THE HEART OF THE LESSON – Maui and his ego; David and Goliath; Keys and Profit.


No matter what the lesson it is hard to do the learning when missiles fly around your head and are confused as to which direction the enemy is throwing from and why? The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is such a missile. And we work to understand it within a war zone of leakage, because TPPA comes wrapped in secrecy.

Have you ever received a gift you have not wanted, or been asked to trust to someone or something which is faceless? Instinctively there is a deep level of distress; instinctively we know the faceless are not accountable, that in receiving a gift, you become bound to that degree to the giver. There are clearly dangers for our humanity in receiving TPPA formed in faceless board rooms, in neo liberal consumerism where there is no place for human rights, light, Maui’s mischief or intellectualism (Mike Hosking, 7Sharp,July 31,2015)

This is of few media spaces for the Art of discussing accountability to human dignity, self-worth, empowerment, growth and social reform. These accountabilities are particularly challenged in TPPA. Particularly after 9/11, the war on dignity and self worth has been conducted in a unilateral manner by western ‘free’ states .Like TPPA this war conducts itself secretly over humane relationships. You may recognise this war fare as maintained under the rhetoric of law and order. You will hear notions of freedom, choice, individual responsibility yet increasingly these remain distant experiences in our lives.

Our lives characterised by diminished choice, confuse us. Words of freedom and meaning are clearly separated; daily the war is maintained in economic and legislative action calculated to produce the most unease, fear, mistrust and uncertainty amongst us. When good people do nothing, …flourishes. In summary this feels like a David and Goliath situation. What are the learnings?

Neo liberalism and conservatism flourish in a culture of uncritical acceptance of complex issues (Finch & McKendrick, 2015). These benefit from the fragmentation of open discussion, and reasoning as to TPPA is intent on controlling China. Even the fifth estate resists critical reporting and will represent complex matters in dichotomous ways, running piecemeal, unexamined, sensational sound bites posing as News. TPPA is elevated as the golden idol. New and insidious tasks are now identified for the good citizen: to detect those who pose a risk to these views, who maintain the Art of inquiry and questioning.

Our response to the face less idol of TPPA? I recommend we pick up the legacy of just where we are. Just as the youth David did long ago, we too can come into the value of those ‘good size stones’ which have long succoured our humanity. We can take time to talk about what matters. We can trust the trustworthy, fearlessly. We can take care with choices of what and where we shop. We can get active political; vote and get others to vote. These apparently simple acts are like stones. These as part of this good earth endorse what is authentic, and enable the common good remains.

By Merrill Simmons Hansen

11041781_10204539575822029_832961081289017037_nI was named, Merrill Simmons-Hansen; Merrill, from the Gaelic, meaning light on the sea foam.
In writing this I feel like someone who has discovered my oldness and newness at the same time. I am from Claddagh peoples, Ireland, and Scotland. I am resident in Tauranga Moana having moved along this coastline from Opotiki over thirty years. My childhood holidays in Tauranga, remain idyllic memories, spent with grandparents and cousins and the sense of  kindness which resides in this place.  I understand the name Tauranga, Te Papa, as the resting place for waka and so I am active in education and learning work for the awareness and growth required to nourish such this vision. I am active in Social Work, Community responses to Non Violence, and keeping the legacy of stories of this place alive in environmental awareness. As a Grandmother, storyteller, artist, indigenous and feminist researcher, my experience is that any intention being imposed on people reduces the principles of community; that  I grow  from the everyday commitment taken with others  towards uncovering  tino rangatiratanga, authenticity as a source for  personal  meaning and common good.  


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ARTbop has been written, collated and distributed as a free Bay of Plenty arts focused periodical to cafes in Tauranga and its surrounds.  Starting as a simple text newsletter, ARTbop now has several excellent contributors and covers a wide range of topics informing readers of the thriving art scene and interesting events that happen in the Bay of Plenty. You might have heard about us through friends, or even picked up a copy to read while you were out having coffee. We've got lots of exciting and ambitious plans for this website.  If you’re interested in contributing, advertising or you would like to profile your portfolio on our artists gallery, or have an event that you think should be reviewed, please contact us at

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