Monday, 30 December 2013

get your gang patch

Get your gang patch.Be one of the new outlaws-a free person.Hand cut from wood and hand printed with honesty on heavy recycled paper with genuine muscles and hands. Only $30 which includes packaging in a cardboard tube and postage.(Or $20 from me directly)T-shirts coming soon;watch this blog
No swindles, no hidden costs, no gst

Sunday, 29 December 2013

another reason why we need help

Seen at a unnamed school. It's an art project. You gotta have sympathy for the teachers too.
 Its what computers were invented for.

Monday, 9 December 2013

I invite you to the Art Nature Retreat,Sixtus Lodge, Ruahine ranges 10th Jan-14th Jan 2014

Art Nature Retreat Sixtus Lodge, Ruahine Range      
Friday 10th - Monday 14th January
Guided by artist and tutor Duncan Hill
Cost: $300- 3 nights accommodation with fresh, delicious meals prepared on site
          Earlybird cost: $270 (paid in full before 14th December)
For artists who have begun their creative journey and want to extend or deepen their confidence and competence, who love nature and the outdoors and who want time to get into art without interruption-a three day creative 'workshop' in the foothills of the pristine and magnificent Ruahine mountain range.
It will be a relaxing time to devote to your love of drawing or painting spent with others of like mind and heart.

For an information pack and registration form contact: or phone 06 3637575 cell 0272623666
"I would love you to be there". Duncan

 Check out sixtus lodge online

Thursday, 5 December 2013

To Sir Hans! Visionary of the Grey Lynn Festival

Was up at Grey Lynn for their annual festival created by the awesome Hans who has done this without Council backing, and gained by not having their interference and their protection of the Big Boys who demand that no one else sells anything that will compete with their products. For that I salute you Hans.These are the guys who need public awards; not the ruthless competitive sociopaths with ruined childhood backgrounds who run many of our businesses and get awards for having made lots of dough and/or employing lots of people. I have nothing against making lots of dough-I'm trying to emulate that-I just don't think its worth a Knighthood.
As a result of Hans putting himself forward, a real diversity is experienced at the festival. You see amazing crafts and food.
I was selling my posters up there. I am going to put a photo up shortly so you can see my latest.The other poster is also featured on this blog (go to older posts). Also, hi to you fokes who grabbed my card on your way past, it was great to meet you and i had some real good yaks with you that went straight to the heart. Love you all! Keep it close my brothers and sisters!
Grey Lynn Festival

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Fake Mink Rug

Hi folks
If you have just looked at this for the first time, welcome! So as I was telling you, I do a regular weekly cartoon blog (clog?) called Fake Mink Rug.Here's an example from that blog below. If you scroll back through my posts you will see others.
And so I'm giving you the opportunity of having fun once a week and supporting me in using my talents, Yip, I will send you a cartoon once a week and you can exchange that for a regular micro payment. Many people are enjoying these already. They say they improve their day, make them laugh and look at things from another angle. That's my gift.
Why my cartoons? They will be relevant to your life and also local,national and global events. They wont be censored by larger interests (editorial and corporate). They won't be necessarily green, red, blue, left or right. They might even make you laugh, or at least look at something another way.They will get me drawing and writing which will be greatly beneficial to my mental well-being, my family's well-being, and yours. Basically, if you pay, I can do what I'm good at, and you get the service. And the satisfaction of knowing you helped get the cartoons out and supported the artist to do so.

It is an arrangement built on trust (what the?) so its up to you what you do with the cartoon once you have it. If you forward it,perhaps you could forward the deal you have and give them a chance to pay for what they get also? I'm also hoping that you won't print it where someone makes something out of it, but not me.
You can decide to pay or not
If you have already seen some of my work you may want to sign up now. Its best to make a monthly donation from your account as an automatic payment. This will minimize transaction charges. Alternatively you could make a lump yearly payment for 52 cartoons.
(Other payment systems like PayPal make micro payments expensive because there is a bank charge for each automatic payment)

Suggested payment options:          
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Free for 1 month (yes that is an option!)

I'm thinking of you personally as I type this. 

Just click here
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School bullying

Friday, 22 November 2013

Love yourself now!

I want to encourage you to keep the faith.That means staying true to loving you.The only constant unconditional loving presence is by you and for you.You must stop judging, which means relinquishing the power you have given your mind.You may be adored by many others and mistake that for love, you may be loved by only one other, and mistake that for love-you will know if it is taken away.
 Some call this practice being loved by God.It is the same thing-this 'knowledge', which is experienced, and the unrelenting refusal to believe the accumulated thoughts of criticism, comparison and judgement of yourself.You will need bravery for the task as the world wants you to judge and condemn and punish; and we do it to others and by proxy, ourselves.
Yes, if you want to think this way there is plenty of evidence to condemn yourself and the entire mass of humanity.And we have been practicing since we were born; mentored by adults into this way of thinking.
Self love needs practice. It is a worthy and noble path which is open to you.You can begin today.
More on this soon
With love
Duncan .

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Yes I really have updated my photo!

Big news-I've updated my photo! Stop the world!
Yours sincerely
ps I joined Linked In-why? Cause I'm a sucker and there just seemed to be so many possibilities out know the thing; keeps you hanging on....... Anyway I keep getting emails saying there is a job for me as CEO of a major pharmaceutical enterprise or Team Leader in Systems Analysis which sounds more like a punchline than a job title.How are they matching me? I wrote that I was a major human resource and some other tripe but the computer wasn't put off. Cometh the time; cometh the man.
pps I havent really updated my photo. But I'll keep you posted on that one-I'm sure you cant wait!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Hello from the volcano

Hi tena koutou.
Yesterday Alice Ina Toby and I went for a trip to our nearby volcano. Mt Ruapehu to check out a summer route to the summit. Apologies for my sunbloc smeared face. Its a little more personal hello to you so we can build things eh.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

No one wants to know about bullying

Everyone is perhaps too busy implementing 'programmes' to have time to learn about the cause of bullying.
The stark reality that our institutions are bolstering a cultural belief in 'get want you want by force', replicating a belief that goes from the bottom to the top of our triangle structure of every institution of society, including most families and most if not all schools- the powerless at the bottom and the powerful at the top. It occurs to me that children have no power; power in a real sense of ability to call into their lives a sense of direction, autonomous freedom to make choices, the ability to protect themselves against assault physically emotionally or sexually.Some cultures which have a top heavy structure are particularly ingrained in abuse. Polynesian cultures divest considerable power in the top and can reign absolutely over their societies. Churches used to exercise similar privelages and therefore abuses.Many still do. They all attract those leaders who do not experience themselves as powerful and who are magnetised into getting their  needs met at others' expense.
The children who find themselves in these organisations are repressed and suppressed by machinations of torn loyalty, secret 'don't tell' pacts, fear of reprisal, shame and guilt-most of which are not innate but created at birth and nurtured through messages overt and subtle as they grow up.Abused children have no union, no support network, no value enshrined in law. They aren't as well protected as pets-the organisations that look after animals are not snowed under by over  20,000 cases a year (current stats of reported abuse in NZ)
They belong to a toxic organisation called the family, which guarantees secrecy from prying eyes and anyone who might care.
We want to make noises because we feel bad about it happening. But we aren't going to examine our means of support, our jobs, our professions. I understand this process- why would you look at something that might mean change or even redundancy? This is a self preserving aspect of human society.

We need honesty and courage to face some realities- such as it's us that have built the bullying platform where this behavior thrives.We don't need punishment, we need change.

I can well remember my time in the staffroom discussing an oft picked -on student. " Well he has got a mouth on him/her".was the refrain. That's why they got picked on- because they gave someone cheek. In my observations, the bullied child tries to defend themselves, and why wouldn't they? Do we expect to be assaulted or worse, excluded, and be silent? This is not a dispute  and everyone knows it. These children are ritually put through suffering at the hands of their antagonists.
As yet I've had no replies to my requests to talk with either the Manawatu Standard or The Children's Commissioner (see my last post).They have received my letters and acknowledged that and told me they would get back to me.I'm skeptical but hopeful they will kia kaha.

Post script: I apologise to those children in my care that I didn't back them enough and go into a blind rage or publicly resign on that staffroom conversation alone. I apologise to the students I witnessed being bullied at school when I was growing up, and who didn't get my support (except weakly).

Monday, 23 September 2013

Letter to David Rutherford, NZ Human Rights Commissioner about bullying

David kia ora, nga mihi to you
Having listened to the article on National radio yesterday Monday 23rd here I am compelled to respond.Something you wont like to hear is that the Education System at primary and secondary level is a bullying system, indeed it models it and makes a fertile environment for bullying.If we take Victoria University's Vanessa Green's  description that bullying is about a power imbalance and that it is 'regular', then this fits the teaching profession. In schools,you (a teacher)tell others what they are to work on,when to sit, stand, eat, be tested.When the child resists because they want more freedom or dont want to do whats asked you call him or her 'disobedient' or 'defiant' Then coercion is quickly replaced by force.You then exclude them from rewards such as their freedom or punishments (In my day the cane) or by constant montoring of their attendance etc.How different of this is  from bullying in the peer to peer context?

An overlooked reason why its so prevalent is because the system is creating it.
 I am a trained teacher - recently exiting myself from this system after my involvement for20 years; in part because because it is one that models power imbalances and creates bullying.
I encourage you to read more on the subject and withhold any judgement that I could be so wrong. It seems incredible I know; to question  something as readily accepted as being a model of human behaviour and just a part of life as the primary/ secondary system are.

Bullying also happens when you lump together (by force) one agegroup.In my experience of teaching, and backed up by my research from other experts in the education field, when you have a more natural social grouping you mitigate against bullying. I can give a concrete examples from my experience an area school where the form class was year 9-13, the accidental influence of older youth on younger classes of school children at a state secondary school, to the almost absence of bullying in homeschooled social situations (my children are homeschooled)
Of course we cant single out the school system as the 'cause'-you are right in you analysis that it  reaches deep into out culture. School is a part of this culture.We believe violence and force are legitimate problem solvers and ways of getting what we want.

I only want to point out that the problem is in part created by the people who are being expected to solve it.
Its not just my thoughts.Read California 's ex teacher of the year 1999 John Taylor Gatto and others..

Opening this up will create havoc and defensiveness,and in my experience will not make it to the popular media. We hesitate to question the unquestionable-that the school system is fundamentally flawed and fosters a bullying environment

In a brilliant repaste, national radio this morning held up educator Yong Zhao .He talked about the educational environment that looks to the present situation and the future.He used words like entreprenuership, creativity, empathy when describing the new system yet to be realised. The chicken coop we call schooling is going to disappear, and- when we relinquish our addiction to problem -solving and meeting our needs through violence- with it much of bullying.
I am happy to engage in this debate.I look forward to venues and opportunities to discuss and listen.
As for the solution? Well that's to be negotiated, surely. The first step is to recognise the illness without blame, judgement and retribution!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Communicating betterer; beginning a language of life

I had an unfortunate conversation with my neighbour  over a period of the last 2 days. Their stock animals have been grazing on our land in full view of their house. Over the years I have noted that they never take them off until we complain. So I communicate this and the reasons why we need the grass; or alternatively if we want to share or enter into some kind of arrangement,then lets do so.At the moment its a bit one-sided.
This is a typical farm neighbour situation-trouble over the fencing of stock. The neighbour is so aggressive I have chosen to put notes in the mailbox-a point which I expressed some regret and hope that we could be able to at least talk in the future.
I get a letter back which begins with "You're a liar!" and ends with"So shut up!" It is full of past resentments (the neighbour unsurprisingly has cancer), judgements,  defensiveness. I don't want to go into the details of it; it isn't my point.
I'm disappointed at the way that  we as a culture communicate.I have, in the last 2 and a half years been involved in overhauling my own language, and adopting a new one. Like many old habits, they can be hard to break. The new way cuts out judgement, criticism, put downs etc, and instead asks one to look at feelings and the underlying needs, wants and values that aren't being met. It goes further, to asking oneself and others for something which might help fulfill that need, value or want. The languages intention is to connect with others in a real, deep and human way.
This 'language of life' asserts that negative feelings (such as fear, guilt, anger etc) arise from unmet parts of our lives.And on the other hand, positive feelings(such as joy, peace and excitement) arise from these 'needs' being met.
It is profound and it works. It doesn't work in the currently popular means of getting your needs met at the expense of others- the tough love approach pervading our parenting meetings and schools. The fallout from that is silent resentment, depression, acting out of fear, shame or guilt. It has an unsatisfied party in the conversation.It breaks down connection between people. It also teaches bullying behaviour ie the getting ones demands met by coercion, creating fear and using force. You can see the results of this on the world stage as a country awakes, angry, and rids itself of a dictator.Rather it assumes the worth of the people involved in communicating. It assumes that getting what you want doesn't mean that the other doesn't get what they want.
I'm a fan.Its creator says it embodies spiritual values most of us subscribe to: loving your neighbour as yourself, peace, trust, compassion and so on They always struck me as great words, but how to put them into action-how to 'do' love- was missing. Also I'm programmed to start blaming, judging, criticising,comparing and that's hard to shift.I was bought up with it at home, school and the greater world.
I have successfully used this new language in the classroom, at home and with my family and friends. Dont worry, I still sound like me-you won't need an interpreter. But you and I may feel quite different during and at the end of our conversation.
This isnt an advertorial, but if you want to look at it more there are ways to learn it. Have a look at

Monday, 2 September 2013

Getting rid of teaching as a profession and replacing it with something better

I'd like to propose getting rid of the teaching profession. Let me explain why. T begin with lets ask the question what is a teacher? Surely an exponent or a master involved with the people who want to gain some of the same skills or knowledge. But that's not what we think of when we think of the teaching 'profession'.It has become a stand alone job, like plumber or accountant.And most teachers are not actively involved in their field We imagine it has skills and knowledge of its craft; in reality it doesn't have any.Except perhaps the art of communication; but that isn't an endemic 'skill'.
Many years ago a friend and teacher said to me "I think we have got teaching and learning mixed up"In the ensuing conversation she described this trick of the mind-she thought that they were different things. I thought that the problem was you didin't have to have a teacher to learn, but you could have. You can stand there and 'teach' till you're blue in the face but if you dont have a relationship of the learner wanting what you have, and them seeing the difference it made in your life then "moumou taima" as Maori say, "waste of time". I never once heard this said at training college.
So I'm proposing the ending of teaching as a career as it stands now. Instead, we will have exponents or masters in their field engaging with eager learners.The exponents will need to be practicioners.Current teachers will need to become exponents.Most teachers I know crave the chance to practice their field, but cannot due to the farming mentality of the education system and all- or- nothing employment strictures- too busy, too many students, no time etc
I'm all for decentralising 'education' and bringing into the sphere of normal life-making the links between what we are good at, what we do, and the people that want to do what we do, and can see the difference it makes in our lives. eg joy,contentment, money- and fostering a tangible felt experience of  participation, accomplishment, belonging, competence and mutuality.
I also propose that resources formerly used in schools(funds, equipment etc) be distributed to the places where the masters work from to allow them the training of their students.
Its really reinventing the wheel-its the way its always been done. A friend of mine's eyes lit up when I was talking with them  about this. "Oh like an apprenticeship!" Exactly.
But don't think just trades here. Think services, arts, sports, food growers, ministries, speakers, clothing makers,healers etc

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Chemical weapons

Sign up for my cartoon blog weekly newsletter Fake Mink Rug at Fake Mink Rug
Its free or open to a donation or regular payment.Have a look at my blog below
" My new Clog, Fake Mink Rug" as it has a bit more about it.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Truancy Shmooancy

There was a front page article in a recent newspaper The Manawatu Standard about a truancy officer who is cleaning up Feilding by getting kids back to to read article
In their zeal to make children's lives better (questionable!) they are riding roughshod over the rights and needs of homeschooled children.They are doing the same thing in Levin and (I'm not sure, Palmerston North?)
I wrote a letter to Talia Shadwell,the Education correspondent for the Manawatu Standard asking for an opportunity to get together and to point out a different side of the argument
Heres what I wrote:

 Hi Talia
I read your front page article on truancy.Wanted to know if you wanted to expand the debate. One little known aspect is that homeschooled children are being approached on the street and questioned-enough for my homeschooled daughter to not even venture out during school hours. No one considered their story; and there are more than a few homeschoolers in this region-its more like in the hundreds in the Manawatu Horowhena.I also include a  post on truancy from my blog for your information at.
Ok hopefully you will be interested.
With regards
Duncan Hill

No response. So if you could write to her asking to reconsider it may bring about a response

17th September update: Talia Shadwell has left the job so I've made some intial contact with the new Education reporter Lucy Townend, Let you all know how I get on.

Friday, 16 August 2013

GCSB protest poster

As a part of the protest against the proposed changes to the law,I did this woodcut poster. Its carved by hand and printed by hand to show that people really have a big gripe about this-and this is 'people art' at its roots.Printed on hard wearing recycled Kraft paper 190gram (that means like light card) I loved doing it, I am going to do more. So spread the word, pass it on. They are available from me for $20 signed. plus $5.90 postage in a cardboard tube anywhere in NZ. I can do more than 10 for $15 each. Its a work of art in its own right for your wall, but equally needs to go on your local building or workplace to stop this insanity!

Monday, 5 August 2013

The Origin of the title Fake Mink Rug

Fake Mink Rug-the name of my Clog- came from a funny and informative conversation with Thomas, a German 'woofer' (WOOF-Workers On Organic Farms) staying with us.He introduced me to the cool German idea of compound nouns (I believe compound verbs are used also) which allow very specific words to be made by joining words to nuance the meaning in a very detailed, sic German, precise way.
Here's an extreme example, which even the Germans are finding tiresome and unwieldly:
which means "regulation governing the delegation of authority pertaining to land conveyance permissions"
Anyway I was asking someone in my family to put away the Fake Mink Rug-when I heard Thomas titter.And when I asked him what was so funny he said it sounded like one of these German 'tapeworm' words.I guess it should really be Fakeminkrug to be consistent.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Day 1 Phakdingma, Roma, celibacy

Its here at Phakdingma  we meet the incandescent Roma, who looks like she has just completed her look-at-me run around the bays in Auckland.Indeed she is a Kiwi, making excuses for living in Australia as we are prone to doing.She is sitting outside in the sun, reflecting on her blizzard un-view of Mt Everest but seemingly happy about it all. She reinforces my view; to not make the top my goal; to be in every moment. But I'd still like to get to Base Camp,3,000 metres above us.
So we think if Roma can make it maybe I can. She also talks about seeing old and overweight folk right up there at base camp, and fit young things crapping out.High expectations and feeling good at the start mean you try to ascend too quickly, with the result being you get sick. I develop anecdotal evidence along the track for my thesis about old and unfit and slow. Being old and unfit slows you down, giving you time to acclimatise.
So after a break, we ascend to two monasteries above the little village of Phakding. I'm feeling a little weird and weak There are no monks here today,just a youngish fellow trying to get the young novices (young boys of about my son Toby's age of 9).The boys are ostensibly cleaning the cold hard stone floor of the main hall, but more interested in beating up the softer boy. I am tempted to intervene; I say aloud why are you all picking on that boy,he doesnt look like he is enjoying it.The boys look startled; they look at me a little quizzically and they are interrupted from their 'fun'. I think they get what I am saying.

Gomba (monastery) above Phakdingma, viwed from the higher monastery

The inner of the same  monastery. Check out those flagstones on the floor and then think no power tools or lifting gear except your arms and back

 We then leave the monastery, and Phinjo signals upward.He is acclimatising us. By going quickly higher, then descending makes acclimatising to high altitude easier. We are amazed at these buildings high up with no flat land.At some time (I wish I knew when) alot of people who were very strong in mind and body hauled blocks of stone, which were themselves cut by hand, up here. Ok its seems like a game: higher and more tenuous wins Buddhas attention.
When I stayed at a monastery in my twenties, it was a sort of  status marker and coming of age for a monastery to establish a 'daughter house'. It made you solid in your intial foundation.
The even higher sub- monastery-perhaps it is a hermitage is deserted. At least except for an old lady who
appears from one of the lodgings. Phinjo says she is the  house keeper attached to the monastery. She is busy hard out texting on her phone.
We see another old kuia below. She is carrying a load of mulch on her back. She starts waving, pointing, gesticulating and shouting. We get a bit scared. Have we transgressed?Have we gone the wrong way? Is she shooing us away? I do the same back,waving and shouting.We speed up,anxious not to cross paths but trying to remain nonchalant about it. I mean,we are 5 big men.After a while we realise she seems to be enjoying it
The old lady who is waving,pointing, shouting at us
On our way down we discuss celibacy, living in a monastery. The guys cant get their heads around it,All they can see is loss of this, loss of that. This life is anathema to the Western mind.Where we come from its all about desire,achievement, competing. I'm in with the monks inner world. I have experienced and continue to experience great harmony and serene joy in the present, wherever I find myself..

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Day 1 to Phakding Part 2

The first thing that strikes you about this place,and is soon to be amplified, is the scale of this place. Compared to my New Zealand, everything is huge-valleys,rivers,mountains. The two porters  have appeared from nowhere and are strapping our packs together. Yes, we are walking with a day pack and they are carrying 3 packs each. The kiwi in me is uncomfortable; he is quoting fairness and physical prowess from my shoulder.We realise later that Phinjo had meant to tell us that we should limit our pack weight to 15kg. Dave has enough clothes to cover a Nepalese family. (Later we also try to jetison the load but Phinjo makes it hard,saying "no problem" when we look pained at the massive load hiding the diminutive sherpa porter.
The trail right up the valley has been made by the locals-when I don't know. Large parts of it are flagstones laid by hand.Its easy going for walking and allows your eye to wander.
We have our first encounter with animal trains that ply the route up and down the valley. Donkeys seem to dominate down low. Every animal seems to have a bell around its neck which i first thought was cute and then saw it as torture for the poor animal (and us humans).I'm struggling in myself to be here as I encountered some unexpected expenses and got bailed out by by Dave.
We get easily to Phakding, a lovely small group of marble block buildings 2-3 hours from Lukla.We rest and then take a hike several hundred metres up a steep hill to a monastery above us. You get a feel for the enormous challenge of building something up here. Why did people inhabit these barely liveable outposts such as the polar regions and here? One thought I had was that they would be left alone-there were no resources over which to fight. Its hard,but damn sight easier than the constant threat of ransacking that may have faced peoples on lower,warmer, more fertile land.
From the beginning Phinjo is chanting "Om mani padme hum" (The jewel in the lotus flower?) as we walk, in a lilting sing song fashion.It  reminds me of the rosary chants of my Catholic childhood and no doubt serves to centre oneself,to encourage oneself, and to escape the babbling mind..I am uplifted and carried into this stupendous landscape.
Passing on the left a prayer wheel and ever present reminder of the inscriptions all over the pathways to the Himalaya
"Om mani padme hum"

Friday, 14 June 2013

Cat and stone Buddha-a poem from Katmandhu

Cat and stone Buddha
In the Be
In the courtyard, not accidentally
Buddha is stone still, its
furry Nepalese marble
is not lying,
though reminding me
of still cats
and the capped  uniformed sentry at the gate of the guest house
who nods on my departures and returns

Monday, 10 June 2013

Rascist cartoons and ethnic majority

In NZ, cartoonists (and is no doubt similar in other economies) cartoonists are almost unanimously part of the majority culture-that's why they are employed, because they reflect something in a humorous way to 'the rest of us' which means Eurocentic people.I am amazed, disappointed and saddened that the majority view from 'polls' is that indeed most children in need are in need because of their parents squandering of their resources,uncaring and lazy attitude.This happens to also conform to the Lazurus-like  image of Maori as lazy,uncaring etc. That's why they are poor they say,didn't you realise!
And be careful: this is their perception, not the truth. The truth is all parents want the best for their children, want them to be well fed,want them to prosper and feel happy, safe and confident.I have never met a parent who doesn't want this and I challenge you to find me more that a handful of exceptions.The sad and real outcome is that many are unable to produce it with years,sometimes generations of institutional racism, schooling which favours the majority culture,ways of living,eating socializing and working which do not serve their interests or well being. Which is not to exempt us from the ability we have to make changes.I do not believe in victim culture.either.
But perhaps to recognise that there are very strong forces set in place which make it difficult to even understand that change is possible.

By the way my view (below) of an earlier issue with vaccinating Polynesian and Maori children (a year or two back)  has now been vindicated in a recent pan international study of other peoples studies. Which came to the conclusion that there is indeed a link between infectious diseases and overcrowding. More money wasted on what we already know but haven't the conviction to stand behind.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Day 1 Avoiding crashing at Lukla Airport,Nepal

I thought I might begin this with a little bit about my fellow travellers. I know Dave from the school I used to teach at,Waiopehu College in Levin. He's a teacher there.His son Dan who I met once briefly before we finally got together at Wellington Airport.And Chow,aka Cagatay and later to Dan and me,Chowtang-who hails also from Levin via a long journey from London to Istanbul and then Canada.
I had briefly met Chow at Waitomo caves,on another of Dave's famous Geography trips which i was a helping teacher on.
And Phinjo Sherpa,4 times Everest summiter turned guide. Our relationship went back to my mothers cousin,John Gully,himself a guide. John runs a guided trekking company here and has been in this valley for 25 years. Phinjo is one of his Sherpas,and Phinjo has also climbed with Andrew Hall,the kiwi climber and guide who died in harrowing and sad circumstances protecting a sick client on Chomolongma herself.

Lukla Airport from the concrete wall end (will post a video clip soon as this doesnt look so scary!)

So let's suddenly find ourselves on the plane, minutes before its almost vertical dive in to the Khumbu Valley where one of the most dangerous airports in the world awaits our fate. Lukla airport. Glad to get out of the stinking hole of a city Kathmandu. If ever you need a reason not to create cities then go here,or any other number of cities around  the world.I read in a newspaper article that the government here is annoyed that recent legislation banning and making it illegal to dump rubbish in the streets  has fallen on deaf ears.In fact they were attributing the failure to people not even knowing the laws had been brought in! And I laughed out loud at the thought of policing it.
First glimpses of big peaks. Impossible lone rocks five miles high. Out through the front windscreen this little slab-sided,twin-engined Dornier aircraft, I could see the tarmac zooming in.The big problems with this airport is that 1:it is uphill and 2. it ends in a concrete wall about 6 or 7 metres high (and behind that a hill).3. It is invariably windy and cloudy. It was reasonable day when we arrived,a pattern that was to continue for our whole walk. So we slam into the hard and the passengers cheer. 
"Its a live one!" I shout cheerfully to Dave.
Phinjo tells us with glee that he did not book us to fly on Tara air who had an accident recently in which all 19 people on board were killed. 
Later we were at the airport and Dan witnessed a 'batman' using walking sticks to guide the taxiing plane. I myself saw a guy jumping out of the way of a planes propellers. The 5 planes that can fit on the airport platform are shoe- horned into this space;and they are either all arriving or all leaving.Its nuts-approximately a 5 minute turnaround with passengers,luggage etc. Its like, lets go, the weathers fine!
But never forget,as I said to myself time and time again, that alot of what I see is made for me,a Western tourist(and of late Eastern with the burgeoning middle classes in China and India).
I became aware that the Sherpa people are working for my benefit and that before Europeans' love affair with this place,life must have been very different for these people.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

I went to the Himalaya

I went to the Himalaya recently.I would like to share my diary. I've thought about the value of this for a week since I got back.. I have seen too many time- wasting blogs which tell you moment by moment,someones boring day routine including what they had for breakfast. Don't panic;its not going to be a chronological account of my trip,although that will be the structure around which I will write my thoughts as sort of essays.And a couple of sketches and snaps.
With love and kindness,Duncan
Somewhere up there:from left to right Me,Duncan ,Chow,Dave,Dan

Monday, 20 May 2013

Nah, take a Coldral

Winters coming. A few years back we decided to ‘obey’ nature and hunker down, sit by the fire and take a 2 week holiday at mid -winter. This was in response to getting sick every winter, dragging ourselves through the days, feeling lethargic. One day we realized it wasn’t some moral turpitude and laziness that caused the yearly malaise; it was winter and we were connected to it. Winter is a good time to do inside things. It gives time to reflect; to become conscious. You can gather quite a lot of energy over winter, and by the time spring comes you are ready to move. In our ancestral selves this would have meant prepare gardens etc.
I do remember those years when we slowed everything down; we didn’t get sick or depressed. We sat by the fire, played games,read books, went for walks.
Our society makes no mention of winter in the psychological/spiritual/physiological sense. Inside us, we are connected to this world. That’s why we slow down in winter, it’s why we don’t want to get up in the mornings. If we ‘obey’ nature-ie stop the pretence that we are above it and take a Coldral and soldier on.
 If only our work practices allowed for this we would make massive savings nationally.Even if we all took a holiday for 2 weeks there would be no noticeable effect on GDP and productivity. There would be less colds and flu which attach themselves to a weakened host. In fact there could be a rise in every health indicator as people would feel better having rested with family or in nature, travelling  and so on. I propose calling this time of year Winterswait.
It will become a cultural habit like siesta-it works when everyone does it.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

"No eggs, no egos, no Jesus";a poem for Easter

At Daybreak
I hear the sounds of no forest
And also happy foreign alien birds
Who have invaded that vacant space
A guy is waterblasting his 4X4 in a driveway
With indignation about the risen Christ
And a gut pregnant with Cadbury chocolate eggs

I ask god for modesty and humility
And to remove my ego
And god says there you go again
Wanting, your mind already ahead
Scanning this wasteland for the thing
That will make you complete
You don’t have to become anything

No eggs, no egos,  no Jesus
Just a chicken shed barracks
With steam escaping from cracks in its iron shell

A crucifixion
And then the risen spirits of chooks
white and staring
on my table
for lunch

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Grief and loss and the currents of change

Grief and loss and the currents of change
Sorrow is the outward and inward acknowledgment that something has changed-you lost something..Changes are a part of this life.When you change you lose something.It can be a valued possesion; it can be a loved one;change can be a part of yourself you no longer need.You have to negotiate the new.Birth is our first big change;its a big loss coming from that beautiful place. I think this might be my,and others' difficulties with acceptance came from-when my ability to change was more difficult, which prolonged the cycle of change by holding on to what was lost.This of course is an absurdity; 'holding on' is denying reality-the fact that what we are holding on to has already passed! but we can be left with an abiding sense of anger,sadness and fear as a result of 'holding on. You see this in the refusal to grieve in the movies-when someone will not let go and holds all these feelings inside.This can give us a sense of control over events we did not want ot happen,when we felt bewildered and shocked at the sudden change. I think that this is exacerbated at birth by our practices by which the child is isolated from the comfort of his/her mother and further by violent initiation practices-heel pricks,circumcision,injections etc.This has been backed up by recent studies including a profound article I read in Byron Child magazine by a male researcher with long term difficulties with feelings of depression.
So negotiating change is essentially human,to practice at negotiating the seas of our lives is an art which requires practice! I read an excellent book recently with the (shocking) title of 'Change or Die' by Alan Deutschman The 3 vital things that the author found helped anyone change-this is in a study of organisations and individuals-were:
1: Relate: Talk about it.Get support Break the isolation
2.Repeat. Repetition of an idea,an action,a word-will help you to change
3..Reframe. Seeing the event (or being even willing to entertain the possibility) that this was important for my growth.Looking at things from another perspective.This isn't to be confused with bypassing the feelings or 'getting over it ' or any other form of denial that is currently fashionable.Its what used to be called forgiveness.

Thursday, 21 March 2013


There is alot of stuff in the media at the moment about bullying.My belief (and many others) is: schools cause bullying. Put 25 kids of the same age in a room without their consent as to who they share the space with, and then lord over them with a system called teaching (a bullying system) where you are told where to be,what to do.what to think without your consent -and there you have it.An environment ripe for the phenomenon of bullying.You can guess that the consultants the Ministry of Education uses never ever come up with that in their so called quest to be rid of bullying.
Where you find power structures which have absolute unquestioned authority eg schools,wherever you find an unnatural social order ie without the spread of ages,familial relationships (aunties,grandparents,babies etc) there you will find bullying.
One of my favourite slogans is "Stamp Out Bullying!" haha. Its so revealing of how we try to solve problems in our communities.And so sad.

Iceland is thawing; we are freezing

Ok, I went to hear this guy from Norway Hordur Torfason who was right at the epicentre of Iceland's 2008 "Cutlery Revolution". We went to get ideas about how to react when our own country faces such a crisis. We went to a special private meeting at the Art Museum Hotel which was pretty brief -it wasnt a good place to meet and the Hotel staff politely moved us on. And then to a public talk at the Paramount where about 500 people gathered  to hear the man.He is a very effective speaker and a man on a serious mission-to tell the world about the possibilities of change,the potential of simple human contact.
 It occurred to me that we will have to wait till something really critcal happens here as it did in Iceland-the banks were closed-the country was bankrupt-before we see the changes they have witnessed there. We are still at the stage where life goes on as usual for a significant part of the population; we can still deny these underground seismic shifts.Some clearly cant-there are thousands of people out there in NZ desperate and poor.As someone remarked in a restaurant later "Its just not us".
So any day now that 'event' will come,and surely so will anger and fear and then we will rally and throw them out and create a more fair economic system which will include making the creation of money a government task (instead of bank loan officers as is the present),an overhaul of the banking system,the eradication of interest on loans.I'm really clear on not vilifying the powermongers-we need to recreate our institutions so that they serve us, that's all. This horrible way of doing things in our working lives,the excitement of consumption, the ruthless, competitive and dominating paradigm which infects our schools,religions,families communities and workplace  needs to give way to the enjoyment of meaningful  work,prosperity,participation (in work recreation,decision making, community) respect for our planet which sustains us,the value of a future for all the inhabitants of earth, not just humans.
Red Crater Tongariro Crossing
If you've ever been up in the Tongariro National Park you may have seen these irridescent. lakes.You see all these strange colours and shapes..You see rocks which look like they landed right there some time in the past.I 'animated' the rocks to add to the tension of a volatile landscape.It was painted shortly before the eruptions which closed the Tongariro Crossing walk.If you connect with this painting,why not enquire about buying it? Its around 400mm on the longest edge long (unframed)There's more at

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Give me a "Yo!"

So here we are.Like every one of our ancestors,at a pivotal point in history! Caught in a meaningless world,the old one still hanging on by fingernails.The meaningful are struggling and not getting paid.The meaningful cant get paid for what they do,while the meaningless get paid.
Ronald McDonald is at my 8 year old sons' tryathlon today and doing his show.I hold nothing against this fellow in his red and yellow.I'm pretty sure he would impress apon me the integrity of his job.He didn't appear jaded by it,despite my searching for it in him.But I did feel a shiver of fear at his alien hair and his too happy songs and I'm not sure why he frightens me. I imagined him with a bible or getting really pissed off with the kids not following his "yo!" and his "yay!" and saying "and now its time to die!" That's my fertile imagination-but its also a real perception of the whole dam sham that we prop up with every bit of our dwindling energy. We look around and every body else is waving too;its ok after all. 'They' are going to save us,after all.
I did have a meaningful day yesterday.I spent it killing 2 roosters,dressing them (or should I say undressing),building a new fireplace away from the old one which is prone to flooding in winter; cooking the chicken slowly over the fire,and making a hearty soup from vegetables and herbs in our garden,including a massive parsnip I found.And finally eating it beside the fire. That was about all I did ,but it took all day,on and off.I slept well..If I had grabbed a couple of Big Macs I could have had time to do something else.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Go on, truant!

Break the back of this disease we call school. Its an aberration. Go on get out of there.Run and dont look back.Run into your life.
They have been running a campaign in our local town to rescue truants from certain peril (see my earlier blog) by not serving them in their shops.The jury is out on whether truants,returned to school,are ever the successes one local principle is quoted as calling 'research'. Depends on how you measure success. If you mean they complete their compulsory education,I wouldn't call that a success. Completion of schooling isnt success-. in the same way that lack of war is not peace.I would like to read that research.
Now a little guessing game: Who do you think truants from school? Children from a higher, middle, or low income demographic? Families or parents who are interested or who arent interested? You're right so far. Could we say that they rightly perceive (the truant child and the family) that school offers nothing for them? Is staying at school going to launch them on a career path to law or med school? Something about the whole problem smells of exclusion,privelege and a caste system.
I read an interesting Scottish Study of truancy recently. Its worth a look  I noted that the overwhelming majority of kids in the study wagged because they were bored. I'd imagine the same results would be found here in NZ. So what do we say to that? The idealogues would contend that we have to entertain them with technology to get them 'engaged' in learning;to use eduspeak Their point of view is-it's obviously the kids fault.I would also bet that alot of these children would be the first to say its their fault,that they are lazy or badly behaved.We have The Perfect Society where the victims of shoddy systems are the biggest fans of the system that oppresses them..Natural learners would say let the children decide what they want to do.We did..And it worked.
When I was given the job to watch the gates at school during recess (keeping the inmates from escaping), I was frequently approached by young people begging to be allowed to go to the shop-a 200 metre walk in view of my station. I would engage them,and suggest that they were in a type of jail and that I was given the job of warden. These students were men and women;not children.In the rest of their lives,they were free to go to any retail store, drive a motor vehicle, make decisions about where and who to spend their time with. but for some reason it was considered dangerous for them to pick up a bag of potato chips from the local dairy. I mean,they might run away and never come back! That's ludicrous; the whole town would scoured for them and they would be in trouble from school authorities (and possibly from home).
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Judgement and juryment

Judgement-I'm trying to stop it.Aware that I'm preprogrammed to judge and that my whole culture does it on a daily basis,I'm coming to the conclusion that judging decreases my quality of like (and potentially others).Its like this: You do something 'wrong', you're 'bad'-the feelings are possibly a mixture of guilt,depression and shame.Now that is a mental position-its not a fact-that you are wrong that you are bad etc. So my new position is I feel remorse,I witness the effect of what I did,I refrain from judging myself and others.Instead I feel my feelings,I listen to the feelings of the others in the equation, I learn about how much they valued something which was taken away,destroyed or damaged. I witness that I, too have a value system and how I feel and how this contributed to my course of action. I listen empathetically to myself and give myself a chance to do something different next time. I ask what the person I affected would like me to do differently next time. This is not semantic romantics;it isnt liberal 'touchy feely' claptrap. I've been doing this for a few years now with remarkable success.I have grown closer to others,connected with myself and experienced less shame,anger, guilt, fear and depression.
Judgement needs a perpertrator and, neccessarily, a victim.It just occurred to me that judgement removes personal responsibility.It can entrap both 'victim'and 'perpertrator'.Blame imprisons. How many times have I heard the bitterness in the victim even though the perpertrator is imprisoned.or dead-they've been executed. It doesn't change their stance or feelings.They still feel (or should I say think) themselves wronged.. The other compassionate approach has neither.It frees you because you can actually feel,you can communicate compassionately (with yourself and others).You are in charge of your thoughts and therefore the  feelings which follow them. True, their ingrained nature can make habitual thoughts hard to shift.