July 31, 2007
Unholy Alliance: Islam & Socialists in NZ: May 07 issue
caption: this 15 year old Indonesian girl was almost beheaded by Islamic extremists. Her crime: being a Christian
Muslims, Marxists and NZ Migration
There’s more controversy over Investigate’s 18 page special report on Islamic terrorist sympathisers in New Zealand. IAN WISHART analyses the impact of the story, and the latest developments
One of the extremist Islamic preachers of hate who featured in the March issue of Investigate has been banned from entering Australia, despite being allowed to tour New Zealand giving lectures and inspiration to hundreds of New Zealand Muslims.
Bilal Philips, who was named as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the plot to blow up a range of New York landmarks, including the World Trade Centre, in 1993, was able to slip into and out of New Zealand because the Minister in charge of the Security Intelligence Service, Helen Clark, has failed to activate a border protection watch list of individuals with known links to terrorism.
Although the legislation was passed in 2002, following requests from the United Nations, New Zealand has not named a single individual for Customs and Immigration officers to watch for. As Investigate reported in March (see online at www.thebriefingroom.com) , that oversight has meant dozens of radical extremists, some of them – like Philips – with known links to terrorist organisations, have been able to come and go at will without the New Zealand government evening realising.
Over the past few weeks, Investigate has received a series of, largely, form letters, a selection of which you can read in our Letters pages, accusing us essentially of whipping up ‘Islamophobia’ and endangering local Muslims.
The allegations are false. Additionally, we were surprised to discover the fingerprints of diehard left-wing Marxists on the whinge campaign, as this extract from a Socialist Worker blog this month reveals:
“Our members in the Residents Action Movement (RAM) are currently working with the Muslim community to respond against the despicable Islamophobia of Ian Wishart's Investigate magazine. We have marched together for Palestine , Lebanon and Iraq, and will be united on the streets if there are any attacks on Iran. We do not look on our Muslim comrades as victims, tokens, demons or others, but our brothers and sisters in the fight for peace and global justice.”
Keep taking the pills, boys. Maybe you’ll wake up from your own self-inflicted Matrix one day. Or perhaps you should read my new book, Eve’s Bite. Then you’ll really have something to whinge about.
If you read the Socialist Worker post in full, however (http://unityaotearoa.blogspot.com/2007/04/marxist-muslim-alliance-response-to.html), you’ll find they were responding in faux indignation at suggestions from a local Muslim that Marxists are using Muslims as stooges to foment unrest in New Zealand. I say the indignation is “faux”, because socialism is blatantly atheistic in nature and hostile to religion, so it is obvious to most rational people that socialists are indeed taking Muslims for a ride, and probably having a right old laugh at their expense.
However, allow me to explain in greater detail why the Investigate scoop in March is the biggest unreported story of the year so far (although it was picked up by the Christchurch Press and Newstalk ZB’s Larry Williams):
We are told local Muslims are “moderate”. Indeed, they self-identify as “moderate” and, as one Islamic acquaintance – Imran - told me this month, the moderateness reflects the fact that New Zealand is not “joining with the US in Iraq and Afghanistan”. The local community, he says, doesn’t feel any inclination to take to the streets because it knows most New Zealanders feel equally dubious about America’s adventures.
But here’s the rub – if that is the only reason for moderation, what happens if the wider New Zealand community at some point believe a war against radical Islam is justified?
Then there’s the definition of “moderate”. People make the mistake of trying to understand Islam the same way many understand Christianity. In the West, we are familiar with the debates about whether the Bible is fundamentally true (the conservative wing of Christianity) or fundamentally mythical (the liberal wing of Christianity). In Islam, there is no such polarity: you will not find a “moderate” Muslim willing to suggest that the Qu’ran is mythical. All practicing Muslims, whether extremist or “moderate”, believe the Qu’ran is true down to its last letter. They may disagree on how the Qu’ran and its edicts can be implemented in Dar al Harb (all the countries ruled by non-Islamic governments, literally translated from Arabic as “House of War”), but there is no dispute that the Qu’ran calls for the eventual unification of the entire planet under one Islamic ruler, the new Khalifah (Caliph).
As a Christian, I share many concerns that are similar to those of Muslims. Christians and Muslims are generally socially conservative. However, as I told Imran, New Zealand’s tolerance of moderate Islam hinges to a large extent on Islam doing a much better job at self-policing against radicals. Investigate magazine praised Christchurch moderates several years ago who blew the whistle on a move by Saudi terrorist fundraisers Al Haramain group to take over the Christchurch mosque. We saw that whistleblowing as self-policing in action.
But it was stunning to find out this year that extremist clerics, bearing large wads of money from extremist Saudi Arabia, have been intimately involved in guiding and helping the New Zealand Islamic community. Extremist preachers have DVDs and books on sale here, and local mosques are working for the introduction of shari’a principles in New Zealand.
Saudi Arabia is the home of Wahhabism, the most extreme form of radical Islam and the faction that Osama bin Laden belongs to. We should be very concerned about Saudi Arabia’s influence with NZ mosques, because here’s what the Saudis teach their children in school.
Year One (Five year olds):
“Every religion other than Islam is false”
“Fill in the blanks with the appropriate words (Islam, hellfire): Every religion other than ______ is false. Whoever dies outside of Islam enters ________.”
Now, if it stopped there, I’d have little to object to. You can go into any number of Christian churches of a Sunday and hear a message about Christianity being the only true religion. I have no problems with Islam making its absolute truth claim, even if I disagree with their faith in it. However, it doesn’t stop there, and Islam’s indoctrination of children in Islamic schools gets much worse:
“True belief means...that you hate the polytheists and infidels but do not treat them unjustly.”
“Whoever obeys the Prophet and accepts the oneness of Allah cannot maintain a loyal friendship with those who oppose Allah and his Prophet, even if they are his closest relatives.”
“It is forbidden for a Muslim to be a loyal friend to someone who does not believe in Allah and his Prophet, or someone who fights the religion of Islam.”
“A Muslim, even if he lives far away, is your brother in religion. Someone who opposes Allah, even if he is your brother by family tie, is your enemy in religion.”
Year Six (Ten year olds):
“Just as Muslims were successful in the past when they came together in a sincere endeavour to evict the Christian crusaders from Palestine, so will the Arabs and Muslims emerge victorious, Allah willing, against the Jews and their allies if they stand together and fight a true jihad for Allah, for this is within Allah’s power.”
“The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus.”
Year Nine (13 year olds):
“The clash between this [Muslim] community (umma) and the Jews and Christians has endured, and it will continue as long as Allah wills.”
“It is part of Allah’s wisdom that the struggle between the Muslim and the Jews should continue until the hour [of judgement].”
“Muslims will triumph because they are right. He who is right is always victorious, even if most people are against him.”
[Note: at the age of 14, Muslim students are required to start learning shari’a principles in more detail. These particular textbook quotes deal with “blood money”, which is the fine payable to a victim or their surviving heirs for murder or injury]
“Blood money for a free infidel...is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, whether or not he is ‘of the book’ [Christian or Jewish] or not ‘of the book’ [pagan, atheist, etc]”
“Blood money for a woman: Half of the blood money for a man, in accordance with his religion. The blood money for a Muslim woman is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, and the blood money for an infidel woman is half of the blood money for a male infidel.”
Year Eleven (15 year olds):
“The greeting ‘Peace be upon you’ is specifically for believers. It cannot be said to others.”
“If one comes to a place where there is a mixture of Muslims and infidels, one should offer a greeting intended for the Muslims.”
“Do not yield to them [Christians and Jews] on a narrow road, out of honour and respect.”
“Jihad in the path of Allah – which consists of battling against unbelief, oppression, injustice, and those who perpetrate it – is the summit of Islam. This religion arose through jihad and through jihad was its banner raised high. It is one of the noblest acts, which brings one closer to Allah, and one of the most magnificent acts of obedience to Allah.”
Pretty grim reading, huh? Those quotes are all taken from current school textbooks in Saudi Arabia as part of the compulsory “Islamic studies” curriculum, books smuggled out by families with children in Saudi schools and provided to the Institute of Gulf Affairs, a Washington DC think-tank headed by Saudi dissident Ali al-Ahmed. He in turn gave the textbooks to the Washington Post newspaper, to illustrate how millions of Arab children are being indoctrinated to hate the West and prepare for jihad and Armageddon.
The textbooks represent Wahhabi doctrine, and the chilling aspect of some of the emails Investigate received from NZ “moderates” was phrases like this one where they criticised us for using the phrase “Wahhabism (supposedly an "extreme" form of Islam) 20 times.”
What do they mean, “supposedly”?
If New Zealand Islamic “moderates” are questioning our suggestion that Wahhabism is “extreme” – you should be very afraid for your country.
Thankfully, the offending phrase is in a chain letter presumably drafted with the help of the communist insurgents over at Socialist Worker, so it may not yet have widespread support within NZ Islam. But that doesn’t negate the reality that it was moderates who invited the Wahhabi hatemongers here in the first place.
So here’s my take on the Islamic issue for NZ.
I believe you should have freedom to worship. I believe you should have the freedom to dress conservatively, including the hijab if you so choose. I believe you should have the right to preach Islam. I believe you should have the same individual rights as other members of the NZ community. I believe you should be free from discrimination and not treated as second class citizens.
BUT...there are some particular limits in regard to your religion. Islam is not just a religion – properly understood, it is a complete system of government and a political system that does not tolerate democracy. In that sense, I suspect I speak for many non-Muslim New Zealanders when I say that this country shall never be part of Dar al Islam [an Islamic nation under shari’a law]. If you nurse such fantasies, pack your bags and return whence you came, because you are the problem.
You have emigrated to a country which – regardless of the prattle from the New Zealand government – is founded on the Judeo-Christian democratic tradition, not an Islamic theocratic one.
If you can live with this reality, then you are welcome here as fellow New Zealanders. And if you can start policing the extremists out of your mosques and lecture halls and bookshops, then the rest of us won’t have to do it and we’ll respect you all the more for your stand.
July 30, 2007
Wolves in Sheikh's Clothing: May 07 issue
WOLVES IN SHEIKH’S CLOTHING
Jonathan Last takes a troubling look inside moderate Islam
When I first met Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, he was a young counterterrorism expert just breaking into print. I had edited some of his work. He seemed like a normal fellow. But as we spoke, he told me a remarkable story.
Gartenstein-Ross grew up in Ashland, Oregon, one of the West Coast's hippie enclaves. His parents were liberal, ecumenical Jews who raised him to believe in the beauty of all faiths. There were pictures of Jesus in his living room and a statue of the Buddha in the backyard. Young Daveed was attracted to various liberal causes and concerned with social justice. He went to college in North Carolina, where he converted to Islam. Upon graduation, Gartenstein-Ross went to work for a religious charity, the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, which was run by a group of radicals.
After a year at Al-Haramain, he went to law school, where he eventually left Islam. In the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, Gartenstein-Ross learned that the FBI was investigating Al-Haramain for ties to terrorism. He reached out to the bureau and helped build its case.
Gartenstein-Ross has now told his story in a book, "My Year Inside Radical Islam." It is an important resource for understanding Islam in America.
There are two deep insights in "My Year Inside Radical Islam." The first is an illumination of one of the pathways to radicalism. When Gartenstein-Ross first converted, he embraced Sufism, a spiritual, moderate sect. He wasn't looking to become an anti-Western fundamentalist. But the more he interacted with other Muslims, the more he was pushed, in a form of groupthink, to embrace an increasingly restrictive faith. He learned that in Islam, all sorts of things are haram (forbidden). Alcohol, of course. And listening to music. And wearing shorts that expose the thigh. And wearing necklaces. Or gold. Or silk. Or using credit cards. Or shaving. Or shaking hands with women.
As Gartenstein-Ross explains, Islam has commandments for every aspect of life, from how to dress to how to wipe yourself after going to the bathroom. And once he joined the Muslim community, he found that the group was self-policing. Members were eager to report and reprimand one another for infractions. It is not hard to imagine how a well-adjusted, intelligent person might get caught up in such a social dynamic.
The book also illustrates the troubling state of Islamic organizations in the United States. Nearly every discussion of Islamic radicalism and terrorism is prefaced by a disclaimer that of course the vast majority of Muslims are morally opposed to both. This may well be true.
But the problem in the current struggle against Islamic fascism is that the radicals often find succor from moderate Muslims - even "moderates" aren't always as liberal as one might hope. While Gartenstein-Ross never came into contact with actual terrorists, he was surrounded by people - normal Muslim citizens - whose worldviews were unsettling.
Before 9/11, Al-Haramain's headquarters in Ashland was seen as a bastion of moderate, friendly Islam. Pete Seda, who ran the office, was publicly chummy with the local rabbi. The group encouraged public schools to bring children to their offices on field trips. All of this was for public consumption. In private, things were somewhat different.
One of Gartenstein-Ross' co-workers, for instance, often complained about the Nation of Islam, whose members he believed were deviants. He said, "Let them choose true Islam or cut off their heads."
Al-Haramain hosted a number of visitors, one of whom was a Saudi cleric named Abdul-Qaadir. He preached that those who leave Islam should be put to death. In defending the execution of apostates, he mused that "religion and politics aren't separable in Islam the way they are in the West. ... Leaving Islam isn't just converting from one faith to another. It's more properly understood as treason."
In warning Gartenstein-Ross about his engagement to a Christian, Abdul-Qaadir said, "As long as your wife isn't a Muslim, as far as we're concerned, she is 100 percent evil."
One night at services, a visiting member of the Egyptian branch of Al-Haramain declared that the Torah was "The Jews' plan to ruin everything." He continued, "Why is it that Henry Kissinger was the president of the international soccer federation while he was president of the United States? How did he have time to do both? It is because part of the Jews' plan is to get people throughout the world to play soccer so that they'll wear shorts that show off the skin of their thighs." (Former Secretary of State Kissinger was never president of either the United States or FIFA.)
The reaction of Seda - the "moderate" who cultivated a public friendship with the local rabbi - was, "Wow, bro, this is amazing. You come to us with this incredible information."
Such discourse seems less than rare at American Islamic organizations. A recent New Yorker profile of another homegrown radical, Adam Gadahn (a.k.a. "Azzam the American" and one of the FBI's most-wanted terrorists), recounted Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman's visit to the Islamic Society in Orange County, Calif. In his lecture, Rahman, later indicted for helping to plot the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, ridiculed the notion that jihad could be nonviolent and exhorted Muslims to take up fighting against the enemies of Allah. Sitting next to him and translating for the congregation was the local "moderate" imam. The New Yorker reports that "videotapes of the lecture were later offered for sale at the society's bookstore."
This would likely not surprise Gartenstein-Ross, some of whose Muslim acquaintances even disapproved of his decision to go to law school. Their objection was that, as a lawyer, Gartenstein-Ross would have to swear an oath to defend the Constitution. As one Muslim told him, "There are some things in the Constitution I like, but a lot of things in the Constitution are completely against Islamic principles."
This sentiment - not from an al-Qaeda fighter or a fire-breathing radical, but from a normal, devout Muslim - is important. The challenge Islam poses to the West goes beyond mere terrorism.
Jonathan V. Last is a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Doomsday Prophet: May 07 issue
UPI Intelligence Analysis
THE DOOMSDAY PROPHET
From Muslim hordes to atom bomb...Joshua Brilliant tracks the disturbing endgame of radical Islam
For the third time in its history, Islam is trying to bring the true faith to the rest of the world. However, this time is particularly dangerous, according to one of the world's leading authorities on Muslim history.
In a series of lectures at Israeli academic institutions, Princeton University Professor Bernard Lewis talked of the widespread Muslim-Shiite belief that time has come for a final global struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil.
“The fact that some of the societies are acquiring, or will soon acquire ... weapons of destructive power beyond Hitler's wildest dreams ... is something that we should be very concerned about,” he said.
Muslim believers consider themselves “the fortunate recipients of God's final message to humanity and it is their duty not to keep is selfishly to themselves ... (but) to bring it to the rest of mankind,” Lewis noted.
“In their first attempt to do so, they emerged from the Arabian Peninsula and conquered vast territories from Iran across North Africa to Spain, Portugal and parts of Italy. Converts conquered Russian lands and established an Islamic regime in Eastern Europe. There are even reports of an Arab raid into Switzerland. But that attempt to conquer Europe failed, and the Crusaders recovered the Christian holy places in Jerusalem.
“In the second round, the Ottoman Turks crossed southeastern Europe and reached Vienna. Twice they tried to capture it and failed. Western imperialism halted and reversed the Ottoman push.
“The current, third invasion, is not done by armed conquest or with migrating hordes, but by a combination of migration, demography, self denigration and self abasement, totally apologetic,” Lewis said.
Nevertheless, it arouses a fair and very alarming possibility that it could lead to a long, dreary race war between different communities in Europe.
“Signs of it are already visible in the form of neo-Fascist racist movements. If that is going to be the only response of Europe, apart from self-abasement, the outlook is grim,” he predicted.
Meanwhile, among Muslims there is a competition over who should lead their cause. This is one of the keys to understand the present situation, Lewis continued.
“On the one hand stand Osama bin Laden and his movement. He is a Saudi-Wahabi; in other words an ultra-conservative puritan Sunni-Muslim. The Saudi establishment considers him a rebel but they all belong to the same branch of Islam.
And then there are Muslim Shiites. They assumed a modern form and new vigor since the Iranian Islamic revolution of 1978.
Past friction, for example between the Ottoman Empire and Iran, was due to a rivalry over influence, not over religion.
“The current rivalry has acquired, a new acuteness ... It became more violent than in any time in the recorded history of Islam,” Lewis said.
“The Iranian revolution is resonating far and wide. It represents a major threat to the West but also to the Sunni establishment. It has led some Sunni leaders to re-evaluate the situation in the Middle East and their attitude towards Israel.
“Those leaders may dislike Israel and disapprove of it. However, they consider an uninterrupted line from Shiite Iran, across Iraq to Syria and Lebanon, and the large and growing Shiite populations around the coast of Arabia, to be a truly major threat.
“There are signs of ... a willingness on the part of many in the Sunni world to put aside their hostilities to Israelis ... in order to deal with the greater, more immediate and more intimate danger,” he said.
“We may see shifts in the policies of some Arab governments at least comparable with the great shift in Egyptian policy, when President Anwar Sadat opted for peace with Israel.
“The leaders contemplating such a change are very cautious. One reason is that their populations have been indoctrinated with hatred of Israel for so long that it is difficult to change tunes.”
There is another reason: Some uncertainty over how far they can trust the Israelis, Lewis said.
“During the summer's war against the Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon, many Sunni Muslim governments discreetly cheered the Israelis, hoping they would finish the job. Some of them could hardly conceal their disappointment that Israel failed to do so,” he said.
Western-style anti-Semitism of the crudest type, meanwhile, is spreading and occupying a central role in many Muslim countries. One finds it in textbooks, schoolbooks, and in university doctoral dissertations, he noted.
Lewis said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “really believes ... (in) the apocalyptic message that he is bringing. (Israeli experts noted that Ahmadinejad prepared a wide boulevard in Tehran for the return of the Mahdi who disappeared some 1,000 years ago.)
“Islam has a scenario for the end of time, a final global struggle between the forces of good, God, and his anointed, and the forces of evil,” Lewis argued.
With such beliefs, the strategy that prevented a nuclear war between the West and the Communist blocs, during the Cold War era, may not apply.
“Mutually assured destruction, which kept the peace during the Cold War, though both sides had nuclear weapons ... doesn't work. It is not a deterrent. It is an inducement,” Lewis said.
July 29, 2007
Voices From The Past: August 04 issue
A long time ago on a marae far, far away...or it may as well have been. For the past three decades, all most New Zealanders have heard is a series of reinterpretations of the Treaty of Waitangi, which, depending on who is paying the scholar concerned, take widely diverging views of what the Treaty actually means. Today, thanks to a Court of Appeal ruling in the late 1980s, the Treaty is regarded by the Government, Civil Service and many within Maoridom’s upper echelons as a “partnership”, whereupon the Government must consult with its treaty partner before making major decisions, and where Maori interests obtain preferential slices of business activity in recognition of their special status.
No fewer than 22 laws are now on our statute books that require Government agencies to have regard to “the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi”. It was a political slip-up by former Justice Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer that opened the lid to Waitangi’s Box, when he incorporated the phrase in the 1986 State Owned Enterprises Bill as a sop to Maori pressure on Labour at the time. Palmer now concedes he didn’t expect it to take on a life of its own thanks to a new breed of Treatycrats infiltrating the public service.
So what are the “Treaty principles” as understood today?
According to treaty law specialist Tim Castle in the Herald recently, they are “partnership; protection of Maori rangatiratanga (understood in modern times to mean Maori Sovereignty); tribal right of self-regulation; Crown’s duty to redress past breaches; Crown’s duty to consult; mutual benefit; options; active protection; and significance of the Treaty.”
Which brings us to a major question, is the modern interpretation of the Waitangi Treaty correct? To answer that, we now take readers back to July 1860 - exactly 144 years ago - and the biggest gathering of chiefs in New Zealand history. Government soldiers had just begun the war against Maori in the Taranaki, and had invited chiefs from around New Zealand to a major hui in Auckland. In broad terms, the government spelt out to Maori that a dispute over land in Taranaki had escalated into violence associated with a perceived rebellion based on Maori sovereignty. The question for debate: whether Maori wished to stand by the Crown or join the Maori sovereignty movement.
What follows is a direct transcript of speeches from that hui. As you read it, ask yourself whether Maori in 1860 believed in Maori sovereignty, or that the Treaty was a partnership in the modern sense of the word:
TE KARERE [The Maori Messenger newspaper], July 1860:
Our readers will be glad of some information respecting the conference of native chiefs now being held at Kohimarama.
We shall therefore set aside all other matter in order to make room for a full report the proceedings at the date of our present issue. We shall commence our account with a list of the chiefs, with the names of their respective tribes, and their several places of abode. From this list it will appear that the principal subdivisions of the Maori race the New Zealand New Zealand ignore, on the whole, well represented in this conference. 112 chiefs took their seat on the first day, and several more have arrived at intervals since. Others had been invited and would probably have been here but for the prevalence of a severe epidemic, and the sudden decease of an influential and much respected chief of the Waikato, Potatau Te Whero-Whero.
The absence, however, of these does not materially affect the question of representation. Taranaki alone is without a voice in the conference. Those who were invited to attend were unwilling to leave their homes in the present unsettled state of that province.
It is a circumstance worthy of remark, as evincing the interest felt by the native chiefs and the importance they attach to the present measure, that when they arrived at Auckland almost the whole of them were suffering severely from influenza.
It is gratifying, however, to add, that under the unremitting care of their medical attendant many of them have quite recovered, and the others are rapidly improving. It is more than probable that some of the older men, had they remained at home, beyond reach of medical aid, would, before this, have been gathered to their fathers.
The question now suggests itself, why have these chiefs assembled? The Governor had a higher motive in inviting the Maori chiefs of New Zealand to meet him at Kohimarama. It was, to use his own words, to afford them “an opportunity of discussing various matters connected with the welfare and advancement of the two races dwelling in New Zealand.”
In the colonisation of these islands by the British, the treatment of the aboriginal race has been regulated by humane and Christian principles. A wise government has watched over their interests with paternal care. Large sums of money have been annually expended in the erection and maintenance of schools for the education of their youth; hospitals have been built for the accommodation of their sick; books and newspapers have been printed for their amusement and instruction; magistrates have been appointed in native districts for the suppression of crime, and the laws have been translated into Maori and gratuitously circulated; indeed, nothing has been left undone that was likely to promote the happiness and well-being of the Maori people.
And now that their intelligence is beginning to develop itself, they are invited to take a first step towards participating in the legislation of the country. That the chiefs themselves duly appreciate the importance of this step, as conducive to their advancement as a people, is very evident. They are shrewd enough to recognise in this conference a more adequate means of securing a national position than in any of the extravagant ideas of Maori Kingism.
We sincerely trust that a similar conference to the present will continue to be held annually in this or some other part of New Zealand. Its beneficial influence is already apparent. Nothing has so much tended to reassure the minds of both people as the free and frank expression of opinion on the floor of the conference hall during the past week. A mutual feeling of distrust and misapprehension was becoming very general. The Maori and the Pakeha were becoming estranged from each other. The Colonists charged the Maori with an insurrectionary spirit, and they, on the other hand, began to dread aggression from the Colonists. But this mutual feeling of insecurity has subsided, and we believe that this is mainly owing to the very satisfactory spirit elicited during the first week of the conference. The chiefs have not disguised their opinions, when antagonistic to the policy of the Governor, nor have they suppressed their grievances; but there has been a freedom and candour, fully characteristic of the Maori, in all these speeches which has committed itself to all who have heard them; and the expressions of loyalty to the Queen and goodwill to the Pakeha have carried with them every evidence of sincerity.
GOVERNOR’S ADDRESS: His Excellency Governor Browne opened proceedings by reading the following address, translation of which was afterwards read by Donald McLean the native secretary and president of the conference:
“My friends, Chiefs of New Zealand,
1. I have invited you to meet me on the present occasion that we may have an opportunity of discussing various matters connected with the welfare and advancement of the two races dwelling in New Zealand.
2. I take advantage of it also to repeat to you, and through you to the whole Maori people, the assurances of goodwill on the part of our Gracious Sovereign which have been given by each succeeding Governor from Governor Hobson to myself.
3. On assuming the sovereignty of New Zealand her Majesty extended to her Maori subjects her Royal protection, engaging to defend New Zealand and the Maori people from all aggressions by any foreign power, and imparting to them all rights and privileges of British subjects; and she confirmed and guaranteed to the chiefs and tribes of New Zealand, and to the respective families and individuals thereof, the full, exclusive and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates, forests, fisheries, and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess, so long as it is their wish to retain the same in their possession.
4. In return for these advantages the chiefs who signed the Treaty of Waitangi ceded for themselves and their people to her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of sovereignty which they collectively or individually possessed or might be supposed to exercise or possess.
5. Her Majesty has instructed the governors who preceded me, and she will instruct those who come after me, to maintain the stipulations of this Treaty inviolate, and to watch over the interests and promote the advancement of her subjects without distinction of race.
6. Having renewed these assurances in the name of our Gracious Sovereign I now ask you to confer with me frankly and without reserve. If you have grievances, make them known to me, and if they are real, I will try to redress them. Her Majesty’s wish is that all her subjects should be happy, prosperous and contented. If, therefore, you can make any suggestions for the better protection of property, the punishment of offenders, the settlement of disputes for the preservation of peace, I shall gladly hear them and will give them the most favorable consideration.
7. The minds of both races have lately been agitated by false reports or exaggerated statements; and, in order to restore confidence, it is necessary that each should know and thoroughly understand what the other wishes and intends.
8. There is also a subject which I desire to invite your special attention, and in reference to which I wish to receive the expression of your views. For some time past certain persons belonging to the tribes dwelling to the south of Auckland have been endeavouring to mature a project which, if carried into effect, could only bring evil upon the heads of all concerned in it. The framers of it are said to desire that the Maori tribes in New Zealand should combine together and throw off their allegiance to the Sovereign whose protection they have enjoyed for more than 20 years, and that they should set up a Maori King and declare themselves to be an independent nation. Such ideas could only be entertained by men completely ignorant of the evils they would bring upon the whole native race if carried into effect.
9. While the promoters of the scheme confined themselves to mere talking, I did not think it necessary to notice their proceedings, believing that, if allowed time to consider, they would abandon so futile and dangerous and undertaking. This expectation has not been fulfilled. At a recent meeting at Waikato some of their leading men proposed that Wiremu Kingi, who was in arms against the Queen’s authority, should be supported by reinforcements from the tribes who acknowledged the Maori King, and armed parties from Waikato and Kawhia actually went to Taranaki for this purpose. These men also desire to assume an authority over other New Zealand tribes and their relations with the Government, and contemplate the forcible subjection of those tribes who refuse to recognise their authority.
10. Under these circumstances I wish to know your views and opinions distinctly, in order that I may give correct information to our Sovereign.
11. It is unnecessary to me to remind you that her Majesty’s engagements to her native subjects in New Zealand have been faithfully observed. No foreign enemy has visited your shores. Your lands have remained in your possession, or have been bought by the government at your own desire. Your people have availed themselves of their privileges as British subjects, seeking and obtaining in the courts of law that protection and redress which they afford to all her Majesty’s subjects. But it is right you should know and understand that in return for these advantages you must prove yourselves to be loyal and faithful subjects, and that the establishment of a Maori King would be an act of disobedience and defiance to her Majesty which cannot be tolerated. It is necessary for the preservation of peace in every country that the inhabitants should acknowledge one Head.
12. I may frankly tell you that New Zealand is the only colony where the aborigines have been treated with unvarying kindness. It is the only colony where they have been invited to unite with the colonists and to become one people under one law. In other colonies the people of the land have remained separate and distinct, from which many evil consequences have ensued. Quarrels have arisen; blood has been shed; and finally the aboriginal people of the country have been driven away or destroyed. Wise and good men in England considered that such treatment of aborigines was unjust and contrary to the principles of Christianity. They brought the subject before the British Parliament, and the Queen’s ministers advised a change of policy towards the aborigines of all English colonies. New Zealand is the first country colonised on this new and humane system. It will be the wisdom of the Maori people to avail themselves of this generous policy, and thus save their race from evils which have befallen others less favoured. It is your adoption by her Majesty as her subjects which makes it impossible that the Maori people should be unjustly dispossessed of their lands or property. Every Maori is a member of the British nation; he is protected by the same law as his English fellow subject; and it is because you are regarded by the Queen as a part of her own especial people that you have heard from the lips of each successive Governor the same words of peace and goodwill. It is therefore the height of folly to the New Zealand tribes to allow themselves to be seduced into the commission of any act which, by violating their allegiance to the Queen, would render them liable to forfeit the rights and privileges which their position as British subjects confers upon them, and which must necessarily entail upon them evils ending only in their ruin as a race.
13. It is a matter of solicitude to Her Majesty, as well as to many of your friends in England and in this country, that you should be preserved as a people. No unfriendly feeling should be allowed to grow up between the two races. Your children will live in the country when you are gone, and when the Europeans are numerous. For their sakes I call upon you as fathers and as Chiefs of your tribes, to take care that nothing be done which may engender animosities - the consequences of which may injure your posterity. I feel that the difference of language forms a great barrier between the Europeans and the Maoris. Through not understanding each other there are frequent misapprehensions of what is said or intended: this is also one of the chief obstacles in the way of your participating in our English Councils, and in the consideration of laws for your guidance. To remedy this, the various missionary bodies, assisted by the government, have used every exertion to teach your children English, in order that they may speak the same language as the European inhabitants of the colony.
14. I believe it is only needful that these matters should be well understood to ensure a continuance of peace and friendly feeling between the two races of her Majesty’s subjects; and it is for this reason, and in a firm hope that mutual explanations will remove all doubt and distrust on both sides, that I have invited you to meet me now.
15. I shall not seek to prove, what you will all be ready to admit, that the treatment you have received from the Government, since its establishment in these Islands down to the present hour, has been invariably marked by kindness. I will not count the hospitals founded for the benefit of your sick; the schools provided for the education of your children; the encouragement and assistance given you to possess yourselves of vessels, to cultivate wheat, to build mills, and to adopt the civilised habits of your white brethren. I will not enumerate the proofs which have been given you that your interests and well-being have been cared for, lest you think I am ungenerously recalling past favours. All will admit that not only have your ears listened to the words of kindness, but that your eyes have seen and your hands have handled its substantial manifestations.
16. I will not now detain you by alluding to other matters of great importance, but will communicate with you from time to time and call your attention to them before you separate. Let me however remind you that though the Queen is able - without any assistance from you - to protect the Maori from all foreign enemies, she cannot without their help protect the Maori from themselves. It is therefore the duty of all who would regret to see their race relapse into barbarism, and who desire to live in peace and prosperity, to take heed that the counsels of the foolish do not prevail, and that the whole country be not thrown into anarchy and confusion by the folly of a few misguided men. Finally, I must congratulate you on the vast progress in civilisation which your people have made under the protection of the Queen. Cannibalism has been exchanged for Christianity; Slavery has been abolished; War has become more rare; prisoners taken in war are not slain; European habits are gradually replacing those of your ancestors of which all Christians are necessarily ashamed. The old have reason to be thankful that their sunset is brighter than their dawn, and the young may be grateful that their life did not begin until the darkness of the heathen night had been dispelled by that light which is the glory of all civilised nations.
Earnestly praying that God may grant his blessing on your deliberations and guide you on the right path, I leave you to the free discussion of the subjects I have indicated, and of any others you may think likely to promote the welfare of your race. Signed Thomas Gore Browne, Governor.
Response of the Chiefs:
NGATIWHATUA, Auckland; Chief Paora Tuhaere: listen both Pakeha and Maoris. This property (the marae) belongs to me; therefore I say, let me have the first speech in this meeting. Hearken, all ye people! two things commend themselves to my mind - the Governor and the Queen. For thereby do we, both Pakeha and Maori, reap good. This is my speech. The best riches for us are the laws of England. In my opinion, the greatest of all evils is war.
But we are all in the wrong. The Maori kills a Pakeha, the Pakeha says, let us fight; and when a Pakeha kills a Maori, then the Maori says, let us fight. For example - if I should be killed by a Pakeha, my tribe would say ‘Let us fight with the Pakeha’; and on the other hand were I to kill a Pakeha, even though he be a slave, the Pakeha would demand me as payment. These are my words. I entertained the Pakeha a long time ago, and I found him good. Hence, I say, I shall always remember the Pakeha, and I shall always remember too, with affection, the Governor who was sent here to protect us. The benefits which we received from him are - Christianity and the laws.
Now, listen! My affections at the present time lie between these two blessings. Listen again! My heart is satisfied. All that the law keeps from us is - the guns, powder, and brandy. Another subject comes under my attention. It is the misunderstanding between the Pakeha and the Maori about land. The Pakeha has his mode of selling land, and the Maori has his mode. Oh people, hearken! The Pakeha came to New Zealand to protect the Maori. As to the talk about Waitangi, that is Ngapuhi’s affair
NGAPUHI, Bay of Islands; Thomas Walker Nene: I shall speak about the Governor, and the Pakeha. I am not accepting the Pakeha for myself alone, but for the whole of us. My desire when Governor Hobson arrived here was to take him as our Governor, in order that we might have his protection. Who knows the mind of the Americans, or that of the French? Therefore, I say let us have the English to protect us. Therefore, let this Governor be our Governor, and this Queen our Queen. Let us accept this Governor, as a Governor for the whole of us. Let me tell you, ye assembled tribes, I have but one Governor. Let this Governor be a king to us. When the Governor came here, he brought with him the word of God by which we live; and it is through the teaching of that word that we are able to meet together this day, under one roof. Therefore, I say, I know no sovereign but the Queen, and I shall never know any other. I am walking by the side of the Pakeha.
NGATIWHAKAUE, Rotorua; Tuki-haumene: my choice lies with the Governor and the Queen. This is all I desire at this time. People of the Runanga do you consent to the Queen? (Assent from his tribe)
NGATIMAHANGA, Waingaroa; Hemi Matini Te Nera: my words date from the time of Governor Hobson. The Governor asked, “will you be my friend?” I replied,” I will be your friend.” These were my words to the first Governor, to the second Governor, to the third Governor, and to the fourth Governor. I made this pledge in the presence of the Governor. They brought good things to this island. I shall not join that evil (the Maori king movement). All I desire is to live on terms of friendship with the Governor and Queen. Under the old law we perished; under the present law we live.
MANUKAU, Manukau; Rihari: let me say a word about the Maori. In former times he was poor; since the arrival of the Pakeha, he has become rich. The gospel too has reached this island. My God in the olden time was Ouenuku. I have a very different God now. I am grateful to the Pakeha for the following benefits, namely - Christianity, the laws, and goodwill. I must speak of these good things; for since the arrival of the Governor, good has remained in the land. This is all I have to say.
NGAITERANGI, Tauranga; Hamiora Tu: I desire to consider the Queen and the Governor my parents. The Governor must suppress evil in whatever tribe it maybe.
WAITAHA; Rangi: Waitaha is the place, and Waitaha the people. All I wish to see is justice, peace, and quietness. This will be our glory. Jesus Christ has said - “ let evil be overcome of good”. Let all things be conducted according to law, and under the Queen’s rule. I shall sit under that rule.
NGATIKAHUNGUNU, Hawkes Bay; Ngatuere: I shall speak truly. In the beginning missionaries came, also teachers. Thus Christianity came amongst us. It found its way to Wairarapa. The precepts of Christianity require that I abandon all my sins. Let your measures with Wi Kingi be severe. Suppress that evil. Welcome, I cry, good laws!
NGATIKAHUNGUNU, Hawkes Bay; Kariatiana: the Governor’s words are good. My heart says, the Pakeha and I are one, for I have not been concerned in the evil work. Let the Pakeha behave ill to me, then it will be time to retaliate.
NGAPUHI, Bay of Islands; Hori Kingi Tahua: listen the native side, listen also the English. Many years since, the Europeans landed at the Bay of Islands. I invited them onshore. Since then the name of the Queen arrived in New Zealand, and I befriended it. After that came the Pakeha. Some of the Pakeha were killed - I avenged their death - I heard of the murder of Europeans at the South; I came from the North and avenged their death. After that came the missionaries and the gospel. It spread from North to the South. After that again the Governor arrived. I invited him onshore; from the North he came to Auckland, the flag was erected at Maiki - the Pakeha fell (at Kororareka); this was my first evil - I ill-treated the people whom I had invited and entertained. This was my sin. After that myself and grandfather, Kawiti, visited Kororareka to see Governor Grey. The Governor said,” Kawiti, do not look at what is past.” Kawiti consented to the word of Governor Grey, and promised to cease from all disturbances. I consented to this, and said, it is good. Then this Governor visited the Bay of Islands. We held meetings for the purpose of erecting the flag staff at Maiki at our own expense - we consented to this, erected the flag staff, and called it the union of two nations. I say, let these two people, the Pakeha and the Maori, be united.
PARAWHAU, Whangarei; Wi Pohe: I am from Ngapuhi. It was the Pakeha who planted love amongst us (referring to former exterminating wars carried on by the Ngapuhi). The time of identifying ourselves with the interests of the Pakeha was when the flag staff was erected at Maiki: this was our consenting for ever and ever.
PARAWHAU, Whangarei; Te Taurau: I am from Ngapuhi. There is but one name in heaven - Jehovah - so there is but one name upon earth - the Queen. Let us then rest under the Queen’s government.
NGAPUHI, Bay of Islands; Mangonui: I salute you, oh Europeans! What I desire is the union of the European and Maori races.
NGATITOA, Porirua; Matene Te Whiwhi: first you brought baptism, and we were baptised in the name of Christ. There has now become only one Christ, and one Governor: we have become one in our allegiance to the Queen. This is my opinion: that these races should become united under the Queen. Let there be but one sovereign for us - the Queen. It is well, therefore, that there should be but one system. Leave it not for the hidden voice, or unknown tongue, to disapprove, or cause to misunderstand. Yours is a hidden, or unknown tongue; as ours is also. Even though it be so, let the Queen unite us.
NGATITOA, Porirua; Te Ahukaramu: first, God; second, the Queen; third, the Governor. Let there be one Queen for us. Make known to us all the laws, that we may all dwell under one law.
NGATIRAUKAWA, Otaki & Manawatu; Horomona Toremi: I have been in the mire for the last 20 years. Listen ye Pakeha gentlemen! It is by your means that I am permitted to stand forth now. You Pakeha are the only Chiefs. The Pakeha took me out of the mire: the Pakeha washed me. Let there be one Law for all this island.
NGATITOA, Porirua; Nopera Te Ngiha: in my opinion it is for the Governor to consider, and to decide, between the good and the bad. Let love and goodness emanate from the Governor. Let the Governor alone have the control.
NGATIRAUKAWA, Manawatu; Kuruhou: the government shall be my kingdom for ever and ever. I have no other word, but the Governor and the Queen for us.
TARANAKI, Wellington branch; Wiremu Tamihana: my business is to make known the grievance. Let me state my grievance. It is this. Our lands are not secured to us by Crown Grant. Every man is not allowed to get a Crown Grant to his land. Another grievance is the manner of negotiating land purchases. Notwithstanding there be only two or three consenting to the sale, their words are listened to, and the voice of the majority is not regarded. However the laws are good, and the hospitals for the sick are good.
NGATIRAUKAWA, Otaki; Parakaia Te Pohepa: is it possible that the thoughts of men should now turn backwards? Back to what! I do not approve of the plausible sayings of a certain tribe. Listen, Mr McLean. Listen, also, people of the Runanga. Let the Queen bind us together as an a bundle, and let God keep us together. This is all.
NGATITOA, Porirua; Hapimana: I have come to seek an outlet for the Maori. There is no difference of opinion. My people of Ngatitoa, you must side with the Queen.
Epiha Karoro: we are now united. As to the affairs of Wi Kingi, the fault is with the Maori - with those who sold the land. Where the Governor was wrong, was in being in too great a haste to fight. Formerly I saw some things that were wrong, but now all the wrong is on the Maori side. In my opinion had the Maori not taken part with Wi Kingi, then you would have been able to suppress it.
NGATIRAUKAWA, Manawatu; Ihakara Tokonui: in former times the evil that prevailed in this island was War: now the gospel has been received. Under the old system, peace was established one night, and on the morrow another war was commenced. When Christianity came, then for the first time were made manifest the good things of the Pakeha and the evil things of the Maori. The people of this island are committing two thefts. One is the “Maori king”, for they are robbing the Pakeha of his name. You alone, the Pakeha, posess what is good: we, the Maori, have nothing good. Here is my other point: you know what the bee is. Some bees work, some bees are lazy. You are like the working bee. You fill your hive, whether it be a box or an empty tree. But the Maori is like the other bee - the lazy one. And the Maori takes advantage of your work. I have another parable. When I looked upon the native rat, I thought it would not soon become extinct. But I look now, and it has been altogether exterminated by the present, or Hawaiki rat. Enough of that. I have now a word of disapproval. Why did you not write to us when the evil commenced? Had we been convened at an earlier time to consider this evil, then perhaps it would have been right.
NGATIWHATUA, Auckland; Te Keene: it appears to me that there are two codes of law - the one of God, the other of men. The Governor has said that there is the same law for both the European and Maori. Now, when I asked five shillings per acre for my land, the government reduced the price to sixpence. Therefore I have no law. On this account am I grieved. Only the shadow of the law belongs to me. On another instance I took a gun to a Pakeha to have it repaired. The government said no. Therefore I have no law. These laws are given to me to look at, not to participate in. Hereafter perhaps, we shall have a law whereby the white skin and the red skin shall be equal.
NGATIWHAKAUE, Rotorua; Eruera Kahawai: there is no one here to find fault with the Governor’s words. His words are altogether good. It was the introduction of the gospel that put an end to all our evil ways. Yes my friends, it was Christianity alone that did it. It put an end to thieving and many other sins. We have abandoned our old ways. The rule now is kindness to the orphan (Charity), peace, and agricultural pursuits. I shall not turn to the Maori side. I have now come under the wings of the Queen.
TUHOURANGI, Tarawera Lake; Kihirini: now we have become united in the name of the Queen. I am like the bird called Pipiwarauroa. The foster parent of that bird is the Piripiri. The Pipiwarauroa lays her eggs in the nest of that bird, leaving it to her (the Piripiri) the hatching and rearing of it. And when the young comes forth it cries “Witiora-witiora”. The Piripiri is not it’s real parent. So also with me. It is through the Queen that I have been permitted to stand here, and to enjoy life. The protection of the Queen is right. This shall be as a house to me. The rain may beat on the outside of the house, but I am inside, that is, I am with the Queen.
NGATIWHAKAUE, Rotorua; Winiata Pekamu Tohiteururangi: I shall have but only one Lord - only one. I shall have but one rule - not two.
WANGANUI, Wanganui; Te Mawae: I will be kind to the Pakeha at my place, Wanganui. I do not agree with the Waikato proceedings. As to my Pakeha, they are in my charge. If Waikato kill any of them, then I shall be the payment. Listen, people of Waikato, (looking around towards them), if you threaten to join the Ngatiruanuis to attack my Europeans of Wanganui, you must first cut off my head. The Europeans of Wanganui and I are one; and (using some gesticulations with spear in hand) who dares attack the Pakeha of my river Wanganui? They are under my charge. If I injure them, it is my affair; but let no one else attempt to do so.
NGATIAPA, Rangitikei; Tamati Aramoa: I am for ever joined to the Queen. I have sent to the Queen my token of allegiance - a greenstone mere. Listen, all of you. Ngatiapa and Whanganui will not engage in war. The Wanganui people will devote all their attention to peaceful pursuits and the cultivation of the soil.
WANGANUI, Wanganui; Hoani Wiremu Hipango: Pakeha came and they called this land New Zealand, thus altering its name. So, all the sayings of the present time are different from the past. Let the laws be made known in every place that all men may honour them. I want to see the Maori and the Pakeha united, that their goodness may be mutual.
NGATIKAHUNGUNU, Wairarapa; Raniera Te Iho: I first came to understand the time of Governor Grey - under him and Mr McLean. They came and planted the tikanga at Wairarapa. Justice rules in New Zealand. I offer my land, in the proper manner, to the Governor. True, the land passes across to the Governor, but then I get my price for it. Should I afterwards stretch forth my hand after my land? That would be wrong. I prove my allegiance to the Queen by parting with my lands. I give up my land to Queen Victoria, and to the kings and queens, her successors. As to that talk at Waikato, I know nothing about it.
TE TAWERA, ; Tamati Hapimana: I have but one law, the law of God. It was through the missionaries that I came to know what was right. It was like God’s command to John,” Go and prepare the path,” for the missionaries came first and cleared the way, and afterwards the Lord came. But you give us the dark side of your laws. You make the law void where it concerns us.
PUKAKI, Manukau; Ihaka, chief of Pukaki: it rests with you to suppress the evil - that peace and happiness may cover the land, because the former wars and jealousies disappeared, when the light of Christianity shone forth. My friends, the native chiefs, my desire is this: that religion, goodwill and peace should prevail throughout the land. If you approve, accept these things.
Be strong to suppress the evil, that confusion may not grow. If confusion should spring up in any particular part, let the chiefs hasten there, to put it down, and let the European chiefs do the same, who are of the same mind. Let them both go together for the purpose of putting down evil and confusion. My own desire as this, that peace may prevail throughout the land for ever, and that our warfare should be directed towards the increase of schools, and the promotion of religion.
NGATIWHAKAUE, Rotorua; Te Amohau: let there be only one road. In former times it was evil; now Christianity has come among us, and we live in peace. In former times we were lost in the dark, but the gospel has come, and now we live.
NGATIAWA, Bay of Plenty; Te Makarini: listen all of you to these words. Had the Queen’s tikanga become generally acknowledged by us, these evils would have been averted, and the tikanga would have prospered. I mean by this to blame you, but I leave it with the people of this Runanga to find fault.
NGAITERANGI, Tauranga; Wiremu Patene: Where were you at the time of the sprouting (alluding to the king movement)? It appears to me that this thing has grown (taken root) in New Zealand. Had you convened this meeting sooner, it would have been well, but you have allowed to become a great tree. This is what I see, this is where you have been wrong. You acted foolishly. Had you written to us at the commencement, then it would have been right, whereas now it has become a tree. But remember Governor, that the Maori king is child’s play. The Queen’s Mana is with us.
NGAITERANGI, Tauranga; Te Mutu: Friends, I have but one word. Do not believe in the king for that is an evil work. Do not magnify that, lest it increase. If you ignore him, then that king will vanish.
NGATIWHAKAUE, Rotorua; Te Ngahuruhuru: the deceits do not belong to the Pakeha, but to the Maori alone. The Maori is wronging the Pakeha. I am an advocate for peace. Show kindness to the Pakeha. Show good feelings to the Governor. I belong to the Mana of the Queen, to the Mana of the Governor. As to the setting up of the king - not that. I join the Queen. I have nothing else to say. Do not split up, and form one party for the Queen, and another for the Maori king: that would be wrong.
NGATIWHAKAUE, Rotorua; Pererika: I have found out the evils of my mother - I mean, of the Maori. I have two mothers; I am grieved with one of them. She fed me with fern root, which was hard to digest. She gave me to wear a native cloak with a very thick collar, which hurt my neck. From my other mother I have received good clothes. And when I went to bathe, and my face turned pale, my first mother painted it with kokowai (red ochre). This shows the inferiority of my first mother. But, Mr McLean, do you take charge of my goods? Listen now, hold them fast. If you give in to my first mother, then I shall go and take them back. Here are my goods - here are my lands: take charge of them. Here are our headlands. Don’t you concern yourself about dividing my goods: I shall please myself about that. Let me hand them over to you, then it will be all right. But don’t take them forcibly.
TE TAWERA, Bay of Plenty; Te Rongotoa: my Maori mother has ceased to exist. You Pakeha shall be my parent for ever and ever.
UNKNOWN IWI; Pirihi Te Kotuku: listen all of you. The fault was mine. I interfered to dispose of the land of another. It is from causes of this kind that evil springs up in New Zealand. From the time of my birth I have not ceased to evil. Although I may be wrong, let me offer my sentiments. Understanding now begins to develop itself in me. I am unable to reply to the Governor. The fault was mine: my heart is hardened. If a man takes my land, then I am sad and angry. If a man takes my wife and violates her, then too am I angry and grieved. If my child is murdered, then I am angry and sad. And if my house is plundered and my goods stolen, then am I angry and sad. As to Te Rangitake’s affair, that is another matter. I do not approve of that. The affair also of the King I do not approve of. I join the Queen.
NGATIWHAKAUE, Rotorua; Taiapo: after what manner shall I address the Governor? The evils in my opinion are theft, interference, and land taking. Perhaps there is evil in the heart of the Maori. I shall not go there (Taranaki). Listen, people, to my opinions about this evil of the Maori. I do not know whether it is the fault of the Pakeha or the fault of the Maori. But it appears to me that the Governor was wrong, because he did not first call together the Maori teachers, that they might arrange it (the dispute between William King and the Governor about Teira’s land). Had he done so, it might have been settled. As it is, the matter is in your hands, Mr McLean.
GOVERNMENT INTERJECTION; Mr McLean: Taiapo, this affair has not been overlooked. It was inquired into even in the time of Governor Hobson; and up to the present time, many years having elapsed, every attention has been given to it. You say that had the teachers been permitted to arrange it the matter would have been settled. Is not Tamati Waaka a teacher? He tried to arrange it, but they would not listen. Also Wiremu Te Awaitaia, and Wiremu Tamihana, and old Potatau (who has just passed away): are they not teachers? They went, but they would not listen to their words.
NGATIPIKIAO, Rotoiti and Maketu; Rirituku Te Puehu: hitherto I have not belonged to the Governor. I now join the Governor for the first time. The words of the Governor are good. I am now a Maori, tomorrow I shall be a Pakeha. Hitherto I have been a Maori - now I join the Queen. Because we, the two races, have now become united. I shall not attach myself to the king or to Rangitake; I shall not follow those things. This King affair is a source of trouble - it is the introduction of an evil among the Maori. I therefore say, let both races acknowledge the Queen.
GOVERNMENT RESPONSE; Mr McLean: (reading the third clause) this treats of her Majesty’s protection, whereby New Zealand and the Maori people are defended from all aggressions by any foreign power. Has not this pledge been carried out? Has any foreign power disturbed this country? People of other nations have certainly come here, but their mission has always been a friendly one. They have come to settle or to trade. They have never assumed any authority in this Colony.
Some of you have said that the laws for the Maori are not the same as the laws for the Pakeha. This is in some measure true. Children cannot have what belongs to a person of mature age; and the child does not grow to be a man in one day. This clause also states that the Queen “confirmed and guaranteed to the chiefs and tribes of New Zealand, and to the respective families and individuals thereof, the full, exclusive, and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates, forests, fisheries, and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess, so long as it is their wish to retain the same in their possession.” And this pledge has been strictly observed.
In no single instance has your land been taken from you. It is only when you are disposed to sell, and not before, that the Government gets possession of your lands. Where is the man who has been deprived of any of his land?
The fourth clause speaks of the Treaty of Waitangi. Some have said that this Treaty was confined to the Ngapuhi. I maintain that was not a Treaty with the Ngapuhi only, but a general one. It certainly commenced with the Ngapuhi. The Treaty is binding on the whole.
And, further, I believe that has been a great boon to you; and one, therefore, which you should not lose sight of nor disregard.
The fifth clause states that the Governor has been instructed to maintain all the stipulations of the Treaty inviolate. Now, if in the opinion of this Conference the Governor has violated any of the terms of this Treaty, you have an opportunity of telling him so. If anyone here has any grievance, let him make it known at this Conference, and not carry it back to his home with him.
The sixth clause says if you should decide upon writing replies to the address, this clause will be a guide to you. You observe that the Governor requests you confer with him frankly and without reserve.
Seventh clause: this has direct reference to the Maori King movement. You should freely express your opinions on the subject. The movement did not possibly originate in any evil desire. With some the motive may have been a good one, but it involved the idea of establishing a national independence. The old chief, Potatau, who has just died, professed no feeling but that of kindness and goodwill to the Pakeha. Therefore it would not, perhaps, be just to treat the matter with great severity. But this I may say to you, that while this movement lasts it will prove a great hindrance to the establishment of peace and the success of beneficial measures for the two races. The protection of England has been solicited and accepted by this country, and it is therefore wrong to talk about any other sovereignty. The Governor invites you to state your views and opinions on this matter very plainly.
Clause 12: it is not intended to hide from you what you may hear from other sources, namely the fact that the English in former times often invaded other countries. Their ancestors, when they took possession of a place, frequently destroyed its inhabitants. But when Christianity obtained a greater influence amongst them, Wise men began to reflect on the sin of destroying human beings created by God to live on the earth. The Queen directed the Parliament to consider the subject, when it was proved that wrongs had been committed. The evidence adduced confirmed the fact that aboriginal subjects had been ill treated. This occasioned much shame to many good people in England, and it was determined in Parliament that such proceedings should not be permitted in future.
About this period attention was directed to New Zealand as a field for European settlement, and it was decided by the Queen and her ministers, that in occupying the country, the New Zealanders should be treated with kindness, and a humane policy pursued towards them, with a view to their becoming a prosperous people, and united with the English. There is no desire to conceal from you the wrongs being committed elsewhere, but Christian principles have ruled the conduct of the British government in these Islands. The policy pursued has been one of uniform kindness, and in accordance with the precepts of Christianity.
Clause 13: this clause refers to the difference of language as the chief obstacle to your participation in English councils. This is a disadvantage to both races. The Maori does not understand the Pakeha, and accuses him of saying what he did not mean; and the Pakeha, on the other hand, imagines something very different to what the Maori has said. From this cause they differ with each other and misunderstandings arise. Now, if the language in common use was the same, these difficulties would disappear. Hence the desirability of educating your children in the English tongue.
Clause 16: the Governor tells you that the Queen will afford you protection against dangers from without, but she cannot without your cooperation save you from internal feuds. It is therefore the duty of every man to help, that peace and good order may prevail.
The last clause: this ends the Governor’s address to you. He concludes with a prayer to God for his blessing on your deliberations.
NGATIWHATUA, Auckland; Paora Tuhaere: my words now are in disapproval of those expressions of the Governor’s. The government has got possession of Taurarua (Judges’ Bay, Parnell), and I have not yet seen the payment. This land is occupied by bishops and judges, great people, but I am not paid for it. I applied to the first Governor for redress, and to the second, the third and fourth, without obtaining it. The next case occurred in the time of Governor Grey. I mean Matapipi, which was taken through some mistake as to the boundaries. I did not receive any payment for it. I am continually urging the payment for those pieces of land.
I have two cases on which to rest my charge. Had these lands belonged to some people, they would have made it a greater cause for war than that which originated the present one (Taranaki). I content myself with constantly asking for satisfaction. I refer to clause 13. This is an excellent thing. Let us be admitted into your councils. This would be the very best system. The Pakeha have their councils, and the Maori have separate councils, but this is wrong. Evil results from these councils not being one.
I am desirous that the minds of the Europeans and the Maori should be brought into unison with each other. Then if a Maori killed another Maori his crime would be tried and adjudicated on by the understandings of both Pakeha and Maori. And if one man should interfere with the land of another, then let the same council try him. When a woman has been violated, let the same course obtain. Murders and makutu (revenge killings) would come before the same Tribunal, because there would then be but one law for both Pakeha and Maori, and the understandings of both people would be exercised in the council.
NGATIWHAKAUE, Rotorua; Eruera Kahawai: the Governor perhaps thinks that we shall conceal our views. No, the Maori will fully express their opinions to him. The Governor probably expects that we who have now assembled to meet him should keep a part to ourselves. Let it not be said that the opinions have changed afterwards. No, let there be no changing of opinion.
Let me state here that should a Pakeha take the liberty of injuring or killing a Maori I shall not retaliate in the same way. I shall give him up to the hand of the law. My hand shall not touch him; but I will leave it to the law to punish him. Though the wrong may be committed as far off as Rotorua, I shall bring the offender here to Auckland to be tried. And in like manner, if a Maori should injure a Pakeha, I would hand him over to the law. These are the sentiments of all the tribe. I mean the people of Rotorua. This speech is as much theirs as mine. Even though it should be Tukihaumene, or Taiapo, or Ngahuruhuru, who committed himself by injuring a Pakeha, I would give him up to be tried for it. There is an old man in my tribe named Tawangawanga who holds the relation of father to me. If even he committed himself, I would give him up. And if Paora should do so I would give him up and the law should try him.
This is what I have to say about the King in this island. When they first set up that King I opposed it. I was not willing that there should be two powers in New Zealand. I spoke thus at the time. I compaired New Zealand to a poporo (fruit bearing tree). The Governor, I said, has settled on the poporo and is eating the fruit: the Maori King comes afterwards to drive him off. I will not therefore consent to that King. When the law came, the evils of the Maori customs became evident. I approve of the Governor’s words. If they were wrong I should tell you so. Had he said that my lands should be taken away, I should disapprove of that; or that my sick friend should be put to death without cause, or that my provisions should be used without my having any payment, I should disapprove. But now when the Governor says that the Pakeha and Maori races should be united as of one flesh, who is able to disapprove? Who is the man?
ARAWA, Bay of Plenty; Tohi Te Ururangi: we have European law now. I am resting on the government. I will reveal the good. If I should turn backwards, let that be considered a sin, and let me be punished for it with the lash of the law. I have no grievance about my lands. Let the Governor keep the law of the land inviolate. When war breaks out in any place, let the law enquire into it. Should evil spring up in my midst among my people let the law enquire into it. When I saw my corpse (alluding to his relative who was murdered by Marsden) I left it to law, and it was right. It was then that I became attached to the law. That was my first consenting to the Queen through which I came to know good. Had I then followed Maori customs, many lives would have perished. I left it to the Queen’s law and I saw good. With my understanding I discovered the evil of my heart, and abandoned it. I now give my adherence to the Queen. I now give my adherence to the one law. If evil should appear in any place, let the law dispose of it.
NGAPUHI, Bay of Islands; Tamati Waaka Nene: men of Whanganui, be kind to the Europeans. Men of Wairarapa, be kind to the Europeans. Men of Wellington, be kind to the Europeans, that you may see good things. If you do what is evil, let me remind you that my wife does not know how to weave garments. Wherefore I say, let the Europeans weave garments for me; and I in consequence will be kind to the Europeans. These things, and these houses are not of our manufacture, no, they are of European origin. Chiefs of Whangarei, be kind to the Europeans, that we may eat pleasant food. Shall we again feed upon the roots of the wild convolvulus, fern root, and the pollen of the bulrushes?
TUHOURANGI, Tarawera Lake; Te Kihirini: the good things which have come to us are for the welfare of our bodies. The goodness consists in the justice of the law. Now murder was a cause of contention and fighting in olden times. When the Pa was captured, 100 persons died for the sin of one man. At the present time the life of the murderer is the atonement for his guilt. I approve of the system; I approve of the laws of the Queen. My reason for liking the Europeans is that they bring us garments and mills. These are the things which I value and approve.
FOOTNOTE FROM IAN WISHART
Naturally, none of this proves that things remained happy ever after.
They didn’t. The divisiveness of the land wars and subsequent Crown seizures made enemies of some former friends, and injustices were done. However, what the transcripts do clearly show is the spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi as Maori and Pakeha understood it in July 1860.
Any suggestion of dual sovereignty was ridiculed by Maori chiefs, who clearly understood the term in the Pakeha sense of the word and who wanted the Pakeha legal system to embrace them and their affairs.
“Tino rangatiratanga” as we understand it today was a concept laughed at by the rangatira in their time. To them, tino rangitiratanga meant a return to the old ways, to murder, mayhem and theft. Who wants to go back to living in grass huts and eating “bulrushes”? asked Tamati Waaka Nene.
So why does modern treaty scholarship seem so divorced from the historical reality?
Perhaps because it fails to take into account the paradigm shift occurring during the latter half of the 19th century. When the Treaty was initially signed in 1840, the bulk of ordinary Maori still lived in their home villages in their home territories still under the active control of their Iwi chief. But, by assimiliating into the wider immigrant culture - as the Maori themselves were seeking - the lines of responsibility between Crown and Iwi became blurred.
Where, previously, a theft inside a Maori village was a matter for the chief and kaumatua to handle, and the British had no intention of intervening, where did responsibility fall when a dispute arose between Maori of different tribes far from their homes? It was, as the speeches reflect, left to Pakeha law to sort out.
While modern radical academics allege the Colonial Government “imposed” its laws on Maori against their will, the speeches show chiefs repeatedly inviting the imposition. Demanding it, even.
Such widespread assimilation and transfer of authority meant that the powers resting with chiefs at the time of Waitangi had largely been devolved to local Pakeha magistrates by the time Queen Victoria died in 1901. While technically chiefs still had complete justicial authority over their lands and tribe under the Treaty, how many actually wanted to use it? And how many ordinary Maori, faced with punishment via a magistrate versus execution via tribal “utu”, would voluntarily choose the old laws over the new?
The cold hard reality is that relations between Maori and Pakeha had long since evolved beyond the Treaty’s limits in a natural organic process. Today’s treaty revisionism is little more than Maori dissatisfaction with their place in society by the end of the 20th century, manifesting itself in a highly-romanticised rearview survey of their culture - a rose coloured spectacles look at history, so to speak. Pakeha are guilty of similar fantasising - we look back to our own cultural legends like Camelot when things get tough.
We are, all of us it seems, each seeking our own Return to Eden. Wherever that may be and, in the case of some activists, whatever the cost.
Keynglish, Part 1
THE JOHN KEY INTERVIEW
They say New Zealand politicians can’t be bought, but tell that to the person who, just before Christmas, shelled out more than $4,000 to have lunch with new National Party leader John Key after a charity auction on the Zillion website. All we can tell you is the mystery buyer wasn’t us. Instead, IAN WISHART caught up with John Key and his deputy Bill English for their most in-depth media interview yet on their vision for New Zealand.
KEY: My view is that this brand is in incredibly strong shape, these are values and principles that go back 70 years. And if you really look at the sort of things that, say, for instance Holyoake was saying and you apply them to what I've been saying in the last three weeks, then I think you'll find there's a pretty strong match there. I think the reason that the party has endured for so long is that those values are very very durable. Now of course individual policies come and go, what worked for Holyoake and others won't necessarily work for me in terms of absolute policies, because the environment is different, but I think one of the aims of that speech is to really spell out that while I've used a slightly softer tone in the last few weeks, than maybe Don did, that fundamentally we are still going in exactly the same direction with values that line up with where we think New Zealand is heading.
INVESTIGATE: It's been an interesting time in politics, particularly since Labour took over in 1999, and I guess the period up to the 2002 election, where it had its vicious electoral defeat was marked, I think, by National still trying to establish what it actually stood for. Is there a danger in the slightly softer tone that the clear delineation between National and Labour won't be kept?
KEY: Well, yeah, look, there are always risks as, in a sense, I don't think beneath the surface, Labour has truly moved towards the centre, and I think the language they want to use and the spin they want to put on things is that they've got a tinge of blue in them, if you like, and they are hunting in the centre ground. Inevitably that's where most New Zealanders inhabit and if we don't try and win that space then by definition, it pushes us out to a much smaller audience. And clearly we want to win the bulk of the party vote come Election 2008. So in a sense, we don't make any apologies for hunting in that ground but I think there will be very different outcomes. Fundamentally, we trust the private sector and we trust New Zealanders to make good judgement calls for themselves and their families, and we don't think Labour does and we think that their response is always one of the sort of Nanny State where Wellington knows best. When you see the results of the last few years, I mean, health is just a classic example, no one can say that Labour hasn't thrown enormous amounts of money at it - they've taken the spending up annually from $6 billion to about $10.5 billion a year, but the results are at best pathetic. And why is that? Well, because they're hiring as many bureaucrats as they are nurses. So I think you'll see a very different approach from us, but one that the public will buy into, and I don't think it's one where they will be intimidated by it. I mean, my view is that if someone is looking for a hip operation or a knee operation, they care about the quality and the timing of that operation; in the end, the hospital that carries it out is probably irrelevant.
INVESTIGATE: I see the suggestion that women in Nelson/Marlborough will be without epidural services, because the government has rundown the health system to that extent, in what is a major provincial city.
KEY: That’s an example of where their priorities are wrong. I think you can argue the same case with Pharmac – I mean, Pharmac’s funding has been static for the last four years, in nominal terms it’s been around half a billion dollars. In the last election campaign our policy was to increase their funding reasonably dramatically, and of course we were going to do that by not rolling out a subsidy in another area, but we thought that was a better allocation of funds. Now, that doesn’t mean it’ll be our policy in 2008 but what it shows is, I think, that we are prepared to tackle – you can’t just look at these incredibly large portfolios and just argue that there’s one solution, throw a bit of money at it and you’ll get the right outcome at the other end. I think you really do have to demand productivity and performance and have the right allocation of resources.
INVESTIGATE: From my own time in Government working for Mike Moore in 1986, one of the key things in that first Lange administration was the perception, the hangover from the Muldoon years, of “bureaucracy capture”, whereupon a lot of the civil servants at the time had been with a National administration for years and were used to dealing with National and were very suspicious of the incoming Labour people. The reverse is now the case, you have bureaucracy capture with Labour – Tamihere touched on it in his interview with Investigate last year about the networks that now exist in the civil service. How seriously do you treat that as a problem?
KEY: I think the winds of political change drift pretty rapidly in Wellington, it’s a world that revolves around the Beehive and Parliament, and my sense of the anecdotal stories and approaches below the radar screen that we’re getting at the moment is that the core bureaucrats in Wellington can sense pretty rapidly a change.
So while, superficially, they may have nailed their colours to Labour’s mast for a while I think they can see that the time of this government is rapidly coming to an end and they’re making pretty clear and overt signals that they want to work with us. Of course, we’ll have to demonstrate through our policies and our people that we’ve got the goods, but I think we very much do.
INVESTIGATE: One of the issues, with the State Sector reform of the 80s, and it’s been a bit of a bugbear for parties in Opposition when they want accountability out of Ministers – is that Ministers now say “well, we can’t touch these civil servants because it’s all independent…” – Is there room for more political control of the senior departments and so forth so that you can get accountability back into the political system?
KEY: Well I think you do need accountability. My guess is that the public will be looking aghast at the Liam Ashley case, and asking why a Labour party in opposition were so quickly calling for heads on the National side when we had Cave Creek, and yet when it comes to Liam Ashley they’ve been pretty quick to accept that they are politically accountable but not responsible, and therefore they don’t intend to do anything about it. So I think the public is entitled to accountability, and across a wide range: accountability even just for value for money – I think New Zealanders know they are paying a hell of a lot in tax, that the government expenditure has increased dramatically and in part that’s putting pressure on inflation in New Zealand, yet coming out the other end is something that even the incoming briefing to ministers confirms – to describe it as “sub-optimal” would be gilding the lily. It’s really a very low level of productivity. Yet every quarter for the last 20 quarters we’ve seen the state sector wages rising faster than the private sector, so there’s a real imbalance here. Government is a big beast now, and we need to have that beast performing if New Zealand’s economic growth and productivity levels are going to get us back into the top half of the OECD.
INVESTIGATE: Well that gets me back to the question about bureaucracy capture, because there is this perception that we have an elected political system, but it has been disconnected legislatively from the civil service that it operates –
KEY: Well I think that’s been a deliberate political ploy by Labour, I think you’ve seen that through the DHBs – that was a level put in place to ensure, again, that they were responsible but directly not accountable. Every time you ask a question they can simply say ‘Well that’s a matter for the DHB, take it up with them’, and when you try and take it up with them you get a blank response. I don’t think any of us should underestimate that Helen Clark is a cunning woman who understands the systems well and has worked them to her best advantage.
INVESTIGATE: So is a Key government likely to be brave enough to figure out some way to bring that accountability back in legislatively so that it can control the public sector?
KEY: We’ll certainly take a look at it. I think it is important when money is spent – and we’re talking about very large sums of money – that people feel there is a process of accountability. It’ll probably never be at the level that every journalist and lobby group would want, but I think nevertheless there are improvements that can be made.
INVESTIGATE: In other words the pendulum has swung too far?
KEY: That’s my sense of it. Like it has in so many things with Labour, it never self corrects until it’s exposed.
INVESTIGATE: If you had to describe the Labour years, and taking the good with the bad, what would you say their biggest achievements are?
KEY: Arguably they’ve been in the social policy area, you know, whether it's banning smoking or changes that they've made in areas like civil unions - I'm not arguing whether they are good or bad, I'm just saying that they've achieved a result. If you look on the other side, economically, while I think they would point to the fact that there’s been reasonably strong levels of economic growth and job creation, I think if you really look at their policies they've just been riding a wave that they did very little to create. And I think when you really look back on the Clark years she won't be remembered for what she's achieved. I think she'll be remembered for the way that she managed her caucus. There's a big difference.
INVESTIGATE: On the flipside of the same coin. What are their biggest weaknesses?
KEY: Well, their weaknesses are, I think, they have very low levels of aspiration. Fundamentally, Michael Cullen and Helen Clark are deeply conservative people who doubt Kiwis ability to really make it on the world stage, so they don't invest in things like infrastructure heavily, because they're just not quite sure whether we'll make it or not. Everything is done incrementally, everything is sort of second-guessed and micro-managed, and my sense of it is that New Zealand is sitting on a huge opportunity, which if it doesn't capture in the next 20 or 30 years, will really set us back, because for the first time in our history we are probably in the fastest growing time zone.
We've got a world around us that’s rapidly going to start buying the kinds of products that we want, but equally we're facing competition that most Kiwis haven't really focused on, coming out of countries like Latin America, for some of our core areas like agriculture and forestry and wine, and ultimately the same thing could be true of tourism. And so I think you've got this sort of interesting world where on the one hand, there is this great opportunity – and the Internet is the same thing: all of a sudden people can tap into a billion people worldwide, have a niche product that they can sell from New Zealand and from their home (which may not necessarily be located in downtown Wellington or Christchurch), so the opportunities are limitless, and the tyranny of distance has been removed. But on the other side of the coin, the competition is coming from people that we are not solely focused on, and it's coming on stream pretty quickly.
So it is not a scenario where New Zealand is doomed if it doesn't get its policies right, but it's a scenario where we don't achieve what we are capable of achieving. I think that would be hugely frustrating for Kiwis, and it's also, I might add, extremely dangerous, because we're sitting on the border of a country which is pretty aggressively focused on building its competitiveness - in the form of Australia - and we're already seeing that: 685 Kiwis leaving a week. We’ve got a brain drain that the OECD is starting to mention as our number one issue, given that it is the highest in the developed world. So I think we really have to worry about those competitive threats and the only way to fix that is to come up with a set of policies under a timeframe, and with a commitment, that are world-class, that do sort of challenge where New Zealand could be if it wants to achieve the kinds of outcomes that it is capable of achieving.
INVESTIGATE: Catch-22 for National: under the new Brash leadership when he came on board, his Orewa 1 speech, catapulted the party back from the political doldrums to the point where it almost won the last election. He touched a nerve quite clearly on this whole issue of race and multiculturalism and everything that went with it. How difficult is it to you as a new leader to keep that support there and yet find a way of navigating a softer line?
KEY: Well I think firstly, that obviously it’s critical that you maintain your core support, and I'd say National's core support is in the mid-30s. I think that's sort of where it sits, and that's probably fundamentally true of Labour - we probably both have core support of around about 30 odd percent. But we had a particularly bad year in 2002, partly because MMP is very cruel to you when you are doing badly because they don't necessarily jump to the centre-left, but they just go off to a party on the centre-right, and we saw that in 2002. The good news is its kind to you when they think you're going to win and you're doing well, you pick up a whole lot of people who vote for a winner even if they are a little unsure. So we obviously need to maintain our core support, which is critically important.
The future of New Zealand is changing and we need to change with it. If we don't, then ultimately there is no long-term future for the National party. Political parties represent the populace if you like, and we need to be part of that. If you really look at the policies, as I've said, fundamentally our policies on race have not changed: we believe absolutely in all New Zealanders being treated equally before the law, we believe in a speedy settlement process of historical claims and we believe in the abolishment of the Maori seats - if there's a change, then it is over the timetabling of when that abolition will take place. It's likely that our first caucus in February will come up with something that will reflect, arguably, a more conciliatory timetable around the abolition of those seats.
So really, in a sense, all I changed is probably the tone. I make no apologies for wanting to talk about the language of development, not the language of grievance. But I do that for a number of reasons: firstly, of course as a political leader I could spend my life absolutely honing in on everything that separates us, and these days we are a pretty multicultural society and there are lots of differences. But equally, I believe that we've got to focus on what unites us and sort of have enough maturity as a country to say ‘there's a lot that binds us together’, and even though there are many voices singing the same song, we've also grown up enough to recognize there are some differences as well.
INVESTIGATE: We are heading into a world that is increasingly turbulent, and I raise the example of Investigate columnist Mark Steyn-
KEY: I know him, yes.
INVESTIGATE: -and Steyn has just published a book called America Alone where he makes a very telling case that, for example, Europe as we know it with its various different European cultures, will effectively cease to exist within one generation because of the huge influx of immigration from overseas. I think Muhammad is now the most popular name for baby boys in Belgium, and I think running at number two in France, so you are getting this huge cultural tidal shift. And that's part of the reason they've had these riots over there. But what he is basically saying is, the world is a very changeable place and the demographics are changing - in the West our birth rates are falling and our populations are becoming older. What does this mean in the next 15 to 20 years for New Zealand?
KEY: I think we know that there will be a changing ethnic mix in New Zealand - most of the forecasting indicates that this is likely for the reasons that you pointed out, that we have a birth rate that is below replacement and unless we want to see our population fall then it is likely there will be some [ethnic] change.
I think our position is slightly different in Europe. Europe's had fairly open immigration for lots of different reasons, New Zealand's been a country largely based on immigration. So I don't think we need to be fearful of that. But I think we should just apply sound tests, which are: it's our country, we should choose who we want to come here and who doesn't come, and in choosing that we should pick people who we think can make a contribution, that can ultimately settle in and become New Zealanders. My sense is that we've achieved that pretty well so far. There's always a process of digestion if you like, but I feel pretty confident we can manage that process.
INVESTIGATE: Is there a need as part of that process increasingly to have some sort of national written constitution so that everyone who is a citizen of New Zealand understands what our basic principles are and we swear allegiance to that?
KEY: A written constitution, not necessarily, but one of the things you've seen in Australia, and I have some sympathy for, is that through the curriculum and through the education system they promote very heavily to young Australians, wherever they come from, a deep understanding of Australia's history, of its natural fauna and flora, all the historical icons of Australia. I think that's something that can be looked at in New Zealand, because I think it is very important that when people come - not that they forget their historical roots - but the thing that will make any country work is not that we have differences, because clearly we will have some, but we also have something that we feel binds us together. What it means to be a New Zealander.
At the moment, I would argue that we are best at expressing that when we are not in New Zealand, when we see each other on the tube in London or we are somewhere else. I think, increasingly, Australia has done quite a good job of that, you've seen this sort outpouring of nationalistic pride on Australia Day, my sense is New Zealand will evolve with the right political leadership to that. In other words, a sort of coming together of what it means to be a New Zealander, and there are certain pathways we can do to help achieve that in a world which, as you say, is likely to have greater immigration as a feeder of its population.
INVESTIGATE: In terms of the rise of yourself and Bill English to leadership, I was reading the blogs for the next few days afterwards, and the reaction from some of the right-wing blogs was, “Oh heck, it's Labour lite!”. What's your reaction to that, have they got reason to be fearful or do you think you'll be able to persuade them and keep them on board for the next couple of years?
KEY: I think we will absolutely keep them on board. Look, there will always be a wide range of views. Again, if you go back to Holyoake, I think, he said if the party agreed with him 60% of the time he was doing pretty well. You are never going to get somebody who is going to agree with absolutely everything you say, and every policy you take as a leader, even as a political party.
So in the end it comes down to a kind of theme, and values and the way you handle the decision-making process. Of course there will be some on the extreme right, who will want to have policies that we are not likely to be advocating, and again some on the extreme left, who will want policies that we are not likely to be advocating.
Again, I make no real apologies for saying I take a relatively pragmatic view of things. In the end I want policies that work, but pragmatism should not be mistaken for not being decisive. I think we proved in the early weeks of the leadership that we are certainly prepared to make decisions, even hard ones, and we will make them pretty rapidly. I think even in my political career in the last 4 1/2 years, I've proven that through things like the tax plan, which was the biggest tax cutting plan that New Zealand has seen in its history. So I don't think people can say that I'm not prepared to make hard decisions or decisions that when I believe in them I'll back them.
INVESTIGATE: Is this a sign of how you will treat your responsibility in government - as Helensville MP, you were personally not worried about civil unions but you had a large amount of lobbying going on in your electorate that suggested the people in your electorate who had voted for you did not want that passed. Still in a conscience vote, you opted to recognize the will of your electorate. Is that something you see as being fundamental to being a politician?
KEY: Yeah, and you can take two views on conscience issues, one is to say that you vote on your own conscience, only what you think matters and to hell with the people that you represent; the other thing you can say is that you operate in the House of Representatives as their representative. I've chosen to take the latter view. Often the latter view coincides with my view, I mean, I voted against the Prostitution Law Reform Bill, because in the end I thought it was bad legislation as much as I got intense lobbying about it. It's not that I'm too gutless to make a decision, because I will certainly make them and I make them all the time, but I kind of feel like the people of Helensville, who put me there, expect me to represent their views in Parliament, and I do. Behind the scenes you'll see me doing that quite aggressively on a number of issues, one or two that I won't bother sharing with you, but I can tell you from a local perspective that it's been slightly different view from views others might have held and I'll strongly advocate for that as well. In those instances, if the party has a different position, then I'll be bound by the party's position as I expect all of my MPs to be. But I'm not afraid to stand up to the people that put me there, and I think any politician that forgets who put them in Parliament will rapidly find themselves on civvy street.
INVESTIGATE: What about citizens initiated referenda on conscience issues, is that something you'd support?
KEY: Yeah, I think there is some room. You can't overdo referendums - where you get to a point where the vote is on everything - because it becomes really difficult. And one of the really difficult parts about referendums as well is that you ask really simplistic questions for what are really complex issues. But, nevertheless, conscience issues are largely about the kind of society that we want, and some things, at a pace that people feel comfortable with. And I don't think there is anything wrong with having that kind of view.
You wouldn't apply it to everything, and there are certainly times when political leadership is required. You can take a simple example, where there are certain things around race for instance, where you couldn't have - even if there was a majority - them inappropriately flexing their muscles on a minority. We are a better society for having politicians and leaders who, in the past, have stood up to that. And you can sort of quote Martin Luther King down. But I think that, in certain instances, there is a place for binding referenda and we should not be afraid to use them.
INVESTIGATE: The Hager book that has attracted so much attention in the media, perhaps undeservedly, the general mutterings continuing behind the scenes would suggest that there were no leaks, that somehow somebody has hacked into National's computer system - is that a concern to you?
KEY: It is a deep concern and I think all New Zealanders should be very concerned if that's the case, because really we are talking about something very sinister, if that's occurred. We are meeting with the police, we need to get to the bottom of it. We know they are taking it very seriously. One of the reasons that we certainly hold the view that it is likely our systems have been either hacked into, or there has been something occurring, is simply the sheer volume of information they have. It is just not credible that it was just a bunch of e-mails that someone left on a plane.
INVESTIGATE: Your deputy Bill English is a conservative Catholic boy, do you believe in God?
KEY: What I have always said to that question in its many iterations, is, look, I have lived my life by Christian principles. I don't go to church, I was never brought up in any major way in a terribly religious household. My mother was Jewish, which under Jewish faith makes me Jewish. I do go to church a hell of a lot with the kids, but I don't want to hold myself out to be something that I'm not. I'm not Bill, I accept that, but I kind of try and live my life as best I can by a set of rules that I think works.
INVESTIGATE: In terms of the votes that you're out to capture by 2008, who are you after, what is your target market?
KEY: It's got to be women. Women are the clear audience - not that they don't like what we've said in the past - I think it is adding on to the message that we've had. So that's the first one, and I think the second is urban liberals and young people. But right across the board, I think there is room for improvement.
Keynglish, Part 2
BILL ENGLISH INTERVIEW
INVESTIGATE: In terms of what you see as the biggest issues for National over the next two years, what would they be?
ENGLISH: As the finance spokesman, the biggest issue for me is taking the economy forward in a way that rewards people who take risks, and shares the benefits and growth with New Zealand families, and it doesn't all end up in the government surplus.
INVESTIGATE: There has been an issue for several years now about the red tape, the compliance costs, and even the negative incentives that go on, how are you looking to tackle some of this?
ENGLISH: Look, I think that's really important, because we’ve gone down the track where the bureaucrats have set out to eliminate every risk. Now, you cannot have economic growth and success in business without risks, so New Zealanders want to work in a team but they want an entrepreneurial, and aspirational culture. And that is gradually being mothballed by continuous unnecessary regulation that is designed to get rid of every risk - and you can't.
INVESTIGATE: You see it not just in the business sector though. With this particular administration, you are seeing that same attitude applied right across the social sector, and protection for everything. Is that a problem overall?
ENGLISH: Yes, it is a problem. It's a problem because of the kind of attitudes it creates. Because if the government says that it's got the answer to everything, and if there's any problem they will fix it, people lose a sense of responsibility and consequences. National's view is, the government is there to underpin what people do, not dominate it.
INVESTIGATE: I asked John Key this, about bureaucracy capture in the civil service. Given that many of the people in senior positions were liberals appointed by the original Lange administration in the 80s, an incoming National government has to deal with that. How do you deal with a civil service that is possibly inimical to what National stands for?
ENGLISH: Well I don't believe all of them are, I mean, this is a public service who want the opportunity to serve the public instead of the Labour Party. I meet civil servants regularly, who are frustrated with the way that Labour thinks that putting together a list of things to do is the same as doing them. And that putting out a strategy to deal with some issue amounts to fixing it. What they want is the chance to be treated with respect, regarded as professionals. They don't want bucketloads more money, because they know that that's leading to a soft spending and low quality government. So I'm reasonably optimistic that the civil service is as tired of the Labour government as everybody else is.
INVESTIGATE: Is there enough accountability in the public service at the moment in your opinion?
ENGLISH: Not at the moment, no. And where there is, it is the wrong sort of accountability - I'll give you an example, this is Labour's definition of accountability: you remember a guy named Kit Richards? He wrote an e-mail the government didn't like. The guy loses his job, and can never be employed in the civil service again, while Labour are in power. Liam Ashley dies, brutally murdered, while he is in the custodial care of the state. No one has resigned, no one is responsible, no one is accountable. And that stinks. So Labour focuses on accountability for meeting Labour's political objectives, and if you get in the way of that you get dealt to. But accountability in the public service? That's long gone.
INVESTIGATE: Looking at the Brash years that followed on from your own leadership of National, why do you think National bottomed out, then bounced back up - what do you see, having had the advantage of being there at the helm, what was the thing that turned it for National?
ENGLISH: When National came out of government, it had a bad dose of low morale. I had some views about where it should go, that amounted to a longer term strategy, and I didn't articulate that very well. They wanted quicker results that got them back in the game and rebuilt the confidence of the party. Don Brash came in as a bit of a punt at the time, he only just got across the line to the leadership, but it turned out the public responded to him better, I think, than most people expected. It also meant that with a small caucus after the 2002 election, once the leadership changed it did settle down, because we stopped arguing about the leadership and got on and did a bit of work. What Brash did was gather up - in the 2002 election a whole lot of centre-right voters knew National didn't have a chance and Prebble and Peters picked a lot of them up, and Peter Dunne, with some pretty simple messages, and Brash gathered them all up. The job now is to extend beyond that group of voters.
INVESTIGATE: Jane Clifton in the Listener called John Key “Helen lite”, there is a perception that by sounding softer that National might abandon some of the ground that it has won. Is there any danger of that happening, or does the party have a cunning plan?
ENGLISH: No, there is no danger of abandoning core positions that have been hard-won and are good for the country. Some of this is just about the man for the times, and I think John Key has had a great start to the leadership because he is seen as the man for the times. Don was suffering a bit, just from being seen as a guy who had outstanding public service in the 90s, but might not be able to carry that through. So we are not going to be abandoning core positions. Look, our view of the world is fundamentally different from Labour's and I don't agree with this “Labour lite” stuff. We have to work within the constraints of MMP, which means you need to have 51% support in the Parliament for what you do - you used to be able to do it on 35%. So, of course, our job is to convince the public that we can manage the politics on their behalf, and at the same time achieve our direction, because increasingly we are moving to wanting a direction that is about aspiration, responsibility, risk-taking, and getting ahead.
INVESTIGATE: Just on the MMP point, you've seen over selective governments the damage that MMP actually does to the minor parties, every time a party enters into a formal coalition with a major one they get eaten. How will that affect politics long-term?
ENGLISH: I think it would be a mistake to judge MMP on what has happened so far to the small parties, because a number of the small parties are personality cults. So there's no particular reason for New Zealand First to exist except Winston Peters, you saw what happened to the Alliance, and then Progressives because that was dominated by one guy, Jim Anderton. United Future are going to find it hard to live past Peter Dunne's life in politics.
Now you are getting the emergence of parties that have a much stronger base, and that is the Greens and the Maori party. They've got a stronger base because they can exist regardless of the leadership - and the Greens have shown that, without Rod Donald they are still polling pretty well. They have learnt from watching all the variations that Clark has put in place, that they can get the right amounts of independence and influence, so I would see MMP in the future reflecting this. Those parties will be much more resilient than the ones who've been at the centre of MMP so far.
INVESTIGATE: One of the things that the Greens and the Maori party have done is to try and steer clear of formal coalitions.
ENGLISH: Yeah, that's one of the lessons! Don't let them swallow you up, and don't spend too much time around the Cabinet table because then you become responsible for everything instead of just your own brand. And the second thing is, that you have to have a strong clear brand that is about issues, not personalities - and that's where Act have a challenge because Act have lost their way on issues, they've become a personality party. And if they stay that way then they might get through a few more elections but they are not a permanent part of the system.
INVESTIGATE: In terms of her Majesty's loyal government, Helen Clark and team, how daunting are they, heading into a potential fourth term, for you and John Key?
ENGLISH: We are not daunted at all. This is a government that has done what it came to do, they are now looking tired and scratchy. I can see the signs, because I've been there, the signs of a fading government. They think the process is much more important than the result, so you just get endless strategies and collaborations and partnerships but no results.
They are getting scratchy and bad tempered and trying to bully the media, the past results of their personal and political judgements are catching up with them. That's what happens to third term governments, and we are not daunted by them at all. They got a long way in the past by talking their own book about what competent political managers they are, but in the end you get judged on results, not political management.
INVESTIGATE: During the Brash years, what would you say are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of National coming out of that time?
ENGLISH: I think the biggest strengths would be the hard work that's gone into building some strong positions with the New Zealand public around lower taxes, around the way government should deal with Maori - we're not going to give those things away. I think also Don's temperament and professionalism had a big impact on how the National party operates, it's a hidden effect, but a very important one. The party became more professional and better at making decisions under Brash. Coming out of it I don't see too many weaknesses really, John and I would be the first to acknowledge that we have a terrific platform of 40 plus percent of solid public support to build on.
INVESTIGATE: The Nicky Hager book, as the dust settles from that, there seems to be a growing suspicion that there was no leak out of National, but instead somebody hacked into the Parliamentary servers and stole your e-mails. What are your views on that?
ENGLISH: Yeah, look, what you are seeing here is years of spying and burglary and theft at the highest levels of New Zealand politics. Watergate was one burglary, this is much more extensive than that. So it is really important that the police focus on getting to the bottom of how all that material came into the hands of Nicky Hager and his book. Hacking is one option, I think theft and burglary is another, and I think the rash of political stories we've had about politicians in the last 12 months indicate that there's been fairly extensive private investigator or other spying activity on senior politicians, and who knows who's next.
INVESTIGATE: I have covered governments for something like 25 years now and in my view this administration would have to rank as one of the most corrupt - at an objective level, just in terms of all the stuff coming up around them - what's your view?
ENGLISH: This is an administration that has corrupted the whole political process. I have seen good, strong, experienced civil servants, reduced to gibbering idiots, because of the arbitrary control and punishment systems run by the government. I have seen all sorts of interest groups who have strong views, and in the past had advocated them aggressively in the public arena, bought off by the current government, with threats and promises. And then we've seen the straight out corrupt use of the taxpayers’ money and Parliamentary privileges, just this year, in the pledge card and Taito Phillip Field. That comes on top of a record that stretches back four or five years - no Prime Minister has been interviewed more often by the police than Helen Clark.
INVESTIGATE: What do you think of Helen as a leader?
ENGLISH: She's a ruthless and clinical leader, she's respected for her political competence, and not loved for anything else, except perhaps in the arts world. She has set a benchmark for MMP management that future governments have to reach for stability, because she has had a stable team. She is focused very much on her own stretching power, and that is shown by the fact that she has failed to renew the Labour Party. She has gone for making sure that her prime ministership is stable and not contested. She hasn't tried to ensure that the Labour Party can keep on governing, and they are about to pay the price for that.
INVESTIGATE: In light of your own political career, do you regret the Brash years in any way?
ENGLISH: No not at all. Politics comes and goes, timing is everything in politics, some of the things I was trying to do were just before their time. But the time is right now. Don Brash added much to the National party that I could not have added, even if I had been more experienced than I was. So, no, I have no regrets. I think we are in great shape now for a long and stable period in government, and that's what we are working to achieve over the next 18 months.
INVESTIGATE: Your relationship with John Key appears to be good, people were speculating that Bill might put ambition before the task at hand but you seem to have a good relationship.
ENGLISH: Yeah, we do. And that's because we think the same way about a lot of political issues, so that helps, we can make decisions quickly, because we are not arguing the point, and I think that's been demonstrated recently. The other reason it works is that we complement each other. John is a terrific marketer, a very appealing media presence, and I've got the experience of government and policy. I think we have a strong professional respect for what each can do it, and that's why it is working so well.
INVESTIGATE: Labour has made such an issue out of social engineering, its social policy programmes and the like, how does National achieve its new focus without being seen to be slipping towards what Labour has made such an issue of?
ENGLISH: Look, I think that's a real challenge. When you look at Labour's track record, the things they really cared about were those things where they were telling other people how to live their lives, and doing their social engineering. On the economy, and their delivery of services to the public, there's been a lot of talk - billions of dollars - but they are not really that focused on it, so they haven't got anywhere. One of National's core principles is freedom, we need to make sure that we don't get sucked along, in the environment that Labour has created, into accepting things that unnecessarily take people's freedom away or that have the government telling people they can't take risks that any consenting adults would think they should be able to take.
INVESTIGATE: On the whole global warming scenario, which I know Nick Smith has done some work on, there is, it appears, emerging with the National a belief that global warming is human caused. Yet there is a lot of scientific argument to the contrary. Is National wedded to the idea that it is human caused? Because if it's not human caused, then there is nothing we can do about it.
ENGLISH: We are open to the science, there's got to be good science, and not hysteria, driving the policy. We've become quite worried that policies are going to be driven by this Armageddon mentality that the world has far too many people and far too much carbon, and it's all going to unwind within the next 20 years. So we want to make sure, we've got an open ear to the science, we don't go along with this idea that Labour do that you're either - what do they say? - Helen Clark calls you a ‘climate change denier’, and it sounds like something out of the Inquisition – ‘how dare you!’. In fact, the science is complex, in our view it has moved in the direction of human causation, if more and better science says that's not the case we are open to it. In the meantime, we do believe that the risks are great enough that we need some insurance.
INVESTIGATE: What about the United Nations report suggesting cattle are a bigger contributor to global warming than cars? I would have thought, if you go back 8000 years, there would be millions more bison, elephants and antelope roaming the planet, than we have cattle now.
ENGLISH: The difficulty with climate change is going to be untangling the political agendas from the real science. It is going to suit a whole lot of people to believe that cars are not as polluting with climate change, because it would be very unpopular to curb people's capacity to drive their cars around. In New Zealand, that is a very dangerous idea, because our biggest single exporter is based entirely on cows, and that's Fonterra. Our job as a political party is to come up with sensible and reasonable policies that don't put our economic growth at risk, that don't put people's freedom to make their own decisions at risk because of some hysteria. That is a real danger, we are going to see Labour casting around trying to rebuild credibility on the environment, and look like a government with some vision, and there's a risk we'll get some pretty stupid policies as a result.
INVESTIGATE: Mark Steyn's new book, America Alone, is warning that the world is about to become a whole lot more unstable as Western civilisation heads into an unprecedented death spiral, caused by falling birth rates, rising abortions and rapidly ageing populations, while Islam is set to take over Europe within a generation. That's a pretty grim picture, if National becomes the government, how do you prepare for that kind of future?
ENGLISH: Demography is destiny, I am absolutely convinced of that. A community that stops breeding, which the Western - particularly European - countries have, is going to get swamped by those who do breed. It's a pretty fundamental fact of life on Earth. And we, in some respects, are not a lot different in New Zealand. There's a couple of points that matter: firstly, societies that can adapt to it I going to do well, and societies that really struggle with the demographic changes are going to be riven with conflict. And we've seen how nasty and brutal as conflicts can be. You've seen it in Iraq, you're seeing it in Africa, you are starting to see signs of it in the Pacific. I'm optimistic about New Zealand, though, because we have had our own reasonably intensive internal debate about history and who belongs where, and actually we have managed it pretty well by any international standard. So I think one of our advantages is going to be our ability to adapt to these demographic changes. The hard bit is going to be sorting out our role in the Pacific, where you've got the Chinese and the Taiwanese competing for influence, you've got ethnic strife in a number of places we hadn't expected before, you've got political instability in the Solomons, Fiji and Tonga. We've got a number of those communities heavily represented in New Zealand, and I don’t think we've got a clue what to do - New Zealanders are so used to having the moral high ground, where we can preach about foreign policy and cultural difference to everyone else, that we're just a bit bemused at the moment about what to do when we actually have to deal with the ugly reality of these issues. National has started already this year, on really trying to get its head around what is going to be quite a different world than the one that National was attached to, which actually ended around about 1985.
INVESTIGATE: One of Steyn's points in his book is that countries like New Zealand and Australia, because of the distance from world trouble spots may end up becoming immigration magnets for cultures fleeing Europe as those societies continue to break down.
ENGLISH: We are going to look a lot more stable, just because we don't have the geographical pressures, we don't have these populations on our borders, but I think that flight won't just be English-speaking for European - it will also include the middle-class of every country from Indonesia through to Zimbabwe. In fact, the arrival of the Zimbabwe migrants here is perhaps the shape of things to come, but they certainly won't be all European or English-speaking. So our ability to adapt to it is still going to be really quite important.
INVESTIGATE: With an incoming National government, is the anything in terms of Labour's - particularly their social agenda - policies that you would tweak?
ENGLISH: It depends what you mean by social agenda. The one thing that you can be sure of is that National is not going to carry on down the road of social engineering. When Labour had got through the prostitution bill and the civil union Bill, in 2005 the public said ‘enough!’ and every politician got that signal. What I find out is that the public are much more worried about the breakdown of fundamental social order, particularly around families, than they are about creating ever more rights and responsibilities that lead to that breakdown.
INVESTIGATE: As education spokesman, you'd be where of the tensions that exist within the education ministry and the teaching profession, whereby a lot of them are what you would call urban liberal Labour supporters and have a particular worldview that they have brought to the education portfolio themselves. Does National have any plans to look long and hard at where some of these things are ingrained in the public service?
ENGLISH: With respect to education, we've got one definite plan about teaching kids how to read, write, and do maths - and that is a private members bill of mine that got drawn last month to set national standards for literacy and numeracy which will focus schools on making sure kids can read and write and do maths, regardless of the political leanings or the educational theories of the people who are teaching them. They'll have a job to do, it will be clear what is, and they'll have to get on and do it. I think there is scope a stronger focus on schools on citizenship and a proper understanding of New Zealand's history. The problem is that too many people in the education establishment believe the same thing at the Labour Party: that the history of New Zealand is the history of the Labour movement, and that is wrong, and that's been one of the things that got us into trouble about Maori issues - that whole left-wing view of history. The third thing that I'm interested in - and these last two are not policy yet - is getting an ethos of enterprise and entrepreneurialism into our schools. Traditionally our state system has been anti-business, and anti-private enterprise, because of the political backgrounds of a lot of the staff. I see some very good things going on in schools now, through things like the Young Enterprise Scheme, but in the future I'd like to see business, in particular, take a really strong interest in their local schools. Get trades and business right into the heart of the education system and show our kids that there is a pathway for aspiration that is about self-reliance, about initiative and about reward for risk. There's not near enough of that in our schools now.
July 27, 2007
Something else David Benson-Pope fudged on...
THE SECRET LIFE OF DAVID BENSON-POPE
[Author's note: when this story was published online in November last year, David Benson-Pope refused to deny the detailed allegations contained in the full version. In fact, he went to the trouble of ringing a senior Otago Daily Times journalist at home that evening, expressly to ensure that the newspaper was not quoting him as denying the story. Instead, the quote he approved was the much more vague: "When would I have time for that?" To this day, despite many attempts to get a straight answer, Benson-Pope has still never denied the story.]
By Ian Wishart
In July 2004, at the height of the clash of cultures surrounding Labour’s civil unions legislation, the man responsible for ramming that law through Parliament laid down a gauntlet challenging the integrity of groups opposing him. Married, with two children, Associate Justice Minister David Benson-Pope was the heterosexual face of the contentious gay marriage bill, and he’d been brought in to front it amid fears that the public would react badly to having openly gay Labour MPs Tim Barnett and Chris Carter leading the charge.
Both Carter and Barnett had taken prominent positions to push through the legalization of prostitution just months earlier, and the last thing Labour wanted was even more accusations that its homosexual wing was really in control of the party.
“It’s helpful if they’re not identified as the main supporters of the bill,” Benson-Pope was quoted in the Herald, “because that lends fuel to the fire that this is pandering to the gay community, which it isn’t.”
As a father, former schoolteacher and close confidant of Prime Minister Helen Clark, Benson-Pope was the epitome of tolerant middle-class Labour – comfortable in his own marriage and reaching out to protect the rights of oppressed minorities.
It was in this context, then, that Benson-Pope threw down a gauntlet to groups opposing the Civil Unions Bill. In a media statement dated 30 July 2004, the minister accused lobby group The Maxim Institute of not declaring its interests:
“The minister responsible for Civil Union legislation is welcoming people taking an active part in the debate but he says this must be done in an up-front and open manner.”
One of the minister’s criticisms was that members of Maxim were writing letters to the editor “without identifying themselves as Maxim members” – an accusation that hit home more recently with several letters published in the NZ Herald from “Brian Edwards, Herne Bay”, without reference to the fact that he is Helen Clark’s approved biographer and media trainer.
But Benson-Pope’s main beef was that in such an important public debate, it was crucial that people were honest about declaring their interests.
It was a theme he repeated in a speech to the Orewa Rotary Club, when he launched a stinging attack on Christians for opposing civil unions:
“These type of people and organizations have found labeling people 'PC' a very useful distraction as they try to influence mainstream debate from their very narrow and often extreme standpoint.
“They represent very small minorities, yet through sophisticated use of communications, lobbying and the media, we have seen in other countries and are starting to see here, are able to carry sway far greater than their numbers indicate that ought to.
“I described their intolerance as a challenge. The way to meet that challenge is head on. Ask them to explain their views. Call on them to be honest about what beliefs are really driving their agenda.”
In case you missed it, it’s now clearly on the record that David Benson-Pope doesn’t like people pushing barrows without being honest about their own motives and background. This, then, is the standard Investigate is about to apply to David Benson-Pope. Before we get to the fresh allegations, however, we first have to give them some context by briefly re-visiting the earlier allegations.
Mention the name David Benson-Pope these days and you get two reactions. “Tennis balls” would be one, while the other is invariably: “They went too far when they called him a ‘pervert’.” Benson-Pope is a man who polarizes. The classes of children he taught at Dunedin’s Bayfield High School were divided over his brusque style, and in his seven year parliamentary career he has continued to intimidate and bully his opponents, particularly attacking National’s female MPs like Katherine Rich and reducing some to tears in private encounters.
But when National’s law and order spokesman Judith Collins picked up on a Rodney Hide comment and called David Benson-Pope a “pervert” during an incandescent parliamentary Question Time this year, you could hear jaws drop not just around the debating chamber but around the country, as little old ladies tut-tutted and the traditional kiwi support for the underdog set in.
Although Benson-Pope had bound and gagged a student, had bashed another youngster in the face, and had spanked teenage girls on their thighs and busted into their changing rooms repeatedly while girls were showering on school camps, suddenly in one fell PR swoop he became the ‘victim’ of a media and political ‘witchhunt’.
In the House, Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen hinted he had “dirt” of his own about National’s Judith Collins, and Labour wheeled out its own female MPs, Lianne Dalziel and Annette King, to launch a blistering attack on Collins:
"She has been prepared to expose David's wife and children to unjustified personal abuse and public attention," Ms King said. "She has laughed and she has celebrated as she made her despicable comments of 'pervert' and 'dirty old man'."
For her part, Collins denied ever calling Benson-Pope a ‘dirty old man’, nor had she ever referred to Benson-Pope’s wife and children, but it was too late: Labour’s spin machine was in high gear.
Supported by the PR wunderkinds on the Beehive’s ninth floor, Benson-Pope finally came out of hiding to begin a charm offensive with the parliamentary press gallery, explaining how “hurtful” and “offensive” he found the allegations.
“I don't think anyone should have to put up with the filthy, despicable behaviour we saw yesterday,” he told the Herald that week. "I did use corporal punishment for a little while. There was always a witness -- and one told the policy inquiry (into the tennis ball incident) how distasteful I found it. I was actually one of the people who got rid of it."
According to the newspaper, it was the accusations of violence and ill-treatment that seem to have hurt him the most.
"I guess that's why I'm bruised and cut up. I'm seriously angry about what went down, because the accusations that (Judith) Collins and (Rodney) Hide have been making are so contrary to the bulk of the work I did in the classroom, and the work I did in the outdoors."
“To be accused of being violent and bullying is pretty unpleasant."
Remember those statements professing an anti-violence mentality – in a few minutes they will become highly relevant.
But the Herald article wasn’t the only one.
“I guess I’ve been pretty upset by the attack on my integrity,” he told Close Up’s Mark Sainsbury, before complaining about the impact on “my wife and kids”. Yet in a Sunday Star Times feature a couple of days later, Benson-Pope poses with his wife and children for a large photo on page A3, above a rambling interview with both himself and wife Jan Flood. It seemed strange behaviour for a man professing concern at his family being publicly identified, to then display them in a national newspaper.
“I continue to describe the Wishart claims as deeply offensive and nonsense,” Benson-Pope continued in his Close Up interview, “and I’m not resiling from that, they are, just as the behaviour of Rodney Hide and Judith Collins is deeply offensive.
When challenged by Sainsbury as to why the Investigate claims were “nonsense” and “ridiculous”, Benson-Pope replied:
“Well when you’re accused of being a vicious bully and beating children with a cane until they bleed, I challenge you to actually react calmly.”
“Did you ever beat a child with a cane until they bled?”
“Not that I’m aware, but how would I know? What I will say is that I did use corporal punishment for a short time. I found it distasteful, actually, as one of the fellow teacher witnesses comments on the police file.”
But Benson-Pope is not telling the whole story. The police file published in Investigate, and which was the basis of the “nonsense” and “ridiculous” retort, discloses students were left bleeding.
One student told police that when Benson-Pope delivered canings in the corridor outside the classroom, he did so with apparent relish:
“Mr Benson-Pope would whistle the cane in the air before taking a run up of about 10 feet. I'm estimating the distance but you could actually hear him running up. It was pretty psychologically damning, standing there bent over listening to the run-up. I'm pretty sure it was a run-up for each of the three canes on that occasion. As a result I suffered severe bruising but no bleeding. Obviously very painful to sit for the next few days.”
A second boy remembers refusing to jump the vault at PE in the third form because he didn't feel confident. He told police his punishment from Benson-Pope was the cane. He was one of two boys given the cane for non-compliance at PE that day.
“I had to wait outside the school hall while Tony [the other offender] was dealt with first. I could hear screaming and yelling. I still remember it well today because [Tony] was such a tiny boy.”
A former teacher confirmed the incident to police. “It's a lasting impression because it's the only caning I've witnessed. I remember Tony ran a lap of the assembly hall yelling in pain after the caning.”
“When it was my turn,” continues the former student who'd refused to jump the vault, “I was brought into the hall. I was bent over and caned once over my trousers by Benson-Pope. I pleaded not to be caned again but was struck once more with the cane.
“I remember Benson-Pope laughing while he caned me, and that's what got me the most. When I got home I realized I had blood on my bum.”
So when Benson-Pope accused Investigate of publishing ridiculous nonsense, he omitted to tell Close Up that the allegations actually came from within the official police file.
“Are you a bully?,” Mark Sainsbury asked Benson-Pope on TV.
“I don’t believe so.”
“Are you a liar?”
The responses to those first two questions from Sainsbury were instantaneous. But the next question appeared to give Benson-Pope something to think about, and if you study his response carefully you’ll see he actually did not answer the question directly.
“Are you a pervert?”
(four seconds of silence, so questioner moves to fill the pregnant pause)
“Because that’s what they’re accusing you of in this building?”
“I know, and that’s why I said to you earlier that it’s one of the most despicable things I think I’ve ever had to face and one of the things that my colleagues have said – was they felt like having a shower afterwards, because of the filth that was thrown at me in the chamber yesterday. And I don’t think anyone in this country, MP or not, should have to put up with that despicable mudslinging.”
The “pervert” allegation raised in parliament was based on accounts in the police file, such as one where a girl described Benson-Pope as “sleazy”:
“Quite sleazy, some of the comments he made used to grate me. The girls, including me, felt that he was always staring at our legs beneath desks…with the girls he was always sleazy if he could be, he seemed to thrive on it.”
Remember, that’s a witness interviewed by police, not by Investigate. The “pervert” label was further enhanced – again by witnesses spoken to by police – when girls told of being made to strip down to panties and nighties and forced to stand outside in the cold night air for an hour while Benson-Pope spotlighted them with a torch.
“I remember he told us that we had to take any surplus clothing off, eg, jerseys and trackpants. It was just our nighties and no footwear,” one girl said in her police statement. The police files show both girls and boys were punished this way, finding it “humiliating” and in some cases painful – having to stand absolutely still for an hour in the same spot.
“We had to stand on the concrete, outside the long dorms. There were a few girls involved, over a dozen. I remember [one girl] being there as she told Benson-Pope she couldn’t do it for health reasons – that night her ankles swelled up really badly as a result. I remember later a lot of the girls tried to comfort her.
“I remember the incident so clearly because it was freezing cold, I believe it was winter. We were out there for about an hour.
“Benson-Pope just stood there, watching. If anyone spoke he threatened we would have to stand out there longer. I imagine I was feeling pretty self-conscious standing there in just a nightie,” the girl told police.
But it was after Investigate published the police files in our March 06 issue that the cat really landed among the pigeons. The incidents just detailed occurred on the 1982 school camp, but this time stories emerged of Benson-Pope overstepping the mark on a 1997 school camp, bursting in on the girls’ shower block.
“Certainly I opened the door and shouted, or banged on the door, and shouted at students who were spending more time in there than they should have, to get out,” the minister admitted to Close Up.
“Did you go into the girls dormitories?”
“Only under appropriate circumstances. The routine had previously been that [I] would get up, make tea for the staff, deliver that, wake up the four dorms by going in, turning on the lights and opening the doors saying ‘Time for the run, out you go’…it was just because of the concerns that came out of whatever questions were raised there that we strengthened up the policies and said male staff would not do any wake-ups in the girls dorms. Can I say Mark, we’re talking about cold environment, people in sleeping bags.”
But contrast David Benson-Pope’s explanation of the dorm incident with what the girls actually told Investigate. It wasn’t a wake-up call where girls were safe in their sleeping bags, it was during the day, after an afternoon mud-run.
“He knew we were in there. It was straight after the mud run [Investigate’s emphasis], he knew we were all in there getting changed and things like that and he just wandered straight on in, and thought he had the right to do that.”
The woman says up to twenty-five girls aged 14 and 15 were in various stages of undress, some fully naked, during Benson-Pope’s “visit”.
“Girls were naked and in the process of getting changed.”
She says the Labour MP lingered, staring, for 30 seconds, before finally getting out because of the pandemonium his presence was causing.
“Screaming and yelling and telling him to get out, and all this swearing.”
The woman says it was the second time that day [Investigate’s emphasis] Benson-Pope had attempted to see the schoolgirls undress.
“He walked in on the showers one time, then later on that day walked into the dorm room while we were getting changed. Straight on in. He’s an a**hole. He really is. I don’t know if any other students did, but me and my parents made a formal complaint about it, but nothing was done about it.”
According to Bayfield High, which admitted receiving a complaint from a different family after media pressure was applied, the policies were changed so that there would be no repeat of the 1997 dormitory incidents.
But Investigate found a girl on the 1998 camp who confirmed the old leopard had not changed his spots, despite the new policy.
“I do remember one incident involving him when I was in 4th form at a school camp at Tautuku. I remember that the girls were in their dorm getting ready for a tramp and we were all mucking around and taking ages to get changed. BP [Benson-Pope] got quite agitated and just marched on into the dorm without knocking or any warning at all and yelled at us all to hurry up. At this stage quite a few of us were still trying to get changed.
“I'm not sure if anybody reported this incident to the other teachers but it was talked about for a few years after that and it didn't do much for his image with the students in my year!”
The same woman told Investigate she also found the Labour cabinet minister “sleazy”.
“He was not well liked among the kids in my year, or by too many people at all! He came across to me as really arrogant, self important and a little sleazy, and could be very domineering and intimidating to students who didn't obey him.”
These, then, were the incidents that prompted Rodney Hide to call Benson-Pope a bully, a liar and a pervert, and because of the public and media backlash, much of it overlooking the mountain of evidence in the police files, the wind turned and David Benson-Pope survived what was getting close to a political execution.
Little did anyone know, as parliament and the media stepped back from the brink back in March, that both Rodney Hide and Judith Collins had been far closer to the truth with the “pervert” label than anyone realized, because David Benson-Pope, the Minister for CYFS and Social Development, has a secret life, one well and truly worthy of a nervous twitch.
What you are about to read is R18 rated, because it has to be. It is impossible for readers to understand the mind of David Benson-Pope and whether he is fit to be Minister of Social Development if we shield you from all of the specific detail that follows. Additionally, the Labour Government will again challenge Investigate to “put up or shut up”, as the Prime Minister has done before, so this time we’re releasing enough information to prove the allegations beyond reasonable doubt. There is other information that we hold which may become relevant if Benson-Pope chooses to make it so.
When Dunedin private investigator Wayne Idour went public back in October with revelations that he’d been investigating the Labour government, it caused a shockwave in the Beehive. What no one, possibly not even Idour, realized was that it also caused shockwaves in Dunedin. Questioned on TV3’s Campbell Live, Idour at one point had admitted that he was looking into the activities of David Benson-Pope, and hinted that there might be more to come. Not only – according to observers at parliament – did Benson-Pope look stressed, but hundreds of kilometers away in Dunedin members of a BDSM (bondage, discipline, sado-masochism) group known as “Southern Kinx” suddenly froze like possums in the headlights.
“All of a sudden,” Roxanne*, one member of the group, told Investigate, “I don’t know what has gone on…but all of a sudden the Southern Kinx group – most of its official members have taken a big step back. Officially there are now only seven members. But it’s not for reasons of people dropping out because at the last ‘play party’ [a BDSM orgy] there were still 25, 30 people.”
What’s the connection between a private eye checking out Benson-Pope, and a BDSM group? Benson-Pope is part of Dunedin’s BDSM scene.
Sado-masochistic sexual torture has, surprisingly, taken off in recent years as society’s tolerance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender sex has grown. In fact, if you search the websites [insert here] you will find it is common for sado-masochists to actively advertise online for group sex with gay men and transsexuals. The BDSM community calls itself “GLBT friendly”. If there is an intersection between heterosexuals and the queer community, BDSM is it. Gay Labour MPs Tim Barnett and Chris Carter sometimes attend BDSM functions in Christchurch and Auckland respectively, but until Investigate received a tip off earlier this year no-one knew that Benson-Pope was even more involved than either of his gay colleagues.
The tip initially came to Investigate from a moderately well-known Dunedin identity who’d been surprised to hear a friend laugh at an intimate dinner party when she saw Benson-Pope on a TV interview talking about one of his portfolios and behaviour issues. The tipster alerted Investigate about what Roxanne had then disclosed, and the magazine in turn finally made contact with Roxanne a few days later, explaining that the magazine had been given whispers of this earlier in the year and – like it or not – we were now officially on the case. We explained that we were not seeking to blow the BDSM community wide open – we were merely trying to establish the level of David Benson-Pope’s involvement. We were mindful of the ethical guidelines on prying into the private lives of ordinary people caught up in public events (see sidebar on Ethics), and told Roxanne that we would only publish what was necessary subject to getting corroboration.
“As in all groups of people,” Roxanne replied by email, “whatever the walk of life, there are those that allow an equilibrium to be maintained and those that cause disruption. Was around at mutual friends of [name deleted] and myself the other night when darling DBP showed up on TV. I, very unthinking, made a comment, joking about how I had seen him in a very different way than most. Which started what felt like, ‘question time’!
“The upshot of it is that I am now emailing you and letting you know that there is a lot more to this than most know, and a lot of personal preferences of the aforementioned do go a long way to explaining some of his behaviour both past and present. I have been to the same ‘parties’ as he has, and have sessioned with him and his Owner on many occasions. I have neither a positive nor negative view of him, but do not agree with his behaviour outside of these times. I do not wish to see the community that I know and love being brought down by one’s bad behaviour.”
In a second email, Roxanne explained she’d met Benson-Pope in the mid 90’s, while he was still teaching at Bayfield High.
“I met him through his Owner, who was an active member of the local group. Not being the public figure he is now, he was just ‘slave’, although was addressed as ‘My slave david” by his Owner.”
If you’re wondering about the capitalization of “Owner”, it is a signature trademark of the BDSM community: in emails and letters, “Dominants” are referred to with capitals in recognition of their power, while “submissives” use lower case letters for their names and personal pronouns. Investigate has included the example above purely to demonstrate the point, but from here on we’ll be using standard English grammar for personal names and the word “I”, to avoid confusing our proofreaders.
In her early 30s, with her short, mousy hair and blue eyes, Roxanne could be anyone walking down a street in Dunedin. Her husband doesn’t know about her involvement in BDSM, but as he travels a lot the issue doesn’t come up. Like many in the “community”, Roxanne is linked to a Master, or Owner, and has personally witnessed David Benson-Pope on several occasions.
“He was always more on the sub/slave side as opposed to pure submissive. Trying to use a vanilla (straight) way of explaining things is hard. It just means that his is a very serving play. Very much into puppy play, and age play, corner time, and his biggest seemed to be humiliation.”
He is also a cross-dresser, says Roxanne, but only when instructed to by his owner, “Mistress Princess”, during humiliation sessions.
“As part of his humiliation fetish he is called ‘panty-slut-boy’…when it’s humiliation time it’s normally beautiful lacy underwear.”
“In David Benson-Pope’s size?”
“Absolutely!” she confirms.
It was the “age play” that intrigued us, however.
“Age play is – that’s why I struggled when I got your email because some of the things you wrote about his school years, I just found myself quite stunned, because they’re actually his fetishes where he’s crossed the line!
“Age play is where the Dominant assumes the role of the parent and the submissive of the child, and it turns into simple things like corner time, humiliation and dressing up as a little child. Age play is more that he’s ‘a naughty little schoolboy!’, and she’s the ‘Schoolmistress’. He sits at a desk. His owner has a dungeon set up in one of her biggest rooms and she has a school desk set up there...
SORRY, THE REST OF THE ARTICLE CONTAINS REFERENCE TO SOME r18 ACTIVITIES, AND FOR THAT REASON IF YOU WISH TO READ MORE YOU WILL NEED TO PURCHASE IT FOR THE PRINCELY SUM OF $1 FROM OUR MAGAZINE SHOP: (once you see the store welcome page, click on the Benson3 link in the right hand top corner)
July 25, 2007
The Coming Kiwi $ Crash: Jan 07 issue
THE ART OF YEN: and how New Zealand’s economy may disappear down a Japanese black hole
Financial commentators like Investigate’s own Peter Hensley have been warning for months we’ve been living on borrowed time. Now, as SELWYN PARKER discovers, a ten billion dollar chicken might be coming home to roost and it will hit homeowners and workers alike with eggs that are anything but golden
Mr. Watanabe is a well-paid, middle-ranking executive in a foodstuffs distribution business in Nagoya with a lot of disposable income. Like most of his compatriots and unlike most New Zealanders, he’s a saver who likes to invest some of his money in liquid assets such as bank deposits, Bank of Japan bonds and other conventional instruments. Trouble is, for the last four years, it’s hardly been worth Mr. Watanabe’s while to put his spare cash into his own country’s banks. Interest rates on deposit accounts are low and the Bank of Japan, alone among the big central banks, has paid practically nothing on its bonds. Its governors have their reasons, as we see later, but the Bank of Japan’s zero-rate policy left Mr. Watanabe and millions of other thrifty Japanese with a problem. Namely, how to get a decent return.
A big part of their solution, as NZ finance minister Michael Cullen knows only too well, was to buy New Zealand dollars in what we call uridashi – or ‘bargain basement’– bonds. It’s known as the yen carry trade. By borrowing yen at a paltry rate of around 0.30 per cent and buying kiwis paying around seven per cent, Mr. Watanabe and his fellow retail investors are clocking up a handsome 6.7 per cent return before transaction costs.
Until three years ago, nobody worried too much about uridashi kiwis. Indeed Mr. Cullen and the Reserve Bank welcomed these torrents of yen; all small countries need as much foreign investment as they can get. But as the uridashi flows grew bigger and faster, they prompted well-publicised panic visits to Tokyo to try and stem the torrent. But still it’s kept on coming, like the overflowing water in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. At November, about NZ$40bn was held in uridashis. It’s nearly all short-term money with a life of one to three years. Over NZ$10bn worth of uridashi bonds are due to be redeemed – effectively cashed in – during 2007.
THESE are uncharted waters. New Zealand has never been in this situation before, and nor has the rest of the world. Reading between the conscientiously objective lines of a central banker, Reserve Bank governor Dr. Alan Bollard and other senior staff are worried. Citing the “high level of ‘cyclical’ liquidity” in our foreign exchange markets, Dr. Bollard explains how delicately balanced is the situation. “Given the reliance on foreign capital [i.e. uridashi kiwis and the related but longer-term eurokiwis], any rapid change in global perceptions of New Zealand’s credit-worthiness would dramatically alter the cost of capital” he warned in November’s financial stability report.
That’s central bank-speak for “there’s a problem out there”.
In short, uridashi bonds are hot money and, when or if they turn, they will likely turn fast with dramatic consequences for New Zealand. As the Reserve Bank points out, just one consequence would be higher interest rates all around on everything from mortgages and credit cards to farm loans and hire purchase. Another would be a sharp fall in the equity markets.
Beyond New Zealand, some even forecast a melt-down as the yen carry trade runs out. “It’s going to be ugly” predicted David Bloom, a currency expert with HSBC bank not normally noted for his gloomy views, earlier this year. Political economist Lyndon LaRouche, who is known for a degree of pessimism, fears the worst, foreseeing “a hit with a magnitude far beyond any individual nation or currency”.
Even sober pundits like Morgan Stanley chief economist Steven Roach see bubbles resulting everywhere from the global, carry-trade borrowing that has blown out prices for assets – that’s, everything from kiwi dollars to commercial property in central London. In the City of London, where many billions of cheap yen have been converted into sterling and other currencies and re-invested in these assets, you can sense the growing nervousness. “Yen carry trades are a risky game”, warns currency market expert John Authers of the Financial Times.
Another small nation has already been through it. Iceland had run short-term rates even higher than New Zealand, up to 10.75 per cent, and been flooded with yen-based speculation on its krona. When credit-rating service Fitch down-graded Iceland’s sovereign debt in March, in part because of concerns about the carry-trade, the money promptly fled. As a result the stock market plunged 20 per cent in a day and the krona collapsed eight per cent in 48 hours.
There’s hardly a single respected authority in The City or in the central banks who doesn’t think the yen carry trade will unwind sometime next year. The question is when, and how violently. The big worry is that nobody knows the size of the yen carry trade and therefore the effects of a collapse are unpredictable. Measured in US dollars, it’s certainly billions and possibly trillions. Most authorities hope for an orderly phase-out but some fear the worst. “The entire global financial system is on the verge of disintegration, as a result of the imminent collapse of the yen carry trade”, predicted the Daily Telegraph, not normally a doom-saying newspaper, back in February.
But let’s get back to Mr. Watanabe and New Zealand.
IT ALL started soon after the millennium, almost imperceptibly. To fire up a chronically flat economy after nearly a decade of deflation, the Bank of Japan, the main culprit, started handing out what was effectively free money. The intention was benign but nobody expected the result. Quick to spot an opportunity in the currency markets, the relatively new breed of investors, the hedge funds or “hedgies” in the trade’s parlance, started borrowing yen at give-away rates and buying up higher-return assets elsewhere. In effect, the Bank of Japan became unofficial lender of first choice to the world.
The hedgies and other big borrowers weren’t however just buying toll-roads, commercial property, ports, airports, commodities such as gold and silver and other normal assets with this cheap money. They also began to purchase and hold as assets great swathes of higher-rate currencies. Foreign-exchange traders, the reef fish of the banking sector, have done this on a daily basis for years, but the actual holding of currencies as an asset class was an alarming new phenomenon for many central bankers.
At first the currency of choice was the greenback in the form of US treasuries – T-bills in the trade. But the “spread”, or margin, on T-bills was only a few basis points and, ever opportunistic, the hedgies looked elsewhere and started gobbling up bonds in high cash-rate countries such as Iceland, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand. The carry trade had reared its head.
About the same time, uridashi investors like Mr. Watanabe entered the scene, often holding only a few thousand dollars individually but collectively adding up to billions.
THE kiwi soon acquired the doubtful accolade of one of the carry-trade currencies of choice, largely because of its high official rate. This is largely driven by New Zealand households’ insatiable appetite for debt but uridashi investors don’t really care about the factors that create high official rates. They are just looking for high-yielding assets in a world of low inflation. By late 2004, about NZ$4bn worth of uridashis had been issued. In general the Reserve Bank still welcomed the foreign investment. After all, Japanese investors had been here before with the samurai bonds of the mid-nineties. And it’s generally good for debt markets to be liquid.
But in 2005 it all started going through the roof. By the middle of the year, the value of uridashis was approaching NZ$8bn. By the end of 2005, it was NZ$10bn. Over August, October and November, more uridashi bonds were issued in kiwis than in any other currency, more even than the mighty greenback and the much more stable Aussie dollar. In October alone, an incredible NZ$2.5bn of uridashis were snapped up, the highest monthly amount on record. Clearly, something was going on; foreigners were hardly buying the kiwi dollar for its long-term prospects and underlying strengths.
It was about now that the Reserve Bank began to worry about the de-stabilizing effect of all this short-term money. By the end of 2005, nearly NZ$45bn of uridashis were outstanding. And half of that was in the hands of Japanese retail investors like Mr. Watanabe, a class of investor prone to sudden changes of mood.
As the Reserve Bank noted with typical understatement: “Given the small size of the New Zealand government securities markets relative to those of the major economies, flows of these magnitudes stand out”. The problem was that all this attention is driving up the kiwi to abnormal levels relative to other currencies.
ACROSS the Tasman, the Reserve Bank of Australia has been tracking a phenomenon that, technically speaking, isn’t meant to happen. As Guy Debelle, head of the RBA’s international department, remarked in November, the carry trade flies in the face of accepted theory. This says that any positive interest differential between two currencies is generally negated by the risk of the currencies moving against each other over the life of the investment. Remember, the carry trade is built around holding the currency, not flicking it on overnight. As Debelle said: “In contrast, those who undertake carry trades do not expect the exchange rate to wipe out the interest differential [and] sometimes they even expect the converse, namely that any exchange rate move will increase the value of the investment”.
The Aussie dollar has survived four years of exposure to the yen carry trade without suffering in general the degree of volatility that has characterized the kiwi. This is partly because uridashis represent a much smaller proportion of the Australian economy than they do in New Zealand. However between April and June of 2006, even Australia got a glimpse of what can happen. That occurred when the Aussie depreciated against the yen. Almost immediately, there was a sharp sell-off of uridashis by nervous Japanese investors.
WHAT makes the kiwi more vulnerable than its big brother across the Tasman is New Zealand’s massive current account deficit, standing at 9.5 per cent of gross domestic product. Even the Reserve Bank calls it “very substantial”. Some of the worst savers in the western world, New Zealand residents have spent – and, admittedly, in some cases invested -- more than they have saved in every single one of the last 33 years. Like any household that has overspent and faces a “funding gap” in finance talk, this hole has to be filled somehow and it’s foreign debt that has done it. By November, New Zealand’s net foreign liabilities stood at around 80 per cent of gdp, a truly alarming number by the standards of conventional economics. And the percentage continues to rise.
As the Reserve Bank and everybody else acknowledges, this puts New Zealand in a precarious position from what is known as “rollover risk”. What if all those uridashis are not refinanced at more or less current rates? An added danger is that a lot of our foreign debt is short-term. “Around half of all New Zealand’s debt liabilities have maturities of less than one year”, noted the Reserve Bank’s financial stability report in November. Right now, there’s an overhang of uridashis looming over the market, with about NZ$10.2bn of uridashis coming due over 2007.
It’s not all bad. About 40 per cent of all that foreign debt is held in New Zealand dollars, which protects the kiwi somewhat against the vagaries of international currency movements. Also, some of the debt has been raised by the overseas-based parent banks of our local institutions and they are skilled at managing down interest rates to competitive levels.
But the important point is we’re in the hands of foreigners. If in the coming months, they take a view that lending to New Zealand is a riskier proposition, we have to expect an abrupt, possibly crippling, rise in domestic interest rates as uridashi investors take fright.
BUT just what factors would conspire to scare Mr. Watanabe? The most important one by far is a change in the policy of the Bank of Japan that would make yen more expensive to borrow, threatening the interest-rate gap between the yen and the kiwi. And it’s already happening. The Bank of Japan has started tightening money, draining out of the system the liquidity that has sustained the carry trade. By some estimates the central bank has sucked up 20 per cent of domestic money supply since March 06 when it first signaled an end to the weak yen. The last thing a yen carry-trader wants is a stronger yen, but ominously the Japanese economy is growing again.
Interest rates are also rising, albeit slowly. In July, the Bank of Japan hiked base rates to 0.25 per cent, the first increase in six years. However as currency market expert John Authers points out, “only a brief pick-up in the yen can inflict nasty losses”.
But there’s a bigger and more menacing picture and it’s called leverage. The yen carry trade is based on it. Mr. Watanabe may be quite happy with his six per cent margin between the yen and the kiwi, but the hedgies aren’t. They “gear up” massive yen borrowings to multiply the interest-rate margin in the search for “alpha” – vastly superior – returns. Assume a hedge fund has US$100m in capital to invest and it borrows US$1bn, giving it a ten-fold increase in available funds. The financial scientists now buy their US$1bn worth of yen at, say, 0.35 per cent and buy kiwis at 7 per cent for a return before charges on swaps and other instruments of 6.65 per cent. Multiply that by ten and you get 66.5 per cent. That’s leverage.
But of course, leverage applies in reverse. When the worm turns, massive gains turn into massive losses. And that also could already be happening, as the relationship between the yen and the greenback shows. This link is a big factor in the carry trade, even for uridashis, simply because so much of it is based on the US dollar.
Since the beginning of 2006, the yen is up 1.9 per cent against the dollar, which erodes much of the carry-trade profit. That makes it hard for hedge fund managers to sleep, especially after the Amaranth hedge fund dropped US$5bn in October by betting wrong against natural gas futures prices.
Similarly, a drop of a percentage point or two in the value of the kiwi would make Mr. Watanabe nervous.
The picture will become clearer for New Zealand from early 2007 when the NZ$10.2bn worth of uridashis are due. That’s when we confront the rollover-risk that so concerns the Reserve Bank. Meantime there are tremors in this increasingly nervous market.
That creaking and grinding sound you hear could be the breaking up of the world’s financial ice floe, with important consequences for over-borrowed, big-spending New Zealanders.
FOOTNOTE: Selwyn Parker is a former senior writer for Metro magazine, now based in London. His last piece for Investigate was on John Hood, the Oxford Vice-Chancellor
July 23, 2007
Camille Paglia, defender of the West: June 07 issue
Rod Dreher discovers feminist icon Camille Paglia channeling ‘Eve’s Bite’
“That's what's going to make us vulnerable to people coming from any side, including the Muslim side, where there's fervor. Fervor will conquer apathy. I don't see how the generation trained by the Ivy League is going to have the knowledge or the resolution to defend the West...We could well be reliving the last days of the Roman Empire" – Camille Paglia
If you ask me, it's a pity the cigar-smoking Bohemian Tory and the self-described "feminist bisexual maniac" never met. I think the late Russell Kirk and Camille Paglia would have hit it off at least as well as Pope Benedict XVI and the irrepressible Italian atheist Oriana Fallaci did in the months before she died. Here's why:
Dr. Kirk, the traditionalist man of letters widely considered the godfather of modern American conservatism, believed that the great task of contemporary conservatives was not any of the goals likely to appear on Republican campaign literature. He knew that culture was more important than politics and considered poets to be, in Shelley's phrase, "the unacknowledged legislators of the world." Because of this, Dr. Kirk taught that reviving the "moral imagination" - meaning re-engagement with the art and literature of the West's cultural patrimony - in the face of the disaster of modernity, was vital to saving our civilization.
Dr. Paglia, a professor at Philadelphia's University of the Arts who made her name in 1990 with the publication of "Sexual Personae," is no conservative - in fact, she's an atheist libertarian Democrat who extols the virtues of pagan sexuality. But she's downright Kirkian in her contempt for the egalitarian instinct and in her roaring disgust at modernity's disinterest in, or even contempt for, Western tradition.
And she holds her own tribe - American humanities professors - chiefly responsible.
"I remain concerned about the compulsive denigration of the West and the reductiveness so many leading academics in the humanities have toward their own tradition," she tells me. "They reduce it all to the lowest common denominator of racism, imperialism, sexism and homophobia. That's an extremely small-minded way of looking at culture and a betrayal of the career mission of these educators, whose job is to educate students in our culture."
Dr. Paglia, one of three judges for this year's Hiett Prize, has been saying that for a while now, which is one reason that conservatives love her. If modernity is, as one traditionalist conservative writer put it, a "perversion of the responsibility of stewardship," then Dr. Paglia, by championing Western culture against the sophisticated barbarians inside the academy, counts as a convicted anti-modernist.
But that wouldn't be quite right; she's a passionate partisan of modernist giants like Picasso, as well as low-culture rock `n' roll Dionysiacs. What galls Dr. Paglia is that the politics of leveling - affirming or denying greatness according to therapeutic political standards - is compromising scholarship.
This is not just an academic dispute. If students don't learn the Western canon, they will remain rootless, ignorant and alienated. They will fail to grasp what makes the West unique - and why it should be cherished, conserved and defended. "Sexual Personae" was a tour de force of cultural criticism, arguing that the genius of the West came from the irreconcilable conflict between classical paganism and Judeo-Christian religion.
The decline of religion in Europe frightens this stalwart atheist. "The Europeans have become very passive, all of them," she says. "There's a fatigued worldliness typical of Europe right now, and that's why nothing very interesting artistically is coming out of there."
Can you have a vibrant culture without cult? Traditionalist conservatives say no. Dr. Paglia is inclined to agree - and says that our lazy secularism and superficial religiosity puts America at risk of succumbing to acedia, the Greek term for spiritual slothfulness. She is shocked to discover how few of her college students grasp basic biblical concepts, characters and motifs that were commonly understood one or two generations ago. This stunning loss of cultural memory renders most Western art, poetry and literature opaque.
"The only people I'm getting at my school who recognize the Bible are African-Americans," she says. "And the lower the social class of the white person, the more likely they recognize the Bible. Most of these white kids, if they go to church at all, they get feel-good social activism."
What are they left with? "Video games, the Web, cellphones, iPods - that's what's left," Dr. Paglia laments. "And that's what's going to make us vulnerable to people coming from any side, including the Muslim side, where there's fervor. Fervor will conquer apathy. I don't see how the generation trained by the Ivy League is going to have the knowledge or the resolution to defend the West."
Our cultural crisis is precisely that serious, says Dr. Paglia, who believes - as does Pope Benedict, one of the most cultured men on the planet - that we could well be reliving the last days of the Roman Empire.
"If the elite class sees nothing in the West to defend, we're reproducing this situation of the late Roman Empire, which was very cosmopolitan and very tolerant, but which was undone by forces from within," she says.
What are those who want to conserve the traditional Western humanities as a refuge from cultural barbarism supposed to do? Says Dr. Paglia, emphatically: "It's up to people to educate themselves."
In this light, it's not a stretch to think of the Dallas Institute for the Humanities as a sort of secular monastery. Like the European monks of old, the scholars and teachers at the Dallas Institute are keeping the light of Western humanist tradition burning in a new Dark Age. We need more institutions like this in days to come. Friends of what the poet T.S. Eliot (and later, his friend Dr. Kirk) called "the Permanent Things" are going to need intellectual sanctuary.
July 14, 2007
In the August Investigate...
TAITO FIELD BREAKS HIS SILENCE:
A massive three hour interview where Field reveals, "I knew..."
DISGRACED BRITISH MP VISITING NZ TO PUSH ISLAMIC AGENDA
"RESPECT" MP George Galloway is visiting NZ to push a pro-Islamic line. As Investigate reveals, however, he gets a large chunk of his political funding from Islam and has been named in official inquiries as benefitting from the Saddam Hussein regime
More in the print edition, onsale Sunday
July 13, 2007
DISRESPECT - GEORGE GALLOWAY IN NZ: Aug 07
Disgraced British MP George Galloway is pushing a pro-Islamic agenda on a visit to New Zealand.
(Story currently in print edition)
Download file May 05 Senate Report
July 05, 2007
Dunedin Police Corruption Part 1
July 01, 2007
Media intrusion into private lives: Jan 07 issue
WHEN PRIVATE BECOMES PUBLIC
How far should the media go into the lives of public figures?
A few days ago Investigate Online posted a restricted access story on its website making fresh and serious allegations about Social Development Minister David Benson-Pope. The story was published online because its content is R18 in nature, and by requiring a credit card purchase for a nominal one dollar fee children can be prevented from accessing it.
The decision to publish the story was not taken lightly, nor was it taken because of any prurient interest in the subject matter. Our journalistic colleagues in Washington, London or Sydney would make exactly the same call – on the grounds that a Minister’s private life becomes public when he makes it relevant.
The full reasons are contained in the online edition, but what follows is a summary of the international debate on media ethics, and how far it is appropriate to go when investigating public figures seeking public office. IAN WISHART REPORTS
In a story like the Benson-Pope case, perhaps the biggest question any news organization faces is an ethical one: is this sufficiently relevant to be in the public interest? Contrary to popular misconception, the news media knows far more about most public figures than it ever publishes, because it correctly deems that much of that information has no bearing on how the person does their job.
For example, the fact that a politician may be gay is irrelevant to whether they’re a good Minister of Transport or Minister of Finance. The fact that another politician is a strong Christian is irrelevant to their performance as Minister of Health. It is only where one’s private life intersects with their public one that issues of relevance and/or the voters’ right to know surface.
Take those two previous examples: that same gay politician chooses to champion a bill favouring gay adoption of children, but without disclosing his own sexual preferences. Voters should be able to see whether he has a personal, rather than professional, interest in the subject matter. By choosing to become involved in a political issue dear to his heart and which challenges the normative situation, the politician makes his private life relevant. Likewise, a strong Christian appointed as Minister of Censorship might make decisions that many agree with, but his beliefs are indeed relevant to how he performs in that particular portfolio and should be disclosed. On the flip side of that coin, the same applies to raging social liberals occupying powerful positions.
In the essay, “Can Public Figures Have Private Lives?”, Harvard University’s Frederick Schauer has contributed significantly to the debate.
“In most of the debates about the issue of disclosing facts about the lives of candidates or office holders that those candidates or office holders would wish to keep secret, the issue is framed around the question of the relevance of the fact at issue. “Typically, as with the debates about the extramarital sexual activities of President Clinton or about past drug use or other allegedly “minor” crimes that took place in the distant past, it is alleged that the facts ought not be disclosed because they are irrelevant to the performance of the job. Regardless of whether people want the information, the argument goes, information that is not relevant to job performance has no place in the public electoral discussion.
“Such claims of irrelevance mask a host of deeper and more difficult issues. Chief among these are contestable issues about what the job actually is, and equally contestable empirical issues about the relationship of some fact to that job.”
Illustrating that point, Schauer raises the example of US judge Douglas Ginsberg whose nomination to the US Supreme Court was spiked in 1987 after reporters, using unnamed sources, disclosed that Ginsberg had been a frequent user of marijuana in the past. Leaving aside the medical argument over whether marijuana would have dulled his wits sufficiently to make him a liability on the Supreme Court bench, Schauer concentrates more on the fact that as a person supposed to uphold the law in one of the supreme positions available under the US constitution, Ginsberg simply couldn’t measure up: “The fact of past disobedience to law was material to Ginsberg’s qualifications”.
Just as it was, of course, in the fall from grace of New Zealand’s Attorney-General David Parker, after he was caught by Investigate filing false returns to the Companies Office.
“My point here,” Schauer continues, “is that a claim of ‘irrelevance’ presupposes some standard of relevance...denials of relevance often mask narrow conceptions of the positions and its responsibilities, conceptions with which others might reasonably disagree.”
This is one of Professor Schauer’s central themes: that even if a majority of voters might believe something is “irrelevant” or out-of-bounds, a functioning democracy requires that the interests of a minority who might want to hear that information be protected.
“When such disagreement does exist, however, the issue becomes more difficult, because there is now the question of when it is appropriate to make widely available a piece of information that some voters might think relevant to their voting decision, under circumstances in which the information is indeed relevant to their voting decision based on criteria that they take to be relevant.”
Schauer draws on the Monica Lewinsky affair to illustrate the tensions at play:
“The claim that marital infidelity is irrelevant to the office of President of the United States presupposes that the role of President should not include the role of being an exemplar of marital fidelity. For many people it should not, but for many others it should, and debates about relevance to the job are commonly smokescreens for debates about just what it is that the job really entails.
“It is widely known that President Clinton cheats at golf. Although it is clear that playing golf is not part of the job description of President…many people believe that maintaining certain high standards of veracity are indeed part of that job description. And if that is the case, then the empirical question is presented whether evidence of cheating at golf is some evidence of (or relevant to) a likely failure to maintain high standards of veracity in public pronouncements.”
And if New Zealand readers are suddenly sensing a merging of Paintergate, Speedogate, Doonegate and Pledgegate, read on:
“It is possible that the answer is no,” continues Schauer, “and that there is neither a causal relationship or even a correlation between the existence of the trait of cheating at golf and the existence of the trait of being abnormally dishonest in one’s public and political dealings. But it is also possible that the answer is yes, and that a cheater at golf, holding everything else constant, is more likely to be dishonest in public statements. And if this latter alternative is in fact the case, then the argument that golf behaviour is ‘private’ or none of the public’s business becomes a somewhat more difficult one to maintain.”
Cheating, however, is a personality trait that many people can agree is relevant. What about the grey areas of sexuality? After all, we all have sex lives.
“No less real is the example of the disclosure, against the presumed wishes of the candidate, of the sexual orientation of a candidate for public office. Although many of us believe that sexual orientation is both immaterial and irrelevant to job performance in all or virtually all public sector and private sector settings, it is unfortunately (from my perspective) the case that not everyone agrees.
“For a not insignificant proportion of the population in most countries in the world, having a gay, lesbian or bisexual orientation is immoral, and having a heterosexual orientation is not only morally commanded, but is also a necessary qualification for holding public office.”
Schauer’s view is that like it or not, you can’t have a meaningful public debate on these issues in a general sense but only on a case by case basis – the circumstances of each politician being different. Voters may decide that sexual behaviour is irrelevant in one case but exceedingly relevant in another, because of the different personalities or responsibilities of the politicians in question.
“It may turn out that disclosure of traits that some deliberators believe to be morally immaterial or empirically irrelevant will nevertheless properly be part of the process by which [the public] decides collectively…what its moral criteria will be.”
And again, the Harvard professor returns to the checks and balances necessary in a democracy. Even if only ten percent of the electorate believe the private life information should be disclosed, he says, and the other 90% believe it shouldn’t be, publication is justified.
“Under these circumstances, it is tempting to conclude that the majority should prevail, and that disclosure should be deemed inappropriate. But given that we are discussing the topic of the information necessary for exercising [the vote]…there is something deeply problematic about majorities deciding that information relevant to the voting decisions of a minority ought in some formal or informal way be made unavailable to that minority.”
Although Schauer hears the argument often used in New Zealand politics – that raking over the coals of politicians’ private lives will discourage good people from standing for election – he disagrees with it.
“There are moral arguments on the other side as well,” he acknowledges. “Chief among those is the argument that control over the information about one’s life is itself a central part of what is sometimes referred to as personal autonomy, and that there is no good reason why a person should be required to relinquish that right simply to enter the public domain.
“Yet if personal autonomy is the basis for the countervailing right of non-disclosure, it may be hard to distinguish this right from all of the other autonomy rights that one must forgo to enter the public arena.
“One has the right to speak or to remain silent, to live where one pleases, sometimes to work where one pleases, and a host of other rights that are commonly and properly thought relinquishable by one’s voluntary decision to stand for public office or to operate in the public domain more generally.”
In other words, what makes a public figure’s right to privacy sacrosanct when they may give up a whole lot of other rights as part of standing for office?
Naturally, Professor Schauer is not alone in his assessments of the reduced right to privacy of public figures. In a major editorial two years ago this month, Britain’s Guardian newspaper tackled the issue in the wake of the David Blunkett affair.
“The awkward truth is that the way people live their private lives does tell us things that can help to make judgments about them as public people…this is not the same as saying that the world will only be put to rights if it is run by certified saints. This country was seen through two world wars by leaders who would certainly not qualify on that score; but whatever the human failings of a Lloyd George or a Churchill, they did not include an inability to get the job done.”
It’s a comment that echoes the earlier ones on relevance. Are the personal failings relevant to the particular job they have?
The San Francisco Chronicle’s test in regard to public figures is this: “Personal conduct may have a bearing on public roles and public responsibilities. The degree to which a public figure voluntarily conducts his or her life in public or the degree to which private conduct bears on the discharge of public responsibility should guide the publication of personal information.”
Journalist turned lawyer Hal Fuson, now the chief legal officer at America’s Copley Newspaper Group, told a panel discussion journalists should not pull back from disclosing facts about elected officials just because of their own worldviews.
“Worry about the facts, folks, and let the truth take care of itself. Truth is like beauty, it’s in the eye of the beholder. And facts depend on verifiability. Verifiability depends upon being able to get your hands on lots of information that people don’t want you to have, because they want to shape their stories to suit themselves, not to suit the interests of society, and certainly not to suit your desire to inform your communities.”
The American Press Institute has published an ethics “checklist” for journalists weighing up publishing private information on public figures. They include:
Does this matter affect the person’s ability to do his job?
Does this matter reflect on the person’s conduct in office?
Does this matter reflect on the person’s character?
Does the matter reveal hypocrisy?
“Character matters for public officials,” says the Press Institute. “They publish family pictures on campaign brochures and proudly reveal private matters that reflect positively on their character. Private matters that reflect negatively on their character matter to readers as well.”
The Institute concludes:
“Don’t look for easy answers. Many stories involve consideration of more than one of these questions. However you decide, you can’t ensure that you will please all your readers. If you write the story, some readers will say you are prying into matters that should be private. If you don’t, some readers will say you are covering up for people in power…Sometimes the proper decision is to publish the story along with an explanation of your reasons for publishing and your consideration of various factors. Most readers understand that these are not black and white decisions.
“You might decide that a long-ago consensual affair between adults is no one’s business, and some readers will decide that you’re covering up. Or you might decide that criminal conduct is newsworthy whenever it occurred and some readers will think you are dredging up mud about youthful mistakes because your editorial page opposes the candidate.”
Australian political reporter Peter Cole-Adams was quoted in one ethics discussion this way:
“Elected parliamentarians were, he said, the paradigm of the public figure: each chose to enter politics; was paid by the public; spent public money; lived by publicity; enjoyed perks; and had the right to defame anyone he chose from the sanctity of the parliamentary privilege…in this sense, the public, as the hirer and firer, has a right to know what its representatives are up to. ‘If they are not going to be honest…they should be careful’. The questions the press has to ask are: is it true? Is it interesting? Is it in the public interest to disclose? He noted Lord Northcote’s dictum: ‘News is what someone wants to suppress. Everything else is advertising.”