Post Rally

Today is Tuesday October 13th. Kia ora katoa.

This morning I got up earlier than usual.  My Tai Chi class was restarting for Term 4. Although no reminder had been sent out, several of us were there, including some new folk. The tutors (the lead tutor is away for 2 weeks) were very gentle with us. It is great to be back, and feel all my aches and pains disappear.

After my class, I caught the train into Wellington. At Wellington Railway Station, there was a big information board, saying which trains were due to leave and on which platform. How nice! This used to be a bit of a mystery. I then caught a bus to Kelburn Parade, stopping at Victoria University. There was a sign out on the footpath indicating that a voting booth was present. I went to the Milk and Honey Café (it’s still there), to have lunch. I was asked for my name and extension, but had to advise that I’m not on the staff. Still, I had a nice lunch. The young man who served me asked if things had changed much. I said that the place had become much more civilised in many ways; that I was first at Victoria University in the 1970’s, a wild time; and then again in the noughties. 

I think the University is much improved. In the Hub, there is a sign inviting people to vote on any of the three campuses. There was all that fuss over the name change (why, one wonders?); the ridiculous real estate buying spree, disestablishment of the former Teacher’s Training College in Karori, and the fact that many staff are unhappy working there, as evinced in a recent Stuff article. I guess that like any organisation, they will have their ups and downs, but I confess that sometimes I am ashamed to be an alumna.

After lunch I went through to the Hub, where Jacinda Ardern was due to appear. There were crowds of people there, all keen to see our Prime Minister. Again, I was amazed how well-behaved and considerate everyone was. The Finance Minister, Grant Robertson, introduced Ms Ardern; Chris Hipkins and other Labour candidates were there too. She spoke very well, I thought, even better than on Sunday. Afterwards, people crowded to have their photo taken with her, and get her autograph. I was in this crowd, but did not feel in any way frightened or threatened.  Then she left, and I caught three buses home.

Note Wednesday October 14: a journalist writing for the Dompost said that Jacinda Ardern had campaigned before a “shrieking students rally” at the University. I was appalled to read this. The “students”, a mixture of ages, were very well-behaved; I’m sure the appreciative crowd included staff and mature students, as well as odd folk like myself. Ms Ardern’s speech was very well received; there was no opposition to what she said from any of the folk I saw. I do find this sensationalism quite disturbing. It’s untrue, and totally misleading.

There have been comments about Labour’s Rally on Sunday; that the setting was like a rock concert (I beg to disagree, the crowd were far too well behaved!); one journalist commented on its Orwellian tones. Wrong again, I think: I remember at the time thinking of North Korea military parades, May Day parades, and Trump’s recent flag travesty at the White House (Oh, that was the Republican Convention); but I felt grateful that I was here, and not in any of those places; not afraid for my life, or of Covid 19; this government, while not perfect by any means, has earned my trust, and I see no reason not to trust them.

Almost everywhere else, the coronavirus numbers are creeping up again, with a vengeance. One gets the feeling that any goodwill has dissipated: most stimulus money has well and truly run out; some idiots on the right are concerned for their so-called freedoms; Boris Johnson is introducing a three-tier system in England, which is not popular, especially for the “hot spots”. Again, we’re so grateful to be here, safe and well in Aotearoa; where I can go to campaign events without putting my life at risk. I doubt if Jacinda would get away with it now, but that strict four-week lockdown was very effective in getting the virus here under control, and I have not spoken to anyone who regrets it. So where in the world would you rather be?

When we had the scare with the Auckland community cluster, I was amazed how fast everyone, people and organisations, sprang into action, with signs, QR codes, registers, and rules for our safety. Kiwis are basically sensible people. Last Friday, we could have gone to a concert with the NZSO; we chose not to (it was a busy week), but there’s another one coming up soon. On Sunday, JD could have gone to the rugby with his grandson; he elected not to, but he could have. How fortunate we are to live here, and have been so well looked after, and be able to make these choices.

In the US, hearings have begun for Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett. While it is very upsetting that this move to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is happening with indecent haste, I found Democrats’ opening statements (Amy Klobuchar, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker) that I listened to very moving, focussing as they did on the benefits to their constituents of the Affordable Care Act, which some Republicans are trying to have ruled unconstitutional.

This discussion will be continued. Ngā mihi.

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