Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mike Butler: Picton tribe’s $11.7m queried

Gone are the days when New Zealanders of Maori ancestry could fax in a claim noting an historical grievance allegedly suffered and wait for the payment to arrive. One such claim has produced a settlement worth $11.7-million negotiated between the Crown and the Picton tribe, Te Atiawa Manawhenua Ki Te Tau Ihu. This deal prompted a series of questions from reader Doug Howard.

While such settlements are publicly notified by cursory press release, details can be difficult to dig out if you don’t know where to look. It is helpful for the public to know what the claim was.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ron Smith: On Constitutions

The proposed constitution for Egypt contains a good deal of contentious material and it will be interesting to see how it fares in the referendum, scheduled for this weekend.  As readers of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research know, there are also constitutional projects afoot here in New Zealand.  There are interesting parallels between the two.

In the Egyptian case, and in the context of a ‘virtuous revolution which has unified all Egyptians’, there is an early affirmation of the object of the exercise.  This is to ‘build a modern democratic state’, in which, ‘Equality and equal opportunities are established for all citizens, men and women’.  But all is not as it seems.  As in Orwell’s celebrated story, some (animals) are more equal than others.  In this case the ‘more equal’ are specifically Islamic and masculine.  On the face of it, there is to be ‘no discrimination’ between men and women (this is in the Preamble); but what are we to make of Article 10, ‘The State shall ….enable the reconciliation between the duties of a women toward her family and her work’?  This seems clearly to envisage a restricted status for women, of a kind that, lamentably, is to be found around much of the Islamic world.  More generally, there is limited constitutional protection (and much threat) for minorities such as the Coptic Christians, and any who desire to live in a modern, secular state.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Reuben Chapple: Eyes Wide Open

The Waitangi Tribunal’s recent finding that Northland’s Ngapuhi tribes did not cede sovereignty to the Crown by signing the Treaty of Waitangi is arrant nonsense that deserves to be mercilessly deconstructed.

It appears the Tribunal uncritically accepted Ngapuhi’s assertion their ancestors believed Governor Hobson’s authority would apply only to white settlers, and that Maori would continue to be ruled, tribal-style, by their chiefs.

These claims are not borne out by the historical record. As outgoing Governor-General, Lord Bledisloe, observed in his 1922 farewell address: "In the Kingdom of the Blind, the one-eyed man is King, and he that does not know his own history is at the mercy of every lying windbag."

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bruce Moon: Ngapuhi did cede sovereignty

A claim that Far North tribe Ngapuhi never ceded either sovereignty or government is contradicted by the fact that a number of the 27 Ngapuhi chiefs attending the greatest assembly of chiefs ever – the 1860 Kohimarama Conference – confirmed the sovereignty of the Queen.

A report commissioned by grievance specialist Titewhai Harawira and released last month claimed that that Ngapuhi did not sign away their sovereignty to the British Crown and did not cede governance to the Crown either. The report says chiefs wanted the Crown to provide a governor who would take charge of its unruly British subjects living here.

Mike Butler: Mokomoko, murder, and money

The saying "give someone an inch (and they'll take a mile)"used to mean that if you allow some people a small amount of freedom or power they will see you as weak and try to take a lot more. The Mokomoko (Restoration of Character, Mana, and Reputation) Bill that is currently winding its way through parliament shows why this saying is used.

The interesting thing about this bill is that the1992 pardon of Mokomoko, a Bay of Plenty chief executed for his role in the killing of a Lutheran minister, is now being used as evidence of a treaty breach and a basis for compensation.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Simon Cowan: Will taxes on the super-rich solve budget woes?

Governments around the world are being dragged, in some cases kicking and screaming, into doing something about their budget deficits. The difficulty is that the public will neither pay more tax nor countenance any cuts to entitlements and services. Hence, recent state budgets have been using euphemisms such as ‘efficiency dividends’ and ‘trimming the fat,’ while senior politicians rush to reassure electorates that public service job losses will not affect frontline services.

However, such cloak-and-dagger methods can take you only so far, especially if (like the United States) you’ve got a trillion-dollar hole to fill. Perhaps, the thinking goes, where dissembling fails envy might succeed. After all, everyone knows that the super-rich are rorting the tax system; all we need to do is raise their taxes so they pay ‘their fair share’ and everything will be OK, right?

Steve Baron: Fighting violence with violence

Some people smoke, others debauch themselves with alcohol, drugs and gambling; my indulgence is for cafés. I enjoy the chance to read the newspapers, to get that quick fix of caffeine and a chance to chat with all sorts of interesting people from time to time. The eternally effervescent girl with the dragon tattoo and cheeky smile always has something to say when I bump into her in the café. Something she said to me today, about a moment in her life she considered ‘not one of her finer moments’, got me thinking. We all have times like this when we make mistakes and do and say things we regret. 

Unfortunately Christmas is a time when stress levels often become elevated, dangerous situations arise and physical abuse eventuates. Oh of course he didn’t mean to do it and he promises never to do it again and after all it’s really out of character for him. Yes, its amazing how people can often justify almost anything—even murder. The abuse of women and children should never be brushed aside because these instances usually have a tendency to escalate. If a guy will hit you once, he will hit you again and it will probably be worse next time because he knows he got away with it last time.

Steve Baron: Income inequality & child poverty

I’ll be blunt and say straight up front, I’m a dirty, stinking, money loving capitalist. I’ve speculated in real estate, the stock market, even foreign currency and I've been lucky enough to do very well from it too. However, I’m also a capitalist that has a social conscience. I believe in justice, fairness and equal opportunity. That is why income inequality and child poverty concern me greatly.

I started hearing about income inequality a few years ago in the main stream media, after a book called 'The Spirit Level' was published. It was mainly left wing commentators that were banging on about it and my first thoughts were… "here we go again, rob from the rich to give to the poor, bloody socialists".

Monday, December 3, 2012

Barend Vlaardingerbroek: Ritual action and the religious freedom argument

It’s not very often that Jews and Muslims present a united front, but they did so in Germany recently when a court held that the circumcision of baby boys for reasons other than medical was illegal. It’s not very often that Muslims and Christians sing from the same song-sheet either, but they did so in their submissions to the Select Committee on the Marriage Amendment Bill, when both the Federation of Islamic Associations of NZ and various Christian groups presented submissions that in some instances would have looked like carbon copies. But we are more accustomed to hearing about Muslims getting in hot water in Western countries over such things as the female veil and forced marriages. And then there were the Sydney riots. Jews too occasionally find themselves falling foul of Western norms, such as the debate over shechita (ritual animal slaughter) in NZ not long ago.

A common defence is that of the freedom of religion. But freedom of religious expression is a qualified right, not an absolute right. It does not confer any right to break the laws of the country in which one lives. As with all rights, clear legal boundaries need to be put around religious freedom. And this is where the basic problem lies: which law is to define those boundaries?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Ron Smith: Terrorist rules

A commentator on my previous posting (of 19 November) explicitly makes the argument anticipated but dismissed there, that weaker parties in these irregular wars will tend to see themselves as not bound by humanitarian law.  He says: “Having and obeying the rules of warfare tends to be something that only the strong can do. Without supporting one side or the other it is obvious that Hamas or the PLO is not militarily able to take on the IDF in the open.  To do so would be suicidal.  Were I a freedom fighter (which in their eyes they are) I’d use the means I had available and stuff the rules.” (emphasis added).

It is easy to understand the sentiment that lies behind this kind of observation, and the commentator is right to observe that Hamas cannot take on the Israeli Defence Forces in conventional conflict, with any prospect of success.  But it is a long way from this observation to justifying killing arbitrary Israeli citizens (not members of the military forces), which is the dominant Hamas tactic.  This, as noted earlier, is simply terrorism and has been universally condemned (in United Nations resolutions, international conventions and humanitarian law) and it doesn’t matter whose ‘eyes’ we are using.

Karl du Fresne: Shafted by their own council

So this is what it has come to. The Kapiti Coast District Council, according to today's Dominion Post, has identified 40 "sacred" Maori sites on which owners will not be allowed to subdivide, alter existing buildings, or disturb the land.

As I write this, I'm fervently hoping the citizens of the Kapiti Coast will be laying siege to the council offices and that the mayor, the councillors and the council functionaries (who I suspect are the real villains of the piece, because that's usually the case) will be cowering in terror in a basement panic room.

Muriel Newman: Bicultural constitution threatens race relations

As a result of MMP politics, a new ‘written’ Constitution based on the Treaty of Waitangi as superior law, may well be imposed on New Zealand. Such a bicultural constitution would enshrine Maori privilege, turning non-Maori New Zealanders into second class citizens in their own land. It would give un-elected Judges supreme power over our elected Members of Parliament, ensuring that no future Parliament could ever remove the Treaty from our constitution. New Zealand would forever be locked into a divisive race-based future.

This plan to give the Treaty of Waitangi constitutional status is being driven by the Maori Party representing the tribal elite. After the 2008 election, they not only demanded ownership rights to New Zealand’s foreshore and seabed - in return for supporting a National-led government - but they set in train a constitutional review as well.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mike Butler: Deeds, half-truths, water rights

Waters, rivers, lakes, and streams were included in the sale and purchase of the Upper Waikato on September 15, 1864, as well as trees, minerals, and all appertaining to the land or beneath the surface, according to the deed that is freely available on a Victoria University of Wellington website. Ownership of water is the latest “gimme” demanded by the New Zealand Maori Council and was at the root of the Maori legal challenge to the government's partial asset sale that was heard at the High Court in Wellington this week.

Justice Ronald Young reserved his decision, on Wednesday, on the challenge by the New Zealand Maori Council and Waikato River tribes at the end of a three-day hearing in the High Court in Wellington, saying he would have a ruling by Christmas. The Maori Council and river tribes argued partial privatisation of energy companies Mighty River Power, Meridian, Genesis Energy and Solid Energy would compromise Maori water interests and could affect Treaty of Waitangi claims.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mike Butler: Execution site called sacred

A spot on Auckland’s Queen St where the first Maori was executed by the British should be registered as a sacred site, says Ngapuhi leader David Rankin. A 17-year-old named Maketu was executed on the corner of Queen St and Victoria St West on March 7, 1842, the location of one of the biggest commercial buildings in New Zealand – the Phillips Fox Tower.

Rankin said: “He was a rangatira, or chief, and his execution at this spot makes it sacred to Maori – the spot where any rangatira is killed is extremely tapu”. Rankin will be seeking the support of the Auckland Council’s Maori Statutory Board in his application, to have the location officially designated as a waahi tapu.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mike Butler: Same-sex marriage in Canada

Canada’s 10 years of same-sex civil marriage has brought restrictions on free speech, restrictions on parental rights in education, and restrictions on religious institutions, according to Bradley Miller, who is an associate professor of law at the University of Western Ontario.

When same-sex relationships became the equivalent of traditional marriage, he wrote, a new orthodoxy was adopted. Therefore, “anyone who rejects the new orthodoxy must be acting on the basis of bigotry and animus toward gays and lesbians.”

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Matt Ridley: Mad Biomass Dash

Never has an undercover video sting delighted its victims more. A Greenpeace investigation has caught some Tory MPs scheming to save the countryside from wind farms and cut ordinary people's energy bills while Lib Dems, Guardian writers and Greenpeace activists defend subsidies for fat-cat capitalists and rich landowners with their snouts in the wind-farm trough. Said Tories will be inundated with fan mail.

Yet, for all the furore wind power generates, the bald truth is that it is an irrelevance. Its contribution to cutting carbon dioxide emissions is at best a statistical asterisk. As Professor Gordon Hughes, of the University of Edinburgh, has shown, if wind ever does make a significant contribution to energy capacity its intermittent nature would require a wasteful "spinning" back-up of gas-fired power stations, so it would still make no difference to emissions or might make them worse.

Richard Epstein: The Flat Tax Solution

To step back from the fiscal cliff, we need to simplify our tax policy.

This past Friday, I gave the “Presidential Address” at the Southern Economic Association (SEA) in New Orleans, on the topic of what President Obama’s reelection means for the future of liberty in the United States. As a classical liberal, my outlook is best captured in one simple proposition: a system of sound governance needs to promote a mixture of individual liberty and private property in order to allow individuals to maximize the gains from individual effort and social cooperation.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ron Smith: A kind of terrorism

I am looking at the picture on the front page of the ‘World’ section of this week’s Weekend Herald.  It shows the vapour trails of missiles departing in the direction of Israel.  Around the picture and on the following page, there is extensive reporting of the human consequences.  You fire on your adversary from amongst the buildings of your own down-town (Gaza City, in this case) and then you protest when your adversary fires back.  What sort of nonsense is this?  And the media dutifully reports on it: “Innocents pay cruel price in conflict!”

If the people of Gaza are really concerned about this loss of innocent life, they should be protesting that their militia is firing from the cover of a civilian area, and thus exposing their civilian population to harm, when the inevitable retaliation occurs.  As a matter of fact, using civilian cover for military operations in this way, is explicitly forbidden by humanitarian law.  Both Geneva Convention No IV and the Statute of the International Criminal Court refer to utilising ‘the presence of protected persons (civilians), to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations’.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mike Butler: Flaky Ngati Whatua report fisked

Sometimes, light-weight bleeding-heart commentary needs to be taken to task. Today, Brian Rudman of the New Zealand Herald is in the gun for his article “Joe Hawke gains victory”. A “fisking”, according to the Urban Dictionary, is where a commentator is beaten through his words, often interspersing criticisms with the original article's text. The term is named after Robert Fisk, a reporter known for anti-western writings.

Rudman: Yesterday in Parliament, the long struggle for justice, reignited by Joe Hawke and his fellow squatters in the 1970s, finally came to an end with an apology from the Crown, and ritual compensation by way of cash and land.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Mike Butler: Fudged treaty push, part 2

Here is one article that shows the meaning of the Maori text of the Treaty of Waitangi, the three exact differences between the Maori text and the so-called Littlewood Treaty as a document written by British Resident James Busby on February 4, 1840, has come to be known. By reading the official English text and the Kawharu redefined treaty, reproduced below, every reader of this article will be able to cut through a lot of the fog around the treaty.

The treaty is a three-paragraph agreement with a preamble and a post-script signed by Governor William Hobson on behalf of Queen Victoria of Great Britain and 512 chiefs at 34 locations around New Zealand between February 6 and May 21, 1840. All but 39 chiefs signed the Maori language text.

Mike Butler: Review fudges two-world treaty push

The Queen is sovereign and Maori are her subjects, with the rights of subjects, including possession of property is a widespread interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi that goes back 172 years. Another interpretation that goes back about 30 years is that it confirmed Maori sovereignty over all things Maori while giving to the Crown limited power to control new settlers. Which interpretation are you familiar with?

The Constitutional Advisory Panel is reviewing the role of the Treaty within New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements without mentioning that there are two opposing views about the meaning and intent of the Treaty, one of which asserts Maori sovereignty and limits government control to non-Maori who have been written out of the treaty.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lindsay Mitchell: MSD cover-up

The front page story in Monday morning's  DomPost has left me very angry. It concerns an employer who took $5,000 wage subsidies from Work and Income and then failed to pass them on to beneficiaries sent to him.

I'd heard complaints from other employees of Washworks/Shop n Shine back in May this year and started asking the Ministry of Social Development questions. According to my source employees had complained to Work and Income after being short paid or not paid at all, then sacked.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fiona Mackenzie: Sycophantic Journalism Undermines Democracy

In a normal working week, I’m like many others when it comes to the news.  It’s a quick flick through the headlines, appraising the articles as “not relevant, relevant, or salacious gossip”.

Busy people rely on journalists to find out the important news, the stuff we really need to know and do something about. Unfortunately, this era of quick sound bite entertainment has turned the focus from the profoundly investigative to the superficially sensational - a “shark, babe or tears” level of news.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mike Butler: MPs wise to reject oaths bill

The rejection of Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell’s Oaths and Declarations (Upholding the Treaty of Waitangi) Amendment Bill may indicate that the claimed political unanimity on treaty matters is not so united. A closer look at what Flavell was trying to achieve shows that his oaths bill was part of a wider Maori Party campaign to weave a “cash cow for Maori’ version of the treaty into law and into the day-to-day activities of as many people as possible.

The purpose of Flavell's bill was "to ensure that a person taking any oath set out in statute may, in addition to the words of the oath, elect to state that they will uphold the Treaty of Waitangi", which would recognises "that the Treaty of Waitangi is New Zealand’s founding document and the Government is committed to fulfilling its obligations as a treaty partner". (1)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mike Butler: Pulling out of Kyoto makes sense

The New Zealand' government has shown some good sense by deciding against signing up to the legally binding second Kyoto Protocol commitment period from 2013. Climate Change Minister Tim Groser announced on Friday that the government would work on its pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the parallel and non-binding United Nation Convention Framework. (1)

The announcement came three days after the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Bill was passed after a late volley of Labour-Green amendments failed.

Karl du Fresne: Since when was Coke cheaper than water?

Is it something in the water down Dunedin way? The University of Otago seems to produce more than its share of moralistic, finger-wagging academics, especially when it comes to matters of health and nutrition. They have a knack for turning every negative health statistic into an attack on free markets and, by implication, a government that is callously indifferent to the needs of the poor. It doesn’t seem to matter that their statements often fly in the face of logic and common sense.  

The Dominion Post reports that poor dental health is the most common cause of avoidable hospital admissions for pre-schoolers in the Wellington region. Pacific Island and Maori children are particularly susceptible, with rates of hospital admission several times higher than other groups.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ron Smith: Some thoughts on democracy

One of the riveting features of the US Presidential election just finished, is the billions of dollars spent in advertising on behalf of the contending parties.  The little girl who was filmed in floods of tears, spoke for many in expressing the sentiment that it was all too much (though she might not have been thinking purely of the cost).  On the other hand, it seems clear that it was effective, in the ‘swing states’ and particularly in the early stages, when attitudes were being formed.  It looks as if this, together with superior long-term organisation, was key to the Democratic victory. 

Of course, there is nothing wrong with planning ahead and deploying appropriate forces for the task in hand, and an incumbent president can do this in a way that a candidate who emerges from the protracted primary process, cannot.  But there is something wrong with the vast amounts being spent on television material and the careless negativity of its content.

Monday, November 5, 2012

ICRP: BULLETIN 1 - Written, treaty-based constitution puts judges above MPs

A written constitution overrides parliamentary sovereignty and gives un-elected judges the final say on all the line-drawing choices related to abortion, same-sex marriage, how to deal with those claiming to be refugees, where tobacco companies can advertise, and myriad other such debatable, highly disputed issues, constitutional law expert James Allan has warned.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Richard Epstein: The Obamacare Election

The Romney-Ryan plan is maddeningly vague, but at least it reduces the role of government in health care.

As the fractious 2012 presidential campaign careens down to a photo finish, no issue presents a starker contrast between the two candidates than health-care reform. President Obama is committed to implementing his elaborate reform of health-care markets by creating state exchanges, extending Medicaid coverage to some 25 million new enrollees, retaining the current reimbursement system for Medicare, and implementing an individual mandate.

Phil McDermott: Redesigning a City - Planning an Affordable Future for Auckland

At last some urgency ... The Government has responded to the analysis of housing affordability by largely adopting the multifaceted approach proposed by the New Zealand Productivity Commission.

My interest is in what it says about boosting the supply of houses, a necessary but not sufficient condition to improve affordability and sustain the liveability of our two largest cities.  The government response acknowledges the urgent need to boost dwelling numbers in Auckland and Christchurch, and to do so by providing for sufficient brownfield and greenfield land accessible to the market in a regulatory environment that no longer unduly impedes development. 

Mike Butler: Top-ups to make richest tribes richer

The two richest tribes will become $138.5-million richer since treaty settlement top-ups were triggered, the Otago Daily Times reported this week, with a former tribal negotiator in charge of handing out the settlement spoils. (1)

The Ngai Tahu and Waikato-Tainui tribal corporations, which operate as charitable trusts, negotiated relativity clauses of the sort that used to characterise union wage negotiations, entitling each to a percentage of all future treaty settlements once they exceed $1-billion in 1994 dollar terms. The government has calculated that the amount payable to Ngai Tahu was $45.6-million, or $68.5-million when adjusted for inflation. Waikato Tainui will receive a cash payment of $70-million.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ron Smith: Questions from Benghazi

Events in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on 11 September gave rise to a host of questions which still hang in the air nearly two months later.  They are being held in suspension by the processes of the American presidential election.  The Obama administration is not talking and the American media, by and large, is not asking (and that is reflected in New Zealand media).

On that day, the American ambassador and three others were killed in a well-organised and well-armed attack by al-Qaeda terrorists.  This would not have been a surprise to local staff, or officials in the various diplomatic and security agencies.  The consulate building had been attacked in a smaller way on two occasions before and the Ambassador had asked for more protection.  The nearby British diplomatic post had also been attacked (Britain subsequently closed it and withdrew its ambassador), as had been the local International Committee of the Red Cross facility.  More generally, there was a notable build-up of Islamic activist groups in the region and plenty of unsecured lethal weaponry left over from the Libyan civil war.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Karl du Fresne: Wide concerns over Maori Party's constitutional review

IT MAY be happening largely out of the public gaze, but that doesn’t mean the review of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements isn’t being closely watched.

Critics of the constitutional review accuse it of working towards a predetermined outcome that will see the Treaty of Waitangi entrenched as supreme law and judges given powers to strike down any law deemed to be in breach of Treaty “principles”.

Frank Newman: Interest rates and ipredictions

There has been a changing of the guard at the Reserve Bank. Alan Bollard has retired after 10 years as Governor and Graeme Wheeler taken on the top job. Mr Wheeler is a former executive at the World Bank and most recently ran a consultancy in the US. 

Although the governor may have changed, the Governor’s message hasn’t. Last week Mr Wheeler left the official cash rate (OCR) at 2.5% saying it is appropriate for now. That has led to a debate about the meaning of “for now” (much like courtroom lawyers arguing about the meaning of “and”). Some say that means an imminent rise, others say a fall. Strong opinions are being advocated for both possibilities.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lindsay Mitchell: MSD's inconsistent application of work-test rationale

In an analysis of the options discussed by MSD over work-testing sole parents, the following table illustrates part-time work expectations for sole parents internationally. New Zealand has chosen the soft option of 5 years along with a soft definition of part-time work (10-20 hours).

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mike Butler: Te reo, funding, and hurt feelings

A report on kohanga reo released by the Waitangi Tribunal has already been snubbed by the government so any serious consideration of its contents is unlikely. Since few are likely to have the time or inclination to wade through the 424-page report, here is what it is all about --- a never-ending story about negotiating with the government, funding, and some hurt feelings.

The first point to make is that although kohanga reo look like early childhood education centres, they are in fact language nests in which children are intended to learn and speak Maori to revitalise the language. The movement puts the survival of the language above the interests of the children at the centres.

ICRP: Abolish the Waitangi Tribunal

Press Statement from the Independent Constitutional Review Panel
- on the Waitangi Tribunal’s Kohanga Reo Report

The Waitangi Tribunal’s report on kohanga reo makes it clear why the Tribunal should be abolished, according to David Round, a spokesman for the Independent Constitutional Review Panel.

“The Tribunal is now clearly nothing more than a grandly-named Maori lobby group” he said. “Its recommendations are pure politics.” He pointed out that governments have poured over a billion dollars into kohanga reo over the last two decades, and that that was only a part of wider taxpayer support for the Maori language. “We might reasonably expect a word of thanks for this generosity. But instead the Tribunal complains that this funding is actually directed towards education rather than narrow Maori language immersion, and demands, not just more funding, but an apology for not doing enough.”

Mike Butler: Waitangi no spiritual home

The trust that owns the treaty house and grounds at Waitangi is raising funds to build a museum on the site to create the New Zealand equivalent of the Washington Monument to define what New Zealand is about and what it means to be a New Zealander. Here’s what mainstream commentator Sean Plunket wrote in the Dominion Post on Saturday:
That is a lovely idea and would certainly be a lot easier for most people than trekking to Gallipoli to feel some emotional connection with the birth of the nation.
The problem is while most of us are happy to embrace Anzac Day as special, Waitangi Day and Waitangi itself are not held in the same regard. For many Kiwis, Waitangi is simply a place where politicians go once a year to be yelled at, manhandled and spat on. The treaty itself is not regarded by most New Zealanders as a founding document, rather a troublesome relic that has become the foundation stone for political correctness, white guilt and a brazen gravy train ridden by a growing cast Maori elite, lawyers and consultants.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Kevin Donnelly: Boy's Education

FOR years, teachers and schools have been told to positively discriminate in favour of girls. Feminists argue that the way schools work and the way they teach subjects give boys an unfair advantage and it's time to push girls to the front.

Wrong. The reality is that girls outperform boys. The way teachers are told to teach and the way subjects are organised best suit the way girls learn and leave boys at the bottom of the class.

Frank Newman: Innovation not for the greenies

The BBC recently reported on a new technology that “creates” petrol from air and water. No, it was not an April fool’s hoax. The technology essentially removes CO2 from the atmosphere, combines it with hydrogen split from water vapour and turns it into methanol, which is then converted into a fuel that can go straight back into the petrol tank.  Not only is it potentially a means by which the world can reduce its dependency on seemingly villainous oil producers but more importantly it is a means of turning carbon emissions into a valuable product – a solution to so-called catastrophic global warming!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Ron Smith: On Mortification

It was reported in a recent weekend edition of the New Zealand Herald that our Foreign Minister (Murray McCully) had been ‘mortified’ by certain information that had come to him.  What was it, one might wonder, that had so discomforted the minister and caused such frantic activity in his department?

Was it a new appreciation of the continuing economic melt-down in Europe, with its clear implications for the vulnerable Chinese economy and the inevitable knock-on to our trade with China, on which we so much depend?  This, together with fresh data on the perceptible slow-down in the economy of our nearest neighbour, and largest economic partner, Australia, would certainly have been of concern.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ron Smith: More on justice and war

Two assumptions lay behind the argument in my recent posting, ‘Droning on’ (2 October).  One was that the appropriate moral framework, within which to discuss targeting in the on-going conflict between Islamic extremism and the West (the so called war on terror), is that of ‘war’, and not ‘crime’, notwithstanding that the actions of the insurgent parties are generally crimes, within the jurisdiction of the state in which they occur.  I also took it that the crucial criterion for legitimate combatant status in such conflict is ‘participation in the hostilities’.

I should add that I am taking the term ‘Islamic extremism’ to encompass both an attachment to a fundamental interpretation of Islam, which promotes a way of living as close as possible to the teachings of the Prophet, and, most importantly a commitment to violent means in order to achieve it. 
It was also assumed, in the previous posting, that the same principles (the same moral requirements) ought to govern all who are involved (on whatever side). 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Frank Newman: Housing corp tenants from hell

If anyone thinks being a landlord is easy, then here’s a story that may change your mind! I was contacted by a landlord who owns a modest two-bedroom rental that is in what was once a tidy part of a town. By all accounts it’s a very pleasant little abode - nice views, a sunny aspect, and plenty of space for the kids to run about. A good little rental, one would have thought, and it was until the Housing Corporation bought the neighbouring properties.

Within a year the area has become a hell-hole and the investor’s nice rental a nightmare. Fortunately the gang that moved into one of the houses has since vacated, but not before the landlord’s previous tenant packed their bags and left his property.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mike Butler: Half-truths and shallow thinking

The recently concocted New Zealand Maori Council water rights claim has turned up the heat on the Maori issues debate. Two comments lifted from the blogosphere show the half-truths and shallow thinking that has allowed the “free money for Maori” industry to grow into the monster that it is.
You don’t want Maori looking after their own affairs with money they have invested around the country, employing thousands of Kiwis? So if Maori aren’t allowed to look after their own, then who will? That then falls on the state. What do you fear from Maori or anyone having their own systems? Will they cause you to turn Maori, will they take your firstborn, will they stop you watching your favourite rugby team? No no they won’t so what the bloody hell do you have against people looking after their own affairs. And no that’s not called separatism, it’s called neo-liberalism or even libertarianism, something apparently praised by many on this site.
This commentator blurs the distinction between the rights and responsibilities that everyone has to spend, save, or invest, their own hard-earned money, with the rights and responsibilities of tribal trusts handling free money from the government that came via treaty settlements and the special, separate deals via race-based affirmative action, and devolved social services.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Gerry Eckhoff: Quantitative Easing - prison, Mugabe, and the Greens!

It is rather rare for dastardly criminals planning to commit a crime to publicly disclose their forward thinking to the appropriate authorities. I do so today in order to ensure they have plenty of time to prepare a really nice suite at the Milton Hilton (our local jail) is available for me after sentencing. I hear that room service is available along with free dental and health checks and the gym is well stocked.

I hope that by admitting my guilt before the crime is actually committed, the judge will reduce the sentence he would normally impose on someone who pleads guilty after committing the crime. Most criminals apparently regret the crime after being caught or just regret being caught after the crime. Take your pick.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Karl du Fresne: Sabotage is not too strong a word

During Maori Language Week in July, my wife and I attended a kapa haka concert followed by a hangi at our grandson’s school. It was a charming event in which the whole school performed. We were impressed with the way even the younger classes had memorised the words and actions of the songs.
The kids obviously enjoyed themselves, yet I came away with a nagging feeling of unease. It is not a Maori school; in fact there are relatively few Maori pupils. It serves a suburb with an ethnically diverse population. To have mastered all those songs and actions must have taken a lot of classroom time, and I had to wonder whether there were other things the children might more usefully have been learning.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Gerry Eckhoff: Lotus Eaters

Maori claims to fresh water and the Government’s refusal to summarily dismiss the claim surely now means that all publicly owned assets are open to claim and litigation despite 2008 being the cut off point for all claims to the Waitangi Tribunal.

Why should not Maori now claim a free share of all tax revenue – toll roads – rates, down to free parking as they are in partnership with the Crown? Well, why not; if it is true that Maori have a genuine partnership with the crown. I am however unaware of the actual percentage of the so called partnership which was obviously written into the Treaty of Waitangi somewhere. Clause….. ? Is it to be a 50-50 partnership; 70-30 - 90-10%; what is it?

Barend Vlaardingerbroek: Same-sex marriage and my liberal/conservative identity crisis

I hate it when people ask me whether I’m a liberal or a conservative. I’ve tried inserting the word ‘classical’ before the ‘liberal’ in reply, but that appears to be too subtle a distinction for most. With the increasing Americanisation of the English language, ‘liberal’ has come to mean ‘politically correct’ to a lot of people, while ‘conservative’ has come to be associated with the religious far right. Oh dear, what am I to call myself, being neither?

The same-sex marriage debate has reinforced the polarity brought about by the new intellectual order, as 99% of the decibels seem to be generated by PC trendy-lefties on the one hand and stodgy old-world righties on the other. And they both spout off a lot of nonsense.

Mike Butler: Try discussing Maori privilege

Try talking about Maori privilege in polite society. You will be called a racist and reminded of all the poverty, bad housing, educational disadvantage, and general under-performance that Maori have been made famous for. This is a story of separation and privilege that we all must face some day.

In 2003, in a report commissioned by Te Puni Kokiri (the Government’s Maori affairs department), the Institute of Economic Research said that Maori were paying slightly more in tax than they received in transfers --if they paid $2.404 in tax they received $2.312 in social benefits.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ron Smith: Droning On

In a widely-publicised report (‘Living Under Drones’), academics from Stanford Law School and the New York University School of Law, have recently cast fresh doubt on the moral/legal status of the continuing use by the United States of unmanned aerial vehicles.  As is all too familiar in these cases, the conclusions and claims of the authors have been uncritically accepted in media reports.  This is a pity, since the agendas of those involved, and defects of the methodology of the report, are very obvious.  There are some important issues regarding the strategic importance/significance of the use of drone-strike capability in modern irregular warfare, and how traditional just war concepts may be applied to drone use.  Regrettably, the Stanford/New York collaboration makes little contribution to this debate.  Instead, it palliates extreme left wing and broadly anti-American interests.  The extent to which some American academics will do this never ceases to amaze!

 The main conclusions of the report are based on interviews conducted in Pakistan with 130 people who were survivors or witnesses of drone attacks, or relatives of victims of such attacks.  Specifically who might be interviewed was suggested by a local human rights organisation, the ‘Foundation for Fundamental Rights’, which had been set up in early 2011 to campaign against drone attacks.  Am I the only person that thinks that this is not a reliable research methodology?