ANOTHER LATE NIGHT. Another early morning. The final day of the inaugural Clarion Tour. With the finish line in sight we piled back into our trusty bus for the penultimate leg of the journey to beautiful Balclutha. Pene’s house had been an oasis and as thanks we left her our last precious, undrunken a bottle of “Socialist Chardonnay”. This wine is the brainchild of Brendon Burns and the Labour members in Kaikoura. It’s produced at local winery, labeled irreverantly, and sold as a fundraiser. We thought it would make a perfect match with the “Political Savvy” Pene had stored away from the previous year. Let’s plan to crack them open election night next year eh Pene?!
An uneventful but slightly subdued 90 minute drive to Balclutha gave us time to think about the trip so far. Our weariness wasn’t to last long in the company of our next host. We were greeted by the enthusiastic and energetic Phyllis from the Balclutha Beautification Society. The society is a group of locals who make it their business to maintain and improve the environment of Balclutha, and by the looks of the place they’ve been doing a superb job.
We were led on this section of the tour by David Talbot who had been with us since the beginning. David is the Labour candidate for Clutha-Southland electorate and was clearly excited about us making an appearance in Balclutha. You can find out more at www.davidtalbot.org.nz
Our task was to clear weeds around some newly planed native trees before final spraying. Phyliss has lived her whole life in Balclutha and her pride in the place was evident. A huge ‘thank you’ to her and the other members of the team for the great work they do. Thanks are due as well to Irene Mosely for putting us on to such a worthwhile project.
The other noteworthy meeting of the day was Doug. Doug had been driving past in his ute when he noticed the Fort Knox II. As it turned out he was once a member of the National Distribution Union and one of the originators of the Fort Knox I… He had some great stories and thinks he might be able to dig out some photos of Knoxy’s big sister. We’re looking forward to finding out more and posting excerpts from the family album as soon as we can!
Onwards to Invercargill – the last leg of the tour. The tsunami struck South Asia just before our tour began. It took a little while for the magnitude of the disaster to become apparent but when it did we decided that finishing our journey with a collection for the relief fund would be a worthwhile project. As an organisation, Young Labour is a strong believer in our nation being a responsible member of the international community and it was a privilege to be able to do something to help overseas communities as well as our own here at home. We were welcomed in Invercargill by Wayne Harpur and his team. Wayne is a local businessman and the Labour candidate for Invercargill. We grabbed collection buckets and off we went…
The generosity of the people of Invercargill was amazing. We hardly talked to a single person who hadn’t already given to the relief fund in some way or another. Even so, in less than two hours we had collected nearly $500 which will be distributed by the Red Cross. The government has agreed to match contributions dollar-for-dollar which made ensuring a good response to the appeal even more important to us. It was a beautiful day in Invercargill and the streets were crowded with groups of young people enjoying their school holidays in the sun. We were particularly impressed by their attitudes towards the crisis. Almost all made donations of some sort.
Following the collection we were met by Barry and Chalpat from the Southland Times. We’ve really appreciated the time the media has taken to meet with us all over the country – especially in light of the fact that the time of year sometimes makes things a bit tricky – so thanks to them and to all the reporters and photographers along the way that have made the effort! Barry got a great photo with us, Wayne, and the banner in front of the bus but was called away on an emergency photo shoot – a sheep was loose on the main street… [Congrats Barry, the final apprehension made a great (front page) shot! – ed.]
The day ended with a meat-laden barbeque at Wayne’s house. We were joined by Tim Shadbolt the mayor of Invercargill. If our minds weren’t already made up that Invercargill was a great place to live, they would have been after a chat from Tim. Look out shortly for the movie “The World’s Fastest Indian”, a local story shot right here – another great yarn about Kiwis beating the odds and beating the world!
That’s it for this year. A huge thanks to all those who helped make the Clarion Tour 2005 such a resounding success – MPs, local party members, project organisers, media, and of course, the Clarions themselves.
The next event to get excited about is Labour Summer School at Riversdale Beach. This year’s theme is youth participation. The event’s organised by Young Labour but open to all party members – check out www.younglabour.org.nz for more info. See you there! – DAVID