hayden2020 (3)

SocietyDecember 16, 2020

Get it to the time capsule: Hayden Donnell on what we should bury to sum up 2020

hayden2020 (3)

Nobody loves collecting up things and trying to put them in another thing like Hayden Donnell, who gloriously failed in his life mission to get a bunch of items of national significance into Te Papa Tongarewa. Who better to unleash on our new project: The Spinoff Aotearoa 2020 Time Capsule. 

Most time capsules are infused with optimism. They’re a way of stretching out beyond our physical lifespans. We cast ourselves forward into a time we can’t experience, in the hope we can talk to people with whom we will never speak.

The Spinoff’s 2020 time capsule is a little different. It’s less about sending the things we cherished from 2020 out to future generations, than burying the remnants of this godawful year like a body after a TV gang show killing. The objects inside it shouldn’t be a message about the way we lived, or the things we valued, so much as a grave warning to avoid our mistakes.

The Spinoff’s editor Toby Manhire has appealed to readers for ideas on what to include in the capsule. That doesn’t make any sense. Manhire has already commissioned me to name the objects we need to bury. I am the decider. This is my turn! These are my decisions.

Dave Dobbyn

Ritual sacrifice isn’t “weird”. Suggesting it isn’t “deranged even for me”. Societies throughout history have given up their treasures in hope of appeasing the capricious deities punishing them with bad crops, sickness, or locusts. Whoever inflicted this year on us is unlikely to be calmed with any ordinary trinket. New Zealand must offer up its most valuable asset. But what? The answer is obvious: Rosemary Dempsey, the inventor of Kiwi Onion Dip. However, no one country can pay so great a price. Instead we have to turn to the next best thing. Dave Dobbyn must go in the capsule.

Calls and emails to Dobbyn’s management have not been returned. More to follow.

The shattered dreams of a first home buyer

The government has seen the raging inferno consuming New Zealand’s housing market, and concluded the fire should keep growing at a more incremental rate. House prices are already a median of $1 million in Auckland. They’re heading toward that figure in Wellington. Many prospective first home buyers will look at those amounts, analyse the sums, carry the one, and calculate it will take them 18 lifetimes to save up a deposit on a house.

New Zealand Geographic editor Rebekah White is one such formerly prospective first home buyer. She has kindly agreed to send this physical representation of her burned up dreams for inclusion in The Spinoff’s 2020 time capsule.

The Saint Ashley Bloomfield statue from the Iko Iko window

No action defined 2020 like falling in love with the bespectacled doctor who read out our daily updates on the plague. The nation laughed when Ashley Bloomfield responded to a question on whether 5G was causing Covid-19. It cried when he was thrown under a bus by former health minister David Clark. It swooned when he showed us how to put on a mask designed by his son’s friend’s mum.

If our collective emotional affair with the director general of health was condensed into a single object, it would be the Saint Ashley Bloomfield cardboard statue from the window of Wellington knick-knack store Iko Iko. At first glance, the statue is embarrassing. At second glance, it’s also the product of a sick mind. At third glance, it’s one of the only positive bits of art made this year.

The Ashley Bloomfield Shrine, with Ashley Bloomfield. Photo: Iko Iko

Sadly, a representative from Iko Iko said the original statue got water damage and “ended up getting thrown out”. The Spinoff is in advanced negotiations with the store in the hope that a replacement statue will be printed in time for it to be buried in The Spinoff’s 2020 time capsule.

Signed and laminated copies of Michael Morrah’s reports showing multiple serious failings at the Ashley Bloomfield-led Ministry of Health

The replacement Saint Ashley Bloomfield statue from the Iko Iko store window will be wrapped inside these reports. This will demonstrate the duality of man.

Some rubbish

We should put some rubbish inside the time capsule.


Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg, the poor critical thinking skills of the Boomer generation, and Tom Hanks’ suspiciously enduring good looks, millions of people now believe the world is ruled by a cabal of paedophiles who inject themselves with the blood of mole children to remain beautiful.

Adrenochrome is part of that alleged system, for reasons explained in this viral article. We should send it on to our ancestors as a demonstration of the fact that in 2020, our brains were completely riddled with worms.

Adrenochrome should also be included because it’s a powerful SEO term for this article. Now, please excuse me as I secure two million pageviews.

The real truth about adrenochrome

Adrenochrome, explained

What is adrenochrome? Here’s what you need to know

Adrenochrome Dave Dobbyn

Have a mole child? Here’s why you need adrenochrome

Adrenochrome The Spinoff 2020 time capsule

A supermarket trolley full of toilet paper

Pre-Covid, it was common to muse on what you’d do if faced with the apocalypse. Would you hug your family tight and make the most of the time you had left? Gather as many essential supplies as possible and try to make a stand? As it turns out, the answer is neither of those options. In March, New Zealanders got a real-life test run on the potential end of the world. Most of us reacted to the impending disaster by immediately hoarding a lifetime supply of Quilton 3-ply. At least when the end comes, it’s a comfort to know we won’t go out smelling of our own turds.

The toxic ammonia from the Mataura paper mill

It needs somewhere to go. We need something that physically manifests 2020. This is synergy.

78.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gasses

Labour backed up its climate change emergency declaration with a plan to make the public sector carbon neutral by 2025. That’s set to reduce our annual emissions by 483,000 tonnes. I propose dealing with the remaining 78.4 million tonnes by enclosing them in The Spinoff’s 2020 time capsule.

An apology note for destroying the world

We just really liked cows.

David Seymour’s empty Lindauer bottle

In a way, all of us are David Seymour cresting across the Viaduct Harbour on election night. We’re bedraggled, already drunk; pathetic by any objective standard. Our achievement is technically negligible in the grand narrative of history. But even if trudging onward into 2021, or stealing votes off the waterlogged corpse of the National Party, isn’t that impressive, it still feels like a gargantuan milestone.

Seymour’s empty bottle from election night should go in the capsule as a memento of our joy. It is also a metaphor for what we’ve become. We’re not just David Seymour on election night: we are his empty vessel. We’re drained and used up, ready to be cast back into the open ocean. This time capsule is the message we will be carrying on our journey. Hopefully wherever it washes up will be a better place.

Keep going!