Sir Christopher Harris Foresaw Culture Wars

Sir Christopher Harris Foresaw Culture Wars

Sir Christopher Harris who has died was for many years a stalwart of the National Press Club. He will be remembered for his constant cautioning of practitioners in their political coverage on emphasising what sounded good instead of what actually worked.

Christopher John Ashford Harris third baronet of the Harris Baronetcy of Bethnal Green, County of London foresaw the way in which journalists were increasingly being drawn to the ideological in place of the practical.

A member of the club under the newsmaker category Sir Christopher for many years ran the family importing and merchandising business Bing, Harris & Co and was also a main board director of the Todd Corporation.

He was to the fore when New Zealand abruptly sought new markets in Asia and he constantly iterated Singapore as a nation with valuable pointers for New Zealand. He was a man of action and put his various skills at the disposal of the political parties that echoed his point of view especially in the Wellington electorates.

He was worried about the effect on Wellington of the evaporation of its manufacturing and productive sector and a pet project was to restore to Wellington its floating dry dock in order to boost heavy engineering.

His platform skills were applied to the National Press Club notably in the vote-of-thanks summing up of guest speakers.

He was a lay expert on Captain Cook. He delighted in publicly presenting the explorer as the personification of kindly yet determined informed endeavour that became reflected as Sir Christopher saw it in New Zealand’s own pioneering history of method and order.

An orderly approach that he increasingly saw as being eroded by doctrinal rather than disciplined priorities and in many ways he foresaw the onset of today’s culture wars.

Always affable he successfully disguised any irritation he might have felt at any of the more extreme doctrinal points of view put forward by guest speakers or indeed by any of the club members themselves.

In many ways Sir Christopher was redolent of a distant age, and of an elite class. One that paradoxically installed in the Westminster realm the foundations of the extreme political liberalism that he found himself so severely at odds with.

The baronetcy had been established by his grandfather Sir Percy Harris a British House of Commons Liberal MP who did much to introduce the welfare reforms of Britain’s immediate post war era.

His father Sir Jack Harris and his mother Lady Patricia Harris became in New Zealand public intellectuals of an ultra-liberal persuasion.

Sir Jack was at the helm of the Save Manapouri campaign which paved the way for the Green Party. Lady Harris was a constant figure in the early days of New Zealand television. She was the author of Dining In and Dining Out in New Zealand, a book which remains a minor classic.

The family’s globe-girdling influence stemmed from the Bing, Harris & Co business fortuitously begun in Dunedin just in time to catch the Otago gold fields discoveries.

The family returned to Britain and then repatriated itself back to New Zealand to take control of a business which because of its diversification into so many mercantile sectors continued to prosper in 1934, the year of Christopher’s birth.

He was a pupil of Wanganui Collegiate and it was here that he notched up national school records in the 22O and 44O yards. In later years he was to establish a sporting reputation as a deep sea yachtsman based at Wellington’s Royal Port Nicholson club.

It was indeed as a collegiate figure and club man that Sir Christopher will be recalled. He tended to discard small talk and pleasantries in favour of discussing hard edge topical issues.

He was as genially at home with the grandees of the Wellington Club as with the more diversified and more sceptical devotees of the National Press Club.

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.

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

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.”

 


 

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.


Page 1 of 2