Hobbit-spotting in March

Leave a comment

I’m distracted at the moment.  I’m in the process of buying a one-bedroom flat in North East Valley.  I take possession at the end of April.  I have made the 10% deposit.  I’m talking to a mortgage broker about things like income insurance.  It’s going to take up most of my savings and I will probably have the mortgage for the rest of my life (I’m 50 now).  Still all is good and I am hopeful.

And I’m secretly excited.  I will have my own home!

I went to my first lecture for the Centre on Research on Colonial Culture.  Re-Configuring Government Houses, given by Martina Ghosh-Schellhorn.  Lots of notes about the details of government houses which I want to include in my imaginary city, Lamborough: the architecture, the servants, the lack of privacy.

I came away with two ideas:

  • the stone masons that built Government House in Kolkata then went on to build the Astana in Singapore.  The idea that Tony Ballantyne introduced of the internet of empire works, and needs to be explored further in this context.  Just as in the same way rhododendrum seedlings were introduced into New Zealand before they arrived in Britain, on the way from China.
  • Cultures interact in hierarchy.  Cross-cultural communication can happen.  It’s a word du jour at the moment, alongside multi-culturalism.  But white male anglophones (like me) still remain the privileged culture.

Who do you think you are, Global Dunedin?

Leave a comment

Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith at Toitu Settlers Museum, photo from the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture webiste.

Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, photo from the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture website.

An lecture hosted by the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture by Lisa Matisoo-Smith, haplogroup T2B4, held at Toitu Settlers Museum on Sunday 10 May 2015.

Evolution leads to a dead end, but everyone has ancestry.  Mitochondrial DNA is separate from nuclear DNA.  Nuclear DNA is half and half from both parents.  Mitochondrial DNA is passed directly from the mother.  Men do not pass on mitochondrial DNA.  Mutations occur in mitochondrial DNA about every ten generations.

We can trace back to a common ancestor in Africa, sometime between 150 000 and 200 000 years before present.  60 000 years ago our ancestors left Africa.  The T haplogroup spread out mostly into Europe, some into India, the Near East, and Asia.

New Zealand was the last landmass settled by humans, about 750 years ago, a diverse population who came from Africa to Aotearoa, of Maori and Pakeha.  For this study a random sampling was taken at farmers’ markets in the main centres.  By all accounts volunteers were keen to get their results.

Maori and Pacific Islanders come out of Haplogroup B.  There are 30 lineages found in New Zealand.  Most results for Maori support oral tradition.   This research can find out the population of pre-European New Zealand.  Eight lineages mapped out for Pacific Islanders now number 200 lineages.

The most common group in the British Islands are Haplogroup H.  They make up about 40% of the population.  They are descendents of the first agricultural population, replacing the hunter / gatherer population, Haplogroup U, that preceded them into Europe.

Dunedin is 36% H1 and H3 from Western Europe, 14% descended from U, the early European hunter-gatherers, and 6% B, Maori and Asians.   There’s more variable distribution than other New Zealand Centres where the results have been examined.  Auckland and Hamilton have more Asian and Pacific Island lineages.  The Lebanese community in Dunedin has ancestry going back to the start of the Neolithic expansion in Europe.  The Chinese Association results bring in the East Asian lineages.  I was surprised to hear that Dunedin Chinese are only 4% H, despite the history of inter-marriage.  Dunedin represents almost all the major non-African mitochondrial DNA.  There are a couple of Native American ancestry, and Australian Aboriginal ancestry, that are not found in Dunedin.

Who we are is a social construct.  There is more diversity in who we have come from than is recognised in our race-based identities.  I wonder who a test of my ancestry would reveal?

Graeme Downes at Toitu

Leave a comment

Graeme DownesThe first lecture in a series from Global Dunedin at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, musician and lecturer Dr Graeme Downes from the Department of Music spoke about his collaboration with the Southern Sinfonia to produce the orchestral concert Tally Ho! dedicated to the Dunedin Sound.

I did not attend the Tally Ho! Concert.  I didn’t get around to getting a ticket.  What’s written below needs to be read with the proviso that my musical education is limited to the point of non-existence.

In the 1980s New Zealand was making a cultural shift from South Britain to a new identity.  Old Britain entered the European Union and New Zealand stopped being their sheep farm.  The Springbok Tour happened.  The Rainbow Warrior was bombed and sank in Auckland Harbour, the action of an allied European nation.  New Zealand changed its policy on nuclear issues, a course that would lead the nation out of a defense treaty with Australia and America.

Our music changed at the same time.  Our pop music was made stripped of the influences of African sound.  That left folk; urban white music like the Byrds and the Beetles, and Classical, both symphonic influences from Western Classical  and Sitar.  The first band to make this combination of sound was The Clean.  Other bands were to follow.

Culture took took two years to arrive in New Zealand.  This was the gap between the first Punk music in Britain and the first home-made release in New Zealand.  In an age of isolation the fashion was no longer cutting edge when it was imitated in the islands.  Rock bands learned off each other.  They were the minimum of two-three people, a poor man’s orchestra.  The cost of maintaining an orchestra makes it the music of the upper class.

The Dunedin Sound was an incomplete bar chord, which Downes replicated in Tally Ho! with an e sharp and a d from different instruments of the orchestra, creating a gnarly sound.  The symphonic idea was already in the music, as band members played around with the instrumental section.  The poetic depth existed in the music.  One set of lyrics Downes read out sounded it was already on the way into lieder territory.

The Sinfonia rose to the challenge.  I understand from one friend that the scores are stored away.  They will want another go at this in a couple of years’ time perhaps.