Mick Bienowski: Out of Siberia

Mick Bienowski’s trademark convivial magnanimity of spirit belied the horrific nature of his arrival in New Zealand which was via a labour camp in Siberia which is where he found himself in the aftermath of the Russo-German invasion of Poland at the outbreak of World War 2.

He had the incredible good fortune, as he saw it, to be among the now-famous contingent of Polish children who eventually found refuge in Pahiatua, New Zealand.

Mick Bienowski (pictured at a National Press Club event in 2014) who has died at the age of 87 after a long illness was a long-standing member under the newsmaker category which in his case was due to his work as staging constructor at Wellington’s John Street show buildings which with its cavernous interior was the main large capacity venue of its era.

Mick had earlier discovered the show buildings and their value when he used them to display his quick-build homes, a now much publicised genre of which he remains an unacknowledged pioneer.

Here, at the show buildings, he was responsible for configuring touring pop shows as well as sporting events, notably WWF fixtures which as a wrestling enthusiast himself were a particular interest.

Mick Bienowski as soon as he could in New Zealand took up a building apprenticeship, became a master builder, and in Wellington established MB Construction after his own initials which in turn corresponded by chance with the branding of the Master Builders industry group, as he would gleefully point out.

A keen outdoorsman, he revelled in the New Zealand ethic, yet he was always conscious that his manual dexterity had allowed him to survive the war, and he was keen to take his ability out into the community and did so by instructing Maori groups in woodworking, and also in the practical side of prisoner rehabilitation through employment in the construction sector.

He is survived by his son and daughter.

Rex Benson was NZ Herald X-Word Compiler Kropotkin

The death at 75 after a long illness of National Press Club events organiser Rex Benson brought to an end the life and times of one of Wellington’s most diversified talents. It was typical of Rex that while he handled club events he also doubled as secretary- treasurer.

He was a big picture man and a detail devotee. He was best known however as Kropotkin the cryptic crossword compiler of the New Zealand Herald. To this task Rex brought a formidable computer-based firepower. This allowed full flight to his imagination while forestalling any repetition and doubling up of ingredients.

His personal interests were quite literally multicultural encompassing bridge, opera, wine and literature.

In counterpoint to these he was an ardent rugby fan who dedicated infinite air miles in pursuit of the touring All Blacks.

Wanganui-born Rex came to Wellington as a student and gained an early interest in journalism via the Victoria University student newspaper Salient.

His career was taken up in market research where he specialised in data analysis and in doing so became something of an information technology pioneer.

He never lost his university-era interest in radical politics and this was reflected in his own self-branding as Kropotkin a Russian philosopher and anarchist.

He is survived by his wife Judith and their children.

MSC Newswire Founder Max Farndale Reached Million-Plus Audience

MSC Newswire Founder Max Farndale Reached Million-Plus Audience

Max Farndale founder of MSC Newswire, the National Press Club’s associate site, has died suddenly at his home in Napier.

The National Press Club’s association with the site began four years ago and it reached a peak of activity this year when monthly visits reached 1.2 million.

Mr Farndale configured the site around an international audience, reasoning that New Zealand media had become over-localised.

Burly and affable and well known in Auckland athletic circles, notably in cycling and running, Mr Farndale had worked in production engineering and travel before arriving in the publishing sector.

MSC Newswire became renowned for its predictions including the ascendancy of Donald Trump, and the fall of the National Party in the New Zealand general election.

Broadcasting Career Took Steve Whitehouse into UN inner circles

Witness to global peace keeping
operations for 30 years

Stephen Whitehouse’s career began in broadcasting in Wellington and took him to the inner circles of United Nations headquarters in New York where secretary general Kofi Annan described the New Zealander’s technique as the “Whitehouse Way.”

He led the United Nations radio and television unit and his 30 year career there took him throughout the Mediterranean, Middle East, and the Balkans during which time he witnessed and recorded many commotions.

Stephen Alexander Whitehouse who has died in the United Kingdom suddenly at the age of 73 emigrated to New Zealand with his family in 1952.

He grew up in Wellington in an artistic and bohemian household, his mother, actress Davina Whitehouse, being a central figure in the young country’s burgeoning cultural scene. Visitors to the home included a young Sam Neil, Richard Campion (father of Jane), and Peter Jackson. The opening frames of Jackson’s film ‘Brain Dead’ were shot on the beach outside his mother’s house.

After graduating from Victoria University, Wellington, where he had excelled as a revue writer and performer, he worked for the Broadcasting Corporation before moving to Hong Kong for a stint on the South China Morning Post. A keen jazz enthusiast (he played tenor saxophone) he leapt at the chance to work at the UN and lived in the Park Slope, Brooklyn (the ‘real New York’ as he put it) from the early 70’s.

Retiring to Sandwich, Kent, he worked on the Festival Committee, took up the banjo, joined the local Liberal Democrats, avidly watched cricket and rugby and listened to his beloved Radio New Zealand, returning to Wellington every year for the NZ summer.

An enthusiastic amateur historian, he was also a volunteer at Sandwich Museum. A keen sailor during his earlier years, he recently became a trustee for the P22 gunboat.

Steve is survived by his wife Lynne O’Donoghue, sons Sasha and Sam from his first marriage, a stepdaughter Alexandra and stepson Daniel.

 

Denis Adam, Insurance Tycoon, Philanthropist, RAF Pilot

The death in his 95th year after a long illness of Denis Adam brings to an end the era in which astute and cultivated Europeans did so much to set the tone of post-World War 2 New Zealand. He was the last of the independent philanthropists and his endowments in creative arts in terms of awards and buildings remain a constant and visible reminder of his generosity.

His range of interests extended into many nooks and crannies of capital life. He was for example for many years an active member of the National Press Club. He is pictured receiving his Life Membership plaque from the club’s vice president Peter Bush.

His career was testimony to a singular application of his diverse skills and especially so in regard to what made sense commercially.

Early in his days in New Zealand he became the proprietor of a petrol station in Petone and it was here that he anticipated the growth in motor vehicle insurance.

This now became the foundation of his insurance broking business, a sector which he would come to dominate.

He rarely referred to his life prior to his arrival in New Zealand, other than to make an occasional wistful or ironic reference to his earlier days in relation to his subsequent career in the Antipodes.

His background was in fact extraordinary.

He was for example one of the handful of Germans in World War 2 flying with the RAF

Denis Frederick Adam was born in Germany in 1924 to a family of secular Jews.

At an early age he was sent to boarding school in Britain and he was to retain subsequently vestiges of a clipped British private school accent.

His parents followed him to Britain upon the ascendancy of Hitler,

As soon as he was able he joined the RAF. If anyone were to bring up the topic, he would be careful to point that his experience had been predominantly in Typhoons rather than in Spitfires.

Upon demobilisation he contemplated a career as a journalist, an idea he tested on his commanding officer.

“Don’t do that,” he was told. “At the end of your career you will have nothing to show for it.”

Having met a number of New Zealanders while serving in the RAF, it was now that he decided upon a mercantilist career and also to embark upon it in New Zealand.

He was the younger brother of Sir Ken Adam who was responsible for the film sets for the James Bond films and for those of Stanley Kubrick, among many others. .

Sir Ken Adam, also an RAF pilot, predeceased him by two years.

Denis Adam was a signature figure of the Wellington business district for many years operating out of his modest Adam Foundation office in the old DIC building.

Always immaculately attired in a three-piece business suit and a tan overcoat he drove himself to and fro in a classic era Rolls Royce.

In his office he made himself available to a wide selection of citizenry dispensing in his matter-of-fact manner advice, if called for, gathered from his own experience in so many different fields.

He was appointed OBE and CNZM.

He is survived by his widow Verna.

 

David Yallop Inspired NZ's
Andrew Little to
Take Up Underdog Cause

Late Author defied institutions

David Yallop who has died in Britain at the age of 81 is credited by the New Zealand Labour Party cabinet member Andrew Little as precipitating him into a career dedicated to serving the “underdog.”

Mr Little shortly after his election as leader of the Labour Party confessed to NZ Lawyer publication that reading Mr Yallop had propelled him both into law and serving the Labour Party.

“I’d read a book about the Derek Bentley case in the UK – he was the last person to be hanged in England – and that piqued my interest,” Mr Little is quoted as saying.

“That was also at the time of Arthur Allan Thomas and the Royal Commission Inquiry, and I’d admired the various lawyers that [he] had…I liked the idea of using a legal qualification to battle for the underdog.”

Mr Little went on to study philosophy, law and public policy at Victoria University in Wellington

Upon graduation he was hired as a solicitor for the Engineers Union, which later became the EPMU and which also represented journalists.

Mr Yallop and Mr Little at various times both addressed the National Press Club.

Mr Yallop did so after the publication of his book To The Ends of the Earth about the career and eventual capture of Carlos aka The Jackal.

Mr Yallop demonstrated the depth and spread of his groundwork when in referring to the late Libya strongman Colonel Gaddafi he was asked by a member of the audience how he knew the correct pronunciation of the dictator’s name.

“He told me,” shot back the author.

After cutting his teeth on the British Craig-Bentley murder-capital punishment case in his book To Encourage The Others, Mr Yallop consolidated his reputation as a miscarriage of justice author with Beyond Reasonable Doubt?

In this he drew together many of the threads on the Pukekawa murders originally exposed by the Auckland Star’s Pat Booth (see also obituary below)

Mr Yallop along the way published other books with similarly ringing titles in which he challenged internationally sporting bodies, notably FIFA, and also the Roman Catholic church and its Papacy.

Mr Little meanwhile stood aside in 2017 to allow Jacinda Ardern MP to become leader of the Labour Party.

He continues though his destiny inspired by David Yallop as minister of justice among other cabinet-rank portfolios.

 

Connie Lawn
Brought Luminous Era
to Radio New Zealand

The death at 73 of Connie Lawn evokes for many the epoch in which Radio New Zealand set the news agenda throughout Oceania

Miss Lawn broadcasting from Washington became the best known of an international group of correspondents then featuring regularly on the news hours.

Miss Lawn’s renown centred on her Washington reports to Radio New Zealand’s morning segment prior to the start of the working day which in this era was required listening for what would now be described as the political class.

Her era in this role was encapsulated in her autobiographical work You Wake Me Each Morning which went through several editions.

Based on this experience Miss Lawn who died on April 2 after a long illness, Parkinson’s, became an unofficial consul in Washington shepherding itinerant New Zealanders in their desired direction.

Miss Lawn was made Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and received the National Press Club’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the insignia of which she donated to the Washington National Press Club where it remains on display.

She was in her later years the Dean of the White House Press Corps, having served there for half a century.

Connie Lawn brought a luminous element to her foreign correspondent role thus presaging in a curious way the current RNZ scheme to recover its pre-eminence by grafting onto itself a television channel.

For most of her career she was freelance having incorporated herself as Audio Video News which was to achieve an international clientele.

She is survived by her husband Dr Charles Sneiderman and her two sons David and Daniel.

Miss Lawn is photographed in The Beehive in 2006 receiving her National Press Club Lifetime Achievement Award from Minister of Broadcasting Steve Maharey.

Auckland Star's
Pat Booth
Incarnated
Ed Asner
Newspaperman

The death of Pat Booth brings to a sharp end the era of the crusading human interest newspaperman.

Pat Booth who has died at the age of 88 was the last practising journalist anywhere in the world to have enjoyed a career that spanned the age in which newspapers flourished unrivalled all the way through to the social networking fractured picture of today.

In his acceptance speech on receiving at Government House the National Press Club’s Lifetime Achievement Award he recalled this transition.

“I came home brimming with a story that I wanted to tell my family. Instead they told me about it.”

They had heard it over the radio.

Pat Booth devoted most of his working life to the Auckland Star, rising to become editor.

During this tour he demonstrated a tenacity that saw him following stories wherever they went for as long as it took, most notably the Arthur Allan Thomas miscarriage of justice.

He bore in aspect and manner an uncanny resemblance to the television news boss played by Ed Asner, by coincidence in real life also an ardent advocate of human causes and who spoke to the National Press Club close to the time when Pat Booth received his award under the aegis of Governor General Dame Sylvia Cartwright.

Pat Booth in his ascent to becoming the nation’s pre-eminent journalist and a household name defied the prevailing belief that journalists had to work outside New Zealand in order to be successful in it.

In writing his last column three years before his death, he also stood in sharp contrast to the industry’s prevailing youth emphasis.

Jill Weyburne
1939 - 2017

The death after a long illness of Jill Weyburne brought to an end the life of one of the National Press Club’s most active members. Incisive of mind, she was adept in numerous vocations that also required dexterity, notable in the crafts sphere. These threads coalesced in her remarkable ability in bridge in which she became the New Zealand individual champion.

Jillian Marie Lynskey was born in 1939 into an illustrious New Zealand/ Irish clan. She married 53 years ago Bryan Weyburne at various times a Wellington City Councillor and an enduring mercantilist figure on the capital landscape. He is the National Press Club’s long time secretary- treasurer.

Jill Weyburne (pictured) will be remembered for her energy and her ability in many diverse fields and her willingness to put these at the disposal of the individuals and the organisation that she believed to be of value to the community at large.

She is survived by her husband and their four sons.

 

Warco Chris Turver
Honoured for Services
To Local Government,
Community & Journalism

 

National Press Club’s Chris Turver, appointed MNZM is drawn to the very different spheres of action, ideas, and public administration. He was born into strife in the industrial north of England at the height of the Blitz. He went on to become the first official war correspondent from New Zealand at the height of the Vietnam conflict.

As the New Zealand Press Association’s war correspondent of the era he was to touch down on several other conflicts of various intensities, notably in Borneo. He was embedded on the RNZN deployment to Mururoa.

Subsequently Christopher Turver (pictured, above) was to deploy here his own and still earlier experience gained as a pavement-level daily newspaper reporter in his native UK.

His near two decades as divisional editor, notably on the political desk, on Radio New Zealand brought a seasoned print-journalism level of unremittingly disciplined concision and impartiality to RNZ during its glory days before its eclipse by privatisation and then by the audience fractionalisation wrought by the internet.

At the conclusion of this tour of duty his career went anywhere but on the spike. He launched himself into local government as Kapiti district representative on the Wellington Regional Council. He became chief executive of the Royal New Zealand Coastguard Federation. He served on the district health board.

Later his public service career has embraced still further roles in which he has become president of the Paraparaumu RSA and chairman of the Electra Trust which represents district power users.

Christopher Turver JP’s Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit citation was for “services to journalism, local government and the community.”

 

Death of Clare Hollingworth
Greatest reporter of
Last Century

Clare Hollingworth, the outstanding reporter of the last century, has died in Hong Kong at the age of 105.

Her greatest scoop was the announcement of the start of World War 2.

Clare Hollingworth (pictured) was the National Press Club’s International Year of Womens’ Suffrage guest speaker. She was brought to Wellington by the National Press Club in association with the British High Commission.

At that time the war in the Balkans was underway

Miss Hollingworth in her talk to the National Press Club outlined the ethnic and religious rifts and their genesis which were to become so evident in this century.

“Just because your neighbour watches the same television programmes that you watch does not mean that they will share your opinions,” she said.

Miss Hollingworth was the first British female war correspondent.

The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Hong Kong announced her death.

''The FCC is very sad to announce the passing of its much beloved member Clare Hollingworth at age 105.”

 

 

Clued Up

National Press Club events director Rex Benson and club stalwart David Tossman have something puzzling in common.

Tossman (above) has just completed his 1,000th crossword for the Listener.

Benson (below) meanwhile is on the edge of logging his 970th 'Kropotkin'
cryptic for the New Zealand Herald.

In Tossman’s case the crossword is a family affair.

His mother assiduously filled out the puzzle from its inception by Tossman’s predecessor, RWH, who had devised them for the Listener since 1940.

Tossman’s ensuing appointment to the puzzle in 1997 means that in relative terms he is quite new to the job.

The hirsute conundrum hustlers claim meanwhile that they never exchange, well, cross words.

 

Fidel Castro saved Cuba from Coups,
Counter Coups, asserts New Zealand Eyewitness

Cites Dictator’s emphasis on health,
education throughout Latin America


Fidel Castro was a “giant” who saved Cuba from revolving door coups and counter coups declares New Zealander Bernard Diederich who was a close friend of Castro’s since his ascent to power.

Mr Diederich and his wife were on the invitation list for the 10th anniversary of the Cuba revolution.

Had it not been for Castro, emphasises Mr Diederich, Cuba would simply be another “poor and uneducated” Latin nation.

Mr Diederich cites Castro’s intense interest in science and religion as additional, and unrecognised, aspects to the personality of the dictator.

Mr Diederich also emphasises the way in which the Cuban leader deployed his technical people notably doctors throughout Latin America and to the benefit of the poor there.

For many year Mr Diederich ran Haiti's daily paper and was thus eyewitness to the various catastrophes in the region caused by human intervention.

Mr Diederich was for many years in charge of Time Life’s Central America coverage. He was awarded the National Press Club's Lifetime Achievement Award two years ago. He is pictured at the event in Martinborough where his New Zealand family is now based.

He hails from Wellington and is considered now to be New Zealand’s greatest living adventurer. His odyssey started early in World War 2 when he became a boy sailor on the Pamir, the square rigger seized from the Germans.

Considering this too safe, he went on to sail in tankers across the Atlantic.

After the war he hove-to in Port Au Prince, Haiti, where he started his newspaper and began a tortured relationship with the Duvalier dynasty.

Now a resident in Miami, Mr Diederich was to deal on personal terms with all the Central American dictators over the next half century and his books on them are considered standard reference works.

Early revolutionary days (below): Bernard Diederich, wearing tie, with Fidel Castro.

 

Rendezvous with
Le Monde cartoonist
Jean Plantureux


In a surprise encounter National Press Club president Peter Isaac crossed paths with Jean Plantureux the cartoonist for Le Monde and who is universally known as Plantu. It was in 2007 that Plantu spoke to the club at a meeting in the New Zealand Parliament.

In recent years the cartoonist, a national figure in France, has become dedicated to promoting his cause, jointly founded in 2006 with UN Secretary general Kofi Annan, which is known as Cartooning for Peace.
Cartooning for Peace was behind the feature film The Caricaturists which includes Plantu along with a global gathering of cartoonists from around the world, notably from such hot spots for practitioners as Russia, Mexico, Venezuela, China, the Gaza Strip, and Tunisia.

Isaac said he was surprised to find Plantu at the gathering in what appeared to be the routine care of at least six police and he ascribed this to the cartoonist’s insistence that the film be publicly screened in homage to the victims of the religious fanaticism attack on the Paris satirical cartoon newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

The Caricaturists film also includes Plantu’s own role in the Middle East weaving between such protagonists as Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres.

Isaac said that Plantu (at right, above) recalled vividly his visit to New Zealand and his meetings with local cartoonists.

 

The Labour Party exists
only to help poor declared
Glenda Jackson MP

 “The Labour Party exist for just one purpose,” British Labour MP Glenda Jackson told a National Press Club meeting. “It is to help the poor.”

Her comment came in the aftermath of the introduction of New Zealand to globalisation by the David Lange-led Labour government.

Miss Jackson (pictured at the time of her visit to New Zealand) was one of the very few Labour Party MPs of this era in the Westminster sphere who had sprung from an authentically working class background and having started her own career as a shopgirl.

Britain’s membership of the EU has had the unanticipated effect of being a multiplier of Britain’s intra party rifts especially within the Conservative Party.

Now though the EU in a wrenching display of the power of reverse leverage is pulling apart the British Labour Party as it strips away the layers of tarpaulin camouflage that has tenuously held it together.

Starkly revealed now are it components. There are the real poor who are those in the old rust-belts and fishing towns. Then on the other side of the Labour equation are those who have never been poor, do not intend to be, and who, in the words of UKIP’s Nigel Farage, have never held down “a proper job in their lives.”

It is this last category, mostly based within the London commuter belt, who now stand exposed. They are like the people swimming without togs when the tide goes out.

They are the ones thrilled to their marrows by the concept of Europe, especially the Latin zone such as France with its gauche de la gauche political parties and even a fully-fledged Communist Party.

It is here that an old field revolutionary such as Che Guevara cohort Regis Debray can saunter around between academia and far left political convocations expounding their views on how we live now.

Until just a few days ago the Labour Party could glue together its quite opposing components in the form of the workers and those who were not workers, quite the opposite in fact.

Now this flimsy coalition has burst apart . The non workers especially those who make up most of Labour’s parliamentary wing, were explained away by the notion that they were idealistically-driven. That they intended to use their privilege to serve Glenda Jackson’s poor.

Now though they have been revealed in the eyes of those poor to have been actively working against them.

The have been seen in plain sight to have been encouraging the very wholesale immigration that adds up to cheap labour and thus depressed earnings.

They have been exposed to have been in fact conspiring against Glenda Jackson’s constituency by handing over much of Britain’s fishing grounds to the EU and by seeking to encourage and enable the very immigration that acted counter to the livelihoods of workers.

The game of pretence which has endured since the 1960s has finally ended.

Jeremy Corbyn, himself from a professional class background, has become quite literally its first martyr. The elastic would ultimately only stretch so far. He was unable to reconcile the irreconcilable. He had to step into the light and so did his Labour Party.

 

New Zealand Trophies on Display

New Zealand trophies
On Display at
the Washington
National Press Club

The New Zealand National Press Club’s plaque and accompanying silver salver commemorating the presentation of its Lifetime Achievement Award to long time Dean of the White House Press Corps Connie Lawn are now in the lobby of the Washington National Press Club.

Miss Lawn was for a generation the Washington reporter for Radio New Zealand, a tour of duty featured in her autobiography You Wake Me Each Morning.

Miss Lawn was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 by Hon Steve Maharey the Minister of Broadcasting at a ceremony in New Zealand’s Parliament .

She was appointed an Honorary Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit from Queen Elizabeth in 2012.

Miss Lawn has presented her New Zealand National Press Club trophies to the Washington National Press Club’s permanent exhibition collection.

President of the Washington National Press Club Thomas Burr and executive director Bill McCarren, are photographed (below) with Miss Lawn’s plaque and silver salver from the New Zealand club.

Founded in 1908, every U.S. president since Theodore Roosevelt has visited the Washington Press Club (pictured), and all since Warren Harding all have become members.

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