cells, may be unnecessary. The new cells in theory might be turned into an embryo, but not by simply implanting them in a womb”. With the results of these tests now being heralded as the end of the controversy and the beginning of a new future, even President Bush had comment to make with the White House stating that, “By avoiding techniques that destroy life, while vigorously supporting alternative approaches, President Bush is encouraging scientific advancement within ethical boundaries.” “It is really amazing”, said Dr. Leonard Zon, director of the stem cell program at Children’s Hospital Boston at Harvard Medical School of the ethically uncomplicated new hope in stem cell research. The question now remains what will happen with this amazing new research published in a paper by Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University and the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco, and in Science, in a paper by James A. Thomson and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin. While Doctor Thompson reports that “By any means we test them (skin cells) they are the same as embryonic stem cells, he goes on to say that it would be premature to abandon research with stem cells taken from human embryos. So while there is a new hope to end the controversy of our decade, the controversy may not end until the new hope is firmly established. Until then, let’s hope that skin cells do actually skin away the controversy surrounding embryonic stem cell research by replacing it. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008, 45



THE BOMB In some contexts, “green” means slimy, argues STEPHEN MAIRE, the son of a New Zealand serviceman used as a nuclear test guineapig. Hundreds of NZ military personnel were deliberately exposed to atomic bomb tests, and family members argue they have the genetic damage to prove it




ith the most regrettable death of our much revered and often satirized ex Prime minister, the Right Honourable Mr. David Lange, did the true Labour party and brave little New Zealand’s peace movement lose its only true rainbow warrior? Following Mr. Lange’s death, details of his private life were subsequently released as part of this man’s eulogy. I was most distracted by our former Prime Minister’s life long interest in one of India’s cultured and most nationalist of leaders, the diminutive yet fiercely rebellious, Mahatma Gandhi. As a student of British military history, I was somewhat baffled and bemused at just what could be at the root of our former Prime Minister’s interest in a man whom I, and much of history have always considered, through his methods and doctrines, to be an enemy of the Crown. Perhaps Mr. Lange glimpsed a small part of himself in the life and ambitions of Gandhi, another spiritual individual taking part in his own ‘David and Goliath struggle.’ Gandhi’s most famous words remain firmly etched on my brain. “If you seek to press your own changes on the world, then you must first become that change.” These few inspiring words have stayed with me over the last twenty years, as I, a single voice, seek to bring light and justice to those New Zealanders who paid the ultimate price in securing for this country, our sadly much abused and thoroughly bastardised nuclear free legislation. The distasteful blame falls squarely on the rounded shoulders of the then hard pressed Labour party of 1987, and of those so called New Zealanders who decided to ride into power over the corpses of deceased New Zealand nuclear serviceman. These so called New Zealanders took the conscious and heartfelt will of this country’s people and turned that goodwill into a political pre-election rallying cry, as a convenient and highly emotive means to overturn an already flagging National Party in the polls, merely to access the baubles of office, so as to continue their collective culture of the flagrant abuse and misrepresentation of the people’s will. But of course for this country’s so called ‘Nuclear Free Labour Party’ such low and truly shameful activities, and deliberately calculated and callous omissions of care and responsibility began back in 1948. Following the end of hostilities of the 1939-45 war, the New Zealand government and public were both excited and in awe of the staggering power of the A-Bomb as it was known, after it had been unleashed on the populations of both the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Talks and negotiations were soon under way in New Zealand for this country to make the most of this amazing new energy source. New Zealand’s abundant and readily accessed supply of cheap hydro power was an important plus in the consideration of several projects. There was solid rumor of the delivery of squadrons of the new American F 86 Sabre Jet combat aircraft to protect the ‘Heavy water’ plant that would have to be constructed as a necessary part of the proposed New Zealand nuclear programme. The now infamous ‘Cold War’ had begun. When the power48, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008

ful post war USSR soon began demonstrating that it too possessed the ‘Bomb,’ it became vital to the powers of the west to maintain their own places on the world stage, and for them too to possess the secrets of the ‘ultimate weapon’ In Europe, despite the harsh postwar economic restraints, the race was on by Britain and France to join the club. The British government approached the New Zealand government in 1955 with a detailed proposal to use the Kermadec Islands as a nuclear weapons testing site. Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies had already put an end to the rather unwise and over abundant testing in South Australia. Menzies was quite adamant that the new Hydrogen bomb would never be tested on Australian soil. The New Zealand National Party Prime Minister Sidney Holland, declined the request for the use of the Kermadecs, but this did not mean that New Zealand was against the tests. A very young Queen Elizabeth II had only visited New Zealand two years previously, and England was still seen as the ‘Motherland’ that took most of New Zealand’s exports. The subsequent withdrawal of the New Zealand cruiser Royalist from her duties in the Mediterranean during the Suez crisis of 1956, had not gone down at all well in the hallowed chambers of Whitehall. The Americans were by this time using islands in the Western Pacific where the weather was more agreeable and the small local populations were unable to raise a protest. In Britain the growing anti-nuclear lobby campaign for nuclear disarmament (CND) was starting to have quite an impact on public opinion. It was becoming increasingly difficult for the Americans to house their own nuclear deterrent on English soil. Britain then asked the New Zealand government to survey the Line Islands (now Kiribati) for suitable anchorages, as the Royal Navy had no suitable ships available for the task. New Zealand responded by sending the naval survey ship HMNZS Lachlan in February 1956. Christmas Island, so named following its sighting by Captain James Cook on Christmas Day 1777, is the world’s largest coral atoll. It is situated 100 miles north of the equator, and 1,100 miles south of Hawaii. With international pressure mounting to bring a halt to the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, the race was on for Britain to build the newly chosen testing site on the far side of the world, in a multi service operation utilizing several thousand men, and under the control of the then First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Louis Mountbatten. This series of British nuclear tests would be known as Operation Grapple. The tests were observed by 551 New Zealanders on the Frigates HMNZS Pukaki and Rotoiti. The men were directed to stand on the open decks of the ships as the nine-megaton explosions were detonated. Distances to ground zero and the amounts of protective clothing worn by the men were deliberately varied over the duration of the tests. These two small New Zealand Frigates and their crews witnessed from very close at hand the indescribable indecency of the detonation of some of the most powerful WMD in development at that time. Preceding the election of 30 November 1957, a standard ‘first past the post’ election, the Major topic of public discussion in the lead up to the election was the pending introduction of the


PAYE tax system. This included a tax free year as taxes were then being recovered one year in arrears. The National party, coming to an end of its third term in office with a slender six seat majority, had implemented a 10 per cent tax cut for the past year while Labour, in opposition, was offering a one off one hundred pound tax rebate. This same posturing Labour party also promised to abolish Compulsory Military Training (CMT). Labour, led by Walter Nash, had also sensed the changing mood in the country, moving away from nuclear weapons. The party’s policies included the banning of weapons of mass destruction. For this reason, the National government had avoided announcing the second deployment of Pukaki and Rotoiti until the ships were well on their way for their second Operation Grapple deployment. In the elections Labour won 41 of the 80 seats in parliament to have a majority of just two seats! For many young naval ratings this meant little as they were ‘old enough to die for their country, but too young to vote!’ The educated and always highly skeptical New Zealand public was beginning to ask why the Americans and British were not testing their nuclear weapons nearer to their own homelands. But the newly elected Labour caucus was reluctant to object to the British tests while Russia was free to carry out her own tests. While Walter Nash supported the opposition to nuclear testing during the run up to the election, Nash still strongly supported Britain as the head of the Commonwealth and its desire to be militarily strong. He was also morally bound to keep the promises made by his predecessor. So when Britain again asked for New Zealand’s support with further nuclear tests at Christmas Island, Nash chose to wait until the very last minute before informing the public that one frigate would be provided ‘purely for weather reporting and safety precautions at any tests that might be held’. In 1958 Britain and the United States of America signed a US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement which allowed the sharing of nuclear weapons technology. This effectively removed any further need for British thermonuclear testing. Five Grapple veterans later served on the frigate HMNZS Otago, and one, the writer’s father, served aboard HMNZS Canterbury during her deployment to Mururoa Atoll in 1974 under the direction of the Kirk government. David Lange, with the full backing and informed opinion of the people of New Zealand as his mandate, stood firm against his own modern day Goliath. To quote Mr. Lange from his 1990 book “Nuclear Free the New Zealand way”, “There is now engrained in the New Zealand public a conviction that New Zealand cannot be touched by the accidents of politics or the wishful thinking of our one-time allies.’ This statement is categorically incorrect, and fundamentally flawed. As Gary McCormick recently related, Mr. Lange was a man who suffered a deep and mostly hidden depression. The cause, other than the symptoms of a severe medical condition, was one might imagine, the knowledge gained by a man, a New Zealander, of the true human cost of this country’s ‘unique’ and glorious nuclear free legislation. That heavy cost being the continued complete disregard for both New Zealand nuclear test veterans and their ‘allegedly’ ailing offspring. 50, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008

Following this country’s not quite reluctant withdrawal from the ANZUS alliance, the Labour party turned on its leader, the hero of the people for going just a bridge too far. Following our acrimonious exit from ANZUS, the slow but sure swing of the socialist pendulum was swinging irrevocably back to the right. But just how far has it swung? In 1986 George Shultz then US Secretary of State, stated in response to New Zealand’s breaking of military ties, “We part company as friends, but we part company.”


wenty years later, the spectre of the nuclear serpent again raised its ugly head in the form of a 2005 pre election ‘leak’ by National’s Dr. Don Brash in unconfirmed talks with American diplomats, stating that should National ever be in a position, that the nuclear free legislation would be “Gone by lunchtime!” Unfortunately, Prime Minister Clark had already pipped Dr. Brash at the post. To quote Phil Goff in a recent Listener article addressing the history of New Zealand’s nuclear strategy, “we’re ready to cooperate, but we do so within the parameters that New Zealand is committed to its nuclear-free policy, and is committed to our sovereign right as an independent country to make our own decisions”. Goff further states that, over time, he believes, the ban on joint military exercises will come to look “incongruous and unnecessary”. Does he know something that we do not? At this time, New Zealand Special Forces personnel are serving according to our Prime minister in Afghanistan, together with elements of the Royal New Zealand Navy and Air force adding their weight and considerable talent to the policing of the Red Sea and surrounding areas. Heavily armed New Zealand engineers have served in Iraq, but have been described by our Prime Minister as being there solely in a non combat role. This may be how both Clark and her advisors view this service, but in the eyes of the Arab world, an infidel soldier appears as he is, an infidel soldier treading illegally and with a heavy foot on their sovereign soil. This is the blunt perception perceived and understood by those people on the receiving end of United Nations member countries assisting in the so called ‘rebuilding’ of Iraq. Clark refused to become a member of the ‘Coalition of the willing’, deciding instead to follow the spineless lead of a floundering UN, whose deliberate ‘hands off’ policy leaves the brave Kurdish peoples of Northern Iraq to their deplorable fate. Our larger and overly vocal trans-Tasman neighbour, for their own reasons, decided to join the much vaunted coalition, reasonably placated by the New Zealand purchase of two of their ANZAC frigates. Before joining George W. Bush’s coalition however, Australia took the unprecedented step, ahead of the world’s nuclear free leader, of voicing loudly and in a public forum their country’s most strenuous objection to the continued use by both American and British forces of depleted uranium warheads in Iraqi theatre of operations. Clark and her caucus, the so called protectors of New Zealand’s hard-won anti-nuclear policy, have failed miserably in this regard, and continue to place this country in an exceedingly embarrassing and highly hypocritical position, especially

Nuclear tests at French atolls in the Pacific were also witnessed by Kiwi servicemen

in the eyes of both the US, and the United Kingdom, and indeed in the full view of world opinion. That we as a country fail to loudly decry the use of depleted uranium weaponry, whilst at the same time assisting in the ‘War on Terror’, whilst denying entry to New Zealand of American warships and specific aircraft, must surely be seen as the very height of ignorant socialist hypocrisy. Perhaps Clark’s failure to follow Australia’s highly laudable actions in laying down in no uncertain terms to both NATO and the Americans, Australia’s combined dislike of such crude and horrific weaponry, signals to the writer at least that Labour are in full and unanimous agreement in both the acceptance and (by that acceptance) the alleged approval of the continued use of such ‘dirty’weapons in the Iraqi conflict and their use in support of the continuing war on terror. Does this startling and telling act of government omission inadvertently signal the Labour government’s apparent acceptance of the slaughter of the Kurdish people, together with the loathsome methods and weapons used by the former Iraqi leadership in their quest to destroy a free and democratically inclined people? Further evidence of this Labour government’s alleged covert dealings in support of George W. Bush’s administration, is the continued and completely intractable position held by this current government in regard to its previously quite irrational dealings with the ‘alleged’ effects of the ‘alleged’ use of Agent Orange on New Zealand servicemen in the Viet Nam conflict.

Both this present government and past administrations can take an equal share in the shameful handling of ‘alleged’ civilian poisoning and land contamination in and around the manufacturing plant that produced the chemical defoliant that was then being manufactured in New Zealand, under license to the American government during the Vietnam conflict. This government has and continues to ride rough shod over the sincere and urgent health matters facing these brave New Zealand servicemen and their families. Clark again showed her closet support of the US, when she refused through her Ministers of both Defence and Veterans’ Affairs to recognize fully the implications created by the producing of a field map held by an ex serving senior officer of the New Zealand Army. Clark, through her Ministers, refuses to recognize these men and their service to their country, and deliberately commissioned a report again at great cost to the NZ taxpayer, on the alleged effects of Agent Orange. This report’s highly questionable and spurious findings, of course, smeared the word of an ex Lieutenant Colonel of the New Zealand Army, a man whose commission, integrity and bearing are again at least to this writer, both unswerving and unquestionable. The civilian population latently affected by the production of Agent Orange in their area, have also felt the cold and uncaring shoulder of this current government turned against them and their ailing families in regard to their ever getting a fair and just hearing from an American chemical giant, who may be contributing to Labour’s pre-election war chest, perhaps in INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008, 51

return for her government and veteran’s affairs turning a convenient blind eye and a deaf ear to the ‘alleged’ suffering of those who have proudly served their country in time of crisis. Surely these serious acts of omission of care further illustrate Helen Clark and Phil Goff’s complete disregard of the human rights of any New Zealander, either civilian or veteran who may have had the extreme misfortune to ‘allegedly’ become unknowing victims of American inspired chemical warfare research and manufacture in support of Americas anti communist political strategy in the far east. Lastly we come to the forgotten heroes and the real casualties of New Zealand’s nuclear free legislation. I refer to the 531 sailors on two small ships who were witness to the devastating and awe inspiring power of what were in 1957/8 the most powerful nuclear weapons in the west’s nuclear arsenal.


hat these men, whose number has been reduced to around 200 brave souls, and their families, should have had to wait 50 years for both recognition and reward for their unique service is indeed a black mark on the military history of our small nation, and sheds a deep shadow over the true feeling and genuine intention behind the people of New Zealand’s desire to guard the strength and integrity of our own unique anti-nuclear policy. That these men and their ailing families now so bravely engaged with litigation against a highly volatile British Labour government at war, without the aid or tacit blessing of New Zealand’s Labour government is in itself a deplorable and highly unfortunate situation. The Labour government under Helen Clark has spent hundreds of thousands of New Zealand taxpayer dollars on the commissioning of the Reeves and McLeod reports. There is no doubt that from some quarters, there will be a lot of energy put into trying to undermine the findings of the New Zealand Nuclear Test Veteran’s Association’s Massey University study on those surviving New Zealand serviceman who attended Operation Grapple. The sailors themselves have long held that their uniquely hazardous ‘Cold War’ service resulted in them being irradiated while observing nuclear tests, and that the damage done to those men has now been most regrettably passed on to their offspring. This world first study has found cellular abnormalities in the veterans and blames radiation. The study, led by Dr. Al Rowland, tested fifty of the surviving seamen involved in the tests, compared to fifty control subjects. Dr. Rowland’s previous research has included a study on the effects of the defoliant ‘Agent Orange’ on New Zealand soldiers during the Viet Nam war. This talented and able and upstanding New Zealand scientist has also done other studies into the health of Operation Grapple veterans. He said that the results of his latest study were indicative of the veterans having incurred ‘long term genetic damage as a consequence of their having performed their Operation Grapple duties’. Lawyers for British veterans who served there said the study strengthened their claim against the British MoD. The MoD, which has denied the claim, said it would review the findings. One of the issues that will be raised, is the effects of being exposed to ‘Low level’ radiation. Internationally, many gov52, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008

ernments are advised that there is a ‘Threshold Dose’ below which there is no harm to humans. However, for decades many scientists and committees state that there is ‘no safe level of radiation’. The random opinion from the NZNTVA archives demonstrates this. Early in 1981, supporters of relaxed standards in the (radioactive) workplace and elsewhere were given a devastating shock! Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California and at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee were compelled to conclude that doses received by the people of Hiroshima some thirty five years before, had been seriously misinterpreted. “Some of the most important data on the effects of nuclear radiation on humans may be wrong,” wrote Science Magazine. “The amount of neutron based radiation delivered by the bomb has been greatly overestimated, perhaps by a factor of 10. Thus the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki may have suffered cancer and other radiation side effects from doses far smaller than previously believed. That meant that the radiation itself was far more deadly.” One can only wonder at the bravery and fortitude of our serviceman present at Christmas Island, when several of the detonations witnessed were 45 times stronger than the weapon dropped on Hiroshima. These brave Kiwi sailors and their officers observed these tests on an open deck standing at times within fifty nautical miles of the blast zone. ‘The new findings are far more welcome,” the consultant told Science. All the revisions were “moving in the wrong direction” because they now indicated that low doses of radiation could kill far more people than anyone had previously thought possible. The very conclusion to which eminent scientist Thomas Mancuso’s work had been pointing since 1977. Not only was Dr. Mancuso aware of the unreliability of the U.S. research on Japanese A-Bomb victims. So were other eminent academics such as Dr’s Rosalie Bartell, Steve Wing, Karl Morgan, and Alice Stewart. Governments, including our own, have chosen to deliberately ignore the work of these scientists. None of them ever appeared or were referred to in the NZ government’s hugely expensive but hardly expansive ‘Reeves and Mcleod Reports. Dr. Arthur Upton, former Director of the National Cancer Institute, states that “The new data greatly strengthened the argument that there is no safe level of radiation.” It is here, that we must return to the much vaunted words of the late David Lange. In his book ‘Nuclear Free the New Zealand way,’ he states ‘There is now engrained in the New Zealand public a conviction that New Zealand cannot be touched by the accidents of politics or the wishful thinking of our one-time allies.’ I believe that it was the writing of this terrible untruth that may have lead to a once great man coming to regret the emptiness and complete lack of compassion that lies hidden beneath his own sad spin. Perhaps towards the end of his life, Lange saw that he not been the change that he so obviously wished for the world. Instead, his legacy is now the empty and very nearly redundant Anti-Nuclear legislation, that continues to heap considerable embarrassment onto those New Zealanders who have to serve our interests overseas, while all the time maintaining the façade that New Zealand remains a leader in the championing of all things anti-nuclear.

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The Search With a recent spate of books from Richard Dawkins, John Spong and Karen Armstrong, you could be forgiven for thinking God is officially ‘dead’. But in this extract from his new book The Divinity Code, IAN WISHART sets out the baseline for a controversial new investigation into the existence of God


o one alive today knows for sure when the first human emerged, nor do we know when the first person looked at the stars and wondered about the meaning of life. We do know that religious rituals of some kind existed – even among Neanderthal cultures, where graves have been found featuring the deceased in the company of prized possessions, generally indicating a possible belief in the afterlife.1 It is true that we don’t actually know very much at all about human history. As Professor Robert Winston points out in the BBC series Walking With Cavemen, all the bones and fossils found in the world relating to human evolution could fit in a cardboard box in the boot of a small car. The task of investigating human history is made even harder by, ironically, ancient global warming. As a paleontologist adviser to New Zealand’s national Te Papa Museum once explained to me, humans traditionally build settlements close to the sea – a major source of food. During the Ice Ages, sea levels dropped by around 150 metres and beaches receded, meaning people living in warmer climes had to move their villages to match the new tidelines, sometimes – like on America’s west coast – up to 160 kilometres further out. People often have this impression of the Ice Ages as a time


when the entire planet was cold. Not so. The ice simply pushed the temperate and tropical zones closer to the equator. It rained heavily on jungles and lakes in what is now the Sahara desert, for example.2 As the ice melted somewhere between 10,000 and 6,000 years ago (and by many scientific accounts it happened fast), the sea rose again quite rapidly, quickly drowning the villages and cities lining the shores in those ancient times. To get a feel for what happened, imagine the city where you live. If the sea level were to rise by 150 metres, how far inland would you have to go to remain on the mainland? In my case, Auckland, the city’s highest piece of land is the Mt Eden volcanic crater. At 196m high, the sea would wash against the hill three quarters of the way up. With that kind of deluge, it is obvious that virtually an entire city of 1.1 million people would vanish beneath the waves. In the case of Sydney, Australia, only 50 metres above sea level, the new shoreline would be the base of the Blue Mountains, 100 km west of the city; Los Angeles would no longer be the City of Angels but the City of Islands. Give it 6,000 years underwater, pointed out my paleontologist, and any hope of finding these cities under 20 or 30 metres of sand and sediment, 150 metres underwater and up to 100 km out to sea, would be akin to finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. As a result, he told me, it’s a pretty safe bet that the vast

for Divinity


majority of human history is submerged and lost to us. Apart from one or two brief fluctuations several million years ago, the sea levels on earth have never been higher than they are now.3


everal things emerge from this revelation. Firstly, that when our scientists are digging for fossils – particularly human or hominid – they are digging in areas that would have been considered outback hillcountry 10,000 years ago – far from the larger settlements on the [now submerged] coast. It’s hardly surprising, then, that the image we get of our ancestors is one of, well, fossilized hillbillies. It’s the difference between finding New York, and finding Walton’s Mountain. Secondly, the same thing applies to animal fossils – we’re digging up a large number of cave bears, woolly mammoths, dire wolves and other such creatures particular to these locations, and we have no way of digging up the vast herds of creatures who roamed the plains closer to the coastline. Therefore when we talk of “evolution” at all, we should acknowledge that much of what science currently does is guesswork. Thirdly, all of this has a major bearing on the arguments of atheist writers like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. Their collective efforts to debunk religion in general and Christianity in particular rely heavily on a presumption that they know most of what there is to know about human history. As I’ve just established in the space of less than one page: that’s a pretty flawed and dangerous presumption to make. Let’s return to the concept of submerged cities to illustrate the point. In 2000, a Canadian expedition searching for sunken Spanish galleons located what appears to be an underwater city off the western coast of Cuba, 650 metres (2,132 feet) below the surface of the Caribbean Sea, on an earthquake faultline.4 Using an expensive remote controlled submersible with robot cameras, they videoed massive granite blocks, between two and five metres in length each, forming various structures. According to news reports in the Canadian and American press, the granite is not native to the area and the nearest possible source today is central Mexico. The underwater “city” is estimated to be around 7,000 years old. If correct, it was built by a civilization that predated the invention of the wheel in Sumeria in the Middle East. Unless, of course, the Sumerians were only re-discovering older technology lost in the disappearance of older civilizations. The submerged architecture in Cuba is not the only example of its kind. There is speculation that underwater blocks discovered in the Bahamas 40 years ago are also the remains of a submerged town or city, and National Geographic has reported on one submerged city found off the coast of India.5 Now another, even more spectacular, has been added to the list: “The remains of a huge underwater city off the western coast of India may force historians and archaeologists to radically reconsider their view of ancient human history. It’s believed that the area was submerged when ice caps melted at the end of the last ice age, 9-10,000 years ago. “Marine scientists say archaeological remains discovered 120 feet underwater in the Gulf of Cambay off the western coast of India could be over 9,000 years old. The vast city – which is five miles long and two miles wide – is believed to predate the oldest known remains in the subcontinent by more than 5,000 years. 56, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008

“The site was discovered by chance last year by oceanographers from India’s National Institute of Ocean Technology who were conducting a survey of pollution. Using sidescan sonar – which sends a beam of sound waves down to the bottom of the ocean – they identified huge geometrical structures at a depth of 120 feet. Debris recovered from the site – including construction material, pottery, sections of walls, beads, sculpture and human bones and teeth – has been carbon dated and found to be nearly 9,500 years old. “However, archaeologist Justin Morris from the British Museum says more work will need to be done before the site can be said to belong to a 9,000 year old civilization, since there can be errors in carbon dating. “ ‘Culturally speaking, in that part of the world there were no civilizations prior to about 2,500 BC. What’s happening before then mainly consisted of small, village settlements’, he says. “Strong tides make investigations in the Cambay difficult. Marine scientists led by the Madras-based National Institute of Ocean Technology are solving this problem by taking acoustic images off the sea-bed and using dredging equipment to extract artifacts. “The Indian Minister for Ocean Technology, Murli Manohar Joshi, says the images indicate symmetrical man-made structures and also a paleo-river, with banks containing artifacts, such as pottery. Carbon dating on a block of wood brought up from the depths suggests it dates back to 7,595 BC. “We have to find out what happened then ... where and how this civilisation vanished,” he says. “The city is believed to be even older than the ancient Harappan civilisation, which dates back around 4,000 years and is the oldest on the subcontinent. Although Palaeolithic sites dating back around 20,000 years have been found on the coast of India’s western state of Gujarat before, this is the first time that man-made structures as old as 9,500 years have been found deep beneath the ocean surface.”6 If you look at human history scientifically, Homo sapiens sapiens has been around for 50,000 to 100,000 years according to the boffins. Yet the entire history of our species is compressed so that we went from caveman to spaceman in only 8,000 years. If we can do it in 8,000 years, it is possible that humans reached some form of high civilization before the last Ice Age. The person walking around Times Square today clutching a Blackberry has the same intellectual capacity as the guy slugging a saber-tooth with a stone ax did 10,000 years ago. Genetically and mentally we are identical to them. They thought, loved and debated as we do, albeit with a far lower knowledge of technology than we now enjoy. Is it possible that we have reached high civilization before, only to lose it? Yeah, it’s certainly possible, but it doesn’t figure in orthodox history books where the assumption – based on modern-centric evolutionary principles of advancement – is that we are the crème of the human crop. Maybe we are. Then again maybe we are not. For example, it is now well-documented that ancient civilizations appear to have developed electric batteries, similar to the ones powering your radio or flashlight today. What were the Mesopotamians or Egyptians doing with the equivalent of a Duracell battery?7 For more than a few readers, these opening pages will rekindle memories of the legend of Atlantis, the advanced civilization that supposedly sank beneath the waves in a massive cataclysm at

”It is now well-documented that ancient civilizations appear to have developed electric batteries, similar to the ones powering your radio or flashlight today. What were the Mesopotamians or Egyptians doing with the equivalent of a Duracell battery?” some point in ancient times, possibly 11,000 years ago. The only record we have that specifically names “Atlantis” is Plato’s writing in Critias and Timaeus, published around 355 BC: “For many generations, as long as the divine nature lasted in them, they [the Atlanteans] were obedient to the laws, and wellaffectioned towards the god, whose seed they were; for they possessed true and in every way great spirits, uniting gentleness with wisdom in the various chances of life, and in their intercourse with one another. They despised everything but virtue, caring little for their present state of life, and thinking lightly of the possession of gold and other property, which seemed only a burden to them; neither were they intoxicated by luxury; nor did wealth deprive them of their self-control; but they were sober, and saw clearly that all these goods are increased by virtue and

friendship with one another, whereas by too great regard and respect for them, they are lost and friendship with them. “By such reflections and by the continuance in them of a divine nature, the qualities which we have described grew and increased among them; but when the divine portion began to fade away, and became diluted too often and too much with the mortal admixture, and the human nature got the upper hand, they then, being unable to bear their fortune, behaved unseemly, and to him who had an eye to see grew visibly debased, for they were losing the fairest of their precious gifts; but to those who had no eye to see the true happiness, they appeared glorious and blessed at the very time when they were full of avarice and unrighteous power.” Sounds like a description that could equally apply today. INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008, 57

Plato wrote that Atlantis was situated beyond “the pillars of Hercules [in modern terms, the Straits of Gibraltar where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic Ocean]”, and that Atlantis formed “the way to other islands [the Caribbean?], and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent [presumably America] which surrounds the true ocean [the Atlantic, as indeed America does].” Now regardless of whether you believe Plato was trying to record a real place, or merely painting an allegorical picture for the sake of making a point, he certainly struck the jackpot in describing how the Atlantic Ocean was encircled by a landmass on the other side. I mean, how would he know? For what it’s worth, a century earlier, Herodotus was calling that ocean the “Atlantis ocean”. According to Plato, an Egyptian priest with access to the ancient library records (later destroyed by invading Romans) told the Greek traveler Solon the story of Atlantis and how a cataclysm that hit Greece also took out Atlantis, more than 1,600 km to the West. “But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your [Greek] warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea.” Plato timed this destruction around 9,000 BC, which was another lucky strike given that it coincided with the end of what we now know (but he didn’t) was the last Ice Age, and during which the sea level worldwide rose 150 metres.8 I raise the Atlantis legend only to illustrate that no matter how much we think we know through science, we probably don’t even know the half of it.


o when modern authors like Dawkins, or Lloyd Geering, try and build a picture of primitive ancients worshipping tree spirits and gradually “evolving” to a higher form of religious belief, it should be remembered that these claims are based on presumptions that human civilization has no surprises, that we have all merely “evolved” from peasant to physicist, from simple beliefs to a ‘modern, enlightened, scientific view’ of the world. Pontificates Geering: “The ancient storytellers saw nothing odd in attributing creation to the utterance of words. Language fascinated the ancient mind. Although words could be heard they could never be seen or touched; yet the uttering of them seemed to be very powerful.” Oh really? Was he there, then? I’m sure mere “uttering” wasn’t half as impressive as hooking up the ancient Duracell battery and conducting experiments with electricity. Geering, like many pseuds before him, harks back to this storybook view of ancient cultures and has evidently watched One Million Years BC (featuring the iconic Raquel Welch as cavewoman “Loana”) far too many times. Geering forgets that the ancient Hebrews were as clever as he is, and the ability to speak was no more wondrous to them than the ability to whack doddery old tribesmen over their heads in a bid to ease their dotage before they started spouting daft theories about words and drove the rest of the tribe insane. Long assumed to be brutes, and erroneously portrayed by Hollywood and graphic artists in science departments9 as part 58, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008

man/part ape, even Neanderthals apparently had no trouble talking10 – scientists have discovered a Neanderthal hyoid bone (essential for human speech) “identical” to that of modern humans. Speech has a long heritage11, and it’s a fair bet that when Moses opened his mouth to lecture the Israelites, the last thing they were wondering was how clever he was, being able to speak and all that! Of course, Geering isn’t the only one with a dodgy perspective on the origins of religion. The vogue theory among a small group of vocal liberals is called “the Axial Period”, and if you’ve read books by former nun Karen Armstrong, you’ll recognize the term. It was actually coined by a German philosopher, Karl Jaspers, in 1949, and refers to the period between 800 BC and 200 BC when, Jaspers claims, similar ideas allegedly arose in religions around the world – apparently independently of each other. He points to developments in religion and philosophy in ancient Greece mirroring the ideas emerging in Buddhism and Confucianism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism and Judaism.12 “The spiritual foundations of humanity were laid simultaneously and independently,” Jaspers says, “and these are the foundations upon which humanity still subsists today.” It was not divine revelation, Axialists like Geering or Armstrong or John Shelby Spong argue, but growing wisdom among the ancients responding to changes in their societies that led to the new ideas. Lloyd Geering, for example, waxes lyrical in the assumption that older religions played a major role in influencing Christianity. One of his assertions in Christianity Without God is that Zoroastrianism is the origin of “such ideas as the Last Judgment (preceded by a general resurrection), an afterlife with rewards and punishments, the concept of a personal Devil, the writing of our life story in a heavenly book of life and the naming of angels with specific functions.” Once again I am forced to say, ‘Oh really?’. Zoroastrianism, the Persian religion, supposedly gave these ideas to the Jews during their Babylonian captivity around 500 BC. But if the idea of God judging the world only emerged in Judaism in 500 BC, how do we explain a verse like this, written around 1400 BC: “Will not the Judge of all the Earth do right?” asked Abraham in Gen. 18:25. And doesn’t this Psalm, written around 900 BC, give hope of an eternal afterlife beyond the grave?13 “You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psa. 16:10-11. If you want it more explicit, Psalm 1, also from around 900 BC, talks at verse 5 of “the wicked will not stand in the Judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous”. If it’s a personal Devil you seek, look no further than the Book of Job (pronounced ‘Jobe’), which records events that scholars attribute to as far back as 1800 – 2000 BC because of its cultural nuances and archaic language.14 The entire book is about Job’s sustained attack at the hands of a very personal Satan. In truth, this is one of the frustrating things about books written by skeptics: they offer unsourced anecdotal tales and claims that make persuasive soundbites but which are utterly untrue. We will return in detail to which religion borrowed from

“A UMR research poll in New Zealand in September 2007 that directly compared the May 07 US Gallup poll shows only 56% downunder believe in God, and only 48% believe in Heaven, compared with 81% of Americans. Seventy percent of Americans believe the Devil exists, while only 26% of New Zealanders buy into that” which, later in this book. But regardless of the sport that Geering, Armstrong, Spong, Dawkins, Hitchens and others will provide us (and trust me, we will have fun doing it), there is no escaping the reality that humans and a belief in the supernatural go hand in hand. Always have, always will. Opinion polls in the West consistently show anywhere in the region of 80% to 90% of people believe in a divinity of some kind. A Fox News poll in 2004, for example, found 92% of Americans say they believe in God, 85% in heaven and 82% in miracles. Surprisingly, support for New Age beliefs was a lot lower, with 34% belief in the existence of ghosts, 34% in UFOs, 29% in astrology, 25% in reincarnation and 24% in witches.15 “Young people are much more likely than older Americans to believe in both hell and the devil,” noted Fox News. “An 86% majority of adults between the ages of 18 to 34 believe in hell, but that drops to 68% for those over age 70.”

You would think that older people would be more likely to believe in hell and the devil and orthodox Christian theology, until you realize that most of those people grew up in churches who’d been hit by a crisis of faith in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. The liberal view, that ideas of hell or miracles were merely “quaint” stories which science had disproved, poisoned the mainstream churches through the first three-quarters of the 20th century, until fresh scholarship overturned that lukewarm Christianity. Seen in that light, it is no surprise that young people have a stronger faith – the growing churches today are those that have returned to the basics of Christian doctrine, such as the existence of a real God, a real hell and a real Resurrection. Intriguingly, there’s not just an age gap, there’s a political gap as well. Left-wingers are more likely (an additional 14%) to believe in New Age ideas than conservatives. As for the state of religion in society, the poll turned up a figure that is INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008, 59

an undoubted source of fury to atheist fundamentalists like Dawkins and Hitchens: a staggering 69% of Americans believe religion needs to play a bigger role in people’s lives, with only 15% arguing it should play a smaller role. Another poll, from 200316, found that more than a quarter of those who say they are not Christian nonetheless believe in the resurrection of Christ and the virgin birth. A Gallup poll in May 2007 showed a slight drop in belief in God, down to 86%, although when the question was rephrased to include belief in a higher power it bounced back to nearly 90%. But we all know Americans are the most “religious” westerners. What about the rest of us in the English-speaking world? A UMR research poll in New Zealand in September 200717that directly compared the May 07 US Gallup poll shows only 56% downunder believe in God, and only 48% believe in Heaven, compared with 81% of Americans. Seventy percent of Americans believe the Devil exists, while only 26% of New Zealanders buy into that. When researchers broke down the “God” question the same way Gallup had, 46% of New Zealanders professed a belief in “God”, while a staggering 31% opted to believe in the New Age concept of “a universal spirit or higher power”. Then there is the question of ‘Why?’. Why do we believe in God? Time magazine put it another way: “Which came first, God or the need for God? In other words, did humans create religion from cues sent from above, or did evolution instill in us a sense of the divine so that we would gather into the communities essential to keeping the species going?”18 Examine the last part of that statement for a moment. It’s the idea that evolution created the idea of God in our heads. Yet evolution is supposed to be purposeless and randomly-caused. How could a single-celled organism know in advance that in

order to succeed it needed to believe in an imaginary friend called ‘God’? The idea seems more farcical and fraught with contradictions than simply believing in God himself, but it has led to what some scientists are calling their theory of “the God Gene” – the idea that humans are programmed to believe in God. “Even among people who regard spiritual life as wishful hocuspocus, there is a growing sense that humans may not be able to survive without it,” says Time. “It’s hard enough getting by in a fang-and-claw world in which killing, thieving and cheating pay such rich dividends. It’s harder still when there’s no moral cop walking the beat to blow the whistle when things get out of control. Best to have a deity on hand to rein in our worst impulses, bring out our best and, not incidentally, give us a sense that there’s someone awake in the cosmic house when the lights go out at night and we find ourselves wondering just why we’re here in the first place. If a God or even several gods can do all that, fine. And if we sometimes misuse the idea of our gods – and millenniums of holy wars prove that we do – the benefits of being a spiritual species will surely outweigh the bloodshed.” These, then, are some of the questions this book sets out to answer. Is there a rational basis for believing in God? Did humans simply invent the concept of God? Is belief in God, whether fiction or fact, scientifically necessary for us as a species in order for us to avoid slaughtering each other? Are all gods and religions created equal, or is it possible that some are either better or closer to the truth than others? Can belief in God be reconciled with scientific discoveries? As you can see, it promises to be an intriguing journey. THE DIVINITY CODE by Ian Wishart, Howling At The Moon Publishing, 2007. $29.90 from Whitcoulls, Borders, Dymocks, Paper Plus, Take Note, Paper Power, Wadsworths and all other good bookstores

REFERENCES 1. 2. 3. ibid 4. 5. _ 020528 sunkencities _ 2.html 6. 7. 8. Rising sea levels are not the only determinant involved. As the sunken remains 700 metres below the Caribbean suggest, tectonics can play a definitive role 9. These “artists” pulled the same stunt with the 2004 discovery of the ‘hobbit skeletons’ on Indonesia’s Flores Island, by drawing them as small humans with chimpanzee heads, even though the skulls are so close to ours in style that there is a heated dispute in the scientific community about whether the hobbits are indeed a different species or just a dwarf race of modern humans. Every time artists draw ancient humans as part-ape, they are guessing, based entirely on their own belief in Darwinism 10. 11. Another discovery late October 2007 confirms Neanderthals had the FOXP2 gene necessary for human speech, identical to the one the rest of us have, and apparently they had it from about 350,000 years ago, throwing evolutionary theory into disarray, again 12. _ Age 13. The answer from Axialists will initially be that the earliest records of a written


Book of Psalms date to the sixth century BC, which means the ideas could have been borrowed from Zoroastrianism during the captivity. The answer is simplistic however. With Jerusalem captured, the temple destroyed and its inhabitants bundled off to a foreign land, it is easy to see why we no longer have physical copies of manuscripts dating back to the time of Moses or King David. However, there is ample circumstantial evidence to suggest the older books of the Old Testament were well known to Jews at the time of the captivity, and that they were not changed. Firstly, the Jews held fast to their Jewishness and what little they had been left with. Rather than widely integrating into Persian society they were mindful of the previous great captivity in Egypt nearly a thousand years earlier, and the need to preserve their beliefs and culture through this time. Having been warned by their prophets repeatedly about the dangers of worshipping false gods, and that the captivity was a punishment for Jewish disobedience, it stretches credulity to believe that the Jews then would further anger their God by importing foreign religious beliefs into what was left of Judaism. Secondly, portions of the Psalms are quoted in other preExile books like 1 and 2 Samuel. Thirdly, the internal evidence in many of the earliest psalms – the words used and events referred to – clearly place them between 1000 BC and 900 BC in origin. 14. Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Gleason Archer, Moody, 1994, pp. 503-515 15.,2933,99945,00.html 16. _ poll/index.asp?PID=359 17. _ USComparisonSep07.pdf 18.,9171,995465,00.html


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thinkLIFE money

Taking a risk

Peter Hensley outlines a new options


ir New Zealand flight number 38 was on time as it took off in the late evening from London en route to Hong Kong. The scheduled flight time was just under twelve hours as John busied himself with drafting his report. He was in his mid fifties and just reaching the prime of his working career. His diverse business background had allowed him to become a recognised expert in company restructuring. He had trained alongside some of the best official assignees and had learnt his trade well. John had been sent to London to delve into yet another business failure which resulted because the owners had not been vigilant enough on their cash flow management to recognise that the accountant had been submitting dummy invoices. Consequently the enterprise had run out


of money and the livelihood of over a hundred loyal employees had been placed in jeopardy. He smiled as he worked on his report because this method of fraud was the most commonly used by novice thieves. Dummy invoices were generally easy to identify, however on this occasion the fraudster had colluded with a colleague who worked in the supply and invoicing department for a large multinational. This meant that they had access to legitimate blank invoices which, when doctored, accordingly meant that the target company was doomed to run out of cash. The good news was that John was able to catch them before the receivers were called in and with careful management the jobs and livelihoods of the innocent staff would be salvaged. The flight was due to land at 5pm and

John began to realise that he was not well. The twinge in his neck would not go away, no matter how he positioned himself in the new style business class seat. He never had felt guilty about walking onto the plane and turning left, his skill and expertise along with the frequency of his trips almost made it a necessity. He was also massaging a small lump behind the knee of his left leg. Not a big deal he thought, but he made a mental note to mention it to his doctor as the twinge in his neck developed into serious pain. John’s wife Anne had flown up from Auckland and was waiting at the Express Holiday Inn located in the heart of the commercial district of Causeway Bay. She was looking forward to the break, however when John arrived at the hotel she intuitively knew that the holiday break would be dramatically cut short. They had been married a long time and she was a seasoned traveler in her own right. Their combined frequent flyer status enabled her to get them home to Auckland leaving the following evening. The next few weeks saw John visit numerous doctors and specialists. His neck ended up being fused and his treatment for this was further complicated by the onset of Deep Vein Thrombosis. The lump behind his left knee was better known as DVT or economy class syndrome. For some silly reason John had always thought the curtain separating the business class cabin would protect him from that ailment. At the conclusion of the various treatments, the severity of his conditions meant that he was considered medically unfit for work. This came as a huge shock as they had not long paid off the mortgage and were saving furiously to put some serious money away for retirement. His inability to fly meant that his universe of potential clients had virtually been decimated. These changes in circumstances meant that he had to seriously sit up and take careful stock of their current situation. They were debt free with a reasonable sum stashed away, however he considered this to be a pittance compared with his forecast projections. Their pre-Hong Kong lifestyle was a distant dream and now the reality of living on a budget had set in. Even if he could fly internationally there was no way they would ever afford to walk on a plane and turn left again. When John did an assessment of their

situation he was wise to include one of their greatest intangible assets on their balance sheet. He recognised that he possessed an almost unique analytical skill which he had used to great advantage during his working life. He could not place a value of this talent, but he knew that the pain in his neck and rat poison medication had not dulled his ability to think, analyze and identify a workable solution to any problem he had faced in his working career. The problem they faced was lack of passive income which was directly related to the size of their investment portfolio. The obvious solution was either decrease their expenses to match their income, or they could somehow increase the size of their portfolio which in turn would increase the level of income it produced. Option two was something that the vast majority of investors shied away from. People with limited income and no chance of replacing investment capital if it ever decreased in value tended to never contemplate or consider option two. The obvious risk is one they elect not to adopt and accordingly default to option one of

adjusting their lifestyle to fit their income. Once John had reviewed their options, he thought that the benefits of option two would far outweigh the lifestyle offered by option one. The problem he faced was that he did not have a background in either finance or investment. He did not let this deter him. He developed a passion and thirst for this new topic as he knew he had limited time and worst of all, limited resources. He applied the same analytical skill and talent that had held him in such high regard when he was employed as a senior executive consultant. He quickly found that the average investment adviser in New Zealand was lacking even the basic of research capability. He was not prepared to entrust their lifesavings to a chain salesperson. His life’s work had seen him pore over balance sheets and identify why companies went south, he could apply the same analytical principles, only this time he concentrated on companies that were heading in the opposite direction. He knew the share price would soon follow. After a few false starts he identified rel-

atively low risk (his definition) income streams of around 15% pa. He investigated market sectors that he believed had all the fundamentals for growth and potential increase in their share value. In less than 12 months he changed their financial future from bleak to comfortable. He then wrote a book detailing his experience, called Flag KiwiSaver? There is a Better Way. What makes this book different is the obvious quality of the research and skill of the author. The book is broken into three sections – (1) general discussion on retirement options in New Zealand – (2) outlining his own investigative journey and (3) identifying specific investment targets and why he thinks the individual companies have potential for share price accumulation. The book is a must read for those interested in their own financial future. Whilst there are more than several assumptions in the book that I disagree with, I cannot dispute the quality of the depth of the research and obvious analytical talent displayed by the author, John Rofe. It is available on-line at

thinkLIFE education

Dumb and dumber

New Zealand – now an intellectually and morally enfeebled society, argues Amy Brooke


urning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold…” Those familiar with W. B. Yeats apocalyptic poem, The Second Coming, with his vision of the closing in of another dark age – “The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity” – are aware that today’s attack on reason, on truth, on intellectual and moral competence, was foreseen by other great wordsmiths. Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland invokes a society in which words basically become gobbledly-gook because they have no intrinsic meaning in themselves: they merely mean whatever the speaker decides they mean. Such an essential madness is


paralleled by the absurdities of post-modernism and deconstructionism advanced through the universities, where “relativism” maintains that that there is no such thing as a truth, or even a fact. This process of the destruction of meaning asserts that there are no intellectually defensible standards – no ideas, no thinking, no religion, culture, behaviour nor practice – no writing, teaching, nor art which can claim superiority over any other. Everything is valid – everything relative. The palpable idiocy of this either deranged or willfully absurd theory, which of course provides an opt-out-clause for the claimed philosophically superior position of the madmen who advanced it – primarily the French pseudo-philosophers Foucault, Derrida and Baudrillard – has of course not prevented it being taken seriously by today’s arts departments’ aca-

demics regarding themselves as the “intellectuals” of their day. The deeply compromised literary ingroups of the Left, beholden to the State for the funding and support which allows them to promote mediocrity as excellence, share the same delusion. I read a muchfavoured, highly-funded and feted writer’s seemingly “official” poem on the anniversary of the Erebus disaster a year or so back with incredulity that such a banal piece of work could be greeted rhapsodically. The now obvious intellectual darkening of our times was foreseen by other great writers such as the peerless and brilliant G.K. Chesterton, among the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, and therefore never featured in the universities. Looking back, I noted that the only 20th century English writers my department was apparently interested in during my MA years

were those who were homosexual, alcoholic, sex-obsessed, anti-war or – better still – who fitted all these admirable criteria, and were therefore considered “relevant”. Naturally, other 20th century greats who had the poor judgment to be fine writers, to appear stable and well-grounded – anti-the Left, or worse still, even very possibly Christian, such as Hilaire Belloc, John Masefield, C.S. Lewis, Walter de la Mare, Rudyard Kipling, Evelyn Waugh, Malcolm Muggeridge and others muchloved by the literate British public, were completely ignored. George Orwell, however, scraped in as acceptable – at least to be alluded to: his participation in the Spanish Civil War gave him seemingly Left affiliations, later wholeheartedly abandoned. Orwell’s fine instincts led him to oppose all forms of oppression, those of the Far Left as much as

those of the Far Right – as we see in 1984 and Animal Farm. His warning that the corruption of language leads to corruption in thinking has been well-justified. “The English language becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.’” [my emphasis] There can now be no doubt, even from the most obdurately blinkered theorists, that we belong to an age not only of slovenly language – deliberately fostered by our intellectually-derelict, governmentappointed education apparatchiks with their foolish (and worse) theorizing – but that moreover, this has been well-planned. Trashy, politicized educational ideology was inflicted in full force from that watershed of social disintegration, the 1960s, although the seeds of the attack on standards of literacy, and therefore reason itself, were sown long before, given official sanction with the 1940 Labour appointment of Dr Clarence Beeby as Director of Education, as alluded to in a previous article. However, it is more and more noticeable that those responsible for so many New Zealanders being cheated out of a quality education – those who fronted the attack on excellence in teaching and thinking, arguing for the deliberate withholding of the very tools of language necessary to provide such competence – are not being held accountable. I was reminded of this now prevalent, non-accountability disease of government departments – officials, managerial staff, ministers, even – of how genuine democratic accountability has disappeared, and of how the corruption of language leads to poor thinking – when reading a recent excerpt from the Police Complaints Authority Ruling critical of how police handled the pro-Tibetan demonstrations during the 1999 visit by Chinese President Jiang Zemin. “The Authority said it was not appropriate to hold any individual responsible for what had happened.” The creeping disease of this age is the new ability of bureaucracy to defer at length, then uphold a complaint, apparently reluctantly, while managing to hold no-one responsible. Scandalously, eight whole years, not days, not even months, passed before the complaint about the moving of 20 non-offensive protestors because a visiting Chinese delegation played its usual card of object-

ing – was recognised as legitimate! The government and police’s ritual capitulation to Chinese bullying on our shores, rather than protecting the rights of those they are elected to represent, New Zealanders – in what we have too long kidded ourselves is a free society – has become a scandal. Moreover, simultaneously with the ruling comes the revelation that: “new police instructions allow protestors to be moved or deliberately blocked from view if they offend a VIP” – a fundamental attack on freedom of speech predictably defended by Police Minister Annette King as preventing “offensive behaviour.” The police manual’s definition of “offensive” reportedly has their operational order promising “to make every effort to minimize the impact of protest.” Like forcing protestors down the street? It has been acutely observed that language is a crucial index of the health of a society. Orwell’s contention that slovenly language leads to slovenly thinking was not wasted on openly avowed neo-Marxists of the Left, who from the 6os onwards, have achieved near total control of education directions. The naivety of those uncritically endorsing their specious reasons for removing all possible standards of accountability, the dumbing down of schools’ curricula, and, incredibly enough, the attack on the actual acquiring of knowledge, is almost beyond belief. It may be that the reason is well summed up by writer Alfred George Gardiner who maintained that, “There is a large part of the public, possibly the majority of the public, which is born to be fooled, which will believe anything because it hasn’t the faculty of judging anything but the size of the crowd, and which will always follow the ass with the largest ears and the loudest bray.” This has long suited the political Left, controlling our education bureaucracy. A genuinely well-educated public with the ability to use language well, and therefore to think well, is anathema to them. Recent historically-unaware National governments, themselves under-educated, have also failed to appreciate the issues involved, and that accountability is overdue. With Yeat’s gyre widening, the intellectual and social disintegration of Western society gathers momentum.


thinkLIFE science

The great migration

Science closes in on how birds manage to fly south, reports Jeremy Manier


wice each year the migratory birds of the world make a voyage that, until recently, seemed like an inexplicable miracle. Now evidence is trickling in to support an explanation no less miraculous: Birds may literally be able to see magnetic fields. Scientists are only beginning to understand the triumph of bird navigation, which relies in part on using an internal compass to follow the earth’s magnetic fields north or south. The still-controversial idea that birds use cells in their eyes to see magnetic fields was first proposed by University of Illinois scientists in the 1970s and has gained momentum from recent findings. If true, it would mean the light-sensitive


cells also sense magnetic lines of force, perceiving them as cloudy shadows that guide birds on their path. That system may assist yet another method for sensing magnetism, based on tiny metal filings in the bird’s cells that act as compass needles. “You must put yourself in the brain of the bird,” says Klaus Schulten, a University of Illinois physicist who first proposed the idea of vision-based magnetic reception. “We might be surprised, but animals have many types of senses that we just don’t share.” The emerging picture of migration is of a skill with many layers. Genes likely provide an innate impulse to fly south or north, but birds with brains the size of peanuts also must memorize a map that

spans continents, using magnetism, cues from the setting sun and perhaps even smell as their guide. As late as November, some species still are using that sensory tool kit to find their winter homes thousands of miles away in places like New Zealand. The stakes for grasping birds’ exotic methods of perception may be higher than they first appear. Along with helping with bird preservation, understanding migration could help scientists track the spread of bird flu or impending threats to food crops. For centuries, the disappearance of birds in the fall and their sudden return in springtime stumped scientists who could not follow the birds to learn where they went. The Greek philosopher Aristotle,

considered the first ornithologist, thought swallows burrowed into the mud at the bottom of lakes and hibernated there – an idea that scientists took seriously well into the 1700s. The modern study of bird migration has suffered from the difficulty of following birds on their long trips. Most birds are too small to carry strong radio transmitters, meaning trackers must rely on small devices that cannot broadcast a signal very far. So it helps that migration researcher Martin Wikelski is a trained airplane pilot, able to chase the songbirds he studies through the air. Wikelski, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University, published a study in November showing white-crowned sparrows somehow learn a map of the continental U.S. as they age. “The theory is that they have both a map and a compass,” says Richard Holland, Wikelski’s co-author and colleague at Princeton. The Princeton group took 30 migratory sparrows from Washington state and set them loose in New Jersey to see where they would go. The youngest birds flew straight south, as they would have if they were still on the West Coast. But the older, more experienced sparrows flew southwest, in the direction of their accustomed wintering spots along the U.S. border with Mexico, suggesting they’d learned how to gauge their location. A good part of that skill probably comes from sensing subtle differences in magnetism. The Earth is encased in a vast magnetic field, made of invisible lines of force that wrap around the planet like layers of an onion and meet at the poles. Those field lines run roughly parallel to the ground at the equator but start curving toward the surface as a bird flies north or south from the equator. Schulten believes the photoreceptors in a bird’s eyes can spot that changing orientation of the magnetic field. Schulten developed his idea 30 years ago in the course of his laboratory work on theoretical physics. He found weak magnetic fields could subtly influence chemical reactions and began to think such reactions might be a basis for the bird’s internal compass. But no one knew whether such chemical changes were taking place in the bird’s cells or how they could affect its behavior, so Schulten’s idea gathered dust. Then in 1998, biologists discovered a

The Earth is encased in a vast magnetic field, made of invisible lines of force that wrap around the planet like layers of an onion and meet at the poles

protein called cryptochrome in the eyes of many animals. The protein reacts to light in a way that depends on the orientation of the surrounding magnetic field. In birds, the subtle signals of cryptochrome could help guide navigation, Schulten thought. “Birds are very good at picking up little differences in shades that move through their field of vision,” Schulten says. “The magnetic field may act like a filter modifying what they see, like a cloud floating in the image.” Other researchers who took up the idea have since shown that birds’ magnetic sensing appears to depend on seeing certain wavelengths of light. For example, being exposed to yellow light alone disoriented robins and prevented them from getting a directional fix using the magnetic field. That could be because cryptochrome functions properly only when exposed to certain kinds of light, Schulten says. In September, researchers in Germany published a new study about a pathway in the brain related to vision. That path, they found, also connects areas of the brain known to be active when birds orient themselves to a magnetic field. The scientists concluded that their results strongly support the idea that migratory birds “see” magnetic information. Many researchers reject the light-based theory of magnetic perception, because another biological system appears to explain some of birds’ sensitivity to magnetic fields. Starting in the late 1990s, researchers found concentrations of an iron mineral called magnetite in the snouts of rainbow trout and the beaks of homing pigeons. The magnetite aligns itself to magnetic fields, and nerves link the magnetite-containing cells to the brain. Princeton’s Holland thinks birds may use both methods – the eye-based system and the magnetite deposits – to detect magnetic fields. Knowing which parts of a bird’s body sense

magnetism reveals only half of the story. To understand how birds migrate along magnetic fields, you have to track them. For decades that job fell to Bill Cochran, a trained electrical engineer who retired from the Illinois Natural History Survey in 1992. Cochran entered the ranks of migration research legend in 1973 when he tracked a single thrush more than 900 miles from Urbana to Manitoba, using little more than a radio transmitter and his pickup. Cochran co-authored a study in 2004 showing thrushes adjust their magnetic compasses each day using cues from the setting sun. Birds appear to need the twilight cues because, although they can detect magnetic field lines that run in a north-south direction, their sense is not keen enough to tell the difference between north and south. But seeing the sun setting in the west gives them a reference point, which allows them to calibrate their internal compasses and fly in the right direction. “The way that birds orient themselves in nature is probably much simpler than we assume,” says Princeton’s Wikelski, who worked with Cochran on the twilight study. “They use the one point in their environment that’s never changing – the sunset.” As elegant as the birds’ navigation system appears, they’re not the only animals that can ply the planet’s invisible magnetic seas. Fish, bees and some mammal species also can use magnetic fields to give them direction. And in 1992, California Institute of Technology researcher Joseph Kirschvink found magnetite crystals in human brain tissue. Our hidden magnetic link raises some odd questions. If we closed our eyes and tried to think like a bird finding its way, would anything happen? Holland of Princeton is pretty sure the answer is no. “If we do have a magnetic sense,” he says, “it’s probably weak and not used anymore.”


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The best of times, the worst of times

2007 has been written off as a disaster for New Zealand sport. There’s no escaping from the All Blacks’ traumatic exit from the Rugby World Cup, the Silver Ferns’ wayward final quarter, dipping out on the America’s Cup or the Black Caps flattering to deceive at the Cricket World Cup. Sports columnist Chris Forster has also found a shining quintet from home and abroad to brighten up the perceived gloom BEST OF … SPRINGBOKS’ FAIT ACCOMPLI IN PARIS Clearly the best team at the Rugby World Cup. Unbeaten, rugged, talented and adaptable. Thrashed England 36-nil in Pool play, then ground it out against the same unimaginative side to dominate a try-less final at Stade de France. Coach Jake White masterminded the right mix of game-time, big match temperament and practicality while juggling the ongoing nightmare of racial politics in his homeland. His post-tournament retirement is unfortunate, but that’s another story.


VALERIE VILI – COLLOSUS OF THROWS August produced a stunning shot-put gold for Valerie Vili, at the World Athletics Championships in Osaka, Japan. The 22 year old South Aucklander showed steely determination to heave a stunning sixth and final throw, shunting the 4 kilo sphere of metal well past the 20 metre mark to eclipse her Belarussian rival. It was a personal best, a New Zealand and Oceania record. A golden girl in waiting for next year’s Olympics in Beijing.

MAHE DRYSDALE INSPIRES THE KIWI ROWERS The star turn of another remarkable World Championship haul from the New Zealanders on the famed Olympic course in Munich. The swag of three gold and two silvers in early September is remarkable, but 29 year old Drysdale’s feat of becoming the first single sculler to surge to three consecutive world crowns in the sport’s most competitive discipline, is plain awe-inspiring. The strapping six foot seven athlete is

also a good Kiwi bloke, which only adds to his allure. GRANT DALTON and TEAM NEW ZEALAND They lost a gripping title bout with Alinghi for the America’s Cup after a gutsy, calculated campaign in Valencia got the public back onside and believing again. The 5-2 scoreline flattered Brad Butterworth and Euro-fuelled Swiss holders. A failure in broad terms but not if you consider their impressive march through round robin, and the five-nil blackwash of Luna Rossa to win the Louis Vuitton Cup and earn a crack at the big prize. It was great sport, full of drama to keep sports fans glued to their tellies until the wee small hours of the morning. Dalton’s sublime motivational and PR skills have everyone hoping the court battles don’t get in the way of another memorable regatta in 2009. ROGER FEDERER – AGAIN Two hundred weeks as the top tennis player on the planet. Roger wasn’t perfect in 2007, but he was sublime with another bag of three Grand Slams in his record of 67 wins and an almost baffling 9 defeats. The clay of Paris, Rafael Nadal’s favourite patch of dirt, remains the big obstacle to true greatness, but the Fed is poised to overtake Pete Sampras’ record of 14 major championships next year at the tender age of 26.

WORST OF … THE ALL BLACKS AMBUSHED IN CARDIFF It’s the DVD nasty no-one wants in their collection. Still unthinkable how Graham Henry’s best laid plans came unstuck against a feisty French raid on that illfated October day. But they did and the quarterfinal catastrophe hurt like hell. It tops the list because if the All Blacks had got past France, they certainly would’ve toppled ordinary England and made the final. That would’ve made all the other sporting slip-ups pale into insignificance. But whether they could’ve toppled the Boks and break a 20 year losing streak – that’s a completely different hypothetical question. Roll on 2011. RUGBY LEAGUE HORROR STORY The Kiwis were always going to be up against it in 2007, with a new, untried coach and without a host of household

If the All Blacks had got past France, they certainly would’ve toppled ordinary England and made the final. That would’ve made all the other sporting slip-ups pale into insignificance. But whether they could’ve toppled the Boks and break a 20 year losing streak – that’s a completely different hypothetical question

names like Stacey Jones, Ruben Wiki and Sonny Bill Williams. But to suffer record-breaking humiliation to Australia in Wellington, then to Great Britain in a series sweep – is inexcusable. The New Zealand Rugby League administration deserves even deeper scrutiny than the woes of Gary Kemble’s ramshackle outfit. There are reports of a million dollar-plus debt, while chairman Andrew Chalmers racked-up the expenses watching the team flounder first hand in the UK and France. THE BLACK CAPS EXPOSED On the face of it, making the semi-finals in the Cricket World Cup and the inaugural 20-20 World Cup is no disgrace. But scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find plenty to worry about over the great summer game. Their charmed run in the West Indies came unstuck when they struck their first decent opposition in Sri Lanka. Recently the injury-plagued test side was hammered in South Africa by two record margins. Once again Shane Bond’s fragile body’s given in to the demands of the five day game, and the lack of depth coming through at home is alarming. FERNS WILT UNDER THE PRESSURE New Zealand netball offered a last chance at global salvation in early November. The Silver Ferns were in West Auckland defending their World Championship crown, but it was always going to come down to knocking off the hotly favoured Australians in the final. They survived a scare against Jamaica in the semi-finals, and a nation dared to dream. After clawing their way back courageously from a healthy halftime deficit against the Aussies, they blew it in the

last quarter. Composure deserted the usually safe and vastly experienced hands of ace goalshoot Irene van Dyk and captain Adine Wilson, and the opportunity slipped away, 42-38. Ouch. ENGLAND FOOTBALL’S EUROPEAN DEMISE Now here’s a country which can outdo New Zealand in terms of pure sporting misery and under-performance. England’s failure to qualify for European football’s major championships in Austria and Switzerland almost defied description. After muddling their way through qualifying, including a draw against tiny Macedonia – Israel did them a huge favour by knocking over Russia. All they needed was a draw at Wembley against Croatia to save the day. But they were totally outplayed en route to a 3-2 defeat that broke the hearts of around 60 million Englishmen and women. DRUG CHEAT MARION JONES It wouldn’t be a year in modern sport without a doping scandal, and America’s troubled sprinter Marion Jones topped the charts in 2007. In October the 32 year old admitted taking steroids prior to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney where she scooped five medals, including gold in the glamour 100 and 200 metre races. Those medals have been stripped and Jones is tainted as a cheat for all time. It gets worse for the International Olympic Committee when it decides who to reallocate the medals to. The sprinter who finished second in the 100 metres behind Jones all those years ago – is Greek woman Katerina Thanou, who was banned for two years for ducking a pre-Games drugs test before the Athens Olympics.




The mythology of water

Claire Morrow slings back a few drinks


t makes up 83% of your blood and 75% of lean muscle mass. Your personal trainer will tell you to drink eight glasses a day and you can overdose on it, although you’d have to really try. It must be strictly regulated in order for you to be healthy and – no surprises here – your body does a pretty fine job of looking after that all by itself. It is, of course, water. And like everything good for you, poor old fluid, “tap juice” as an inventive dad told his reluctant child, is – in these ever so health conscious times – subject to myth. My own painstaking efforts to persuade a child that it is not so simple as that water turns into wee and food turns into (falls to


floor laughing) came to naught when I was informed, roundly, that I was mistaken. Enquiries revealed that his preschool teacher was of the same opinion as he on the matter, and she looked equally unpersuaded. It’s true, though. Think about it for just one minute: all the water and fluid and food are all mushed up together in your stomach. They don’t take separate routes. As the mush of all the orally ingested stuff travels through the gastrointestinal system, vitamins and minerals and energy and water are extracted from the mush into the bloodstream. The kidneys are filtering the blood constantly and sent the waste products and leftovers created from running your body and break-

ing down what you put in, to the bladder with old water, also filtered from your blood. The solid leftovers of food, which also contains a fair bit of fluid continues on it’s way and makes small boys laugh. Years ago, when I was feeling smug about my astounding knowledge, I was brought down by being forced to learn acid-base metabolism, and – oh, the pain – found the physiology of fluid balance almost impossible to grasp. It eventually became clear that I had inferred “water” to mean , well “water”. But the human body is not reliant on tap water, but actually water with, you know, salt and stuff in it. That’s the other bit to grasp so you can make sense of hydration. The “water” that

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makes up so much of the human body is actually water with a precise balance of electrolytes in it; in physiology, the primary ions of electrolytes are sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), calcium (Ca 2+), magnesium (Mg2+), chloride (Cl-), phosphate (PO43-), and hydrogen carbonate (HCO3-). Electrolytes drive the body, it becomes ill if they are out of balance, since you need them as chemical messengers to perform such life sustaining tasks as muscle contraction and respiration. That’s the problem with dehydration and its opposite, water intoxification: the balance of chemicals needed to live is wrong, the body can’t do its work. Hence the need to replace fluid lost through strenuous exercise or vomiting and so on, and the reason that people become ill from drinking too much water, diluting their electrolyte concentration, and overworking the poor heart and kidney which try to restore the balance. You don’t see that every day. But yet, while the vomiting infant or the person with kidney failure must be carefully “balanced” fluid wise, the rest of us have taken up the fluid mantra too. Especially during the summer silly season, it’s hard to find a print publication that doesn’t admonish you to drink eight glasses a day. And assuming that you’re healthy to begin with, eight glasses of water is not going to do you much harm. But you don’t need to; it’s a myth. No one actually knows where the “eight glasses a day” idea comes from. The amount of fluid you need to ingest in any day is equal to the amount of fluid you lose. They don’t even need to match up exactly, maintaining fluid balance is an important function the body attends to itself and within reason it will save fluid if it needs to and get rid of any excess. Assuming you are a healthy adult in a temperate zone doing nothing much (sitting at your desk, taking a stroll, not entering marathons or donating masses of blood) the amount of fluid you lose in a day through sweat and breathing and metabolism and excretion will be about eight to 10 glasses worth. But there’s fluid in food, even in more or less dry food, but especially in fruit and vegetables and so forth. That’s four or five glasses of fluid right there, hidden in food. And then, believe it or not, you can count the fluid in…drinks. Well, maybe not in martinis. But contrary to everything you’ve been told, the research is that regular juice and caffeine consumers are accustomed to their consumption and lose little or no fluid as a result of these substances. So, surprisingly, a latte counts towards your fluid intake. Some researchers have gone so far as to suggest that relatively watery mildly alcoholic drinks (beer, cider etc) may still count as “fluid”. No one suggests that you can count martinis. As to “by the time people are thirsty, they are already dehydrated”... thirst begins when the concentration of blood (an accurate indicator of our state of hydration) has risen by less than two percent. The “thirst” is a sign that you want to start putting fluids in to avoid dehydration…. dehydration is beginning when the blood concentration has risen by around five percent. Not that you shouldn’t respond to thirst. Thirst is an indication to drink, but it’s reliable, the body doing it’s job. So yes, increasing your fluid consumption is important if you are somewhere hot, if you are exerting yourself and so on. Increasing the amount of fluid you take on may well solve constipation issues and speed up a hangover recovery, eight glasses a day is fine if you can. Otherwise, drink when you are thirsty, and get me a latte.


Allergic to life

Children are having allergic reactions to peanuts at earlier ages, writes Jean Fisher


hildren are having potentially lifethreatening allergic reactions to peanuts at much earlier ages than a decade ago, signaling a need to be even more vigilant about offering toddlers and preschoolers that old childhood staple – peanut butter and jam. Even though pediatricians recommend waiting until children are at least three to give them foods containing peanuts, Duke University Medical Center researchers in the States found that kids born after 2000 experienced their first adverse reaction to them at a median age of 14 months. Ten years ago, that median age was two years according to the Duke team, which published its findings this month in the journal Pediatrics. The Duke findings are the latest wrinkle in a world where food allergies among children are so much more prevalent that some schools across the country have taken to banning peanut products altogether. While peanut allergy is still relatively rare, affecting about 1.8 million Americans, researchers agree that the numbers are rising – particularly among children. Studies suggest the incidence in children under 5 has doubled since 1997, though the Duke researchers and other scientists don’t fully understand why. It could be that doctors are diagnosing the allergies more than in previous generations. It could also be that food-processing and dietary changes play a role, as do


environmental pollutants. One popular theory, according to the senior author of the Pediatrics article, is the so-called “hygiene hypothesis,” which, simply put, argues that our children are born into a world so scrubbed of germs and bona fide threats that the immune system begins to attack everyday substances such as peanuts, eggs, wheat or milk. Dr. Wesley Burks, chief of pediatric allergy and immunology at Duke and senior author of the journal article, has been working on ways to densensitize kids to food allergies by exposing them to small doses of the allergens over time. In collaboration with scientists at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Burks’ lab reported early this year that they successfully reversed egg allergy in children by feeding them small but increasing amounts of egg protein. Burks has been using the same approach with peanuts, though it likely will be years before the therapy is widely available. Until then Burks suggests keeping an antihistamine such as Benadryl on hand in case of emergency. Serious reactions typically require treatment with epinephrine, a hormone that can quickly stop a life-threatening allergic episode. Jodi Stokes had a huge scare two years ago with her youngest son. Her older son, Kyle, was crazy about peanut butter so she had no reason to think Kevin, the youngest, might be aller-

gic to peanuts. Shortly after Kevin’s first birthday in July 2005, with the blessing of her pediatrician, Stokes spread some peanut butter on crackers and offered them as a snack. Within a minute or two, as Kevin handled the crackers, Stokes noticed a bumpy red rash creeping up his arm. A moment later his eyes were swollen shut, his face had puffed to twice its normal size, and he was gasping for air. “It was the scariest thing I’d ever seen,” says Stokes, who called 911. Kevin, now 3 years old, is a patient at the Duke pediatric allergy clinic. “He was unrecognizable within minutes.” A child’s first exposure to peanuts might not come from food they eat, Burks says. Exposure could come in the womb, if Mum eats peanuts. Or a youngster could touch or inhale peanuts present in trace amounts around them at home or day care. More study is needed to understand that aspect of the phenomenon, Burks says. A person’s immune system must have already encountered an allergen at least once in order for their body to react to it. After the first exposure, the immune system marks the substance as foreign and begins to produce antibodies to the allergen. The next time the immune system encounters the substance it attacks, triggering a powerful reaction that may include itching, swelling, rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing and wheezing. If the reaction is severe enough, a person can go into what’s called anaphylactic shock, which can kill. Up to 200 Americans die from anaphylactic shock caused by food allergy each year, according to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, a health advocacy organization based in the US, Food allergy results in more than 30,000 emergency room visits each year, according to the group. After Kevin’s frightening reaction, his mother purged their house of all peanut products and began strictly policing what Kevin eats at birthday parties and on play dates. Kevin is also allergic to eggs, which makes eating away from home even more challenging. “I try to focus on what he can have, not on what he can’t have,” says Stokes, co-founder of Parents of Allergic Kids, a local support group. “But food is everywhere and you have to be vigilant. The fact is, (Kevin) has something that can kill him in an instant.”

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Atlantic coast

A land of lobsters, lighthouses, dreamy drives and Titanic memories, writes Alan Solomon


UNENBURG, Nova Scotia – Lobsters. You will see lobsters here, possibly lobstermen or, at the very least, lobster traps. Lighthouses. Coves. Maybe a moose. Maybe a bear. Almost certainly, one way or another, you’ll hear bagpipes and accents you’ve never heard before. Beaches. Trees. Lots of trees. If it’s not fall, you’ll wish it were. Graves of Titanic victims. Haddock cooked every conceivable way. Seafood chowder, thin or thick but always white and always good. And one real city. Nova Scotia is very cool. For visitors there are essentially three reasons to come here: Halifax, because it’s just about unavoidable and therefore not to be missed; cute little fishing villages on cute little coves with cute little inns and B&Bs


and cute little restaurants serving lobsters (MKT price, and not cheap) to people wearing cute little bibs; and Cape Breton. We’ll discuss all those things here. First, Halifax, described by Heather Britton, a resident, thusly and fondly: “Not too much chaos and mayhem.” It should be mentioned that Ms. Britton, 31 and blond, said that in a dripping wetsuit, having just emerged from surfing the Atlantic off Martinique Beach, minutes from downtown Halifax. That’s an image you rarely imagine when considering a trip to the Maritimes. Back to business. Metro Halifax has a population of about 372,000 folks. The pubs-to-folks ratio in Halifax is, in all respects, favorable. It is on a harbour that pedestrians reach via sidewalks that slope abruptly

down to it, which – along with a tendency toward general dampness and rain showers – give the city a vague resemblance to Seattle, with hints of Toronto. It’s a city of parks and colleges and old churches. The Public Garden is a knockout. (A pond there is home to hundreds of ducks – and a floating, so far, model of the Titanic. There’s probably a story there.) There is no shortage of restaurants, mainly seafood but plenty representing your favorite ethnic persuasion, notably pizza. There is a boardwalk along the harbor that features fast and slow food and all manner of boat rides. There is also, in Halifax, an old British fort overlooking the city, the Citadel, which never saw wartime action. It, like the reconstructed French Ft. Louisbourg a few hours up the road (even the forts are

bilingual here), should be visited by every Canadian schoolchild; for the rest of us, there are pubs. And museums. A couple are especially notable. Pier 21 was the Ellis Island of its place and time. In the last decades of the steamship era, from the late 1920s until the facility was closed in 1971, this big old hangar-like thing was a port of entry for Canada-bound immigrants, mostly from Europe. Many were refugees from wars and political upheaval. More, perhaps, sought a better life. And this is good: Right after World War II, Pier 21 welcomed 48,000 war brides, most from England, and 22,000 of their children. Considering 494,000 military personnel shipped out for Europe from this pier during the war – not all of them eligible bachelors – Canadian men are to be congratulated for their efficiency as well as their service to the cause. The building reopened as a museum in 1999, and it’s a good one. In the heart of the boardwalk action is the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. If you’re really into boats, passenger and otherwise, you’ll love this museum. If you get here before Nov. 4, you’ll see a “Pirates!” exhibit that features the actual top of the skull (yo-ho!) of an actual pirate. This is also where you’ll learn about the Halifax Explosion, a man-made blast exceeded in world history only by the one that flattened Hiroshima. It happened in 1917 when two ships (one loaded with munitions) collided in the harbor, and there are pictures and accounts. This museum, too, is where you’ll see chunks of the Titanic. The iceberg that sank the unsinkable was about 800 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia. When word came, ships out of Nova Scotia sailed to search for what was left. Some of what was left is in this museum: a deck chair, sizable remnants of a staircase and archway, a piece of life jacket worn by John Jacob Astor. What those ships brought back, as well, is in Halifax cemeteries. Fairview Lawn Cemetery contains the graves of 121 passengers. Every marker represents a story, many that will never be known; some of the markers – the few with more than a number or a number and name – do tell us some things. Barry Oakley, a guide for Ambassatours Gray Line, tells us more.

“She was here,” he said of the Finnish woman whose DNA sample provided a clue to the identification of a heretofore unknown child buried at Fairview. “Supposedly she was asked by the people here if she wanted his name put on the headstone here, and she said, ‘No, I don’t want to change anything now. It’s been like that since 1912.’” That was in 2002. Just this year, more research and more samples determined the child wasn’t this woman’s Finnish relation after all. The victim was a 19-month-old English boy. Name on a stone a few steps down the row: “J. Dawson.” Another story. Fans of the movie will recognize the name ... There’s more to Halifax, of course, but it’s time to explore a bit. We’ll go west first, along the south shore out of Halifax. The scenic route – “the Lighthouse Route,” in provincial promotion-ese – mostly follows the coastline, past many coves. Most famous is Peggy’s Cove, home to an unusual rocky shoreline, a classic lighthouse, a village that’s mostly little stores selling a variety of stuff, and a large restaurant whose large gift shop sells a few nice things and lots of junk. Peggy’s Cove is a disappointment. “It certainly has its charm,” said another town’s visitor information person, “but with 10 buses at any time, it’s just crawling with people. The dead of winter, if you go there it’s more special than at this time of the year.” Mahone Bay is a summer town that’s exceptionally well-dressed. Nice place, no doubt, to inherit a cottage. But pushing on, we find Lunenburg. Founded in the 1750s, it grew into a major trading, fishing and shipbuilding port. It adjusted as the world changed around it, but the historic essence of the town was preserved – to the extent that in 1995, UNESCO added Lunenburg’s Old Town harbor district to its World Heritage List. Lunenburg does not disappoint. “We want to keep it how it is,” said Cheryl Corkum, a Lunenburg lifer who has been welcoming visitors here for 35 years. “You won’t find shopping malls. You won’t find McDonald’s. You can get that in Bridgewater.” We don’t get to Bridgewater – despite the possibility of scoring a McLobster ($5.99 Canadian for the sandwich, $7.99

for the Value Meal. True.) – but a short drive away is Blue Rocks, another cove with a village attached like mussels on pilings. No restaurants, and not many people. Walk softly and bring a camera. Now, driving east from Halifax along the water, we have the “Marine Drive.” Here, among yet more coves, we take a culinary plunge. The donair is a meat sandwich that resembles the Greek gyros or the Middle Eastern shawarma or the Mexican tacos al pastor or the Turkish doner. “Nova Scotia is the only one that has it,” said Joanne Toulany. In her Head of Chezzetcook food shop, she proceeds to cut a few slices off a dull-brown cylinder of cooked meat product (“It’s pressed beef,” she insisted) standing vertically on a spit. “When you have it, you’re going to tell the world about it. “It’s good, but it’s messy.” Not far from here is the Fisherman’s Life Museum, as simple as the life of the fisherman who owned the little house and outbuildings. Except that this fisherman and his wife had 13 daughters. No sons. None of the 13 became fisherwomen. “They were very superstitious people,” said interpreter Linda Fahie, ignoring the reality that this family could have stopped at 12, “and they thought it was bad luck to take a girl on a fishing boat.” Brief timeout: This narrative is going way faster than the actual drive did. Distances are fairly short in Nova Scotia – you can drive the length of the province in 8 hours – but there are distractions. Back on the road. Sherbrooke. Very cool. A town that once was a medium-big deal (lumber, gold, fishing), it was dying when, in 1969, the appropriate powers got together and turned most of it into Historic Sherbrooke Village. The “living museum” preserves a town frozen, mostly, in the late 1800s. Nancy Beaver, born in the town in 1955, shows visitors around the 1854 Presbyterian church. “These buildings are our actual buildings,” she said. “They aren’t buildings that were brought in to make a town, like some museums are.” Port Bickerton. Wonderful lighthouse set on a fragrant hill. The government was going to turn the area into a dumping station for PCBs. The town said no. The restored lighthouse and visitor center opened to visitors in ‘97.


Country Harbour. Waiting for the ferry with rubber-booted mussel workers. A Prince Edward Island company owns the mussel farm, but the farm is here. “Ours,” said Michelle, “are the best.” Explained Carl: “Clean water. Cleaner harbor. It’s all pure saltwater here.” Cape Breton. The Cabot Trail. One of the great drives in North America. It takes about 4 {hours to make the 185mile Baddeck-to-Baddeck loop around Cape Breton. If you do it in 4 {hours, congratulations, but you did it wrong. The drive features 24 scenic overlooks, two major waterfalls, some great beaches – a couple that are busy and more that


you and someone you like a lot can have almost to yourselves. It’s Scottish early and French late and Irish from time to time, and you can hear it in the accents. Some of the overlooks are absolutely dreamy. There are trails to hike, craftspeople to meet, whales to scan for. “They’re always around from May to October, just maybe not where you want them to be,” said Mary MacDonald, a Cape Breton Highlands National Park interpreter who, on this day, was stationed at Lakies Head with whale exhibits to show and several pairs of binoculars to share.

GETTING AROUND: Much of central Halifax is walkable; taxis are plentiful for areas that aren’t. Exploring the rest of the province by car is a pleasure; distances are short, traffic is rational and driving the Cabot Trail is a prime reason to visit the province. STAYING THERE: For the most part and particularly along the coasts, independent motels, inns, resorts and bed-and-breakfasts are the most common lodging options once out of Halifax. Rental cottages are also available. On summer weekends and any time during fall color season (late September into October), advance reservations are strongly advised. Cape Breton, especially, abounds in B&Bs; folks doing the Cabot Trail who are more comfortable in larger properties will find the largest concentrations in Baddeck and in Cheticamp, an Acadian community. Recommended in Halifax: a new Courtyard by Marriott, just off the waterfront (doubles from US$151;, and the venerable (1928), renovated Lord Nelson, across from the Public Garden and convenient to the Spring Garden Road shopping and dining strip (from US$165; www. DINING THERE: Expect local seafood (lobster, scallops, haddock, halibut, mussels and farm-raised Atlantic salmon); smoked salmon and mack-


There had been sightings, she said, notably of fin whales. “That would be the largest whale you’d see around here,” she said. Of all living animals, only blue whales are larger. At Bay St. Lawrence, we chat with fishermen bringing in snow crabs. At Meat Cove, reachable by dirt road, we see one of the dreamier overlooks above a similarly dreamy beach. Meat Cove? “Because there’s such an abundance of wildlife,” explained Wilena Hinse, who works the visitor center with partner Derek McLellan. “Today there’s no caribou left, but we have a very nice population of moose, white-tailed deer, black bear ... you name it, we have it.” But there’s a wide-open campground ... “We do have moose that sometimes walk through it,” said McLellan. “We just step aside while they do their business.” On a piece of land just past Cheticamp, on the French side of Cape Breton, are 98 scarecrows. Yes, 98. Yes, there’s a story. When you get here, ask Ethel, in the diner. Her dad did this. “Dad,” said Joe Delaney’s daughter, when asked to name his favorite scarecrow, “always favored Rory ...” And there’s a story there too. So this is Nova Scotia, as least parts of it. Never got to Digby, with its scallops. Never got to Kejimkujik National Park, and still don’t know how to pronounce it. Did try a McLobster. Not terrible. Donairs are better. Look out, world.

erel, when you can find it, are especially good, and you won’t want to miss the multiple interpretations of seafood chowder. Another specialty, local to Lunenburg and with a fine, fine name: Solomon Gundy, a herring dish. Donairs, a gyros-type sandwich, is usually found at shops also selling pizza. Especially enjoyed on this trip: In Halifax, The Press Gang, for atmosphere and creative variations of the standards (902-423-8816; www.; McKelvie’s, for the standards done just right (902-4216161;; and Il Mercato, a relaxed Italian bistro (902422-2866; And the view is the thing at Salty’s, on the waterfront (902-423-6818; Around the province: In Lunenburg, the Old Fish Factory (800-5339336; is just right for this old fishing town; in Baddeck, onetime home of Alexander Graham Bell (there’s a museum), townsfolk touted the Bell Buoy (902-295-2581;, and they were right – but my favorite seafood chowder on the whole trip was at the restaurant in the Lynwood Inn (877-666-1995; www.lynwoodinn. com). If you’re anywhere near Hubbards, go for the fish cakes – another Nova Scotia specialty – at the modest but genial Trellis Cafe (902-857-1188). INFORMATION: Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage (Explore Nova Scotia),


ANGKOK, Thailand – Bangkok is a city filled with all kinds of engaging people; the challenge – as you may have heard – is getting to them. Though I found Ben with no problem. On Saturday morning, I walked out of my hotel at the end of Soi 2 to Sukhumvit Road, where I headed west – the tall Skytrain track looming suggestively above my left shoulder – to Soi 12, where I had been told to look for Crepes & Co. on the opposite side of the street from Cabbages & Condoms. Like many of the people I meet, Ben was a FOAF (friend of a friend), accompanied by a few friends: two American expats and a handsome young Thai. The Americans were working in government, law, computers; enjoying life, for the most part, in a steamy, overgrown metropolis packed with pleasant, decorous people. Though, they all admitted wearily, they were frequently asked to sing “Hotel California” (especially Ben, who hailed from San Francisco). And there was no good Mexican food around. Which, for a city with a large foreign population, in a country that also eats fire, was a little surprising. But there were a number of other distractions for farangs (foreigners). “I know somebody who works for the U.S. Embassy,” John said. “One of her jobs is to send home the bodies of Americans who die here. There is a high suicide rate in the expat community. And she told me that when she goes to the home she always finds three things: a large stash of cash, drugs and sexual paraphernalia.” Late for the movie, I grabbed a taxi, a big mistake. Unable to make a right on Sukhumvit Road, the driver headed east, then south, making a long, circuitous loop on a car-clogged Saturday night. Five minutes before show time, he dropped me off in front of the Emporium. A glittering mall, it rose up instead of spreading out. The cineplex, of course, was on the top floor. Escalators carried me in air-conditioned splendor to a maze of food islands and indoor cafes through which I hurriedly worked my way to the ticket counter. There, a young woman handed me my ticket and then brought her hands together under her chin and bowed. The uniformed young man who checked my ticket did the same. I had never been so respectfully ushered into a movie. This gesture, known as a wei, would have seemed out-of-place had the ticket been for, say, “Shallow Hal.” But I was going to see a Thai film, “The Overture,”

about a village boy who grows up to be a master of the ranad, or bamboo xylophone, playing it even during World War II when traditional Thai arts were actively discouraged by a regime bent on modernization. It was a beautifully told story that made an eloquent statement about the role of national culture in perpetuating national identity. Before the movie began everyone in the theater stood, as they do before all movies, even “Shallow Hal,” while the national anthem played and the screen filled with a photo montage of the beloved king. The taxi Sunday morning had it easy, gliding unobstructed down Sathorn Nua Road to Christ Church. Attending Holy Communion in an Asian capital gives you a whole new perspective. The interior featured wooden chairs with armrests instead of pews, and there were no kneelers, or even cushions for kneeling. The clear Gothic windows on the south side looked out on clumps of palms, bringing to mind a phrase coined by the writer Pico Iyer: tropical classical. The Anglican service, conducted by an Australian priest, was very informal, even the baptism of the triplets: Chawin, Chawit, Chawisa. (To me, the names sounded less like a family than a conjugation.) Afterwards, everyone repaired to the parish hall where tables had been pushed together for a tropical classical feast: bowls of calamari salad and curried chicken sat brilliantly next to square pans of macaroni and cheese. “Do you always eat like this after the service?” I asked a woman. “We always have lunch,” she said. “But usually something simpler. Today’s special because of the baptism.” Most of the parishioners were Anglo expats, a few with Thai spouses (predominantly wives). I asked a Canadian consultant how he liked living in Bangkok. “There are constant assaults on your conscience,” Dave said thoughtfully. “The way the disadvantaged are treated, the great gap between rich and poor. There are no retirement funds, no social welfare, no safety net. For farangs, of course, things were different. “Thais are gracious, accepting,” Dave said, “up to a point. They smile. They give the wei. It shows respect, deference to your position. I have a hard time with that at work. You and I don’t do that; we see each other as equals. Why can’t they come up to me and tell me what they think? But INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008, 79



Of molecules and Marx

James Morrow looks at the new arms race in the kitchen


ike genetic engineering and climate change, “molecular gastronomy” is little more than a post-modern scientific gloss on a phenomenon that has been occurring for ages. Just have temperatures have swung north and south since long before the Industrial Revolution, man has been tinkering with the genes of the plants and animals he consumes. That summer corn you enjoy slathered in salt and butter? It was developed thousands of years ago by North American Indians, the product of work and experimentation to modify the genes and domesticate a crop that in its previous form was inedible. Likewise the estimated 24 billion chickens pecking and scratching their way around their little patches of the planet at any given moment are only the efficient (if noisy) little producers of eggs and meat they are because of ancient husbandry – or as the headline-writers would have it, “genetic modification”. Molecular gastronomy must be looked at in much the same historical context. While the term was only popularised by a pair of European scientists in the 1980s,


and went on to become a household term with foodies everywhere when tales began to emerge of a little restaurant called El Bulli in a hard-to-reach corner of Spain whose chef Ferran Adria was the whispered high priest of this dark alchemy, the use of scientific terminology to describe kitchen processes dates back at least to 17th century France. And indeed there is no reason why scientific principles should not be taken into account in the kitchen. For in many ways, the kitchen is just one big chemistry lab: Heats, acids, pressures are applied, liquids are transformed into solids and vice versa, microscopic particles managed, all in the service of a result. This has been going on since the beginning of time. One need not resort to post-modern methods to perform clever chemical tricks. Some of the items on the current menu at London’s Fat Duck restaurant, another temple of molecular gastronomy, include “Hot and Iced Tea”, “Nitro-Scrambled Bacon and Egg Ice Cream”, and “Radish Ravioli of Oysters”.

Now the Fat Duck is thought to be one of the best restaurants in the world, and its chef Heston Blumenthal, is one of the cleverest chefs alive today – complete with an OBE to prove it. For the home chef, however, such cooking is really taking place in another level of the troposphere. I prefer a more down to earth approach. Menu items should not sound like Kevin Rudd soundbites, full of clever terminology and non sequiturs, signifying nothing. Rather, keep things simple. One of my favourite phenomena is the practice of cooking without heat, something that is particularly pleasant in summer. Instead of fire, acid or some other agent performs the molecular transformations that take place in cooking. Centuries ago – history does not relate when the practice began – locals of northern Peru stared cooking fish with the juice of citrus fruits, particularly limes, lemons and oranges. This quick cooking method sees the proteins of the fish “denatured”, which is exactly what happens when any flesh is cooked. The resulting dish is known as “ceviche” or “cebiche”, and can be replicated with just about any fish as well as scallops, octopus or squid, though most commonly it is prepared with thin strips of white-fleshed fish. Meanwhile, on literally the other side of the world, Scandinavians have cooked their own fish by burying it in salt. Here the salt performs the same function as the citrus, denaturing the proteins and essentially cooking it – though what results is a drier preparation known as gravalax. What’s the point of all this? Simply that the whole notion of molecular gastronomy is creating something of an artificial divide. Over the past two decades home chefs have become increasingly sophisticated in terms of skills, knowledge and equipment, blurring the line between amateur and professional. Molecular gastronomy is a natural reaction to this phenomenon, creating a creeping credentialism that once again affirms the position of elite chefs while forcing the rest of us into an arms race of equipment and knowledge. Despite this seemingly Marxist analysis, it need not be that way. Every time you cook, you are knowingly or not, employing principles of science, physics and chemistry. Try some gravlax or ceviche at your next dinner party and secure your place in the culinary nomenklatura.

Salad of Gravalax with Oysters in Tempura Batter

(Adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Passion for Seafood) This may seem a little fussy but most of the preparation can be done ahead of time. It’s a great starter for a special dinner; follow it with something simple but stellar so you can spend time with your guests. You’ll need: 1 side fresh salmon (whole filet), about 1 kg 75 g rock salt 25 g caster sugar 2 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper 75g fresh dill 3 tbsp olive oil and sherry vinaigrette mixed with 1 tsp honey and 1 tsp coarse-grained mustard 300g mixed salad leaves

For the oysters: 18 rock oysters 80 g self-raising flour + 3 tsbp for dusting 1 egg yolk 2 egg whites Olive, groundnut or sunflower oil for frying Sea salt Method: 1. Skin the salmon and lay in a long, narrow dish (you may need to cut in half to do this. 2. Mix together the rock salt, sugar and pepper. Finely chip the dill stalks and about 1/3 of the leaves and mix with the seasoning, reserving the rest of the dill. Press half the mix firmly on the fish, turn over and repeat. Wrap tightly in cling film, place into the dish and weigh down with a plate – taking care not to crush the fish. Chill in the fridge for 24 hours. 3. Drain off the liquid from the dish. Rinse off the seasoned coating with cold water and pat dry. Sprinkle the reserved dill on the salmon and re-wrap, then chill for at least three more hours. 4. Using a long sharp knife cut wafer-thin slices from the fish, starting at the tail end.

Lay slices on a clean tray. 5. To prepare the oysters, sift the flour into a small bowl. Gradually beat in the egg yolk and 150ml cold water until you have a smooth batter. Whish the egg whites in a clean mixing bowl until firm, white and glossy. Using a large metal spoon, fold the whites into the batter, making sure they are evenly incorporated. 6. Mix the 3 tablespoons of flour with ½ teaspoon of salt. Toss the oysters into the coating mixture one by one, shaking off any excess. 7. Mix the vinaigrette and toss with the salad leaves. Make mounds of the dressed salad in the centre of each of six serving plates. Surround the salad with slices of gravalax. 8. Just before serving, pour 2cm of oil into a deep, heavy pan and heat until a cube of bread browns in about 30 seconds. Dip each oyster into the foamy part of the batter, then gently lay into the oil. Fry for about one minute, turning, until the coating turns just golden brown. As the oysters are finished, drain, then arrange on top of the salad and serve straight away. Serves 6


realLIFE drive touchLIFE

MERC IT LARRY PRINTZ takes the CL500 for a spin

The Mercedes-Benz CL500 coupe is not so much a car as it is an exercise in automotive art. Drink in its smooth, sculpted flanks, offset by a discreet use of chrome. The elegantly curved roof accentuates the car's graceful design. Its allure is hard to ignore. Go on; imagine climbing inside with your significant other. Gaze at the sweeping instrument panel accented in burl walnut trim. The well-bolstered leather seats are firm, yet forgiving. It's the perfect perch from which to drive this rolling sculpture. The rear is reserved for spur-of-the-moment purchases on the way to your weekend home. A push of a button starts the car. You switch on the heated steering wheel and seats – it's a little nippy outside – as well as the back massage. The


rolling lumbar relieves that minor backache you received from slaving over a hot laptop all day. Switch on the audio system to a random FM frequency. Old Blue Eyes fills the cabin with "Come Fly with Me." Perfect choice. Put the car in gear. Up front, a 5.5-litre double-overhead-cam V8 unleashes 382

horses, enough to make things fun. You could have chosen the larger 517-horsepower 6.2-litre V8 or one of two turbocharged 5.5-litre V12 engines, but who could really tell the difference? There's an effortless flow of power. This coupe is fast enough to get into trouble. And with an EPA rating of 6.3km/l city, 9.6 km/l highway, it drinks premium fuel at a rate of 6.8 km/l. Some things in life are worth the cost. The seven-speed automatic transmission is so smooth, you don't even notice it's working. The car is smooth, responsive, refined – and quiet. The only rattling you hear is from the change in your pocket. The ride is controlled, with a suppleness that seems impossible given the sporty handling. As you take a corner, your seat's motorized bolster extends outward to hold you in place. Bumps are noticed but never felt. And the car stops as if someone dropped anchor. Some cars seem pre-ordained for greatness. Their beauty is beguiling, their form perfectly executed. The Mercedes-Benz CL500 coupe is that kind of car. For some, the price is right. For the rest of us, the price makes the CL500 a car we can only dream of owning, just like we dream of hitting the lottery. Tickets, anyone?

BIG BROTHER: The CL600 [above, below] If the V8 isn't enough for you, Mercedes have gone the whole hog with the V12 CL600. The power upgrade delivers 517bhp and a 0-100 dash in just 4.6 seconds. Both models feature the Active Body Control suspension system that stabilises the car through corners. While other manufacturers like Porsche are coveting it, so far Mercedes has resisted the urge to sell the technology. On that basis, you can probably expect to see it in family passenger cars within a few years, in much the same way that ABS and other safety systems have trickled down the lofty heights they originated on. CL500 WHAT WE SAY: A dream car Pro: An exercise in seduction Con: Few will ever get to enjoy it STATS: Engine: 5.5-litre V8 Power: 285 kW 0-100: 5.4 seconds Wheelbase: 2954 mm Length: 5065 mm Weight: 1,995 kg Cargo space: 490 litres EPA rating (city/highway): 6.3/9.6 km/l Fuel consumption: 6.8 km/l Fuel type: Premium unleaded


touchLIFE newsbrief

"X" Hits The all-new Nissan X-TRAIL compact SUV expands its off-road capabilities while offering improved on-road dynamics along with greater passenger space, comfort and safety. The new X-TRAIL also benefits from the "intelligent" ALL MODE 4x4-i four-wheel drive system as well as a revised version of the proven 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that provided the sparkling performance and excellent economy that set the original X-TRAIL apart. There is a new six speed manual gearbox for the ST and STL models and a full ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) with traction control is standard on all but the price leading ST model.


While the power has increased slightly, it is the revised torque curve that helps the new X-TRAIL deliver improved mid-range response while still returning excellent fuel consumption figures that with the CVT are actually an improvement over both the five-speed manual and four-speed automatic versions of its predecessor. The all-aluminium engine produces 125kWs of power, along with 226Nm of torque to continue the lively nature that was a feature of the original X-TRAIL. With twin overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder, the 2.5-litre engine also uses a sophisticated CVTC (Continuous Valve Timing Control) system to ensure a useable spread of power and torque over a wide operating range that assists performance both on and off-road.

The Spot The ST-L and the range-topping Ti - are equipped with Nissan's Electronic Stability Program (ESP) including Stability Control and Traction Control with Active Brake Limited Slip, Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist. Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control, as part of the electronically controlled 'intelligent' ALL MODE 4x4-i four-wheel drive system, are new to X-TRAIL and help extend its off road capabilities. The ST has an enhanced version of the ALL MODE 4x4 transmission fitted to the outgoing X-Trail. All models are equipped with four-wheel disc ABS brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA). Passive safety is enhanced with the fitment of dual front, front side and full-length curtain airbags on all models, along with front active headrests, side anti-intrusion bars and a collapsible steering column. The new body is designed to maximise interior space while continuing with the traditional X-TRAIL's functional, yet stylish look. Driver vision is assured by the generous glasshouse, while the increase in all body dimensions improves passenger and luggage space without sacrificing performance or economy. The new X-TRAIL gets a new chassis that contributes to enhancements in driveability on the road as well as abilities off-road. With MacPherson strut suspension at the front, and a multi-link system at the rear, the new X-TRAIL offers a more refined, comfortable ride, while efficiency and handling are assisted by the adoption of electric power steering. Despite the larger body, the new X-TRAIL retains the same 10.6-metre turning circle as the previous model. Wheel sizes on the new X-TRAIL are 16-inch steel wheels with 215/65R16 tyres in ST models, 16 inch alloys on the STL and 17-inch six-spoke alloy wheels with 215/60R17 tyres for the Ti versions.

The new X-TRAIL offers even more space for five passengers as well as a luggage area that can be expanded to a maximum of 1773 litres when the new 40/20/40 split folding rear seats are folded and the clever two-level floor with its sliding drawer is removed. In true X-TRAIL style, the luggage area has a practical, durable and easily washable surface. The new X-TRAIL also offers improvements in trim quality to enhance impressions of style and luxury, while the dashboard layout now places the instrument binnacle directly ahead of the driver to improve overall functionality. Familiar X-TRAIL innovations include the cup holders at either end of the instrument panel that are able to heat or cool drinks, now enhanced by two similarly heated or cooled cup holders for the rear-seat passengers as well. Standard in all new X-TRAIL models are a drive computer, exterior temperature gauge, cruise control, height-adjustable driver's seat, air conditioning, CD sound system, power windows, remote keyless entry, 12-volt cargo area power outlet, cargo area tie-down hooks, double luggage floor, cargo area cover, roof rails and 2000 kgs towing capacity. ST-L gains 16-inch alloy wheels and the full 4x4-i transmission with ESP, Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control. The Ti adds 17 inch alloy wheels, climate-control air-conditioning, a leather trimmed steering wheel and a six-speaker sound system with six-stack, in-dash MP3- capable CD player, a large glass sliding power sunroof, front fog lights, leather trimmed gear knob and hand brake lever and a chromed grille and door handles. The Ti leather model has full leather upholstery with power operated seats and front seat heaters. Despite the high standard specification level on the X-TRAIL ST, pricing starts at $35,395 for the six speed manual and $36,995 for the CVT automatic. The mid-specification ST-L is priced from $36,895 for the manual and $38,495 for the CVT automatic while the range topping Ti is priced from $40,595 for the cloth upholstery CVT automatic version. Leather upholstery is an additional $2300.




Tissot T-Touch Danica Patrick Limited Edition

The IndyCar Circuit may be perceived as a man’s world, but 25-year-old American driver Danica Patrick doesn’t let that faze her. In a world where performance is what really matters and where timing is the key, Danica retains her femininity while giving the men a run for their money. Voted IndyCar Most Popular Driver of the Year for 2005, 2006 and 2007 Danica finished the current season scoring her career best, with a championship points finish of 7th. To celebrate Danica’s success, Tissot has released the T-Touch Danica Patrick Limited Edition. The timepiece has a polished titanium case, mother-of-pearl dial set with 58 diamonds and is teamed with a matching white rubber strap. The special case back depicts an Indy racing car, Danica’s signature and the limited edition number out of 2007 units. The T-Touch model offers proprietary technology activated with the touch of a finger. Functions for the T-Touch include a compass, alarm, altimeter, barometric pressure, chronograph and thermometer, as well as time and date. RRP $2350. For further information: Contact: Vanessa Hefer at GMB Watch, Level 4, 19 Great South Road, Newmarket, Auckland, Ph 09 309-4948, Fax 09 309-4942, email: or Debra Douglas, Chaucer Partnership, Ph 09 521 7446,

Times goes by Gift ideas

Summer Entertaining

Maximise the entertaining months ahead with something for every taste and style. When serving up, impress your guests with the new small eclipse shaped bowls ($9.95 each) and large rectangular service platter with divided dishes ($89.95). These pieces are designed to add a contemporary feel to your tabletop and make the job as ‘host’ an easier one! Amoeba is a high quality, extremely durable range that is suitable for use in the dishwasher and microwave. Beautifully gift boxed, consider Amoeba as an ideal Christmas or Wedding gift. Another great Christmas gift idea and summer entertaining option is the new Living Art Serving Bowl and Pasta Sets ($54.95 for 5 pc sets). The large bowl (34cm wide) offers the perfect centrepiece for any entertaining occasion. Beautifully hand crafted by Australian designers, each piece is hand painted in two vibrant summer designs reflecting the latest seasonal colours and themes. Styles include Lyrica and Sundowner offering everything from traditional Italian greens to fresh summer inspired stripes. For a full list of stockists visit or phone 09 634 1489.


Epson Stylus Photo RX610 The Stylus Photo RX610 has six individual colour ink cartridges, so consumers replace only the ink cartridges that are used for cost effective printing. With fast print speeds up to 38ppm, and borderless 4x6 inch photo printing in as little as 12 seconds, the Stylus Photo RX610 is efficient and productive in both home or small office environments. The Stylus Photo RX610 features Epson PhotoEnhance a utility that enables consumers to produce the optimum print every time by automatically adjusting the colour balance to allow for the different requirements of portraits, landscapes or groups. In addition, RX610 also comes with PortraitEnhance to detect faces in an   image and enhance face definition and skin radiance to ensure beautiful, natural skin tones. The Stylus Photo RX610 is capable of PC-free photo printing, copying and scanning, thanks to a 2.5 inch LCD viewer with simple menus offering easy viewing, selecting, copying and printing of photos without a computer, as well as a multi-format memory card reader for simplified photo management. For added ease of use, the Stylus Photo RX610 supports PictBridge, for fast and effortless PC-free digital printing of high quality photographs directly from a digital camera. The Epson Stylus Photo RX610 is RRP $349 including GST and is available for purchase at consumer electronics retailers, computer superstores, mass merchandisers and office superstores.

DENON’s S102 2.1 SMART THEATRE SYSTEM The S102 2.1 Smart Theatre system supports the same ‘compact’ form but in a more stylish domestic ensemble to its predecessor the S101. It comprises of a stylish A/V control unit with built-in 1080p DVD/CD player, a powerful subwoofer houses all the amplification (2 x 35 watts front channels, 1 x 70 watt channel subwoofer) and when combined with two satellite speakers, the S102 offers truly amazing surround sound from its 2.1 speaker setup. Normal home movie theatre requires a 5.1 channel speaker system, however with Denon’s S102, with just two speakers and the subwoofer it’s possible to achieve a realistic surround sound stage. To create a true surround sound experience from just 2.1 speakers the S102 employs advanced technologies such as Dolby Virtual and dts Virtual to stunning effect. Setting up has never been easier with dedicated connection cords and an easy to follow set up diagram. The ‘one key’ operation of the remote also keeps operation simple and addresses other components including TVs and cable TV tuners. The Denon S102 at $A1,699 is available at selected Denon detailers throughout Australia. For further information on this and other Denon products contact 1300 134 400 or visit or email INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, January 2008, 87


Turn the page

Michael Morrissey picks some holiday reads WILD BEAST: THE ART OF DEAn BUCHANAN By Bob Harvey Exisle Publishing, $59.99


he story of Dean Buchanan’s rise to prominence as a painter is an inspiration to those emerging artists who feel they are not part of the Establishment – not tutored in an exclusive art school or failed to find favour with the art mafia. The critics of course may be right in not esteeming Buchanan’s work highly. Then again, they may be wrong. I have noted with interest that many of our leading art critics have never been to art schools and do not themselves paint. This means their critiques work to some degree in the abstract realm of ideas and not in the studio with paint, palette and light. In the literary world, many critics are also writers and this informs and enriches their critiques with a practitioner’s know-how that art critics’ opinions lack. This book is a dazzling exhibition of Buchanan’s work. Unfortunately, the paintings are not dated though I suspect the emphasis is on more recent work. A majority are paintings of landscapes though one might refine that to plant or bushscapes as many – as noted by Bob


Harvey – show the perspective of someone in the bush looking out through thick layers of growth. This type of perspective is seen in such splendid works as “Huia Bay” or “Forest Deadwood”. And to me, as it may to others, it represents the perspective of a bush walker or tramper and not a tourist who has stopped their car to see a clear view from a structured vantage point. Buchanan is himself a keen, observant and energetic tramper and also mountaineer. To climb Mt Cook for the first time in your fifties is a notable achievement. Both in his work and in person, Buchanan retains a distinct exuberance, a youthful zest that is captivating. His output is astonishing – as much as four canvases a week. Long time painter Peter Siddell, who works in a much more meticulous way, says he was “dumbfounded” at the speed of Buchanan’s production. Like Warwick Roger who wrote the foreword, I’m no art critic but aspects of Buchanan’s work remind me of Philip Clairmont and Van Gogh. Bob Harvey’s accompanying text is a mixed bag. Essentially a hagiography from a fellow West Coast inhabitant and surfer, it seeks to turn Buchanan into a sort of bohemian outdoors holy man. In part, it succeeds – after all Buchanan’s

credentials are excellent – he has been a seagull (casual worker on the wharves), done labouring jobs, surfed, tramped the bush, climbed mountains, swum around the rock at Karekare and – if the hints of Michael Gifkins’ reminiscence of the 70s are to be relied on (quite probably they can) – sampled a few consciousnessaltering substances. The mildly psychedelic look of several – arguably most of his works – the rich texture and innerlooking aspect and the positively trippy looking “Still Life with Fish” gravitate to affirm this conjecture. Personally, I see this as a positive thing – positive in that Buchanan has utilised gratis inner experiences as part of an artistic style and not kept them to himself. Harvey suggests that looking at Buchanan’s work can prompt synaesthesia. If so, we had better use sunglasses to view his paintings if we want to drive home safely. To my knowledge, this mix up of the senses is either congenital, prompted by trauma or by imbibing certain substances but not induced by gaze alone. Harvey’s appreciation of Buchanan’s conversation would have been more effective if he had turned on a tape recorder and let us read more extended examples. While much of his enthusiasm is infectious, Harvey’s 70s

turn of phrase can grate – “Buchanan is the hottest painter in town” ; “His work is indeed everything he is and will ever be”; “He needs you to understand where he is coming from”. At times, his text reads like a PR statement on the back of a pamphlet or catalogue, a writing style indicative of Harvey’s former activity in the advertising field. But at least he gives Buchanan great support. In passing, it was a pleasure to re-meet in the exuberant text that wonderful old character Odo Strewe – a friend of Buchanan, and various other artsy entities of the time and the era. If you haven’t seen any of Buchanan’s works before – an omission that is becoming increasingly unlikely – this book may well prompt a rush to a nearby gallery where, according to Harvey, you can acquire a Buchanan at “affordable prices” (speak for yourself, Bob!).

THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST By Mohsin Hamid Hamish Hamilton,$35


he recent announcement that Mr Pip was not the Man-Booker prize winner must have come as a shock to literary punters – especially kiwi ones. To make matters worse, it was not On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (the other hot favourite) that scored the Big One but a rank outsider – The Gathering by Anne Enright (watch this space for an upcoming review). Of the six short-listed novels,

this is the third I have read. I have been favourably impressed though not blown away with all three thus far but note with interest that the former observation, almost a complaint, that the typical Man-Booker winner was a large rampaging rambunctious novel with a colourful cast (Midnight Night’s Children by Salman Rushdie would be a prime example), has been refuted by the current presence of smaller, almost novella-sized tomes, with a modest cast of characters and no trappings of magic realism. The times they are ‘changin’! OK, let’s have a look at The Reluctant Fundamentalist. The title is a provocation, is it not? For many a westerner a reluctant fundamentalist might sound about as likely as a reluctant drinker in a crowded bar on a Friday night. However, it’s an engrossing read about a cross cultural dilemma – the smarter than smart Asian emigre who comes to the United States to study and is reluctantly more than a little impressed with America’s vast wealth, architecture and power yet also bothered by it to the degree that mixed and even contradictory responses occur. Sounds normal, wouldn’t you say? Make sure you’re well buckled in for the shock of impact when the young Pakistani narrator comes out with the declaration that when the World Trade Center collapsed, he was “remarkably pleased”. Why? Because “someone had so visibly brought America to her knees.”. This ugly but honestly expressed satisfaction (and how remarkable to read such words in a west-

ern publication so soon after the event) seems in part to be inspired by envy. Changez, the narrator, loves being at Princeton University and admires America, yet its opulence makes him feel uneasy and envious. The lobby of the building that houses Underwood Samson – a firm that appraises companies ripe for takeover and who hire him (because he’s such a smart cookie) enjoys a view of overwhelming power. This vista of urban magnificence – more impressive than the Himalayas for being constructed by human beings – causes him to resentfully reflect that four thousand years ago the people of the Indus River basin had well-planned cities and underground sewers while the ancestors of colonial America were “illiterate barbarians”. In other words, Changez resents history – a resentment that any of us can feel at any time. Why them, why not us? Despite what become comprehensible political resentments, Changez is socially the perfect gentleman. He becomes the friend of a beautiful young American woman but not her intimate. At the beach, he is perturbed by her casual nudity, yet lives with his feelings. He is obviously a well-bred young man. And throughout the novel we are conscious of a double layer – Changez is in a cafe in Lahore telling his story to an anonymous American gentleman who, one might suspect, is a member of the CIA or some kind of assassin – such is the dark hint, never made explicit. This is a thoughtful, timely, politically oriented novel which explores the ongoing dialogue of east and west in a polite but perturbing way in supple, acutely analytic prose.

A SENSE OF THE WORLD By Jason Roberts Pocket books, $27.99


s a child I had a recurring nightmarish fantasy of going blind. It wasn’t helped by my increasing short sightedness. Like many, I reflected on the fact it was perhaps better to be born blind than to go blind because you would spend a lifetime of pining after the missing faculty. Moreover your adaption and ability to navigate would never be as skilful as one who had the condition from birth. James Holman was a young captain in the Royal Navy when he suddenly and inexplicably went blind. As Roberts


sardonically observes: “In 1811, most enlightened medical practitioners knew no more about the eye than might a curious butcher.” The unfounded theory of humours still reigned; leeches, bleeding, setons (strips coated in septic substances), pastes of bread and milk, shaving the head three times a week and dunking the scalp in cold water, mercury and sulphur, sugar of lead plus opium were among the medications. None of the cures would help and several would make matters worse. We all know about blind persons becoming outstanding singers (Ray Charles) and musicians (George Shearing) but – an explorer? In the nineteenth century? Prior to the age of flight, Colman became the most travelled person in history. This must surely be one of the most astonishing tales ever told. Though going blind as late as 25, Holman developed phenomenal powers of hearing discernment as well as near total recall. And the developing compensatory sense of navigation – called haptic perception – is vividly and extraordinarily described by Roberts in a manner reminiscent of Oliver Sacks: “Where vision gulps, tactility sips. In the haptic world, an object yields up its qualities not all at once, at the speed of light, but successively over time, and in sequence of necessity. It is not a flash but a process like the procession from rough sketch to finished portrait”. Holman also made use of the aptly named noctograph – originally designed for military use when no lights could be shone – to write. Colman was a genial show-off who could pick a person’s exact location in the middle of a crowded room abuzz with conversation or go aloft on a ship’s mast in the middle of a storm. Being unable to see, he was not bothered by vertigo. This dangerous practice was appropriately called skylarking. His travelling adventures would take more than this slim volume to do full justice to their extent. They included being the first sightless man to climb Mt Vesuvius, a traverse half way across Siberia, horse riding in the interior of Brazil, elephant hunting in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and hair-raising escapades on the exotic island of Fernando Po tucked under the belly of West Africa. While other men perished like flies, the tough Holman survived malarial fevers and everything that Africa could throw at him. By the aesthetic of the time, Holman’s ability to write about his experiences was


sorely disadvantaged. The then philosophy called for descriptions that would invoke the Beautiful, the Sublime and the Picturesque – all of which depended on the visual sense that Holman lacked. Nevertheless, his accounts though mocked by some, became popular yielding the royalties and income that the author desperately needed. Holman was the absolute gentleman and seemed to have no intimate relationships but he greatly enjoyed the company of women. In an intruiging passage, he refers to the appreciation of women who might not have been beautiful to the sighted but had beauty of voice, character or personality. He himself became a skilled raconteur and with his prodigious memory was able to keep a dinner party greatly entertained. Though history is our ultimate judge of what is valued sufficiently to be remembered, it is convincingly argued by Roberts that it has been unfair in forgetting this sometime famous intrepid voyager. This memorable account will help return James Holman, blind world traveller, to public memory.

SHOT IN NEW ZEALAND By Duncan Petrie Random House, $ 49.99


sk the average cinema goer about who were the main protagonists in the film they have just watched and you will almost certain to be given one or two big star names. Ask a film buff and they will probably mention the director. So who would mention the cinematographer or DTs (Directors of Photography) as are they known in the trade? Presumably only people who work in the trade. Duncan Petrie, the newly appointed professor of film at the University of Auckland, has chosen to bring these important, nay essential, participants of the film-making process into focus. Someone may even do a book on the scriptwriters next – though I am inclined to doubt it. Thus said, in my perception, the two cinematographer goers whose names have some public currency are Alun Bollinger and Leon Narby, also well known as a film director. The other nine, all given a well-deserved chapter each, are Warrick `Waka’ Attwell, Graeme Cowley, Stuart Dryburgh, Donald Duncan, Allen Guilford, Kevin Hayward, Murray Milne,

Simon Raby and John Toon. The order of inclusion in scrupulous fairness is alphabetic only. Having worked with Geoff Murphy, Ian Mune, Vincent Ward and Peter Jackson and directing the lens for such key films as Goodbye Pork Pie, Came a Hot Friday, Vigil, Heavenly Creatures (arguably our best film) and the recent River Queen (of which the normally positive Petrie writes, “too much gratuitous slow motion”), Bollinger occupies a central position in New Zealand cinema. He has also – like so many other local directors, been a camera operator, second unit or gaffer on other films – demonstrating the kiwi way of versatility of role. In my minority view, Forgotten Silver, the hoax documentary which fooled the historically ignorant, is the most conceptually clever of all New Zealand films. The many quotes from these cinematographers reveal how painstakingly yet poetically they meditate upon their craft with colours and lighting always being appropriately tailored to the film’s intentions. Some marvellous number 8 fencing wire type strategies are revealed like Graeme Cowley mentioning that they used Christian Dior stockings because they didn’t have proper diffusion filters. The unusual harshness, contrast and variability of New Zealand light – the effect of which on the development of our painting has been debated – is here presented as a plain fact in the making of films. The strong connection with Hollywood and American cinema together with the vigorous use of splendid outdoor locations plus such quintessential American genre films as roadie films is also explored. One ironic drawback to this satisfying book is the illustrations – they are sub-standard. Small to poky shots, often appearing almost out of focus or too darkly lit. Since this is a book about cinematography, this is an almost unbelievable lapse in book production. Solution? – read the text. See the movie.

PARIS: After the Liberation 1944-1949, By Antony Beevor and Artemis Cooper Penguin Books, $29.95


he liberation of Paris! Of all the days in history to have witnessed this must have been one of the most

exciting and compelling. Paris was the art and cultural capital of the world and so its brutish annexation by the Nazis was a terrible oppression. This wonderful book, glowing with a novelist’s lavish detail, gives an overall view of these tempestuous times. De Gaulle was the dominant figure. The tall, dignified general, who apparently was incapable of small talk, was either in power, abdicating it or threatening to seize it throughout this period of French ferment. At times, an uneasy triumvirate of political influence was presented by the government, De Gaulle and the Communists. This list does not exhaust the list of factions by any means. In General Leclerc’s liberating army there were said to be “Gaullists, Communists, monarchists, Giraudists and anarchists working closely together” – a union compelled by the circumstance of war no doubt. There were also in the Parisian mix, numerous artists, writers, and philosophers such as Hemingway, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Camus, Picasso, Malraux and Koestler. Though the anecdotes over their various clashes are numerous and delightfully colourful, you can’t help feeling there is a certain amount of posturing going on. Samuel Beckett probably took a braver stand than most of the Saint Germain cafe set. In the post war confusion, accusations and trials about collaborations during the infamous Vichy government abounded. Marshall Petain, the leader of the Vichy government, was tried, found guilty and condemned to death, a sentence subsequently commuted to life imprisonment. The French love legal drama and many of these trials were like re-runs of the notorious Dreyfus case some fifty years earlier with intellectuals of every ideological hue taking sides. There is a peculiar vibrancy to French intellectual life that is hard to equal in other countries. A key intellectual figure of the times was of course Jean Paul Sartre. The small womanising wall-eyed philosopher, novelist and playwright, was often hard to pin down. Sometimes he was a communist, sometimes he attacked communism, sometimes he just was being his perverse pipe-smoking self. In general, the communists are portrayed as vicious, conniving liars, a portrait that doesn’t, I must confess, bother me at all. One might nonetheless feel sorry (almost) for them as Stalin tended to hold them in contempt. Don’t forget that plenty of drinking went on. For this reader, the anecdotes about writers and artists were more interesting than the passages about rather boring British or American diplomats. Not all the French intellectuals were atheists or communists – there were Catholic writers and intellectuals as well and for some odd reason (maybe mistakenly) I get the impression they drank less. In a well-turned phrase, Francois Mauriac compared the French government’s efforts to stop the black market as being like those of, “the child St Augustine saw on the beach who wanted to empty the sea with a shell”. Hemingway was a champion boozer and not averse to flooring anyone who vexed him. Sartre, on the other hand, when verbally attacked by Koestler for supporting the hideous regime of the Soviet Union, was for once at a loss as to what to say. But Gallic loquacity was the norm. This is a book sumptuously rich in political and personality detail, an absolute must read – an essential text for comprehending this exciting time. A criticism might be there is lot about politics and culture but not so much about the middle classes and the poor – though (sacrilege!) their inclusion might have made it a duller book.


seeLIFE MUSIC usually does it too – its just a matter of who and when); rather the surprise comes when you find that rather than record new material, Plant and Krauss have recorded covers of songs from a wide range of blues, folk and country songwriters including Mel Tillis, Gene Clark, Tom Waits and the Everly Brothers. On the plus side, Krauss sounds as entrancing as ever, with her golden melodies flowing over and through Plant’s refined vocals, which hold up remarkably well. Dare I say it, the pair suit the material they’ve chosen, and Plant particularly stands out. That said, much of Raising Sand is slowmoving and kind of drags along – sure the classic sound here will suit certain times and places, but the highlights, like Led Zeppelin cover “Please Read the Letter” or Naomi Neville’s “Fortune Teller”, are few and far between.

Sounds of summer



Chris Philpott’s eclectic collectibles THE KILLERS Sawdust


egas-based pop-rock darlings The Killers return this month with Sawdust, a collection of b-sides, rarities and miscellaneous tracks the group have grouped together, supposedly inspired by similar 90s releases from Oasis, the Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana. For that reason alone, Sawdust is an interesting and eclectic feast of material that hasn’t appeared on either of The Killers previous albums (2004’s Hot Fuss and last year’s best-selling follow-up Sam’s Town). The material itself comes from a variety of sources, including b-sides from the groups’ singles catalogue (including “All the Pretty Faces”, “Who Let You Go?”, “Ballad of Michael Valentine”), unreleased tracks from album sessions (“Leave The Bourbon On The Shelf”, album highlight “Sweet Talk”), covers (“including Dire Straits’ “Romeo and Juliet” and First Edition’s “Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town”) and tracks included on


movie soundtracks (“Move Away” and Joy Division cover “Shadowplay”). Such a collection is not likely to end up as a well-rounded record, and as you’d expect this release is as messy as they come – however the quality of some of these tracks makes me wonder why they weren’t included on the groups’ official albums. Sawdust is well worth checking out as an accompaniment to the groups’ previous work.



ot on the trail of Mark Knopfler and Emmy-lou Harris’ 2006 collaboration All the Roadrunning comes this wholly unexpected teaming up of legendary Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant and country diva Alison Krauss. Of course, by “unexpected” I don’t mean that I didn’t think it was going to happen (in the entertainment industry, when something works someone else

kay. I’m going to come clean with you, just this once. We all have a secret musical habit, and mine just happens to be generic pop-punk and poprock tunes. There, I said it. Fortunately my habit occasionally turns up a diamond in the rough, and such was the case in 2005 when I came upon Commit This To Memory, the second album from Minneapolis popsters Motion City Soundtrack – so I was fairly excited when I got a hold of their latest, and in my opinion greatest, album Even If It Kills Me. With its catchy pop synths and driving guitar riffs, MCS are bound to get compared to contemporaries like Blink 182, Fall Out Boy and the All American Rejects, whether fairly or not. However, behind top-notch production from legends Ric Ocasek (from The Cars) and Adam Schlesinger (from Fountains of Wayne), this is Motion City Soundtrack’s most varied work yet – sure, singer Justin Pierre shows a vocal range that Justin Timberlake could be envious of, but the songs here just seem to have a little extra something that sets it apart from pop music as a whole, while maintaining its appeal to the mainstream audience. Definitely worth checking out!


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The golden flop

Forget the controversy, The Golden Compass is a dud movie anyway, writes Carla Meyer THE GOLDEN COMPASS Rated: TBC Starring: Dakota Blue Richards, Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Freddie Highmore (voice) and Ian McKellen (voice) Directed by: Chris Weitz 114 minutes


he Golden Compass offers a world of talking animals, flying witches, majestic airships and lead-balloon storytelling. Adapting the first book in Philip Pullman’s “Dark Materials” trilogy, director and screenwriter Chris Weitz presents an almost unrelentingly grim tale that’s too dark for younger kids and not quite thoughtful or exciting enough for adults. For most of its length, the picture fails to develop supporting characters or fully explore Pullman’s complex themes. Just when the pieces start to fall into place, the movie ends, its unanswered questions presumably left for a sequel to resolve. On a technical level, this effects-laden film succeeds quite smashingly. Yet it lacks the narrative clarity necessary to fuel a large-scale fantasy adventure of its sort. That clarity might have gotten lost in


the “dust” connecting universes parallel to the one inhabited by 12-year-old Lyra Belacqua (Dakota Blue Richards). In Lyra’s world, a person’s soul takes the form of an animal companion, or daemon (pronounced ‘demon’; in this movie, demons are children’s friends). Lyra’s uncle, the explorer and scientist Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig), sees great things in the dust. For his trouble, the Magisterium – a kind of papal-Orwellian governing body – tries to poison him. (Pullman’s writings have been accused of being anti-religious, but the film isn’t compelling enough to be persuasively anti- or pro-anything). Asriel survives, but Craig, though supposedly one of the film’s leads, is not long for The Golden Compass. Soon after the film begins, Asriel leaves Oxford, England, to explore points far north. Though minus her uncle, Lyra is guided by a compass that always points to the truth. The compass does not, however, elucidate what makes Lyra special enough to possess this instrument, the last of its kind. Asriel’s absence creates a gap for the glamorous Mrs. Coulter (Nicole Kidman) to enter. Dressed to the nines, Kidman evokes great female screen stars of the past. Her hair is very Marilyn Monroe

and her manner and eyebrows reminiscent of Joan Crawford. Mrs. Coulter is smart and formidable, qualities to which the headstrong Lyra can relate. Screen newcomer Richards shows great self-possession as Lyra, holding her own in scenes with Kidman. A scientist and world traveler visiting the college where Lyra is a ward, Mrs. Coulter wants the girl to become her assistant. She seems to appreciate Lyra’s spirit. Mrs. Coulter’s animal soul, an ornery golden monkey, tells a different story. The monkey acts aggressively toward Lyra’s daemon, and you almost see its point. Voiced by young actor Freddie Highmore, Lyra’s daemon, shifting in shape from ferret to house cat, is whiny and anxious and seems altogether inappropriate for the adventurous Lyra. And in feline form, the creature looks too much like Toonces the Driving Cat. It’s a rare misstep for the stellar technical team behind The Golden Compass, which merges live action and computergenerated imagery to seamless, handsome effect. Gold and pewter tones enhance the beauty of the architecture and clothing. Life is mostly gorgeous, at least for the upper class. Things get stickier for the lower class, whose children are being kid-

… an almost unrelentingly grim tale that’s too dark for younger kids and not quite thoughtful or exciting enough for adults

napped by a group called the Gobblers. Why they want the kids remains a mystery for much of the film. The Golden Compass never seems to follow a single thread for very long. Instead, it introduces new characters for Lyra to meet on her journey. Few make an impact, and one who does makes the wrong kind. Sam Elliott brings the same folksy, cowpoke manner to his airship-pilot Lee Scoresby that he has to countless previous characters. During his time on screen, The Golden Compass seems to have been hijacked by a TNT miniseries.

ENCHANTED Rated: TBC Starring: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Rachel Covey, Susan Sarandon, Idina Menzel and Timothy Spall Directed by: Kevin Lima 107 minutes


oicing the role of a fairy-tale princess in an animated movie doesn’t seem very hard. Maintaining that same storybook spirit in live-action form presents greater challenges. Amy Adams transitions beautifully in Enchanted, a charming twist on Disney fairy tales that should please ‘tween girls especially. As Giselle, Adams (Junebug) brings the same ebullient innocence to her interaction with New York divorce lawyer Robert (Patrick Dempsey) as she does to singing before an audience of woodland creatures in the animated land of Andalasia. The animated portion lasts just long enough to establish the ultra-whirlwind romance of Giselle and Prince Edward (James Marsden, who, like Adams, is delightfully un-ironic throughout). On the

day Giselle and Edward are to be married, Edward’s evil stepmother, Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon), sends Giselle down a well that leads to a modern-day Times Square. Narissa doesn’t want Giselle stealing her thunder or her crown. Alone in the bustling city, Giselle has trouble finding a sympathetic ear. This wide-eyed young woman in a hoopskirted wedding gown makes for a curious sight. But the filmmakers never overplay the fish-out-of-water angle. Giselle is self-confident, whether in Andalasia or Manhattan; and Edward, who has come to rescue her, remains convinced that he’s the bravest in the land – even if he now battles buses instead of ogres. It’s something like fate, after all, that leads Robert’s 6-year-old daughter (a quietly expressive Rachel Covey) to notice Giselle knocking on the faux door of a billboard advertising a “Palace” casino. Whereas Robert thinks Giselle might be loony, his daughter is pretty sure she’s a real princess. Exuding a kindness that enhances his good looks, Dempsey seems like a modern-day Prince Charming. Robert might reject fairy-tale love as fantasy, but he can’t help but be impressed when Giselle draws followers, animal and human, with her singing. Sarandon goes appropriately over the top as the evil queen, and Timothy Spall bumbles effectively as the errand boy in charge of doling out poison apples. Idina Menzel lends spark to the potentially onenote role of Robert’s girlfriend. Enchanted contains some innuendo and a sequence that might frighten sensitive young ones. That’s the thing about live action – the same sequence would be no sweat in animated form.


seeLIFE DVDs Which it is. But this conclusion to Bourne’s odyssey assures us that while his trilogy may be over, spy movies will never be the same. Bourne, ultimately, has reinvented them.

Alpha Dog R16, 118 minutes

Y  Bourne supreme, Chuck not so hot

The Bourne Ultimatum makes for a stunning DVD to watch on the widescreen, argues Roger Moore The Bourne Ultimatum M, 110 minutes


ltimatum picks up the story in Moscow, where Bourne escapes the clutches of the last Treadstone operatives after turning the tables on their leader (Brian Cox). With Cox’s character and (in the first Bourne movie) Chris Cooper’s original “control” dead, Pamela Landy, the CIA section chief on his case (Joan Allen), has figured out that the survival move on her part is to not want Bourne dead. She’s sympathetic and wants to bring him in. But the vast right-wing conspiracy in charge (Scott Glenn heads the CIA, David Strathairn is his new covert killing kingpin) still want the “rogue agent” silenced. That’s because bits of Bourne’s story are reaching the vigilant British press, in the person of a reporter (Paddy Considine) who is on to Treadstone’s successor codename, Blackbriar. The ability to monitor international cell-phone traffic means the spies are onto the reporter. And Bourne, reading his story in print, is on to him, too. Who will get to the guy first? The tale races from Paris to London to Turin to Tangier as Bourne pulls in bits of memory about people involved in his ruthless training.


A car chase in New York, a motorcycle foot race in the glorious housing clutand ter of Tangier, a nervy get-away in London’s Waterloo Station and a hand-to-hand struggle to the death with an assassin all add up to a movie that rarely takes a breather for character. The few slow moments seem trite, by comparison. A visit to the brother of the dead girlfriend, Stiles’ stone-faced flirtation, all unmoving. Strathairn and Allen bicker in front of subordinates like an old married couple, complete with CIA acronyms and spy-craft jargon. All the while, their smart bomb who has wandered off-target is recovering memories and questioning the morality of all this following orders, all this violence. The way Greengrass, Damon, cinematographer Oliver Wood, editor Rouse and composer John Powell package these movies’ chases should be in film-school textbooks: Shoot the hurried Damon with a hand-held camera, fairly tight so that it jostles and jumps as he stride-sprints. Cut to extreme close-ups of Bourne, a villains’ neck, a gun being assembled, the door of a Ford Expedition, a locale, all in a seizure-inducing blur. Add a pulsing, Hitchcockian score, and every Bourne rushes past in a flurry of images, impressions of people, places, incidents, all creating a feeling that time is running out.

ou have only a couple of minutes to brace yourself for the sight of peachfuzz pop-star Justin Timberlake’s first onscreen bong hit. So if you’re going to see Alpha Dog, prep yourself for it. Get that laughing jag out of the way now. Imagine him cursing like Snoop Dogg. Picture the onetime ‘N Syncer getting his thug on, hanging with other white boy “gangstas” in their suburban ‘hood, talking mean, making threats, plowing through the many teenage girls in their thrall. Dating Cameron Diaz was nothing. Alpha Dog threatens to totally butch up the Timberlake. But that’s kind of the joke in this murder-to-come thriller, a movie that veers between disturbing and hysterical. It’s a world of poseurs, low-rent drug dealers taking their street cred and glamour tips from rap videos. Who needs “Just say no” when drug users, drug dealers and the ditzes and tramps who hang around them come off as utter morons?



huck Levine (Sandler) and Larry Valentine (James) are the pride of their fire station: two guy’s guys always side-by-side and willing to do anything for each other. Salt-of-the-earth widower Larry wants just one thing: to protect his family. His buddy Chuck also wants one thing: to enjoy single life. When civic red tape prevents Larry from naming his own two kids as his life insurance beneficiaries, Larry calls in a big favour – Chuck has to claim to be Larry’s domestic partner on some city forms. Nobody will ever know. But when an overzealous bureaucrat becomes suspicious, the new couple are forced to improvise as lovestruck newlyweds, fumbling through a hilarious charade of domestic bliss under one roof. This outrageous comedy is available on DVD from 12 December.

Investigate, January 2008  

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