Quotes of the month

01/06/2021

If policy is developed by ministerial staff and implemented by DPMC, what do all of Robertson’s ministerial colleagues and their thousands of highly paid advisers do all day? Because the description of the Implementation Unit sounds an awful lot like the current role of a ministerial office. – Danyl Mclauchlan

Are we, as mere minions of this Labour government, just voters not to be trusted with a report that suggests a fundamental change to New Zealand society? Peter Williams

Frankly, we have to have a major talk in this country about two things – what is self-determination, and what is indigenous? And until we have those defined we really can’t go any further can we? – Peter Williams

This government has no moral authority to tell private sector employers that they have to quote ‘improve wages,’ when they themselves are not going to do it for the next three years.  Something’s going to have to give; either this government abandons the wage freeze or abandons the fair pay agreements.

But they cannot tell businesses around this country to do something they are not prepared to do. The hypocrisy is blinding. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

As it stands, I don’t trust the media and I’m in it, but I trust bits and in that is the key.

Trust requires work. The media as a whole in this country is in a parlous and decaying state. Journalism sadly is frequented by too many inexperienced people, naïve people, thick people, and people on band wagons. – Mike Hosking

Unions have good reason to celebrate. Their power will soon outstrip what would be justified by their membership. It will take much longer for better conditions to be felt by large numbers of workers.

Given the sheer number of public sector workers likely to be hit by the pay freeze, this week appears to have been much more about improving the strength of unions than it was about helping workers.Hamish Rutherford

This Labour Government is growing more interventionist by the day. It has not met a problem it doesn’t think can be solved through more centralisation, regulation, bureaucracy, and more power in the hands of the Government. – Scott Simpson

It seems odd and increasingly criminal we can be recognised for a solid Covid response but because of our own fear and lack of planning cut ourselves out of the joining the rest of the world. – Mike Hosking

You know how the whole cancel thing works, right? It’s pretty simple. First you do a bit of due diligence on a scheduled speaker or soon-to-be-published author. Find something ropey they once said (easy in my case, but I’m only an email away if anyone needs direction). Then head for the open sewer running through the Dickensian lunatic asylum that is Twitter. Declare yourself upset beyond belief. Don’t worry about grammar or humour or context or any of that boring stuff. Repetition is what counts. Consider hammering the point home with an amazingly colourful word that rhymes with “bunt”. And don’t forget to use a nifty hashtag. – David Cohen

Cancel culture goes after writers by harnessing something old (the desire of the mob to scalp dissenters) with something relatively new (the ubiquity of social media) and something else that sounds rather borrowed (crypto-religious demands for demonstrations of public piety). And as the former Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon pointed out the other day, while the language the ringleaders use to rally the troops is often collectivist, the tone is all Me Me Me. Every second sentence seems to start with a, “Speaking as a …” – David Cohen

But is opinion what it’s about anyway? More and more, it seems to me, what’s happening doesn’t seem to be in the interests of fostering the vigorous exchange of views or even correcting people who may have got something significantly wrong. At heart, I think, cancel culture is part of a wider linguistic turf war currently being fought on many fronts over who gets to control the language.  David Cohen

I’m not a Labour Party Māori or an on-the-marae Māori. I can be pretty frank about that, there’s reasons for that, I just wasn’t brought up that way. These are things we all have to reconcile in our heads but what is true is it doesn’t make me less Māori. We don’t think you’re only Scottish if you wear a kilt.  It’s a free world, my whakapapa is what it is, and I’m proud of it. – Simon Bridges

There is also always a place for punishing those who traumatise others, who destroy the lives of other people, who kill, murder, rape.Those things must be treated with the force of the law, and I won’t apologise for that. – Nicola Willis

I have to say, to blow the health system up when you’re trying to vaccinate 4 million people, that’s not particularly clever timing, is it? . . . This lack of planning, I mean, this is an iterative problem. We’ve got to take it away from politicians and away from doctors like me – may I add – and put it in the hands of professional governors and managers.Des Gorman

Yes there is an argument that vaccination has most application in countries with rampant disease, but there’s an equally strong argument we’re like a shag on a rock, and we’ll be a shag on a rock until we’re vaccinated, and our economy suffers. The next GFC, the next earthquake in Christchurch, we can’t buffer it. – Des Gorman

For the most open honest transparent government, things haven’t been looking too transparent of late. The pulpit of ‘truth’ is proving a stretch, are they being ‘too definitive?’ – Kate Hawkesby

This is why everyone should fight against cancel culture. Everyone has led lives of imperfection. I want a society that doesn’t judge people by the worst thing they have ever done, but by their overall contribution. – David Farrar

This, of course, is the great weakness of unionism. Most pay rises are not productivity based; they are threat based. Pay us or we are out. – Mike Hosking

So just who is it they’re appealing to? Do you have the same trouble British Labour now has? There isn’t a working-class Kiwi who would touch them. It’s the party of socialist ideologues who hang out at universities, NGOs, and pressure groups.

This smacks of whack-a-mole government. No vision, no big picture, no strategy, just a trail of bewildered, disowned, and disenfranchised supporters who no longer know who they’re dealing with. – Mike Hosking

The window of opportunity for New Zealand to attract talent is evaporating rather rapidly as the developed world becomes vaccinated.- Peter Gluckman

Also if you can print me a steak, you can also print me up a takahe drumstick or a slab of whale. I could munch on endangered animals with impunity. There is a small, but creepy, seam of wannabe cannibals on the internet who are also excited about this avenue. – Nicola Dennis

And there you have the three reasons people help others: they’re bullied, they’re paid, or they love. – Rodney Hide

Why they matter is because these stats drive taxation/redistribution policies. They influence how much is taken from Paul to give to Peter. Doesn’t matter how hard Paul worked, what sacrifices he made, how careful he was not to have more children than he could personally afford to raise. If he is defined as ‘rich’ and Peter is ‘poor’ you know the outcome. – Lindsay Mitchell

What has suddenly changed is the slavish, craven and witless embrace of identity politics that has swept through government, academia, the media, the arts, the corporate sector and even sport. – Karl du Fresne

The advertising business likes to celebrate itself as edgy, idiosyncratic and anarchic, but it strikes me as deeply conformist, risk-averse and prone to groupthink. Its suspiciously abrupt, across-the-board conversion to the virtues of diversity suggests much the same level of fearlessly independent thought as you’d find in a mob of romney ewes. – Karl du Fresne

And I’m sorry, but as long as Labour ministers like Chris Hipkins just don’t care whether our money is wasted in uneaten school lunches, as long as that happens, Labour will be perceived to be the party that just throws cash away. Pay freeze the nurses all you like, that perception will stick, because it’s warranted.Heather du Plessis Allan

A state broadcaster rigorously excluding any and all voices dissenting from the official line, is something most New Zealanders would expect to encounter in Moscow or Beijing – not in Wellington. – Chris Trotter

Vegans and vegetarians are the gullible foot soldiers for the processed food industry and religious ideology. – Dr Gary Fettke

History has us at our healthiest from a metabolic aspect when our diets were predominantly animal based. – Dr Gary Fettke

Generally, plant-based diets require supplementation for at least vitamin B12 and iron. It’s almost not fair to compare beef and rice. To get the protein in 200 grams of beef you need to eat nearly a kilogram of rice, and still you would be missing the micronutrients.Dr Gary Fettke

We often get people in this country whom we consider – and I hate the word – but we often call them ‘low value’ but they work hard and they have incredible work ethics and that goes through to their children – Erica Stanford

They are starting a new life. There is always that sword of Damocles hanging over them. They have got to keep working hard to stay here to get their residence and they do – they know this is a new chance, a new life and they do work very, very hard.

These people were quite vulnerable. They didn’t have any rights. They didn’t know the system. Sometimes they couldn’t speak English very well and they would often make mistakes or get themselves in trouble and just being able to help them and change their lives was so rewarding. – Erica Stanford

Right now the top priority for New Zealand is to make this country the most desirable place for migrants to want to come to because if we want the best migrants, which we do, the most skilled, the ones that have a lot to offer our economy and our society, we need to be their best option and right now, we are far from that.  – Erica Stanford

 I am quite close to this but I can’t turn away. I cannot turn away. How can you turn away from their grief and their anxiety and their stress? A lot of them have terrible mental health problems and are beside themselves because they haven’t seen their partners and their children.

“I can’t turn away turn away from that. I can’t walk away. I can’t not scream from every rooftop, every chance I get to give these guys a road map to reunification so they can see their families again. – Erica Stanford

The world isn’t rejecting left-leaning progressive thinking for no reason, they’re rejecting it because it doesn’t work. – Mike Hosking

We’ve got to make sure we’re taking an approach to it that doesn’t lead to some particularly grim financial outcomes, which a lot of what we’ve seen in recent times certainly do. 

We need to make sure people have an appreciation of what those things mean. Some people are happy to accept the cost being worn by someone else, rather than contributing themselves, and we’re hearing a lot of that in the zero carbon space. – Jared Ross

The government is not only doing too much, it is doing too much of that too much too badly – Eric Crampton

With New Zealand’s democracy now white-anted by racist policies, we will also deservedly become a laughing stock if our politicians and bureaucrats continue to pay obeisance to primitivism.  – Amy Brooke

The kind of values needed to raise children with their wellbeing absolutely utmost cannot be learned from a government. They cannot be replaced by unearned income. – Lindsay Mitchell

Give a family another $20 or $50 a week and, hey presto – just like that – 33,000 children are lifted out of poverty. In itself that is heartless isn’t it? That poverty is only measured by money. But is the life of those 33,000 kids going to be noticeably better in 12 months time? I would doubt it unless the attitude and approach to life of their parents or caregiver had shifted significantly. Will that person have made moves to get a job? To make the children’s lunch? To ensure they go to school at least 90 percent of the time?  – Peter Williams

If it takes “true grit” to be Opposition leader, then Judith Collins has it in spades. – Fran O’Sullivan

It is not racist to suggest that proposals such as those contained in the He Puapua report should be openly debated rather than sitting in some drawer in a Cabinet Minister’s office.Fran O’Sullivan

It was hard to give the Budget much credence after reading the Auditor-General’s report on the Covid-19 vaccination programme this week. The gulf between word and deed in Government has probably never been greater.

From the moment the Cabinet gave the vaccination programme entirely to the Ministry of Health you just knew it wouldn’t turn out well. Ministries these days do what the Auditor-General calls “high-level” planning. He doesn’t mean high quality, he means the plans made on high that do not get down to the harder work of deciding exactly who will do what, when, where and how. – John Roughan

“High-level” planning isn’t just disconnected from practice on the ground, it thinks up needless things that get in the way of practical work. But mostly it just wastes time and high salaries thinking of the bleeding obvious.  – John Roughan

Being in Parliament sometimes feels a bit like a kindergarten. There are squabbles, the occasional tantrum, and many questions that can seem quite repetitive to the public, and irritating to the Government too. The ability to question is vital for democracy. As politicians, it’s our job to question the policies and intentions of the Government in order to make sense of where we’re heading as a country. What laws will the Government pass? What problem are they trying to solve? How will the change impact the life of a child just starting school, the pocket of a solo mum, the small business owner struggling to find staff and pay taxes? How will we know if the policy’s been a success or failure? – Brooke van Velden

It is not racist to question policy that creates two systems for New Zealanders. Brooke van Velden

I want to live in a country where we can acknowledge our differences and seek better outcomes for all children regardless of race. It’s time to focus on our common humanity rather than constantly looking for division. We need better ideas, and to have honest conversations. Accusing others of racism when they challenge your idea is simply lazy. It stifles debate and breeds resentment.

It speaks to a growing sentiment I’m hearing across New Zealand. People are more and more cautious to express their opinions because others choose to take offence at ideas they don’t support. We should all be respectful in the way we deal with each other, whether we agree or disagree. We should show leadership by standing up for the ability to freely think and ask questions in our Parliament. How can we teach our children the importance of critical thinking, if we don’t expect it from our leaders? – Brooke van Velden

The issue should not be about race, as some would like to make it out to be. It is about which vision is more likely to give every child born in New Zealand the best chance to succeed. I don’t really care if our country is called New Zealand or Aotearoa. How about we focus on the outcomes for kids?Brooke van Velden

Can I give Craig, your good selves and, for that matter, the current Speaker, Trevor Mallard, a last piece of media advice? Do not endlessly and obsessively relitigate a losing argument. Take it on the chin. Move on. The public have short memories and it is sometimes possible to rebuild your reputation. Keep arguing a lost cause and you will not. – Bill Ralston

If, as looks increasingly likely, the vaccination programme turns out to be another KiwiBuild rather than another Covid elimination effort, all bets are off. Ardern had better hope Robertson’s announcement of the $1.4b for the vaccination programme turns out to be one of those old-fashioned Budget initiatives that turn out to be at least somewhat correlated with reality.- Matthew Hooton

The people who feed this misinformation online have no idea what it is like to live through a deadly virus.  We could have died, and we would have been a loving memory for our whānau, but we lived, and we lived with side effects. Death is a clean option.

Surviving is the hard and dangerous part. Those keyboard warriors don’t know what survival means – that fight is forever. And we see that with Covid-19 survivors most have recovered from the immediate effects but [some] have ongoing side effects that are far more damaging than anything else.

So when they say [on social media] Covid won’t kill you, they don’t realise that death is the clean way out and surviving is the scary part. John Forbes

Getting vaccinated isn’t about just you, it’s about protecting the ones you love. It’s an act of aroha. –  Maea Marshall

Getting doctors and nurses into poorly-serviced regions will improve Māori health. Economic growth that lifts New Zealanders out of poverty will improve Māori health. Better education will. Vaccinations will. Actually, building decent housing will. Shifting all health decisions to Wellington will not. – Judith Collins

National’s view is that every dollar spent must be spent on growing New Zealand’s economy. This is the key difference between National and Labour.Labour spends money on initiatives designed to keep people dependent on government. National spends on money on initiatives that empower New Zealanders by creating opportunities for every individual, every family, and every whānau to be in the driver’s seat of their own lives.Judith Collins

For the record, disparities are a statistical observation: they don’t think or act. They can’t themselves be racist. They are a fact. They can no more be racist than a rock or the sun.  – Rodney Hide

Everything measured differs on average from group to group. It would be odd if it didn’t. But the difference now is racism. It doesn’t require anyone past or present to have done anything racist. It requires averages only to differ. It’s difficult to know what to do about racist numbers. Would racism be reduced if I took up smoking? Or got fatter?Rodney Hide

But we should take comfort in another racist disparity: Maori women are more likely to be married or partnered to a non-Maori than a Maori. The same is true for Maori men. We are not just brothers and sisters but husbands and wives raising children together, living together, working together.

The government and the media are running a separatist agenda. It appears they are making a good play as they make up the daily news. But they are not. That’s because the rest of us are just getting on with our lives. Together.  – Rodney Hide

Labour and compliance issues aside, water in all its components, quality and quantity, is one of the major issues currently facing the rural sector, and for that matter, most of the urban centres throughout the countryBrian Peacocke

 The draft has the air of a 21st century revival of the 18th century Enlightenment concept of the ‘noble savage’, children of nature in an undisturbed state. – Philip Temple

The impact and lasting influence of the Musket Wars on New Zealand history, right up to the present day, need to be understood. If we are to teach our country’s history honestly, usefully and in a balanced way then the accounts and lessons from scholarship such as Ron Crosby’s Forgotten Wars must be included along with what one media outlet describes as ‘Our Story’ of the crimes and misdemeanours of British colonisers. We need a warts’n all history about the whole of ‘Our Story’, Pākehā  and Māori. For our children, we do not need a curriculum that tiptoes through myths of goodies and baddies with the omission of whole tranches of history. They – indeed everybody – need a set of interwoven truths we can all understand, relate to and accept. Philip Temple

It has become the norm for people of part-Maori descent to recite iwi connections, but without any reference to their European lineage. That inconvenient part of their ancestry is routinely erased.

I say “inconvenient” because I suspect it suits many part-Maori activists not to acknowledge their bicultural heritage, the reason being that their bloodlines demonstrate that New Zealand is a highly integrated society. This conflicts with their aim of portraying us as intrinsically and irreparably divided, with one side exerting dominance over the other. – Karl du Fresne

The truth, to put it in simple terms, is that we’re all in this together. We’re all in the same waka.

If this were truly a racist country, those “Maori” activists with distinctly European features and Anglo-Saxon surnames – testimony to a high degree of historical intimacy between Maori and Pakeha – would not be here. They exist because somewhere in their past, Maori and European partners were attracted to each other and procreated on equal and willing terms. That hardly seems indicative of a racist society. – Karl du Fresne

It suits 21st century agitators to overlook the fact that they carry the DNA of their supposed colonial oppressors and therefore have inherited their supposedly racist legacy. But if those of us who are descended solely from European colonisers carry the taint of racism, then so do they. Have they disowned their Pakeha bloodlines, or are they in denial? Do they, in dark moments of the soul, confront their forebears’ wicked acts as colonisers? I keep waiting for someone to explain how they reconcile these contradictions, but I suspect it’s easier to ignore them. –  Karl du Fresne

This selective exploitation of racial heritage is just one of many awkward incongruities and half-truths that go unremarked in the divisive propaganda with which New Zealanders are bombarded daily.- Karl du Fresne

None of this should be taken as meaning we shouldn’t honour and respect our Maori heritage. It is a rich part of our history and one that’s too often invisible, certainly to most Pakeha.Karl du Fresne

The truth is that a great deal of beneficial cross-fertilisation has taken place between Maori and Pakeha, and a deep reservoir of mutual goodwill accumulated. Most New Zealanders would probably agree this is something unique in the world and worth preserving. We should steadfastly resist those who place it at risk by trying to drive us into angry opposing camps.  – Karl du Fresne

The reason I am so concerned about our cyber education is simple; the Internet is our new border and we are at a growing risk of malicious damage to our nation through online actors then we are now through our airports, particularly during COVID times. Millions upon millions is lost out of our economy due to the damage that one email with a virus can contain and we must do more. The State has to take far more responsibility as our democracy, our health and ultimately, our lives are now at risk. It is not hyperbole to say that when clinics and hospitals across the Central North Island are facing one of the greatest crisis our nation has seen. – Melissa Lee

Ultimately, this situation goes beyond the Labour Government not doing their job. It is seeing individual New Zealanders being harmed at their most vulnerable being forced to travel the length of the country for medical treatment and with growing anxiety about what unknown hackers know about their personal lives. – Melissa Lee

If gangs are trying to get me sacked, I must be doing something right – Simeon Brown

 My dad was a meter reader. There wasn’t a lot of money to buy books, but we were a reading family. Library books were piled by each bed, beside the bath and on the dining table where we propped them against the teapot and read, rather than risk the conversations that would turn inevitably to argument. Library books were our salvation, our way out, our way up.  – Fiona Farrell

Libraries are many things to many people, but for me as a writer, they have been primarily a resource, like Mitre 10 for a builder or a patch of bush for an eager botanist. Their contents have formed the foundation for everything I have written over 30 years. The internet has its uses, but the things I read online always feel curated, universally available, ordinary. I encounter everything in an identical format, on the same screen, with the same levels of light and intensity. A library shelf lined with books, however, is eccentric. A book is such a perfect geometry, narrow and rectangular, to contain fact or fancy, word or image. A library shelf presents the possibility of random juxtapositions, discovery, surprise. I value that. Fiona Farrell

Freedom of speech in a democracy means having to tolerate the expression of diverse views. It works in both ways, people are entitled to voice their views and others are entitled to criticise those views, but they should be able to speak nonetheless. – Judith Collins

Health and safety should not be allowed to be used as an excuse to ‘deplatform’ speakers unless there are threats to physical safety. . . The small vocal group of self-appointed opinionators who complained about this need to mind their own business and let adult citizens in a free society mind theirs. David Seymour

For if despite everything, immigrants or people of immigrant descent, especially those of different races, are prospering and integrating well into society, there is no need of a providential class of academics, journalists, bureaucrats, and others to rescue them from the slough of despond supposedly brought about by prejudice and discrimination. Many a career opportunity would be lost if there were no systemic injustices of this sort to untangle. –  Theodore Dalrymple

The aggregation of all ethnic minorities into a single category (when there are sufficient numbers of each for meaningful disaggregation to be undertaken) is designed to disguise or hide the real differences between the minorities, precisely because if such differences were admitted, they would not only threaten, but actually refute the whole worldview of the providential class, namely that the society is so riddled with prejudice and discrimination that something akin to a revolution is required, rather than, say, dealing with problems on a case-by-case basis as they arise. – Theodore Dalrymple

For the providential class, nothing succeeds like the failure of others: it therefore needs there to be perpetual grounds for grievance by minorities, creating a constituency that looks for salvation by political means. – Theodore Dalrymple

There is a huge issue of fairness and independence with this local Government process alone.  The consultative process of local government is usually along the lines of – “Tell us whether you agree with what we have decided” and therein lies the problem. Genuine consultation has to occur at the formative stages which simply doesn’t happen or is rare to say the least. – Gerry Eckhoff

I have a term for it: Righteous prohibition.

I define that as the willing – or enforced – suppression of information because people believe it may have negative effects. It ranges from preventing a man from whipping up a lynch mob to neutralising a language because specifics may make a small number of people feel excluded. – Gavin Ellis

Paraphrased, that means legislators are hard-pressed to draught laws that define hate speech in such a way that society is protected while its rights and freedoms are held intact.

Unfortunately, hate speech is what we want it to be. The devil is in the definition. – Gavin Ellis

I believe it was the result of our language becoming sterilised, as more and more develop what I might call idiomatic mysophobia or a pathological fear of the use of certain contaminating words in case someone might have their feelings hurt. – Gavin Ellis

People can lose their jobs or find themselves cancelled when labelled as racist (whether or not they are), or prejudiced against different sexes, or religions. Yet as a Christian in a Christian country you may not wear a cross on a chain, though you may wear a hijab or a turban. –  Valerie Davies

These are strange and apocalyptic times. There is no stopping the human tide of peoples who want a piece of the peace and plenty and prosperity of Europe. But perhaps they have to make some compromises in order to preserve that way of life. It is ironic that so called liberals have castigated and condemned the past, decrying the evils of colonialism, while ignoring the hospitals and schools, railways and roads, law and order that colonialism brought to so many corners of the globe; while at the same time too, so many people in deprived places around the world, want to be part of the very culture and society that western protesters of all kinds and colours and beliefs sneer at. Yet until much maligned colonialism arrived, tribes in Africa, for example, faced the same poverty and oppression, murder and mayhem from their own people, that so many refugees are fleeing now. –  Valerie Davies

But we can create our own world of goodness and human connection. The human connection is what in the end sustains us, and always will, whatever lies ahead. As we all take this unavoidable evolutionary leap into the void of the future, we have each other. Valerie Davies

It would be nice to think that opinions in this forum and others are the result of expertise, scrupulous consideration of all the facts, relevant experience and an understanding of all factual material and different perspectives.

I suspect, however, that most opinions are more the result of feeling than thinking. That is not to say there is always a right opinion but rather that temperament and emotion play a much bigger role in opinion than we would like to think. It’s said that character is your fate. It might also be said that character is your opinion. Facts used to support a view are often chosen to support a stance, after the stance has formed. – Martin van Beynen

As an opinion writer, it’s easier to identify what you oppose rather than what you support. I don’t like being told I’m to blame. I don’t like zealots and young know-nothings telling me what to do. I don’t like wokeness or virtue signalling or cancelling people for some trivial perceived infringement of current sensibilities. I don’t like being told I’m privileged or that I had it too good because of being pale and male. I don’t like tailoring my views to suit a new zeitgeist. I don’t like the implication that everything done to improve people’s lives prior to the latest orthodoxy has been a disastrous failure and that some new system will bring in a utopia.Martin van Beynen

Rapid change, particularly the sort of changes New Zealand is experiencing at the moment, implies we should feel guilty, ignorant, outdated and prejudiced if we want to take a more sceptical and contrary line.

And yet I realise that society moves on and a new generation taking over will always seem naive and dogmatic to old-timers like me. – Martin van Beynen

I remain very much in favour of free speech with the usual riders. I think the media is too much dominated by a polite conversation with strict self-imposed boundaries on what can be said or tolerated. What we need are some thunderous voices from the silent majority. Declaring some views beyond the pale doesn’t mean they go away. They fester in the dark and grow more potent. No-one has a monopoly on truth and morality.Martin van Beynen

Having failed to teach NZ history properly in the last 50 years, it is important that the curriculum presents the most relevant facts and context, in order that our children can reach a balanced and informed view.   It appears however those involved in drafting the curriculum, have decided to skip that stage and go straight to themes.  This is a terrible mistake. – Barrie Saunders

Third, there is a strong sense running through the document that a primary purpose of studying history is to judge the past (and those in it) rather than to understand it.   Particularly when such young children are the focus, and when the curriculum is designed for use in schools across the country (attended by people of all manner of races, religions, political and ideological views), that focus is misplaced.    Understanding needs to precede attempts at judgement/evaluation, but there is no sign – in this document, or elsewhere in the curriculum – of children being equipped with the tools that, as they move into mature adulthood, will allow them to make thoughtful judgements or (indeed, and often) simply to take the past as it was, and understand how it may influence the country we inhabit today.    There is little or no sense, for example, that one reasonably be ambivalent about some aspects of the past or that some people might, quite reasonably, evaluate the same facts differently. Michael Reddell

If a New Zealand history curriculum is to be anything more than an effort of indoctrination by a group who temporarily hold the commanding heights in the system, this draft should simply be scrapped and the whole process begun again with a clean sheet of paper.  – Michael Reddell

Fourth, not only does the document seem to operate in a mode more focused on evaluation and judgement than on understanding, it seems to champion a particular set of judgements, and a particular frame for looking at the history of these islands (evident, as just a small example, in its repeated use of the term “Aotearoa New Zealand”, a name with neither historical nor legal standing, even if championed at present by certain parts of the New Zealand public sector).     This includes what themes the authors choose to ignore – religion, for example, is not mentioned at all, whether in a Maori context or that of later arrivals, even though religions always (at least) encapsulate key aspects of any culture’s understanding of itself, and of its taboos).   Economic history hardly gets a mention, even though the exposure to trade, technology, and the economic institutions of leading economies helped dramatically lift average material living standards here, for all groups of inhabitants.   Instead, what is presented in one specific story heavily focused on one particular (arguably ahistorical) interpretation and significance of the Treaty of Waitangi.  These are contested political issues, on which reasonable people differ, and yet the curriculum document has about it something very much of a single truth.Michael Reddell

We should be deeply suspicious of the phrase “public interest journalism”. It sounds harmless – indeed, positively wholesome – but it comes laden with ideology.

Like “social justice”, it’s a conveniently woolly term with no settled definition. It sounds like something we should have more of. Who couldn’t be in favour of it? But those who promote “public interest journalism” generally have a very clear idea of what they mean, and it’s not necessarily how ordinary people might interpret it.- Karl du Fresne

Public interest sounds noble. I mean, who could object to something being done for the public good? The crucial question, though, is who decides where the public interest lies. That’s the trap with so-called public interest journalism, because it usually reflects a narrow, fixed, elitist and ideologically slanted view of what’s best for the public. Whether or not the public actually wants it is often immaterial. They’re left out of the equation.

To put it another way, public interest journalism is a coded term that disguises an ideological project. Far from viewing the role of journalists as being to convey information in a non-partisan way, advocates of “public interest” journalism regard journalism as a tool for the pursuit of particular goals. – Karl du Fresne

 It’s true that journalism can lead to systemic change, and often does, but that shouldn’t be its purpose. To put it another way, journalism provides the information that often serves as a catalyst for change; but to actively work toward that end leads to the arrogant assumption that idealistic young reporters know what’s best for society and should be free to angle their stories accordingly, emphasising whatever supports their case but excluding evidence or opinions they disagree with. Karl du Fresne

Objectivity in journalism is fashionably denounced as a myth, thereby giving reporters licence to decide what their readers should know and what should be kept from them. The worthy idea that journalists could hold strong personal opinions about political and economic issues but show no trace of them in their work, which used to be fundamental, has been jettisoned.   Karl du Fresne

The PIJF should be seen not as evidence of a principled, altruistic commitment to the survival of journalism, which is how it’s been framed, but as an opportunistic and cynical play by a left-wing government – financed by the taxpayer to the tune of $55 million – for control over the news media at a time when the industry is floundering and vulnerable. Karl du Fresne

Ask yourself which is preferable: a hollowed-out news media, unable to properly fulfil its functions (which, to all intents and purposes, is what we have now), or a more powerful one whose priorities are determined by apparatchiks of the state? I’m sure I know which presents the greater hazard. Karl du Fresne


Freedom to offend and outrage

04/04/2017

Auckland University of Technology’s History Professor Paul Moon has written an open letter rejecting “forceful silencing of dissenting or unpopular views” on university campuses.

“Freedom of speech underpins our way of life in New Zealand as a liberal democracy. It enables religious observance, individual development, societal change, science, reason and progress in all spheres of life. In particular, the free exchange of ideas is a cornerstone of academe,” the letter said.

“Governments and particular groups will from time to time seek to restrict freedom of speech in the name of safety or special interest. However, debate or deliberation must not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most people to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed.

“Universities play a fundamental role in the thought leadership of a society. They, of all places, should be institutions where robust debate and the free exchange of ideas take place, not the forceful silencing of dissenting or unpopular views.

“Individuals, not any institution or group, should make their own judgments about ideas and should express these judgments not by seeking to suppress speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas they oppose, without discrimination or intimidation.

“We must ensure that our higher learning establishments are places where intellectual rigour prevails over emotional blackmail and where academic freedom, built on free expression, is maintained and protected. We must fight for each other’s right to express opinions, even if we do not agree with them.”

Not even when we disagree, but especially.

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean the freedom to say only the innocuous and uncontroversial.

The letter was in response to Human Rights Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy’s call for a review of “hate speech” law. Police are suggesting it be looked at as a specific crime

Mr Moon, told the New Zealand Herald free speech at universities should be defended.

“The trouble is we often don’t know the difference between free speech and hate speech,” Mr Moon said.

“Usually, if people are offended by what is said it’s seen as hate speech. That’s dangerous.

“It is dangerous to silence someone just because we don’t like what they say.”

Mr Moon said such views are a threat to the right to free speech.

“It puts the definition of free speech at the whim of people pursuing that line,” he said. . . 

Freedom of speech, Mr Moon said, was the foundation of a modern, diverse and democratic society.

It protected religious freedom and individual expression, he said.

Mr Moon said kneejerk calls from police and the Human Rights communision to introduce hate-speech laws will have the unitended consequence of suppressing free speech.

“It will create a culture of fear,” he said.

“What we need is open debate, which will change racist and intolerant views, not censorship.”

Mr Moon said freedom of speech was intimately connected with freedom of thought. . . 

The letter was signed by: Assoc Professor Len Bell, Dr Don Brash, Dr David Cumin, Sir Toby Curtis, Dr Brian Edwards, Graeme Edwards, Dr Gavin Ellis, Sir Michael Friedlander, Alan Gibbs, Dame Jenny Gibbs, Bryan Gould, Wally Hirsh, Professor Manying Ip, Sir Bob Jones, Professor Pare Keiha, Assoc Professor Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, Dame Lesley Max, Gordon McLauchlan, Professor Paul Moon, Sir Douglas Myers, Assoc Professor Camille Nakhid, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Professor Edwina Pio, David Rankin, Philip Temple, Dame Tariana Turia and Professor Albert Wendt.

More than 100 years ago, Winston Churchill said: So we must beware of a tyranny of opinion which tries to make only one side of a question the one which may be heard. Everyone is in favour of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.

Freedom of speech is not just the freedom to say what people want to hear. It is the freedom to say what they don’t want to hear, to offend and to outrage.

The answer to offensive and outrageous speech is not to silence the speakers but to let them speak and counter the offence and outrageousness with reason or ridicule.

 

 

 


So?

07/11/2011

MMP campaigner Philip Temple has found 20 writers who support that electoral system:

As support continues to grow for keeping MMP in the referendum on November 26, a group of top New Zealand writers have added their voice to the campaign.

Author Philip Temple, a spokesperson for the Keep MMP Campaign, says “It is brilliant that so many of our best known and loved authors have been willing to support the campaign to keep MMP. . .”

Twenty writers, 21 if you count Temple too, support MMP – so?

They are entitled to their view and to campaign in support of it but 21 writers supporting MMP is no more than a media opportunity, whether or not they’re best known and loved.

It probably wouldn’t be hard to find 21 people in any other occupation group across the country who support that electoral system nor to find a group of 21 who don’t.

They might not be so well known as the writers but being well known doesn’t make their opinions on the electoral system any more valid than those of people who aren’t public names or faces.

MMP, like all the alternative systems from which we’ll be able to choose in the referendum, is not perfect. There are valid arguments for and against it and the other four – First Past the Post, Preferential Vote,  Single Transferable Vote and Supplementary Member.

Finding 21 people who happen to do the same thing in support of or against one of them doesn’t make it any better or worse and is neither an argument for or against supporting a particular option.

Voters should be considering how each system works and which is more likely to give them the sort of government they want, not whether or not a system has a fan club of people from this occupation group or that.

I will be voting for change because MMP’s shortcomings outweigh its advantages for me and “celebrity” endorsement of that system isn’t going to make it any better.


If we call it home it is

08/10/2010

After the contretemps started by Paul Henry this week we should all be quite clear that our Governor General, Sir Anand Satyanand, is a New Zealander.

He was born here, after all, but is being born here the only thing which makes us New Zealanders?

I don’t think so.

Children who are adopted have all the rights of children born into their family and that seems to be a good rule for citizens too.

We’re all descended from immigrants or immigrants ourselves.

It doesn’t matter if our forebears paddled here in waka, came here under sail, by steam or air, of if we were born somewhere else and chose to settle here.

If this is our land by birth or by choice, we’re New Zealanders.

As Philip Temple put it in his memoir, Chance Is A Fine Thing:

. . . the ceremony was telling me in a tangible way that I belonged. Perhaps it had been absurd to doubt it, after almost 50 years. But I had needed to come to terms with the inheritances and loyalties of my own whakapapa and what I felt had been challenges to my right to be here by those who claimed greater precedence. Now it had become clear that, while I was proud to be rooted in the values and traditions of British and Western European culture, I was defined by New Zealand . . .

Defined by New Zealand, that’s what makes us Kiwis.

Regardless of  where we came from or how long ago, if we call New Zealand home it is; and if we do that we’re New Zealanders.


Beak of the Moon

31/10/2009

Not long after I started my first job on a newspaper the chief reporter told me an author was coming and I was to interview him.

The author was Philip Temple who was on a promotional tour for his newly published novel, Beak of the Moon.

It must have been one of those interviews authors dread because I hadn’t read the book. However,  I had heard of the author and was an admirer of his pictorial books like Mantle of the Skies, with its amazing photos of the bush and mountains.

He gave me a copy of Beak of the Moon which I read and then reviewed enthusiastically.

It’s an anthropomorphic story, giving a kea’s eye view of the arrival of people in the high country. The plot is absorbing and the story reflects the author’s knowledge and love of the high country.

Temple is one of New Zealand’s most prolific writers and has won several prizes including the Prime Minister’s Literary Award.

dairy 10013

Post 31 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge

book month logo green

Over at In A Strange Land Deborah’s final post for the challenge is The Best Loved Bear by Diana Noonan, illustrated by Elizabeth Fuller.


Tuesday’s answers

20/10/2009

Monday’s questions were:

1. What does fiat panis mean?

2. What is a Kārearea?

3. Who said: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid of misinformed beholder a black eye.”?

4. Where is Timbuktu?

5. Who wrote Beak of the Moon?

Samo is this week’s champion with a clean sweep.

Gravedodger got three right, a half for knowing where the motto came from in #1 and a bonus for extra information in answering 2 & 4.

Lilacsigil got three right and a bonus for getting the whole answer to #1.

Cactus Kate gets a point because it was inevitable someone would make the suggestion she did.

PDM got 2 and a bonus for reasoning, albeit wrongly, with #3.

Paul Tremewan got two, a half for his answer to #2 (not wrong but not the whole answer) and a bonus for remembering school Latin.

The answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


Tuesday’s answers

16/06/2009

Monday’s questions were:

1. What did Simon & Garfunkel call themselves when they recorded their first top 50 hit, Hey Schoolgirl, in 1957?

2. Who said:  Too often the desire for peace has been expressed by women while the stewardship of the mechanisms which are used to attempt to secure peace in the short and medium term are dominated by male decision-making structures and informal arrangements. This must change.

3.  Who wrote Chance Is A Fine Thing?

4. Which city would you be in if you were standing in the Plaza de Mayo and looking at the Casa Rosada?

5. Which is New Zealand’s deepest lake?

Paul Tremewan gets an electronic bunch of flowers for a perfect score  – the second week in a row someone’s got the lot.

Swinestein gets a point for one right and a bonus for additional information.

Gravedodger gets two points for correct answers and a bonus for making me smile with the response to question 2.

Ed gets two correct and also gets a bonus for more information.

PDM – if you follow the link below you’ll find more about Lake Hauroko which is in Western Southland and it’s 463 metres deep.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break. Read the rest of this entry »


Shambles needs Royal Commission

03/11/2008

Dunedin author and electoral commentator, Philip Temple, says our parliamentary system is a shambles but he doesn’t think a referendum on MMP is the answer.

What we need is not an ill-defined, ad hoc referendum but a new Royal Commission on the Electoral System, a generation after the last, to enable a considered examination of all aspects of the voting system, the electoral cycle, electoral financing, the Maori seats etc . . . so that all sectors of the community can have input and influence in bringing about much-needed reform.

He supports MMP and I don’t but I agree with him about the need for a Royal Commission.

We would be far better served by the measured and detailed consideration commissioners would bring to the many issues which need to be addressed in our electoral system than by the blunt instrument of a referendum.

Once the commission had concluded its deliberations a referendum could be held on its recommendations, but it shouldn’t be the starting point.


Party not seats give Maori voice

23/10/2008

When she appeared on Agenda in June  Tariana Turia said:

I think what our people are starting to realise though is that when they voted Maori people into Labour they never got a Maori voice, they got a Labour voice and that was the difference, and they’ve only begun to realise it since the Maori Party came into parliament, because it is the first time that they have heard significant Maori issues raised on a daily basis.

That’s a pretty damning indictment on the dedicated electorates because she’s saying it’s not  the Maori seats but the Maori Party which give Maori a voice.

Given that, do we need the seats?

Dr Lachy Paterson  says we do:

However, any moves to abolish the Maori seats are likely to provoke an outcry from Maoridom. The fact that all the main parties select Maori for electable seats is irrelevant.

Maori now have their own effective and independent voice within parliament, and the thought of all its representatives returning to the control of Pakeha-dominated parties would be galling.

Maori also see the Maori seats, and the Maori Party, as an expression of tino rangatiratanga, of embodying their tangata whenua status. Perceived attacks on Maori as a whole, such as the fiscal envelope or the Foreshore and Seabed Act, have galvanised Maori opposition in the past and abolishing the Maori seats would no doubt provoke a similar response.

The Maori Party MPs have, for the most part, been moderate and effective representatives.

Their presence in parliament, providing a Maori voice, has defused much of the anger and protest previously expressed by Maori who felt marginalised within the political system and society’s institutions.

Philip Temple, disagrees:

What would most likely happen to the Maori Party if the Maori seats were abolished? Dr Paterson believes that those currently on the Maori roll would vote for Labour with both their votes.

What is much more likely is that their voting pattern would reverse: ex-Maori rollers would give their electorate vote to a Labour candidate and their party vote to the Maori Party.

Even if I am no more than half right, the number of ex-Maori roll voters who would support the Maori Party would almost certainly carry it over the 5% threshold, giving it six or seven seats.

So there would be no fewer Maori Party MPs and possibly several more than they are likely to get while keeping the seats without significantly increasing the party vote.

. . . The number of Maori seats is based on the number of people on the Maori roll.

After the last Maori roll option in 2006, the number of seats did not increase.

Maori leaders expressed disappointment that more Maori had not shifted across from the general roll, despite heavy promotion.

Many Maori roll voters shifted the other way, cancelling out about half the Maori roll increase.

The number of Maori seats is unlikely, therefore, to increase in the future, and certainly not by more than another one or two.

Given that these will almost always be split between the Maori Party and Labour, it is severely limiting for the Maori Party to depend on the Maori seats alone.

In other words, they are shooting themselves in their collective foot.

They should be aiming to take pakeha with them, not remain planted in a fortified political pa shouting threats of civil disobedience across the palisade in response to calls to come out.

Dr Paterson’s thinking seems to be rooted in 19th and 20th-century resentment.

No other country with similar democratic traditions – Australia, UK, Canada, USA – uses race-based separate rolls and electorates for elections to their national parliament.

The MMP electoral system has increased Maori representation in Parliament regardless of the separate Maori seats.

It was one of the key arguments for having MMP in the first place.

It is now entirely legitimate to ask why there should continue to be a separate Maori roll and electorates that distort MMPs democratic and proportional representation.

It is no longer appropriate or fair in the 21st century to sustain racially separate electorates established in the entirely different political, social and demographic circumstances of the 19th century.

Nor is it appropriate to leave the decision on the future of the seats up to Maori.

Whether they stay or go is a constitutional matter which affects us all so any decision on their future should be a matter for us all.

 No group of people speaks with a single voice, but the Maori Party does speak for many of what Tariana Turia calls “her people”.

So when she admits it’s not the seats but her party which give Maori a voice, she’s effectively sabotaging any arguments in favour of keeping them.


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