Wednesday, 23 December 2020



An asylum-seeker’s story

I have read several books this year. The pick of them could change anyone’s attitude to refugees. Walking Free (co-author Patrick Weaver), is the compelling story of Munjed Al Muderis, a young surgeon who escapes Iraqi with its murderous leader Saddam Hussein and arrives in Australia in a leaky overcrowded fishing boat as an asylum-seeker. He spends 10 months in Curtain Detention Centre in north-western Australia.  He describes his detention as inhuman. He has no name. His identity is a number, 982. Racism and cruelty are rife. Many detainees are children.

Munjed is frequently in solidarity confinement and regularly told to go back to Iraq. The government would help if he elected to return to Iraq. Australia doesn’t want him.

 Munjed had to flee Iraq or face certain death owing to his refusal to comply with Hussein’s cruel demands.  

On his release on August 26, 2000, he finds work as an orthopaedic surgeon in various hospitals in the Australian State, Victoria. He specialised in osseontegration, then practiced by a small number of surgeons worldwide. He becomes recognised, internationally, as a leader in osseontegration techniques. Many patients travel to Australia for his treatment. He treated amputees from the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes.

Professor Per -Ingvar Branemark, working in the US and Sweden during the 1950s, is credited with the innovative osseointegration discovery based on the ability of human bone cells to attach to a metal surface.  Since 2010 Munjed AL Muderis has further evolved the surgical technique utilising a high tensile strength titanium implant with a high prose plasma sprayed surface as an intramedullary prosthesis that is inserted into the bone residuum of amputees and then connected through an opening in the skin to a robotic limb. This allows amputees to mobilise with more comfort and less energy consumption. Al Muderis is also credited with combining osseointegration with joint replacement enabling below knee amputees with knee arthritis or short residual bone to mobilise without the need of a troublesome socket prosthesis.

At present AL Muderis has many roles including Associate professor at the University of Notre Dame in Sydney.

Regarding asylum-seekers he says he understands the raw popularity of `Stop the boats’ catchery.

`But I believe politicians should take a much more compassionate approach to asylum-seekers rather than attempt to portray them as evil enemies of the state. Mostly, they are not.’

Many people detained with him at Curtain are working in Australia as medical specialist, engineers and skilled trades people. 

`The current system alienates asylum-seekers. And if they are alienated at the start they’ll remain alienated. They end up on the fringes of society.’

He appeals to politicians of all persuasions to come up with better solutions.

`Every human being deserves something better than having their lives dismissed in a flood of simplistic rhetoric, posturing and crass political point-scoring.’

It would be great if Walking Free became required reading in the schools of many countries. Then future generations might implement change. The book is a real page turner. The title is a play on words. Firstly, Munjed Al Muderis has found a new life. Secondly, his work enables his patients to walk free and enjoy a cherished normal life.




Wednesday, 16 December 2020


   Christmas down my way 

I am thinking about a once-popular song we grew up with – I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. The lyrics were written by a Californian, Irving Berlin, in 1940. Another American, Bing Crosby, made it universal having put his voice to Berlin’s lyrics.  50 million copies of the song were sold widely.

Of course the song, recalling a cosy old-fashioned Christmas, was relevant to the Northern Hemisphere where snow is likely in December.

Recent Facebook posts have depicted a white Christmas. I agree they look enticing. Cosy even. But the images are clearly Northern Hemisphere.

In Aotearoa, New Zealand the seasons are reversed. Nevertheless, much of our Christmas musings and imagery curiously relates to the northern Hemisphere. Christmas cards frequently feature snow clinging to trees and tumbling from rooftops.  Father Christmas, mythology’s champion of the festival, travels in a reindeer-hauled sleigh designed to run over a snow surface. Even our Southern Hemisphere festive Christmas dining is unsuitably modelled on a cold white Christmas. Roast Turkey and hot plumb pudding are not suited to summer entertaining.

Just yesterday I joined a family pre-Christmas gathering. In place of stodgy Christmas pudding or traditional Christmas cake one of our group, Sharon, presented a magnificent cheese cake modification. It looked absolutely splendid and tasted even better.

Sharon and her scrumptious cake

The New Zealand Christmas tree is the spectacular Pohutukawa with its bright red flowers.

Northern winters are characterised by snow storms and short daylight hours.

In Aotearoa New Zealand Christmas is characterised by lighting up the Barbie (barbecue) cold beer and wine and heading for a holiday, preferably near a beach. We will likely be dreaming of long, warm, lazy, summer days enjoying nature in the outdoors, preferably where there is no mobile coverage. Kiwis (New Zealanders) are basically outdoors people. We enjoy relaxation close to a natural environment.  That does not mean a white Christmas is without appeal.

Life is on a beach

 Snow is also a feature of nature. I did spend a Christmas Season in Japan. Hokkaido was completely snow-bound. Even the locals said it was a particularly cold winter that year. It was minus 22 deg C. at Soya Misaki, Japan’s most northern point.  I enjoyed the extreme nature of the Hokkaido winter. Snow certainly beautifies landscapes but I did think about warmer places at home.

So what do I best associate with 77 Christmas seasons in Aotearoa? First would be the unmistakable perfume of Christmas lilies brought indoors. Without them it is simply not Christmas. The lilies cannot grow in snow.

 A special treat is newly-dug potatoes. Grown especially to be harvested at Christmas, new potatoes are smaller than usual and have a scrumptious taste. Then there are garden peas grown for Christmas feasting. I recall my father picking buckets of them. Then followed the laborious job of shelling them. That’s when we children were called in to lend a hand. It was never a fun job.

 As with northern Christmas festivities, the run-up to Christmas was (and still is) frenetic. In a summer climate preparing produce was in addition to purchasing and wrapping presents ready to be placed under the decorated tree. Before then there was the task of writing a Christmas message and sending Christmas cards to family and friends.

All the while preparations were also being made for the camping holiday escape to the beach or mountains. The journey in an overloaded car frequently followed straight after the busy Christmas Day when families had joined together for celebrating and catching up.

A Japanese friend once told me, in Japan Christmas is not so important. More so is the New Year with its Joya No Kane celebration. A Joya No Kane celebration is commemorated in Christchurch at the New Zealand World Peace Bell in Christchurch Botanic Gardens. (The World Peace Bell is essentially the same as a Japanese Temple Bell.)

The event is organised by the New Zealand World Peace Bell Association and Japanese groups. The bell is spectacularly surrounded by nature typically presented in a Botanic Garden’s environment. We ring the bell 108 times in accordance to Japanese tradition. The 108 represents the number of misdemeanours of Japanese people. They are cast aside at the end of the year to enable a fresh uncluttered beginning for the New Year.

I recall, in Japan one New Year’s eve, telling Japanese, `` Only 108 misdemeanours?

We Kiwis could add a few more.’’  




Tuesday, 24 November 2020


Australia is having a bad day

– And they didn’t lose the rugby. Well not this day anyway.

I’m recalling Thursday August 27 this year in Christchurch when a 29-year-old Australian terrorist had been sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of parole. 

The culprit had shot dead 51 people and injured 40 others who were mostly at prayer in two Christchurch mosques.

Reporters from international media attended the four-day sentencing. Stories, including one in the Guardian made a point of saying the criminal was Australian.

While we were relieved by the outcome –the guy appeared to show no remorse when facing survivors of his shooting spree. I did feel a tad sorry for Australia. I then noticed the label on the bottle of wine I had opened. It was an excellent cabernet sauvignon from South Australia.  It was from the Lindsay Collection. Lindsay was an artist. He was a friend of the winemaker’s father. Got me thinking about better times in Australia.

Some years ago I had enjoyed reading a book Journey among men. It was by Jock Marshall and Russell Drysdale, the latter another Australian artist. The book belonged to my former wife. Marshall had been a professor at Monash University where she had graduated from in geography. Hence her reason for having the book.

When I was packing up books when we separated I put Journey among men on my pile. I must have this. Then thought. Well it’s not my book and left it behind. I was subsequently pleased I did.

Soon after hearing the August 27 outcome I checked Book Depository and was directed to a second-hand bookseller, Abebooks.  So I placed my order and it was eventually delivered by courier. It had been published in 1962 and reprinted twice in 1963. That was the end of it.

Two groups set out to explore the Australian outback – one from Sydney, the other from Perth. They join up in Western Australia. Their task is to write stories for London newspapers in an effort to encourage migration to Australia. They set out to study the natural environment –animals etc. and collect zoological samples.  


There is a lot of discussion, for example, about marsupials. Kangaroos, wombats quokers amongst them. The young are born and develop in their mother’s pouch. At the time there was much misunderstanding even by international experts how this comes about. Papers had been published claiming the young were fed via a mother’s nipple. That was false according to Professor Marshall who explains how the young are fed in a pouch.

                                 Western Australian Pinnacles dessert north of Perth 


But people soon came to fascinate, Drysdale in particular, who went to work with his amazing sketches. So we read about colourful characters one would find only in the Aussie outback. How about Harmonious Harry, Brandy John, Whispering Smith,   Billy the lark, and Tropical Frog amongst others?

                                               Billy the Lark

The book begins when they spot a notice on the door of an outback pub.

Whispering Smith had banned Billy the Lark from drinking intoxicating liquor for three months. Billy the Lark was cook on Whispering Smith’s sheep station. There had been a dispute.

Then there was O’Flaherty’s black eye.

Father O’Dooley spotted it and accosted him in a Port Hedland street.

`Michael O’Flaherty, how did you get that black eye?

He explained he got it from Jimmy O’Rourke in a foight.

`Shame on you for fighting. And double shame for letting a little cocksparrow like Jimmy O’Rourke blacken your eye.’

Mik felt offended.

`It was what he had in his hand, Father that did the damage –and it was an axe handle he had in his hand.  

Father O’Dooley considered the matter.

`And what did you have in your hand, Michael O’Flaherty?’

Mik replied, `I had Mrs O’Rourke’s waist in me hand, Father. A beautiful thing in itself but completely useless in a foight.

Pubs and cold beer are prominent in the Aussie outback.

One existed where no-one seemed to live. The owner had a large spread of sheep country. He kept the outdoors pub as a service to the termites and the few men scattered throughout the district. It had a kerosene refrigerator, an open meat tin with assorted change on a small bench, and above it a bottle opener attached to a piece of string.

Instructions to the rare customer requested anyone taking a bottle from the refrigerator, to replace it with one from the bulk supply. If they cared to, they could leave payment in the meat tin. But above all, for Christ’s sake don’t steal the bottle opener.

History confirms no-one did steal the bottle opener.

                                         The Smiler

When in Broom, Northern Territory, Paddy the carpenter lets fly with his rifle, smashing bottles and glasses from the pub’s counter.

Old Dick said there were bullets and smashed glass everywhere. Harmonious Harry arrived and bullets flew past his ears like bees.

The bland but firm arm of the law arrived and Paddy was taken care of.

Got the story tellers thinking about differences between the Australian never, never and the American West. Despite both sharing a similar time in history, the gun slingers and bounty hunters, idolised by American television, never existed in Australia.

The difference was in the system of justice. In America marshals and judges were elected in a system open to incompetence and corruption.

Australia being colonised by Britain, adopted the British justice system. Police and judges were Government appointees. In any new settlement an official police force was set up to enforce the law. So while lawlessness was rife in Australia, no-one walked the streets with guns slung from their belts. Such outlaws existed as bush rangers but if they appeared in town they were taken into custody. Characters such as Billy the Kid could never have arisen in Australia.

                                                  Little bloke

Following some of their stories being published in the London Observer

Marshall and Drysdale met Andy Watson, the migration officer in London’s Australia House. Watson had commissioned the project.

`I suppose I enjoyed your stories,’ he drawled. `But they won’t encourage anyone to migrate to Australia.’

Those days approved people could migrate to Australia for £10.

According to the migration officer the stories were a failure while, curiously, in other circles they had been declared, superb.

The only commendation the migration officer gave was, `thank God you didn’t mention cricket. That would have been the bloody end.’

They could have written, they were told, about the pleasant Mediterranean climate in Australia, the glass and steel buildings, the new Sydney opera house, and better wages where a typist can afford to purchase an original oil painting.

 `That would have been more useful than stories about Harmonious Jack, Whispering Bill and slightly sordid outback pubs.  

`You have been writing nostalgically about the Australia of Banjo Patterson, Henry Lawson and other bush balladists of the 1800s.’

Here’s my answer to August 27, 2020.

 Australia is in many respects similar to New Zealand –but different. If Australia is having a better day it is in flouting their colourful folklore and their likeable outlandish characters.

Banjo Patterson’s Man from Snowy River was required reading for many of us during our school years.

I recall my Aussie brother-in-law reciting Man from Snowy River while standing beside the campfire, under the stars. We were relaxing having been bush walking in the Victorian mountains.

                                             Brandy John








Saturday, 21 November 2020


Fun time music party

A week ago I attended my friend Antonio’s music party at his hillside home. Antonio is Japanese. When he came to live in New Zealand 25 years ago he thought the locals would not cope with his Japanese name, Ryozo. After some thought, and his interest in Spanish Flamenco art, he took on `Antonio’ as a moniker that he considered would be suitable in a Western-style culture.

To say Antonio is dapper is an understatement. The perfect host, he dresses for his music party occasions. His collection of hats is impressive His music party was a sort of `pot luck’ event so there were nibbles and wine bottles in abundance. Most of the musicians were Japanese.

                                             Dapper Antonio

Antonio’s front room is home for a fine Japanese Shigeru Kawai grand piano. Aged 74 he is an accomplished musician. But he was aged 57 when he started. One of his stories has it he was partying and a participant was a piano teacher from South Africa. Antonio said he had too much to drink and casually said he would one day learn the piano.

He initially thought that would be the last of it but a few days later when at the petrol station, the music teacher arrived in the next bay.

``Hi Antonio,’ she said. `What about those piano lessons?’

Trapped, Antonio replied, `what about next Thursday?’

And it all progressed brilliantly from that brief conversation.

It was not the first music party I had attended at Antonio’s home. As always the raw talent was amazing. An early performer was a young cello player. She is known as `Little Princess.’ Her real name is Keina Rollison. Her mother, Mitsue, accompanied on the piano.

                                               Keina Rollison

 Other young musicians were nimble-fingered pianists. A middle aged trombone player, Akiya Hirasawa has performed in professional orchestras.  Satoko Nakamura was a soul-rendering pianist. Antonio told me Satoko is a music teacher and frequently visits to play his grand piano.

Akira Hirasawa

Satoko Nakamura

Several children accompanied their parents. If all children are cute. Japanese children are especially so. No for the first time I reminisced about being brought up anti-Japanese. Of course I was born soon before the conclusion of WW2. My Kiwi parents held ill feelings towards Germans, and Japanese in particular. Luckily times have changed. I ended up enthralled by Japanese people, their country and their culture. In 2004 I was likely the first Kiwi to cycle the length of Japan. It was part of a process to have a World Peace Bell gifted to New Zealand from Japan.

                                                                     Cute children

Mentioning cycling the length of Japan reminded me I have achieved quite a lot during my 77 years. If I have a regret, it is that I have not achieved anything musical. I once mentioned as much to a former newspaper colleague, Jenny Setchell. Her husband is a renowned concert organist. Jenny said, `don’t worry Roy that can be something for another lifetime.’

I can ponder arriving at a next lifetime Antonio’s music party with a set of Sottish bagpipes. 

                                                                Nimble-fingered pianists.



Wednesday, 4 November 2020


Age old Smoke

No-one suggested `Washington’ should not smoke. Smoking stunts growth and limits life expectancy they might have said. Just as well they didn’t. `Washington’ is aged 143 and still in great form despite a hard life.

I should mention `Washington’ is a steam locomotive also known as K class, No. 88.

I caught up with Age Old Smoke in September 2020. Watching K 88 run handsomely certainly brought back memories.

                                       `Washington' in September 2020

I had written stories about this locomotive in Trains Magazine (twice) Railway Magazine and Japan’s Tetsudo Journal. I had stories in the Press including a front page photo and of course in my own books.

`Washington’ as built in 1877 by the Roger’s Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, United States. K88 and a few others were the first American-built locomotives commissioned for the fledgling New Zealand Railways. The engineer of the Day, Allison D. Smith, considered American designs with bar framing would be more suitable for New Zealand’s less than perfect track. Indeed they were but the more flexible design had them looking flimsy.

Critics of the time – there were many, suggested the American locomotives should have been supplied with glass cases to protect them from the weather.

K 88 and K 87 were first to arrive in Christchurch. They were named after American presidents.   K 87 was `Lincoln.’ A renowned railway journalist of the day, Charles Rous-Martin, thought the Yankee tings were somewhat gaudy with purple wheels and other colourful embellishments.

In time the American locomotives became favourites with drivers. Indeed it was a promotion to go from the clumsy British-built locomotives to the American.

                                Image from Roger's catalogue  

K 88 hauled the first through train from Christchurch to Dunedin (230 miles) on September 6, 1888.  A few years later it inaugurated a so-called crack express, the Kingston Flyer. Then in 1927, along with other worn-out locomotives, `Washington’ was unceremoniously dumped into Southland’s river as embankment protection. Fifty years later someone recalled the whereabouts of the original Kingston Flyer locomotive and it was raised, partly as a prank, from its watery grave. Ashburton man, Bob Anderson, took an interest in the rescued `Washington’ and thought it could be rebuilt to run on the Plains Railway he had helped to create at Tinwald, along a section of the former Mount Somers branch line.

Still dripping muddy water, Washington’ arrived at the   Plains Railway in 1974. Bob Anderson went to work. He worked on the old locomotive mostly at nights having completed his day’s employment as a wool buyer. He mostly worked outside, laboriously dismantling the wreck and finally sorting out what could be re-used. Some parts were recovered from other wrecks – some had to be made. As time went on and progress was evident, others assisted. Finally it looked as if the restoration would happen. And it did. Bob Anderson told me when he was told the restoration of `Washington’ was impossible, he simply replied, `Too late, we have done it.

                              At Plains Railway in 1974

K 88 was first steamed in November 1981 in preparation for the necessary Ministry of Transport boiler test. On the day Bob Anderson had no plans to drive K 88 but decided to give it a go, perhaps spurred on by the television crew who had turned out for the event. A number of cautious runs were made along the station yard. The event was accompanied by much escaping steam.

Then in May 1982, `Washington’ travelled the full 2.5 km length of Plains Railway.

The big event was on November 27, 1982 when Age Old Smoke was re-commissioned. I recall it being a gala occasion. I was accompanied by about 4000 others. The restoration had taken 10, 0000 hours of work over eight years.

                                             Bob Anderson on re-commissioning day

Surprisingly, K 88 was not treated too gently. It made some mainline runs. One was to launch the Monteith’s beer brand. Another was at Weka Pass railway or the filming of the Alfred Hanlon television series.

Then in 1987 Bob Anderson died. And so did K 88 when it failed miserably a regular boiler test.  The inspector’s small hammer went through metal firebox sheeting.

John French, a long-time friend of Bob Anderson took over the second restoration. This time he went for a new boiler, firebox and smokebox. The work was provided by local firm, Lyttelton engineering. John French told me the second restoration would have K 88 good for another 100 years.

I intervened John French, as I had Bob Anderson previously. We chatted as we sat around old K 88 one afternoon in 2002. K 88 was in the shed. It was not quite finished. A few weeks later, John French called and invited me to photograph the locomotive in action. I had arranged to write a story for Japan’s Tetsudo (Railway) Journal. I got my images as we negotiated to entire line. My favourite location was amongst the pine trees at the end of the Plains Railway.

                                 John French in 2002

                                     John French driving `Washington' restoration 2. loved the purple wheels

 Interesting were the outlandish colours. John French had followed the colours as described by Charles Rous-Martin. He had seen K 88 when it had arrived in Christchurch in 1878. The purple wheels were amazing. Some of the gaudy colours have been since toned down a tad. So there it is, Age Old Smoke at age 143 years.

                                `Washington' in a forest

During my recent Plains Railway visit I was able to delightfully reminisce with John French. 

Wednesday, 23 September 2020


Roy’s heroes (with apologies to Clary of Hogan’s)

I might have referred to these people as mentors. My past was formed by many. Heroes seemed appropriate for this line-up. They are contemporary people in my life.

First up is my walking companion, Pat Barcham. We met on the Cashmere bus. Our first conservation had Pat tell me he had just had his 60th birthday. His next comment was, ``I climbed Mount Rolleston at the weekend.’ I likely met Pat previously at a colleague’s function but that bus ride is my vivid first acquaintance. Pat recently commemorated his 86th birthday. So our friendship has spanned 26 years.

                                                                        Pat Barcham when 85

These days we regularly walk from Victoria Park to the Sign of the Kiwi for coffee and a chat. We go up the Harry Ell trail and detour onto a plateau for a great mountain view. We pause at the `Hillary table.’ It is so-called because some years ago I briefly met Ed Hillary there. He was greeting walkers.

                                                             Torlesse from Hillary Table.

In past years Pat and I went mountain goating, mostly above Arthur’s Pass. He chatted a lot about his former climbing companion, Fred Hollows. Stories about Fred were memorable. Pat, himself, is modest. But he did chat about his own alpine achievements – summiting Aoraki Mt Cook six times. Switzerland’s Matterhorn and an Himalayan expedition, searching for the abominable snowman, with Ed Hillary among others.

Conversations are easy to come by. We frequently ask if we could repeat the efforts of years gone by. We would drive to Arthur’s Pass, do our intended climb then drive home. Energetic days. One day we summited Avalanche Peak then traversed a narrow ridge over Mt. Lyell, then to Bealey where we arrived at 6 pm. luckily it was daylight saving, so no issues in descending to the township. We had also climbed on the Torlesse Range (Castle Hill Peak) bordering the Canterbury Plains.

Next up is the Very Reverend Lawrence Kimberley, dean of the Anglican Transitional Cathedral. A pleasant person, Lawrence is a keen supporter of the New Zealand World Peace Bell. He willing contributes to our many events. I look forward to his viewpoint. At an UN Holocaust Day event where many speakers recalled difficulties growing up Jewish, Lawrence Kimberley spoke of the Christian view where we are all created by God. Therefore we are equal and have no need to get involved in conflicts as Jewish people infamously did. I was impressed, so when I invited him to participate in our Hiroshima Day – 75 years on commemoration I challenged him to speak about the Hiroshima bombing from a Christian point of view. 

Dean Lawrence Kimberley

Again, he was perceptive. He said the principal religions say we are created in the image of God. It is when we lose sight of that, we can get into violent conflict. He went on to say people, frequently from different countries, look different from ourselves. We need to respect different cultures and understand them in an effort to exist in harmony. He frequently appears to be speaking personally rather than presenting an Anglican Church view. A little over a year ago I had a short hospital stay owing to a ``small’’ stroke. A woman in the ward introduced herself as a hospital chaplain. Could she chat to me?  I agreed stating, ``I am a lapsed Anglican. I went on to tell her I knew the Anglican Dean, Lawrence Kimberley, quite well and how he supports the New Zealand World Peace Bell. She wanted to know about the world peace bell so we had quite a conversation about that. She was interested.

She then told me she represented the Church of England. She then told me, ``I don’t think you are a lapsed Anglican.’’ I felt good about that.

Finally here I include my nephew, Chris Sinclair. Or ``Crazy Chris’’ as one of his bike mechanics confided. Chris is an avid mountain biker. If he crashes and breaks a bone, that’s acceptable. If he breaks his bike, that’s not.

                                                                            Chris Sinclair

Years ago Chris was working towards an engineering degree. It wasn’t going well. He concluded his future would be working as a teacher, something that didn’t appeal. His parents were teachers.

``Two teachers in the family were enough,’’ he reasoned. So he followed an interest in music recording. It was new at the time offered an uncertain career–as his father relentlessly pointed out. A shift to Glasgow in Scotland (his wife’s home) had him involved with sound mixing for movies and television productions. The technical aspects challenged but he mostly enjoyed the creative side of the occupation.

Returning to live in Christchurch, he continued his film work, creating his own studio. With director, Gerard Smythe, his worked on ``When a City Falls,’’ about the 2010/2011 Canterbury earthquakes.  I saw the movie in a small theatre in Picton and strained my eyes so as not to miss his name in the credits. Turned out Chris Sinclair was in large type so I couldn’t miss it. He became involved in many more projects, including a well-received documentary about motor racing legend, Bruce McLaren. More recently, his contacts had him sound mixer for the BBC television production, Luminaries, based on the Booker Prize winning book by Eleanor Catton. Chris reported a difficulty in placing microphones in the necessarily flamboyant costumes. Voices were muffled and had to compete with the sounds of boisterous insects, crickets in particular.

Life continues with Chris saying he is ``insanely’’ busy. He has two ambitious daughters. Lauryn Sinclair, studying Political Science and International Relations at University of Canterbury, has worked with refugees and asylum seekers and champions their causes. She is also familiar with Humanitarian Law. She wrote a recent story critical of the British Government breaking international law when stopping refugees reaching Britain. It came to a head when a Sudanese boy, aged 10, died when attempting to cross the English Channel.

I will invite Lauryn as a special guest to ring the New Zealand World Peace Bell. I suspect I might be Lauryn’s great uncle?

                                                          NZ. World Peace Bell



Sunday, 16 August 2020


Remembering Hiroshima 75 years on

I have a small number of achievements in which I feel a genuine pride.  Topping the not so long list is having a World Peace Bell gifted to New Zealand, from Japan, in 2004. It is a prominent feature in Christchurch Botanic Gardens. We always remember Hiroshima Day on August 6. We ring the bell at the time (8.15 am Japan time) when the first Atomic bomb was used in armed conflict. Three days later the United States dropped a second Atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Both events claimed a combined 250,000 casualties, mostly civilians. Half died instantly. The rest died over time from shocking injury and/or radiation sickness.

This year the event brought out about 100 peace supporters.

We had hoped to have Hiroshima survivor, James Morikawa, with us. Covid-19 travel restrictions  made that impossible. James was to be sponsored by Mazda NZ for whom he had once worked.

Instead James wrote a message that was read by Sarina Mackey, a 13-year student at an Auckland Diocesan school. . She travelled to Christchurch with her Grandfather Allan Mackey, a long-time friend of Morikawa-san. Sarina is part Japanese. Her parents, Tim and Risa, live in Tokyo. Tim is Allan Mackey’s son. His wife Risa, is Japanese.

We displayed a photograph of James Morikawa as a boy picnicking with his family under a cherry tree about seven months after the Hiroshima bombing.

                                                         James is the boy with the cap

Sarina was asked to ring the bell at the appointed time. Then, reading Morikawa’s address which she had helped to translate, she was a busy young lady.

                                                                 Sarina Mackey

We had a commendable line-up of speakers. Japanese Consular David Tsunakake, made a point of saying 75 years’s on there was no ill-felling towards Americans.

                                                           David Tsunakake, Japan Consular

Councillor, Melanie Coker, spoke on behalf of Christchurch City Council.

Anglican Dean, the Very Reverend Lawrence Kimberley, spoke about Hiroshima and Nagasaki from a Christian viewpoint. He quoted Blessed are the Peacemakers from the Sermon on the Mount and that, along with other religions, we believe we are created in the image of God. It is when we lose sight of that we can get involved in conflict. Conflict is also triggered as a result of not accepting some people who look different and are different from us. . We are challenged to treat such people with the respect they deserve.

                                                      Very Reverend, Lawrence Kimberley

Allan Mackey gave an impromptu address outlining his association with Japan and particularly his friendship with James Morikawa. He also said the Mazda sponsorship of the Hiroshima survivor will stand if he is able to visit New Zealand next year. A group of us chatted over coffee after the event in the warmth of the nearby Ilex Centre café.

                                                          Allan Mackey

Allan and Sarina Mackey said they enjoyed visiting the New Zealand World Peace Bell and expressed interest in returning in August 2021.

                                                  New Zealand World Peace Bell