Features Australia

Kiwi cargo cult

14 October 2017

9:00 AM

14 October 2017

9:00 AM

Driving south from Auckland you might well ask why the big volcanoes are spread all over the North Island unlike the mud pools and geysers which are grouped together around Rotorua and Taupo, much more convenient from a time-saving, fuel-efficiency point of view. Most of the small volcanoes are within a lava blast of each other. Scattered over the face of Auckland like an adolescent’s acne, they are now dormant and provide the sweeping views that many desire but few can afford.

The large volcanoes, however, started out together as a medium-sized family of maybe half a dozen cones. Then two brother cones, Tongariro and Taranaki, fought over Ruapehu, a beautiful female crater. Taranaki lost out and retreated towards the Tasman, creating the Wanganui River. The notion that a bunch of disputatious mountain gods hooned around like bikie gangs is one of a number of Maori myths that set out to explain how the volcanoes got to be where they are today. This mythology is now to be merged with more boring science-based data structures (e.g. geology, volcanology) with the help of NZ$2.8million from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

The following excerpt from Massey University’s successful grant application provides an insight into the thinking behind this extraordinary state largesse that has sent whole communities of sensible people reeling. ‘Maori expert knowledge in relation to our earthly environment and stewardship of the environment offers a potentially powerful pathway leading to revitalisation and reconnection for all New Zealanders…This unique research proposes to bridge not only the science and social science traditions but also proposes to overlay Western science with indigenous knowledge.’

By way of explanation, New Zealand is actually a Melanesian-style cargo cult. Typically originating on islands where American military landed with refrigerators to keep their Coke cold, cargo cults persisted long after the troops departed taking their generators with them but leaving the fridges behind to become objects of worship. Something similar has happened in New Zealand with the internet. The smart phone, its 24/7 worship device, held aloft in the sacrament of the selfie or thumbed silently in tweeted prayer, has itself become an object of worship, godlike (subject to battery life).

In the belief that young people are getting all their news and entertainment off their phones, newspapers and radio stations are now frantically trying to turn themselves into TV channels. Listeners to the taxpayer-funded National Radio are invited to stop listening to an interview with the Prime Minister and instead watch a video of the interview so they can see the interviewer and the PM standing to talk to each other across one of the new-fangled politically-correct sit-stand desks.

The digital cult’s big refrigerator, though, is MBIE. Originally four separate government agencies jammed together by senior National government minister, Steven Joyce, who previously did the same thing with regional radio stations, creating a network which he sold to Izzy Asper’s Canwest for loads of money. Worshippers lining up at MBIE’s grants ATM get access with the passwords ‘digital’ and ‘Maori’. They’re then popped through to the ministry’s Business Growth Agenda which contains a Digital Economy Programme connected to the BGA Building Innovation Report. Bingo! Jackpot!

In other breaking race-based news this week, breakfast show host, Duncan Garner, on his annual expedition to Kmart to buy socks and underpants, finds himself at the back of a long queue for the self-service check out. ‘Could have been anywhere in south-east Asia,’ he splutters in the column he gets to write by dint of being a TV celeb and therefore semi-literate. Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Syrians, you name it! Population increasing by one every four minutes and 51 seconds!

Naturally he calls for an immediate curb on immigration. Naturally, he’s subject to a torrent of abuse, labelled a ‘racist’ and, for good measure, a ‘white supremacist’. Naturally he takes to Facebook to announce he’s quitting Twitter which he labels ‘a sad little hangout from hell’. Where will this end? Does anybody care?

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