Friday, 14 October 2016

RIP Helen Kelly 1964-2016

Helen Kelly was a New Zealand hero. Fierce, determined, humane, kind – New Zealand will be a lesser place without here.

RIP Helen Kelly 1964-2016

Helen Kelly: 1964-2016 – We have lost a great New Zealander and we are a lesser country for her passing

14 October, 2016

We all knew she was leaving us.

But when it came, it still knocked the breath out of me.
We have lost a great New Zealander today and we are a lesser country for her passing.
Her tireless fighting for the most vulnerable workers made her a civil rights champion the likes we haven’t seen in the position of Union President. Her authenticity her realness and her total lack of ego made her unique.
There were so many battles.
The manufactured crisis at The Hobbit where Peter Jackson and National colluded to destroy the Actors Union (with a certain amount of help from Russell Brown) by pretending a massive corporate welfare payout to Warner Bros justified re-writing employment law for Corporate Hollywood.

There was Pike River and the abomination of no regulations that saw so many families weep for their fallen Brothers, Husbands, Uncles, Sons and Partners. The fact that the company had been able to operate with such appalling lack of regulatory oversight should stain our honour forever. While John Key was on the phone to Cameron Slater making disparaging comments about the families, Helen Kelly demanded justice.

The forestry industry where forced into making work safer as Helen castigated them for their outright hostility towards their own workforce. The resulting inquiries that Helen managed to get underway highlighted the way employers viewed their staff as deserving of death. 

Helen refused to allow the farming industry to get away with substandard health and safety regulations and called them out on their conditions via twitter all the time.
For me personally it was her fight against Talley’s/Affco in 2012 that really cemented her position as a civil rights leader. Talley’s/Affco, led by a virulent anti-Communist multi-millioanire arsehole, are NZs worst employer and have a work injury history that borders on the Saudi Arabian.In 2012, they gerrymandered the law so that workers could not get benefits from the Government meaning 5000 children went hungry. That any company would use hunger as a negotiating tactic in the 21st century was repugnant and Helen refused to let the pricks off the hook for that.

Even as she faced terminal cancer she stood for the rights of the ill to use cannabis. That Peter Dunne and the National Party forced her to become a criminal so that she could find pain relief is a shame that should haunt them till their own dying days.
We have few Union leaders who can replace her – Robert Reid was probably the closest and he is retiring. None of the new Union leadership are close to being able to fill her shoes which leaves her legacy unfulfilled.
She has passed in to the night and we are left to carry on in the darkness with only her example to light our hope.
Sleep well dear Comrade, Christ knows you’ve earned it.
Rest in peace Helen. We will never forget you.

The Truly Great

I think continually of those who were truly great.
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history
Through corridors of light, where the hours are suns,
Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition
Was that their lips, still touched with fire,
Should tell of the Spirit, clothed from head to foot in song.
And who hoarded from the Spring branches
The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.
What is precious, is never to forget
The essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs
Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth.
Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light
Nor its grave evening demand for love.
Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother
With noise and fog, the flowering of the spirit.
Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields,
See how these names are fêted by the waving grass
And by the streamers of white cloud
And whispers of wind in the listening sky.
The names of those who in their lives fought for life,
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.
Born of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.

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