Saturday, 19 June 2021

pn744. Matangireia, interviews with Māori leaders. Many facinating weekend reads here

Matangireia is the name of the old Māori Affairs Committee room in Parliament, In Te Reo,  it means the thirteenth and uppermost heaven. Today it is a place where all iwi can meet in peaceful, harmonious, and tranquil surroundings. The new committee room is called  Māui tikitiki-a-Taranga. Pasifika, Asians and  women also have committee rooms. See this link for a tour of all the committee rooms. 

Matangireia is where Morgan Godfery conducted a series of splendid interviews with previous Māori leaders about the legacy they hope to leave behind them.  It is also the name of the Radio NZ series.  Those interviewed are too many to list here but they include Dame Turia Turoa, Georgina Beyer, Paula Bennett, Ron Mark, Hone Harawira, Tau Henare and Dover Samuels

Watch the trailer  and then listen to the interviews. You have weeks of weekend reading here.  

pn743. Patu calls for second Samoan election - and he could have a point

The former Chief Justice, Patu Falefatu Sapolu, stood and then withdrew from  HRPP (Human Rights Protection Party) election candidacy, so his impartiality could be in question. 

But with such a narrow two seat FAST (Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi party)  victory, the constitutional requirement for 10% female representation, and the flurry of appeals and counter appeals against constituency election results and possible by-elections (each of which could be challenged), his call for a second election makes sense.

Read what James Robertson wrote today in the Samoa Observer. James also provides a useful summary of the whole  election shemozzle**. -- ACW 

pn742. Covid situation in Fiji could be escalating


The Covid-19 situation in Fiji could be escalating, with 115 new cases reported in the last 24 hours, but Prime Minister Bainimarama says he sees light at the end of the tunnel. 

As of yesterday, there were 1,182 active cases, 452 recovered cases and 6 deaths in the country.  The current pandemic is mainly confined to Viti Levu – Nadi, Lautoka and Ba in the West and the Greater Suva-Nausori area in the Central Division — but there are a number of small clusters elsewhere.  

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

pn741. What reactions to Samoa's crisis reveal about the state of the Pacific

By Anna Powles, Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at Massey University, Wellington.

Tuila'epa (L); Fiame (R)
The political crisis in Samoa is heading into its eighth week. The caretaker prime minister, Tuila'epa Aiono Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, leader of the Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP), who has held power for 22 years, shows little inclination to end the impasse and allow prime minister-elect Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and the Faʻatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T) party to form government.

Click here to continue.

Thursday, 10 June 2021

pn739. Atea's Leonie Hayden takes on Paul Goldsmith's "on balance" Māori benefitted from colonization


Here's the link. No comment  but you may like to do so.

Comments are welcome on this blog. Why do so few people use them?

pn738. West Papua, Palestine and other critical issues – why is NZ media glossing over them?


Indonesian police carry a body in the current crackdown against pro-independence Papuans
near Timika, Papua. IMAGE:


International reporting has hardly been a strong feature of New Zealand journalism. No New Zealand print news organisation has serious international news departments or foreign correspondents with the calibre of such overseas media as The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

It has traditionally been that way for decades. And it became much worse after the demise in 2011 of the New Zealand Press Association news agency, which helped shape the identity of the country for 132 years and at least provided news media with foreign reporting with an Aotearoa perspective fig leaf.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

PN737. FIJI Covid situation remains serious

BAINIMARAMA: "The fact that God can and does perform miracles does not mean that we should always expect a miracle. The vaccination is an opportunity in the midst of this crisis. Do not hold back. Grab it."



pn736. Dame Anne Salmond speaks on the proposed new History curriculum

Distinguished Professor Dame Anne Salmond has spent most of her academic life researching the Treaty of Waitangi. Her views are very different from Hobson's Choice and many opposed to the introduction of the proposed history curriculum. 

While she sees some merit in the proposed curriculum, she thinks its drafters need to go back to the drawing board and consult with people from all ethnic backgrounds and mixes.  In this Newsroom article she reflects on key questions on how Aotearoa New Zealand can design a new institutional order which takes account of the Treaty of Waitangi and whakapapa. Instead of seeing Māori ways as an either/or with existing thinking about the world and its governance, she argues it's time to bring them together for new institutional forms of order for Aotearoa-New Zealand.

Read what she has to say by clicking here. 

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

pn735. Samoa's Head of State Independence Day Address, June 1st


Fellow citizens and all the people of Samoa

It gives me great pleasure on this new day to greet all the people of Samoa, living in the country and abroad, and to invite you all to the virtual commemoration of the 59th independence anniversary of our country. June the 1st is when we first unfurled the tricolour; the flag of independence of the first independent state in the Pacific region. We are privileged to have reached this milestone in our lifetime and we attribute this to our almighty God, the foundation of our government and country

This is the link to the full adddress.

Note: The HoS refers to Samoa being the first independent state in the Pacific Region. This would be contested by Tonga. It signed a Treaty of Friendship with Britain in 1901 but never gave up its independence.  

Monday, 31 May 2021

pn734. Dozens of new cases of virus in Fiji: not helped by custom practices

The number of active Covid-19 cases in Fiji stands at 223 following the discovery of dozens more over the weekend.

There were 23 new cases reported yesterday, 18 on Saturday and 46 on Friday. According to Health Secretary James Fong they are all related to existing clusters

Source: 1 NEWS

Thursday, 27 May 2021

pn733. Three question marks hanging over the Pacific


With one big question mark hanging over Samoa, it's easy to overlook two others. The Pacific has been far from tranquil lately.

The first question mark.

In Samoa, with its mixed constitution of western and traditional elements, the refusal of Tuilaepa to stepdown as PM to allow Fiame Mata'afa to assume power raises the question of what really is at stake.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

pn732. Solomon Islands Logging: My name is Lent Fugui, a Franciscan Anglican brother from Solomon Islands.

Logging & the Abuse of Human Rights

Brothers from the Society of St Francis in the Solomon Islands are making a stand against illegal, unregistered and unsustainable logging in their country, via petitions to the United Nations. SSF Minister General Br Christopher John, writes about this important mission.
Solomon Islands, Logging

Monday, 24 May 2021

pn731. Samoa: What on earth is happening? UPDATED, NEW ARTICLE


Samoa Observer     -     25 May 21
Swearing-in strengthens nation's foundation
By The Editorial Board, 25/05/2021


What a shame it had to happen as it did.

Fiame Naomi Mataafa taking the oath of office to govern this nation seven weeks after being elected is an event of generational, regional, and international significance.

Today and for her conduct since 9 April, we congratulate Fiame. We wish her ability to form a workable administration proceeds and the very best in Government, as the leader of a nation whose fate is twinned with Samoa's own.

There will, of course, be legal challenges. But the symbolism of Monday's event was an assertion of power by the rightful winner of the election. It was necessary, not only to uphold the constitution but to remind many in Samoan politics that they exist to serve the people, not powerful interests.

The proper place for the occasion of Fiame's swearing-in was inside our chamber of democracy; the people’s house; the Parliament.

But it was not to be. Instead, Fiame and the Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T) party had to hold an unprecedented ad-hoc swearing-in, something they were forced to do to ensure that a constitutional requirement that Parliament meets 45 days after a national election was met.

Perhaps we should have expected that the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.), having played political games and thumbed its nose at the rule of law since it lost its majority at last month’s election, was not about to face up to reality and honour democracy.

It is clear that they continue to intend to play the spoiler’s role after not showing up to Monday’s swearing-in and stating that the absence of the Head of State had rendered the event invalid.

The Head of State's attempts to cancel Monday's court-ordered Parliamentary sitting were quashed; this was the fourth ruling against H.R.P.P. attempts to prevent the forming of a new Government all in one week. Having exhausted legal avenues they resorted to the cheap tactic of simply locking the doors to the people's house. The party has no right to make this nation hostage while they continue to cook up last-ditch schemes to hold onto power.

The rambling, shambling circus that has continued on now for seven weeks since last month’s election; it was really resolved within seven days.

In the interim, it began as a tantrum by a leader who could not stand up to the truth came close to ending with him pulling out every stop to derail proper Government.

The actions of Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi and those who aided and abetted him brought dishonour upon this nation.

These were the actions of someone who expects others to submit to his power; is unaccustomed to hearing ‘no’; and forgotten his office only derives its authority from the legitimacy provided by people.  

When the history of this country is written, these actions will largely define their legacy: refusing to place the value of the nation above their own self-interest.

Many descriptors have been reached for by observers seeking to capture the magnitude of the events that have gripped this nation.

None proved hyperbolic in the end. It was only at the last minute and by the intervention of a man who acted in accordance with the high principles that befit his office: His Honour, Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese.

If anything captured the crisis of Samoan democracy, it was the image of Justice Satiu, dressed in full judicial regalia approaching the front doors of the Legislative Assembly with his judicial colleagues only to find them locked before humbly turning on his heel and walking away.

And so it has been. The party that has ruled over Samoa for decades has played games with the law in the weeks after its election loss. Even on Monday night as Tuilaepa was invoking threats of legal action he was simultaneously - yet again - trashing the courts and casting doubt on their independence.

Perhaps his frustrations are starting to show with his failure to get his way via the judiciary.

Last week alone, on four separate occasions the party was handed four separate losses in court over attempts to scrap the election of forestalling the forming of a new Government.

Already under attack from Tuilaepa while in office, the judiciary has shown remarkable poise throughout this political crisis and served as the defining line between chaos and order.

But given the tenor of Tuilaepa’s press conference on Monday, we can expect there to be no end to the games.

He disputes the legitimacy of Fiame’s signing in.

As he notes, the Head of State was not, as the constitution requires, present for the swearing-in of her Faatuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party M.P.s.

But similarly, the Head of State was fast taking Samoa down a path of lawlessness. If no swearing-in had taken place on Monday then the Government would be in breach of the law of the land. Samoa would truly be in uncharted and lawless territory. What would have happened to the nation then?

We anticipate Fiame's swearing-in it to be challenged, ridiculed and diminished by Tuilaepa. But we also believe his voice is now consigned to slowly fade into the background, having done incalculable damage to his own once-proud political legacy.

Ultimately though ugly political disputes are resolved by the exercise of law and order, a low point that civil society should never reach.

We have seen a recent upsurge in divisive rhetoric among the people of Samoa, dogmatically backing one party or the other as the true winners of the 9 April election.

It is our sincere hope that, whatever transpires, these words do not translate into real unrest.

But it was heartening to see the Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, escorted Justice Satiu on his unsuccessful walk.

It was not his officers who had the building locked.

But when asked for comment on what role the Police would take, stating that he considered it the force’s job to uphold the rule of law, which, he said, included the constitution - the ultimate legal document.

“This is what we do every day,” he told reporters. “We’ll continue down that road until this thing ends.”

It is our sincere hope that the Commissioner does not have to become involved to further mar what should be a proud moment in our democratic history. But he has made a clear signal of intent that he is on the side of the rule of law: its provisions on whether an election can be voided or a swearing-in can be voided in breach of constitutional provisions has been made painfully clear this month.

But another element of legitimacy is popular acceptance.

Rulers ultimately derive their authority from being recognised by the public as those in charge.

We call on the public to put this sorry saga behind us and to unite behind a new Prime Minister.

Fiame has shown humility, calm, and wisdom as all around her has turned chaotic. Not once has she given off any sign of panic. Nor has she sought to stoke public discontent as a political tactic.

She has more than earned her position as this nation's new Prime Minister.

This is Samoa. We do not need force to be exercised to make a swearing-in law. We have already spoken at the ballot box, nearly two months ago. In the meantime, we have seen disgraceful attempts to flout and undermine the rule of law.

Whatever happens next we must never forget that politicians - and the people they appoint - serve only with authority that comes from us and us alone - the people. Ultimately we set the standards for their acceptable conduct and are the ultimate arbiters of what is politically right.

pn730. If there's a lower and a middle, there's also an upper NZ

Yesterday I was talking with my son-in-law's brother who is a fireman and part-time builder's assistant. He complained about the Budget, saying it gave nothing to hard-working middle NZ, and most to beneficiaries many of whom would spend the extra money on booze.

Have you noticed how we often choose worst-case scenarios to support our arguments?  I don't think most or even many beneficiaries —but I have no idea how many— will spend their extra dollars on booze.  Food is the most likely expenditure.

Here's another argument. 

If, in terms of income, there's a lower and middle NZ, there's also an upper NZ  that's very well off. Have you noticed how rarely we complain that they have too much?  And yet this is where most dollars go, not to beneficiaries who at least spend their money which circulates in the economy, helping our retailers and helping growth. The very rich, by comparison, invest most of their money often in non-productive enterprises like company shares in NZ but more typically overseas. There is little to no benefit to NZ.

Take, for instance, the banks:

Gordon Campbell has an article in our local rag, "About time banks were called into line" noting that last week Government announced its intention to crack down on the fees banks charge our retailers when we use credit and debit cards.

For credit cards, they typically charge 1.6%. If you purchase something for $100, the retailer takes $98.40 and bank $1.60. This may not sound very much but when the spending of thousands of their customers is added up it's a small fortune.

When we use contactless debit cards the banks charge 1.2%, much more than in comparable countries. In the UK, for instance, banks charge 0.2%, and in Australia 0.6% — half of what they charge here.

All our major banks are Australian-owned. Their estimated $74 million profits from the cards, which comprises only part of their pofits,  are distributed among their shareholders in Australia. Think how much more the public and our retailers would save if the Australian-owned banks reduced their fees and if the money stayed in NZ.

Banks are only one example of how the very rich get richer at the expense of the poor and middle NZ. 

 I think it's time middle NZers focused more on them, and give the poor a break, or at least the benefit of doubt. They are not all boozers.

-- ACW

Saturday, 22 May 2021

pn729. David Galler, a New Zealand Jew, tells of his family visit to the West Bank

 "My mother, a survivor of Auschwitz and the Death March, always thought Israel’s position on Palestine was a greater threat to the peace and security of Israelis than the Palestinians ever could be. I agree.

 "As a Jewish New Zealander I am ashamed by Israel's long history of inflaming tensions in the Mideast.

"Because there are extremists on both sides is the very reason that we in the diaspora should stand tall and actively seek peace."

As we welcome the ceasefire and contemplate President Biden's plea for a two country settlement, Israeli integrity and equal citizenship rights for Palestinians living in Israel, read what David Galler has to say.

Dr David Galler is the son of Polish Jewish refugees. He is the author of Things That Matter: Stories of Life and Death, a memoir of his work as a Middlemore Hospital intensive care specialist, which was named the best book of 2016 by the Spinoff. David was born in Wellington in 1967.

I publish this knowing that two of my special Jewish friends will not agree with David. I urge them to read his posting.

-- ACW

Friday, 21 May 2021

pn728. Reactions to the 2021 Budget


Reactions to the Budget tended to the positive with most criticism saying Government could have done more. Here are some opinions. For a list of articles on the Budget, see NZ Politics Daily.

"A budget inspired by Labour’s original economic and social principles. 

"The legacy Robertson and his colleagues have accepted from the past is not the legacy of Helen Clark and Michael Cullen, but of Norman Kirk and Bill Rowling. The torch which the Baby Boom Generation refused to accept, has been grasped by their children."-- Chris Trotter.

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

pn727. Collins fails with Māori "separatist" bogey card


Toby Manhire, editor of The Spinoff, comments on Judith Collins’s failed attempts over three successive weekends to drum up support by playing the Māori “separatist” bogey card, and asks what National can do with the latest Newshub-Reid poll showing no loss of support for Labour which, with 52.7% (much the same as the last election), could still rule alone.  Click here to read.

Party votes in The Newhub Reid Reseach Poll results of 7-13 May, with a margin of error of ±3.1%, were:

Labour 52.7 +3.7%

National 27.0 +1.4%

Greens 7.1        –0.8%

Act                6.9   -0.7%

Māori 1.2 % – No change

Four other parties totally 4.4% between them, and they were all down on the previous poll.

Preferred PM.  Judith Collins 5.6%, less than John Key (6.7%) who’s not even in Parliament. Chrisopoher Luxon was on 2.4%.

Monday, 17 May 2021

pn 726. Samoa's likely new Prime Minister

Fiame Naomi Mata'afa 
Samoa's Supreme Court has thrown out the Head of State's decision to call a second election, clearing the path for the newcomer FAST party to form a government.

Announcing the second election earlier this month, Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II told Samoans it was the best way to break the political deadlock that emerged after last month's election.

However the court today found that he had no constitutional power to call for the election while outstanding matters relating to April's election were still unresolved.  Click on highlighted text to read the full article   Fiame Naomi Mata'afa of the FAST party is likely to be the new PM, and Samoa's first female PM.

Thursday, 13 May 2021

pn725. NZ and Pacific Islands snippets

Snippets, pruned
Pruned, snippets
PĀKEHĀ  TOOK NZ BY FORCE, NOT BY TREATY. Chris Trotter on He Puapua but this extract tells all:

When Britain’s soldiers, having executed the “revolutionary seizure of power” demanded of them by the settler government, departed, did they leave behind them a more just, more honourable and more inclusive New Zealand? Or, did they bid farewell to a state which, having secured these islands by force of arms, would surrender them to nothing else?

See also today's list of He Puapua and race issues noted in NZ Politics Daily at the end of this posting. The prolific mentions will not go away.