20 September 2012
This week some very interesting headlines in the New Zealand Herald caught my attention, especially John Armstrong’s little piece called No work, no toilets on Planet Key and Tapu Misa’s enthralling thoughts in Precious little sense on Planet Paula.
It reminded me of Sir James Matthew Barrie’s Neverland in his well-known work Peter Pan. Neverland was a place invented in the minds of children, and was the opposite of the real world which J. M. Barrie referred to as the Mainland.
Neverland was home to Peter Pan who refused to grow up, and it was also home to many inhabitants including the Lost Boys, whom, unlike Peter Pan, eventually grew up and had to leave Neverland. The other inhabitants included the Fairies, the most famous of them was Tinker Bell; Fairies had shorter life spans. In Neverland, they were fiery in nature with the capacity for evil and disruption, because Fairies being too small, were capable only of feeling one type of emotion at any one time. According to J. M. Barrie, Fairies disappear when people confess they no longer believe in them. I can’t help it, but draw parallels between Neverland and John Key and his Ministers, Judith Collins, Hekia Parata, Anne Tolley, and Paula Bennett, all of whom have fiery natures and the capacity to disrupt people’s lives.
I chuckled when I toy with the idea that we have in our midst our own Peter Pan and his Fairies. They have been hard at work transforming New Zealand to fulfil John Key’s notion of Nirvana, but sadly, all their efforts have only steered New Zealand towards Neverland. John Key has already quipped that our Neverland will never have toilets (and we won’t have to worry about water issues here!).
But, on a much more serious note, the policies and actions of Peter Pan and his Fairies, at its present rate and determination, will ensure our Neverland will never ever have enough work, never ever give welfare to those who need it, never ever have affordable accommodations, never ever have quality education for the poor, never ever alleviate the poor from poverty, never ever free the poor from debt, never ever be spared from a life of crime, never ever be able to afford health care, never ever, being poor, receive a liveable superannuation or pension, and the ‘never ever’ list continues to grow each day. Peter Pan and his Fairies have not listened to the cries of the people who believed and put them in government. It seems, the more people cry out for justice and fairness, the more Peter Pan and his Fairies burst into laughter; and that is no surprise as J. M. Barrie suggested that Fairies were created from laughter.
The government’s recent policies on welfare, justice, and education, have been dubbed ‘childish’ and ‘out of this world’. But, that is also not surprising as Neverland symbolised not only immortality and a place to escape to, but it also depicts eternal childhood or the place to immortalise childishness; it was a place of adventure with no boundaries. The government Fairies seem to take turns at sprinkling the ‘Fairy Dust’ and making things fly around without much sense of direction or planning. For instance, it was Hekia Perata’s turn to throw the magic dust around last week and caused a stir as Canterbury schools faced either closure or being merged to form single schools. When the Principals and concerned parents began to renounce their belief in the education Fairy, she quickly took steps to remedy the lost faith and suggested it was just work in progress, and still requiring consultation.
Joining Hekia Parata to cause more disorder, Paula Bennett, in a childish smirk, announced how proud she was in spending nearly a million dollars on an Australian company to enlighten her of the cost to New Zealand of people staying on long term benefits; she could have paid me a dollar and I would have given her the same answer in two minutes. In Neverland, no Fairy wants to be outdone by another, and I was not surprised when the Correction Minister, Anne Tolley, decided to sprinkle some of her magic dust and proudly announced the construction of a new $300 million prison to be built at Wiri, South Auckland. There are already a few opposition to the proposal, but I think this government Fairy has done her homework and sees the future more clearly than most politicians.
For me, personally, the prison is the best option because, firstly, it will cater for all the criminals that the present government have already begun to create through the lack of job creation and rise in unemployment, more and more people being cut off welfare, high Housing New Zealand accommodation rents, children living in poverty, and education becoming unachievable. Secondly, the location of the prison, South Auckland, is a perfect choice because South Auckland is where nearly all of the poverty stricken families live, and are more prone to criminal activities as they try to survive in the present Neverland environment.
I don’t think the criminally poor will complain. In fact, I believe, with many people’s lives turning from worse to an undignified nothing, a life of crime will be the best employment opportunity to pursue. And what better incentive to ensure such dreams become a reality than a 960 bed prison that would be more luxurious than the derelict homes some people are living in at the moment. What better place to strive for that will provide three healthy meals a day, free health checks and medical facilities, state of the art flush toilets with a never ending supply of toilet papers (if John Key agrees), a colour TV in each room, a recreation and exercise yard, visitations, and a chance to study the modus operandi of other criminals. The word on the street suggests that life as a criminal is preferred than living in poverty; why try to better ones life when there is nothing, no work, no opportunities to succeed, outside of prison.
The consensus support the idea of reoffending as a way to quickly return to a life of luxury in prison; it is an incentive far better, than going to school on an empty stomach, and living on a couple of slices a day. I hope Peter Pan and his Fairies read their bible in parliament, and be reminded of Jesus rebuking Satan, “Man does not live by bread alone!” And even with 1000 jobs set to be generated by the new prison facility, many believe only a handful of jobs will be offered to those who are unskilled and inexperienced.
And talking about jobs, John Key and the Social Development Fairy, after visiting Limited Services Volunteers (LVS) at Trentham, Upper Hutt, have written to employers to make jobs available for the graduates. I take my hat off to John Key, for personally taking time to write to 175 employers on behalf of these 300 or so young men and women, showing that he and Paula Bennett, truly care about them. Now, all that is left to do, is for John Key and Paula Bennett to sprinkle some more of that Fairy magic dust and write more letters to employers on behalf of 160,000 unemployed New Zealanders, whom, like the LVS graduates, also have been taught life skills, fitness, and employment-focused activities.
But, despite the gesture and goodwill being displayed by the government, we all know it is just a stab in the air, with a hope and a prayer. The journey to Neverland for many of us will end in disaster because Peter Pan refuses to grow up, and his Fairies feed on arrogance to create policies to disrupt people’s lives. We need to get away from the lure of Neverland, the creation of a child’s mind, and regain our sanity in the Mainland, the real world. The solution is twofold; firstly, stop believing in the present Fairies and they will disappear into thin air; remember this tip in the next election. And secondly, detach yourself from Peter Pan, and decide to grow old like one of the Lost Boys. You may be lost, but at least you are lost in the real world, and you are free from continuing to immortalise childishness.
And to round things off this week, I would like to acknowledge the effort of the Samoan government to steer itself away from the Neverlands and become the most prosperous Mainland in the Pacific. Last Thursday morning my wife and I attended the opening of the ‘Invest Samoa Conference’ at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland. The Prime Minister of Samoa, Samoan parliamentarians, and a large contingent of Samoa businessmen and women were present. The Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand with an equally impressive number of potential investors, also attended and were eager to soak up the information being made available in relation to investing in Samoa.
My task was to open the conference with a prayer. The initiative by the Samoan government and the New Zealand Samoa Trade and Investment Commission, led my Samoa Trade Commissioner, Fonoti Dr. Lafita’i Fuata’i and its Chairman, Anae Arthur Anae, showed that Samoa was not sitting on its laurels but continues to find ways to keep improving the country and its people. It is a sign of a country that does not want to be spoon-fed but want to feed itself; a country that is sick of dependency but want to truly be independent.
It is a timely reminder to all of us and our Pacific communities here in New Zealand to reject Neverland, but for all of us to grow up and live on the Mainland – the real world, where we can better ourselves and have a better chance at living successful lives. And remember, no New Zealander should ever be forced to live in Neverland, not by Peter Pan or his Fairies.
So, let us continue to seek the peace and prosperity of this country to which God has given us to dwell. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper…
Note: The full text of the opening prayer at the Invest Samoa Conference can be found in the website of the EFKS Sandringham – www.efkssandringham.org.nz.