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Issue 1, 2019

Issue 01 ~ Lost

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News

  • First-Year Buys Textbook He’ll Definitely Use

  • Trans Rights Delayed by Bill Deferral

  • TEC: Status Quo “Off the Cards” for Polytech Reforms

  • The Capital Gains Tax, and Other Things for Hosking to Yell About

  • E-Week: Pill Testing at Otago University

  • Response to Letter: Victoria University of Wellington

  • New Rental Standards On Their Way

  • Te Matatini ki te Ao

  • Mental Health in Halls: The Letter

  • Rents Going Up, Nobody Surprised

  • Smaller Sea Level Rise, But We’re Still Fucked

  • NZ–China Tensions Appear Not to Affect International Students

  • Response to Letter: VUWSA

  • Features

  • Rewa from the Bench

    CW: Rape, Sexual Assault, Murder   Stories of home invasions, violent sexual assaults, and brutal murders are best associated with notorious criminals such as Richard Ramirez, John Wayne Gacy or Ted Bundy—but the stalking grounds for these predators were far from the streets of Papatoetoe. So as Crown Prosecutor Gareth Kayes addressed the jury, it […]

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  • Shanti Feature-01

    Stepping Into Pages

    Whenever I ask, “So, do you read?” to any new acquaintance (who may not realise the weight of the question), the response is all too often a variation of, “I used to read a lot, but since I started uni/high school/intermediate, I haven’t had so much time.”   This is an unfortunate reality. It is […]

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  • Out of the Comfort Zone-01

    Out of the Comfort Zone – a Tale of Occasional Homelessness

    It’s a well-known fact that New Zealand is in the middle of a housing crisis. Rent goes up year  after year, there are never enough rental properties for the general population, and the ones that do exist are often pretty subpar. But renting, for many students, is the only option. Come January/February each year, hundreds […]

    by

  • Rewa from the Bench

    CW: Rape, Sexual Assault, Murder   Stories of home invasions, violent sexual assaults, and brutal murders are best associated with notorious criminals such as Richard Ramirez, John Wayne Gacy or Ted Bundy—but the stalking grounds for these predators were far from the streets of Papatoetoe. So as Crown Prosecutor Gareth Kayes addressed the jury, it […]

    by

  • Shanti Feature-01

    Stepping Into Pages

    Whenever I ask, “So, do you read?” to any new acquaintance (who may not realise the weight of the question), the response is all too often a variation of, “I used to read a lot, but since I started uni/high school/intermediate, I haven’t had so much time.”   This is an unfortunate reality. It is […]

    by

  • Out of the Comfort Zone-01

    Out of the Comfort Zone – a Tale of Occasional Homelessness

    It’s a well-known fact that New Zealand is in the middle of a housing crisis. Rent goes up year  after year, there are never enough rental properties for the general population, and the ones that do exist are often pretty subpar. But renting, for many students, is the only option. Come January/February each year, hundreds […]

    by

  • Arts and Science

  • This Year’s Trends

    What would Eleven wear?

     

    Season three of Stranger Things comes out this year, so we all know what that means: corduroy, overalls, and David Bain jumpers are going to be flying off the op-shop shelves faster than you can say “this article is not sponsored by Netflix but is definitely open to it, should that opportunity arise”. Start stockpiling vintage Levi’s now if you want to make a buck selling them to fashion-conscious Year 12s later this year.

     

    Scrunchies, scrunchies, and more scrunchies

     

    If you wore it to a primary school disco or got it in your BFF’s tenth birthday party goodie bag, it’s probably 2019’s hottest new look. Nothing like the terrifying realisation that you’re legally an adult to make your fashion sense regress 15 years and cause you to channel Hilary Duff in your accessory choices.

     

    Ugly shoes get even uglier

     

    A few years ago, a dramatic cultural shift took place as Birkenstock sandals entered the wardrobes of people other than Rudolph Steiner teachers and/or people who substitute sweet potato for bread. Now, the latest visual threat to claim the street has been revealed: Teva hiking sandals. Yep, the chosen footwear of Americans on half-hour scenic hikes—and that kid in primary school who would eat his own scabs—can now be seen on the trendy babes of Cuba Street. If you’re unfamiliar with these shoes, all you need to know is that a top Google autocomplete for them is “can you swim in Tevas”. Nothing aesthetically appealing has ever had to be made aquatically sound just for people to buy it.

     

    Winter is coming… and it’s fluffy

     

    We’ve all read the statistics telling us that “New Zealand has enough clothes to last the next 50 years without importing more; buy op shop, avoid fast fashion” etc (all very valid points; just not where I’m going with this). What isn’t said in those statistics is that at least ten of those 50 years factors is no other garment than those tan teddy bear fur coats that every single girl bought last year. Snag five of them for $50 at Recycle Boutique come July. Side note: No hate to anyone rocking these this winter, anyone wearing a coat other than a puffer jacket has my approval.

     

    The wider the leg, the closer to God/Cher

     

    You are lying if you try to say your highlight of 2018 was anything other than Mamma Mia 2, and for me, the highlight of Mamma Mia 2 was Cher in wide-leg pants. After years of low-rise jeans that only suited you if you were a member of Destiny’s Child, jeggings, and ripped jeans that took a quarter of an hour to get into, we finally have a trend that looks good on basically everyone, isn’t a form of leg torture, and is endorsed by Cher… What more could you need‽

     

    Little House on the Prairie, but make it fashion

     

    As seen on Oregon Trail Fashion Week S/S 1872: Straw bags, straw hats, gingham, denim on denim on denim, and ruffles on everything. With the political climate as it is, there is an ever-present risk that the rights of women, racial minorities and queer people are about to be dragged straight back to the frontier, so dress appropriately! Oxen optional.

     

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  • A Post Colonial Fantasy

    Nothing usually gets between me and my Cozy Cake Kitchen chips, but last week, one incredible gallery window display stopped me in my tracks. Hariata Ropata Tangahoe’s A Post Colonial Fantasy exhibition at Bowen Gallery is so utterly gorgeous that I wish I could forget it, just so I can see it all over again. I’ve never been more delighted to be interrupted in my journey to a five dollar fried feed.

     

    Seeing these paintings in the flesh is really something special. Much like the concept of whakapapa that she chooses to explore—there are layers upon fascinating layers to her work. Tangahoe’s paintings are composed of many bright and delicate levels of paint that add small details and decorations to compliment the final image. In 1885, Walt Whitman wrote in his monumental poem Song of Myself, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” Standing in front of Tangahoe’s paintings, these feelings were evoked. There is much to take in, so make sure to pack lunch before visiting this gallery. I honestly feel as though you could spend hours there.

     

    And I couldn’t go without mentioning Tangahoe’s choice of frames. In the literately world, they instruct you to never judge a work by its frame, but these frames are integral to what they behold. Len Taylor has hand-carved each of Tangahoe’s frames to complement and emphasise the striking beauty of the paintings. These add, rather than distract, to the grandeur of the overall exhibition. Each painting suspends slightly above the ground. Enshrined in their expertly carved frames, surrounded by the piercing pāua shell eyes of the guardian Tiki that Taylor, they gaze down at the viewer below them.

     

    Now, as Wellington’s most unexpected and heavily pierced Christian, this isn’t something I say lightly—but when I walked into this exhibition, it felt like walking into church. The spirituality is tangible—but not in an icky, cheap-peanut-butter-stuck-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth type of way; this is a Fix & Fogg feeling. The lighting is dimmed to help you better appreciate the vibrant yellow clothing details, pale pink flowers, and the bright blues of an ocean background—which drag you in with all the lures of a Rimbaud poem. Perhaps I’m biased due to my great love for Marc Chagall (an artist that Tangahoe was greatly influenced by) but there’s just something so wonderful about the worlds that are created in this small but powerful exhibition.

     

    I love the use of the small, artificial glints of gold, silver, and pale turquoise that shine out from amongst the primarily natural colour palette. Tangahoe’s eclectic selection of symbols from multiple cultures, mythologies, and modernity is also something to watch out for—with these comes the tongue-in-cheek humour of A Post Colonial Fantasy and the reappropriation of artistic techniques and compositions found in classic portraiture. It’s just so refreshing to have a gallery focus on Māori art shown through the lens of a Māori woman. If you want to view the post-colonial portraiture of Māori people that Tangahoe is referencing, you can go to any Wellington gallery—Te Papa currently has a large collection of C. F. Goldie’s work on display. However, in no way does seeing those dusty old relics of colonisation match up to the feeling of viewing Hariata Ropata Tangahoe’s vibrant, passionate, and inspired collection.

     

    A Post Colonial Fantasy introduces us a gorgeous array of fascinating and wonderful characters. He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata.

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  • The People in the Trees

    Some spoilers included. CW: Rape, Paedophilia

     

    After reading and greatly enjoying Yanagihara’s A Little Life, I found myself approaching The People In The Trees (her first, and only other book) with a sense of apprehension. I struggled to imagine how Yanagihara would explore a different world and move away from a narrative voice that felt so distinctive in A Little Life. I wondered if perhaps The People In The Trees would be but a less compelling precursor to her later, more widely appraised book. I found myself proven wrong—a sensation I quickly became familiar with while reading this novel.

     

    In a brutally succinct news article on the very first page, Yanagihara calmly reveals the dark and ugly crux of the story. It is here that she also engrosses the reader in the moral dilemma that is to unravel throughout the novel: Our protagonist, Norton Perina, is a Nobel Prize-winning doctor, revered for his study of the (fictional) Ivu’ivuans, a “lost tribe” residing on a small Micronesian island. This leads to his discovery of a turtle, that, when consumed, freezes the body in a youthful and healthy state, though it does not avoid the mental deterioration that accompanies ageing. After his discovery, Perina continues to revisit the island and adopts Ivu’ivuian children. He is later convicted of the sexual assault of one of these children.

     

    We are two pages in, and Yanagihara has already told us what has happened. What we have not been told is how. By laying bare the bones of the plot from the very start, Yanagihara plunges the reader head-first into a tangle of questions and carefully constructed expectations. We begin this book wondering if perhaps it has all been a misunderstanding. We are encouraged to think that this story will be the exoneration of Perina. It is instinctive to empathise with the narrator and Yanagihara knows this. The rest of the book is then spent dismantling our expectations.

     

    The premise of the book evokes a classic story of adventure and exploration: a lost tribe, the promise of eternal life, an every-man doctor with dreams of success and glory. Despite these shiny plot points, this is not a book about adventure or any noble scientific quest. Yanagihara’s story is about power. To be specific, the way in which power—the power of men, the power of ‘science’ and the power of white imperialism—is exerted and abused. This is a story where ‘science’ and progress are used as justification for the exploitation of indigenous people and land. But rather than stopping at Perina’s groundbreaking scientific discovery, Yanagihara makes us stay, forcing us to bear witness to the devastating harm that inevitably follows.

     

    What’s more, she does it all effortlessly—slipping into the narrative voice of Perina so easily and convincingly, it is almost unsettling. In a skillful change from the generous and detailed prose of A Little Life, Yanagihara writes here from the clear and clinical perspective of a scientist (albeit a very eloquent one). She uses the classic trope of the unreliable narrator and she uses it well—slowly revealing Perina’s character flaws and giving the reader ample space to hold on to the benefit of the doubt.

     

    The People In The Trees is an excellent book. The story is in itself is creative and compelling, but what is most memorable is the way it implicates the reader in the moral quandary it explores. As macabre as it is, it would be wrong to say that Yanagihara is not playful. If anything, it often feels as though she is laughing gleefully as she drags you along. She knows what she’s doing and she knows that she is good at it, too.

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  • First Reformed, 2018

    I don’t want to sound like too much of a film student, but First Reformed was the most important film of 2018.

    Paul Schrader’s latest tells the tale of Reverend Ernst Toller (played by Ethan Hawke in what is perhaps the best performance of his career to date), the lonely pastor of a tourist church in upstate New York. Toller’s life changes when he is approached by the pregnant Mary, who begs him to counsel her deeply depressed, environmental activist husband Michael. After Michael’s sudden suicide, Toller begins to spiral out of control and question the authorities of his church. Stealing Michael’s laptop and throwing himself into research about climate change and radicalism, his alcoholism dramatically worsens and he takes solace in conversations with Mary (portrayed with beautiful integrity by Amanda Seyfried).

    Throughout the film, Toller’s journal, dictated to us through voiceover, gives the audience an intimate glimpse of his descent into madness and sorrow. Usually I find that voiceovers pull me out of a film, breaking my sense of immersion. However, Schrader uses the narrative device to show off his brilliant script, creating a character in Toller that is unlike any I have ever seen. Because Toller is a man of faith, he must completely re-route his way of thinking in order to come to terms with climate change. A religious person’s perspective on global warming is something I haven’t seen illustrated in film before. Even for a young Greenie like me, rediscovering the imminent end of life as we know it through the eyes of sweet, nihilistic, alcoholic Toller made me feel as though I was learning about climate change all over again.

    Another point of note is the frank depiction of white, God-fearing men as potential terrorists. When Toller and Mary discover Michael has been working on a suicide vest, they don’t, even for a moment, try to blame it on some minority. They accept it. Honestly, First Reformed is probably the most 2018 film of 2018.

    Now let’s talk about the technicalities. This film is technically fantastic. Like Mid90s, from my previous review, First Reformed was shot in a 4:3 (square) aspect ratio. Is this the latest indie film trend? Grace Yun’s production design is cold and minimalistic, which begs the audience to search for the abundant symbolism in each shot. The cinematography, too, is beautifully sparse and wintery, yet each frame is packed with more hidden meanings than Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. However, not every scene is bare and sterile. Without spoiling too much, I can say that there are a few hallucinatory scenes that rival the surrealness of Enter the Void. But, unlike Enter the Void, the dreamlike, delirious moments in First Reformed are inspired by global destruction, rather than psychedelic drugs.

    First Reformed feels crisp and decisive, like a good poem in which every word has a specific purpose within the narrative. Since I first watched this film, barely a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about it. With each rewatch I hear a new line that makes me reconsider the meaning of the entire piece. I believe Schrader did this deliberately, considering the ambiguous nature of the ending (now the subject of many speculative posts on Reddit). Honestly, I could write essay after essay about First Reformed and never do it justice. The only way to truly appreciate and understand this film is to watch it.

    Tune in next week to read my 2019 Oscars round-up!

     

    5/5

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  • The Chilling Crimes of Broadchurch

    CW: Sexual assault

    As I write this, it’s one day before the 2019 Oscars, and Olivia Colman is nominated for Best Actress. You’ll know if she has won when you read this, but I’m going to write this review as though she already has, because her career and oeuvre absolutely deserve it.

     

    Broadchurch is a British crime series from a few years back, starring David Tennant (Alec Hardy) and Olivia Colman (Ellie Miller) as two police officers. They spend three series dealing with a bunch of terrible crimes in a beach town called Broadchurch.

    This show isn’t for the faint of heart—it’s a crime show after all—but it does take a deeper and harder look at crime than most crime shows tend to. In the first season, Beth Latimer (played by Doctor Who’s 13th Doctor, Jodie Whittaker)’s son Danny gets killed, and Ellie and Alec spend eight long episodes trying to find out who does it. Tensions are high in the town of Broadchurch and everyone is a suspect.  

    Broadchurch’s portrayal of grief is very raw. No holds barred, it’s the realest and hardest part of the show to watch. The moment when Beth sees a body covered in a sheet lying on the beach and recognises that it’s her son, just from his trainers, is brutal. She screams and cries as she’s ushered away from the body, and we all know that her life has suddenly been changed irrevocably. This sheer emotion is portrayed honestly and I commend the show for it. In many crime shows, writers tend to shy away from the anguish of those around the victim, but Broadchurch pulls no punches. It’s devastatingly human.

    Tennant’s Alec Hardy is an extreme contrast from most publicised role. Far from the cheerful, kindly Doctor, he’s a grumpy Scottish detective with an axe to grind. Though he is short-tempered, there is reason in his madness, and his dark past threatens to catch up to him at every turn. (He’s not a bad guy, really; he’s just had a shit life.)

    Colman’s Ellie Miller is the heart of the show, and an excellent foil to Hardy’s prickliness. Not to spoil anything, but her character goes through a lot during the show, yet she has the strength to carry on, despite significant losses and more than a little bit of grief. I have a soft spot for Ellie as a character because she’s written very well. Women in media who fall into one section of the Maiden–Mother–Whore dichotomy are often forced to remain there—due to lazy writing—but Ellie is genuinely complex. She’s a mother, but not flawless. She talks about sex, and she has agency. For a detective series, that’s a pretty rare thing.

    Broadchurch is an incredible series, but it’s also very hard to get through. It’s not the sort of work that can be binged in a night or two—though you’ll probably want to. The third season is about a woman who was raped at a party, and all the real-world things that stem from that. In a reflection on our very real society, she’s asked what she was wearing, how much she’d had to drink, who she’d been flirting with. The police have less resources because, “a rape gets less attention than a murder”, and the victim has to fight to be heard at every turn. It’s a very upsetting premise, but does effectively mirror our modern lives. Broadchurch, at least, treats the subject sensitively, and it’s not solved in half an hour like a normal police procedural.

     

    Broadchurch is a show that will absolutely make you think about your own life. It’s hard to watch sometimes, but utterly gripping, and I absolutely implore you to check it out when you can.

    5/5

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