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Up the Wahs!
Lets Gone Warriors.
“Suppose big ‘ol Luxon will be there”, said my middle lad Johnny, watching the game with me.
“Doubt it”, I replied, remembering John Key being soundly booed at games in the past. “League is a working man’s game, West Auckland, South Auckland, this is Labour territory”.
It’s true. I remember the domestic league comps, long before anyone even thought of the Warriors. The sport was popular in the working class suburbs of Christchurch and Wellington, and on the West Coast, the very place the Labour Party formed.
Then there was Auckland. The powerhouse of Rugby League in NZ, with famous clubs such as Mt Albert, Pt Chev, the Richmond Rovers in Grey Lynn, and my local team these days, the mighty Te Atatu Roosters. Suburbs now gentried, that used to be massively working class.
When I first moved to Auckland in 1989 with my girlfriend Ria, we lived in Grey Lynn. It was a different place then. I’d walk to the Gluepot in Ponsonby and drink jugs and smoke rollies in the public bar watching sports. League games were the big crowd.
I recall watching the State of Origin there that first year of 1990, the place was packed. A friend of Ria’s came rushing into the bar and grabbed me, telling me the now quite pregnant, but not full term, Maria was in early labour. No cell phones in those days of course. She dropped me at the hospital.
I tell you nothing sobers you up quite so quickly as being a kid, I’d just turned 19, sitting in a dimly lit corridor in a rundown hospital listening to the sounds, the screams, of women giving birth. It was a false alarm and my eldest boy, Alex, was born later that year, a third of a century ago. But the memory of that night will stick with me awhile.
You ever watch a league game up close? Amateur league is a rough sport. Those Te Atatu Roosters use the park over my back fence as their overflow ground and boy there are some big hits. The sort of hits that would get you a red card playing for the All Blacks. There must’ve been a dozen clashes in the Warriors game last night at least as bad as the one that saw Ethan de Groot sent off yesterday morning.
So you might be thinking I’m probably a bit of a Warriors tragic. I certainly used to be, and was for about 25 years. Right from the start. I remember the opening of the first Warriors game back in 95 when they had that pre game entertainment of soldiers running around as if in combat. How bizarre was that?
I went to see them that first year. I was a Uni student by that point and a guy we knew had free tickets. He worked in a grog shop who were regularly given them. We saw the Warriors up against Manly, I’d only been to Mt Smart for rock concerts at that point, this was something else. The Pacific Island drummers, and the passion of the crowd, made for a great atmosphere.
A couple of years back I pretty much lost interest in most sport, I’ll still watch the odd game but I don’t really follow teams like I used to. So I felt like a bit of an imposter, a bandwagon jumper, sitting down to watch the game last night.
I posted joking that the “Up the Wahs” slogan was a bit silly, mentioning the old one, “Lets gone Warriors”. Which must be one of worst team slogans of all time, although that didn’t stop people embracing it.
What a game, holy heck. The opening from the Warriors blew the Knights away and although they looked like they might make it competitive later, really the damage was done. They were shell shocked with the Warriors crossing the line multiple times in the first 15 minutes.
Just before the break Johnny made his quip about Luxon being there for a photo op. I thought, Yeah Nah, that’s definitely not his crowd. These people look the opposite of the ones National see as their people. Sometimes the universe has a curious sense of humour.
In the advertisements at halftime there was one for the National Party. You’d think pretty small returns from this audience, but I guess when you have a bottomless war-chest of sponsors funds it’d be rude not to use them.
The advert begins with a miserable scene of a coffee cart on a grey day with no customers and a sad business owner. It looks almost apocalyptical. There is a voice over explaining how hard it is for Kiwis now, but how National will make it all better by “stopping the wasteful spending that you’re paying for”. Another well placed kick in the guts to the people who work in our public services, the spending our taxes pay for.
As if by magic the sun comes out and the nuclear winter retreats. The plant to the left of the caravan, that was previously a dead stick under Labour, is resurrected as a thriving green tree under National. The empty lot in front of the coffee cart is now full of happy kiwis and commerce - yay!
I couldn’t help noticing that unlike the crowd at the Warriors ground there were no brown faces in this coffee scene. Perhaps they’ll be along in the next scene? Maybe brown people don’t like coffee?
Next Christopher is standing in what looks like a provincial town wearing a suit and pointing a lot. But he soon transitions and in the next scene a tradie, possibly of Indian descent, is teaching him to spin a hammer and catch it - which Christopher masters the very first time. Take that John Key! Some of you might recall Key’s inability to use a hammer to knock a nail into a wooden hoarding.
There is a scene where Christopher Luxon, and some other white men in hard hats, look at a construction plan. There is a woman standing to the side who could be a Pacific Islander, but it’s hard to say.
A pakeha cafe owner, a possibly asian florist, a white mum carrying her child in a supermarket, naw isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?
Christopher returns in his suit waving his hands around some more then we cross to a school. Happy, engaged, children, eager to learn - and all white. Then finally the last scene in a hospital corridor with what look like Indian and Polynesian patients and women, possibly from SE Asia, in scrubs.
The only brown people in the video are the hospital patients and the nurses, the doctor of course is white. There was the Indian bloke as a tradie, but that's it. All the other people, the customers, the small business owners, were all decidedly non brown. Only the sick people and the essential workers are brown.
It annoyed me quite a lot. Although Laura, from Twitter, helped me see things in perspective. Unfortunately it’s bad news for any other “Nicks” out there though.
I wondered where Sky was publishing the ethnic background of its customers.
There are roughly 45 different people in the advert. None of them look obviously Māori. I mean some of the actors could well have Māori blood and I'm not suggesting for a moment that their appearance makes them in anyway less Māori. But the reality is none of them look Māori at all. It is hard to believe that happens by accident.
Meanwhile can you guess who was watching in the stands? This guy:
You can tell who it is, surely? Hmm, maybe if we turn him around. As you can see here, no corporate box for Chippy.
In the end it was a great result for the Warriors. The fans were in seventh heaven, the game was like watching a highlights reel, they were that good. The build up to the semi final against the Brisbane Broncos will be massive news this week.
Who knows? Maybe even the National party will realise that this week the Warriors belong to all New Zealanders, even us bandwagon jumpers. Not just the working class suburbs, and the league clubs, where they probably expect to receive few votes.
C’mon guys - read the room. I don’t want you to win the election, but regardless of that you should be representing all the people in this country.
As for everybody else - Up The Wahs!!! Lets Gone!