Friday, February 11, 2011

Spirits of the West

Kiwi spirits ... of the supernatural kind! Yes, there are those in the other dimension of the world around!

How else can I explain that each time I go somewhere I get contacted by them in this country?

First instance: when I was waiting to catch the bus to Ellerslie in Auckland to look at some second-hand cars for sale, I had a desire to visit the oldest graves nearby the the Langham Hotel, next to Seymour Street. These were the oldest graves in the city holding the remains of many early pioneers and dignitaries, mostly from England.

As usual, I paid my respects with brief christian prayers in the serene surroundings as vehicles zoomed by and life in the fast lane went on all around me.

Then my Sunday bus came and I hopped on board.Soon, a hippy-looking Caucasian came on board and he sat close by. Normally, I didn't speak much to strangers but I suddenly felt like communicating with him and subsequently we had a friendly chat and discovered we were heading the same way with a similar purpose! Furthermore, he was a mechanic by trade from England here on a working holiday.

To shorten this story, if you have read my blog earlier, we got lost and it was another English Caucasian stranger who helped us and by a remarkable coincidence, while chatting, we discovered he had been to parts of Malaysia and Wales, England where my new pal was from! So the English spirits may have blessed me with their assistance!

Then not too long ago, I offered a ride to an East Indian Muslim as he had a car problem. Along the way back, he suddenly requested help in picking up his ex-wife and kid from the public Greeton swimming pool. I was driving along an unfamiliar avenue back to Clarke Street so I had to make a U-turn back to Fraser Street. I did so and I found myself at the old Presbeyterian cemetery. I turned to this Muslim fella and said, "Yunno-I've always wanted to visit one of these cemeteries here. Wanna go?" I was surprised when he replied in the affirmative, saying that he, too was curious. Well, it was an interesting half an hour out there on a warm sunny day with a Muslim and even in Malaysia I could not convince a Muslim to go to a Christian site these days. He asked many questions and we were both fascinated by the old dates and recent dates of recent extended family deaths that were added on plagues placed on the gravestones. It was sad but spiritually uplifting to understand the close-knitted love in these departed families. I felt God wanted me to share this fact with my divorced friend who had confided in me that he only wants a better wife even though his ex-wife is good and still loves him! They have a seven-year-old boy who is an exceptional student in school.

After our sharing, he invited me for some drinks and we had wine. This was a surprise as Muslims are forbidden to drink alcohol. Anyway, out of courtesy I accepted his drink. That was not the end of the story ... he abruptly left the kitchen where I was helping to wash the glasses and came back with an unexpected unbelievable surprise! It was a beautiful invaluable holy object! I was stunned and speechless with astonishment. Here I cannot say more as it is his private possession.

That's not all about the other side reaching out ... several days ago I was requsted by a desperate Tauranga friend to give him a ride to work somewhere in the Hamilton Road area. While we were on the Cameron Road, he was notified that the work was cancelled. Upon hearing this, I decided to turn back and I found the closest parking spot by the roadside. Lo and behold! It was the entrance to a memorial hill where the greatest epic battle was fought between the Maoris and British!

What was remarkable was that noone had told me anything about Gate Pa and the historical sites. I recall asking friends here about interesting historical places and I was introduced to a ordinary model Tauranga village just about 50 yard from my residence. All this time, I
had the impression there was nothing exciting here. ... But it was intriguing that Cameron Road could be so long and famous here ... Who the heck was Cameron? Impossible to be the present courageous out-spoken prime minister of England! Then, there I was, with plenty of time to kill and unknowingly at that moment, an answer to my question and so we took a walk. Unfortunately, on this day, my camera was being charged at home! I wasn't deterred from wandering around the historic hill. It was in fact, incredibly within walking distance from my place at Clarke Street!
What was also amazing was that as a History buff, I had taken all the Military History courses in Canada for my English/History degree and I was at that time challenged to apply my knowledge of pre-modern warfare ... and the art of battle at this historic location ... just as this impressive video on Youtube explains clearly.

Oh yes, on my first trip to New Zealand, I did some reading in one of the public libraries and there were fascinating accounts of cannibalism practised by very early Maori warriors. However, on this trip, I discovered on one of the the information booths that Ngatirangi, the chieftain who defeated the British at Gate Pa was a nobel who gentlemanly spelt out the terms of military engagement before the battle and if the information is accurate, he kept his word and did not kill wounded British.

To the Colonel,Friend, -Salutations to you. The end of that. Friend, do you give heed to our laws for regulating the fight.Rule 1. If wounded or captured whole, and butt of the musket or hilt of the sword be turned to me, he will be saved.Rule 2. If any Pakeha, being a soldier by name, shall be travelling unarmed and meets me, he will be captured, and handed over to the direction of the law.Rule 3. The soldier who flees, being carried away by his fears, and goes to the house of the priest with his gun (even though carrying arms) will be saved. I will not go there.Rule 4. The unarmed Pakehas, women and children, will be spared.The end. These are binding laws for Tauranga.

A few observations about my first historic visit to a battleground in New Zealand. the hill was well-maintained with gigantic beautiful trees and flower plants. There were six info booths providing explicit details of the pre and post-battle but unfortunately, the last two booths were completely destroyed by vandals! Got two pics to show what I mean.

The huge memorial at the hilltop was a moving reminder of the senseless killings that took so many young British and Maori lives. Note-worthy was the grim fact that the dead were buried there. Nearby, Saint George's Church, (an Anglican one that would have been my denomination if I'm not closer to the Catholic faith) added a spiritual touch to the surroundings and as in many past wars that have seen sons and daughters, husband and wives, friends and foes meet abrupt brutal ends, the church is comfortingly dedicated to the memory of all. Frankly, I could sense the face of battle and the courage of those who fought there. May all rest in peace. Amen.
p.s. To be fair to the British soldiers--I sense their unhappiness in my omission of some important facts--their battle performance and readiness were affected by many adverse factors--from a low-paying brutish weary 19th century military lifestyle to the hilly, forrested and swampy terrain, the odds of winning were already heavily against them before the battle commenced.
I have just made an exploration of the terrain around the hill, including the deep wide valley.

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