Dinner Salon #2: The New Regime

New Pacific Studio
Masterton, New Zealand

This second Stretcher Dinner Salon takes place at New Pacific Studio in Mount Bruce, New Zealand. New Pacific Studio is a pan-pacific project for artists, writers, environmentalists where Andy Cox and I (Amy Berk) have been artists-in-residence for over two months. Kay Flavell is the Director of NPS and Kate Coolahan is on the board. Both were instrumental in getting the project going. Ros Derby is the architect in charge of renovating the NPS space to accommodate the residency program; Bridget Percy lives next door and hopes to collaborate on future programs.

Introductions took place on the floor in the attic loft space over hors d’ouevres and lots of champagne…


Kate Coolahan was born in 1929 in Sydney and educated as an artist at National Art School. She married and moved to New Zealand in 1952 where she worked as a designer, teacher, writer, administrator and artist. She has been included in 53 international exhibitions including the 1972 Venice Biennale and the 1977 Japanese Cultural Exchange. She has had over 66 exhibitions within NZ, with a major collection of her work at Te Papa.


Rosalind Derby is an architect and advocacy planner who also makes drawings of buildings/urban vignettes. Her work is intended to generate dialogue with the public, ensuring a future client base that believes that the urban environment BELONGS to them.


Bridget Percy was born in Eketahuna in 1970 and brought up on the family farm, Eone, in Alfredton, until the age of twelve when she boarded at Solway College. After earning an agricultural degree, she worked on farms in the South Island, travelled overseas and became a secondary and ESL teacher. She now works as a marketer at the New Zealand Institute of Sport in Wellington three days a week. In addition, Percy runs Braestone, a 278 head sheep, cattle and deer property at Mt. Bruce.


Kay Flavell grew up in Dunedin and, after 37 years, has just returned to Aotearoa, NZ to set up New Pacific Studio as a network linking artists, writers, and environmentalists around the North and South Pacific. She loves sauvignon blanc, Brecht's poems, Russian blue cats, berets, and bush walking in Mount Bruce Forest and in the Berkeley hills.


Andy Cox is an artist, engineer and dreamer who believes there is something better than capitalism. In 1996 he founded the guerrilla art collective Together We Can Defeat Capitalism to "raise questions about capitalism and have some fun, too." He has recently been in trouble with Citigroup for citibank-global-domination.com devised in collaboration with the Rain Forest Action Network.


Amy Berk is a visual artist, writer and educator and one of the stretcher crew.


Hors d'oeuevres
Hot smoked salmon filo pockets
Greek olives
Hot pita bread triangles

Cantaloupe Melon

Main Course
Moussaka (lamb and vegetarian)
Greek salad
Asparagus (via Bridget)
Pita bread
White and red New Zealand wines

Lemon cake
Homemade cranberry ice cream with pine nuts (by Kate)
Herb tea
Cointreau cordials

Subjects discussed:

click on a subject to go directly to it, or scroll down to browse the complete conversation

- on escaping from farming

- on new regime as a new means of control

- on New Zealand's new regime

- on rules, NZ educational policy

- on controls on public access to property, the spread of disease in farm country (foot and mouth disease) in NZ and England

- on the new regime, Bush’s effect on NZ, war and symbolic war

- on capitalism and greed, capabilities and currencies


on escaping from farming

Kay: The linkage from my old to my new regime …my whole life has basically been spent trying to escape from the pigs [Kay grew up on a pig farm in Dunedin, NZ]. I have not succeeded because my neighbor has a pig… I’ve come full circle.

Bridget: You must come and see my pig! It’s a little black one, like one of the ones Captain Cook brought from the islands.

Amy: It’s a beautiful pig.

Kay: Well, choose your metaphor. Tonight I will choose the metaphor of the circle, to escape from the land of the pig, growing up as the pig farmer's daughter. And I find that [relevant to] the knowledge community, this new regime. What they are talking about in "the knowledge wave" is that people have always figured out that the way the world works has all these little boxes in it. I am unable (to conform to this). Whenever I see a number of boxes, I have to say, that instead of boxes, that’s just a series of metaphors, let’s do it differently…(New Zealanders- they were obsessed with the knowledge wave for most of August until September 11 events took over the headlines - AB)


new regime as a new means of control

Andy: On that note…I would like to enter into the record the Oxford Australian Dictionary definition of "regime" — method or system of government, prevailing system of things, as in ancien regime.

Kay: Thank you, that’s helpful.

Andy: "Regime" for me has a negative connotation. When I hear the word regime, it is a system to be broken away from like what you (Kay) were saying … establishing a new regime doesn’t seem necessarily a positive thing, because it is establishing a new system.

Kay: It’s a control system.

Andy: Exactly.

Kate: It’s a reallocation of resources.



New Zealand's new regime

Amy: It’s all very interesting how many layers and levels are at play here because everyone has their own idea of the new regime. When we (Stretcher) conceived the topic about six months ago the new regime to us was after Bush got elected. We (Stretcher crew) are all kind of liberal, lefties. "Regime" was the proper word for it, because it was a new regime, much more military and rightwing.

Ros: I felt really sorry for you.

Amy: But now "the new regime" takes on this whole other meaning post the terrorist attacks on the United States which seem to have thrown the entire world into turmoil.

Kate: No, just America, which dominates the media, which is where we get all of our news.

Kay: I’m finding it very interesting now looking at the New Zealand politicians and finding that they do not act in the same way. They do not use their media reporting to say something that I see as agit prop.

Kate: You have to understand that all New Zealand media is owned by people overseas…so to get real influence politically is difficult.

Participants descend to the dining room where the main course is finally served!


on controls on public access to property, the spread of disease in farm country (foot and mouth disease) in NZ and England

Kate: I’ll tell you the real problem in NZ right now is sabotage, through introducing different bugs and different diseases in animals and plants. And they are actually positively working against that happening so the guys around here including you will (be affected) …so having any throughport (will be controlled).

Kay: But they (tourists) have been walking through Mt. Bruce all of the time.

Kate: For how long? Oh, through Mt. Bruce, of course, it is a tourist area.

Andy: You are talking about farmland.

Kate: Yes, the food producing areas and farmland. They are really getting very frightened about that.

Kay: England has managed okay with public footpaths.

Kate: No, England has foot and mouth disease, it’s a total failure.

Kay: Not from public footpaths.

Kate: They are not too sure.

Ros: They (people) are not allowed to (have access to farmlands). My brother is a runner and last year he was not allowed to run on any farms. He ran on the road, otherwise if he walked onto farmland he would be fined $500.

Kate: It’s (foot and mouth disease) become a very serious thing worldwide. It’s spreading across Europe and it’s going onto the edges of China and Japan.

Andy: That’s something to do with the way animals are raised?

Kay: New regime!

Ros: Ask the animals, consult with the animals… What do they think?

ros and kate

Kate: It’s not just the animals, it’s the plants as well.

Andy: Yes, plants as well, a whole new regime…


on the new regime, Bush’s effect on NZ, war and symbolic war



Kate: What is different? What difference will the Bush regime make to New Zealand?

Andy: That’s a good question.

Ros: We are just going to completely ignore you. Which is what we have always wanted to do. And now we will have every reason to.

Andy: I think it will make New Zealanders even happier to be New Zealanders.

Kate: Nothing’s changed.

Bridget: What about my favorite: "We’re going to get those 'folks'"…excuse me, where are you from? Not from the south, are you? Hello, they are terrorists, they just blew up thousands of people and you are calling them "folks." That was priceless. And they kept repeating it in the news. (it was) just like a poster in the Wild West.

Kate: Are you talking about culture or bloodline or what? Nothing has changed excepting that we have had 50 years in New Zealand without a war. We’ve sent about 30 people to Timor, that’s it. Bush might well involve us in our first war in 50 years.

Ros: That seems to be our theme of the whole evening.

Kate: What else could happen with Bush?

Ros: He would actually be digging his own grave and making himself look more isolationist.

Kate: No he won’t. America’s always been isolationist.

Ros: Words like strategic which everyone is using now, seem like militarism is in vogue.

Kate: We are conducting symbolic wars.

Andy: I think that what happened is the corporations have appropriated the military jargon to their own ends. We are now in a new era of neo-colonization where the corporations are the new armies of appropriation.

Kate: It’s much cheaper to do it that way.

Ros: Exactly, do we need it? Or like it? But we have it anyway.


on capitalism and greed, capabilities and currencies

Kate: If you are investing money to make money, you are a capitalist.

Andy: I would have a slightly different definition.

Ros/Kate: What’s your definition?

Andy: What I think of capitalism as is outright greed and self-interest without any concern for what’s going on around you and the historic consequences of your actions, to put it in a Marxist perspective. The capitalism we have now is very short-sighted.

Ros: Every ten years there is a new change and it is very wasteful.

Andy: I don’t care what happens to the planet after I’ve gone as long as I’m okay now. That’s what I think of capitalism really.

Kate: Well, that’s something I’ve never heard of. It’s not only capitalism, it’s an enormous number of human beings are like that.

Ros: Why do they want to be so boring?

Kay: That’s not boring, it’s greed.

Ros: Waste is boring.

Kate: We’re (artists/activists) like fleas on the back of something or other. We can cause a great deal of annoyance but we can modify behavior and that is what our function seems to be vis-a-vis capitalist manipulators. They (capitalists) are not evil in any sense… it depends on how much of your income comes from capitalism. It’s [capitalism] that put us in this room.

Andy: That’s the contradiction: We are all pretty happy with where we are, and we are all here having a big dinner (and conversation) and for that, capitalism has been kind to us.

Kay: No, what has put us in this room is the ridiculous thing of having been trained in this country, (but) I have been working outside it in two currencies that when turned into this currency (have) enabled me to buy this house and do it up. Where if I had spent my working life in this country, I wouldn’t have had enough money to do that. So it is the ineffable way.

Kate: Manipulable intelligence.

Kay: The way in which the two currencies were played off against each other is a result of the capitalist ….

Ros: But you could have been over there grinding away trying to maintain your status as a lecturer in San Francisco. But, that means you were outside of the system, not being locked into the capitalist system, you made choices, not on capitalism but collectivism.

Kay: It’s tied in with what you're interested in, but a lot of it is tied in with your capabilities. Coming back now, who can do that?

Cake and more cointreau…