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Scarves on Statues

Everything imaginable is on the internet these days. 95% of it is utterly useless. The other 5% of it is absolute gold. This page falls fairly and squarely in the realm of the former. A series in which I desecrate various landmarks in some of the parts of New Zealand I find myself with my favourite football scarves. Because… Well, just because.



Scarves on Statues is BACK but merely for a one time only cameo. I couldn’t help myself. Having been in Melbourne for the past seven days there were so many opportunities to adorn statues with Roma scarves that I couldn’t resist satisfying my fetish just this once.

There were many great statues to choose from in Australia’s best city but there was only ever going to be one winner – Dame Edna Everage. Dame Edna won out for her New Zealand connection via her bridesmaid Madge Allsop, who hailed from Palmerston North. The Roma connection is simply this – Dame Edna’s manager, Barry Humphries, was born in Melbourne and Roma played there twice last week! What more do you want from me?

Dame Edna


There comes a time in the career of every great artist when enough is enough. There are no more nudes left to paint, no more saints to sculpt, no more soup cans to randomly arrange. No more porcelain to adorn, no more lost loves to write songs about, and no more car chases to choreograph.

And in my case, there really are no more fine works of New Zealand public art left to disrespect.

The time has come therefore for my football scarves to permanently retire from public life, and go back to their old job keeping my neck warm. That is, when they are not loafing around kerbsides looking lost and forlorn and pining for the good old days…

Gutter Kids


Another World Cup is over for Italy.

I’m fine, thanks for asking.

Oh alright then, you’ve got me – I’m not fine. It bloody sucks.

The hardest thing to stomach is the cold hard reality of that potentially being the last time we will ever get to see two giants of the game thrill us on the world stage – Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo. Such a pity to see them end their distinguished World Cup careers in that manner.

Twin beacons of hope, however, are the signs for the future. Before this World Cup we had no idea who, if anyone, could step to fill these great shoes. Now we have seen Salvatore Sirigu and Marco Verratti come forward ready to accept the baton, and the future looks to be in very capable hands.

As one generation passes to the next we are fortunate that, at this World Cup, the new kids got to be looked after by the older generation. Hopefully that stands gli Azzurri in good stead in the years to come.

Pioneer Woman


This Māori Warrior situated in Queen Elizabeth Square, opposite the Auckland waterfront, is in my opinion extremely cool. Cast in 1967 by an artist by the name of Molly Macalister, it is New Zealand’s equivalent of the Statue of Liberty. Its purpose at the time was to welcome visitors and new immigrants alike as they disembarked off ships, the predominant mode of international travel when the work was commissioned. That’s why it’s different from most depictions of Māori warriors in our public art, in that he strikes a peaceful pose, rather than the war-like norm.

Unfortunately he wasn’t truly appreciated at the time of his unveiling, with one critic concerned that his out of proportion head looked like “a pimple on a pumpkin”. You can’t please everyone I suppose.

Gli Azzurri know this well! The knives are apparently out back home following the lacklustre loss to Costa Rica over the weekend. I have to say I saw it coming. We didn’t need to win and we all know that when Italy don’t have to win, the players don’t turn up. So as a result of that, they have to win now! And that’s why I am sure that come the third group game with Uruguay on Wednesday morning our time, peaceful poses will be nowhere to be seen because it will be time for war! As long as the team is up for it, I know we will qualify for the Round of 16.



Rewi Alley was a somewhat controversial figure, thought of by some as a New Zealand hero who dedicated his life to the causes of peace and education in China, and by others as a sympathiser and supporter of an oppressive Chinese communist regime.

He visited China in the 1920’s without intending to stay, but he fell in love with the place and lived there for the rest of his life. His calling became the establishment of schools and industrial cooperatives. In the process of fundraising for these ventures, he developed an international reputation as “a man close to the needs of the ordinary Chinese”. This saw him go on to become an important player as an ambassador for peace and trade between China and the world.

The most famous accomplishment he is credited with however is probably the least important – the introduction of the idiom “gung-ho” into the popular English vernacular. The term that to us is associated with reckless enthusiasm is in actual fact an anglicised pronunciation of “gōng hé”, which in Mandarin means “Work together in harmony”. This was the slogan adopted by the cooperatives that Alley was associated with.

All Azzurri supporters will be hoping that la Nazionale exhibits both gung-ho, and gōng hé, in the coming weeks! They’ll need all of the above and much, much more just to get out of ‘the group of death’ at Brazil 2014!



Sir Edmund Percival Hillary was arguably the greatest New Zealander who ever lived. Along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay he was one of the first two human beings to climb to the roof of the world and stand on the summit of Mount Everest. When he returned, like Neil Armstrong, he had an opportunity to utter immortal words that would be heard and read all over the planet for generations to come. But he did not describe his achievement as “a giant leap for mankind”. No. Instead, he described it in a way that only a New Zealander could: “We knocked the bastard off”. Legend.

Roma had a mountain to climb in order to get back to the summit of Italian football in 2013/14, and by golly they gave it a good shake. The season is now over and even though there are no trophies in the cabinet to show for it, they have given us fans the confidence that we will be polishing much silverware in years to come. That was all we dared to hope for at the start of the season. So in that sense, Roma did knock the bastard off. And for that, we thank them.



Maori legend has it that the town of Waihi gets its name from a Rangatira (chief) who struck his taiaha (spear) into the ground and found water pouring out from the hole it made. With the discovery of this natural spring he cried out “waihi!” which means ‘gushing water’. This sculpture by Michael Weir depicts the scene and stands on the hill next to the town centre and overlooking the vast ‘Martha’ goldmine.

Striking this kind of luck is something that Roma fans have become unaccustomed to in the last decade or so! But over the last two weeks our team has secured for us something we have been waiting four years to rediscover – a place in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. This is something to truly celebrate. We all hope that, with the revenue that will gush in as a result, we can now begin to recruit a bit of depth in the squad to help us go all the way next season! Daje Roma!



‘Butterfly’ is a sculpture by Llew Summers, located at Auckland Botanic Gardens. On his website, Summers says that “the inspiration for this form was a dance, and the name Butterfly was chosen because of the wing-like limbs and also because of its sense of flight.” It always reminds me of a little girl stomping in a puddle and beautifully captures the mischief and freedom of childhood.

AS Roma is still flying high in 2014! By my maths, we only need one more victory from our next five games to seal second place and a spot in the 2014/15 Champions League group stage for the first time since 2010. Will we float like a butterfly into Europe’s premier competition this weekend or will Fiorentina stomp in our puddle?



Gold was discovered in what is now the town of Waihi in 1878, and since that time, hundreds of tons of gold and silver have been extracted from the Coromandel hillside. The Martha mine has over its 130+ year lifetime been responsible for pumping vast sums of money into the local and national economy, but at a price. It has also been responsible for the deaths of many workers from machinery accidents and in the early days, many more from a dreaded ailment called phthisis, a disease caused by dust on the lungs.

It was due to workforce discontent at the poor safety of the mine, that this became the site of one of the most important industrial disputes in New Zealand history – the 1912 miner’s strike, which was itself responsible for a terrible fatality when police and strike breakers beat a striking miner by the name of Fred Evans to death.

Out of the ashes of that bitter dispute, a struggle that the unions lost, came a New Zealand labour movement determined to seek political office as an alternative way to force change alongside strike action, their only weapon up until that point. They formed the New Zealand Social Democratic Party, which in 1916 morphed into what we now know as our country’s oldest political party, the New Zealand Labour Party.

What can we learn from this? Well, I guess the most important lesson is that losing can be good for you. Defeat forces you to rethink, plan, scheme, and it hardens your resolve to not only learn from your mistakes and do better next time, but most importantly it can give you the fire in your heart you need to build something with the requisite determination so that it can one day be looked back upon as an enduring and positive legacy for the ages.



I have written quite a lot on this blog about my Italian heritage over the past couple of years, but never a word about the other side of my family. I am a first generation New Zealander on my father’s side, but on my mother’s side my New Zealand ancestry dates back near as dammit to the start of this country’s European settlement.

In the 1860s, what we now know as the city of Hamilton was for the most part little more than a patch of swampland with a series of Māori villages dotted along the mighty Waikato River that ran through it. This changed forever as a direct result of the New Zealand Wars, a conflict that happened when the country’s fledgling colonial government saw fit to confiscate land from the native population after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

My great-great-great-grandfather, Henry McCowen, an Irish Protestant, arrived in New Zealand from Kerry, Ireland, on 17 February 1864 having enlisted in the 4th Waikato Militia. Those who signed up were promised 80 acres of land and a town lot in return for three years’ service. What they hadn’t realised was that their ‘promised land’ had yet to be ‘acquired’ and was to be confiscated from the local Māori. That, and the small matter that the men, as a newspaper of the day remarked: “might as well have got their lands on the moon” for all the use it was for agriculture at that time. I guess some handled that grim reality better than others. Henry McCowen drank himself to death, leaving a widow and two daughters with nothing.

Hamilton was established as a settlement of the 4th Waikato Militia at the old Māori village of Kirikiriroa (long stretch of gravel), from which the city takes its Māori name. In English, it’s named for Captain John Fane Charles Hamilton, a Scottish commander who was killed during the New Zealand Wars in the battle of Gate Pā, Tauranga.



Christchurch. It’s hard to say anything on the subject without sounding patronising or clichéd. They have been through so much. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. Their strength of spirit is an example to us all. They have had such a tough time. Kia kaha. Hang in there. The long road to recovery. They must be thoroughly sick to death of hearing all of it. All they want is for their lives to get back to normal but instead, on top of insurance companies and governments alike dragging their feet, they keep suffering setback after setback – the latest of course being the flooding that in the past couple of days has decimated many homes that had only just been repaired from the earthquake damage.

Someone who knew a thing or two about resilience was the second ever superintendent of Canterbury Province, William Sefton Moorhouse. His most famous achievement as a politician is considered to be the 2.6km Lyttleton Rail Tunnel, connecting Christchurch’s port with its population. A project he had to fight for every step of the way until the day the tunnel opened on 9 December 1869 when it became the first tunnel through an extinct volcano in the world.

Moorhouse encountered and saw off initial political opposition, the original contractor needing to be replaced due to financial difficulties, the subsequent discovery of more difficult than anticipated drilling conditions caused by dense rock and water, and skyrocketing costs necessitating international loans to be taken out in order to complete the job. At many points along the way, serious consideration was given to abandoning the project, but Moorhouse was determined to see it through to completion and he did.

The tunnel will turn 150 in a little under 6 years’ time, and is currently the oldest operational rail tunnel in New Zealand. Putting my patronising hat back on, let me say this. Resilience can be a real drag. But it does eventually pay off…



Michael Jones is a New Zealand icon and considered, by those who know of such things, to be one of the greatest All Blacks ever to play rugby. What I know about Michael Jones could in the immortal words of Bob Semple be written on the back of a postage stamp with a builder’s pencil, so I won’t take up much of your time.

I know he played flanker (dude that clings onto the side of scrums and does what exactly I’m not really sure). He scored the first ever try of the first ever Rugby World Cup at Eden Park, Auckland, in 1987 – depicted in this statue outside our national stadium. And he was a deeply religious man who refused to play rugby on Sundays.

According to his Wikipedia page, he was once asked why a man so religious was so good at the brutal, unchristian like activity of tackling in the game of rugby. His reply was a quote from the Bible – “it is better to give than to receive”.

This applies to any sport, particularly in Rome, the home of the Catholic religion, where Roma fans have found themselves on the receiving end of a couple of negative results in recent weeks. However with Juventus still only six points ahead, and yet to travel to the eternal city, hopefully there is still enough giving ahead of us to make things interesting over the Sundays ahead as we strive towards the kind of receiving that is the exception that proves the rule – receiving trophies.



Jamie Pickernell won the People’s Choice award at the Auckland Botanic Gardens’ biennial ‘Sculpture in the Gardens’ exhibition in 2012 with this magnificent effort, entitled ‘Bird Lady’. This piece proved so popular that it was purchased by the good people of Auckland and put on permanent display in the gardens, where she still hangs out to this day, sitting invitingly on the end of a park bench with plenty of space for others to join her. She looks like she’s craving your company.

So here we have a popular and beautiful piece of art that has room for plenty more folks on the bandwagon. You guessed it! Just like a certain football club we all know and love. Here she is, reaching out to one and all, saying “come join us, as we make our final push towards a possible scudetto!”



Katherine Mansfield was arguably New Zealand’s best ever writer. She was born in Wellington (where this marvellous statue stands) in 1888 and died tragically young in France in 1923 of tuberculosis. In her short life, she managed to achieve a great deal. Specialising in contemporary short fiction, she produced 21 outstanding volumes of collected writings and 40 standalone short stories of the highest calibre.

There’s one I quite like that comes to mind for the purpose of this exercise, called ‘Something Childish But Very Natural’. It’s a love story about two teenagers flirting with each other as they come of age and learn the difference between dreams and the real world.

It starts with a poem by Samuel Coleridge:

Had I but two little wings,
And were a little feathery bird,
To you I’d fly, my dear,
But thoughts like these are idle things,
And I stay here.

But in my sleep to you I fly,
I’m always with you in my sleep,
The world is all one’s own,
But then one wakes and where am I?
All, all alone.

Sleep stays not though a monarch bids,
So I love to wake at break of day,
For though my sleep be gone,
Yet while ‘tis dark one shuts one’s lids,
And so, dreams on.

This morning I prised open my lids, dragged myself out of bed, and watched my beloved Roma beat Juventus 1-0 in their Coppa Italia quarter final. The jury is still out on whether this momentous victory actually happened or if in reality I’m still in bed asleep. I’ll let you know after a bit more coffee. It’s still the holidays for me after all. If it really happened though, and we manage to get past Napoli or Lazio in our next tie, I wonder if my little wings could fly me to the final… Probably only in my dreams.



Possum Bourne was a rally driver who competed in the World Rally Championship 15 times over a 20 year career from 1983 until 2003, when he was tragically killed. If he had been operating in the realm of football, he would have been described as a ‘one club man’ having only raced competitively in Subaru motor cars. Not unlike someone else we know!

He was also a man who knew about being competitive across multiple competitions in one season. While contesting the WRC, he also found time to win the Asia Pacific Rally Championship three times, the Australian Rally Championship seven times and the New Zealand Rally Championship once.

So if he suffered a setback, like say losing an effective scudetto decider against Juventus, do you think he’d sit around moping about it afterwards? No! He would pick himself straight back up again and go out and win the Coppa Italia! Ahem… I mean the Asia Pacific Rally Championship…



Welcome to the first Scarves on Statues of 2014 – what a difference 6 months makes! It was all very melancholic when we left off, with Roma having had one of the more miserable seasons in my living memory. My parting words were a forlorn hope that when I pick this up again, some of the photos will have happy blurbs. Well, here we are, it’s 1 January and Roma are unbeaten with only seven goals conceded in 17 games. We don’t ask how, we just enjoy it while it lasts!

This guy might have some clues though. Arthur Lydiard is a kiwi icon known around the world as the inventor of jogging. He was the first athletics coach to use endurance running as a training method. Now there is no coach worth his or her salt in any sport anywhere in the world who does not use Lydiard’s methods in some way, shape or form.

This likeness is on the bank overlooking the running track at Auckland’s Mount Smart Stadium, a place where so many of his protégés prospered. He is depicted cruising along, wind in his scarf, without a care in the world. Much like most Roma tifosi so far this season! Long may it continue…



The statue, on the North Island of New Zealand’s rugged West Coast, is part of a circle of four Maori sculptures on the cliff tops above Whaingaroa, or Raglan Harbour. Together, they represent the four points of the compass. North, South, East and West. As the shade in this picture so nicely illustrates, being situated in the Southern Hemisphere, this pillar of the four winds faces South.

The scarf says “I ragazzi della sud – c’è un cuore che batte, che batte nel cuore di Roma”. In English, “The people of the South – this is the heart that beats, the beat at the heart of Rome”. The South of course, in this case, is the southern end of the Stadio Olimpico, where the diehard Roma ‘ultras’ stand.

So much about this speaks to the way I feel about Roma right now. The season we’ve had – or, more to the point, haven’t had, leaves us in a state of perpetual shade for the time being. No trophies, no European football. All we have to show for two seasons of upheaval so far is a project back at square one, some racist fans, and a new logo. Not a lot of hope that things can be turned around in a hurry

Fitting then, that this is the last Scarf on Statue for 2013. Hopefully when and if I pick this up again, some of the photos will have happy blurbs. Daje Roma.



“Kiwi” Keith Holyoake was Prime Minister of New Zealand for 12 years from 1960 until 1972, to date our third longest serving Prime Minister. There was some good – he presided over the abolition of the death penalty. Some bad – he got us involved in the Vietnam War. And some serious ugly – he appointed a Minister of Finance in Robert Muldoon who went on to wreak untold havoc on the fabric of our society when he eventually became Prime Minister himself.

Either way, Holyoake was a tory, and I have a strict ‘No Tories Policy’ (it’s an actual document) when it comes to putting Roma scarves anywhere near those. So in honour of the Coppa Italia Final being contested by Roma and our bitter crosstown rivals Nazio, I mean Lazio, at 4am on Monday morning our time, I thought it would be apt in more ways than one to show some generosity of spirit by dedicating this Scarf on Statue to the mortal enemy. I must be losing my mind…



The Capitoline Wolf, situated in the Capitoline Museum on Rome’s Capitoline Hill, is unsurprisingly the symbol of Italy’s capital city and its football club. It depicts the legendary figures of Romulus and Remus being suckled by a she-wolf after they washed up, orphaned, on the banks of the River Tiber where Rome now stands.

The story goes that when they decided to build a city, they quarrelled about whether it should be situated on the slopes of the Palatine Hill as was Romulus’s preference, or Remus’s favoured Aventine Hill. They asked the gods to settle the dispute, but the gods gave the distinct impression they really couldn’t care less, so the brothers let their fists make the final determination. Romulus killed Remus in the struggle and named the great city he founded after himself.

As for the statue itself, the wolf is Etruscan in origin and dates back to around 500 BC, while the twins are thought to have been added at some point around the 13-1400s. This copy of the Lupo Capitolino is found in the Italian Renaissance section of Hamilton Gardens.

It’s the last round of the Serie A season this weekend. Roma, for the second year running, has nothing left to play for. Their only hope of European football next season is the Coppa Italia final being played next week. After that, the post-mortems will begin. Let’s hope, albeit perhaps forlornly, that the tifosi can be relatively civil and not kill each other in the struggle…



Titirangi is amongst my favourite suburbs of Auckland. Nestled high in the Waitakere Ranges, the houses are all buried deep in native bush, each one mostly private and isolated from its neighbours. They cling to the sides of the slopes with sweeping tree canopy views that make it seem like you are living in the middle of the wilderness, yet you are in reality only 15-20 minutes from the city’s CBD outside of rush hour.

The father of Titirangi is said to be Henry Atkinson, (not to be confused with Harry Atkinson who was four times Premier of New Zealand in the 1800s), a civil and water engineer who came to New Zealand in 1863 to supervise the construction and management of the Auckland Gas Works and fell in love with the area. He purchased big blocks of bush-clad paradise that contained what we now know as some of our most beautiful regional parks and the water catchment areas that supply our city with the vast bulk of its water supply – all donated back to the people of Auckland as his legacy.

Speaking of water catchment, Romanisti the world over are hoping and praying that yesterday’s 4-zip demolition of Siena was a sign that the floodgates have opened and the late season surge is on towards an unlikely Champions League spot.

Henry seems to think so anyway.



The controversial plaque on this Hamilton statue proclaims that it “commemorates the ordinary farming family as the unsung heroes of our first 150 years.”

There are a number of obvious problems with this. Who’s first 150 years, would be the first question that springs to mind. There is no acknowledgement that there was life on these isles before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.

It’s often said that history is written by the victors, and just as the history of New Zealand has been largely written by and about Europoean settlers, the history of the 2013 Coppa Italia semi-finals will similarly record a crushing 5-3 aggregate victory by Roma over dirty old Inter without any need to dwell on what occurred in the first half of this morning’s second leg…

We play Lazio in the final on May 26. I would like it noted that this was the perfect opportunity to joke about burini, farmers, tractors and pitchforks but I restrained myself. Just.



John Plimmer was an early settler in our nation’s capital after emigrating from Shrewsbury England in 1841. He represented his community on the Wellington Provincial Council where he was best known for his campaigning to stop the sale of the province’s reserved lands – making him quite possibly New Zealand’s first ever opponent of asset sales. His biggest claim to fame however appears to be ‘Plimmer’s Ark’, a 586 ton shipwreck that he had converted into a central Wellington wharf complete with offices and warehouse space.

After Roma’s embarrassing loss to the almost certainly relegated Palermo last weekend and our campaign for European football seemingly on the rocks, a salvage expert like this may be just what we need.



These chaps have led an interesting existence. I was living nearby when they were first installed at one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets, the excellent Hamilton Gardens. I’ll never forget the hullabaloo.

Pagan gods worshipped in ancient Egypt, Horus (god of the sky) and Ra (god of the sun), attracted a lot of controversy at the time, mainly from the local Christian community. They were denounced, picketed and had their noses smashed off by vandals.

But it wasn’t all bad. They also found themselves worshiped by amongst others the local branch of the McGilicuddy Serious Party. During festivals held at the gardens, walking past them you would often find sacrificial offerings laid at their feet – usually in the form of burnt chips and unwanted alfalfa sprouts from people’s filled rolls. It’s not clear if the gods looked favourably on such gestures.

I certainly wasn’t taking any such risks on this occasion. Far from it. Instead I honoured them in the best way I know how.



Bernard Freyberg led quite a life. After he left high school in Wellington he worked as an assistant dentist around various parts of the provincial North Island before leaving our shores to join the Mexican Revolution, where he became a Captain under Pancho Villa. Upon hearing of the outbreak of World War I, he entered a prizefight to earn himself the money for passage across the Atlantic where upon his arrival he participated in the Allied landing at Gallipolli.

Sporting multiple battle scars, he was declared unfit for service by the British Army in 1937, but this didn’t stop him from eventually becoming a famous World War II General and leading the New Zealand forces into historic battles in Greece, North Africa and Italy.

Arguably Freberg’s most controversial moment arrived in the Italian Campaign on 15 February 1944, when he was instrumental in successfully arguing for the bombing and resultant destruction of an ancient monastery at the German stronghold of Monte Cassino in Southern Lazio.

Due to the historical significance of the landmark, German General Albert Kesselring advised the Vatican and the Allies that it was not and would not be utilised by them. Freyberg and others were nevertheless convinced it was being used as a lookout and insisted upon its destruction. Ironically once it had been destroyed, the rubble provided a better defensive position than the abbey itself had before it and the German forces were able to occupy and hold it for a further three months. Evidence later confirmed that Kesselring had been telling the truth all along.

After four costly allied assaults, the Germans finally retreated and as a result the liberation of Rome was made possible. One of my favourite books about Rome, Christopher Hibbert’s ‘Biography of a City’ paints a beautiful picture of this occasion:

“As bells rang out in the campanili on the morning of 5 June 1944, the American commander of the victorious Fifth Army, Mark Clark, climbed the steps of Michelangelo’s cordonata towards the Piazza del Campidoglio on the Capitoline hill. Here, where Brutus, ‘still hot and eager’ from Caesar’s murder, had come to address the people, where Augustus had made sacrificial offerings in the lovely Temple of Jupiter, where Greek monks had prayed in the church of S. Maria d’Aracoeli in the Dark Ages, where Petrarch had received the poet’s laurel crown, where Cola di Rienzo had fled down the stairway to his death, and where Gibbon had been inspired to write his great history, the leader of men who had delivered Rome from the last of her foreign masters looked down upon the city which the Allies were now to control.”



Most statues that exist in the world commemorate ‘special’ people. Sportspeople who have excelled at their sport. Politicians who have been very popular with the people they represent. Monarchs who have been loved by their subjects. Explorers who have gone where nobody has gone before them.

But it’s a sportsperson’s job to be good at their sport, a politician’s job to get lots of votes, a monarch’s job to reign gloriously and an explorer’s job to explore. Excellence is not limited to these professions. Where are the statues to ordinary people who do extraordinarily well in their jobs? Why shouldn’t a plumber get a statue erected in his honour when he does a particularly fine job of unblocking a sink? Or a cleaner on nightshift who gets into all the tricky corners and leaves a building spotless?

Well this statue is for all of us nobodies. Situated at the University of Auckland and created by famous New Zealand sculptor, Michael Parekowhai, it depicts a humble security guard, Parekowhai’s brother in fact, diligently doing his duty – scaring the living bejeezes out of anyone who is not expecting to happen across him.

He looks so angry that anyone would think he’s just found out his football team has only won once since Christmas and is out of contention for the 2013/14 Champions League…

Security Guard


I had something completely different planned for this week’s addition to Scarves on Statues, but after the trauma of the last few days that have seen our coach dismissed following an embarrassing thrashing at the hands of a decidedly mediocre Cagliari team, somehow this seemed more appropriate.

According to Wikipedia, “Sisters of Mercy are an international community of Roman Catholic women religious vowed to serve people who suffer from poverty, sickness and lack of education with a special concern for women and children. Members take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the evangelical counsels commonly vowed in religious life, and, in addition, vows of service.”

The plaque associated with this statue outside Auckland’s Mercy Hospice says: “We commit to a future of equality and justice as we live in faith and walk the edges.”

No further comment…



William Gilbert Rees is known as the founding father of Queenstown, the most beautiful town in New Zealand hands down. Sitting on the banks of Lake Wakatipu, it’s surrounded by stunning snow-capped mountain ranges and boasts practically every kind of adventure tourism enjoyed by intrepid travellers the world over.

While Rees was the first European to fully appreciate the beauty of the area and begin to settle it by establishing a sheep station, Maori had long before journeyed regularly into the region from the coastal areas they called home to gather sacred greenstone (jade).

They have a wonderful legend to explain why the lake, oddly for a body of fresh water, rises and falls regularly almost as though it’s tidal. They believed that back in the days when the lake was a glacier, it was inhabited by a mighty giant who one day abducted the daughter of a local chief. The chief sent a raiding party to rescue her and the mission was accomplished by covering the giant with dry branches while he slept and setting them alight. The giant burned to death, the glacier melted to form the lake and the giant’s heart sank to the bottom where it still beats today, causing the lake to rise and fall.

A heart that big can only belong to one football club.



My home town of West Auckland was the centre of the New Zealand wine industry in the early part of the 20th century. This statue was erected in 1995 to honour the backbreaking hard work and sacrifice of the Dalmatian immigrants who tamed a rugged landscape to build a future in their new country on their liquid passion from the old country. In doing so, they brought one of life’s great pleasures to our shores.

Another of life’s great pleasures, champagne football, is currently being brought to Italian shores thanks to the backbreaking hard work and sacrifice of a team led by a Czech immigrant named Zdeněk Zeman. In honour of that, this scarf and this statue seem to fit each other like a key in a padlock.



This is Barry, “a Kiwi bloke” from Katikati on the East Coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Barry has just read the news that the Euro 2012 final has been won by Spain 4-0. He’s a bit upset about that. Me too.



They have always been a slightly deluded bunch, the English.

When I was a child at primary school, we were taught that New Zealand was discovered by Captain Cook. It was a bare faced Anglo centric lie. Cook was the first European to step ashore here, but it was Dutch explorer Abel Tasman who over 120 years earlier was the first European to ‘discover’ New Zealand, and of course, it was Maori sea voyagers who were the first human beings to discover New Zealand 400 years or more before Tasman.

As well as discovering New Zealand and numerous other places, the English also think they invented the game of football. But most ancient historians will tell you that there were similar games as far back as Roman times.

Fast forward to 2012, and no doubt now that they seem to have discovered catenaccio, having put it to great effect in the Champions League Final this year, the English will start trying to claim they invented that too. Unfortunately like everything else they claim to have invented, they can’t quite seem to perfect it, as evidenced by Italy managing to scrape past them this morning to claim a place in the Euro 2012 semi-finals.

In keeping with this theme, it seemed fitting that the next installment in the Scarves on Statues series should be this statue of Captain Cook outside Lion Breweries in Auckland. Except, it’s actually not Captain Cook. It’s labelled as Captain Cook and when it was imported by the company formally known as Captain Cook Breweries, they thought it was Captain Cook. But it is, in fact, a random Admiral in the Italian Navy. Ha!



Zealandia, daughter of Britannia, is an old symbol of colonial New Zealand. A representation of Pakeha/European settlers, she appears on our national coat of arms, standing to the left of the shield, staring lovingly across at a Maori warrior on the right who returns her gaze with equal affection.

In this statue there are no such niceties though. Zealandia is depicted alone as part of a memorial to the New Zealand Wars, a conflict that took place due to the British colonial government compulsorily requisitioning land after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi – a pact between the crown and Maori that guaranteed sub-tribes, amongst other things, governance over their property.

The words on the memorial read “In memory of the brave men belonging to the imperial and colonial forces and the friendly Maoris (sic) who gave their lives for the country during the New Zealand Wars 1845-1872. Through war they won the peace we now know.”

Zealandia stands, bare breasted, staring up at those words. She used to hold a fern in one hand and a New Zealand flag in the other. Both have been lost or stolen…

I’ll leave you to ponder all that symbolism on your own. I have much more frivolous symbolism to create. Zealandia’s mother country will be playing football against my fatherland in the quarter finals of Euro 2012. There’s no question who I’m supporting. Zealandia looks less convinced.



Dave Gallaher was born in Ireland in 1873, he migrated to New Zealand when he was 5 years old, fought in the Boer War, and died on the World War I battlefield of Passchendaele, Belgium, aged 43. In between times, he played 26 times for the Auckland rugby team and in 1905, found his place in history as the first ever captain of the All Blacks. But we won’t hold that against him.

The 1905 ‘Originals’ toured Scotland, Ireland, England, Wales, France and Canada, only losing one game to the Welsh at Cardiff Arms Park. There is no Welsh team at Euro 2012 thank goodness, but if Italy are to lift the trophy, they will have to get past Ireland in the group stages (not that easy if USA ’94 is anything to go by) and quite possibly England in the quarter finals. They are off to a great start!

This somewhat Stalinesque statue stands outside the home of New Zealand and Auckland rugby, Eden Park.



There is a real paucity of public monuments in New Zealand and the world that commemorate strong female public figures. This is illustrated by looking back through my Sacrves on Statues series. I have gone out of my way to try and get some sort of gender balance but my only choices of real life subjects apart from today’s have been Queen Victoria, whose statues are universally on high plinths where I’d need to hire a crane to reach, and suffragette Kate Shepherd whose bust is in the main foyer of Parliament – I’m brave but not quite that brave. It’s a real symptom of the poor placement of power in our society when there are statues of male politicians for Africa, but nothing much to recognise the many great female figures our country has seen.

A rare exception is Jean Batten’s fine statue at Auckland International Airport. Known around the world as ‘the Greta Garbo of the skies’, Batten broke many records and recorded many firsts as an aviator in the years before World War II. She broke the women’s record for a flight from England to Australia in 1934 and became the first woman to make the return flight. She broke the world record for crossing the Atlantic in 1935 and in 1936 she became the fastest person ever to travel from England to New Zealand.

Batten’s first major aeronautical world record was broken in 1934, she stopped flying in 1938 and she died in 1982 – all years that Italy won the World Cup. Just saying.



When I said no more Roma Scarves on Statues for the time being, did you think I meant no Scarves on Statues at all? If so, tricked ya!

We are only 3 weeks away from UEFA Euro 2012 and Italy’s shock return to the top of the world’s football rankings courtesy of a crushing victory over Germany in the final – remember you heard it here first.

Here is an image I have just managed to extract out of my crystal ball. In it, you can clearly see Daniele De Rossi, standing over the distraught figure of Miroslav Klose after the final whistle. The Laziale is fine really, just resting on the ground there and I’m sure the stone in Capitano Futuro’s hand is purely cosmetic and would never be used in anger…



This statue is in Waihi, a small gold mining town situated at the gateway to the Upper North Island’s holiday playground, the Coromandel Peninsula. The plaque says simply:

“KIDS … Having fun is timeless. All it requires is imagination.”

This weekend is the last round of Italian club football for the 2011/2012 season. The giallorossi have nothing left to play for. This will be my last Roma scarf on a statue for the time being. What 2012/2013 will bring, we can only imagine.



When the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed in New Zealand, the rural Waikato town of Matamata was selected as the location for Hobbiton, the cosy home of JRR Tolkien’s lovable Hobbit heroes. The locals have celebrated their claim to fame by carving a statue of Gollum out of local Hinuera Stone and giving it pride of place on their main street.

Gollum, of course, is famous for being single mindedly obsessed by one thing and one thing only. “The precious”.

At last, he has finally found it. The one scarf to rule them all!



This wonderful sculpture by Englishman Max Patte is situated on a quietish part of the Wellington waterfront. Patte lived in New Zealand while working for Weta Workshops on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. During a difficult time in his life, he found solace by standing there on the edge of the dock and leaning out into the wind. This inspired him to create the statue and gift it to the city of Wellington.

I love the way so much of Wellington’s public art embraces the wind, a prominant feature of the climate in our nation’s capital. It’s part of the New Zealand psyche that we take ownership of our flaws, embrace them and show pride in them. In that spirit, I bestow upon this man a Roma scarf. After the season we are having, all we can do now is embrace our turnstile defence and look for solace wherever we may find it.



“The government’s objective, broadly expressed, is that all persons, whatever their level of ability, whether they live in town or country, have a right as citizens to a free education of the kind for which they are best fitted and to the fullest extent of their powers.” – Peter Fraser

Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1940-1949, Peter Fraser has a special place in New Zealand history. Our second Labour PM, he assumed office 9 months into World War II upon the death of Michael Joseph Savage. Despite being jailed for sedition for opposing conscription during WWI, he made an excellent wartime leader. Born in the Scottish Highlands, he received only modest schooling, but went on to be one of the finest advocates for education our country has seen. He was, along with Clarence Beeby, one of the principle architects of New Zealand’s modern school system, which was world leading at the time and in many ways still is.

In this statue he is depicted walking to Parliament, as he always prided himself on doing, leaning into a strong Wellington southerly wind the likes of which the place is notorious for. He looks like he could use a scarf.



“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi



New Zealand’s first Governor General named Auckland after the man who awarded him command of the ‘HMS Rattlesnake’ in 1834. George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland, never once set foot here. His greatest claim to fame is that he was Governor General of India from 1836–1842. For that, a statue was erected in his honour in Calcutta. He left India in disgrace after waging a disastrous war in Afghanistan. For that, some years later, the government of West Bengal gifted their statue of him to the city of Auckland and it was transported to its current location outside our city’s municipal building.

Auckland has a vastly superior indigenous name – Tāmaki Makaurau, which is Maori for ‘place of a thousand lovers’. The song ‘Roma non si discute si ama’ has a line “so centomila voci che hai fatto nammorà” – 100,000 voices that make you fall in love. What more needs to be said?



So many of Auckland’s statues are of little relevance to Auckland. Even Lord Auckland, the city’s namesake whose monument stands outside the municipal building, never set foot in New Zealand in his life. Too often they stand up on grand pedestals where the only things that can get close to them are seagulls, who leave their mark in a much more disrespectful way than any member of the public is ever likely to.

However our longest serving mayor (1959 to 1965 and again from 1968 to 1980) stands apart. Sir Dove-Myer Robinson, ‘Robbie’ as he was affectionately known, has pride of place in Aotea Square, on nothing more than a little soap box that brings his height up to just below my chest. Tourists can often be seen having their photos taken with their arms draped around his shoulders. I’m sure they have little idea who he is, but he seems like that kind of guy.

A people’s mayor then! And a people’s football club.



This one is special because the original Michelangelo’s Moses is one of my favourite sculptures. It stands in Rome, in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli and the reason I like it so much is because Moses is depicted with a scar on his knee. Why is it there? Was there some artistic reason? No. It is there because Michelangelo got frustrated with how difficult the job was and hurled his chisel at it. Which just goes to show a couple of things. Firstly that even geniuses have off days. And secondly, just because something has been created by a genius, doesn’t mean he found it easy. There are lessons in this for fans who are frustrated observers of Luis Enrique and Roma’s current rebuilding project I think… But that does NOT mean it’s ok to throw chisels at Bojan! This copy stands, well, sits actually, in Meyers Park in the Auckland CBD.



Hamilton is very proud of being the adopted home town of Richard O’Brien, creator of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. In honour of this, they have a statue of Riff Raff on the main drag. Given Riff Raff’s overtly obvious class and good taste, it stands to reason that he’s a Roma fan too, right?



Pania of the Reef was, Maori legend has it, a beautiful woman who was in love with the son of an important chief near what is now Napier. She was lured out into the sea at night by Siren like sea people and transformed into a reef when she tried to swim back to her lover. I thought this apt given Roma often lures me out of bed in the middle of the night, then causes me to strongly consider turning myself into a rigid obstacle in a shallow body of water.



12 year old Roma fan Nicholas Young, first aboard Captain Cook’s ‘HMS Endeavour’ to sight New Zealand, Gisborne, 1769. A true visionary.

Nick Young

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