Hunting The Boojum

The Noncensus Party

As the world’s first “living work of art”, acquisitioned by the Christchurch City Council art gallery in 1982, with Alice, well qualified in art history, as my curator, I considered it vital to be consistent. Since 1968 I have had no social security or income tax registration and owned no significant property. Needing to preserve my precious identity which had been formed in the fires of hatred from politically ambitious and self-righteous university youths, and impervious to the acidic ridicule of economically ambitious but scarcely literate executives now appearing in great numbers, I had to evade the five yearly Census.


Also as a wizard I had to avoid being rounded up, branded with a number and counted as the property of the welfare-warfare state. On the second census count in 1980, having managed to avoid the previous one by passing through a singularity in the law, I went out to sea in a small boat beyond the 12 mile limit. I invited boat owners to join me in a Noncensus Party. I produced a handbill taken from the original illustration by Holiday on the front cover of the first edition of The Hunting of the Snark showing the Bellman high up the mast. Photographs appeared in newspapers all over the world showing me and my defiant companions rowing out to the yacht. With my beard, striped-top and bell I bore a striking resemblance to the Bellman. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth by the thousands of employees of the census department but my friend an Anglican lawyer was right, the NZ Government did not have political jurisdiction beyond the 12 mile limit.