Dropping the Charges

Unconditional

Unconditional love, solidarity, freedom

It’s been a long, hard haul since October 15th, 2007.
State terrorists kidnapped my friends that day, and terrorised hundreds of ordinary residents going about their daily activities in the Bay of Plenty – not that we knew that initially here in Wellington.

The parents at Te Aro school were greeted by big black SUV’s parked up in the playground, here.
They were told they weren’t to speak of this to anyone, as their already cramped school had classrooms removed from teaching and pressed into service as the HQ for the special squad of Police in AOS and riot squad uniforms.

One of those parents spoke to me almost immediately about it – a former journalist, she was appalled that the Police so casually intimidated the entire parent body of their small, liberal community into silence.

So when the reports began to come through about the way in which the town of Ruatoki was shut down, and how travellers, school children and residents in the Bay of Plenty towns nearby were stopped and searched, I knew right away that our mostly white, mostly middle-class and mostly university-educated community had been treated completely differently.

When I finally had the opportunity to talk with my friends who were arrested, they confirmed that they were treated respectfully; no guns were held to their heads, no children were separated from their parents to sit in an old shed for hours with no water, food, fresh nappies for the babies, no access to them for their parents, aunts, uncles, granma’s … these are the facts I have carried in my head, to my shame, to the shame of all pakeha in this country, Aotearoa/New Zealand.

This shame has made me angry.
That anger at times was powerful, an energy that helped me carry on, attending meetings, participating in fundraisers to help cover legal fees and costs of travel and accommodation for the arrestees and their families.
When the anger ran out and I got tired, I wept with those others whose whanau were hurting; in marae and homes around the country, on various occasions, I listened as aunties, granmas and uncles spoke about the way their family members were coping or not coping, how the children were reacting to the memory of the raids, their fear of the Police returning again.

So now I issue this challenge: now that the Police case, Operation 8, has been found to be inadmissable, I want Assistant Police Commissioner Jon White removed from his post, and returned to the country he came from.
No more racist policing from him or his minions, thank-you very much.
The Anti-terror Unit has failed badly in it’s prosecution of Ahmed Zauoi, and it has failed again badly in this Operation 8. Flawed assumptions, failed communication; using a template for policing developed in another country, to address concerns not of our making, is a huge failure.

So ‘man up’, New Zealand Police. I call upon the Police Commissioner to take responsibility for the failures made by the ATU, by it’s commanding officer and by each member of that exclusive, elite team. This is not the future we want or need in New Zealand. And those guys have cost our country too much already, get rid of them before yet another piece of flawed reasoning creates another costly debacle.

Then there’s the issue of compensation for loss of employment, loss of enjoyment, and in the case of Tuhoe Lambert, loss of life. There’s the cost of incarceration, the legal fees, the vast and incomprehensible waste of time and money that has been Operation 8. That has already been commented on by Te Ururoa Flavell, here, and at the Hand Mirror by Maia, here.

Tonite, I’m celebrating the demise of this case. This afternoon, knowing the charges had been dropped, but not being able to articulate my feelings, I came home and cooked up a storm in the kitchen in my flat. Just as Sam Buchanan calmly put together a huge tray of apple pie in the kitchen at 128 on the afternoon of the raids, so I threw my energy into making a gluten-free apple pie, and a cassarole for dinner.
It was only as I dished up the meal that I remembered Sam’s epic foresight in preparing some comforting sustenance for those who would arrive at 128 during that day.
So yes, we’ve had our hakari here; but tonite has been a bitter celebration as I think of all that has happened in the intervening almost four years since the raids, all the pain and anger and fear and frustration expressed in our affinity circles.

Ka whaiwhai tonu maatou, ake ake ake. Arohatinonui a koutou katoa, nga anarkia me ngai Tuuhoe.

Tuhoe

Te Mana Motuhake o Tuuhoe

A quick update:
There has been a lot of media on this, and I missed a few pieces last night.
Honourable mention to the Otago Daily Times, one of our last fully-NZ-owned daily print newspapers, for this piece quoting Green MP Keith Locke, and Morning Report on Radio NZ National today came along with this, after broadcasting this earlier. TV3′s early news spoke with John Minto this morning as well, video link here. Another news article from TV3 here, posted Tuesday, profiling union activist Omar Hamed, arrested in Auckland.

Eradicating Ecocide – the Tour

Status

Polly Higgins is a lawyer who has dedicated her life to one client – the Earth.

A barrister and author, Polly has become an expert in Earth Law, a new body of governance to give voice to the Earth.

She speaks on all aspects of governance required for the new world, a world governed by a new set of values – values that put people and planet over profit.

Her recent book, ‘Eradicating Ecocide – Laws and Governance to Prevent the Destruction of our Planet’ won The People’s Book Prize and was a nominee for both the Book Of The Year Award and the Beryl Bainbridge Prize.

Polly spoke today in Wellington to a lunchtime crowd, as part of her speaking tour organised by Wellington Central Green party candidate James Shaw. Her presentation is compelling, comparing the development of the definition of the crime of ‘ecocide’ to the post-WWII development of the crime of ‘genocide’ in respond to the crimes of Nazi Germany.

She clearly laid out the legal definitions involved, and spoke about several well-known cases of gross environmental damage that have been caused by corporate activity, from the Exxon Valdez spill through to the most recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Her tour continues to Nelson and Auckland before heading across the Tasman, so I urge readers outside Wellington to get to Nelson’s session tonite 7pm – 9pm at New Hub, New Street, Nelson CBD (opposite DeVille’s), and Auckland getting their turn Sunday 4th September 1- 9pm, at Earthsong, 457 Swanson Road, Ranui, Waitakere, Auckland, and in the CBD Monday 5th September 7pm – 9pm at Lecture Theatre 260-098, Owen Glenn Building, The University of Auckland.

She has a website of her own, with great info on ecocide here, and there is more information about her book here.

Final slide of the presentation

Final slide of the presentation

One last irony presented itself as we left the venue – Polly had not realised that the Spectrum Theatre, booked for her presentation, was in BP New Zealand’s head office building. Here she is with James after the humour of the situation set in, just before leaving to fly to Nelson.

Polly & James outside BP NZ HO.

Polly & James outside BP NZ HO.

Update:
Polly’s Auckland lecture at the University of Auckland was reported in the NZ Herald here.

Update #2
A mock trial on the crime of ecocide was held in London’s Supreme Court on 30th September, prosecuted by Polly Higgins. Reported here at the Independant, and discussed here at Learning From Nature blog.
It was also live-streamed on BSkyB, but I didn’t post that up in time, soz.
I admit to dropping the ball on that one. (This will be my only rugby-related metaphor, that is all)

Update #3
Very belatedly, here’s a link to the you-tube doco on the mock trial.

In case you missed it

There was an excellent documentary shown on TV3′s Inside New Zealand show, linked below, discussing the ongoing debate about decriminalisation of cannabis use in New Zealand. Dakta Green, aka Ken Morgan, speaks frankly about his campaigning through NORML and the West Auckland property he has converted from warehousing into The Daktory, a ‘member’s only’ cannabis club.

There is also commentary from lawyers, drug harm reduction researchers and health officials in NZ, UK, and Australia, and a segment from Warren Young of the Law Commission, who have released a report on the Review of the 1975 Misuse of Drugs Act, which recommends changes to the legislation.

http://ondemand.tv3.co.nz/Inside-New-Zealand-High-Time/tabid/59/articleID/3498/MCat/342/Default.aspx

I thoroughly recommend anyone to view this, it covers all of the issues very well, in a fair and unbiased way. Incidentally, it includes some footage of Billy McKee taken at his home in Levin, showing the extent of his disability and the way in which he medically uses dried cannabis as an infusion to drink, and a poultice for muscular pain. This was aired just after Billy’s arrest, but produced some weeks ago, as it mentions Dakta Green’s recent conviction, but not Billy’s arrest last week.

For those who are interested, the NZ Law Commission’s report is available here, which can be downloaded as two .pdf files.

Auckland Council needs to rethink street prostitution Bill

Some good news is that Parliament looks likely to vote down the draconian Bill to recriminalise street prostitution proposed by the former Manukau City Council.

[The Bill’s sponsor, Manurewa MP George Hawkins] suspects the bill will get “voted down at its second reading” like Manukau’s previous attempt in 2006.

The objections to this bill are the same, Mr Hawkins says.

“They don’t like the idea of legislation that deals with a social problem that may be widespread in other areas being done as a local bill.”

It’s also criticised by MPs and submitters as unworkable, dangerous for public health and contrary to the Prostitution Reform Act, the Bill of Rights and New Zealand’s obligations under international agreements.

The select committee is now waiting for the council to amend the bill to reflect its wider reach and to publicly notify the changes.

Instead of amending the Bill, the Auckland Council should withdraw it. The problems they are seeking to address by recriminalising street prostitution are problems that can be addressed in other ways.  The real issues are not street prostitution itself but the associated littering (used condoms, empty bottles and cans, drug paraphernalia) and behaviour (drunkenness, public sexual activity).  There are already laws to address those issues. The Auckland Council should be talking with the Police about how to best enforce those laws.

It should also be talking about how to enhance the safety of sex workers by encouraging them to work from brothels, rather than victimising them by attempting to outlaw street prostitution in Auckland.

The Politics of Change

This is my favourite Green Party slogan: Neither Left nor Right but out in Front.

  

In this post I discuss what it means to be “out in front”. I argue that:

  • There is a new dimension to the political spectrum, which defines the Green Party’s point of difference from both National and Labour;
  • Going into the 2011 general election, it is the Green Party’s willingness and ability to effectively lead change that should define our political positioning, and
  • In order to lead change effectively, the Green Party must first change itself.

While Jared Diamond was preparing to write “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed” he discussed some of his ideas on the edge.org website, under the title “Why Do Some Societies Make Disastrous Decisions (while others succeed)?”

Diamond identifies four factors in group decision making that lead a society to fail:

1. First of all, a group may fail to anticipate a problem before the problem actually arrives.

2. Secondly, when the problem arrives, the group may fail to perceive the problem.

3. Then, after they perceive the problem, they may fail even to try to solve the problem.

4. Finally, they may try to solve it but may fail in their attempts to do so.

Over the course of human history, these have been failures to meet the challenges of depleting resources such as fertile soils, fresh water, and energy.

Last year I was doing some work for Manukau City Council, on futures thinking. I applied Jared Diamond’s four factors to the “four-room apartment” model of change. The four “rooms” represent four psychological states involved in the typical human response to change: contentment, denial, confusion, and inspiration. Success (or failure) in adapting to change is a matter of dealing with the condition of being in each of the four “rooms”, and successfully moving between them.

Taking a lead from Jared Diamond, I wanted to focus on the factors that bring about successful change. So I worked through the model, changing the language and concepts as appropriate, and came up with the one that appears in the picture below.

Positive Cycle of Change

This is how it works:

  • We start at the top left corner, in a state of contentment, but without complacency or ignorance. When a potential problem becomes evident, we can anticipate the problem before it arrives.
  • Being aware of the problem, we accept responsibility and resolve to deal with it. Taking responsibility is the precise opposite of being in a state of denial, and its attendant anger, blaming, and self-excusing.
  • Because we have accepted responsibility, we are willing to discover solutions. In the original four-room apartment model, this room is labelled confusion, chaos or conflict, but seen in a positive sense can equally be a state of creativity, innovation and “flow”. The key to success here is obtaining really good information and then making good decisions.
  • Having identified successful solutions, we implement them with determination, commitment and discipline.

This model provides a useful way of re-drawing the political spectrum, in terms of the process of change that the world is currently undergoing (or failing to undergo). The four-room apartment model can be “unfolded” in a way that re-defines where New Zealand’s major political parties stand, in terms of their willingness and ability to deal with the looming ecological, economic and social crises of the 21st century.

And it looks something like this:

This political spectrum shows what it means to be “out in front”. The Greens are not only more advanced through the cycle of change than other parties, but we promote a positive model of change that could ultimately succeed.  The other parties are less far advanced, and are practicing a model of change that will ultimately fail:

  • The ACT party is clearly stuck in ignorance and denial.
  • The National Party is quite aware of the looming problems, but accepts minimal responsibility for them. It is less ignorant than ACT, but still solidly in denial, and unable to develop effective and creative solutions.
  • The Labour Party is slightly better: it accepts the problems but it cannot deal with them effectively, because it is confused about the solutions (e.g. adopting an ETS instead of a Carbon Tax).
  • The Maori Party is on a positive path for change: the concept of kaitiakitanga is embedded in its kaupapa, so it accepts responsibility. But doesn’t yet have workable policy solutions.

Now to return to the slogan “neither left nor right but out in front”. Being “in front” actually does mean being “left” in two senses:

First, our acceptance that we live in a world constrained by limited resources is followed by a commitment that the those resources will be justly shared in three ways:

  1. within our own society,
  2. between developed and developing nations, and
  3. between current and future generations.

Second, being “left” also describes the Green approach to managing change. The Green Party’s mission is to bring about a transformational change in New Zealand: rejecting unsustainable growth and inequality, and implementing our vision of a sustainable and just society. But creating an ecologically sustainable economy will require change and dislocation on a massive scale. The transformation that we are seeking will make the major economic upheavals of my generation – the era of Thatcherism, Reaganomics and Rogernomics – pale by comparison. Our commitment to social justice means people will be treated fairly and well throughout the transition period, which they were not during those right-wing transformations.

We have to acknowledge that the transformational change can be profoundly unsettling and uncomfortable. When major changes are wrought in our social or economic framework, they will inevitably cause dislocation and conflict. The majority of people will benefit from the change we intend, but many others will lose out – and typically many of the latter will be those who benefit from the economic status quo.

If the Green Party genuinely intends to succeed in our mission, we to think carefully about how change occurs; what brings about change, how people respond to it, and how we will go about it when we are in government. But first, we must take responsibility for ourselves, and ask how we might change, in order to effectively lead change.

David Hay – Candidate for Epsom 2011
Originally published in Te Awa, the quarterly members’ magazine of the Green Party, November 2010

Auctland

I see Aucklanders have been invited to submit our entries for a new Auckland supercity logo to the Auckland Transition Agency and be in to win a $10,000 prize.

But just like everything else about the supershitty, the decision on the logo has already been made by Rodney Hide.

I’ve managed to get a copy:

Vacancy: Lecturer in Peace and Conflict Studies, Otago

I’m passing this around, in case any greenies are so inclined & qualified.

Lecturer in Peace and Conflict Studies (Confirmation Path)
National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies

Applicants should possess a PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies or a cognate discipline, and have an established or emerging track record of systematic research and publication. They should also have teaching experience at the tertiary level. Given that Peace and Conflict Studies is a new programme, candidates should be able to demonstrate skills in academic curriculum development as well.

The successful candidate:

* Will have a research background in peace and conflict studies with a significant number of peer reviewed publications. Some preference will be given to those with advanced knowledge in conflict analysis and resolution.

* Will contribute to the research environment by developing/contributing to local and international research groups, by attracting postgraduate students, and by competing successfully for research funding.

* Will be expected to teach two postgraduate courses per year in the area of Peace and Conflict Studies and to supervise 400-level Honours, Masters and PhD students.

* Will contribute to the administration and development of the Centre in particular, and the Division of Humanities and the University of Otago in general.

The position is available from 1 June 2010 and it is hoped that the successful applicant can commence duties as soon as possible around that time.

Specific enquiries may be directed to Professor Kevin P Clements, Director, National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies,
Tel 03 479 4546, Fax 03 479 8084,
Email kevin.clements@otago.ac.nz

Applications quoting reference number A09/163 close on Friday 22 January 2010.

Job Description: You can download the Lecturer in Peace and Conflict
Studies (Confirmation Path) job description (12 KB in PDF format) at
vacancy/otago006243.pdf

Application Forms: Download the Application Form in PDF format at
vacancy/otago002583.pdf

or MS Word format at
vacancy/otago002584.doc

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO): Download the EEO Form in PDF
format at
vacancy/otago002585.pdf

or Rich Text Format (RTF) at
vacancy/otago002582.rtf

Prior to applying for any academic staff vacancy, applicants should also read:

* Application Information for Academic Staff at
application_academic.html

and
* Information for Applicants for Academic Posts and Conditions of Appointment at
ConditionsofAppointment

Wardfire

David Farrar over at Kiwiblog has replied on the subject of unbalanced supercity wards, accusing critics of simply having a go at Rodney Hide. I shall oblige and leave the minister of local government out of this, and instead focus on the undemocratic shambles that this new supercity plan is building.

Farrar claims that the grossly disproportionate wards are okay, as we need to be able to make exceptions for some cases for rural areas. I actually agree- my issue is not with the fact that there is a ward with a greater than 10% difference from the average of the Supercity. My issue is that eight of the twelve proposed wards (or twelve of the twenty counselors) are within the unacceptable range. By definition, two thirds of a group cannot all be exceptional cases. Even if this arrangement benefited the left, it would clearly be wrong and necessitate urgent reform. It’s not about who’s winning. It’s about the principle that elections ought to be fair, and votes ought to be as equitable as possible for people living in different areas.

With relatively little deviation from areas of interest, it should be possible to smooth out the differences between the wards much more, and allow the two wards Farrar mentions to be truly exceptional outliers that barely graze that 10% margin, instead of crushing it at 24% and 17% deviations. A 24% outlier can’t even be called an exceptional case- it’s the kind of statistic that smells of gerrymandering. Let’s preserve geographic and social boundaries without making a joke out of local elections, shall we?

Arise, Sir Rodney Bjelke-Petersen

Sir Joh would have been proud.

Back in the1970s and 1980s one of New Zealand’s more infamous emigrants, the corrupt and racist Queensland Premier the late Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, held onto power by what became known as the Bjelke-mander under which electorate boundaries were drawn so that rural electorates had about half as many voters as metropolitan ones.

As a result, Bjelke-Petersen was able to retain the State Premiership with as little as 20% of the vote going to his Country (later National) Party.

Now take a look at this table, taken from the Local Government Commission’s proposed ward boundaries for the Supercity:

I live in the Waitakere ward. So the vote of someone who lives in the Rodney ward will be worth 1.42 times my vote.  The vote of someone who lives in the Hibiscus-Albany-East Coast Bays ward will be worth 1.32 times my vote.  The vote of someone who lives in the Howick-Botany-Pakuranga ward will be worth 1.31 times my vote.  The vote of someone who lives in the Frankin ward will be worth 1.28 times my vote.

The structure is clearly screwed to provide greater worth to votes from areas that traditionally vote centre-right than those that traditionally vote centre-left or are more evenly politically balanced.

I don’t blame the Local Government Commission.  They were left with little choice given the Government’s legislating that there  would be only 20 councillors, that they would all be elected under First Past the Post, and that Rodney and Franklin would have to have one councillor each.

A gerrymander was inevitable.  And was no doubt planned because, as Rodney Hide said himself:

…you turn up with your papers … they [Cabinet] are too busy with their own stuff; they’re not bothered…

Fear and loathing on Tamaki Drive

Despite being a Wellingtonian I’ll confess that I’ve driven on Tamaki Drive many times before. And my anecdotal experience has been that it’s not the latte-and-lycra cyclists on their bikes-that-cost-more-than-cars that are causing road rage. It’s the hundreds of other cars banked up behind each other. A bike pelaton moving along at 35 km an hour is hardly likely to slow down a car stuck in traffic and moving at 25 km an hour? The only rage they cause is to the cafe-goers sitting quietly down to a coffee when 30 cyclists all drop by en masse to order their long blacks.