The Poetry of Objects #3

DO YOU HEAR ME NOW?

…HISSSSSS…
(FADE IN FROM WHITE NOISE):

in the shade someone
turns
a knob
with a satisfying

*click*

causing a small beacon of light and sound
to spread within this room.
A lightbulb behind the dial.
Four glass vacuum tubes inside a Bakelite shell.

A woman’s warm voice from the valves,
a writer, reading verse about
humans becoming angels the hard way,
music beating behind her like wings through the house;
the beeps on each hour;
the bird every morning
singing from the magic box atop the fridge.

*click*

Do you hear me now?

If
there was a microphone
and
I spoke
who now would hear me say:

Close your eyes and forget the foamy white noise of the breakers,
close your eyes and feel the swell that lifts you,
Up you go,
and down…

now,
without looking, see the next wave nearing, and
as you rise with it see the one behind it,
and the next,
and the rest,
a procession of gentle waves
refracting around you,
lifting you.

Now-
see:

splash your hand on the wave and smaller ripples spread
in all directions from your radiance,
a signal riding up and along on the
smooth series of sine waves.

See
clouds in the bright blue casting fat drops wide onto the water,
each drop broadcasting ripples,
each drop the centre of expanding circles
that become lost in the noise of the ocean.

Kick
the depths.
Stroke
the surface.
You swim in broad frequencies.
Look
up at the hill.
The transmitter tower,
there.

Swim
for shore.
Time for home.

*click*
Do you hear me now?

Shelter
from the sun-shower under a corrugated iron roof.
See
the world outside wet and bright,
holes torn in the clouds where
the single visible point of radiance is blinding.
Up on the hill, the radio transmitter pushes swells into the air,
a radiance unseen to biological eyes
making great spherical onion layers around itself,
a series of smooth sine waves
carrying splashes and ripples coded for voices and music;
they fly straight through the iron and wood and the feature wall,
and you, not lifting you

but

in the shade someone
turns
a knob
with a satisfying

*click*
causing a smaller beacon of light and sound
to spread within this room.
A lightbulb behind the dial.
Four glass vacuum tubes inside a Bakelite shell.

A woman’s warm voice from the valves,
a broadcaster who recalls:
“slipping between the peaks and troughs,
a whisper in the whines and crackles
of the cosmic microwave background.”

The bakelite box hums to itself.

“Is this thing on?
Do you hear me now?”

Pause. Hum. Another voice says:
“Thank you, we’re coming up to the news at 9-”
but she murmurs:
“If my lips brushed the microphone would you hear
i love you
within the hiss and pop of
the dying down of the birth of the universe?

Do y-”
*click*

Get
me a microphone,
I want you to hear me say:
let my waves lift your body,
let my waves lift your soul, while
radiant angels splash in the medium of space/time and
throw voices into the ear…

(Fade out to white noise)
…hissssssssssss…

Aaron Compton, July 2021

Special thanks to Ro Darrall from Retro for supporting local creatives through Gizzy Local. This radio is currently for sale at Retro, 8 Ballance Street, Whataupoko. You can follow Ro on Instagram @retro.ro.gisborne or on Facebook.

The Housing Crisis & The Growing Divide

We have a housing crisis, it’s more problematic than you might think, and unless we have the maturity to make some sacrifices today we are sacrificing our future generations.

A Housing Crisis

The average house price in Aotearoa is more than $900,000, we have a shortfall of more than 100,000 dwellings, all urban housing markets are considered severely unaffordable by international standards, 500,000 Kiwis are in overcrowded housing situations, 300,000 households are on accommodation supplements, Māori home ownership sits at just over 30%, less than 50% of people in our largest city (Auckland) own their own homes, and 1 in 100 people — that’s 50,000 people — are living in ‘severe housing deprivation’ (sleeping on the streets or in cars, in emergency housing, temporarily staying at a relatives or friends, etc).

Our housing situation is driving inequality and it’s dangerous. The Fall of Rome, the French Revolution, the Arab Spring and Brexit, were all driven in part by inequality. Inequality is a key contributor to crime, violence, abuse in its many forms, and mental illness. It destroys social cohesion by eroding the bonds that make us feel like we’re all in the same boat.  

As it stands, the current housing system is growing the divide, creating conditions where those who own homes are witnessing their wealth grow — without having to exert any effort, and in many cases faster than their incomes ever will — while those who do not, watch the prospect of obtaining one become more and more prohibitive. Some people will choose to take on large and unprecedented sums of debt; many more will acknowledge that homeownership is out of their reach. At the same time, a growing number of hard-working people in this country are in unsuitable living situations, staying in cars, sheds, garages and overcrowded houses. 

Every week an article is written examining the various drivers of expensive housing in New Zealand: lack of supply, easy access to finance, low interest rates, investors, speculators, red tape, restrictive building codes and council rules, material costs and so on. And every other week an article is written with solutions to these issues: a tax, a change in regulation or policy, a homeownership scheme or a building programme. 

Why is it that despite our best efforts — that is, knowing the problems, having the technical expertise needed to address them, and making efforts to do so — the trajectory for quality affordable housing is only getting worse? Could it be that we are not addressing the heart of the problem? 

I believe it is timely to reexamine and update our values and beliefs that lie at the heart of both the issues and the solutions to our housing crisis. 

We are all in the same boat

We do not get to choose the circumstances into which we are born. We don’t choose our race, our gender or our economic position, and yet these circumstances have far reaching implications on our lives. We need to design our housing system so that every member of society, no matter who they are or where they are born, has equitable access to good quality affordable housing, along with fundamentals such as quality education, healthcare, and food, in order to lay the foundations for a strong future society. Our current system perpetuates unaffordable housing as the status quo, and isn’t good for the millions of individuals who are not in homes which they own or have unprecedented amounts of debt in their names.

We have to be fair

An expensive house or no house isn’t much of a choice. Why should future homebuyers, who are entitled to the basic human right of adequate shelter, be forced to pay ever higher prices for property that hasn’t necessarily had any real value (such as habitable space) added to it? Is it fair that those who have been on the receiving end of property sales have accumulated large sums of money at the expense of buyers? If large sums of money have found their way into the hands of current and previous property owners without any real value being added, wouldn’t it be only fair to look at how that money could be redirected and redistributed towards things that add real value to our society? Given our current state of crisis, we could begin by looking at how such money could be directed towards solutions to the housing crisis.

No pain, no gain

It is not possible for the average house to be both unaffordable and affordable at the same time. In order to move towards affordability, we’re going to have to give up our expensive housing. This will mean a sacrifice for some individuals who, relatively speaking, have more than others. 

It is not easy to give up something that we enjoy, even when we know the outcome of giving it up is better for us. Whether it’s giving up or reducing smoking, alcohol, or sugary drinks for a healthier lifestyle, or forgoing a social outing or sports activity to spend more time with the kids, all of these require some sort of sacrifice on one level in order to achieve a greater objective. The same is true when it comes to expensive housing. We will need to find and develop the strength within ourselves to overcome our self-interest for the benefit of all. 

The media

The tone of the conversation about housing and especially housing as ‘an investment’ needs to change, and our media industry needs to lead this charge. We need to critically examine whether it’s appropriate to talk about rising house prices as if it’s a good thing, when in reality, rising house prices also plays out as rising inequality, crime, mental illness and violence. Newspaper stories with headlines “Major urban centres continue to show strong gains” and “Cheaper suburbs leap ahead” could accurately be rewritten to headline “Major urban centres witness inequality and child poverty grow” and “Rents increase for already struggling families in cheaper suburbs”. Just substitute any reference to ‘rising house prices’ with ‘rising inequality’ and you have a fuller picture of what is going on.

Some hard choices 

We have some choices to make. We can allow our house prices to rise. We can watch as our homeless population grows, more people sleep in cars, and the prospect of home ownership slip away from more Maori and Pasifika families. We can build taller fences and put up barbed wire to keep thieves out as we further isolate ourselves from ‘the other’ — people in different socio-economic circles than us. We can witness our society become more and more divided. 

Or we can design our housing system to ensure that everyone, no matter who they are, has access to quality affordable homes, homes that they can own should they wish. We can make the price of property commensurate with the real value of property. We can stop concentrating wealth via property into the hands of a minority at the expense of the majority, and we can think about how wealth that has been obtained without creating any real value can be redistributed in a sensible fashion. 

Redesigning the housing system to be more fair and equitable means we are going to have to make some changes in our thoughts, attitudes, policies and practices. We are going to have to give up a system that is helping an increasingly small segment of society get ahead economically for one that is more holistic and considers the wellbeing of all over the wellbeing of only some. It may be hard in the short term but a more equitable society, a society where we all feel more connected and safer, one in which all human potential is given the chance to develop, is surely a society that we’d rather live in. 

Be sure however, that if we fail to make the necessary sacrifices soon, it is our future generations that we are sacrificing.

Story by Zane Sabour
Image Sarah Cleave

TE TAIRĀWHITI ARTS FESTIVAL, 2020 /OCTOBER 16, 2020

Now that we’ve all got a few early nights under our belts, it feels like a good time to reflect on the second year of Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival.

Each edition has been deeply influenced by the circumstances of the year in which they were held. Last year the inaugural Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival coincided with Tuia 250 and as Tama Waipara noted, “everybody was exhausted.  Iwi were getting up every morning to stand up kaupapa across the district” and emotion was high. The Festival was brand new, the tickets were cheap, and between Tuia 250 and the Festival there was a lot going on.

This year Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival coincided delightfully with a return to Level 1 – a turn of phrase that wouldn’t have meant a thing to anyone a year ago. In this year so utterly defined by the Covid-19 Pandemic, TTAF 2020 in Level 1 offered the perfect excuse for us all to re-emerge and reconnect. Tama reflected on the “presence of uplift” as people came out and “reclaimed space after a period of anxiety, fear and worry with lockdown”. 

* * *

You will not find an arts festival like Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival anywhere else in the country, as it is by its very definition ‘of this place’. Firmly rooted in Tangatawhenuatanga, it is place-based and comes from the knowledge that we are all culturally located. It is a space that has been claimed for our stories, in our voices, for our people.

I have enjoyed the aspects of continuity from 2019 to 2020.  Just as the Festival itself has settled into its own bones, so too has Te Ara I Whiti grown into itself, this year bringing the riverbank alive with barefoot kids in pyjamas and parents jogging to keep up. It was cool to be able to wander amongst the light installations and sculptures and be able to guess at the artists behind the works, knowing that through this platform and over time, the expressions of our artists become a recognisable and familiar part of our story.

It has been awesome to see in ourselves a community which can and does engage with the arts, which shows up to theatres and other venues in droves, steps up and interacts as active participant when asked to do so; a community that floods our eateries and bars before and after events, who can and do bring our CBD to life when the goods are there on offer.

It has been heartening to both observe and experience the flow-on effect of inspiration – the inspiration derived from bearing witness to, or experiencing the creative expression of another, especially when that creative expression comes from someone who looks or sounds like you, who lives in the same part of town as you, or who you might recognise from the farmer’s market.  I look forward to seeing who is compelled to add their voice to Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival stable in the future after experiencing what they have in this year’s offerings.

Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival will be a potent force for many many years to come, in helping our community find its voice; its many voices, offering us the opportunity to understand ourselves and each other better.  Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival also offers an important platform for our creatives, laying down the challenge, ‘What is your expression of this place, your place and your people, in these times? What will you add to this story?’

Words Sarah Cleave

Photographs X Tom Teutenberg

HUNTERS GIVING BACK

As hunters we just wanted to give back. Over our time hunting and fishing the Upper Waioeka we have seen Whio numbers plummet to the point where we thought we would lose these comical little creatures from the area’s rivers all together.

We managed to pull together a group of like-minded backcountry individuals by leaving notes in local hut books and writing in hunting magazines asking for help. The reply was deafening, turns out hunters really do care about the environments they hunt in and in particular the Waioeka. We now have volunteers from as far away as the South Island, Wellington, Tauranga and Gisborne all signing up to help. 

Luckily Game Gear came to the party and decided to back the project financially. It’s somewhere the owner has hunted for years and the idea of conservation had been on his mind for some time. He just needed an ethical way to go about it.

We have been inundated with volunteers. The local Enviroschools Wai Restoration Programme helped us to lay out 3.5km of accessible trapline in just one afternoon. It’s incredible to see such a program producing such skilled conservationists. If I had the means, I’d employ these students tomorrow but told them they need to finish school first. Everyone is keen to get involved from retirees to school groups. The Goodnature A24 stoat traps we are using only need to be checked twice a year and two weekends is something our busy volunteer force is happy to commit to. 

Currently we have 17km of trapline comprising of 170 odd traps under protection, with a plan to lay out another 9km in August. There’s still a lot of available river habitat and plenty of territories for juvenile Whio to move into.

Seeing some incredible early success with multiple kills under most traps and birds paired up ready to produce their first clutch of chicks in a long time this season, we are looking to expand the project. Theres still some prime Whio habitat that needs protecting and we have the volunteers to do it. 

We just need local businesses to get involved and support this groundbreaking project for the region with sponsorship of traps, lures and gas. It’s a great story to tell and makes for some pretty exciting staff trips.

For a long time hunters have been seen as the antithesis of conservation but we are here to say that’s simply not the case. We care about the environment and are giving back just as much if not more than any other backcountry user group and are having a lot of fun doing it.

If you’re keen to get involved with the Eastern Whio Link contact Sam Gibson on 0277750016 samthetrapman@gmail.com or @sam_the_trap_man on instagram.

Words & Photograph by Sam Gibson

Subscribe!

Sign up to receive The Weekly Roundabout for upcoming events, new Gizzy Local content & links to other good stuff to keep you connected in the best possible way.

Kia Ora! Thanks for subscribing :)

X