A Great Start to Halloween

Halloween certainly lived up to its creepy reputation this morning with a moderate fog in Christchurch.  On the drive to work, I snapped a few shots I’d like to share with you  (No, I wasn’t driving…) and my story of how Halloween has evolved in New Zealand since I have lived here.

Trees enshrouded by fog at the Northwood roundabout on Halloween morning 2012
Trees enshrouded by fog at the Northwood roundabout on Halloween morning 2012

The view down our street was rather ominous as well…

The end of our street disappearing into the fog
The end of our street disappearing into the fog on Halloween morning 2012

The mood for Halloween… excellent!

St. Bede's College grounds covered in fog on Halloween morning 2012
St. Bede’s College grounds covered in fog on Halloween morning 2012

Now, Halloween has not always been a huge holiday here in New Zealand like it is in the USA, where I grew up.  One of my most favourite (although saddest) stories happened in my first year in New Zealand.  Convinced that we would get trick-or-treaters since we lived on a busy road across from a grade school, I purchased what can only be described as a truckload of candy.  My partner Noel (a Kiwi) told me I was spending what little money I did have at the time on something that could go to waste.

Well, he was right.  We didn’t get one trick-or-treater.  I sat in the bedroom that faced the driveway and road by myself, bucket full of candy.  Had I seen myself from the outside, I probably had a big sad face on, bottom lip trembling, eyes wide and welling with tears.  It wouldn’t’ve been pretty.

The next year, I decided not to buy candy.  Of course, Murphy stepped in with his prick of a law, and we got a trick-or-treater, a cute little kid about 5 years old.  I ransacked the cupboards to find we had no candy, so I ended up giving the boy $5 (because it was all I had).  The mother was probably embarrassed, I was slightly upset I had no candy for the child, and the boy was in hog heaven because he now had a whole five dollars.  If he were anything like me at that age, my mind would have filled with the vast possibilities of what I could buy with that $5.

After we moved to our current house in a new subdivision full of families, Halloween became more of an event.  Every year, we put up some decorations, and we once again buy a truckload (or two) of candy.  More often than not, most of the candy is gone by evening’s end.  (I’m a bit naughty because I tell kids to dig in, grab a huge handful of candy.  You only live once, right?)

My theory is that Halloween is supposed to be a fun (although sometimes frightening) holiday for kids and young adults… and maybe even adults too.  Even though it evolved from various traditions, some religious, some pagan (depending on whom you speak to), it now represents a chance to dress up, have some fun with your friends, and get some candy as a reward for having fun and showing off your costume.

So, what are you doing for Halloween this year?  I’d love to hear.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Priorities, Priorities

Recently, the New Zealand Herald reported on a protest against same-sex marriage, as the New Zealand Government currently has a member’s bill before it, looking at legalising the right for gay and lesbian couples to marry.  As an openly gay man in a stable, monogamous relationship, I obviously support gay marriage so my relationship can be legally recognised as equal under the eyes of the law.  (A civil union does not allow some of the same rights a marriage does, including adoption.  This is a double-tier system which openly discriminates against the LGBT community.)

I was born gay.  The only “choice” I had was to live a lie or tell the truth; I chose the truth.  I pay my fair share of taxes and give back to the wider New Zealand community.  I believe I should have the same legal rights as my straight counterparts.  I should be able to have the same marriage rights under the law (which should be free from religious influence) with the man I love.  If I get the right to marry my partner, this will not affect New Zealand society negatively.

Now, in my nearly 17 years in New Zealand, I have had very few people express a problem with my sexual orientation or my relationship with another man.  Most people haven’t really cared.  One thing I love about New Zealand is the seemingly “live and let live” attitude here, which is refreshing compared to some of my experiences in my homeland America.

So, obviously, it dismayed me to see some Tongans protesting against gay marriage, especially comparing gays and lesbians to “animals”.  These two protesters are holding poorly worded protest signs with spelling errors galore.  Interestingly enough, this highlights a huge problem with New Zealand’s third largest ethnic group.

You see, according to Statistics New Zealand, Tongans comprise 19% of the population as of 2006 and increased a whopping 24% between 2001 and 2006.  Yet only 64% had any formal secondary or post-secondary qualifications, compared to 65% of the total Pasifika community or 75% of the overall New Zealand population.  Tongan men are less likely than women to hold formal qualifications.

But that’s not all.  Let’s look at some more data about the Pasifika community (of which the Tongan population belongs to) overall:

I could find all sorts of facts and statistics on how the Pasifika community and (by proxy) the Tongan community are disadvantaged and have many struggles with everyday issues, such as poverty, overcrowding, nutrition and education.

Don’t you think these protesting Tongans should be more worried about improving their own community and providing opportunities for themselves, their loved ones, and their future generations?  Shouldn’t they be trying to ensure they have the skills, health, and education to contribute to New Zealand society as a whole and raise their wealth?

Maybe solving the problems their own community is facing should be a higher priority for them instead of trying to deny another minority their equal legal rights?