Friday, August 01, 2014

Steiner teachers and racism: a tale of two letters

The latest issue of the The Listener  includes a long and sad account by Catherine Woulf of conflicts at Te Ra, a Steiner school on the Kapiti Coast. More than a score of students and six teachers, many of them Maori, have left Te Ra, accusing its administrators and senior teachers of espousing and practicing racism. For some time, kids at Te Ra were forbidden to draw with brown crayons or perform Maori dances, and were told fairy stories from Germany but not Polynesia. When parents complained about the absence of Maoritanga from Te Ra's curriculum, they were told that their culture was 'tribal', and therefore inferior to its European relatives. It was not only Maori culture that was denigrated at Te Ra: parents who told the school's principal about a forthcoming family holiday to Fiji were told not to visit the country, on account of the 'primitive' nature of its people.

After doing a few minutes' belated research on the internet, the disaffected parents of Te Ra realised that Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian mystic who founded the creed of Anthroposophy and an education system in the first decades of the twentieth century, was an ardent racist.

According to Steiner, humanity was divided into a series of races that are more or less spiritually evolved, and skin colour was a sure sign of where a race sat in the evolutionary hierarchy. Dark skin was the mark of a 'child-like negro-soul'; the 'copper skin' of Malayans and some indigenous Americans betrayed a 'decadent soul'; white skin and blonde hair, by contrast, indicated spiritual advancement. As Catherine Woulf notes in her article, Steiner preached that human beings who lived good lives would be reincarnated as members of advanced rather than 'descending' races.
 

The first schools based on Steiner's ideas about education opened their doors during the guru's lifetime. Today New Zealand has about a dozen Steiner kindergartens, primary and secondary schools. Many though by no means all of the teachers at these schools belong to the New Zealand branch of the Anthroposophical Society, the church-like organisation set up in Germany to perpetuate Steiner's ideas after his death.

Te Ra's dissident students, teachers, and parents left the school, and complained to the Ministry of Education, which began an investigation. In a report issued last week the Ministry cleared Te Ra of teaching Steiner's doctrines about race directly to students, but expressed sympathy with Maori feelings of estrangement from the school, and wondered whether the creed of anthroposophy could be reconciled with the Treaty of Waitangi.


A number of Steiner schools have responded to the Ministry of Education's report and Catherine Woulfe's article by issuing statements denouncing racism and promising to eliminate it from their classrooms, but Rosie Simpson, the spokesperson for the federation of Steiner schools in New Zealand, has struck a much more aggressive note.


In a letter published on the Listener's website, Simpson insists that accusations of racism at Steiner schools are 'ridiculous'. Simpson will admit that 'a small number' of Steiner's writings contain racist ideas, but she claims that the 'essence' of his philosophy is 'the opposite of racist'. Today's Steiner teachers are, according to Simpson, paragons of anti-racism.


On the same day that Simpson's confident denials of racism turned up on the Listener's website, though, another important figure in the Steiner schools movement published an epistle of his own in the Otago Daily Times. Colin Rawle is a veteran Steiner teacher who has worked at many of the movement's New Zealand institutions, and is currently attached to Dunedin's school. Rawle is also a long-time member of the New Zealand Anthroposophical Society, and is listed as a Dunedin contact person on the outfit's website.
 

In his letter to the Otago Daily Times, Rawle predicts the imminent extinction of the Maori language, and delights at the prospect. Echoing the words that Steiner used about indigenous peoples like the American Indians, Rawle argues that not only te reo Maori but the whole of Maori culture belongs to an older, more primitive era, and should be left to die. Rawle calls advocates of Maori culture 'malcontents', and warns that 'the old mentality or consciousness' that te reo Maori expresses is 'the very last thing that modern cosmopolitan societies want'. 

This is not the first time Rawle has shared his views on race relations with the Otago Daily Times. In a series of letters over recent years, he has bemaoned the backwardness and ungenerosity of Maori, and hailed the honesty and charity of Pakeha and the British Crown. In a 2012 letter, for instance, he suggested that 'the only proper, rational attitude that Maori can have toward British colonisation is the deepest possible gratitude'. 


In his latest letter to the Otago Daily Times Colin Rawle does not explain which more spiritually evolved people and culture must replace the doomed Maori. In the numerous texts he has published on the internet and in right-wing magazines like Ian Wishart's Investigate, though, Rawle has been more explicit. He believes, like Rudolf Steiner before him, that the pale-skinned peoples of Europe and North America have a superior culture and a special destiny.
 


When Rudolf Steiner wrote his tributes to the genius of the white race nearly a century ago, European ruled most of the world. As the twentieth century wore on, though, a succession of revolutions and wars of national liberation freed huge areas of Africa, Asia, and Oceania from white colonial rule. In New Zealand, the indigenous people whose demise had been confidently predicted at the beginning of the twentieth century staged a cultural and political renaissance in the last decades of the century. 


In an article for Treatygate, the website of John Ansell, Rawle angrily laments the anti-colonial trend of the last hundred years. For him, the Maori renaissance and Africa's anti-apartheid and anti-colonial movements have been part of a plot against white civilisation. Rawle particularly laments the coming of black majority rule to Rhodesia, a country that had been run by a tiny white minority which denied the most basic civil rights to its subjects:

The crime of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, when it was still a success story by any yardstick, was only that it was British/Western-administered and not yet perfect. Therefore, it had to be “liberated” by an alliance of Western Marxist/socialist zealots and racists, who have always been incapable of seeing the potential good in things which were not yet wholly good.

Rawle goes on to offer John Ansell's readers his Steiner-flavoured explanation for the conflicts between Maori and Pakeha that have been such a feature of New Zealand history:
All racial/treaty problems since the time of colonisation can, in large measure be attributed to the great gulf separating democratic European consciousness from tribal consciousness. If the British had understood this they would never have entertained the idea of a treaty with Maori. They would have known that, regardless of whether or not some of their own might transgress it, it would certainly be used, for just as long as tribal mentality remained dominant as a means to gain the advantage.
If, as Rosie Simpson claims, Steiner's contemporary followers are passionate anti-racists, then we might expect them to have blackballed Colin Rawle for his oft-expressed, proudly racist views. Far from censuring Rawle, though, the Steiner movement has happily employed him in its schools. For its part, the Anthroposophical Society has allowed Rawle to publish his arguments in its press. In 2008, for example, Rawle published a rambling two-part article called 'Political Correctness', in which he railed against feminists and leftists as well as Maori, in Sphere, the official magazine of the New Zealand Anthroposophical Society. 
Colin Rawle's letter to the Otago Daily Times mocks Rosie Simpson's claims about the absence of racism in Steiner schools, and reinforces the complaints made by the departed students, teachers, and parents of Te Ra. 

Rawle is not the only member of the Steiner movement to have expressed racist views in print in the past few years. In 2009, for instance, another veteran Steiner educator, Allysen Caris, published an article in Sphere that recycled Steiner's portrait of Africans as child-like creatures, and insisted absurdly that African music and visual arts lack any trace of creativity. The Ministry of Education needs to ignore Rosie Simpson's disingenuous letter and launch a wider investigation of racism in the Steiner schools movement. 
[Posted by Scott Hamilton]

22 Comments:

Anonymous Amber said...

Okay, taking two instances of absurd racism from Steiner teachers out of the thousands of teachers there are in this world is simply unbalanced journalism. Steiner education (Waldorf education) has as its goal freedom, free creativity for all people, regardless of race. In one of his first books, Knowledge of the Higher World's and its Attainment, Steiner empathetically states that human development is accessible and available to all peoples no matter their race or station in life. Anthropospohy celebrates the diversity and cultural heritage in the world. It is not a racist doctrine, but an attempt to look at the past so we can better evolve and meet the future. It is saddening to hear that there are people and schools that are still stuck in snail shells of small mindedness, I hope they do not do too much damage to the Waldorf movement, which is the fastest growing independent educational model in the world. Look at Waldorf in China for example where teachers embrace there cultural heritage of the peoples and tell Chinese tales, or here in America where we use Native American stories. The purpose of the curriculum is to meet the children out of their own cultural context, not superimpose a foreign one onto it. (Steiner was Austrian by the way, not German, and under Hilter, Waldorf schools were closed and the whole movement had to go underground, being an Anthroposophist could get you send to the camps).

2:41 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

The issue is not only the racism of the individual teachers, Amber - it's the failure of the systems inside the Steiner and anthroposophical movement to pull the racists up. An analogy can be made with the Catholic church - very few priests are paedophiles, but eh church has sheltered and even at times encouraged those who do prey on children.

The Ministry of Education needs to intervene and do the job that people like Rosie Simpson obviously can't do.

8:42 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

Your claim that the Steiner movement was persecuted by the Nazis is quite false, though it's repeated quite widely within the Steiner movement. Peter Staudenmeier's has researched the relations between the Nazis and the Steiner movement thoroughly in the archives of Europe, and his book on the subject, which was issued by the prestigious academic imprint Brill, reproduces many letters and other documents that show the way the Nazis actually facilitated the establishment of new Steiner schools, and the way that the leaders of anthroposophy turned a blind eye to the depredations of Hitler's regime:
http://www.brill.com/products/book/between-occultism-and-nazism

8:53 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

unfortunately the nutty caris was until recently a teacher of other steiner teachers at the training institute in taruna. hope she didn't share her views on black people too widely.

9:40 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an ex teacher/parent of the school Colin Rawle purported to hold to the true path, I would have to say that there was considerable and very divisive argument about how much Rudolf 'purism' was ideal and how much we should simply go with what we thought was right in the 21st Century (and that includes dropping the wrong). Colin was a 'thorn in the side' for many people, but, perhaps naively, I certainly didn't know this about him. I guess most thought he was just older and set in his ways. However, all this dispute was held aside for the wonderful task of teaching the children, in a way that really worked. I taught there because, when it was working properly, the effect of the children was awesome, and far better than most state schools I've seen. I was not much of a fan of Rudolf himself, and refused certain aspects of the system, which, obviously, made me rather unpopular with some.

11:09 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fyi
https://www.academia.edu/2306281/Rudolf_Steiner_and_the_Jewish_Question

8:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a common complaint that bullying goes unchecked as their is a belief that the bullied and the bullier and reversing roles from previous incarnations and these karmic issues must be worked out by the children. Children are divided into temperaments: choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic and melancholic. Such designations, based on physical appearance, guide a teacher’s interactions with a child.

Karma is central to Steiner’s worldview. Disease is a result of karmic influences. If you get measles, that is what is intended for you. If you die, then you will be reincarnated having worked out that aspect of your karma. Steiner schools are notorious as centres of unvaccinated children. Why would you want to intervene in karma?

8:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note that the Anthroposophical Society has also been invovled in spreading the pseudo-historical claim of a pre-Maori Waitaha civilisation in NZ. See the article in this 2011 issue of their magazine: http://issuu.com/nzmanufacturer/docs/anthroposophical-society-journal-november-2011

10:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

colin rawle is a fan of this book, which mixes anthroposophical with fascist ideas about race and 'evolution': http://www.southerncrossreview.org/40/burning-bush-matherne.htm

how many other steiner teachers read it?

12:10 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Amber says he was not a German but an Austrian. But Hitler was an Austrian also. I have always felt that on one side the idea of 'natural' things and 'hands on' (I read the very good Listener article) are great: but Anthroposophy (I used to get books for Ron Riddell, as when I started selling books those and other "weird stuff", including some hippyish or New Agey mystical stuff, was quite popular. It sold quite well!

Rudolf Steiner school it is called and you don't investigate it before your child goes? It happens. It is an insidious thing I think, as it links (as in your diagram) ideas (completely wrong) that the "Evolution of People (Humans or Man)" comes from the lower animals (tier) and branches of to the lower "decadent branch of monkey races" and the other of the "decadent branch of he Indian races" [by the way there is no such thing as an Arian race] and the evolution to the higher (on the graph) European races. This is Nazism.

This is also quite a wide held view of the world which has been shown by geneticists to be totally wrong.

Bodmer, a German molecular biologist / biochemist who won a Nobel prize points out in a book that after extensive genetic and other studies they found that the differences between say, individuals in Europe, were greater than differences between Europeans and Africans. Genetically we are all Homo Sapiens (or perhaps we are all Homo Stupidens if we have to include Ansell and Colin Rawle) are basically the same with only individual differences.

Skin pigmentation is a positive evolutionary factor as it either protects the individual where there is a high exposure to dangerous UV light etc or aids in the absorption of some (we all need some) where there is less, in general of such light).

The Listener quotes one school where a girl from Pakistan (with parents who were both University trained and highly educated) who was put beside a European girl so that some of the 'forces' or something could help her to evolve.

I think these schools are dangerous. They present a lovely picture on the outside but then the idea of Karma etc is invoked. Schopenhauer was interested in many of those ideas which came from the "Indianer - dekadente Absweigung" - the idea of karma is terrible.

Auden was quite interested in Christianity but his view was such that he rejected the idea of Hell etc and took the idea that we should do unto others as we would have them, but an intelligent person will take those ideas and reject nonsense such as "grace" or "karma" as it is fatalistic [there is a similarity, as the Presbytarian idea of "grace" satirized (?) in 'Confessions of a Justified Sinner' by James Hogg which means that a person with grace can do anything at all and still live eternally in paradise (Hitler may have had grace by this theory), and karma means you leave aside personal responsibility while you are alive.

My son asked me the other day if those who are wrongly accused of murder, and even executed, actually "deserve" their fate. I answered that any God who had designed such a Universe would have to be malign indeed - a terrible being not worth knowing.

I think the Steiner schools should be shut down.

12:42 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Any developments on this one lately Scott? I think it is an important issue.

On the other side of the coin there is a place for schools for students who are especially sensitive etc or who have academic difficulties (or are extra bright or whatever). They have some such schools but my own son was badly bullied at a public school that I wish he could have gone to a school that was more 'humane' (I do understand why some parents home school their children, I didn't like school very much myself)...

So it is a pity the RS schools have this unfortunate philosophy in their 'core'.

10:12 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

Thanks for those comments Richard. I saw Cerian's Dad on the weekend and talked with him about the Steiner schools' crisis; he was an enthusiast, and even an adept of the Anthroposophical Society, back in the 1980s, but now feels regretful about the young teachers and parents he influenced during this phase of his life. My conversation with him reminded me of some of the talks I've had with former members of the Stalinised, pro-Moscow communist parties of the West.

Alan thinks the article in the Listener was almost completely accurate (there was a minor factual error in a caption), but that it, and presumably also my blog post, miss the main point, which is that, for the small minority of Anthroposophists that according to him control many Steiner schools, critical thinking is impossible. Only by abjuring the notion that Steiner was a divinely inspired figure, who got his insights from angels, and taking a pragmatic approach towards him and towards other educational thinkers, can schools make progress.

8:36 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Yes. I think I was a bit harsh in perhaps wanting them all closed down! (I knew that Cerian was at Steiner and I believe that paradoxically, there were many good things going on at the Steiner schools, as I say Victor was terribly bullyed verbally "Commit suicide" "you fuck your sister" and he was getting this day after day at Howick College [I really hated that area it had a bigger drug problem as there was more money than Otara / Clover Park where Victor had been to the MUCH better mainly Polynesian school of Tangaroa College where while there was bullying it wasn't like that from the White rich in Howick-Cockle Bay which is very churchy Tory place (and I used to coach students - and other things, I was one of the first in about 1987-88 in Cockle Bay) for SC Maths and there were a lot clearly in or near a kind of crisis due to pressure to "succeed" etc), I even taught as relief teacher at a Howick and Edgwater College - I was so much abused by the students that at the end of one day when my daughter came to see me I was in tears, and I knew this Welshman who resorted to picking a pupil up who had been on his case nad 'hanging him' up onto a coat hook! It is hell in those schools, so the Steiner schools are perhaps by comparison not so bad: and that meant my son came close to committing suicide, and luckily only lost his eye to the police action, or misaction when he later had crisis...]- and that bullying (this is fortunately well before the horrible cell phones became so universal and insidiously evil) meant that many years later he has "flash backs" and has to take medication every day (I think the shrinks gave him he wrong stuff but he is addicted now and has to have it or the "crisis team" have to come or he cant sleep). He needed something like a Steiner School.
Ron Riddell and his wife worked at one of the schools and Ron and I read poetry there one day. We got a good reception. I did feel something was strange about the place. I didn't study the anthoposophical stuff as I thought it was just more of the same New Agey stuff I saw everywhere.

It seems as though Alan is very astute. I agree it is like Marxism - by the time I got interested in that Stalinism was abjured but because of ther real world crisis presented by the US Imperialists invading Korea, Vietnam, Africa, many places in South America, and indeed the legacy of the British-US-French-German-Portuguese-Et adventures in the Pacific (and the Soviet move toward State-Capitalism, and their cynical misuse and twisting of Marxism, their invasions of Hungary and Czeckoslovakia and later Afghanistan): the cold war, and the consolidations of Apartheid, the situation in India and the massacre of Jews by Muslims in many countries while the Zionists pushed back the Palestinians in an eerie simulacrum or Germany and Hitler's thirst for Lebensraum: these things meant that students and some young and old workers sought hope in Communism so that it replaced religion as a kind of religion. For many it became embedded in their psyche. Already in 1969 about the time many well to do and relatively conservative students suddenly converted from being what we called "straights" to long-haired poncho-wearing hippies (Bill Lee and I from Tamaki College affected shortish hair and I wore overalls a lot to show my working class allegience despite the fact that I ahd never suffered any poverty, I ahd lived a life where there was so much money my father would order boxes of apples each one wrapped individually, and we never lacked anything while we lived in what was once a state house paying cheap rates and my father on a high income - so in the end my "communism" was a kind of game I suppose whereas such as Ray Gogh and say Mason, Tuwhare etc were the real McCoy...lol...

10:33 am  
Blogger Richard said...

But these ideas become embedded, there is sense that one needs someone like Marx, or Mao, Stalin, (a) Churchill or Trotsky, or Che Guevara - or Steiner or Hitler - many socialists and communists converted to the Nazis - and there is, it seems, a very human need for a Leader, a Great Leader, A Hero: and psychologically I think it is paradoxically needed if one is to make a self-sacrifice say in the 'revolutionary war' against all these real or perceived injustices and depredations. It is hard to stay stable or sane: it was especially so given the real threat imposed by the major Imperialist Powers - remember that Dulles, Goldstein with the blessing of such as Teller wanted a total pre-emptive nuclear strike against the Soviet Union as well as nuclear action against Vietnam and then China - the Vietnam war was really aimed at an invasion of China by the US, that was clear to anyone who was older than 2 in those days....

What Jack Ross has written about Auden (Spain and on the death of Yeats etc) and how to write against 'Atrocity' etc is excellent (on his Blog now...

But where are those of yesteryear who used to tell me I was a massive idiot and I was talking crap: the great acerbic attacks by Tiso and others, I miss them!! We all need his corrective moral voice, unlike me, many like him are at least slightly sane! I think perhaps the lure of the three work quip on FB or other 'social media' is too much for them and they have abandoned the long and difficult debates...

But there are interesting parallels that arise for sure. The isms can take over one's mind and I think Marxists in many cases replace religion for their belief in the Great New Materialist Utopia. One admires their persistence and devotion but humans are resistant: I think inherently the nature of what we are doesn't lend itself...well, it doesn't give me much hope in human beings considering my son's experiences and that of many others who suffer more. So it leaves me without God or Stalin! Will Art desert me also. Fortunately there is Love, as Auden and I think many others believe. All a bit vague, but sometimes, as Huxley suggests in 'Texts and Pretexts', it is all that the old, for example, are left with, if they are lucky.

10:34 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

'I think Marxists in many cases replace religion for their belief in the Great New Materialist Utopia'

Certainly a fair point in some cases. A great book to read on this subject is Sid Scott's Rebel in a Wrong Cause, which was written by the former chief theoretician of the Communist Party of New Zealand after he left the party in the fateful year of 1956. Scott's book has a bitter tone, and presaged its author's journey to the far right of the political spectrum, but it is filled with fascinating stories of the early days of communism in this country. Scott describes commies who were literally eschatological: one of them had made a mass of calculations, and determined the date of the coming revolution down to the day and hour!

But I think it should be remembered that Marx was a strong critic of utopianism, and usually refused even to detail what a future socialist world would look like, urging his readers to attend instead to the reality around them. EP Thompson thought that Marx was not utopian enough, and could have done with the influence of William Morris!

1:29 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Well, there you go, I am sorting out books I had for sale, and one I put aside was that very book! I nearly biffed it, but aspects of it interested me (I scanned through it), that he had been one of the founders of it and where he mentions the Progressive Youth League. This I would say became the Progressive Youth Movement. Now as to Utopias Frank Lane and I openly critcised a number of aspects of the PYM and for example the People's Voice and the associated rhetoric. There was a move by those who were perhaps not committed Marxists, to move into the local community. Now that was a good idea of Franks and also Roger Fowler as this moved the focus to the community, while still keeping an interest in International events.

But I also said in conversations:

"When China goes revisionist." Shorthand for it succumbs to "sugar-coated bullets" and then paranoia, and a return to a Capitalist road so to speak. Now I thought even then that no country could bring about any kind of socialism or whatever without huge changes at all levels. In his writings and rhetoric (sincere or not) Mao tse Tung urged this idea of renewal. But I felt that the pressures on the USSR and China were too much: there were other problems. How was it to be brought about, this real democratic state where the people NOT the state, no The Chairman or Lenin but the people themselves, at all levels from the bottom up so to speak - how was that to work. I think it started to work but was undermined by many forces at work (not just because of Lenin or Mao or whoever) but a combination of internal and external forces and factors.

Now: how do we bring about a united workers of the world? And so on. These were not answered.

I thought (in 1970) that it might take hundreds if not thousands of years before any deep change was effected. However I wasn't disillusioned and I admired the dedication of the CP and the Trotskyites and those who were just working for a better world without an agenda.

Most of the young people who joined the PYM did so in reaction to the terrible Vietnam war and the other injustices but I feel that those of the CP (and Frank thought this also) who were somewhat leading, had failed to give impetus and creativity to that growing movement. They wanted to keep their positions and control.

I suppose it is all more complex than that, as surely a "middle group" could have emerged, well such things did and we fought for a number of local issues: Betty Wark was around and she worked with Roger Fowler and others on Tenants Protection, there were the Polynesian Panthers. That many "followed" China is almost irrelevant (or not as important as we were aware of the contradictions and difficulties): but there was mostly a feeling of unity against the forces of the US in Vietnam, Apartheid, Portugal and Spain, the French in Algeria I suppose, issues of poverty in Africa, South America and even the big issue still going on today, that of the Palestine-Israel conflict.

Nor was that clear as one day one of those who came to the PYM meetings set off a firebomb one night (meetings were in St. Kevin's Arcade) and there was a kind of riot! Nothing really bad happened but that was a point, the complex question of why Zionism arose was not discussed, there was a lack of educational aspects, films and lectures (the issues of education, unions, art and much else), there was the rhetoric, and much else wrong...

2:44 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

So Frank started a bookshop in 123 Ponsonby Road, which sold a wide range of books, not just Marxist, the idea being that people, informed, were better off: and then films of all kinds, including left wing things but also current movies - think of movies up to 1970. So the ideas and ideals were good.

But how to convince a wide range of nationalities, people of wide religious views, cultures etc (as Maori land rights and similar issues were also on the agenda so to speak and in fact Nga Tangaroa were around, we met Pat Hohepa and others): they had their own movements and activism as they do still...

But how to bring this big change about throughout the whole world without some form of Stalinism or even Leninism as not all was well under his rule...according to Shub's biography.

But a lot of good was done also. I think for many who ahd been religious it was an alternative to become (to be a bit unfair) a "Priest" inside the CP, (but there were all kinds of fragment groups who weren't strictly CP, they were strange times, with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and say (the mouth organ bloke! blanked on his name) being played incessantly, and much taking of drugs, but I had my own legal medication like my friend and nemesis Roger Fox of "demoralized CP element" fame (!) so I never indulged and in fact I rarely ever drank: for some reason in those days I really hated going into pubs. One of the Polynesian radicals said that pubs were the urban Marae! I'm not sure if that is official Maori policy these days though!

I say all these things openly these days as - at my age - who cares what a silly old bugger did 100 years ago...?

2:44 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

Hi Richard,

Paul Janman has been following your comments on Auckland left history in recent threads at this site, and is now determined to interview you in Otahuhu/Southdown for the Great South Road doco.

We're applying for money to take the doco further on September the 5th, and are adding the audio to a new fragment of the film, which was made in the Domain, on Friday. Another I should mention is a planned excursion down you-know-what cave on September the 8th: we plan to hold a poetry reading down there, in honour of both the dissidents of 1940 and Edward Snowden (poets are gathering around the world, including in Dunedin, to read work for Snowden on the 8th, but we'll probably be the only ones down a cave!)

I asked Murray and Ted if they were interested in descending into the cave on the 8th when I saw them recently. Perhaps you'd like to come down too, since you;ve actually made the trip before?

10:53 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

I only went a short way in. That must have been about 1977 or so, not sure, with Tony Te Awhitu who was my Foreman at the time. I don't think we went in very far. I'm not big on caves but I might give it a look. The problem at the moment is I have no car so let me know. I might be able to get a lift there.

Eerie story about the 1940s printing press etc It may not be the same cave: I suppose there could be a few.

I recently read 'At the Mountains of Madness' by the rather worrying but brilliant H. P. Lovecraft, wherein a whole civilisation is discovered under the Antarctic. He wasn't big on the working people of the Revolutinary Russia so the terrible thing he sees and drives his friend mad is postulated to symbolically represent the terrible force of the masses who are degenerated, according to the commentator...

But this may have no bearing on the cave situation in that Paul is seeking to descend...

Old Ray Gough was telling me about the terrible conditions of work that existed in the 40s when he started work at the railways in Wellington. By the time I got there it was a good place to work, full of all kinds of characters, like one Jimmy Jenine who used to tell great stories of the old days as a train driver, make a joke, and laugh like hell, while he held his balls and made a kind of frenetic if not frantic dance from side to side around the elevated focal point of his goolies!

I used this when I did a one man skit of poetry / show called 'The Tin Drum' at the Little Maidment during the University Red Zephyr production (you reviewed one of those - but not the one I was in - in one of the Salts). I got a big reception for that and everyone, including the techs gave me an ovation as I came off stage. I was always drunk but not too much and I add libbed a lot of it, thinking of many of those characters and stuff from Beckett (who I have always found hugely funny) and so on...

11:46 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

September 8th, Monday, I should be able to get there...

11:49 pm  
Blogger Daniel Copeland said...

"This is not the first time Rawle has shared his views on race relations with the Otago Daily Times."
One of the more spit-take-worthy understatements I have read in my life.

12:34 pm  
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