This update shares my recent experiences and activities having been based in Taumarunui now for almost a year. Enjoy.
In my last post at the end of the financial year, I shared how I had purchased Ron Cooke’s company (Abundant Past Ltd). I did this to help and protect him and this has worked well. He is knocking 80 years old and I’ve sorted a whole bunch of his business, financial, employment and philanthropic issues. He’s now a much happier man with a clear path to retirement, now that the pressure is off him. He wishes that I had committed to his operations 30 years ago, and it is true that I think “what if?” myself many times. What if I had been here 30 years ago when he was setting his collection onto a firm footing for the future?
& ‘the Collection’
Most of my days in the last six months have been spent sorting thething. It’s not a job, nor a business per se – more a responsibility. Several matters that would have set me up in business and given me an income have been held up with court things so I’ve been digging in to help get the local historian and his lifetime of work sorted.
This has involved me knocking a few 40′ containers into shape for his offices and archives storage, organising some land to put them on, and preparing for a court case suing the people who variously had it in for him, ripped him off and who tried to muscle him into their system.
Ron Cooke has more than 1/4 million photos, negatives and newspapers from decades of collecting. The bottom line is that every man and his dog has tried over the years to get him to give these taonga to them but none of them have actually really wanted to honour the commitments inherent with owning them. It’s been an ego thing, resulting in a massive, 30 year fight for the ‘old man’. I’d describe it as a 30 year formula for maximising human misery, actually.
As Cookie says to me all the time, “You’re different! You listen!” I would add, “And I understand!” The others haven’t.
I remember the words of one of his long term colleagues when I first got involved. Apart from saying that she didn’t approve of’s creation, the accusations came along the lines that I only wanted to manipulate and control something that wasn’t mine, potentially taking them out of town. Spare me days! Talk about lack of trust! Then one of the chief protagonists wrote to the local rag and said that the ‘old man’ had pissed people off over the years because he was “intransigent” over the ownership. Ummm . . . perhaps they are pissed off that the ‘old man’ didn’t relinquish ownership . . . to them? Thank goodness that he did have the presence of mind not to give in to greedy crooked politicians only in it for themselves.
For the record, the reason that these people all missed out on owning the Collections was that they all wanted control of what they perceived as an asset, whereas I knew that the ownership of a taonga like what Cookie had collected was a liability. Indeed beforeeven purchased the Collection I had to know and understand exactly what the commitments were that Cookie had made to the donors.
So has gotten a great start for the next 30 years and as long as I am still around there will be none of the BS and politics that befell the Taumarunui Museum Trust. Threat, warning or promise as you so please.
Tiny House Workshop
In due course I’m hoping to set up the Tiny House Workshop – a support community – here in Matapuna.
In 2018 I established the Tiny House Workshop in Kumeu but this ended rather abruptly when the landlord got in a huge huff and evicted us over a minor matter about how the power account would be calculated [yup, thassall!]. He then proceeded to destroy everything I’d developed – the court case is under way of course. He’s a fruitloop to my way of thinking and will probably end up losing all, like I did, but hey, whatever! The judge will look at the evidence and decide.
The basic idea was that we’d build a workshop with all the tools to support DIY construction or repairs. I started with a 40′ HC Container and intended to eventually have two of them with a curved soft-roofed work-space in-between.
I thought to develop a community around the workshops whereby people could come to us, either short term, mid-term or long-term and cross-pollination would help people move from a complex, city, big-debt, insulated environment into the opposite.
I’m not into communes nor communal ownership, but in Samoa I’d proven that shared living, co-operation and shared use (structured part-communal living) worked well. As long as people owned what they wanted to and had space sufficient for their personal use, sharing the ablutions, cooking and living areas seemed to suit many cultures.
I find it interesting that once the infrastructure was established, from an operational perspective a regular scheduled time for eating was the only thing critical to make things work well. At a human level basic human respect was the only thing necessary – ‘agree to disagree’, sort of thing. Money, diets and bigger picture things such as personal interests or beliefs all seemed to self-regulate – yes also including religion & politics. Vegans could allow others to kill and cook the pig, and the meat eaters were always very happy to slip in special dietary needs into the umu if somebody wanted it.
If I get a break, the Tiny House Workshop can come to life in Taumarunui in short order.
King Country Corruption
I’ve been hanging around the King Country region now for 30 years but only living here for a year or so. Over the years we’ve owned or rented places in Manunui, Matapuna, Turangi and Raurimu, mainly during the time my children were growing up. I was one of New Zealand’s first snowboarders and ran Go Kiwi Ski, helping many solo mothers get their kids into snowboarding (or skiing).
Re-engaging with this region having a few more life skills (including my investigative and writing skills) has been fun. Finding that the local Council’s CEO is a little ‘different’ in his ethics has been interesting to say the least. His style is to get down and dirty, like mine, but he plays the backroom game. I do the public thing. He doesn’t want it known what he’s really up to. I want the world to know.
Then there is the ex-mayor who engineered the sale of The Memory Bank and my mate’s eviction from it, and throw in the newspaperman who doesn’t want to expose the local body corruption! OMG what a nasty conspiracy this all is – and it will all come out in due course (unless they bop me on the head in the meantime!).
The King Country Corruption series has a dozen posts in it thus far, covering some of the dodgy things they have gotten up to. More will come out in the court case and in the book when I eventually publish it, but basically as I have explained at length in regards to the politics of Samoa, people with power ALWAYS use it.
Human nature is the same across the planet. Corruption is born of greed and self-interest, both the products of pride. Those nakedly ambitious use deception to manipulate others. Most don’t give two hoots as long as it doesn’t affect them (their reputation or pockets). That’s the world we live in!
Lastly, a personal note that my mother died recently in Takaka, well looked after by the home she was in for the last year or so of her life. She was 84 years old and according to family present, she simply faded away and stopped breathing. A peaceful departure.
She leaves her younger sister Bette in England, David (my father) who is now 90 years old and her three kids – all of us having produced grandkids for her – some of us great grandchildren too.
Her mother (my “Nana” Eleanor Tomlinson) had a Christian faith but Mum was a little more ‘independent’ and thus if the words of Jesus mean anything, she may hear the words, “Get away from me. I never knew you!” at the end judgment, but by nature God is good and it’s none of my business the fate of others.
I had a good chat with her a couple of weeks before she died and I said my proper goodbyes to her when she last left Samoa. I’ve had my little cry now, so, Shirley Eleanor Smith (nee Tomlinson) RIP.
Another update in six months if my ‘dicky ticker*’ keeps on improving like it slowly is with the meds the quacks have prescribed. Thanks for swinging by today.
* AF with a major heart failure in 2016.