Thursday, 26 February 2009

40,000 houses built by the Red Cross in Aceh Indonesia

<We have water in our village now, we have a house and my Dad's out fishing.

It's been a busy week. I'm exhausted but it has been worthwhile. After four years and a bit working almost full time on the Tsunami relief and recovery in India, Maldives, Sri Lanka and now Indonesia, it is such a joy to see people's lives getting back to normal. Earlier in the week I was in Aceh province of Indonesia where the devastating tsunami claimed almost 300,000 lives. On Monday I was at a ceremony where the President of Indonesia inaugurated a Tsunami memorial museum, a Polytechnic, the new port and many other important facilities for Banda Aceh.

The cheapest way to get about quickly in Sumatra and Aceh, is to charter small Cessna planes. One of the pilots is a fellow Kiwi. Photo: Bob McKerrow

On Tuesday I flew to Calang with the Chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross, the Canadian Ambassador, the Secretary General of the Canadian Red Cross, to inugurate houses built by the Canadian Red Cross in partnership with the Indonesian Red Cross Society (PMI). This is part of the International Red Cross (IFRC) and PMI effort to build 40,000 homes: 20,000 permanent homes and another 20,000 sturdy transitional shelters which will last more than 25 years. It was such a wonderful occasion seeing villagers in their brand new homes and happy. Later I will tell you Mulinda's story about her new life, her new house and Ben's fishpond.

Let me first tell tell you about the village of Mata Ie which was completely devastated by the tsunami that descended upon the west coast of Sumatra December 26, 2004. Located in the Aceh Jaya sub-district of Sampoiniet (west of Jeumpheuk), its remains today lie underwater.

Much has been accomplished in the years following the tsunami. The Canadian Red Cross (CRC), in partnership with Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and PMI, helped rebuild Mata Ie, bigger and stronger than it was before.
CRC is building over 5,500 houses in 49 villages in Aceh and Nias. Mata Ie is one of those relocated villages, its original location is now lying some four kilometres away from the shore of the Indian Ocean.

Getting relief supplies and housing materials out to remote areas was a logistical nightmare. Here we are taking M6 trucks supplied by Norway on landing crafts, plus bulldozers, to make roads so we can transport materials.

Their new land was generously donated by the village of Arongan Lambalek, to the west of Cot Langsat. 68 light green houses with the distinctive red roofs of the Canadian Red Cross now sit on these 26 hectares of land. More than half of them are already occupied. Despite the many lives claimed by the tsunami, the population of Mata Ie has actually grown in recent years. Residents opened their hearts and welcomed close to 100 of their closest neighbours, displaced themselves from their own homes in Jeumphuek, Cot Langsat and Babah Nipah. More than 220 people now call Mata Ie home.

I think the Red Cross built houses are great !

Residents may have lost their homes in the tsunami, but they did not lose their livelihoods. Many have returned to their lives as small business owners; as farmers and fishermen.There are no schools in this village. Children attend schools in nearby communities, taking their studies very seriously. A nurse at one health clinic in Mata Ie attends to the medical needs of residents as they arise. Once a month, a travelling health clinic visits.

Mata Ie is a community that gets along with its neighours, as well as local levels of government. It’s an inclusive village that encourages women to take a larger role in making decisions that affect the entire community. And it is very welcoming to the Canadian Red Cross and its staff.

The village of Mata Ie last Tuesday, looking spick and span. Photo: Bob McKerrow

CRC could not rebuild Mata Ie alone. It took commitment on the part of many partners, including the villagers themselves, CIDA, BRR (Government of Indonesia Housing Agency) which is constructing permanent infrastructure, and American Red Cross, which is supplying water and sanitation to all of the homes. The CRC commitment did not end there. Making a conscious decision to build communities, not just houses, CRC embarked on programs that would improve the health of Mata Ie villagers, through improved water and sanitation, and hygiene promotion. The CRC Livelihoods Program saw the successful construction of a volleyball court; volleyball is a favourite pastime of the Acehnese. Residents of Mata Ie admit to still being traumatized by the tsunami and living in fear of future natural disasters, including earthquakes.

Villagers admit to still being traumatized by the tsunami. In days that followed the Tsunami, Red Cross volunteers disposed of bodies under terrible conditions, but with the greatest possible dignity.

To help mitigate those fears, CRC introduced Disaster Risk Reduction programs to the area, so next time, not only will residents be better prepared for a natural disaster, they’ll also be better able to respond.

A British Red Cross house, showing its design features under the worst flooding since the Tsunami. Photo: Bob McKerrow

A German Red Cross house, showing the advantages of high design standards as the worst flood simce the Tsunami tests the builder's skills.. Photo: Bob McKerrow,

Mulinda’s story: “A new life in a new home” (photo of her home above)

When the 2004 tsunami swept away her family home on the island of Pulo Breuh, Mulinda was seven months pregnant. Her daughter was born on March 1, 2005, while they were living in a camp for the displaced called Mata’ie (“tears”) near Banda Aceh.

Now three years old, little Saidatul Rahmi deftly cuts and pops slices of apple into her mouth on the doorstep of their new two-bedroom house, built by the British Red Cross.

Unlike many other families in Ulee Paya village, which has 300 inhabitants, Mulinda’s relatives all survived the disaster. But there was nothing left of the home she had lived in with her parents. It was five months before they were able to return to the island, just off the northern tip of Indonesia’s Aceh province.


Mulinda, 30, moved into the yellow Red Cross house with her husband and daughter in 2007, and her parents live close by. Trees and pots of pink flowers grow in the front garden and there is a wood-frame carpentry workshop at one side, where Saidatul’s father makes furniture.

“This house is much better,” says Mulinda, sitting on the pink three-piece suite in her living room. “It’s quieter, and even though it’s smaller than our old house, it is of higher quality.”

After the tsunami, most people needed new furniture, so orders have been coming in from neighbouring villages too. The business has taken on another employee.


Mulinda’s family seem happy in their new concrete-brick home, which is one of 47 the Red Cross constructed in Ulee Paya. Hopefully they are also better protected against damage from future disasters.

All Red Cross houses in the tsunami-affected area of Indonesia are built to withstand earthquakes up to magnitude 6, and should protect people inside up to magnitude 7.

“We sometimes have earthquakes, but when they happen, the house just shakes. There aren’t any cracks,” says Mulinda.
From rice field to fishpond: Reclaiming damaged land

Before the tsunami, Ben Khari’s home village of Alue Riyeung, on the north Acehnese island of Pulo Nasi, looked out over rice fields, separated from the beach by a swamp filled with coconut palms and mangroves.

Every morning, Ben or one of his partners heads down to the pond to give the fish their daily ration of three kilos of semi-organic

But the huge waves that smashed into the island’s coastal villages flooded the area with seawater and ripped out the trees. The semi-circle of land is now abandoned, dotted with large pools of stagnant water and tree stumps.

“It’s no good for paddy anymore, because without trees, the wind will blow in and damage the rice,” explains Ben.


He and a group of five other resourceful villagers put their heads together and came up with a fresh way to make use of the ruined fields. With the aid of a group grant of 3,164 Swiss francs from the British Red Cross, they have constructed a large fishpond at one edge.

First, they fenced off a 30 square metre section of stagnant water using debris from coconut trees destroyed by the tsunami (this, Ben boasts, took them just a week). Then, in April, they stocked the pond with around 3,000 bandeng (milk) fish, which they bought in the provincial capital Banda Aceh.

Because they’ve opted for a non-intensive method, the fish won’t be ready to sell until late August. Every morning, Ben or one of his partners heads down to the pond to give the fish their daily ration of three kilos of semi-organic food.


Ben is keen to stress the ecological benefits of their approach, as well as pointing out that it’s cheaper. High-nutrient food is expensive, and because they used a flooded patch of land and recycled timber, they didn’t have to hire a digger or purchase fencing materials.

The group members don’t have to rely on the fish project for their main source of income, so they are treating it as an experiment for rehabilitating the wide expanse of land damaged by the tsunami.

“We are aware that this activity takes a long time to produce benefits, but we see it as a good way of exploiting the potential of the natural resources here. It’s an investment,” explains Ben.

“We also come here and relax with the family, so we’re all doing this project merrily,” he smiles.
Thanks to Megan Rowling, British Red Cross abd Kathy Mueller, Canadian Red Cross for ptoviding information.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Winter ascent of Red Lion Peak by West Coast Publican

Peter Hill, (centre) publican of the Red Lion Hotel. Hokitika, a few metres from the summit of Red Lion Peak, Waitaha Valley, West Coast, New Zealand. Photo: Bob McKerrow

I have been thinking lately about some of the best mountain climbs I have done, and they usually involve humour, sometimes a prank, but always a fun group of people. On this trip we also rediscovered the Great Spotted Kiwi in this region. Here is an article I wrote for the 1993 New Zealand Alpine Journal.

In 1867 Hokitika was described as the wonder city of the Southern Hemisphere. In the space of two years Westland’s population had increased from 1000 to 50,000, as men from remote comers of the Empire flocked to the West Coast in search of gold. At nights the streets were crowded and ablaze with lights as miners made their way to hotels, skittle alleys,gambling dens and the casino where the ‘ladies de ballets’ entertained. It was common to see ships leaving the proud port of Hokitika, then the sixth largest port in New Zealand,with 10,000 ounces of gold. The shipping records of that year show forty-one vessels in port on one day, of all nations, types and sizes.

On the slopes above the port, on Gibson Quay, was the Red Lion Hotel, one of Hokitika’s 110 hotels. James Evans built the Red Lion in 1865. He was a colourful character and had equally colourful friends such as the pirate and ‘blackbirder’,Bully Hayes. The West Coast Times of 29 December 1866 announced Captain Bully Hayes’ arrival in his brig Rona from the Fiji Islands with the following cargo — 50,000 oranges, 50,000 limes, 1000 cockatoos, 80 pigs, 200 pineapples, 200 citrons and a quantity of South Sea Island curiosities. A note in the Hokitika Historical Museum throws further light on what the curiosities were, “a number of young native Belles,” which was in keeping with Hayes ‘blackbirding’ or slave trading reputation.

Over 100 years ago, a young West Coast surveyor, who knew the hotel well, named the two prominent peaks at the head of the County Glacier Red Lion Peak and Mt. Evans, after the hotel and its publican.

Pirates no longer meet at Hokitika’s Red Lion tavern, but it’s still a keen watering hole for surveyors, trampers, bushmen, whitebaiters, mountaineers, shooters, possumers and goldminers. And it still attracts some colourful characters, such as the publican, Peter Hill, formerly of Ashburton, a thirty-nine year old ex-Army warrant officer who served in Singapore.

In April this year I was having a beer in the Red Lion with a few mountaineering friends and told Peter Hill that one of the most beautiful and remotest mountains in New Zealand was named after his pub. After he wiped the spilt beer off the bar he said, “Go on, I’m listening.” We had his attention. Like pirates of old that had frequented this very bar, I rolled out a map of the Central Southern Alps and jabbed my finger next to Red Lion Peak. “We’re planning a winter ascent in August and you’re welcome to join us,” I said half joking. There seemed something weird about the publican of the Red Lion climbing Red Lion Peak, but compared to the wild schemes that Bully Hayes and those early sailors and miners must have schemed up, our plan had a chance of success.
We explained to Peter that the object of the expedition was to climb Red Lion Peak from the Waitaha Valley via the County Stream and County Glacier. “I reckon we should fly in by helicopter to the top, take a photo and then fly back, that’s the easy way,” said Peter, loudly, so the whole bar could hear. We discussed flying one way by helicopter to reduce the time away from work.

In early May Peter was doing a couple of 10 kilometre walks a week and enjoying his newfound exercise. By the end of July, his portly publican’s paunch had all but disappeared and he had trimmed down to a fighting 100 kilograms. The time had come to do some snow training.

Sunday trading is a bit lean on the Coast these days so it was the one day Peter could put in a full day’s training. It was snowing heavily on August 3 when Peter Hill drove Rod Buchanan and I into Arthur’s Pass village for an attempt on Mt. Bealey. Peter put foot on mountain snow for the first time in his life that morning. Above the bush-line we were exposed to the full force of a howling norwest wind as the horizontally blowing snow and hail stabbed our windproof clothing like a driven nail. I was expecting Peter to wimp out. But no! He took to using crampons and an ice axe like a seasoned sherpa. I was beginning to admire this guy’s determination. By the end of the day Peter had passed his snow test with flying colours. Roll on Red Lion Peak!

About this time we finalised the group for Red Lion: Kevin Williams, 44, a carpet layer from Greymouth; Rod Buchanan, 52, bee keeper from Paroa; and David Norton, 34, a university lecturer from Christchurch. Peter and I made up the complement of five. The sixth member was to have been well-known mountaineer and publican of the Bealey Hotel at Arthurs Pass, Paddy Freaney, but he was snowbound and unable to get over the pass to join the others. When I phoned Paddy shortly before we left, he said: “The only way I can come over is to flog a jigger and come through the tunnel to the West Coast.” Unable to commandeer a jigger, Freaney missed the trip.
All the expedition members had planned to juggle work and leave to fit in the climb
somewhere between August 24 to September 6 so we were frustrated when the first week
of this period saw three days of torrential rain. This was followed by two days of heavy snow which dumped two feet of snow in Christchurch’s Cathedral Square and on the Southern Alps. Acutely aware of avalanche danger, we went in well equipped to face any eventualities.

On Sunday morning August 30, the Met Office was forecasting a slender two day window
of good weather. Our five-man party flew by helicopter into the terminal face of the County Glacier at 4,000 feet and in the afternoon plugged footsteps up to 6,500 feet under Red Lion Peak (8,100 feet), so we’d get a flying start in the morning. As night closed in on our three tents, water froze solid in the billies.
The next morning we got away in the dark at 5.30am. It must have been at least 15
degrees below freezing as Peter Hills ex-Army combat boots froze solid during the night.
Somehow his boots and camouflage trousers issued for Singapore conditions looked a bit out of place in the middle of severe South Island winter.
It was a weak, wintry dawn that greeted us as we climbed up the County Glacier towards the base of Red Lion Peak. We commenced the ascent of the low peak of Red Lion Peak by the north facing slope. At 11.30am after two hours of steep climbing we reached the low summit, at 8050 feet.

Peter Hill and Kevin Williams commencing the final ridge of the high peak of Red Lion Peak. The stunning ridge of Mount Evans from Red Lion Col to summit is to the left. Photo: Bob McKerrow

Wanganui valley dropping away with startling abruptness beneath our bootsoles. On the
opposite side of the County Glacier, Mt. Evans reigned supreme. An hour later we reached the high summit of Red Lion Peak.

The view from the top was unbelievable. We were like little boys at a lolly scramble as we jostled and excitedly pointed out landmarks. “There’s Mt. Hutt and the ArrowsmithRange,”’ shouted David. Mt. Cook, Mt. Tasman, in fact the whole of the Southern Alps both north and south were a stark reminder as to where we were. On the West Coast side there was our own Lake Kaniere, the Wanganui and Poerua Rivers. “Isn’t that the tail end of the Okarito Lagoon,” said Peter. It was a good feeling as we sat down to eat our lunch on the summit, knowing we had done the first winter traverse of the two peaks of Red Lion.

Peter was chuffed. As we ate I told the guys the history of Red Lion peak.
The first ascent of the high peak was done by a Christchurch party, Wyndham Barnett
and his cousin Stan Barnett, and B.R. Turner on 30 December 1934. They climbed the
peak from a camp above Vane Junction. Wyndham was born in 1911 and was a member of
the Canterbury Mountaineering Club. He served in World War II as a gunner and died in
Tunisia when he was struck by a splinter from a stray bomb.

The descent back to our camp was straight forward in the warm afternoon. The next
morning the weather closed in, and our chance of a winter ascent of Mt. Evans was lost.

As we left our camp in falling snow, the hardest part of the trip started. It took us four and-a-half days to descend down the County Glacier, County Stream and the Waitaha Valley back to our car at the roadend. The first stage of our trek back, with 70 pound packs,including tents, primuses, avalanche, climbing equipment and food, was down the snowladen County Glacier and then the stream. At times the snow was crutch deep which made the trip to County Hut slow and laborious.
The next morning we made a significant discovery. Rod Buchanan and I, independently
of each other, discovered footprints and droppings of the Great Spotted Kiwi near the County Hut. This was brilliant news as recent kiwi surveys had indicated that no Great Spotted Kiwi had been identified between Franz Josef and Greymouth for some years. As we descended the Waitaha we came across a number of blue ducks, bell-birds, wood pigeons and grey warblers which cheered us up, except Peter. “You greenies get excited over nothing,” said Peter. “Shut up,”’ came my reply, “or I’ll photograph you hugging the next tree and pin it on your pub wall.”’

From County Hut it took a further three days along a precipitous track which at times
teetered over three frightening gorges, more than 1000 feet below us. The track down the Waitaha Valley was totally devastated by storm-felled trees. Tree hugging was essential and was often the only security we had between us and the river, 500 feet below. The difficulty of the track down the Waitaha is described by John Pascoe in his ‘Southern Alps Guidebook’ : “The main river falls to a narrow rock gorge at 2,300feet, and in half a mile of cataracts dashes a thousand feet to the forks where the County River swells its volume, both to flow for some eight miles due west and then north in a series of gorges and cliffs where the scenery is spectacular. So difficult is the travelling below the County that most parties take the high level route at all costs, but deer killers’ tracks hold
the south bank.”

Moonbeam Hut, Lower Waitaha Valley. Photo: Bob McKerrow

Rod Buchanan, expedition member and a member of the West Coast Conservation
Board, estimated there were at least five trees blocking our way every 100 yards. He reckoned it would take about two person-years to restore the Waitaha Valley to the condition it was before this winter’s snow and wind damage.
On Friday 4 September, five tired climbers arrived back at the Red Lion Tavern in
Hokitika. Peter Hill was pleased to be home and was greeted by his sister Margaret, who had been running the pub during his six day absence. Peter sat down, like a happy Buddha, in front of huge roaring fire. It was beers all round, huge tankards of Christchurch Dark Ale. Before long our wet clothes were steaming.
A week later Peter Hill’s patrons treat him with greater respect. He’s much slimmer now and seems to have more purpose in his stride as he moves from table to table. The summit photo of Peter and his team proudly hangs on the wall, near the bar. Last Friday a tourist asked him why he doesn’t have more photographs of mountains on his wall. “Have a look out the tavern window, you can see bloody mountains as far south as Mount Cook and Mount Tasman,”’ he replied.
“Are you a climber?” the tourist asked. There was a silence while he thought. “I’ve climbed a mountain or two,” said Peter, as he glanced towards the silhouette of Mt. Evans, which hides Red Lion Peak behind. The view out his pub window now has new meaning.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Advice to your children - leadership personified.

The leader has his or her eye on the horizon or the summit. Photo: Bob McKerrow

My last posting was on leadership and management and it engendered some lively feedback and discussion. Having been in leadership positions for a number of decades from leading mountain rescue teams and having to make life-saving decisions, directing outdoor education centres where the wrong decision could result in death, or being caught near the front line between two warring factions, and having to decide to evacuate my team or stay put, makes you realize there is a lot of clap-trap written about leadership by academics who have spent little time in the trenches. I was fortunate in being able to learn from my own experiences and by listening to my elders over the years, both Pakeha (European) and Maori.

I love that story I first heard when I was young from that great Kaumatua (Maorichief) Turi Elkington, of Ngato Kuia, when he asked me “What is the most important thing ? (“He aha te mea nui?"} When I was silent he answered, "He Tangata, He Tanhgata, He Tangata" ( People, People, People.)

In my last posting I listed the qualities and differences between leaders and managers and the most important to me is this one.

• The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.

My two youngest children are boys and I am sure they will soon start asking more difficult questions about what to do in life and seeking advice on personal
What will my answer be ? I believe I cannot fail them if I quote Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘ IF.


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too

If you can dream--and not make dreams your
If you can think--and not make thoughts your
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

--Rudyard Kipling

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Are you a leader or a manager ?.

As Dwight Eisenhower once said: "Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it".

The question I pose today is, are you a leader or a manager ?

Having had a mixed bag of leaders and managers over the years I try to jot down my observations. So many of us work for companies or organisations that are management driven, and neither promote leadership or recognise it. With B replacing B in the US of A, we are able to compare George Bush's style with Barack's.
Chalk and Cheese and Night and Day are a bit hackneyed: Barack Obama is resuscitating a nation and a world. God, if ever we needed the kiss of life in leadership, that in the last five years has been like Friday's hot meal served up cold and stale on Monday, the time is nigh.

Distinctions between Manager and Leader:

The manager administers; the leader innovates.

The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.

The manager maintains; the leader develops.

The manager accepts reality; the leader investigates it.

The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.

The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.

The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.

The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.

The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader
has his or her eye on the horizon.

The manager imitates; the leader originates.

The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.

The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.

The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

Leadership is also about:

 Design
 Story
 Symphony
 Empathy
 Play
 Meaning

Not Just function but design

Not just argument but story

Not just focus but also empathy

Not just logic but empathy

Not just seriousness but also play

Not just accumulation but meaning

Thanks to Warren Bennis and Joan Goldsmith, Learning to Lead and my brother Mr. Pearl
who gave me a few ideas, but most of my examples above are from 40 years of leadership ranging from very bad to slightly above mediocre. I am sorry if I have offended anyone, but there were three outstanding leaders I had the pleasure of being inspired and led by, and I will write about them soon.

As Dwight Eisenhower once said: "Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it".

Take care and learn to improve your leadership, but first distinguish between management and leadership.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Research on Charlie Douglas

Charlie Douglas (centre of photo above) lived on the West Coast of New Zealand from 1867 to 1916, exploring, surveying and mapping the mountains, bush, rivers, lakes and coastline. He was born in Scotland and for his outstanding work was referred to respectfully as Mr. Explorer Douglas. In the 1880s, Douglas built up an exploring companionship with Mueller, now chief surveyor. On a trip up the Arawata River, the two climbed Mt Ionia. They also walked through many of South Westland’s river valleys, such as the Clarke and Landsborough. The reports of ‘Mr Explorer Douglas’ in the Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives became important contributions to the knowledge of Westland’s geography.

Carrying his batwing tent, puffing on his pipe, and accompanied only by his precious dogs, first Topsy and then Betsey Jane, Douglas also climbed alone. He made an epic traverse of the northern Olivine Range, and travelled up the Waiatoto River in 1891. Between feats of courage and endurance in the mountains, Douglas drank heavily.
Showing his early education, Charlie Douglas liked classical names for mountains, such as Castor and Pollux. He also coined names for creeks on the west side of the Waiatoto: Lucky Rill, Tingling Brook, Ferny Rivulet, Whizzing Water, Thrill Creek and Madcap Torrent.

Douglas’s achievement
In 1893 Douglas developed an important partnership with another climber, Arthur P. Harper, son of the earlier explorer Leonard Harper. The two explored especially in the Franz Josef, Fox Glacier and Cook River regions. In 1897 he was awarded the Gill Memorial Prize by the Royal Geographical Society ‘for his persistent explorations during twenty-one years of the difficult region of forests and gorges on the western slopes of the New Zealand Alps’.1 He retired in 1906 after a stroke. (Thanks to Te Ara for permission to use some of this information above).


Over many years I have retraced a number of his journeys and done considerable research and have published articles and poems in the NZ Alpine Journal. Here is an article I published in the 1995 New Zealand Alpine Journal that may be interesting for people with afascination for early New Zealand exploration.

Charlie Douglas: his final years.

One of the best New Zealand books on exploration must be Phillip Temple's 'New Zealand Explorers - Great Journeys of Discovery.' The chapter on Charles Douglas is moving and gives a descriptive insight into his arduous trips in the Waiatoto Valley. Unfortunately Temple paints an incorrect picture of Charlies last years: He writes,
"In 1906, Douglas suffered a stroke from which he seemed to have recovered; but he was not to recover from the more massive blow which struck him down in 1908." From then, until his death in Hokitika in 1916 at the age of 75, Douglas lay paralysed, unable even to talk with his friends." (1)

Research I've conducted shows that Douglas did recover from his second stroke and was well enough to be camping by himself at Lake Kaniere in 1911 at the age of 71.(2)

Temple can certainly be excused for this mistake as he built on the research of the usually reliable John Pascoe. I began making the same mistake in writing a biography on Ebenezer Teichelmann until I started digging deeper. Interviews with two men who remembered Charlie well, were key in piecing together the last years of Douglas' life and the friends who supported him.

It has revealed that instead of a tragic stroke-ridden and paralysed Charlie Douglas portrayed by John Pascoe and repeated Temple, it is likely that Charlie Douglas' final years were among the best of his life apart from the period from October 10, 1914 to his death on May 23, 1916 where he was permanently hospitalised.

In two recent interviews with Hec Davidson (June 1993, three weeks before his death) and Ces Preston ( September 1993) it is clear that Charlie was seen out at Lake Kaniere in late 1911. He had his tent pitched near to Dr Ebenezer Teichelmann's batch. Neither Hec or Ces recall him looking paralyzed and he was certainly able to speak.

" I met him through going to the Lake with some of my cobbers - I was there with Hector Davidson who was three years older than I. Hec said, 'there's Mr Douglas.' He had a tent there. I saw him go to the tent and he said hello to us as he passed. The tent had a fly on it. I was told later by a very reliable source that the good doctor wanted Charlie to stay in his house, but he said, 'Oh no, I want to stay in the tent.' That would have been late 1911, " recalled Ces Preston. Ces said that in later life he dicussed these boyhood memories with his friend that day, Hec Davidson, and both "were clear in our minds that we saw Mr. Douglas at Lake Kaniere in 1911." (3)

Charlie had a second stroke either late in 1908 or early 1909. Around that time,Teichelmann "told Arthur P. Harper not to see Douglas as he would be upset at not being able to talk to him, and it was kinder to leave him alone." (4)

John Pascoe concluded from his research that after his second stroke , "He never recovered sufficiently to roam again in the bush or on the ranges." (5)But he was to roam in the bush again in a limited way, for he was seen walking on the shores of Lake Kaniere in 1911 which has bush down to the waters edge.

As his doctor, Ebenezer Teichelmann saw a lot of Charlie Douglas between 1906 after his first stroke, and up until late 1915 when he left for Egypt to serve in the First World War.(6)

Pascoe is also short on detail when it comes to writing about the people who cared for Douglas in his last years. Teichelmann saw to it that Douglas got the best possible medical care. For most of his last years Douglas was living with Mrs Jane Ward, the widow of Charlies deceased partner in exploration, Bob Ward, who drowned in 1881 crossing the Omoeroa River. Bob Ward and Douglas had done a number of survey trips together and he had got to know Jane Ward well over the years. What has been revealed recently is that Jane Ward lived at 20 Fitzherbert Street, which was either next door to G. J. and Mrs Roberts or two houses along from him. With the closeness of the relationship between Douglas and the Roberts, support was always on hand next door. (7)

Roberts writes of his relationship with Douglas as one between "two human beings who fully understand each other and, ignoring our many weaknesses, fully appreciate the remainder." (8)

Mrs Roberts had a soft spot for Charlie. In the winter of 1897 he had taken her on ice for the first time near the Bealey and later that year her husband refers to his wife and a lady climber from Greymouth going down to visit Charlie. He wrote, " Most probably when Douglas gets up the Waiho these two camerists will pop in at his Bat-wing for afternoon tea and consficate him for a few weeks." (9)

According to Jane Ward's grandson Tom Ward, his grandmother got on well with Charlie Douglas who lived in accomodation at the rear of the house.
" He was a very shy person, particulary with women, but this he overcome with time. His long association with the Wards meant that he could talk easily with Mrs Ward," recalled Tom Ward. (10)

" Charlie would have been well looked after, you wouldn't have got a better women than Mrs Ward, she was so kind and with her nursing training he would have got good care," (11)

Preston also wrote, " Another hospital attendant told me that when Explorer Douglas was hospitalised in old age the doctor saw to it that he had his hot toddies at night, as his rheumatics played up." The hot toddies usually were made up of whiskey and hot water. (12)

Ces Preston is quite adamant that Dr Teichelmann arranged for Charlie Douglas to go out to Lake Kaniere every Christmas/New Year period during the period 1906 up until he was permanently hospitalised. (13)

So instead of the tragic picture of Douglas that Pascoe and Temple write about from 1906 to his death in 1916 it is likely that some of Charlie Douglas final years were warm, comfortable and friendly ones, although he would have had bouts of pain and the frustration of poor speech , limited mobility and rheumatism some of the time. He certainly wasn't without friends. Tiechelmann was his doctor and friend, Arthur Woodham his old mining friend from Waiho assisted Mrs Ward in looking after him. and Mr and Mrs Roberts were neighbours. And, if that wasn't enough, Duncan McFarlane and his large family were regular visitors. (14)

What is equally interesting is that Teichelmann advised A.P. Harper not to come and see Douglas in 1908/1909 sometime after his second stroke. This statement intrigued me. I was tempted to leave it alone , but on talking to Dorothy Fletcher, daughter of Alec Graham, who knew Teichelmann well, I decided to probe further.

" I believe it is likely that Teichelmann and Roberts in particular, protected Charlie from Harper," said Dorothy Fletcher. (15)

The question that has to be posed is, did the Charlies West Coast friends - Roberts, Teichelmann, Woodham and McFarlane - close ranks to keep the rather boastful Harper away? Roberts opinion of Harper was "how unconsciously full of self the youthful Harper was" (16)

Harper, who a member of the New Zealand Alpine Club since its inception in 1894 and was later President for many years, was likely to be tarred with the brush of disdain that Douglas had for "that gang of amateurs called the New Zealand Alpine Club they have done nothing and explored nothing that wasn't known long before." He also said, " some crack brained idiot who wishes to make what he calls a record, and who's ambition is to be a small hero in a lecture hall, a drawing room, or even pot house..."(17)

Whilst Douglas' criticisms were in the main directed to Malcolm Ross and George Park, early members of the NZ Alpine Club, he and fellow West Coasters held a high degree of distrust and suspicion against the east coast amateur climbers, who came over and made exaggerated claims about their exploits in the west.

Pascoe writes, " His attitude was not uncommon in Westland and persists to this day; alpine feats are not ones about which to boast, and pretentiousness in any form is to be condemned." (18)
Even today on the West Coast there is a degree of simmering resentment towards John Pascoe, who from 1938 onwards made a number of trips to the West Coast, and took away valuable West Coast Archives and records of exploration.(19)

Fortunately not all the West Coast's archives were taken for in Hokitika we have a number of valuable historical resources on exploration and mountaineering:

The Westland Savings Bank has the origional copy of Charlie Douglas Journal 1892-1897 , the West Coast Historical Museum holds a number of Douglas sketches and archives on some West Coast explorers/surveyors/ mountaineers, some of Douglas field books are with DOSLI, The Department of Conservation in Hokitika and Franz Josef have a comprehensive photographic collection . Dorothy Fletcher has the best West Coast alpine archives known as the Graham Collection. I have also built up a lot of valuable references on West Coast. All these collections are well cared for and in good condition.

Plans are currently underway to establish regional archives in Hokitika of a national standard where most of these collections will be housed together. It also will present an opportunity to bring back a number of important West Coast collections that are housed elsewhere. Heritage Hokitika has a committee called the Carnegie Building Restoration committee which is developing a strategic plan to restore the Carniegie Building which for many years functioned as a public library. It has the backing of the Westland District Council, NZ Historic Places Trust and numerous other local and regional organisations. (20)

1 Philip Temple, New Zealand Explorers - Great Journeys of Discovery, Whitcoulls Publishers. Christchurch , 1985, p 163
2 Ces Preston, personal conversation, September 1993
3 Ces Preston and Hec Davidson, personal conversation, June 1993 and September 1993
4 John Pascoe, Mr. Explorer Douglas, A.H. & A.W. Reed. 1957, p 66
5 John Pascoe op. cit., p 65
6 Bob McKerrow, Ebenezer Teichelmann, Unpublished book 1993
7 Tom Ward, Letter, 9 July, 1993
8 John Acheson, Mr Surveyor Roberts, NZ Alpine Club Journal, 1973, p 110
9 John Pascoe op. cit., p 110
10 Tom Ward, op. cit.
11 Hazel Kelly, personal conversation, August 1993
12 Ces Preston, op. cit.
13 Ces Preston, op. cit.
14 Dorothy Fletcher personal conversation and Graham
Collection, Hokitika.
15 Dorothy Fletcher, personal conversation.
16 John Acheson, op.cit., p110
17 John Pascoe, op.cit, p 78
18 John Pascoe, op. cit., p 78
19 Dorothy Fletcher and numerous others, too many to list.
20 Carnegie Building Restoration Committee HeritageHokitika, Restoration Strategy, 1993

I was pleased to note that when John Pascoe's New Zealand Classic 'Mr. Explorer Douglas' was revised by Graham Langton in 2000, the Chapter 'Last Years' was ammended to include the new information I discovered in the article above.

For those of you who have read this far, I post a poem I wrote a few year ago for the NZ Alpine Journal on Charlie Douglas:

Charlie Douglas

So what was the inner spring that made you tick ?
In valleys where snow, ice, water and mica mix
Incessant rain and slippery logs
Mosquitoes, sand flies bush and bogs

And ah, paradise lurking in those hot pools
Stripped your rags far way from ’those fools’
As you soaked your matted beard and ropey hair
And a moment of thanksgiving, a silent prayer

Strong, sinewy and stringy as Weka meat
After years of amazing geographical feats
You lay awake, dreaming year after year
Many thought you were a man without a care

But you were putting the world together
While stranded for weeks in nor’westerly weather
Puffing, sucking the old brown brair
In your batwing tent you kindle a fire

No mortgage family possessions houses or barns
You are a free-wheeling man with only socks to darn
A river to cross and a range to measure
Keeping a watchful eye on the wild weather
Weeks of rain and sodden clothes
Notebooks full of maps, observations and prose

Your thrills came from discovery and not wiley tarts,
Betsy Jane at your side, obedient and fast
Never answered back when you got it wrong
The tuis, bellbirds and robins kept you in song
Your footprints were the first in many places,
Mountain top, gorges river and glaciers

The whiskey jar at the Forks, Okarito and Scotts,
Discussing the world with fellow Scots
The jar was your best mate on the binge
You were one of those living over the fringe

Banking almost got you, wife kids and all
But marriage to you was like a pall

Your dreams wafted like smoke from your pipe
Slabs of rata your company during the night
The cursed danps got into every joint
Did you ever ask ‘whats the bloody point ?'

Was it you Charlie or the others who were the fools ?
Your maps, sketches and diaries over which generations drool
No Charlie it was a good deal you got
Harper, and others, you never tolerated that lot
Alpine Club braggards you named them true
Canterbury amateurs who stole feats from you

It was Roberts McFarlane, Bannister and Teichy
They were soul mates of a similar physie
Staunch and modest friends who knew your strengths
Overlooked your weaknesses and came to your defence

The final years in Hokitika with Mrs Ward
Wife of your mate in the mountains who died at a ford

After the stroke you were seen camping at Kaniere
With batwing tent, maps, diaries but without a penny
Possessions and money had no meaning or dues
It was the uncharted land that was treasure to you.

Copyright. Bob McKerrow 2007

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Ed Hillary quotes

After a few serious postings I thought it would be good to read the words of a humble New Zealander who ascended the world's greatest peak.

* "We knocked the bastard off" – announcing he and Tensing had reached Everest’s summit.

* "I like to think that I am a very ordinary New Zealander, not terribly bright perhaps but determined and practical in what I do" – at the 50th anniversary

* "I thought, ‘well Ed, me boy, we've done it’." - on reaching the Polar Plateau after leading the first vehicles overland in Antarctica to the South Pole in 1957 and wondering "whether I was heading in the right direction".

* "To be washed gently ashore, maybe on the many pleasant beaches near the place I was born. Then the full circle of my life will be complete." - on why he wanted his ashes scattered in Auckland's Waitemata Harbour

* Nepalese, he said, did not ask for poverty while New Zealanders lived in affluence: "The fact that we do is a blessing, and with it comes responsibilities."

* On becoming a knight: "It was a tremendous honour, of course, but I had never really approved of titles and couldn’t really imagine myself possessing one"

* "I could see myself walking down Broadway, Papakura, in my tattered overalls and the seat out of my pants, and I thought ‘That's gone forever. I'll have to buy a new pair of overalls now'."

* "In some ways I believe I epitomise the average New Zealander. I have modest abilities, I combine these with a good deal of determination and I rather like to succeed."

* To an Indian reporter who asked him if he knew he was seen by many as a god: "Well I know I’m not, so it doesn’t bother me."

* From Hillary’s diary, published in his ‘Nothing Venture, Nothing Win’:
"I continued on, cutting steadily and surmounting bump after bump and cornice after cornice looking eagerly for the summit. It seemed impossible to pick it and time was running out. Finally I cut around the back of an extra large hump and then on a tight rope from Tensing I climbed up a gentle snow ridge to its top. Immediately it was obvious that we had reached our objective. It was 11.30a.m. and we were on top of Everest!"
He describes the landscape below them and continues: "Tensing and I shook hands and then Tensing threw his arms around my shoulders. It was a great moment! I took off my oxygen and for ten minutes I photographed Tensing holding flags, the various ridges of Everest and the general view. I left a crucifix on top for John Hunt and Tensing made a little hole in the snow and put in it some food offerings - lollies, biscuits and chocolate. We ate Mint Cake and then put our oxygen back on. I was a little worried by the time factor so after 15 minutes on top we turned back at 11.45."

Australian Cricket should be charged with Racism

" Elliot looks like someone who reads your water meter." Unacceptable racism by Australian cricket commentators.

The One Day International Cricket match between New Zealand and Australia is not over. I am furious with the racist attitude of the commentators

When New Zealand was 7 wickets for 237, a comment from the commentator. " Elliot looks like someone who reads your water meter." He has scored a great century against Australia when this comment was made.

Then a few seconds later, "Everyone is running Australia down this season," then a few seconds later " We get run down by an Ethiopian." Big, gutteral laughs from the commentators.

Do we have to put up with this racism from Australian cricket commentators ?

Thursday, 5 February 2009

What Life Asks of Us

Climbing with Tania, my daughter, when she was 12 years old. I took my daughters on journeys of self-discovery in the hope they would see the world in its many different shades, including a trip to Pakistan and India where they saw the worst of poverty,

Having raised seven children I often used to hover between bringing them up in a very liberal manner, and using some of the more conservative established institutions to built on solid parenting. In my younger days as a father, I felt my children should break free from the way they were raised, examine life from the outside and discover their own values. Thanks to God and a wonderful Mother, my children have all turned out well and have not only survived, but flourished in a mixture of the two styles mentioned above.
Recently I read an article by David Brooks that really challenged and stimulated me, and I believe proves that “institutionalists see themselves as debtors who owe something, not creditors to whom something is owed.” I see too many young people today who have been brought up with a very liberal education, believing the world owes them a living.

A trip up the Franz Josef Glacier with my five daughters.

Have a read of David Brooks article and see if it provokes you as it did me !

A few years ago, a faculty committee at Harvard produced a report on the purpose of education. “The aim of a liberal education” the report declared, “is to unsettle presumptions, to defamiliarize the familiar, to reveal what is going on beneath and behind appearances, to disorient young people and to help them to find ways to reorient themselves.”
The report implied an entire way of living. Individuals should learn to think for themselves. They should be skeptical of pre-existing arrangements. They should break free from the way they were raised, examine life from the outside and discover their own values.
This approach is deeply consistent with the individualism of modern culture, with its emphasis on personal inquiry, personal self-discovery and personal happiness. But there is another, older way of living, and it was discussed in a neglected book that came out last summer called “On Thinking Institutionally” by the political scientist Hugh Heclo.
In this way of living, to borrow an old phrase, we are not defined by what we ask of life. We are defined by what life asks of us. As we go through life, we travel through institutions — first family and school, then the institutions of a profession or a craft.
Each of these institutions comes with certain rules and obligations that tell us how to do what we’re supposed to do. Journalism imposes habits that help reporters keep a mental distance from those they cover. Scientists have obligations to the community of researchers. In the process of absorbing the rules of the institutions we inhabit, we become who we are.
New generations don’t invent institutional practices. These practices are passed down and evolve. So the institutionalist has a deep reverence for those who came before and built up the rules that he has temporarily taken delivery of. “In taking delivery,” Heclo writes, “institutionalists see themselves as debtors who owe something, not creditors to whom something is owed.”
The rules of a profession or an institution are not like traffic regulations. They are deeply woven into the identity of the people who practice them. A teacher’s relationship to the craft of teaching, an athlete’s relationship to her sport, a farmer’s relation to her land is not an individual choice that can be easily reversed when psychic losses exceed psychic profits. Her social function defines who she is. The connection is more like a covenant. There will be many long periods when you put more into your institutions than you get out.
In 2005, Ryne Sandberg was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. Heclo cites his speech as an example of how people talk when they are defined by their devotion to an institution:
“I was in awe every time I walked onto the field. That’s respect. I was taught you never, ever disrespect your opponents or your teammates or your organization or your manager and never, ever your uniform. You make a great play, act like you’ve done it before; get a big hit, look for the third base coach and get ready to run the bases.”
Sandberg motioned to those inducted before him, “These guys sitting up here did not pave the way for the rest of us so that players could swing for the fences every time up and forget how to move a runner over to third. It’s disrespectful to them, to you and to the game of baseball that we all played growing up.
“Respect. A lot of people say this honor validates my career, but I didn’t work hard for validation. I didn’t play the game right because I saw a reward at the end of the tunnel. I played it right because that’s what you’re supposed to do, play it right and with respect ... . If this validates anything, it’s that guys who taught me the game ... did what they were supposed to do, and I did what I was supposed to do.”

Four of my daughters when they were bridesmaids at the wedding of their sister Kira.

I thought it worth devoting a column to institutional thinking because I try to keep a list of the people in public life I admire most. Invariably, the people who make that list have subjugated themselves to their profession, social function or institution.
Second, institutional thinking is eroding. Faith in all institutions, including charities, has declined precipitously over the past generation, not only in the U.S. but around the world. Lack of institutional awareness has bred cynicism and undermined habits of behavior. Bankers, for example, used to have a code that made them a bit stodgy and which held them up for ridicule in movies like “Mary Poppins.” But the banker’s code has eroded, and the result was not liberation but self-destruction.
Institutions do all the things that are supposed to be bad. They impede personal exploration. They enforce conformity.
But they often save us from our weaknesses and give meaning to life.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Belief in the inherent goodness of humankind - Geneva

In these days of economic recession, increasing problems attributed to global warming and new conflicts, it's refreshing to visit again a city that stands for international diplomacy, multiculturalism and belief in the inherent goodness of humankind. Geneva was the birthplace of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), who once said: "War is a relation, not between man and man, but between state and state, and individuals are enemies only accidentally." One-time resident Henri Dunant received the first-ever Nobel Peace Prize in 1901 for his work in founding the Red Cross, which is based here. Geneva is also the European seat of the United Nations. A visit will make you proud to be a rational, caring human being. Visiting Geneva makes me proud to work for the Red Cross too.

As the Tsunami operation draws to a close, I was in Geneva last week for various planning meetings for the transition to our longer term work. Over the weekend I had a chance to be part of vibrant and diverse Geneva.

Every step you take in Geneva, is one through history, back to, and before the Romans.

At this place where Lake Geneva drains into the Rhone River, Pont du Mont Blanc, were early bridges and punts that ferried great armies and conquerors to spoils and land on the other side. Silks from China made their way across this point to lucrative markets in Germany and beyond. Photo: Bob McKerrow

The first traces of human civilization in Geneva, discovered on the shores of Lake Léman, date from around 3000 BC. The hill of the Old City, however, was not inhabited until 1000 BC. Later, when Rome conquered Geneva, it was defended by a small Celtic tribe. In 58 BC, Julius Caesar drove off an attack by the Helvetii. At the height of the Roman Empire, around 400 AD, it became a bishopric. The first recorded use of the name Geneva was by Julius Caesar. The Romans had taken over this area from its previous occupants, the Celts. Successive invasions saw control of the city pass through the hands of Burgundians, Franks, Merovingians, Carolingians until the 1500s. Around this time the city began to grow in importance and its fairs became internationally renowned. Geneva was on the far end of the famous Silk Road (route) that I have written much about, and from far off China, and via Itraly, the silks came.

From the mid-1500s, Protestant reformer Jean Calvin was active in the city, and it earned the nickname ‘The Protestant Rome', attracting floods of refugees fleeing persecution in other parts of Europe.
In 1602 an invasion by the Duke of Savoy was repulsed, and nowadays celebrations of this event (l'Escalade) are the city's most important festival. When I lived in Geneva for five years, the celebration of the l'Escalade was the highlight of the year for me. Women reenacted, how they repulsed the enemy by pouring scalding cauldrons of soup onto the soldiers who were trying to climb the city walls.

An aerial view of Geneva. Thanks to Geneve Tourisme for permission to use this photo.

In 1792 Genevans overthrew their ancien régime aristocratic leaders and declared a republic, which was swiftly annexed by France. With Napoleon's defeat and the carving up of his Empire in 1813, Geneva opted to join the Swiss Confederation, and was accepted in 1815. The Red Cross came to life here in 1864, and then the League of Nations after World War I.

For a wayfarer like me, journeys to Geneva are pilgrimages. To cross Pont du Mont Blanc and feel the feet of conquerors who controllewd the trade over this hostoric bridge, to see the old Russian Church preserved and respected, to meet old friends Ian and Laurence Clarke, both of whom I climbed and trekked with in Afghanistan. Ian is now a de-mining specialist with the UN. .

Also to meet with my boss Jerry Talbot (below), a fellow New Zealander and a 'living treasure', who has served the Red Cross movement for more than 40 years in most corners of the globe, was another learning experience for me. He has so much wisdom to share and I had a delightful evening with he and his wife Jen.

What a surprise when I went into a Cafe with Heela, and I met Umed, who worked as a radio operator for me in the middle of a civil war in Tajikistan in 1997. I had not seen him since 1999 and did not know where he was. He now works for our Finance Department in Geneva at the IFRC.

But let's forget my work for a minute. I had the whole of Saturday to savour Geneva. I was out on the streets at 8 a.m, on a misty cold morning taking in the sights of the Lake, the architecture and the mighty Rhone flowing out of Switzerland into France. I saw churches, temples and other places of worship where people pray in peace and safety.

On Saturday noon, I went to the Cafe de Paris for the best Entrecote steak in Europe. It is cooked in front of you in butter and herbs, with tasty pomme frittes and a mixed salad.
, See photo below

The Cafe de Paris, not far from the Geneva Railway Station.Photo: Bob McKerrow

Not far from the Cafe de Paris, a huge crowd was gathering. I was curious. At least 50 police in riot gear were standing by in quite a relaxed mood. The crowd was quickly building up to 500 people and I found out they were from left wing political parties. It was strange to see red flags with the hammer and sickle flying high after so many years absent from the world's gaze. I left after 15 minutes and headed back to the Hotel.

On my way back to the Hotel I passed these two characters above, obviously heading to the demonstration down the road. They grunted at me when I asked if I could take a photo. I thanked them profusely for permitting me to record their art.

Frank Jordans, a writer for AP writes about the protest turning bad after I left

Riot police fired tear gas and water cannons at bottle-throwing leftist demonstrators in Geneva who protested Saturday against the annual World Economic Forum meeting in the Swiss Alps.

Police chased black-clad protesters through the narrow streets of what is known as the "city of peace," as Saturday shoppers took refuge in bars and cafes. An Associated Press reporter on the scene saw a few minor injuries.

The protest of hundreds of people was largely peaceful until police blocked a group from walking to the center of the city. Some in the crowd threw bottles, and police responded with tear gas.

The violence was a long way from the target of the protesters' anger, the World Economic Forum in Davos, a five-hour train ride from Geneva. The forum is an annual gathering of the world's business and political elite.
This is Geneva. A city of many refugees where you can protest, within acceptable limits, a city that stands for international diplomacy, multiculturalism and belief in the inherent goodness of humankind.

Boats on a late misty afternoon, moored on Lake Geneva. Photo: Bob McKerrow