Random Play by Graham Reid

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Random Play: The Outback, Elsewhere, and the Big Day Out

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  • Andre,

    That's a great post Graham! Thanks for the insights - I'll avoid Alice Springs like the plague in future. The Aussies have major problems to deal with. Do you agree with Howard's policy of banning alcohol & pornography from Aboriginal settlements? It seems when they do try to help they go too far...
    Where are the rumoured BDO acts David Bowie and/or Sir Paul McCartney. I reckon it's a shame at least one of them isn't in the line-up - give us some old buggers I say!
    It's worth the ticket price just to see Groove Armada, Muse, Kasabian, Ladyhawke, Lily Allen & Powderfinger I reckon. Many of the punters are likely to be unamused at the rehashed look of it though. Adding a mega-band that hasn't performed the BDO before, like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers would have helped (think Metallica)...

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 364 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I lived for 5 years in Australia and barely saw any Aborigines. I was quite surprised to learn that there were something like half a million of them. Where the hell were they all? I was in Victoria, which was supposedly one of the most densely populated parts at the arrival of Europeans, being probably the lushest state. The only place I regularly saw them was near Flinders St Station, in a group, boozing 24/7. Never in a workplace, never in a bar, never on a tram. Once I saw a girl on an intercity train. All the rest seemed to be homeless.

    Victorian attitudes to them seemed mostly quite shocking. Even fairly liberal people had amazingly racist opinions. What any of it was based on, I couldn't see. They were just not there. I spent quite a lot of my time in small country towns too, and saw none there either. I saw a lot more Maori and Pacific Islanders.

    It was extremely puzzling, since stats said there are about 30,000 in Victoria. That's a lot of people to just never see. It's like society was totally segregated in a way that even Apartheid never achieved.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Dot.con... a pointilist exercise?
    as far as the "authentic Aboriginal experience" goes, it does seem commercial interests would rather have the Gullible
    than the real Gulpilil
    (Peter Weir's Last Wave is one of my favourite movies ...
    Though Rolf de Heer's Ten Canoes is damn good too)

    Australia needs to do more than just say sorry...
    maybe they should ban white-fellahs from Alice?

    yrs colonially
    Buzz Lure-Man
    putting the motion in pictures...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7896 posts Report Reply

  • James George,

    Oh god I had a flashback of the Alice for a minute there. I lived in the territory for 20 years travelled round it mobs but always tried to avoid Alice Springs the asshole of Australia, and very definitely a whitefella town, not a blackfella one.

    Which in some ways goes to answer the question above from the victorian bloke who claims to have never seen many Aboriginal people despite their making up a a couple of percentage points of Australia's population (I suspect that 500,000 identified Aboriginal people is a little on the high side. Prolly more like 200,000 to 300,000 but substantial enough)

    The thing is normal whitefella hangouts big cities or towns like Alice (ouch sorry bout the pun) are not the types of places where a lot of Aboriginal people enjoy spending time.

    Why? Well those that had substantial Aboriginal populations before the white invasion (eg Sydney but definitely not Alice) got rid of most of the traditional inhabitants in some really brutal ways. Who wants to hang close to where your family got wiped out?

    No need for Kiwis to feel smug, instead they should ask themselves what happened to the Tangata Whenua that used to live in and around ChristChurch before whitefella invasion.

    Sure there are small communities at La Perouse (or were) but until the Mabo decision aboriginal people were moved further out as the whitefella population grew. After Mabo things got better for a little while.

    Some town eg Darwin managed to co-exist with aboriginal communities and whitefella suburbs side by side. For a while but the concentration of defence forces in the top end has made the once peaceful co-existence a lot more fraught than it once was because the 'new whitefellas' aren't that intererested in getting to know the Larrakiah mob who have always lived on the Darwin peninsular.

    Not that the Larrajiyah mob are going anywhere. The old Darwin families which are a complex mixture of anglo/aboriginal/filipino/chinese/malay will outlast those army navy and airforce blow-ins.

    Digression alert.

    Anyway aboriginal people generally mix in whitefella communities when they have no choice. That is either the whitys have come to live in their country or there is some institution or service that aboriginal people need to access in the whitefella settlement.

    This isn't racism it is pragmatism. In day to day confrontations with whitefellas many aboriginal people know they will be the loser if the problem occurs on whitefella country.

    There is a substantial amount of truth to that feeling which is little more than a modern rendering of aboriginal lore.

    That holds the person who land you are standing on is generally the person 'in the right' empowered to make decisions.

    I hate to generalise like this because nothing is simple but basicaly in a place like Alice, the only Yolgnu (a top end word for our peole I can't remember the centre word) likely to be found are those in town on business or those who have been told to stay away from their communities. Often because of violence committed when drunk and addiction to alcohol. Those in town on business tend to party hard because many live in dry (alcohol free) communities

    J Howrd's changes to the law in the NT which took away aboriginal community council's right to decide who was allowed on tribal land, had nothing to do with violence and/or child abuse.

    The report he selectively quoted from was ten years old when he dragged it out. That isn't to say those problems don't exist because they do and aboriginal people need all the support they request to fix those issues. Taking away the council's power to bar troublesome whitefellas isn't helping anyone.

    This is a transperant ploy so that the government can intervene in the protracted negotiations over mineral rights on traditional aboriginal land.
    Now the army can be sent in if any whitefella alleges child abuse.

    In the past communities protected themselves by barring geologists and mining engineers and all the other agents of social and environmental destruction. Now they can't.

    That Rudd flea has done nothing to repeal the changes because the whitefellas have used up most of the easily accessible resources. They've all been dug up and sold to USuk for a cent on the dollar, so now they need to get at those resources that traditional owners who had seen too much of the destruction of Yirrkala (Nhulunbuy) or Angurugu (Groote Eylandt) were resisting the exploitation of.

    As for the poor buggers in town camps and government communities, its difficult to envisage a positive outcome.

    Traditional aboriginal life is very focussed on the small clan groupings which are destroyed when 5 or fifteen mobs who all speak totally different languages and who may have been feuding or shunning for centuries are told to live together. In the end all the languages get lost and the people have no way of passing on their oral culture. 'Creole' the bastardised language of mixed up english a few aboriginal languages, some chinese and a little malay, doesn't have the same power as the original language the story was first told in.

    I have no doubt that some aboriginal mobs will 'make it' eventually.
    The self hatred Graham described is all too common among those aboriginal people taken outta their clan at a young age, but the leaders will come from within aboriginal society not from outsiders thrust upon them because they are the same colour.

    Any kiwis feeling smug about this shouldn't because for every horror methos of australian colonisation of the indigenous population there is a horror tale here in NZ against Maori.

    The only difference is we have convinced ourselves that what we did was 'right' and necessary' which is pretty much what australians tell themselves about aboriginal colonisation.

    As for the crack about Gulpilil, I've no idea how he is now, I haven't spoken with him in 20 years but last time a spent time with him he was a mess,one morer addicted aborigine. I hope he has got it together now but he is a bloke that copped the absolute worst of what white culture does to those it colonises.

    the last wave may have been very entertaining for whiteys but it came close to killing David.

    Since Sep 2007 • 96 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    If I go to BDO in January, it might be under duress as my 16 year old daughter is thrilled that Peaches is playing--but there isn't much to thrill me yet. The Decemberists, maybe, but no David Bowie despite the rumours.

    Re Uluru. When teaching about the global impact of tourism, I sometimes use a photo I have which shows the sign requesting people not to climb on the rock out of cultural sensitivity, only partly obscuring a line of people beginning such an ascent.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2539 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Um, people round Otautahi?
    James, a lot of my Kai Tahu kin come from that area.
    Or are you suggesting something about possible Waitaha hapu?
    I know they are part of my whakapapa also.
    Actually, I really dont understand that comment of your's - if you've time & reason, maybe you'd explicate further?

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    For other people: by the time English settlers got to Christchurch area,
    mana whenua belonged to Ngai Tahu.
    Kati Mamoe had already - well over 2 centuries before- supplanted Waitaha, and did that the same way we did - a few bloody clashes, much more intermarrying.
    I look forward to James George's future comments-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Bruce Wurr,

    This might not be your taste Graham but I highly recommend Mastodon - fully heavy, quite brutal, but they're great, especially through a big p.a.!

    A wee bit underwhelmed with the rest of that lineup though.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 97 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    the last wave may have been very entertaining for whiteys but it came close to killing David.

    So, sadly enough, I've heard. Of course a few years earlier he suicided on screen in Nicholas Roeg's Walkabout. Also there was a ghastly gratuitous walk-on part in The Right Stuff.

    BTW has anyone read Xavier Herbert's great slab of a novel Poor Fellow My Country? Or the earlier - and weirder - Capricornia? Probably a thoroughly unpleasant human being, and more often than not a truly irritating writer, it's the remorseless authenticity of his stories and settings that makes him highly readable. There are elements in the maestro of smug & shallow's Australia that could only have been plundered from Poor Fellow My Country. It's a marvel how such a festering boil of an epic could be rendered into a cloying slab of cheese .

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    I see a group of Aboriginal people reasonably often, living in the parklands in Adelaide. I've also worked with a couple of Aboriginal women, and seen some of the efforts that are being made in South Australia to work with Aboriginal communities to make things better. Our Premier is Mike Rann, who grew up in New Zealand. I've started to wonder whether that's significant.

    Nevertheless, for the most part, one of the richest nations in the world prefers to turn its back on its indigenous people. It's shameful. And it's one of the issues that will influence me when it comes to voting in the state and federal elections next year.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Our Premier is Mike Rann, who grew up in New Zealand. I've started to wonder whether that's significant.

    Perhaps, though South Australia does have something of a proud (by Oz standards) progressive tradition. The remarkable - for his time - Don Dunstan left a legacy that even the ghastly John Wayne Olsen couldn't ease.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Any kiwis feeling smug about this shouldn't because for every horror methos of australian colonisation of the indigenous population there is a horror tale here in NZ against Maori.

    Certainly there are horror tales against the Maori. But it's definitely not one-for-one. There was never anything remotely like the Black War and I'd challenge you to find any similar list of massacres of Maori.

    None of which is to say that what happened to Maori was A-OK, just because other races got it harder. It's just hard to reconcile the two countries on this score (and I've lived in both) - Maori are to be found everywhere, all walks of life, all professions, sports, neighborhoods, etc. They are underrepresented in many areas, but they're certainly not unrepresented. Indeed, they were highly visible in many parts of Australia, where the Aboriginals were not.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Thank you, James.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19697 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Rowe,

    Re: The Big Day Out lineup:

    Last time I went it was to see the Stooges, and they were well worth it. Now Iggy has got Williamson to talk about a reformation of the Raw Power lineup, what with Ron being dead and all, so just maybe a BDO for this lineup as well?


    <fingers and toes crossed>

    Lake Roxburgh, Central Ot… • Since Nov 2006 • 574 posts Report Reply

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