Chris Trotter – Pressure towards the mean: do we really want to abolish streaming?

Political  commentator CHRIS TROTTER writes – 

ABOLISH STREAMING, that is the demand of the Post-Primary Teachers Association (PPTA). They are not alone in their determination to put an end to the “blatantly racist” practice of grouping secondary-school students according to their intelligence/academic ability. The Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, considers streaming “inequitable” and the Ministry of Education agrees with him.

With forces as powerful as the Minister, the Ministry, and the Union ranged against the practice, its days would appear to be numbered.

 Which leaves New Zealanders with the vexed question of what will happen when streaming is no more? Will their children emerge from the public education system with the skills and qualifications necessary to foot-it in the modern world? Or, will their education be limited to whatever the least engaged and least talented students allow their teachers to impart? Continue reading “Chris Trotter – Pressure towards the mean: do we really want to abolish streaming?”

Genetic strength, insults against Māori MPs (on one side of the House) and an analysis of the critical doctrinal divide

The Māori Party, without any apparent blush, makes a provocative claim about the genetic superiority of Māori on its website.

The claim is to be found in a section which sets out the party’s sports policy:

 “It is a known fact that Māori genetic makeup is stronger than others.”

This genetic strength perhaps attenuates when Māori join the ACT or National Parties and express opinions that challenge the Government line on what must be done in partnership with Maori because of obligations supposedly demanded by the Treaty of Waitangi.

Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson earlier this year said ACT leader David Seymour, of Ngāpuhi descent, claimed to be Māori – but “he’s just a useless Māori, that’s all”.

“Absolutely [he’s] Māori but maybe just the most useless advocate for Māori we’ve ever seen.”

He subsequently told Morning Report he did not regret his comment because Seymour was a “dangerous politician” whose views must be challenged. Continue reading “Genetic strength, insults against Māori MPs (on one side of the House) and an analysis of the critical doctrinal divide”

Media focus on Davis’ advice against looking through a “vanilla lens” while Chhour’s questions go unanswered

It is tempting to liken the political hacks of the mainstream news media to piranha, rather than ever-vigilant watchdogs of the Fourth Estate.

With the exception of the NZ Herald, they have lamentably ill-served the voting public by failing to muster a whimper, let alone a snarl or a warning bark, about issues raised by the awarding of contracts to family members of Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

The hacks were aroused from their indifference to those contracts only when another watchdog – the Public Service Commission – announced it is looking into government departments’ management of the contracting process.   

On the other hand, the imagery of piranha seems apt when they engage in a feeding frenzy of the sort that followed the hapless Kelvin Davis’ derogatory – and racist – remarks about ACTs Karen Chhour.

Davis told Chhour (a Māori) she must look at things from a Māori perspective, not a Pakeha one.

“It’s no good looking at the world from a vanilla lens.” Continue reading “Media focus on Davis’ advice against looking through a “vanilla lens” while Chhour’s questions go unanswered”

Mahuta’s husband and the Public Service Commission inquiry: how Chris Hipkins ineptly played the race card

We intended alerting our readers (if they had not already noticed) to how Public Service Minister Chris Hipkins played the race card in the matter of the Public Service Commission deciding to look into the propriety of government contracts awarded to Nanaia Mahuta’s husband.

We have taken a short cut and will draw attention, instead, to this post on Kiwiblog by David Farrar under the heading Hipkins apologises for smearing English.

Farrar references a report posted by Stuff  (which until now has studiously steered clear of the contracts and the questions about  procedural issues they have raised).

Public Service Minister Chris Hipkins has apologised in the House to former finance minister Sir Bill English for dragging his family into an exchange over government contracts awarded to the husband of Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta. Continue reading “Mahuta’s husband and the Public Service Commission inquiry: how Chris Hipkins ineptly played the race card”

Chris Trotter: Nanaia Mahuta’s super-narrative and the blind eye of our mainstream news media

 The Ardern Government risks the emergence of what political commentator CHRIS TROTTER calls a “super-narrative” in which all the negatives of co-governance, media capture, and Neo-Tribal Capitalism are rolled into one big story about the deliberate corruption of New Zealand democracy. The guilty parties would be an unholy alliance of Pakeha and Māori elites determined to keep public money flowing upwards into protected private hands. Here’s what he posted on  his Bowalley Road blog ….  

 

WHETHER NANAIA MAHUTA followed the conflict-of-interest rules set out in The Cabinet Manual hardly matters. A dangerous political narrative is forming around the appointment of, and awarding of contracts to, Mahuta’s whanau in circumstances that, at the very least, raise serious questions about this Government’s political judgement. Enlarging this narrative is the growing public perception that the mainstream news media is refusing to cover a story that would, in other circumstances, have attracted intense journalistic interest. The conflation of these two, highly damaging narratives with a third – the even more negative narrative of “co-governance” – has left the Labour Government in an extremely exposed and vulnerable position.

The Government’s failure to adequately prepare the New Zealand public for what Labour clearly regards as the inevitability of co-governance hasn’t helped. The party did not campaign on the issue, and kept He Puapua, the controversial “road-map” to full implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – i.e. co-governance – by 2040, under wraps. Similarly unheralded was the Government’s determination to establish a separate Māori Health Authority. And the application of co-governance principles to Mahuta’s deeply unpopular “Three Waters” project has done nothing to allay public fears that the country is being changed, in fundamental ways, without the electorate’s consent.

The apparent failure of the mainstream news media to follow up on the story is being attributed to the extraordinary conditions attached to the Public Interest Journalism Fund administered by New Zealand On Air. In essence, these conditions require media outlets in receipt of the Fund’s largesse to subscribe in advance to a highly contentious series of propositions concerning the Treaty of Waitangi – most particularly to the Waitangi Tribunal’s claim the Māori never ceded sovereignty to the British Crown, and that this “fact” requires the Fund’s recipients to accept and support the “partnership” model of Crown-Māori relations. The fear expressed by independent journalists is that the net effect of these conditions will be unquestioning mainstream media support for co-governance.

Since the widespread assumption among Pakeha New Zealanders is that co-governance and representative democracy are fundamentally incompatible, Labour’s willingness to be presented as co-governance’s friend runs the risk of being cast as democracy’s enemy.

Of even greater concern is the inevitability of this anti-democratic characterisation being extended to an ever-increasing fraction of the Māori population. Statements from Māori leaders appearing to discount the importance of, or even disparage, the principles of democracy have done little to slow this process. Neither have the intemperate statements of the former National Party Minister for Treaty Settlements, Chris Finlayson. His comment to the online magazine E-Tangata, describing those opposed to co-governance as “the KKK brigade”, merely reinforces the widespread public perception that the slightest public opposition to the proposed changes will bring down accusations of racism upon the opponent’s head.

The problem with this willingness to indulge in ad hominem attacks on people holding genuine reservations about the Government’s proposals is that more and more of them will decide that they might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, and embrace the very racism of which they stand accused. In this context, the revelations that some members of a Māori Minister of the Crown’s whanau have been the recipients of Government funds, and appointed to roles not unrelated to the furtherance of the Minister’s policies, will be taken as confirmation that all is not as it should be in Aotearoa-New Zealand.

What began as an anti-co-governance narrative, and then merged with an anti-mainstream news media narrative, risks joining with a much older and more deeply entrenched narrative concerning the entire Treaty settlement process. This is the narrative that identifies the primary beneficiaries of Treaty settlements as a collection of Crown-assembled tribal elites, along with their legal and commercial advisers. Over the past thirty years these “Neo-Tribal Capitalists” have been accused of investing hundreds-of-millions of taxpayer dollars in what amount to private tribal corporations, over which the intended recipients of these funds – hapu and whanau – exercise only the most indirect authority and receive only the most meagre of rewards.

The result could very easily be the emergence of what might be called a “super-narrative” in which all the negatives of co-governance, media capture, and Neo-Tribal Capitalism are rolled into one big story about the deliberate corruption of New Zealand democracy. The guilty parties would be an unholy alliance of Pakeha and Māori elites determined to keep public money flowing upwards into protected private hands. In this super-narrative, the structures set forth in He Puapua to secure tino rangatiratanga, will actually ensure the exclusion of the vast majority of New Zealanders from the key locations of power. The only positive consequence of which will be a common struggle for political and economic equality in which non-elite Māori and Pakeha will have every incentive to involve themselves.

The painful irony of this super-narrative scenario is that Labour will have positioned itself as its cause – not its remedy. Rather than repeating in the Twenty-First Century the fruitful political alliance between the Pakeha working-class and the victims/survivors of the deals done between the Crown and the Māori aristocracy in the Nineteenth and Twentieth, Labour will be seen to have facilitated the creation of a Treaty Partnership that not only undermines democracy, but also exacerbates the inequality between Māori and Pakeha, Pakeha and Pakeha, Māori and Māori.

What lies ahead, as the institutions of co-governance take shape, is the coming together of two very privileged birds of a feather: the Pakeha professionals and managers who have taken command of the society and economy created by Neoliberalism, and the Māori professionals and managers created to produce and operate the cultural and economic machinery of Neo-Tribal Capitalism.

This, ultimately, will be the spectre that arises out of the controversy swirling around Nanaia Mahuta. The spectre of the worst of both the Pakeha and the Māori worlds. Worlds in which the powerful trample all over the weak. Where tradition constrains the free exploration of ideas and techniques. And where the petty advantages of separation are elevated above the liberating effects of unity. Where “Aotearoa” creates two peoples out of one.

Attention is drawn to the ethnicity of Tauranga’s MPs (Maori) for more than three decades …

We are grateful to David Farrar for drawing attention to something we overlooked in our report yesterday on the Maori Party’s reason(s) for not standing a candidate in the upcoming by election.   On Kiwiblog today, he reports:

So Tauranga is unsafe for Maori!

Stuff reports:

Te Pāti Māori says it considered standing a candidate in the Tauranga by-election, but opted not to over concerns about safety and racism in the region.

Party president Che Wilson said racism and hate speech in Tauranga made it a “safety issue” for the party to participate in the upcoming by-election.

Astonishing that Tauranga is so unsafe for Maori as it has had a Maori MP for 35 of the last 38 years!

While we are on this topic, did any of the nation’s political journalists ask Wilson why the party did not stand a candidate in that seat in the 2020 general election?

Māori Party by-passes by-election in Tauranga (where it won 0.35% of the 2020 party vote) but scores well with “racism” headlines

The Māori Party could be sure it would generate emotive headlines when it announced it won’t stand a candidate at the Tauranga by-election “on the basis of a safety issue”.

It claimed the party’s co-leaders have received threats and hate speech from residents there.

Stuff ran the news under the headline Racism in Tauranga makes it ‘unsafe’ to enter by-election, Māori Party says.

The by-election, forced by the resignation of National MP Simon Bridges (who is Māori), will take place on June 18.

The candidates confirmed so far include National’s Sam Uffindell, Labour’s Jan Tinetti and ACT’s Cameron Luxton.

Reporting on the Māori Party’s announcement, Newshub said:

Wilson mentioned a Department of Internal Affairs report published in April which showed “hate speech from white supremacists on social media is the largest form of hate speech in this country”.

He said Tauranga is a “hotspot”, with residents being “subjected to white supremacist leaftlet drops“.

The report referenced by Wilson makes no mention of Tauranga. Continue reading “Māori Party by-passes by-election in Tauranga (where it won 0.35% of the 2020 party vote) but scores well with “racism” headlines”

Outdated Views? Andrea Vance On Sean Plunket

Chris Trotter, political columnist, blogger and commentator, writes here about “shock jocks”, “outdated” views, “privilege” and the “Woke” establishment …  

IT’S ONE OF THOSE throwaway lines which, precisely because so little conscious thought was given to it, tells us so much. The author, Andrea Vance, is an experienced political journalist working for Stuff. The subject of Vance’s throwaway line, Sean Plunket, is an equally experienced journalist. It was in her recent story about Plunket’s soon-to-be-launched online media product “The Platform”, that Vance wrote: “Plunket’s dalliances with controversy make it easy to paint him as a two-dimensional character: a right-wing, shock-jock with outdated views on privilege and race.”

It’s hard to get past those first four words. The picture Vance is painting is of a dilettante: someone who flits from one inconsequential pursuit to another, taking nothing seriously. And, of course, the use of the word “dalliances” only compounds this impression. To “dally” with somebody it to treat them casually, offhandedly – almost as a plaything. Accordingly, a “dalliance” should be seen as the very opposite of a genuine commitment. It smacks of self-indulgence. A cure, perhaps, for boredom?

To dally with controversy, therefore, is to betray a thoroughly feckless character. Controversies are all about passion and commitment. Controversies are taken seriously. Indeed, a controversy is usefully defined as a dispute taken seriously by all sides. And yet, according to Vance, Plunket has only been playing with controversy: trifling with it, as a seducer trifles with the affections of an innocent maid.

In Vance’s eyes, this indifference to matters of genuine and serious concern distinguishes Plunket as a “two-dimensional character”. It reduces him to a cardboard cut-out, a promotional poster, a thing of printer’s ink and pixels – insubstantial. Or, which clearly amounts to the same thing as far as Vance is concerned: “a right-wing, shock-jock with outdated views on privilege and race.” Dear me! The scorn dripping from those words could fill a large spittoon!

As if the holding of right-wing views somehow renders a person less than three-dimensional. As if conservative thinkers from Aristotle to Thomas Hobbes, Edmund Burke to Carl Schmidt haven’t contributed enormously to Western political thought. As if Keith Holyoake, Jim Bolger and Bill English aren’t respected by New Zealanders of all political persuasions for their rough-hewn dignity and love of country. To hold right-wing views isn’t a sickness, It doesn’t make you a bad person. It merely denotes a preference for the familiar; a wariness of the new; and a deep-seated fear of sudden and unmandated change.

As for “shock-jocks”: well, that is the sort of broadcasting talent commercial radio producers are constantly searching for. People of energy and enthusiasm, with a way of communicating both qualities to the radio station’s listeners. And if they also have a talent for decoding the zeitgeist on air: for tapping into the audience’s anger and frustration; and giving voice to their hopes and their fears? Why, then they are worth their weight in gold – and usually get it. The more people a “shock-jock” glues to the station’s frequency, the more the advertisers will be prepared to pay. That’s the business.

Perhaps Vance should have a word with the people who pay her salary: perhaps they could explain where all that money comes from.

The most important words, however, Vance saves for last. What really confirms Plunket’s lack of three dimensions are his “outdated views on privilege and race”. It is with these six words that Vance betrays both herself and her newspaper.

Who says Plunket’s views on privilege and race are “outdated”? According to whose measure? After all, his views on privilege and race correspond closely with those of Dr Martin Luther King. Is Vance asserting that Dr King’s view that people should not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character, is outdated? Is she suggesting that a poor white man has more in the way of privilege than Oprah Winfrey? Or that the privileges which flow from superior economic power and social status count for less than those attached to race, gender and sexuality?

The answer is Yes. Those who declare such views to be “outdated” are, indeed, making all of the claims listed above. This locates them among a relatively narrow section of the population: highly educated; paid well above the average; more than adequately housed; and enjoying all the “privileges” accruing to those who manage the bodies and shape the minds of their fellow citizens.

Andrea Vance is a member of this truly privileged group, and so, at one time, was Sean Plunket. So, why the sneering condescension? Why the scorn? The answer is to be found in the new priorities of the truly privileged; the people who actually run this society. They have determined that their interests are better served by fostering the division and bitterness that is born of identity politics. Rather than see people promote a view of human-beings that unites them in a common quest for justice and equality, they would rather Blacks assailed Whites, women assailed men, gays assailed straights, and trans assailed TERFS. In short, the “One Percent” have decided that their interests are better protected by corporations, universities and the mainstream news media all promoting the ideology of identity politics.

By setting his face against this new “Woke” establishment, Sean Plunket the conservative poses as large a threat to the status quo as Martyn Bradbury the radical. On the one hand stand those who question the necessity and morality of changes now deemed essential by persons no one elected. On the other, those who insist that such divisive policies will produce results diametrically opposed to their promoters’ intentions. Right and Left, joined in an “outdated” search for the common ground that makes rational politics possible. The place where both sides are willing to acknowledge and agree that, in the words of John F. Kennedy:

“[I]n the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

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This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 21 September 2021.

Petition (that disappeared) was signed by Pakeha mums who fear race now comes first in Plunket’s baby-care priorities

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Mothers are aggrieved by what some say is a racist policy instituted by New Zealand’s most cherished parenting organisation. Graham Adams argues it is just one example of growing dissatisfaction over preference granted on grounds of ethnicity.

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In terms of the nation’s traditional iconography, it’s hard to decide whether Sir Edmund Hillary or Plunket nurses rate more highly in the popular imagination.

For many New Zealanders, Hillary represents the epitome of individualistic adventure while Plunket nurses looking after anxious mothers and vulnerable babies represent the best of community spirit.

Nevertheless, news came this week that Plunket is a “white supremacist” organisation, for which root-and-branch regeneration will be inadequate. (See Cate Broughton’s Plunket takes on its history, and future, to be ‘a better Treaty partner’, and a response to this by Linda Bryder: Plunket founder driven to reduce high infant mortality rate.)

This assault on Plunket’s reputation — let alone its very existence — will seem to many as outrageous as someone demanding Sir Ed’s image be taken off the $5 note because he was a white supremacist who denied Tenzing Norgay the chance of being the first person to stand on the summit of Mt Everest.

The case against Plunket — a charitable trust largely funded by taxpayers — rests mainly on views on race and eugenics held by its founder, Sir Truby King, who died 83 years ago in 1938. Continue reading “Petition (that disappeared) was signed by Pakeha mums who fear race now comes first in Plunket’s baby-care priorities”

Free speech in Parliament challenged: Maori Party MPs press the Speaker to bar questions they regard as “racist”

The Speaker was reprimanded by the PM yesterday, in the aftermath of the furore generated when he accused a former parliamentary staffer – to whom he had previously apologised for claiming he was a rapist – of sexual assault.

Then he was chided by Maori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer for failing to stop “racist” questions being asked in Parliament.

Other than Hansard, the only account of this attempt to curb MPs’ right to speak freely in Parliament was a Newshub report headed Rawiri Waititi lashes out at ‘Māori bashing’ in Parliament as Jacinda Ardern challenges Judith Collins to say ‘partnership’

But to whom – we wonder – is the Speaker accountable?

To Members of Parliament, we would have thought, because they vote to elect the Speaker at the start of each new Parliament (after every general election).

 This is the first task of every new Parliament once members have been sworn in.
Candidates are nominated by another member and, after the election vote, the Speaker-Elect visits the Governor-General to be confirmed in office.
Continue reading “Free speech in Parliament challenged: Maori Party MPs press the Speaker to bar questions they regard as “racist””