Archive for the ‘The Body Politic’ Category

Wellingtonians say; “Everyone deserves a home – no more homelessness!”

28 November 2015 Leave a comment




“Housing is a basic human need and access to decent quality, affordable and safe housing should be seen a human right. This means that our society and more specifically the State has an obligation to ensure that everyone living in New Zealand always has access to adequate and secure housing. We further believe that this obligation means that housing needs to be considered as more than a commodity whose allocation is decided entirely by markets and the profit motive.” – Hikoi for Homes/Child Poverty Action Group

Wellington, NZ, 21 November – Around two hundred people gathered in Cuba Mall, central Wellington, as part of a nationwide day of protest at growing homelessness; poor standards of housing; state house privatisation, and lack of long-term stability in rental accomodation;


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After safety instructions were issued by Ian Harcourt, one of CPAG’s march organisers, the protesters set off through the streets of Wellington, headed to the Civic Square;


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Throughout the entire event, there was only a brief, sole police presence as one lone police car halted traffic to allow marchers to cross a busy intersection;


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Greeting the marchers at Civic Square, Nigel Parry and Ruth Prentice,  sang a song dedicated to Emma-Lita Bourne, who perished  in August 2014 whilst living in a damp, cold house infected with toxic mould. Nigel and Ruth page tribute to Emma-Lita, and to the coroner, who had the guts to speak the truth as to why Emma-Lita died needlessly;


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The number of protesters had swelled to around 300 people and constituted  a wide cross representation from the community, including many families with children. These were citizens concerned at the direction New Zealand was heading toward;


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Banners flew from the various groups involved with the day’s event, including UNICEF, one of the  organisers;


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Labour’s Grant Robertson was present;


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The first speaker, Dr Nikki Turner, from Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), addressed the crowd;


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Dr Turner reminded people that twenty years ago, New Zealand signed the UN covenant on the rights of children. She said this included a duty of care to ensure safe, decent housing for children. She asked, “so why are we here today?

She said that this is a national shame that New Zealand are not providing basic human rights for families in need.

Dr Turner said that as a General Practitioner she was seeing people turning up at her clinic daily, sick, from unsafe houses. They were “sick and recurrently sick, because the houses were not adequate“.

Dr Turner listed poverty-related diseases that were common to people living in damp, cold houses; asthma, colds, chest infections, pneumonia, rheumatic fever, chronic lung diseases, saying that  “our housing makes our children sick“. She said cold affects our immune systems, making people more vulnerable to moulds  and diseases shared through over-crowding.

If we fix our housing, we’re going to go a long way to improving our health in New Zealand,” said Dr Turner.

Dr Turner then listed seven issues necessary for government to implement, saying they were achievable;

  1. To stop the sale of all state and council houses,
  2. A one billion dollar provision to build more public and social housing,
  3. Minimum standards for all rental houses,
  4. Greater tenure protection for all tenants,
  5. A rent freeze for five years,
  6. A statutory right to be housed, as a human right,
  7. State subsidies for modest income-earners for home-ownership, as New Zealanders had a right to a home.

Dr Turner said that the current situation was unfair; costly; and affecting our children. She said that many of the medical problems caused by inadequate housing led to permanent, on-going crippling that would last throughout their lives.  “We need to fix this for the future of our community.”

Dr Turner was followed by Dr Philipa Howden-Chapman, from Otago University’s Department of Public Health;


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Dr Howden-Chapman pointed out that about a third of New Zealanders lived in rental accomodation. She said that many rental homes were cold and damp, far colder than what was recommended by the UN. She said “they were built in another age, when someone was home most of the time, ventilating the house, and keeping the fires going“.

Dr Howden-Chapman said many homes were between 12 to 16 degrees, making them no warmer inside than outside. She said babies were particularly susceptible, being unable to shiver, and losing heat much faster than an adult. Older people also got colder faster than fit, younger people.

Dr Howden-Chapman said that around a third of houses had mould growing in them. She said that mould at certain times of the year release spores and toxins, some of which were the most dangerous substances known.

According to Dr Howden-Chapman, New Zealand spends $3 billion per annum maintaining the roading network.  But there were no equivalent regulations  required to maintain rentals at a set standard or provide adequate heating or ventilation. She said Emma-Lita Bourne‘s family had an insulated house, but could not afford heating. By contrast, Europe had solar-heating on houses that constantly prevented  homes from dropping below 18 degrees.

“But we don’t do any of that.”

Dr Howden-Chapman asked why we have Health officials going around coffee-bars to check on hygiene or WoF mechanics to check the brakes on our cars, but no one is responsible to check on the quality of rental housing.

It was pointed out that a third of housing-related ACC costs could be saved if unsafe steps and other parts of houses were fixed.

She asked  “does this government care”?

Dr Howden-Chapman said it was disgraceful that Bill English admitted that the National government was the biggest slumlord in the country and could “dismiss the whole housing stock”.

She said that a small country of 4.4 million people should be able to work together, with government, local bodies, and NGOs co-operating so  that everyone had access to warm, dry, safe housing.

Dr Howden-Chapman decried New Zealand in the 21st century where children were found to be living in cars, camping grounds, homeless in the streets, or containers, or crowded houses. She said it was no accident that children regularly  miss school and fall behind in their studies, or end up in hospital Intensive Care, where many die.

She said “we can do better, we must do better“.

Dr Howden-Chapman demanded security of tenure for tenants so that the problem of transient families could be reduced. She said families in Housing NZ homes should be able to stay in one house for as long as their children were at school. Dr Howden-Chapman said it was vital that families moved from a state house be re-housed in the same neighbourhood so that their community links with other people could be maintained, as well as allowing children to remain in the same school.

She acknowledged that many New Zealanders cared about this pressing social problem and asked the government, “do you care?

Ian Harcourt introduced a musical group, ‘Choir, Choir, Pants On Fire‘. He said that while this protest was about speaking truth to power, that they the singers he was introducing were here to “sing truth to power”;


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One of the group’s “novel” acts was to engage the audience with participation; to ask us to raise our hands; extend two fingers; and wave it in the direction of Parliament;


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Choir, Choir, Pants On Fire‘ was followed by Ariana, from the State Housing Action Network;


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Ariana spoke of the formation of the State Housing Action Network as a response to Bill English’s announcement that National was looking at selling up to eight thousand state houses. She called the move despicable, given that there was a critical shortage of state  housing in New Zealand.

Ariana announced a petition calling for a halt to forced evictions from state houses, calling it a form of social cleansing. She described the privatisation of state housing as National’s determination to make a profit from the sales. Ariana warned that if National had their way, they would sell the entire housing stock, worth around $15 billion.

Ariana described National’s rationale for the sale, based on the properties being “run down” as just an excuse and nothing more. She said that National had a “track record of selling state houses”. She also pointed out that lack of maintenance of state housing had been caused by successive governments.

Ariana said that it was important that not only new state houses were built, but that the current stock should be brought up to standard.

Ariana congratulated the good work done by CPAG and UNICEF, as well as political parties like Labour, Greens, and Mana giving support. She said we have to work together on this problem by forming a strong coalition to oppose the neo-liberal agenda.

Ariana further stated that when market rents for state houses were introduced in the 1990s, it was predicted that it would be the single biggest cause of poverty increasing. She said that current policies by National were an extension of  the 1990s.

She condemned taking money from those at the bottom of the socio-economic heap, and transferred to those who were already wealthy.

Ariana called for an introduction of a capital gain tax instead of taking money from those who could least afford it. She said National agenda would eventually lead to charities taking over the role of providing for the poor, as in Victorian times.

Ariana said that the State Housing Action Network strongly endorsed the seven points put forward by Dr Nikki Turner (see above).

Ariana then led a chant,

“Everybody deserves a home!”

Following Ariana, was Martin, a state house tenant, with Kyrie in his arms (who seemed totally fascinated by the microphone in front of him);


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Martin described  a state house with nine people living in it’s three bedrooms. He said there was now seven people living in that house, including five adults. Of those people, Kyrie, the little boy in his arms, had athsma. He said such over-crowding was not conducive to good health.

He said he contacted Social Housing Minister, Paula Bennett, to complain of an open drain that was outside the property; the rotting windows inside; and the general state of disrepair. He said Paula Bennett passed him on to Building and Housing Minister, Nick Smith. Martin said Nick Smith advised him to take his case back to Paula Bennett.

Martin invited Paula Bennett to visit Kyrie’s delapidated state house to look at the problems herself. Martin said she refused. (Though this blogger can report that Bennett is not averse to visiting state or social housing when there is a photo-op involving a “good news” story.)

Martin said he had to phone his local MP, Annette King, to try resolve the problem. He said that remedial work was undertaken, but that it was “cheap and shoddy, and they’ve done repairs that are of no fit standard for people to live in“.

He said this was happening all over New Zealand and would be our future. He said Kyrie deserves better.

He encouraged people to stand together; stand strong, and to hold this government to account.

Following Martin, ‘The Ruths‘, entertained  the crowd with some beautiful singing. The songs were delightful, as well as political in flavour, in the best tradition of 1960s singer-activists such as Joan Baez. Ruth Mundy on guitar, with Ruth Prentice on violin;


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Following ‘The Two Ruths‘, Paul Barton, from the Christian Council of Social Services addressed the crowd;


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Paul spoke on behalf on the Living Wage movement, describing it as a response to the growing gap in our society between the rich and the poor. He spoke of the top 10% over the last thirty years having enriched themselves at the expense of the rest of us who have been told “we can’t afford higher wages“.

He said that the wealth gap is shown in the  housing crisis where “literally, this hits home”.

Paul said that the Kiwi dream of home ownership is fast evaporating with house prices rising and a growing number of the population resorting to renting. He pointed out that half the population now lives in rented housing. He said renters tended to be younger, poorer, and families.

It was pointed  out that the housing and wealth inequality problem was not due to “mysterious forces beyond our control”.  He said it has been a direct result of decisions our society has made how we share the bountiful wealth we have in this country. He said we needed to find ways to do things differently.

Otherwise, Paul said, we run the risk of a generation left behind in sub-standard housing.

Paul said the living wage was one response to this problem, where employers paid an income to live, not just “get by”. He said a Living Wage would not only allow people to pay their rent, but also save to buy their own home.

“And that way, paying a living wage overcomes part of the housing affordability problem.”

Paul congratulated the Wellington City Council for having the courage to pay it’s staff and security contractors the Living Wage. He said over 500 workers had had their wages increased from just above the minimum wage, to the Living Wage. He hoped that soon cleaning and recycling-collection contractors would also soon be covered by the Living Wage.

Paul related how workers and their families who had their wages lifted to a Living Wage were motivated to persist to make their lives better.

He added that the Living Wage has not happened “by chance” and that it was the result of a building movement for change. He pointed to the “wonderful support from you people here in Wellington” and said,

“We can achieve change but we need to work together.”

Paul said that people and organisations can work together to make a difference and reduce inequality, and that we did not need to wait for a change of  government or change the law.

He said that local authorities like the Wellington City Council played a major part in the Living Wage movement, and were an important part of our daily lives.  Paul said that Wellington City Council had a role in the kind of housing that we live in. He said that at the last 2013 local body election it was the Living Wage and building warrant of fitness that were the main political issues.

Paul encouraged Wellingtonians that next year’s local body elections also made housing, warrant of fitness, and social housing a major political issue. He encourage people to  get involved in “overcoming this awful housing problem“.

“Don’t say we can’t do something, because we know we’ve already proved we can make a difference.”

Deborah Morris-Travers from UNICEF and ‘Make our Future Fair‘ was the last speaker;


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The former Parliamentarian and currently National Advocacy Manager at UNICEF NZ, told the crowd that, as part of the United Nations, her organisation was mandated to stand up for children’s rights all around the world

Deborah stated that New Zealand Aotearoa was currently breaching the rights of its children by not providing an adequate standard of living, of which housing playing a major part.

She said that we all have a part to play in creating a nation that grants all New Zealanders safe and adequate housing, that lays the foundation for our communities and our society. She encouraged people to keep working together on these issues.

Deborah revealed that “the government is madly polling and running focus groups. They’re sensitive to the mood of the public.”

She said we have to keep building the public mood to ensure that our families are kept safe.

Deborah announced that UNICEF was launching the Fair Future Campaign and said that Radio NZ would be airing a story on children’s rights. She said that UNICEF would be working hard on this issue as National was about to start work on it’s next Budget.

“We have got to keep the message upfront in the news media, in social media, in our families, in our communities, that we will not tolerate our children being left behind.”

She said that every year $10 billion was spent on  “picking up the cost of child maltreatment and child poverty.” Deborah said this was unsustainable as well as being unjust.

Deborah asked, “What do we value in Aotearoa-New Zealand? What do we stand for? Surely it is be a fairer future.”

She said, “Housing is a fundamental human right. This about rights, not favours!”


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As the event concluded, a reporter from Radio NZ interviewed one of the  participants;


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As far as could be determined, Radio NZ was the only msm that sent a reporter to cover the event. Apparently TV1, TV3, print media, commercial radio, et al, were too busy still dealing with the global fall-out from Ritchie McCaw’s resignation from the All Blacks.

As the protest event came to it’s conclusion, this blogger turned to look up at the sky which had darkened with ominous grey clouds. Fluttering atop the Wellington Civic Building were the five flag-options for the present Flag Referendum;


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It was a sobering moment when one considered the symbolism of those five flags.

Notably the $26 million price tag that went with the Referendum.



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Fairfax media: Toddler’s death in damp state house a ‘broken promise’, says Labour

Fairfax media: Damp state house played part in toddler’s death Finance Minister English says govt… wants to reform state’s role as ‘biggest slum landlord’

Fairfax media: Social housing rollout opens doors for the disabled

UNICEF: UNICEF NZ calls on PM to make good on promise to children

Radio NZ: Hundreds march to demand action on housing

Radio NZ: Insight for 22 November 2015 – What More Can be Done for Children?


Radio NZ: Community interest sought for state housing

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)

State Housing Action Network

Living Wage Movement

NZ Herald: New bill to give Government control over state houses

NZ Herald: Editorial – Housing hikoi sign of rising social unrest

Other blogs

The Standard: Hikoi for Homes

Previous related blogposts

Can we do it? Bloody oath we can!

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Tahi)

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Rua)

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Toru)

The cupboard is bare, says Dear Leader

Government Minister sees history repeat – responsible for death

Housing Minister Paula Bennett continues National’s spin on rundown State Houses

Letter to the Editor – How many more children must die, Mr Key?!

National under attack – defaults to Deflection #1

National’s blatant lies on Housing NZ dividends – The truth uncovered!

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.




Salvation army - bill english - sale o=f state housing


This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 23 November 2015.



= fs =

The slow starvation of Radio NZ – the final nail in the coffin of the Fourth Estate?

26 November 2015 Leave a comment
save radio new zealand - facebook

The chilling of the mainstream media

Whether by machiavellian, subtle and covert political pressuring from on-high; bad management decision-making,  or an inevitable process of  dumbing-down brought on by the never-ending need for advertising revenue and rapacious returns to share-holders, news media in this country continues to suffer at the on-going impacts of “market forces”.

The demise of Campbell Live and the loss of Mihingarangi Forbes from Maori TV’s Native Affairs and Dita De Boni from the NZ Herald should give all thinking New Zealanders cause for concern. Those three were amongst the most talented and critical voices from the mainstream media, and their dumping no doubt had a chilling effect throughout the media in this country.

With few exceptions, journos have mortgages and  bills to pay; mouths to feed; and careers they are passionate about. The constant possibility  of sudden termination of their contract is a sword of damocles that probably weighs on their minds when considering how critical of the Establishment they really want to be.

The may be risking their jobs if they stick their heads too far above the parapets.

The only people whose jobs are apparently safe are Mike Hosking and Paul Henry (who seems to bounce from company to company without any deleterious effects to his credibility).

Interestingly,  each has been ’embedded’ with  the two major television networks, TVNZ and Mediaworks’ TV3. Neither are journalists and  both Hosking and Henry  are unashamedly  linked to National.

This is “independepent media freedom” in New Zealand, circa 2015AD.

Who watches the Watchmen?

The last bastion of an independent  freedom, free from commercial imperatives and political interference (hopefully) is, Radio NZ. Despite an incident three years ago, where blogger Martyn Bradbury was banned from Radio NZ for making comments highly critical of our esteemed Dear Leader, the broadcaster maintains a strong ability to project itself as a serious, credible news and current affairs medium.

It continues to carry out strong investigative reporting; interviewing government ministers; State sector leaders;  and other public figures; and offering political analysis from both the Left and the Right.

One of Radio NZ’s most insightful (and often under-valued) programmes is  Mediawatch, which scrutinises, analysis, and holds to account, New Zealand’s mainstream media in a way that is not matched anywhere else by any other MSM outlet. As the Radio NZ promo-blurb states;

“Mediawatch looks critically at the New Zealand media – television, radio, newspapers and magazines as well as the ‘new’ electronic media. It also examines the performance of the agencies, corporations and institutions that regulate them. It looks into the impact the media has on the nation, highlighting good practice as well as bad along the way – and it also enquires into overseas trends and technological developments which New Zealanders need to know about.

It aims to enlighten everyone with an interest in the media about how it all works, how quickly things are changing – and how certain significant stories and issues are being covered. It’s also intended to be essential listening for those who work in the industry itself – as well as those who simply enjoy well-produced and lively radio.”

A recent prime example was on 9 August, when TV3 reporter, Tova O’Brien was taken to task for attributing a quote to someone who never actually said what she claimed;

@ 2:50 –

Colin Peacock: In New York, Tova O’Brien also got a second opinion on Murray McCully’s lofty dream of reforming the veto powers of the so-called Big Five at the UN. And 3 News introduced that story like this;

TV3 News: Former Prime Minister Helen Clark thinks Murray Clark is dreaming if he thinks New Zealand can rid the UN Security Council veto. Russia used the veto yesterday during… [fade-out]

Colin Peacock: Though Helen Clark had actually applauded Murray McCully for his ambition. It was Tova O’Brien who used the word ‘dreaming’ in a question to Helen Clark.

Helen Clark: It [New Zealand] should go for it. It [New Zealand] should follow it’s [New Zealand’s] dream.

Tova O’Brien: But in this case he’s dreaming.

Helen Clark: It’s not a short-term objective.

That was downright dishonest reporting.  Only Radio NZ’s Mediawatch picked up on it.

Last year, on 7 July, Mediawatch was the only  mainstream media team that questioned and criticised the NZ Herald’s dubious stories surrounding unsubstantiated claims of large donations made by migrant businessman, Donghua Liu, to the Labour Party. (Those claims were later “clarified”  with a half-hearted  retraction by the Herald.)

No other mainstream media questioned any of the astounding and unsupported claims made by Donghua Liu, and reported uncritically by the Herald.

It is a sobering thought that aside from the toothless “watch dog” of the Press Council, and only marginally more effective Broadcasting Standards Authority,  there is no real scrutiny of  mistakes, omissions, and mis-reporting made by our media.

Self-criticism does not come easily to the Fourth Estate.

Gutting by slow starvation?

Funding for Radio NZ is channelled through New Zealand on Air – a body described on Wikipedia, as “…an independent New Zealand broadcast funding agency” and  “autonomous crown entity separate from central Government and governed by a Board of six appointed by the Minister of Broadcasting. NZ on Air is responsible for the funding of public-good broadcasting content across television, radio and new media platforms“.

The funding figure of $31.816 million is an easy one to remember – it has remained unchanged since 2009-10, when National assumed the reins of government. The figure has been maintained until next year.Using the Reserve Bank inflation calculator, Radio NZ’s funding should have risen to $35.26 million. In effect, by not keeping pace with inflation, Radio NZ’s funding has been cut by around 10%.

By contrast, Budget data showing increases to the Prime Minister’s Department makes for sobering reading.

  • Michael Cullen’s last budget,  2008/09, allocated $25,470,000 to Vote Prime Minister and Cabinet.
  • In the same 2008/2009 Budget, Radio NZ was allocated $31,718,000 through NZ on Air, an increase of $2,644,000 (approx 8%) from the previous year.
  • In National’s first Budget, 2009/10, Vote Prime Minister and Cabinet was allocated $33,021,000 – an increase of $7,551,000 – or just under 25%!
  • In the same 2009/2010 Budget, Radio NZ’s allocation went up by $98,000 to $31,816,000 – not even a 1% increase.

For the first time, the Prime Minister’s Departmental budget exceeded that of Radio NZ. Furthermore;

  • Since 2009/10, Radio NZ’s allocation has stayed the same; $31,816,000.
  • By contrast, the amounts allocated to the Prime Minister’s Department has increased, and in the 2015/16 Budget was allocated  $49,298,000 – an increase of $24,476,000 since 2008 and  a near-doubling of John Key’s department and Cabinet expenditure since Michael Cullen’s last budget, seven years ago.
  • In the 2015/16 Budget, Radio NZ was allocated  $31,816,000 – a nil increase.

Framed another way, a news media organisation – dedicated to informing the public about government activities – has had no increase in resourcing since John Key’s administration came to power in late 2008.

By contrast, the Prime Minister’s Department – dedicated to promoting the power of the Government and more specifically, pursuing National’s political agenda – has had a doubling of taxpayer funding.

Where to for funding Radio NZ?

On 17 August, I wrote to NZ on Air’s Chief Executive, Jane Wrightson and asked;

“In your Annual reports, NZ on Air’s income from  Crown revenue went from $109,813,000 (for the year ended 30 June 2008 ) to  $128,726,000 (for the year ended 30 June 2015) – an increase of nearly $19 million.

Can you explain why none of that increase, according to your Annual Reports,  was directed at Radio NZ?”

On 21 August, Ms Wrightson responded;

“NZ On Air does not set Radio New Zealand’s Crown funding. This is done by Ministers. I am not aware of any government-funded entity that has an automatic inflation provision to increase funding.”

When questioned whether “Radio NZ’s funding has been frozen (effectively reduced, after inflation is factored in) because it is considered to be politically “inconvenient” or “embarrassing”  to the government”, Ms Wrightson replied;

“NZ On Air is a funding agency independent of Government in terms of our content funding strategy and decisions. Radio New Zealand’s funding has been static in the same way that all publicly funded agencies in the cultural sector have been static, during a time of fiscal constraint.”

Fiscal constraint” does not appear to be a limiting factor when the Prime Minister’s Department is funded from the tax-payer’s purse/wallet.

Questions for the Broadcasting Minister

On 6 September, I asked the Minister of Broadcasting, Amy Adams;

It is my understanding that Radio New Zealand’s funding has not increased since 2009, when it’s budget was set at $31,816,000.

With it’s funding frozen, and no means of other revenue, it has effectively had a funding cut after inflation and salary increases are taken into account.

Can you explain why Radio NZ’s budget has not, at the very least,  been inflation-indexed?

Can you explain why Radio NZ’s budget has been frozen whilst at the same time, the Prime Ministers Department has had a budget increase since 2008 from $25,470,000 to $49,298,000 in 2015/16 – a near doubling in just seven years?

Are you committed to increasing Radio NZ’s budget next year? If not, why not?

How do you expect Radio NZ to deliver excellent service  when it has effectively had a cut in funding?

On 20 May this year, you were enthusiastic about Radio NZ’s growth in market-share;

“While there has been a decline in listenership across traditional platforms, over the last twelve months RNZ’s online audience has grown significantly as their multi-media strategy is implemented.”

For example:

  • In 2013/14, 3.5 million podcasts were downloaded.
  • In 2013/14, page views reached 21 million and over 2014 unique users of the website grew by over 50 per cent.
  • In 2013/14, regular user of the RNZ mobile app grew by almost 62 per cent.


Whilst this is evidence that Radio NZ is a prudent manager of it’s funding, it is unreasonable to expect that this situation is  sustainable for the foreseeable future.

If the Prime Minister’s Department required a 100% increase from 2008, then why has Radio NZ not been accorded the same benefit?

There have been suggestions that Radio NZ’s frozen funding is a covert attack on the broadcaster and an attempt to reduce it’s effectiveness. What is your response to this assertion?

On 17 September 〈¹〉,Minister Adams replied to my questions;

“I have been pleased to see the steps RNZ is taking to ensure its success in the
changing media environment and the ways it has expanded to reach new audiences,
such as The Wireless, an online service for young people. Although operating
within a static funding environment, RNZ continues to meet it’s objectives and
has become an established multi-platform broadcaster with the annual funding of
$35 million it receives.

While I share your concern about the funding constraints RNZ has faced over
recent years, this is common across all public services. In a time of fiscal
constraint, it is especially important that the Government manages the public
finances in a prudent and responsible manner and makes sustainable choices about
the prioritisation of public funds. I welcome the approach RNZ has taken to
ensure the business is run as efficiently as possible and that public funds
are utilised as effectively as they can be to maximise the public value of content.”

Adams went on to state;

“While I recognise your concern about the funding constraints RNZ has faced over
recent years, this is common across all public services. In a time of fiscal
constraint, it is especially important that the Government manages the public
finances in a prudent and responsible manner and makes sustainable choices about
the prioritisation of public funds. I welcome the approach RNZ has taken to ensure
the businrss is run as efficiently as possible and that public funds are utilised
as effectively as they can be to maximise the public value of content.”

To put it mildly, her response was utterly unsatisfactory, and in no way offered any sensible answers. Her comments also did not appear to reflect realities surrounding Radio NZ and required clarification.

Awkward Questions and Questionable Answers

On the same day, I wrote back to the Minister, seeking new answers;

As I pointed out to you in my 6 September email,

It is my understanding that Radio New Zealand’s funding has not increased since 2009, when it’s budget was set at $31,816,000.

With it’s funding frozen, and no means of other revenue, it has effectively had a funding cut after inflation and salary increases are taken into account.

Can you explain why Radio NZ’s budget has not, at the very least,  been inflation-indexed?

Can you explain why Radio NZ’s budget has been frozen whilst at the same time, the Prime Ministers Department has had a budget increase since 2008 from $25,470,000 to $49,298,000 in 2015/16 – a near doubling in just seven years?

In your response to me, dated 17 September, you stated in-part;

“While I share your concern about the funding constraints RNZ has faced over
recent years, this is common across all public services. In a time of fiscal constraint, it is
especially important that the Government manages the public finances in a prudent and
responsible manner and makes sustainable choices about the prioritisation of public
funds. I welcome the approach RNZ has taken to ensure the business is run as
efficiently as possible and that public funds are utilised as effectively as they can be to
maximise the public value of content.”

This response does not address the questions and issues I raised in my email.

Namely; why has Radio NZ’s funding been frozen since 2009 – whilst funding for the Prime Minister’s Department has doubled  since 2008 from $25,470,000 to $49,298,000 in 2015/16.

 The next point I raised was;

Why has Radio NZ’s funding been frozen since 2009 – whilst funding for the Prime Minister’s Department has doubled  since 2008 from $25,470,000 to $49,298,000 in 2015/16.

You state that “In a time of fiscal constraint, it is especially important that the Government manages the public finances in a prudent and responsible manner and makes sustainable choices about the prioritisation of public funds” – yet this constraint does not seem to have been applied to the Prime Minister’s Department, with funding increases every year since 2008.

Can you shed light on  why Radio NZ’s funding has been frozen, but the Prime Minister’s Department has not?

And the last point I raised;

Secondly,  you write that “ it is especially important that the Government manages the public finances in a prudent and responsible manner and makes sustainable choices about the prioritisation of public funds“.

Can you explain the meaning of term, “sustainable choices” in the context of your letter? What, precisely, do you mean by “sustainable choices“?

Lastly, you refer to Radio NZ as a “business”. Considering that RNZ is non-commercial; has very little revenue; does not return a dividend; and has no profit-making capability – can you explain in what sense the broadcaster is a “business”?
This time, the Minister’s response was not so promptly forthcoming, and after sending a reminder on 1 October to her office, I was advised on 15 October;

The section of your email relating to the budget of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has been transferred to the Department, as it is better able to respond to your query.

Minister Adams will respond to your questions regarding the funding of RNZ.

It was now apparent that I was asking awkward questions that could not be fobbed off with a three-paragraph letter written in bland political jargon-speak.

Having transferred part of my OIA to the Prime Minister’s Department, I suspected it would be a long wait for a response.

On 13 November, Minister Adams responded to my request for clarification to her statement on 17 September. She first said;

“With regards to the first matter you raise, no government agency’s budget is inflation
linked. Ministers make decisions on an annual basis about potential funding increases
based on the requirements of the agencies. As you will be aware, these decisions involve
prioritisation across the entire public sector to ensure that any additional funding is
focused on the areas of most need.”

The Minister’s claim that “no government agency’s budget is inflation linked”appears to be at variance with the fact that the Prime Minister’s Department’s budget has doubled since 2008. This is an area which she obviously has no answer to, hence “transferring” my query to the PM’s Department.

However, Adams’ assertion that “ministers make decisions on an annual basis about potential funding increases” is actually at the nub of this problem. It is precisely the fact that Radio NZ’s budget has been frozen by a decision at a  ministerial level, that Minister Adams herself admits.

In effect, by deciding that Radio NZ’s budget is not to be increased, it is a form of political interference in an otherwise independent agency’s affairs.

National has long since abandoned Muldoonist-style direct interference in state sector departments and agencies. The more subtle – but just as destructive technique – is to quietly starve a recalcitrant independent body of funding.

When Minister Adams insists that “Ministers make decisions on an annual basis about potential funding increases based on the requirements of the agencies“, she is being duplicitous.

No one could sensibly suggest that a nationwide broadcaster could operate on a long-term basis without an increase to it’s funding.

Executives warn Parliamentary Select Committee of dire financial situation for RadioNZ

Radio NZ’s growing financial problems was raised during the 2012/13 financial review of Radio New Zealand,  by the Parliamentary Commerce Committee. The Committee referred to the issue at the beginning of their Report;

“Crown funding for Radio New Zealand has not increased in six years; we asked how this had affected staff and services.”

Labour’s Kris Faafoi was direct when he asked RadioNZ’s, Deputy Chief Executive, Ken Law;

“…you’ve been under a pretty difficult financial situation for 5 or 6 years now. I notice in the questions that you gave back to us that you’ve managed to make some savings of around $2 million in the last year, but how much longer can you cut your cloth until there is no more cloth to cut?”

Law, responded;

“I would suggest that that funding will have to be externally generated. But we have been very successful. We’ve made a number of
savings, particularly in production systems. We have some excellent expert staff in audio production. They’ve made some major savings in audio production systems and procedures. We’ve taken out some of the resilience or some of the duplication in transmission networks. That’s been a very calculated risk, but one that we think we’ve been able to manage and we can manage into the future. But really your question—how much longer? Not much longer.”

That was review was held around 8 May 2014. Despite putting on a brave face to the Parliamentary Committee and voicing up-beat comments, Radio NZ’s executives are clearly concerned that they are fast running out of cost-saving options.

Also noteworthy is that, in an attempt to cut costs, managerial decisions have been implemented to cut “some of the resilience or some of the duplication in transmission networks“.

Law described  cut-backs to “resilience” as “a very calculated risk”. This can be taken as to mean that Radio NZ’s technical infrastructure has been undermined and compromised for cost-saving purposes.

“Sustainability” and job losses looming

Minister Adams’ also explained what she meant by the term, “sustainable choices” and  in what sense was the broadcaster  a “business”, considering it is non-commercial, and has no revenue-income to speak of;

“With regards to the term ‘sustainable choices’ as used in my previous
correspondence, I meant choices about fiscal policy that keep government debt at
prudent levels and manage fiscal risks. As mentioned above, when Ministers make
decisions about agency funding they have to prioritise initiatives from across the
state sector to achieve this.


Although RNZ is not a commercial business, the Crown expects commercial disciplines
to be applied to the use of public funds and for RNZ to act in a professional and
business-like manner.”

Minister Adams’ candour was startling. She was admitting that her use of the phrase “sustainable choices” referred not to Radio NZ – but to National’s own attempts to balance it’s Budget and post a surplus.

Like other areas of the State sector – health, education, housing, police, etc – National has been cutting budgets to meet Budgetary demands. Those demands were exacerbated by National’s tax cuts of 2009 and 2010. Using the Minister’s phraseology, those tax cuts were ultimately “unsustainable choices“.

A year and a half  after  Ken Law’s fateful words to the Commerce Committee, Radio NZ’s chief executive, Paul Thompson, announced that the broadcaster would be shedding jobs;

RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson confirmed staff had been sent memo outlining the proposed changes at the state-owned broadcaster on Tuesday.

Newsreaders and producers at Radio New Zealand are in the gun, with the national broadcaster planning to shed jobs in their push into digital.

RNZ chief executive Paul Thompson confirmed staff had been sent memo outlining the proposed changes at the state-owned broadcaster on Tuesday.

This included cutting the overall headcount at RNZ from 283 to 270 by July next year, with 20 jobs disestablished and seven new digital roles created.

“We are having to find some savings which is no surprise.”

National’s on-going refusal to adequately  fund Radio NZ  has  predictably been  “un-sustainable“.

The Prime Minister’s Office confirms doubling of their Budget

Having heard nothing since 15 October, when the Broadcasting Minister’s office transferred part of my OIA request to the Prime Minister’s Department, follow-up enquiries were made on 23 October as to what progress they were making;

“It is my understanding that Radio New Zealand’s funding has not increased since 2009,
when it’s budget was set at $31,816,000.

With it’s funding frozen, and no means of other revenue, it has effectively had a funding
cut after inflation and salary increases are taken into account.

Can you explain why Radio NZ’s budget has not, at the very least, been inflation-indexed?

Can you explain why Radio NZ’s budget has been frozen whilst at the same time, the Prime
Ministers Department has had a budget increase since 2008 from $25,470,000 to $49,298,000
in 2015/16 – a near doubling in just seven years?”

By 12 November, a month after Minister Adams’ office had transferred part of my OIA request to the Prime Minister, no reply had been forthcoming and I asked again whether I could expect a reply.

A little over twentyfour hours later, I received a two-page response from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. (The full text of the document is available for viewing here.)

In response to my questions;

“Why has Radio NZ’s funding been frozen since 2009 – whilst funding for the Prime Minister’s Department has doubled  since 2008 from $25,470,000 to $49,298,000 in 2015/16?”

“This [funding] constraint does not seem to have been applied to the Prime Minister’s Department, with funding increases every year since 2008. Can you shed light on  why Radio NZ’s funding has been frozen, but the Prime Minister’s Department has not?”

– the answers were “interesting” to say the least.

Anne Shaw, Director of the Office of the Chief Executive, confirmed that the budget for the DPMC had doubled  since 2008 from $25,470,000 to $49,298,000 in 2015/16.

She described the doubling of the Prime Minister’s Department as taking on “new responsibilities“;

“The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) serves the Executive (the
Governor-General, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet) through the provision of high
quality impartial advice and support services. DPMC is comprised of five business
units: Cabinet Office, Government House, Policy Advisory Group, Security & Intelligence
Group, and Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management. The functions of DPMC
have changed significantly over the period of time covered by your request with taking
on new responsibilities. The changes in funding largely reflect this.”

Interestingly, Shaw refered to political management  and the Civil Defence  bureacracy as “business units”. Are those “business units” run with the  expectation of  commercial disciplines  to be applied to the use of public funds and to act in a professional and business-like manner” – as Minister Adams demanded of Radio NZ?

Shaw then provided alleged examples which appeared to justify the doubling of funding for the Prime Minister’s office.

However, Budget documents are not always clear as to what “additional fundings” were made from the Prime Ministers Department (DPMC), as purported by Shaw. In several instances, there was no apparent reference to any increase for a given purpose;

(1) “Additional funding” for the  “conservation of Government House in Wellington” between 2009/10 and 2010/11:

Vote Prime Minister and Cabinet 2009/10 Budget: $20.1 million

Vote Prime Minister and Cabinet 2010/11 Budget: $17.4 million

Vote Prime Minister and Cabinet 2011/12 Budget: $1.1 million

Vote Prime Minister and Cabinet 2012/13 Budget: $1 million

(2) “Payments made as a result of the September 2010 and February 2011 Canterbury Earthquakes, including support for response and recovery as a result  of the 22 February 2011 Canterbury Earthquake“. There were no payments found  for “support for response and recovery activities”  relating to the earthquakes within the 2010/11, 2011/12, or 2012/13 Budgets.

(3)  “Relocating the intelligence and security functions to a new purpose-built facility for the New Zealand intelligence community” 2010/11.  There were no payments found  for any such “relocation” within the DPMC Budget.

However, the Budget for Vote Communications Security and Intelligence increased massively during the 2010/11 period which Shaw claimed as justification for the DPMC’s budget increase:

Vote Communications Security and Intelligence 2008/09:  $49.368 million

Vote Communications Security and Intelligence 2009/10:  $59.142 million

Vote Communications Security and Intelligence 2010/11:  $73.926 million

Any increase for “relocating the intelligence and security functions to a new purpose-built facility for the New Zealand intelligence community” appears to have come from Vote Communications Security and Intelligence, not Vote Prime Minister’s Department.

(4) There is no reference to expenditure for “Cabnet”  or establishment of the National Cyber Policy Office within the 2012/13 Budget for Vote Prime Minister’s Department. If it exists, it was “buried” under one or another classication.

(5)  Shaw also referred to costs incurred for “depreciation funding for the refurbished Government House“. These entries do exist in each DPMC Budget.

“Funded depreciation” is described as “… a fixed asset management method that helps a company set aside funds to renew machinery and equipment that it uses in operating activities“.

It is highly unlikely that any government will be building a new Government House any time soon.

(6) Shaw gave another explanation to the ballooning Prime Minister’s Department’s budget; “In April 2014, the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM) became part of the DPMC. This meant an additional funding increase in 2013/14 with the transfer of civil defence and emergency management functions from Vote Internal Affairs and an additional 39 staff“.

Ms Shaw is correct, and the cost of transitioning – according the the 2013/14 Budget – $1.354 million.

Even with three related costings included, the sum reaches only $3.6 million. This hardly explains why the PM’s Department’s budget has doubled since 2008.

(7)  Ms Shaw’s final explanation for the budgetary increases for the DPMC was perhaps the most galling, citing “an increase in 2015/16 reflecting the expected costs of supporting the process to consider changing the New Zealand Flag“.

However, Shaw’s explanation is not convincing. The 2015/16 Budget reveals a figure of $4.4 million for the DPMC’s “Supporting Flag Consideration Process” – not the full estimated costing of $26 million.

Even so, considering that Ministers have consistantly fetishsised  the “need for fiscal restraint”, it is hard to see that funding the flag referendum is a necessity that excuses the need for on-going “fiscal restraint”.

Especially when agencies such as Radio NZ have not had funding increases for seven years.

It appears that money can be readily found when John Key needs it.


On 17 September, broadcasting spokespeople for Labour, the Greens, and NZ First were approached for comment on Radio NZ’s funding.

The Greens and NZ First did not provide any response.

Labour’s Clare Curran responded and said;

In October I released a private member’s bill to put to an end Radio New Zealand’s punishing
six­year funding freeze that matches funding to inflation and population growth and assists
the broadcaster’s transition to a multimedia public service network

The Radio NZ (Catch­Up Funding) Amendment Bill, which has been placed in the private
member’s bill ballot, provides for an 11 per cent increase based on total inflation and an
overall population increase of 6.7 per cent from June 2009 to June 2015.

Current NZ on Air funding for Radio New Zealand for the 2015/16 year is $31,816,000. The
one­off ‘catch up’ for the 2015/16 year would be an increase of around $6.5 million.

The Bill provides for the catch­up funding to be sustained and for inflation and population
adjustments to occur annually. It is the first step in a broad strategy by Labour to improve the
quantity and quality of New Zealand voices in broadcasting.

Public service broadcasting is gradually being eroded in New Zealand. Despite the population
of New Zealand growing ever larger and more diverse, the range of voices in broadcasting is

This bill is a stake in the ground on the importance of public interest media.

Ms Curran also replied to several specific questions I put to her,  if Labour was to be part of the next government, post­-2017;

Frank Macskasy: Will you make an immediate capital-injection into Radio NZ, to take into account inflation since 2008?

Clare Curran: Labour’s broadcasting policy for 2017 is yet to be announced. However I draw your attention
to the private member’s bill in my name which provides for an immediate funding increase
for RNZ based on inflation since 2008 and population increase.

FM: Will you inflation-index any subsequent funding for Radio NZ?

CC: Bearing in mind we haven’t announced formal policy I think you take that as a yes.

FM: What strategy do you have, if any, to entrench regular funding increases for Radio NZ to take such funding  decisions away from ministers and eliminate/reduce potential covert political interference by chronic under-funding?

CC:  This is an excellent question and one that Labour takes very seriously. We are undertaking
community engagement as we speak about these very matters. As Broadcasting
spokesperson, and as a former journalist, I believe editorial independence from ministerial
interference is a fundamental tenet of democracy. Recent events inside Maori TV have raised
serious questions about the ability of a Minister to influence programming decisions which he
doesn’t like. Political party That’s deeply concerning no matter which political party is

I don’t believe our publicly ­funded media is arms­-length enough from government. What’s
happening in Australia with the ABC and even in the UK with the BBC is testament to that.

In order for true democracy to flourish, commercial –free public interest media is an essential
pillar. Just as we have established and entrenched the watchdogs of government in the
Ombudsman, Auditor General, Human Rights Commission, Privacy Commissioner etc.. so
must we ensure that our public media entities are given a public mandate to operate
independently from state influence, overtly or surreptitiously. As you rightly point out,
removing funding decisions from ministers may be an important mechanism to do that.

However, I make the point that it must be a political policy decision to move in that direction.
I signal that Labour will move in that direction.

FM: Would an independent decision-making body, such as the Remuneration Authority which rules over MP’s salaries, be a practical solution to this problem?

CC: This is a matter for further discussion which I welcome and will participate in, in any forum.

Clare Curran’s response was appreciated.

It also gives hope that a future progressive government will not only restore Radio NZ’s funding – but will implement a policy that will entrench and safeguard this taonga from covert under-mining by unsympathetic governments.

The job of media is not to serve up infantilised ‘pap’ for an increasingly disconnected audience. The job of media is to hold truth to power, full-stop.

A democracy simply cannot function without a flourishing, well-resourced, critical media.

Governments without a watchful media is authority without brakes. It is political power without independent over-sight. It is dangerous.

At a time when print media is “down-sizing” (ie, sacking) skilled, experienced staff, and electronic media serves up a daily evening diet of superficial “current affairs” and even more vacuous “news”; gormless formulaic “reality shows”; and a never-ending stream of stomach-churning crime “drama” – Radio NZ is the last bastion of serious, professional media.

It is the last institution left standing. It is holding the line.

But only barely.

Note1 – Minister Adams responded to my OIA in one and a half weeks. This is an outstanding achievement for any National Minister’s office. Most National Ministers take weeks, if not months, to respond.

NZ Treasury: Budget 2015 – Vote Prime Minister and Cabinet

Additional References

NZ on Air: The Board

NZ on Air Annual Report: 2008

NZ on Air Annual Report: 2009

NZ on Air Annual Report: 2010

NZ on Air Annual Report: 2012

NZ on Air Annual Report: 2013

NZ on Air Annual Report: 2014

NZ on Air Annual Report: 2015


The Daily Blog: CBB supports Private Members Bill to increase funding to Radio NZ

Labour: Labour bill to stop stealth cuts to Radio NZ

The Standard:  David Cunliffe on the state of the media in New Zealand

Parliament: Radio New Zealand (Catch-up Funding) Amendment Bill

Previous related blogposts

TVNZ7, Radio New Zealand, and distracting trinkets.

State Media Bans Dissident!

Karl Du Fresne has a public baby waa-waa cry-session

Karl Du Fresne has a public baby waa-waa cry-session – part rua

Talkback Radio, Public Radio, and related matters

NZ media; the Good, the Bad, and the Very, Very, Ugly

Campbell Live, No More

The Donghua Liu Affair: One Year On




charlie hebdo


This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 21 November 2015.



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Citizens march against TPPA in Wellington: Did Police hide tasers at TPPA march?

22 November 2015 Leave a comment


TPPA - stand up it's not over - with taser motiff


NZ, Wellington, 14 November – As previously reported (16 November), police failed to provide any form of presence during the Wellington anti-TPPA protest march.


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“Policing” was effectively left up to March Marshalls who controlled traffic and supervised protesters as they made their way through Wellington’s CBD, to Parliament.


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As I also reported, a msm journalist present noted the lack of police presence, expressing his surprise and nervousness.

However, at  Parliament’s grounds, there was no lack of police presence. At least twentytwo policemen and women lined up in front of the old Parliament Building.


14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (69)


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The building was not only empty on a Saturday afternoon, but the entrance had been boarded up due to refurbishment activity.

It was apparent that police had positioned themselves on the Parliamentary forecourt waiting for protesters to arrive, and in the process had forgotten another of their primary duties; traffic management and escorting the protest march through Wellington’s narrow streets.

Fortunately, the March Marshalls achieved a good result in both areas.

But there was another curious aspect to the policemen and women on Parliament’s forecourts.

On a previous anti-TPPA march in Wellington, on 15 August, protesters were ‘greeted’ with police wearing tasers on their belts;


taser - 21 august 2015 - tppa march - parliament - police - pockets (2)

15 August


taser - 21 august 2015 - tppa march - parliament - police

15 August


Last Saturday’s (14 November) police did not appear to be displaying tasers.

But – were they armed with tasers concealed in their pockets?

These images were taken on the day, and appear to show bulges in their pockets  that do not appear in the above images, or similar images taken three months ago;


possible taser - 14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament - police (1)

14 November


possible taser - 14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament - police (2)

14 November


possible taser - 14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament - police (3)

14 November


For a better comparison;


police - tasers - concealed weapons - concealed tasers


Following the 15 August anti-TPPA march and the open display of tasers, there was some public disquiet at police carrying these weapons to a political protest.

On this occassion,  someone within the Police hierarchy may have made an unfortunate ‘call’ to have their officers carry concealed tasers.

There is no clear evidence to prove this assertion one way or another. The bulges may have been hankies stuffed deep into trouser pockets (quite a few hankies, judging by the bulges).

But if true, it may be appropriate for an urgent  “Please Explain” between the Minister’s and Commissioner’s offices.





Previous related blogposts

Citizens march against TPPA in Wellington, send message to National govt: “Yeah, nah!”

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
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» Acknowledgement of source is requested.





No more anarchy


This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 November 2015.



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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: , ,

Citizens march against TPPA in Wellington, send message to National govt: “Yeah, nah!”

21 November 2015 Leave a comment


TPPA - stand up it's not over


NZ, Wellington, 14 November – Tertiary Education Union national president and veteran anti-TPPA campaigner, Dr Sandra Grey, addressed a gathering of  citizens, in Midland Park, in Wellington’s CBD;


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Dr Grey told the crowd of  nearly one thousand, that the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement  (TPPA) had not yet been signed, and was not due for ratification until early next year.

She encouraged those listening to let other people know that this was by no means a done deal and they should let others know. Dr Grey encouraged people to “flood the internet” and spread the word to lobby National not to ratify the agreement.

As numbers in the park swelled, people brought their own, home-made signs to make their views known;


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These citizens not only expressed their dissatisfaction with the TPPA and the shady, secretive process surrounding it, but were working to engage young people in the electoral process. They wanted New Zealand’s youth to exercise their vote and thereby choose their own future;


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Some more imaginative signs;


14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (72) - Copy


Banners from the Green Party, Nurses Organisation, and Wellington Social Workers;


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The marchers, setting off from Midland Park;


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By the time the protest march left Midland Park, numbers had increased to between 1,500 to 2,000 people. However, something very unusual became apparent even before the protesters made their way out onto Lambton Quay.

The view south, with March-Marshalls (in yellow vests) on the road;


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The view north, with TV1 reporter and cameraman standing on the center traffic-island;


14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (22)


No police presence.

There was not one single policeman or woman, nor a patrol car, for crowd or traffic control. Traffic and crowd control were left up to the Marshals – all of whom did a magnificent job.

With traffic stopped, the marchers moved out onto Lambton Quay;


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With the head of the march behind him, TV1’s reporter was filmed by his cameraman for the 6PM News;


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As protesters made their way to Parliament, more people joined the march;


14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (27)


Winding their way along Lambton Quay, numbers had ballooned to around 2,000;


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Ben held aloft New Zealand’s current flag – in many ways symbolic of the struggle to retain something of this country’s independence.


14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (31)


The TPPA could rightly be seen as a radical change for  New Zealand; the submerging of our heritage and culture by forces of globalisation.

Perhaps there is a kind of mad logic to our esteemed Dear Leader’s desperate need to spend $26 million on a flag-referendum when the public has shown little appetite for changing our flag.

If the TPPA is a new, corporatised road for this country, then John Key’s desire to have the silver fern (or some incarnation of it) as our new flag suddenly makes sense. A new flag is the ‘re-branding’ of New Zealand, as part and parcel of a TPPA world.

Having a young citizen – Ben – waving an old, traditional symbol of this country, is made more poignant because of his youth. It is not often that young people hold on to aspects of our Past and Present.

Perhaps, in times of rapid change and uncertainty, we try to hold on to elements of the Past, to anchor ourselves in the  Present.

Amongst all the party and union banners and the anti-TPPA signs, Ben’s little Kiwi flag made more sense as a symbol for resistance.

Reaching the Bowen St/Lambton Quay/Whitmore St intersection, there was still a zero police presence. This left March Marshalls with the tricky task of managing traffic flow and permitting protesters pass through safely;


14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (33)


I mentioned the lack of police presence to a msm journalist and he agreed; he had noticed the same curious thing. He said it made it him feel nervous.

I agreed, I said. But not because there might be trouble-makers amongst the protesters. I pointed out it would only take one lunatic driver to drive his or her car into the crowd, injuring or killing someone.  I recalled a very similar tragic event happening sixteen years ago, during a picket at the Port of Lyttleton.

The march made it’s way past the Cenotaph;


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Usually, at this point, I make my way up onto Parliament’s grounds. This time, I remained at the intersection, my camera ready.

Sure enough, this dark-coloured SUV slowly nosed it’s way amongst the marchers;


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The driver moved through the procession, at one point only a metre from people in front of his bumper. I moved closer to the vehicle,  continuing to  take photographs, to let him know that I was watching and recording. If the driver became belligerent behind the wheel, I would be recording his behaviour before interceding;


14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (36b)


Heading toward the gates of Parliament, another young protester with her home-made sign;


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Granny expresses her appreciation!

Once the march had moved through the intersection, I noticed a white utility vehicle with its amber lights flashing, to hold back traffic. Whether this was a thoughtful citizen using his/her initiative to control traffic – or had been directed to do so by police or Wellington Council – is unknown;


14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (40b)


A minute later, a sole police vehicle drove past – their role in traffic management (if any), too late for any practical purpose. Protestors had moved off the road and traffic was already moving again;


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As protesters made their way onto Parliament’s grassy lawns, we discovered why there had been no attempt by Police at any form of traffic management. They were waiting for protesters on the forecourt, lined up in front of Parliament’s steps, protecting an empty building;


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The first speaker to address the crowd was environmentalist lawyer, working part-time at Victoria University, Tom Bennion;


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Tom voiced his concern that the TPPA could prevent necessary action being taken to address global warming. The TPPA fell short of environmental protections and gave greater prominence to protecting  corporate rights. He said implementing the TPPA would harm our chances for meaningful action on climate change, and demanded that the issue be more fully debated in Parliament.

The second speaker was local Iwi representative and lawyer, Moana Sinclair;


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Moana told the crowd that with thirty thousand pages of TPPA text and other documents to analyse  was a daunting task. She was scathing on the TPPA and it’s implications for Maori, saying that as Maori “we already know about this kind of bullshit”. She said that “we still don’t know what’s in the Treaty-related clauses.

Moana rejected reassurances from National ministers saying “we’re sick and tired of their lies”. Without legal analysis of the 30,000 pages of the TPPA and supporting documents, she was sceptical that there were no hidden ‘fish hooks’ waiting to be discovered.

The following speaker was Jimmy Green, from “Gen Zero”;


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Jimmy said he first became interested in climate change issues at the age of 14. The more he found out, he said, the more convinced he became that “it is an insult to our ancestors that we ruin the world for our children”.

Jimmy specifically condemned the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions of the TPPA, saying that if investments could be put at risk by governments legislating for social, health, environmental, or education issues, then investors should not have made those investments in the first place.

Jimmy described the TPPA as a castle built on sand and that no government can go against the will of the people and survive. He described the TPPA as “just an idea, and ideas can be undone”. He described New Zealanders as generally good people and that Kiwis had the necessary courage to stand up and walk away. He said people might not fully understand the implications of the TPPA and that it was our role to make them understand.

Jimmy was followed by Peace Action campaigner, Valerie Morse;


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Valerie explained that the TPPA was a vehicle to increase massive concentration  of wealth  to the already rich super-elite. It would benefit the elite ‘haves’ at the expense of the the rest of the world.

Valarie also condemned the TPPA as another means by which New Zealand is increasingly being tied to US and it’s insane war policies. She described the TPPA as part of gangster capitalism. Painting a stark picture of our recent history, Valerie pointed out that New Zealand had been at war for the last fourteen years.

Valerie pointed out there was a massive campaign under way to win the “hearts and minds” of the public to support  the ongoing “War on Terror” in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. She described the Army games in Southland  where “mock” protesters  had been beaten up as part of the exercise. Was that what lay in store for ordinary people who chose to protest against their governments, she asked?

“War is not a by-product of US capitalism”, Valerie explained, “it is an integral part of it”. She warned that we should expect New Zealand to become more deeply involved in the US killing campaign;

“If we organise against the TPPA, expect to be labelled a terrorist.”

Valerie’s sobering warnings was followed by poet, Cory Brian;


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Corey read his thought-provoking poem to the crowd, who listened in silence;

My journey begins fresh, anew,
the rush of a city, no longer we west coast few,
day to day select few pray,
for those around them to share their stay

you enjoy that which ancestors build,
your over payed politicians form the Decisions Guild,
to guide a nation as they see fit,culture and heritage not cared for one bit
our farms, our river all sold to market,
and before you find out the hope you’ll kark it,

For if we were ever collectively aware,
then that fat old Decision Guild would have something to fear 
But alas that is just not the case,
you all turn away, afraid to face
the fact that generations to come,
may have difficulty seeing the sun,
not only through our cause of pollution,
but also that we struggle for a simple solution 
to stem the flow that society has made
its ever pushing tide for culture to fade.

Continue on mankind this path 
so it shall read your epitaph:

Man was here but a few hundred years 
molesting the earth without any cares
digging, polluting, No consequences,
mother natures only choice left?
to dismantle mans fences,

individually the choices, signs and roads we take
each day increases whats at stake
what would happen if we thought as one?
could we possibly redirect the gun?
away from our mouths that cause this harm,
towards our futures and fast track calm?

It will not be those that we follow,
but us, the new with minds as swift as the swallows,
we are that our past envisioned
the future to mend is our decision!

But how you ask your eyes to me?
Open your Eyes…. Not just those two,
and you shall see,
the page is blank our chapters to write
now take up your pen and create YOUR sight.

With a pen you say thinking im mad
now wait for it and IL point out whats sad

laws are made with but a pen
yet dictate the actions of nearly all men
your headphones occupy your ears,
so that mother culture can lullaby all your fears
your are bound, constricted, unconsciously gagged,
cameras posted everywhere ensure you remain tagged,
livestock bumbling through these concrete streets…

now compare that to the stupid animals you raise, feed, and eat.

Following Corey, Pala from ‘Real Choice NZ’, was given the microphone;


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Pala told the crowd that people think that democracy goes with capitalism. He shook his head and said, “No, capitalism has always tried to squash democracy“. He said this was especially true for indigenous peoples’ rights.

Pala said that the TPPA will benefit only a few and “is at the forefront  of the wedge to sharpen inequality between people”. He warned that even if the TPPA fails, corporate power  would remain in place, subverting public institutions for private gain, and needed to be constantly fought.

Echoing the sentiments of many other New Zealanders, Pala condemned this government for squandering $26 million on a flag referendum, while insisting there was insufficient money to spend on child poverty. He demanded to know why a referendum could be held to determine our flag, but not on the issue of the TPPA.

Pala ended by reminding us;

” We are in the middle of a serious assault on democracy. Democracy is a living thing, but also a fragile thing as well.”

Pala was followed by long-time anti-TPPA campaigner and Mana Party activist, Ariana;


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Ariana told the crowd that thousands of people across the country were standing up today “for what we believe in”.  She condemned the current government as treasonous, saying,

“We need to get these neo-liberal bastards out of our country. It is a mockery of democracy when this important issue will be decided by only twenty people in Cabinet!”

She said there was only one way to get rid of this government, and that was to get everyone voting in 2017.

Ariana said that the TPPA was not good for New Zealand and certainly not good for small businesses. She wanted to see support for local businesses grow, and not the empowerment of multinational corporations.

Ariana encouraged everyone to put up “TPPA Free Zone” signs, as New Zealanders did in the 1980s, during the nuclear-free campaign. The signs could be downloaded from Facebook and other websites.

As many others have pointed out, Ariana stated that the TPPA was an investor-corporations “bill of rights” and not about free trade.

Citizens listened intently to the speakers;


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The last speakers were also the youngest, Tracy and Katie, who have played their part in the anti-TPPA campaign;


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Introducing Tracey and Katie, Ariana  told the crowd how they forfeited  “Trick or Treating” at the Robbie Williams Concert, and instead worked through the evening handing out TPPA leaflets to the concert-goers.

This elicited a mass-cheer and clapping  from the crowd.

Tracey told the crowd that her annual school speech was on the topic of – the TPPA!

“Kia Ora My name is Tracey… I am 13 years old… Today I am here as I am worried about what will happen to mine and my friends’ future if the TPPA is signed!!!! I have on many times handed out fliers and chalked for people to google TPPA…Many people have seemed interested in what I have had to say whilst handing out leaflets… Though some people have not and have been quite nasty!! Ha ha Mum was always there to give them some facts! This year we had to write a speech for school the topic was “There is a problem in New Zealand and I can solve it by? well you can just guess what I talked about – Yes, the TPP… It was very one-sided as there was nothing from the government because it was a deal being done in secret, but there were plenty of articles about why we shouldn’t sign it from lessons learned overseas … This is my future this government is playing with and I say Don’t SIGN the TPPA.”

Katie spoke passionately on climate-change affecting her future;

“Kia Ora My name is Katie …. I am 12 years old. Today I am here like you because I am worried about what will happen to mine and my friends’ future if the TPPA is signed!!!! I have on numerous occasions handed out fliers and chalked for people to google TPPA… The reason I do this is because I have been to many very interesting discussions where people have passionately spoken about our Country and the TPP, And NO never any good news, if there was, the bad was way worse than the good! … I have been to many TPP rally meetings and rallies… Mum has made sure we are at most of them!… Her point of view is, We will not go to her in a few years time and say, but Mum you guys could have done something to stop it!!! Why didn’t you???? So here we are!! And look at all of you, so I am guessing you all agree with us as you are here too! Thank you for helping stand up for a better NZ for us all… TPPA NO WAY!”

Tracey and Katie are ambassadors for the generations that will inherit our country – indeed our planet. We cannot ignore their voices.

Finally, no protest rally is ever really completely done without at least one excellent artist to perform for the crowd. In this case, Matiu Te Huki belted out two great songs, to everyone’s joy;


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Matiu’s voice did real justice to the songs he sang.

On that ‘note’

Whilst I won’t point out which policeman or woman it was, I spotted one  in the police-line tapping his/her foot, in time to the music. Constables – you’re allowed to enjoy the music. We really, really don’t mind.

The last word, I leave to the maker of this simple – but insightful – message;


14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (2)


Tomorrow: The TPPA March – Something concerning regarding the Police presence at Parliament on Saturday afternoon.





NZ Herald: Sentence for Lyttleton picket line fatality too light – union

The Daily Blog: Keith Rankin – White Trite

Facebook: TPPA Free Zone and Action plans

Te Papa: Nuclear free sign

Previous related blogposts

Citizen A – 29 Nov 2012 – TPPA Special

TPPA: Business launches propaganda campaign

TPPA: Doomsday scenarios, Critics, and flights of fancy

Open message to the Middle Classes about the threat of the TPPA

Nationwide Rally Against the TPPA – Day of Action!

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part tahi)

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part rua)

The Mendacities of Mr Key #5: Has Tim Groser shown the P.M. to be a liar on the TPPA?

Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on TPPA

Opposing the TPPA – the Heavens hold their deluge ’till the People speak

Citizens face Police armed with tasers at Wellington TPPA protest march

Support groups

Facebook: Oil Free Wellington

Facebook: It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

Website:  It’s Our Future

Facebook: Aotearoa is Not for Sale

Action Stations: A Secret Trade Deal So Terrifying That Parliament Isn’t Even Allowed To Know What It Says

Facebook: TPPA Action Group – Wellington

OraTaiao New Zealand Climate and Health Council

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.




tppa - everyone's a winner


This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 November 2015.



= fs =

Andrew Little: if you want to send a really strong message to New Zealanders…

14 November 2015 4 comments





Palmerston North, 8 November 2015 – E nga mana

E nga tapu

E Te whanau o te roopu reipa

Tena koutou katoa

Talofa lava

Kia orana

Malo e lelei

Nǐ hǎo


Thank you so much for that welcome.

Can I acknowledge party president Nigel Haworth, our new senior vice president Virginia Andersen, our Māori vice president Nanaia Mahuta and all of our hard working New Zealand Councilors.

I also want to acknowledge our outgoing General Secretary Tim Barnett. Tim, thank you so much for everything you’ve done for this party and the huge effort you have made.

Thank you to everyone in our caucus, especially my Deputy Annette King and our Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.

And can I also acknowledge and say thank you for your patience to the two most important people in the world to me: my wife Leigh and my son Cam.

Why We Fight

Over 100 years ago, a group of miners gathered in a small union hall in Waihi and voted to take a stand against a company that was exploiting them.

The dispute had gone on for months already.

The miners’ hopes were simple.

They wanted to be treated well at work, to be paid fairly, and they wanted to know that when they went to work they would come home safely.

So the miners went on strike to press their case.

The response was immediate and devastating.

The full power of a corrupt and cosy establishment was unleashed against them.

The Prime Minister of the day branded them “enemies of order.”

One miner was beaten to death.

A young union organiser, a recent immigrant from Scotland, was helping the miners with their cause, travelling the country to raise money and give speeches in support.

He saw first hand the lengths that the powerful would go to in order to cling on to their position.

He saw that if the dreams of ordinary people were going to be possible, they needed more than a voice — they needed to have their hands on the law-making power of Parliament.

That young man’s name was Peter Fraser.

The party that he helped found, our party, has been on the job for nearly 100 years.

  • 100 years of fighting for a more just New Zealand.
  • 100 years of standing up to the smug and the self-contented.
  • 100 years of making life better for all New Zealanders;

All the people who organised together and campaigned together over the last century, people like you and me; they’ve left us an awesome legacy.

Just think of what our party has achieved:

  • Think of Joe Savage, who built our modern social safety net, our health care, our pensions, and who carried the furniture into the very first state house.
  • Think of Peter Fraser fighting for a state education system at home, and a lasting peace abroad.
  • Think of Walter Nash and his fight for affordable home loans.
  • Think of Norman Kirk walking onto the grounds at Waitangi hand in hand with a young Māori boy, sending the powerful message that it was time to restore mana to the Treaty of Waitangi.
  • Think of David Lange and the courage it took to stand up to a superpower. To assert what he called the power of humanity, the power of decision, over the madness of nuclear war.
  • And, just a few years ago, think of all the good Helen Clark did to lift New Zealand families through the Cullen Fund, KiwiSaver and Working for Families.

Our party has never been afraid to take on the big fights:

  • To lift New Zealanders up.
  • To restore opportunity.
  • To help us live our dreams.

You know, as New Zealanders, we don’t ask for the world. We have some simple aspirations.

Owning a home; having security for the people we love; a chance to enjoy the outdoors and the environment we love; and a job that gives us the time and the money to lead a fulfilling life.

These are the aspirations that we all share.

Together, they’re the Kiwi Dream, a dream that’s central to our country’s identity.

We’ve always been a progressive, big hearted people.

We believe in looking out for each other and doing the right thing.

We believe everyone should have the same opportunities to make the most of this life.

Our forebears in this great party put these values at the heart of the Labour project.

Whenever the Kiwi dream has been threatened, Labour championed it.

Whenever the rights of New Zealanders needed defending, Labour defended them.

That’s what previous generations did.

Now it’s our turn. Now it’s our turn.

We’ve come together this weekend to begin the work of rebuilding the Kiwi Dream.

I came to this party because Labour has always stood up for a fair go — for opportunity for everyone.

It’s an enormous honour to have been elected your Leader — I don’t underestimate the responsibility I hold.

But I’m not one of those people who can say I was born to Labour.

In fact, it was quite the opposite.

The first time my Mum voted for a Labour candidate was when she voted for me.

My Dad was another story altogether. He was a staunch National supporter.

He used to yell at the TV whenever political opponents came on the telly.

The people who most got under his skin? Union leaders, and pretty much everyone in the Labour Party.

So, “Andrew Little, Leader of the Labour Party and former union leader” probably isn’t the ambition he had for his son.

He’s probably up there right now going “god, look at my boy, where did I go wrong?”

But the truth is, he did a great job.

He and mum taught me some basic values.

Think for yourself. Make up your own mind. Stand up for other people and never be afraid to lend a helping hand to someone who needs it.

So Dad, you did the right thing, you were just in the wrong party.

My own political views were forged in the era of the Springbok Tour, and of the controversies over justice for Arthur Allan Thomas and justice in the Erebus Disaster.

I watched these events unfold and discovered in myself an intolerance for injustice.

When I see injustice, it sticks in my craw and I am compelled to stand up to it, and fight it.

The injustice I speak of is when the powerful and the privileged abuse their position to take advantage of the weak.

Here’s what I believe:

  • I believe in dignity. The dignity of the person matters most; and every person must have the opportunity to realise their full potential;
  • I believe in equality. A system that shuts people out because of where they live, or who they are, or who they love, or who their parents are is unjust and cannot stand;
  • I believe in the great freedoms that make us who we are. Freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of association.

I know that the freedom I cherish cannot come at the expense of other people’s freedom. And I am very clear: there is no freedom in poverty and deprivation.

And I believe in fair rewards, too. Everyone who works to make this country great should share in the rewards.

It’s those values that I have carried with me my entire life.

The experiences I’ve had in my working life have taught me the type of leadership you need if you want to fight and win for progressive causes.

I learnt that it isn’t about making everyone happy or trying to avoid confrontation and disagreement.

Instead it’s about taking a stand because it’s the right thing to do.

I learned that real change — lasting change — change that’s worth fighting for takes patience, and resolve and determination.

It takes a long term view, keeping your eyes on the prize, not being drawn into every battle and skirmish and never giving up on what matters.

It’s these values and a lifetime of fighting for them that’s led me to believe we need to change the direction of our country.

Because right now this government isn’t living up to our values.

We aren’t being true to who we are, and that means more people are being shut out of the Kiwi Dream.

Most Kiwis believe that hard work should bring fair rewards.

But our economy is increasingly weighted in favour of those already doing well, while putting up barriers that stop other people getting ahead.

That’s why the incomes of the top 10 percent of New Zealanders are now ten times the income of the bottom 10 per cent. Ten times.

Most New Zealanders used to grow up believing they would be able to own their own home if they worked hard and saved hard.

But our houses have become playthings for speculators, many of whom live offshore — putting home ownership out of reach of ordinary New Zealanders.

That’s why in Auckland last year, the average house made more than three times as much as the average worker.

That’s right, the average Aucklander made $58,000 last year, but the average house price went up by more than $180,000.

That’s just crazy.

And now home ownership rates have hit their lowest level in 64 years.

We have to turn that around.

Most Kiwis also expect New Zealand to be a force for good on the world stage.

But this government is ducking its obligations and turning us into a lightweight in the international community.

We enlisted the support of many countries to get onto the UN Security Council.

We promised we would be the conscience of the world — that we would provide moral leadership.

But when we were faced with a real question of moral leadership: a humanitarian crisis engulfing millions of Syrian refugees, New Zealanders looked on in horror as the government dithered and prevaricated because they were waiting for a poll.

This is not the legacy of our great internationalist leaders: Fraser, Kirk, Clark.

And what about health?

Most Kiwis believe when you get sick, the public health system will be there to help you get well.

But our health system is stretched to breaking point, slashing services and denying Kiwis the care they need.

That’s why when Graham Higgins from Northland needed a procedure to diagnose his cancer, he had to wait over 6 months — by which time his cancer had become terminal.

I’ve battled cancer myself.

I know what it’s like to wait for the results of that test that could change your life.

So I’m making this commitment right now: when I’m Prime Minister I’ll make sure Kiwis get the care they need when they need it and I’ll give our doctors and nurses and health workers the funding they need to do their jobs.

But these aren’t the only values we’ve lost in the last few years.

Most Kiwis believe we owe it to our kids to give them a better life than we had.

But this government has turned a blind eye to appalling rates of poverty in this country.

That’s why the children’s wards of our hospitals are seeing Kiwi kids sick with third world diseases.

It’s why Emma-Lita Bourne died in a state house because her home was mouldy and unhealthy and no one was willing to help.

We must never let anything like that happen again.

New Zealand, we are a better country than that.

We’ve got to turn the page on the last seven years;

We’ve got to turn the page on rising inequality, on child poverty, on the housing crisis and on cuts to our health system,

If we want to restore the Kiwi Dream then we have to change the government.

And, once we’ve done that, we have to change the way we govern, too.

Right now, it seems the government is more interested in slapstick and personal sledging than in genuine leadership;

It’s more interested in flags and pandas than in serious issues.

It seems like the latest political sideshow is often more important than what is happening to you or your family.

I didn’t become an MP to play parliamentary parlour games.

I came into politics to help people.

To change lives for the better.

To take this country forward.

I ran for the leadership of our party because I want to lead a Government that makes a genuine difference.

Today, I want to give New Zealanders a clear idea of the shape and character of the sixth Labour Government.

I want to show you how we’ll put Kiwi values back to work in our government, so everyone can live the Kiwi Dream.

The Economy

It starts with restoring the values that should underpin how we run our economy.

We need to remember who we run the economy for.

People. New Zealanders. Their families.

This government’s forgotten that.

They’ve been rewarding property speculators, tax dodgers and big corporates at the expense of Kiwi families.

And here’s the truth: it’s not working.

The economy is slowing.

Just when we should be soaring, we’re stalling again.

Just this week we’ve learned the economy lost 11,000 jobs in the last three months.

Unemployment has hit 6% and is expected to reach 7% by the end of next year.

That’s the highest level since the height of the GFC.

The economy is actually going backwards in half of our regions.

If we’re going to restore the Kiwi Dream of opportunity for everyone, we need a stronger economy

That starts with getting more New Zealanders into higher skilled, better paid jobs.

Ask me my three priorities as Labour Leader?

Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.

You can ask me my top ten as well but I think you get the gist.

A job is about more than just a pay packet, it’s about the dignity of work. It’s about a place and a purpose in your community.

Every Kiwi who can work should be able to work.

Every business that needs a skilled worker should be able to find one.

And where people can’t work, the government should support them because we won’t allow Kiwis to be thrown on the scrap heap.

From day one, we’ll kick-start the economy.

  • We’ll bring forward major infrastructure projects like the City Rail Link in Auckland and passenger rail in Canterbury.
  • We’ll build better schools so every Kiwi kid can learn in a modern, high quality building.
  • We’ll set up a Regional Infrastructure Fund for major development projects to create jobs and boost our regions.

We will be relentlessly focussed on the future. That’s why I’m proud of Grant Robertson’s Future of Work Commission, which is showing us how to build a better economy for the future.

We’ll create thousands of new jobs in new industries by restoring research and development tax credits — giving our businesses a tax break on every dollar they spend on innovation.

We’ll modernise our education system so our kids are better prepared for jobs that haven’t even been invented yet.

And we’ll tackle climate change, because the only way our economy has a future is if our planet has a future.

That means aiming higher on renewable energy — we should be bold enough to say we want to see 100% renewable energy in New Zealand.

That also means doing better on reducing emissions. I want us to reach across the political divide, bring parties together and agree on ways to make New Zealand a leader on climate change. We don’t want to be a shirker on this issue.

Labour’s proposal for the Paris conference is a 40% CO2 reduction below 1990 levels. That’s the kind of ambition we need on this issue.

We also need to improve our social safety net so it works better in a world where people change their careers more often.

And today, I want to add the next element of Labour’s economic plan.

As you might have guessed, it’s about jobs.

It’s about the government lifting its game and living its values.

There are 151,000 New Zealanders out of work already and that number is increasing. 151,000.

On top of that, there’s 90,000 underemployed New Zealanders, and another 200,000 who can only find temporary work.

For everyone to have a fair shot at the Kiwi Dream, everyone needs a chance at a decent, secure job, and the government should be doing its bit to make that happen.

But it isn’t.

Not even on the most basic decisions.

The government spends $40 billion a year purchasing goods and services.

That’s huge buying power but, currently, government bodies only consider their own bottom line when they make purchasing decisions. Not the country’s bottom line, just their own.

They buy ‘cheaper’ options, often from overseas, regardless of the impact on New Zealand, even if it means Kiwis will lose work.

That’s the kind of dangerously short sighted thinking that has been behind some of the biggest government botch ups in the last few years.

  • the Hillside workshop closure in Dunedin and asbestos in imported rail wagons;
  • The Novopay debacle
  • Kiwi businesses shut out of the $1.9 billion IRD computer system contract.

At a time when our economy is stalled and our regions are struggling, there is a better way.

So today I’m announcing the first part of our jobs plan.

We’ll use the government’s buying power to create jobs here at home instead of sending them off overseas.

We will make job creation and the overall benefit to New Zealand a priority in how the government chooses its suppliers.

No more shipping tax-payers’ money offshore and starving our own companies of opportunities.

No more sending jobs overseas when we could be supporting a stronger economy here at home.

That’s billions of dollars that we will focus on creating jobs here in New Zealand.

And because we are putting existing money to better use, this policy has little to no fiscal cost.

Our plan, which we’re calling “Our Work, Our Future,” will put people to work, boost our businesses and it won’t break the bank.

Rebuilding the Kiwi Dream also means restoring opportunity to the thousands of New Zealand kids who are missing out — robbed of their future by the circumstances of their birth.

It means shining a light into dark corners of our country where people are trapped.

We still have 305,000 children living in poverty. 305,000.

2 out of 5 of those children have a parent who is working.

This can’t continue. It is unjust and it’s not who we are.

We all know this, but we’ve turned our backs for far too long.

Well, that ends today.

I’m committing our party to a new principle:

We will not tolerate poverty in New Zealand in the 21st century.

We won’t tolerate the poverty of the human spirit that means we choose to leave hundreds of thousands of children languishing in deprivation.

We won’t tolerate the poverty of imagination that means we stop thinking of creative ways to bring that poverty to an end.

Because I know that when this speech is over we will hear the usual chorus of jaded and cynical voices. They’ll say:

“It can’t be done. It’s too ambitious. You’re dreaming.”

To the cynics I say this:

Even if you’ve given up, I haven’t. I won’t. Ever. It’s not who I am.

New Zealanders are sick and tired of a politics that’s defined by cynicism and devoid of ambition.

It’s time to do better.

New Zealand, I’m asking you to join with me in a concerted effort to eradicate poverty in our country.

In government, we will put action on poverty at the heart of everything we do.

We’ll increase the number of hours people can work without having their benefit cut — to give more people a pathway back into full time work.

We’ll work towards 100% qualified teachers in ECE centers so every kid can get the best start in life.

We’ll feed hungry kids with our food in schools programme and we’ll make sure every child grows up in a warm, safe, dry home with our Healthy Homes Guarantee.

And we will get serious about lifting wages by working with unions and employers on modern and progressive workplace relations that boosts wages and lifts productivity and shares the gains fairly.

Every decision my government makes will be checked against its impact on child poverty.

So, every Budget, every year, we won’t just report on GDP growth or how much money we’ve spent, we’ll front up and tell the country how many children a Labour government has lifted out of poverty.

Standing up for Kiwis

The final part of rebuilding the Kiwi Dream is having a government that stands up for Kiwis again.

For many of us in this room, I know the TPPA is very important.

There are many things we still don’t know about what’s in the agreement.

But there is one thing we do know.

The National Government has signed us up to a clause that says we will not be able to make laws restricting the sale of land or housing to non-resident foreigners.

That’s what they’ve done.

They’ve signed us up to a commitment to other governments, and other people who don’t live in New Zealand, who don’t want to live in New Zealand, who don’t care about New Zealand.

That commitment limits what our democratically elected representatives in parliament can do.

And it’s wrong.

It’s wrong.

It’s an attack on democracy.

It’s selling out our democratic right to make our own laws.

And this matters to me because I’ve had some fights for New Zealanders under some very bad laws.

I started my law career under the Employment Contracts Act — a terrible law that cut the wages of thousands of New Zealanders.

The reason I came to Parliament was to make sure that we had laws that were good for New Zealand.

And I’m not giving that away to anybody.

But I’m not the only one with that view.

Remember Peter Fraser — one of the founding voices of our party. He saw what was happening to the Waihi Miners and he saw that for ordinary people to have a shot at their dreams they needed a democratic government on their side.

That’s what is at stake here.

Can we hold on to our democratic rights? Not if we let National trade them away.

So, I’m telling you, when it comes to undermining our democracy and our sovereignty in the TPPA, I am totally opposed and I will fight with every fibre in my body to stop it, to resist it, to make sure it never happens in New Zealand.

Our party has always backed the Kiwi Dream.

For nearly 100 years Labour has been fighting for New Zealand.

And today, it’s our turn to continue that fight.

Today, too many people feel like their dreams are slipping away.

And this government isn’t standing up for Kiwis or for what we believe.

It’s our job to turn this around.

In just two years, we can change the government and we can change this country.

We can restore opportunity.

We can create jobs.

We can end poverty and help Kiwis get ahead again.

Together, we can rise to the challenge of a new era, and chart a better course of our country.

I’m asking all of you today to make your voice heard.

I’m asking you to join our campaign, to talk to your neighbours and your friends and your family, to show them there is a better way.

Let’s send the message out from this hall today that the days of doing the easy thing are over.

It’s time to do the right thing.

The days of cowering to powerful vested interests are over.

It’s time to stand up for New Zealand.

The days of shrugging our shoulders and tolerating poverty and inequality are over.

It’s time to aim higher and do better.

It’s time to raise our sights.

We can do this.

We must do this, and we will do this.

New Zealand, together, it’s time for us to rebuild the Kiwi dream.


[Re-published verbatim via the Labour Party website]

Comment: Andrew Little said;

Most Kiwis believe we owe it to our kids to give them a better life than we had.

But this government has turned a blind eye to appalling rates of poverty in this country.

That’s why the children’s wards of our hospitals are seeing Kiwi kids sick with third world diseases.

It’s why Emma-Lita Bourne died in a state house because her home was mouldy and unhealthy and no one was willing to help.

We must never let anything like that happen again.

New Zealand, we are a better country than that.

We’ve got to turn the page on the last seven years;

We’ve got to turn the page on rising inequality, on child poverty, on the housing crisis and on cuts to our health system…


We still have 305,000 children living in poverty. 305,000.

2 out of 5 of those children have a parent who is working.

This can’t continue. It is unjust and it’s not who we are.

We all know this, but we’ve turned our backs for far too long.

Well, that ends today.

I’m committing our party to a new principle:

We will not tolerate poverty in New Zealand in the 21st century...


We’ll work towards 100% qualified teachers in ECE centers so every kid can get the best start in life.

We’ll feed hungry kids with our food in schools programme and we’ll make sure every child grows up in a warm, safe, dry home with our Healthy Homes Guarantee.

Fine words. Words conveying a strong message.

Now Andrew Little needs to follow up those words of hope by doing something simple and at little cost to the tax-system; announce a new role of Minister for Children, and take on the position himself.

John Key has allocated the portfolio of Minister for Tourism to himself, and takes his role ‘seriously’ by regularly holidaying on the sun-drenched, warm-sands, of a Hawaiian beach. Nice for him. He gets a very nice tan out of it.

Andrew Little should do the polar opposite; take on the role of Minister for Children, and show the people of New Zealand where the priorities of a real Prime Minister should be.

Come the day after the next election, the plaque on the Ninth Floor PM’s office should read;

Rt. Hon. Andrew Little
Prime Minister
Minister for Children

He’ll miss out on the suntan, but his reward will be true legacy-making stuff.

And better than a new flag, any day.




What's Done to children they will do to society



This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 9 November 2015.



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Big Bro’ is Watching You!

13 November 2015 2 comments




This piece by Dita DeBoni on TVNZ’s website is worth re-posting in it’s entirety – just in case it ‘mysteriously vanishes’ into the ether. Not that I’m implying the New Zealand is now more-or-less a quasi-Police State…


Dita DeBoni Privacy right is not a right when not 'right' - nicky hagerWhether it be information about our household digital television account, or my child’s ear infection medication, or a text message, say, sent by a Prime Minister to a highly prominent sportsman or blogger, “privacy” is often the reason trotted out for stonewalling.

Sometimes it’s legitimate. Goodness knows what might happen if a complete stranger paid my household bills for me, or felt inclined to impersonate me at the chemist.

And do we really need to know that the Prime Minister and prominent All Blacks are in cahoots over the new flag design?

Some might say yes, but I reckon I could have figured that out by the sheer number of photographs we’re subjected to day after day featuring them gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes.

It seems the main reason a journalist – or even a citizen – is denied ‘official’ information much of the time is either that releasing it is going to unleash a torrent of (metaphorical) excrement, or getting the information you’re after would be a pain in the posterior for the person being asked for it.

The exception to this is if the police are asking.

It now seems as though certain institutions are more than happy to hand over incredibly personal financial and other information if the plod request it, even if they’ve skipped the part where they’re supposed to get the proper legal documentation to do so.

Some institutions actually wait for a formal, legitimate request before complying with police fishing expeditions.

Others, notably Westpac Bank, do not.

We know this because it emerged this week that Westpac handed over 10 months of data from three of author Nicky Hager’s accounts when police were investigating the hacking of Cameron Slater’s blog and social media accounts at the end of 2014, willingly complying with detectives who simply explained it was part of their investigation into ‘criminal offending’.

There is nothing whatsoever to suggest the criminal offending they were investigating was anything to do with Nicky Hager.

Hager began the investigation as a ‘suspect’ but became simply a ‘witness’; he is not accused of stealing anything.

He did what good journalists do on a daily basis – was given information on nefarious wrong-doing that he believed the public needed to know. Then he published it.

He’s been treated extraordinarily for a witness in such a case – had his house raided for ten hours, had personal files uplifted, been wire-tapped, had his records requested from as many as 20 different companies and sources, and been vilified by the government.

But whether you like Nicky Hager or not, whether you agree with what he set out to do or not, there is something rotten about the way the police acted in the case – and something profoundly out of order about the way Westpac Bank rolled over and gave away Hager’s bank records and other personal information on the strength of an unsupported request by police, without even telling their client they were doing so – which is also something they are required to do.

It now emerges Nicky Hager has complained to the Privacy Commissioner about what’s happened and also wants a ‘full and frank’ disclosure from Westpac.

It will be more than anyone else has had. Westpac say they won’t comment on what they do with customer information because it’s an ‘internal policy’.

Again, you may think Nicky Hager deserved the treatment he’s had. You may not agree with him in general.

But remember that whatever treatment’s been handed out to him can be handed out to anyone with the ‘wrong’ connections, the ‘wrong’ information, and the ‘wrong’ intentions.

Privacy increasingly seems to be only your right if you are on the ‘right’ side.


In case anyone has missed the point, Dita DeBoni’s column is a direct warning to the citizens of this country.

When the security apparatus of the State – in this case the New Zealand Police – can access private and confidential details without a search warrant, then we have reached a truly frightening stage in our nation’s developing history.

The only place where police have had such unimpeded access to the private information of citizens has been – up until now – the province of military junta-controlled regimes; Soviet-style “people’s republics”; and various banana republic dictatorships. Think of Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Pinochet, Papa “Doc” Duvalier – it’s a very long list. (And I haven’t even gone through the entire 20th century!)

Though New Zealand is not *yet* a One Party state – which is only one national “crisis away, before a “state of emergency” is declared – we have taken a further step toward the nightmarish society envisioned by C.K. Stead in “Smith’s Dream/Sleeping Dogs“. (That nice man, Prime Minister Volkner, had such a horrid time caused by those nasty terrorists. Why couldn’t they just all get a proper job?)

It might well be that the release of Nicky Hager’s private information to the police was an inadvertent slip-up by an ill-informed Westpac employee.  Or it could be that there is now a nascent culture developing in New Zealand of fawning, unquestioning obeisance to Authority.

In a space of thirtythree years, we have gone from massive street protests and struggle against an increasingly authoritarian National government led by Robert Mudoon – to meekly accepting increasing State surveillance and seizure powers.

And in just seven years, we have gone from this;


Showers latest target of Labour's nanny state


– to this;


various spy bills


Yes, in just under a decade, National has taken New Zealand from complaining about reduced shower flows and ecologically-sound lightbulbs (!!) being “Nanny Statish” – to mass surveillance of the population; increased powers for spy agencies and police; forcing telco’s to keep client information for the State; and warrantless search and seizures.

In my youth, I visited my parents’ homeland whilst it was still under communist rule, and within the ‘sphere of influence’ of the Kremlin.

I can say, with a fair degree of confidence tinged with sadness, that New Zealand has moved closer to being a South Pacific replica of a former Soviet ‘satellite’ state. Only the Gulags are yet to be built. (Our Australian cuzzies have them already at Christmas Island and elsewhere.)

I can think of no other way to see this country. We have spy agencies monitoring New Zealanders; spying on our Pacific neighbours and trading partners; and harassing journalists who are critical of this government’s actions. Phil Goff’s political career was almost destroyed by National’s abuse of the powers of the SIS.

What else do you call a country where police can gain access to a citizen’s private information – without arresting him – and with no warrant? The term, I believe, is Police State.

If National Party supporters are “relaxed” about this, then I have this piece of advice for them; remember that governments change. Sooner or later, Labour will be in office.

And the Labour Prime Minister, with perhaps a few scores to settle, will have all the powers of search, surveillance, warrantless seizures, that John Key has gradually amassed since 2008.

Laws like these;

Search and Surveillance Act 2012

Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013

Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Act 2013

Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill (aka Customs and Excise Amendment Act 2014)

There may even be a new Minister for the GCSB and SIS. Perhaps Phil Goff. Or David Cunliffe.

Then the shoe will be on the other foot (the Left one). At that point, National and it’s supporters may start to regret the encroachment of State power into our lives.

I believe light bulbs and shower nozzles will be the least of their worries.





TVNZ: Dita DeBoni – Privacy right is not a right when not ‘right’

National Party: Showers latest target of Labour’s nanny state

NBR: Ferguson confirms ‘mass surveillance’, Key reiterates GCSB acting lawfully

NZ Herald: Warning as second part of spy bill passes

NBR: ‘Undemocratic’ Search and Surveillance Bill made law

Fairfax media: Spy bill passes into law amid wide criticism

Newstalk ZB: PM won’t confirm Pacific spying

Fairfax: Private data deserves greater respect than Westpac showed Nicky Hager

Techdirt: New Zealand Spy Agency Deleted Evidence About Its Illegal Spying On Kim Dotcom

Yahoo News: English didn’t know GCSB spied illegally

NZ Herald: GCSB report: 88 cases of possible illegal spying uncovered

Other Bloggers

Kiwipolitico: Confronting executive branch excess

Kiwipolitico: Some questions about the Stephenson case

No Right Turn: An unwarranted demand for information

No Right Turn: The banality of intrusion

The Daily Blog: Police plotted to arrest and spy on Nicky Hager – the most interesting parts of 1 year on from Dirty Politics

The Daily Blog: What mainstream haven’t mentioned about Westpac corporate narking on Nicky Hager

The Daily Blog: News release on behalf of Nicky Hager concerning privacy breach by Westpac

The Daily Blog: Why what the Police are doing to Nicky Hager is so extraordinary

The Standard: Technology and the law – and going after Hager

The Standard: Angry at Westpac

The Standard: Dirty Politics was in the public interest

The Standard: “A creeping authoritarianism from the current government”

Previous related blogposts

Parliamentary spies and games – some bad numbers

National Party president complains of covert filming – oh the rich irony!

It is 1984. It is ALWAYS 1984

National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

Those who love Big Brother

Welcome to new glorious People’s Republic of New Zealand

From the Horses mouth

Today’s irony was brought to you courtesy of former ACT MP and Govt Minister, Rodney Hide

Weekend Revelations #2 – Michelle Boag has a whinge






This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 9 November 2015.



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Unemployment, Christchurch, dairy prices – Bill English confirms blogger’s analysis

10 November 2015 2 comments




Leg #1: Treasury reported in 2012, on the Christchurch re-build;

The Canterbury rebuild is expected to be a significant driver of economic growth over the next five to ten years. The timing and speed of the rebuild is uncertain, in part due to ongoing aftershocks, but the New Zealand Treasury expects it to commence around mid-to-late 2012.

Leg #2: The Reserve Bank, in 2014, on our Dairy sector;

The New Zealand dairy industry is experiencing prosperous times, continuing the strong growth in export earnings of the past eight years. Animal numbers and prices have increased and on and off farm productivity growth has been impressive.  And the future looks bright. There seem to be important structural reasons behind the rise in dairy prices that should continue into the medium term.

Leg #3: Steven Joyce, Associate Minister of Finance, this year, on the Auckland housing boom;

“Closer to home, the Reserve Bank … highlights several factors continuing to support growth domestically, including robust tourism, immigration, the large pipeline of construction activity in Auckland, and, importantly, the lower interest rates and the depreciation of the New Zealand dollar.”

There we have it – the three basic “legs” comprising National’s economic development policy. One is predicated on fluctuating international market-prices; another is an unsustainable property boom funded by billions borrowed from off-shore; and the other is the epitomy of ‘disaster’ capitalism.

In debating the fragility and unsustainability of these three sectors of our economy, I (and other bloggers from the Left) have pointed out time and again the transitory nature of the dairy sector boom; the Christchurch re-build boom; and the Auckland property market boom. Acolytes of the so-called free-market – ever dedicated to their quasi-religious right-wing notions – have dismissed our warnings.

On 4 November, the National government’s Finance Minister and sheep farmer, Bill English, made a statement in Parliament that has backed up our dire warnings – albeit somewhat late in the day;

“Of course, if unemployment was a direct choice of the Prime Minister of New Zealand, there would be none of it. You would just decide to have none. But, of course, it is not. It is a product of the world economy and its low growth rates, and of particular circumstances in New Zealand where the rebuild in Christchurch has flattened out and there has been a drop in national income of billions of dollars from the decrease in dairy prices, which was always going to affect the number of jobs in New Zealand, and now it is happening.”

Indeed; “and now it is happening”.

Two of National’s economic stimulators are either belly-up, or in the process of falling flat.

Only the Auckland housing boom remains. When that collapses, it will be much, much worse than the depressed Dairying sector. At that precise moment, international lenders will have noticed that we have been borrowing-up-large for one helluva massive property splurge-party – and they will be wanting their money back.

All $200 billion of it.


Mortgage debt tops $200 billion


According to Squirrel mortgage broker, John Bolton;

“People are completely oblivious of what’s going on. If you overlay what’s going on around the rest of the world, all bets are off.”

New Zealanders are about to wake up with the biggest “hang-over” since they first got trolleyed at teenagers.

Is this where I say, “I told you so”?

Will it matter by then?





NZ Treasury: Recent Economic Performance and Outlook (2012)

Reserve Bank: The significance of dairy to the New Zealand economy

Parliament Today: Questions and Answers – Sept 10 2015

Parliament: Hansards – Questions for oral answer – 2. Unemployment—Rate

Fairfax media: Mortgage debt tops $200 billion


Metro: 10 ideas that could solve the Auckland property crisis

Previous related blogposts

Labour’s collapse in the polls – why?

“The Nation” reveals gobsmacking incompetence by Ministers English and Lotu-Iiga

The Mendacities of Mr Key # 12: No More Asset Sales (Kind of)




house price boom


This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 7 November 2011.



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