Peter Dornauf: The Tron lives up to its scary reputation
OPINION: Hamilton, home to killer kids, heritage destroyers and UN policy breakers.
It's not been a good week in the city and surrounding districts.
Take the first. Two schoolgirls, a 13 and 15-year-old, were in the process of committing theft and then committed murder, knifing to death an innocent passerby who interrupted them in the act of executing their crime. They were thieves and then they became murders.
It sounds like something straight out of Nigel Latta's Beyond the Darklands. This is the dark shadowy underbelly of New Zealand society, one that most of us find simply impossible to comprehend.
What has made it particularly shocking is the fact that the perpetrators of this crime were female and that they were so young. School-age kids. What kind of home life must these adolescents have been subjected to? It's a question that immediately springs to mind, though it must be acknowledged that childhood background is not always a factor in these matters. From the best homes can come delinquents and worse.
So there are young people in the city walking around carrying knives at night. No wonder a recent study has revealed that living in the Waikato is a scary experience. Apparently more than 60% of New Zealand's total population feel safe walking home alone at night. That figure falls to 54% for those living in the Waikato. Half of us are looking over our shoulder and quickening our pace as dusk kicks in.
The only other place in New Zealand that was more frightening to live was Northland. It's not a good look.
Then there was the action recently of a Huntly farmer who took it upon himself to destroy a 130-year-old miner's cottage, listed as a heritage site by the Waikato District Council. It beggars belief. And the lame excuses for the action simply compound the whole sorry scenario.
"It was basically a shack," said Huntly football club president in the man's defence. Well, of course it was, but these people just don't seem to get it. He was the "nicest guy" apparently. Sure he was, but his values were shite. And where was the Waikato District Council in all of this? Why wasn't it proactive in seeing to it that the place was kept up and maintained?
One just shakes one's head at both the gung-ho attitude displayed by the farmer and the indifference and incompetence of the district council.
Not content with that, we discovered recently that Hamilton-based Pacific Aerospace has been exporting its aeroplanes and parts to North Korea in direct contravention of United Nations sanctions, through a third party in China.
The Waikato: A place where young girls knife people to death at night, where farmers destroy heritage sites, and where manufacturers support fascist regimes run by megalomaniac dictators.
Is there anything out there in this rural heartland that might redeem us in the eyes of all those looking at us askance?
Let's try by turning to the arts.
It's Hamilton Book Month and already there have been a raft of literary events taking place across the city involving local authors and out-of-towners, from workshops to readings to seminars that include women writers, art books, storytelling, publishing, illustrating, PechaKucha, travel writers and more. Yet to come is a National Poetry Day event which will feature writer in resident at Waikato University and poet Bob Orr, and a Writing for Kids and Young Adults workshop run by popular children's author David Hill.
Then there's the National Contemporary Art Award currently on at the Waikato Museum, displaying the best and brightest talent from all around New Zealand. Great to see people interacting with one of the works (not sure if they were supposed to) – a jigsaw piece on an old Formica table – a picture of an empty state house. No need for a lengthy interpretation here. The $20,000 prize went to a mauve abstract painting that played with subtle colour arrangements. And no, Michael Jackson's monkey could not have done it. The monkey is rubbish.
Just up the road at Artspost was the National Youth Art Award, 37 works in all. I was particularly taken with a portrait painting of Kurt Cobain by Andre Delarue and Nina Harper's "Billboard". Alongside that was the Waikato Society Printmakers show. Nice work by Sue Roots, Geoff Tune, Maureen Chrystall and Faith Thomas.
Next door was a great little show at The WSA's Next Level Gallery, an exhibition called Take Me Home. And so I did just that, purchasing a wonderfully clever and cheeky embroidery piece by a little collective (two young mums) calling themselves Bridge City Stitches.
And can't wait to see the exhibition of New Zealand's own Pop artist Dick Frizzell, on at Aesthete Gallery.
There are two worlds out there in this place – one possessed of darkness, the other of light. Less darkness, more light, please.