Sunday, June 19, 2011

JET Pre-departure Orientation from the other side

As a member of one's local JET Alumni Association one is sometimes asked to help out with JET promotion events, JET orientation events and such like.

This past week I ran into the local JETAA president at the meeting of another Japan related organisation that we both belong to. Having established that orientation was this weekend and that eating might be occurring afterwards (eating!!!! I am always up for eating!), I asked him if they needed any extras for it. Well! As luck would have it another person had had to pull out at the last minute and would it be ok if I helped him with his section. No problem man!

It turned out to be a lot of fun, both the eating and the orientating. It was quite the trip down memory lane and a really fun day in the end. Of course, it culminated in Karaoke! I haven't sung like that in ages.

I am really excited for the new JETs beginning their journey. It feels like only yesterday that was me sitting where they were sitting asking questions etc. They all seem so excited.

I'm so glad that I was given the opportunity to help out.

Oh and for those that want to know where good Japanese food is in Auckland, try Don (丼) on High Street in the central city, the duty manager's name on the sign might be Korean but I swear to goodness that that place has authentic Japanese staff and food! Nom nom!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

OK I'ma say it!!!

This has nothing to do with my travels, my studies or my travel plans but I am annoyed!

I am today studying in Starbucks. Getting some s*** done for my masters course work right?
The fact that I even got admitted into a masters course puts me on a level of intelligence that is not beyond most people but that appears to be recently.

In my time studying at a Starbucks in the suburb next to the suburb of Auckland that I grew up in I have made some observations. You know, as a good scientist with an interest in human behaviour and community policy does, observes the world around them. Good scientist, listen, eavesdrop, observe, pretend like I am working etc etc etc etc etc etc... blah blah blah.

Aaaanyway, yesterday there was a couple here, in their 40s on a date. A date during the day, most probably because both had children from another relationship. They were hiding the fact that they were on a date from their kids. They sounded like they wanted to do right by them. I didn't catch the full story of their split ups though.

Then! Today, there was a pair of women having coffee, both were about my age, both had babies ranging between 3 and 9 months old, BOTH were single!!!! One left her guy because everything changed once baby boy came along. Umm duh! If you didn't know that before you had unprotected sex then you probably do not want to know what I am thinking right now.

Since when has it been ok for couples to not raise the baby that they clearly had a lot of fun making together? Since when has it been ok for a woman to not let her imprisoned ex-boyfriend (?) find out about their child's milestones? Since when is it ok for a woman to cheat on her man, then go out for dinner with the other guy the day after they break up despite having a child? Since when did communities cease to care whether or not the next generation is raised with a moral compass?


We hear all this stuff in the media lately about rich kids and their booze and their drugs at a prominent Auckland high school and kids dying etc. Is that because the parents have no time for them?

A community raises a child.

A community should give a damn about our kids.

Our kids are dying either at the hands of their parents, or at the hands of drugs, be they legal (ahem Kronic) or otherwise.

We need to set an example for them. We need to make things work. We need to show them how a good citizen is supposed to behave.

For goodness sake, if you want a kid make sure you pick a partner who wants you FOREVER first and foremost. Then make sure they wants you to have a baby with them. Not the other way around.

Make sure they are going to stay.

Make sure they are going to have a respectable job and not end up in the clink.

Make sure you are going to raise that kid TO-GETH-ER!

I am sick of the me me me BS that this world seems to think is ok.

It is not ok to want a human doll to play with and then to not stay with the other half of the fertilization process just because "everything changed when the baby was born". It is just not ok.

I don't know when society is going to wake up but watch out if I ever get put in charge of social development because I'ma come out guns blazing. None of this is ok!

Neither is me neglecting my study so off I go.

Rant over! (For now!)

Post script: My friend just pointed out that we shouldn't need to be having this conversation. Too true sister but it is a fact of life. Now, what to do about it without sounding like a condescending bitch face?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hototiu, The Train Taniwha

Right, so, I am annoyed this morning. I have been hearing and seeing a lot of culturally insensitive people, some who aren't even Aucklanders jumping up and down about the Taniwha that is guardian over the creek that runs underneath Auckland's Queen Street.

Taniwha = mythical creature that protects its domain's Mauri.

Mauri = Life force/spirit. It can be added to or it can be subtracted from. Things that subtract from Mauri are things that disrupt the natural balance.

Kaitiaki = guardian. Maori are kaitiaki over their lands, people and gods. The land is kaitiaki over the Maori, animals and plants who live upon it. The gods are kaitiaki over everything.

The taniwha, to my understanding, is a lower level god.

The "T-bomb" was dropped at the Auckland Council this week. The "T-bomb" that could stop Auckland's rail link from going ahead. I don't mind, it won't get all the way out to where my parents live anyway so why waste my rates on it. But it does affect those who live closer in and may use it.

What I want to point out is that people are ridiculing someone else's belief system. One that was perfectly fine until us white fullas came along and ruined it because we thought that our ideas are better. The land was fine, it was productive, birds sang and there was plenty of food to go around. Possums didn't eat the native foliage and stoats didn't eat the Kiwis that ran around in the bushes in the cute way that they do.

This taniwha was NOT the government's idea. In fact, certain Maori MPs who are part of the government have been making jokes about it on Twitter all of the last 2 days. I don't think it's a government stalling tactic at all and would have said the same thing if I stood on the other side of the political "fence" (bahaha what fence?!).

I want to point out that this member of the Maori Board (or whatever it is it is being called, Auckland Council still confuses me, doing my local government policy assignment on the Waikato for that reason) is asking a valid question. Have you considered the spiritual protector of the land? Have you considered its Mauri? Have you thought about how you are going to minimise Environmental Impact? If you have not, you'd better do it again because like it or not it's in the Resource Management Act that all factors, especially those relating to the Treaty of Waitangi should be considered and a full environmental impact assessment undertaken. What he is getting at is that perhaps full consultation was not undertaken and whether or not that is legally ok is beside the point, is it morally unquestionable? I don't know.

Suffice to say that whilst I did initially laugh at the taniwha that lives in the Auckland CBD, I am not going to ridicule it because even though it's not my belief, it is someone else's and we live in a multicultural society where, at least I thought, it is part of our collective culture to respect other people's beliefs.