Suspend the lynch mob

May 30th, 2007 at 10:10 pm by David Farrar

My first reaction, like almost everyone, was to be appalled at Mercury Energy for their role in the death of Auckland woman Folole Muliaga. But over the day as lynch mobs proclaimed them guilty of murder, I felt more and more uncomfortable.

The death of Folole Muliaga is incredibly sad, as it appears to have been entirely preventable. And the manner of death, in front of her family, is tragic for them. One can only empathise with them for their loss. I also have empathy for the hundreds of staff of Mercury Energy. I am sure they are all devastated at what is alleged to have happened, and it would have been an awful day to work for them.

However the facts of what happened are not yet known, and appear to be in some dispute. Empathy should not become a reason for suspending critical reasoning.

Mercury Energy, as one would hope, do have a policy to not disconnect power if they are aware of a householder being medically dependent on continued power supply. Now the policy may not be identical to other companies in that they require verification, but unless the facts are that the company was told, requested verification and upon not getting it immediately deliberately decided to terminate the power anyway (which I certainly would condemn), their policy is not a problem.

What appears to have happened is one of three scenarios:

(1) The family did tell the contractor that the termination of electricity would have life threatening consequences, and he understood this and decided to proceed anyway – against his own company’s policy. Words will be insufficient to condemn that, if that is the case. I can’t imagine there are many people who if they understand a power cut would lead to someone dying, would in any way proceed. The contractor has denied this is the case so for scenario 1 to apply, he must be a liar.

(2) The The family did tell the contractor that the termination of electricity would have life threatening consequences, but tragically he failed to understand this. The Police investigation will look at this. A failure to understand does not get Mercury and the contractor off the hook, as it will come down to whether such a failure to understand was reasonable in the circumstances, and what are the detailed procedures for such situations.

(3) The family did not tell the contractor that the termination of electricity would have life threatening consequences. I make no allegation that this is the case, but recognise this is a possibility. Many family members are saying they definitely did, but it is far from clear how many were actually present for the encounter.

Electricity companies disconnect probably hundreds of customers for non or late payment every day. It is a routine event. I should know as it has happened to me. And for it to happen, one has to have ignored (for Meridian anyway) at least two statements, a specific warning letter, a phone call and a telegram all warning of disconnection.

It is also worth noting that she was not on a full breathing machine, where death is automatic if it stops. The machine was for people with a chronic, mildly reduced level of oxygen in their blood, typically those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. It has no battery backup, so if there was an unexpected power cut it would not be suitable for someone who can not breathe without it. And the doctors say that they are surprised being without it for a couple of hours caused death. In fact the cause of death is assumed, not known.

Finally, it has to be acknowledge there are a number of things the family could have done to mitigate what happened. I state these not as an excuse for Mercury Energy if they were informed, and ignored the information, but as a recognition that the death was seemingly avoidable.

(1) Use the standard letter from the hospital about the need for power, and send it to the electricity company.
(2) Pay the power bills on time, if one is able to, if life is dependent on it as a priority over other bills.
(3) Ask WINZ for a special needs grant if you are having problems paying
(4) At every single stage of the being warned you are overdue and may be terminated, ring up or write to the power company and make sure they understand your medical condition. Preferably in writing so there is less of a chance of mistake
(5) If you are not well positioned to do (4) yourself go to a community group like Citizens Advice Bureau who could help. Your doctor will I am sure help also.
(6) If you do lose power, despite the above, immediately send for an ambulance to take you to hospital

Now again, just because the family may not have done any or all of the above, is no excuse if it was made clear to Mercury’s contractor that there was a threat to life if power was cut off. But as Trevor Mallard says, the facts are in dispute, and we should be patient and let the authorities do an investigation. This is potentially a homicide investigation, so it will be taken seriously I am sure.

As I said at the beginning it is a terrible time for both the family, and to a lesser degree also the staff of Mercury Energy. It is not a time for kneejerk responses.

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170 Responses to “Suspend the lynch mob”

  1. Matt () says:

    If power was so critical why didn’t they pay the bill?

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  2. Simon () says:

    Two payments made in May but when it comes to greed and this Labor government there are no parallels in NZ.

    As a stakeholder in Mercury if Mercury is found to be at fault then quite happy for the SOE to be sold and the proceeds given to the family.

    However the power goes off all the time through accidents you have to wonder why the family couldn’t get something organised. Probably still in shock at their mum hooked up to a breathing machine.

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  3. Craig Ranapia () says:

    DPF:

    I never thought I’d write these words, but it’s one for the Guinness Book of Records when I not only agree with Trevor Mallard, but think he’s the most sensible person flapping his gums on any given issue. Ugh… I need oxygen now. :)

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  4. dave_c_ () says:

    Typical large corporations – Presuming all the rights belong to them and ask questions later !

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  5. Craig Ranapia () says:

    dave c:

    Oh here we go… Strangely enough, I believe small and medium-sized companies actually like being paid for providing goods and services, as per contract. I most certainly do.

    BTW, Dave, do you think the contractor concerned actually deserves the benefit of all that natural justice, due process, rule of law and presumption of innocence blah blah bullshit? It’s painfully obvious large chunks of the media and blogisphere don’t when they’re, in effect, accusing someone of murder.

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  6. andy () says:

    I do collections on a small scale and I feel for the contractor, people will tell you the most amazing lies to not pay bills. I have become hardened to it, pay the money or we stop the service, end of story.

    dave c: how much would you pay for electricity if all the contractors had to be cardiac doctors as well as electricians?

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  7. Marcus D () says:

    I am with Craig completely here and I can’t believe I am agreeing with Trevor Mallard either…

    Just watching Breakfast and Paul Henry is asking a family friend who is to blame, the contractor or Mercury? Wow, talk about a witch hunt already. What about blaming the person who had the electricity bill in their name and failed to pay it as well. Is electricity a given right? I would argue it isn’t, especially if you don’t pay for the service you have contracted for.

    DPF – there was a comment in your previous thread from someone who has worked as a contractor and been subject to all sorts of abuse/excuses when cutting electricity off. Maybe it was just a case of, oh boy this excuse is a doozy, haven’t heard that one before and thought nothing more of it. Still, it will come out in the wash.

    Cactus Cate had a very good comment on her blog: If they really needed to cash to pay the power bill why didn’t they apply to WINZ to get it? Surely that would be a case of real welfare in NZ.

    Not a good situation for anyone involved but sickening the way the media are portraying Mercury and the contractor as guilty of murder at this stage.

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  8. Lindsay () says:

    There is very much a cultural aspect to the whole business as well. Samoans can be very, even overly, deferential in their communication style. What they think they made clear may not have been. Their loss is very, very sad and probably unneccessary. But DPF is right. Knee jerk responses are untimely. Peter Brown is a good example.

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  9. Frank () says:

    Would ringing 111 have been of help at the time?

    Frank

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  10. sonic () says:

    A strange day indeed as I was disgusted with Mallard yesterday. What is a company doing cutting a family with 4 kids and a sick woman off from electricity for a mere $160. It also is clear that the family were paying the bill off (they had made two payments this week)

    The chairman should have been out on his ear yesterday, with anyone else responsible following.

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  11. David Farrar () says:

    Lindsay – there may well be cultural issues at play, and there may be a need for greater awareness of this amongst such sub-contractors. I am sure the tragic death will lead to a greater degree of rigor in checking, if nothing else.

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  12. Craig Ranapia () says:

    Sonic:

    Well, I’m sincerely glad not to be your employee – though I might be banking a fairly substantial Enployment Court settlement if that’s your idea of due process and you’d canned my arse.

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  13. dad4justice () says:

    Why worry, as life is cheap in New Zealand, you know a double baby homicidal maniac gets bail, while down south the idiotic cops sip coffee hanging around in the donut shop, as a deranged angry boy racer car terminates the lives of a couple of young chicks just a stones throw away from them. As for the absurd comments of the lumpish and spineless Mallard duck well welcome to land of disputed facts, unaccountability, no social conscience, countless cop-outs / cover-ups, and a tolerance for appalling systematic failures. Pay your power bill – $168 outstanding –otherwise we switch off the machine, but money always come first in a callous and uncaring land, ask Kullen why he sits on his big bag full when child abuse and youth suicide skyrocket into third world status. The utopian green MP Mr Locke is right about stopping the prayer in Parliament, as New Zealand is devoid of any common sense and compassion – at least he is trying to alleviate more cynical hypocrisy. Great to see that we make CNN for all the wrong reasons, only in kiwiland the land of confusion and corruption and I say it’s time we activate the lynch mob as we care more about snails and whales than we do people !!

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  14. ben () says:

    Dave C

    Typical large corporations – Presuming all the rights belong to them and ask questions later !

    In case you hadn’t noticed Dave, corporations like Mercury face strong financial incentives not to do stuff like this. Mercury could go under with this kind of publicity. Corporations, precisely because they are big and recognisable, are intensely vulnerable to the merest suggestion of bad behaviour like this. The one thing this is not the result of is profit seeking.

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  15. GPT () says:

    “I am sure the tragic death will lead to a greater degree of rigor in checking, if nothing else.”

    Not to mention a massive upsurge in ‘my mother’s on life support’ excuses.

    The whole thing is very sad although paying the bill might have helped. Perhaps some of those protesting the loudest might think about what they could have done to pay what they owed.

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  16. McMillan () says:

    what a gift for the Labour Party – a perfect opportunity to beat up on a corporate to re-establish their working class credentials. No wonder the left-wing blogs are queuing up to whack Mercury Energy.

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  17. sonic () says:

    Craig, this may surprise you to hear from my, but if this happened as it appears the Mallard should also be considering his position re resignation as well.

    He better have something very good to back up his comments last night let me tell you.

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  18. towaka () says:

    When my Dad was on one of these oxygen machines we had back up with oxygen bottles for if the power went off for extended periods.Why not in this case?

    Also these machines are in no way life support machines but a top up for people who`s oxygen blood levels are a little low.

    I mean my father would be disconnected when he was being showered etc with no ill effects.

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  19. james cairney () says:

    Good post David.

    Sonic, I’m not with you here. What about innocent until proven guilty? If this contractor did not know or understand the consequences of their actions, then how on earth are they culpable? And if the contractor is not culpable, then how could Mercury be culpable vicariously?

    I imagine power cut off contractors are regularly argued with like parking wardens and tow truck drivers, I imagine all manner of protests are common place (in all manner of communication styles as well).

    This is no doubt a sad sad tradgedy, and I doubt anyone in the country does not feel sympathy, but I for one am not going to blame prematurely.

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  20. Craig Ranapia () says:

    Sonic:

    As a rule, you’ll find me in for a Mallard-kicking with my best hob-nailed stilettos on. But his comments, as reported in this morning’s Herald, strike me as rather unexceptional. I wouldn’t disagree with your comment, but I’d just place a little more emphasis on if this happened as it appears than some others are willing to do. In the end, Mallard ultimately serves in Cabinet at the pleasure of the Prime Minister – and if he becomes any kind of political liability, Clark’s shown he can be quite ruthless in bringing out the gone-burger grill.

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  21. sonic () says:

    As I said Craig not all the facts are in, however it seeme to me that any company that does such a thing to a family of 4 kids and a sick mother better have a bloody good excuse. I hope they do not try “the contractor did it”

    $160 for gods sake, that is hardly going to bankrupt the company.

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  22. sonic () says:

    “Victim Support contacted Mercury Energy on Tuesday after Mrs Muliaga died and asked them to put the power back on.

    A Muliaga family spokesman said Mercury refused to do so till the bill was paid.

    The company says it was told only that power was required for a funeral.”

    Words fail me.

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  23. uk_kiwi () says:

    Assuming she was on a sickness/unemployment benefit, maybe WINZ should have to pay the power company and essential bills first with the balance paid to the beneficiary.

    If neither her nor the family were organised enough to prevent this tragedy happening then maybe the govt needs to do it for them.

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  24. Craig Ranapia () says:

    BTW, apologies for giving the Prime Minister a pronoun sex change.

    And, I’m a little sick of having it endlessly trotted out that Folole Muliaga is a mother of four. Memo to the hackocracy: The value of a human life does not, or should not, depend on how many children you have, what you do for a living, or even whether or not your family thinks you’re the biggest shit to ever draw breath. This, of course, doesn’t diminish the loss and sorrow felt by the Muliaga family. It would be nice, however, if some folks decided whether they’re journalists or storyliners for Shortland Street.

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  25. sonic () says:

    Hands up who has never owed a utility $160

    Anyone?

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  26. dad4justice () says:

    This indeed is a strange day , full moon psychosis maybe , but I have to agree with you sonic , hell that was hard to say .

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  27. sonic () says:

    Hands up who has never owed a utility $160

    Anyone?

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  28. DavidW () says:

    sonic,
    I don’t want to prejudge and I’m certainly not making excuses but please breathe through your nose for a few minutes and consider some possibilities.
    Is it possible that the power company cuts off 100 peoples power each day?
    Is it possible that the average unpaid Bill is $168?
    If they weren’t cut off would the bills blow out to $500.
    Are the other 10,000 consumers who do pay their bills willing to have their accounts inflated to cover the $200,000/week in unpaid bills faced by the power company?
    What do you do when the bill gets to $500,or $1000?

    There is a line presumably where each of us would cry “enough” if we were running a power company and trying to do so efficiently in order to retain our jobs. Trouble is my line will inevitably be in a different place to your line or indeed the family-spokesman-trade-union-official’s line.

    Time for cool heads and let the investigations proceed I think before kneejerking furiously. So I suppose I am with Craig R on this one.

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  29. Mark Lloyd () says:

    Dear ol Chronic – The voice of reason eh?

    One thing we agree on is that its an utterly tragic death for the family.

    ‘$160 for gods sake, that is hardly going to bankrupt the company’

    Ummm yep true from a lefty perspective but you know what Chronic? End of the day its a company and it doesn’t have the luxery of running a welfare system like your dear govt.

    But what we do know is that the evil murdering corporation in question has a 7 week process to follow before disconnection takes place and you would think that someone in the family would possibly have to take some amount of partial blame for ignoring or not following up the repeated communications from the company during the process. We know they made two small payments but if they do not communicate with the company then who is to blame??

    But such is the left way is that the royal we is never to blame, its the evil capitalists fault eh?

    FFS lets wait for an investigation which presumably will mean an inquest/autopsy and establish the cause of deaths. Yep thats right folks lets please wait for some medical facts on the case.

    I look fwd to your post if it turns out she died of an unrelated stroke or allergic reaction dear Chronic.

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  30. Lance () says:

    D4J
    I know what you mean… I find myself in at least 50% (probably more) in agreement with Sonic.

    Scary stuff.

    They were actually trying to pay it off with 2 instalments so far and the overdue period wasn’t that long. Very unreasonable behaviour even ignoring the other disconnection issues.

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  31. insider () says:

    Sonic

    From memory ME said they tried to put it on during the day and it was on later that night the day she died

    You have a point about cutting off for what appears about a month’s arrears. It sounds unusually low amount. But we don;t know the payment history, and from experience corporates tend not to share this info because they have other obligations such as privacy or potential legal action. All kinds of outlandish claims can be made and you have to fight with one hand behind your back.

    I can’t understand why no-one is looking at the hospital. If she was that sick she should not have been sent home, or her equipment should have been able to cope with a predictable weakness. that would be where the real scandal lies.

    If she wasn;t that sick then there is a huge credibility gap in the story we are being told. Given our media, I know where my money is being placed.

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  32. Joker () says:

    Talk about getting run over by a steam roller.

    Whilst this is a crying shame the fact that there was no back up power supply on a machine required to keep this lady alive/no communication with Mercury about the dire consequences of the power being turned off when the bill went into arrears/no contact with the relevant welfare authorities/no call to an ambulance when the power went off puts the blame squarely with the family regardless of what Mercury did.

    If they couldnt get give a toss about prolonging the life of their Mother why should Mercury.

    Or are we saying it is not these peoples fault because they are stupid.

    I can see the Mercury memo to contractors now:

    “Please be aware that when dealing with Samoan families their consider the chance that they are stupid. Please check when terminating power supply to a house you are not also terminating someone inside”

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  33. Joker () says:

    Talk about getting run over by a steam roller.

    Whilst this is a crying shame the fact that there was no back up power supply on a machine required to keep this lady alive/no communication with Mercury about the dire consequences of the power being turned off when the bill went into arrears/no contact with the relevant welfare authorities/no call to an ambulance when the power went off puts the blame squarely with the family regardless of what Mercury did.

    If they couldnt get give a toss about prolonging the life of their Mother why should Mercury.

    Or are we saying it is not these peoples fault because they are stupid.

    I can see the Mercury memo to contractors now:

    “Please be aware that when dealing with Samoan families to consider the chance that they are stupid. Please check when terminating power supply to a house you are not also terminating someone inside”

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  34. Lance () says:

    Your a sick fuck Joker

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  35. David Farrar () says:

    Sonic – you really are losing it on this.

    I have been disconnected for less than $160. It is not the amount of the bill but how overdue it is.

    Power companies give you around five warnings of disconnection. They usually even send a telegram.

    If the family had asked the power company, prior to the person turning up, for some flexibility, I suspect they would have got it. Even without mentioning the health issue.

    You should hold off the lynch mob, until the facts are known.

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  36. Graeme Edgeler () says:

    Yes, suspend the lynch mob, but when the facts come out I don’t see them being kind to Mercury.

    The Herald has a taste:

    “May 23

    A Mercury Energy invoice dated May 23 sent to the Muliaga family shows they owe a discounted amount of $290.79 for power which is due for payment by June 13. The statement shows this includes a balance of $168.40 for the previous month’s statement and $136 in current charges. The invoice also shows they paid $61.90 on May 1 and $45 on May 17.”

    Please pay us by June 13 or we’ll cut off your power on May 29!

    One month’s power account partially late doesn’t come across to me as something your standard power company should cut off power for.

    When I moved into my current flat, we signed up to a new power company. Someone at our new company didn’t tell the electricity wholesaler the right information, and they kept sending a bill to the power company of the previous residents – while we were paying to the new company. 18 months later, the old company, sick of paying for electricity they weren’t being paid for (I guess some of those many letters addressed to the old residents were power bills) came ’round and cut us off. 18 months! That’s giving us far too much credit, and you shouldn’t be able to last that long, but this seems incredibly hasty.

    We don’t know all the facts, but the Herald has seen a power bill that says the previous month’s power has been added to the current month’s (standard practice, if you miss one bill, they just add it to the next) and still isn’t due for payment.

    Something’s gone wrong at Mercury Energy. This doesn’t make it murder, but on the evidence so far, they shouldn’t have been cutting off anyone’s power.

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  37. leah () says:

    Frank / Joker

    Is it true that an ambulance (at the bottom of a cliff) in Auckland costs about $300? Maybe they’d called a few in the past for Folole and that’s why the power was further down the priority list (although they were actually making payments).

    If they had $300 floating around maybe the power bill would have been paid in full!

    Joker you are a really vile character, not funny, not intelligent (you’ve probably been told this all your life) and hiding behind your smokescreen of anonymity is pathetic, cowardly, no wonder you were bullied at school.

    Craig – I think “mother of four” is relevant; it means that there are four children who are now without their mother.

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  38. Craig Ranapia () says:

    Yes, suspend the lynch mob, but when the facts come out I don’t see them being kind to Mercury.

    Graeme, I don’t think the facts of this particular case are going to be flattering to any party involved – not Mercury, not the family, and I even suspect there will (or should be) some pointed questions asked of the local DHB and Folole Muliaga’s doctor about the quality of care and support her and her family were receiving.

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  39. leah () says:

    Frank / Joker

    Is it true that an ambulance (at the bottom of a cliff) in Auckland costs about $300? Maybe they’d called a few in the past for Folole and that’s why the power was further down the priority list (although they were actually making payments).

    If they had $300 floating around maybe the power bill would have been paid in full!

    Joker you are a really vile character, not funny, not intelligent (you’ve probably been told this all your life) and hiding behind your smokescreen of anonymity is pathetic, cowardly, no wonder you were bullied at school.

    Craig – I think “mother of four” is relevant; it means that there are four children who are now without their mother.

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  40. ross () says:

    >If you do lose power, despite the above, immediately send for an ambulance to take you to hospital.

    Hmmm. But if your power is cut, how can you call for an ambulance if one doesn’t have a cellphone, which seems likely in this case?

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  41. ross () says:

    >If you do lose power, despite the above, immediately send for an ambulance to take you to hospital.

    Hmmm. But if your power is cut, how can you call for an ambulance if one doesn’t have a cellphone, which seems likely in this case?

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  42. insider () says:

    Ross

    Here is my helpful civil defence hint – never rely on a phone that has to plug into a power socket, ie ones with answerphones and roaming handsets. They won’t work in a power cut.

    Always keep a plain old telecom phone in the cupboard with your candles because the phone power comes down the phone line not your power line – I suspect because it relies only on a microcurrent.

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  43. james cairney () says:

    Graeme, regardless of whether or not ME ‘should’ have been disconnecting. It is still not an unlawful and objectively dangerous act.

    And for the contractor, he would have to have either known the risk and intended some harm, or had some unlawful purpose (in both cases with knowledge), and again (on the facts given) that is unlikely.

    This isn’t to say that ME are not a bunch of pricks, but normally your focus is legal rather than moral analysis, so respectfully, what is your point?

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  44. Craig Ranapia () says:

    Craig – I think “mother of four” is relevant; it means that there are four children who are now without their mother.

    And your point? To use two rather outmoded terms, there are spinsters and confirmed bachelors up and down this country who die, and are profoundly mourned by their families, friends and communities. As I said, I don’t think any human life — unique and irreplaceable as it is — is more or less worthy because of your marital status or how many children you do or don’t have. It does, however, jerk the tears doesn’t it?

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  45. Matt Pilott () says:

    This is becoming a typical media beat-up (check NZHerald site – 6 separate stories and counting).

    When it comes down to it, it’s just a bloody unfortunate accident. Consider the factors, without any one, this would not have occured:

    - Family comprehending their situation better – they mut have not understood to have done nothing after the 48hrs notice was sent

    - No oxygen back-up

    - Poor (presumably) communication with contractor

    - Lack of empathy/cynicism/understanding by contractor – they must have done something wrong here – it could be that they didn’t understand, care or believe the family

    - Ambulance called too late

    Much could have been done better, by all involved. Whatever happened, let’s wait before calling for blood.

    One thing – whatever happens, if the contractor was at fault, then Mercury should be considered more at fault – for delegating an important task, and failing to ensure it was done to the correct standard. I will be mighty hacked off if they hide behind the subcontractor…

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  46. annoyed customer () says:

    My deepest sympathy goes out to the Muliaga family. This should have not happened. If anyone is to blame, I would say the contractor alone, he was the one that disconnected it. Although the mother pleaded and said Give us a chance he still had no heart and decency to turn it off.

    I can believe that with Mercury.. Rememeber guys earlier on they paid out the dividends? well they sent us a cheqeu and we sent it back saying to just credit our acct.. Anyway it took up to a month and still they had not received our cheque.. I followed up to be told that it was more than likely that the cheque was stolen through mail, and not to worry they would send us a replacement one.. A replacement cheque is all good i said, but what is going to happen to our power bill, it was overdue at that stage. I was told by the call center person that was dealing with me, that a note would be left explaining the situation, and when the cheque comes through it will be credited to our acct.. Cut a long story short. It didnt happen.. They ended up cutting our electricity off, which annoyed the hell out of me, and i paid the outstanding amount which was a total of 350(that’s two months bill, due to waiting for the cheque to be creditied) After i paid it, i was told that i would need to pay a reconnection fee of a hundred dollars.. I said cook, but can you just add it to our next bill…if i was annoyed before, i was pissed off now..they said no, i had no more money and it was like 6.00pm.. alot of grief i went through that night to no avail. One thing i did say that i wont forget is, I told the supervisor that i was speaking to (ended up having to speak to someone on a higher level, although he proved to be a twit as well!) What happens if i had a child that needed the power on for oxygen.. You know what he said.. Well, that’s just to bad..

    I understand people doing their jobs, but do you think moral ethics and compassion is asking to much for someone who is employed as a “Customer Service” .. It’s like the people that work in Otara WINZ(The fobs who english is clearly not a first language to them.. I have witnessed these people being completely ignorant to their own people.. Just because they sit behind a desk it makes them Superior?.. And it’s so funny, witnessing it..

    What we need to realise, we, all of us deal in customer service one way or the other.. Sometimes what we have been instructed to do is not necessarily the right thing to do.. Customer Service is about satisfaction., and it’s becoming the norm now to meet a grumpy call center employee.. Hey i say, we never asked you to be there, you dont like your job, go get more educated and get a job that you do like!

    Well, that’s what Mercury did.. I just wanted to tell you guys that, and now look. I have upset myself just recaping on it..

    At the moment Im thinking of switching providers.

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  47. Steven Price () says:

    I agree that David’s right on this one: let’s wait till we know all the facts. That also includes not making assumptions about how many warning letters have been sent (especially when, as Graeme points out, the evidence so far suggests Mercury doesn’t look so hot on that score).
    Also: don’t assume that it would have been easy for this family to get a special needs grant out of WINZ. Certainly, SNGs are designed for this sort of situation, but WINZ tends to encrust its statutory discretions with a series of rigid rules – people can only apply for SNGs so-many times in such-and-such a period, etc. Some WINZ staff take some convincing to hand them out at all. (On the other hand, plenty of applicants lie through their teeth to try to get them).

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  48. james cairney () says:

    “Although the mother pleaded and said Give us a chance he still had no heart and decency to turn it off.”

    well said annoyed customer, but you missed the word ‘allegedly’.

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  49. ross () says:

    > Always keep a plain old telecom phone in the cupboard with your candles because the phone power comes down the phone line not your power line.

    I agree. Also, I understand that an ambulance was called in this case but it arrived too late to make a difference.

    It’s entirely possible that Folole died of a heart attack or something not related to her prior medical condition. So to be blaming ME at this stage is a little premature.

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  50. ross () says:

    > Always keep a plain old telecom phone in the cupboard with your candles because the phone power comes down the phone line not your power line.

    I agree. Also, I understand that an ambulance was called in this case but it arrived too late to make a difference.

    It’s entirely possible that Folole died of a heart attack or something not related to her prior medical condition. So to be blaming ME at this stage is a little premature.

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  51. tim barclay () says:

    Saying you are just doing your job is not good enough. That defence will not wash with me. If the contractor knowingly cut off power that was in a life saving situation then saying he was doing his job is the response of a neanderthal. He could have used his brain and got further instructions once he could see the situation. Some people are thick as. But I accept all the facts need to come out including whether this equipment really was life necessary etc etc.

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  52. Clueless () says:

    Thank you for your very reasoned assessment of what has happened DPF.

    I remember when I set up my power account, one of the questions asked was whether I needed power to run any medical equipment etc. Apparently this was so in the event of a power cut, they could provide you with a backup generator or something.

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  53. brian_smaller () says:

    The autopsy hasn’t been done so the cause of death has not been established. Either way, perhaps she might still be alive if her dumb kids had rung 111 instead of sitting around playing a guitar and singing hymns. Too much KFC and Corned Beef and not enough brain cells.

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  54. nickgavey () says:

    I think all the members of the lynch mob may not actually realize how non-urgent this machine was. This is not a life-support machine where if you flick the switch people die. It was designed to be used UP TO 16 hours per day.

    My first thought was that this woman was foolish to decline her child’s offer to take her straight to the hospital. Then I realized that everyone, including the doctors, the family, and possibly the contractor believed it to be possible for the woman to survive hours (maybe indefinitely) without the machine.

    So is it fair enough to say that luck is most to blame in this scenario? Sure, if the electricity hadn’t been switched off she would probably still be alive. And if her children had taken her straight to the hospital she would probably still be alive. But you can’t say either of those things for sure, as her sudden death made it clear that her medical condition was more severe than the doctors had suspected.

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  55. dad4justice () says:

    Green Party MP Sue Bradford called for a public inquiry, saying the decision to cut the power was “mercenary”. Why do we have a police force Silly Sue , oh that’s right it’s not a smacking issue !!

    But Sue why the need for another inquiry as we already have enough political cronies of the present dysfunctional government making up countless, pointless bureaucratic positions. Not to mention the sad indictment for the Muliaga family is that our deranged supreme leader Hulun Klark has denied the existence of the underclass (it’s just extrapolated from an anecdote) The public should demand accountability and humanity, which should be a priority of state.

    May I suggest that the present diabolical mercenary government are disconnected from reality and should be plugged back into a power grid of common decency?

    The money or the bag , dam I hate that bag !!

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  56. Barnsley Bill () says:

    I have a little sympathy for sonic’s viewpoint in all this. However when the family sit there and don’t do one of the following things they need to blame themselves.
    Why did they not;
    1. Stop the contractor.
    2. Call an ambulance.
    3. Run a lead from the neighbours.
    4. Take mum next door.

    The disconnection contractor will no doubt be hung out to dry because he is the easiest target. But think what you would have done if it was your mum/ sister/ wife.
    I sure as shit would not have been singing songs.
    The machine was not a life or death machine, it was to enhance oxygen flow so speculation until a cause of death is established is stupid, stupid of course is a word that fits well with almost all posts on this thread.
    We have truly become a nation of whiny blame avoiders who have lost the ethos of personal responsibility

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  57. Horace () says:

    TO return to the track of what happened first and why:

    If you watch the Close Up interview with the family, one of the children says the mother said she “could not see”. And it wasn’t because they couldn’t turn the lights on at 2pm in the afternoon.

    Perhaps a Doctor could outline what sudden blindness indicates in a woman of her medical condition and whether it was caused by a series of long term on-going physiological breakdowns or just the lack of oxygen on that day.

    This sort of thing I hope will be addressed by the police, not the mob.

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  58. Dave () says:

    My flatmate works for the Contact call centre and to be honest some of the excuses and abuse they get when they cut people off.

    I feel sorry for the loss of the family but to be completely honest unless Meridian actually knew about the need for power and did nothing about it then the blame lies with the family.

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  59. JG () says:

    The blame sits with the family for me. Had they called an ambulance when the power was switched off (or paid the bill in the first place!) the outcome would have been different.

    I don’t believe (and this is obviously speculation) that unplugging this machine was the sole, or even the major, cause of death either.

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  60. frederico () says:

    A big part of the issues here is the medical management of the deceased. I find it hard to believe that someone DEPENDENT on increased oxygen to live is treated at home. This would not be considered good medical practice. Many people have supplementary oxygen at home, but this is by no means life support. If you are dependent on high flow oxygen you are pre terminal and should be in a ICU.

    It is possible that she was using supplementary oxygen for chronic airways disease and at her age, if this was the case, would be at high risk of perishing at any time anyway, oxygen or no oxygen.
    i.e it may be a coincidence. (a very unpleasent one)
    So i think at least innocent until proven guilty should be applied. A lot of questions are are not answered, but think of the guy that turned it off. Is he really a malicious corporate stooge out to murder the sick???

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  61. Josh () says:

    We have one of these machines at home.

    One night the power went off.

    LSS: the hospital told us that if we needed it 24/7 there would have been a battery in it.

    Also, if it had been a critical case, I would have made arrangement for at least 2 backup scenarios beforehand. I refuse to gamble my families life against a company’s service – any company.

    If I had no money, and had to have electricity, I would drop my pride and beg someone for help – anyone. My pride isn’t worth a dead family member, not even close.

    The equipment was not intended to be critical to support life. That makes this much more borderline than the media are making this out to be. Balance that against the excuses these guys always get and, I’m giving him the credit of the doubt.

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  62. thehawk () says:

    1. The was not a life support machine. Hospital doctors did not believe that one was required and were comfortable she could survive without one.

    2. Her son suggested she get an ambulance to the hospital when the power was cut off but she refused.

    3. She died 5 hours after the power was switched off, proving the doctors were correct
    and indeed, so was the patient! Lack of oxygen would have been an unlikely cause of death over such a long period.

    This is a pathetic beat up. A chronically ill woman has died. Her family are looking to blame someone for their own failure to ensure that Mum had the power bill paid/not calling an ambulance.
    Police investigation? Bollocks! This country needs to get real. This is the most important news/blog story? Total crap. There are too many freakin lawyers, cops, investigators, reporters, commentators with no work to do.

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  63. dave_c_ () says:

    In defence of my initial comment on this thread – If Genesis can take a customers word and then go away and do some investigation, it would appear to me that this power company is poles apart in terms of ‘Customer Service, and should be villified for their attitude – To me it seems that there is very little Corporate Ethic these days.

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  64. David Farrar () says:

    Steven is right that we don’t know how many warning letters there had been. I was only going off my experience. The issue isn’t so much over the amount owing or even how many months overdue it is (that is a separate issue) but whether the company gave sufficient warnings of what will happen, and sufficient opportunity to ask for it not to happen.

    AFAIK the person who turns up to your door does not have any discretion to arrange further credit or even to accept payment. That is not their job. The one area where they do have discretion is where it would be harmful to turn the power off. That is the crux of the issue.

    If you ring up the power company, and suggest a repayment programme over time to bring things up to date, that is in my experience sufficient for them to remove you from the disconnect list. Disconnection normally only happens when they have no response at all to their communications.

    Now the facts of this case are not known. If Mercury followed industry best practice then not much can be held against them. If they didn’t give sufficient warnings, sufficient notice or ignored a request to delay disconnection, then they have some trouble to say the least.

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  65. Ford Anglia () says:

    Extract from today’s NZ Herald article. “She was suffering from heart and lung disease and her breathing difficulties were related to her obesity. She was given a home oxygen machine because of the severity of her condition.”

    Heart disease is one of the leading killers of New Zealanders. Perhaps the Witchfinder General and the mobs with the burning torches should wait until the results of the autopsy are made public before denounciations and executions take place.

    Question: does the deceased not bear some responsibility for letting themselves become obese? Obesity does not sneak up on you overnight and it is not something you do not notice. For many years it has been public knowledge that obesity is unhealthy and can have deadly consequences. There are many ways to tackle obesity. The simplest of which is eat less, exercise more.

    Leaping to conclusions seems to be the most popular form of exercise people undertake today.

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  66. Frank () says:

    Horace’s observation perhaps goes to the heart of the matter:

    “If you watch the Close Up interview with the family, one of the children says the mother said she “could not see”.”

    This in my view is most significant and indicates a sudden deteoriation of the life forces and shows the end is very near. Professional help was necessary, but at that stage, nothing could have been done.

    Frank

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  67. David Farrar () says:

    It is somewhat sad that the blogs have had a better examination of all the issues involved, that much of the media which have gon for emotion over analysis.

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  68. JohnSmith () says:

    For those who suggest that the family should have done more to prevent the tragedy are missing the point.

    Someone suggested that the family should have called the ambulance earlier, the deceased should have watched her obesity… etc.

    Imagine if an innocent is killed when a car driven by a dunk driver crashes into his, and say the innocent person wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. Would you blame the innocent that he should have worn a seatbelt could have survived? Or that the innocent should have bought a better and safer car?

    Presuming the lack of oxygen is a major contributing factor to the death, then the person who cut off the power has a case to answer.

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  69. leah () says:

    “It does, however, jerk the tears doesn’t it?”

    Yup, Craig, it does it really does.

    I would have found it equally tragic if Folole had no family and was home alone.

    My point was that it is part of the story that four children are suddenly without their mother: I don’t think that’s a gratuitous or sensationalist embellishment. I wasn’t suggesting – and I would hope the story doesn’t suggest – that being a “mother of four” increased her value to society!

    I take your point that those without close or immediate family / offspring are nevertheless members of our wider community – and are hopefully equally cherished.

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  70. AndrewK () says:

    JohnSmith: but a drunk driver is breaking the law, while Mercury is [probably] upholding the law (ie the supply agreement).

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  71. AndrewK () says:

    It is somewhat sad that the blogs have had a better examination of all the issues involved, that much of the media which have gon for emotion over analysis.

    Examination and rational analysis don’t sell newspapers and/or advertising space. That’s sad. Yay for the internet!

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  72. JohnSmith () says:

    AndrewK

    We don’t know at this stage if the person who cut the power off has broken the law or not. If he/she was indeed told that the power is required for a medical equipment and yet proceed to cut the power without considering other options (e.g. seek advice from superior), then he/she might have broken the law.

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  73. pedro () says:

    “It is somewhat sad that the blogs have had a better examination of all the issues involved”
    yes this would be a time for self congratulation.

    people don’t seem to have much understanding of samoan culture, except for the prevalence of obesity-related disorders: not much analysis about the proud culture of the vast majority of samoan families when it comes to monetary matters, nor the fact that both husband and wife were hard workers who had recently had their family income reduced by over 50%. Who says we have too much of a welfare state- I want some more, I’d fucking love to think people could have free house calls from medical professionals if they’re this critical, that they could have a nice big sickleave provision for serious illnesses so they can maintain the lifestyle they deserve.

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  74. Ford Anglia () says:

    JohnSmith, my belief is the family has a degree of responsibility and culpability in their mothers’ death. The deceased and the family are not blameless in this sorry saga. They and their supporters cannot wash their hands and point the finger of shame at others. No one forced Mrs Muliaga to become obese and put her life at risk by doing so.

    In your scenario, if someone dies in a vehicle crash because they were not wearing a seat belt (a-la Princess Dianna), I believe they foolishly contributed to their own demise. It does not diminish the culpability or responsibility of the drunk who hit their vehicle. In your scenario and with Mrs Muliaga, the victims own actions, or more likely inactions, contributed towards their death.

    You have to be mentally deficient not to understand that wearing a seatbelt increases your chances of survival. It does not guarantee you will survive. But you should be better off wearing a seat belt than not. Wearing seat belts is the law (in most instances).

    Being obese is a lifestyle choice. It is widely acknowledged that obesity and its side effects can be deadly. Is the message not getting through? Or is it getting through but people don’t care? Or are they victims of something beyond their control?

    Has personal responsibility and common sense left the country?

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  75. nickgavey () says:

    I think all the members of the lynch mob may not actually realize how non-urgent this machine was. This is not a life-support machine where if you flick the switch people die. It was designed to be used UP TO 16 hours per day.

    My first thought was that this woman was foolish to decline her child’s offer to take her straight to the hospital. Then I realized that everyone, including the doctors, the family, and possibly the contractor believed it to be possible for the woman to survive hours (maybe indefinitely) without the machine.

    So is it fair enough to say that luck is most to blame in this scenario? Sure, if the electricity hadn’t been switched off she would probably still be alive. And if her children had taken her straight to the hospital she would probably still be alive. But you can’t say either of those things for sure, as her sudden death made it clear that her medical condition was more severe than the doctors had suspected.

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  76. JohnSmith () says:

    Ford Anglia

    You still don’t get it, do you?

    We’re not discussing how a person’s life style choice or the action/inaction of that person count toward the chance of survival. What we are discussing is the action of a contractor and whether that action caused one’s death.

    The bottom line is (again presuming the lack of oxygen is the cause of death) had the contractor not cut the power, Ms Muliaga would still be alive today and we wouldn’t be talking about it here.

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  77. andy () says:

    JohnSmith:

    I would hazard a guess that like my contractors, they do not have a mandate to discuss anything with the customer. The only thing my contractors can discuss is whom to call at the office. period, end of story.

    They do not have the full information on the customers situation (for a reason). They have been hired by me to do my bidding. they have no duty to my customer only a contractual one with me.

    people lie and cheat not to pay bills, thats why it is delt with in the office not at peoples homes, no threats that way. These guys have heard every story and some, it would fall on deaf ears.

    Please do not paint them as uncaring as they are human with a job to do. Have you ever tried to talk your way out of a parking ticket. Same situation ‘sorry sir you will have to write a letter, the instructions are on the reverse of the ticket’, will be the reply.

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  78. AndrewK () says:

    There is seldom, if ever, a single cause to a death. In fact there are a great many people involved in the process of keeping you and me alive every day.

    For my part, the most important person involved (and the one I trust the most) in the process is me, followed by my family, followed by my friends, then others.

    In this very sad case it is mercury energy who are the others and yet the media want to burn them at the stake first. It’s wrong but it sells newspapers.

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  79. Mark Lloyd () says:

    Its obvious isn’t it? Murphy is to blame here.

    Could it not be just a really really tragic set of events that culminated in a family losing a dear and valued mother?

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  80. sonic () says:

    “The issue isn’t so much over the amount owing or even how many months overdue it is”

    Sorry David that will not fly, if they owed thousands and were refusing to pay that is one thing, they owed $160 and had made two payments this month alone.

    I’d be very interested if anyone knows anything about how these “contractors” are paid. Do they get rewarded for every house they cut off? do they suffer financially if they agree to continue the supply?

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  81. JohnSmith () says:

    andy

    Fair enough that contractors have a very limited scope of discretion if at all. Having said that, is it too much to expect that, if the contractor was indeed told that power is needed to run a medical equipment that a ill person depends on, the contractor to call his/her superior to confirm?

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  82. cha () says:

    Sonic, the bloke doing the job is most likely an employee on an hourly rate. The poor fucker probably had a dozen or more disconnections/ reconnections on his job sheet for the day as well as a shit load of final readings etc.

    I posted this earlier today.

    I have worked as a contractor carrying out disconnects/reconnects and my and sympathies lie with the poor fucker who was doing his job. Over the years I’ve heard every excuse under the sun, I’ve been attacked by mad women, had people set dogs on me,had people set their kids on me,had dog shit, human shit and nappy buckets thrown at me. I’ve had people run my ladder down, try to run me down, steal gear from my wagon, make threats against me and my family and of course there’s the usual claims about cheques in the mail or “it’s the banks/winz etc fault”.

    Posted by cha | May 31, 2007 6:30 AM

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  83. sonic () says:

    ” I’ve been attacked by mad women, had people set dogs on me,had people set their kids on me,had dog shit, human shit and nappy buckets thrown at me. I’ve had people run my ladder down, try to run me down, steal gear from my wagon, make threats against me and my family”

    None of which, of course, happened in this case.

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  84. DavidW () says:

    True sonic but you are suggesting that by the same token this rather jaded and cynical bloke is meant to predict the future outcome of his actions and pick this one genuine case from among the bullshit.
    Tough call. Can you give me a winner for the 4th at Flemington tomorrow?

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  85. Adolf Fiinkensein () says:

    Judging by the commentary from the DHB I believe this is yet another grossly irresponsible beat up by our lazy and incompetent Antique Media. Radio Left Wing carried it as the lead story this afternoon at 3.00 p.m., for God’s sake.

    Let’s review some facts:

    The machine in question is a CPAP machine with an oxygen feed and no emergency pattery power supply. It is not a machine that is used by people who are diagnosed as ‘in danger if their power supply fails.’

    Autopsy results are not yet available but it is clear this was a chronically ill woman whose many adverse conditions (heart, lung, trachea problems) each could have contributed to her death.

    Had the power company checked with the DHB or GP it would have been advised loss of power was not a threat to her life.

    MAny of the statements made in the Antique media and by identifiable bloggers are such that successful action for libel and or slander might well be taken by the contractor and Mercury.

    Oh yeah, the lasty one was opinion.

    Basically, most of you have got shit for brains.

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  86. cha () says:

    You seem to be missing the point Sonic, the bloke was an employee with a job sheet, not a credit controller, not a social worker or a doctor and certainly in no position to make a decision about whether or not to carry out his task. In the same situation I would advise the householder to contact their supplier, advise my supervisor of the situation and disconnect the household. Had the customer made arrangement with the supplier to reconnect my supervisor would have directed me to return and reconnect.

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  87. leah () says:

    DPF this story has been picked up by international media and is now on Times Online.

    UK reader feedback is overall very sympathetic to the family.

    Re your comment about newspapers not covering the real issues here – a newspaper only comes out once a day, of course their news stagnates while we romp around in blogland. A day hardly leaves enough time for real investigative journalism – but the reports are what spurred your blog no doubt.

    A paper will always take ink, and kiwiblog will always take the last argument.

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  88. sonic () says:

    Paid your bill yet Adolf?

    A woman dead for $160 and you are making excuses?

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  89. Ford Anglia () says:

    I understand perfectly well JohnSmith. Your position seems to me to be the contractor and the corporation are automatically at fault. I read you assume the actions of the contractor directly lead to Mrs Muliaga’s death. I have not viewed any evidence to support that position.

    Mrs Muliaga may have died of a cerebral haemorrhage, ruptured bowel or a heart attack for all we know. Until the cause of death is determined you are using prejudice to fuel speculation.

    As for Mrs Muliaga being alive today, she may well have died yesterday because she was not wearing a seatbelt when her car was hit by a drunk driver. It is all speculation and pontificating until facts are known.

    I feel sorry for the family. The death of a loved one is tragic no mater what the circumstances.

    However, blaming the faceless corporation for being heartless evil bastards because she died before the facts are known, is jumping to conclusions. The nations favourite pass time.

    I still strongly believe the family and Mrs Muliaga have to shoulder some responsibility for what happened. It would take a substantial argument to convince me otherwise.

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  90. Hoolian () says:

    Nicely said DPF. Its a sad state of affairs, but the facts are not yet known for sure. Lets not all rush to conclusions passed on emotions.

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  91. cha () says:

    BTW, I have been called out at all sorts of ungodly hours to reconnect a household.

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  92. leah () says:

    what are adolf’s excuses, i wanna hear this! ;o)

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  93. nigel201065 () says:

    Sonic,
    At last I agree with you a woman dead for $160. The only difference between you and me is I blame the family they are the ones who put that price on their mothers life NOT M.E.

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  94. mara () says:

    I suspect that this will end up being a sad case of “3rd world” people not being sufficiently adapted to living in a supposedly “1st world” country;with unfortunate consequences..I see CULTURE CLASH written all over this scenario.Also the media should be ashamed of its repeated hysterical presentations of “human interest” stories,like this one.

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  95. sonic () says:

    Yes Nigel thats right, the victims are to blame.

    Out of interest have you never been late with a bill?

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  96. dad4justice () says:

    Everybody take a chill pill and switch the power off, as my brain hurts .

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  97. James () says:

    The family are at fault.They were praying when then should have been thinking and acting…

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  98. Adrien () says:

    there’s one thing everyone seems to be overlooking.

    It’s physically impossible to guarantee supply of electricity.

    Your power can be taken out at any time for any of a number of reasons, including car accidents, animals getting into lines or substations etc etc etc.

    If a human life is dependent on electricity, they need a more secure source of power than is able to be delivered by a power company. This is why hospitals have backup generators for life-support systems.

    So, there’s no way you can blame Mercury for this. The poor woman was obviously too sick to be at home, and should have been in hospital.

    Mercury Energy and any power supplier needs to be able to rely on this, since it cannot guarantee supply in any case, and cannot be vulnerable or liable for any deaths or losses due to loss of supply of electricity. If we try to make energy companies culpable for this, you’ll find no-one in NZ will be able to pay their power bill, because the cost will go through the roof.

    Some people say that Mercury should be able to guarantee supply. yeah right. Those same people would be the first to complain if Mercury tried to – it would need to install generation capability in every street, parallel sets of power lines etc etc… they can’t even get a wind farm in, or pylons.

    get real people.

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  99. sonic () says:

    James, people do not always make sensible decisions when they are dying of Hypoxaemia.

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  100. sonic () says:

    Adrien, the power was not cut off by car accidents, animals getting into lines or substations it was caused by delibrate action due to an overdue bill of $160.

    People can die in car accidents or being killed by animals, does that make murder excusable?

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  101. Adrien () says:

    Sonic, you missed my point.

    Just like the road code says you can assume other people are obeying the road laws which makes it the speeder’s fault if you pull out in front of someone who is speeding and get hit.

    It is reasonable to assume that cutting off someone’s power will not kill anyone.

    In fact it is necessary to assume this, else no power company could ever enforce payment of bills.

    It is reasonable to assume that if someone’s life is dependent on continuity of supply, then that person should be in a hospital.

    That has nothing to do with Mercury Energy. they aren’t doctors. They aren’t qualified to make calls like that. The fact that they actually have policy about such issues shows just how thoughtful and considerate a company they actually are.

    This is a failing of the health system who let this poor woman be out in the community in such a state, vulnerable to the risks of loss of power supply. If the loss of supply had been due to a possum shorting the lines, the news story would have been quite different and the doctors who let her go home in that state would be now under the microscope. I’m saying the people who let her go home in that state are still culpable.

    Believe me, you do not want what would have to happen if Mercury Energy were to be accountable for this. You wouldn’t be able to afford your power bill either – noone would.

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  102. Andrew Bannister () says:

    I’ve been talking to several respiratory physicians at the hospital and they seem to be under the impression that it is very unlikely that a power outage would have been the cause of death. Remember, this patient was already very ill. AndrewK is on the button when he says “There is seldom, if ever, a single cause to a death”, as is Brian Smaller who said “The autopsy hasn’t been done so the cause of death has not been established”.

    Also, many reports seem to be getting this machine confused with a life-support system. It isn’t. It generates additional oxygen. People who have been given one of these to take home are very unlikely to die if that machine is out of action for even a reasonably long period (usually up to 8 hrs – plenty of time to make alternate arrangements). If they were critical, they were unlikely to be at home with such a machine.

    Let’s check the medical facts (as well as the facts surrounding the power company) before sending out a lynch mob. Of course, the media won’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

    Good post DPF.

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  103. Andrew Bannister () says:

    When I said “the hospital” I meant the hospital where I work, not the one in Auckland.

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  104. sonic () says:

    Yes Adrien if we do not cut off families who owe a total of $160 where will it end?

    “People who have been given one of these to take home are very unlikely to die”

    Nice theory, apart from one little fact. Care tot ake a guess what it is?

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  105. Adrien () says:

    PS DPF, I don’t think deaths due to negligence can be charged with homicide, since for a murder charge the police need to prove intent / motive, where here there clearly is none (unless the contractor had a reason to kill the woman).

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  106. Andrew Bannister () says:

    Sonic, it isn’t a life support system!
    Please enlighten me of the “little fact”. The cause of death was an illness. The powercut may or may not have contributed to that. I prefer to keep an open mind until I know the real “facts”, rather than relying on the imaginary ones provided by the media.

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  107. innocentIII () says:

    The issue isn’t the size or otherwise of the company.

    What interests me is that its a Gumment company. The caring and sharing state. You know the same organisation that runs a friendly little housing business where tenants remain living in burnt out houses.

    What we have in NZ is badge engineered retail power companies that are all public entities. The managers of the state (The Labour Govt) promised to end the cruel 90′s.

    Of course what happened to this family is no different from the state promising to look after your health in return for taxing and then restricting access to first world drugs. Or educating child with substandard measures of achievement.

    What the left don’t appear to take responsibility for is that it is the norm for the state to crunch the little person. It’s normal. It’s normal for the State to say “them’s the rules” “no exceptions” “I’m sorry you don’t comply” ” you haven’t registered” “its not our fault” etc.

    Whether what the Gumment power retailer Mercury did was directly linked to the death or not is still an open question. What is not in doubt is that this is standard practice for Gumment agencies.

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  108. Adrien () says:

    Hey Sonic.

    Again you miss my point (perhaps deliberately). Are you in training to be a politician or something?

    I’m not voicing any opinion on whether it was appropriate for M.E to cut off power or not.

    I am voicing an opinion on whether it was appropriate for this woman to be dependent on a public electricity supply for her life.

    my non-lay (ME(Elec)) opinion is that it patently is not appropriate.

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  109. innocentIII () says:

    The issue isn’t the size or otherwise of the company.

    What interests me is that its a Gumment company. The caring and sharing state. You know the same organisation that runs a friendly little housing business where tenants remain living in burnt out houses.

    What we have in NZ is badge engineered retail power companies that are all public entities. The managers of the state (The Labour Govt) promised to end the cruel 90′s.

    Of course what happened to this family is no different from the state promising to look after your health in return for taxing and then restricting access to first world drugs. Or educating child with substandard measures of achievement.

    What the left don’t appear to take responsibility for is that it is the norm for the state to crunch the little person. It’s normal. It’s normal for the State to say “them’s the rules” “no exceptions” “I’m sorry you don’t comply” ” you haven’t registered” “its not our fault” etc.

    Whether what the Gumment power retailer Mercury did was directly linked to the death or not is still an open question. What is not in doubt is that this is standard practice for Gumment agencies.

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  110. phil u () says:

    dpf said..

    “..If the family had asked the power company, prior to the person turning up, for some flexibility, I suspect they would have got it. Even without mentioning the health issue…”

    you’d know that from your time on benificiary-row/struggle-street..eh dpf..?

    how reason/logic..and downright ‘kindness.. define the treatments dealt out by utilities are to the poor/sick/struggling..

    eh..?

    or are you just having a ‘let them eat cake’ moment..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  111. Simo () says:

    I was in North Shore Hospital for an op last week. Had the op Thursday, on Friday morning at 9.45 the power went off to the whole hospital, (due to a small problem Vector were having up the road!!!).I was on oxygen, a antibiotic and morphine line into the neck & arm, I saw the lights go, the backup generators picked up all the essential electrical stuff like oxygen instantly, hospitals never take power delivery forgranted.

    This family were not up to the mark in undertanding a lack of power would have such devastating consequences. Its a tragedy, but to watch the lynch mob take to Mercury just makes everyone all look rather uncivilised.

    No-one has the facts yet, but the ropes over the tree already, they all look like the stoning mob in Monty Pythons “Life of Brian” – Come one people… get a grip

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  112. Simo () says:

    I was in North Shore Hospital for an op last week. Had the op Thursday, on Friday morning at 9.45 the power went off to the whole hospital, (due to a small problem Vector were having up the road!!!).I was on oxygen, a antibiotic and morphine line into the neck & arm, I saw the lights go, the backup generators picked up all the essential electrical stuff like oxygen instantly, hospitals never take power delivery forgranted.

    This family were not up to the mark in understanding a lack of power would have such devastating consequences. Its a tragedy, but to watch the lynch mob take to Mercury just makes everyone all look rather uncivilised.

    No-one has the facts yet, but the ropes over the tree already, they all look like the stoning mob in Monty Pythons “Life of Brian” – Come on people… get a grip

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  113. big bruv () says:

    From the coverage I have seen of this unfortunate incident (all very left wing and biased) there seems to be one organisation that is getting off very lightly.

    It is obvious that this family were under extreme financial pressure but I wonder given their deep religious convictions how much money they gave to the church every Sunday.

    The PI churches still insist on reading out the amount each family gives by way of a donation every week, it is my experience that many Island families give far more than they can afford simply so they do not lose face among their community.

    Whatever the circumstances there is much more to this than meets the eye, i wounder if any of our pathetic media will be brave enough to dig out the full story.

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  114. Adolf Fiinkensein () says:

    Well, that’s the stone end. Now that the useless media has beaten up a non story, The Bilious Bitch weighs in with a paternalistic statement that power companies should change their procedures. She is the most shameless brazen bullshit artist I have evcer seen.

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  115. Redbaiter () says:

    Where’s the proof that cutting off the power to the oxygen machine caused the death?

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  116. David Farrar () says:

    Phil – please get off your high horse before it bites you in the arse.

    I’ve had first hand experience with asking power companies for an extension due to non payment. They are usually pretty reasonable if you actually take the time to give them a call.

    I’ve also long ago worked in credit control (for a newspaper) and let me tell you that credit control staff tend to have the patience of saints, when they are faced with a continual parade of liars day in and day out.

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  117. Exiled () says:

    “Where’s the proof that cutting off the power to the oxygen machine caused the death?”

    According to sonic, ME murdered the poor woman for $160. What more proof do you need other than sonic’s say so?

    (RIP, Mrs Muliaga)

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  118. sheriff () says:

    A number of comments have referred to “the media” as the bad guy in this. What exactly have this monolithic entity done, other than report her death, the comments of her family, and the comments of ME?

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  119. Mr I.P .Freely () says:

    I would say mercury and there disconnect contractor are REALLY covering their collective arses with a THICK layer of duct tape and getting the company story rehersed together, watch and wait for the big combined pr spin,but the bottom line is in Helen Clarks no2 most peacefull country in the world people die due to the almighty dollar, corp, greed , and the stupidness of people with all the human resorses around them to help them when needed.

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  120. Dave Mann () says:

    Regardless of what family members might or might not have said to the contractor, one has to ask if anybody could have understood what was being said. I have just heard one of the family members on radio andthe man could barely communicate in english. It was just a series of grunts as far as I could make out.

    I doubt if any contractor would knowingly put a person at risk. They would have to be unbelivably callous. But by the same token, a whole family being ignorant and/or unconcerned by their responsibility to pay their bills in the face of their mother’s obvious ill-health must shoulder part of the burdon.

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  121. phil u () says:

    you david..as a wellington business-man negotiating with the power company..are one thing..

    a samoan family with a sick mum..in a poor suburb..

    is something quite different..

    can you not see that..?

    (all you are doing is strengthening the ‘cake-eating’ analogy..eh..?..)

    you really haven’t got a feckin’ clue what it’s/lifes like for these/many people..have you..?

    and that just compounds the disquiet i have for the roles you played in the shipley/richardson regime..

    standing at their elbows..urging them on..

    as they prepared/delivered their ‘mother of all budgets’..

    that one that really fucked over the weak/poor/sick/sole parents/unemployed..

    slashing/cutting benefits..

    your role/hand in creating the ‘underclass’..eh..?

    (and driving the country into a recession..’cos gee..!..all that benefit money goes straight back into the community/economy..eh..?

    and if you take that money out..?

    doh..!..recession..!..small businesses..(nationals’ friends’) were hurt as much as that new underclass you helped create..

    remember that..?..your finest hour..?..eh..?

    the ‘glory days’..?

    (oh..!..and remember how bradford/national promised us lower power prices..?..

    that would come our way through nationals far-sighted reforms/’rationalisations’ of the power-generating/retailing industry..?

    but what actually happened..?

    oh ..!..that’s right..!

    prices have sky-rocketed..as we have been gouged by these profit-only driven entities.nationals mates/funders….

    we should all remember nationals ”works’..during this key-honeymoon period..eh..?

    and what they would do..if given the chance again..

    (..’lest we forget’..eh..?..

    not if i can bloody help it..eh..?.)

    ‘national-memories’..a rich farrow to plough..

    and i guess it’s pointless asking you how you sleep..?

    y’know..over yr mother-budget role/boosting..eh..?

    and um..!..high horse..?..what high horse..?

    i thought you were the one riding high..

    gloating..

    while many others walked low.

    suffering..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  122. james cairney () says:

    “Where’s the proof that cutting off the power to the oxygen machine caused the death?”

    … and redbaiter chimes in with the only real ‘non issue’ in this whole sorry saga.

    All that is required is that the lack of power contributed in some way to the speeding up of (even an inevitable) death, it need not be the only or even main cause of death. The question is simply, did it not insignificantly accelerate the time of death?

    And why on earth do you need ‘proof’ now, this whole issue is a fact-free circus of opinion and speculation. If proof of that was ever to be required it would be for a jury after expert testimony. Poor redbaiter does not get his requisite proof for his pre-fact and legally ignorant opinion.

    Now (on the facts given), I do not see any crime at all, nor (on the facts given), do I even condemn the power company. But questions of causation are not required for that conclusion.

    Phil, nice comment, … but … in Davids defence we have not seen allegations (well I haven’t anyway) of notice direct to the company. And there are so many problems with what is alleged to have happened with the contractor directly that you could not fairly draw a conclusion in that regard. If the company (or contractor) did not have notice sufficiently clear and express to understand the situation then they can not fairly be criticised.

    However if you just want to use this as a reason to rage against an inherently unfair system, then go right ahead.

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  123. Berend de Boer () says:

    DPF, you forgot the fourth option: the contractor came, didn’t say a word, and disconnected the power, and left.

    Probably the most likely scenario.

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  124. 3-coil () says:

    Has anyone else tried reading Fill-Ewe’s post out aloud over one of the instrumental parts from “Dark Side of the Moon”…?

    It’s f**king amazing man…!

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  125. Redbaiter () says:

    “All that is required is that the lack of power contributed in some way to the speeding up of (even an inevitable) death”

    OK. So where’s the proof it did this??

    “your role/hand in creating the ‘underclass’..eh..?”

    Phlatulent Phil has to make this the fault of National, whom he imagines are champions of capitalism. The dirtbag will never admit that these people are in a poverty trap laid for them by hungry for power socialists. These people are suffering from a clapped out health system that will never improve as long as this country continues to believe in the snake oil of Helen Klark. These people are unable to pay their health bills because socialist policies are gradually putting the essentials of life out of reach of more and more people. These people are prey to you and your power hungry ilk Phil, not capitalism.

    Capitalists in NZ are like rocking horse shit Phil. Socialists are everywhere, but more importantly, the far left, not capitalists have been in power for eight years. If there’s any system to blame here Phil, its undoubtedly the system YOU cheer for. Not that such a reality will ever be apparent to a brain damaged loser like you.

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  126. sonic () says:

    “Please enlighten me of the “little fact”

    the women died less than two hours after the power was cut-off. You might argue this is a coincidence of course but it seems unlikely.

    Redbaiter, serious point, for once could you spare us the rants? a women is dead, try and show a little decorum for once.

    Thanks

    S

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  127. Redbaiter () says:

    Don’t lecture me you sanctimonious little hypocrite. You’re wringing your hands and bemoaning this event. What a nauseating farce. You’re as bad as Phil in refusing to acknowledge your part in the real reason these kind of things occur in NZ today.

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  128. pdq () says:

    Judging from One News tonight the mob is indeed out in force (albeit the usual rable of rent-a-crowd protesters and the chest puffing imported union boozo).

    I’d prefer to await news of her *actual* cause of death. It may or may not be connected to Mercury.

    The media needs to be called into account for its gratuitous “blame-game” in advance of the evidence antics.

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  129. Inventory2 () says:

    TV3 news tonight reported that the contracted was “devastated”, and now on stress leave. TV3 also reported that the contractor is a Pacific Islander.

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  130. pdq () says:

    Sonic: “I’d be very interested if anyone knows anything about how these “contractors” are paid. Do they get rewarded for every house they cut off? do they suffer financially if they agree to continue the supply?”

    Utterly effing irrelevant.

    Oh sonic I work for an evil corporate that is well, all corporateie, and if you are not careful we might come after you too and be all, well corporateie …. now don’t get behind in your payments.

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  131. RedRag () says:

    I fully agree with Trevor Mallard , DPF and a few others who have more or less said the same thing…how about all of us showing respect for the family and holding our collective breath’s until the Police have had time to establish the facts.

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  132. Sean () says:

    The only fact established so far is that a woman is dead – and to that I offer sincere condolences to her family. As for anything else, I’d caution people to remember that the media are often CARELESS, mostly ILL-INFORMED, and sensitive only to SCANDAL before getting too worked up. Especially as I can’t recall a similar thing happening when the lights went out on the Auckland CBD a few years back – does anyone else?

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  133. mo more () says:

    Can anyone else even fit into the family’s lounge to grieve with them – it seems to be wall-to-wall TV crews and other media parasites…absolutely disgusting.

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  134. my 2c () says:

    WINZ has totally failed this family – in the epicentre of NZ Labour Party heartland, among all those caring Labour voters, how can this innocent family be neglected and marginalised..left with no money to pay their power bill.

    There are emergency benefits for exactly this type of situation. Are Mangere WINZ and the local community so blind to the needs of these poor people right under their noses! The local community must take ownership of the problem that has caused this catastrophe – they have ignored the weakest members of their community.

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  135. London expat () says:

    Second most-read article on the Times webpage today….

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article1860248.ece

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  136. Dave Mann () says:

    You’ve all got it 180 degrees wrong. I blame the rapacious capitalist system and the filthy non-organic food industry for this poor woman’s death. It is obvious to anybody with a brain that if the government were to heavily subsidise organic non-GE lettuces and make sugar and fat illegal, then this gallant mother of four could have been saved….. but my special contempt is reserved for the rapacious banking system. Surely her bank must have realised that it was their duty to have extended the family unlimited credit facilities to pay their bills? The capitalist system is obviously well overdue for a complete crushing….. although surely the oil companies must bear the blame as well: they created global warming which made the climate in Samoa too hot for her level of obesity and they had to move to Auckland. Yes, I think there is definitely more to this than meets the eye and a full enquiry should be held.

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  137. phil u () says:

    um..!..for those wondering..

    dave mann(?)s’ piece there..is an attempt at yr typical rightwing humour..(?)

    as subtle and light and sophisticated as a sledgehammer..

    and..as always..resolutely/blindingly unfunny..

    eh..?

    (i can’t even muster up a wan smile..eh..?..)

    and hence no rightwing comedians..(except (local) mike king..but he’s not funny..eh..?

    so he’s not really a comedian..eh..?..

    not so much a comedian..more a ‘pork-pimp’..really..eh..?)

    (the righties can get quite ‘hurt’/defensive..when this humour-deficit is pointed out to them..

    and get this..!..they claim rightwing nutbar/nutjob/bigot ann coulter as a ‘funny-person’..

    kinda sad..eh..?

    (some of them probably think king is funny too..eh..?

    sorta compounds that ‘sadness’..eh..?..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  138. Simo () says:

    “Has anyone else tried reading Fill-Ewe’s post out aloud over one of the instrumental parts from “Dark Side of the Moon”…?

    It’s f**king amazing man…!

    3-coil – absolutely brilliant, Please take the top NZ Music Award for 2007

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  139. Inventory2 () says:

    Interesting editorial in this morning’s Herald – here’s the first two paragraphs:

    “Many of the circumstances of the tragic death of Folole Muliaga remain mired in uncertainty. Only the finding of the several investigations now being made will establish what, if any, blame for her death can be attached to Mercury Energy, which turned off the electricity at her Mangere home. But we already know enough to conclude that the power company was less than reasonable in its dealings with her family. Its approach to the Muliagas smacks of an operation accustomed to dealing in black and white, not the shades of grey necessary in highly sensitive situations.

    Two important matters seem not to be in dispute. First, the contractor who turned off the power at Mrs Muliaga’s home knew or should have known, that she had a medical tube in her nose. He was also surely aware, as he spoke to her after cutting off the power, that her oxygen machine’s emergency warning was blaring, indicating it was about to shut down. The contractor may not have been aware that Mrs Muliaga was being treated for cardiomyopathy, but the presence of the machine should have alerted him to a serious health issue. At that point, caution should have dictated further inquiry before the power was turned off.”

    The link is here: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/466/story.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10442999

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  140. David Farrar () says:

    Phil – if you wish to make long rambling posts against me and accusing me of being heartless and behind the mother of all budgets etc then do it on your blog. You’re close to being banned on this blog, with your golden showers comments and this one.

    You deal with stereotypes about the family and Mercury. You don’t however deal with facts. There is still no evidence that Mercury at any stage prior to the day of disconnection were asked for a credit extension.

    And God knows why you think my experience of disconnection comes only as a “businessman” and not as a student.

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  141. Flash () says:

    A couple of comments. I have been working on policy issues in the electricity industry for a few years now.

    One, if the family had indeed made payments in May then they should never have been disconnected. The payments indicate that they were making an effort to settle their account.

    Two, and this may surprise some people, many social agencies consider that the disconnection process takes too long and allows people to amass large debts while it is ongoing. They would prefer that the process start as quickly as possible while the debt is inconsequential. Social agencies can’t or don’t get involved until a disconnection notice is received.

    The logical conclusion of Sonic’s approach is “free” electricty for everyone. Anyone can demonstrate their “compassion” by saying spend more on this and that, but in the long run it does no good for anyone.

    For what it’s worth, I think that there have been some unfortunate comments regarding the probity of the family. They are victims in this. They have obviously had communication difficulties with the hospital and the electricty retailer. But they represent to me the best of the immigrant population here: willing to work and trying their best to make a better life.

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  142. Redbaiter () says:

    “The logical conclusion of Sonic’s approach is “free” electricity for everyone.”

    Yes, that of course is the logical conclusion, but there’s really nothing logical about Sonic’s approach.

    As always, the leftist’s innate narcissism springs to the fore, and all Sonic and Rag and Phil and others see is an opportunity for them to parade what they imagine is their moral superiority.

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  143. insider () says:

    Helen Clark is very quick to point the blame at Mercury. I don’t remember her ever turning down their increasing dividend payments….

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  144. Inventory2 () says:

    Insider said

    “Helen Clark is very quick to point the blame at Mercury.”

    Hasn’t taken long, has it. Here’s some of what the Herald reports her as saying:

    “Helen Clark told Mercury Energy this morning that it should “stop digging”.

    She said the death “should never have happened and I hope it never happens again”.

    Mercury needed to stop concentrating on defending its actions and be more open.

    “I think there is a very confusing situation here from Mercury Energy and my advice to them would be to stop digging right now,” she said.

    “The public is entitled to full accountability on this.”

    She also hinted at a toughening of the rules under which power companies operate, saying every power supply firm should be made to consult the Ministry of Social Development before any customer’s power was cut off.”

    I’m intrigued by the last comment. No wonder unemployment has dropped so much – just find another job for the public service to do! With Mercury claiming to carry out 150 disconnections per day, that should be at least a couple of new jobs at the MSD, two new recruits to the PSA (with doubtless a “union bonus” clause in their employment contracts), and with any luck (for Helen), a couple more lifelong labour voters created.

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  145. Annoyed Samoan Customer () says:

    This goes out to Joker!!!!!
    You can joke about this, but your one sick fuck who gives a shit about no one but yourself. How dare you say Samoans are stupid, you should be looking in the mirror darling. Im happy to say that Im Samoan and to read your comment about how stupid Samoans are, Grow some balls and talk about your own you dont give a shit that an innocent mother of four had just died due to a contractor not having any compassion at all about Foilole asking for a chance and what makes it worse the contractor is Islander.
    Your a sick FUCK Joker.
    Go fix up your own life then you can talk about Samoans like that.

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  146. cubit9f () says:

    I cannot believe that Clark wants to wade into every event right from the outset.

    The Mercury incident being a classic example.(By the way I think Mercury have handled the whole affair in an appalling manner).

    Before any facts (like cause of death)are established she has pronounced sentence.

    She does not seem to be able to reserve her position to a time when the most impact can be made. She seems paranoid that someone may get more kudos immediately, despite consoderation of all the facts.

    She is not the chairman of some small village committee who personally knows every villager. However, I guess this has ocurred in the Mangere village where she has other problems.

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  147. JohnSmith () says:

    Reading some of the headlines used by overseas media reporting this story made me realize how relatively restrained and level headed ours have been.

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  148. JohnSmith () says:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4079813a11.html

    Stuff has an article on the overseas headlines

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  149. phil u () says:

    dpf said..

    “..And God knows why you think my experience of disconnection comes only as a “businessman” and not as a student…”

    do tell us about your days on’struggle street’ david..

    (you have hinted/teased about them before..)

    i’m sure they were quite dickensian..albeit wellingtonian..in nature..

    wot..?.weren’t you able to pop home to mum and dad..?

    for any needed sustenance/laundry services..whatever..?

    must have been tough/hard for you..eh..?

    student allowance..?..free education..?

    (the ‘cake-eating’ analogy continues/strengthens..eh..?..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  150. Ben Wilson () says:

    Can’t be arsed reading this whole thread, just want to say I agree with DPF. The facts are not at all clear. Something tragic happened, but finding blame is premature.

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  151. David Farrar () says:

    One would have thought that Phil was intelligent enough to actually check facts before inventing things. But his cousin must have the family braincell today.

    For the record I was a student in Dunedin, not Wellington.

    But anyway I’m sick of Phil attacking me on my own blog. I warned him and he ignored it. He can attack me as much as he likes on his blog with three million monthly pageviews. But I’m going to have a peaceful Queen’s Birthday weekend and Phil U is banned for a week.

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  152. brian_smaller () says:

    Sonic said “A woman dead for $160 and you are making excuses?”

    No Sonic – she died because she had heart and lung diseasem which anyone can plainly see was probabnly related to her poor lifestyle choices.

    Phil U – I know it is flogging a dead horse, but can you please write legible sentences. You may well have something worth while to say but I’ll never know because I skip to the next comment when I see your random collection of punctuation marks, full stops, commas, question marks and any other thing you find on your ramblings around your keyboard.

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  153. Mr I.P .Freely () says:

    THIS HAS FUCKED UP MERCURYS CARBON CREDITS BRAG (WHAT DO YOU PUT A DEAD ISLANDER UNDER)A DEAD ISLANDER IS A CARBON SOURCE, talk about pissing on mercurys profits $17000000 plus GST plus a dead body LABOUR AND CULLEN WILL BE JUMPING, ALL FOR HELEN CLARK AND CULLEN,,,(TOSSIER), good one helen a GOLDEN SHOWER on ALL of us comming up to next years election.GOLDEN SHOWES YOU WILL BE PISSED ON.

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  154. jcuknz () says:

    One problem as I suspect it was that the demand notices came to the house while she was in hospital, addressed to her so nobody read them perhaps also. She ran the household so nobody was trained/inclined to fill the gap.

    I understand that Mercury have alternative meters … coin in the slot style … I would slate them for not introducing this household to them … but maybe this is the first time the bills have not been paid … altogether a tragic event with so many jumping on the bandwagon to attack ‘big govt business’ … I doubt that they are worse than the govt departments that preceded them.

    My sympathy goes to both parties, the family and Mercury, for an unholy mess-up.

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  155. jcuknz () says:

    One problem as I suspect it was that the demand notices came to the house while she was in hospital, addressed to her so nobody read them perhaps also. She ran the household so nobody was trained/inclined to fill the gap.

    I understand that Mercury have alternative meters … coin in the slot style … I would slate them for not introducing this household to them … but maybe this is the first time the bills have not been paid … altogether a tragic event with so many jumping on the bandwagon to attack ‘big govt business’ … I doubt that they are worse than the govt departments that preceded them.

    My sympathy goes to both parties, the family and Mercury, for an unholy mess-up.

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  156. Preston () says:

    I feel sorry for the contractor in this case. He really can do nothing other than stay quiet while Clark et al trash him in the media. It’s a disgrace.

    The media (and blogs) should show some restraint and not let Clark publicly defame this guy until all the facts are known.

    DPF – I think you should remove your previous post about the contractor potentially being up for manslaughter charges. I think that is a grossly irresponsible thing to say.

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  157. Alice () says:

    All indications are the Muliagas came to NZ to make a new life for themselves and to get their children well-educated through the parents’ hard work. They did NOT step off the plane & on to a benefit. Even when Folole took sick, the family of six still struggled on as best they could on her husband’s princely $400 a week. They didn’t even ask other relatives for help. One would think rightwingers would commend such sturdy independence, but nope. Seems when you are ‘underclass’ you can do nothing right!

    On this issue (& truly never thought would write this) I agree w/ every word of Sonic’s. Including that contractors do get a payment/bonus/bounty for each customer cut off.

    On Thurs I rang TV One’s newsroom with this info. The young guy who answered thanked me, said he’d pass it on to a reporter & wished me a nice day. He did not ask how I knew or who I was, which guess should have alerted they had no intention of investigating any further. Yet it’s something the public should know. Clearly there’s limits to how far Big Media is willing to put Big Business in a bad light.

    Ah, public image! Speaking of which, how disgusting to see the PM treating the Muliagas’ tragedy as just another photo op. If Helen Clark & the rest of the Schoolteachers & Academics Party really gave a toss about the ‘underclass’ they would have put corporate manslaughter and corporate murder on the statute books years ago. Pita Sharples is talking about introducing a Bill on those lines. Here’s hoping he does more than just talk about it.

    Re Mercury Energy. Nice that they’ve kicked in for Folole’s funeral, but they should set up a trust to fund the education of the four Muliaga children as well. No one’s indispensable but mothers of young children are next-door to it.

    That is why the media fuss over Folole being a mother of four. Killing a mother is like killing the technician best able to build and run a complex but potentially useful machine for the 20 or so years necessary before the machine can run by itself. Which, Craig, is why the death of a mother of four has more serious ramifications than the death of worthy but childless/childfree individuals. At some level, even the media dimly see what politically correct blinkers stop others from seeing: motherlessness from a young age drastically increases the odds of other tragedies later on.

    If Mercury do set up an education trust fund for the young Muliagas, that will free Folole Muliaga’s widower to spend his aforementioned princely 400 bucks a week on just feeding and clothing his kids and paying the rent. And of course, paying the power. Why, if no further crises afflict the family and he budgets very carefully, he might even then be able to get a phone put on.

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  158. Chuck Bird () says:

    Alice, that was excellent post in regards some of the callous bloggers and also about Clark exploiting the situation. Below is my comment to NewstalkZB that was read on air.

    I hope some of the callous bloggers consider how their views reflect on New Zealand.

    I am certainly not a bleeding heart left winger.

    I am discussed with some of the anonymous callers

    Hi Bruce

    I do know all the facts anymore than anyone else. However, what is not in dispute is the contractor showed up and was shown a woman with a tube up her nose. It appears she was not hooked up to the machine but that the machine was shown to the contractor.

    The family is obviously grieving. If expressing anger towards Mercury helps them with their grief that should be quite understandable.

    This story has cast New Zealand and New Zealanders in a bad light around the world.

    Some of these cowardly callous callers and bloggers should be think that the comments reinforce the view around the world that many New Zealanders are pretty nasty heartless lot.

    I would hope more callers would cut this grieving family some slack at the very least for this next week.

    My condolences to the family.

    Kind regards
    Chuck Bird

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  159. DavidW () says:

    The racist radicals of the left almost had me going there with comments about how this tragedy was associated with cultural differences and lack of our society’s willingness to assimilate people of different ethnic backgrounds.

    Then I see the claims for compensation start to roll in, the acceptance of $10,000 with the statement that it won’t stop compensation claims from going ahead but that accepting it was the “Samoan thing to do”. Shades of TPF and claims of Lafo being OK in NZ. To top it off all the disabled car parks at my local supermarket this morning were occupied by vans & cars containing superbly ambulatory PI’s.

    And I had to ask myself is “cultural adaptation” a one way street and a ruse to make the NZ population feel bad about themselves a bit like no Maori has been critised as a racist for calling a pakeha “honky” but god help any pakeha who utters a derogatory term about Maori.

    Where do we find a balance with this stuff?

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  160. David Farrar () says:

    Alice with four children, the $400 a week gross wage would probably be more than doubled. Tax Credits of $380 a week would be paid, along with family support and accom supplement or a state house.

    We do not know the financial situation of the household, we only have partial info on it.

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  161. ScrubOne () says:

    People are attacking the guy who cut off the power. At first, I assumed he was an arsehole too.

    But then you think about what he must put up with.

    People are quick to ask if they should put doctors on the rounds, but this is completely unnecessary – there is a way to bring in medical expertise, by getting a doctor to write a letter. They contractor had every reason to believe that someone who loved their mother would have taken that simple step as soon as they could have.

    Without the letter, you have no idea if you’re seeing an elaborate hoax or a dying woman.

    I still can’t get over listing the many, many things this family could have done to protect their mother – but they let a $160 bill and a bit of pride get in the way instead.

    One of the sicker parts of this is the way that ME staff have been abused, meaning they will be even more hardened next time they walk into a house like this one.

    Another is the way the “solution” to this is to replace this state-owned company with another state-owned company. Something I blogged on this morning.

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  162. Craig Ranapia () says:

    Alice:

    With all due disrespect, perhaps some folks – including the Prime Minister – might care to know the facts before making judgements. It’s rather sad to see the Muliagas become little more than pawns in the political agendas of various people, let alone seeing the nauseating hypocrisy of the media.

    As for Chuck Bird et. al., before they accuse anyone else of being heartless and cowardly, I’d suggest you take a hard look at the vitriol that’s been poured on the contractor concerned. Or I guess he doesn’t count as a human being?

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  163. Chuck Bird () says:

    Craig,I sometimes strongly disagree with you and other times strongly agree. I certainly would never regard you as cowardly. You speak your mind and use your name.

    I will refer to your point in another post as someone else raised it first.

    I might add that I am also appalled at the left exploiting this tragedy to further their agenda.

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  164. Craig Ranapia () says:

    And, Alice, nice to see it’s now wearing ‘politically correct blinkers’ to assert that the value of a human life isn’t conditional on your marital status or how many children you’ve brought into the world. I thought that was just common human decency, but different strokes for different folks.

    I suspect, Alice, you don’t know any more about Folole Muliaga’s life, character or behaviour towards her family and acquaintances than I do. Where I come from, if you’ve a bone to pick with someone you don’t do it over their coffin, let alone discuss private matters on the six o’Clock news.

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  165. Chuck Bird () says:

    ScrubOne, I have looked at your blog and you raise some good points. However, my view is that who owns the power company is not relevant.

    It is interesting that the family is not criticizing the guy who cut off the power but the big bad power company.

    I think most people can imagine this abuse this guy would get every day. I do not know what this guy was thinking when he seen a woman with a hose hanging out of her nose and made aware that there was a machine she needed if she had difficulty breathing.

    Let us look at your speculation

    Without the letter, you have no idea if you’re seeing an elaborate hoax or a dying woman.

    If that was the case and he suspected an elaborate hoax it would not have been expecting too much for him to call higher authority.

    To prevent a repetition of this there needs to be a change of policy. Genesis has a policy where customer claims that stopping power would be a person’s life at risk the story is checked out and if the story is true either the power is left on or other arrangements are made.

    This was a PI family who were not exactly fluent in English. Some may say that was their problem. However, if nothing is done this could happen to an elderly person perhaps someone’s parent on this blog. The person could be suffering from early stages of dementure. They could also be too proud to ask their children for help. This could be the case of the extended family of this unfortunate lady.

    I do not think those on this blog her are politically right centre have considered that attacks on the family as this time are playing into the hands of the left in their calls for the government to again take over the running of utilities.

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  166. duckenvy () says:

    Best post on the issue. Come and do my poll.

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  167. Alice () says:

    Chuck – well said. More power to your keyboard.

    Craig – it feels ironic to be accused of thinking ‘the value of a human life (is) conditional on your marital status or how many children you’ve brought into the world.’ This when have spent the past few years banging my head against the brick wall of official indifference to the killing of a man who in his life, was single, childless, and liked it that way. My posting does not even mention marriage. Nor did I suggest the lives of those with children are of more intrinsic value than those without. What I certainly did suggest was the mother of a young child is next door to indispensable for that child, making future tragedy if she is killed more likely. (Fathers I think, are next door to indispensable for adolescents. More so than mothers but that gets away from my point.)

    To return: When you have no children, your death can’t harm non-existent beings. Of course it will affect adults who love you but with luck they have enough maturity to cope in a mature way. Unlike a child or adolescent.

    Yes, you are right to think I don’t know much about Folole Muliaga. Seems she was ‘an early childhood worker’ – maybe that’s jargon for kindy teachers these days? An occupation which suggests good empathy with children. Which would make her needless death doubly devastating for her 7 year old son.

    I don’t follow your comment about bone picking & the 6 o’clock news but hey, you were one of the first to post comment on this thread. People in glass houses etc? Nah, don’t think you’re politically correct. You agree with the PC mob sometimes but so do I. (Right, Sonic?) Usually I like your thoughtful contributions Craig, but this time for a change am very much with Sonic.

    DPF – thanks for info. How could anyone possibly forget virtually all families are beneficiaries these days? My kids are grown & none of us rent in Auckland.

    Re the Muliagas hiring a lawyer. Good luck to them. Money can’t compensate, but might give some satisfaction by causing Mercury’s corporate greedies pain in the one place they can feel it. My concern is the Muliagas’ choice of lawyer. She hit the headlines many years ago with some scam involving a house in Samoa. Whose interests is she likely to have at heart? The Muliagas come across as decent, devout and rather naive. Though all victims’ families are rather naive when it comes to coping with corporate manslaughter. Roll on the day it and corporate murder become part of the Crimes Act.

    A thing Sonic’s mates are very very slightly more likely to bring about than the Nats. Now that Helen & her merry band have finished criminalising ordinary Kiwi parents by repealing section 59 (first things first) could they possibly look at criminalising the ‘greed is good, underclass human life is cheap’ crowd?

    Hope springs eternal.

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  168. Mark Lloyd () says:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10443390

    says it all really

    Mercury bashers can insert foot into mouth in 3 2 1…..

    Tasty per chance?

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  169. Cat Ballou () says:

    I think that this poor family has been hijacked and found itself in the middle of this. Was this storm instigated by the ‘family spokesman’ who was not present through any of the happenings on the day in question? Did whoever went public with this story ask if this was what the family wanted? Of course most of the outrage has been led by TV and print journalists who after all only want a story. This seems to be the worst case we have seen yet of trial by the media. And as for Helen Clark turning up at the house, that would be the most disgusting aspect of the whole saga so far.
    It goes without saying of course that Olinda Woodruffe is working on this family’s behalf pro bono doesn’t it.

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  170. umvhyd byrf () says:

    nopagz zmijafpc curkhlj mctijlps fltuvm qgnwh zifr

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