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Dave Wolland: A Tale Of Ale

A Tale Of Ale

by Dave Wolland

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In some ways I am glad that my father is not alive today. I am sure he would have blown a fuse if he knew that the company, making his favourite beer, is now largely overseas owned by a country he fought against. When I was younger, I remember him often telling me, with some pride, that as a shareholder in Lion Breweries, he was drinking his way towards a higher dividend. Ownership mattered in his eyes. He proudly owned his own home and had shares in several New Zealand owned and operated companies.

I recall once trying to woo him away from his beloved Lion beer, when I took him a bottle of Mac’s Real Ale to try (in those days it was not owned by the Lion-Nathan Corporation). As I levered the top off, I extolled its natural virtues and watched him eye the glass impassively as I poured out the sparkling golden brew. Dad raised the glass to the window, examined the colour and then passed it under his nose a few times. He drank it, by sucking it around his mouth with a thoughtful expression and then swallowed.

I waited eagerly for his opinion, being sure he would be instantly converted. I never got it. He quickly changed the subject and got stuck into his pet political gripe of the week. I inferred that the subject was now closed as another bottle of Lion Brown appeared. The rampant lion on the label seemed to me to be roaring in victory.

Doug Meyers is reputedly, one of the richest men in New Zealand these days. I would really like to know why he felt no sense of responsibility to fellow shareholders and customers when he sold his controlling interests in Lion Breweries to the Japanese. He and his colleagues in the Round Table might be toasting their rewards selling New Zealand’s assets, but I have yet to see any real benefits for the average Kiwi.

I heard on the news that New Zealand has a huge trade deficit and a large part of that came from the returns of foreign investments heading overseas. Over the last 20 years we (and many other Western countries) have been running deficits and paying them off by selling assets and borrowing. This has contributed to rising house prices and provided a false impression of prosperity. In the USA, a real estate ‘credit crunch’ has shaken the financial markets and a lot of chickens are coming home to roost amongst the vultures.

To survive this period of ‘economic adjustment’, as the international economy falters, we might have to resort to taking direct political action or getting back to the basics like bartering and self-sufficiency. Being a person, who is prone to stretch my time over all the available options, I am thinking that it now might be a good time to start. If my neighbours see me working at night and hear the odd explosion they will know I mean business. They need not be alarmed tho’; I will be working a self-sufficient way to create the perfect tool for radical political discussion – homebrew!


Dave Wolland,

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