Three Wise Men of Kurow

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 pm, March 18th, 2011 - 15 comments
Categories: welfare - Tags: ,

Well-known Wellington artist Bob Kerr has produced a series of paintings on “The Three Wise Men of Kurow”, Davidson the teacher, McMillan the doctor and Nordmeyer the clergyman; three  friends whose conversations in the small South Island town in the 1930’s laid the foundations for New Zealand’s welfare state. They are on brief show at Enjoy gallery in Cuba Street, opening on Monday 21st at 5:30pm, when historian Tony Simpson will also speak. All are welcome to attend – Bob’s paintings are spectacular and the story behind them is one we should never forget.

15 comments on “Three Wise Men of Kurow”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    I don’t see how any group of people who do not include an economist can do anything worthwhile for society.

  2. RobertM 2

    Communists. The government of John Lee, Nash and Fraser was a lie. The l935-49 Government was a Stalinist regime that the Dominion and Herald were only too right about. My mother a Karori university girl of Balfour, Heywood and St John Fancourt descent, hated them uncontrollably. They destroyed freedom and choice. You couldn’t be fashionable chic with their dictats. They made her strip with the commoners and work in an ammunion factory. She raved with hatred every time Helen Clark came on the radio and twisted out of the F-16 deal. Those other Karori presbyterians Jack Marshall and Somerville were scarcely any better and less hyporcritical. Under pressure thay would bail out of every liberal stand. For godsake Muldoon and Holyoake had the decency to hate Marshall for the rest of his life for Marshalls opposition to the Vietnam war and his vow to go out on the road if the NZ government dared to send the ultra capable Canberras to kill communists. For godsake they were more capable than the Australian B2 version and the US Martin B-57 version did great damage. Somerville seemed to regard it as joke when the thug hoods destroyed the liberal Knox and everything he believed. There is no contempt worthy of Somerville and Lloyd Gearing . They would probably find merit in Al Qaeda and the Taliban-believed in a lie that Islamism in a liberal religion where it simply stands for prole male dictatorship. Its a great pity that the right in Oamaru didn’t stop Nordmeyer getting into parliament and supporting the Communist traitor Sutch, who should have got the noose.

    • RobertM

      I cannot work out if you are being serious or not. If you are then can I suggest you seek professional help …

      • This sounds like the Loony nut case who calls himself Mat Muldoon over on Grassroots Labour. I advise the editor to shut him out .He’s offensive using personal abuse when challenged . Even insulting one’s family , he’s bad news and is typical nasty National Tory. The excellent
        Standard can do without him.

        • RobertM

          Actually, no. I am not a fan of Muldoon and would never adopt such a tag. I have nothing to do with grassroots Labours. I was a Labour Party member years for a few years around l988-1991 when I thought the party had settled down to Australian type reform pace after the excesses of Roger.
          In answer to M, I have never knowlingly taken drugs of that kind. Before I wrote the blog I had three little tipples- a heinken, a coke and bacardi and Long Island Iced Tea. This was modest by my standards- social drinking.
          Also Mr Postman if the KPD or the Communists had come to power in Germany in l919 or l933 it might have been worse than the National Socialists terror.
          Essentially I think my blog on Nordmeyer is factual ,if obviously biased. My hostility to Sutch is not based on the farce of the l970s meeting with an official from the Soviet embassy its based on disaster of the fortress NZ policies he implemented and were advocated by Labour.
          Look I want a society more like East Coast Australia, California and Nevada- A 24 hetro rock and roll party. I’m not being exclusionary-but.
          My blogs are meant to be taken on the level – but they sometimes use comedy and satire which is often hard edged and does not always work.

    • Mac1 2.2

      RobertM, try reading history, not rewriting a garbled, vitriolic, and nonsensical version. Uncle Joe Savage. Yeah, right!

      You make the DB version of the Nordmeyer Black Budget look almost like factual history.

    • Colonial Viper 2.3


      I think communal enterprise, co-ops, collective effort and building a common wealth for the good of all are all great things.

      • RedLogix 2.3.1

        The Russian nation, more or less since the time of Ivan the Great, has never known anything that vaguely looked like a liberal regime. They literally have no cultural history of representative democracy of any kind… until perhaps in a very weak form recently. It takes centuries and generations for the ideas of liberal democracy to fully take root and flourish… and even in the West we are still very wobbly at it.

        The 1918 Revolution merely swapped an autocratic, totalitarian monarchy of the worst kind… for an autocratic, totalitarian republic of the worst kind. The great tragedy was that when Sverdlov murdered the Romanov’s, he also murdered possibility of evolutionary reform… the possibility of the Russian autocracy yielding it’s age old grip on power simply in order to keep up with the astonishing pace of change in the modern world. Such a transition would have had legitimacy and moral authority.

        Instead the communist Soviets stepped into a moral vacuum of their own creation, having no model to follow other than to perpetuate the habits of a thousand years prior.

        • ianmac

          Redlogix: Instead the communist Soviets stepped into a moral vacuum of their own creation, having no model to follow other than to perpetuate the habits of a thousand years prior.
          Maybe the vacuum is similar to that being created in Egypt. Or Libya. The power and the determination is with the people but can the expectation of an instant democracy be realised? (USA has had a few hundred years to develop one but it is a pretty shoddy form.)

        • dave brown

          Pretty much bullshit Red Logix you should stick to social democracy.
          Under the Tsar Russia was a prison house of nations. The peasants had your views in 1905 when they appealed to the Tsar only to be shot. In February 1917 the women textile workers chucked out your views and invented democracy. By August the Tsarists and the ‘liberal’ national capitalists (whom one might have expected to be capable of modernisation) brought back the Tsarist General Kornilov backed by the Western Democracies ha ha) who attempted a coup to restore the Tsar (shitting on the workers and their new democracy) only to be defeated by the further flowering of democracy (as soviets) in the ranks of the military and the railway workers who sent Kornilov’s troops off on the wrong rail lines and persuaded others to defect so the whole thing fizzled without hardly a shot being fired.
          So by that time revolutionary Russia was teaching the Western powers the meaning of democracy. The October revolution would not have happened otherwise as it resulted from a majority vote of the workers, peasants and soldiers soviets and so well planned that the insurrection was almost bloodless. Here was a new form of democracy, not the sham democracy of bourgeois parliament, but the elected organs of all the oppressed masses.
          So another lesson in democracy for the West which specialises in bloody revolutions – and counter-revolutions which it then set in train as about 10 armies came at the new workers state from every direction – eventually isolating and defeating the new workers democracy and driving it into the arms of the bureaucratic dictatorship of the petty bourgeois Stalinists.
          But none of this has anything to do with the historic authoritarianism of Russia, the inherent liberalism of the Tsar, or inevitable communist dictatorship, and everything to do with the counter-revolution against workers democracy by the bosses’ ‘parliamentary democracy’ of the Western powers.
          Contrary to your assertions, and the general ignorance, the revolution was a new form of advanced democracy and was destroyed by an old form of capitalist class war masquerading as the defence of bourgeois democracy.

          • RedLogix


            You need to work on your comprehension skills…really. You’ve skimmed over what I’ve written above and come to conclusion that’s almost a 180deg inversion of what I intended… then written a 500-odd word diatribe which in effect states the same as I said. While your focus is on the specifics of history.. and interesting as they are.. mine was succiently aimed from the broadest view of political evolution. Neither perspective is right or wrong… but it’s a lot easier to say something concise in the space of a blog comment from the pov I’m using.

            I trust you are familiar with the Political Compass… it has it’s limitations but it’s useful for my purpose. What is the underlying meaning of the terms ‘left/right’ and ‘authoratarian/libertarian’?

            The horizontal ‘left/right’ axis can be thought of as the ‘ownership of things’ continuum. People who are deeply attached to the idea that ‘the things they own define who they are’ are necessarily attached to ‘the sacredness of property rights’. They are instinctively appalled by communism because a materially egalitarian society is a direct assualt upon their very sense of identity and being. If you take away their toys and trinkets, their life has no purpose and meaning… you destroy them. (Note how RobertM says almost exactly this in his rant above.)

            The vertical ‘authoritarian/libertarian’ axis can be thought of as the ‘ownership of ideas’ continuum. Authoritarians are people whose world is defined by a narrow and fixed set of values and principles… often derived from literalistic interpretations of a religion. They are instinctively appalled by liberalism because it too is a direct assault upon their identity.

            Note carefully. The horizontal left/right continuum describes ownership of the material ; while the vertical axis is about control of non-material, abstract ideas. One is about the sharing of physical resources, the other about the freedom of the human mind. It’s also worth noting that all the ‘natural’ political parties fall in a pattern; increasing material egalitarianism is generally accompanied by increasing social liberalism. Political ideologies that deviate from this are nowadays regarded as extreme or deviant in some way.

            My contention is that the 1918 October Revolution shifted the Russian political compass violently from the right to the left of the page.. horizontally. That in itself was a stunning change, but it was essentially a materialistic revolution framed in terms of the ownership of the means of production. For while it is possible for radicals, guns and new laws to alter the material arrangements of this world… it is a much harder thing to rearrange the furniture within our minds.

            In summary the October Revolution was destined to fail because it was only one revolution… a material one. What it could not do was overthrow the inner habits of mind hardened over a thousand years of social authoritarianism. Changing that would have demanded a second even more remarkable revolution.. within the human soul itself.

            From my pov, none of this is in conflict with your own comments dave. I’m not for an instant dismissing the reactionary capitalist forces brought to bear against the Soviets…but neither is it useful to remain blind to the history of the Russian nation and the cultural matrix in which this great failed dream was formented.

    • M 2.4

      Not a 60s LSD flashback is it?

    • Xanadu 2.5



      [lprent: Speculating on peoples identities is forbidden on this site. Persistently doing it will usually give you an inability to be able to write comments here. Read the policy. ]

  3. jpwood 3

    Four, Richie McCaw

  4. It’s pointless saying it , however there is no doubt that the Revolution would have had a different outlook if it had been in Germany where it was supposed to have happened. Instead it was Russia with an already secret and strong military police force. The tragedy was the defeat of the Left and the rise of Fascism . Unfortunately Fascism is still strong and powerful, whilst the ideals of the far left are crushed continuously.

    I should add that Stalin did not help matters .

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