‘Convention’ a confusing time for all


Waitangi weekend proved to be a very eventful, as well as enlightening time for me.

Unfortunately, though, it didn’t get off to the best start. An old mate from vet school was visiting and we decided to head down to Papatowai on the Saturday, for a bit of fishing. However, near Owaka, we noticed a large billboard in a paddock, informing us that man dates destroy the economy, our health and our lives!

I’m not sure if a couple of lads going fishing together could be defined as a man date (a few high› fives if one of us caught a fish was probably as intimate as things would get), but I wasn’t prepared to take the risk. I could picture the headline in next week’s Leader: ‘‘Local vet goes on man date: economy in ruins!’’

I would face certain expulsion from Clutha Vets, for a start. And having the charge of ‘‘destroying the economy’’ on your employment record would not exactly be helpful in securing any other job. Except, maybe, as a Green Party MP.

Things took a turn for the better on Sunday, Waitangi Day. I had just finished setting up my pop›up horse drench kiosk on Charlotte St, when a large convoy of ute enthusiasts rolled up. They obviously all had horses as they cleaned me out of Ivermectin in ten minutes! It soon dawned on me that, based on the fact that many of them had the word ‘‘Freedom’’ plastered across their vehicles, they were taking part in a freedom campers rally. With nothing else planned, I decided to join them.

What a trip that was! The intention was to meet up with other campers in Wellington, but all of my new friends had somehow lost their vaccine passes so weren’t allowed on the ferry. Not to be deterred, I continued on alone and soon ended up joining hundreds of others in a huge freedom campsite in downtown Wellington.

As well as being a freedom campers’ convention, the event doubled as a massive workshop for anyone considering taking up protesting. It was great. We learnt how to make placards (good spelling was not a prerequisite), operate a loudspeaker and intimidate potential customers of nearby businesses; all core skills if you want to be a good protester.

After mastering the basics, we then had to pick at least two things to protest about. Man dating was a popular option, as was Covid vaccination and mask wearing. But there were heaps of other choices including the use of 1080, Three Waters and the Confederates losing the American Civil War, all worthy topics, I’m sure. I decided to protest about the long›tailed bat winning the recent NZ Bird of the Year competition (that certainly ruffled a few feathers) as well as the dubious way England beat us in the 2019 Cricket World Cup final.

All a complete waste of time, but a lot of fun all the same. Things got pretty miserable when Trevor Mallard ordered the sprinklers turned on, but thankfully I had already been expelled by then. Some of the other protesters kicked me out after I took advantage of a nearby drive›through vaccination site and got my Covid booster.