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PM loses a mate

Written By: - Date published: 4:53 pm, August 15th, 2008 - 55 comments
Categories: helen clark, labour - Tags:

The death at just 59 of alpine legend Gottlieb Braun-Elwert will be greatly mourned around the Tekapo community, and much further afield too. Braun-Elwert was one of those Europeans who came here and found our great outdoors intoxicating. He arrived in his 20s on a hitch-hiking tour, fell in love with the country’s natural splendour, and so made New Zealand his home. Some years ago Helen Clark was a client of his very successful alpine adventure company, and the two developed a close friendship. Clark’s love of the great Kiwi outdoors saw her head south annually, to ski and climb in Braun-Elwert’s alpine ‘backyard’. The locals certainly appreciated her frequent visits and support of a local venture. A family friend told TVNZ News today that Elwert-Braun and Clark shared a love of the outdoors, and had similar interests and principles. The efforts of the PM and her companions in trying to save the mountain guide’s life yesterday are being strongly appreciated. Tekapo Police have paid tribute to the extremely good job the stricken party did, and a Search and Rescue spokesman said the experience had shown the PM to be a ‘remarkable woman’. Despite what her jaundiced critics say, Clark has long demonstrated a commitment to this country and what it has to offer. Her regular visits to the Tekapo backcountry, and other wilderness areas, underline that.

55 comments on “PM loses a mate ”

  1. vto 1

    Despite her politics in my eyes, I agree she is certainly a “remarkable woman”. Sad times for all involved.

    (Tillerman, last sentence undid all your previous sentences. )

  2. higherstandard 2

    You use the sad occasion of a good man’s death to score a cheap political point – hang your head in shame.

  3. Quoth the Raven 3

    HS – you should look at the kiwiblog right or whaleoil.

  4. Rocket Boy 4

    Why do you have to politicise this?

    Isn’t it bad enough that the rabid dogs over at DPF’s blog have worked themselves into a frenzy over the ‘wrong person’ dying now you use this to criticise John Key holidaying in Hawaii!

    Sad, very sad, and on the 1 year anniversary of setting up a blog that (mostly) provides an intelligent forum for left wing views and debate.

    Do yourself a favour and delete that last sentence.

  5. r0b 5

    The Kiwiblog thread on this topic brought out all the worst in some of the right wing commenters (which DPF, to his credit, tried to stomp on hard).

    I very much hope that the same thing doesn’t happen here, but the last sentence of the post is almost an invitation to politicise a very non political event (for almost the first time ever I agree with vto!). So please folks, resist the temptation to head down that path.

    Our thoughts should be with Braun-Elwert’s family at this time, and with the members of the group who went through what must have been a horrifying experience for them all.

  6. Tim Ellis 6

    That is a shameful last sentence. You really do yourself no favours by that, or even making it about Helen Clark. I know Helen Clark reasonably well, and she would never try and make herself the center of attention over this. She’s far too graceful for that. Sadly, you aren’t.

    This is not the time to be either talking up Helen Clark, or making shameful political points. As somebody else said, go and hang your head in shame over that. Absolute disgrace.

  7. Matthew Pilott 7

    I just fired a few shots at the tools on Stuff for criticising Helen in this case – the same goes for attacking Key.

    Not cool at all.

    (incidentally, around comment 20 on stuff is a comment from one “John Key”, telling people off for making cheap shots at Helen. Wonder if it’s THE John Key. Full credit if it is – we are all human, whether we realise it or not.)

  8. Premature death is always sad, but particularly in somebody who is an icon within alpine groups in NZ and has led an exciting and adventurous life.
    Now then, while you manage to keep batting a 100 at drawing john key into every post on this blog can you at least acknowledge that your PM is a big hypocrite following her sanctimonious comments about Key and English taking a couple of days break with their families in light of her doing the same?

  9. Tim Ellis 9

    I agree r0b. I never met Mr Braun-Elwert, but clearly he was a remarkable character. This story should be about that, not what remarkable deeds others did around him. Certainly not about politics. I saw some of the shameful comments on Kiwiblog and the ones at Whaleoil and was frankly shocked. Tillerman’s post here is of that standard.

  10. Matthew Pilott 10

    BB – just a quick question – were they gone during parliamentary recess?

  11. Matthew, have a listen to Clark’s sanctimonious comments about being too busy for holidays and then snide comments about short weeks and lots of leave. Punctuated nicely with that creepy laugh at the end.
    And does the country only need a functioning govt when the playpen is sitting?

  12. r0b 12

    BB, great, there goes the neighbourhood. Hey BB, “sanctimonious comments”, what a beat up.

    Clark never directly mentioned Key’s family holiday, but he claims she was attacking his decision to spend time with his wife and kids. Clark says it was never personal.

    “I’m totally supportive of people having their family time,’ says Clark. […]

    This is an interesting attack by Key. In many ways, he has turned it personal – it was Key who mentioned his wife and kids, not Helen Clark.

    This kind of debate is exactly what should not have happened on this thread. Goodbye.

  13. the debate was launched in the original post.

  14. CMR 14

    Where and when people choose to holiday is their business exclusively subject only to domestic considerations. Nobody ever laid on his/her death-bed wishing they’d taken less vacations!

    I note that on a recent visit to South Canterbury where the tragedy occurred, Ms Clark couldn’t depart rapidly enough, ie at 160kms per hour with a police escort.

    The Southern Alps region has sadly lost a true champion. One can only hope his family are left to mourn quietly, I believe Ms Clark has a role to play to ensure this!

  15. I’m disgusted. Yet again, a writer for this site decides that a personal tragedy is simply an opportunity to attack John Key.

  16. “One cannot help but contrast that with her main political rival’s preference for holidaying at his $1 million beach house in Hawaii.”

    Sick comment from lefty scum~~!!

    Bad luck – shit happens – diddums – get over it.
    Mountains are dangerous play grounds.

  17. Tane 17

    Last sentence deleted.

    I don’t think it’s appropriate to politicise the death of a human being.

    George: Two things,

    1) Please address the author in question, not the site.

    2) When you’re always angry it lessens the effect in a time like this when you actually have genuine reason.

    Tillerman: What the fuck are you on?

  18. Ari 18

    Yeah, I’d say this was in bad taste, too- better taste than some other posts on the matter, but still bad taste. Unless they wanted a political message to accompany their life or death, we should leave politics out of this sort of thing.

  19. CMR 19

    I do not agree with much of what comes out of Clark’s fetid mouth, nor with the bulk of the posts on this blog, but Dad you are pathetic! (I use pathetic in its antique traditional context!) Today is a sad one for a person whose passing is only in the media due to his acquaintanceship with Clark, leave off!

    If all “Dads” were as you appear to be, we’d all yearn for orphanhood!

  20. Anita 20

    Tane,

    You restore my faith (again).

  21. Sarah 21

    The man who wrote this should be disgusted with himself. This issue, of all issues, should not be associated with some cheap political attack. A man is dead for christ sake. It shows the agenda of this blog pretty clearly.

    Attack JK at whatever the cost.

    Where is your morality?

  22. Zutroy 22

    Mmmm. A holiday home in Hawaii bad. But a home in London is ok?

    Nevertheless, good job on deleting the last line.

  23. Tim Ellis 23

    Good for you to show some common sense Tane. In looking at it, only half of the post is about Mr Braun-Elwert. The second half is entirely a Helen Clark post. Such as:

    “Clark’s love of the great Kiwi outdoors saw her head south annually, to ski and climb in Braun-Elwert’s alpine “backyard’. The locals certainly appreciated her frequent visits and support of a local venture. A family friend told TVNZ News today that Elwert-Braun and Clark shared a love of the outdoors, and had similar interests and principles. The efforts of the PM and her companions in trying to save the mountain guide’s life yesterday are being strongly appreciated. Tekapo Police have paid tribute to the extremely good job the stricken party did, and a Search and Rescue spokesman said the experience had shown the PM to be a “remarkable woman’. Despite what her jaundiced critics say, Clark has long demonstrated a commitment to this country and what it has to offer. Her regular visits to the Tekapo backcountry, and other wilderness areas, underline that.”

    I don’t think that adds anything other than trying to make the issue about Helen Clark. It isn’t, and it’s quite distasteful. One of her close friends passed away in her company, and along with the rest of her group, she tried valiantly to save him. I would like to think that everyone in that position would do likewise. It shows to some of the more rabid commenters that she is human. But that act isn’t the point, in this, is it?

    Our sympathies should go to Mr Braun-Elwert’s family and friends. We shouldn’t be trying to adulate a politician, or attack others.

  24. “but Dad you are pathetic!”

    Your opinion matey.Say what you like internet coward.

  25. Tane 26

    Yeah I think we’ll have to reassess the way we do this. You’ll notice the posts that get up people’s noses for all the wrong reasons tend to be from posters who aren’t regulars. I’m fine with people posting on an irregular basis, but not if it’s shit like this that just tars all the hard work of the regulars.

    [Besides, it’s not even sensible behaviour. Bad taste aside, all you’re doing by posting that kind of thing is pissing people off, including your own allies.]

  26. Edosan 27

    Since this is a political blog I can understand why Helen is at the centre of the post, after all this will invariably become a political issue (sadly), everything is political, especially when the PM is involved.
    Still, I completely agree with Tim’s sentiments. Maybe the issue itself should have been left off this blog? In many ways it was kinda inviting trouble no?

  27. Matthew – short answer – yes. The comments about Key and English were made during the Parliamentary recess coinciding with the July school holidays. Realistically, it was the last opportunity for ANY MP with schoolage children from ANY party to have time as a family before the election.

    Meantime, I’ve done my own post on this, refraining from any political comment

    http://keepingstock.blogspot.com/2008/08/condolences.html

    And Tane – I had to go as far as Dad’s post to see what the objectionable phrase that Tillerman used. I know it’s your blog and all that, but I disagree with your decision to delete the comment which has generated so much response. Your intentions may be honourable, but it comes across as an attempt to sanitise The Standard.

  28. Anita 29

    Tane,

    Yeah – it’s a difficult place for you all to be in. From the outside it’s very easy to think of you as a tight unit, to think that you have the same views, that there is an editorial collective mind.

    As I think I said the last time someone posted something that offended me you also claim, at least to some reading :), to speak on behalf of the Labour movement. So I not only react to posts not only to attribute them to all of you, but as if you claim to be speaking on my behalf.

    By and large that’s working for you, but moments like this mean you’re going to get hammered by your friends as well as your enemies, and that we’re going to want to see you holding each other to account (just as you hold commenters to account).

    I don’t know how you all can manage it, but I reckon some QA/QC wouldn’t go amiss. Plus an awareness that you might feel like a loose collective to insiders, but you look like a tight team to outsiders.

  29. Anita 30

    Reading Inventory2’s comment, I wonder if it would be better to add a moderator’s note about the deletion to the original post, as you would have if it’d been me making a dick of myself in the comments.

    As it stands it looks a little like rewriting history.

  30. Tane 31

    IV2: the line is still there in the comments. I’ve had a long fucker of a day and the last thing I need is to log onto The Standard and have to fight fires. It’s the second time something like this has happened, and I just know some right-wing dickwad’s going to link back to it every time one of us talks about improving standards or criticises scum like your mate Whale. Frankly, I’m running out of patience.

    Anita: Yeah. I think the site’s rules have to evolve as the site itself does. Just as having no moderation worked when we first started, it eventually became unworkable and made this place unpleasant for some. As a result we had to start clamping down. Maybe the same goes for posts, maybe not. I’ll have to consult with my fellow posters and get back to you on that one.

  31. Tane – I sympathise with you. I guess the benefit for me being a one man blogging band is that I have editorial control over myself, and if it all turns to custard, I have only myself to blame!

  32. Rex Widerstrom 33

    Tane: I’ve always respected your opinions on things and the way you present them, but your calling of Tillerman on this pass-the-bucket hagiography masquerading as a eulogy to a fine man lifts you even further in my eyes. By the way, come back to Kiwiblog occasionally, it’s always good to have a mix of sensible lefties and righties to engage with 🙂

    Tillerman: Words fail me. I don’t know Helen Clark as well as Tim Ellis but I’ve met her often enough to agree with Tim that her reaction upon reading your pathetic attempt to crawl up her bum in the midst of a tragic time will be to hang her head in embarrassment. Still, thanks for descending – albeit in a different way – to the depths displayed by some on the right. Some of the stuff on The Standard was beginning to tilt my perceptions… now I can return to a healthy contempt for the blinkered acolytes on both sides of the equation.

  33. johndoe 34

    Hey, it’s a fair call to say that Helen’s critics accuse her of not really understanding the lives of ordinary New Zealanders but why are they “jaundiced” for doing so? Why can’t you just keep the bitterness to yourselves, just this once. Would be a much better look. And she did well, very well. No need to talk about her critics at all, “jaundiced” or not. It was a good show. Let it speak for itself.

  34. Fair comment johndoe. Unless any of us have been in the situation that the PM found herself yesterday, we have no way of predicting how we would react.

  35. lprent 36

    Damn. Both Helen and Peter will be upset. They’ve been taking trips with the guy for quite a while.

    Doing CPR on your friends is not something that I’d like to do, especially for 2 odd hours.

    I’d agree with Tane (and for that matter DPF) about politicking this.

    However it is the nature of how we have structured the ability for posters to put in posts on their own behalf.

  36. dave 37

    Tane: The last thing I need is to log onto The Standard and have to fight fires.
    Tane, its simple. Get rid of the people who are lighting the matches. Like “Tillerman”. Ban him for a month. Like you do with comment makers who say things a lot less offensive.

  37. Will be interesting to see what the PM has to say (was unable to catch the 6pm news).

  38. dave 39

    People wonder why this blog gets picked on when sone of the right wing blogs spout filth

    The answer is simple. Because in the right wing blogs the filth is in the comments. In this blog the filth is in the posts. Simple as that.

  39. NX 40

    This is probably the nicest post I’ve ever read on The Standard; it seems genuine and heartfelt.

    This of course is in contrast to the hundreds of negative John Key attack posts.

    Instead of attacking all the time, why doesn’t this blog take a positive tact and praise Labour ministers?

  40. lprent 41

    Anita:

    From the outside it?s very easy to think of you as a tight unit, to think that you have the same views, that there is an editorial collective mind.

    It is why we keep emphasizing that we do operate largely independently. I hammer anyone in notes on their comments that do suggest that we run an cohesive editorial policy. That is for exactly the reasons that showed up today.

    The Standard is a place for people on the left and especially around the labour movement to be able to post. It is also a place for the non-rabid politically aware people to engage.

    Everything is subject to moderation. There hasn’t been a lot done on the posts, simply because there hasn’t been a need to. There has been moderation on comments, simply because there was a problem with the comments section descending into a schoolyard lowest common denominator level.

    Even then, there isn’t a agreed moderation / banning policy apart from the outlines we have in policy. Each moderator does what they feel is required. Generally it works pretty well. Certainly doesn’t seem to reduce the rate of increase in the number of quality comments

  41. T-Rex 42

    Ease up a little people, it wasn’t a very well thought through comment but it’s not like Tillerman ate a baby or anything. Personally i think it does speak well of Clarks affection for the character of the country that she spends a fair bit of her leisure time out exploring it; but she’s probably been on holiday to Hawaii too in her life, and Key’s got a bach up wherever the hell it is so he’s clearly got some interest in chilling here in his spare time too.

    Tillerman – I think your last comment, which has been deleted, was basically a bit weak and terribly timed, but it’s hardly the end of the world. The rest of your post was good. Build a bridge people.

    I’d like to make a point here though. Using this event to illustrate Clarks affection for the country and behaviour in a high stress scenario is NOT ‘politicisation of a mans death’. Every time something like this happens people fall overthemselves to out-righteous oneanother. There’s this stupid perception that anything involving death should be above analysis, and it’s basically crap. Sure, analysis should be done with due regard for the sensitivities of involved parties.

    Handy quick reference scenarios:

    1) Some guy (lets call him J Key…. no wait, that’s too obvious… we’ll go with John K) is to have disposed of a whole bunch of poisons into a river, resulting in the deaths of a schoolbus full of children or something. And yes, I’m sure Key’s never done any such thing, but come on – me pass up an easy simpsons reference? nah. But anyway, what’s wrong with saying “Key’s terrible judgement and disregard for the consequences of his actions killed 30 children – this calls into question his fitness to govern our country”.
    Answer to rhetorical question – nothing is wrong with that, in fact NOT saying that would be reprehensible. But if you tried saying it you’d have commentators (probably from both camps) lining up to proclaim how inappropriate they think such comments are at a time when we should be demonstrating some solidarity and that the manipulation of a childs death for political gain is disgusting.

    2) An NZ soldier is killed in east timor while peacekeeping on a UN sanctioned mission. Some tosser from the opposition (whichever side might be in power) starts asking retarded questions about just exactly what we were doing in east timor anyway and how the governing parties militaristic ambitions have resulted in the death of a man. Lots of closeups are used of the mans wife and children.
    THAT is manipulation of a mans death for political gain (although in any intelligent society political gain would not result – rather an invitation to take a long walk off a short pier).

    3) A politician displays sounds judgement and poise in a high stress situation in which someone, tragically and through no fault of said politician, dies. Saying “So-and-so displayed sound judgement and poise in an extremely high stress situation” is not heartless politicisation of a death, but perfectly reasonable politicisation of an event.

    Clark sounds as though she conducted herself admirably in a terrible situation, both in terms of the general environment and the element of personal tragedy. I think it speaks very well of her, and I’ve no problem with it being used to illustrate her strength of character in a political environment.

    Obviously it DOES become objectionable when you add a postscript of “unlike that f*cker Key, who probably would have stopped CPR 5 minutes in to go and count his money” (which, while not what Tillerman did is in a similar vein) but I think after 40 comments of condemnation we can perhaps move beyond that and back onto what the rest of the post is about.

    In summary:

    Gottlieb – rest in peace, you sound like you were a bloody top guy and the world will be a worse place without you in it; I’ll climb a mountain for you this weekend.

    Helen – Really sorry you’ve lost a friend. You sound like you did everything you possibly could, and despite the fact that you’re probably totally gutted I think you can look the world in the face. You behaved like I’d like the person running my country to behave. I’m happy to call you prime minister.

  42. T-Rex 43

    p.s. Same goes for the rest of whoever was in the group – Clark sure as hell didn’t do CPR for two hours by herself! And finally, just to avoid accusations of deplorable partisanship, I’ll add that I imagine if Key was there he’d probably have done the same thing.

    .

    .

    .

    I mean he wouldn’t have been there, because he’s not cool enough to be a mountaineer, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have tried to save a life. Just that he’s not cool. Unlike Clark. Who is cooler than him.

    Protip – Summit photos involving iceaxes make you cooler. Write it down now, thank me later.

  43. Daveski 44

    Good on you Tane

    Attempts by idiots on the left and right to politicise the death of a friend of a politician does no one any favours.

  44. T-Rex – getting a bit confused there buddy. Maybe the analogy with Key would be if he was on the beach with friends and one of them drowned. But as I said earlier, until any of us is in that situation, it’s pure speculation as to how we’d react. God willing, we won’t find out.

  45. Every day above ground is a good day.

  46. Lew 47

    Coming to this excellent discussion late as I do, I’m now only curious as to the contents of the sentence removed 🙂

    L

  47. Lew – here ’tis

    “One cannot help but contrast that with her main political rival’s preference for holidaying at his $1 million beach house in Hawaii.’

  48. Anita 49

    I’ve been thinking about Gottlieb Braun-Elwert and Helen Clark over the last couple of days and each has encouraged me to make a separate commitment.

    Gottlieb Braun-Elwert – I will find a way to spend more time doing what I love and what matters. When I die I would like it to be doing something wonderful.

    Helen Clark – I will learn CPR (and other basic first aid). If a friend were to have a heart attack in my presence I would like to have the skill to help, I want to know I would be able to do everything possible to help them live.

    I know this sounds sappy, but I was thinking today about all the political point scoring going on and wondered what I could do to make his death make the world better rather than worse.

  49. r0b 50

    Good on you Anita. (Now that you mention it, my First Aid is years out of date – note to self…)

  50. lprent 51

    Yep. I have kind of let my CPR skills lapse since I was a army medic ~25 years ago.

  51. r0b 52

    You have had a varied background Lynn! CPR theory has changed a bit too, with new guidelines released in 2005 or thereabouts. More emphasis on compressions and less on breathing I think.

  52. Sad, to see any friend of anyone’s die. My sympathies to the man’s family and the Prime Minister.

    Try not to over blow the news value and importance of it though.

  53. Billy 54

    I see Barak Obama has just had a holiday in Hawaii. I expect Tillerman will be running up a post condemning him accordingly.

    [Obama was born in Hawaii and it’s a US state and he’s a candidate in the election, it wasn’t a holiday. Plus, we’re not really focussed in that kind of detail on the US elections. Nonetheless, if a US candidate was going around making vague promises to lift wages without providing any policy and then buggering off on a luxury holiday, yup I expect that would be condemned. SP]

  54. lukas 55

    And Trav

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