Historically Famous Kidnappings

News broke recently that Formula 1 billionaire Bernie Ecclestone’s mother-in-law has been kidnapped in Brazil. Aparecida Schunck was grabbed in the Interlagos neighborhood of Sao Paulo on Friday, July 22, 2016. Aparecida is the mother of Eccelstone’s third wife Fabiana Flosi.

Aparecida-Schunk-and-Fabiana-FlosiAparecida Schunck (left) and daughter Fabiana Flosi (current wife of Bernie Ecclestone of Formula 1 Fame)

The kidnappers are demanding a ransom of 120 million Brazilian real, which is equivalent to $US36.5 million. It is the highest ransom amount for a kidnapping in the history of Brazil.

Here are a more cases of rich and/or famous people or relatives of rich and famous people that were kidnapped.

Charles Lindbergh, Jr.

Date: March 1, 1932


Kidnapped From: East Amwell Township, New Jersey

Age at Kidnapping: 1

Result: Murdered

BIPS/Getty ImagesCharles Lindburgh Jr. BIPS/Getty Images

At the time, this was called “The Crime of the Century.” Charles Lindburgh Jr. was the son of the famous aviator and just 20 months old when he was kidnapped from his crib in his home. Ransom negotiations were not successful and a passing truck driver found the remains of the young boy on May 12, 1932. Hauptmann was convicted, sentenced to death and electrocuted on February 13, 1935. This kidnapping led to Congress s enacting the “Lindbergh Law,” or The Federal Kidnapping Act of 1932. The law was created to allow federal authorities step in and pursue kidnappers once they had crossed state lines with their victim.



Considerable doubt as to the guilt of Hauptmann in this case has emerged since his death.

Graeme Thorne

Date: July 7, 1960

Kidnapper: Stephen Bradley

Kidnapped From: New South Wales, Australia

Age at Kidnapping: 8

Result: Murdered


Graeme’s parents, Freda and Basil Thorne had just won a more than $100,000 lottery. At that time the names of the winners were published in newspapers. Five weeks after the Thornes’ win, Stephen Bradley kidnapped Graeme and demanded a ransom. Unfortunately, Graeme was murdered and his body dumped. His partially decomposed remains were found in August. This case led to tighter rules about the publication of the names of lottery winners.




Frank Sinatra Jr.

Date: December 8, 1963

Kidnappers: Joe Amsler, Barry Keenan, and John Irwin

Kidnapped From: Lake Tahoe, Nevada

Age at Kidnapping: 19

Result: Released


Frank Sinatra’s teenaged son was kidnapped from his hotel room at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and returned safely 2 days later when Frank Sr. paid the $240,000 (equivalent to $1.9 million today) ransom. The kidnappers included a former high school classmate and friend of Nancy Sinatra. The three kidnappers were sent to jail but released early. The leader was found to be insane at the time of the kidnapping. During the ransom negotiations, which took place on a pay phone, Frank Sinatra ran out of change and lost the call. Because of this he always carried a roll of dimes with him at all times from that day forward.




John Paul Getty III

Date: July 3, 1973

Kidnapper: Ndrangheta group

Kidnapped From: Rome, Italy

Age at Kidnapping: 16

Result: Mutilation, release

Graham Morris/Evening Standard/Getty ImagesJohn Paul Getty III Graham Morris/Evening Standard/Getty Images

On July 3, 1973 at 3 o’clock in the morning John Paul Getty III was kidnapped from the Piazza Farnese in Rome. JPG was blindfolded and taken to a mountain hideout that the kidnappers used as a prison for him. They sent their ransom note asking for $17 million. No money came. A second demand was sent, but delivery was delayed by an Italian postal strike.  JPG’s father, John Paul Getty Jr. begged the grandfather for the money, but was rejected. In November 1973, after being imprisoned in that remote mountain hideout for more than four months, JPG III’s captors decided it was time to things up a notch. The kidnappers proceeded to send a package to the offices of Italian newspaper Il Messagero. The packaged contained two items: a lock of JPG III’s hair and one of JPG III’s bloody ears. The package contained a note that threatened increasing mutilation of the young heir unless $3.2 million was paid. Grandpa talked the kidnappers down from $3.2 to $2.2 million because that was the maximum that was tax deductible. The kidnappers stood strong on their demand for $3 million. Getty Sr. agreed to give his son $3 million, but $800,000 would be considered a loan that came with a 4% interest rate. JPG III was found alive in Southern Italy on December 15, 1973, ironically at a gas station. He had spent five and a half months kidnapped and chained in a mountain hideout.


Patty Hearst

Date: February 4, 1974

Kidnapper: Symbionese Liberation Army

Kidnapped From: Berkeley, California

Age at Kidnapping: 19

Result: Stayed with Kidnappers until they were arrested


Patty Hearst, heiress to the Hearst newspaper fortune, was kidnapped from her apartment by a left-wing guerrilla group. In April 1974 she announced her allegiance to the group. She robbed a bank on behalf of the group. She is thought to have succumbed to Stockholm Syndrome. She was captured by the FBI in 1975 and sentenced to 35 years in prison for the bank robbery. She served 22 months of her sentence.

GUERRILLA: THE TAKING OF PATTY HEARST (12A)Donald DeFreeze and Patty Hearst leaving the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco April 15, 1974
symbionese-liberation-armySymbionese Liberation Army then



former-symbionese-liberation-army-members-nowSymbionese Liberation Army now…

Kevyn Wynn

Date: July 1993

Kidnapper: Ray Cuddy and Jacob Sherwood

Kidnapped From: Las Vegas, Nevada

Age at Kidnapping: 26

Result: Released

wynn.cachedKevyn Wynn (Left) with her father, Las Vagas Casino mogul Steve Wynn

Kevyn Wynn is the eldest daughter of casino mogul Steve Wynn. In the summer of 1993 Kevin was kidnapped from her kitchen by two masked men last July, blindfolded, posed and photographed with a tall assailant whom she could not see. The kidnappers threatened to release the photographs to the press if her father contacted police instead of paying her ransom. Wynn paid $1.45 million in ransom for her safe return. The kidnappers were apprehended when one attempted to buy a Ferrari in Newport Beach, California with cash. Kevyn was found unharmed several hours later. Ray Cuddy and Jacob Sherwood were charged and found guilty of extortion and money laundering.

With credit to http://www.CelebrityNetWorth.com
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Man-Bear Possum Terrifies Kahurangi NP People

DOC Uses Mutant Possum Threat to Justify Massive Aerial Poison Blitz

Off the Top of My Head

By Paul Murray

The mystery of the New Zealand Government’s persistence with aerial baiting of vast regions of the “Clean-Green/100%Pure” country with 1080 poison was revealed yesterday by Department of Conservation (DOC) officials after a sighting on the Heaphy Track of the elusive cryptid known as “Man-Bear Possum.”


The first-ever photo of Man-Bear Possum (By Dick Rossita)

DOC Ranger Mr Dick Rossita was able to capture the only-known image of Man-Bear Possum at the Heaphy Hut on a clear winter night as the Yeti-like creature roared at the moon with its distinctive plaintive cry. Mr Rossita said, “The macabre sound emanating from the man-beast pimpled me with goosebumps from head to foot…I have never heard anything as terrifying in my life.”

It is thought Man-Bear Possum is a mutant bush-tailed possum (Trichosurus vulpecula), which were introduced to New Zealand from Australia by European settlers in the hope of establishing a fur industry. However, as possums have no natural predators in New Zealand, their numbers escalated to the point they are now considered a pest and the New Zealand government, through its agencies DOC and the Animal Health Board, have a policy to control possums by aerially poisoning the animals with cereal baits infused the toxin sodium mono-flouroacetate, commonly known as 1080.

Public opposition to the practice is widespread, but protests have thus far fallen on deaf ears as the N.Z. government has ignored opposition and increased the use of the poison on the back of a 2010 report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright report that recommended an escalation in the broad scale indiscriminate aerial broadcasting of the poison. Anti-1080 activists liken the policy to “Bombing a city to kill the criminals,” which is an effective, but pyrrhic crime-prevention solution.

Opponents of the indiscriminate use of the dangerous toxin 1080, which is banned in most countries, are at a loss to understand why the N.Z. government has failed to heed their concerns and warnings that the poisoning of the country is upsetting natural ecology, killing native birds, insects and aquatic life, poses a threat to the well-being and quality of life of the people living in areas near poison zones and is not an effective or acceptable means of controlling possum pests. The indiscriminate use of toxins is rightfully outlawed across New Zealand and most other countries, and anti-1080 campaigners demand that poison use should specifically target the pets species the programme seeks to control,  yet the government persists with aerial baiting against the will of the people and now we know why.

Sources close to DOC reveal that the Australian possum has flourished here in New Zealand since its introduction int he late 1800’s. “Possums bred rapidly in their new environment of an abundance of premium quality organic food and no predators. Possums in the Kahurangi National Park, which has the most diverse range of flora of any of New Zealand’s national parks, have been born into a diet that includes a veritable smorgasbord of botanical delights and medicinal herbs and plants that has also afforded them incredible health and vitality. As a consequence of their good fortune, they have steadily increased in size, strength and intelligence over the generations and we are now faced with what could be best described as “SuperPossums,” a DOC spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity.

The situation is, apparently, even more concerning as it is thought a worker for the New Zealand Forestry Service, which became DOC in 1987, became lost in the middle of the Kahurangi National Park in the late 1970s and was never found. Departmental officials now consider the man, who was remembered only as Bushy Thompson, survived and regressed to his basic feral instincts and basically became a wild animal. Although no trace of Bushy has ever been found, it is thought that he cohabited with the animals and had particularly close, even carnal, relationships with possums, which kept him warm in winter and sated his other feral instincts, especially in the Spring.


Man-Bear Possum: Half Man, Half Bear, Half Possum

With the introduction of human genes into the possums makeup, the resultant hybrid vigour of the aberrant union’s resultant progeny proved considerably more than the sum of their respective parts. Generations of inbreeding and further cross breeding between marsupial and mammal have incredibly resulted in new species..Man-Bear Possum. The simple possum further mutated and can walk upright has man-like intelligence and more resemble a human grizzly bear than a possum.


It is said Man-Bear Possum exhibits a werewolf-like transition when the moon is full.

Dick Robertson, Head Honcho at Kawatiri/Buller DOC, which is responsible for the administration of the Kahurangi National Park, confirmed the report at a recent press conference in Westport when he said, “I assure you (the general public) that everything is well in hand and we have the situation completely under control, there is no need for panic.” “We have a plan to eradicate Man-Bear Possum forever,” he added. “We must ensure that Man-Bear Possums are eliminated with extreme force and absolute certainty to prevent any chance of them straying into small towns on the fringe of the Kahurangi like Karamea where human populations are close to the national park.”

It would seem that the aerial broadcasting of 1080 poison in New Zealand and the decimation of possum families over the past 45 years has led Man-Bear Possums to have considerable resentment and animosity toward DOC over the persistent poisoning programmes and the beasts have actively been seeking out and attacking DOC staff working in the Kahurangi National Park with macabre results. The savaged remains of several track workers and a hut warden have been  found by mountain bikers and trampers on the Heaphy Track this winter. It seems Man-Bear Possums are attacking at night and specifically targeting sleeping DOC workers in their beds. Robertson also confirmed this horrific rumour and said, “Man-Bear Possums have become carnivorous and they hunt, slaughter and eat humans. The very species that gave rise to its existence, has now become its prey.”

Robertson then announced the largest-ever aerial 1080 programme ever undertaken in New Zealand…a $20 million tax-payer funded aerial 1080 operation blanketing of the entire Kahurangi National Park with deadly toxin. “That’ll fix the bastards,” he said.

However, not everyone agrees with DOC’s “shock and awe” approach to the problem and consider such action will only serve to antagonise the beast. Karamea Councillor, Ms Cheryl Peel, said, “The Department of Conservation is risking the lives and well-being of my constituents. Their approach to the Man-Bear Possum problem is like Henry Kissinger in Cambodia…bomb everything to pieces…well we know that only pissed the Viet Cong off.”


Residents ot Karamea and Little Wanganui joined hands to seek and end to aerial 1080 operations by DOC and other N.Z. government agencies, which they fear will further antagonise Man-Bear Possums and put their families at imminent risk of attack by the beastly, super-human savages.

The compassionate residents of the small communities of Karamea and Little Wanganui, which are effectively in the Kahurangi National Park consider an approach of non-violent reconciliation with the descendants of Bushy Thompson would be more appropriate…embrace the beasts, have empathy with them and and show them kindness and humanity. They believe that violence begets violence and the aggressive toxic attack by DOC will only lead to an escalation of the potential threat to their peaceful happy lives.

1080 Cartoon

Residents of Karamea and Little Wanganui consider poisoning the entire Kahurangi National Park to eliminate Man-Bear Possums to be overkill.


Conspiracy theorists put Uncle Sam behind the evolution of Man-Bear Possum and claim the United States is seeking to spread a wave of fear across New Zealand that will result in Kiwis begging for U.S. military intervention to eliminate the threat to human life. Cartoonists and illustrators have been quick to characterise Man-Bear Possum and the beast has been used in children’s stories, political satire and propaganda.



This young weka is a likely “collateral damage” victim of the aerial 1080 programme, which seeks to obliterate the Kahurangi National Park in order to save it.

Opponents to aerial 1080 poisoning include Mother Nature and the Ban 1080 Party, which was formed ahead of the last national elections. Head of the Ban 1080 Party, Wally Williams, said, “I’m concerned that poisoning the entire Kahurangi National Park will set into play an irreversible ecological decline, decimate bird, insect and animal populations and lead to an eventual collapse of the entire national park ecosystem. He went on to add, “I am further concerned about a likely explosion in rodent population following the 1080 operation as rats and mice will be the first species to recover and they will come into an environment of abundant for and an absence of their traditional predators like hawks, falcons and owls, which will all be killed in the poison blitz.”

New Zealand’s new Minister for Conservation Ms Barry Magpie, who appears to be thoroughly unqualified for the position other than formerly being a TV host on a gardening programme, revealed her ignorance in a recent press release where she stated among other mistruths that:

**1080 is very tasty and she apparently has it on her cornflakes every morning.

**1080 is good for birds…it makes them fly faster.

**Claimed there was a rat plague of “biblical proportion” in NZ forests.

**Suggested there was more 1080 in a cuppa tea than a pellet of concentrated sodium monofluoroacetate .

**Suggested a recent 1080 poison drop was beneficial to keas and rock wrens when most of the monitored birds actually died from eating the poison or disappeared presumed dead.

The press release did contain some important information in that she alluded to the presence of Man-Bear Possum when she stated, “If we don’t use 1080 to knock down predator populations, we’ll be facing extinction.” Ms Magpie’s bold public statements apparently incurred the wrath of Man-Bear Possum and he paid her an unannounced visit at her BeeHive office. (See photo below)

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A frightened New Zealand Minister for Conservation Ms Barry Magpie is confronted by a disgruntled Man-Bear Possum in her Wellington Office.

Since the publication of this article, photos of Man-Bear Possums and anecdotes of contact with the elusive brute have been flowing in to The Rongolian Star newsroom.


Japanese traveller Yukako Kiyama happened across this footprint on beach along the West Coast section of the Heaphy Track. “I was terrified with frightening fear,” she said an headed for the first airport to catch a flight back to Tokyo.


A recent photo of Man-Bear Possum taken on the Heaphy Track by Spanish traveller Nuri Manyauu who was taking a day walk from Karamea to the Heaphy Hut on July 22, 2016. Man-Bear Possum leapt from the bush as she was taking a photo of a weka and she managed a quick snap of the beast, whom she described as “wild, but kind of sexy.”

New Zealanders face a quandary, do nothing and let Man-Bear Possums live peacefully in their forest home, offer to accept them and reintroduce them into civilised society, or eliminate them with extreme prejudice…the jury is out folks, please let us know what thing in the comments section below and express your thoughts on this perplexing conundrum.


1080 cartoonban1080-with-tag-SMLAerial 1080 Poison Drops Lead to an Explosion in R1080 Stop the Drop Logo
FootNote: The only mutant beast that in any way resembles Man-Bear Possum is Man-Bear Pig, which was discovered in by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore in the “Cave of the Winds” in SouthPark, United States.


1080 3

“Rat Control” plan by DOC is really an attempt to eradicate Man-Bear Possums



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Lovers Meet in Heaven for July 7 Tanabata Festival

Off the Top of My Head

By Paul Murray

Last night at Rongo Backpackers & Gallery in Karamea at the top of the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand  we’ll have a Pot-Luck Dinner to celebrate the Japanese Tanabata Festival where on the 7th night of the 7th month young lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi are allowed to meet and physically consummate their feelings for each other….WOOF!

Luckily, it didn’t rain!

Here’s the story….

Orihime (織姫 Weaving Princess), daughter of the Tentei (天帝 Sky King), wove beautiful cloth by the bank of the Amano River (天の川 Milky Way, lit. “heavenly river”). Her father, a tailor, used the cloth to make clothes. He loved the cloth she wove and she worked very hard every day to weave it. However, Orihime was sad that because of her hard work she could never meet and fall in love with anyone.

Concerned about his daughter, Tentei arranged for her to meet Hikoboshi (彦星 Cow Herder) who lived and worked on the other side of the Amanogawa. When the two met, they fell instantly in love with each other and married shortly thereafter.

However, once married, Orihime no longer would weave cloth for Tentei and Hikoboshi allowed his cows to stray all over Heaven. In anger, Tentei separated the two lovers across the Amanogawa and forbade them to meet. Orihime became despondent at the loss of her husband and asked her father to let them meet again. Tentei was moved by his daughter’s tears and allowed the two to meet on the 7th day of the 7th month if she worked hard and finished her weaving.

The first time they tried to meet, however, they found that they could not cross the river because there was no bridge. Orihime cried so much that a flock of magpies came and promised to make a bridge with their wings so that she could cross the river.

It is said that if it rains on Tanabata, the magpies cannot come and the two lovers must wait until another year to meet.

We have a Yukako Japanese lady staying with us at the moment and she made a little Tanabata story for the kids.
Tentei, a tailor and father of a young lass called Orihime, was worried that his daughter was lonely and didn’t have a man, so he introduced her to a young cattle herder called Hikoboshi…a chain of events ensued that is remembered in Japan to this day….
It was love at first sight for the young couple and they gradually got to know each other better and better….
The young couple were soon consumed by their love for each other and began to neglect their duties…Orihime’s loom fell into disrepair and Hikoboshi’s cattle died…
The King was VERY angry…and banished the young lovers to a lonely life…
The King ordered the couple to live either side of the Milky Way where they could see each other, but have no physical contact….

Every year, on the night of July 7, a bridge magically appears over the Milky Way and the young lovers can meet and feel each other’s touch…but they must retreat to their respective sides by day break…to spend another lonely 364 days of solitude with visual contact only…as their sexual tension slowly escalates until the following 7th day of July…..



Diva Murray (left) and Yukako Kiyama

Posted in Children, Culture, Education, Funny, Historical, Japan, Karamea, LivinginPeace Project, New Zealand, Paul Murray, Photography, Rongo, Rongo Backpackers & Gallery, South Island, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Co.Starters Pitch Business Ideas @ EPIC Celebration Night

Off the Top of My Head

By Paul Murray

The 16 participants in the inaugural Co.Starters programme from Ross to Karamea on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand came together with programme sponsors, facilitators and invited guests at EPIC in Westport on June 22, 2016, to celebrate the successful completion of their nine-week business development course.


Co.Starters began in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2008 in a region that was facing similar economic challenges we are currently experiencing in the Buller region. The Co.Starters programme was instrumental in turning the situation in Chatanooga around and renewing the local economy by supporting small business start-ups, fostering entrepreneurial ideas and helping people take their ideas to market. The region is now considered one of the most economically stable in the United States.

The participants had a five-minute opportunity to pitch their business ideas and present their ventures to a captive audience of around 50 people, who had the opportunity to ask questions of the participants after they had revealed and explained their prospective business ventures.


Brett Cottle (left) and Brooke Matheson Pitch Vertigo Technologies



3D printing display of a rocket being formed by Vertigo Technologies

The Buller REAP initiated programme was backed by a donation from Holcim New Zealand and the Buller District Council with some of the economic stimulus funding it received from Development West Coast. Buller Mayor Garry Howard opened the evening and thanked Peter Howard of Buller REAP for his vision in bringing the course to Buller and his determination and persistence in getting the programme off the ground.


Buller District Council Mayor Garry Howard Opens the Co.Starters Celebration Night

The range of diverse business ideas presented on the night included, an indoor adventure barn to attract visitors to Westport and offer them an all-weather activity, an Internet-based menswear delivery service, a house-swap facility for New Zealand teachers and an online marketing company that seeks to help promote Coast businesses.


The real power of the Co.Starters programme is the synergies that develop between the participants, who are all working on different projects, but share a common focus of working through the course material to ready their business idea for a successful market launch. Empathy among the participants soon develops and they discover mutually beneficial ways they can work together and assist each other.


The award for the best presentation on the night went to Fiona McDonald of Fox River Bath Company, who successfully pitched her range of handmade body and bath products and received a one-year Xero accounting package from First Class Accounting, a six-month business membership from West Coast Rewards and $315 in donations from the audience.


Best Presentation Award Recipient Fiona McDonald of Fox River Bath Company


Fox River Bath Company Products

Janis Lennon won the customer count prize of a one-year tailored accounting package from Campbell and Associates for her efforts in talking about her Adventure Barn business idea and getting feedback from more prospective customers than any other participant.

The most accomplished participant award of a weekend retreat for two at Rongo Backpackers & Gallery in Karamea was won by Jye Hawes who started the course with the thought of opening a café, but switched to focus on a polished concrete bench and table-top venture called The Slab.


Jye Hawes (left) pitches….


The Slab

Another course participant, gourmand Frank Wieczorek and wife Kathrin of K&F Enterprises catered for the event and took the opportunity to display their culinary talents by delivering an incredible array of beautifully presented and very tasty delicacies.

Development West Coast trustee Frank Dooley was among the invited guests and said after the presentations that he thought the financial contribution made by DWC to the Co.Starters programme was possibly the best money the trust had ever spent in terms of return on investment. He suggested DWC would continue to support the programme and the people involved and even urged a number of participants to follow-up with DWC regarding additional support.

On the day that saw the final cement boat leave Westport harbour, it was great to see others ready to fill the economic void left by Holcim’s departure and chart a course for the Buller economy on a raft of new business ideas.

CO.Starters Team Photo

Inaugural Co.Starters Course Cohorts and Facilitators: L-R Natasha Barnes-Dellaca, Frank Wieczorek, Brooke Matheson, Nicki Roche, Jye Hawes, Layla Murphy, Holly Roche-Oldham, Fiona McDonald (back), Emma Sherie, Rachelle Hicks (back) Janis Lennon, Cath Hemingway (back) Brett Cottle, KarenBongard, Pete Howard, Paul Murray (back) and Eamon Gimley. (Absent Muri Paekau, George Field) (Photo by Daimon Schwaiger)


The next Co.Starters course will be offered in Karamea from the first week of August and there will be another starting in Westport in September.

To register for the August Karamea Course, contact Paul Murray:

Ph: 03-7826-767

Cell: 0272-56-9967

E-Mail: cods@actrix.co.nz

To register for the September Westport course, contact Peter Howard:

Ph: (03) 789 7659

Cell: 021 029 56 498


Posted in Buller District Council, Business, Co.Starters, Economics, Education, Karamea, LivinginPeace Project, Media, Money, New Zealand, Paul Murray, Photography, Social Commentary, South Island, Uncategorized, West Coast | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Big Fan of Ho Fan’s Photography

Off the Top of My Head

By Paul Murray

a4f8e5cc8b56bd62debe7df3efbb9bf2Teenage photographer, Ho Fan arrived in Hong Kong from Shanghai in 1949. He turned his shape eye and lens to the bustling streets of the then English-administered Chinese city to capture the street vendors, the architecture, the morning and evening sunlight playing off the people; the coolies, the rickshaw driver, the fishermen and builders going about their daily lives.

Fan was a pioneer of candid street photography and devoted his life to film and capturing human history in his images.




Posted in Art, Historical, Photography, Social Commentary, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Photographic Tribute to “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali

Posted in Boxing, Historical, Muhammad Ali, Photography, Social Commentary, Sport, United States | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The History of the LivingInPeace Project

Off the Top of my Head

By Paul Murray

In 2002, while working as a journalist for The Daily Yomiuri in Japan, I was actively involved in the international peace movement that was protesting the planned unprovoked invasion of Iraq by the government of George W Bush and the asses of evil Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Tony Blair et al…


A million people marched on the streets of Tokyo, the same in New York City, Sydney, London, Rome, Los Angeles, Paris…in cities all over the world, people were united in peace were sending a very strong message to the Bush government that gunship politics was unacceptable, undemocratic and not representative of the people they were elected to represent. I actually believed that for the first time in history, the peace movement might actually prevent a war.


Despite the protests marches being the biggest display of public sentiment in Japan since the Vietnam War, the paper I was working for wasn’t even going to report it. I was incensed and remember having a standing argument with the managing editor of the paper insisting that the protest marches should be front page because that is actually news and we are producing a newspaper…hello!

My efforts resulted in the march going on the front page of the paper, but I was already well aware that what is published in the paper is nothing to do with what is actually going on in the world, but that the corporate media was merely a means of promoting the other corporations and to really understand what is going on in the world, you need to interpolate what is written in mainstream media by thinking, OK, this is what they want me to believe…so why do they want me to believe this? That way, you get some idea of what is really happening.

At the time, I was very interested in Taoism and the writings of Lao Tzu. A spiritual guide that made more sense to me than any religious text I’d ever read. Through this, I came to understand that it was impossible to experience peace if it wasn’t defined by war and that this process was merely and extension of the yin-yang duality of all things. Up has no meaning without down to give it reference and definition. I developed an understanding that some people were always going to devote their effort to war, violence and aggression and that it was paramount that others counter their belligerence through the pursuit of peacefulness, compassion, tolerance and understanding and that it was necessary to balance war-mongering with peaceful pursuits. From this, the LivingInPeace Project was born.


“When people see some things as beautiful, other things become ugly. When people see some things as good, other things become bad.” Lao Tzu

I was disillusioned when the will of the people was ignored by the Bush/Blair hawks and decided to devote my life to the peace side of the ledger to counter their aggression, avarice and violence in the hope that by doing so, others would see a better way to live and come to understand that in this day and age, if you use violence, war and the military to solve problems, you are a failure.

Discussing this with my then girlfriend Sanae Numata at my house in Hayama, Japan as we were preparing dinner one day galvanised my plans and motivated me to risk everything for what I believed in. I asked Sanae to ready the dinner table while I finished the meal preparation. She went into the next dining room, which was not visible from the kitchen. When I brought the food n to the dining room to serve the meal, she had arranged the cutlery, crockery and table condiments into a peace sign and was sitting at the table stark naked! We are now married and have two beautiful children.

Sanae 2002

So, I quit my job as a journalist and decided to move to New Zealand to make a positive and conscious effort for the rest of my days to devote my life to peaceful pursuits and demonstrate to others that another way of life is possible.

The LivingInPeace Project began in 2003 with the purchase of an 80-acre (31-hectare) property in Karamea, which is a small town servicing a community of about 700 people at the top of the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. The initial intention was to build an artist’s retreat on the property, which borders on the Kahurangi National Park and has about 400 metres of frontage to the Karamea River. However, the densely forested block proved unsuitable for such a venture as the many sandflies in the summertime was contrary to the LivingInPeace concept.

It was decided that the sandflies were there to protect the forest from human habitation and the site for the retreat was changed when a more suitable location later became available. The bush block will be preserved for the benefit of humanity and respected for the beauty, diversity, peace and tranquility it holds, as well as to provide a carbon offset to counter emissions produced in the service of the business ventures. Simple walking tracks will be made through the forest to allow people to experience and enjoy the sanctity of the bush without destroying it and upsetting the delicate balance of nature.

The Karamea region is a paradise blessed with natural beauty; forest-covered mountains, long white sandy beaches, broad free-flowing rivers, lush green fields and fresh clear air. The region is effectively a geographical Island. It is 100 kilometres north of the closest major town of Westport and is protected on three sides by the forested mountains of the Kahurangi National Park and to the west by the Tasman Sea. As a result, Karamea is a unique rural enclave, protected from development, commercialism and many of the social ills found in urban communities. People stop and chat with each other when they meet by chance, drivers wave to each other as they pass on the road, the publican knows everyone by name and when something needs to be done, the people band together to share their skills and help each other out. This is the kind of community spirit the LivingInPeace Project seeks to foster and proliferate.


A team of volunteers from around the world has been working since mid-2004 to convert the building into a hostel called “Rongo,” which means “Peace” in Maori. The backpackers business will provide accommodation for the volunteers and a means of financing the LivingInPeace Project. The volunteers receive free accommodation in return for their energy and efforts in helping to develop Rongo and the realisation of the LivingInPeace Project.

Auckland Tramping Group John Catmur

The venture expanded further with the May 2005 purchase of the Karamea Farm Baches, an additional accommodation facility with four houses, three cabins and five self-contained baches, plus a 4-acre farm, which borders the Karamea estuary lagoon and looks west to the Tasman Sea. The farm is the perfect location for the Living In Peace Project, the location is attractive with great views west to the sea and estuary lagoon and back into the mountains of the Kahurangi National Park to the north, east and south. The farmland is well drained, fertile and highly productive and will be converted into a permaculture farm that will provide food for both the people involved in the Living In Peace Project and guests at our accommodation facilities.

Rongo Backpackers & Gallery is a microcosm of the LivingInPeace Project. In effect, it is a test case, or practice run to determine the efficacy of the business model. Karamea Farm Baches is the second stage of the project development and provides accommodation options for a different market while expanding the project’s agricultural possibilities. The farm behind the bach complex is being developed into a permaculture block that produces locally grown, organic meals for our guests. Karamea has enormous horticultural potential, fertile, well-drained alluvial soils, plenty of sunshine and evenly spaced, ample rainfall throughout the year, which alleviates the need for irrigation (a large cost saving in the establishment of a horticulture farm).


Today Rongo has very much become a stepping stone toward the ultimate goal of incorporating the elements of; art, permaculture, tourism into a sustainable business model. The building has been transformed inside and out into a fabulously vibrant, colourful and creatively inspiring place, which now includes a community radio station, organic vegetable and aesthetic gardens, a fire bath and an excellent art gallery featuring the work of local and international artists.


The concept of both Rongo Backpackers & Gallery, Karamea Farm Baches and the LivingInPeace Project is to create an artistically inspiring environment where people can live, as they want in return for helping maintain and develop the venture, with the only rule being to respect the rights of others and to take responsibility for your own actions…common sense. The project is open to everyone, all nationalities, sexes, religions, ages etc, but it is especially hoped that artistic and creative people will come and stay and that the venue becomes an international centre for creativity, invention, innovation and artistic excellence.


The project aims to transcend the paradox faced by all young artists, which is: no one buys their work because no one knows who they are, and no one knows who they are because no one buys their work…which makes it very difficult for young artists to get established and support themselves financially as they attempt to develop their talent and skill. This coupled with the fact that creative art skills and creative marketing skills are generally not found in the same person, and the fact that many artists are uncomfortable selling their own work means that many aspiring and talented artists are forced to give up before achieving artistic success through financial hardship, frustration and despair.




The LivingInPeace Project seeks to assist aspiring artists through an artist-in-residency programme and  by helping to market their work through the gallery, exhibitions, the Internet and other means to enable them to get established and recognized as artists to allow them to continue their work elsewhere. The project is quite ambitious and there is much work to be done. The LivingInPeace Project needs volunteers to come and contribute to the venture in whatever capacity they are able, whether it be building, cooking, making music, making people laugh, painting, cleaning, singing, dancing, or offering financial support…everyone has something they can contribute.


The LivingInPeace Project is seeking financial support from its members to expand further and to build on the foundation we’ve established. Becoming a LiP Project member enables you to be actively involved in the project and to support an innovative venture that is striving to minimise the environmental impact of the business, maximise energy efficiency and create a socially harmonious environment for people from all walks of life to enjoy.

LivingInPeace Project members support the project in an important way. If you are unable to physically come and lend a hand, your financial support is invaluable in helping fund the growth and development of the project, which you can then visit and enjoy. There is significant potential for further growth and your support is greatly appreciated.

Three-year memberships in the LivingInPeace Project are $NZ 1,000. The money raised is used to expand the concept and provide additional facilities and services that can be enjoyed by members and visitors to the project. Memberships include a holiday voucher to the value of the membership and members are encouraged to come and experience the project first hand and see how their money is being used and redeem their investment in food, accommodation, tours, participating in courses and workshops and purchasing artworks.

The LivingInPeace Project now has significant momentum and is more than just a dream. Tangible progress has been made over the past 12 years and, with the support of like-minded people, exponential growth is now possible.

Please visit our Web site www.LivingInPeace.com for more information, please support the project by becoming a member and come and visit…I look forward to meeting you soon.

LivingInPeace Logo II

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