Friday 3 September 2021

Twenty four hours of very mixed feelings

About 26 hours ago, David and I had phoned our wonderful daughter to sing happy birthday to her - it is a tradition, and while David has quite a good singing voice and I can sort of carry a tune, we deliberately sing the birthday song off key and raucously. I think it's for effect and to make sure the kids don't think we are being mawkish and sentimental - heaven forfend!

As it was, this time because Kirsty has exhorted David to be concise in explaining stuff, he sang alone at double speed, and then I sang. Her response 'You two are dorks!' So obviously we did good!

Then 22 hours ago, we heard the good news that the number of COVID cases in the community for the previous day was 28, and all of them were of people who were close contacts of current cases, so all of them were already in isolation. The number of cases has dropped for the last 4 days out of five, so we were well pleased.

There was the case of a young man who was extremely distressed at having tested positive a day or so before and in his distress he absconded at about 1am from the MIQ hotel he and his family were in (he was sharing a room with his teenaged brother). When his mother called her sons' room in the morning, the teenager woke and realised his brother wasn't there. The mother immediately got in touch with the security staff and military who run the facility. The police were notified and the young man was found at his home. The good news was that he had walked home, had not had any contact with anyone on the way, had not visited anywhere, and had gone to bed when he got home.

So no risk to the community, but he has been charged, appeared in court through video link (a humane aspect - the video link was provided by the policeman who was keeping an eye on him in custody). There is distress for his family and a fairly substantial amount of scaremongering by the media with incomplete facts, guesses and speculation before the Deputy PM gave the complete picture at the 1pm briefing. And of course, the media had turned up at his home, so now, even if the name suppression is in place, anyone with Google Street View and a basic knowledge of the area can track the house down and be pricks to the family when they are allowed out of MIQ. And given he is not white, the racist abuse has already started.

And of course, a media beat up of the so called failures of the MIQ staff and processes. And as you know, the media are absolute experts at everything and they, alongsode the Opposition, could have done a MUCH better job and would never allow any slip ups. Of course they wouldn't!

And also a beat up of failures at the airport because 4 students had at various times broken Alert Level 4 rules and flown either out of Auckland to their home cities or back from their home cities to Auckland. Not one word of criticism of the students from the media even though one of the young women said she hadn't been aware of the rules (FFS!!!), not one word of criticism of their parents for allowing them to travel or not telling them of the rules or not stopping them or not reporting them (as the Samoan mother had done about her son's transgression). But criticism of the airport's security systems, of the government for not closing those gaps. Can anyone guess the difference between the young Samoan man and the students?

And then at 2pm, my new e-bike was delivered - it is lovely.

You will notice it is RED. It currently doesn't have mudguards but Jeff Burnsie (Burnsie's Bikes Waikanae) will order them as soon as we are in Alert Level 2. We have ordered one the same but slightly larger (a Medium instead of a Small) for David from a dealer in the Hawke's Bay as Jeff had no more stock. We will go to collect it when we are back in Alert Level 2 and can cross regional boundaries.

I did a few little rides without the e facility to get my balance back and to start getting familiar with it. I am still a bit chary of biking since my fall in Amsterdam back in 2007. Did you know that when crossing tram tracks on your bike in the rain, you need to approach them at right angles? Neither did I. If you don't, the back wheel slides into the tram track and off you go, face planting on the roadway. Not good. Painful. Messy. Black eye, Facial nerve damage which thankfully (and very unusually) healed, but only because I had a lot of massage and drainage work done on my head and face. So a fair amount of wariness about biking is still in my brain.

(Sunday morning: I have edited this section, based on information that has been released since I first wrote - I do not want to be promulgating misinformation. Edits are in italics.) And then at 5pm I noticed on my phone that there was a press conference with the PM and the Police Commissioner. It turns out there had been a lone wolf terrorist attack in an Auckland supermarket that afternoon. Because the man was unable to be imprisoned and was known (from 2016) to be a threat, and his refugee status was unable to be revoked and he was unable to be deported back to Sri Lanka (although that was under appeal and was due to be resolved about now) since his release from prison on remand 53 days prior to the attack, he had been under 24/7 close surveillance. So when he started attacking people in the supermarket with a knife he took from a shelf there, the police were already following him. They confronted him, warned him and then shot him dead. He was killed within 120 - 150 seconds of starting his rampage - the first victim must have been on his/her own and did not make any noise. So the police think that there was a 60 - 90 second period before they knew he was stabbing people. He critically injured three people,  two have moderate injuries, I believe, and the other two were injured but not severely. At this point, none of the injured have died. Let's hope it stays that way and that they all make a full recovery. Apart from those critically injured, all of the others have been released from hospital and are recovering at their homes.

And of course, the racist vitriol will be all over social media. The man was ISIS inspired. But we can bet our boots that a segment of our society will blame all muslims.

I had a sleepless night - thinking about the people in the supermarket - staff and customers - and their terror, fear, fright and the acts of heroism. I thought too about the Special Tactics Group personnel who were on surveillance duty, and who had to follow him until he did something that he could be arrested for. They will be feeling that if only they had been closer they could have prevented injuries to others. But the man was surveillance savvy, so they had a distance they had to keep. They will also be feeling pleased that they did their jobs and prevented anyone else from being killed or injured. So a mixed bag for them. I thought too that our wonderful Prime Minister was probably also lying awake - at the press conference she was clearly really angry that the courts' interpretation of the law (and the law's shortcomings) had prevented this man from being in prison. She said yesterday that she had also looked with the legal people at whether he could be sectioned but apparently that remedy was not legally available either. And of course, since then, even though the legislation to fix this loophole/failing is just out of Select Committee, she is already being blamed by the media for not having done the work faster. And barely a mention that the current Leader of the Opposition was Justice Minister when the requirement for change was first mooted and she removed it from Crown Law's work programme. Although, to be fair, Kim Hill, a Saturday morning radio host did interview said LoO this morning, but her response was that it was a decision of Cabinet at the time and that it wasn't fair to be asked about things that had occurred 8 years ago...

And here's headline on Stuff right now: A terror attack that occurred while the Government was watching. And what is the implication in that?

And now it's not even noon, and my eyes are heavy as is my heart, I am unutterably angry, and I need to rest.

To try to get myself out of feeling so crappy, I have been out for a short bike ride - 20 minutes only. And most of it without the e function engaged to increase my leg strength. And when I had to stop at an intersection, I discovered my legs were struggling to work! 

And what was worse was that the step counter on my phone doesn't work when it's in the back pocket of my jeans while I am biking - I need bike shorts so I can keep the phone in a leg pocket! What is the point of exercising if the effort is not being recorded!? I also need padded bike shorts to assist with the sore bum problem!

I am going to have a cup of tea, a couple of magnesium and some B vitamins and take myself back to bed for a bit. I need to retreat from the world for a while.


Jennie said...

Hi Marilyn, what a mix of emotions. We were shocked by the terrible incident in the supermarket. Our immediate thoughts (after our thoughts for the victims and their families as well as for the policemen involved) were just how much it has cost to keep that man under 23 hour surveillance for so many years? What a world we live in. It is so unfair on so many levels. I hope the young Samoan lad gets sympathetic treatment. Will the young students face any sort of penalty for their utter stupidity? Not knowing the rules is never any excuse. I hope you feel better for cuppa and retreat from the world. Jennie x

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Hi Jennie,

I have updated the post based on further information becoming released (once suppression orders were lifted). He was under surveillance for 52 or 53 days I think. He had been in prison on remand for about 3 years, but could not be kept in any longer. Under the law, which is about to change, planning to do something is not a criminal offence. The police have to wait until the offence occurs - hence they were following him constantly, knowing it would kick off but not being sure when.

Unfortunately we have our share of racists here in NZ who will happily condemn all muslims on the basis of his actions (as some did back after 15 March 2019 when the WHITE Australian right wing nutjob attacked and killed over 50 people in a Christchurch mosque during Friday afternoon prayers). Those same people will also condemn the young Samoan man but excuse the students...

You two stay safe and healthy, and enjoy the lovely area where you live. I see that Adam and Adrian did the Tardebigge Flight and the locks below that the other day - did you happen to see them on one of your walks?


Tom and Jan said...

Marilyn two thoughts

1. Can you name an ISIS terrorist who wasn't a Muslim?

2. How many medical procedures might have been completed with the money spent on police surveillance of one suspected terrorist who couldn't be deported because it might infringe his human rights.


Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...


1 I cannot name any ISIS terrorists who are not Muslim.
However if I was given the list of people who died in the two Christchurch mosques on 15 March 2019, And the list of all of the people who were also there but fortunately not killed, I could name all of them as Muslims who are not terrorists. Given a list of the millions of Muslims all over the world, I could confidently state that an extremely small fraction of 1% of them are would-be or actual terrorists.

2 As you are well aware, the budget for Police and the budget for Health come from two different budget allocations within Parliament. Even if the man had not been under surveillance for 52 days, none of that money would have been spent on any medical procedures.

If you are suggesting that the Government, Immigration, Police, SIS, and the courts should have operated outside the law to deal with this one guy, then you are opening NZ government agencies up to being able to disregard the law when it suits them or their leader.
I am fairly sure the motivation to get him out of NZ by revoking his refugee status and deporting him was the main focus of all of the agencies involved. They weren't so much concerned with his human rights - they were more concerned with making sure he had no legal recourse to stay here.
And in the meantime while the Courts and Immigration had to be working on determining the outcome of his appeal (due some time this week, I think), the Police, the SIS and the Government did everything they could to keep him from doing harm.
The fact that the law has never made planning a criminal act an offense, only the carrying out a crime, tied the hands of the Courts and all of the agencies. That is one of the law changes that is coming out of Select Committee now.

By the way, and apropos of not much, we currently are spending a lot more money in the Corrections budget on keeping in prison the Australian guy who murdered the 51 Muslims in Christchurch. And frankly, I don't begrudge a cent of it. Nor do I begrudge the amount spent on the 24/7 surveillance of the 3/9 terrorist. Nor the money spent on keeping him on remand for almost 3 years while every effort was made to get him legally out of NZ.

Anonymous said...

Worrying does not solve anything, you need to relax, dificult I know.
However riding through the countryside on your new bikes will help you to unwind. I'm looking forward to seeing some of your cycling escapades, when you have padded shorts.
We have to look after ourselves, family and friends and help others whenever we can.
I go walkabouts every day alone as it helps me to think things over and appreciate what I have. Keith doesn't like walking and needs much encouragement to come with me....occasionally.
Take care out there,
Ann and Keith xx

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Hi Ann,

Thank you for the counsel - I'm not worrying, I'm just sad really, I think. The anger is reserved for the media and the members of the Opposition who will politicise anything and everything if they think it will get them a few more votes ...

I find walking is relaxing - I love looking at the gardens, the houses, and telling all dogs that I see out with their owners that they are very good dogs. Always brings a smile to the owners' faces, and the dogs respond with friendly tail wags.

Big hugs to you both, Mxx

I've been feeling better today and yesterday.

Carol said...

Made me smile to read about your Happy Birthday singing ... we do exactly the same to all the family who always tell us that we have voices like angels etc.! All good fun. xx

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Hi Carol,
It's good to have those family traditions, isn't it? I like that both of our kids and our grandsons fully expect that we will be calling and singing raucously. I somehow think the day wouldn't be complete for them, if we forgot. And I know it'll be one of their memories of us when we shuffle off this mortal coil. You know the thing "Do you remember when Grammy and Grandad used to ring and sing? Bloody awful wasn't it? But they were so much fun..."Or words to that effect, I sincerely hope!

I am glad that you get the praise - currently, we still get comments like Kirsty's dorks ... But that just makes us laugh harder, as she expects, of course!

Stay safe and healthy, you two.