Haere ra, John (and Fred)

Yet another Kiwi icon passes. But his legend will live on.

John Clarke is someone many of us remember. For me it was as Fred Dagg, singing the immortal song “If it weren’t for your gumboots” played on National Radio storytime. For others it was his incredible skits on farming life and economics.

In later life in Australia, Clarke tried to shed the Fred Dagg persona. He made an indelible mark there with his scathing and incredibly intelligent political satire.

Also claimed by the Manawatu, Clarke was the voice of Wal Footrot in Murrray Ball’s Footrot Flats: The Dog’s Tale. I’d go as far to say John Clarke was Wal Footrot.

He died doing what he loved. And I bet his sharp wit never deserted him.

We didn’t know how lucky we were.

Find out more:

What are your favourite John Clarke memories?

Masters in Pineapple Lumps

You get a native tree when you take New Zealand citizenship. Greg got an enthusiastic Pittisporum. I got a brooding, slow-growing Black Pine.

But the real citizenship rite of passage happened back at my language school. The Kiwi staff decked me out in a floppy hat, a Swanddri shirt and gumboots and pushed me in to teach my class of twelve Korean, Japanese and Chinese students who would do anything if it was set to karaoke. So, in five different languages, armed with kiwi tucker and L&P’s, we belted out:

“WE DON’T KNOW HOW LUCKY WE ARE!”

Recommended Listening: We don’t know how lucky we are

Assignment 4: Go get yourself a Canterbury Draught!