Chris Trotter writes:
It is, perhaps, the greatest achievement of John Key’s first term in government that the breakdown in social cohesion that Rob Campbell feared and which we have just witnessed on the streets of England has not taken place on our own.
For this the prime minister merits high praise.
What kept us together was his inspired decision to bring the Maori Party into his government. Had he not done so: had he simply relied on National’s natural allies in ACT; things could have been very different. The Maori seats, for example, would have been slated for abolition. This move, alone, threatening as it did the very existence of the Maori Party (and leaving them with dangerously little to lose) would have tested New Zealand’s social cohesion to breaking-point. Serious political disturbances up to and including terrorist violence could very easily have torn this country apart.
Simply for sparing us that terrible scenario, Mr Key deserves a second term.
I never thought I would see the day where Chris Trotter endorsed a National Prime Minister for re-election.Tags: Chris Trotter, John Key
Chris Trotter writes at Stuff:
Nature abhors a vacuum – and so does politics. With Labour’s front bench and the party’s ruling council both declining to deal decisively with Phil Goff’s inadequate political leadership, Left-leaning voters have been given a powerful incentive to look elsewhere for progressive representation this November.
Not since the early 1990s has Labour provided its competitors with such a huge opportunity to enlarge their electoral support base. …
So long as Labour demonstrates both an appetite for power and the means to attain it, a solid majority of Left-leaning voters will remain in its camp. In such circumstances, Labour’s potential allies, the Greens and NZ First, must be content to trawl for votes at the political margins – scrabbling for the 10-15 per cent of the electorate whose electoral needs Labour cannot, or will not, meet.
But the events of the past fortnight suggest that Labour possesses neither the appetite nor the means for winning power. On the contrary, its caucus and council appear quite blind to their party’s growing leadership deficit. With electoral defeat now regarded as inevitable, the No 1 priority of Labour’s front bench is how to emerge from the post-election bloodletting at the head of the pack.
Trotter is right, that this is a great opportunity for the Greens especially.Tags: Chris Trotter, Labour
Chris Trotter is very sceptical of a new left party:
No, the people I worried about (and I was not alone) were the 50 to 60 Trotskyites, Maoists, “Permanent Revolutionaries”, Treaty fanatics, hard-core feminists and uncompromising environmentalists who would climb aboard this new political vehicle like Baader-Meinhof terrorists boarding a jet-liner.
Chris is referring to the founding of the New Labour Party.
A crucial element in the success of Jim Anderton (ex-Labour) and Winston Peters (ex-National) was the large number of experienced election campaigners who rallied to their side. These people didn’t have to be taught how to fund-raise, organise a canvassing drive or run an election-day system – they already knew.
“No worries,” say the promoters of a New Left Party, “we’ll just game the MMP system by recruiting Hone Harawira. That way we can avoid the necessity of winning 5 per cent of the party vote. If it’s good enough for Rodney Hide in Epsom, it’s good enough for us.”
Hmmmm? Not sure that’s the slogan you’re looking for, Comrades. Besides, if you really think an electorally poisonous bunch of eco-anarchists, Maori nationalists, unreconstructed 80s feminists and hard-core Marxist-Leninists are going to attract anything like ACT’s vote in 2008, then you’re away with the fairies.
However they will have McCarten, who is a very good organiser.
Just consider the stats: The combined 2008 vote of New Zealand’s Centre-Left parties (Labour Party, Greens, Progressives) was 975,734 or 41.62 per cent of the party vote. Altogether, the Far-Left parties (Alliance, Workers Party, RAM – Residents Action Movement) attracted just 3306 votes or 0.14 per cent.
It’s nowhere near enough, Comrades. Even if he won every vote in Te Tai Tokerau, Hone would still be on his own.
I think Chris overlooks one key thing. The number of activists on the left who are dismayed by Goff-led Labour.Tags: Chris Trotter, New Left Party
An interesting interview with Chris Trotter by Whale Oil.
His thoughts on Labour are especially insightful:
On Labours “Get John Key” campaign:
“Completely mistaken, did not read the man at all well”
“One suspects that they despair of finding some other way through.”
On how modern Labour can become more appealing:
“It does very well when it plays to the best, in New Zealanders, when it booths articulates and asks people to respond to the bright side rather than the dark side of the NZ way of doing things.”
“When they find someone who can articulate them, as they did with Michael Joseph Savage as they did with Norman Kirk, as they certainly did with David Lange, then they are very hard to beat, but if those two things are lacking, if they lack someone who is able to articulate that appeal to New Zealand’s better angels, to borrow Abraham Lincoln’s famous phrase and if they aren’t driven in a sense by adverse economic winds then Labour does find it difficult historically to win.”
On Phil Goff:
“He hasn’t demonstrated to date, either the rhetorical skills necessary to make that appeal, and certainly to date he hasn’t been able to emote in a way that New Zealanders can believe.”
On Labour enticing better candidates:
[They need] “life experience which you certainly don’t get in any great breadth on the ninth floor of the beehive”
Tags: Chris Trotter, Labour, Whale Oil
Chris Trotter examines John Key:
John Key’s greatest political gift is his levity. Which is not to say that the Prime Minister is inappropriately frivolous or comical – although he does have a politically endearing talent for self- deprecating humour. The word’s original meaning was “lightness”, and it is in this sense that I am using it.
In many countries Key’s light touch would not be regarded as an asset. When politicians become prime ministers or presidents in these much older societies they are expected to put on political weight, and to evince at all times a judicious seriousness. In short, they are expected to display gravitas, not levitas.
New Zealanders are more than a little ambivalent on the subject of levitas versus gravitas. On the one hand, we do not expect our leaders to embarrass us on the world stage. On the other, we don’t like leaders who put on too many airs and graces or talk down to us.
Many journalists have remarked that when Key became PM, they thought it was inevitable his behaviour would change – that he might stop answering certain queestions because they were beneath him, might start talking in the third person etc etc – but as most would testify he treats people and media much the same today as when he was Opposition Leader.
Key is certainly a very wealthy man, but that fact alone does not condemn him in the eyes of most New Zealanders. After all, he did not inherit his money – he made it himself, by deploying the skills he was born with to their best effect. Indeed, the Prime Minister’s humble background; the fact that he and his sisters were raised in a state house by their widowed mother; only serves to reinforce his fellow citizen’s confidence in the universal attainability of the New Zealand dream.
A large pile of cash in the bank does, of course, possess the power to levitate just about anyone up, up and away from the daily drudgery of earning a living. For many people, however, the levity money confers can be personally devastating. It either breeds a sneering sense of superiority, or crippling feelings of guilt and/or obligation.
But, Key’s public conduct reflects neither of these classic responses.
His wealth does not appear to have had any malign effect upon him. Miraculously, he has risen above even this.
Hence why Michael Cullen never got much resonance with his rich prick comments.
The Prime Minister is not a connoisseur of fine art. He doesn’t attend the opera. He has penned no books, made no scientific breakthroughs, climbed no mountains, written no songs.
He does not mix with artists or intellectuals, nor does he espouse with any noticeable fervour the grand, all-encompassing ideologies and religions of mankind.
He is, however, a husband and a dad with two teenage kids. He does like to watch the rugby. He turns a mean steak on the family barbecue, and he drinks his beer straight from the bottle – just like hundreds of thousands of ordinary Kiwi blokes.
And more to the point when he does, it looks natural – not some desperate PR plot to make him look like a man of the people.Tags: Chris Trotter, John Key
Chris Trotter writes:
Analysing last weekend’s Mana by-election results, I’m wondering if we might be witnessing another seminal political moment. Like the 1972 general election, it is possible that the closely- fought Mana contest holds some crucially important lessons for the major parties.
At the most superficial level, the result was a clear moral triumph for the Government and its very effective candidate, Hekia Parata. In a country only slowly emerging from recession, in an Opposition- held electorate perfectly positioned to send the Government “a message”, it almost beggars belief that the by-election campaign ended with a 14 per cent swing towards the governing party.
A moral triumph indeed. Heh it reminds me of the caption that my brother’s rugby team had on their team photo. It was “Played 15, Won 11, Moral Victories 4″
Indeed, without radical Left-wing trade unionist Matt McCarten’s last-minute entry to the by-election race, it is entirely possible Parata would have won the seat.
Umm, that is an unusual interpretation.
His challenge to Labour was to give on-the-ground, practical expression to the progressive policy ideas announced at its annual conference by campaigning – as he did – on low wages, inadequate housing and the urgent need for job creation.
Labour’s candidate, the woefully inexperienced television journalist Kris Fa’afoi, wasn’t equal to that challenge, but McCarten’s sudden intervention was sufficiently worrying for the Labour hierarchy to pour everything it had into the Mana campaign.
It was this massive intervention that ensured Fa’afoi’s victory – albeit with a sharply reduced share of the popular vote.
I think Labour were always going to pour everything into the campaign, but McCarten’s candidacy may have cemented that.
To the cynical observer, McCarten’s 3.6 per cent share of the Mana vote might seem derisory. But then, so did the 2 per cent share won by Values in 1972. Besides, there are moments in politics when, as Key told Parata’s jubilant supporters on Saturday night, “losing is winning”.
Hopefully Labour’s “got the message” McCarten was sending it throughout the campaign. That, if it is to successfully counter Key’s (obviously still effective) appeal to aspirational Kiwis, it has to maintain the sort of on-the-street presence for which McCarten and his radical Unite union are justifiably famous, and which, ultimately, is all that rescued Fa’afoi from catastrophic defeat.
But, even more important than getting Labour out on the street, McCarten’s candidacy – like Values’ campaign in 1972 – should remind Labour that getting people to vote is only half the battle; the other half is giving them something to vote for.
What you mean no GST on fruit and veges is not enough?Tags: Chris Trotter, Mana
On The Nation this morning they reported that there is a real split in the Pacific Island vote in Mana, which has traditionally been very strong Labour. They interviewed Liz Tanielu the head of the Teaaomanino Trust which is the biggest pacific island service provider in the region. She says she traditionally votes Labour but that Faafoi is an outsider, and she is angry they could not find a single local to stand, while Hekia has been active for some years in the electorate and “walks the talk”, and that the by-election should not be a party vote but a vote on who will be the best MP.
Then they had on Api Malu, who was representing 40 pacific island church ministers. He says they are looking for people who have worked with them, and that Hekia Parata has impressed a lot of people, and the leadership with what she has done.
Also on the show, Tariana Turia endorsed both Hekia Parata and Matt McCarten as candidates who would make effective MP for Mana.
By coincidence in the Dom Post this morning, Porirua Deputy Mayor Liz Kelly also endorsed Hekia:
Porirua Deputy Mayor Liz Kelly has backed National Party candidate Hekia Parata to win the Mana by-election.
Her prediction will cause ripples as Labour’s Kris Faafoi has been favoured to take the seat, which is viewed as one of Labour’s safest. The party has always polled strongly in the Pacific Island and Maori communities.
Local leaders suggested yesterday that Mr Faafoi’s lack of experience is seen as a drawback.
Ms Kelly, an independent councillor, said Ms Parata’s work in the electorate had not gone unnoticed. “The feedback I’m getting is that Hekia is very popular … There is a lot of support because she’s been working the whole time.”
Mr Faafoi was a “nice guy” but “there’s no history” with the electorate and some voters resented that.
And a local community leader:
Samoan community leader Paula Masoe said Ms Parata had won over a lot of Pasifika supporters. “She’s a hard worker and we respect people who work hard for our community. I’m really happy that someone like Kris put their hand up. But it’s not time for him yet. I don’t want the sweat of our people to be put on someone who’s not ready yet.” …
Experience was valued in the Pacific Island community, she said. “It’s not about having someone who is Pacific Island there, you’ve got to have somebody who is able to carry the huge responsibility and he probably will. But not yet.”
There was a “strong feeling” among local voters that Mr Faafoi was imposed on the community by the parliamentary Labour Party.
“Labour needs to look at themselves because we don’t want to be treated like the poor relations. When they look at putting someone in to speak up for us I’d like to think that they’ve considered a whole lot of other people of our community that have been involved in Labour.
And also in the Dom Post, Chris Trotter effectively endorses Matt McCarten in his weekly column:
I asked Matt if he’d heard of Slavoj Zizek – the Slovenian socialist currently setting the cat of principle among the fat, pragmatic pigeons of the European Left.
“I’m busy, Chris,” he chuckled, “of course I haven’t.” “Well, Matt”, I replied, “Zizek is challenging Europe’s social democrats to stop looking over their shoulder at the European Central Bank; to govern “as if they were free”.
“Maybe that’s what you should ask the Mana electors, Matt. To stop looking over their shoulder at Labour. Could be your slogan: ‘Vote – as if you were free’.”
And in the NZ Herald, Audrey Young says Parata should be promoted to the Ministry:
Pansy Wong’s resignation from the Cabinet a week before the Mana byelection presents Prime Minister John Key with a golden opportunity.
He has the chance to add fresh blood to his ministry without the usual resentments around reshuffles and a chance to show Mana the calibre of National’s Hekia Parata. …
promoting Parata before a byelection – even to a minister outside Cabinet – would tell the Mana electorate something of the calibre of the National candidate.
It is clear that some traditional Pacific Island Labour voters are saying they people should vote for the best MP, not for the party. They are right – this is how MMP works.Tags: Audrey Young, Chris Trotter, Hekia Parata, Kris Faafoi, Liz Tanielu, Mana, Matt McCarten
Chris Trotter writes:
How did a tiny union’s attempt to improve the lot of its members end up convulsing the entire nation?
Oh that is easy. The second they called for, and got, a global boycott of The Hobbit.
The left time after time after time ignore this rather salient point. They talk just about wanting to negotiate.
A global boycott of a film is the nuclear bomb of industrial negotiations. If you use it, then it causes massive damage.
What NZ Actors’ Equity tried to do here would scarcely have rated a mention in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland or Australia. Actors, film technicians, specialists of every kind in those countries negotiate with the big film studios all the time.
Again, Chris entirely misses the point. Negotiations are common – global boycotts are rare. And even worse, the global boycott was instituted based on a demand that was illegal for the producers to agree to.
Only recently, Irish film- makers successfully concluded an industry-wide collective agreement. Ireland, you’ll recall, was identified by Sir Peter Jackson’s people as one of the places to which location shooting for The Hobbit might be shifted.
Why would you shift location filming to a country that already has an industry- wide collective agreement because workers in your own country were attempting to negotiate something very similar for themselves?
It doesn’t make sense.
It does make sense. Chris needs to talk to people in the industry – as I have.
Warners and he like are fairly relaxed about whether a country’s film industry is unionised or non-unionised. Under both these scenarios, they can calculate the cost of doing business.
What they don’t want to be anywhere near, is a country which is non unionised, and a union is trying to unionise the entire acting industry (despite miniscule membership), and wants to use your film as the vehicle for doing so.
This is not rocket science.
Unless the entire controversy has been manufactured; unless all that we have witnessed since September 28, when Sir Peter Jackson launched a very public broadside against the actors’ union, is a cleverly spun fiction. A tale replete with noble hero (Sir Peter) and evil villains (the unions) designed to exculpate its authors from any and all blame for taking The Hobbit offshore.
Chris ignores the obvious answer, which I supplied, and which he could get by talking to any producer. Instead he turns to conspiracy theories.
Also happy will be that permanent combination of anti-union interests. Thanks to The Hobbit controversy, the CTU’s “Fairness at Work” campaign lies dead in the water.
Not thanks to The Hobbit. Thanks to Helen Kelly who disastrously changed the focus from Simon Whipp to the CTU. Bad enough she became the de facto spokesperson for the union, but she then personally insulted Peter Jackson.
I especially enjoyed the irony of Sir Richard Taylor’s Weta Workshops-organised “Save The Hobbit” rallies on – of all days – Labour Day.
The irony was wonderful but again Chris is wrong. They were not organised by Weta Workshop. They were organised by an Auckland actor – D Mark Harrison, on his own initiative.Tags: Chris Trotter, The Hobbit
An excellent column by Chris Trotter:
THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE DEBATE on “What should we do about our drinking problem?” one very important issue has been consistently overlooked.The constitutional, political and moral objections to “down-sizing” the rights of 18 to 20-year-olds.
Eighteen and nineteen-year-olds have the right to vote in local and general elections, perform jury service, join the armed forces, make a will, sign a contract, and purchase alcohol. …
When it comes to the other rights, responsibilities and duties of citizenship, however, 18 and 19-year-old New Zealanders are legally recognised as responsible adults.This raises a couple of very serious question. Having admitted 18 and 19-year-olds to the ranks of adult New Zealanders, is it constitutionally, politically and morally justifiable to cast them back into the ranks of non-adults when it comes to purchasing alcohol?
How can prohibiting their participation in a social activity in which all other New Zealand adults are free to engage without legal sanction possibly be right?
I would argue that it is neither right nor justifiable. Once specific political and social rights (like the right to vote or the right to purchase alcohol) have been given to a group of citizens they cannot be taken back without placing the rights of every other citizen in jeopardy.
Were the White Americans living in the Deep South justified in stripping their Black neighbours of their civil and political rights in the latter half of the 19th Century? Did the Nazi Government of Germany have the right to strip German Jews of their citizenship in the 1930s?
Both of these cases involved the persecution of a politically friendless minority whose morals, capabilities and behaviour were openly despised and derided by the majority.
Chris Trotter writes:
Is it possible that Chris Carter is right? Would Labour have a better chance of winning the next election under a new leader?
Is Phil Goff really the best, or even, as most political commentators emphatically insist, the only option available? And if, as those same commentators contend, Labour cannot win under Goff’s leadership, does that mean Labour cannot win, full stop?
A few days ago I would have conceded (albeit reluctantly) that those commentators were more likely to be proved right than wrong. And I use the word “reluctant” advisedly, because I count myself among Goff’s long-time supporters. As long ago as February 2008 I was urging the Labour caucus to persuade Helen Clark to step aside in favour of her defence minister.
But now Chris says:
Everything we have seen since the 2008 election points to a deadlocked Labour caucus in which no one faction possesses the numbers – or leadership – to give either the party, or the country, the clear new direction it so desperately needs.
There’s only two ways that Labour’s factions can resolve this impasse: the first is to wage a long and bitter war of attrition and agree to follow the last politician left standing; or to swallow their pride and, ignoring the factions, elect as leader the person best equipped both intellectually and presentationally to lead them to victory in 2008.
Last Saturday morning, on TV3′s The Nation, David Cunliffe demonstrated conclusively that he is that person. Articulate, good- humoured, open to new ideas and smart enough to turn them into credible policy, Cunliffe looked every inch the leader Labour needs to win.
The conventionally wise insist that he lacks sufficient allies to mount a successful challenge. But, from the perspective of Labour’s deadlocked caucus, Cunliffe’s absence of factional baggage may yet prove to be his most telling political advantage.
I blogged a month or two ago that I believe David Cunliffe will be the next leader, because he s acceptable to all factions. One Labour person somewhat unkindly (but perhaps accurately) said he is no one’s first choice, but everyone’s second choice.
However I still stand by my prediction, that Goff will remain leader until after the 2011 election.Tags: Chris Trotter, David Cunliffe, Labour Leadership, Phil Goff
Chris Trotter writes:
An armed band of about 150 terrorists enters an isolated village in a country torn by civil war.
The men defending the village, accepting the terrorist leader’s assurances that they will not be harmed, surrender their weapons.
One man refuses, telling the terrorist leader: “If I hand over my gun, you will kill me.”
Shots are exchanged, the man falls.
The terrorists then start slaughtering the defenceless villagers – mostly women and children. Forty are killed – many hacked to death with bayonets and axes.
Meanwhile, outside the village, local farming families are also being attacked and killed.
About a dozen men, women and children are murdered: some bayoneted; some shot in the back as they fled. Their homesteads are looted and set alight.
Having completed their grisly raid, the terrorists take refuge in the nearby mountains.
What would be your best guess as to what happens next?
If you said a small army made up of professional soldiers and local volunteers headed into the mountains in pursuit of the terrorists, you would, of course, be correct.
And if the commanders of that small army discovered that the local inhabitants of the mountainous region into which the terrorists had fled were providing them with food, shelter, ammunition and new recruits?
What would your best guess be as to their next move? If you said they’d probably “unleash hell” on the local inhabitants, then, once again, you’d be quite right.
Now, when and where did this terrorist raid take place? Last week in the mountainous border region separating Afghanistan from Pakistan? Not even close.
The incidents I’ve just described took place in and around what is now Te Urewera National Park in April, 1869.
The “terrorists” were Te Kooti’s “Hauhaus”. The village was Mohaka. The local tribe which gave Te Kooti and his men shelter was Tuhoe.
THE Waitangi Tribunal has so far released more than a thousand pages of historical research into the Tuhoe people’s claim to Te Urewera.
But you’ll not find anything on those thousand pages remotely resembling the Mohaka massacre as I have described it.
There is a peculiar reticence on the part of the tribunal’s historians to acknowledge that the war which spilled over into the Tuhoe people’s territory in the 1860s and 70s was a civil war.
Chris, as I understand it, is not saying Tuhoe did not suffer grievous wrongs, and is not saying there should not be a settlement as compensation.
His issue is that the professional historians are not providing the full historical context for what happened.Tags: Chris Trotter, Tuhoe
The Herald reports:
Prime Minister John Key telephoned the most senior minister in the visiting Chinese delegation to apologise for the scuffle during the arrival of Vice-President Xi Jingping at Parliament.
I can understand why the PM felt it was necessary – because the screaming yelling protester was not just a member of the public, but a leader of a parliamentary party.
But having said that, I don’t think it was appropriate for the PM to apologise. He is not responsible for Norman, and by doing so may confuse the difference between the Government and the Parliament.
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has also called for a full report on the incident from his ministry and he would like to see a protocol developed between the Speaker and protesting MPs for future visits.
This I think is a very good idea. The right to protest must be protected, but this doesn’t mean you allow protesters to get within a couple of metres of visiting VIPs – even if an MP.
If Norman had not been advancing on the Vice-President, this incident probably would not have happened. As a contrast Chris Trotter remembers Rod Donald:
My abiding memory of this remarkable man – my friend – Rod Donald, will be of him standing alone at the foot of the parliamentary steps, his face a mixture of sadness and defiance, holding up the forbidden Tibetan flag. It was a noble protest – and all the more effective for being conducted not by some raggle-taggle band of New Age anarchists, but by a senior Member of Parliament and party leader, dressed proudly and patriotically in his best, New Zealand-made, suit.
No advancing on the Vice-President, no shouting, no scruffling. That is the way to do it if you want to be an MP making a protest.
I am no fan of China’s repression. I think there should be protests when their VIPs visit. If the Greens had organised a Free Tibet protest outside Parliament, I might have even gone along to it.
Now having said that, it is clear that engagement with China is the only sane course of action. Refusing to trade or talk to them would be stupid. The trick is getting the balance of engagement and protest right. And broadly you expect the Government to engage and civil society to protest. There is a time when Governments also protest – but that tends to be in response to specific events.
UPDATE: Colin Espiner blogs:
I know it’s fashionable to hate the Chinese, and everyone wants a free Tibet.
So much so you’d think they were handing them out in Weetbix packets.
But while I’ll probably get into trouble with the Left for saying this, I’m sorry, but Green Party co-leader Russel Norman was an embarrassment to himself, Parliament, and New Zealand with his protest against the Chinese vice-president’s visit last week. …
When I heard that Norman’s flag had been “trampled” I thought that was a bit on the nose, too, so I took a look at the video.
Strange how none of the many cameras there – both still and TV – managed to capture the so-called attack, or the flag trampling.
What they did capture, though, was an MP behaving in a way that no self-respecting member of Parliament with any dignity should behave.
Don’t get me wrong. I fully support Russel Norman’s right to have his say. This is a free country, unlike China.
But sometimes, I think the RIGHT to free speech and EXERCISING it are confused.
For example, I can walk down the street and tell someone I don’t know that they’re fat. I have that right. But to do so would be impolite and irresponsible.
One of the deals of having freedom is the responsibility that comes with it over how you use it.
A point well made.
If Russel Norman was a private citizen he’d be banned from the steps of Parliament as a protester. He’d be behind the gates further down, where he could yell and scream to his heart’s content.
But he’s not a private citizen. He’s a member of Parliament. An employee and a representative of the people.
That meant Norman got to go right up to the Chinese VP, yell in his face, and wave a flag at him.
Unless the video I saw has been doctored, I saw Norman lunging at the VP and then yelling “give me my flag back” after one of his security guards grabbed it.
Colin makes the same point I have made – it was a long way removed from what Rod Donald did.Tags: China, Chris Trotter, free speech, John Key, Rod Donald, Russel Norman
Chris Trotter comments on his blog about the career prospects for Phil Twyford:
His enemies in the EPMU, combined with his possession of a penis (and, increasingly rarely for a Labour MP – a pair of balls) have reduced his chances of securing a solid political base to something approaching zero.
Those same handicaps also put his position on the 2011 Labour List in doubt.
Clearly, being an intelligent and compassionate human-being, with an impeccable background in the voluntary/humanitarian sector, counts for far less in Labour circles than having a few union mates and a vagina.
Now it is tempting to this Chris is being a but harsh, but look at this extraordinary comment on Phil Twyford’s own Facebook page. Twyford said:
My colleague Carmel Sepuloni is the new Labour candidate for Waitakere. My congratulations to her. She will be fantastic going up against Paula Bennett. Commiserations to my fellow nominees Hamish and Ann. I’m very disappointed. I was excited about the chance to take on Bennett. But it was not to be. Good though for Labour to have a robust contested selection.
Very gracious. Then Labour activist Greg Presland left a comment saying:
Commiserations Phil. We have to fine a place for you, There should be another westie seat next time. Altenatively, Northcote and Coleman is the next most marginal Auckland seat. I am sure you could do it.
A reasonable suggestion, especially as Twyford stood on the North Shore last election. But then Twyford’s colleague, Darien Fenton, comments:
Well, Greg, we should have a conversation about Northcote. Other people, including me, have been working hard there.
Good God. Now remember this is on Phil Twyford’s own Facebook page, and he is being warned off Northcote by one of his colleagues who has the two essentials Trotter refers to.
UPDATE: The Herald also asks the same question over Twyford’s future.Tags: Chris Trotter, Darien Fenton, Labour, Phil Twyford
OPINION: Mohsen al Attar responds to criticism by Chris Trotter of his Auckland University law course.
Last week, Chris Trotter dedicated his column to assailing an advanced international law course – Colonialism to Globalisation: International Law and the Making of the Third World – I teach at the University of Auckland law faculty.
Trotter was springboarding off a recent blogpost on the same topic.
That would be me!
Anyway good to see a response.
I conclude with a word of thanks. As the debate about my course (and my person) has gone viral, so too has enrolment. At this stage, I am pleased to report we have doubled our numbers from last year – and, at this rate, may even reach maximum enrolment by week’s end – meaning that far more students will be exposed to a Third World perspective on the relationship between colonialism and international law.
I should get a share of the capitalist profits from the course!Tags: Chris Trotter, Mohsen al Attar
Anyway Chris Trotter writes about the course in the Dominion Post, and people may be surprised at his comments:
An interesting course” were the words Kiwiblog’s David Farrar used to describe Colonialism to Globalisation – an academic paper offered by the Auckland University’s law faculty.
Knowing Mr Farrar’s political leanings, it was with some trepidation that I activated the hyperlink embedded in his posting. My strong suspicion (instantly confirmed) was that my Kiwiblog host was not drawing his visitors’ attention to this course purely on account of its academic merits.
A swift perusal of the course description told me all I needed to know. Here, as I feared, was a particularly stark example of what I call “self-loathing Leftism” – that self-critical mode of Left-wing analysis which takes “the politics of victimhood” out of its more familiar context in the anti-racist, feminist and gay rights movements, and extends it to the whole world.
The result is as predictable as it’s banal: an “Avatar” world of Goodies versus Baddies and Nature versus Technology, in which the holistic philosophy of innocent and virtuous indigenes crashes into the murderously exploitative intentions of malignant and rapacious colonisers.
The Avatar analogy is a very good one. What I would be interested to know, is whether anyone who has ever done the course has managed to get good grades, while disagreeing with the world-view of the lecturer.
Anyway, back to Chris Trotter. Chris is an avid student of history, and picks apart some problems in the course description:
Just take a look at the opening sentences of Colonialism to Globalisation’s course description: “In the late 15th century, imperialist Europe emerged intent on exploring and possessing the New World. Fast forward through 500 years of colonialism, capitalism, slavery, industrialisation, genocide, and international law and greet the 21st century in all its paradoxical glory.”
There’s so much wrong with this statement that it’s difficult to know where to begin. For a start, there was no such thing as “imperialist Europe” in the late 15th century. The only entity worthy of such a description was the empire of the Ottoman Turks – whose steady expansion into southern and central Europe was halted only at the gates of Vienna in 1529. …
Let’s start by listing the things he left out: the Renaissance; the Reformation; the Enlightenment; the American and French Revolutions; the exponential growth of scientific knowledge and technological expertise; the expansion of democracy; the abolition of slavery; the emancipation of women; the defeat of totalitarianism; the birth of the United Nations; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Minor minor achievements.
We can only assume that Mr Attar’s justification for bracketing “capitalism” with “colonialism” and “slavery” is because he sees it as being emblematic of the West’s lust for conquest and its colonists’ pathological need to demonstrate racial and cultural superiority.
But to hold up capitalism as a purely Western construct is to engage in precisely the same ethno- centrism his course condemns. For most of human history it was the manufacturers and merchants of East and South Asia who controlled the global economy.
And they projected their reach and protected their profits no less ruthlessly than their Western counterparts.
I think Chris should enrol as a student in the course. The debates between lecturer and student could be worth You Tubing!Tags: Auckland Uni, Chris Trotter, Mohsen al Attar
Chris Trotter writes:
Labour has become electorally implausible because it no longer projects itself as either psychologically, or morally, convincing.
Mr Goff, in last week’s “State of the Nation” speech, spoke of a Labour Party dedicated to serving the needs of “the many, not the few”.
He lambasted those who avoided paying their fair share of tax and he vowed to cap the salaries of state sector chief executives at the level of the prime minister’s annual income.
A traditional Labour message, and by all accounts powerfully delivered.
But was it real?
No, not really. It took the redoubtable Right-wing blogger, Cactus Kate, less than a day to uncover the fact that a significant number of Labour MPs belonged to one or more family trusts, the very same tax avoidance device that Mr Goff was railing against.
Rhetoric without substance doesn’t do well in the blogosphere.
And what about all those state sector CEOs on excessive salaries? Well, Mr Goff is to be congratulated for wanting to share the “pain” of economic recession more equitably.
But, in order to restore a measure of equity to the pay scales of the public service, surely Mr Goff would have to renounce his own, and Labour’s, continuing support for the State Sector Act?
After all, Mr Goff was a cabinet minister in the fourth Labour government, which introduced the State Sector Act. Its purpose?
To bring the private sector’s market- driven discipline into the public service: to give the heads of government agencies the same powers and responsibilities as corporate chief executives and pay them accordingly.
If Mr Goff is now acknowledging that the ideology underpinning the State Sector Act is flawed, then I, for one, will cheer him to the echo.
But if he still adheres to the neoliberal ethos which gave it birth, then he should let the market in CEO salaries find its own level, and like the original author of the State Sector Act, Stan Rodger, remain steadfastly on the sidelines and keep his mouth firmly shut.
And if Goff does suddenly declare the State Sector Act is wrong, the question will arise why has it taken 30 years to realise it. Longevity in Parliament is not always helpful for an opposition leader.
To win back the love Labour’s lost, the leader of the Opposition must learn how to channel not only the hopes and aspirations of Labour’s educated middle-class minority, but also the fear and antagonism of its sullen working-class majority.
A genuine political leader will gladly and gloriously reflect the idealistic light of his best followers but, when pressed, he must also be capable of tapping into the darkest impulses of his worst.
True leaders are feared as much as they are loved.
Think of Helen Clark in the midst of the “Corngate” scandal: chilling. Think of Rob Muldoon ordering Tom Scott out of the Beehive theatrette: terrifying.
Watching TVNZ’s Guyon Espiner interviewing Mr Goff on the Q+A programme, I was struck by how keen the leader of the Opposition was to please.
I don’t think it is a bad thing, that Phil Goff does not have a streak of Clark or Muldoon in him. While I disagree with his policies, I think Phil Goff is a pretty decent person, who achieved many good things as a Minister. I don’t think he will become Prime Minister, but if he did I think he would do an okay job (again I probably would disagree with a lot of his policies).
Democracy, it is said, substitutes ballots for bullets. And that’s fine so long as, like the metal projectiles they replace, ballots also have the capacity to inflict real damage.
Labour needs policies that not only help but hurt.
Out there in the electorate, some groups need to understand that they will be paying for Mr Goff’s promises. Sweet reason and bipartisanship, as President Barack
Obama has discovered, make for poor politics. There’s nothing the voter enjoys more than the whiff of fear and panic – especially in high places.
No politician gets elected purely on the strength of being everyone’s friend. At least symbolically, and preferably in reality, a party leader must also be somebody’s enemy.
Actually Obama has not been at all bipartisan. I think problem has been his moving to the left, instead of the centre. And by doing so he seems to have positioned himself as the enemy of fiscal hawks. The trouble is they are winning the war.Tags: Barack Obama, Chris Trotter, Phil Goff
Chris Trotter writes:
How many times during the holiday period have you seen those irritating notices posted on the doors and windows of restaurants and cafes, informing you that a 15 per cent to 20 per cent “surcharge” will be added to your purchases because of the Holidays Act?
I don’t know about you, but whenever I see such a notice, I turn on my heel and go in search of an alternative eatery. According to the vast majority of restaurateurs and cafe owners who don’t impose these surcharges, it’s what most people do.
I’d like to know Chris’ source for the allegation most cafes don’t charge a surcharge on public holidays. To the contrary I think the overwhelming majority do.
Does the surcharge cover the cost of your lost trade? Probably not.
That is a decision best made by individual owners. Some might advertise no surcharge as an advertising plot, others might need the surcharge to make it worthwhile opening.
The intelligent – and economically rational – course of action for any proprietor in the hospitality industry is obvious. The entirely predictable cost of hiring workers to run a business on statutory holidays can be simply factored into its overall cost structure, and recovered during the course of the financial year.
With no disrespect to Chris, but statements like the above are made by people who I swear have never employed people or tried to run a low margin business like hospitality. They think making a profit is just as simple as factor in overall costs and hey presto.
They just have no idea. Business goes up and down. Staff are rostered on as demand is predicted, but often it can be a mismatch. Your cost of supplies goes up. You need to hire and train more staff. Your cashflow is negative due to tax requirements. so need to borrow.
Only in Neverneverland is it as simple as oh just recover your loss later in the year.
The bottom line is that there is no point in opening a cafe on a public holiday if the marginal cost of doing so is greater than the income for that day. And a 50% hike in staff costs can be the difference between making and losing money. Why would you as a cafe owner spend the day working, to lose money?
I own a polling company. We do not poll on public holidays unless the client will pay the cost of the extra wages. Otherwise I will lose money on the polling done that day, and if I was a cafe owner instead of a pollster, I don’t need Chris Trotter telling me I should just have made more money earlier in the year. It does not work like that.
Now people are quite free to refuse to dine at a cafe with a surcharge on a public holiday – good on them. But you have no right to expect them not to impose a surcharge, if that is the only way they will make a profit from opening that day.Tags: Chris Trotter, public holidays
I was interviewed for TV3 News on Saturday about what Bradford’s departure may mean politically, along with Andrew Little, Chris Trotter and Matt McCarten.
I took the view that it was potentially beneficial to the Greens as replacing Bradford with Clendon strengthens their environmental brand and if they are smart they could get as much as 10% of the vote if they position themselves as “greening” the Government no matter if it is National or Labour.
I stressed that the Greens will always support a Labour-led Government over a National-Led Government if one is possible. But if only National can form a Government, the Greens might be able to go beyond their current co-operation agreement to an abstain on supply and confidence agreement.
I understand Matt McCarten saw the move as potentially beneficial to the Greens also, and their ability to work on both sides of the aisle so to speak.
Andrew Little saw it as good for Labour, as Labour could pick up social justice voters from the Greens. I responded that this doesn’t actually help Labour win office, just as National picking up ACT voters doesn’t. And it can actually backfire if the Greens drop below 5% (as they have done in last night’s TVNZ poll). Also I have some doubts that Goff-led Labour will be more convincing to social justice voters than the Greens.
The real benefit to Labour would be if the Greens pick up some centrist voters who were previously put off by Bradford. For that will grow the left’s vote.
Chris Trotter sees the departure of Bradford as being the death of the left as the Greens go middle class.
He’s done a follow-up post today, which has some interesting observations:
The dangers inherent in the Greens’ educative model are demonstrated in their policy on the Treaty of Waitangi. Though the signing of the Treaty, like all historical events, is the subject of multiple, and often sharply contradictory, interpretations, the Greens have adopted an unequivocal and quite inflexible interpretation of the Treaty’s meaning. So much so that when some of their own members, unconvinced by the official party line, openly questioned it’s accuracy, they were deemed ineligible to stand as Green candidates by the Party leadership.That the dissidents’ views on the Treaty of Waitangi were actually more in tune with those of the majority of Pakeha New Zealanders was an “inconvenient truth” to be overcome by – yes, you guessed it – a taxpayer-funded traveling road-show which would take the “true” meaning of the Treaty directly to the ignorant Pakeha masses and educate them into full conformity with the Greens’ historical interpretation.
This authoritarian aspect of the Greens’ political style is nowhere more apparent than in their so-called “consensus-based decision-making” constitution. Described as a means of “seeking positions that the maximum number of people can support, rather than a simple majority”, what these rules actually make possible is the ability of a tiny minority to over-rule and/or subvert the will of the majority.
In practical terms, it allows the leadership of the party, either directly or through their surrogates, to prevent the membership from directly challenging the Green Party caucus’s political strategy and tactics. Rather than promoting the open contest of conflicting political options, it fosters the cobbling together of compromises. Also, by imposing enormous emotional pressure on dissenters, it drives opposition below the surface of party affairs – a situation which, once again, privileges those in senior positions, and makes rank-and-file challenges to official party policy extremely difficult.
That is an interesting analysis of how the much vaunted consensus system actually can favour the hierarchy.Tags: Andrew Little, Chris Trotter, David Clendon, DPF, Greens, Matt McCarten, Sue Bradford, TV3
Chris Trotter is unhappy that Labour are pushing for Len Brown as Auckland Mayor, ignoring the wider left:
WHEN will Labour ever learn? A party whose membership now numbers less than 5,000 nationwide, and probably less than 1,000 north of Taupo, has decided – unilaterally – to select the Left’s mayoral candidate for the new Auckland “supercity”.“Cheek” is too small a word to describe this sort of behaviour. Why? Because, if we accept the well-established rule-of-thumb that only ten percent of any organisation’s paper membership should ever be considered active players, fewer than 100 people took it upon themselves to choose the person aiming to represent 1.4 million.
For the sheer, jaw-dropping arrogance of this pre-emptive strike against democratic procedure, Labour deserves a hefty political smack – to say nothing of the “good parental correction” required for putting its own, narrow, partisan interests ahead of Auckland’s future.
Of Labour (and City Vision, its front organisation) I did, however, expect something more imaginative (and democratic) than an old-fashioned “deal”, hammered out in a variety of smoke-free rooms, between a clutch of anonymous party hacks and the Mayor of Manukau City.
Strategically commissioned opinion polls, notwithstanding, Mr Brown has long been the Auckland Right’s preferred opponent. He comes across as an evangelical social-worker, who, when he’s not mouthing bogus Pasifika street-slang, delivers earnest speeches in which the buzz-words “vision”, “passion” and “community” are endlessly repeated.
I do, however, give Labour points for staking its claim so early and with such clarity. The other potential candidates: be he Waitakere City Mayor, Bob Harvey, or the Chairman of the Auckland Regional Council, Mike Lee; can now be intimidated into withdrawing from the race – on pain of “splitting the Left vote”.
The truth, of course, is that the only splitters operating in the broader Auckland Left are Labour and its allies. By dividing the field of mayoral hopefuls into Mr Brown and “the rest”, they have very foolishly, and selfishly, made the best candidate the enemy of the first.
But, if the Left accepts Labour’s fait accompli, what will it be getting in Mr Brown? A Palangi lawyer from Manukau, with a very thin portfolio of municipal achievements (unlike his illustrious predecessor, Sir Barry Curtis) and a rather goofy grin.
Chris Trotter has blogged a scathing column on Labour called Labour’s nightmarish road trip: From “Broad Church” to “Shopping Mall”:
WHAT’S the matter with Labour? Why is it making so little impression on even its hard-core supporters? And can anyone explain why Labour’s strategists still believe it’s intelligent politics to have their MPs recorded, singing songs, on a bus, in the Tory-blue heart of Taranaki?
I don’t know whose strategy it was, but I’d like to buy them a drink
Even so, you would think that any political party planning a “Regional Road-Trip” might do just a little bit of “advance” work. Like sending someone to have a chat with Davey Hughes, the telegenic proprietor of the Swazi clothing factory in Levin. It’s really quite important to know how someone like Hughes is going to respond before your Leader, in front of a pack of amused reporters, asks him what he would like Labour to do for small business – and discovers it involves ripping the guts out of the Employment Relations Act.
That’s funny enough, and then the killer blow.
After all, how hard would it have been for the Labour Whip, Darren Hughes, to quietly sound out his Uncle Davey on the subject?
And while the newly-elected MP for Mt Albert, David Shearer, plays a mean guitar, what on earth were his colleagues thinking of singing Take Me Home, Country Roads and Hotel California? I mean – John Denver and The Eagles! Could they have possibly screamed “Hey everybody – we come from the 1970s!” any louder?It could have been worse, I suppose. They could have been recorded singing Kumbaya and If I had a Hammer.
Chris Trotter fires with both barrels at Phil Goff. This is significant as Chris endorsed Labour in 2008 and was seen wearing a Labour rosette.
LISTENING to Radio New Zealand-National’s “Focus on Politics” yesterday evening, I was incensed and depressed, but I can’t honestly say surprised, to hear Phil Goff dismiss Labour’s founding objective – “the socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange” as “nineteenth century history.”
It got worse, with Phil adding ideological insult to historical injury by declaring that the modern Labour Party believed “a well-functioning market system is the most effective and efficient way of organising an economy”. Yes, he was willing to “recognise market failure”, but only to the extent of ensuring “an adequate level of regulation”. …
Let’s begin with his glib dismissal of the “socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange” as “nineteenth century history”.
It was, in fact, only at the Labour Party conference of June 1951 that the socialisation clause was deleted from Labour’s aims and objectives.The dropping of the socialisation clause did not, however, mean that the Labour Party constitution was purged of any and all references to its socialist beliefs and objectives. Even today, the Party’s constitution declares, as one of its foundation principles: “Co-operation, rather than competition, should be the main governing factor in economic relations, in order that a just distribution of wealth can be ensured.”And among its objectives one can still read of Labour’s determination: “To ensure the just distribution of the production and services of the nation for the benefit of all the people.”, and “To educate the public in the principles and objectives of democratic socialism and economic and social co-operation.”
It looks like Trotter knows the Labour Party constitution better than Goff.
A capitalist economy, unmodified by the ameliorating reforms of a politically organised working class, will always fail to deliver for the overwhelming majority of the population. That’s because capitalism is intended to advantage the few at the expense of the many, and can only lead to the political domination of society by “elites at the top”.To guarantee that the economy works more effectively for the majority, it is necessary to challenge the idea that private ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange leads to a fair and equitable society. It has been Labour’s historical mission to lead that challenge, and to play a decisive role in the struggle against capitalist ideology.
The history of the past century has made me extremely wary of mounting that challenge primarily by the application of political violence and repression. My preference is for the principled and peaceful promotion of social-democratic ideas throughout the population – for making socialists of conviction rather than socialists by compulsion.
Certainly, that means the journey will be slow, and there will be occasional reverses, but it most emphatically does not mean that we can ever afford to give up the challenge; put an end to the journey.
If it is your view, Phil, that the quest for democratic socialism should be dismissed as something belonging to “nineteenth century history”, then I say: “The hell with you!”
And, to the members of the NZ Labour Party I say: “Find yourselves a new leader.”
Chris Trotter repeats one of the great myths of the Labour left as he makes excuses for Labour legislating away the rights of Maori to go to court:
But, of course, your enemy’s enemy can just as easily be your enemy too – and in the case of the foreshore and seabed debacle this was especially true. Labour’s erstwhile deputy-leader, Michael Cullen, was telling no more than the truth when he pointed out that his government had no room to manoeuvre over the Foreshore & Seabed Bill.From the moment the Court of Appeal’s decision was announced, Labour’s pollsters began to register a rising level of anti-Maori feeling in the Pakeha population. Clearly, it would require a strong, bi-partisan effort to withstand such political pressure. Of course, National’s pollsters were picking up the same racist vibes as Labour, but, rather than stand against them, the strategists surrounding National’s new leader, Don Brash, opted to exploit them.
The Orewa Speech delivered by Brash in January 2004, and the extraordinary shift in political allegiance from Labour to National that it accomplished, destroyed any hope of a bi-partisan approach to resolving the issues raised by the Court of Appeal.
I’ve seen Labour push this version of events often, and am disappointed that Chris has fallen for it. Quite simply it is a lie, and the dates prove it.
- Thursday 19 June 2003 – Court of Appeal announces decision
- Monday 23 June 2003 – Clark and Wilson announce they will legislate to prevent any applications for title
Yes Labour announced the legislation just four days (or two working days) after the court of appeal decision. I’m sick of the fucking lies about Labour backing down under a nasty Don Brash led campaign that finally forced Labour to legislate.
Labour announced legislation as their first reaction – not their last. They panicked – totally. Thursday they hear the decision, and within 24 – 48 hours they would have resolved to recommend to Cabinet they legislate.
Even more stupid is the attempts of the left to portray Labour’s decision as being linked to Brash’s leadership and his Orewa speech. The dates for those are:
- Brash becomes Leader on 28 October 2003 – 127 days after Labour announced they would legislate.
- Brash’s Orewa speech was on 27 January 2004 – 218 days after Labour announced they would legislate.
Chris Trotter pulls no punches, but people may be surprised at his targets:
WHAT IS IT with left-wing women? Why does it take a Cactus Kate to spell out the bleeding-bloody-obvious about Phil Goff’s damsel-in-distress? And, where’s the advantage, when it comes to living a fulfilling, exciting and, yes, occasionally risky life, of behaving like a permanently helpless victim?
So Dr Richard Worth hits on women. So what? It’s a thing men do. Some with genuine style and panache, others with all the finesse of a slobbering dog. Women worthy of the name take the stylish ones to bed, and tell the slobberers to take themselves somewhere else.
And, if the silly sods refuse to take the hint? Well, that’s what, workmates/bosses/girlfriends/boyfriends/husbands and, if worse comes to worst, police officers are for.
By the sounds of things, Dr Worth is a slobberer. A slobberer, moreover, who seems to have real difficulties taking the hint. Presumably, that’s why he’s become the subject of a serious allegation of wrong-doing, and why his political career lies in ruins.
If you behave like a slobbering prat, entirely unmindful of your responsibilities as a husband, a father, a minister of the Crown, a member of Parliament, a member of the National Party caucus (not to mention a member of the human race) then you deserve nothing better. …
Sex is a thing that grown-ups do. Learning to negotiate one’s way through the reefs of lust and longing is, therefore, an important and inescapable part of becoming a mature human-being. In an culture (one of the very few cultures, in fact) which proclaims and enforces the principle of sexual equality, it looks really bad when left-wing “feminists” start behaving like a bunch of Victorian maidens confronted with a naked table-leg.
If “girls can do anything”, then surely they can tell some randy old bugger to fuck-off and leave them alone?
And now the complainant is refusing to provide the text messages in advance of a meeting. This doesn’t seem a reasonable request to deny.
In fact considering the allegations have been promoted and publicised, it would be very useful for the public to be able to read both the texts received and sent to be able to form an opinion.
I’m no defender of Richard Worth. In fact my language about him has been very harsh. But having the full text conversations released does not seem inapproprate – especially as the identity of the complainant remains private.Tags: Chris Trotter, Richard Worth
Chris Trotter writes a provocative column on the great Wanganui debate (personally I have no problems with it going to Whanganui as Wanganui was basically a typo):
For a start, I am more than a little disturbed to learn that the Geographic Board is legally obliged to replace English with Maori place-names wherever possible.
This suggests to me that the New Zealand state will not be content until all evidence of its colonial history has been, quite literally, wiped off the map.
WHO IS responsible for this extraordinary policy? Did anyone seek the endorsement of the New Zealand electorate before embarking on what can only be called a campaign of historical ethnic cleansing?
Are the achievements of our pioneering ancestors worth so little that all trace of their presence and contribution is to be expunged?
The place-names chosen by the early settlers to animate the landscapes they were creating reveal much about both their personalities and their aspirations.
What and who we are is inextricably bound up with the words we choose to describe both ourselves and our surroundings.
While I have no issue with Wanganui being Whanganui, I think Chris does have a very valid point. I ma proud that Wellington is named after the Duke of Wellington. I am proud to live on Hobson Street – named after Governor Hobson who signed the Treaty of Waitangi. I would not want to see these names disappear over time.
Let me tell you about Bowalley Road, the rough gravel track that runs past the farm where I grew up in the early 1960s.
Geoffrey Miller happens to drive past Bowalley Road a few days ago. He took these two snaps.
And the road itself.
The proper noun Bowalley is a corruption of another proper noun, Bewley, which is a corruption of the French adjective beaulieu, meaning beautiful place, which itself became a proper noun when Charles Suisted, a Swedish settler who, having acquired that part of the North Otago coast lying to the north of the Waianakarua River and east of Mt Charles in the 1850s, bestowed that name upon it.
When my father came to purchase the property, nearly a century later, Beaulieu was still its name.
By that time, however, the locals, who struggled with the correct French pronunciation of Beaulieu, had taken to referring to the property as either Bewley or Bowalley.
Another version of Bowalley was Baldie, which eventually became The Baldie, signifying the little creek that runs through the property, and empties, via a marshy delta, into the Pacific Ocean at the end of Bowalley Rd.
Obliterate the names Beaulieu, Bewley, Bowalley and Baldie and you obliterate the linguistic legacy of all the lives that have been lived in that part of North Otago since the beginning of European settlement nearly 190 years ago.
The point Chris makes, quite elegantly, is even typos or corruptions, can come to have real meaning over time.Tags: Chris Trotter, Wanganui, Whanganui