09 OCTOBER 2017
BE INSPIRED TAKE A CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP AS PART OF YOUR DEGREE OR TO DEVELOP YOUR WRITING CREW 256 MAORI & PASIFIKA CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP Renowned playwright Victor Rodger will convene this summer course. We welcome students who wish to produce fiction, creative non-fiction, plays, screenplays or poetry. Applications close 1 November 2017 CREW 258 AND CREW 259 (TRIMESTER THREE) IOWA WORKSHOPS From 8 January until 16 February 2018 we are oﬀering intensive workshops in poetry and fiction, taught by leading graduates of the famed Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Applications close 1 November 2017 CREW 350 (2018) WORLD-BUILDING WORKSHOP This course, convened by the internationally acclaimed author Elizabeth Knox, would be ideal for writers interested in fantasy and speculative fiction. Applications close 1 December 2017
CREW 351 (2018) WRITING FOR TELEVISION Sitcom, series drama, soap and sketch comedy. Want to learn how to write a television script? Join Dave Armstrong for this course. Applications close 1 December 2017 MASTER OF ARTS IN CREATIVING WRITING (2018) Novelists, essayists, scriptwriters, poets, playwrights, memoirists— get serious about your writing. Study at Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters. Applications close 1 November 2017
APPLY NOW FOR TRIMESTER THREE, 2017 AND FOR 2018 To find out more about the creative writing courses oﬀered by the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University, go to the website.
12 MONTH WORK VISA
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NOTICES VIC GRSMA The Victoria Gender, Relationship, and Sexual Minorities and Allies (Vic GRSMA) is working on establishing a new, yet unnamed, club to foster and support a genuinely inclusive and welcoming environment at Victoria for LGBTQI+, polyamorous, and non-monogamous students and staff, their allies, and anyone else who identifies with any of these communities. The club will be founded on the principles of Diversity, Leadership, Respect, Scholarship, and Unity. If you would like to get involved at the initial stages of this new club please email the steering group at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Vic GRSMA is not associated with any existing LGBTQI+ clubs or organisations at VUW. APPLICATIONS ARE OPEN NOW FOR THESE GRADUATE PROGRAMMES! • Audit/Tax/Advisory Graduates — KPMG • Software Engineer — Helium Work-Search Ltd • Building Science Graduate — Opus International
Consultants • Graduate Transportation Modeller — Abley Transportation Consultants • CIMIC Group Graduate Programme — CPB Contractors • Graduate Operations Centre Engineer — Workday To find out more about these programmes (plus many more!), go to: www.victoria.ac.nz/careerhub PERFORMANCE ART WEEK AOTEAROA Performance Art Week Aotearoa is coming to Wellington City from November 8–12, 2017. We are stoked to be hosted by play_station gallery, 19 Tory Street Upstairs, and Urban Dream Brokerage. We will be hosting a series of performances, discussions, breakfast dance parties, workshops and more. GET EXCITED. Can’t wait to see you all there! Programme coming soon…. If you want to get in touch, contact us at email@example.com
Editors’ letter This issue is divided, the content split between VUWSA election coverage and our loose theme of utopia. Are the two incompatible? Is VUWSA, as the key organisational body for students at VUW, committed to the struggle to wrestle a utopia out of an uncertain future? Though we didn’t explicitly talk about it, current VUWSA President Rory Lenihan-Ikin pointed out the organisational possibility of campuses — centralised hubs which bring a huge number of people in contact with each other. Not exactly a new idea, but maybe one that needs to be stressed in the current moment; campuses as the nodes of a network. A network is what Dan envisages in his ambitious piece; a challenge to the hierarchical structures that frame our existence, and an argument for a politics that facilitates cooperation and care. “No societal change has ever progressed off a blueprint, as if we could sum up all the surrounding elements and make the ‘right’ choice, each step laid out before us. The world is ripe with chaos, unknown and far from fixed; our circumstances demand much more than any one individual or company can provide.” Utopia is not prescriptive. That might be the key point of this issue (the second to last!); it’s not about a stable and perfect world, a paradise — such a vision is impossible and likely conceals violence. Rather, utopia is an eternal process, is in constant flux, is the harnessing of possibility and putting it toward a collective good. Geum writes: “I would not be happy in the utopia you dream of.” “It must be a separate garden that exists in a vacuous dream; a land constantly being created, uncontaminated, elusive, protected from strangers. I dream of utopia, a place to come, a no-place, a place that encompasses everything and everything. The place locked up between my brows.” Consider this editorial a challenge then, to imagine that which is not yet possible…
— Tuioleloto Laura Toailoa and Tim Manktelow
Editors — Tuioleloto Laura Toailoa and Tim Manktelow
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CONTRIBUTORS & COLOPHON
CONTENTS Editors’ Letter......................................5 Notices..................................................4 News General News......................................8
Weapons Forum to be Met with Ban and Protests.........................................12 “Education is so important”: The battle for Academic Vice-President....................................13 “The most important thing is to campaign”: The battle for Welfare Vice-President....................................14
“Really, it’s a matter of how much I can organise”: The Battle for Engagement Vice-President...............15 Politics Political Round-Up.............................16 The Party Line....................................16 VUWSA Candidates 2017.................17 Columns Presidential Address............................26 VUWSA.............................................26 Te Ara Tauira......................................27 One Ocean..........................................27 The Queer Agenda..............................28 Postgrad Informer................................28 From within the fallout zone...............29 Features Rory drinks earl grey tea with milk: A conversation with the president about life, VSM, and VUWSA.....................30 — Laura Toailoa and Tim Manktelow
Drakes and Snakes: When Larson met Marlon.........................................33 — Laura Toailoa and Tim Manktelow
/juːˈtoʊpiə/........................................38 — Geum Hye Kim
Family Monster..................................42 — Anonymous We Tell Ourselves Stories...................48 — Dan Kelly utopia is now, today, this moment.......54 — Sasha Francis Arts Poem...................................................41 Television...........................................60 Games................................................61 Food..................................................62 Visual Art...........................................65 Music..................................................66 Podcast...............................................67 Film....................................................68 Puzzles................................................70 Horoscope..........................................71
NEWS DON’T YOU, FORGET ABOUT ME: THE (OTHER) CANDIDATES GOODBYE FAITHFUL FRIEND NO REAL OPTIONS FOR REDRESS POLICE RESPONSIBLE FOR A GROSS BREACH OF PRIVACY CALLS FOR MORE SUPPORT FOR ROHINGYA REFUGEES WEAPONS FORUM TO BE MET WITH BAN AND PROTESTS “EDUCATION IS SO IMPORTANT”: THE BATTLE FOR ACADEMIC VICE-PRESIDENT “THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO CAMPAIGN”: THE BATTLE FOR WELFARE VICE-PRESIDENT “REALLY, IT’S A MATTER OF HOW MUCH I CAN ORGANISE”: THE BATTLE FOR ENGAGEMENT VICE-PRESIDENT
POLITICS POLITICAL ROUND-UP THE PARTY LINE
from the candidacy, returned. “Ten minutes ago I just quit but I’m not a quitter so here I am,” he said. Felix detailed his role running TEDx events on campus, citing Chloë Swarbrick and Geoffrey On October 3, the VUWSA Elections Palmer as two influential individuals Candidates Forum saw all candidates he had spoken to. discuss why they should be elected as “Vote for Felix for an incredible members of the VUWSA Executive in campaigns experience and free food,” 2018. The following reportage covers he concluded. the “minor” roles; the candidates for Three candidates contested the the Vice-President positions are cov- Treasurer-Secretary role: Brittaered in more detail in later stories, and ny Neal, Jack Donovan, and Finn the Presidential candidates participat- O’Connor. ed in a long-form interview found on Brittany focussed on her passion page 33. for change as to why she would be The forum began with speeches suitable for the role. from the candidates for Education “The Treasurer-Secretary is inteOfficer, Sarah Yzendoom and Mat- gral, representing students and advotias Tolhurst. cating for an education experience Sarah had a clear vision for — it sits at the heart of everything changing cross-faculty inconsisten- VUWSA does.” cies when it came to assessments and Brittany detailed her experience lectures. in managing internal policies and “Students are all investors into processes, but urged that the role was their education, we all deserve to get “about more than just numbers.” the same product. [...] VUW need to Jack, a second year commerce open their eyes to the fact that this is student, said he had “a lot of expea partnership.” rience” which made him suitable for Mattias wanted to ensure lectur- the role. ers prioritised their roles as teachers “The financial side of it is someover their research, requiring com- thing I want to do when I graduate. prehensive course feedback systems It’s something I’m really passionate to incentivise lecturer improvement. about.” “The student voice needs to be Jack’s main focus was to “maximstrong in the decisions made that ise member benefits, push for transimpact our education,” he said. parency and accountability.” Three candidates originally conFinn, a friend of presidential cantested the role of Campaigns Officer, didate Marlon Drake, confessed he dropping to just one when the Fo- “did not know much about VUWSA rum began. Geo Robrigado wanted at the beginning of the year.” to “give back to the university” in “But, having talked to Marlon, I the campaigns role. “I believe that realise how hard working and dedieducation is a universal right, as the cated they were. I want to make sure basis for a role on the VUWSA Ex- every student has the possibility to ecutive,” he said. use the services available.” Geo said he would focus on three Finn said he was campaigning on main areas if elected: the right to be the idea that “life’s about a balance.” heard and recognised; the right to Two candidates stood for Equity wellbeing; and the right to a strong Officer, Paddy Miller and Summer and safe university. Wick-Featonby. As Summer is runFollowing Geo’s speech, Felix ning for three roles, she only spoke in Griffin, who had previously dropped her capacity as a Welfare Vice-Presi-
DON’T YOU, FORGET ABOUT ME: THE (OTHER) CANDIDATES
dent candidate at the forum. Paddy, a fourth year law and politics student, said she was about “walking the talk and taking action.” She is passionate about eliminating sexual violence and racism at VUW. Paddy had extensive volunteering experience, with the Wellington Community Justice Project and as a mentor for a range of subjects. “This role is about providing an environment that ensures all students have the chance to succeed, regardless of their background.” She said she would work alongside representative groups to ensure this. Eleanor Hughes, running for Wellbeing Officer alongside Summer, believed she was qualified for the role “because I have plenty of experience volunteering in areas of equality and access.” Eleanor had three main goals: to work with halls to address issues of mental health and sexual violence; to work towards “autonomous resources”; and to work on initiatives to impact the outside community. The most heated discussion of the forum was between the candidates for the Clubs and Activities Officer. Both Connor MacLeod and Lars Thompson were passionate about “taking clubs back” from VUW Recreation Services, to be governed by VUWSA. Connor said his experience made him suitable for this role, as president of Rowing Club and a member of the VUW Commerce Society. “There is a systemic disconnect between VUW and clubs, we are treated as organisations to manage, not communities to foster.” Connor sought to drive a “grassroots movement” towards this change. Lars was confident that he had a solution, thrusting an A4 document into the air. “If you want a solution that can bring Clubs together, I have it here today.” Lars’ VUWSA Clubs Services
10 Constitution provides “a new model for representation.” Questions from the audience saw Connor and Lars fight over whether Lars’ plan was a suitable one. Connor stated that Lars’ policy had not been implemented despite being put forward to the Clubs Council and VUWSA in the past, while Lars was confident that “we need to implement my policy right away.” “Twelve clubs have already come to me and said, we want this model.” Unfortunately, the allocated time for questions expired, and the forum moved on to the Vice-President nominations.
The Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) Environment Committee Chair, Sue Kedgley, said in a statement that she did not support the retirement of the trolley buses before hybrid replacements were ready, voicing concerns about “old polluting diesel” buses. She said going from trolley buses to diesel buses would be a “gigantic step backwards.” The dismantling of the trolley bus wires is an $11 million project, occurring as part of the GWRC controversial strategy to improve public transport, which includes “upgrading” the Wellington City bus fleet. In 2014, the GWRC made the decision to stop funding the electric trolley buses and replace them hybrid diesel-electric buses, and GOODBYE FAITHFUL with eventually a fully-electric bus fleet FRIEND “once the technology is proven.” Chris Laidlaw points to the cost of maintaining what he considers The removal of 82 kilometres of an inflexible system and “hopelessly Wellington’s electric trolley bus wires outmoded” infrastructure as a main will begin on October 10. reason for scrapping the trolleybus In April last year, New Zealand’s network. largest urban bus company, NZBus, However, many point to the announced a $43 million deal with harmful environmental impacts of the American firm Wrightspeed. the GWRC’s decision. As a result, “a significant” number VUWSA President Rory Leniof buses, including the trolley buses han-Ikin told Salient that it was in Wellington, are planned to be fit- “devastating to see the Council ripted with Wrightspeed motors — re- ping out a fully electric system, bechargeable electric batteries topped fore there is any plan” to replace up by diesel-powered “range-extend- them with electric models. er” engines that can quickly recharge He said that “in a few weeks’ the batteries while the bus is travel- time, when we have dirty, second ling. hand diesel buses from Auckland Trolley buses were initially set to polluting the streets of Wellington, retire from June 30, but the remov- we will realise how much of a misal date was extended to October 31, take it was to pull the trolleys out.” due to delays in the testing of the GWRC Chief Executive, Greg new technology. Campbell, said that “a new fleet of There is no set date for when low-emission diesel buses,” as well as Wrightspeed will be ready to oper- ten electric buses, will be made availate, although it is hoped they will be able in 2018. New bus operator conin Wellington July next year. tracts with preferred tenders, Tranzit In the meantime, diesel buses and Uzabus, and an overhauled Welwill run in the place of trolley buses lington City network, will also come for “at least” eight months. Bus ser- into effect at this time. vices will run as usual and current — J La bus timetables will be unaffected.
NO REAL OPTIONS FOR REDRESS Major flaws in a number of Wellington buildings have been revealed through the work of a Wellington surveying company, indicating that they are unlikely to withstand a major earthquake. Surveyor for Helfen Limited, Thomas Wultzer, stated that issues with building design and construction are prevalent in a number of buildings around Wellington. The Building Act 2004 provides that if a building was constructed more than ten years ago, inspectors or builders cannot be held liable for failures in design or construction that make a building potentially unsafe. This means that tenants and owners of some buildings that have not been safely built do not have legal avenues to pursue to remedy these failures. Wultzer said that, in his surveying experience, it is “rare that we don’t find major issues in buildings that we survey” in Wellington. For example, the frame of one building surveyed was not connected to structural beams, meaning the building would be “extremely prone to collapsing sideways” in an earthquake. VUWSA President Rory Lenihan-Ikin was concerned that these findings impact heavily on student accommodation. “No student should have to worry about their house falling down around them, and the Wellington City Council and national government should be looking at ways to speed up the assessment of buildings and any subsequent repairs.” Salient reached out to the Wellington City Council to discuss the issues, but they had not responded by the time of print. According to Wultzer, the buildings most likely to be affected are low-cost housing — “it’s likely that corners will have been cut” in those
11 areas, and for tenants in affected buildings, “there are no real options for redress.” Lenihan-Ikin agreed with Wultzer. “The unfortunate reality for a lot of students is that there are already limited housing options which are cheap, and where landlords feel comfortable renting to young people. This means they are often left with poor, or downright unsafe, housing options.” “We encourage students as they head out into flat hunting season to read lease agreements carefully and make sure they’re asking safety questions of the landlord from the get-go.” — Carson Luke
POLICE RESPONSIBLE FOR A GROSS BREACH OF PRIVACY New Zealand police have been tapping the phones of a prison abolitionist group in what its members say is a gross breach of privacy. Three members of People Against Prisons Aotearoa (PAPA) discovered through court documents that their communications had been intercepted by the police for an undisclosed period of time. Permission to monitor communications was granted on November 22, 2016, after an incident between PAPA and the Department of Corrections. The three members occupied a Corrections office, chaining themselves to a desk in protest of a transgender prisoner being kept in solitary confinement. The protesters faced charges of trespassing, but were all discharged without conviction on September 28. The police statement to the court said that any call made or received by the monitored lines was automatically recorded and stored, available to any direct investigative staff. PAPA members do not how long the phone lines were monitored, or how
News the information has been used. PAPA spokesperson Emilie Rākete told VICE that the tap was a “blatant breach to the right of privacy.” She argued that those with beliefs “inconvenient” to the government are as entitled to that right as everyone else, raising questions about the legitimacy of a police investigation into groups like PAPA. She stated, in a press release, “It demonstrates the lengths to which the police are willing to go to undermine our organisation. This is a politically motivated attack by the New Zealand Police.” The Search and Surveillance Act, passed in 2012, allows agencies to surveil or search a person if there are reasonable grounds to believe they had committed, or would commit, an offence. At the time the Act was passed, then Police Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess did not believe it to be a significant expansion of police powers. — Matt Currill
CALLS FOR MORE SUPPORT FOR ROHINGYA REFUGEES New Zealand’s role in providing humanitarian assistance abroad and dealing with international refugees is again under scrutiny, as the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar worsens. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority group in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. The Myanmar Government does not consider the Rohingya to be citizens, instead holding the view that they are living in the country illegally. Myanmar’s paramilitary forces have systematically persecuted Rohingya to drive them from their homeland, forcing many to escape to neighbouring Bangladesh. Since August over half a million Rohingya have fled the country, and many now live in refugee camps.
Rohingya refugees who have already settled in New Zealand are calling on the government to increase its support for those affected. On September 17, a group of Rohingya staged a demonstration in Aotea Square, in an attempt to put pressure on government. The protestors said that New Zealand should take Rohingya refugees directly from the Bangladeshi camps, rather than put them on a waiting list. New Zealand’s refugee quota is set to increase to 1,000 refugees per year, coming into effect after 2018, but new refugee crises like the Rohingya will likely spur calls to increase the quota further. While the government has not confirmed whether it would considering re-raising the quota, it has sought to assist the Rohingya politically. A spokesperson from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade told Salient that New Zealand has “called on the Myanmar Government to ensure that appropriate humanitarian access is provided to all affected communities.” Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee announced on September 7 that the Government would provide $1.5 million to the international Red Cross for humanitarian assistance to help the Rohingya living in refugee camps in Bangladesh. — Aidan Kelly
WEAPONS FORUM TO BE MET WITH BAN AND PROTESTS
The New Zealand Defence Industry Association (NZDIA) is holding the controversial Defence Industry and National Security Forum from October 10–11 in Wellington, which will be met with protest from activist group Peace Action Wellington. Peace Action Wellington lodged a petition with the Wellington City Council (WCC) and the Greater Wellington Regional Council prior to the event, calling for the “Weapons Expo” to be banned from the Wellington region. The event is scheduled to be held at Westpac Stadium, which is not Council-owned. In previous years, the event has been held at WCC venues such as TSB Bank Arena and Te Papa Tongarewa. After significant public pressure by Peace Action Wellington and its supporters, WCC Mayor Justin Lester has banned the forum from being hosted at WCC venues. Lester told Salient, “I don’t think it’s appropriate given the process that has occurred in the past, and we have asked them to host the event in another venue.” Chairman of the NZDIA board, Scott Arrell, told Salient that the decision by the NZDIA to change venues was made independently and was due to security concerns. Peace Action Wellington plan to blockade the event, stopping “business as usual” by actively preventing people or goods from getting into the building. They will be joined by People Against Prisons Aotearoa, Palestine Solidarity Network, Unions Wellington, and several other groups. Peace Action Wellington spokesperson Jesse Dennis told Salient that they do not believe that the NZDIA “should have the social license to operate in Wellington,” as it “exists as lobbying conference for the weapons trade.” “We basically think that nobody should profit from war, and this conference is the face of war here in Wellington.” Arrell told Salient that the event was simply an opportunity for those in the defence services industry to come together with those involved in the New Zealand National Security System to “keep in touch.”
Arrell disagreed with the language of Peace Action Wellington, telling Salient,“that is quite provocative language, it’s not a ‘Weapon’s Expo’, it’s not an arms exposition.” The forum “simply allows companies that contract or provide services to the New Zealand Defence Force and to other national security agencies to come together, network, and talk about recent trends, much like any other organisations have annual conferences.” However, in a statement released on October 3, Peace Action Wellington stated that “in 2015, then Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee claimed that there were nothing more deadly than socks and paper cups on display. Socks and cups aren’t killing people in Yemen, Syria, and Palestine, but the weaponry sold at this expo is.” The event is sponsored by international defence contractor Lockheed Martin — the largest weapons producer worldwide. Lockheed Martin also manufactures nuclear weapons, which, according to Peace Action Wellington, clashes with Wellington’s status as a nuclear free city. Dennis said Peace Action Wellington were pleased with Lester’s decision to bar the event from Council venues, but considered that “anyone with event venues in Wellington should stand and say that no one should be able to profit from war.” Peace Action Wellington have been in discussions with WCC over the last few weeks about options to make this policy permanent. Despite the planned protests, Arrell said the NZDIA “didn’t see any reason why the forum might not go smoothly.” — Angus Shaw
“EDUCATION IS SO IMPORTANT”: THE BATTLE FOR ACADEMIC VICE-PRESIDENT
The Academic Vice-President (AVP) heads the Education Team and is responsible, alongside the President, for the strategic direction of student representation on campus. They also have a key role in ensuring the university provides quality teaching and learning across all levels of study. This year, there are two candidates for the AVP role: Simran Rughani and Hassan Tariq. *
Simran Rughani is in her second year at VUW, studying Marketing, Environmental Studies, and Geography. She is running for AVP because she wants “to help other people love learning as much as [she does].” Hassan Tariq is completing a PhD in computer science. He moved to New Zealand for further study, having worked as a university lecturer in Pakistan. Through that role, Hassan has had extensive experience advocating for students rights, including making changes to examination conditions, class schedules, and the provision of extracurricular activities for students. Simran wants to increase the presence of students in VUW decision making, and improve transparency in assessment processes. One of the“major issues” she wants to focus on is to make students aware of the exam review rights available to them. “There needs to be consistency, so that students know when and how they can exercise their rights to review.” She also wants to increase representation of Māori and Pasifika students “in all areas of academic life.” By increasing the number of delegates on each faculty board, she hopes that would “mean Māori and Pasifika students could apply for and get those roles.” When asked about how this would remedy the current process, Simran was “not too sure” what the current process was, but would look into it. For Hassan, the AVP role would allow him to critique existing VUW structures, to make them more beneficial for students. “I think there’s a huge communication gap between the VUW administration and incoming stu-
dents. A lot of the time, these students aren’t aware of their rights, or are afraid to speak out.” “There are a number of administrative jobs in each faculty which hold a lot of power [...] I want to balance that power. There should be faculty-level committees to deal with this.” When asked if, through the AVP role, he would be able to practically implement solutions to address the issues he’s identified, Hassan said that raising awareness was an integral part of making these changes. “Initiating an objective is not so difficult; the continuation of that objective is much harder.” “It may not happen instantly, but a voice now can become a voice for the future. If I can provide a starting point, and someone will listen to me and be inspired by my objective, that will be taken up and continued.” Simran believes that students have the right to be involved in any academic decision that affects them, no matter the size. In a practical sense, this meant diversity in faculty representative groups, and partnership with VUW governance in course design and development. She wants to review printing prices at VUW, to try and reduce the costs for students already struggling with other financial pressures. “Students stress enough about assignments without having to pay to hand them in.” For Simran, whoever is elected must be “representative” and “strong.” “Education is so important. I think the role [of AVP] needs to focus on fostering student partnership, on increasing our voice.” — Liam Powell
“THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO CAMPAIGN”: THE BATTLE FOR WELFARE VICE-PRESIDENT The Welfare Vice-President (WVP) is responsible for ensuring that VUWSA provides an appropriate and diverse range of welfare-based services to members and students. This year, two candidates are running for this role: Summer Wick-Featonby and Beth Paterson. * Summer Wick-Featonby, a third-year student studying Politics, History, and English Literature, is running for the WVP role because she “wants to have an impact on student welfare and make a difference.” While also running for the Equity Officer and Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer roles, Summer told Salient she “would probably prefer this role as it would give [her] more of an opportunity to have a direct role in running [projects like] Stress Free Study Week.” Although she does not have any experience on the VUWSA Executive, Summer believes that it is important to have new people and viewpoints within VUWSA. “I have lived in a molding damp flat and have struggled with mental health issues, and university hasn’t necessarily helped me with that. So I think I bring my personal experiences to the table.” Beth Paterson is in her fourth year of a Law and Ecology degree, and has been the VUWSA Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer in 2017. “After a year in the same role you feel like you want another challenge, another step up,” she said. “I think I’m ready for some more institutional responsibility.” While Summer saw her “fresh viewpoint” as an asset, Beth has publicly endorsed the policies of fellow Executive members running for candidacy, including presidential candidate Marlon Drake. When asked if she was “running on a ticket” in the election, she said, “No. On a personal level, [Marlon and I] share similar ideas and come from similar places. It made sense for the mental health policy because we’ve been in the same kind of conversations with the counselling staff. We came to the same conclusion on our own. It would make more sense to show that we share this vision, so regardless of who is elected, both of us are committed to making it happen.” Summer and Beth both consider mental health
the most pertinent issue for the WVP role. Summer wants to “increase the amount of counsellors” available through Mauri Ora, although was unable to comment on the financial details of this policy. “The most important thing is to campaign and just make people aware because mental health is such a big issue right now. [...] It doesn’t have to cost money, it’s more just getting the message out there. Similar with Thursdays in Black, it’s making people aware that’s the most important thing, and then you worry about money later on.” Beth is seeking structural changes to the services available. “We can’t just keep asking for more funding for counselling each year, because we did that this year and got one more counsellor and it’s still not enough.” She proposed a “support student” system, where students are trained through Mauri Ora to provide over-the-phone assistance to students experiencing academic stress. “They maybe need a letter to support an extension or something like that. Then they can carry on with their lives, and it will free up the counselling resource for people who are in serious distress or who need more than one appointment.” When asked whether students would be qualified to complete this role, Beth was confident that the training provided would be extensive, and that safeguards would be in place. “The student [staff member] would listen, empathise, direct them to practical services if they need to, but not take on emotional labour. It’s important to keep that protection of both the person who needs help and students who have their own stresses in life.” Summer and Beth had slightly different views on what VUWSA’s overall role should be. For Summer, VUWSA should be about representing students and campaigning for student issues. “Who else would run these campaigns, like Fairer Fares? [...] You don’t just want the Vice-Chancellor to be the only person representing students. ” For Beth, VUWSA requires balance between being advocates for students, and providing services. “VUWSA is an independent organisation, even though we have some funding overlap. It’s important not to lose that independence.” — E A Tombs
“REALLY, IT’S A MATTER OF HOW MUCH I CAN ORGANISE”: THE BATTLE FOR ENGAGEMENT VICE-PRESIDENT The Engagement Vice-President (EVP) is responsible for ensuring that there is strong communication and opportunities for involvement between VUWSA, its members, and students. This year, Sarah Auld and Tamatha Paul are running for the EVP role. *
Sarah Auld is a second-year Law and Arts student who moved to Wellington from outback Australia. She is running for EVP because she sees it as a chance to “concentrate [her] skills and desire for engagement in a position where that is possible.” Tamatha Paul is also in her second year, studying Politics, International Relations, and Te Reo Māori. She has been on the VUWSA Executive and worked for NZUSA since 2016, giving her “practical insight” as to how the EVP role works. Although Sarah does not have experience on the VUWSA Executive, she is involved in extensive community work. “I’ve gotten involved in the university, lots of volunteering, lots of executive committees.” While current VUWSA president Rory Lenihan-Ikin suggested Tamatha run for Welfare Vice-President, Tamatha had full confidence in fellow executive member Beth Paterson who is running for the role. As a result, Tamatha decided to run for EVP instead. She said her experience was a big asset — as well as the training she received as Equity Officer, she had re-established and chaired the Student Equity and Diversity Committee in 2017. “I know what works, what doesn’t work, and what needs to be improved.” Sarah said that the EVP role aligned best with her desire to bring people together. “EVP isn’t super policy-heavy. I don’t have a set agenda about what I want to push through, like there is in those other roles. EVP is more about connecting with the wider community at VUW.” If elected as EVP, Sarah wants to increase the number of events and activities on all campuses. “It’s about using the Hub and the Courtyard to get clubs and community organisations to come in and do cool little events. Using more of the human resources and connections, [rather than] organising huge events on
top of O-Week. Really, it’s a matter of how much I can organise.” Sarah’s plan to use “human resources” highlights a tension within VUWSA, which is an advocate for the Living Wage. When asked how using club volunteers to help organise VUWSA events would avoid exploiting free labour, Sarah said it was a “matter of common sense” to work out how VUWSA could “give back” to volunteers. “At least in clubs, if they are running events, it’s within their capacity and area of interest that they will be operating.” “I would definitely feel really bad about taking advantage of people’s time and resources.” Tamatha’s focus if elected as EVP is on prioritising student safety at events. Her main policy is to retain and improve the VUWSA “safe rooms” available at events, focussing resources on “those who need [them], for increased cohesion and overall efficiency.” Tamatha also wants to implement uniform training at the start of the year to all event volunteers. “What we have is volunteers turning up from VILP [Victoria International Leadership Programme] or Victoria Plus half an hour beforehand and being told what to do on the spot,” something Tamatha wants to change. Tamatha’s plan involves the continuation of using volunteers for these services, with this compulsory training being part of their “volunteering.” Tamatha said that an elevated social media presence would help engage students, to ensure they knew about the services and events on campus. Sarah agreed, but also suggested moving some services to the Hub and Courtyard, rather than “over there” in the Student Union building. When asked about the function of VUWSA, both Sarah and Tamatha believed it was about representing “the student voice.” — Brigid Quirke
POLITICAL ROUND-UP Potential National/Greens Coalition There have been calls for the Green Party to abandon their hostility to National and join it in a coalition deal, despite the Greens having campaigned on “changing the government” throughout 2017. Right wing commentators such as Matthew Hooton have been enthusiastic about a deal, and National Party politicians seem open to the idea as well: Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett said in an interview on September 29 that “we’d quite like to talk to [the Greens] but I don’t think they are up for it.” Bennett was right in assuming Green Party members would be against a deal with National: former Green MP Catherine Delahunty said on September 29 that there was “a snowball’s chance in hell” of such a deal. The Greens need the support of 75% of their members to form a coalition, and members will be unlikely to support a National/Green deal after months of campaigning to change the government. The Greens have been less averse to working with National in the past: on September 12, 2014, during the general election campaign, then co-leader Russel Norman said that although the Greens preferred Labour, it would be willing to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with National if it retained government, in order to get some Greens policies implemented. However, since the Greens signed their Memorandum of Understanding with Labour last year, they have made it clear this election that they would not work with National. Bill English said on September 25 that he had not ruled out a deal, but National “would need to see some indication of interest from” the Green Party first. Delahunty claims that National
News POLITICS will not rule out a deal with the Greens because doing so mitigates the influence Winston Peters has over forming the next government. “This is just a whole lot of political maneuvering by the National Party and others would would like to give Winston something to worry about,” she said on September 29. Former Green MP David Clendon agreed, saying “there’s a little bit of politicking going on.” By making the Greens feel as if they could possibly enter government, National is attempting to strip Peters of his “Kingmaker” title. But any potential deal between the two parties could be seen by their supporters as a betrayal of their respectives values. National’s rural voters see the Greens as dedicated to downsizing New Zealand’s agricultural sector due to the carbon emissions it produces, while Greens voters are concerned about National’s handling of issues like child poverty and dairy intensification. A National/Greens coalition, then, was never really an option, just a distraction from the real government-formation talks. — Aidan Kelly
THE PARTY LINE ACT Party MP Heather Roy’s Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill passed its third reading in 2011, legislating that “no student or prospective student at a [tertiary] institution is required to be a member of a students’ association,” shifting the model to one in which students would “opt-in” to join their union — prior to the passing of the Bill, all students would automatically join their union, with the option to “opt-out” available if they wished. What are your thoughts on voluntary student membership (VSM) — has it improved or weakened student representation?
Young Nats — Lower North Island In 2011, when voluntary student membership legislation was brought to the floor of Parliament, the Young Nats joined the campaign supporting it. As an organisation, we believe that the freedom to associate is yours and yours alone, and by passing the VSM legislation this just became a clearer choice on whether you would like to join your student union, or not. We are proud to stand by this principle again in 2017. In terms of student representation, the Young Nats completely agree that a strong student voice is required on campus; however student unions should not be the only provider of this voice. For example, the independent student representatives on the University Council or Academic Council provide another aspect of representation that should not be forgotten. As such we believe student representation has not been weakened, but rather decentralised to allow for a stronger representation of the wider student body. — Sam Stead Greens at Vic While Greens at Vic are absolutely in support of a universal student union membership, we believe the weakness of student representation is a problem that goes far beyond the introduction of VSM. VUWSA has fostered a culture that favours hollow careerist ambitions over the actual representation of student interests — look no further than the ridiculously disproportionate number of student politicians who have gone on to become Labour Party MPs. The VUWSA exec see themselves as responsible, level-headed, middle-of-the-road mediators between students and the university establishment, because playing nice with the institutions looks better on their CVs than showing actual solidarity with grassroots student activism. It is no wonder then that in 2011
17 when ACT launched their attack on independent student representation, there was no meaningful student backlash. Student politicians have resigned themselves to the “non-political” work environment, working from their offices and failing to engage with students beyond their exec. When this changes, so will the student membership. — Kayden Briskie Vic Labour The 2011 Act attacked the core of student representation. The automatic membership of student associations guaranteed that every student would have their rights and interests advocated for, by a professional union, unless they wished otherwise. The 2011 change directly decreased VUWSA’s funding, from $2.25 million in 2011 to $1.25 million in 2016. The lack of funding has meant that student associations are limited in what they can deliver. Core running costs, O-Week events, club funding, and other services have been restricted, and the ability of student unions to help students when they come into tough and isolating times, which is their very purpose, is hindered. Student unions now run as glorified service-providers that are void of any real power, as a decline in resources equates to a reduction of influence. The allure of an individual’s rights to be excluded from an association has robbed student unions of the student representation they deserve.
VUWSA CANDIDATE PROFILES
2017 All executive members are required to:
* Be a part of the overall strategic
thinking and leadership of VUWSA.
* Represent the values and principles of VUWSA as an organisation.
* Complete fortnightly work
reports alongside more extensive half-year and annual reports detailing their work and achievements over the period.
VUWSA EXECUTIVE JOB SUMMARIES VUWSA PRESIDENT
40 hours per week The President is the figurehead for VUWSA — they are the official spokesperson for the organisation, sit on numerous boards and committees to represent students’ interests, are required to lead the Executive and maintain strong relationships with key university staff and groups on campus, other regional universities, local, regional, and national government representatives, and other key stakeholders. They are responsible for making sure the Executive is upholding the VUWSA Constitution, and the organisation is transparent and accountable. ACADEMIC VICE-PRESIDENT (AVP)
20 hours per week The AVP heads VUWSA’s Education Team, which is responsible for the class rep system, and making sure students are represented at all levels of the university, to ensure there are quality resources, lecturers, and programmes available to all students. The AVP works with the Education Officer and Student Representation Coordinator (a fulltime staff position) to sit on all academic-related boards and committees and help coordinate feedback for course reviews, while also driving strategic, long-term goals around making sure VUW is providing quality and inclusive education for all students. WELFARE VICEPRESIDENT (WVP)
20 hours per week The WVP heads the VUWSA Welfare Team, focusing on the health and wellbeing of students, sustainability, and the environment (both natural and academic) at university. They lead major events on campus including Free Flu Shots and Stress Free Study Week. They work towards strategic goals around improving the financial, physical,
environmental, and mental wellbeing of students at Victoria (including projects like free menstrual products and the VUWSA fruit and vege market). ENGAGEMENT VICE-PRESIDENT (EVP)
20 hours per week The EVP is the executive member focused on getting students involved with VUWSA and wider projects or events aimed at the student population. Their key role is helping out with O-Week, Re-O-Week, Artsweek, the VUWSA and university awards season, the IGM and AGM, and much more. Their role is about creating a strong and vibrant student community and making sure students are aware of all the important, and fun, things that go on at VUW. TREASURER-SECRETARY
10 hours per week This officer’s key role is working with staff members and the President to develop the annual VUWSA budget. They are involved with any updates or changes to the Constitution or other working documents within the organisation, and oversees the Executive Reporting. They sit on the VUWSA Trust board and chair the Audit and Finance, Executive Reporting, and Publications Committees. WELLBEING AND SUSTAINABILITY OFFICER
10 hours per week This officer works within the VUWSA Welfare Team to support all work related to improving the financial, physical, environmental, and mental wellbeing of students on campus. They work closely with the WVP to deliver events such as Free Flu Shots and Stress Free Study Week and with the Campaigns Officer to support wider community initiatives around healthier homes and lifestyles for students, and sustainability initia-
tives such as improving accessibility to public transport. EDUCATION OFFICER
10 hours per week This role works with the Academic Vice-President to oversee the class Rep System and academic boards and committees on campus. They play a key role in maintaining the relationship between VUWSA and academic groups on campus, gathering feedback and supporting initiatives to improve academic quality and representation at Victoria. EQUITY OFFICER
10 hours per week The Equity Officer works to ensure all students have equal access to services, support, academic success, and participation opportunities at VUW. They work with representative groups on campus like UniQ, Ngāi Tauira, Pasifika Students’ Council, VicUFO, and international students, and work to make sure students’ welfare is an important consideration in all decisions made at the university level. CLUBS AND ACTIVITIES OFFICER
10 hours per week This role is part of VUWSA’s Engagement Team and works closely with Clubs and Societies on campus. They serve on the Clubs Council and work with the university’s club management team to make sure student clubs and communities are well supported. CAMPAIGNS OFFICER
10 hours per week This varied role involves both running campaigns within the university and lobbying for change at the local and national government level. This officer coordinates teams of volunteers and delivers successful campaigns with the sole focus of getting a better deal for students at the university and while they’re living in Wellington.
VUWSA Candidates 2017
Kia ora, I’m Larson! Like most people, I moved to Wellington to study at Victoria. I’ve made the most of my time at university; studying chemistry and physics, captaining my football team, volunteering throughout the university, and working in student accommodation for two years. Most importantly, I’m a student just like all of you, and as VUWSA President, I’ll work for a better deal for all of us, and give VUWSA the fresh change it needs and deserves.
A Better Deal in Student Services Being healthy allows us to get the most out of our education and experiences at Victoria. If you’re a VUW suffering teen, you’ll know that our health services need improvement. Working with first year students at the hostel means I am well-placed to understand these issues. I would like to make health services more accessible to all students, particularly mental health. Through my work in disability services, I also have a firm understanding of where improvements can be made. The bottom line is that students need somewhere they can get the help they need, across all three of our campuses. A More Sustainable Victoria Every year there are around 900 tonnes of waste at Victoria, a lot of which could be recycled or composted instead. I aim to work alongside the Sustainability Office to reduce landfill waste, which can be greatly assisted by student involvement through VUWSA with volunteer recruitment. As a science student, I have developed a deep understanding of the best ways to address our environmental impact. I’d love to see no plastic packaging from retailers on campus, and I’m sure you would too.
Health services and sustainability are two of many ideas that form my vision for VUWSA. With your vote, change can be achieved in 2018. Vote LARSON for President!
Tēnā koe! I’m Marlon Drake. This year I’ve been on the VUWSA Executive working hard for students. I’ve provided club services, campaigned for Fairer Fares, and helped boost student voter turnout through our We Have Power election campaign. We have achieved lots already, but our mahi isn’t done! It’s important that someone who understands our community and the university is elected. As president, I will work for:
A Safe Community VUWSA must be committed to ending sexual violence in our community. This starts from day one. During O-Week, we’ll have a safe room in town so all students have a safe place to go, and we’ll offer free lifts home in the VUWSA van. We will create a student culture that does not tolerate sexual violence. Healthy Flats This year, our long-term campaign for a voluntary rental warrant of fitness from the City Council succeeded. It’s a great first step, but we need to continue the fight and make it mandatory. We all deserve healthy homes and it’s time rental standards in Wellington reflect that. Discounts in Wellington VUWSA will establish a VUWSA Deals App so VUW students can connect with the great parts of Wellington at a discounted price.
Mental Health Services that Work It’s vital students can receive help from Student Health when they need it. The system is broken and increasing funding isn’t enough. We need structural change. We will work with Mauri Ora to introduce positions for trained students who can provide online and over the phone help and can provide notes for extensions. This will take pressure off the service so they can focus on providing more support for students. There’s lots to do, so let’s get started! A vote for me is a vote for a VUWSA we can be proud of.
VUWSA Candidates 2017
HASSAN TARIQ In my role as Academic Vice-President, I will work closely with the Education Officer and the Student Representation Coordinator to ensure that there is student representation and voice at all levels of the university. This is a very interesting role and as a PhD student I have plenty of experience working in these kind of roles — I believe I can help with engaging students into long-term and sustainable academic activities. My preference will be ensuring the quality of education provided to compete in national and international arenas. This will include the provision of necessary research and training opportunities to all students. This will also ensure the promotion of equal and justified teaching and assessment standards for all students regardless of their sex, age, colour, or religion. I will emphasise facilitating cheaper bus fares for students, subsidised accommodation, and health facilities. I will also emphasise generating more scholarships and financial aids for students.
SIMRAN RUGHANI Kia ora! I’m Simran and I’m in my second-year, studying a BSc/ BCom. I have been involved with VUWSA as a class representative and I’m currently on the Student Academic Committee. I have loved these roles and wish to continue by running for Academic Vice-President. As your AVP, I will be: Committed to an equitable, representative, strong student voice Increasing the scope of the Student Academic Committee and having a diverse range of student perspectives. Dedicated to fostering student partnership with the university Ensuring the student voice is equal to the academic, and making sure we are consulted on decisions that matter.
Increasing transparency of decisions being made that affect us Too many students are unaware of decisions occurring that directly impact them. As those being affected, we should be able to question decisions and voice our opinions. I will ensure that this is possible by increasing the transparency and accessibility of these decisions. Promising to generate an investigation into why we pay so much for printing Submitting assignments is stressful enough without also worrying about printing costs. I will lead an investigation into the cost of printing and work to lower the price. Vote Simran for AVP!
BETH PATERSON Tēnā koe! Ko Beth tōku ingoa. I would like to be your Welfare VP! I’ve been on VUWSA as your Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer for the past year, loved it, and I’m really excited to be running for Welfare VP! I know the role and the welfare advocacy that is required: We need to make mental health services accessible and affordable I have three solutions here: 1. The Kelburn pharmacy has committed to matching a VUW discount on prescription medication; I would work with them to make $2 prescriptions a reality. 2. Work with Mauri Ora to train members of our community to support students through academic stress. 3. Push for a “wellbeing tick” to be put on the online profiles of staff who have completed mental health training. We need to make Thursdays in Black a priority I would push for VUW to get better policies that support survivors of sexual violence, and aim to teach consent in halls of residence before O-Week. We need flats that we can live in without getting sick I would campaign to get a compulsory rental warrant
VUWSA Candidates 2017
of fitness on the political agenda for students. Please hit me up for questions or yarns!
SUMMER WICK-FEATONBY Hi! My name is Summer, and I’m a third-year student majoring in political science, history, and english literature. Having made extensive use of the many facilities Victoria offers in terms of student welfare since I began studying in 2015, I believe I am a suitable candidate to represent you as students at VUWSA. I am open about having accessed these facilities including Student Health on many an occasion (the perils of living in a damp student flat, amirite?), Student Financial Services, and Student Counselling Services. While we are lucky as students to have these facilities on offer and accessible to us, I am looking to improve access as much as possible. I believe that financial security, and sufficient mental and physical health, is absolutely vital in order for students to succeed academically and have an enjoyable experience during their time at university. In particular, I want to be a voice for minority groups and the disadvantaged on campus, and work to improve services already on offer, while also taking into account further suggestions of other beneficial services Victoria could offer. If elected, I will work hard to ensure that the Victoria community and experience is a fair one.
TAMATHA PAUL Kia ora e hoa mā! I’m Tamatha. Over the past two years I’ve worked closely with VUWSA and the national student association (NZUSA) on projects for students that I really care about. Spending this year on the VUWSA Executive has equipped me with the practical tools to pursue those projects, and I’d really love to continue that mahi into 2018 as your Engagement Vice-President. I think after this year’s general election we’re all
a bit sick of campaigns so I’ll keep it simple; vote for experience. Every VUWSA event, I’ve done it. That means I can see where improvement is needed and where opportunities for bigger, better events lie. A major necessary improvement — safety. Particularly around making sure that safe rooms at VUWSA events are regulated through policy, and addressing sexual violence through research from the Thursdays in Black campaign. In terms of student experience, how can we make our services more accessible? Let’s not just get students engaged during O-Week and Re-O-Week — all year we’ve got free food parcels via community pantry, free bus passes, advocacy services, free menstrual products, student reps, and other academic services. Let’s get students interested in VUWSA again — after all we do this for you!
SARAH AULD Tēnā koutou, I’m Sarah! Vote for me and I will: 1. Bring more pop-up stalls in to campuses connecting community services (like Rebicycle) to students. 2. Continue organising great O-Weeks and Stress Free Study Weeks (read: more puppies). 3. Support campus initiatives like Waste Watchers through VUWSA’s own activities. 4. Improve accessibility to relevant community volunteer opportunities. 5. Empower smaller clubs. 6. Push for greater collaboration and cooperation among Clubs and Activities, to turbo boost campaigns and projects important to our wellbeing and our enjoyment. My track record speaks for itself. In 2017, I have: • MENTORED youth. • ADVOCATED for prisoners’ rights via Wellington Community Justice Project. • FOUND SOLUTIONS as Treasurer of PolSoc. • FOSTERED COMMUNITY among Philosophy and PSIR undergrads and postgrads. Through my diverse volunteer experiences, I have developed the skills to be an effective Engagement
VUWSA Candidates 2017
Vice-President. Now I want to deliver great experiences to students. Vote for an Engagement VP with resilience, a community spirit, and experience in active participation. Vote for someone who will listen and act on the needs of all students. Vote for Sarah AULD.
BRITTANY NEAL Kia ora koutou e hoa mā. Ko Brittany toku ingoa. I’m running to be your VUWSA Treasurer-Secretary. A bit about me: I moved to Wellington at the end of last year, after spending two years at the University of Canterbury. I’m in my third year of a BA/BCom, majoring in Māori Studies, Management, and Human Resources. VUWSA’s mission to represent students, and to advocate for quality education, experience, community, and facilities for students, resonates within me — particularly the work that VUWSA has done to advocate for student allowances, loans, and living conditions. To me, the Treasurer-Secretary role sits at the heart of everything VUWSA does. This advocacy and mahi that VUWSA does cannot be facilitated without the funding to do so. As your Treasurer-Secretary, I would be looking to diversify VUWSA’s income streams, and to have a sustainable revenue base that provides us all with the opportunities to work towards our goals as a collective and continue the ever-important work VUWSA does.
JACK DONOVAN Hey ya’ll, I’m Jack and this is why you should vote for me. I’m in my second year through a BCom, majoring in finance and accounting, with a minor in commercial law. I’m extremely passionate about my degree, and the skills I have learnt through it have equipped me to be perfect for this role. Major aspects of this position
are around my fields, such as developing the budget, chairing the Audit and Finance Committees, and giving financial advice to all clubs as well as this executive. I also have plenty of experience being on an executive. This year I was the General Executive Officer for the VUW Politics Students’ Society, as well as being the Secretary for the TEDxVUW club. Being on both of these teams gave me valuable experiences, such as interviewing the Green Party (then) co-leaders, as well as moderating an electorate debate. It also gave me experience in administrative parts of this role, such as taking minutes, organising events, and more. I’ve quickly run out of words, but feel free to contact me online about anything, or if you just see me around. I hope for your votes, because you can a-ccount on me!
FINN O’CONNOR My name is Finn O’Connor. I’m running for the TreasurySecretary role at VUWSA. I’m currently a second-year student, doing a Law and Arts degree. I live with two other guys in Mount Cook, having been a resident at Weir House last year. I enjoy playing hockey and have been a member of the Victoria University team for two years. There were a number of reasons that lead to me wanting to apply for this role. I take satisfaction from applying myself to a role successfully and efficiently. I would love to expand my leadership skills and add a different perspective to some pertinent issues and events that VUWSA are involved in. In analysing and developing the annual budget, I want to make sure that every student is treated fairly and equally, giving everyone the chance to perform to the best of their abilities. As being a student is all about balance, it is important to me that VUWSA acts in the same manner. I would like to provide members and students the platform to reach their academic potential while still enjoying themselves and forming life-long memories. I will work to make sure that VUWSA is an association we can all be proud of.
VUWSA Candidates 2017
MATTIAS TOLHURST I’m a third-year student at Victoria University. I study a conjoint of Biomedical Science and Science and I’m incredibly passionate about education; I’ve worked as a tutor and currently work at an education company for 10–15 hours a week, which prepares me for the workload required of the Education Officer. My main hobbies and interests include skateboarding, reading, and programming when I find the time! I was originally studying software engineering but after realising that it wasn’t my true passion I decided to pursue health instead. I’m mainly excited about the role of Education Officer because an incredible amount of work has been done by VUWSA to make this institution better; my campaign this year is all to do with having equitable student representation in the decisions that impact us as students. It’s also about increasing the quality of our education, providing clear incentives for lecturers to improve as educators, making sure lectures are recorded to increase access, working closely with groups like Te Pūtahi Atawhai and Te Rōpū Āwhina as well as increasing awareness of the incredible support services at Victoria that many students are unaware of.
SARAH YZENDOORN Do you want: • 48 hour “free pass” extensions in ALL schools? • Video recordings of ALL lectures? • Consistent extensions, marking, and penalties guidelines for ALL faculties? We deserve UNI-WIDE CONSISTENCY. Students are not just stakeholders, we are PARTNERS in our education. As a current Class Rep, Faculty Delegate, and student representative on FHSS’ Teaching, Learning and Equity Committee, I already work very closely with the current Academic Vice-President and Ed-
ucation Officer. I want to go beyond this, to continue to deliver students the best and nothing less. Students are the heart of tertiary education; we deserve the best education and nothing less. Whatever it takes to ensure the student experience is always positively contributed to, I am 100% committed to doing it. If there are strengths, I WILL build on them. If there are weaknesses, I WILL improve them. If there is an issue, I WILL solve it. Every student deserves equal opportunity. No matter who you are, where you are from, or what you are studying, you deserve to have the world as your oyster. Whatever it takes, I will do it. Vote SARAH YZENDOORN for EDUCATION OFFICER. #YeezyforEduOfficer
WELLBEING AND SUSTAINABILITY OFFICER
ELEANOR HUGHES Hi all — I’m Ella, running to be your 2018 VUWSA Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer! I’m fourth-year Law and Arts (shout out anth and IR, yeaa boiiiiii). I love a bit of a boogie, climbing Mt Kaukau, and getting amongst equality of access issues in our backyard. Experience wise — I have been volunteering in the disability sector with IHC for a year now, as well as working to help out WellAble Kapiti through Ignite Consulting. I currently work at Wesley Community Action, having raised over $35,000 for them and their projects since February 2017. Safe to say, I know how not-for-profits (like VUWSA!) work, and how to make them benefit us best! As Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer, I intend to focus on our financial wellbeing, our mental health, and our passive participation in environmentally harmful practices. Solutions like timebanks, education in first year on coping and adjusting to university life, and clothing bins on campus to prevent waste and give back to our local community, are just some of my ideas. Like the sound of some of that? Chuck your vote my way.
VUWSA Candidates 2017
CLUBS AND ACTIVITIES OFFICER
(Blurb in Welfare Vice-President section.)
PADDY MILLER Kia ora, my name is Paddy, and I’m ready to be your next Equity Officer! I’m in my fourth year of Law/Pol conjoint. As a member of Wellington Community Justice Project, I recently worked on a select committee submission supporting law changes to provide practical assistance to domestic violence victims. I have experience mentoring students from a range of backgrounds, and I frequently fundraise for Wellington Rape Crisis, the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation, and the SPCA. I have built strong relationships in these roles. If elected, I will propel Victoria’s diverse range of representative groups into the spotlight. These groups all have a unique and important message to share. I will work alongside them to promote strong campaigns that strike a chord with students on campus. I will actively promote the Thursdays in Black movement, aiming to eliminate rape and violence in the student community. Groups particularly at risk of sexual violence are Māori and Pasifika people, transgender people, and those with disabilities. ALL students deserve to feel safe. I want to create a safe and equitable environment at Victoria University, so vote for Paddy so we can make this happen!
SUMMER WICK-FEATONBY (Blurb in Welfare Vice-President section.)
Kia ora koutou! Ko Connor ahau, a fourthyear BA/BCom student, President of Victoria University Rowing Club, and executive member of VicCom, and I want to be your Clubs and Activities Officer for 2018! During my time at Victoria, I have developed an appreciation and respect for all the hard work that clubs put in to provide amazing services for their members. One thing that has become increasingly evident, however, is that club culture at Vic is isolated. Clubs are toiling independently to enrich the student experience, but I believe that through improving the way that clubs share knowledge, facilities, and members, the clubs community can cement its vital role within students’ lives. By shifting the responsibility for club support back to VUWSA, we can develop a joint vision for all clubs at Victoria. This will create a cooperative environment for clubs and ensure that students and their societies are working for the productive benefit of each other. I believe that clubs at Victoria enrich students’ lives, and through returning clubs to VUWSA we can work together to develop a joint vision for clubs within the university. Vote Connor MacLeod for Clubs and Activities Officer — working together with clubs.
LARS THOMPSON Kia Ora! My name is Lars and my mission is to make VUWSA’s club support services unmatched in Aotearoa. I’m a fourth-year law student, I’ve been President of the Politics Society, and the first elected Editor of club media platform Rostra! I also sit on the Clubs Council, which has revealed how urgently we need more accessible structures to aid and connect our club community.
VUWSA Candidates 2017
Vote me Clubs and Activities Officer for: A Participatory Model of Club Representation As leader of the Clubs Council Review Group, I’ve spent 2017 drafting a new and inclusive representation system. It introduces a forum for clubs to raise concerns and vote on what action to take, which can include opportunities to solve shared issues through inter-club working groups! Targeted Support to Avoid Burnout Addressing mental health is paramount. I’ll ensure Club and Rep Group Manuals include advice and contact information that’s useful for avoiding burnout, as well as celebrating clubs volunteer efforts at the Blues and Supreme Club Awards. An Activity Team to Provide Helping Hands You can request this team for extra support holding events! A great way to encourage volunteer culture at Vic while helping small and growing clubs! Many hands make light work!
GEO ROBRIGADO Kia ora and Mabuhay! I am Geo, originally from Laguna, Philippines, and I have been living in Wellington for the past four years. While I am only in the first year of my LLB/BA degree, my experiences in student representation and campaigns date back to 2005 at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, where I was an officer of the University Student Council and a member of a youth political group. In both stints I have managed and led campaigns on student and youth issues, particularly on student rights and welfare. It is that experience that inspired me to bring my activism to New Zealand and VUW. As campaigns officer, I will continue to champion student rights and welfare, working with pertinent sectors within VUWSA and the university to achieve such goals. I will continue to promote campaigns such as Fairer Fares, as well as other campaigns to ensure that each student of VUW gets the best education experience they rightfully deserve. As an immigrant, VUW and VUWSA gave me a wonderful community to grow and thrive. Serving
my fellow students is the best way for me to give back to this community.
FELIX GRIFFIN How much better will VUWSA look when we have someone whose skills have been recognized by world leaders? Recognised in his efforts in bringing us a TEDx Talks conference and amazing speakers — Griffin knows how to campaign. This is what Palmer, New Zealand’s 33rd Prime Minister, has to say about Griffin: “Felix, I have been impressed with your verve and enthusiasm in organising the TEDx Talks… Further, the efficiency of your organisation has been excellent.” It’s time to leave the uni leagues behind and go with someone the professionals endorse.
PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS Last week’s Candidates Forum for the VUWSA election was yet another reminder of the huge dark cloud that continues to hang over students and other young people — the mental health crisis. I don’t think there was one candidate that didn’t mention it in some shape or form, and this ain’t new. Every VUWSA election for the years that I’ve been around (and before that too I’m sure), has carried the same theme — what are our student leaders going to do to make a difference? Among many other things happening this week is a project we are involved with through NZUSA (your national students’ association) to try to gather research currently lacking with regard to student mental health. There will be a survey going out to students across Aotearoa, including you, which will help us understand on a large scale what the nature of the issues are. From there, we will have the building blocks to put together a strong campaign calling for real solutions that are going to work for our community. We want to get a better understanding of how peer-to peer initiatives might be able to work as part of new support services. This is something that we (at VUWSA) have been working on lately — investigating whether these kinds of services could play a role at VUW, and how they would look. As part of the Student Levy increase for 2018, we negotiated some additional funding which will go towards projects that help improve resilience and support for students. Together with Student Counselling we’ve been investigating different models of peer and online support to try and make this funding stretch as far as possible and have the greatest impact for the whole student body. Without a doubt, many of you will know way more than me about these different models, and I’d love to hear from you so that we can get it right! — Rory Lenihan-Ikin
VUWSA The life of a student can be a tough one — we’re constantly juggling so many things, which can often be overwhelming. New Zealand has damning statistics when it comes to youth suicide, and there is still so much stigma around the topic of mental health, which doesn’t get as much honest, open discourse as it should. Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) runs from October 9–15; a week-long event promoted and supported by the Mental Health Foundation, where organisations can get on board and run mental health-related activities. The theme this year is “Nature is Key: Unlock Your Wellbeing”. Although not the answer to long term mental health issues, these reflective periods and activities are chances to form conversations, and are part of broader movements to foster sustainable habits and positive environments for better mental health. As VUWSA’s 2016 Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer, and the current Welfare Vice-President, I am passionate about student wellbeing, and have sought to find practical ways to combine this with the concept of sustainability. Wellbeing, as an everyday concept, requires shifts in the way we approach different aspects of life, to build sustainable movements for better mental health and overall wellbeing. One of my projects has been creating a student community garden on campus. It’s been a long time coming, and the collaborative effort, including working with STUDiO and the university, reflects the idea behind the space being a common one to make connections, chill, and be in a good space. I am proud to be able to launch the Kelburn Student Community Garden this week as part of MHAW. Come along to the deck at the top of the Student Union Building from midday Friday, October 13, with your green thumb! CanDo are hosting a MHAW event too — check out their stall on the Hub mezzanine on Thursday. — Anya Maule ( Welfare Vice-President)
TE ARA TAUIRA
The event name Tatai Hono represents the ties that bind Māori together, and the strengthening of these ties through the practice and celebration of our culture and reo in all aspects of life. Tatai Hono is hosted by Ngā Taura Umanga — VUW Māori Commerce Students’ Association, and its purpose is to provoke, inspire, and create exposure to broader ways of thinking. This event is aimed at not only our tauira at VUW, but also alumni, business professionals, and the wider community. Every year, the executive committee selects a different kaupapa. This year the theme was “Ka mua, ka muri,” a well-known whakatauki which translates to “walking into the future backwards.” As tauira Māori, we are all intrinsically linked to our whakapapa, our stories, our whanau, hapū, and iwi. This year’s theme aimed to explore the uniqueness of our backgrounds, and how they are an inherent part of our future success. Our speakers were a diverse range of Māori operating in various industries. Te Miri Rangi, founder of Whakapapa Fridays, spoke to us about exploring traditional Māori philosophies in a modern context to enable Māori success on the world stage. Carl Ross, Chief Executive of Te Matatini, spoke to us about how kapa haka can be used as a vehicle for positive social change. Fiona Kupenga, Director of Te Amokura Productions, spoke to us about finding and producing stories that mean something, learning along the way, and how to juggle motherhood and the working world. Henare Johnson, Manager of Māori Projects at AirNZ, spoke to us about his upbringing and how to showcase Māori culture in a predominantly Pākehā environment. Each year, Tatai Hono creates an environment for students and professionals to join together and celebrate the inherent cultural ties that we all share as Māori, and this year was no different.
Are all Pasifika people super, extra, religious? Well, a lot of non-Pasifika people who give out religious magazines and promote church events seem to think so. It’s come to be expected of us, as if we should be religious, as a part of being Pasifika. For real, though. I’ve seen it here in Wellington, up in Auckland, and even in Brisbane, Australia. One time, my dad and I were at a bookshop and someone was giving out pamphlets. She asked us where we were from, and as soon as we said “Samoa” she was like, “Oh you don’t need one of these! You’re Christians. You people are so committed, it’s amazing. All your choirs and singing and music…” (girl, they’re the same freaking thing, ehka!). She didn’t ask us. I feel like this colonial imposition of creeds, of ideals, of lifestyles, is still a predominant feature of (some) mainstream and non-mainstream interactions. Some, and not all. The thing is, it shouldn’t even be as much as “some” anymore. In a post-colonial world, some is A LOT! I mean, dear person whose name I didn’t get, I can actually be brown and not be in the front pew every Sunday. And Pasifika people aren’t simply religious by default. To be religious is a choice. To not be religious is a choice. To have choice is a right. I want to sing in the choir and serve lunch at the pastor’s house after lotu because I choose to, not because some (outdated) colonial “go to church” standard expects me to. One thing university has helped me stop saying is “should” — unless it’s in the context of “you should think for yourself.”
— Stevie Hadfield
You really should. — Jasmine Koria
THE QUEER AGENDA
Our final column for Salient 2017 has got me thinking: what is UniQ’s queer agenda? Recently we updated our constitution and got new exec members, but what are we standing for? Why are we standing at all? The majority of UniQ groups in the country are doing their damn best, but aren’t thriving in all the ways that they could. At UniQ Victoria, we’ve always taken this with a grain of salt: we’re students, we’re workers, we’re unwell, and yet still we find time to stand up and do this very hard, personal, and emotionally draining work. I know there’s a lot of you out there who aren’t big fans of UniQ, for many different reasons. We’re predominantly white and able bodied. We’ve only just really started using tikanga in our practices. Statistically we should have 2000 students at our meetings or engaging with us online but often it’s more like 40, and that’s on us. Plus, we only have like five board games and playing the same ones week after week is too much (I do love Cluedo though). I just want to acknowledge these things as the year ends and we look towards 2018. Maybe UniQ Victoria can’t ever represent all the queer, rainbow, and gender diverse students at this university, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to try. If you have ideas or suggestions on how we can do better in our work, flick us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org over the summer break. We will continue to do our very best with what we know, but without feedback and engagement we’re not able to get better. A big thank you to everyone we’ve engaged with this year —we do this for you and each other. We will continue to stand for you and for those who will join us when we’re both ready.
The research journey can be a tumultuous one. As I was sitting alone on the couch for four and a half hours on election night, I wondered how many other postgrads were also sitting, laptops in hand, contemplating what the results would mean for their research. Regardless of how you happen to feel about those four and a half hours (and the fact you will never get them back), I would encourage you to set aside your election fatigue and get involved in the student election season! Across the university, clubs and associations are preparing for the year ahead and holding elections and Annual General Meetings. This is a great time to consider your place in the university community, and whether you would like to get more involved. The Postgraduate Students’ Association (PGSA) has just elected its 2018 Executive, and there is always room in our association for more keen people to get involved with our events, advocacy, and professional development opportunities. In addition to our fresh Executive, the PGSA also has a brand new Executive Administrator, Fran Denton. Fran is excited to meet you all, and will be in touch with all members soon about our 2018 calendar, and all of the opportunities we have coming up! Feel free to stop by to welcome Fran, and look out for her next email. As well as being tumultuous, the graduate research journey can be isolating. Joining in on community events (and perhaps getting involved with your local students’ associations and clubs) can be a great way of maintaining balance and establishing your place within the university. Touch base with the PGSA today if you are interested in getting more involved!
— Kate Aschoff on behalf on UniQ
— Jordan Anderson (PGSA President)
— Joe Morris * Ironically, those same parents bought the house after a five year stint in London, working in something to do with finance, with a degree they didn’t have to pay for… Lucky for them we can’t even remember when 33 pence could buy a dollar, let alone voting for a government who might change things for us.
THE FALLOUT ZONE
Autumn is here, and with it the parks are under a technicolour blanket of leaves, the canal is covered in smog, and I’m wrapped up in a sweaty scarf biking through it all. I imagine a different scene in Wellington, where the spring tide is trying to swallow cyclists off Lambton Quay, succeeding every so often with the help of a nor westerly gale. You’ll be out of there soon enough. The last due date is in sight, along with those points needed to avoid summer school. You’ll be back on the family farm, or back home on the quarter acre “outside of Auckland” (Hamilton) in no time. Sadly, your parents won’t want you sticking around too long, mostly because you’re cutting into their Airbnb income in a big way. Don’t worry, it’s a good thing they want you out. Escape to London for the start of that all-promising gap year and join me in collective ignorance of student loans and accumulating interest repayments.* In a few short weeks you’ll be saying: “five quid for a pint? Bargain!” The sooner you get over here the better. Disposable income doesn’t stay that way forever, and London is the best place to spend it. Bands have finished the European festival circuit and are all winding up in London. Ty Segall was the best live show I’ve seen. Kane Strang, that indie-rock kid from Dunedin, sold out his last London show and is back for more next month. And that’s only the start. The London Film Festival has just begun; News from Home is essential viewing if you’ve ever even thought about leaving NZ for the big smoke. Finally, galleries are opening new shows to coincide with the changing season, from Basquiat’s first UK exhibition at the Barbican, to the new interactive installation by art collective Superflex at Tate Modern. Of course, all this stuff is unmissable. So, despite the burning buildings and train bombs and all the rest of it — despite being well and truly within the fallout zone — get over here while you can. Steal from the boomers if you have to. Outside our little island paradise there is something you’re not going to want to miss.
RORY DRINKS EARL GREY TEA WITH MILK: A CONVERSATION WITH THE PRESIDENT ABOUT LIFE, VSM, AND VUWSA Written by Laura Toailoa and Tim Manktelow
It is very sunny and we hold the interview on the wooden tables outside Milk and Honey. There’s a light wind and the occasional tui — Rory wonders if they might be kēreru; “not heavy enough” — floats down into the trees on the courtyard. He gets an earl grey tea and drinks it with milk. Tim has a lemonade. Laura gets fries, and an orange and mint drink. Refreshing. We joke about the noises that the chips will make on the microphone — which, at the time, we are unaware is set to the wrong channel and won’t record the fucking interview. It’s very hot. The rightside of my face is warm now, in the evening, all of this is receding into memory. Rewriting is not going to work — everything is but long shadows of an afternoon. * Rory Lenihan-Ikin was born in Morningside, Auckland, but failed to live up to “Morningside for Life,” moving to Grey Lynn. His dad ran his own arboriculture business, while his mum, a trained nurse, gave up her career to focus on the home life. She was involved in his school, and worked tirelessly on the various committees and community groups that directly influenced the lives of him and his sister. Rory talked about how appreciative he was of what his mum did, but more broadly of having "parents who valued tertiary education. “I don’t understand those parents of the Baby Boomer generation who benefited from free tertiary education and don’t support free tertiary education. But more than that, those who benefited and then don’t also help their children through study despite having the means to do so.” Having his parents support meant he was able to move to Wellington to study. In 2012 he started a degree in politics and sociology, with some additional Te Reo papers and a minor in marketing — which was “interesting.” In his first and second years, like many students, Rory was completely disconnected from student politics; he had no idea what VUWSA was and what they did (apart from throwing O-Week events). It was in 2014 that he got involved. VUWSA founded and facilitated an organic food co-op that Rory was a part of, and his friend, Stephanie Gregor, who was the Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer at the time, suggested he run for the position. He was successful, and then ran for office again, becoming the Welfare Vice-President in 2016. After a third successful campaign, Rory became the 2017 VUWSA President that we’ve come to know and love (some more than others). Informing his presidency has been a feeling that confronted him upon moving to Wellington in 2012. It was a culture shock; central Wellington, particularly the community of Te Puni — a mud-orange tower on the hill for the children of the elite, and those talented enough to receive scholarships — was starkly different to Grey Lynn. He describes being made forcefully aware of his privilege and feeling hamstrung by it. Yet, “with great privilege, comes great responsibility” and the need to confront it, to do something with it, not just to move past and forget. A big part of doing something was acknowledging that it was the support from his parents that enabled him to be involved in VUWSA. His role as Welfare Officer granted him only $2000 total remuneration, received over the year, for ten contracted hours per week, as mandated by the Executive Membership Statute (he worked well over his required hours, as is common in VUWSA, year after year). As president, a
Features Rory drinks earl grey tea with milk
Laura Toailoa and Tim Manktelow
priority for Rory was to ensure that the officers are paid for the ten hours worked, and this year VUWSA passed a motion that means they’re now paid minimum wage — a move to make running for VUWSA accessible for everyone. * While VUWSA may be (theoretically) accessible for everyone (there are still the barriers of technocracy and an election cycle determined by who has the slickest campaign video), it’s no longer representative of students in the same way it was in the past. In 2011, ACT Party MP Heather Roy’s Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill passed its third reading, legislating that “no student or prospective student at a [tertiary] institution is required to be a member of a students’ association.” This was the move toward voluntary student membership (VSM), where students “opt-in” to join their union. Prior to the passing of the Bill, all students were automatically a member of their union, with the ability to “opt-out” available if they wished — a model that provided a stable revenue stream as all VUW students’ would pay a membership fee that went directly to VUWSA. It was an automatic contribution deducted at the start of the year, alongside a number of other levies that went to the university — these were subsequently amalgamated into the Student Services Levy (SSL). Rory describes the introduction of VSM as a “seismic shift” (though admits he’s a little hazy on all the details, as he was blissfully ignorant of VUWSA back in 2012). VSM changed the funding model; VUWSA now negotiates with the university to receive a proportion of the SSL to provide services to students. All students pay the SSL each year to facilitate key support services, including health and counselling, recreation, careers information, clubs and societies, child care, financial support, advocacy, and media. There was a very narrow window of opportunity after the implementation of VSM for associations to negotiate what services they’d be providing and what the university would provide. Rory uses the metaphor of services being thrown into the air by the different universities and the associations scrambling around to catch them. The things that VUWSA caught — advocacy, lost property, representation through things like the class representatives system, community pantry, parking, etc. — remain the basis of its income through the SSL today. Supplementary income is provided by VUWSA Trust, which manages assets (the main one being Vic Books, the only business that VUWSA runs) and investments. One silver lining of VSM, in Rory’s view, is that it forced student associations to professionalise; there’s a greater degree of accountability about how money is being spent. But these are only glints of silver in a sky of dark clouds; the independence and dexterity of associations has been greatly reduced. The VSM funding model means that, if VUWSA sees a need to provide additional services to students, they have to pitch how the new initiative will benefit the university, rather than simply deciding as an organisation what they think students need. With this comes a considerable time delay, limiting the organisation’s ability to be responsive. For example, Rory points out the lack of a queer-specific support role as part of the VUWSA staff, and how students have brought concerns to them for a while about this, but the organisation is financially constrained with regards to introducing such a role: “If VUWSA had a $4 million budget we could have made this a role straight away.” There’s a touch of annoyance from Rory when it comes to the pre-VSM executives: “They should have seen the writing on the wall and been more prepared.” In 1999, legislation was passed allowing VSM to be implemented at any university campus by a referendum of students; the same year students at Auckland University voted in VSM. Rory points out that VUWSA executives should have seen universal VSM coming and
Features saved assets, to try establish financial independence from the university. The long-term vision for VUWSA, one that will take a while to implement, is to have the organisation funded predominantly through the Trust (through assets like Vic Books), with the SSL as a supplement, not the main source of income, to run services. This will allow more independence from the university and freedom to manoeuvre. * Here we are — while the legacy of VSM lingers in the background of VUWSA’s operations, they have still actively campaigned on student issues. Rory has been fronting the push Fairer Fares this year, which launched back in 2013. In a win for students, the Greater Wellington Regional Council has included, in its Regional Public Transport Plan, a 25% discount on public transport for full time tertiary students. Obviously the struggle is not over, but Rory points out that it proves “long term advocacy can bring long term benefits.” It also provides a symbolic and crucial victory for the association — VUWSA has demonstrated its relevance. Another big campaign this year was We Have Power, which had the optimistic goal of getting 100% of students to vote in this year’s general election. According to Rory, the idea was born at the NZUSA conference in January. The VUWSA caucus pushed hard for it, stressing the need for NZUSA to run a nationwide campaign, something it hasn’t done in years, but is crucial for demonstrating the organisation’s relevance and capability. Given that the special votes aren’t yet in, Rory only gave brief reflections. He said it was a success that NZUSA managed to pull off a national campaign working with associations across the country, but that the provisional results also demonstrated again that the political system is not working for young people. The real challenge for campaigns like We Have Power in future is to reach out to youth who are disenfranchised — those not in education or work. He pointed out that the perfect organisational structures are in place, with centralised hubs across the country — campuses; sites of possibility — and it’s up to organisations like VUWSA with NZUSA to lead the charge. * Rory’s term is drawing to a close, and with it what feels like the end of an era. While VUWSA has been in a relatively stable place this year, Rory is one of the last of a line of presidents aware of the turmoil of VSM’s recent history — having joined in 2014 and working alongside members who were there in the early days. Next year VUWSA will be run by a complete outsider to the organisation, or a young and relative newbie. His advice for the next president? “Listen first, talk later.” This seems crucial for effective representation, especially as VUWSA “should be the glue that pulls the student body, actually the university, together.” He also pointed out the need for the candidates to be themselves. There’s always risk of emulating previous presidents, but keeping up the act isn’t sustainable: “you have to bring your own personality and way of doing things to the role.” When we began we weren’t sure how to hold this interview with Rory — he’s a representative and a politician, but also a person, who comes to his role from a unique place. It felt lacking just to interview him about being a president, but the timing felt right. He’s stepping aside; the motivations to influence aren’t as pressing. The pressure of legacy, maybe, but as Rory said to us when we asked what he thought his legacy was, “that’s not for me to say, that’s for other people to decide.” His favourite colour is the green of a kauri — of course it damn is.
• DRAKES AND SNAKES: WHEN LARSON MET MARLON •
On another hot afternoon, this time at the Hunter Lounge, we sat down with the candidates running for VUWSA President in 2018. Marlon was wearing a crisp white t-shirt under an open purple shirt; Larson had a black t-shirt on with his slogan, No Snakes, Just Ladders, embroidered in orange thread on the front — a nice touch. He drank a foamy lemon, lime, and bitters. Marlon had a coke. Laura and Tim had ginger beer. Are these details important? This transcript has been shortened considerably for print; an extended version can be found on our website — salient.org.nz Larson, we’ll start with you — if you had to describe the role of president to someone who had no idea about VUWSA, what does the president do? Larson: First, I’d say that VUWSA is the students’ association of the university. Good start! Larson: The president, as the head of the association, is the key advocate for students at the university. VUWSA itself is the student voice, and that’s built through the association, but the president is the face. Everybody involved in VUWSA has the same drive to get the best deal for students, but the president should and can hold the core beliefs, and drive home the message that’s built through the whole executive. It’s not like
the president is anyone’s boss, but you’re the person that, instead of focussing on specific areas like the other members of the executive, you focus on every area. You don’t just deal with one issue, you deal with all of them. For me, being in the position is having the ability to stand up and say, “this is what I believe in,” not just a couple things, but across the board. And being able to make a difference. Marlon, how would you describe the role of president to someone who had no idea about VUWSA? Marlon: I think it’s the person that sits at the heart of VUWSA; I would never say at the top. Someone who is connected with the community and people feel is accessible and open, where people can come and talk to them. Someone who can bring the team together in a way that they can cross-pollinate and work on different issues and still come across with a single strong student voice. Not just in a university level, but on a Wellington level, and a national level, like we had this year with the We Have Power campaign. Then there’s the engagement side. For them to be accessible, students need to know who he or she, or they, are. It’s important that the president is getting out there; it’s not just through the meme page but by getting out there and talking to students one on one. Having your door open whenever a student wants to walk in. Marlon, what advantages do you think you have, as a candidate who’s been in the executive this year? Marlon: Experience is a big one. I know how to work with the university; I know how VUWSA works. I know how to start a campaign, and I think I’m pretty accessible. I’ve really tried to throw myself out there and get involved in every little thing I can because to me it was important, so students feel like they could come onboard the waka that is VUWSA. Those are my strengths — oh, that was a bit cocky, sorry. Larson, what are the advantages of someone who hasn’t been a part of student politics like Marlon? Larson: The advantages of me coming from the outside is that I’m able to critically assess what has been done and what needs to be done in the future. From the outside you can be almost harsh, you can say sure that just didn’t work. I’ve been able to take a different path in terms of understanding the structure of the university and how things work. I can look at VUWSA from an outside perspective, which is what most students have.
34 We’ve been approached by Living Wage at Victoria to ask you both whether you would continue to support the living wage, and, if so, what specifically would you do to put pressure on the university to become a living wage employer? Marlon: I’ve been involved with the Living Wage this year already, campaigning with them, putting on that Living Wage Day, and doing the training. I’m a member of the local board as well — it’s pretty obvious I’m going to continue fighting for a living wage at Victoria. I think in terms of tangible things that we’re going to be doing; obviously continuing the drip-feeding of the posters and notes and the sort of student interaction that way. But it’s time that we start formalising a student voice on this. The way we’re going to be doing that is working with other groups in the university. Working with other students’ associations, working with the RA services, the accommodation services, trying to have a formal position, and a formal proposal we can provide for the university in terms of how it can get the living wage. Larson: Well I’ve heard a lot about it and I’ve spoken to some people. The living wage is over $20 an hour. I fully support the movement that’s been happening. It’s not something that VUWSA or people involved want to happen, it’s something that needs to happen. It’s as simple as that. It’s a necessity. [Turns to Marlon] Do you know what VUWSA’s role with Vic Books is, in terms of their— Marlon: So we’ve got the VUWSA Trust, which appoints the board which runs Vic Books, and they’re in charge of currently trying to make sure that the Vic Books staff get living wage. When are Vic Books staff likely to get the living wage? Marlon: That information hasn’t been available to the executive, all I can say is hopefully soon! Larson: That’s something I’ve heard about, from people who work at Vic Books and are within the business. That’s a big thing. Just to be clear, you’d push to get them on living wage next year, if you were elected as President? Larson: As soon as possible. Oh that would be the best… I mean, the best outcome would be to get everyone at the university on the living wage. It’s really cool that VUWSA’s pushing the living wage movement, but you have to start from the ground up. I’m aware that all the exec positions are now— Marlon: We got minimum wage this year, yes! Marlon, for you, with Vic Books and the executive getting them up to the living wage? Marlon: Well, obviously it’s one of our big missions to get the living wage for the executive. Even though we don’t have a direct line to the management of Vic Books, it seems pretty obvious to me that the
Features president’s voice in the matter would be registered, be listened to some degree, by the board. I think it’s important to make a quick distinction between the Living Wage Movement, that their main goal is targeting the big institutions and the big businesses that can afford to. Looking at VUWSA, it’s something we’re keen for, but only if we have the cash to do it. In the forum on October 3, something that came up and that both of you address is the topic of mental health. Marlon you’ve released a policy about this: “We’re going to work with Mauri Ora and introduce a new support service, with new parttime trained student staff who can provide online and over the phone support to our students, and also have the ability to distribute notes for extensions without having to have a session with a counsellor. These trained staff will have a role in ensuring that when a student contacts the counselling service, they will hear back.” How do you think this would work? What are some of the practical parts to this policy? What discussions have you had with Mauri Ora or other support services to come up with this policy? Marlon: There’s been money set aside, through the Students Services Levy, for mental health. We’re always pushing for more funding. The money is there for it to happen. It’ll be starting with a small team of students. We think it’s important for student trained staff, because a lot of issues that students are coming to the current counselling service with are very student issues: stresses with
Laura Toailoa and Tim Manktelow
academic lives, stresses with youth social spheres. To be able to have over-thephone or online connection, and to talk about those things at the same level, will be extremely beneficial. A big aspect of it is that these student staff would have the authority to distribute notes for extensions, which would take huge pressure off the counselling services. A lot of the students go to the counselling service so they can talk to counselling, and receive a note for an extension. And now they don’t have to go through this whole process, waiting all that time, to get a note. They can do it almost external to that side of the service. That way, there’ll be more free time for counsellors. Well, it won’t be free for very long, obviously they’ll be filled up with students coming for sessions. The most important aspect of it is that students would be getting a message back. A lot of students are trying to get in contact with Student Counselling, and they’re not even getting a message back for two and half months or longer… or at all. And that’s unacceptable. It’s really shit, when you need someone to talk to, and you can’t even get a text back. It’s one of the worst feelings. I’ve run it past Head of Counselling, and he’s keen to sit down and continue talking about it. It’s actually something we can very much do next year. Would it come under VUWSA, or Mauri Ora?
Drakes and Snakes
Marlon: It’ll definitely come under Mauri Ora. It’s something which we’d provide guidance on, and help with the publicity, but it’ll be under their umbrella so it’s still a very professional service and method of treatment, for students struggling with mental health Larson, what are the specific things you’d do in regard to mental health? You call for more resources for student health and disability services. Larson: I’ll start with the disability services. Essentially, there isn’t a Disability Services office at Te Aro campus. I know a couple of people who suffer from a disability at the campus who have voiced the fact that they’ve had to catch a bus, uber, or taxi to Kelburn or Pipitea, just to talk to somebody to get the help they need. Even if it’s just one contact person, one desk and someone mans it for three days out of five. Ideally, you’d have someone working down there. Te Aro campus is often forgotten about. Also making it more well known. I don’t think many people fully understand what’s available from Disability Services. People think, oh, I must have something permanent. But that’s so incorrect. They’re there to help you with whatever you need, and it’s just a fact of making sure it’s well known among everybody. With mental health, the biggest thing is education around it. There’s a massive stigma around it, people downplay it a lot. So you see it as VUWSA’s role to provide that education? Larson: I see VUWSA’s role as education around it, but also advocating and making it the norm that it’s okay that someone can talk about their problems. Currently, if you want to talk to somebody about an issue, you have to go to somebody who’s fully trained and fully qualified and it’s all kind of hush-hush, out of the way, so nobody knows. But a problem shared is a problem halved. The more people that know about your issue, that can support you, would help. So if we can educate and train some staff up, train some students who want to be leaders in that — I really want to set off the movement. That’s one hundred per cent what I’ll be about. I feel that some people this year lost their faith in the student counselling service and regardless of who’s president or on the executive, it’s the university’s and VUWSA’s job to make people feel they have someone they can talk to. Favourite colours? Marlon: Green Larson: That’s so difficult… I’ll go with burnt orange, or cobalt blue. Marlon: Oh, I want to switch mine to blue or green… blue-green. Or is that too topical? Larson: Depends if they’re together or not. — Tuioleloto Laura Toailoa and Tim Manktelow
Kahu Kutia email@example.com
/juːˈtoʊpiə/ Written by Geum Hye Kim
Geum Hye Kim A learned man’s utopia is a desolate place. He creates a replica of himself to populate a land that hides the secret of perfect happiness and harmony, because he must play the role of the seeker of the truth, and what is true is what he perceives to be true. He both enquires and answers, quests and supplies, and Plato’s Republic is filled with thousands of other philosophers like him. Consider Jorge Luis Borges. His protagonists are men from the continent — professors, writers of unpopular work, bookworms, librarians, collectors of dictionaries, speakers of Latin, and scholars of Old English. His utopia is a geometric universe where infinity renders meaningless utterances and complex poetries the same. Here, the world is a congress of every individual who populates the earth — a deliberation on writing requires a further deliberation, indexes replace objects, fiction becomes more real than actual persons, and the layers of self-replicating simulations replace intimacy. Strangers come together to share their stories, but lovers’ desires are unfulfilled, companionship is forfeited, and familiar faces on the street are passed without a word. In the library of babel, a book of sand, a garden of forking path, where both perfect and imperfect copies of masterpiece are catalogued, and copies of copies reproduce and amplify an error of single digit, out of this jumble, a new meaning is born, under the solemn gaze of archivists. The book of sand that Borges imagines is a bible that includes every possible combination of letters and illustrations, which are never repeated or exhausted. The searching mind that browses the tome grasps nothing. The pursuit of nothing is a singular experience on its own. How can you say there is no art in the game played by letters, and no beauty in the imperfection? This is not a meaning that can be communicated to others, but from this solitude comes a tranquillity. A mind can lose itself there, and forget about material loneliness. “In our schools we are taught doubt and the art of forgetting — above all, the forgetting of what is personal and local. […] You said your name is Eudoro. I can’t tell you my name, because I am simply called Someone.” “And what was your father’s name?” “He had none.” — Jorge Luis Borges, “Utopia of a Tired Man” The loneliness of adolescence sends youth off on a search for utopia. Richi Ueshiba is a graphic artist who draws inspiration from traditional tales and fetishistic, budding sexuality to create his own blend of psychedelic, modern myths. His adolescent characters explore a world where reality and fantasy blend together, just like in childish dreams, or a dream of a “kidult”, boxing his desire for a complete union into his drawings. One of his narratives revolves around “the World of Hirukos” — the utopia populated by copies of the ideal being named Hiruko. Individuality is erased upon entering the world, because only perfection can exist, and Hiruko, the personification of an androgynous superego, is the perfection. Since everyone in this world shares the same genetic information, appearance, and psyche, there is no conflict, fear, or ostracism, as Narcissistic desires becomes the sole basis for any form of interaction. There is nothing to distinguish between you and I, so there is nothing to separate a couple. An individual is a cell in a process of mitosis, a part of the fractal, a building block that forms a symmetric beauty of the utopia. In the traditional Japanese mythology, Hiruko is a first child of two gods who rule over the domain of life and death. Born without limbs or bones, like a snake or a leech, because of his parents’ transgression of gender roles, Hiruko is cast into the sea, and when fully grown comes to be known as Ebisu, the god of fishing, luck, and good fortune. Taboo becomes luck, and imperfection is healed.
Geum Hye Kim
In Japan, a utopia is found in tokoyo-no-kuni, a place under the direct governance of the deities. Rainbows function as bridges to the celestial realm, which is the closest parallel to paradise. Both the underworld and the celestial realm co-exist in our world, just beyond the visible spectrum, and one can easily slip through the crack, fall into the other world. Similarly, in China, utopia is imagined as a peach orchard in the depth of mountains. Only those who belong to that defiled world can find the location of the orchard, but there is a story about a fisherman who finds his way to the cave by chance. A crack in one of the walls leads to the orchard. The visitor descends. And, of course, utopia in mythology tends to promise an eternity. One does not stray from the path of health and prosperity, and the lack of variety in passing days make one lose track of time. In the Chinese version of utopia, when the fisherman has returned from the orchard, he finds that mere days in the strange realm had turned into years in the outside world. In theory, infinity can be generated by repetition of parts, but as with the failure of No Man’s Sky, a game that promised to offer utopia in the form of an inexhaustible universe, we are too quick to memorise a pattern. Small imperfections in the copy are erased under the weight of infinity. There is an infinite space between any two points, according to Zeno of Elea. There is an unreachable space between you and me, and so our longing for intimacy intensifies. An echo travels between two lovers locked in embrace, and any attempts to exist in harmony send us traversing the universe filled with atoms, which are still divisible into electrons and nuclei, and still we haven’t bridged the vacuum between the particles that form ourbodies, and still the gap between 0 and 1 widens. The vibration caused by a path of light, which divides into rainbow, is our only means of contact. While rainbows provide a celestial pathway in the Japanese myths, in Australia, a rainbow serpent is the creator of the world, who watered the land when it was closer to being a paradise than it is now. A rainbow serpent is sometimes androgynous, sometimes pansexual, sometimes hermaphroditic — always fluid — and it nurtures and destroys the land, which changes according to the season. Unlike the garden of Eden, where seasons have no meaning, and where a snake is blamed for a loss of utopia, governed by human beings shaped in likeness of the god, who would later command them to be “as shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” The first
Utopia human couple in Eden are made from the same soil, same mould, and even shared a bone between them. The loss of paradise, in effect, expands the gene pool by introducing variety to Adam and Eve’s perfection, who supposedly share the same genetics. The world is made unpredictable. A paradise must be protected, like Eden ringed with a serpentine river of fire. A visit to utopian society is temporary. If you are not born within its walls, you are a transient, displaced being, who would soon be ejected, forget your way back, or leave voluntarily after failing to understand the unwritten rules. Having to converse in Latin inhibited me, but at last I said, “Doesn’t my sudden appearance amaze you?” “No,” he said. “We receive such visits from century to century. They don’t last long. Tomorrow, at the latest, you’ll be home again.” — Jorge Luis Borges, “Utopia of a Tired Man” Borges’ short story “Utopia of a Tired Man” begins with an epigraph that reads, “He called it Utopia, a Greek word meaning there is no such place.” In myth, each daybreak in utopia brings just enough mixture of light and dark to colour the sky at dusk and make shadows play on the ground. An island, a place lost in the past, a fortified garden, a cave — utopia is a place that travellers may seek, but cannot reach. Arrival is always an accident. Words cannot carry us there, so we wrap our minds around four syllables, simple undulations that bring out four of five vowels available in English, u, to, pi, a. The word rolls out from the tongue with longing and, unreachable in this immaterial form, takes only our thoughts to the Platonic land populated by myths and philosophical ideals, leaving our bodies to ache with the effort of pronunciation. The word is a marker on the empty ground, designating a no-place where travellers come to plant their dream of ideal governance, communities, systems, routines, and civility. This is not a word that comes with a direction or an index. I would not be happy in the utopia you dream of. It must be a separate garden that exists in a vacuous dream; a land constantly being created, uncontaminated, elusive, protected from strangers. I dream of utopia, a place to come, a no-place, a place that encompasses everything and everything. The place locked up between my brows.
1. Green plastic bag draping fork in the tree.
Written by Georgia Lockie
2. Wooden toy (a chubby horse or cow) with dangling legs, draped next to the green plastic bag. 3. Dirty jar — would be big enough to pickle something in. About the same size as the jar with a lid that didn’t fit that I pickled carrots in when I was grumpy. No lid on this dirty jar.
4. Ugly wooden-body upholstered-seat (red spilling out) chair I would never want to own even when it was in its prime but is just the right height to climb in my bedroom window if it was unlocked and you wanted to. 5. Big yellow plastic bag, looks like there is a high vis something in it, orange and silver but it might be an optical illusion. 6. Big black box television. (Where do all the old televisions go?)
7. Plastic container that used to (still could) have Christmas fruit mince in it. 8. One corner of black and green striped knitted textile, very grimy. 9. Blue fizz can.
10. Black and gold beer can.
11. A plank, fake wood looking but maybe real wood underneath (surely).
12. Orange and white Palmer’s shopping bag full of more trash (or potting mix). 13. Gridded maroon plastic, many pieces. 14. Newspaper turned green like moss.
15. Buried Moore Wilsons bag x 2 (fancy).
16. Black plastic toolbox with orange on the handle.
17. Metal pole, rusty where the white paint has come off. 18. Metallic pink pen.
19. Half buried bucket. GIB Plus 4: All Purpose Joining Compound. CAUTION: KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN. 20. White bits of wall leaning on the house wall, says: Mahina Bay Builders Langridge Job Broom Cupboard Handwriting looks like boys from school.
21. Thought there were white paint splotches over everything but they are petals from the tree.
Our landlord wants to buy the house next door but the elderly woman who owns it refuses to sell and that’s what capitalism’s all about right you can’t make anybody do anything they don’t want to do you can’t force anyone into a contract a contract is all about consent. (Of course, I never asked to be born, I never consented to capitalism). Nobody lives there but sometimes when it’s raining we can hear people. I wanted to clear out the trash visible from my bedroom window but I don’t like hard labour and anyway it is a daily reminder of capitalism’s potent contradictions. Capitalism is about efficiency, and more, but it is also meant to be about consent i.e. freedom. You can’t have both. What about a politics of inefficiency. Was the broom cupboard taken out of the house or did it never get put in?
FAMILY MONSTER Written by Anonymous
CW: Strong warning that this piece contains comprehensive discussion of child sexual abuse, rape, and incest. If you do read this article, and find yourself distressed, we’ve placed direction to support services at the end. EDITOR’S NOTE: The author has chosen to remain anonymous because of the close proximity they have to the subject matter. Writing about these topics necessarily implicates the family and thus there are not many safe ways to do this, without the protection of anonymity. As someone who can relate to this topic, it was initially very triggering. This piece delves deep into the topics listed above, and brought back memories I’ve minimised all these years, as my coping mechanism. I had to read it in multiple sittings. However, I came to find some relief in at least having some language to articulate my conflicted and shameful thoughts; and some comfort, in knowing that I’m not completely alone in this.
This is a biography of my paternal grandfather, a man who has indecently assaulted all of his granddaughters. He is technically guilty, though may die without ever being officially charged, of incest, rape, sexual assault, and child molestation. Unavoidably, this is also a story about my family. The evils closest to us, the ones raised in the same domestic spaces as our virtues, are difficult to place at the clinical table of analysis. To pluck out these evils means wrenching away, alongside the cancer, so many other vital organs. Imagine my bony hands, my gloved forefingers and thumbs, rubbing through latex to feel for lumps across the bloody oesophagus of your childhood. Now, near the heart, I am prodding that fond memory of the Christmas when you received the Barbie doll you wanted, the one with the grocery cart. Here, parallel to the trachea, your first pet dies, and now your first day at school, you were so good that day, you sat on the mat without even being asked. Finally, at the top of the throat just before the mouth, lodged within the image of your father tucking stray locks behind your ear over and over (“my little angel,” he keeps saying), is your grandfather forcing his way in through the locked bathroom door to come and watch you, still a vulnerable idiot with your pants hanging over the sides of your little shoes, as you sit on the toilet. Recall how your mother would lovingly comb the tangles from your hair in the shower of that same bathroom. In conversation, I’ve found that the topic of child sexual abuse (CSA) struggles to get beyond the bounds of “children can’t consent” — consent, that golden word — child sexuality being all but totally non-existent until the very sudden age of sixteen, a view that sometimes worsens the shame felt by victims of CSA. To obfuscate further, perpetrators of such domestic evils are treated as monsters — we fear their existence to the extent that few are brave enough to comprehend child sexual abusers, or those who enable them, as humans, that is, as our friends, our family, as woven into the fabric of our society.
• THE IMMIGRANT
• A FAMILY MONSTER
After the consecutive breakdowns of the two sisters, one in class and the other during a test, the German teacher of the local high school was overheard confiding quietly to another staff member: “There is something wrong with that family.” Civilised, dipping their biscuits in watery coffee, the other staff in the religious department construed the teacher’s deduction as harmless intuition, and though for a while they thrilled from the new gossip, eventually the issue was politely, correctly, forgotten. Inquiring about the family of the two sisters was sensitive, and it might have brought the school into an array of difficulties — grudges, cultural particularities, and possible accusations of overstepping boundaries. Fear, monsters teach us, is remarkably constructive. Whole societies are built, not only by need and desire, but by terror — by walls and weapons, by jails and mad houses. More insidiously, fear prescribes many labyrinths of evasion, seemingly benign, like bureaucracy, or denial. The catalyst had been a text message, then still an exciting novelty. One propitiously warm afternoon, Reginald had sent a confession to one of his granddaughters. “I cant b around u anymore…” he wrote. Alarmed, the granddaughter dropped her books in the locker room and texted back “why?” His reply was quick — almost premeditated: “because if I c u again I am afraid that I will have to kiss you… I am in love with you” Mama was the first adult to be told about what was happening to her daughter. Reginald is her husband’s father, the head of that model family who laughingly regard her as a superstitious housewife, while she, from the lowly position of the kitchen counter, resents them. Troubling though it is, it is conceivable that Mama felt — burning white at the centre of her outrage — a little triumph. Mama arranged to meet Reginald’s two daughters at a café, where she unsteadily recounted what had been said by her daughter, seeking calm in their educated, liberated presence. She assumed their neutral expressions for composure or intellect, but when she finished speaking, they laughed. In stories we read as children, it is always the marginalised who are the earliest to admit the possibility of the monster’s existence, while the better positioned members of a community, those who have benefitted from the structures where the monster feeds, are the last to cede through recognition. Mama tells me they said that she was crazy and that their father was probably just “joking around.” He’s just a funny old man with a penchant for incest jokes. At the time, they didn’t know that their own children had been molested as well.
Evil induces incomprehension, a terrifying Otherness straining the many ethical philosophies hinging on our human responsibility to each other. Yet, part of being good, at least among the aspiring progressive milieu, is being open-minded about those unlike you, a generosity which is favourable for immigrants like me, and like my grandfather. The oft omitted truth of immigrant families is that there will be members who hate their new home, and a degree of alienation inevitably attends the status of the foreigner; the phantom itch of a mother tongue torn out because its language has no currency here, among other ills. In hindsight, one might have predicted that Reginald would someday become a lonely man; it was only a question of how. Poets are often lonely. He thought of poetry
• A PATRIARCH
when he walked. He always loved to walk, and would do so for long hours, travelling many miles by foot, the distances lengthening as he grew older. He could have kept going one day, headed all the way to central Manila and caught a bus, a plane or boat, to Boracay, to Dumaguete, to Davao. Freedom. 50 years ago, he could not have guessed where loneliness would come about. This proud man, the perfume peddling charmer, harried away from the sultry climes of that far off archipelago to live out his last years in the sterile, dry chill of the antipodes. New Zealand: where hardly anyone speaks Tagalog, where loud laughter is berated and silence is so precious that conversing too avidly on the bus warrants glares from other passengers. Everywhere, white faces staring with their grey eyes, speaking in slow cluttered gibberish to him, a poet, presuming him stupid and poor. Sometime earlier in Reginald’s life, I cannot pinpoint precisely when, an ecstatic lack had taken root, and it finally erupted into flower in this strange climate. Evil thrives unchecked. Open-mindedness improves society — it allows Others to become Us — but it requires the ability and willingness to participate in social norms, our laws, our ways. Falling too far outside of these revered tenets marks you as deviant or insane. Positively correlated with just such social exclusion are, to name a few: poor mental and physical health, substance abuse, crime, lower living standards, and suicide. James Baldwin once spoke of how a Negro father has no authority over his son, because “his past has disappeared.” Something similar might be said of the fathers of immigrant children, or at least those in my own life. What knowledge can my father, or his father, impart to me about how to live in this foreign land, this modern world, that shares with them only a mutual incomprehension? Equally, a man who shares no history with a place might see no reason to obey its laws. In the case of Reginald, he wilfully tests the law, routinely committing petty crimes — shoplifting, trespassing, and destruction of property — which are passed off by bemused authorities, open-minded men and women, as the quirks of a strange old immigrant. His Otherness endows him with a little freedom, a bit of wiggle room, when it comes to social norms. Later, a digital camera he had stolen from the mall would be found with hundreds of pictures of young women on it.
The immigrant patriarch occupies the position of the weak and the powerful simultaneously. According to Papa, Reginald’s despotism had softened since middle age, or so everyone believed, and as their frightful memories of his temper softened into bucolic pastorals of childhood discipline, nostalgia became a cloak for his actions. Slowly, Baldwin’s quote inverted. It was exactly because my family’s collective past had disappeared from their daily lives that my grandfather, a symbol of that history, managed to secure so much filial power. The marriage of my paternal grandparents, Reginald and Felice, was an unhappy one, and looking at the two of them now, you might suppose that they had never been in love — indeed, it is easier for me to imagine that my grandfather had raped Felice to produce his offspring than to picture them linking hands. Before my mother and father were forcibly married, Felice told Mama that she and my grandfather had not had sex for 30 years. Despite the barren state of her marriage, Felice persisted in its preservation because it was ordained by God, and she has always had an affinity for God’s wrath. Nowhere in the bible does it specify “thou shalt protect thy grandchildren from the molestations of thy husband,” and Felice apparently took this omission literally. Even after it was revealed that Reginald had, indeed, not only professed his romantic feelings
Family Monster Features
for one of his granddaughters, but had periodically molested each of them, my grandmother made it her wifely duty to ensure that order was upheld at family gatherings, at which my grandfather continued to be present, commanding all of us to kiss our monster, to press his hand against our foreheads as a show of our respect, our allegiance to him and to God. Papa visited Reginald last summer. My grandparents share a governmentfunded home, one cornered by four replicas of the same design at the end of a cul-de-sac in Taita. Papa and I sat in Floridita’s together with my grandmother, who picked at her risotto for the duration of our meal. Papa told me that Reginald had been diagnosed with dementia and had suffered several strokes, resulting in paranoia, a short temper, loss of appetite — imminent death something of a pleasant subtext. Felice, at several points during the conversation, interjected that Reginald has been threatening to kill her for a long time. “He tried to kill me,” she said. He had — he had tied her to the bed and left her to die. A woman gagged and bound to a bed is pornographic, and sex has as much to do with this story as loneliness. Manhood in my family is defined in opposition to the womanhood of its daughters and wives, their subjugation and subjection. Mama used to tell me that sex is something only men enjoy; your body and its unused nuptial “gifts” belong to your father until he gives them to another man. These are my father’s ideas. Owing to the same attitudes, my grandfather believes his granddaughters’ bodies are his possessions, and that he has done everything within his rights. Asian immigrants are shown to have markedly lower numbers of reported CSA than most other ethnicities, though researchers generally assume that the statistics do not imply a lack of CSA incidents in Asian communities; instead, it is believed that the families are less willing to disclose it. To this, I can only offer my own experience. Though my father and his siblings wear their New Zealand citizenships with pride, I find them, even in the face of monsters, stubbornly clinging to vestiges of home. The importance of these relics only mounts as time churns on, eroding my family’s ability to recall and, indeed, ever return to their home as it once was. My family has not, and likely never will, report what my grandfather has done.
Evil, moral philosopher Susan Neiman writes, “shatters our trust in the world.” True; experience has led me to question the legitimacy of so much of what we are told is important. Family, love, loyalty, and belonging are, to me, all synonyms for ownership. Likewise I question the values of individualism, the worth of authenticity, freedom, and personal feelings, given how ethical duties so often require their suspension. But I would not regard my trust shattered, so much as reshaped. Some might describe me as cynical, especially when it comes to how people relate to children, or whether people should have children in the first place. But ponder the statistics that mean that when you are in a room with three or more women, it is likely that at least one of them has been sexually abused as a child. The same is the case in a room with six or more men. Of 16 men, you may be looking at least one who has raped someone before. How misshapen, then, does trust begin to look. When I was young, my father used to brush my hair after my shower, and he would say, with each stroke, “my little angel.” When we would come home from our outings alone together, he would declare loudly to my mother, full of love, “we are back from our date.” One weekend, my sister took me shopping and helped me choose what would
Features become my preferred outfit that year: a blush pink hoodie and a pair of brown corduroys. I loved that outfit so much I wore it every mufti day. On a Saturday, just before my violin lesson that morning, I was traipsing around the lounge, proud to be donning, for the umpteenth time, my favourite corduroys. Papa was sitting on the couch, grinning with those big teeth. As I crossed his path, he slapped me on my ass and said “you have a nice ass.” It would not be the last time he said this. He would say it again and again. He would tell my mother, “she has a nice ass,” and tell me that Mama is jealous of me, of my body. That I have a nice body. He would slap my ass again.
• Here are my gloved hands, in the bile in your stomach, beating the lining of your womb, squeezing water from your drowning brain. How to interpret this reality, your father, brushing your hair, given what you know about the world, knowing as you do that the majority of CSA in Asian families is perpetrated by fathers; aware, also, that there was a time when your father’s father would never have elicited any suspicions from his daughters. You are not a vulnerable child; you can trust what you know, and fill in the gaps with what reasonably fits. Love is beside the point; you will not be his little girl or his property. I’m now at an age where I have a legal obligation to report my grandfather to the authorities. Only 3 in 100 reported cases of CSA reach court and I feel, with dull fatalism, that my story is representative of that useless 97. Here is how the labyrinths of evasion wind round and round. It is a question of costs — so much was spent to raise me, why betray that? No one in my family would testify, and there’s no material evidence left to speak of. Time cannot be retrieved. Childhood cannot be rewritten. Round and round and round. Order and its maintenance are sometimes mistaken for goodness, and for my own part I hope that I will someday be able to really tell the difference. Nevertheless, I believe that to live honestly you have to acknowledge some portion of evil as embedded in the things to which you owe your life, perhaps the very things you love. There’s some hope in acceptance that I won’t fail those I’m responsible for in the same way I was failed. Papa always told me that my gift with words came from my grandfather. Personally, I have always preferred prose, and I have not written a poem in ten years. The last poem I ever wrote, if you could call it one, goes like this:
I have embraced evil, He kissed me on the mouth, And told me I had grown.
IF YOU NEED SUPPORT Victoria University of Wellington has a number of different support avenues, details are on their website: www.victoria.ac.nz/students/campus/ health/sexual-violence.
VUWSA advocacy service — Erica Schouten; 04 463 6984; firstname.lastname@example.org
Rape Crisis — 04 801 8973; Crisis line 0800 883 300
Lifeline — 0800 543 354 Women’s Refuge — 0800 733 843; Crisis line 0800 REFUGE Shakti New Zealand — Crisis line 0800 SHAKTI FREE
Youthline — 0800 376 633 Wellington Sexual Abuse Help Foundation — 04 499 7530; Crisis line 04 499 7532 Tū Pakari Ora — Cuba Street Clinic, 275 Cuba Street, Wellington; 04 805 0522 Hutt Rape Counselling Network — 04 566 5517; Crisis line 0800 22 66 94
Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust (MSSAT) Wellington — 021 118 1043
ACC Sensitive Claims: 0800 735 566 MOSAIC (Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse): 022 4193416
• • •
If you’ve experienced sexual assault or abuse you can report it to NZ police by dialing 111, or learn more here.
We Tell Ourselves Stories
HIERARCHY, THE NETWORK, AND WHERE WE MIGHT GO Written by Dan Kelly
“THE REIGNING ECONOMIC SYSTEM IS A VICIOUS CIRCLE OF ISOLATION. ITS TECHNOLOGIES ARE BASED ON ISOLATION, AND THEY CONTRIBUTE TO THAT SAME ISOLATION. FROM AUTOMOBILES TO TELEVISION, THE GOODS THAT THE SPECTACULAR SYSTEM CHOOSES TO PRODUCE ALSO SERVE IT AS WEAPONS FOR CONSTANTLY REINFORCING THE CONDITIONS THAT ENGENDER ‘LONELY CROWDS.'” — Guy Debord
“…SURVIVAL IS NOT AN ACADEMIC SKILL. IT IS LEARNING HOW TO STAND ALONE, UNPOPULAR AND SOMETIMES REVILED, AND HOW TO MAKE COMMON CAUSE WITH THOSE OTHERS IDENTIFIED AS OUTSIDE THE STRUCTURES IN ORDER TO DEFINE AND SEEK A WORLD IN WHICH WE CAN ALL FLOURISH. IT IS LEARNING HOW TO TAKE OUR DIFFERENCES AND MAKE THEM STRENGTHS. FOR THE MASTER’S TOOLS WILL NEVER DISMANTLE THE MASTER’S HOUSE. THEY MAY ALLOW US TEMPORARILY TO BEAT HIM AT HIS OWN GAME, BUT THEY WILL NEVER ENABLE US TO BRING ABOUT GENUINE CHANGE. AND THIS FACT IS ONLY THREATENING TO THOSE WOMEN WHO STILL DEFINE THE MASTER’S HOUSE AS THEIR ONLY SOURCE OF SUPPORT.” — Audre Lorde • As events both here and elsewhere show, recent years have been hard for the left. However, they have also been hard for the right. Despite establishing governments in a number of Western countries, the right continues to struggle, frustrated by both the system’s indifference to rhetoric and a growing division within the populace they claim to rule. As with Brexit, Trump, and our own election, majority rule is now a mathematical measure — not “the will of the people,” but “the will of just-underhalf-of-the-people, but still more than you, lefty.” Democracy as we know it becomes increasingly tenuous.
We Tell Ourselves Stories
It is to this topic that the influential British journalist George Monbiot turns, with his new book Out of the Wreckage: a new politics for an age of crisis, exploring not only the perceived causes of these shortcomings, but also their possible solutions. It is a distinctly utopian vision. Under Monbiot’s analysis (and aided by the considerable intellect of communications specialist George Marshall), the current state of affairs is explained as the result of our dominant political narrative: neoliberalism. As Monbiot argues, stories provide powerful tools to explain the world, but an old story can only be replaced by a new one. Political narratives follow a form well known to Western humans, the arc Monbiot describes as “the Restoration Story”: “Disorder afflicts the land, caused by powerful and nefarious forces working against the interests of humanity. The hero — who might be one person or a group of people — revolts against this disorder, fights the nefarious forces, overcomes them despite great odds, and restores order.” Think of it as Disney politics. On Monbiot’s account, neoliberalism has captured the stage, and the story it tells about disorder (caused by “the collectivising tendencies of the over-mighty state”) and the heroes who have overcome it (“freedom-seeking entrepreneurs” and “the redeeming power of the market”) has become so pervasive that it now comes to define us. So framed, the world is indeed cold: independent economic units compete for a scarcity of resources, with emphasis on this scarcity (by — guess who! — politicians) used to ramp up the very conditions that produce it, further entrenching this view of our alleged “competitive, self-maximising nature.” In words that echo Max Harris and his own successful pot stirring here, Monbiot claims that society is gripped by “a failure of imagination.” What we need, he argues, is a new Restoration Story — one based on the increasingly convergent evidence that humans are not, in fact, highly competitive, but highly cooperative, empathic beings, attuned and sensitive to the needs of others. Under Monbiot’s new story, our good nature has been set upon by the narrative of neoliberalism (the disorder afflicting the land), and it is up to us (the collective hero) to overcome it by way of “invoking our capacity for togetherness and belonging.” Monbiot expands this argument considerably, but the core remains. As with Max Harris, he is arguing for a change of values — not the “care, community, and creativity” Harris argues for as a “Politics of Love,” but a similar “Politics of Belonging”: “Through restoring community, renewing civic life, and claiming our place in the world, we build a society in which our extraordinary nature — our altruism, empathy, and deep connection — is released.” It’s a compelling vision (and one, I should add, that I am supportive of ) — but it misses a crucial point. In his focus on the power of the Restoration Story, Monbiot has failed to notice, or at least failed to address, the worldview encoded in that story: its assumptions about top-down control and how it relates to change. The master’s tools will not dissemble the master’s house. • In order to explain, we need to go back a bit. It’s not just our understanding of ourselves as competitive that we need to change, but the very notion of what we mean when we speak of “ourselves.” In addition to research on our altruistic nature, there is a whole body challenging the very notion of our separation, from the mind-
Features bending nuance of quantum physics to the fundamental laws of ecology. The rules of the game are shifting. What does it mean, to say “I’m me”? What is the “you”? Is it the bacteria in your stomach, the people who raised you, or the complex infrastructure that not only brings you food but also takes your waste away, lest you starve in a pile of your own shit? I’m getting facetious, but the point is this: our existence is interdependent, a shifting, shimmering wash of social and biological interactions, both larger and smaller than the unit called “me”. Under such a view, it is the system that matters most: the different actors in play, and the ways in which they respond. In a chaotic, interdependent system, what we think of as control is increasingly revealed as an illusion. As one friend pointed out during the election, each party makes so many promises, it just isn’t plausible to evaluate all of their downstream implications: what enacting x would do to y, let alone z, p, f, and so on. Politicians might pretend they understand, but as countless examples demonstrate, such posturing is exactly that: pretence. Where to, then, for Monbiot’s story? As he tells it, our goal is the restoration of “order”, and yet, order is itself a product of the hierarchy and its assumptions: not just that those at the top “control”, but that the very notion of “control” is possible. If the chaos that Monbiot would avoid is not something we are able to control or escape from — but a part of our wild, interlocking world — then it must be accepted, and our business and governance designed accordingly. This is hardly a novel idea, and yet the narrative of control has become so pervasive that in many ways it has come to define our world. It is this narrative that Western thinkers such as Charles Eisenstein now come to challenge, drawing on both indigenous wisdom and modern science in a synthesis that Eisenstein calls “the New and Ancient Story.” In this view, the narratives of separation (from each other, and the world) and control (a defence against difference; against that which would change you) come to be replaced with one of “interbeing”, in which our cooperation and connection form the basis for our interactions — giving rise to a very different world. (I don’t want to overdo the point, but it should be emphasised that this is a critique of the Western worldview, the validity of which has long been challenged by those outside its privilege. For those of an indigenous view, the idea of interdependence is far from novel — it is not to them I speak.) • Under the new (and ancient) story, we are not separate beings engaged in a fearful competition, but embedded, in both social and ecological networks: just one part of the wider system that sustains all life. In this sense the network is the new, embedding an ecological worldview that celebrates diversity, connection, and (relative) equality. The hierarchy is the old, embedding models of centralisation and superiority at odds with all evidence, producing alienation and the accumulations of wealth and power that not only divide but come to justify division (see: “I earned it”— and just who is the I to which you refer?).
We Tell Ourselves Stories
If we are to tell a new story about the world, it must involve new tools — and their structure is crucial. As risk analyst Nassim Nicholas Taleb demonstrates in his compelling book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, the accumulations favoured by centralisation are fragile, prone to collapse and, as such, vulnerable to an ever-unpredictable world (for further evidence, see: history). Taleb argues that we need to make structural changes: shifting towards a decentralised model of both governance and business — building the diversity that is resilience. It is perhaps telling that this is (at risk of being reductive) how “nature” “works.” Despite its temporary capture by social Darwinists and their hierarchy-driven agenda, evolution thrives on diversity and the decentralisation (or variation) that it both demands and produces. It is, by design, resilient. (Which isn’t to suggest that there is a designer; on the contrary: it simply operates according to a set of rules that produce “a design” — in the same way that we might look to structure our human world — from the bottom-up, not the top-down.) • In 1968, the American ecologist Garrett Hardin published his influential essay, “The Tragedy of the Commons”, explaining how the use of a resource held in common can lead to its erosion — a point jumped upon by those in favour of privatisation and the narrative of competition in which it exists, in stark contrast to the co-operation required when using a commons. In Hardin’s example (strangely applicable to New Zealand), farmers graze a number of cattle on common land. The more cattle each farmer can get on, the greater their individual advantage — but the worse it is for the group. Such selfish behaviour leads to a “race to the bottom,” culminating in the collapse of the resource and what essentially means: no more milk. Despite its popularity, perhaps for all it confirmed about the story of separation so ascendant in those prosperous post-war years, the essay has been refuted time and time again, with Elinor Ostrom winning the Nobel Prize in economics for her work outlining the specific circumstances under which collapse of a common resource is avoided completely. The tragedy, once sold as inescapable, is in fact a product of our social relations and — this is the crucial part — the narrative that we live out. In a hierarchical, divided world, selfish use of the commons does lead to collapse; however, when the frame is shifted to one of co-operation, interdependence, and decentralisation, the commons is sustained, and with it the prosperity of its users. A key aspect of this is so-called “group selection”: a selfish farmer has an advantage over less selfish farmers, but a group with no selfish farmers has an advantage over a group with selfish farmers — their collective prosperity wins out over short term, individual gain. As David Sloan Wilson, one of the academics responsible for popularising the idea, writes, the task is to “become so co-operative that the group becomes a higher-level organism in its own right.” There are a number of ways that this might play out. Operating within the existing economic system, worker-owned co-operatives provide a means to do business that not only preserves autonomy, but actively embeds it in a communal, democratic structure. For example, Wellington-based Loomio is an open source software that streamlines collective decision making. It has been a global success, and is a great example of practicing what you preach. The company not only uses its own software,
Features but is itself a worker’s co-operative: collectively owned by the people who build it, with their revenue less an end in itself (as with the traditional profit model) but instead “a powerful way to live our values of collaboration and collective ownership.” Nor, it should be added, do we need to limit ourselves to existing forms of business. While current models of social enterprise are laudable for their focus on the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit, other domains offer different insight into the problem of uptake. One such example is the innovation adopted by the anticopyright movement. In their efforts to overcome the restrictions of intellectual property, and all it does to stifle the spread of information (and the hierarchy that this protects — i.e. those with the knowledge have power), the programmer Richard Stallman developed a licence he called Copyleft. Whether it be software or a book, anyone who wanted to use the material covered under the licence was free to do so providing they made the same concessions in regard to their own work — a crucially viral addition. So framed, popular examples aren’t just successful on their own terms; they help to actively spread the ideas that they practice. How might such thinking affect social enterprise? My tentative suggestion: a notfor-profit worker-owned co-op, with the “profits” going into a collective “start up” fund, whereby others are enabled to set up their own worker co-operative model. They will be their own bosses (allowing autonomy, belonging, and ownership) providing that they agree to be bound by the same ethos: a certain portion of their profits will be set aside so that others can follow the same example, helping the model to spread. In contrast to charities (and despite the good work that they do), the demands of business and autonomy mean that on this model, those involved have skin in the game — a crucial requirement when avoiding the slack so often used to criticise them. I will concede to idealism, but not wishful thinking. Such models already exist throughout the world, and their numbers are growing, providing a crucial counter to both alienation and the futility of much work under late capitalism. There are no easy answers to the exploitation that plays out on a global scale, but the long-term vision is that such a support structure (financial + best practice systems) will help small-scale workers’ co-ops to become established in New Zealand, with a focus on local, sustainable products, and the economies that they support contributing both to diversity and community; a stark contrast to the top-down desolation and powerlessness currently threatening New Zealand’s regions. In the realm of governance, we might look to Kurdistan and the system of “democratic confederalism” enacted there since 2007, where — in line with Monbiot’s suggestions — decision-making is returned “to the smallest political units that can discharge it.” Based on the ideas of Murray Bookchin, and moving beyond the Marxist-Leninist structure (described as “too hierarchical and not democratic enough”), citizen-led assemblies were established “to make decisions on all common problems, challenges, and projects of the respective neighbourhood according to the principles of a base democracy — the whole population has the right to participate.” These assemblies scale up, with delegates from neighbourhood assemblies choosing the delegates that constitute the city assembly, and so on — with the point not being the exact ways in which this happens, but that it does. Operating under a climate of intense scrutiny (Kurdish people occupy an area that spans Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and
We Tell Ourselves Stories
Syria), democratic confederalism remains a work in progress — stronger in some areas than in others — but one that continues despite these challenges, offering huge promise for addressing the interlinked problems of political disenfranchisement, economic exclusion, social discrimination, and environmental degradation. One of the strongest outcomes of local autonomy has been the creation, or transformation, of so-called “peace villages”: entire communities based around the ideals of participation, gender equality, and sustainability. As Ercan Aboya explains, “peace not only refers to the armed conflict; it expresses the people’s relationships among themselves and with the natural world.” And the economic and material basis for these villages? Co-operatives. That is to say: different tools — different house. • It all comes back to structure. I agree with Max Harris that “care, community, and creativity” are important values, but I struggle to see how we might feel them in the current, hierarchy-based political model. Instead, I argue for the structures that will encourage them. The idea is one of emergence: not being told what to think, but embedding yourself in organisations where such values simply fall out of the size of the group and your relationships within, a product of the conduct and autonomy there created. Three years ago, when I quit my job to pursue whatever it is I’m actually doing now (verdict: still pending), a friend of my father’s, a legal academic and force in her own right, asked me how our generation was going to deal with the uncertainty of the world, the shifting factors that make this such a unique time. I don’t know, I told her, but my feeling was that we wouldn’t do it alone. No societal change has ever progressed off a blueprint, as if we could sum up all the surrounding elements and make the “right” choice, each step laid out before us. The world is ripe with chaos, unknown and far from fixed; our circumstances demand much more than any one individual or company can provide. What we need is an ecosystem. In lieu of extensive research and practice, consider this an argument, offered in the same spirit as that of Harris and Monbiot: an invitation to expand our sense of what politics might mean; in the words of Moana Jackson, “the art of what is not yet possible.”
UTOPIA IS NOW, TODAY, THIS MOMENT WRITTEN BY SASHA FRANCIS
When asked by his mokopuna to describe the “future”, Moana Jackson replied: “when we take our yesterdays and todays into all of our tomorrows.”1 The health of the land could be known by the clarity of the pool’s reflection2 — what did the showing was the land;what did the looking was the self, the I. There is a boundary between the body and the world that stretches over as flesh. We knew that the I felt alienated from the body. We pretended otherwise. — “The core of utopia is the desire for being otherwise, individually and collectively, subjectively and objectively.”3 I think about this for three years. I continue to think. “The slogan which sums up the new condition is ‘no long term’”4 — time has been changed, emptied, and “the idea that a person’s sense of self could be tied to that of a group is well-nigh incomprehensible.” 5 How can we be otherwise when we’re surrounded by managers, stuck in a reproduction of the great End of History? 6 — What used to be is lost to the history of what we can see was. What used to be truth may not remain so; the horizon becomes hard to make out when standing at the edge. “When society enters a phase of crisis or approaches collapse, we can glimpse the horizon of possibility. This horizon itself is hard to distinguish, and the territory that borders this horizon is hard to describe or to map.
The horizon of possibility can best be described [as] defining the unconscious.” 7 — “Fortunately, most Americans Kiwis, whatever their professed ideals, know from personal experience what community feels like. They are meaningfully connected to something smaller than the nation and larger than themselves.” 8 Wake up. Work. Eat. Drink Coffee. Work. Eat. Drink Coffee. Work. Eat. Work. Sleep. Always Facebook. “The crisis is not economic, ecological, or political, the crisis is above all that of presence.” 9 Just remember — it’s different when you’re passionate about what you do. — We have to be present to listen, Emily Beausoleil tells us. Her “listening” is a three-part process:10 (1) reception, understanding (2) resonance, feeling (3) response, action “Social advantage insulates and amputates us from history. The powerful are unable to understand the world they have created.” 11 Listening is “an intimate response to not knowing, we in society do not always have to speak to fill the void up.” 12 Ask yourself: Are you good at listening to yourself ? Answer: I’m learning. — “Augustine, even in his most dissolute and abandoned moments, is held by [Monica] in the deepest recesses of his agonies.
1. Moana Jackson. Opening Keynote at Social Movements, Resistance and Social Change: Beyond Capitalism, Beyond Colonisation. Massey University. Auckland. September 6, 2017. 2. Moana Jackson. Closing Keynote at Social Movements, Resistance and Social Change: Beyond Capitalism, Beyond Colonisation. Massey University. Auckland. September 8, 2017. 3. Ruth Levitas. Utopia As Method: The Imaginary Reconstitution of Society. 2014. xi. 4. Mark Fischer. Capitalist Realism. 2009. 28. 5. Harlon Dalton. “Failing to See” in White Privilege: Essential readings on the other side of racism. Ed. Paula S. Rothenberg. 2002. 15. 6. Francis Fukuyama. The End of History. 1992. 7. Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi. Futurability: The Age of Impotence and the Horizon of Possibility. 2017. 28. 8. Emphasis added (“American” striked out, “Kiwi” added) in Dalton, 2002. 15. 9. The Invisible Committee. To Our Friends. 2014. 11. 10. Emily Beausoleil. “Hearing the Difference: Listening in Conditions of Inequality in Aotearoa New Zealand.” Forthcoming, 2017. 11. Emily Beausoleil. “How to Listen” held as part of Spring Uprising 2017 at the Vogelmorn Bowling Club. Barbarian Productions. September 21, 2017. 12. Eloise Sweetman. “Roll On, Roll On,
Phenomena (Until You Are No More).” School of Missing Studies. Ed. Bik Van der Pol. 2017. 143.
utopia is now, today, this moment his need for recognition and with his sense of selfworth depended on the opinions of others, the social human being is artificial and disfigured.” 19
He is held by Monica and he is holding Monica. This mediated and mediating mothering softens the trouble in the middle between Augustine’s hiddenness and his visible power.” 13
I think Gillian Rose is trying to tell us that we can be both Monica and Augustine, at the same time.
Everything has been touched by co-optation. “Now the real is present only as a quotation — in fragments.” 20 Even the “good” is included in this “everything”
I do nothing but seek the “good” in everything that has been co-opted. Ruth Levitas says this is step one. To her, it is archaeology.
“The aesthetic attitude is the spectator’s attitude… From the beginning, [it] undermines the possibility of a utopian perspective.” 14
it is to be led by its rhythm.
“Archaeology undertakes excavations and reconstructions… based on a mixture of evidence, deduction, and imagination, representing as whole something of which only shards and fragments remain.” 21
The screen shows us what we want to see:
“a sphere of the imaginary — in which one encloses oneself.” 15
“Inside the bowels of the third industrial revolution — where industry 4.0 meets crowdsourcing, where digital request meet physical labour — lies the so-called ‘sharing economy.’” 22
To see in this way is to see what already is and to examine it, seek its beauty, critique it, reflect it;
— “The knowledge necessary for decision accordingly has a different mode: one which is not merely contemplative, but rather one which goes with process,
W.O.W. is a dystopian future: spaceships and hands in fingerless gloves huddled over fires in bins. 23 We’re all still sinners, they’ll say — the human body is dirty compared to the out-of-worldness of The Future. Discourse and Fantasy.
which is actively and partisanly in league with the good which is working its way through.” 16
In the opening transition between washing line and marae, banality makes itself beautiful.
Action requires more than aesthetics; it creates rhythm. — “It would be possible to counter the argument I have been developing about personal and political defiance by positing that such defiance is precisely what neoliberal capitalism expects from us.” 17 “Evil on this view has no independent reality.” 18 I think of Mark Fisher, Francis Bacon, when I see my reflection. “The disfigurement Rousseau speaks of is the deformation of human beings by society: with his nature divided, alienated from his own needs, subjected to the conformist dictates of society, in
Second Scene, W.O.W.. 2017. 24
. Gillian Rose. Paradiso. 2015. 27. . Boris Groys. Going Public. 2010. 11. . Byung-Chul Han. In The Swarm. Trans. Erik Butler. 2017. 22. . Ernst Bloch. The Principle of Hope: Volume One. 1954. 198. . Mari Ruti. Between Levinas and Lacan: Self, Other, Ethics. 2015. 140. . Groys, 2010. 10. . Rahel Jaeggi. Alienation. Trans. Frederick Neuhouser and Alan E. Smith. 2014. 7. . Han. 64. . Levitas. 155. . Anxious to Make. “THE FUTURE OF WORK”. Ed. Liat Berdugo and Emily Martinez. 4. . World of Wearable Arts (W.O.W.) 2017. Directed by Kip Chapman et al. Dress rehearsal, September 21. 2017. . Cropped image from https://www. worldofwearableart.com/2017/09/the-2017-wow-award-winners/.
“A different concept of reality to the narrow and ossified one of the second half of the nineteenth century is thus overdue, a different one to that of the positivism to which the idea of process is alien.” 29 Cyborgs are the alien we didn’t expect, and today, the “different” HOW TO MAKE YOURSELF EMOTIONLESS 25 Wait, so, you’re not a robot? “The avant-garde thematisation of nothingness and negativity is not a sign of its ‘nihilism’, or a protest against the ‘nullification’ of life under the conditions of industrial capitalism. They are simply signs of a new start — of an artistic metanoia that leads the artist from an interest in the external world to the autopoetic construction of his or her own self.” 26
is depicted as the living dead, but as skeletons, rather than zombies. 30 “In a world of total design, the man himself has become a designed thing, a kind of museum object, a mummy, a publicly exhibited corpse.” 31 “And anyway, for capital, the subject has become too cumbersome.” 32 We are addicted to a particular discourse: we fold back in on ourselves — a delicate pleat, an eraser. —
“The body takes on the form of the soul. The soul becomes the body. All things become heavenly. Heaven becomes earthly, material. Modernism becomes absolute.
Charles Esche: “In culture, TINA has played a rather different role. The content of art has not had to adopt the TINA belief system in quite the same way as corporate CEOs, economists, and politicians.” 33
Since the death of God, of course, we can no longer believe that there is something like the soul that is distinguished from the body in the sense that it is made independent of the body and can be separated from it.” 27
Sasha: What do you think happened to the content of life?
THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SELF
C: Well, “while we in the art world would be foolish to throw our critical art away too lightly, artists and curators who feel committed to art as a means toward developing an alternative consciousness and value system have to contend with the fact that 25 years of critical art has produced little in the way of actual politics and economic change.” S: Sometimes I wonder if for “critical theory” it may have even been longer… C: Indeed it “might therefore be time to question,” rather than a time of answers. —
“TRUST THE APP / ARE YOU FEELING INSPIRED?” 28 25
“Indifference, instrumentalisation, reification, absurdity, artificiality, isolation, meaninglessness, impotence.” 34 “‘Late modernity’, ‘postmodernity’, ‘risk society’,
. Still from Anxious to Make. “THE FUTURE OF WORK”. Ed. Liat Berdugo and Emily Martinez. 22. . Groys, 2010. 17. . Ibid. 27. . Still from Keiichi Matsuda. Hyper-Reality. 2016. https://vimeo.com/166807261. . Emphasis added (underline and italics) in Jaeggi, 2014. 49. . W.O.W. 2017. . Groys, 2010. 31. . Stefano Harney and Fred Moten. “Fantasy in the Hold: Logistics, or The Shipping” in The Undercommons. 87. . All quotes by Charles Esche taken from Charles Esche, “How to Talk about Things That Have Gone Missing?” In School of Missing Studies. Ed. Bik Van der Pol. 2017. 15–16. . Jaeggi, 2014. 5.
utopia is now, today, this moment
‘Empire’, ‘multiculturalism’, ‘late capitalism’, ‘informal capitalism’, ‘Gaia’, ‘financial capitalism’.
Alienation is a relation of relationlessness. Alienation does not indicate the absence of a relation but is itself a relation, if a deficient one.
There exists no way to categorically defend in the moment of writing the choice of name and, as such, analysis will remain haunted by an act of power whose presence eviscerates at the same rate at which the given designation sticks.” 35
Alienation is a failure to apprehend, and a halting of, the movement of appropriation. Conversely, overcoming alienation does not mean returning to an undifferentiated state of oneness with oneself and the world; it too is a relation; a relation of appropriation.” 39
NOTE TO SELF: a relation of tempered, considered, reflexive, attentive appropriation.
HUMAN NATURE =/= SELF-INTEREST —
“The belief that competition and individualism are humanity’s defining features did not arise spontaneously. Though it has a long heritage, it was refined in the 20th century by the most powerful political narrative in circulation today: the story told by neoliberalism. This ideology continues to dominate our political and economic systems, and almost every aspect of our lives.”36
“There is no turning away, or back; what we need is to see both forward and backward, to connect pasts and futures. We need multiple visions.” 40 — What do you want to do, to be? To achieve in life? —
Answers to such questions are an act of closure, as if a levelling of the cost imposed by the question, a demanding in exchange;
The pigeon is trapped in the library. In utter desperation, it smashes itself into the roof above the bright rows of heavenly white desks in a final attempt to return to “the sky.”37
the debt, paid. “The politics of art has to do less with its impact on the spectator than with the decisions that lead to its emergence in the first place.” 41
Its body drops limp through the air briefly from the impact. At the sound, we all look up;
In the precision of the demand for a particular in my future, you make tomorrow a little less hazy;
a sprinkle of sedimentation, an amputation.
return to our work.
Poverty is not “a lack.” It is “by definition not having enough money,”42
“The pigeon is not the better bird. The pigeon is the better bird.” 38
but moralising arguments make us feel good. Did you know that you cannot give a beneficiary a GIFT voucher without the SAME VALUE BEING DEDUCTED FROM THEIR BENEFIT? 43
VI. “In order to make the concept of alienation fruitful once again, we must give a formal account of it.
Remind yourself: love is unconditional.
. Warwick Tie. In the Place of Utopia: Affect and Transformative Ideas. 2014. 51–52. . Quote taken from a screenshot image off of Instagram on my phone, then sent via e-mail to my laptop and transcribed from the email image into a Google document. Does the journey of the words change the nature of the words? From George Monbiot. Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis. 2017. . “The tree is really rooted in the sky.” Simone Weil as quoted in Rose, 2015. 62. . Lines from the first open-mic poem read at Poetry in Motion. Author unknown. Wellington. November 2. 2016. . Jaeggi, 2014. 1. . Emphasis original. Bik Van der Pol. “Do You See the Signal?” In School of Missing Studies. Ed. Bik Van der Pol. 2017. 52. . Groys, 2010. 15. . Metiria Turei. Speaking at The Welfare State panel discussion. September 26. 2017. . Ibid.
utopia is now, today, this moment
VII. engaged has become working for free self-organised has become entrepreneurial imagination has become speculation democratic has become crowd-pleasing having a critical agenda has become having a trademark solidarity has once again become charity radical feminism has become red-washing and collective has become an obstacle?” 49
“By leaving capitalism to function to its conclusion, it was appointed as its own grave-digger, and even its dialectic appeared to be self-sufficient, to be autarkical.”44 — “Capital is value in motion.” 45 in motion
Y has become X
the symbolic has become the ‘real’
from past to present to future. the rhythm, the movement, the poetics.
“What do we do under these conditions?” 50
Do you ever think about how there have been so many eyes that have done so much seeing?
Remember: the journey of all the eyes before ‘me’.
“If we say we want a society that helps each other, then we need to do it.” 46
Committed to the community space at the Vogelmorn Bowling Club, someone suggested there should be a list of jobs that can be done by anyone to help out around here, like dusting the window ledges, taking the rubbish out —
What’s the use pretending?
There is nothing you can do — tomorrow can only ever be delivered to us as
We need to go beyond discourse. 51 IX.
everyone agrees 47 —
“The now moment starts here
because creating a community requires collectivity, shared renewal, ongoing labour.
at the moment I pull up the shades the sun is rising over Manhattan Wellington and with each passing minute my room gets brighter.”52
It requires becoming to be. — “Society has no pre-given, unifying ground; it is found in the process of doing and learning how to continuously form our society on a day-to-day basis.”48
X. this moment
— “What do we do when common has become resource and risk sharing?
collaborate has become sponsorship deals transparency has become being controlled open has become deluded 44. Bloch, 1954. 198.
. David Harvey. ICSI Public Lecture. 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqkc9Vh7bUo&t=1192s. . Emphasis added. Quote from the Q&A Conversation, original author unknown, at The Welfare State panel discussion. September 26. 2017. . Conversation at “The Commons Workshop” held as part of Spring Uprising 2017 at the Vogelmorn Bowling Club. Barbarian Productions. September 22. 2017. . Van der Pol, 2017. 48. . Anxious to make. WWWORK, 13:00–14:00min. Liat Berdugo and Emily Martinez. https://vimeo.com/202841346. . Ibid. . Tie, 2014. 51. . Jackie Wang. “2015 PEN World Voices Festival Opening Night: The Future is Now — Jackie Wang”. 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ei_9Rldt1Es.
TELEVISION Nathan For You
Nathan For You
Nathan For You With his show Nathan For You that began its fourth season in late September, Nathan Fielder is the hero we need but don’t quite deserve in television right now. Having graduated from business school in Canada with “really good grades,” Nathan’s goal is to help small business owners increase their profits through ingenious and out-of-the-box marketing ideas. Despite a seemingly simple premise, Nathan For You catches you off guard with just how elaborate the stunts are, and it is chaotic evil magic to watch. Even if you haven’t heard of it, you might still have a peripheral awareness of Nathan For You due to its absurd schemes having a tendency to catch the attention of unaware mainstream news outlets. In 2014 the show made international headlines with “Dumb Starbucks”, a pop-up coffee shop meets art installation parodying Starbucks that was just legal through a copyright loophole, but which eventually shut down after three days for failing to meet health and safety codes. It was initially an attempt at rebranding a struggling small town café, but the café owner did not respond well to the idea of being blackmailed should Starbucks find a way to sue them. So Nathan set up Dumb Starbucks on his own. The show had previously made news in its first season after staging a video of a “hero pig” rescuing a goat from drowning to promote a petting zoo — the video reached over 9,000,000 views on YouTube before it was revealed as a hoax to coincide with the episode’s premiere. Season four’s second episode employs a similar strategy, with a complex plan involving a celebrity impersonator and a legally binding name change in an attempt to stage a viral moment of “Michael Richards” (Seinfeld’s Kramer) leaving a $10,000 tip on a sandwich at a small deli. Nathan For You is so delightfully uncomfortable that it somehow, despite all odds, becomes wholesome. Nathan’s perceived naivety
allows people to open up to him, like a fucked up Louis Theroux. Over the seasons, Nathan has had a tense relationship with private investigator Brian Wolfe, with Wolfe dubbing Nathan “the Wizard of Loneliness” after a particularly bad blowup. But in the season four opener, the two find common ground admiring Wolfe’s former work as a soft-core erotica model, which Nathan brings bountiful evidence of in a thoroughly annotated binder. In another episode, Nathan changes a woman’s life when he suggests rebranding her realtor business as “The Ghost Realtor”, triggering a passion for the paranormal that persists to this day and has reinvigorated her professional life. With all the shows coming back in the next month (Stranger Things, Mr Robot, Curb Your Enthusiasm) I feel spoiled for choice, but Nathan for You is what I consistently look forward to each year. It is somehow the smartest and stupidest thing I have ever seen. I cannot begin to explain the joy I feel watching Nathan Fielder do things like force strangers to go on a two-day hike to save $15 on gas, or extort hours of free work by presenting manual labour as an exercise fad, or set up an entire recreation of The Bachelor starring himself to get over his fear of intimacy. It’s kind of hard to explain without doing that awful thing where you try explain a comedian telling a funny joke and ruin it completely, and maybe I’ve already done that, so take your time now to catch up on the best show you haven’t heard of. — Katie Meadows
Gimme The Loot
Gimme The Loot
Gimme The Loot It’s no secret that video game publishers are greedy. While a successful triple-A game can generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, the upfront cost of $100 or more that us Kiwis pay is never enough. They are always looking for new ways to extract more cash from us that don’t require too large an investment on their part, and all too often we fall for them. In recent years, the industry has only gotten more insidious and less honest with consumers about monetisation, to the point where they could well be stepping into legally murky territory. Loot boxes are one such practice, which the game industry has taken to like a cat to a laser pointer. They first appeared in the West in 2010, when Valve’s Team Fortress 2 was preparing to go free-to-play and exploring future monetisation methods. They work like this: at a point during a game, such as when you level up, a loot box drops. These boxes contain random in-game items of varying rarities such as skins, weapons, or virtual currency. For some games, you are able to open them straight away, whereas other games require you to pay real money for a key to open the box. Some games will allow you to purchase loot boxes with virtual currency or real money, and sometimes let you trade the items with other players. Since those early days, loot boxes have appeared in some of the most popular games around, including CS:GO, FIFA 17, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, and of course Overwatch. It is perhaps the latter which has caused a recent explosion in interest in loot boxes given its massive popularity and the cultural capital that comes with it, but with attention comes scrutiny. The thing is, loot boxes are gambling. There are no ifs, buts, or maybes; they are gambling, and yet they’re not being regulated as such. You’re paying real money but have no idea what you’re going to get, with the real possibility you end
up receiving something totally worthless or that you already own! If you’re buying a ton of loot boxes to try to get an extremely rare item, you’re not playing a video game anymore — you’re becoming a gambling addict. We hear tons of horror stories of people who spend nearly their entire lives at the pokies, gambling away the last of their savings in the vain hope they will win something. But pokies are regulated. You need a licence to operate them, and to be over 18 to play them. Yet anyone can buy a copy of Overwatch and start buying loot boxes, even children. If some of this is sounding familiar to long time readers, it should. Last year I covered the CS:GO Lotto scandal, where two YouTubers were found to have been operating a skin gambling website and promoting it without disclosure. I stated at the time that said scumbags “got young people to think gambling skins was not only okay, but it was a fun and easy way to make money.” Well, turns out the problem runs even deeper, as do the levels of greed; in the case of Overwatch, the items aren’t even tradable, so you are literally giving Blizzard your money for fuck all. Loot boxes exploit that addictive part of our brains in the same ways as pokies and casino games. These kinds of practices do not belong in the video game industry, solely because so much of the customer base is young and impressionable. If you want to gamble, go to SkyCity, and please keep this crap out of my video games. — Cameron Gray
Fish ‘n’ chips ‘n’ nationalism
An uncontroversial charge would be that fish ‘n’ chips are the best result of British colonialism to date. Enduringly, according to Nielson research, it remains New Zealand’s most popular fast food, starving off competition from Dominos and sushi shops, and has affirmed its place in Kiwi culture and consciousness.
and Italians who pioneered the earliest notable memory of fish ‘n’ chip shops in the country. Involved as they were in commercial fishing, the retailing of fish ‘n’ chips was a logical extension. Not the domain of any one culture, Māori too, with a long seafood eating tradition, were involved in this process from sea to plate.
Introduced to Britain by Jewish people from Spain and Portugal in athe 18th century, fish ‘n’ chips gained traction with the expansion of fish trawling methods in the North Sea. A testament to the dish’s ingenuity, the tradition of fish ‘n’ chips later became a synonymous reflection of the British working class. To George Orwell, it represented “home comforts” — with deeply fried crispy battered cod or haddock the order of the day, potato for sustenance and more crisp; the meal only complete with a side of mushy peas.
It is again uncontroversial to suggest that fewer things convey a collective sense of “New Zealandness” more than fish ‘n’ chips. Of course, this comes up against rugby, awash with masculine sentimentality, the type still mythologised and locked in place. While nationalism is notoriously hard to pin down in New Zealand, it would be nice to move beyond constructed national narratives that nod at emollient tales of a glorified past — like those sought for at Gallipoli exhibitions about Pākehā internal struggles and resolve. Other forms of parochialism that come from rugby culture shouldn’t really be canonised, and then that leaves us lost. What is the thing that best articulates a collective sense of nationhood?
In late 19th century New Zealand, seafood was never the strong suit of early British immigrants. Instead, it was other Europeans who settled later such as the Croatians (Dalmatians), Greeks,
After spending an entire week fizzing with excitement, Devi and I embarked on a trip out to Avalon, Lower Hutt, with our eyes on the prize — it was here that So Fine Seafoods was found, fresh from being acclaimed as the Best Chip Shop in New Zealand for 2017, a title awarded by a competition where chips are tested for saturated fat content, which has to meet “industry standards” before the shop is even allowed to participate. We ordered strategically, attempting to get the best of everything: genuine paua fritters appeared together with crumbed mussels, crinkle cut chips, straight cut chips, two types of fish; the works. The friendly boss, unfortunately still donning a newly sponsored McCain’s t-shirt (oh how quick to capitalise), explained to us his winning technique: longer than usual post-fry air drying, as clean oil as possible, fresh fish, and being good with your customers. He walked the talk and so naturally, midway through gorging our greasy faces on a grey afternoon, in a car parked close to a park, we concluded that it was probably the best chip shop in the Hutt. But the whole country? It was great, but was this really the peak of New Zealand fish ‘n’ chip glory? My favourite Wellington chip shop is none other than Fish ‘n’ Chips on Tory. Like many others, it is a family affair. In my frequent visits, I’ve observed that Mum and Dad run the show through the week, with the boy answering phone calls and working the till during the weekends. I’ve noticed the father, steadfastly filleting what I recognise as blue warehou with such ease, and even the faint beginnings of a wry smile. Unlike other chip shops, the focus here is purely on fish ‘n’ chips; no comprehensive Asian fare available, which sometimes can serve as a distraction. Large fillets battered or crumbed (they do lovely homemade crumbed), and chips you know must be made from potato, genuine service, no holes in my pocket, frills, or a need for status assertion. And then I wonder why acquaintances are heading to Mt Vic Chippery. I would like to state unequivocally that the Chippery do a great trade, and that the concept adds to the ecosystem
of fish ‘n’ chips retailing. However, unlike fancy pants Wellingtonians (Peter Jackson, my nemesis David Burton, and other aspiring fancy pants), I wilt at the suggestion that what they serve could actually be considered fish ‘n’ chips. Just like beer with no alcohol, or love without the fall, working class fare should remain working class fare — I recall clearly the grim reluctance that comes when chip shops raise prices to keep up with food costs, the apologetic notice on the wall; they are looking out for us too. A few months ago I spent a day exploring Tokoroa with my Dad — we were there on a hobbyist excursion to find out if the new Fonterra plant could possibly serve to create more jobs and opportunities, to regenerate what seemed like a forgotten town. On this entry-level political economy excursion, we took time out for snacks at the local chip shops. Boy, was I pleased as I negotiated between 30 different creative combos, the option of raw fish, and a clear preference for shellfish. Among other things, we loaded up on the “muscle packs” — they were simply the best mussels I’ve ever had. Leaving Tokoroa that day, I promised to return soon enough, ready for round three. ≈ Although hard to believe today, prior to the inception of the Fourth Labour government, we’ve been told, egalitarianism was the order of the day in New Zealand. So while it was the same strident equality-driven streak that quivered at tall poppies, it was also true that the sense of a collective “us” — one which heightened communal links between people — would have then been at its most pronounced. Whether a hangi at a school, beach picnics with your family and friends, or the Friday night fish ‘n’ chip dinner (stemming from Roman Catholic meatless Fridays), these are traditions that endure from times long before us, and we are all better off for it. I’ve heard friends, too many times, lyrically recounting the pleasure of walking home from school tearing a hole in the chip parcel. Fish ‘n’ chips, whether we choose to acknowledge
64 it or not, is deeply engrained in many of these narratives that we now read through the veil of nostalgia. It has been said that operating a fish ‘n’ chip shop provided many Asian families a way to make a living when it was especially difficult for ethnic minorities to integrate into the established economic structure. The prevalence of Asian family-run chip shops emphasises the integral nature this dish plays in the lives of all New Zealanders. As a frequent site of cultural exchange, in the trading of a cultural culinary commodity, it seems that no other signifier ticks as many boxes for an island nation in the South Pacific. Articles like biscuits, lollies, and tea, also denote the veneer of nationalistic mythology, but often these things can be rightfully discarded in the Kiwiana pile — my friend who works at Te Papa glibly describes Kiwiana as white New Zealand’s attempt to invent their own culture by consigning value to domestic consumer goods. ≈ While video shops have come and gone, it seems certain that fish ‘n’ chip shops in their current form are likely to remain on the shop corners of every suburb. However, with tides of change sweeping in, chip shops also need to be able to better reflect changing tastes in order to resist becoming museums. This doesn’t mean serving
food for trendy health-conscious folk, or selling your shop as a franchise of the Chippery; rather it means adapting a menu, sometimes stretching operating hours, and exciting the consumer without sacrificing its identity. A dream of mine, still real from my vegetarian past, would be to walk into a chip shop and order large crispy strips of battered tempeh (Indonesian fermented soybean) with a scoop of chips. Or better still, a different way of serving sustainable shellfish that is not simply frittered. Perhaps controversially, one day the chip shop could be the natural site for disaffected millennials (hopefully not as ethno-nationalists), struggling with casual contract work, to dream something bigger again. After all, that’s the story of the “Fish ‘n’ Chip Brigade” on Molesworth Street that led to the inception of the Fourth Labour government. Benedict Anderson’s reflection on the history of nationalism, as an idea and practice, argues that nations are not naturally existing political objects, but rather evolving symbolic constructs. His approach reminds us that the nations in which we happen to live are neither inevitable, nor eternal containers for our aspirations toward justice and our longing for solidarity. While fish ‘n’ chips should never be a reason for chestthumping zeal, people elsewhere have certainly settled for less. — Shariff Burke
65 When I talked with a musician about visual art, I should have known that the music would creep into everything, but there’s not always much to gain by keeping them so separate.
Art conversation with Ngaromaki
I ask what his earliest memory of art is anyway. There was a really old painting that my mother had on the wall, a weird kind of Victorian painting with a white-skinned lady, skin almost like porcelain. No matter which house we lived in, we always had this, and it was one of the only things that remained consistent. I remember looking up at it, and wondering who the Victorian woman was. Who painted her? How many other people have looked up at it as well? Later, he tells me that it belonged to his grandmother. She died in a fire and his mother held onto the painting. I guess art is sometimes all that is left of someone when they leave. What sort of visual art do you like? I was always around the music side of art from a really young age, but I never had much exposure to visual art. I like performance art though. I like its intensity, the performances I’ve seen have made me cry, and it was crazy how much they could say by just by moving their bodies. I think that is a common thing between the sonic aspects of music, rather than lyrically, and visual arts, is that recognition of a tone or a mood. Maybe we could talk about soundtracks. I want to make music for films, and especially explore how it can convey motion and atmosphere. He lists off the skeleton of a score: cello, violins, viola, horns. It is like he breathes in chords, rather than oxygen, and I can’t keep up. Our brains pick up on the distances of the notes played, and we hear it as major or minor, uplifting or sad. Without knowing anything about someone, you can affect them by only playing these sounds. For this, I really like science fiction films, I’m watching this one called Primo. The music is really interesting because they use it in an opposite way to most movies, they
use a lot of silence. It’s a very lonely film, and the lack of music encourages the loneliness — does that make sense? I’m still trying to talk about visual art. He keeps twirling his pen and every few twirls loses balance of it and it clacks against my laptop. When I listen back to the audio of our conversation, there the clacking noise is! I guess a musician cannot help but infiltrate a visual arts discussion with his own sounds. Once, I wrote a song that was the music portrayal of a painting, [Vincent Van Gogh’s] A Starry Night. We had to do a description of each part, and I illustrated certain things; the mid to treble range motifs were mimicking the swirling stars at the top. I ask about the textures of his composition. I always want to know how something would feel — could you graze your knuckles on it, or would it smother you in thick honey? It was kind of ambient, sort of echoes too, and it was really all over the place, like the painting. Some songs I think omit colour, and this piece really makes me feel like night, with its ups and downs. I think I have no choice, I have to make music. The whole world is too quiet. — Jane Wallace
CUTS FROM THE DEEP AN ODE TO MY FAVOURITE SONG
Approaching my last article for Salient as music co-editor, I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of things that I still wanted to write about and haven’t (a love letter to Kate Bush, a robust appreciation piece about the Spice Girls — I could go on). But I couldn’t pass up the chance to write a tender ode to my most loved pop song, nay, song in general, of all time. This is such an unbelievably bodacious banger that all of my nerve endings jump up and stand at attention every time those glorious first notes tickle my eardrums. Especially if I’m not the one who has induced it to play, which is a rarity. It creates what is probably the most instantaneous and potent rush of dopamine I’ll ever experience. Yes friends: forget poppers, forget MDMA, forget coffee, forget sugar, forget your Garage Project New Wave English Pale Ale; all you need is the magnificent “Pure Shores” by English girl group All Saints. Let’s forget for a moment that it’s strongly associated with that travesty of a Leo Dicaprio film where a bunch of entitled hippies take ownership over a remote Thai beach, and appreciate it for its musical value. It is genuinely the perfect pop song. I challenge you to put it on at a house party without getting at least five compliments and/or exuberant grunts/shrieks. Soft, relaxed dream-pop is so highly underrated and criminally missing from our current musical era, at least in the popular charts. That blissfully tranquil guitar riff, the lapping of the rising and falling synths, those wonderfully twangy modulated guitar chords, the bass that seems to reverberate out at you from the deep sea, the way the vocals seamlessly wend their way around each other, the unhurried pace of the song, the giddy swell of the chorus; it all spells a recipe for a song that slouches towards paradise. The choice of William Orbit as producer was bang on. As a musician with deep roots in techno and ambient, he brought the
exact right kind of mellow to balance out All Saints’ airbrushed pop. Apparently Madonna was livid Orbit didn’t give the track to her after they worked together on “Ray of Light”, but despite my love of Madonna, I wouldn’t change this song for all the cone bras in the world. For girl groups, reaching this level of sleek, sophisticated grace is no easy feat, but this song reaches it with such ostensible ease. Even the strange video, with its woozy shots of the band in trench coats on the beach at night, intercut with shots from the Film That Shall Not Be Named, kind of adds this air of mystery and bizarre cool. Sure, the lyrics are completely inane, but they are sufficiently positive to add to the beachy paradise vibe established by the instruments and vocal melodies, and to be honest most people are probably too blissed out by the time the vocals come in to even notice what they’re saying. This song is a heady concoction of ambient pop that perfectly captures the 2000 zeitgeist; a beautiful meld of ecstasy and naïveté. It’s becoming increasingly important to have these slices of bliss in our current world of bleakand-getting-bleaker, and this is one of those rare songs that can transport you to a different time, place, and state of mind by caressing your eardrums in just that exact right way. It is a dream-pop orgasm, nourishing music for the soul, and I will always hold it in my heart and in my Top 25 most played tracks on iTunes. — Lauren Spring
It would be hard (almost a sin, maybe?) to write about podcasts and not mention Serial. Now three-years old, this true crime podcast is widely considered the catalyst of the “podcast resurgence.” It broke records by becoming the fastest podcast to reach five million downloads in the history of iTunes — the podcast equivalent of going viral. I can at least personally vouch for this; prior to Serial my podcast knowledge was limited to wondering what “the point” of podcasts was and getting the vague sense it was all a little nerdy. Flash-forward to my life post-Serial and I probably listen to at least two podcasts a day. That is the power a riveting murder mystery podcast can have over your life. The series follows American journalist Sarah Koenig as she investigates the murder of 18-year old Hae Min Lee, who died in 1999. Who killed her? The police believed it to be Adnan Syed, her ex-boyfriend who was convicted of her murder in 2000. But Koenig’s digging casts doubt upon his guilt. It is the ultimate question raised by the podcast, the question that splits its fans: did Adnan Syed really murder Hae Min Lee? But really, it is not simply the facts of the case and the information the investigation brings to light that make this podcast so compelling. What sets Serial apart is Koenig’s ability to craft a narrative, to draw the listener deep into her own mind where she struggles to decide who and what she believes. Koenig very much becomes the main character in the story. As you listen to the episodes she does not pose as an all-knowing narrator — rather, you follow her as she learns new information and delves deeper. You listen to her speculate and go back-and-forth on her opinions while you do the same. Serial wasn’t created to exonerate Syed; it doesn’t promise to “solve the mystery” or answer all the questions. If anything, it raises far more questions than it answers. But rather than cheapening Serial, this is its power. The unanswered questions are the reason it is still talked about today; the reason there are podcasts and countless Reddit subgroups dedicated to discussing it; the reason that it will go down as iconic. — Hannah Patterson
S e r i a l
Wednesday Give Peace a Dance! with Disasteradio and Alexa Casino — This is a free pop-up gig to support those protesting the Weapons Expo at Westpac Stadium. Weapons are bad and dancing is good, and Alexa will be bringing the introspective R&B jams while Disasteradio balances it out with wobbly ’80s synth bangers. Meet at 4.45PM at the overbridge by 90 Waterloo Quay and get your anti warprofiteering banter ready. Friday Die! Die! Die! Charm. Offensive. release tour — If you like your music excessively loud and in-your-face, then this is probs the gig for you. Die! Die! Die! are rollicking punk fun, and topped off with a dash of HEX and a pinch of Mr Amish, you’re in for an evening of heavenly musical delights. 9.00pm at Meow, and don’t forget the earplugs. Friday & Saturday DRIPPING — This is going to be fucking incredible. A lovely coming together of a number of cool cats from NZ’s underground music and art scenes, including Xoë Hall, Georgette Brown, Sere, Womb, and Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing; this event will be raising money for Lifeline Aotearoa. On Friday the art show opens at 6.00pm, and the bands go from 7.30pm; on Saturday it goes from midday right into the night. There will also be pies, sweet treats, jewellery, records, and many other wondrous wares to be purchased, and it’s all happening at Newtown Community Centre. You can find all the details on the Facebook event.
BEST DOCOS OF THE YEAR
The other day I started sketching out a “Best Films of the Year” list. This was as much a precautionary measure for an upcoming Salient issue as a tactical device to dispatch questions along the lines of “what should I watch?” with ease. As it turned out, half of the list were documentaries. This year, at the New Zealand International Film Festival, Doc Edge, and in general, I sought out as many documentaries as I could. In previous years I’ve been able to entertain myself exclusively with dramas, indie films, and blockbusters, but those days are more or less over. What I can rely on now is people’s need to capture the world and their subjects, and express their ideas. To get an idea, the films here deal with race “then and now,” LGBTQ+ history, meat consumption, documentary ethics, global warming, and magic. Here are are my top seven, listed in alphabetical order:
100 MEN — PAUL OREMLAND (NZ)
Paul Oremland set out to capture and present 40 years of gay civil rights, subculture, and history in this highly ambitious, heartwarming, heartbreaking, hilarious film, which has the best premise for a documentary I’ve ever encountered. To structure his film he contacted 100 men, but more specifically his 100 most memorable shags. The film seamlessly shifts between a reflection on Paul’s own life, a speculation on how far gay civil rights have come, and dozens of anecdotes from his subjects.
AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER — BONNI COHEN AND JON SHENK (USA)
What this new film from Al Gore and his initial release in 2007 both have in common is a wonderful sense of optimism, even in the face of enormous odds. However, after watching the two back to back, it is evident that the world has become a far crazier place. Traversing the globe and informing others as to the effects of global warming has been Gore’s mission for years, and the film pauses to consider how far we’ve come, but also how exhaustingly far we have to go, made all the more challenging by recent developments of more political hurdles.
I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO — RAOUL PECK (USA)
James Baldwin once started a book, documenting the civil rights movement through his experiences with Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. He did not get very far before all three were murdered, but the 30 or so pages of notes, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, help form this heartstopping and harshly observant film, directed by Raoul Peck. The research component of the film is immense, with almost the entire runtime coming from historical footage, but the film occasionally places observations Baldwin made about 1950s America over clips from the present day, to haunting effect. He effectively asks white America: what insecurities do you have that led (and still lead) you to create the concept of the “negro”?
MEAT — DAVID WHITE (NZ)
I published a review of this many months ago, so I won’t say much more about this film other than it’s an impressive production, right from the philosophy down to its aesthetic. Its four subjects discuss meat consumption from various angles, and throughout the film there is never a moment where it becomes too preachy, one way or the other.
WHAT LIES THAT WAY — PAUL WOLFFRAM (NZ)
Ethnographic filmmaker Paul Wolffram returns to the rainforests of Southern New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, where he has grown a relationship with the local Lak people over the past 15 years. This time Paul has come with the goal of completing Buai, the initiation into the shaman cult within Lak culture, and a process which blends sorcery, belief, and endurance. Both the people and the process are shot naturally and candidly, the result of incredible trust, and the result is as pure as a documentary can be. The actual period of time in which initiation takes place — four days of fasting — is barely stylistically embellished, leaving speculation open as to what exactly Paul is experiencing, both mentally and spiritually. (available On Demand)
WILBUR: KING IN THE RING — J. OLLIE LUCKS AND JULIA PARNELL (NZ)
J. Ollie Lucks set out to make a quirky wrestling biopic about his Dunedin-based university friend Wilbur McDougall, but this quickly evolves into a weight loss journey, which then becomes a dramatic feud between friends. The ethics may be questionable, but overall the film is thoroughly enjoyable as Wilbur becomes increasingly scrutinising of Lucks’ methods with typical New Zealand dry humour. Lucks’ exploitation of Wilbur’s weight problem becomes obvious, which of course becomes problematic. Regardless, the film is fun, and never claims to be accurate, unedited, verité, or anything except a suitably over-the-top portrait of an overthe-top individual.
QUEST — JONATHAN OLSHEFSKI (USA)
This was one of the last films I saw at the NZIFF, when I didn’t think I could be any more emotionally engaged or overwhelmed. Little did I know that I was about to witness a small wonder of a film, which follows a working class African American family in Philadelphia through the Obama years. Intimate and evocative, the filmmakers grant access to the family, and the working class community around them, through all the highs and lows. In the downstairs of the family’s house we see the recording studio where young men are given a sanctuary from their lives, while out on the streets we see the senseless violence that sends shock waves through the communities. It’s raw and powerful, and a fantastic journey of a film. — Finn Holland
CROSSWORD: â€˜CELEBRITY SQUARES'
Note: This puzzle is a contest! A nineletter phrase is hidden in this grid, and can be revealed by following the hints. If you find it, send your answer to email@example.com by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday October 11 to be in the draw to win a Vic Books voucher!
Sudoku difficulty: Medium
Make as many words of three letters or more as you can. Each word must contain the letter in the central square. Target goals: Good: 16 words Great: 19 words Impressive: 21 words
LAST WEEK'S SOLUTION
Note: Each of the answers to Across clues starts with 'MY', which need to be removed before the answers are put in the grid.
2. Street in the title of a New Zealand TV series (9) 7. Faux ___ (etiquette mistake) (3) 9. Black jellybean flavour (7) 10. Order of the Harry Potter books? (7) 11. Caught or bowled, say (3) 12. Like some eclipses (5) 13. Major that might be criminal or social, for short (5) 14. Subject of the phrase 'Location, location, location!' and a hint to this puzzle's answer (5,4,6) 18. Jacob's eighth son, in Genesis (5) 20. Biblical poem of devotion (5) 22. Oolong or orange pekoe, maybe (3) 23. Smash Mouth hit that begins 'Somebody' (the first word should be enough to get it stuck in your head) (3,4) 24. Sovereign state currently fighting with Russia over the Crimean Peninsula (7) 25. Golfer Ernie (3) 26. Getting a stitch without a stitch on? (9)
1. Entree which is sometimes used to describe London fog (3,4) 2. His feast day is on the 6th of December, not the 25th (5,8) 3. Be the manager of (7) 4. Jay-Z's streaming service (5) 5. Clothing (7) 6. Wilt, like my houseplants (5) 7. Old-timey bicycle (5,8) 8. Like the sense that lets you see dead people, in a famous film (6) 15. Largest penguin breed (7) 16. Wandering Japanese swordsman (7) 17. Mars plastic and art gum, e.g. (7) 18. Astound (5) 19. Religious observances (5) 21. Nigerian city which is the fastestgrowing capital in Africa (5)
We would like to take this opportunity to thank our readers for trusting us with their lives and futures. Our final horoscopes offer advice for you star babies to embrace as you travel through the rest of your time on beautiful planet Earth. Maybe not much longer… @DPRK @DonaldTrump — Aubergine and Celeste
Libra: Sep 23–Oct 22 You have spent the last 13 months jazzing up your life and as Jupiter leaves Libra you will spend the next eleven years reaping those rewards (hopefully). While you do, remember to floss cause it’s really important. Scorpio: Oct 23–Nov 21 Oh m8, Jupiter moves into Scorpio this month meaning the next 13 months are YOUR TIME TO SHINE. Just please try and remember to not be a dick to the people you care about in this next year of you being even more self-absorbed than usual. Sagittarius: Nov 22–Dec 21 A great way to not piss everyone off is to carry candy around in your pocket at all times. An even better way is to try and be a bit more patient and tactful when you tell your friends what’s wrong with them. Capricorn: Dec 22–Jan 19 This past year of hustle is about to pay off for you! If you’ve been thinking about moving, the ~energy~ from the full moon last week will guide you! We know you’re eternally busy but please remember to take care of yourself and stay hydrated. Get out there and enjoy an exciting new connection with someone ;) Aquarius: Jan 20–Feb 18 You should wake up every single morning to the The 5th Dimension’s “Age of Aquarius”. Not only is it a complete inspirational ’70s banger, it also mentions your star sign. How fun is that? Pisces: Feb 19–Mar 20 What’s better than one fish? Two fish. Be like a fish and forget everything you know about life, learn to swim, and start smelling a bit.
Aries: Mar 21–Apr 19 If at first you don’t succeed try again, but if you fail a fourth time maybe stop trying? There’s only a certain amount of failure one can take. Learn to let go. Taurus: Apr 20–May 20 If you haven’t already this year — get healthy!!! Work some self-care into your routine boo. Cut out acidic foods from your diet. Spread your wings! A new chapter of independence and inspiration awaits you! Gemini: May 21–Jun 20 Gemini, looks like you are going to have some unlucky times in love. Nothing new for you though, eh? Soldier on through, because things should sort themselves out by Christmas. Or don’t soldier on through if you want to be #single for Christ’s birthday. Good luck deciding xx Cancer: Jun 21–Jul 22 Get ready to let your charisma flow, Cancer. Your flirtatiousness will pay off with potential career opportunities coming your way! Network binch! Go with the momentum of last week’s full moon in Aries and you could see yourself excelling at work, maybe even landing a promotion! Leo: Jul 23–Aug 22 Yikes Leo, with Jupiter in Scorpio and your domestic fourth house from Tuesday, you’ll be pushed to spice up your home life, either through decorating your house with cute ornaments of woodland creatures or moving to a totally new part of town (but don’t live in Aro Valley, js). Virgo: Aug 23–Sep 22 This week Jupiter is moving itself into Scorpio and your third house of cooperation. Now is a great time to manifest your goals, and you’ll be given plenty of support in doing so! Live by the example of our Lord and saviour, Cardi B. Don’t hold back because remember, your pussy glitter as gold.
Published on Oct 8, 2017