The local Selection Committee Chairman knew. The President of the Party knew. And no one thought to tell the party leader. What sort of mickey mouse shambles is the National Party. And how dumb is Luxon? He forgets that his company has a multi-million-dollar contract with the Saudi navy. He joins the horde at a Ted Cruz brawl. He doesn’t know whether a prominent hill is Mt. Manganui or Diamond Head. Abortions are murder but he won’t say whether the mother and her doctor are murderers. And now he doesn’t know that his Party has elected a bovver-boy thug to represent Tauranga.

Really, all you National Party supporters, aren’t you just a little concerned that team blue is being led by a dingbat?

But the subject of this post is really bovver-boy and new Tauranga MP, Sam Uffindell. I’ve come across his sort before. You see, in 1961 I was a third form, high school boarder at Wellington College. We had plenty of “Uffindells”. Guys from families with more money than sense. Guys whose territorial rights were established by strutting around the school peeing on every post. Guys who beat up third formers because that’s what tough guys do. Guys who were going to do a law degree and stand for Parliament one day.

Actually, I never had a problem with the Wellington College “Uffindells” – for three reasons. Somehow, I made it into the top academic third form class. Somehow, I was also the third form’s best swimmer and mile runner, and I played flanker in the first, third form, rugby team. My resume certainly helped. But eventually I too was ordered down to the Aero Club where third form initiations took place. A large and tough fourth form “Uffindell” had been selected to beat me up.

My assailants did not know that although I would run a hundred miles to avoid a fight, before I left Te Reinga, I had gone to training twice a week with two mates, Kahui and Donald, who were both New Zealand junior boxing champions. Our coach, Mani Mokomoko, had just returned from a year in Vietnam with the New Zealand SAS.

Anyway “Uffindell” and I were tied into boxing gloves. Let the Aero Club action begin. “Uffindell” came at me like a wild thing, swinging fists designed to send me into next week. Without a word of a lie, I was petrified. I stuck out my arm for protection just as “Uffindell” launched his second attack. My outstretched arm hit him flat in the face. He fell to the floor, blood pouring from his clearly broken nose. I undid my gloves and walked away from the bloody scene of my first and only third form bullying event.

And so, I can’t say I was bullied by the older boys at Wellington College. My problem was two boarding school, house masters. I can’t remember their names. One was wire thin with a beaky nose far too big for his face. The other was short and fat and sweated a lot.

Towards the end of my third form year, the short fat one was on duty. It was lights-out time. Now the rules were very clear – no one spoke after lights out. I went to sleep quickly. But was woken and told to get out of bed. Someone had been talking. The whole dorm of 15 was being taken downstairs to be caned. I explained that I’d been asleep. How could they cane me for that? To no avail. The whole dorm was to be punished for the sins of two. And so, I went downstairs and stood at the end of a line of boys awaiting our fate.

By the time my turn came the short fat one’s sweat was beginning to scatter on the green linoleum floor. 14 boys, two strokes each – 28 times he had raised a welt on a third form bum.

“Bend over,” he ordered.

“No”, I said, “I am not going to be beaten by you for being asleep”.

We argued for five minutes, and he said, “Wait here. I’m going to get (beaky) to hold you down”.

As he trotted away, I grabbed the nearby public phone and said one sentence to my grandfather, “I’m in trouble – please come straight away”. Fatty and beaky were soon back, demanding that I bend over. Still, I refused.

“All right,” said fatty, “you hold him down and I’ll do the caning.”

Beaky had just got his arms across my back and was hauling me into position when through the door came my grandfather.

“Get your hands off him,” he roared.

I will never forget the “oh-shit” look on the housemasters’ faces. I was released and the three disappeared into a staff room. Eventually my grandfather emerged and said, “You are coming home with me tonight. We have a meeting with Mr. Heron (the school’s principal) in the morning.”

The meeting was short. My grandfather explained that he had fought through WW1 in the cause of not allowing mass punishments to be inflicted for the crimes of a few. He was not going to tolerate it in his grandson’s New Zealand school.

The next day we drove back to Te Reinga and I began four years in the much friendlier and better Wairoa College.

On two occasions, “Uffindell” types had tried it on. On both occasions they were put in their place. A punch in the nose, a bloody eye is all the “Uffindells” understand. We will soon see if Luxon is man enough to call the bully in his party to account. Anything less than a complete sacking of “Uffindell” and we can add gutless to Luxon’s list of shortcomings.  

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