GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Last Saturday


Nostalgia – sentimentality about the past – is a trap for those of us who now have a longer past than an expected future.

There was a lot wrong with the New Zealand I grew up in. Being gay was a crime, kids were strapped and caned at school , mental illness carried stigma and a bout of depression could mean being locked up in “the looney bin”.

But there was a lot right with it – and Saturday was one of them.

It was the day that shops were closed, when the nation stopped to take a breather from the rat race and everyone either did things around the home , or with family, or play sport. It was the day that music and drama groups practiced an performed ,when communities got together to fix things or work on a joint project.

I know that the lockdown was financially tough for a lot of people , but for many it was an enforced time of reflection on what’s important in life and as I write a few conversations I’ve had with people in the past week come floating back to me that suggest some of us might have changed a few things in the way we live our lives. (I won’t mention names – I don’t have their permission)

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“Sewing machine sales are up. Seems lot of young ones are getting into making their own clothes”

“I’ve started a little garden at the back of our flat”.

“ I see a lot more people out walking these days.. and they say “Good-morning!”

“Instead of building more roads we should look into the cost of making public transport free.”

“I see a lot of ‘Buy Local” signs up around the place”

Perhaps it’s just the people I encounter in my bubble but I do get a sense that we might have seen a bit of a shift towards becoming ,once again, a more self- sustaining more community minded New Zealand .

I hope so.

Monday would be better for all of us if it contained some elements of Saturday.

Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


  1. Read Prof Stanley Milgram.
    Bring in a three day working week.
    Approach our one time trading partners in EU, The UK and The USA with our world first foods etc.
    Make foreign banking illegal here and freeze their assets.
    Request a Royal Commission of Inquiry into our past and present politicians and local and foreign business persons then freeze assets as required.

    Five little things which would transform AO/NZ.
    Or business as usual…?
    “Trump adviser Kevin Hassett:
    ‘Our human capital stock is ready to go back to work”

    • This is the practical ‘other’ end of the stick that needs to be changed, COUNTRYBOY,- I’m glad you mentioned it. It was the first thing that entered my mind after reading Bryan’s simple but straightforward excellent article. Yet the things you mentioned are only the macro beginnings, – empowering trade unions and an award rate as Greywarbler mentions for example AND enforcing it is another, – there are so many things both great and small that could easily be done to dislodge the hideous humanity destroying neo liberal dogma.

      The stupid thing is it would actually be so easy to do.

      Once we all realized we’ve been shafted for 3 decades for the sake of the wealthy elite.

  2. I would love to see Sunday closing for most shops. The hardware stores could be open, plants, and cafes. And there would be time and a half pay for workers on Sunday. Saturday would be a half day for everyone, open at 8am and then most stores closed at 12.30 pm, with time and a half pay too. Supermarkets open on Saturday till 6pm, Sunday till 1 pm. Commerce must go on it is the lifeblood of the country but the long hours are unnecessary. That’s a dream probably. And would cause some difficulties till people got used to it. But how wonderful to have some regular time off – a real week end.

    I remember in UK that there would be early closing on one day of the week with each area having a different day. That meant that the workers from one area could then have time to shop in the other areas still open.
    Once you got the idea it was fine. It was a bit of information that a new resident needed along with what day the rubbish got collected etc.

    • Nothing wrong with that , mate. That’s how it was when I grew up in the 1960’s and 1970’s. And NZ didn’t fall apart, – in fact it was when NZ was its wealthiest. It was only in 1984 and the greedy’s led by Big Roger and his little neo liberal games that our lives became vastly poorer both economically, socially and spiritually. Good post.

  3. Yet another ( small but succinct…) article by you, Bryan. Nothing sentimental about it. It was how we did things for decades until the 1984 greedy’s changed this country for the worse.

    Led by Big Roger and his little neo liberal games.

    100% agree with your article. Just because everything is in the now doesn’t necessarily mean its better than the then. Sometimes its best to cut your losses and return to a known former time when things actually worked and were far better for people in general.

    In this case, – pre 1984.

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