Kia ora:

While in London travelling on the Tube I read this poem and thought of our own NZ tragedies, from Tangiwhai, to Cave Creek, the Christchurch earthquake, and Pike River Mine:

SIX BELLS 28 June 1960 Gillian Clarke 2011

Perhaps a woman hanging out the wash, paused, hearing something, a sudden hush,
a pulse inside the earth like a blow to the heart, holding in her arms the wet weight
of her wedding sheets, his shirts. Perhaps heads lifted from the work of scrubbing steps,
hands stilled from wringing rainbows onto slate, while below the town, deep in the pits
a rock-fall struck a spark from steel, and fired the void, punched through the mine a fist
of blazing firedamp. As they died, perhaps a silence, before sirens cried,
before the people gathered in the street, before she’d finished hanging out her sheets

Monthly Meeting: Monday 25 August 2014

Open to the public – All interested people are welcome – bring a friend

The Erotic Temples of South Asia

Erotic temples exist at a number of locations in South Asia.
These beautiful, amazing temples are gazed at by many tourists but what was their purpose?
Who constructed them, where, and when?
Was their purpose religious or was there some other reason for their construction?
This month we take a look at the erotic temples of India and Nepal and the theories surrounding their purpose and construction.

All interested people are welcome, Society members and members of the public – bring a friend..

We meet from 7.30 pm until 9.30 pm

Tararua Tramping Club, 4 Moncrieff Street, Wellington.

Moncrieff Street is off Elizabeth Street, which is off Kent Terrace, Wellington – a short distance from Courtney Place on bus routes 1 & 3.

Meetings this year will be on the 4th Monday of the month at the Tararua Tramping Club rooms, 4 Moncrieff Street.

Regular monthly meetings for 2014 will be on the 4th Monday of the month at the Tararua Tramping Club rooms, 4 Moncrieff Street.


Obituary: Jack Shallcrass The Humanist Society of New Zealand notes with regret and is saddened by the death of Jack Shallcrass. Jack was a Humanist and educator, and an Honorary Patron and Advisor of the Humanist Society of New Zealand. In the past, Jack was involved with and chaired some of the Wellington meetings of the Humanist Society resulting in well conducted and interesting meetings. As a person committed to the Humanist philosophy he represented Humanism in all aspects of his life, presenting a Humanist point of view in his work, teaching, and writing. He represented Humanism on various public and non-government organisations. Jack is survived by his partner Barbara Scelly and her children, by his children by his late wife Kate, and by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. An article by Jack Shallcrass on “Becoming a Humanist” was published by the Humanist Society of New Zealand in the Book Honest to Goodness?, Celebrating 25 Years of The Humanist Society in New Zealand, 1992, see the Humanist Society of New Zealand web page at: http://www.humanist.org.nz/literature/shallcrass.htm

Advance notice: 2014 AGM and Seminar: Saturday 18 October
Catherine Iorns, Senior Law Lecturer,School of Law, Victoria University School. Catherine will outline and update Climate change issues. More details in September newsletter.

From the Hawke’s Bay branch of NZARH: Meg Wallace from Australia will give a talk Belief: Freedom without Equality, Saturday 30 August 6.00pm (bring finger food) at Duart House 51 Duart Road, Havelock North. Governments have promised to promote universal freedom of religion or belief. But in reality, government involvement with religion remains ubiquitous throughout the world. Meg will look at the politics, fallacies and facts that contribute to the failure of this promise. Christchurch meeting Saturday 23 August 6.00pm: Meg will also give this talk at the Christchurch Polytechnic 130 Madras St. in the Imagitech Theatre.

Humanist Society of NZ and Ambience School Kathmandu Nepal Scholarship Partnership: While in Oxford attending the 2014 World Humanist Congress discussions were held with Kuldip Aryal and Utam Nirula from the Society for Humanism SOCH Nepal and Ambience School. We are arranging final details to ensure that this partnership is successful and we in New Zealand are able to help secure a future for children at Ambience School. Six students have been nominated to receive a scholarship and we thank Humanist members who will be supporting these students. If you are interested in joining this programme please contact us. ([email protected]) It would be wonderful to help more students. Here are brief details of the students selected to receive the scholarships.

Bandana, 13 years: ‘My parents are housemaids. We are not economically strong. We depend upon our father’s income. It is very difficult for my father to fulfil our family members basic needs. Even though, my family is extremely supportive of my endeavour; however, they cannot afford school fees.’

Sapana, 9 years: ‘My parents are very small vegetable vendors. My family are giving what they can, but school fees are very difficult to pay.’

Sumana, 14 years: ‘My family are housemaids. I have one small brother. It is very difficult for my parents to look after our general living. They are very concerned about our education but they are unable to fulfil it. They are giving us what they can.’

Pooja, 7 years: ‘My parents are currently living in a small village in Nepal. I am living with my aunt in Kathmandu. I have two brothers who also live with my aunt. My aunt is also a widow. She also does not have any support from family members and she also has her own son to look after. Even though in these circumstances I am achieving good education from Ambience School, and almost always securing the highest in my class, help with school fees would ease some of the burden for my aunt.’

Laxmi, 5 years: ‘I am now living with my grandparents. Unfortunately my parents left me out. And my grandfather is also suffering from partial paralysis. He is almost 60 years old. Nobody is supporting my grandparents. I am very thankful to my school for helping me. My grandparents are giving what they can.’

Minu 13 years: ‘My father is working as a general cycle mechanic. We are economically poor family. However, I did not stay with my parents because my parents are unable to help me with anything. Currently, I am now staying with one of my maternal relatives as general house worker/helper. I have tried to stay with my sister and brother-in-law in Kathmandu but my brother–in-law told me that they are also unable to help me with any kind of support. They are also struggling with their own problems.’

2014 World Humanist Congress Oxford, England 8-10 August:

Humanists from 60 countries attended this World gathering, which was marked with friendliness, theatre, and passion. Friendliness, because it was so very easy to sustain a conversation with every person met. Even though there were 1000 participants it was still possible over the three days to recognise people previously met and make connections. There was theatre, because sessions began with music, comedy or dance. The opening session was dramatic with a performance by the string quartet Classy Cool. They have a website: www.classycool.co.uk/ and another video at www.classycool.co.uk/pages/coventgarden.html. Suddenly the Sheldonian Theatre was filled with a tenor voice. Where was it from? Looking around it became apparent that it was one of the violinists singing while playing. Could it become better than this? It did! The quartet began dancing while playing! Yes, the cellist held the neck of the cello with her chin and danced while bowing the cello strings. And finally they announced that they ‘would play in French’ and plunged into the Can-Can complete with high kicks.

After this incredible performance the Congress opened with a talk of great clarity on ‘Freedom of speech and Freedom of Expression’ by AC Grayling. Two Humanist choirs performed and we heard the first complete song ever found, written in 1 CE. The words resonate today with our secular stance –‘While you live, shine, have no grief at all, life exists only for a short while and time demands its toll’ The comedian made us laugh at good British humour, and an Indian dance duo was colourful and expressive. There was passion from all the speakers:- Leo Igwe, founder of the Nigerian Humanist movement and Babu Gogineni, an International Director of IHEU are forceful, dynamic speakers, sharing their work countering superstition and religious fundamentalism. Asif Mohiuddin, one of the Bangladeshi bloggers experiencing persecution from Islamists reduced the audience to profound silence when he said he did not hate his attacker. He had been near death after a machete attack. Asif said ‘his attacker was only an innocent young boy’ Maryam Namazie, a political activist spoke passionately against fundamental Islamists and tore the ISIS flag to shreds. Alom Shaha implored us to see the difference between Muslims and Islamists.

Richard Dawkins when asked, ‘In an atheist world what do we do with all the religious art, music and churches?’ replied ‘We enjoy this wonderful heritage’. A different response from past and present religious groups who only seek to destroy. All sessions were videoed and will be available soon. The next Congress is in San Paulo, Brazil in 2017. Put this on your to do list.