I was hardly a model student. If I had devoted as much time to my studies as I did in trying to fashion a timetable that gave me Fridays and Mondays off I may have completed my Bachelor's degree in the standard three years rather than the four it eventually took.

I remember being especially proud one semester when I managed to concoct a timetable that consisted of three days on, four days off - genius, even though it meant taking papers like the History of Vases in Ancient Greece and Relax 101 (Zen Buddhism).

To be fair, I did have a major drinking accident in my third year that forced me take a semester off, but that's a story for another day and involves roof-hopping. But despite a propensity for doing as little work as possible, my one academic love at Otago University was history.

Various aspects of US, Irish and French history were my particular favourites, although I was into anything as long as there were good stories involved.


I've still got the history bug; indeed, when you've truly got it, it never leaves, which is why I still like boring people with a daily history lesson on The Country Early Edition each morning.

Trawling through the history books this week revealed a fascinating list of notable New Zealand events that all occurred on one day, August 6th.

It was the anniversary of the first Ranfurly Shield match in 1904 in which Wellington beat Auckland 6-3 at Alexandra Park, it was the day in 1936 when Jack Lovelock won the 1500 metres in a world record time at the Berlin Olympics, it was the day Murray Halberg became the first New Zealander to run a mile in under four minutes and it was the day President Truman dropped "the bomb" on Hiroshima - that was significant for all mankind.

These are well-known stories, but less well known is the story of a young Maori chap from Kaeo in Northland by the name of Herbert Slade.

On August the 6th 1883 he fought John L Sullivan for the world heavyweight boxing championship at New York's Madison Square garden. Police stopped the fight in the third round after it became apparent Slade was copping a hiding, but he managed to walk away with $4000 for his troubles.

He then joined Sullivan in a travelling exhibition around American towns before being knocked out with a brick in St Louis after a night on the booze and stayed in the States for the rest of his life.

I love stories like Slade's and am a firm believer that every effort should be made to preserve them, as it's the preservation of history that shows us how far we've come or regressed.

It's also fascinating to draw parallels between episodes in history and the history that's being created as we live and breathe; the events of our time that are unfolding and which will be recorded and noted for posterity.

While Wellington and Auckland haven't contested the Ranfurly Shield this week, the Crusaders were once again crowned Super Rugby champions on - you guessed it - August 6th, with a fine victory over the Lions in Johannesburg.

Even those of us sick at the thought of yet another red and black rugby triumph feel obliged to begrudgingly to acknowledge the significance of this performance. In a further parallel, oval ball representatives from Auckland continue to be unsuccessful.

On the athletics front, we've seen another world-class effort from a Kiwi male on the world stage. While Tom Walsh's gold medal effort at the World Athletics Championships in London may not be uttered with quite the same reverence as Lovelock in '36 or Halberg in '58, there's no doubt the 25-year-old Timaru native is the sort of laidback achiever that is destined to be held in high regard in the years to come.

His winning throw of 22.03 metres has seen him become New Zealand's first male to claim a medal at the World Champs.

His father Peter, a well-known stock agent, appeared on The Country this week and told listeners of his son's commitment to hard work and the years he spent farming in his youth.

Then there is the matter of Hiroshima. The introduction of nuclear weapons certainly put a full-stop on WWII, but the technology also has the potential to usher in a third chapter in the World Wars. North Korea, under the tutelage of the despotic maniac Kim Jong-un, has miniaturised nuclear warheads to fit into missiles.

Experts are saying more missile tests are likely and if China gets involved we could well be on the way to World War Three. While President Truman's first major act was to "drop the bomb", the current leader of the free world has warned Pyonyang they will "face fire and fury like the world has never seen", should the threats against the US continue.

If history's taught us anything, it's shown us we're slow learners.