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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hack attack: GCSB Bill

John Key's website is down as I type. WOW! The Anonymous hackers are attacking the Nat's websites. Bloody great day NOT to be a Nat. I'm thinking of you David , but not praying for you. I wonder if they put up a spoof Kiwiblog page would anyone notice?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Home, Jehan

[This post updated 00:30 Tuesday 30/07/2013]

I haven't viewed the racist/xenophobic anti-muslim rave by some Southland oik against a Pakistani taxi driver that is doing the rounds on You Tube - nothing beyond the brief bit on tonight's TV news. I sort of tuned out when I could detect he was pissed. Can't find the story on the NZ Herald or Stuff headlines the way it is on TV and radio. They said the Invercargill taxi company released the camera footage to show the sort of shit taxi drivers put up with. They also report the police are investigating laying a charge against him (even though I note the Race Relations Commissioner was saying he did nothing unlawful).

My first reaction was not on the nasty things a drunk middle-aged Southland man said though. Maori experience similar levels of hating in the mainstream press and talk radio every day, and the language is barely a step up from this guy's offensive rant and there is no alcohol alibi either, so it hardly rates as the hate crime of the century. Not to say the rant was anything but inappropriate, however that didn't seem to be the only or even main issue here.

My first thought was how does a taxi company think they can get away with publishing (or making available for public access) security camera footage that is supposed to be private and retained temporarily for the purposes of security? This undermines the credibility of these cameras that were, unnecessarily forced into all cabs by the government. Now see how they are being used. Was it worse than cleaning up a drunk's vomit as far as the driver was concerned? Why not release that type of footage too? Where does it stop? The record of everything you said and did on your journey is entirely in the hands of the driver and the company and if this instance is to be the measure if you aren't on your best behaviour you are on You Tube in minutes and the TV news that night. So much covert info, so few opportunities to use an excuse to 'go viral'... at others expense. But, hey, he deserved it - is the reasoning,- but extortion couldn't have been worse with this outcome and a magnitude of public shaming and vilification couldn't have been higher. The potential for misuse is happening right now and no-one really notices let alone cares. You do have to wonder: is that the discipline these cameras are supposed to instil in the passengers, are we supposed to 'respect' them, if not the driver?

The only commissioner who needs to be involved here is the Privacy Commissioner - not the squash one. And as for the police looking at a charge of... well, what? Being very rude? Showing enormous discourtesy? If verbalising being a redneck racist knuckle-dragging binge-drinking wanker was a crime the average cop would have to be arrested the moment they spoke. The only charges needed here are offences connected to the missuse of the taxi's security cameras. The release of that recording had nothing to do with security it is clear. There is an expectation of privacy (confidentiality) in a cab despite the cameras and that is not broken at the point the conversation turns sour, even if the words and tenor are abusive.

The taxi company should be in trouble not the drunken white middle-aged Southland man. Yes, he's a bigot and a prick, but there are other ways of dealing to clients who are arseholes than single-handedly destroying any confidence there ever was in this intrusive compulsory mass surveillance system in the nation's entire taxi fleet. Considering all the shit he's got over it he would be in a position to sue. He has causes-o-rama of action: bad faith to the max for not blurring face out to start with. Identification was malicious and unnecessary to prove taxi drivers put up with shit and how racism is alive and burning down South. They don't have right to use those security recordings ike you are appearing on their chat show, and they certainly don't have any lawful authority to be judge, jury and executioner and name and shame like that to make their point. You shouldn't have to be on fucking TV the whole time you're in a bloody cab, and being coaxed into accepting it, like it was North Korea but with a budget, is pathetic. And in the news today the Finance Minister, MP for Clutha-Southland refuses to keep track or record foreigners buying land, and yet here is a foreigner successfully tracking and recording Southland's finest and his inner-most thoughts using government mandated equipment...

TV Review

My TV Review is posted up over at The Daily Blog. This week: Are Banks Good?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Governor's salary

The debate around the constitutional progression - or lack of progression - has focussed recently on the relative costs of maintaining the current system of Governor-General (plus the royal family when they are in the country) compared to what the expenses will be with a president or other head of state under the presumed republican system that will replace it.  It's a trifling and trivial matter compared to what substantive powers the head will have - and the staff and resources adequate for whatever role it will be - but on the issue of salary I happened upon this today:

The Governor's salary went from 2500 pounds to 3500 under the Governor's Salary Act 1856.
--

There shall be payable to Her Majesty every year out of the revenue arising from taxes duties rates and imposts levied under any Act or Acts of the said General Assembly, and, from the disposal of the waste lands of the Crown in New Zealand, the sum of three thousand five hundred pounds as and for the salary of the Governor instead and in lieu of the sum of two thousand five hundred pounds as provided by the said Schedule


-- 

Using the RBNZ inflation calculator which only goes back to 1862 (which I used as the base year) that is $251,761.39 to $352,465.95.

The current Governor-General's salary is nowadays a little more obscured than a special Act of parliament and exists as a regulation.
--
This determination, which is deemed to have come into force on 1 April 2010, sets new rates for the Governor-General's salary, currently $191,645. From 1 April 2010, the salary is payable at the rate of $200,622 a year. From 1 April 2011, the salary is payable at the rate of $210,309 a year.
--

You think adding the word General at the end would get you more not less.  $210k now compared to the equivalent of $352k back then means we are getting good value. The dry cleaning and uniform tailoring bills would also have gone south. No hat allowance anymore?

 [The Governor-General is to the left of the one with all the power]

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Snookered

Hone Harawira walks the walk... sometimes by simply sitting.

NZ Herald:
--
Police smashed a window in Hone Harawira's car after he ignored repeated requests to move out of the path of a truck at an Auckland housing protest last year, a court has been told.
The Mana Party leader appeared in Auckland District Court today to defend a charge of failing to comply with a police instruction, an offence punishable by a $10,000 fine.
Harawira was arrested last October when he joined protesters fighting the removal of state houses in the east Auckland suburb of Glen Innes who allegedly occupied a property being removed in preparation for redevelopment.
Harawira allegedly locked himself in his car and turned his music up loud, blocking a Housing New Zealand-contracted truck and trailer unit from accessing the property.
--  

Hardly the crime of the century. You wonder if it was anyone other than the great northern rebel would this have gone to trial?  

Tumeke blogger emeritus, Mr Bradbury, reports on The Daily Blog:
--
I’ve spent most of the morning in Court to watch Hone’s trial. He is representing himself against a charge of not operating a motor vehicle when told to do so by the Police.It’s a farce.
For one the Court room is the tiniest court room they have with only seating for 12 in the public gallery. Hone’s supporters spilled out into the corridor.
The moment of ‘doh’ was the Police admitting that they had blocked Hone in with a Police van behind his car before arresting him for not moving his car.
--

By snookering Hone they have snookered themselves. 

Meanwhile I guess the privatisation of the Tamaki housing estate is proceeding at pace. Labour seemed more preoccupied with helping people afford their power bills at the moment to lend substantial support to people who don't even have a house.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Crumbling away

The EQNZ fund cannot take another hit after Christchurch.   The fund is being used to pay the Europeans for reinsurance rather than accumulating as an actual fund - such are the circumstances of the depletion.  These Wellington quakes will be sending shivers through these markets - our premiums just went up.  And every sod with home insurance from Auckland north - where there is no historical risk of earthquakes - is basically covering it.  It's looking wobbly, perhaps unsustainable, and given the risk profile meaning the safe north is massively subsidising the unsafe south - inequitable.

The capital was moved from Auckland in 1865 to Wellington, which sits right on top of the main fault line.  The question now is: knowing that the city is in the worst possible location for earthquakes why should the rest of the nation (ie. Aucklanders) have to bail out the inevitable?  Isn't it time to impute the known risks on a regional basis?  Auckland's exposure to volcanoes is the counter-argument, but that will be difficult to make as there at least would be a forewarning and a period to mitigate damage - something that doesn't exist with earthquakes.

Wellington is - without exaggeration - crumbling into the sea. I have no abiding affection for the town or indeed most of its people, so I don't find the destruction upsetting or regrettable in the way it is for Christchurch - that's just the way it is.  So get over it, just pay for it yourselves.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

TV Review

My TV review is posted up over at The Daily Blog. This week on Seven Sharp and the TVNZ treatment.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Where are the lifeboats?

The Maori Party AGM was held in Whakatane at the weekend.  This was in Te Ururoa Flavell's electorate. It sits in the one-third of the electorate (the Eastern part of Waiariki) that voted for Mana's Annette Sykes ahead of him or the Labour candidate. There didn't look to be that many there - certainly not like the number at Mana's AGM earlier in the year.

NZ Herald:
--
In his slightly tearful acceptance speech as the Maori Party's new co-leader, Te Ururoa Flavell spoke of his previous role as the party's official dishwasher.
He said he had seen footage of himself and Pita Sharples during the recent Ikaroa-Rawhiti byelection.
Dr Sharples was talking importantly on his phone. Mr Flavell was in the kitchen doing the dishes. "I've known my role in this party since it started."
He said the background work was some of the most important there was - the work of chiefs. Then, to much laughter, he added: "But I've finished that now, I hope."
--  

Dishwasher of the Maori Party and then penny-diver for John Key isn't much of a career path.  

--
 Mr Flavell said he hoped to sit down soon with co-leader Tariana Turia and new party president Naida Glavish to map out a plan for the 2014 election and select candidates good enough to ensure the party could hold on to its electorates, especially after the retirements of Dr Sharples and Mrs Turia next year.
--

Considering Flavell has spent all of the past three years in intrigues with the party president to oust Pita Sharples - and in the end the only reason anyone could come up with is that he is supposedly too old - all the drama and risk of selecting a new candidate and the loss of incumbancy is entirely generated by Flavell. The loss of the Tamaki Makaurau seat is a sacrifice Flavell will make in order to get to the top.

All the tears and the self-serving nonsense from Flavell about having "fallen into the zone" and proclaiming his unopposed leadership bid as being somehow an unexpected, serendipidous piece of good fortune must have been hard for Sharples to take. It is hard for anyone who knows what has happened to take seriously.  Flavell's weeping is crocodile tears, shed after an orchestrated campaign against the leader that begun with him manufacturing the sacking of Hone Harawira - to eliminate his rival.

Everything since has culminated in this anti-climactical, hollow, default appointment. Having pushed the best officer overboard, he has now stormed the bridge and shot the captain, and as the cold waters rush across the decks he proudly announces down the loud hailer to the drowning passengers below: "This is your Captain speaking!" He has that political blink of an eye between now until the election to order the re-arranging of the deck chairs.



Monday, July 15, 2013

TV review

My TV review is posted up over at The Daily Blog - this week on the X Factor.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

25 minutes for an ambulance?

Although there is no record of the statement on the NZ Police website, there is a report in the NZ Herald:
--
Assistant Police Commissioner Allan Boreham said the man's vehicle was stopped when road spikes deflated the front tyres. There was then an exchange of gunshots between him and police, resulting in his death.
[...]
"What I do know is he was still alive (after the shooting) and police have spent some 25 minutes attempting to resuscitate him at the scene," Mr Boreham said.
Police did a "very good job in a very trying set of circumstances'' to keep the public safe during the incident.
--

The police didn't do a good job and the trying circumstances were of their own making - a result of their total failure in being able to stop him. Permitting the offender to go through the 40 odd kilometres of Auckland's urban area is actually a very poor job indeed and potentially put the public at risk. The same utter incompetence and panic that led the police to let the driver of the vehicle involved in the police's killing of an innocent courier driver on the NW motorway flee right past the block where the Auckland central police headquarters is located - is the same sort of incompetence we see in this police shooting. They have learnt nothing from that, clearly.

The police are the quickest to cover up their own short-comings - pity they never seem to be challenged on any of their claims. The first question I would ask is how can it take 25 minutes before the ambulance came when the station is at North Shore Hospital - only three interchanges down the motorway - about 5 - 10 minutes away. And the second question will be: would it have taken 25 minutes if the person shot had been a cop?
The police - via NorthComms - have direct contact with the St John's service and can despatch immediately. So the police are in real trouble here as far the facts they have admitted to stand.

Now, either St John is so hopelessly slow that they took almost half an hour to send an ambulance five kilometres down the motorway at two in the morning (so slow that they should lose their subsidy - that's an average speed of 15 km/h after all), or they were so overwhelmed by the mega-violence of Gotham on a Sunday night that they couldn't allocate a single ambulance to a police shooting for almost half an hour.  Those are the two options the police have left us with and obviously each scenario appears on the face of it to be untenable.

If we take the police at their word then there must be an inquiry into the ambulance system because this is just not good enough and below any reasonable expectation. What we need is the ambulance service's word on the matter. Were they held back by police? If so, for what reason, and for how long were they kept back? These are simple questions that deserve immediate answers, not buried in some whitewash report dragged out for years as a tactic to diffuse the justified outrage.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Blue mist

My TV review for The Daily Blog will be posted up over there. This one is on the police reality shows.

The drama of the great police chase that went from Kaimai to Albany is something of a case in point. How will that be portrayed? All the cops are heros and the offender was a maniac - end of story according the police official version. That hopelessly conflicted perspective will be faithfully translated to the small screen should this incident feature. How the cops could be so monumentally incompetent as to let someone drive all the way through Auckland - including through a tunnel you would expect to be the natural point of blockage - instead of being stopped before the Bombays is a testament to ineptitude, paralysis and caution bordering on cowardice, surely, what other explanation is there?

NZ Herald:
--
Henry died after a shootout on the northern motorway just after 2am yesterday.

Police had pursued the 20-year-old from the Kaimai Range, Bay of Plenty, which was more than 360km from where Henry stopped driving on the motorway.

In a statement released this afternoon, police said they had concluded their scene examination of the area near where the gunfire exchange took place, close to Sunset Road.

--

How one man, in one ute, with one rifle could do all that - and how the police could let him, or couldn't stop him - is something akin to the epic car chase in the 'Blues Brothers' movie. Either this guy is a legend combining the driving skills of 'The Stig', with the staunchness of a Stallone character, or the police are utter muppets. I bet on muppetry. As usual there are more questions than answers at this point because there is no truly independent agency to investigate the police to keep them honest. As such the police will only release information confirming their own story, which is half the story, as we are finding out with the Waitara golf course killing. Another Waitara Maori shot in the back by the cops is not a good look.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

On the same page

There were only two submissions heard by the select committee on the Mokomoko (Restoration of Character, Mana, and Reputation) Bill/Te Pire mō Mokomoko (Hei Whakahoki i te Ihi, te Mana, me te Rangatiratanga) at Waiaua (east of Opotiki) in February this year. The Mokomokmo whanau group themselves were one half - I was the other. We hadn't co-ordinated anything and my contact with the whanau had been unofficial and  fleeting, but I supported what the whanau were trying to achieve with the Bill.
[Photo: The committee in the whare tipuna 'Ruamoko' at Waiaua. Note that Flavell and Harawira are seated at opposite ends of the table. Translator and sound technician out of view to left, submitters at the table in the middle, with the shadowy figures to the right being the faceless Wellington bureaucrats.]
[Photo: Outside for a posed group shot - that's Te Ururoa gesturing.]

Scoop:
--
Hon Dr Pita Sharples
Minister of Maori Affairs

28 June 2013

Māori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples paid tribute today to the descendants of Whakatohea Chief Mokomoko, as the Mokomoko (Restoration of Character, Mana and Reputation) Bill returned to the House of Representatives from the Māori Affairs Select Committee. Chief Mokomoko was tried and executed for his alleged role in the murder of Reverend Carl Volkner in Ōpōtiki in 1866. Seventy thousand hectares of land in the region were subsequently seized, and generations of the Mokomoko whānau have carried the stigma of bringing land confiscation or raupatu to the region. In 1992 Mokomoko was granted a free pardon, although Dr Sharples says it did not specifically restore his character, mana and reputation. 
[...]
“This Bill is intended to correct those omissions and help to remove the shame experienced by the whānau. The whānau was consulted closely on the wording of the Bill. I am hopeful that it will go some way to resolving this deeply held grievance.”
[...]
Dr Sharples also applauded the whānau for their innovation and commitment to te reo Māori, as they have negotiated for the Mokomoko (Restoration of Character, Mana and Reputation) Bill to be enacted in te reo Māori and English. When passed, this will be the first time in New Zealand’s history that legislation has been enacted in Māori and English. “I mihi to te whānau a Mokomoko for their courage and foresight in proposing to the Select Committee that the recognition for their tipuna be provided in Māori and English. This will be a first for our Parliament, to enact legislation in both Māori and English, and it is fortuitous that the Bill, in both languages, has been returned to the House on the eve of Māori Language Week” said Dr Sharples.
--

Full report from the Maori Affairs committee - including all the new wording - can now be found at the legislation website

I am ambivalent at this point - having read the proposed changes (ie. a Te Reo translation) - because I would prefer the Bill recount the whole truth in English rather than half truths in both. Having said that however the equalisation of languages in the law is probably such a significant advancement that it will overshadow the historical account and apology that the committee (ie. the government and the faceless Wellington bureaucrats) have rejected.

They have managed to keep the general injustices and the specific war crimes of the NZ government that were inextricably linked to the arrest, trial and execution - and now full pardon - of Mokomoko safely swept under the carpet. 

From research of the published material from the government and the newspapers at the time my impression is that both Mokomoko and Volkner were scapegoats and fall-guys used by others.

Volkner was Grey's informant, a spy in the context, sent back by Grey even though they knew there was an aukati (emargo, cordon) in place by the Pai Marire ("Hau Haus") against missionaries, esp. Anglicans who had conducted the religious rites for the Crown forces and were therefore not neutral.  He was most likely as an unwitting agent provacateur. The leader of the "fanatics" - Kereopa (who was tried and executed for Volkner's killing later in Napier) may have also wanted to cause conflict for tribal reasons. Mokomoko and Volkner were both in the preverbial wrong place at the wrong time.

The response to the killing by the government was invasion and confiscation. The response if nothing had happened would have probably been to have made something happen so that they could invade - this was the atmosphere of militancy by the Pakeha settlers and the government that prevailed at the time.  Combined with the other aukati killing of Fulloon and others at Whakatane about the same time things were tense. The NZ Herald, for example, was gunning for massive retailiation and complete confiscation from the outset.

The details of how the government went about trying to arrest the supposed murderers of Volkner - a single German missionary - involve misdeed after misdeed: sending a fleet with over 500 armed men from Wellington as one of the first acts since the seat of government had been moved, declaring marshal law and bombarding the village of Opotiki and killing a dozen people or more in its occupation before the Orwellian "Peace Proclamation" had even been transmitted to the local people, and then the killing of several score more over the next few months as punitive expeditions were sent out to scorch earth all of the people in the area into "surrender". Village after village was burnt to the ground. The looting by the soldiers was wholesale. At one point the government forces set up a court martial that convicted twenty people that were going to all be executed - until the Attorney-General recommended against it.

Instead of massacring the equivalent of a grand jury (that had deliberated overnight on Volkner's fate and the "mob" that had hanged him the following day) they chose a geo-political solution and a show trial in Auckland. The powerful chief who controlled the Ohiwa harbour area for Whakatohea along the borders with Ngati Awa and Tuhoe would be the sacrifice - Mokomoko. His whanau would be stripped - they were to carry the shame for the whole tribe. I have to note here too that this stigma that is talked about is very real, not imagined. This was demonstrated clearly to me by all the people you would normally expect to support initiatives that were not there and offered no support. Whakatohea have to be told the truth by the government as much as the general public.

My submission (one of six in total recieved) doesn't appear to be online.

From my own copy:
--
[...] Secondly, the text of the agreement – and the Bill it promotes – is only a cursory acknowledgment of selected facts entirely from the NZ government’s position and contains no substantive redress.  This leaves the impression the NZ government is still in a state of denial. Despite this objection I have supported the late Tuiringa (Manny) Mokomoko and the Mokomoko whanau in their efforts to seek a legislative outcome.

The Bill as drafted fails to deal satisfactorily with the context in which Mokomoko was arrested and killed and to record the facts surrounding the NZ government’s invasion and occupation of Mokomoko’s lands and that of Te Whakatohea.  These omissions are plainly made to spare the Crown’s dignity and consequently act to diminish the loss and suffering of the Mokomoko whanau and Te Whakatohea.  These omissions mean the whole truth is not being told and that amounts to misinformation. These omissions are an avoidance of the Crown’s responsibility as a Treaty “partner”.  As a prelude to a Treaty settlement with the Te Whakatohea this Bill has the potential to broach these issues – and it should. To view this Bill merely as an annex to a pardon or a technical fix to another statute would be to seriously underestimate what is at stake for the whanau Mokomoko and the Whakatohea Iwi.
--  

It seems the facts are too hard to swallow and the Wellington bureaucrats have trumped the committee. So much for the fine words from the chair...
video







  







So there is no historical account of facts to put it in perspective - and no apology, just "regret". This is itself regrettable. The excuse contained in the committee recommendation of needing Cabinet approval to change or add anything and needing another agreement with the whanau is a cop out. The excuse that all this can be dealt with in a settlement bill for Whakatohea (occuring in the never-never) is a cop out. I'm not sure what intervention to support the whanau can be made at this stage in the process.

[Photo: Manny's tangi at Waiaua last year. He was a Vietnam veteran amongst other things and there was a large military presence.  Chief Mokomoko is buried at the top of the hillock.] 

The NZ Herald reporter's article on the hearing was par for the course - no historical analysis. This was disappointing because I told her that the Herald's own files from that time would be worth a look, but she had already pre-written her piece and I'm picking that the NZ Herald's own role in this tragedy is as shameful as the government's.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Succession

In probably the least successful succession strategy in political history Te Ururoa's undermining and ambition - aided by President Pem Bird - has finally reaped the bitter dividend: Pita Sharples is to step down. Are they happy now? They became apologists for the Nats in order to keep their baubles, they got rid of Hone because he was the obvious alternative leader, and their candidate just came in third to Mana's second place in a by-election in a safe Labour seat.
[Scoop photo from here.]
This leadership change - as dignified as a coup could be - is perhaps the killer blow to John Key's Maori Party.

NZ Herald:
--
Prime Minister John Key said Pita Sharples has made the right decision for the Maori Party by resigning as the party's co-leader.
Dr Sharples confirmed at a press conference this morning that he'll step down, saying it was for the purposes of unity in the wake of uncertainty over the leadership.
"The best thing I can do is create a space for change to happen."
He said he would stay as Minister until the election, but did expect to relinquish some of those responsibilities to his successor to allow him to have the mana of the role before the election.
He would also stay as a supporter and a leader within the party.
He made his decision with a "heavy heart."
--

The way Sharples has been treated within the party is unacceptable and the disunity is florid and apparent to all.

Sharples is stage-managing his withdrawal, but it is with the help of National.  Flavell is already deputy Maori Affairs committee thanks to National. My pick is that - fulfilling a Ngata-type role he likely aspires to and letting Sharples assume the role of mentor - Flavell will be appointed parliamentary under-secretary to him in Maori Affairs and maybe also to Turia with the Whanau Ora portfolio before Christmas.