Graeme Duckett: Nostalgia for when things didn't move so fast

Muskets brought to New Zealand by whalers helped changed the balance of power among Maori tribes.
Andy Jackson

Muskets brought to New Zealand by whalers helped changed the balance of power among Maori tribes.

OPINION: I listened to a really interesting programme on National Radio the other night talking about technology. It was quite fascinating.

It focused on the time it took Stone Age man to invent the wheel. The time it took him to strike stones together and make a rough stone knife so he could cut up the dead animals he hunted. Then came the club, spear, bow and arrow.

Stone Age aborigines had the boomerang, I wonder how the devil they invented that? To realise that particular shape of wood could hit a bird in mid air and the boomerang would come back to them.

Maori in early times sourced volcanic glass called obsidian from Rotorua and Mayor Island which was razor sharp when broken. It was perfect for use as a knife.

Graeme Duckett: Remembering New Plymouth's humble trolley bus
Graeme Duckett: A farewell party any tram would be proud of
Graeme Duckett: Memories and history of a town called Waitara
Graeme Duckett: Holidays in the 1960s at the Urenui beach camp 

I've always been mystified why they hadn't twigged on to the bow and arrow. Long spears with bone spear points were used to get birds in the treetops like pigeon, tui and huia. In warfare stone clubs and wooden spears were used.

Surely if they had sailed up to China as some historians suggest, they would have seen such technology as a bow and arrow?

How the technology of a bow and arrow would have changed the face of hunting for food and warfare for them. They were still very primitive.

When whalers and traders brought the musket, or fire stick as they were called, the Maori of the far north were a formidable enemy. All of a sudden the enemy who saw what the musket was capable of were keen on trading for as many as they could get their hands on to safeguard their survival.

The radio programme I listened to went through the various eras of the world's history and gave periods of time it took each generation to advance in technology. Today technology is advancing rapidly, not yearly or monthly but daily, hourly, quite incredible.

Warfare has shifted from ground troops in huge numbers to nuclear weapons capable of the destruction of huge areas in one hit. The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima is just a baby compared to what they have now!

We are on the road to self destruction the way technology is advancing. The human race has not learnt a single thing in all its history. And in this materialistic, power crazy world, we are the pawns who sit and watch the Super Powers play with our planet like a game of cards!

Think back to the 1950s when space travel was simply science fiction. We read comics like Flash Gordon, which wasn't far from the truth some years later.

By 1969, America supposedly won the space race to the moon. I still have my doubts about that ever happening. That flag flying in the wind is a giveaway isn't it?

We had paper bags then and very little plastic in our daily lives. Today we are smothered in plastics of every description, it has become a major problem in the sea and in the landfills.

In the 50s and 60s we had very little rubbish, remember? Bread was in a brown paper sleeve or bag, hardware we bought was in a paper bag, groceries were in a paper bag or cardboard box. Books and stationery were wrapped in a paper bag. Newspapers were recycled and taken to the dairy or fish and chip shop.

We recycled everything. We grew all our own vegetables and fruit. House scraps such as potato, peelings, etc, we fed to the chooks. Egg shells were mixed with grit from the beach for the chooks as well. Compost was made from house scraps also.

If you were very lucky you had a car, yes one car! Today we see as many as three, four or five cars in people's driveways.

Computers and phones drive me crazy, they all seem to be programmed to fail after a year or two,a bit like appliances.

I remember Old Mrs Minnie Lehdorf in Waitara showing me her Beatty washing machine and telling me "It's been going for 60 years and has never failed me". That machine ran like a Swiss watch.

I don't know about you but how I wish my children and grandchildren could travel back in time and taste a bit of the "Good Old Days" when there was honesty, respect and good old fashioned values.

Remember when a handshake was your word?

 - Stuff

Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback