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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Too soon?

***Trial in progress***
***Jury to disregard***
I know it's a wee bit early for this, but if the 'Bain Family Massacre' was going to be a TV movie here's how I would play out the scene.

Given that the defendant is the only one who really knows and he will not get in the witness box it allows us to follow a third, more interesting scenario. Since this is a TV movie it does not have to match precisely with all the parts of the evidence that is undisputed - there is some latitude:

David returns from newspaper round - slight chill in the air - he leaves his bike where he always does - a few papers left over from his round, he brings one with him. The birds are chirping, the shadows are long, the family's old rambling Victorian villa is decrepid. In the hills of Dunedin - the most gothic of New Zealand towns - stands this shambolic homestead. A hillbilly provincial eerieness. Under the house where his bike is stowed is decades of entropic social collapse. Edmonds baking tin circa 1958. Old newspapers. An old cot. A cupboard. David pauses. The cupboard is open -strange, he thinks, he looks inside - nothing.

We can just see a box of unopened ammunition in one corner.

On the back porch he pauses again as he catches a reflection of himself in the dusty, cobwebbed old mirror - an already prematurely balding 21 year old delivering newspapers. The newspaper shows an ad for Otago University, he glimpses it and looks down briefly as if in shame. He climbs the back stairs and goes into the kitchen to make a cuppa.

Puts the kettle on. Starts taking off his coat - to reveal the trademark Bain jersey - and walks down the hallway to go to his room.

Blood. Blood on the floor. We do not see his reaction. It's outside his brothers room. His brother his dead on the floor. The room is a mess, a lot of blood. We see the body and not the face of David as he goes to the next room and there's another body and more blood then we see him enter another room and from his view he looks around and sees a computer - it pans up - but out of focus.

Show the police massacre photos first, bits of the first trial, then maybe this scene - and the rest of the movie is explaining why David was the only one who deserved to stay - as the computer said. This will be the vast bulk of time in which the incest allegations are fleshed out and involve other members of the family (not just Robin and Laniet) running all the way up to when David leaves for his paper round that morning. Then maybe back to the courtroom scene that has yet to be played out in real life. And then this flashback from David perhaps at the point the jury retires:

He focuses on the computer - almost in the same style that the police video does. There is a blank screen - it's on, but nothing is written. We hear David's breathing speed up to near hyperventilation. Everyone is dead. He's apoplectic. He's physically affected now - his tall lanky figure crumpling over in a hunch as if in pain. A foetal position sort of response.

In the background the kettle is bubbling. Then a door opening noise. David spins around, startled.

His father Robin, scruffy, unshaven and unkempt, has entered the room and is standing with a rifle in his hands and stares at him coldly. Then David notices he has blood on him. All David can say is - "Stephen's dead". His face is screwed up - on the brink of crying.

Robin lifts the gun and points it at David - a look of infinite anguish in his eyes. Had he been waiting for him to return? Tears now come to David's eyes.

Flash forward to the jury deliberation. The competing theories don't make any sense. The jurors run through the evidence and the timeline but they can't make the jigsaw fit with all the missing parts. In the holding cell David begins to sob. He closes his eyes through the tears, it goes black. Flashback:

David blinks through the tears. "They had to go, David."

"Why?" David trembles. He casts his eyes through the open door and across the hall he can see Arawa's bloodied corpse and a hand outstretched in futile defence. "I had to." Robin is just standing there, leveling the firearm at David. Robin's voice "We all have to go."

David's voice breaking now: "Did you shoot Arawa?" Interrupting on the last syllable Robin's raspy tone is clear: "They're all dead."

The kettle boils away in the background getting louder.

David: "Are you going to kill me?"

Robin's eyes slowly scan the blood trails and over Arawa and Stephen. "We have to go."

Robin takes a step forward. His son, almost choking now says in an almost inaudible voice "I don't want to die, Dad." He has to speak up over the kettle. Robin looks at David, engaged now rather than detached: "This is the end." He opens the breech a shell casing is ejected and he reloads - slamming the bolt forward and takes another step forward so the barrel is almost at David's chest.

Now at this stage it could be teased a bit more with another flash forward to the jury deliberation trying to put it together - especially the incest scenario in which perhaps David makes a choice not to engage in it when the rest of the family has made it a habit. Then again this bit could be skipped to keep the tension all the way through to the denouement:

Robin has a look of grim determination in his eyes. David is a wreck at this point already. The barrel of the gun is at David's chest.

The kettle begins to break slowly into a whistle.

Robin: "I shouldn't be here." He lowers the weapon and thrusts it into David's flaccid arms that are barely able to keep it up. He's close enough to smell him now. Robin drops to his knees. David is confused but clumsily clasps it as his father points the barrel towards himself
[this would be more dramatic and graphic if it was to his head] David looks down at his crouched father - a pained expression and bloodshot eyes look back.

David: "Why?" The kettle errupts into a full sustained whistle but just before we hear:
Robin: "Laniet"

The piercing shriek of the kettle suddenly stops.

Robin, tears down his face too: "You're the only one who deserves to stay." Robin's hands squeeze around David's and around the gun. It slides over the trigger. David: "Don't."

Bang - blood. The body hits the floor with a thud. David: "Dad... Dad." David stands there with a gun having just helped shoot his father. He looks around. The telephone. A moment's pause. It dawns on him that he's the only one left alive in the household and he's holding the murder weapon. He hesitates and looks at the computer.

Then we have the verdict.

Conflict of interest or a conflict of patience?

Minister put on final warning
Internal Affairs Minister Richard Worth is on a final warning from Prime Minister John Key after embarrassing questions over a private trip to India forced Dr Worth to resign his Indian business interests. Mr Key made it clear yesterday he was unhappy with Dr Worth's failure to reveal the extent of his business interests published by The Dominion Post yesterday before he sanctioned the trip.

John Key says he is a patient man, but really? Isn’t this a conflict of patience? COME ON, Richard Worth MISLED the Prime Minister, he didn’t tell the Prime Minister that he would be speaking formally as the Minister of Internal Affairs on the benefits of NZ for aviation training WHILE also being the director of an aviation training school AND that he had personally overseen a deal cut between the Indian aviation club and a technical institute in NZ – COME ON – the only way this could be more of a conflict of interest is if the Indian aviation club sent cash cheques to Richard Worth ‘for services rendered’.

It’s nice to see John Key is patient, a leader needs to be patient, but what more would Worth have to do to breach the Cabinet Manual guidelines than this?

Look at our boy Bailey Kurariki now, oh we're all so proud

Kurariki back in jail charged with assault
Bailey Junior Kurariki, the country's youngest convicted killer, is back behind bars charged with assaulting a woman. Kurariki was arrested in South Auckland yesterday on a charge of assaulting Janie Martin, believed to be his girlfriend. He appeared today in the Manukau District Court and was remanded in custody to appear again on May 6. No plea was entered and no application for bail or suppression of his name was lodged.

LOOK AT OUR LITTLE BOY FOLKS, isn’t he the poster boy for throwing kids in jail? Hasn’t he been the shining example of what a fuck up our prison system fuelled by our lynch mob mentality can create? I love how rednecks want more prison time, but don’t want to see the results of that prison time, they never seem to want to talk about Bailey, tell me lynchers – what do you think happens when boys go through corrections, seriously, do you believe Simon Powers and his mates in National that prisons are all 3 star hotels and prisoners love the place or would that contradiction force tool much soul searching?

The sad inevitability of Bailey going back inside is as much our failure as a society as his.

Round of applause everyone, now while I criticised heavily the idea that we should throw a 12 year old into prison for a botched robbery when all he did was say ‘ready now’, look at how he’s turned out! His clown of an accomplice hit Michael Choy once in the head, leaving Michael screaming in pain, they took the pizzas and money off him, walked Michael (screaming and bleeding) back to his pizza delivery car and then went back inside to eat the pizzas and split the money (hardly criminal masterminds were they), Michael Choy was then robbed again by a couple of teenagers who had watched the initial robbery from across the street (great neighborhood) and Michael crawls out of his car, bangs on an old couples door and dies in the garden. Awful and hideous for Michael Choy and his family, but 7 years in prison for a 12 year old? Unbelievable! I remember saying at the time that this was a joke of a sentence that would only doom society to having to deal with a furious young man who we’ve thrown onto the scrapheap of prison to feed our own sense of vengeance. His foundation years as an adult have been spent inside our underfunded and broken penal system and while I criticized a system that would lock up a 12 year old, look at how well balanced our Bailey has turned out now.

Well done NZ, silly me for doubting the wisdom of throwing kids in jail.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Misspelling of Whanganui to end. Another Egmont moment

The reactionary, proudly white Mayor of "Wanganui" considers that the desecration of Maori names is, to use RNZ's words, the city's culture and heritage. Racism and disrespect of Maori is the city's culture and heritage according to the Pakeha Mayor. And he wants that to continue. And when his council's gang insignia bill goes through it will be open season on Maori. Today it has been announced that the NZ Geographic Board have decided that the equivalent of spelling Palmerston North "Pamerston North" should end. Whanganui means great harbour, "Wanganui" is the Pakeha bastardisation of that name.

The local Pakeha pronunciation of the name sounds the same - to me as an outsider - as the local Maori pronunciation. That is a rare thing indeed in the mangled, lazy half-attempts at proper Maori pronunciation of Maori place names that have through repetition become the accepted norm - even amongst non-Tangata Whenua Maori. Dropping the last vowel in speech often emphasising the Europeanisation of the word into something a Maori would not even understand is common. So you would think that in a place where everyone speaks with one voice - literally - it would indicate a level of Maori-Pakeha harmony. Of course not - this is still New Zealand.

But the local Pakeha preference to insist on the misspelling as if it were just an issue they themselves can determine as a phonetic choice or imposition on the Tangata Whenua sadly encapsulates the morbid racism that pervades the conquered Maori provinces. The NZ Geographic Board was hardly going to endorse the continuation of a misspelt Whanganui:
[UPDATE: And the standard type of response from those Pakeha who use their ignorance as attempted humour when faced with a Maori outcome instead of their preferred European one - a resort to idiocy:
What else can they say after a policy of misspelling something - deliberately and thoughtlessly - for 150+ years? The response is an infantile series of non sequiturs that presumably Pakeha are supposed to find amusing. Do they?

The trait is quite common: And that sarcastic post was from an English immigrant. You step off the plane and you can start telling the natives how to spell their own language - that's the vibe. And if they are proved wrong by a Crown board (the white man's law) - well, Maori have a dumb language anyway and they fail at school - that's what these New Zealanders think and what they want the rest of the country to know. --UPDATE ENDS]
[UPDATE -- 31/03/2009:
As I said, a standard response from a certain Pakeha sector:Unoriginal and unfunny.

But this struck me as amusing in the context of the discussion:When I saw only the headline I thought it was because the subbies had misspelt Whanganui all this time. --UPDATE ENDS]

GhostNet Chinese cyber espionage

Observer reporting:

After 10 months of study, the researchers concluded that GhostNet had invaded 1,295 computers in 103 countries, but it appeared to be most focused on countries in south Asia and south-east Asia, as well as the Dalai Lama's offices in India, Brussels, London and New York. The network continues to infiltrate dozens of new computers each week.

Such a pattern, and the fact that the network seemed to be controlled from computers inside China, could suggest that GhostNet was set up or linked to Chinese government espionage agencies. However, the researchers were clear that they had not been able to identify who was behind the network, and said it could be run by private citizens in China or a different country altogether. A Chinese government spokesmen has denied any official involvement.

The obvious way for the Chinese to use GhostNet is for commercial purposes rather than diplomatic. Have they been visiting the US Treasury and the Fed and GM etc? The implications of a state with a policy of misusing the internet (I'm assuming agents could not physically get to the computers of the Dalai Lama) is alarming because of the potential breadth of their activities:

GhostNet can invade a computer over the internet and penetrate and steal secret files. It can also turn on the cameras and microphones of an infected computer, effectively creating a bug that can monitor what is going inside the room where the computer is. Anyone could be watched and listened to.

The researchers said they had been tipped off to the network after having been asked by officials with the Dalai Lama to examine their computers. The officials had been worried that their computers were being infected and monitored by outsiders. The Chinese government regularly attacks the Tibetan exile movement as encouraging separatism and terrorism within China. The researchers found that the computers had succumbed to cyber-attack and that numerous files, including letters and emails, had been stolen. The intruders had also gained control of the electronic mail server of the Dalai Lama's computers.

It may turn out that this is the tip of the iceberg with China, but we would be naive to think every modern state of any size is doing anything less. The US has their own monitoring base, USAAISC at Fort Huachuca, Arizona - of which I have previously posted (paranoid alert - it was only Psycho Milt visiting via a US Army ISP in Kuwait!?) in 2006. These stations will be passively collecting publicly available data on the internet like normal aggregating or search and caching systems such as Google and have hacking teams and malware to go in when the filtering and analysis yields targets. I would not be surprised one jot to find every major power doing the same thing - only when other governments (rather than the Dalai Yoda) and corporates find out they are being hacked they do not send out a press release about it because of the damage in credibility they would suffer. You have to wonder how much hacking is kept under wraps.

Paul Henry’s Mo-chismo (the blind leading the deaf)

A lot of righteous criticism has been heaped on Paul and his decision to mock Stephanie Mills on Breakfast last week. Stephanie had been on the show to discuss the death of a French agent who had been involved in the Rainbow Warrior bombing and ended up being mocked by Paul for having facial hair. How base, how ugly, how very NZ, we seemed to have forgotten being under Labour for 9 years that there is a garden variety bigotry that stalks these fair isles, the out of town drunk Uncle who you have to put up with at Christmas once a year with their ‘bloody maaaaaaaaaaaoris get too much’ dinner table speeches is not only alive and doing well, but is currently the Government. The resentment of education is back and Political Correctness book burning is the new fad. The rednecks have been in full bloom on talkback on this facial hair issue (very much in the same vein their sickening attacks on Helen Clark’s UN appointment) that remind us that the view has narrowed with National and ACT in power. The white males who under FPP were never challenged for cultural power have felt that under MMP their cultural power had been rubbed raw, other people get to have a say in the decision making process meaning their voice wasn’t the only one, that really rips the nighties of the Paul Henry’s of this world. That perception and insecurity of a loss of male power has been the driving backlash against ‘political correctness’ and has given our redneck friends the talkback justification to cry about how hard done by they’ve all been for just being blokes. Well sadly that backlash has found political voice and for all the Paul Henry’s out there who have felt alienated at those Christmas dinners, it’s all their dream Christmas dinners come at once – they and their ilk are in power now and the facial hair of a woman is much more important than what that woman has to say. Paul Henry represents more than just Paul Henry, he represents all well to do old white males who feel the same ‘social engineering’ resentments and who now think under their Government being in power that they can go back to the racist jokes and sexist crap with the sly winks and devil may care smirks that give them the self esteem boost their Viagra pills can’t seem to match.

I leave the last word to a much more dignified Stephanie Mills
"It's trademark Paul Henry and there are bigger issues in the world to worry about - like people dying of leukaemia from French [nuclear] testing. I think he likes being controversial - that's a polite way to put it. This is who I am and people make choices about who they are. "I have a really wonderful family, three gorgeous kids, a loving husband, great friends, really challenging job that I do part-time around all the other things I do in my life, and I love my life. "I'm secure with myself and I feel sorry that these people are so insecure about either their own appearance or mine. This is not about me, it's about them."

Maori Privatized Prisons

Interesting Q+a yesterday on TVOne 9am. Paul Holmes was more intent on attacking Helen Clark and shitting on her legacy (so hard right TVNZ are these days) where as the guests pointed out that such attempts were beneath most civilized NZers. Guyon went very easy on Judith Collins it was disappointing (he was much better on Key last week), Collins got off the hook with her bullshit car crushing nonsense and was allowed a really easy time on the privatization of the prisons, thankfully the panel weren’t so weak and really savaged the idea. It was good seeing former NZ First MP, Ron Mark bringing up the massive holes in the current public prison system and touched on the despicable ‘Goon Squad’ horror story in 2000 where the state killed a prisoner in prison all under the noses of the media but didn’t get scrutinized (because they are prisoners after all). But those are holes that need filling, it doesn’t mean the solution is private prisons, but it was good to have him acknowledge the existing problems caused by a public who have been so driven blind with rage by a mainstream media who leads if it bleeds whipped on by right wing politicians who have drowned out reason within the law and order debate meaning the public system are strangled of any funds to reform prisoners.

Judith knows what notes to hit now and so used the Maori Party wrap of moderation their relationship allows to bleat on and on about Maori running private prisons. Maori running private prisons will be as distasteful as American Indians running casinos, Maori should have MUCH MORE SAY in the public running of prisons, because yes public prisons in their current format DON’T work, but that is in no way a reason to dump the lot for the abortion that is private prison ownership.

As the very brilliant Metiria Turei pointed out…
The US Department of Justice report, Emerging Issues on Privatised Prisons clearly showed that the privatisation model simply mimicked the public sector in practically every critical way. The promises from private companies in the US of 20% savings simply did not eventuate. Any modest savings made were by reductions in staffing and other labour related costs. The report concluded that the amount of savings in corrections costs “will not revolutionise modern correctional practices.” In other words has no practical impact on the cost of running prisons or on the practice of running prisons.

An Australian report, “Privatisation and New South Wales Prisons: Value for Money and Neo-liberal Regulation” published just last year also showed that the privatisation of prison did not result in value for money or a significant reduction in costs. In fact, the paper shows that the rhetoric of cost effectiveness undermined alternative criteria for assessment, such as safety, educational outcomes, or reduced reoffending. This is where the National government is duping the public. By misleading the public on the efficiency of private prison management they are diverting attention from the most important issue of all – the effective use of taxpayers money to keep the community safe.

Nuclear Free gone by lunchtime?

Leaked survey reveals questions over nuclear ban
New Zealanders are being asked whether the Government should allow nuclear-powered ships back into our waters. Since the 1980s prime minister David Lange banned nuclear weapons and nuclear power, sparking a diplomatic stand-off with the US that has never been resolved, the nuclear ship issue has become a sacrosanct touchstone of New Zealand foreign policy. But now, workers for a market research company have disclosed they have been polling voters about nuclear power. The workers have been in a pay dispute with their employer, Oceania Customer Interaction Service (OCIS). The Unite union last night settled its dispute with the company, but not before claiming the survey was being carried out for the National Party. The National Party has denied it was involved. A spokesman for Prime Minister John Key said: "We've never heard of the company, and we're not using them." He said National had no intention of changing the anti-nuclear policy. Unite boss Mike Treen said members at the North Shore-based OCIS call centre had last month conducted a short survey about attitudes towards dropping the ban on nuclear-powered vessels. He said staff believed the client was the National Party.

Why would National even try and bring this dead dog back from it’s rotting, maggot infested resting place? It just makes no sense, nuclear free is so part of our national identity it would only be the most American arse-licking-right-wing-loving MP who would even consider it – where is McCully? What is he doing? It would be much more likely that the Nuclear Industry itself would be testing out public sentiment to try and see if there has been any shift as they would LOVE to have a reactor in NZ for PR purposes, that would make sense – but National doing the research? Key was pretty clear it wasn’t him on Breakfast this morning, so he’s now put his reputation on the line by denying it, he better hope Unite don’t have any information connecting the client to this research…

It’s the economy stupid

We here at Tumeke have questioned for some time the sustainability of a consumer culture of plasma TVs, SUVs and Cosmetic Surgery all paid for by Credit Cards borrowing cheap money from the developing world to feed first world marketed neurosis. It never seemed, what’s the word, stable. Add a overheated property market with no capital gains tax and an unregulated financial market that set up enron-esq structures that now risk the entire planets economic future and we have a series of events that make this the worst economic recession our generation has ever witnessed and possibly the worst economic crises ever.

Those who have a vested interest in the ongoing cycle of prosperity have told us for years now not to worry and to keep spending, like a drug pusher wanting to sell just one more hit to their addict client, and those who have signed up blindly to the personally perceived benefits of consumer capitalism are so invested that the mere question of ‘hey kids, is this all sustainable’ get’s attacked with the ferocity of someone who has just had their own children murdered.

Well, despite all that. Could we here at Tumeke just humbly point out for what must be the millionth time now that we are FUCKED and that the economic meltdown will be much worse than we are contemplating and that the social cost alone of this massive economic meltdown will swamp us. My co-blogger Tim has pointed out the reality of America losing it’s dominance in the global currency, Phoebe has pointed out disaster capitalism and I once again note that we are running out of canary’s to kill in the coalmine….

More Kiwis lose homes as recession bites
NEW DATA has revealed the extent of the mortgagee-sale wave sweeping New Zealand and reveals which parts of the country are hardest hit. Figures released exclusively to the Sunday Star-Times show there were 150 forced sales in January a whopping five-fold increase from January 2007's 28 sales, when the property market was robust and the economy stable. And experts say the crisis is starting to hit average Kiwi families who can no longer meet mortgage payments due to job losses, stalling business growth and mounting debt.

…even the wealthy aren’t having fun, poor buggers…
That's rich: now wealthy say they're struggling
FINDING THE Great Recession tough going? Spare a thought for the rich. They're doing it tough in posh Parnell and leafy Fendalton. If you're struggling on the $50,000 average wage, a $500,000 salary is a small fortune. But Kiwi executives claim it's not enough to live on as the recession bites. That's been spelt out by two well-heeled women, both socialites and professionals who spoke to the Sunday Star-Times on the condition their identities weren't revealed. They've given us some insight into the average annual costs for a typical, well-off family of four.

…and a couple of stories for those on the right who scream that poverty has nothing to do with crime…

Sudden surge in child abuse cases
Record numbers violently abused South Auckland babies have been hospitalised with severe injuries in recent weeks, shocking police and child welfare agencies and leading to speculation that the economic recession is contributing. Detective Inspector Mark Gutry, of Counties-Manukau police, told the Sunday Star-Times that investigations had been launched into the cases of seven babies who were admitted to Auckland's Starship hospital in the past six weeks with suspected non-accidental injuries. The number was far above the region's average of one abused baby admitted every six weeks with severe non-accidental injuries and Gutry believed it was a record high. The injuries included a fractured skull, broken limbs and brain haemorrhages. All but one baby had been discharged. "We are very close to concluding some of the investigations. If at the end of that investigation it appears that they are non-accidental injuries, who inflicted them will be charged." Child, Youth and Family was overseeing all of the babies. Gutry said he was unaware of any reason for the surge in numbers, noting the incidence of child abuse had been relatively stable in recent years. Tau Huirama, chief executive of the child abuse network Jigsaw, said New Zealand averaged about 10 child abuse deaths a year. "I can't help but think we've got a national catastrophe on our hands . . . It's got to that stage." He said agencies in the Jigsaw network had noted people were suffering increased stress because of the recession. "I think [the recession] will lead to increased abuse down the track."

Burglary spike a sign of the times
Economic gloom and rising unemployment will cause property crime to rise, say experts - and a flurry of recent burglaries suggests the trend has already begun. "We anticipate that as unemployment goes up, crime will follow," Victim Support chief executive Tony Paine told the Sunday Star-Times. As times get tougher, "we are expecting, sadly, to see more demand for our services".

And National’s response to all of this? A bike lane, a 9day fortnight that ends up costing workers and a privatized prison system?????

You can’t make this stuff up.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tamaki / Tāmaki-makau-rau

Matt McCarten:

I'm sure some in the leafy suburbs in the isthmus will be annoyed at having to pronounce their new name Tamaki Makau Rua. But they'll get used to it.

If their pronunciation needs work, then the NZ Herald sub editors' spelling needs even more assistance.

The Tangata Whenua themselves say the name may have been from any number of sources. So it is interesting to see the stories they leave out as to what credibility they give to other - competing - histories.
Going on to say:

In its ancient history, people of many tribes including Te Arawa, Ngati Awa, Hauraki, Waikato and Ngati Whatua ancestors lived in Tamaki at one time or another. The tribes of Tamaki had extended periods of peace that led to the creation of great wealth (in Maori terms) Te Pai me te whai rawa o Tamaki! Because Tamaki was desired by many it meant the people and leaders of Tamaki have been good diplomats and good at forming alliances with neighbouring tribes.

The stories of a chief, Kiwi Tamaki and his land of a hundred - or thousand - lovers is the preferred childhood myth - but that relates to the tribe that Ngati Whatua ousted so perhaps that is why they make no mention of him on that page. Te Ara:

Around 1741 their paramount chief, Kiwi Tāmaki, was killed in a battle at Paruroa (Great Muddy Creek) by Te Waha-akiaki of Te Taoū and Ngāti Whātua. This happened during a sequence of events that saw Ngāti Whātua take possession of central Tāmaki.

The lovers and Kiwi Tamaki tale fits well with Waitemata being "sparkling waters" rather than the more darker options given by Te Ara:

The northern harbour, according to Te Arawa tradition, was named Te Waitematā (the obsidian waters) by the ancestor Tamatekapua, after he placed a volcanic stone as a mauri (talisman) in its upper reaches near Birkenhead. Ngāpuhi call this harbour Te Wai-o-te-mate (the waters of death) because of the many struggles for control of the isthmus.

[UPDATE: Journal of the Polynesian Society 1925 - George Graham:

... or the mid-harbour rock Te Mata at Auckland, from which the Auckland Harbour is named, Wai-te-Mata. These were two of many famous tuahu where uruuruwhenua and other ceremonials were performed in those districts.
Since recording the above (in 1900) I have recently been shown by Mr. R. W. Firth a photo of a very similar columnar stone standing within the earthworks of the Korekore pa, Waitakerei ranges.

On the naming issue - and the articles to the entry seem to be by sometime NZ Herald redneck-baiter Rāwiri Taonui - Te Ara says:

Because many tribes have lived in Tāmaki, there are numerous explanations for the origin of its name. One tradition says that Tāmaki refers to the narrow neck of land between the Waitematā and Manukau harbours, and that Tāmaki was an ancestor whose daughter married one of the original ancestors, Toitehuatahi. Another says that Tāmaki was the son of the Taranaki ancestor Maruiwi. Southern Taranaki tribes say that Tāmaki refers to a line of chiefs descended from their ancestress Parehuia. Some believe the name comes from the ancestor Maki or from one of his daughters. Yet another tradition claims that it comes from the 18th-century Te Wai-o-Hua chief Kiwi Tāmaki. A Waikato tradition traces the name to Tāmaki-makau-rau, a woman chief who was the daughter of Te Huia and the Ngāti Te Ata chief Te Rangikiamata.

Variations of the name include Tāmakinui (great Tāmaki), Tāmaki-makau-rau (Tāmaki of a hundred lovers), and Tāmaki-herehere-ngā-waka (Tāmaki that binds many canoes).

Te Ara's Auckland entry:

The Ngāi Tai tribe, descended from the people of the Tainui canoe, settled in Maraetai. Other Tainui descendants were Te Kawerau-a-Maki. This group lived under forest cover in the Waitākeres and controlled land as far north as the Kaipara, across to Mahurangi and down to Takapuna. The Ngāti Te Ata tribe was based south of the Manukau at Waiuku. Along the coast from Whangaparāoa to the Thames estuary was Ngāti Paōa, a Hauraki tribe. The dominant power on the Tāmaki isthmus was Wai-o-Hua, a federation of tribes formed under Hua-O-Kaiwaka and linked to the Te Arawa tribe Ngā Oho.

From 1600 to 1750 the Tāmaki tribes terraced the volcanic cones, building pā (settlements behind protective palisades). Across the isthmus they developed 2,000 hectares of kūmara (sweet potato) gardens. At the peak of prosperity in 1750, the population numbered tens of thousands. It was pre-European New Zealand’s most wealthy and populous area.

From the early 18th century the Ngāti Pāoa people edged their way into the Hauraki Gulf and as far north as Mahurangi. Between 1740 and 1750 Ngāti Whātua-o-Kaipara moved south, invading the isthmus and killing Kiwi Tāmaki, paramount chief of Wai-o-Hua. They then took his last pā at Māngere.

The conquerors secured their dominance of the isthmus by intermarrying with Ngā Oho, descendants of the Wai-o-Hua. There followed a period of cautious peace in which Ngāti Pāoa’s conflict with Ngāpuhi tribes in the north made the Tāmaki tribes vulnerable to attack.

In 1820 the Ngāpuhi chief Hongi Hika acquired muskets, enabling him to attack the Tāmaki region. In 1821 Ngāpuhi destroyed the Ngāti Pāoa settlements, and later those of Te Kawerau-a-Maki. Apihai Te Kawau, chief of the Ngāti Whātua, abandoned the isthmus and took his people into exile.

When the French explorer Dumont D’Urville visited in 1827 he was startled to find the fertile isthmus depopulated. Groups sheltering in coastal settlements – Āwhitu, Waiuku, Maraetai and Port Waikato – attracted traders and missionaries to their areas.

When Ngāti Whātua cautiously returned to the Manukau about 1836 they kept away from Ngāpuhi traffic further north on the Tāmaki isthmus. Te Kawau’s fear of Ngāpuhi aggression was one reason he took the strategic step of inviting William Hobson – New Zealand’s first British governor – to site the colony’s capital on the isthmus in 1840.

Report of the Waitangi Tribunal on the Orakei Claim:

In evidence in the Supreme Court in 1978 the Commissioner of Crown Lands considered Orakei was not ancestral land of the Ngati Whatua for, according to his interpretation, ancestral land is that which was occupied by the various tribes from the time of the arrival of the canoes, a view said to have been confirmed by Mr B P Puriri, then District Officer of the
Department of Maori Affairs. We doubt very much that tribal boundaries were fixed following canoe landings in the manner contended, that the canoes arrived together, or that territories were any more certain than state boundaries in Europe over a similar period, (and European states are no less the ancestral lands of current occupants because of it).
There is not one person of Ngati Whatua who cannot link to the ancient Ngaoho occupation, that begins in the dawn of time, simply by reciting that person's line from Te Kawau.

The people of Orakei belong not only to the invading Te Taou line. The position is rather that by virtue of the Ngaoho connection, the ancestral entitlement of Ngati Whatua in Auckland predates the main canoes.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What not to wear: Paul Henry

Okay, so was shocked to see this item this morning - I missed it on Breakfast this week. In between banter on products we should buy and pseudo-news, Paul Henry would like to tell us women how we should look.

I'm sure TVNZ are more than slightly alarmed at Henry's outburst - who does he think it is that constitutes the audience for his show that they can then sell onto advertisers at this time in the morning? From the responses I have read from other blogs, I would say that TVNZ may have just made a serious dent in its female audience for Henry's show.

We are used to being judged continuously on surface appearances, this is part of what life is like as a woman under patriarchal culture. We are bombarded with unrealistic images continuously of what women should look like. In fact, by the end of the 1990s, theorists such as Jean Kilbourne estimated that the average American was exposed to over 3,000 advertisements per day. As academics such as Jean Kilbourne, Sut Jhally, Gillian Dyer, Stuart Ewen and Anthony Cortese have argued, the images of women that we see in advertising and on television are remarkably standardised according to dominant social norms of what is considered beauty: thin, glossy hair, thin nose, full lips, big eyes. The images we see of women have changed little since sociologist Erving Goffman published his 1976 study Gender Advertisements, which concluded that from a sociological perspective women were shown as having the same social status as children in advertisements. Goffman used the analogy of aggressive and passive dogs: while men, even when positioned in their underwear, were shown standing upright and strong, women in contrast were positioned cant and contorted in the same way a dog might reveal its neck to demonstrate its submissiveness. While men look straight at the camera, women in ads are overwhelmingly positioned looking vacantly into wistful space in a process Goffman terms 'licensed withdrawal'. Some 40 years after Goffman's study, it demonstrates how little we have progressed when I turn on the television and an advertisement for toilet cleaner illustrates double cleaning power by two women miraculously materialising.

Television, for women (and men), presents a distorted, sanitised, norm(alised) reality of what gender constructions are; a framework that is responsible for socialising us with levels of anxiety about whether we can fit in socially so that purchasing products becomes the magic acquisition to solve our problems. The outrage at Henry's response points to the role of the host in such a programme to be able to distinguish between the mythic realities of femininity that we are presented in advertising and the 'reality' of the news format - a distinction that clearly eludes Henry. For all those women out there who are outraged at TVNZ for allowing this to run, I suggest that we hit Breakfast in the pocket where it hurts the most by refusing to buy the brands advertised during Henry's programme. Perhaps that way, Henry can be left blowing his Civil Defence hooter under the table by himself.

Friday, March 27, 2009

nz blogosphere rankings : February 2009 summary

The February 2009 nz blogosphere rankings list is complete now. There have been a dozen casualties this survey - more fallout from the election activity - with less new blogs coming to attention. Things seem to be settling down now and traffic looks to be solid. Posting frequency was up on the major blogs, but comments may have been down slightly.

There are a total of 207 blogs on the list (down 5). Changes from last month (January) in brackets.

Top 100:

#74 (new) Christian News New Zealand : www.christiannews.co.nz

[+] significant ranking moves up:
#6 (+3) No Right Turn : www.norightturn.blogspot.com
#14 (+4) The Inquiring Mind : www.http://adamsmith.wordpress.com
#23 (+28) In a strange land : www.inastrangeland.wordpress.com
#24 (+6) Anti-Dismal : www.antidismal.blogspot.com
#25 (+7) TBR.cc (The Briefing Room) : www.briefingroom.typepad.com
#29 (+24) Liberty Scott : www.libertyscott.blogspot.com
#39 (+15) MandM : www.mandm.org.nz
#48 (+10) The Humanitarian Chronicle : www.humanitarianchronicle.com
#66 (+19) Media Fetish : www.mediafetish.co.nz
#70 (+21) goNZo Freakpower Brains Trust : www.gonzofreakpower.blogspot.com
#73 (27+) Truth Seeker : www.truthseekernz.blogspot.com
#81 (19+) Alf Grumble : www.alfgrumblemp.wordpress.com

[-] significant ranking moves down:
#18 (-4) Kiwipolitico : www.kiwipolitico.com
#31 (-8) Something should go here, maybe later : www.halfdone.wordpress.com
#36 (-10) Fundy post : www.fundypost.blogspot.com
#46 (-12) Dear John : www.dearjk.wordpress.com
#72 (-25) Greenpeace NZ blog : www.weblog.greenpeace.org.nz
#78 (-17) WebWeaver's World : www.webweaversworld.blogspot.com
#79 (-12) Say Hello to my Little Friend : www.beretta-online.com/wordpress
#86 (-12) The Evolving Newsroom : www.evolvingnewsroom.blogspot.com
#89 (-17) Bowalley Road : www.bowalleyroad.blogspot.com

[Posts] Average per week:
130 (-5) Whoar
70 (+25) Kiwiblog
65 (+15) Whaleoil
40 (+15) No Minister
40 (-10) Inquiring Mind
40 (+10) Aotearoa: a wider perspective
35 (+5) TUMEKE!
35 (+15) Standard
35 (+15) Keeping Stock
30 (n/a) Not PC
30 (+10) Hand Mirror
30 (+10) Home Paddock
25 (+5) No Right Turn
25 (+5) Roar Prawn
20 (n/a) TVHE
20 (n/a) Liberty Scott

[Comments] Average highest post per week:
280 (-110) Public Address
150 (-55) Kiwiblog
125 (+35) Frogblog
110 (+30) Standard
55 (+35) Hand Mirror
50 (-25) TUMEKE!
45 (+15) Dim Post
45 (+10) Hot Topic
40 (-40) Kiwipolitico
40 (+5) No Minister
30 (n/a) Not PC
30 (-) Poneke
30 (+10) Cactus Kate
30 (+10) Reading the Maps
25 (-) Open Parachute
25 (n/a) In a Stranage Land
25 (-5) NZ Conservative
20 (n/a) Inquiring Mind
20 (-10) New Zeal
20 (n/a) TVHE
20 (n/a) Monkeys with Typewriters
20 (-) Eye of the Fish

To all those bloggers who have given details or provided a traffic meter etc., thank you for your assistance.

Uber city redundant given two hours notice

If the government let the soon to be abolished Mayors read the report at midday, and we were all reading it on the internet at 2pm that would be a very short sort of redundancy meeting indeed. RNZ:.

The details of the Royal Commission's 800-page report have just been released.
It says the current eight councils should be dissolved and replaced with a new overseeing body, called the Auckland Council.
It would be led by an executive mayor, who would have greater powers than existing leaders.
Local democracy would be maintained by six elected local councils, which would be a new type of body acting for ratepayers but accountable to the new Auckland Council.
[No. Local democracy is eroded and these councils are arguably the same as the current community boards.]
The boundaries to the north
[No. The Northern boundary is the same.] and south of the region would also be slightly changed.
The final decision on what structure to adopt rests with the central Government.
The commission has spent more than a year considering how the region's 1.4 million residents could be better served by their councils.
Prime Minister John Key and senior cabinet ministers met to discuss the report on Wednesday night, and Auckland's mayors were given their first glimpse of the report at midday on Friday.

The Commission has given impetus to centralisation, we have yet to hear the voices against. They are probably still in shock. The PM wants year zero to begin in 2010, but Hide is sounding surprisingly sypathetic towards local democracy:

"I can see merit in having one Auckland organisation to drive, manage and be responsible for all planning and delivery of services.

"The proposals around management of assets, including water and wastewater, appear well thought through. Having one organisation manage all the regional assets makes a lot of sense.

"However, I have some concerns about whether the report provides for adequate local representation in our many diverse communities, and I want to look more closely at this issue.

"It's important to get Auckland governance right as our decisions will shape the future of Auckland and New Zealand for the next 50 to 100 years. We're committed to making a great city greater."

He raises the concerns of most submitters - that the community units will be set as large, generic and impersonal electorates with few powers. Or perhaps, more cynically, he's done the maths I was posting on yesterday regards the difficulty a proportional at-large system (or the mixed one the Commission recommends) might have for the Right?

Either way if the entire Isthmus (except for the city) is to be one community board that would be 450,000 people. Ridiculous. How can the smallest unit of local govt. go all the way from Avondale to Otahuhu and have half a million people and be called "local". Absurd. The exact opposite of what my submission was (below) . Lines of accountability should go from the local to the centre rather than the other way around. The communities should be considered stakeholders in the council rather than moveable appendages:

Any suburb(s) or district(s) over 10,000 population should have the right to form their own community board.
The communities must be able to decide their own Community rate - to be collected by the City on their behalf and put into their own account. Residential and commercial rating would have to be worked out so as not to give communities with large commercial areas windfall amounts, while leaving communities with little commercial areas disadvantaged. The appointment of a community manager that is paid for and reports directly and exclusively to the board would be a good way to ensure community services are run effectively and responsively; however that arrangement may sit uneasily with current models of local governance.
Councillors elected by Ward:
The communities constitute the wards.
4 Wards: Tangata Whenua Ward, Waitemata Ward, Tamaki Ward, Manukau Ward.
The last three wards will be of approximately even population and the boundaries would be expected to correspond to near the portages on either side of the isthmus. These three wards to be allocated min.15-max.33 votes each - distributed around the communities within the ward on a population basis. Each community to have one vote minimum. These votes are the number of members they can return as Councillors - or members of the ward committee that then may appoint their allocation of Councillors. Councillors from communities could be on a rotating basis to ensure every community participates in the Council. The point is that there will be a direct link from the Council to the Communities - and perhaps each community.

BREAKING NEWS: Auckland Commission report

The government has released the Auckland Commission report. Some ideas from my submission - like many other people's no doubt - have found there way into the report. There are many recommendations I agree with - but the detail and how it fits with other objectives is uncertain and problematic esp. elected representation and the local council roles. Other ideas, like keeping the Northern boundary, I have argued against. The Commissioners have seen it another way. Note the boundary change to the South to go all the way to the Waikato river.

From the recommendations:

Chapter 14: The Auckland Council: Key Features

14A A unitary authority, to be called the "Auckland Council", should be formed to assume all local government responsibilities in the Auckland region.

14B When the Auckland Council is established, the following existing local authorities should be abolished:

Rodney District Council
North Shore City Council
Waitakere City Council
Auckland City Council
Manukau City Council
Papakura District Council
Franklin District Council
Auckland Regional Council.

14C The Auckland Council should operate and have representation at two levels: the elected Auckland Council, and six local councils.

14D All local councils should be given Māori names. These should be determined by the Local Government Commission after consultation with mana whenua, with the new Māori names used by the Commission being the suggested starting point for consideration. The interim names of the six local councils should be

Rodney Local Council
Waitemata Local Council
Waitakere Local Council
Tāmaki-makau-rau Local Council
Manukau Local Council
Hunua Local Council.

14E The Auckland Council should comprise a single organisation, with a single staffing and management structure. The Auckland Council should employ one chief executive officer, who will employ all other council staff (but not staff of council-controlled organisations) at both Auckland and local levels, including local council managers for each local council.

14F Staff from the eight abolished councils should be transferred to the Auckland Council, at least initially.

14G Local councils should share the governance of their areas with the Auckland Council but will be subsidiary to it.

14H The Mayor of Auckland should preside over the Auckland Council. The Mayor should be elected at large by the electors of Auckland.

14I The Auckland Town Hall should be the symbolic centre for the Auckland Council.

14J When the Auckland Council is established, all existing community boards within the territories of the abolished local authorities, except for the Waiheke and Great Barrier Island Community Boards, should be abolished. A new City Centre and Waterfront Community Board should be established.

14K The assets and liabilities of abolished territorial authorities and of the Auckland Regional Council should be transferred to Auckland Council. However, a fair apportionment of the assets and liabilities of the Franklin District Council and Auckland Regional Council should be made between the Auckland Council, the Waikato District Council, and the Waikato Regional Council, to reflect the boundary changes proposed by the Commission; such apportionment to be made in accordance with the Local Government Act 2002, Schedule 3, clause 69.

14L All existing interests in council organisations, council-controlled organisations, and exempt organisations held by current councils should be transferred to the Auckland Council on the establishment date.
Chapter 15: The Elected Auckland Council

Composition, role, and functions

15A The Auckland Council should comprise 23 councillors elected or appointed as follows:

10 councillors elected at large
eight councillors elected in four urban wards
two councillors elected in two rural wards
two councillors elected at large by voters on the Māori electoral roll
one councillor appointed by the Mana Whenua Forum.

Well I am against the idea of using the Maori parliamentary roll, but in favour of the Mana Whenua representation, so this is a mixed bag. Mixed all-round. The important thing was not to have single member seats for the whole council - that has been done. 23 is a very manageable number on the council.

Relationship with local councils

15H The relationship between Auckland Council and each local council should be governed by a three-yearly governance agreement negotiated in the year following each local body election.

15I The Auckland Council’s annual report under the Local Government Act 2002 should include separate sections on the operations of the elected Auckland Council and each local council.

I advocated for the community boards to be in a situation of semi-autonomy under a unitary council - however this contract agreement is about dependence rather than co-operation from my reading - and it is for very large councils - the size we have now rather than the smaller units of communities I would have preferred.

Chapter 16: Local Councils

16A The membership of local councils (including chairs) should be as follows:

Rodney Local Council – 7 members
Waitemata Local Council – 15 members
Waitakere Local Council – 11 members
Tāmaki-makau-rau Local Council – 22 members
Manukau Local Council – 21 members
Hunua Local Council – 7 members.
16B Local councils should be elected by wards, with generally two members per ward.

16C The chair of each local council should be appointed by councillors. Upon appointment, the chair will cease to have any formal role as a representative of the ward from which he or she was elected; the next highest polling candidate in the same ward will be deemed to be elected as one of the ward’s representatives in place of the chair.

Without the ability to rate property and thus to determine and allocate - and be responsible for - their own budgets these local councils risk being ineffective. The buck can be passed upwards by them if they have no funding other than from Town Hall. That makes the local council's representatives relatively toothless.

As for a new Community Board for the city area - I agree one is needed - but the boundaries are all wrong - maybe they are going on watershed/catchment areas rather than actual communities - Parnell, Eden Terrace split in half, with Freemans Bay and St Mary's Bay split from Ponsonby.

Chapter 19: Leadership

19A The Mayor of Auckland should be given the following additional powers and duties:

a) power to appoint the deputy mayor

b) power to appoint the chairpersons of each committee of the Auckland Council (other than the local councils)

c) ex officio membership of each committee of the council (other than the local council committees), with power to chair committees as he or she may determine

d) power to propose the draft long-term council community plan and the draft annual plan to the Auckland Council

e) power to propose the budget

f) power to initiate and formulate major policy for consideration by council

g) in consultation with and acting through the chief executive officer, and within the adopted budget for such expenditure, power to establish and maintain an appropriately staffed office

h) within the adopted budget for such expenditure, power to obtain independent advice.

So proposals rather than executive power per se. Interesting - but not as strong as many would have hoped. It isn't too far removed from what we have already.


20C The Auckland Council should adopt a uniform rating system for the Auckland region, to meet city-wide and local funding needs.

20D The Auckland Council should levy a rate with the following components:

a) expenditure for activities undertaken by the Auckland Council

b) expenditure for local services and activities required for local councils to carry out their functions. This would be for the purpose of funding baseline levels of service and capital project delivery, and community representation/advocacy/place-shaping.

20E The Auckland Council should also consider levying targeted rates under the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 including targeted rates for local activities.

With regard to the local councils - as mentioned above - looks like they cannot set their own rates and will be entirely dependent on the whim of Town Hall who will "target" according to their agenda - not a local council's and the needs and desires of its community.

I will post again once I have digested the material further. How will Rodney Hide fit the Commssion's main course into his banquet of Nactional ideology? We ought to have some idea next week.

Here was the map for my submission:

Foreign land

NZ Herald:

They may never have been to New Zealand in their lifetime, but a new wave of "immigrants" could be spending eternity here.

A group of Singapore businessmen was here last month, and appointed an agent to help them look for land in the Hibiscus Coast area to bury dead people from cities such as Singapore and Tokyo, which are running out of cemetery space.

We shouldn't allow land purchases to non-citizens let alone the permanent squatting of foreigners by way of a cemetery plot. We should take it seriously - foreigners who die in NZ should be cremated - not buried.

Importing the corpses of Asians would be the final, terminal act of this colony. Immigrants selling land - Maori land for the most part - to other incoming immigrants has been the basis for the economy since the 1830s and that is unsustainable on so many levels.

"Honouring their ancestors is an important aspect of most Asian cultures, and the group is also hoping that this cemetery project will give immigrants the opportunity to bring the remains of their ancestors to New Zealand," said the group's agent, a part-time tourist guide, who did not want to be named.

Under the immigration rules of this colony it seems any immigrant can get their parents in too - regardless of how old they are and regardless of whether they can speak one word of English - or Maori. They are already being imported so they can die. To the NZ Crown that represents a lift in GDP - the only real criteria. But what value are they adding - and to whom and at what cost?

The presence of elderly parents here reinforces the immigrant's home country's heritage, language and religion and to that extent is counter-productive to integration. They are used as free baby-sitting by their adult children, which means their kids - even though they may be born in NZ - may be brought up, effectively as foreigners, with their enrolment in the state school system the socialisation force pulling in the other direction. The real problems will occur if immigrant ethnic groups set up their own schools (state-funded one way or the other like most religious ones are now), then there is a risk the children of immigrants will be culturally vertically integrated in their own sphere - rather than participating (horizontally if you will) with other groups.

In the part of Auckland where I live, certainly, there are many elderly immigrants - the fathers and mothers of people who have scraped in on the points system and are living here, one way or the other. They are only following the rules of one of the loosest immigration policies in the first world and you cannot blame them for taking advantage of it. One of the attractions of NZ to immigrants - esp. younger Asian immigrants - is that they can get there parents in too, so they can retire here - something they could never do on their own because they would not meet the criteria esp. age, English language and skills.

Who would say no to free public transport, pension and medical costs met by the government and the vote after only two years residency?

The president of the New Zealand Chinese Association, Kai Luey, said he would support the project because it would keep Chinese traditions alive for new immigrants, and would give them a greater sense of belonging.

Belonging to where? Belonging to China.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

John Key to personally butcher seal pups and polar bear cubs

(Above: Proposed National Party Caucus meeting next week)
Cost-cutting Key aims at Labour's polar bears
Prime Minister John Key says several of Labour's "hug a polar bear" programmes are on the hit-list as the Government tries to cut costs.
Mr Key said his ministers had uncovered several ineffective programmes with the "nicest, friendliest sounding names" during detailed reviews of their departments. "The 'hug a polar bear programme' will survive. It doesn't matter what recession occurs, it sounds like a really nice name.
"But the reality is if you look below the surface, the hug a polar bear programme might not do that much for polar bears. And if it doesn't, then we shouldn't continue to fund it." Mr Key would not identify the programmes but said there was a series of them.

Are you kidding me? Look I realize that the National Party spin doctors are needing to come up with more subtle messages than “Bhahahahaha, we won, you lost and now we are going to ride the country to the very gates of rape and pillage privatization to sell the lot off to our corporate masters” but ‘hug a polar bear programme’? I understand that National has to continue to throw raw meat policy to their barking right wing redneck talkback loving voters, but something as inane as ‘hug a polar bear programmes’ to smokescreen the wholesale massacre of public policy is just so eye rolling - why don’t National go the whole bloody hog and just declare they will club baby seal and polar bear cub programmes to death, we all know that was the first draft from National’s spin Dr’s. Someone may have been frightened that the Maori Party would see it and demand an inquirey into clubbing marine animals, so it became ‘hug a polar bear programmes’, and what programmes?

-Making Government Departments responsible for their carbon footprint
-physical activity programmes for children
-live sheep exports
-Privatization of prisons
-Privatization of ACC pretending it’s because of a crises
-Giving the Police power to take your DNA based on mere suspicion of a crime.
-a 9day fortnight that actually ends up costing workers
-preparing TVNZ for privatization
-10% employment cuts in the public sector when caps were promised as opposed to cuts.
-dismantling pay equity for 46% of the working population because to National women don't matter as much as slashing wage costs
-90 day right to sack in an unemployment environment that ranges from 7% to 14%
-Borrowing for Tax cuts that favour the rich
-Junk food back into schools because Anne Tolley is now Ronald McDonalds new girlfriend
-The molestation of the select committee process with a misuse of urgency that you would need to go back to 1998 to find a comparison.
-Truancy fines raised to $3000
-$35 million on military boot camps that don’t work but make middle class voters feel smug
-Gutting the RMA pretending it’s cutting red tape when really it’s burning Green tape
-Dismantling the ETS and holding a right wing inquisition into the ‘science’ of global warming
-Medieval law and order policy pushed through by a right wing homophobic drunk who now wants to meddle with the NZ Bill of Rights so his $30 billion 3 strikes and you’re locked up forever raw meat law can pass

National are now revealing what the left always criticized them as, a hard right wing government in drag moderation. Smokescreen arguments that only crazy politically correct programmes (note these Daddy Staters are still trying to use the talkback generated myth of the Nanny State to defend their demolition of the civil society) will get slashed makes the claim by National that there are only 39 000 state jobs when the reality is closer to 45 000 something the (knee)capped public sector should start sweating over.

NZ balance sheet dent - govt-backed bank bonds?

Scoop reporting the stats department has the NZ financial position deteriorating further - we are still spending on imports (and feeling oil price) despite the downturn in export earnings [*see below] - referred to as "Highlights":

New Zealand's current account deficit has the effect of increasing its net overseas liabilities, as external funding is required to finance the deficit. At 31 December 2008, New Zealand's overseas liabilities exceeded its overseas assets by $167.7 billion (92.9 percent of GDP). This compares with net overseas liabilities of $152.6 billion (87.1 percent of GDP) at 31 December 2007.

Geoff Bascand Government Statistician 26 March 2009

And how is that deficit - that waistline belly droop of over-consumption - going to be packaged to a skeptical and hesitant world?NBR reporting a government guarantee is now attached:

Commentator Bernard Hickey notes that the Reserve Bank is pushing banks to borrow longer term offshore rather than the 30-90 days currently used to roll over foreign debt, which comprises roughly 40% of the banks’ total funding of $234 billion.

Concerned that no one was taking up the government’s offer, the fees were cut for the wholesale bond guarantee in January – which is now having the desired effect with ANZ National’s purported move.

And now that external funding has a government guarantee? WTF? A domestic deposit insurance type scheme is quite different to what it seems these bonds are. This is a deposit insurance for foreign banks. Even if it is targeted at getting out of the short trades of hot money into longer term and better managed debt it still comes with risks, now widened directly to the Treasury if something ruptures as it has for Europe and America.

It seems prudent for the RBNZ to stop trying to make the NZD the 10th most traded currency in the world. 11th place as we are now exposes us to huge risks and dependence on liquidity conditions and credit ratings agencies - all things beyond the control of anyone in Thorndon or Queen Street. For a country with perhaps the 50th biggest GDP to try to hype their currency as if it was the 10th is just asking for an Icelandic type meltdown. Only now - March 2009 - do the authorities start to look like they are starting to address the situation.

Worse case scenarios: We've got the NZ Super fund - several billion can be repatriated or used in line with National's policy, the RBNZ have a $15b swap facility with the Fed that ends in April. Intervention of some description becoming necessary is still on the cards with these weak balance of payments figures. We have to factor in also that the drop in activity will decrease the GDP figures and the percentage on that will increase even though the total amount will not change significantly - that will make the situation appear worse and may trigger some further problems, but we have a few months of breathing space perhaps before those flow through on paper.

[* Matt Nolan said...
Note that the goods balance was positive - so the thing about spending more on imports than exports isn't quite on the money.

From Stats NZ:
The seasonally adjusted current account deficit for the December 2008 quarter was $3,772 million, $236 million smaller than the deficit in the September 2008 quarter. The smaller deficit in the latest quarter was due to an increase in the value of exports of goods, which was partly offset by increased value of imports of services. Exports of goods increased due to higher exports of dairy and forestry products.

UN role for Helen Cark and the new candidate for Mt Albert

Clark role puts her at No3 in UN hierarchy
Helen Clarks's move to the United Nations Development Programme will secure her an office in downtown New York, a tax-free salary and command of a NZ$9 billion international budget. Miss Clark is poised to head the powerful agency and, if confirmed, it would in effect place her third-highest in command at the UN. That would rank it among the most powerful positions held by a New Zealander. Prime Minister John Key confirmed yesterday that it was considered more significant than former Labour prime minister Mike Moore's role as World Trade Organisation boss. But neither Mr Key nor Miss Clark would comment publicly on the likelihood of her getting the job after news of her appointment was leaked prematurely. An announcement is expected by the end of the week.

What an amazing success for Helen Cark, I get the same sense of pride when I look at her as I do when I think about David Lange, nuclear free NZ and our role in leading social movements like universal suffrage, the 40 hour week and the welfare state. Yes there were moments in her 9 years as Prime Minister that I took to the streets in protest and those moments caused great social stress within NZ, but this week is about acknowledgement of her as one of our best political leaders. Thrown out by a deluded electorate who voted for ‘change’, hounded by a despicable redneck talkback culture she has had the last laugh with an appointment that could see her in line as the first female leader of the UN. She should be congratulated and the petty bitter comments left to Kiwi Blogh, her focus to get to the UN was an early one and any of us who can manage such transition deserves respect. Well done Helen Clark, what an incredible achievement.

And we now turn to the empty seat of Mt Albert – my suggestion is someone new, someone from outside the Labour Party list, and my suggestion is Human Rights lawyer, Deborah Manning. Deborah has lived in Mt Albert, Deborah is the youngest lawyer ever to argue at the Supreme Court in defending Ahmed Zaoui, Deborah’s appointment would be a strong signal that Labour haven’t lost their social conscience and it would also be a magnanimous gesture by Clark that would heal the damage to her reputation the entire Ahmed Zaoui situation caused. Deborah Manning would make an incredible MP and with the legacy of that electorate, could be a future leader of the party.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

TV news/Freeview

The Maori Television Service - after five years - realises that putting their news on their website might be handy. Dyathink.

It's been a real pain having TVNZ and TV3 with great news websites - and MTS having nothing. I've gone in a post to refer to something I've seen on Te Kaea and... I can't link to anything - there is zero online presence for their news. Well, that seems to have changed, but even now Te Kaea is in video clip form - there are no articles or anything that any other serious news service would have. Is it really that much of a budget issue to get someone to put the text of the reports on their website? The whole lot is translated into English at some point every night before it goes into the subtitled repeat at 11:30pm.

The appearance is that by not having a news website they are not taking the news seriously. Like a blog without a comments section. It would be wrong to think that their news and current affairs isn't credible, but they are thinking of it as a show rather than as the news. A presence on another platform is a great way to build audience and enhance brand credibility. Compare that with TVNZ's rumoured move - made official today by Dr Coleman:

Broadcasting Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman has commended TVNZ and SKY for the announcement this afternoon that from 1 July 2009 TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7 will be broadcast on SKY.

The Minister commented publicly last week about his desire to see TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7 on the SKY platform.

How much arm-twisting on his part is unclear. When I attended the briefing for the channels in February last year the man from TVNZ digital said that any move to put them on Sky would be a slow suicide - I think that's the phrase he used. So what does that signal for the future viability of 6 and 7 if that bleak scenario is true?

With no exclusive channels Freeview will fail to differentiate itself in content and will always be less than Sky (no matter how many channels it can carry - Sky will always carry more). The lack of content will be the point of difference with Sky now - under this policy. This erodes the relative value of having Freeview over having Sky and as the primary backer of the platform, the Crown risks damaging its position by changing the plans again - just as they did in earlier attempts and only after a great deal of money was spent.

But for Sky viewers this news is excellent - for two reasons: Media 7, and Backbenchers.

Royal Commission on Auckland reports to govt. - awaits Rodney's weekend spin

The PM has said that it may take a few days for the government - that is to say he of the safety yellow coloured blazer - to respond to the Royal Commission's 700 plus page report. Cr Bhatnagar tips they will use the term "City of Auckland" to describe the recommended new unitary authority. I hope so, it was the title of my submission to them. Of the substance it ought to be recommending the profound change that it is tacitly charged with finding.

The minister will want to use it - as any minister of any sort of government would - as a reason, an excuse, to leave their own ideological footprint upon the governmental landscape. I should imagine that any government would need to look at the legislative and fiscal implications of the recommendations - and inevitably any government will be looking too at how their own party organisations can game the democratic representation to its own advantage. The Tories, for example, kept putting up plans for single member FPP wards as the basis for the council. Some others - and that would include me - were pushing for a region-wide, at-large, proportional representation element similar to London's.

Whatever the Commission recommends it will be radically different than what we have now - to come back with anything less is unthinkable. How they tackle Auckland's transport oversight and alignments is crucial to the operation and success of the city. If they come down in favour of a stand-alone transit board and the elimination of these over-lapping committees we have at present then that would be something an Act minister could support. The funding however and the rating burdens are all questions that Rodney will want to work out from his Act perspective over the next few days. Small businesses are huge backers of Act - they are acutely peeved with both the RMA and their level of rates - these interests will come well ahead of those advocating for libraries and community group funding and so on.
The minister would be wary to go against anything they might recommend too. The Chair warned a week or so ago that the Commission's remedy must be taken as one dose rather than cherry-picked. Wellington will not be liking this - more independence from the capital's financial grasp and the ability to set its own course politically and thus interfere with Wellington's presumed mandate: policy and governance.

It's down to three factors now:
  • Rodney's sense of legacy
  • The vested interests of Wellington
  • The vested interests of those whose future in the new order is guaranteed redundancy (possibly whole councils)

    It's too soon to predict who will prevail in terms of agenda when we will not see the report until... Monday? A high-level round of consultations (esp. with the councils) would probably take place officially next week.