Team Talk - Shirley: Getting Roped In


“Come to Palestine”, she said. “It’ll be waaay more awesome than Rarotonga”, she said. It was some random afternoon in January, 2016 and I was catching up with my buddy, Paula, for a coffee. Over the course of an hour or two we went from talking about summer holiday plans to me committing 4 weeks of my life to join her on a trip to one of the most contentious colonial-settler projects in the modern world; Palestine.

*shrugs* fairly standard coffee catch-up w Paula tbh.

Over the next week or two our rag-tag crew started to form. Paula had already sussed out our flash artist (Katz) and our camera/sound/director, (Roy) and tells me that she’s also bringing along her youngest, Ebony, to be our photographer. I’m excited. I haven’t met Katz before but know Roy and Ebs well and am itching to get a plan up and running. Paula invites me out for another coffee to talk logistics and as I walk up to the café there’s some Pakeha fullah crashed the party. “Shirls, this is Ash, he’s gonna be our editor and wants to come with us, he’s got a flash camera and will film for us too”.

About 20min later a random ginger guy shows up and sits down, “This is Rohan (pronounces it, row-haan), he’s my IT guy and he’s gonna come too”. “Hey bro, nice to meet you!”, I lean in to give him the kiss/hug combo. It loses shape very rapidly at this point, there’s the usual knocking of heads, awkward pats on the back, a misplaced kiss on the ear and then sweet relief as we both sit back down.

The Armenian shows up next, Tamara-Jane, she’s been traveling back and forth to the Middle East with Paula for years and I’m stoked to see her, mostly coz I don’t need to worry about compounding my mild-concussion from the first two greetings but also because she’s awesome and I’ve worked with her loads before.

Food is consumed, several rounds of coffee are ordered and a plan is formed. Essentially we’re to travel in two groups; Paula, Me, Tamara-Jane and Ash will go first and enter via the Allenby Bridge crossing in Jordan. Katz, Roy, Ebs and Row-haan will fly into Tel Aviv a week later and we’ll all meet up there. Sounded simple enough.

Two grand for my flights, another one for our apartment in the West Bank and a couple of hundy for a few nights in Jerusalem. Now, to the packing. What to bring to a military occupation, I wonder. Hmmmm, sun block, insect repellent, a lavalava (ok, two), my favourite hoody and my very best pair of jandals. Sorted.

Five Maori, an Armenian, an Aussie and a Kiwi travel to the other side of the world, literally, to meet with a culture that is 50 years into a colonisation process, spearheaded by a brutal military occupation.

What could possibly go wrong??

Team TalkClea Pettit