Oh Boy!

Oh Boy!

It might be hard to imagine, but there was once a time when radio stations almost never played any music. How boring, thought David. But the government controlled the airwaves. What could he do?

A Storybook Of Epic NZ Men

And now, something for the males in our lives …

A companion book to the bestselling GO GIRL, OH BOY is inspirational reading for New Zealanders of all ages! Chock-full of stories about brilliant Kiwi blokes who followed their dreams and made the world a better place.

You’ll know some of these guys already; some might be new to you – but each bio is memorable in its own way (including the equally fabulous portraits by some of New Zealand’s best artists!). 

The following excepts, written by Stuart Lipshaw, introduce two of the many amazing men featured in the book. 

OH BOY is essential reading for all Kiwis and is bound to inspire boys from a young age to those young at heart!

David Gapes

Pirate
1936 – 2012 | Wellington

They were the good guys, fighting for creativity, battling for freedom of speech.

When David was growing up, he never dreamed he’d become a pirate. He didn’t know the first thing about boats. But sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone if you want to make a change to your world.

It might be hard to imagine, but there was once a time when radio stations almost never played any music. How boring, thought David. But the government controlled the airwaves. What could he do?

Then one day, David heard about some people who sailed into the ocean off the coast of England, into international waters. They started a station that played music all day long. Maybe I could do that here? he wondered. But I’ll need some help. His friend Denis was good at inventing things, and he knew all about ships. So David wrote him a letter.

David and Denis then met Derek and Chris. Derek was good with words. Chris had the perfect voice for radio. The guys shared the same dreams. They’d be stronger if they worked together. So they became a team. Radio Hauraki would be their name.

They found an old ship, the Tiri, and worked day and night to bring it back to life. But the government liked being in control. Whenever the guys thought they were ready to set sail, the marine department told them they weren’t allowed.

It was risky to break the law, but the guys believed in what they were doing. They were the good guys, fighting for creativity, battling for freedom of speech. They wanted to make radio fun. So they went for it.

When the Tiri pulled away from the harbour, the police were watching on. It wasn’t long before the good guys were arrested.

Some people might have given up after that. Not these four. Each time they were knocked down, they got back up again, even more determined to succeed.

But now the government was watching their every move. They had to create a distraction, so David came up with a plan. It was a bit of a dirty trick, but he was a pirate after all. It worked like magic. And the good guys snuck away.

They made it to international waters, and they were on the air, but the fight wasn’t over. For more than three years, they battled stormy seas and wild weather. They became the voice of difference on the airwaves. And those pirates changed New Zealand radio forever.

Did You Know?

Grapevine’s own Paul Freedman worked on staff with Radio Hauraki in its early days, too. He shared this memory of Gapes:

“My memory of Dave before I joined the Hauraki staff is a powerful one. There had been a packed out (literally – not even standing room left) public meeting in Auckland’s Town Hall, for young people to meet the ‘Pirates’ and to publically protest at the illegal (as it turned out) police boarding of the ship and the jailing of the desperado ‘pirate’ crew.

“After the meeting ended, the large crowd milled about for a while, and then began to drift towards the docks where, if memory serves me, the Tiri was impounded with the old Police Launch Deodar alongside. The mood was ugly and getting uglier as the mob surged on to the wharf.
“David came out to talk the mob out of rioting. There might have been a staffer or two with him, but on my memory screen he was all alone … horribly alone … and facing a mob who wanted blood – or, at the very least, a jolly good punch-up. David put his hands up and said into a small megaphone, ‘If you want to help us, go home!’ ‘Nothing will be helped by violence!’ And more in that vein. And blow me down … they DID! Gentle as lambs. 

“I never now see those famous scenes of the lone protester lying on the ground before the Chinese Army tanks in Tiananmen Square without seeing Brave Dave and his performing mob. Good on you, Dave!”


Apirana Ngata

Politician
1874-1950 | Te Araroa, Ngati Porou

Āpirana fought to make sure everyone in New Zealand was proud of who they were and where they came from.

Many years ago, a young boy named Āpirana grew up under the watchful eye of Mount Hikurangi. His tribe was Ngāti Porou, but his grandfather was Pākehā. “Learn their ways,” his parents told him, “so you can help your people.”

When Āpirana was growing up, it was a difficult time for Māori. The New Zealand Wars had only just ended, and many lives had also been lost to disease. Some people thought Māori culture and traditions might disappear.

But not Āpirana. His teachers taught him how to succeed in the Pākehā education system, but also encouraged him to be proud of his place in the world as Māori.

Before he finished high school, Āpirana travelled to other villages and spoke to them boldly. He had many ideas to improve the lives of his people. But even though Āpirana was passionate and charming, the village leaders didn’t appreciate being challenged by someone so young.
Āpirana was persistent. He won a scholarship to university. A few years later he became the first Māori graduate. Then he went back to the villages. With a law degree in his hand, people started to listen.

When he talked about farming, he asked, “Why can’t we do that ourselves?” And Ngāti Porou wool began to sell for the highest prices in Aotearoa. “You should farm your land, too,” Āpirana said to the other tribes.

When the First World War began, Āpirana encouraged Māori to fight. He imagined a Māori Battalion to stand alongside Pākehā. “We will lose some of our most promising young leaders,” he said, “but we will gain the respect of our Pākehā brothers.” He believed it was important to show that Māori were equal to Pākehā on every level, not only to convince the Pākehā people and the government, but also to encourage Māori to believe in themselves.

By then, Āpirana had been elected to Parliament. He worked for all New Zealanders, and he continued to bring people together. He turned tribal rivalries into friendly competitions. He encouraged connection through sports and performing arts. This broke down traditional barriers and helped people find common ground. But most of all, Āpirana fought to make sure everyone in New Zealand was proud of who they were and where they came from.

These days, you’ll find Āpirana on the $50 note. So he’s still bringing people together, to connect and exchange ideas and goods face-to-face. He’d like that.

Extracted from OH BOY by Stuart Lipshaw, published by Penguin Random House NZ, RRP: $45.00. Text © Stuart Lipshaw, 2018. Illustration © Toby Morris, 2018.