Who’s in Charge Then?

A white car was driven into police (and protesters?) By a protester?

It’s now Saturday February 19th, 2022. Kia ora.

Today JD has as appointment in the afternoon, so I get him to drop me off at the Johnsonville Shopping Centre so I can go to Hannah’s shoe sale.  The really nice sandals I want aren’t in the sale, of course, but I try on some that are and buy them – feeling a little guilty, but I have worn out several pairs (even had some fixed) and I feel justified. Afterwards, I catch a bus to Churton Park, go to the supermarket there, and walk home.

The Covid 19 numbers today are less than on Friday: there are 1,901 new cases, 76 people in hospital, and 14 new cases identified at the border. The convoy protest remains in Parliament grounds; it’s grown, if anything; the police and the mayor of Wellington, Andy Foster, are now being blamed for the disruption. I must say the police have come across as particularly ham—fisted in not dealing with this crisis; at least, methinks, they could have had some of the vehicles towed away.

On Saturday evening we watch Call the Midwife, and another episode of Inventing Anna.  It’s a fascinating series, despite one’s ongoing frustration with the main characters – especially the journalist, who does an “Anna” on her co-workers, to say nothing of her boss. Everyone is very nice to her, as they are trusting of Anna. I’d have to say, though, that Julia Garner has a certain charm as an actress; think a female combination of Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump. People fall for the snake oil, time and time again. It fascinates me how some women are charmed by not good-looking men who are nevertheless n positions of power, too. 

It’s now Sunday February 20th.

It rained heavily last night, but it was very hot and sticky too.  I had trouble sleeping, but at some point it cooled down. On Sunday morning I went to church: do good to those that hurt you, and the mystery of growth, when a seed turns into a beautiful plant, after being sown in the cold earth. What a mystery growth is! 

The Covid 19 numbers today are dreadful: 2,522 (!) new community cases of Covid 19; that’s probably an understatement, since there are now delays in getting test results – up to 5 days, in some cases, instead of 24 hours. There are 100 people in hospital, and there are 17 new cases at the border. Two students at Rangiora High School have tested positive for the virus. Someone at an Auckland rest home has tested positive. The NZ Herald suggests that the positivity rate for tests given is 9%, but this has not been confirmed by the Ministry of Health. The majority of cases – 1,799 – are in Auckland; it’s reported that there are 188 in Waikato, 111 in the Southern DHB area, 86 in Bay of Plenty, 53 in Nelson Marlborough and 54 in Capital and Coast. Other cases are in Northland (41), Canterbury (76), Hutt Valley (25), Hawke’s Bay (24), MidCentral (13), Lakes (11), Wairarapa (14), Tairāwhiti (12), Taranaki (9) and Whanganui (2) and South Canterbury (1). Three other cases are in an unspecified location.

With regard to the protest in Wellington, Andrew “Cuddles” Coster, head of police, is taking some serious shade for not doing more about the protest sooner. He’s looking for cooperation, but what about the regular folk who live in Thorndon and can no longer go about their business?  Transport has been hugely disrupted. It seems a shower has been set up at one of the Wellington Railway Station bus stops; yesterday there was a makeshift toilet at the Cenotaph, of all places, which deeply disturbed veterans (and others).  This morning a journalist has written a long article about Freedom.  I’d be happy to add a comment, if I could. He’s written well, in my view. Here’s the link: https://www.stuff.co.nz/opinion/127815331/do-the-protesters-in-wellington-even-know-what-freedom-means.

Over dinner we had a discussion about protest and engagement – about the Springbok Tour of 1981, about then Prime Minister Muldoon, and the current protest in Parliament grounds in Thorndon, Wellington. There was a view that there should be engagement with this cash-free, exercise loving, community; I tend to have great sympathy with the locals and bus drivers and law-abiding members of the general public who continue to be inconvenienced by this occupation, to say nothing of folk wanting to relieve themselves at the Wellington Railway Station, and who cannot, because the rest rooms there have been vandalised. I insist on my right to wear a mask, and not to be “egged” or sworn at. While I recognise people’s choice not to  be vaccinated (although I find this hard to understand), I would not want anyone unvaxxed to look after my daughter, or teach my grandchildren. These restrictions are temporary, and they’re there to protect us, from serious illness or even death.

It’s now Monday February 21st.

The first piece of news I heard this morning was that the Queen has been diagnosed positive for Covid 19. That just seems so unfair – in this special year, too, or her Platinum Jubilee as monarch. What a lot she has to deal with, poor thing! Apparently Prince Charles visited her two days before he was diagnosed positive; there were pictures of him doing an investiture unmasked. I did think that was very foolish of him. What a strange dude he is; I have tried to find sympathy for him, but it’s difficult at times. Duchess Camilla has Covid 19, too. I think it’s the second time Prince Charles has had it.

This morning a friend and I are due to go to a movie in town – C’mon c’mon.  It was a very good film, and we both enjoyed it.  A kind young man carried our cups of coffee into the theatre for us. There was hardly anyone there. Afterwards, we had lunch at Prefab. It’s so good to see Prefab open again. There weren’t many people there, either, although there’s a lot of traffic in Taranaki Street.

Apparently this morning some protesters threw faeces at police. It seems that police moved some vehicles (assuming they got brave). The reporting on this is very vague and confusing. I know there was formerly no hesitation in towing vehicles if they were incorrectly parked, or on a clearway.

Today’s Covid 19 figures are worse than yesterday’s. The total of new community cases is 2,375, with 116 people in hospital (one in Intensive Care), there have been 2 deaths. It’s reported that most of today’s community cases are in Auckland – 1692. The remaining cases are across Northland (50), , Waikato (136), Bay of Plenty (42), Lakes (24), Hawke’s Bay (23), MidCentral (14), Whanganui (5), Taranaki (4), Tairāwhiti (9), Wairarapa (8), Capital and Coast (89), Hutt Valley (19), Nelson Marlborough (58), Canterbury (105), South Canterbury (1), and the Southern region (86).  That’s a large number in Wellington. Some police in Wellington have tested positive for Covid 19. The Prime Minister has said that mandates will be lifted once we’re over the worst of the omicron wave, probably by the end of March.  Criticism is flying, as expected.

It’s now Tuesday February 22nd.

The situation here is pretty bad and divisive. Last night it was reported that areas of Wellington Harbour are unsafe for swimming and fishing, because raw sewerage (presumably from portaloos) has been emptied into storm water drains.  That’s also assuming there was some human waste left over from what was thrown at police. The ED at Wellington Hospital is very busy; everyone is tested for Covid 19, and many are turning out to diagnose positive, although they came for some other reason, and didn’t know they had Covid 19 too.  One manager said that patients were determined if they were high-risk; if they are unvaccinated, they’re deemed to be high risk.  John Tait is asking protesters not to come to the ED, but instead to go home and see their local GP. There’s a suggestion that care will be reserved for those who have been vaccinated and really need medical treatment.

This morning there’s more terrible news; a white vehicle has been driven into police and protesters; and police have been sprayed with an unknown substance (believed to be acid).  Three are seeking medical treatment. Five police attending the protest have diagnosed positive for Covid 19. Cuddles Coster, where are you now? What are you doing to protect anyone? Surely you should be protecting your own workforce, if not the rest of us? Apparently some concrete blocks have been placed to separate protesters from politicians and their workforce.

Meanwhile, more and more educational institutions have been affected by Covid 19 infections, and are struggling to fulfil educational requirements at this difficult time.  Someone said they’re getting good support from the Ministry of Education, and some are placing students in pods. Now St Andrews College and New Brighton School have been affected in Christchurch. In other really upsetting moves, protesters have been shopping, unmasked. Shopkeepers can’t really enforce mask requirements; protesters even reached Commonsense Organics in upper Tory Street! As well as the lovely New World Supermarket in Thorndon. Oh dear! I was near there yesterday, and the Taranaki Street/Tory Street area was very busy. I misguidedly thought it would be safer there. Is it safe anywhere?

Prime Minister Ardern has asked people not to visit the protest, and Deputy Prime Minister Robertson has decried the violence on public radio. It has all turned very nasty. There are calls for politicians to address the protesters; so far Prime Minister Ardern and Chris Luxon have refused to do so. One of the difficulties is that there is no one definitively in charge. I can’t help thinking that other protesters would have been dealt with far more harshly. There are no tasers, tear gas, stun guns, or even batons. Today’s Dompost claims the protest website has a link to that of the protest in Ottawa (which I gather has been largely put down now); apparently any traffic fines given out are being paid; it seems this protest is being well-funded by certain business interests. Meanwhile, the omicron surge is blighting our activities, especially educational activities, to say nothing of our health and wellbeing, more and more; and we have to deal with the havoc created by this protest!

In other news, the wily Putin has recognised breakaway provinces in the east of Ukraine; he’s now moving troops there to strengthen their borders. So what does the West do now?  I just keep remembering the Budapest Agreement, in which the US, the UK and Russia agreed to defend Ukraine’s independence if it gave up its nuclear weapons. Does nobody remember this?  Are international treaties of no value, whatsoever?  I remember the 1989-90 period, when the Berlin Wall came down and East and West Germany were unified, apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela came to power as the leader of South Africa, the Iron Curtain was pulled back, and the USSR became the Russian Federation,  with many of its former states becoming so-called independent republics (with varying degrees of independence). What a time of hope that was! It was the end of the Cold War, and anything good seemed possible. Now we’ve come to this, with dictatorial right—wing governments in many countries, and struggles to recognise the climate crisis, much less do anything truly meaningful about it; despite being confronted by storms, cyclones,  extreme temperatures, droughts and flooding – which have made life uncomfortable for many. It seems that good people struggle on, content to have their faith, if not much else.  I wonder what today’s Covid 19 figures will be? I wonder what the protesters have to do to police to get any meaningful response? I need to buy some groceries today, but I wonder where it’s safe to do so? Ngā mihi.

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