Newmonts Virgin Bride

If Northland is already in a pre-arranged marriage with a mining company the virgin bride needs to have a close look at the contract regardless of what her godparents (in this case Phil, Shane, Wayne and of course, the marriage celebrant; Steven Joyce) have to say about it.

The fine print may well read:

Virgin Bride must hand over body and lands principally: Puhipuhi. She is not to argue or negotiate because she will be labelled a socialist loony and kept in an attic room (but not before the dowry is handed over).

The groom (who herewith will be referred to as Newmont) will provide an income for some of the brides’ family provided they have the skills useful to Newmont. (Getting young blokes in Northland to pass drug tests might be optimistic yet if Northland’s youth sobered up and realised they have the numbers to change things if they bothered to act together and vote that could only be a good thing.) The groom is not responsible for aiding young workers to get these skills and will just fly them in from elsewhere if they can’t be found locally. Although mineral deposits belong to the bride (herewith known as Puhipuhi) they will be acquisitioned by Newmont and a percentage may be paid to the executor hereby known as the government in Wellington.

In the case of the marriage of Newmont and Puhipuhi’s cousin; Waihi, this percentage is non-existant.

Although royalties are now insultingly low and not tied to such things as a superannuation fund as in places like Norway, Newmont promises a few jobs and Uncle Phil says that’s enough. 60% of adults in Waihi however now live on under $20K a year. Hardly get rich quick. It’s hard to keep the love alive when you don’t see the profits either. Ask any dairy farmers who owe money to overseas banks right now.

To quell disquiet, Newmont Waihi found putting up signs on the beaches around Coromandel telling people to take care of the environment was enough to convince people you have a pulse – if not exactly a heart. The unease around the extreme toxicity of the mercury laden rocks round Puhipuhi and what seepage may do to the water catchment in a flood prone area might prove trickier to put a sugar coat on.

Newmont and Waihi was only to be a temporary affair and declared null and void in 2007. Waihi, now not so virgin and looking fairly haggard, was looking forward to that. Although consummated – Waihi’s relatives started to get nervous about the marriage around the time the houses in Waihi began falling into big holes. That had nothing to do with the mine though. I know. I asked PR.

Some family members were worried depending as they do on the mine for wages. Other sources of income have been neglected in the area common in mining towns meaning a guaranteed bust after the boom. But for now the mine extends and the good people of Waihi live in a land of shifting goal posts every time the price of gold goes up.

Any questions here from the relatives of Puhipuhi, now irate at their girl being sold off behind their backs without due discussion or process are being dismissed as irrelevant by the Minister of Resources Mr. Phil Heatley. I’d ask him myself only I’d have to send out a search party. There is an election soon so no doubt he’ll be back, but by that time it will probably be too late. He recently declared that ‘all the issues (regarding mining in Northland) have been discussed.” But with whom? Steve, Shane and Wayne I’m guessing but is that really good enough? Maybe Phil has discussed them with you in which case let me know.

Until I see the fine print though, leave me off the wedding guest list.

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Drugs to make the Olympics a Spectator Sport

Will bog snorkelling make it to Rio? I hope so. I can’t imagine the Brazillians entering a team but apparently snorkelling in freezing cold peat bogs is big in Wales and it’s about time the Welsh got to be known for something other than that old sex bomb Tom Jones. I’d cheer for them.

If the equivalent of aquatic Morris Dancing; synchronized swimming, counts I don’t see why bog snorkelling can’t also be an Olympic sport. At least it wouldn’t affront Yuksel Aytug – the columnist who was so deeply offended by the ruination of women’s bodies at the Olympics that he managed to insult almost every female athlete that made it to the games. “Their breasts” he ranted, “the symbol of womanhood, motherhood – flattened into stubs as if they were seen as hinderances to speed.” He advocated a scoring system based on giving extra points to female athletes who were ‘traditionally attractive.’ I agree with him – but only if the Olympic committee allows a male cheer-leading team who scores for attraction rather than prowess. They can cheer the women weight-lifters and that way spectators won’t die of boredom in the stadium.

Does anyone really care if the stick with the tyres at the end gets lifted? Does anyone’s soul soar?

I feel I need to take drugs to make this a spectator sport.

The cheer-leading idea would only work as long as North Korea didn’t enter. If there were a nation the equivalent of a ballet mother on steroids – it would have to be North Korea. Or Naughty, as opposed to Nice, Korea as stated in an Australian medal league table. Funny. But deeply inappropriate. The editor of that newspaper will be sent to the Naughty Seat of some North Korean labour camp where all the athletes who lose get sent. It seems that any kind of loss may precipitate an Olympic meltdown in the North Korean political elite which could lead to Kim Jong Un pushing the nuclear button just to make sure that no one ever found out.

Luckily Om Yun Chol the weight-lifter has saved us all from obliteration. If there were medals for hyperbole and ridiculous claims the North Koreans would make a clean sweep. The dead but obviously very Great Leader helped him to victory from the grave, which is pretty impressive even considering he played 24 holes in one when he was only a foetus. He even managed to be the Chinese badminton teams’ style icon for hairdos which just goes to show how inspiring he truly was. As for that scandal where the Chinese and Korean girls tried to throw a game so they’d get more favourable opponents in the following rounds; that wasn’t bad. That was brilliant. They’ve spent the last 10 years of their young lives being told that winning by any means is everything and then they get thwarted at the last minute by the western girl guides of sport getting all prissy with their clip boards.

In order for me to upgrade my olympic response from ‘that’s fairly interesting’ to ‘That’s seriously Impressive’ the Olympics will need a revamp.

What we really need to do is get away from being so uptight about the whole doping issue. That way we don’t need to guess if the women still qualify as women based on the fact that they’ve sprouted new bits and the whole world can go for broke on free-style drug taking. Lets just see how fast everyone can go and bugger the consequences. I say this because deep down I can’t wait to see, with the help of the syncronized swimmers make-up team; an androgynous drug fuelled sparkling bog snorkelling NZ Olympic champion in Rio.

I start my training tomorrow.

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Machismo Bollocks

Rumours a few weeks ago that a papier Mache sculpture-making festival of our civic leaders was taking place deep inside Forum North were incorrect. The public were informed that the drippy slaps coming from council chambers were the sound of wrists being lightly caressed with soggy bus tickets by councillors disciplining a staff member again. I would warn anyone entering with a question to back out deferentially whilst making flattering remarks about inspiring leadership – that seems to be the preferred modus operandi. It’s one of the problems of living in a company town – it’s just that in this town the council is the company. But deference can be lethal. It’s deadly for business but it can be just as dangerous politically and socially. Years ago I was given a class of Latin air traffic controllers for English classes. After the first lesson it was obvious they were wasting their money and that their English was flawless. The director insisted that there had been several near misses in recent years at various airports and all the problems had been with English. I asked for the transcripts of some of them. The problem, it transpired was not an English one. It was an over-abundance of testosterone. Younger flight engineers, pilots and air traffic controllers continually deferred to older macho pilots who would bully them into believing their incorrect assumptions. This is one of the more stupid outcomes of a machista culture that insists that you are only gay if you ‘take it’. A pity 250 passengers have to die to prove that you had the bigger bollocks on the day. It is also one of the great gifts that living with Latin machismo gives one; and that is; to understand that the authority and sheer weight and aggression with which some bollocks are thrown around is entirely disproportional to the veracity or validity of the point being argued. Dumb decisions are invariably the outcome of these kinds of work environments – women do not thrive in them and cease to contribute and clever blokes – you know; the ones that think before they open their mouth - often struggle to be heard. In the sinking of the Tongan Ferry “Princess Ashika’ one surveyor and the Tongan Port Chief found the vessel to be unseaworthy. The Captain later admitted he had been pressured by government to override all advice and sail without the delay of repairs. Arrogance over intelligence won and the boat sank in a one metre swell with the loss of over 70 lives.Last month the worst nuclear disaster in 25 years was found by a parliamentary enquiry to have been a ‘man made disaster.’ It was due, not to the Tsunami, but to ‘a dangerous culture of deference’; the Japanese ‘reluctance to question authority.’ It also pointed to an unholy allegiance between government officials and the owners of the facility who all bought into a convenient ‘safety myth’. ‘The regulation of the plant was entrusted to the same government bureaucracy responsible for its promotion’. It would be unfortunate to be saying the same of the mining industry here in 20 years time. Although there are elements of this same problem in the Pike River disaster too. The lack of transparency and civil alienation from the decision making process – i.e. one that was conducted ‘behind closed doors’ were also contributing factors to the Fukushima disaster. It was noted that by ‘staying silent, (managers) were on the upward promotions escalator.’ Promoting and rewarding silence as opposed to the due consideration of constructive criticism and beating the odd recalcitrant critic into submission, allows the mediocre and the sociopathic to quietly percolate to the top. A point that seems to be playing out in the CTV building enquiry which seems to prove that a dangerous culture of deference is not unique to the Japanese.

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