Monday, October 31, 2011

Live Aid .When harvey met Bob

Last evening I watched and enjoyed the film Live Aid – When Harvey Met Bob. The same footage that moved Bob moved me. I was hosting friends to dinner that night and with the food that I had prepared and was in the process of cooking suddenly became obscene because of the misery we were seeing on TV about the Horn of Africa. We talked about it over dinner and I was challenged to think of something we could we do.

I was a ship steward and I came up with the idea to get a ship with an unpaid volunteer crew to take emergency aid and development products to Africa. The maritime unions backed my proposal. Through Sonja Davis I met Mary Sinclair who was working with Corso. We connected with Chris Laidlaw who was working as African advisor for David Lange. Together we took the union proposal to Lange who gave us government support. A national steering committee was formed and Ian Johnstone from TV NZ became the front man. We formed Operation Hope using the Union Company freighter MV Ngahere. People throughout New Zealand were inspired to support us. Operation Hope raised millions of dollars and Corso raised a couple of million too.
The bankers association through Max Bradford made all their branches available for donations and promoted the project children gave their pocket money and pensioners gave too.

Last night friends rang me to let me know that Live Aid – When Harvey Met Bob was on TV. This morning my then girlfriend rang and she recalled all the nightmares and challenges that we had to in organizing that voyage and mission. We had one month to get it going. This was before fax machines and few people had credit cards.

I tell you this so that a Chapter in New Zealand history can be remembered here as it is on the Horn of Africa. In New Zealand the Live Aid Concert and Operation Hope were quickly forgotten because of the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior. Incidentally shortly after Jackson Browne, Neil Young and others came to Auckland and at Mt Smart stadium held a benefit concert for Greenpeace. People do do selfless and wonderful things.