Thursday, September 20, 2007

zippedee doo dah

zippedee ay, my oh my what a wonderful day, plenty of sunshine comin' my way, zippedee do dah, zippedy ay =)

No Mr Blue Bird on my shoulder though, just Cammi at my feet, but more importantly an email in my inbox from the University of Auckland offering me a place on their Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Early Childhood Education) starting in January - woo hoo!

Now I need to get all the money and paperwork sorted so I can get a visa to come back here in November, and only a fortnight to go before I pack my bags and head back to the UK for a month, gulp....

It feels like I can finally start getting my head around my trip back to the UK now though, so much of my energy has been going into working out how/when I could come back here that it's very much taken a back seat. I can also now allow myself to get excited about things like having the whole of our family (the grand sum of four of us) together in the same place at the same time for the first time in over 5 years (and I've only been overseas for two of them!), catching up with F/friends and other family, seeing my godson again (who will hopefully still recognise me even is his little brother is unlikely to), meeting various babies born since I left, going on the Spiritual Friendships course at Woodbrooke, going on trains that go faster than buses, having soy milk that doesn't have sugar in it, Provomel chocolate pudding, Engine Shed smoked tofu, being able to stock up on decent sized jars of Marmite (the real thing, not the kiwi version), warm flat beer being normal (and better for being that way)... sadly I won't be able to get a dose of TMS but I dare say I'll survive.

So to anyone I haven't been in touch with yet if you want to see me do get in touch, I've been totally crap and haven't got very organised yet but I do have vague plans and a route northwards worked out! I'll be at Meeting for Worship somewhere in London on Sunday 7th October - any suggestions of where in order to catch up with folk much appreciated! Given I'll be jetlagged having arrived the day before I'm hoping to have to organise as little as possible but would love to catch up with as many folk there as I can =)

Right, what's next on the 'to do' list?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

hand of fate?

I hate having to try to sell myself; please employ me, please give/lend me money, please take me on your course... but right now I'm trying to figure out how to persuade someone to employ someone else and that's even harder! What if I don't make a good enough job of the reference? I've been given no questions to answer just 'he's applied for this job, here's the job description' - gulp.... I'm not sure that me knowing at least one of the decision makers is an advantage here!

I know that I think he'd be great at the job, that it seems tailor made for him and brings together many strands of his life in a way that is reminiscent for me of applying for the WGYF and Resident Friend posts. Maybe there's my answer - those felt very much like spirit-led moves in life, that they were 'meant to be'. If this is the case here it shouldn't matter what I write should it? Or is that a cop out theory?

Ok, I'll go back and have another go at it but this time feeling that god willing he'll get it anyway as his own life can speak for him far better than I can.

But if anyone has any prayers to spare whilst he has his interview on the 27th I'm sure Mike would be grateful!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ngati Wikitoria

As has been said many times, especially by us Brits for for whom it is still somewhat of a novelty - even to those of us used to the small world of Quakerdom - Aotearoa New Zealand is a small country. I don't mean in the geographical sense but in terms of people. It is hardly surprising then that the traditional Maori way of greeting involves stating where you are from and who are are related to so that kinship ties and mutual friendships etc can be established. There is a distinct sense of everyone being related to everyone somehow within the Maori community (for better or worse...), the use of aunty, uncle and cousin is a tad different to the European conventions - it's much broader - altho' having not quite got my head around it I'll not try explaining it here!

The tradition of establishing where you connect to has become incorporated to a large extent into Pakeha (non-Maori) culture too - unlike parts of Britain where being asked where you are from, or even 'belong', is usually a sign of you being considered an outsider or comer-in any questioning along such lines here is usually followed by an abridged version of the questioners (British) heritage. Same with many Maori too due to the extent of cross-cultural marriages, a guy I met at the marae down the road is quite proud of his Hebridean ancestry. But as was pointed out on the news lately amidst Nationalists concerns over the number of immigrants - we're all immigrants here, some are just more established than others.

When I lived in Britain not really coming from one place tended to be a disadvantage when such things mattered - there was always too much of somewhere else in me either by parentage or place of birth regardless of where I lived and where I called 'home'. However here I'm starting to realise that it's a bonus. Folk here don't care what other places I may link to, they are more interested in what I have in common with them than what I don't. So my widely spread family have unknowingly aided and abetted me in establishing links to many more places in common with people here - the latest being Yeovil, ok so I can only actually remember having been there once to see Great Uncle Percy and G. Aunty Gwen and it was probably about 25 years ago but what the heck! It's kind of like having three extra bingo cards to play with.

When I joined the school group at the Marae I made sure I'd got my mihi (greeting) brushed up as I knew doing the rounds of those was part of the evenings programme. As it happens the teachers somehow got let off the hook and me with them, part of me was a bit miffed as I'm quite proud of being able to recite my mihi in Te Reo rather than English but I'm still not 100% happy with it so maybe not giving a work in progress wasn't such a bad thing.

Part of my problem goes back to being from 'everywhere and nowhere' - so just which is my mountain? my river? who are my tribe? which is my marae? For the last two I'd borrowed someone elses answer which was Te Haahi Tuuhauwiri (Quakers) and Quaker Acres - the Settlement at W(h)anganui. But having listened to Bruce at the marae and then being back at Te Papa recently I've decided to change that - Ngati Wikitoria, the tribe of Queen Victoria are in effect all those she ruled over (and their descendants) which as Bruce pointed out included them too once the Treaty was signed. Now given my longstanding decidedly republican politics (as in ditch the monarchy as head of state not the USA version!) it does feel a little odd to be aligning myself with Queen Vic but the Treaty was with the crown, not the government, nor the country - no monarch and technically the Treaty becomes invalid. Rats. Ho hum... so until a legal loophole has been discovered I'll shut up and make do with the status quo, sigh.... but Scotland gaining her independance wouldn't muck it up so all is not lost! Anyway, I digress...

So yes, I'm part of Ngati Wikitoria. When in Wellington a couple of weeks ago I took Wee John to see the modern marae at Te Papa, I love that place and took everyone who came to visit me in Welly there. I always rub away at the same point on the Pounamu kaitiaki, one day it'll be all shiny and green! When we were there a guided tour was getting the spiel and something the guide said sank in - the marae at Te Papa Tongawera is for all people, tangata whenua - the people of the land ie Maori, tangata tiriti - the people of the treaty, and all those who have come since... so, I have a marae!

My mountain and river still raise issues for me - at the moment I've plumped for Castle Hill as it rather ambiguously covers both the landmark I grew up with in the Holme Valley and that in Edinburgh on which sits the Quaker Meeting House (oh and the castle!). My river is more tricky - I still dither between the Holme and the Firth of Forth, I can't bring myself to call the cold, grey, uninviting North Sea my moana (sea/ocean) instead and I reckon I'd be pushing it still to say Ahipara Bay, but maybe one day...

Monday, September 03, 2007

in the lap of the gods...

Well, the interview has been had and it seemed to go ok, not sure what else I could have said to make it go better anyroad... now I wait... hopefully just until the predicticted 'sometime next week' however that relies on the International Office processing the decision a bit quicker than they have everything else so far!

It's been an odd week and a long one - I'm glad to be going home tomorrow, it feels like ages since I left. Wellington felt as though I'd never left in many ways but then the presence or absence of a person or building would throw me (what no Alex?). I'm gradually getting to know my way around Auckland by bus and have had several lightbulb moments where different parts of the city finally click into place as to how they join up. Superb aerial views leaving Welly meant I also got a chance to get my head around just how the land lay beyond the Orongaronga's too having never really explored the Wairarapa. Cool views right up into the Tararua range but best of all stunning views of Ruapehu poking above the clouds all covered in snow (Ruapehu that is, not the clouds) - if you get to see her face you can stay here (allegedly, although I don't think there's a ticky box for that on the Immigration forms) so some gods seem to be on my side at least.