Greatest Living Adventurer Dies

Greatest Living Adventurer Dies

Bernard Diederich who has died in Haiti was New Zealand’s greatest living adventurer. The National Press Club Lifetime Achievement Award holder sailed before the mast on the Pamir during World War 2, graduated to tankers, and then took up ocean sailing as a hobby which is how he arrived in Haiti.

It was here that he started a newspaper, jousted with Papa Doc Duvalier, and then became during its heyday Time magazine’s Central America correspondent, a position which made him the global expert on all the region’s various dictatorships, and in this he was much assisted by his personal friendship with Fidel Castro.

Another friend was Graham Greene and he and Greene toured the region together giving Diederich the material for his last book Seeds of Fiction.

Bernard Diederich’s career coincided with the high point of print journalism before electronic media eroded the status of practitioners and their freedom to follow a story wherever it led them.

He returned quite regularly to New Zealand to visit his family roots in Martinborough and also to speak to the National Press Club, notably about his coverage of the US incursion into Grenada in which he interposed himself on a dinghy.

Krystyna Tomaszyk’s Last Journey

Krystyna Tomaszyk’s Last Journey

The death of Krystyna Tomaszyk QSM concludes the most storied of all New Zealand’s immigration epics of living memory. The National Press Club stalwart and her mother were part of a near thousand-strong contingent that fled Europe in 1944 via Siberia, Isfahan, and Bombay, eventually settling in a refugee camp home in Pahiatua.

Most of them stayed in New Zealand and Krystyna became a prominent civil servant while authoring several books on this experience known as the Polish Children.

Always superbly turned out and talking in perfect English, Krystyna over many years brought an aura of cosmopolitan class to the club’s proceedings. She was active in many other organisation, notably the National Library Association. She travelled widely, often on charitable work, notably those connected with Mother Theresa.

Women who step outside their contemporary stereotypes still detonate a wide field of conflicted emotions and responses. A new documentary on hard line infectious diseases clinician Dr Siouxsie Wiles provides the evidence.

Dr Wiles carried the bad news about the severity of Covid. She said the virus was the priority and not the economy or even the comfort of the population.

Her various prognostications were justified.

The documentary reveals how attention focused only slightly on Siouxsie Wiles the scientist and instead focussed on the clinician’s persona which is underwritten by her signature purple frizz hair do, and by her general flamboyance characterised by her choice of nom de guerre, Siouxsie.

The camera follows the colourful clinician in a domestic milieu point-counterpoint style in which she alternately giggles at herself and fires off life-and-death pronunciamentos about the virus threat.

Social equity desiderata permeate the politico-media class.

This documentary by National Press Club member Gwen Isaac indicates however that there remains beyond the elites and their world, well, another world.

It is inhabited by those exhibiting a bewilderment amounting to suspicion and hostility about females who having ventured into the sharper edges of real science then proceed to cross over into other preserves such as entertainment and public education

The outbreak in the United States of the Covid 19 contagion ripped through Washington and New York. An eyewitness was and remains National Press Club NZ member Victoria Gaither. She was swept into the pandemic when an entire branch of her family was wiped out by it. In the Washington press she recorded her feelings on discovering that that for her the plague data had taken on a new face, one comprised of her own close relatives........


Washington, DC

Today news broke the drug Remdesivir might help patients recover quicker from the corona virus. Today, I also received a text saying my auntie Leslie Leake of Southeast Washington, DC died from the corona virus. While the drug isn't going to help Leslie, her daughter Nicky Leake or son John Leake Jr, who all died within weeks of contracting the deadly virus, I'm hoping it helps other Americans. 

But, today, I'm not thinking about all the other Americans just my two cousins, Nicky and John Jr, and auntie Leslie. Nicky worked at Washington Hospital Center and if you look at her Facebook page you can tell she loved her job but most of all she loved her family and children. She wanted the best for her kids and would stop at nothing to make sure they had the best. When her daughter, Eniah, graduated from high school last year, she pulled out all the stops. Eniah walked the red carpet at grandma Leslie's house, the hub, of family activity. Eniah's uncle John Jr would have been in the mix taking photos and fussing over Eniah. John Jr. was the clown! He always had a laugh and had the ability to make people laugh. A long career at the USPS, love of food, travel to Africa, and active at his family's church, Master's Child Church Worship Center. When the USPS come out with Journalist Gwen Ifill stamp John Jr. made sure I knew about it being a Broadcaster and fan of Ifill. Cousin Nicky also give me permission to use her photos in my presentation on Slavery in America in Foxton Beach, New Zealand. That was Nicky willing to help her cousin broadcaster and photojournalist. 

Mother Leake as many called her was the core, strength, glue, and lifeblood of the Leake family! She was the face of strength! Before covid-19 took her, she was heartbroken over daughter's Nicky's death but she died never knowing her youngest son, John Jr, was gone. While she was fighting for her life at George Washington Hospital, son John Jr. was fighting for his life at Howard University, so tragic and sad. In one family, three deaths and as I write, her husband John Sr. and grandson, Donte, have tested positive for the corona virus. The President calls this a silent virus but today its not silent as a church family, friends, extended family, colleagues, neighbors from near and far all grieve and asking 'why'? Why did this virus take so many in one family? Why did this invisible virus creep through the Leake family and wipe them out? Why are African American and Hispanic communities suffering from corona virus? Why, why, why? On his Facebook Live, Bishop Melvin Robinson Jr. the family's pastor, notified church members of Leslie's passing. It was just a day before he notified the church family of John Jr. passing. 

A mother, daughter, and son all gone within weeks of contracting the corona virus! The 600 Block of Alabama Ave Southeast Washington, DC will never be the same, summer cookouts, 4th of July, Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving will never be the same because at the end of the day three souls are gone. It's like the puzzle isn't complete and you can never find the pieces to put it back together again. Leslie Leake, Nicky Leake, and John Leake Jr., you are our missing piece to the puzzle! We love you!

Victoria Gaither

Mainstream journalists can break their state of United Nations-induced trance and the first step is to investigate a massive donation that the New Zealand government appears scheduled to transfer to the UN.

National Press Club president Peter Isaac urged print journalists especially to start asking questions about the pending donation to United Nations, find out how much was going to be transferred, why, and when?

Stepping out of the United Nations thrall will allow the mainstream to return to the era in which it covered a diversity of opinions and attitudes.

As it was the subscription readership had been subject to a United Nations mono cultural diet of climate along with subsidiary and now demonstrably-flawed doctrines such as the globalisation one.

Shamelessly, United Nations having sown this distraction sought to link it with the Coronavirus pandemic which its entire apparatus had failed to detect in the first place.

The investigation into the Labour-led coalition’s past and pending contributions to United Nations would be the start of breaking the UN’s monopoly and obvious hold on the journalistic mind set here all too often seen by subscribers as a posturing one.

In practical terms it should also have the effect of keeping in New Zealand money needed for the welfare of its own citizens.

Isaac said that United Nations had been founded with the finest of motives.

Journalists in New Zealand especially had failed to recognise what Isaac described as the “policeman-becoming-preacher” in the UN transformation from its original peace keeping role into a self-serving propaganda one.

Isaac was talking in the context of the New Zealand newspaper chains themselves seeking donations or government financing in lieu of paid subscribers.

Some tough questions asked about the New Zealand role in financing the UN and would be a better option he said.

This was because it will signal to subscribers and potential subscribers a return to the era in which local imperatives elbowed aside showy international ideologies.

Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan Affiliates -- FCCJ consistently at Hinge of History

The Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan has affiliated with the National Press Club, reinforcing the New Zealand club’s international linkages. In fact, no other such club anywhere can claim to be so close to the hinge of history as the FCCJ.

The club began in 1945 under the occupation lead by General Douglas MacArthur and the FCCJ was again to find its fortunes hitched to the MacArthur star during the Korean War.

The club has been a consistent unifying force for journalists with its over-arching status across the entire sector.

It’s presence in Tokyo is also a reminder of the Japanese enduring passion for print led by the Yomiuri Shimbun, one of the nation’s five national dailies and which has a circulation of over nine million.

The club was a listening post for journalists covering the Cold War.

It afforded its members eyewitness status to the most remarkable economic surge of modern times and notably so to New Zealand journalists as Japan became the first and largest Asian trading partner following Britain’s original membership of the Common Market as the EU was then known.

The FCCJ forged an early reputation for the inclusiveness of its membership and also for the way in which it platforms a diversity of speakers. Our illustration shows Euro-Asian car czar Carlos Ghosn at the podium.

With several thousand members the FCCJ over the years has hosted members of the British Royal Family and the Imperial House.

Banished Botanist Dr Bob Brockie Revealed As Antipodean David BellamyDr Bob Brockie’s role as the antipodean version of his fellow botanist the late Dr David Bellamy was a discussion point at the 21st annual gathering for Central Districts journalists held at the Te Horo estate of the Morgan family.

Dr Brockie confirmed at the convocation that he now received journalistic assignments but now only on a bi-lateral or barter payment basis such as for a “bottle of wine.”

All this is a far cry from the era which ended so recently for the internationally-acclaimed botanist when he was resident commentator for the Fairfax chain and also the National Business Review.

The New Zealand division of Fairfax appears to have dispensed with Dr Brockie on doctrinal grounds, a process hastened by a Brockie column proclaiming that the Treaty of Watangi had “no place” in “scientific endeavour.”

This followed Dr Brockie’s lukewarm editorial posture toward the chain’s own ardently self-proclaimed uncritical advocacy of fashionable climate theories characterised by the candidly-proclaimed policy of banning anything contrary to this stance.

. Dr Brockie’s exile from the print mainstream echoes that of his equally flamboyant botanical comrade at arms Dr David Bellamy who, following his refusal to endorse the United Nations line on climate lost all his broadcasting contracts, everywhere.

In discussions at the gathering Dr Brockie, globally considered the foremost authority on Erinaceinae, the hedgehog, declined to specify if the bottles now offered to him as payment were premier cru, vintage, or of the cleanskin supermarket grade.

Mike Moore Had Built-In Shock Absorbers

In the modern history of careers there are few who can match the trajectory of Mike Moore who has died at the age of 71. Starting as an unskilled manual labourer he became for two years the head of the World Trade Organisation.

A regular guest at the National Press Club Mike Moore possessed built-in shock absorbers that allowed him to circumvent university education, and indeed, any real formal education at all, and yet attain the highest offices such as the WTO one, and the prime ministership of New Zealand, however briefly.

Mike Moore, pictured here being introduced by National Press Club president Peter Isaac on the occasion of Moore’s launching a campaign for a formal Constitution, was a constant communicator with the happy knack of an equally consistent ability to engage his audience, be they individuals or groups. His trademark was a candour blended with a humorous analysis of the driest of situations.

He was among the last of the authentic working class Labour Party potentates and a winning aspect of his persona was that he never sought to explain or promote his humble origins in order to draw attention to his spectacular rise in the world.

As ambassador to Washington his vernacular style accurately mirrored his country, as did his obvious enthusiasm to help out personally when the opportunity arose.

A curiosity about Moore was that one could never imagine him alone and thus without the constant human interaction, hostile or friendly, that appeared to fire his brimming energy in spite of much of his career being beset by his own anything but robust physical constitution.

In the event Moore turned any solitude to advantage by causing to be published boisterous political tracts in the form of books with titles such as Beyond TodayA Pacific Parliament, and Fighting for New Zealand.

His last communication with the National Press Club was two years ago in response to an invitation to participate in an event and in its way typical of his simple yet evocative delivery. It read:-

Dear Peter,

I must be quiet for another 6 months.

Sorry’

MIKE

Tony Haas who has died after a long illness was an advocacy journalist whose mercantilist skills allowed him to pursue his central crusade which was the recognition of native Pacific cultures - National Press Club Inc.Tony Haas who has died after a long illness was an advocacy journalist whose mercantilist skills allowed him to pursue his central crusade which was the recognition of native Pacific cultures. This cause saw him zig-zagging the Pacific and at various times a working resident of many Pacific Islands and also of Japan and Singapore.

Haas managed throughout a half century working career to combine his triple passions of academic research, support for those he perceived as underdogs, and that of operating as an independent writer-publisher..

All these purposes from the outset converged on Oceania which became his central preoccupation in terms of journalistic coverage and in arranging practical assistance in his role as freelance aid promoter.

Anthony Roger Haas was born in 1944 into a recently-established Pahiatua farming family. His father having fled Germany just prior to the outbreak of World War 2. This provenance was to imbue Haas the younger with the sense of internationalism that was to become the leitmotif of his adult life.

Haas entered daily journalism from academia at a time when journalism was only beginning to make the transition from blue collar employment to a post-Watergate phase in which it became respectable and sought-after quasi professional career for the aspiring middle class.

Haas’ timing was fortuitous also in entering the craft before it became fashionable and thus competitive and therefore somewhat inhospitable to reporters departing from the assignment book and the institutional career path.

Haas throughout his own long career displayed though an ability that habitually eludes journalists from whatever background—the technique of turning contacts into enterprise partners, monetising them.

The National Press Club stalwart’s dedication to minority causes had begun as a student at Victoria University and it was here that he flourished as a student politician.

His ability to adapt to any collegiate environment was to become his hallmark even though poor eyesight was to rule out any sporting proficiency and thus deny him the gift outright of the varsity experience during its gilded era in the 1960s.

It was at Victoria University that he encountered Michael King. As flat mates they effectively divided Oceania between them.

Michael King became the defining popular author of the Maori experience while Haas in his own words took the “side road” into the Pacific islands.

Before his own untimely death Michael King urged Haas to produce a mirror of King’s own autobiographical testament, Being Pakeha. This eventually happened with the launch in 2015 of Tony Haas’ own long incubated 2015 autobiography Being Palangi – My Pacific Journey.

In his final full time employee daily newspaper job Haas took to heart the counsel of Wellington Evening Post editor Ken Poulton to the effect that he should cease the undergraduate life-style and acquire a house.

This Haas did, acquiring one of the very last inner city rambling bungalows which now became both residence and the headquarters for his diversified publishing operations.

A burly, jovially persuasive and indeed, forceful fellow, Haas was a natural as an entrepreneurial journalist selling advertising and indeed entire publication concepts to willing sponsors. His Decision Maker series became the defining glossies on the Pacific through the terminating decades of the last century.

Haas during these years garnered the goodwill of journalist contributors by always paying them regardless of the success or otherwise of the project.

He nimbly trod the path between the raffish milieu of reporters and that of the unctuously fawning sphere of public relations. He successfully presented himself as a researcher before this term too became tarnished by time and over-use.

To his fellow journalists, those in regular employment, Haas presented a somewhat Pasha like figure disappearing for months at a time to a property in the Marlborough Sounds, a rich hunting ground for the rarified and well-placed types that he so enjoyed weaving into his variegated publishing projects.

A natural organiser, Haas in these years also designed and participated in numerous voluntary forays into the Pacific for both cultural and for three-dimensional commercial aid projects.

His objectives were much aided by his ability as an event manager which in part took the form of throwing publication launch parties for contributors and sponsors alike.

In his later years Haas, a secular Jew, diverted some of his energies toward Europe and his own provenance. This was remarkable by any standards.

His grandfather was a member of the German Bundestag and as a determined opponent to the Nationalist Socialist, Nazi Party, is increasingly being viewed nowadays in Germany as the last politician who could have stopped World War 2.

In the event his grandfather told his son, Tony Haas’ father, to put as much distance as he possibly could between himself and Germany.

This the father did and acquired the family farm near Pahiatua shortly before the outbreak of the war.

It was here that Haas was born and grew up. Subsequently Haas always described himself as being at heart a farm boy.

When the internet ultimately undermined his publishing business it was to the Wairarapa Valley that Haas now returned for his final years which were spent on a leafy street in Greytown.

It was here that he instituted his final journalistic project in the form of a rural self help column in the community news sheet Grapevine.

He was much engaged in the resurgence in Germany of interest surrounding his grandfather and made one last excursion, this time to Karlsruhe, his ancestor’s old constituency.

As his final years slipped by Haas was much gratified to become actively involved in all details of the definitive book under preparation by a Berlin publisher on his illustrious ancestor Ludwig Haas who had once stood at the global hinge of fate.

Tony Haas is survived by his wife Dr Patricia Donnelly and their children.

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.

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