Text Size

Search Articles

More By This Author

More From This Category

Article Information

Marker Posts and 'Missile-lined' intentions.

By Gordon Abernethy in All Sorts

can we have totem poles for peace?

What do you know about totem poles? I have been scanning our slides (transparencies) coming across many I’d forgotten about. One is of the totem pole that stood in North Hagley Park near the river. And knowing that ‘Connections’ was coming up why not make connection with totem poles and their relatives, for we all know ‘totems/tokens’ are popping up all over the world, even in this country, Auckland has one and, there’s talk of planting one in central Dunedin.
Following the Christchurch earthquakes the Hagley Park totem pole was relocated at Christchurch International Airport. The pole was a gift from America in appreciation of the hospitality given to American personal of Operation Deep Freeze, back in the 1950’s – 60’s. It was carved out of a Redwood tree trunk by an American Indian woodcarver, and has the figure of the thunderbird symbolically representing the traditional god of storm, an orca representing the opening of sea lanes through the ice and other symbolic animals including the a big bird on top.
Totem poles or carved wooden posts have been in existence for hundreds of years, sometimes used to mark boundaries, sacred places, portals such as gates and doors to warn or frighten the neighbours, We find them in New Zealand, not called totem poles but pouwhenua.
Also standing stones – rocks worked to depict figures and with runes and signs in ancient languages including Picts, Celtic and Latin, and later Christian symbols and images of saints.
Actually it was the America’s Cup that stirred the brain cells and got a little up my nose – it’s another totem? No not my nose!
The cup is big enough to perhaps be a totem pole marking the boundary between yachting giants, and inscribed with legendary names, it has been ‘gifted’ for a short stay, in New Zealand.
Marker posts then have existed for hundreds, for thousands of years, planted by tribes, ancient civilisations such as Greece and Rome.
Old and new religions and, as I mentioned earlier, Christians, today continue to erect marker posts. A cross here and there; a tall church or mosque or tabernacle with a tower; a taller tower with a cross or a star or a crescent on top; a taller cathedral with a tower with a cross on top; a taller domed mosque with a tower with a crescent on top.
Then there’s those other ‘reaching for the sky cathedrals’ adorned with flashy lights and symbols that cater for the indulgent, addicted, ‘wealthy?’ – those buildings called casinos – that suck in those that could do better with their money.
The BIG concern though, are those different, dangerous ‘totem poles’ – those big, dangerous ‘marker posts’ - being erected these days in the northern hemisphere, that we see now and then on the telly’, standing in a row or being lifted to the vertical on to platforms or monster land vehicles or great expensive carrier ships.
Powerful metal-clad poles filled with lethal chemicals and highly combustible liquids, manufactured by nations scared of each other, trying to outdo each other – ‘mine’s bigger than yours, mine can fly further, mine has a bigger bang’ – what’s new – stop, silly children, stop yelling, and threatening each other- sit down and talk, discuss! Better for all if you got together and built a memorial to the last of the ‘lunatic “I know more than you” leaders’
Must we live with this insanity? Between them the USSR and the USA have some 50,000 nuclear missiles weapons, about, so I read, 95% of the entire number on earth, that number is growing as other nations stockpile. And think of all the other weapon types, munitions and killing missiles that are being thrown, with what seems abandon, at the innocents, and the conscripted that get in the way.
Arms control talks have gone on for years and have failed. Why - competition, fear of the other, pressure from the money-making investors and manufacturers and suppliers of the raw materials- all who are doing all right, mate! World leaders and weapon manufacturers have a lot to answer for, they have much blood on their hands.
But what can we in little, down under New Zealand do? Remember how we once stopped nuclear armed ships from entering our territorial waters – peaceful pressure achieved that.
We must see that our leaders turn on the pressure, peaceful pressure and not go along with the big boys, they’re mostly boys - bully boys. It’s disheartening to hear that India, Mahatma Gandhi’s India, is strengthening itself with weapons and missiles. Yet do I hear, ‘but they must arm to protect their borders’?
Leaders of peace, peaceful leaders, are needed in this sorry world! Our nation’s elections are coming up – ask our aspiring leaders to up the anti-war and to not toady to the bully boys. Am I whistling into the wind? Gordon Abernethy