Monthly Archives: March 2014

Tim Walker’s Red Zone Squatters

Ever since that fateful day in September 2010 where half of Christchurch either collapsed or was suddenly rendered ‘unsafe’, there have been people to capitalise on these unfortunate circumstances.

Looting came first – idiots breaking shop windows and helping themselves to whatever they could grab with two hands, as if ‘crisis’ was just another word for ‘everybody now has permission to forego the natural inclination to look out for your fellow man, and to start acting like lawless pillocks’. Of course this was followed by vandalism and other senseless acts of desecration/violation.

That was years ago. Yet even now, as Christchurch is being rebuilt, that same kind of idiocy is apparent: senseless desecration, petty theft and essentially, violation. Obviously, one could easily assert, given the gutless nature of these misdemeanours the perpetrators must be idle teens, loitering youth, restless rapscallions or indeed, local reprobates of some other variety…

Who would have believed this ongoing scourge could have drifted in from abroad?

Admittedly, Christchurch has always flaunted a reasonably high rate of crime and having the city thrown into tremulous disarray by a barrage of terra not-so-firma quakes, has only exacerbated the issue.

The main problem now, after so called ‘dangerous’ housing has been vacated by its respective owners, seems to be maintaining this vacancy.

Personally, there’s a whole lot of logic in occupying a dwelling because nobody else is; realistically, although they’ve been deemed dangerous, these houses aren’t about to topple over – more likely an EQC assessor snagged his shirt on a nail in a doorjamb.

So people are squatting. Good for them. Makes sense – so long as they understand that they are there at their own risk: beware of falling ceilings and such.

In fact there’d probably be no issue at all if the aforementioned malingerers simply left these ramshackle surrounds as they entered them, which is to say, devoid of faeces…

I’m an open minded guy. I am accepting of most unusual practises. I’m into some pretty weird shit myself, but this shit bothers even me. International Freedom Campers, freely camping in a condemned building. I take no real issue with that, but common sense surely suggests that they take their defecation breaks outside..?

Yes, we are descended from animals but hear this: generally speaking, birds don’t shit in their nests, dogs don’t shit in their kennels, sheep don’t shit where they sleep, horses don’t shit where they eat and nor do cats shit on your lap.

Must be a German thing then.



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Daph E Kate

Photography by A R Swipe

Tim Walker with The Flag

Whose bright idea was it to cut ties with the Commonwealth and ditch the almighty Union Jack; who thought it clever to allow the similarly mighty Southern Cross to fall from recognition or perhaps the worst thing, to trade majestic hues of red and blue for the so called ‘Colour of the Nation’, black?

I suppose in some ways it does make sense, in a country where everything sport-related is synonymised with the colour of death, that some might assert the material representation of said nation should also be black.

In New Zealand field hockey both the men’s and the women’s teams are known as the Black Sticks; basketball they’re called the Tall Blacks; cricket it’s the Black Caps; ice hockey we have the Ice Blacks; our male softball team is the Black Sox; the men’s wheelchair rugby team is the Wheelblacks; of course men’s rugby union has the famed All Blacks; then perhaps predictably, our woman’s team of the same code is named the Black Ferns.

Which nicely segues into the next. One proposed flag design is the laughably hackneyed backdrop of black, emblazoned with our other renowned sporting depiction, the silver fern – so everybody can see how very proud every Kiwi is of our sporting accomplishments…

Wait. What about those who have no affinity with sports whatsoever or, heaven forbid, have zero affection for the ever-so-revered All Blacks? Because let’s be fair, it’s New Zealand’s team of resident rugby zealots who most support the flag change; the original patriots of all things NZ appear decidedly less enthused.

I guess in this world of everything-at-your-fingertips, no-need-to-remember-anything-anymore because-everything-you-will-ever-need-to-know-is-in-your-phone which-you-always-have-on-you-anyway – in other words goldfish-like attention spans – it’s understandable that some of us have grown bored with something of which few of us even understand the origin.

Thing is, I have heard only two real complaints about the current flag’s appearance and both of them were asinine: for an undisclosed reason a portion of complainants want to be disassociated with the Union Jack; the other portion claim that our flag is too similar to Australia’s.

Guess what. Essentially, we are part of Great Britain. We are also very similar to Australia. They have over five times the population admittedly, also they sell their dirt so they’re a lot more cashed up than we, but other than that, we’re pretty similar. Reckon we should stop trying to fight the likeness and just accept it.

Besides, I don’t believe our flag is like theirs, I think theirs is like ours.



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Eugene Jack

Photography by G C Scrap

Tim Walker on the Extended WOF

As a concept it polarised motorists; as a practise its results have yet to be discovered.

The carefree and careless saw it as simply an elongation of the period for which they could drive their car without having to worry about its condition; the caring and careful saw it as simply, portentous.

The facts: from July 2014 the frequency of WOF checks for all cars first registered after 2000 will be reduced to just one a year. A new car will undergo an initial inspection then not until three years later will it have another; from then on it too will require only annual inspections. Cars born before 2000 will maintain their usual six monthly checks.

Alright. Skip forward to July 2014. Now. Hypothesise with me.

Meet Tania. She’s the driver of a brand new Holden Astra. She has no mechanical understanding. Tania is a sales rep who is expected to clock up in excess of 100 thousand kilometres a year. As hers is a company vehicle she will have little regard for fuel conservation; engine, brake or tyre wear. Her Astra has already passed its initial inspection with new tyres measuring a healthy 8mm of tread, fresh brake pads, full electrics; in fact everything that one would expect from a new car.

In theory the typical motorist is sufficiently responsible to remain mindful of areas of deterioration such as tyres and brakes; to be aware of faltering wiper blades, indicator and brake lights, as well as all other degenerative components.

Hold up. Is somebody seriously giving people this much credit? Sure, some of us probably deserve it but the rest, the rest see their automobile solely as a tool – a means of transportation requiring little to no upkeep, aside from the occasional oil change…

In theory cars undergo a full service every 10 to 20 thousand kilometres where the mechanic will not only change/check filters/fluids, but also carry out an extensive visual inspection of all vital parts – especially those susceptible to deterioration. In theory, these worrisome areas – tyres, brakes, lights etc – will be periodically assessed by a qualified mechanic where the automobile owner will be notified if anything is awry or heaven forbid, amiss.

Now. Skip forward again.

Just under three years and just over 300 thousand kilometres later Tania is marvelling at what a great car her Astra has been: the company has had to absorb no maintenance costs, she’s had no breakdowns and as she pulls out of the petrol station only a few kilometres from home she realises, her only real motoring expense has been covered by the company fuel card.

What is playing on her mind however, is regarding that ‘oily stuff that goes in the motory thing’. Her bush-mechanic boyfriend had often said how it’s important to keep the oil fresh; he’d always told Tania to ‘make sure she had regular services’, and while she was pretty sure he was referring to the car, she didn’t even know how to tell when it needed servicing – did it make a funny sound or something?

Understanding of his girlfriend’s auto-ignorance and passionate about vehicle welfare, at monthly intervals, or just whenever Tania was scheduled to be home for more than two hours, her loving boyfriend would quickly drain the Astra’s engine oil and throw on a replacement filter…

Tania had been driving her Astra more or less continuously since it was allocated to her and while she was aware that her first real WOF was due – there was a sticker at the top right of her windscreen for that – there was no sticker to tell her when she should be servicing her car.

Her boyfriend used to tell her of the letters he received from her company reminding her to bring in the car for its service every ten thousand kilometres but then, where was ten thousand – what number did she start at?

So preoccupied is she that Tania scarcely notices the intermittent rainfall on her windscreen. Only once it has become a veritable deluge does she flick on the wipers. Alas at 100kph the three-year-old, stiff and perished wiper blades can’t keep up. Tania peers through the greasy appearance of a streaked windscreen. She doesn’t notice the blocked water-race to her left. She certainly doesn’t see the shallow pool of water stretching the next few hundred metres down the road.

Before she knows it the car is sliding sideways across the centreline on its way into a roadside ditch.

In the three years since her last safety check, courtesy of a wheel misalignment that should have been rectified two years ago, 8mm of tread has become 0.8mm. Courtesy of frenetic driving, fresh brake pads have also become perilously low.

Tyre tread is designed to disperse water by effectively sucking it from beneath the tyre’s surface into moulded grooves, then squeezing it out channels at the sides. Without adequate tread tyres are unable to perform this task. At speed, wheels skim over water in a process called aquaplaning. Realising she has no control Tania has instinctively hit the brakes – to no immediate effect. Then suddenly the front right wheel has found the road. With no brake material left on the pads the calliper grips. The floating vehicle is thrown into a vicious slide.

Minutes later, peering out a greasy windscreen from her roadside ditch, Tania is shaken but unscathed. Hoping to attract attention she has flicked on her hazard lights. Passing cars are sparse, still she can’t understand why no one’s stopping for her…

To oncoming vehicles Tania is simply nosing out of the drain waiting to rejoin traffic and in no need of assistance – at least according to her rapidly blinking left indicator.

For over 12 months a short circuit in the Astra’s wiring has rendered the car’s right hand side lighting, unblinking.

Three years is an insanely long time period for any car to not undergo rigorous scrutiny. It’s too long. It will end badly.



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Tania Dink

Photography by Sihle Gall

Tim Walker and the Future of Smoking

The NZ Government hopes to have abolished cigarettes by 2025.

Makes me wonder when they’re going to step in and stop, or at least regulate the sale of high sugar, high fat food products – because you do realise that more people die in NZ of fat related disease than they do of tobacco related disease..?

Thing is though, making anybody understand or even hear that being a lard-arse is more detrimental to your health than being a smoker is like pushing a fat chick uphill. It’s down to publicity. NZ media seem to have agreed: Cigarettes are the Devils Work. The media appear similarly sold on the belief that fatness is an illness, rather than a life choice…

Remember back in the Dark Ages when people believed the world was flat, and that homosexuality was a disease? Whatever you remember, whatever you believe, the fact is, it’s not Politically Correct to call a fat person fat, but it is widely accepted to ridicule smokers for their poor life choices.

When tobacco does eventually disappear from shop displays, the hardened smoker will likely still be able to purchase all the smoke-ables he or she desires, and at an undoubtedly discounted price to what the Government is currently charging, at your local Black Market store.

This however, presents a quandary.

On the one hand I am pleased for those hardened, ever so resilient smokers of our great nation – they can still secure their fix and will no longer be financially sodomised for the honour.

On the flipside, our Government will no longer be reaping the rewards of its financial sodomy.

If in 2012 cigarette taxes lined the Government’s pocket to the extent of $1 billion, and tobacco related illness drained the health sector by approximately $1.1 billion, it’s fair to say that as smokers, we pretty well covered ourselves, yeah?

Assume that by 2025 cigarettes have vanished from behind shop counters. All this means is that the main benefactor of tobacco sales will no longer be the NZ Government. Of course the Government will still be expected to cover the cost of tobacco related illness and will be doing so for a great many decades to come, but will now find themselves milking a dried-up cash-cow.

The logical way to cover this shortfall is for our Government to pull its head in, stop blindly discriminating against smokers, wake the hell up and start taxing those who have never paid anything extra for their healthcare – the same ones who are the realistic drain on the nation.



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by P C Bolsit

Photography Ura Faddi