Political reports and reaction from the Parliamentary Precinct, Wellington.

And yet even more on Mapp: Slow news week

Once again, I am forced to ponder what clarity of direction a National led government would provide. In August last year, Hon Bill English (National, Balclutha-Southland) issued a press release in regards to a level 1 NCEA history exam question and accompanying picture, that included the following section;

"In my view, this particular question showed a clear bias," says Mr English.

"Not only was the question factually incorrect but it relied on unfair, left-wing stereotypes of the National Party.

Earlier this year, the NZQA appeared before a select committee and justified the rigor of question setting, highlighting that the process was not ad hoc. Today, the NCEA announced an appointment of an evaluator of exam papers for PC, much to the chagrin of Dr Wayne Mapp (National, North Shore). So what is the “party” line?

You can’t have it both ways. Either you accept the premise that discrimination (deliberate or otherwise) exists, demand for change within our government to avoid discrimination against any race, creed, gender, political affiliation and so on…

…or you don’t, go out and demand the complete removal of PC policy, get everyone to stop being so uptight about caricatures and history questions, and most importantly use a large bat to get the rest of your party in line.

PS: I am certain this will be the last Mapp related post for a while. I think the point is made.

Casualty of coalition

My suspicions were confirmed today when the Sunday Star Times reports that the Human Rights (Gender Identity) Amendment Bill is down for the current government. There was no way that the bill that was to amend section 21 of the Bill of Rights Act as a consequence of the center-left ‘coalition’. I have talked to supporters of the Labour party during the recent campaign who were disappointed at the news, with one saying that the moment they heard the news of the government, they knew that it [the bill] was doomed.

Not only was there discontent by conservative voters but sources inside the Labour party felt that the rapid deployment of social policy during the past six years fuelled the party’s appearance as arrogant by some. The Mapp appointment would have almost certainly confirmed the leadership to not be carried over into the new term.

It is a great shame that the legislation has been discarded. The debate certainly should have been had, and there would be no question that the bill would have gone to a conscience vote, which would have certainly provided the Labour party with some political cover if it were defeated. Worse still is the loss of loyal supporters of the Labour party who feel betrayed with the Labour – United – New Zealand First arrangement and will be so vital to preparing to win a fourth term.

More on Mapp

I received this from a friend after a chat late on Thursday. When I first read it, I wished that I had posted something as succinct as this:

The purest form of political correctness is when a politician takes it upon him or her (oops was that too PC?) self to decree what constitutes right thinking.

By his own definition Wayne Mapp is the most politically correct person in New Zealand – he is the only politician specifically dedicated (at the taxpayers’ expense) to promoting “a prescriptive view on how people should think and what they are permitted to discuss.”

It seems that in Wayne’s world boring, beige, monocultural, misogynistic, homophobic arrogance is the new political correctness. Now, in a decent Kiwi free-thinking, fair-go-for-all society should this new PC prescription be tolerated or eradicated?

A long and delayed post

The Blogs are buzzing with yesterday’s appointment of a Political Correctness Eradicator: Jordan Carter, Tony Milne, and Russell Brown all posting on this. After listening to the comments made on Morning Report by Dr Wayne Mapp (National, North Shore) who is the ‘shadow’ minister assigned to this portfolio, seems like he hasn’t got a clear idea of where the political correctness lies. Russell Brown and Tony Milne also back up with Dr Don Brash (National, List) and the speech that Dr Mapp gave during the campaign that lead to his sudden promotion. The pieces highlight the glaring inability of the party to act in any coherent fashion but it also demonstrates a systemic breakdown in understanding modern New Zealand. As I see it, National’s approach is flawed in three regards;

Ethnocentrism and majoritism

The national party in effect wishes to remove the power of any state institution to empower the minorities but only a select group of minorities. Dr Mapp felt that the Minister of youth affairs may not be reformed. It also wishes to eradicate any attempt to use Maori spirituality in statute or protocol, yet Dr Mapp refused to remove the prayer from the start of the parliamentary term, feeling that the use of a prayer within a secular government was acceptable because it was part [of our nation’s] tradition. This viewpoint, and one shared by Dr Brash during the year is one that, old, western values are fine for NZ but not embracing any other viewpoint was important or relevant to this country. This is antiquated and quite simply, assimilationist. While arguing the need to support no agenda, they have in effect supported the ‘New Zealand circa 1950s” agenda.

Myopic approach to solving social problems

We need more unconventional solutions to common social problems. Furthermore to achieve this, we will need to be targeting selective projects. This will include what the Right calls “race based funding” With a budget that will always come up too short to sort out all of out social problems, it makes sense to be smart, target projects where the most effect can be made. Government should be funding groups that can prevent later expenditure by the government in healthcare, corrections, crime and welfare dependence. This requires government to be inclusive of ideas, not exclusive. This dialogue will never be fostered if the policy is to restrict any idea that may be valid but it is proposed by a minority group.

Oversimplification and ideology

We need to look at the reasoning behind the actions, why would there be a minority agenda, how is it perpetuated? How does this challenge the ‘majority’ view (According to a political party that failed to gain the plurality of party votes, after a campaign that as part of its strategy promoted its connection to mainstream NZ)? We need to move beyond the ideology and understand why there is a need to have such changes to take place. I never hear the debate as to the rationale behind such measures as restricting women from the construction sites of kura kaupapa, yet I know why personally. I don’t hear the calls to have the processes of powhiri explained, yet I hear the criticism of it. I hear the valid arguments to have transgender identity a protected right under statute but I never hear why it is so upsetting to conservatives to grant equality of human rights. The debate as to these issues and their validity is restricted to the character of the speakers. I see no public debate en masse, only broad, crude generalizations of mainstream and minority. To assume that New Zealanders are not intelligent enough to argue these issues on a case by case basis is doing us all a great disservice.

Loose ends

24 Hours after the last post and I think we got an answer in my previous post:

…what is going on in Counties-Manukau?

The answer, according to the media is youth gangs. Police have admitted problems dealing with the issue alone and has begun working with local community groups and churches. Crime is all too often seen deplorable at its end point, it’s also easier to quantify statistically, seen as something that happens “here, but not right here”. Yet like most things crime is related to more than bad people doing bad things and we have an obligation within our communities to help the police by preventing crime. These kids were not born wanting to commit crime and without any sense of inclusion shown by the community, they have been forced to find their own (violent) group that makes them feel part of something. Where was the community support? Where was the community identity? I love Otara on market day, I think there is a great community spirit, and I’m trying to reconcile the absence of any well supported community group including youth. There’s a shortage of volunteers and supporters in the area. These groups empower individuals, but they need volunteers, they need helpers. I implore all readers to join a voluntary organization in your neighborhood; the sacrifice you make can help prevent crime better than a deadbolt.

Political news is limping through another week and while the PM visits PNG for the Pacific forum, the last fragments of the election stories play out at home. The Electoral Commissioner has confirmed that the Brethren leaflets do look like they “appear to support a party vote for National” and has forwarded the information to the police to investigate further (See the letter here.) I haven’t heard any response from the National Party (yet) and I assume that they will once again try to limit their connection to the Brethren, but with perhaps a bit more finesse than Donald Brash (List, National) did in the election. But if National is worried alone, the Labour Party will have their use of the leader’s budget on their pledge cards investigated as to if it should be an election expense.

The investigations ignore the issue of “soft” money. Campaign finance reform is one of those issues that will probably never get fixed because it undercuts any party who use it to get into Government and yet it is so vital for a level playing field in MMP elections. Obviously, I want stronger reforms and maybe if there are any prosecutions there may be some, but it is unlikely, it will just show another way not to break the law.

Speeding, lying and drink driving

I don’t envy the Hon Annette King’s (Labour, Rongotai) new job. Not a jot. She may well be able to sort out the funding issues and assist the police to sort themselves out internally, but I think the public’s confidence has taken a hell of a bashing and this weekend’s news must have the people at Sovereign House wondering how to get on the charm offensive to stop the erosion. First the Police Commissioner’s speeding fine and the brain explosion from Tony Ryall (National, Bay of Plenty) that police officers should show discretion with issuing police tickets. First of all, while we argue about whether we should hold our public servants, politicians, sports stars and celebrities to a higher level of conduct, we can all agree that they should not be held to a higher level of the law. Besides, police officers have to make difficult choices when resources are scarce so discretion is an unpredictable and inevitable condition of the job, let’s put some faith in the ability of the average police officer to be their best judge of discretion.

On the Herald on Sunday’s story with Mr Manukia just making stuff up, denying it and then later admitting to it, I think Jim Tully’s comments missed the bigger picture; what is going on in Counties-Manukau? If you were living there, would you wonder how the police are acting? The whole affair has left more questions than answers. Regarding the attack to the paper’s credibility, Editor Shayne Currie tries his best to dampen the damage by distancing the role of the paper to monitor material. Nice try. Perhaps the call must go out to establish a local chapter of FAIR within NZ?

Finally, the Sunday News’ front page had an article on a police officer drunk at the wheel of a Porsche Boxter in Remuera (where else?) and today’s article in the Herald of the DPS officer who may or may not have been in a position to stop it. As if the motorcade-gate wasn’t a clear signal to anyone in the DPS to not be inside a speeding car that wasn’t doing so without justification.

So, a new week at work for King, time to pull out every hand holding, charm building trick in the book. If the job’s too much, there’s always the job vacancy at the Herald on Sunday.

Hussein and Closure

Yesterday I was watching the highlights of the Saddam Hussein Trial on C-SPAN. Watching it, I felt like there won’t be many gaining satisfaction out of the trial, maybe some of the victims. If anything the trial tests the legitimacy of the new Iraqi judicial system. They will have to conduct themselves in a way so as to gain the public's confidence. Even today Saadoun Sughaiyer al Janabi, attorney representing Awad al-Bander, the former deputy head of Hussein's office has been kidnapped and killed. It seems that the trial will not bring closure.

Would the foreshore have been worth all the posturing?

Derek Fox in this month’s Mana Magazine points out exactly what I and a number of others have been saying about the role that the Maori party should play in Parliament: Consolidation. They must be aware of how fragile their experiment in representation must be. The inability to capture the party vote means that to increase their support in three years, they will have to be seen to represent the interests of the constituents and convince the other Maori electorates of their longevity, vitality and the desire for real change within Te Ao Maori. The gesturing made by the Maori party during the scrabble for joining a government has infuriated a few people I have talked to, who had voted Maori on the 17th. The fact that for all of the Maori seats that voted in Maori Party candidates also took the plurality of party votes for Labour must show where the hearts of the voters lie, and not in the pocket of the National Party. I also am inclined to agree with Ranginui Walker’s comment on Tariana Turia’s “Baggage” toward Labour and if I can see that connection then she will have to convince those voters with long memories in three years who also see it and will want a reason why she was willing to gamble so much for the sake of her ego.

Election 2005 analysis sobering news for Maori

While it is the first instance since that a distinct, independent Maori party has been delivered a mandate to represent Maori in the seats of Te Tai Tokerau, Tamaki Makaurau, Waiariki and Te Tai Hauauru, the voting statistics still underline the disproportionate response at the ballot. Highlights include;

  • A voter turnout rate for the Maori electorates of 67.07%, compared to 82.01% for the general electorates.
  • The lowest turnout electorate was Tamaki Makaurau with 62%
  • Maori electorate enrolments were very low, varying between 50 and 65% For example, Parekura Horomia (Labour, Ikaroa-Rawhiti) captured the plurality with 37% of the electoral population (all ‘Maori’ in the electorate who could vote had they all enrolled.)
  • For the electorate votes, Informal vote numbers were proportionally higher due to the low enrolment rates although as a real number, the Maori seats were still quite high (Those were the vote is not counted because it was inconclusive to who they voted for). A similar pattern existed for disallowed special votes;


Informal Votes Cast

Special Votes Disallowed


(Highest out of 69)


(Highest out of 69)

Te Tai Tokerau

























Te Tai Hauauru





Te Tai Tonga





The conclusion is that many Maori are not enrolling, not voting and are not voting properly. I fear that it is a failure to make Maori feel empowered to vote and empowered by voting.

This low turnout only fuels the calls to remove the Maori seats: “if Maori felt they are being represented fully, surely they would have done so at a similar rate for general electorates.” I disagree. Ignore the intergenerational legacy of betrayal that some Maori hold towards their government (a problem that will either sort itself out as ‘real’ Maori representation takes hold) or that there is an unfamiliarity to central government, while preferring to use localized systems of governance, generally around the iwi. The major issue is apathy. But we do not punish anyone else for apathy, so why should we punish Maori for not using their right to vote? Apathy is not a purely political problem, but inspiration and empowerment comes when the citizens are looked to, not talked down to.

The lesson for today

New Zealand’s media organisations have had a checkered history of publishing hearsay, scuttlebutt and rumour while passing it off as “insider” news. Yesterday’s Cabinet announcement arrived contradicting the Herald and the Dom Post articles posted earlier that day is I fine example.


NZ Herald

Dominion Post

Cabinet Announcement


Trevor Mallard

Trevor Mallard

Peter Hodgson


Phil Goff

Phil Goff

Annette King

Social Development

Annette King

Not Reported

David Benson-Pope

Either the papers need to find a better source of their conjectures, or the inner circle of Clark, Cullen and Simpson is so impenetrable that it is a mockery for the media to wildly guess, damaging the shred of integrity that these organizations hold. The lesson today is to check your sources, or write softly. There will be many to brandish the big stick if you fail.

Here endeth the lesson.

A new bubble

Like any new government, uncertainty arises as to the role this blog will play. It is my hope that insight into the plays of Wellington's political climate can be found. I wish to be a critical voice to those who represent the citizens of New Zealand and purport to be "professional" journalists. Most of all I wish for my views to be heard by more than myself. Welcome to the Thorndon Bubble, a borrowing of a phrase from the British, like so much else in our system of government. I was going to call this blog "I told you so!" and there is still the possibility that I may change my mind.
News this week in Wellington has pretty much been around the newly established Labour led government. In brief, the arrangements work out like so;

  • Labour, with 50 seats in formal coalition with the Progressive’s one seat.
  • United Future and NZ First with three and seven seats respectively, hold a confidence and supply agreement in exchange for extra-cabinet portfolio’s and policy concessions.
  • The Greens with an agreement to provide confidence and supply and work with Labour on agreed issues.

with National, ACT and the Maori Party residing firmly on the opposition benches. A key factor in the agreements made by NZF and UFO (United future with Outdoor Recreation, a cruel but hilarious abbreviation that should have been publicised more often) was the relaxation of collective cabinet responsibility to the other parties on matters outside their assigned portfolio’s. Where the line between matters within and outside of a portfolio is anyone’s guess.

Recently redundant MP Nandor Tanzcos said at a public meeting earlier this year that collective responsibility was the one big factor that weakens any smaller party within a Government as it serves to weaken their unique party stance on an issue. It is a huge concession to make to the smaller parties, while the National Party is upset with the consequences it may unleash. It seems to have been a master stroke by NZF to maximize exposure on policies it was not able to reach an agreement upon later in the cycle. There can be no doubt that the future of MMP governments will take the form of “informal” coalitions for the centre, and leaves the formal coalitions for the flanks. I myself welcome the measure. MMP requires the cooperation of several parties, and smaller ones should not be punished for conceeding a limited number of policies as part of any arrangement. Furthermore a convention such as this only helps future coalition negotiations, by establishing the ideal "what we haven't agreed upon is still up for debate in the House" and possibly avoiding the drawn out "negotiate on absolutely every issue" 1996 negotiations.


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