Monthly Archives: February 2013

Badges of belonging

I was working in Rotorua last week, the locals call it Rotovegas, no full blown casinos here, but the usual complement of one armed bandits that leave their mark on society, much the same way as dogs pee on lampposts, not really, visible, but if you hang around long enough you can smell that they have been there and like an unneutered dog, their offspring are visible not just on the mean streets but right through society, heartbreak poverty crime, like uncontrolled mangy, marauding, menacing mongrels, mooching through the streets.

I didn’t intend to move down that path, but it fits into the next part of what I wanted to say.  I blogged the other week about how everyone wants to belong as I was working in Rotorua I was observing the badges that people were wearing.  Not necessarily badges that say member of this group or that group although some people were wearing these but clothing, sunglasses, jewellery, cars, and lanyards.  It was the lanyards that I saw that sparked this blog, I am sure that you have seen them, most often branded with company logos.  My first memory of these is associated with a learning institution that saw an opportunity to build their brand and encourage a sense of belonging.  The lanyards most often used for key holders were an integral part of the uniform that they adopted.

The group in society that adopted this were most often the disaffected, downtrodden and on the margins.  This was an interesting phenomena and at first I thought badges were  pretty naff, and to be honest showed a lack of class, but as I examined a that attitude and be how badging  reflects itself in our society I have come to a different point of view.  A sense of belonging is one of the things that features in hierarchies of needs.  Changes in our society have eroding a sense of belonging and the forms that establishing that have morphed considerably.  Traditional forms of belonging generally fell into things like class, which in New Zealand often meant what work you did, religion, family and ethnicity. We have seen many things in society that have torn apart these institutions of belonging especially in the last years that I am cognisant of.  These changes have mostly affected what used to be referred to as the working class, generally those who have not progressed very much in the education system.

These people have become the most vulnerable to changes in society, with unemployment affected this group in society markedly, unfortunately the demographic of this group is most often marked by Maaori being represented disproportionately.  The reasons for this are varied and too complex to enter into here but suffice to say they are over represented.  It is this group who have taken to badging with some enthusiasm.  The obvious badges are the jackets and the lanyards, but it extends itself from this to the clothes that they wear and the colours of those clothes.  I have heard comments about this as being low class, trailer trash, and to be honest I have caught myself thinking along those lines but reflection on this tells a different story.

The practice of badging is not confined to those who are less well of in society, it is prevalent in all sectors of society, the difference is the tokens, emblems or artefacts that are used to denote or mark the belonging to a group.  These symbols are not so obvious at first glance but they are clearly obvious to those who are in the know.  One of those symbols that have become fashionable are the car stickers denoting members of your family.  They come in many forms and you can personalise the configuration, other symbols are brand name clothing, cars, jewellery, and even phone numbers.  Over the next couple of blogs I will have a look at this need to belong and how it can be negative and positive.  What I wanted to say is that before condemning those who wear badges that you don’t identify with have a look at the badges you wear and reflect on how those badges reflect your identity.

Till next time, live, laugh and love.



I was working in Orewa yesterday it is a beautiful seaside town, it was one of those stellar days we have been having, the ocean and sky blending and blurring in a stunning display, wisps of clouds matched by tiny … Continue reading

Everyone wants to belong

I had reason to pop over to Paeroa to make a delivery of some ink to my brother in law .  He was at the 20th Paeroa Highland Games.   IMG_0606 - CopyI took the opportunity to have a look whilst I was there and I was surprised at the attendees, young and old, from members of Pipe Bands through to contestants in tossing the caber and throwing the hammer.

The sound of the pipes swirled around the domain and the rattle of the snares and thumping of the bass drums all added to it.  I know that there are many for whom such sounds are torture to the ear however for me being of Celtic descent such music unlocks a wee part of me that is hard to ignore.  If you ask me to describe my heritage I will say first I am a NZ European with a mixed cultural heritage, Irish, Scots, Scandinavian and two dirty little secrets, English and French.  Out of this mix I associate strongly with my Irish heritage however bagpipes certainly stir my soul.  Watching mad men attempt to toss the caber kind of appealed to me , my daughter was concerned that I might have a go.IMG_0685

Now the thing that struck me was all around the domain there were people set up displaying their clan.  People were very keen to see what clan they were and what tribe that was associated with.. I had a think about it as I an want to do and realised that along with the basic things in a hierarchy of needs, the need to belong is very strong. .  My Brother in Law operates a business,  names and their origins which is a database which contains family crests and gives a brief history of the name  and its meaning and origins.  For a small fee you can get a print out of this .  It is quite a popular service.

What is it that drives us to seek out who we are and whence we came from?  I think it is a basic need and that as society becomes more and more fragmented it will become more and more popular.  I believe it comes to that basic situation that everyone wants to be wanted, on a personal level and also at a family level.  By and large family is about blood relationships, I know there are exceptions to this however as I have found out separation and divorce soon show how shallow those relationships can be.

After being involved in my ex wifes family for over thirty years I am  now cutoff from them, I guess I should have been ready for this but it still hurt.  In fact separation really tells you who your true friends are it is nearly three years and I have yet to hear from some people that we saw on a weekly basis.  Well no real loss I guess because obviously there was no real friendship.  I haven’t changed I still help people at the drop of a hat and anyone is welcome at my house but there it is.

The other part of everyone wants to belong is that I have become acutely aware of a number of single very lonely people who live by themselves  but desperately want to belong to someone, not in an ownership sense but in a partnership.  I belong to this group as well I must admit.  I am exploring how that feels but I know this I am not the kind of person that wants to be by myself for ever. I have heard a lot of people proudly trumpet their independence, I don’t need a man/woman in my life and then they are on a dating site.  They say the want don’t need, I must have a look at this sometime in another blog.

I guess for me I have learnt that family is not about kin relationships or the sharing of blood lines, blood is thicker than water is a tired cliche that doesn’t mean anything really to me.  I captured a wedding as the official photographer on Sunday last for a couple.  She is my brother in laws niece.  Had a chuckle as it makes me her Uncle I guess and it is remotely possible that she is older than me! But I did it willingly as I see her as family.  The same way as I help others around me.

Family has become so insular and we are paying the price of individualism in our societies and it is an expensive price.  The cult of self is dangerous and all pervading another time to talk about that.



Ciao Pauk

Creating memories

Today is Waitangi Day in New Zealand.  It is often a day on which our differences make the news with conflict shown on television.  It is a day where we should celebrate out nationhood and the partnership that is set out in the Treaty of Waitangi.  IMG_0360Today I took two of my children and a friend to the beach to celebrate life her in New Zealand.  We are in the middle of an intense summer with an extremely hot and dry January and it looks like February is shaping up for more of the same. 
Today we walked around Mount Maunganui  ( Mauao) a pleasant 45 minute walk, a few ups and downs but punctuated by stunning scenery. 

We then went for a swim at the beach.  The thing that struck me today was how wonderful it was to see families taking the opportunity of a midweek day off (and fantastic weather to spend some time together. It was  great exercise and I enjoyed the time that I spent with the crew.  We didn’t spend a lot, had a home made picnic for lunch pretty simple fun really.

I remarked to my friend that we needed to take time to make memories happen.  I remember a friend saying once to me that he doubted that anyone lying on their death bed wished that they had spent more time at work.  Memories take time and effort to create and the bad ones are easier to create than good ones it seems however if we take the opportunity to be intentional and relational with those who mean a lot to us then the half the job is already done.

One of the things that I have learnt over the last three decades in my work with children and young people is how resilient they are.  How new memories can be created and how old hurts can be eased.  This does not occur living a grey and mediocre life.  Today probably cost about $40.00 not a lot in many people’s terms but on a low income a reasonably substantial amount.  I was fortunate to share that cost with a friend but if I had not been able to I still would have spent the cash.  We don’t know what the morrow brings us and whilst I counsel that we should be wise in how we spend there are some times that we should just do it anyway.

So I will leave it there today, with the hope that you too can live, love and laugh as I did today.

Ciao Paul



Chase Your Dreams

This is a story about a couple of people that I know who have chased their dreams.  My sister and her partner decided that they wanted to buy some land and grow lavender with the intention of developing associated businesses.  I remember seeing the positive affirmations going on the fridge.  They had an extensive wish list for the property which at times to me seemed to be over ambitious, in truth the whole plan seemed over ambitious, I know the reason it seemed like that to me, it simply was not my dream .

Well for Trish and Malcolm their visualisation did not end on the fridge door, like anything that is worth having they took practical steps to get to where they wanted to get.  They did a lot of research into what they needed, they decided on the locality and knew the soil types that they wanted.  They also wanted a place that could be a haven for friends and family. So they had a wish list and an action plan.

Then they set out to find the property, they looked at a lot of properties many of them ticked a lot of their boxes but they did not meet all of their criteria and they passed on these.  They refused to be swayed and they put their property on the market.  Property sales were down in fact the whole economy was in turmoil however they persevered and kept the goal in mind. After many unsuccessful viewings they finally found a property.

Their own property had not sold and they signed a conditional agreement based on the sale of their own home.  This was not straightforward however they carried on and when the contract fell over they still believed.  They had the support of the vendors of the property that they wanted to buy Photos from new camera 136and kept them updated, eventually it came to fruition and the purchases went ahead. Leesfield became a reality. Well that reality came to fruition with the first crop of lavender oil being pressed yesterday, baby steps however turning the dream into a reality is often like that.  It has not been an easy road with lots of hard work and worry and I am sure more hard work to come however theses are key ingredients for anything worth having.  They focused on what they could do and eventually it all came together.

This post has two reasons really, I want to acknowledge the dedication and work that my sister and brother in law have done.  The second goal is to remind myself that anything worth having takes hard work and dedication.  I have gritted my teeth as I am attempting to do my final edit of my poetry anthology.  I could send it to the printers as is but am determined not to compromise on quality.  As a single parent time to spend on ones own is a valuable commodity and I have had little of that recently.  With the violent death of my friend Robyn I have found it hard to concentrate and had lost a lot of zeal however I have determined not to be overcome by what I cannot do but to concentrate on that which I can.  My edit is slow right now but I am chipping it off and summer vacation is over for the children so I will have more time.

So to my dear sister Trish and brother in law Malcolm congratulations on your first press, may there be many more like it.

Live, laugh, love and dream!

Ciao Paul