Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

14 May 2012

Let The Pike River 29 Rest

As usual, John Key is the target of criticism, this time because he had said that the Pike River men's bodies would be retrieved, but as time has gone by that possibility has become more remote. Mr Key is not a mining or rescue expert: he said those things because he, in hope as we all have been, had been advised by experts that they would happen. Now 'experts' are casting doubt. Let's not make John Key a target, he aches as much as any of us.

Foreseeing a long, long trail of despair, I wrote to John Key on 20 January 2011 the following:

'Those families must be having a hell of a time groping for
what the psychologists call 'closure'. They really need somebody to put an
end to speculation about what to do about the lost men.

'When warships are sunk and men go to their graves in the sea those ships are
designated official war graves. Everybody knows that nothing can be done
about the victims and so their fates are sealed by that formal designation.
What if the Pike River galleries where those men died - instantaneously we
believe - were declared a sealed grave or urupa, the formality achieved by a
service of consecration conducted by a group of priests, kaumatua, rabbis,
RCs and Anglicans - whichever most appropriately represent the spiritual
persuasions of the lost ones, their families and the nation? 

'That solemn occasion would probably put at rest the minds of the loved ones
and all New Zealanders and draw the sad affair to the best possible
conclusion. Those galleries could be sealed and sacrosanct and their
existence recorded on a memorial such as that of the Brunner disaster; the
names listed as upon a war memorial. Even if the mine were re-opened the
entombment would be tapu.

'I believe we could all live with such a solution.'

Now more than ever seems it rich to put an end to that trail of despair. To seal the tomb, to give it dignity. I wonder who will be bold enough among the dead men's families to say 'let there be an end'?

© DON DONOVAN (Photograph ex Google images. TV3)


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By Don Donovan

About Me

My photo

Don Donovan: Biography

I was born on 20 January 1933, nine days before Hitler came to power in Germany, I grew up in south London. Although evacuated during the phoney war and the quieter times I lived in and out of air raid shelters during the blitz and experienced both V1 and V2 attacks on London. Left grammar school in 1948 aged 15 substantially undereducated. I wanted to go to art school but because of family ‘poverty’ joined a commercial art studio in the West End. I was, thereafter, variously a messenger boy, commercial artist and typographer. I was in the Royal Air Force from 1951 to 1953 when the only useful thing I did was to take part in King George VI’s funeral parade.

In 1955 I married Patricia O’Donnell, a RADA graduate, at that time playing opposite Derek Nimmo, they were juvenile leads in a touring repertory company. He went on to great success because he had a funny voice.

We came to New Zealand in 1960 where I worked in advertising. At length I became managing director of one of the companies of whose holding company (the largest domestic advertising complex in New Zealand) I was also a proprietor and shareholder. I left the industry in 1990 when my company was bought out by American interests. My timing was brilliant, at that point my first book had been published and the next was on its way.

We have two daughters and four grand-children.

Now, apart from writing, I function as a self-educated grumpy old man.

Books & Writings

‘New Zealand Odyssey’, with Euan Sarginson, Heinemann-Reed, 1989.

‘One Man’s Heart Attack’, New House, 1990. (A special edition of this book was purchased by CIBA-Geigy for distribution to NZ doctors).

‘Open 7 Days’, Random Century, October 1991.

‘The Good Old Kiwi Pub’ by Saint Publishing in 1995 followed by:
‘New Zealand House & Cottage’ in 1997. (Saint Publishing have also published calendars for the years 1994 to 2004 using my watercolour illustrations).

‘The Wastings’, my first novel was published in July 1999 by Hazard Press. Although an international subject it had very limited distribution, only in New Zealand, and the rights have reverted to me. (Colin Dexter read 'The Wastings' and wrote to me: 'I enjoyed and admired "The Wastings"... a beautifully written work... a splendid debut in crime fiction... More please!'.)

Also the texts of photographic books:
‘Colourful New Zealand’
‘New Zealand in Colour’
‘Top of the South’
‘Above Auckland’
‘Hauraki Gulf Destinations’
‘Bay of Plenty’
and a compilation of photographs and quotations titled ‘Anzac Memories’ 2004 all published by New Holland.

My written and illustrated book, ‘Country Churches of New Zealand’ was published in October 2002 by New Holland, who also published ‘Rural New Zealand’ 2004 (photographs and text), and a series of four humorous books of photographs and quotations in 2004 and 2005 titled ‘Woolly Wisdom’, ‘Chewing the Cud’, ‘Fowl Play’, and ‘Pig Tales’. My most recent book was published in August 2006 by New Holland, titled ‘Political Animals’.

Over the years I have written for NZ Herald, Heritage Magazine, Next Magazine and various local and overseas travel and general interest media.