Sunday afternoon saw me leaving soggy Wellington on the train and heading up the line to Paekakariki for a showing of The Hollow Men run by Mana Greens as a fundraiser for Jan Logie’s campaign. The journey was made more pleasant by the fact of other greenies travelling out too, and the companionship of my son, who’d decided to join us.
The screening was held in a little church hall in Paekakariki, which was viscerally reminiscent of the small country church halls of my rural childhood – right down to the idiosyncratic placements of lighting switches which had half a dozen of us hunting for the main switch once the movie began to show.
In true small-town form, the first print of the dvd wouldn’t play, a back-up had to be quickly rounded up, and then it was decided to just project it onto the back wall rather than use the too-small screen.
Meanwhile the assembled crowd ate popcorn, handed out in paper bags by Jan’s support crew (made on the premises in the wee kitchen, so the hall smelt nicely of buttered popcorn when we all dribbled in…) and chatted amongst ourselves. There was a small cash bar, so most people had a glass or bottle or two while it all got under way. Plenty of Young Greens present too, including Jack McDonald, who is standing in the māori electorate of Te Tai Hauāuru, an enormous chunk of the west coast of the lower north island that he has been travelling around, giving speeches to various entities.
The movie is well-enough known, I think, that I don’t need to summarise too much, suffice to say that even though the main plot finishes just after the 2005 election, the events portrayed are seared into my mind from that time, and I remembered a lot of the footage. Vanguard Films adapted the script to follow the footage they could find through the Film Archive, TVNZ archives & TV3 archives, so much of it was cut’n’paste of the actual politicians and journalists talking about the events as they happened – so much of this scandal was actually on public record.
Afterwards, Nicky Hager took questions from the audience, and made a brief statement that he considered Dr Don Brash not to have substantially changed his core approach since 2005, so that many of the issues raised in the book and the film are still relevant in NZ politics during the current election campaign.
There was also some brief discussion of his latest book, “Other Peoples’ Wars”, which has just been published, covering some of the same period of time but looking at the Labour Government Ministers and NZDF chiefs involved in sending our SAS to Afghanistan and Iraq, which was of course the subject of much Green protest in 2002/3 (“There are no Just Wars, Just Peace” ring a bell with anyone?) and on through subsequent years, as this illegal war dragged on through a decade. Having just finished reading the book, I thoroughly recommend it, especially for those who weren’t involved in any of the anti-war movements and couldn’t see what all the fuss was about.