Friday, February 12, 2010

My Super XV

So Wynne Gray has selected his top Super rugby team from the NZ franchises since it started.  He has some odd selections but some I agree with.  I couldn't resist naming my own team.  So here 'tis:

1.  Craig Dowd
2.  Sean Fitzpatrick
3.  Carl Hayman
4.  Ian Jones
5.  Robin Brooke
6.  Michael Jones
7.  Richie McCaw
8.  Zinzan Brooke
9.  Justin Marshall
10. Dan Carter
11. Rupeni Caucaunibuca
12. Walter Little
13.  Tana Umaga
14.  Jonah Lomu
15.  Christian Cullen

Some tough calls - close runs from Frank Bunce, Doug Howlett (who would get in if the selection criteria was changed to NZ eligible players), Olo Brown, Ali Williams and Aaron Mauger who was a grossly underrated player at all levels.  Actually, 2nd V was the one position, there little depth in when I looked at players across the period in question.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I loved the mini-series "Roots" when it first screened years ago.  It connected with my fascination with history.  But it also resonated with my own interest in my family's story - not particularly famous or noble or anything.  But rather the gaining of a sense of place because of a connection to past generations.  Various family members on both sides of my family have investigated the family at different times and I always loved to hear the accounts of earlier times.  I have one precious video recording - interviewing my grandfather on his adventures and memories as a young boy living in Wanganui and holidaying on the West Coast of the South Island, the NZ starting point for the Jones family.

But it was the other side of the family that prompted a recent experience.  My mother's family the Garlands celebrated 150 years in NZ recently.  Henry and Emma Garland, pioneers in the rough but beautiful country of the Awhitu peninsula.  "Awhitu" literally "longing to return".  As the planning for the reunion progressed I found myself volunteering to lead the church service that was to be held in the old Awhitu Presbyterian church.  Little did I know what I would discover as I began the journey of preparing.

You see, I have always felt a bit of a pioneer in my Christian faith as far as my family goes.  It hasn't felt to me like I have any great heritage, but rather that I have been striking out on my own in a new direction.  In the last years of her life I became aware that my maternal grandmother's faith was something very real to her and that was a welcome touchstone.  But apart from that I have not felt that I stand in any great stream of heritage.  Perhaps this is why I have so appreciated Kristen's family and their strong faith with its concern for the generations.

So the first thing I discovered was that my great great grandfather Henry Garland was a church planter of sorts.  He is on the record as having moved the motion that confirmed the establishment of a church for the small settler community at Awhitu in 1863.  I loved discovering that sense of purpose and foresight in this man, who understood that foundations needed to be laid in spiritual as well as infrastructural areas.

Then I discovered that his son George with the exhortation of his mother donated the land on which the Presbyterian church at Awhitu was built.  The story is told of how the new atheist school teacher locked the doors on the school and prevented them using the school which was originally built for the dual purpose of education and faith.  George and his brothers unscrewed the windows climbed in and unlocked the doors and then returned the building to its original state after service!  A temporary measure until the new church was built across the road.

The records tell of family members serving the community in the church and in the important areas of education and infrastructrual development.  I really valued discovering the contribution they made across the needs of their community.  I wove all of this into my message for the service.

But I was unprepared for the service itself.  As I stood there in this beautiful building, lovingly preserved by the generations, I became aware of a deep and abiding sense of connection to the place and all who had gone before.  I wondered for a moment if I was going to be able to hold it was a moment of standing in the tradition and heritage of a family that I had just discovered.  I found myself experiencing that "longing to return" that was captured by "Awhitu".  And it mattered that I had some spiritual roots of my own.

Monday, February 01, 2010

How Bizarre

I was shocked to pick up a reference yesterday without much detail to Pauly Fuemana's death at age 40 yesterday.  Pauly was the voice behind OMC, Otara Millionaire's Club (awesome name) with their one hit "How Bizarre".  I had heard things didn't go so well for him after the hit - a sort of riches to rags story.  There was a come back attempt a few years ago but it didn't seem to catch on.

I actually own the album (one of 4 million) and it remains NZ's biggest selling ever.  Bizarre.  I loved the mariachi styles trumpet and the cool strumming - sort of latin american jazz meets the Maori guitar strum.

Back in the day, I had some contact with his brother and manager Phil who also died young (41) of a heart attack.  Phil was a big man with a sweet nature and he was always full of advice for our band.  He had a band at the time White Boy Black which was awesome.  He used to come into the music shop I worked in a bit and was always good to chat to.

Sad story really for a very talented family.