GUEST BLOG: Hone Harawira – No Ordinary Sun

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40 years ago somebody put some music and some actions to a Hone TUWHARE poem, No Ordinary Sun, a warning about nuclear explosions and the devastation they leave in their wake.

It was a beautiful piece, scary in its imagery but beautiful in its presentation. Performed across the nation as part of Maranga Mai, and appreciated for the simplicity of its message, it became one of anthems of the Movement in Tai Tokerau.

Today as I drove home to Kaitaia I saw a child of that waiata, and it too was No Ordinary Sun. It shone through the smoke of the Australian fires, brighter than any sun I have ever seen before, reflecting off the windows of every car I drove past like those lights you see in a tunnel, focused and direct. In all my years of driving I have never seen the like before.

If it was meant as a reminder of the devastation we bring upon ourselves by the way we ignore the pain we are putting our Mother Earth through, then it worked.

If it was meant as a statement about the need to heed the indigenous plea for a new way to care for our world, by looking to the old ways, then it worked.

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No Ordinary Sun indeed …

Hone Harawira is the leader of the MANA Movement

21 COMMENTS

    • Good point Kevin.

      Try this thought; on other “consequences” we just posted it as today’s press release on public health on Scoop;

      Dangers of dust from Australian fires for NZ Public Health.
      Monday, 6th January 2020.
      Press Release: Citizens Environmental Advocacy Centre
      Subject; “Dangers of dust from Australian fires for NZ Public Health”.
      This ‘new decade of 2020 was mired by the arrival of dust particles from Australian fires that were carried by air borne deposition into our own NZ air shed, so what are the risks to NZ Public health now?.
      To assume our lungs can breathe in dust and be medically o/k with the build-up and deposition of all sources of dust particulates inside our lower lung areas of our blood oxygen transfer areas, for our human health is implying very dangerous ideas that may harm the health of many here.
      So we must treat further air pollution with a careful consideration here now since there is a potential increase of the dust from Australian fires to continue.
      What are the reactions of the lungs to dust?
      We use the literature from a senior Canadian agency overseas for this public health exercise; – “Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety”
      Quote; https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/lungs_dust.html
      “The way the respiratory system responds to inhaled particles depends, to a great extent, on where the particle settles. For example, irritant dust that settles in the nose may lead to rhinitis, an inflammation of the mucous membrane. If the particle attacks the larger air passages, inflammation of the trachea (tracheitis) or the bronchi (bronchitis) may be seen.
      The most significant reactions of the lung occur in the deepest parts of this organ.
      Particles that evade elimination in the nose or throat tend to settle in the sacs or close to the end of the airways. But if the amount of dust is large, the macrophage system may fail. Dust particles and dust-containing macrophages collect in the lung tissues, causing injury to the lungs.
      The amount of dust and the kinds of particles involved influence how serious the lung injury will be. For example, after the macrophages swallow silica particles, they die and give off toxic substances. These substances cause fibrous or scar tissue to form. This tissue is the body’s normal way of repairing itself.”
      Summary from CEAC;
      We all now must avoid any localised increase of ‘traffic air pollution’ in future, as we have already heavily covered the ‘public health issues relating to truck transport air pollution increasing’ already in our urban communities around NZ.
      Government must re-double their efforts to reduce use the truck transport and use rail instead to reduce the increasing air pollution from road freight transport.
      End

  1. “Imagine if trees gave off Wifi signals, we would be planting so many trees and we’d probably save the planet too. Too bad they only produce the oxygen we breathe.”

    quote from Tarun Sarathe

    Worst air pollution in the world
    https://www.airvisual.com/world-most-polluted-cities

    Air quality on cruise ship deck ‘worse than world’s most polluted cities’, investigation finds
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/pollution-cruise-ships-po-oceana-higher-piccadilly-circus-channel-4-dispatches-a7821911.html

    (around the ports of Auckland, where some of the cruise ship docks, is some of the worst air pollution in NZ but Auckland Council is obsessed with removing some of the best parts of the waterfront from the public of Auckland and gifting it (with the ratepayers paying) to the highly polluting cruise industry instead).

  2. Unbelievable what is happening in OZ.

    ‘Apocalyptic’ scenes in NSW town of Eden, which hasn’t seen sunlight for 14 hours
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=12298165

    Our sky is affected even though NZ is 2000km away and in an remote area of the world.

    You can start to see the weather than led to dinosaurs becoming extinct, aka particulate matter blocking out the sun (and CO2 emissions from volcanic eruptions) think Whakaari / White Island venting)…. Two things that have occurred in NZ in the last months and nothing anybody can do or pay to stop it (neoliberals beware) once the events are set in motion…

    • yes, this is a Planet wide scale of disaster, exponential abrupt climate change has hit Australia HARD and this is just the beginning for all of us, it can and will only get worse.

  3. Nice comments Hone.I too saw the sun reflections in so many car windscreens in Christchurch and it was weird.
    The sky glow reminds me of redness in the sky many years ago during French Nuclear tests.
    Scary stuff.

  4. Good words @ HH.
    I personally think it’s too late to stop what’s happening. All we can do now is adapt.
    And you’re right, in my opinion. It’ll be the old ways that’ll prove most vital to survival.
    Someone said ” When the belly’s full? Everything else is art.”
    A week or two is all it’ll take for adorable Miffy Sniffy Poops the labradoodlespanipoodle to go from best friend ever to looking delicious and with enough salt, sugar and chilly powder will taste just like chicken.

  5. The bushfires are getting worse as climate warms and drought periods increase in Australia.
    Yet Australia is still exporting coal.

    Only Russia and Saudi Arabia rank ahead of Australia for fossil fuel export emissions.

    Australia mines about 57 tonnes of CO2 potential per person each year, about 10 times the global average, and exports 7 per cent of the world’s fossil fuel CO2 potential.

    Scomo can do something about this.

    Apart from the fossil fuel export, internal burning of fossil fuel continues to increase. The fires add to the damage.
    NZ is no angel in this area either but we have shut down many coal mines and our use of and export of coal declines because of govt intervention. NZ has also banned any new permits for exploration for oil.

    Scott Morrison and his govt have to take the causes of the fires seriously no matter what pain that may bring to some.

    I know its a controversial issue but humans have to get used to the idea of using less energy.

    Degrading the environment so a few can accumulate wealth is treason.

    Piecemeal legislation is entirely inadequate in controlling humans and protecting the mother Earth.

    Money rules over protecting the precious and delicate structure of wetlands, bush and wilderness which are so important to the health of NZ. Offshore investors and banks couldn’t give a stuff about the damage being done.
    While Humans have control over the land we also have responsibility for all living things on the land as well as what we are doing to the atmosphere and waterways.
    We have too many people in NZ and globally. Earth cannot sustain such a plague of parasites and we see the health of the planet decline.
    Only China is attempting to control its numbers.
    NZ has been colonised at great cost to its natural environment with loss of habitat, and rapacious human greed has attempted to justify a long list of extinctions caused by humans. That continues without effective mitigation.

  6. Thanks Hone. A well written piece.

    On new year day, down here in Central Otago, the whole day was spent in a sepia environment, with a blanked out sun, as a result of the fire smoke from Australia! The first thing to come to mind at that time was no sun, no growth = no survival! It was unworldly, but most of all scary of what our grandchildren’s future could be like, should CC not be fully acknowledged and addressed right now.

    If what’s happening in Australia isn’t a wake up call for all of us to do our bit in preserving and caring for the environment, then all will be lost.

  7. I remember that first “Different sun”. We were kids on the beach not far from Kaitaia (yeah, Ahipara). The colours at sunset, not like anything we’d seen before. Or would again, after they’d ended. “They’re testing again…” we were told. Then the olders went silent. We didn’t know what to think or feel about it, just knew it wasn’t good.

  8. This is interesting isn’t it?
    We, et al, came from Africa.
    Why the Hell are we not all getting along then?
    Who, or what, keeps stirring up trouble for the sake of causing trouble in these modern and incredibly enlightened times.
    When peering back into our early days, art makes a vital contribution in explaining the collective us.
    Today? It’s money. And look how that’s working out for us?
    A little over a hundred years of living beyond our means and we’ve fucked our biosphere.
    “…a single mother, a mitochondrial matriarch…”
    That. Right there, is amazing.
    “By comparing variations in the mitochondrial DNA of individuals selected from around the globe, Wilson was able to create a giant family tree for humanity, one that put its roots firmly in Africa. However, Wilson went further. He argued that this genetic tree could be traced back, not just to one group of Homo sapiens but to a single mother, a mitochondrial matriarch who gave rise to our entire species.”
    The search for Eden: in pursuit of humanity’s origins
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/05/the-search-for-eden-in-pursuit-of-humanitys-origins

    • It’s all very interesting, this origin of humanity and why we are the way we are stuff. It seems that we are programmed to cooperate extensively with those we identify as kin and be genocidal towards those we regard as genetic competitors. During times of plenty the need for conflict over resources is reduced, and in times of scarcity it comes to the fore.

      ‘Nine human species walked the Earth 300,000 years ago. Now there is just one. The Neanderthals, Homo neanderthalensis, were stocky hunters adapted to Europe’s cold steppes. The related Denisovans inhabited Asia, while the more primitive Homo erectus lived in Indonesia, and Homo rhodesiensis in central Africa.

      Several short, small-brained species survived alongside them: Homo naledi in South Africa, Homo luzonensis in the Philippines, Homo floresiensis (“hobbits”) in Indonesia, and the mysterious Red Deer Cave People in China. Given how quickly we’re discovering new species, more are likely waiting to be found.

      By 10,000 years ago, they were all gone. The disappearance of these other species resembles a mass extinction. But there’s no obvious environmental catastrophe – volcanic eruptions, climate change, asteroid impact – driving it. Instead, the extinctions’ timing suggests they were caused by the spread of a new species, evolving 260,000-350,000 years ago in Southern Africa: Homo sapiens.’

      https://witsendnj.blogspot.com/

      • We share some Neanderthal genes for a start.
        The cumulative evidence being discovered is fascinating as to how our forebears survived over time.
        There is a lot of speculation about past relations as bits of evidence come to light.

  9. Air polution from Australian fires is now adversely affecting the air quality of NZ air today.

    A Company CER Ltd (registered since 2002) has recently carried out air quality ‘Measurement of Particulates’ in the air above the Bay of Plenty regional hills last night, after repeated signs of air polllution recieved in the region since the Australian bush fires and was measured to be at extreme levels so we post the measurement here now.

    At 6pm on sunday 5th January we observed the high lavels of ‘yellow sky’ developing so we took “spot samples” of air quality then and we observed readings reaching 61 ppm (parts per million) of pm 10, (a particle about one tenth of the size of human hair)

    Results of the ‘first logging of readings’ beginning of the monitoring;

    10pm 5th January 2020

    Particulates (PM) – 2.5 ppm – (parts per million) was at – 13ppm.

    Particulates (PM) – 10 ppm – (parts per million) was at – 45 ppm.

    Usual air quality readings are at near zero measurement of either 2.5 or 10 parts per million so readings such as we have witnessed here now are extremely rare or never seen as sustainable levels as seen here today.

    The measurement location was at remote farm located at 1650 ft above Opotiki on a rural site on Te Wera Rd Matawai in the Rakauroa ranges,

    This region is a remote low air pollution area historically because of the Urewera ranges park surrounding the area and is widely considered to be a very clean air pristine region due to the heavy mountainous region covered in dense pristine native bush and primeval forests.

    These readings are very worrying to the whole farming community here now.

    Measurements will now be continued for public safety and will be posted when other significant signs of air pollution are sighted.

  10. None of us know how this is all going to pan out. With a madman at the helm and apparently no-one sufficiently able and willing to restrain him, and with the Earth itself becoming restless, angry and unpredictable, … who know what awaits.

    Now, more than ever before, we each need to find our own peace within, and stay strong in that. Just to be peaceful through whatever “surprises” are ahead, can be our strongest armor. We’ll also need a ration of detachment while being aware of the turmoil around us.

    So regardless of who your are, your station in life, whatever, … Kia Kaha, stay strong Aotearoa.

  11. Back then, I went to hui where ‘No Ordinary Sun’ was sung. I confess in my mind’s eye I thought ‘No Ordinary Son’ because that was Hone Tuwhare writing sublime poetry. ‘Rain’ is also about us being defined by our environment.

    My daughter tells me Aborigines lived in harmony with the land in a complex way that ensured the land survived without fires. Then European settlers took over large tracts of land to exploit it for money with no regard for sustainability, or the real inhabitants. The present disasters arise from the greed of a few non-indigenous individuals. It’s always a problem of Capitalism – we need to overthrow that system and set up a new system based on collective, fair fundamentals where neither the land or people are exploited to benefit the few.

  12. Meeting Point

    Would it not be a good idea to see MANA developing into the nucleus of a wider “Aotearoa Climate Change Alliance”, encompassing other groups and individuals?

    Community and social mobilization. Local and rural empowerment. Disaster risk preparation. Natural resources protection and management. Good governance. Etc.

    ???

    Civil Action. Think Tank. Kaitiaki.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFhBBTD2h2k

    Meeting Point. And More.

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