OnPoint by Keith Ng

Chasing skin... heads

Every year, I get giddy with excitement. I polish my camera lens, lace up my boots, put on my best neutral-coloured waterproof ungrabbable jacket, then smile: The National Front is in town!

I don't know anyone else who gets so excited about skinheads. Except maybe the anarchists. But I think I get more excited. It's not just the potential for street violence that I love (who doesn't?), but to be honest, I get a perverse joy - not thrill, joy - out of interacting with skinheads.

There's something about a Chink waltzing up to a skinhead asking him - perfectly politely, with a genuine interest in the answer - how his day marching for white supremacy is going. That's fun, but the beauty is in the response. It's an irony sandwich, and the razor-blades are extra crunchy.

Mmmm... sandwich.

I had the good fortune of being temporarily employed by the Herald on Sunday last Saturday, and thus I got paid to hang out with skinheads. That's right, *paid* to hang out with skinheads - how cool is that?

I didn't manage to squeeze much into the quick write-up that I did for the HoS afterwards, but some of the interviews were awesome.

In 2004, while Tze Ming and others led a counterprotest on Parliament, a small group of anarchists and punks chased the National Front down the street. The NF, under the inspiring leadership of Kyle Chapman, jumped into a car and sped off - leaving one of their own, Cale Olsen, behind. He got into a scuffle, got knocked around a wee bit, and was chased down the street - blood dripping down his face - as the mob hounded him.

I felt pretty sorry for him on that occasion. Cale was at the march on Saturday (here's a terribly unflattering photo, unlike this guy, who's just a poster-boy for the National Front), and I took the opportunity to ask him what he had to say to the punks/anarchists.

Cale momentarily struggled between hatred of foreigners and love of media attention. My winning smile won him over.

"I want to say... don't stereotype us."

Sounds promising...

"National pride is not hate."

Uh hur...

"We're free thinking."


Cale wasn't so different from you or I. He has a kid. And he's a musician. What kind of music does he play?

"Nationalist metal."

Gold. Pure gold.

"My band is called Helm of Awe. It's on TradeMe. Support nationalist metal, buy my CDs!"

Yes, gentle readers, you too can complete your nationalist metal collection by purchasing Helm of Awe CDs on TradeMe. Go on. Support nationalist metal in New Zealand. It's only $40 for Helm of Awe's outstanding 5-CD collection.

CD 1 is "relentless black metal" (no relation to the race, I presume). CD 2 is "37 minutes of shredding power chords with soulful melodies". CD 3 is "excellent metal to chill out to". CD 4 is "Raw, Rough, Primitive". CD 5 is "Shredding layers of abstract tremolo guitar, distorted bass, black metal vocals, feeble chanting and chaotic drumming with earthy experimental guitar and drum instrumentals".

That's totally deep.

Also got to spend some quality time with National Front's current Director, Sid Wilson. I chatted to him at the train station as they were leaving, then again as I visited them at the Hutt Park Holiday Park, where they were staying. The second time we met was slightly awkward. It would, under any other circumstances, call for a handshake; although we'd developed a pretty good rapport, I don't think either of us wanted to take our relationship *that* far.

I have to hand it to him, though. He certainly showed a lot of media savvy. He talked to me, and was very nice about it, for starters. God knows, him telling me to go back to China would have made great copy. And, the second I whipped out my camera where they were staying, he stopped his guy from putting up the flag with the neo-iron cross, but left the NZ flags up. Good image management, that.

His speech, though, in my opinion, came on a tad strong. "Multiculturalism is murder. Multiculturalism is genocide. Multiculturalism is holocaust against White and Maori New Zealand."

Carrying flags of the iron cross and having members with SS tattoos while claiming to be victims of "genocide" and "holocaust"? That's another foot-long sub with your choice of a wide variety of fresh, crispy irony.

His speech also framed their cause as an essentially anti-globalisation one. I think that all concerned will be disgusted to know that much of the rhetoric and the arguments he used are identical to the ones used at punk/anarchist/socialist anti-globalisation rallies. At least McDonald's will be please to know that they can now count skinheads among their detractors.

One woman I spoke to, Tracy, thought it was counterproductive that there were 80 odd activists yelling at the National Front people telling them to stop being racist scum while the National Front had no idea why people were calling them racists - they're just showing pride in the flag.

So Tracy waltzed in and started asking them questions about what they were doing, why a flag with a Union Jack on it, etc. Why not a Maori flag, or a flag that recognises NZ as it is now - i.e. Multicultural. She got her response - that the NZ flag as it is is a symbol of NZ's British heritage, etc. "And they don't know why that's racist," said Tracy, "well, duh!"

After the skinhead rally, the story (naturally) led me to The Hutt. The Hutt Park Holiday Park, actually, where the National Front was staying. The management were on a strict no-media policy, so it was fortunate that I accidentally got lost and walked the whole camp talking to people before I found the reception at the front gate.

What did they think? Well, what would you think if you found yourself sharing your holiday with 30 skinheads? To the NF's credit, they were a bit boozy but otherwise well-behaved, but if you weren't white - and plenty of the families there weren't - you'd have every reason to be pissed off at park management for hosting a skinhead AGM and not telling you.

However, a tip for the assorted activists who've called up Hutt Park Holiday Park: The person who owns the park does not answer the phone. In fact, a waged labourer (a "worker", if you will) answers the phone. By all means, take your business elsewhere and encourage others to do the same, but FFS, stop calling up and abusing/threatening whoever answers the phone, because they don't make decisions about who stays in the park - they just answer the phones.

Oh, and my favourite photos from the day: Cops, anarchists, cops and anarchists.


And now, for this week's NGA:

(Did you hear about this shit? Yes, we're all going to be infertile and we will be the last generation of yuppies. Ever.)

Click here for more NGA.