Salient: At Victoria University College, Wellington, N. Z. Vol. 24, No. 10. 1961.
Republic Day: 1984
Republic Day: 1984
It is Republic Day, 1984, the anniversary of the Revolution that saw the birth of the Republic of New Zealand. The Revolution had taken everyone by surprise on that day so long ago.
The World Affairs Council had been perturbed by the fact that in the years during which nuclear weapons had been available, more people in the world had died or ruined their health through alcohol than through atomic warfare. Therefore this was worthy of a demonstration "to foster a responsible awareness towards world problems."
A silent grim-faced band had marched towards Parliament bearing banners demanding "Ban the Beer," "Shut the Pubs." It was not until they had reached the grounds of Parliament House that they realised that for the first time they had really stirred public opinion.
A swirling, frothing mob wielding bottles was racing up yelling "Tear them limb from limb." "Shoot the lot." The W.A.C. demonstrators could do nothing but run into the House for refuge. As it happened, Cabinet was meeting at the time, and when they saw the thousands of blood-hungry citizens. the situation was misunderstood. The Government capitulated at once and fled through the back door to the hills.
After a brief power struggle a Revolutionary Committer was set up to organise democratic elections. The Committee then felt that the Revolution was the will of the people and that elections were not necessary.
Messrs. Butterworth (G.B.) and Gager (O.G.) in recognition of their worthy though unwitting services had been appointed special agents to ensure public contentment.
On this Republic Day a special parade and demonstration of solidarity is being held. In Civic Square are planted two new trees. It is a deep secret that these are not really trees but clever disguises for Messrs. G.B. and O.G. who are checking on public contentment. Moving silently and imperceptibly through the crowd with not a leaf out of place, they listen and watch like two tame triffids.
Agent O.G. finds Mex in the crowd. Mex is a non-conformist and has always been cynical about the Revolution; his favourite joke is that the clergy are safe in their pulpits as long as they do not talk about religion or beer. O.G. holds the official view that the Revolution was due to the common-sense of the ordinary man. but Mex thinks that it merely indicates the danger of interfering with the public beer-mug.
On his bedroom wall Mex still has his rejected entry for the competition for a national crest: a beer-bottle superimposed over a goal-post. He treasures the judges' comment that the entry does not reflect the class-struggle.
Agent G.B. has moved up to B.K.G., who is potentially dangerous. It may be only a matter of time before he is sent to the work-camps at National Park for threatening public security. B.K.G. has always deplored the apathy in which the people accept each new restriction upon their freedom.
He is trying to explain to a bored bystander the need for an individual interest in politics. The bystander argues: "It's no good me doing anything, I can't stop them. Anyway this government is no worse than any other government. Don't worry, mate, she'll be right. Hey. who's going to win on Saturday?"
Someone else reminds B.K.G. that political freedom does exist. A large demonstration has been organised for this afternoon against American aggression in California. And, what's more, a man can stand up in broad daylight and publicly demand that North America be returned to the Red Indians.
B.K.G. turns with an ironic smile and lets his dog nose its way over to a nearby tree.