Matt Heath: North Korean crisis needs common Kiwi touch

Publish Date
Monday, 11 September 2017, 9:56AM
Photo / 123RF

Photo / 123RF

With the North Korean situation escalating, the world is begging for quality crisis resolution. Unfortunately America is struggling to get a cohesive message together. Mainly because they failed to elect a decent leader.

But even if America had someone good in charge, how does anyone defuse a volatile situation when one side doesn't want it defused? Who knows?

Like all big things lessons probably lie in the everyday. To that end, I'd like to shoehorn in a vaguely related personal story.

Recently I solved a hostile crisis using nothing but an imaginary Bluetooth dog leash and a smile.

I walk my dog Colin up Mount Eden several times a week. He's a super cute schack (Jack Russell/ mini schnauzer cross).

Colin is a great New Zealander. I love him. In fact I love and trust him so much I let him run leash-free in the compulsory on-leash areas of the mountain. Colin's a nice guy. He never gets in fights. He loves other dogs and people and they love him. Before you ask, Colin never leaves dog's eggs in the crater. I carry bags.

Auckland looks amazing from up Mount Eden. You feel lucky to be alive. There are so many trees in our city. So many volcanoes. Looking northeast from Mount Eden across the War Memorial Museum towards Rangitoto is one of the great Kiwi views. The world is at peace up there.

But suddenly things took a hostile turn. In the distance I could hear yelling from a woman in her 50s. She was pointing angrily at Colin with her umbrella. I gave her the confused shrug.

This only seemed to make her angrier and she marched over. I smiled and said hello as she invaded my personal air space.

"This is an on-leash zone," she yelled.

"I know" I replied.

"Your dog is off his leash."

"No he isn't," I lied.

Colin was clearly not on a leash as he was at least 50 metres from us.

She was really, really mad now and to be fair I wasn't helping things. Like Donald Trump I was being a bit of a dick. Things were surfing dangerously close to a preemptive umbrella strike.

I had bullshitted myself into a corner and had no positive strategic outcomes readily available. Luckily after a few awkward seconds a solution presented itself.

"My dog is on a bluetooth leash controlled by an app," I lied. To prove it I held up my phone and pretended to press an icon while yelling "Colin".

He came running over like the loyal happy little guy he is.

She looked at me like I had made a bad smell (which I had) and walked off. There you have it. A crisis averted through dialogue.

Three days later I ran into her again on the same narrow steps on the same northeast part of the mountain. I assumed that she hadn't believed my made-up bluetooth leash story. I mean how would it even work?

I was wrong.

"I've been telling everyone about your bluetooth leash, amazing, what's it called?" she asked jovially.

"Leash boy," I lied. "You can find it at your Apple app or Google Play stores," I lied again.

"Amazing," she said as she walked on.

I've seen her twice since. We are great mates now and always will be. Unless she reads this column.

So what was the point of this punishing personal anecdote? Simply, that there is always a way to defuse a situation. As long as you are willing to enter into dialogue even if it's dishonest.

Currently America won't even engage until North Korea gets rid of everything. Maybe they could learn something from two simple Kiwi folk up a mountain with an imaginary piece of technology.

Having said that the US missile defence system has a bit of a bluetooth dog leash vibe about it. Apparently it can knock intercontinental ballistic missiles travelling at 20 times the speed of sound from unknown locations out of the sky. That's like a bullet shooting a bullet. Good luck with that.

Hopefully North Korea buys it like my lady with an umbrella bought Colin's 'leash'.

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission.