ARRIVING IN SUNNY, tropical Dunedin (it was in comparison to some of the other stops, despite Conor’s comments at the end of yesterday’s entry) gave some of our more fragile Clarions a chance to warm their feet by a log fire and catch up with missed news. The city’s Edinburghesque charm also warmed the hearts of those with even a touch of Scottish blood although the seemingly overly-complex network of one-way streets made for interesting navigation in four-tonne Knoxy. Our lodgings weren’t far from Dunedin’s CBD which helped to make our frequent trips to town even more of a pleasure.
Day two of the Dunedin leg began differently for the two specially consecrated “troops”. For some it involved an early start in preparation for a stint on community access radio producing what those in the trade call “continuity”. Hills 1575 AM was to be their home for a three hour show based loosely around youth engagement and encouraging youth participation in politics. Discussion spanned the whole range; from scoring those local councils without active youth councils to offering advice to young people interested in getting more involved in our political system. Music was strictly NZ-made to celebrate our creative country and the government’s fantastic support of the arts.
Hills AM is one of 11 community access radio stations throughout the country who are instrumental in giving voice to individuals and community groups. Ros and her team provided fantastic training and we were sincerely grateful for her advice and support.
The station itself is based in Dunedin Community House on Moray Place and while we were there we had the chance to meet some of the other residents in the building. Sixteen groups call the community house “home”, among them are the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Budget Advisory Service, Stroke Foundation and Volunteer Centre. Thank you to all those staff who took time to talk to us about the fantastically important services they provide – we enjoyed visiting and we learnt a tremendous amount.
The second platoon hit the southern streets for a quick chat to the ODT [thanks for seeing us at such short notice guys! – ed.] about the Clarion Tour and to get some Dunedinites to scribble their thoughts on the banner, which incidentally, has grown ever fuller as the trip has progressed. After a short spell in the Octagon they left to deliver meals on wheels to the elderly.
The older folk were keen to chat, offering us the opportunity to hear their thoughts on the direction of New Zealand. It was great to hear their views. We often been encouraged on our trip around the country with the similarities of messages coming from both young and older groups. Both want to live in safety; both want good education and healthcare; a clean, green prosperous nation; and both recognise that theirs are not the only needs.
Having completed the Dunedin community projects, the two groups headed back to base camp to plan a “last supper” of sorts. We had a wonderful meal at Tokyo Garden Japanese Restaurant on George St, complete with toasts to friends and family near and far. Tomorrow’s flying visit to Balclutha and Invercargill marks the end of the inaugural Clarion. We’ll then be heading reluctantly home with memories of what has been an amazing experience. It’ll certainly be hard to pen that final entry tomorrow… – ROB