Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Spooks & Maori – a brief history

A Brief History of a Long One-Sided Engagement (although Maori have long acted as informants for the other side)

A long essay (7,374 words)

Like death, taxes and politicians the intelligence gatherers or spooks have been with us for millennia, and will be with us forever. 4,500 years ago the Chinese master strategist Sun Tzu wrote on the use of spies in “The Art of War”, and the principles and practices he laid out then are as relevant today as they were in those ancient times. He was of course writing about human intelligence (HUMINT) long before the technology revolution.

Surveillance of Maori by the spooks, whether military, security or police, has been taking place for about 300 years and continues to this day. Our history with the spooks starts during colonisation. For many decades the main targets of the spooks were Maori.

“When British troops were stationed in New Zealand following colonisation, some of the engagements between the Government forces and rebel native tribes indicated serious shortcomings in the intelligence process, particularly with respect to analysis and interpretation of information, of which often there was no shortage from reliable sources.

Fast forward to Operation 8 in 2007. Nothing much changes with respect to serious shortcomings, and analysis and interpretation.

“Following the normal practice a Deputy Quartermaster General was appointed to the staff of the Officer Commanding the Forces in New Zealand. In addition to his responsibilities for the logistics of the forces, he and his staff undertook intelligence duties including observation and reconnaissance in the field.

“Many expeditions were small enough for the field commanders to act as their own intelligence officers and to deal directly with their sources among the friendly Maori, traders, missionaries and settlers. In the early days this led to some British officers, confident in the superiority of the British bayonet, refusing to accept the advice of those who knew the Maori and his capabilities.

“The local forces which were raised, at first to supplement and eventually to replace the regular forces, included men who were familiar with the territory, the bush and the Maori and who were able to play an important part in the intelligence process. Engaged at first as “Interpreters” they were often in the position of scouts, guides and intelligence officer, and a number went on to play leading parts in the Armed Constabulary when it was formed to take over from the British regiments that were being withdrawn from the colony.

“A few units were specifically raised to act as scouts but more often this function was undertaken by bush-wise men within ordinary rifle or mounted units. The term “Guides” had often been used by the British Army to designate a unit whose function was intelligence gathering, the most famous of these being the Indian Army “Corps of Guides”. A Corps of Guides was raised in Wanganui in 1869 and although small in number, at first seven and seldom reaching twelve, did excellent work in the campaigns against dissident Maori leaders Titokowaru and, later, Te Kooti”.

Sub Rosa Inc, NZ Intelligence Corps Assn contributed by Major (Retd) Ray Hurle.

At that time the military played a major role in intelligence gathering. They were spying on Maori before, during and after all of the many military engagements during the New Zealand Land Wars and other military actions up to and including the invasion of Parihaka in 1881.

In 1846 Governor Grey also established an armed police force to “preserve order and suppress rebellion”. This would have been the beginning of the formal intelligence activities of the police.

In 1863 the NZ Settlement Act and the Suppression of Rebellion Act were enacted in Parliament, and Governor Grey invaded the Waikato. The Suppression of Terrorism Act 2002 has a whakapapa. In 1798 a Suppression of Rebellion Act was passed in the UK to suppress the Irish. It was the model for the NZ Suppression of Rebellion Act 1863. At Ruatoki in 2007 the police reached for the newest of those acts, the Suppression of Terrorism Act. The “suppression” acts all provide for extraordinary state powers of surveillance, search, seizure and arrest, and all remove democratic rights.

Governors and ministers also built their informant networks among Maori and those who dealt with Maori. Sir Donald McLean “Te Kiore Kaiwhenua”, land purchase agent, politician and farmer was almost certainly an intelligence agent as well. Of all of the early settlers he would have been one of the best placed to play the role of spy or spymaster. If the spymaster was not McLean it was someone like him. McLean was also a senior Freemason. Governor Sir George Grey was actively involved in collecting information and may well have acted as his own spymaster.

“ ….. and to deal directly with their sources among the friendly Maori, traders, missionaries and settlers”.

That snippet of history shows the extent of the informant network in the 1800s. Before the advent of the wireless and telephone, HUMINT (human intelligence) was the primary source of information; human spies. And before the telephone letters were used to convey much intelligence. In this modern era we focus our attention on the technological and electronic collection of intelligence employed by for instance GCSB, SIS and the Police. Despite the dominance of technology in the modern Intelligence process HUMINT remains an important source of intelligence and the informant networks are still embedded and active. The sources are still “friendly Maori, traders, missionaries and settlers” or their modern day equivalents. Your dodgy cousin perhaps.

There is no direct evidence that he was an active spy but Rev Karl Volkner was certainly one of those sources and he may have died on 2nd March 1865 because of it. Volkner did keep up a correspondence with Sir George Grey informing him about Maori in the East Coast region, including information about military capacity and intentions. Many of the “Pakeha-Maori” who lived among Maori at the time also acted as informants for either Government or Maori, or both.

While Sir George Grey was primarily concerned with Maori he did keep his eye on French expansion into the Pacific. His successor Sir George Bowen was also concerned about Russian expansion into the region. Lieutenant General Sir William Jervois during his term as Governor (1883-1889) was greatly concerned with the threat of Russia and by the end of his term he had bequeathed a network of coastal and harbour defences looking outwards to the external threat of Russia. Japan became a concern early in the 20th century but Russia remained the primary perceived threat up to World War I.

Those bogeyman threats, like reds under the bed, the red menace, the yellow peril and the tangerine terror of the middle of the 20th Century served to divert attention from Maori to some extent but not entirely.

In the latter half of the 19th century the Fenians or Irish Catholics became a security concern because of their support for their homeland during the troubles with the British. The Irish in New Zealand earned the great honour of being a target of internal surveillance along with Maori. Perhaps they were the first of the non-Maori political dissenters to exercise the minds of the spooks.

The waterfront strikes and violence of 1913 would have momentarily diverted the spies eyes from Maori, but not for long.

The police were involved in spying on Maori in the early part of the 20th Century and leading up to their assault on Ngai Tuhoe at Maungapohatu in 1916. According to the SIS website the police took the primary official role in internal security and surveillance from 1919 onwards.

During the World Wars (1914-18 and 1939-45) the German threat became a focus, as did the Japanese threat before and after Japan entered the Second World War.

However Maori did become a target during WW1 because of conscription and the resistance to conscription in Tainui-Maniapoto led by Te Kirihaehae Te Puea Herangi (“Princess” Te Puea). The government then targeted men of Tainui-Maniapoto to be conscripted and if they resisted they were jailed. A Te Putatara correspondent relates the well known story of how Te Puea was spied on at her home in Ngaruawahia. The spy used to park his car outside her house but instead of shooing him away she would invite him in for lunch or a cuppa.

In the period between the wars the Ratana Movement was founded, became politically aligned with Labour, and took its take to England and Japan. There is no doubt that Ratana and his followers would have come under very close police surveillance, especially after the visit to Japan.

Perhaps the participation of Maori in both wars, the Pioneer Battalion in WW1 and particularly the 28th Maori Battalion in WW2, helped to reduce the paranoia and surveillance of Maori. By then of course the spooks had other things to worry about.

From as early as 1840 the ideas of Karl Marx and the notion of workers’ rights had reached the shores of Aotearoa New Zealand but did not gain traction until about the turn of the century. Communism, socialism and trade unions eventually become the main target of the spooks, before during and after the wars, and remained so for decades until the capitulation of the trade unions as a dominant political force in the 1980s and 1990s and the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. The decades long history of that political “subversion” in New Zealand is covered in detail in “Spies and Revolutionaries, A History of New Zealand Subversion” by Graeme Hunt (2007, Reed Publishing, Auckland).

The decade and a half after WW2 was relatively free of paranoia about Maori subversives as the country recovered from the war, and once again immersed itself in the culture of rugby. A great many Maori families had sacrificed their sons to the European war, and there were a large number of Maori ex-servicemen, visible testimony of that sacrifice. It was a tragic and costly demonstration of Maori loyalty to the Crown. Many of the politicians and community leaders in the two or three decades after WW2 had served alongside Maori and were genuinely sympathetic to Maori aspirations. Many, including Sir Robert Muldoon, were not.

The economy also went through a boom led by an increase in wool prices as a result of the Korean War (1950-1953). Paranoia always reduces during times of prosperity and optimism. Despite that, the underlying ignorance and racism that are the seedbeds of paranoia did not diminish.

In 1955 the NZ Special Air Service (SAS) was formed for service in the Malayan Emergency. In 1957 a regular force infantry battalion was formed and was sent to Malaya. Both contained a proportionately large Maori contingent, to the extent that in my time almost every Maori whanau had a member serving in the Army. The battalion remained continuously in South East Asia until 1989. During that time and since Maori have moved up through the army’s ranks and some have also moved across into the security and intelligence services. The writer served in the Army from 1962 to 1982 and there was a greater acceptance of Maori as part of the “establishment” although it was not total.

The media and others speculated in 1988 that the late Brigadier Lin Smith, then Director SIS, had stopped surveillance of Maori in 1984 because of political pressure from the Lange government. However Lin Smith knew Maori better than most of his staff in the SIS and better than most politicians. His decision was based on his knowledge and experience. He was university educated and intellectually astute. He was a man of integrity and principle and would have been guided in his decision by his principles.

By 1965 he had risen through the Territorial Force and Regular Force to the rank of lieutenant colonel. However in 1965 he dropped rank to major to serve as second-in-command to Lieutenant Colonel Brian Poanaga in the battalion in Malaya. He did so at the request of his friend Poananga. Lin Smith worked closely with Brian Poananga for two years in the battalion and came to know Maori officers and soldiers at close quarters. The writer served in that battalion. The writer also served with them again in the early 1980s when Major General Poananga was Chief of Army and Brigadier Smith was again his deputy.

As Director SIS Lin Smith genuinely considered that Maori were not a threat and stopped SIS surveillance. The writer discussed the matter with him in 1987. Perhaps his decision was also influenced by Robert Muldoon’s abuse of power and his political misuse of the SIS during his term as prime minister and minister in charge of the SIS from 1975 to 1984.

But Maori remained in the sights and again became primary targets. Who are the watchers?

It might surprise those who are paranoid about the SIS that as at 2013 the NZ Police Force has actually had primary responsibility for surveillance of Maori for all but 30 of the last 94 years.

  • 1919 – 1941 NZ Police Force
  • 1941 – 1945 Security Intelligence Bureau (established by the military but under control of the police 1943-45)
  • 1945 – 1949 NZ Police Force
  • 1949 – 1956 NZ Police Special Branch
  • 1956 – 1969 NZ Security Service
  • 1969 – 1984 NZ Security Intelligence Service
  • 1984 – 2013 NZ Police Force

 – Primary source: NZSIS website

29 years ago in 1984 under the late Brigadier Lin Smith the NZ Security Intelligence Service relinquished its lead role in the surveillance of Maori and it was resumed by the police.

What needs to be understood is that the NZ Police Force has always been an internal intelligence agency in addition to its main law enforcement role. Throughout its existence that intelligence function has included political intelligence as well as criminal intelligence. They have often confused the two.

However in the 1970s and until 1984, the years of Maori activism and protest, the SIS was still primarily responsible for surveillance of Maori. For about nine of those years Muldoon was in power.

Maori were involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement in the 1960s and 1970s and came under scrutiny along with everyone else. Maori also played a significant role in opposing the 1981 Springbok rugby tour. Many Maori activists who took part in those tour protests had been involved in the anti-Vietnam War protests and in the Maori protest movement from about 1971.

In 1971 Nga Tamatoa staged the first big protest during the Waitangi Day commemoration at Waitangi, They and other groups were to play leading roles in Maori political activism for the next decade or more.

In the early 1970s I became aware that the security and intelligence community was actively monitoring that broad Maori protest movement. I was working in the military as an intelligence analyst at the time on secondment to Australia. A visiting senior intelligence office from Wellington quizzed me on my attitude to Nga Tamatoa. I think I failed the test.

From 1975 Maori radicals and Socialist Unity Party members were the two whipping boys that Sir Robert Muldoon used to his political advantage during his own prime ministerial reign of terror from 1975 to 1984. Well he did destroy a lot of his opponents, real and imagined, including the ones he found in the bottom of a whiskey bottle and under his bed. He also used the anti-apartheid movement in the early 1980s to arouse the passions to his political advantage, and in his own version of paranoia committed New Zealand to a civil war in 1981, over a rugby tour. Throughout his reign he used the intelligence agencies to further his political agendas. In 1980 he released an SIS document highlighting infiltration by the Socialist Unity Party into trade unions. In 1984 he released another document about subversives and radicals in the anti-apartheid movement.

Why go on about Muldoon? Because another Muldoon could easily become prime minister and use or be used by the security and intelligence agencies. That is one of the major concerns about the 2013 GCSB Bill and other search and surveillance legislation. A future prime minister, given greater and greater surveillance powers by an apathetic and compliant parliament, might conceivably turn those powers upon Maori. Imagine a Robert Muldoon clone as a future prime minister.

In 1975 there was the Maori Land March from Te Tai Tokerau to Parliament. Some Maori involved in the march were members of Nga Tamatoa, the Communist Party and other “subversive” groups and would have been under constant surveillance. What governments and the agencies have never been able to understand is that Maori radicals and activists have always been first and foremost Maori, and their membership of the so-called subversive organisations has always been a means to an end – mana motuhake Maori.

In 1977 Ngati Whatua occupied Bastion Point and were finally evicted by force in 1978. In 1978 Tuaiwa Rickard was arrested for trespass after occupying part of her ancestral lands on the Raglan Golf Course. Ngati Whatua and Eva Rickard were both to eventually win their battles to regain their lands but were vigorously opposed by Muldoon. No doubt they were under surveillance by the security and intelligence agencies.

During that time the anti-apartheid movement was building with significant Maori participation. The SIS had infiltrated the movement and on 25th August 1981 Robert Muldoon released an SIS document listing a number of people who were classed either as members of subversive groups or as radicals. Of the 15 named individuals three were Maori who were also active in the Maori protest movement.

In the 1980s the Waitangi Action Committee was at the forefront of Maori protest. Included in their network were former members of Nga Tamatoa and members of Orakei Action Committee, Bastion Point Working Group, Auckland Committee on Racism and Discrimination, Pakehas Against Racism Campaign and the Ponsonby Black Women’s Movement. These were all under surveillance. At least three of the “radicals” under surveillance later became Members of Parliament. For some detail about their activities see “Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou, Struggle Without End” by Professor Ranginui Walker (1990, Penguin, Auckland).

In 1987 in his maiden speech in Parliament Ross Meurant, who until then had been a police inspector and had been heavily involved in policing the Springbok Tour, spoke at great length about the threat of Maori radicals and terrorists. He named individuals and organisations. His information was culled from police intelligence files. I reproduce in full that part of his speech dealing with Maori terrorism. It makes fascinating reading.

“I now wish to speak briefly about the advent of racial terrorism. They say that until an alcoholic acknowledges that he has a problem there is no hope for a cure or a remedy; I say that until we are able to admit that we have a problem with our race relations they will steadily deteriorate. When white middle-class New Zealanders turn on the television they see radical nationalist Maoris demanding land and compulsory Maori language in schools; insulting white New Zealanders; swearing that white man’s blood will run in the streets; and threatening the rest of the country with armed revolution. White New Zealand hears calls for absolute Maori control of our country, sees Maori gangs involved in shocking crimes—and white New Zealand turns off. The backlash has begun.

“We must also maintain our vigilance against extremist elements in our society that would exploit our racial difficulties and that advocate the overthrow of the New Zealand Government by armed force and the removal of white New Zealanders. Who are the people who want total Maori control of New Zealand? They are Maori radicals who espouse a philosophy of nationalism, yet accept assistance from communist States and training in Third World countries. Those people include Atareta Poananga, Titewhai Harawira, Hinewhare Harawira, Rebecca Evans, Donna Awatere, Hilda Halkyard Harawira, and Emily Karaka, who are the principal cell of the Maori nationalist movement in New Zealand. They call the shots. Males are regarded as inferior, and sit in the second row. They include Arthur Harawira, Hone Harawira, Mangu Awarau, Benny Dalton, Dr Pat Hohepa, Eru Potaka-Dewes, Norman Te Whata, Syd Jackson, and Haami Piripi. Those people operate under several organisational labels — the Waitangi Action Committee appears to be the umbrella group, with PENAK, NFIP, MLPA, Rangitahi Action Group, and Te Ahi Kaa some of the subsidiary groups.

“As an inspector of the New Zealand Police, I — along with others — watched the movement grow. Those people were first seen at Bastion Point in 1978; they then moved to Waitangi, and turned our national day into an annual battle between police and protestors. In 1981 New Zealanders experienced unprecedented violence in the streets as members of the group recruited, organised, mobilised, and motivated gang members across the nation, from the Mongrel Mob to the Headhunters, to clash with the police. They have moved underground, and they are now a greater danger; they now plan to overthrow the New Zealand Government. Poananga stated: “We want all the land back, every inch of it.” She also said that they will resort to the barrel of a gun to achieve their goal. That group will never succeed with its objective, but — as with the Black September movement in the United States — it will cause a lot of misery and turmoil, and the danger it presents to the nation must not be underestimated.

“What are those people doing now? They have even moved inside the system. Rebecca Evans, for example, has taken a job in broadcasting. Goebbels understood the importance of the news media. Others have taken up a variety of welfare positions, particularly within the mental health field. The group is now ensconced at CarringtonHospital in Auckland, and uses that hospital’s telephone, stationery, and office space. At one secret meeting they had with Abu Laghood, a Palestine Liberation Organisation representative, the principal question asked of Laghood was: “How do we get firearms and explosives from the PLO?”

“The group has become so powerful at CarringtonHospital that it is able to effect the channeling of hospital funds away from projects given priority by hospital management into the dubious area of Maori mental health. Maori mental health includes the indoctrination of young Maori gang members with the concept that they are in prison or discriminated against because of the white man, and that their salvation lies in revolution. The group at CarringtonHospital now controls a Maori ward. Access to that ward is only on the authority of Titewhai Harawira — even the doctors must get Harawira’s permission before they enter the ward. I say that that is an outrage — an outrage that has happened only under the Labour Government, and that is happening at this moment. The group has become so powerful that a hospital superintendent spoke out publicly about their actions earlier this year. He was not exaggerating about the group’s influence, because, unfortunately, when the issue was forced again last month it was Dr Radcliffe, the hospital superintendent—not the radical social workers — who was put off the hospital staff. I put this outrage before the nation as an issue that demands an immediate and independent inquiry now.

“Those Maori nationalists form a network throughout the country. Hone Harawira is the principal trustee for the Aupouri Ngati Kahu Te Rarawa Trust in Northland, which has received $1.5 million from the training assistance programme, the Access programme, and the Department of Maori Affairs in the past 3 years. Haami Piripi, who is chairman of the Aupouri trust, is also head of the Rangitahi Action Group, which is subservient to the Waitangi Action Group. The Aupouri trust administers some 14 training groups, one of those being Whakakoro Kohanga Reo — language nest — which is administered by Hilda Halkyard Harawira. Another of those groups is the Ani Wha Niwa in Kaitaia, which is administered by Hone Harawira. The Taumata Kohanga Reo spent its initial setting-up grant of $5,000 on the purchase of a vehicle. The accountability of the Aupouri trust for the moneys it receives is questionable, at best, with the opportunity for misappropriation being considerable. I share the concerns of intelligence-gathering agencies that the political activities of the Waitangi Action Committee are funded by moneys stolen from grants made to the trust or other welfare sources.

“Group members have extensive contacts abroad. In 1978 Awatere, Evans, and seven Socialist Unity Party members went to Cuba, where Awatere and Evans met with the Palestine Liberation Organisation leadership for the first time. Evans says that she learnt there that 400 000 Maori people could take on 3 000 000 whites. Awatere and Hilda Halkyard Harawira went to the Vanuatu celebrations, and in 1980, together with Hone Harawira, they participated in the boycott of the Brisbane Commonwealth Games. On 4 April 1987, Awarau and Dalton and two others booked to fly to Libya, and recently Hilda Halkyard Harawira went to Denmark to receive a communist-supported peace prize. As recently as last month, Poananga, Harawira, and Hohepa went to Fiji to seek Colonel Rabuka’s help to overthrow the New Zealand Government by armed force.

“I place this information before the nation, which also demands an inquiry into the distribution of $1.5 million through the hands of those terrorists. Those people are dangerous; they are growing in strength, and in confidence, and we must move to put into place the State machinery to deal with them. The police are neither equipped nor trained to deal with terrorists. A terrorist has a totally different psyche from the everyday criminal. As a nation, we must look at setting up a Government unit to maintain surveillance of and to infiltrate that kind of terrorist group.

“Up until now, the country has relied on the Security Intelligence Service to fulfil that type of role, but I believe that that service is in need of a major overhaul. The effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of the Security Intelligence Service over the past 24 months may be due not so much to its ability to do the job as to the Lange Labour Government directing the Security Intelligence Service not to infiltrate or maintain surveillance of Maori radical gangs. “Do not spy on our terrorists”, it was told. That action by the Labour Government was a danger to national security”.

 – Hansard, 6th October 1987

It all seems rather ridiculous 26 years later. To his great credit Ross Meurant has long since recanted and admitted that after the mind broadening experience of university and the world outside the police he came to realise that he was wrong. He attributed his then attitude to 20 years service in the NZ Police within a culture of paranoia he callsDeep in the Forest.

The speech does however reveal how much surveillance of Maori was being conducted and how the police thought at the time. And if you compare that mentality to the mentality behind the Operation 8 raids on 15th October 2007 nothing much has changed.

Following the election of a Labour government in 1984 and a Maori Economic Summit (Hui Taumata) in October that year, funding started to be delivered to Maori through tribal and community providers. The paranoia surrounding that is told in full in the essay “The Origins of Corporate Iwi”. It was fairly intense and Maori came under some intense surveillance, as told by Ross Meurant.

The so-called Maori Loans Affair of December 1986 raised other security fears, that Maori were being used by the CIA to destabilize the Labour government. So now we were terrorists with communist links, and at the same time we were handmaidens of the CIA.

Throughout the 1980s there were rumours circulating about Maori terrorism, guerilla training camps, arms caches and gun running all thought to be financed via the new funding programmes aimed at Maori communities. At Te Putatara we discovered that those rumours were believed by some in the security and intelligence agencies.

On 14th June 1988 Roger Foley reported in The Evening Post in Wellington that several present and former officers of the SIS were calling for a probe into the operations of the SIS. Among other things they were upset that Maori activists were not being monitored by SIS, that activity having been stopped in 1984 by the Director of SIS Brigadier Lin Smith.


SIS previously took a close interest in Maori activists, in particular Waitangi Day celebrations. But according to one source field surveillance of activists stopped in 1984 because Brigadier Smith regarded Maori activism as legitimate dissent and protest and it was too sensitive an issue in which to involve the SIS. For information on this subject the service was told to rely on newspaper accounts.

Ross Meurant responded in the media the next day saying that the SIS woes were known to the police. He was also reported as saying that the police received valuable information about Maori during the 1981 Springbok tour and at some time during 1985 “there did not appear to be the same availability of intelligence from the SIS.” He went on to reveal that “about that time the police were becoming more concerned about Maori activism.

In the same month Te Putatara was contacted by a journalist looking for information about surveillance of Maori who travelled overseas, especially in the Pacific. He was jokingly told to ring the Director of the External Intelligence Bureau (EIB), but to ring him at home. He did. He managed to contact Bernard Hillier at home after working hours and Hillier seemed to be intoxicated. When asked if Maori were under surveillance in the Pacific Hillier said that they were. His confirmation was reported in the Dominion. It was a massive blunder on his part and he was fired. The EIB was renamed EAB (External Assessments Bureau) and moved into the Prime Minister’s Department. He issued a media release as he left his job stating that the EIB was not actively involved in intelligence collection but was an assessment agency only. Hillier got himself a soft landing as a diplomat on a Pacific island. He was right about EIB being only an assessment agency but also right in confirming that others were spying on Maori in the Pacific.

In July 1989 Te Putatara reported that Paul Holmes had run a show about gun running and landing craft in Te Tai Tokerau in which the journalist Rob Harley had rubbished the claims Te Putatara responded with a spoof called “The War of the Blowfly” in Te Putatara 7/89, 20 July 1989.

In 1990 New Zealand commemorated 150 years since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. The Queen visited and attended the official commemoration at Waitangi. For the police that was a massive security and intelligence operation. For at least twelve months before that the police gathered intelligence about Maori activists’ plans. They may well have infiltrated some organisations. Te Putatara reported this in August 1989:

TV Plod

“The kumara vine reports a video crew travelling the motu passing itself off as an overseas TV crew. The funny thing is that they are only filming you Maori radicals, and activists, and veteran land rights campaigners (all you Te Putatara readers). My sources say they look awfully like Her Majesty’s Most Loyal New Zealand Police People, or Security.

“E hoa ma, this must be the Police Intelligence project to commemorate 1990 eh! Wonder if they got a grant from the 1990 Commission, or the Arts Council, or the Film Commission?”

 – Te Putatara Issue 8/89, 21 August 1989

Although tongue in cheek it was a serious warning to readers that the police did indeed have an intelligence gathering crew on the road attending many hui and posing as a TV crew. The commemoration on 6th February 1990 was quite uneventful from a security point of view. The police were obviously expecting a massive Maori demonstration or protest for they deployed a large contingent. They also erected a barbed wire enclosure to act as a temporary prison. The police themselves caused the only trouble at Waitangi by illegally handing out trespass notices to anyone they recognized as an activist, and even to some who looked like an activist.

In that year of celebration, in 1990, the Bill of Rights Act was enacted. It lacked and still lacks constitutional authority. If it had been made Supreme Law the courts would be able to strike down any existing or proposed laws in conflict with the Bill of Rights. Maori (and all citizens) would have greater protection from the spying and prying of the spooks, including the police.

The paranoia continued until the 1990 elections in October when a National government was elected. The Nationals continued with the process of Treaty settlements and with the delivery of services to Maori through tribal and community providers. The first two big Treaty settlements to Tainui (1995) and Ngai Tahu (1998) were iconic in that they signalled to Maori that grievances were going to be settled. Language revival initiatives including the Maori Language Commission, Maori medium schooling and Maori broadcasting finally started to address the core demands of activists from the 1960s onwards.

Those and many other initiatives started by Labour and continued by National took much of the anger and passion out of the activist movement. They also moved much of the impetus away from Maori activists into the hands of more conservative Maori. As the various programmes rolled out Maori conservatives moved in to manage them, many of the activists were effectively sidelined and many of them joined the establishment. Some became MPs. It seemed during the 1990s that the level of paranoia about Maori decreased. The ignorance and racism continued as many New Zealanders resented the gains that Maori were making. Many still do.

The National government led by Prime Minister Jim Bolger and Treaty Negotiations Minister Doug Graham seemed to have consciously decided to take the heat out of Maori activism and out of the Pakeha backlash (“race relations”) by meeting and settling many of the demands of the previous decades. The police continued their surveillance.

In May 2000 Te Putatara published a piece on “Security & Intelligence – Watching the Watchers“. In it Maori were warned that it was the police who were the biggest watchers rather than the SIS. Although the article was re-published in a couple of other websites Maori didn’t seem to take much notice.

The period of relative calm ended after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC on 11th September 2001. In 2002 the Parliament enacted the Terrorism Suppression Act. The SIS and GCSB were expanded and the police responded with new units and staffing:

“New positions established to increase capability to pre-empt and respond to terrorist attacks include:

  • An Assistant Commissioner to take an executive lead on counterterrorism and national security matters
  • A full time Special Tactics Group to respond operationally to terrorist emergencies
  • A full time Specialist Search Group and National Bomb Data Centre Manager
  • A new Strategic Intelligence Unit (SIU)
  • New liaison positions at diplomatic missions in London, WashingtonDC and Jakarta, and the pending creation of a further liaison position in Suva
  • Additional police at six New Zealand airports

The police then formed the Special Investigation Groups (SIGs) in 2005 with offices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. When he announced the formation of SIG in the 2004 budget minister Phil Goff said they were to boost New Zealand’s counter-terrorism capacity and would be “deployed for specific national security duties” by the Strategic Intelligence Unit at police national headquarters. Goff said at the time 29 new police staff would go to units conducting investigative and intelligence-related work. Most or all of these were likely to have been SIG staff. They were “intelligence” units.

The subsequent surveillance activities of the SIGs against civil activism rather than  terrorism are now publicly documented (see the Gilchrist saga). In the absence of credible terrorist threats (which would be the responsibility of SIS anyway) they turned their attention to political activism. They had in effect used the post 9/11 hysteria to build themselves an enhanced political intelligence capability under the cover of anti-terrorism. They had at last returned to their Police Special Branch roots officially disestablished in 1956 but this time they have much greater surveillance capacity and a paramilitary offensive capability. The Urewera (and Kim Dotcom) raids showed that they had become much more heavy handed than their Special Branch predecessors.

Much of this new police intelligence establishment was in 2006 and 2007 brought to bear on the so-called “terrorists” in the Urewera. Head of Intelligence Assistant Commissioner Jon White was involved, SIG Auckland led Operation 8, and the Special Tactics Group of paramilitaries was used to conduct the raids.

The Police Electronic Crime Laboratory also received more funding, staff and equipment and developed a new Electronic Crime Strategy.

The e-Crime Lab was heavily involved in the Operation 8 raids across the country as dozens of computers were seized from multiple addresses as the police went on a nationwide fishing expedition looking for evidence to corroborate their allegations of terrorism. It was as if they had imagined that there was a nationwide terrorist plot afoot. They found no evidence.

Prior to the 2007 raids there was a build up of surveillance of Maori by these new units. Prior to and during June and July of 2002 there was heavy surveillance and a heavy police presence at the protests against the Ngawha Prison being built in Te Tai Tokerau. Police surveillance cameramen were also present at the court hearings of those protestors who had been charged. Police acted very aggressively and unlawfully against those who tried to film their heavy handed tactics and their police cameramen. As reported to Te Putatara at the time the police assaulted several people who were trying to film them.

In 2002 a police note (referred to in the later Operation 8 evidence) recorded that Taame Iti and Rangi Kemara had been seen together in Mangere. It is probably not surprising that Taame was under police surveillance and had been under surveillance for decades. He knew that too.

In 2004 police tried and failed to charge a person they believed was the Bl@ckMask who had allegedly defaced a National Party website after its then leader Don Brash had delivered a speech at Orewa that many considered inflammatory and racist. The e-Crime Lab was the lead agency in that investigation. This alleged offence was brought into their evidence about Operation 8 in 2007, indicating that it was one of the long lasting intelligence threads leading to Operation 8.

The Foreshore & Seabed Hikoi to Parliament took place in April & May 2004. Police surveillance of that event was heavy and was reported to Te Putatara by a source involved in the surveillance.

In November 2004 following the Seabed & Foreshore Hikoi and the formation of the Maori Party there were allegations in the media that the SIS had been conducting an operation called “Operation Leaf” against Maori. The allegations were:

  • The SIS contracted “computer geeks” to engineer contact with Maori organisations and plant bugging equipment on their computers or change the settings to allow remote access.
  • They were told to gather intelligence on internal iwi business negotiations, finances and Treaty claims and inter-tribal cmmunications.
  • They were instructed to watch for “dirt”, including “personal information, relationships, money issues, family secrets” on Maori leaders.
  • Serious divisions exist within the intelligence community, with some spies believing the SIS is too deferential to Western agencies.

Tariana Turia was also concerned that her privacy had been compromised as part of that surveillance.

It proved to be a hoax after the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security reported that the SIS had not been involved. The Director SIS also assured Tariana that his organisation had not bugged her telephone. However there had definitely been surveillance of Maori and their computer systems by someone. Te Putatara knew about that from various sources prior to the “Op Leaf” hoax. No-one thought to investigate the police instead of the SIS. Tariana needed to question the police commissioner rather than the SIS director.

On 30 November 2004 The US Embassy reported on their discussions with SIS about “Op Leaf”:

“(S) Post’s RMAS spoke with SIS contacts, who stated that the press claims are not credible. They further stated that the SIS had monitored Maori groups in the past when they were considered a possible national security risk, but stopped doing so at least 10 years ago. In fact, when the RMAS asked SIS last year if they were looking at Maori groups in the wake of press reports that some Maori were embracing radical Islam, SIS said no, as they thought the police were doing an adequate monitoring job”.

– Wikileaks

On 16 January 2005 Taame Iti shot a flag with his shotgun on his marae during a theatrical powhiri to the Waitangi Tribunal. He wasn’t charged initially as the local police were not concerned but paranoia and pressure from Wellington had him in court over a year later. He was convicted in June 2006 but that was overturned on appeal in April 2007.

In December 2005 the police, according to their own evidence, started “collating and analyzing intelligence relating to a group of political extremists who are meeting and receiving military firearms training in an isolated area of bush in New Zealand”.

That culminated in the Operation 8 raids on 15th October 2007. The “collating and analyzing” of “intelligence” will be examined in future articles.

For a brief history this is a long essay. Hopefully it serves to add some context to the Operation 8 raids on 15th October 2007. Historically, the Urewera raids were entirely in context. They were a continuation of a long history of ignorance, racism, paranoia, suspicion and surveillance.

Whether or not the conclusions the police drew from that surveillance were reasonable or not is the subject of the series of “Operation 8” essays to follow.

The latest revelations in 2013 following Kim Dotcom’s legal team’s uncovering of further illegal spying, search and seizure, and in the wake of leaks by US citizen Edward Snowden about the extent of electronic spying in the “5-Eyes” network, as well as the introduction of a bill to allow the GCSB to conduct its operations in New Zealand against New Zealanders, has raised the spectre of even more enhanced and intrusive spying against Maori. The real threat is still from the NZ Police who will now legally be able to use the GCSB in their spying against Maori. And if the past is any indication of the future they will.

The NZ Police have demonstrated their ignorance, racism and paranoia about Maori and Maori activism over an extended period. The NZ Police have demonstrated their propensity to go beyond the legal boundaries in relation to warrants and surveillance and there is no reason to believe that their behaviour will change any time soon unless and until stronger legal safeguards and sanctions are put in place.

In a previous post Te Putatara outlined the need for a grownup threat analysis of terrorism. The same should be required of the police to justify their surveillance of Maori – a real grownup intellectually rigorous threat analysis based on knowledge, expertise and evidence instead of the immature ignorance, racism and paranoia that has prevailed for generations. In the interests of accountability It should be a public document.

Looking back over the history of the spooks and Maori I have reached the conclusion, strange as it may seem, that Maori would be much better off if the intelligence function were to be removed from the police and returned to the SIS. The lesser of two evils as it were. The problem with the police is that they are constantly engaged with criminals and criminality. Many of the criminals are Maori. Because their primary engagement is with criminals the police have a “Them & Us” complex, and that feeds their racism and paranoia. The mind of the policemen is hard wired thnrough experience and culture and they tend to see political activism or Maori activism through that prism of criminality.

The police also have a strong enforcement function, bolstered by a paramilitary force (Special Tactics Group). That combination of surveillance, intelligence and enforcement functions in the one organisation is dangerous.

Last night I watched for about the tenth time the film “Deep in the Forest” about the raids at Ruatoki and elsewhere on 15th October 2007. It was a huge over-reaction, locking down and terrorising an entire community in order to arrest just a few people. It was the culmination of an intelligence operation notable for the instances of illegal use of warrants, illegal surveillance, and on the day illegal detention, search and seizure. That much has been established by the courts and by the Independent Police Conduct Authority. No-one has officially been held to account for that unlawful behaviour.

There needs to be a mechanism that places a strong check on the actions of the State, enforced by strong sanctions. To start with Maori need the Bill of Rights to be entrenched as Supreme Law.

See also this 1998 study on racism in the NZ Police.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

The Origins of Corporate Iwi

This essay traces the origins of corporate iwi from 1984. The author was personally involved in the formation of the iwi and community provider network and its struggle to attain legitimacy. Much of the information that follows is sourced from the author’s personal diary and journal entries of the time, and from commentary in Te Putatara.

Based on that kaupapa the election of a Labour government in July 1984 and the appointment of Koro Wetere as Minister of Maori Affairs presaged a renewed impetus in Maori development in which were sown the seeds that grew into modern corporate iwi. It was the beginning of transfer of funding, power and responsibility from government agencies to both tribal and community providers.

Sir Apirana Ngata led an early Maori development initiative focused on land, culture, the arts and education. He advocated for the Maori Land Act 1909 under which previously established Maori land incorporations were legislated. Much of his work before and during his time in Parliament (1905-1943) including a period as  Minister of Maori Affairs (1928-34) was focused on land reform and development, including the formation of Maori land incorporations.

Prior to its abolition in 1989 the Board of Maori Affairs was heavily involved in land management  and development through its Maori Land Advisory committees and supported by the Department of Maori Affairs in both advisory and executive functions.  The Department was also providing Maori housing loans and running a very successful trade training scheme. The Maori Trustee had long been involved primarily in land management rather than land development.

The modern drive for economic and social development began in the Department of Maori Affairs and in the Maori Trustee in the early 1980s with further programmes such as Tu Tangata under Secretary Kara Puketapu in the term of a National government. The Department was enthusiastically supported by Maori communities. In 1982 Te Kohanga Reo was established by the Department with 100 kohanga opened in the first year, growing to 800 kohanga by 1994 with 14,000 mokopuna enrolled. The history of that ground brealing initiative is shown in the documentary “Let My Whakapapa Speak”.

However by about 1984 many in the Department and the Trustee saw themselves as the prime movers in development. That was the status quo but many in Te Ao Maori did not share that view.

For instance, when I joined the government development initiative in 1986 I was briefed by the kaumatua of my Wairarapa hapu on our mostly negative history of engagement with both agencies. They asked me to be alert to a repeat of that history. My hapu was not alone in its disquiet.

After its July 1984 election a Labour government convened an economic development conference in October that year; Hui Taumata . Hui Taumata recognized the need for Maori to move from welfare dependency, and for the government to assist Maori to participate in the economy. The conference communiqué, He Kawenata, called for a decade of development.

The Department of Maori Affairs presumption that it would take the lead role in Maori development post-1984 was a misreading of the mood of Hui Taumata. It also led directly to its ill fated and incompetent attempt to negotiate offshore development loans worth hundreds of millions in 1986 (Maori Loans Affair), and ultimately to its dis-establishment in 1989.

By 1986 Minister of Maori Affairs Koro Wetere had negotiated government funding to create a few economic initiatives.

The first was the MANA Enterprises business startup project designed to make low interest loans to fledgling Maori owned businesses. The second was a Maori version of a Labour Department training programme called ACCESS. The Maori version was dubbed MACCESS. It had been known for some time that two key requirements for development were access to capital and improved management and business capability. Both projects were funded by the Labour Department directly to the Board of Maori Affairs rather than the Department of Maori Affairs. The funds were held for the Board in the Maori Trustee account. A further economic development initiative was the Maori Development Corporation set up to act as a venture capital agency.

Wira Gardiner and Ripeka Evans were the two principal consultants who worked with the Minister and the Board to design the MANA and MACCESS projects, to negotiate the funding from government, and then to establish the MANA and MACCESS project teams. In mid 1986 Ross Himona had joined the MANA team and became team leader towards the end of 1986. Ria Earp was recruited by Wira and Ripeka to lead the MACCESS team. MANA was the more controversial of the two and there was a procession of project team leaders.

The kaupapa called for funding for both projects to be delivered through tribal and regional providers. Prior to that all grant, project and programme funding for Maori had been delivered by government agencies, primarily the Department of Maori Affairs through its district offices. There was naturally some resistance within the department and the central and district offices to the creation of a new funding channel not under the control of the department. However there were also many in the department who supported the move.

Until that time the Department of Maori Affairs exerted widespread control over Te Ao Maori. It was the gateway to access to government. Because of its ownership of that gateway it controlled information flow to Te Ao Maori, augmented by its own in-house magazines and its network of community officers. When you control information flows you control everything. Te Putatara was later started in part to defeat that control of information.

Government required all providers in this proposed new funding channel to be incorporated bodies, preferably legislated organisations, to ensure transparency and accountability. At the time almost the only organisations that met the criteria were the existing Maori Trust Boards. An ad hoc delivery mechanism was established consisting of 17 tribal and regional authorities later expanded to 21. They were mostly trust boards, with a few incorporated societies including five urban organisations. The five urban organisations were at Tamaki, Waipareira, Manukau, Whanganui and Wellington. The Waipareira and Manukau organisations still operate in that role.

The Whanganui Regional Employment Board was headed by Tariana Turia. At the time, long before her conversion to the whanau-hapu-iwi construct, she was ardently opposed to tribal delivery. Pita Sharples was the inaugural chairman of Te Runanganui O Ngati Kahungunu, which has since transformed itself via insolvency into Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Inc.

From mid 1986 seed funding of about $150,000 was distributed to each of the tribal and regional authorities to pilot the MANA Enterprises programme. Between then and the end of 1986 the project was fine tuned ready for the first major distribution of funding. After the pilot the first $9 million was granted and was ready for distribution at the end of 1986.

The Department of Maori Affairs was still trying to gain control of the project to deliver the funding through its district offices. The Board of Maori Affairs project teams who answered directly to two committees of the Board were widely supported in their intention to bypass the department altogether. That was the beginning of a long struggle to remove the department from programme delivery. The department managed to delay distribution of the first $9 million for some weeks towards the end of 1986.

There was another group of very influential players, some of them members of the Board of Maori Affairs and close to Koro Wetere, who were trying to have the funding delivered through non-tribal regional boards to be established under the Board of Maori Affairs itself. They too had no love for the department but equally did not want a tribal system put in place. They persisted into 1987 but gained no traction.

In December 1986 the so-called Maori Loans Affair erupted in Parliament and in the media, fuelled by questions by Winston Peters. The upshot of that was that the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Maori Affairs, Tamati Reedy and Neville Baker, were sent on indefinite leave on Christmas Eve. I was at the hui at Maori Affairs late in the afternoon of Christmas Eve when the State Services Commissioner Don Hunn announced that decision to the department. That took the two main departmental opponents of the tribal and regional delivery channel out of play for a few weeks.

I immediately sought out one of the remaining senior officials who supported the new funding mechanism. Within the hour the $9 million had been moved out of the Maori Trustee account and was on its way to the 17 new providers, to reach their bank accounts ready for them to begin operating the MANA programme in the new year. Until that moment it was likely that the department would prevail.

From early to mid 1987 MACCESS funding followed through the same mechanism. There was much more funding delivered through MACCESS than through MANA and between the two of them they established what eventually became the present system of funding delivery to Maori through tribal and community providers.

A further threat to the new system was Winston Peters who attacked both projects, and of course their sponsor in government, Koro Wetere. Early in 1987 I rang Winston and did a deal with him. He agreed to give me 6 months grace to get MANA Enterprises established and to ensure that accountability and transparency were in place. At the end of that period of grace he resumed his political attacks on both MANA and MACCESS.

The department persisted in its attempts to regain control and did manage to move the MANA and MACCESS teams out of the Board of Maori Affairs into its own direct control.

It mounted attacks on a few of the providers including Tamaki Maori Development Authority, Te Arawa Trust Board and Tainui Trust Board. A few of the providers, including Tamaki and Te Arawa, had tried to establish trade ties in the Pacific. Their private trade missions were monitored by diplomatic and intelligence staff in the Pacific and they were defunded by the Department of Maori Affairs.

I was working closely with Tamaki Maori Development Authority at the time of the Department’s attack which was led by Neville Baker. Like most of the new tribal and regional providers Tamaki was a bit rough around the edges as it developed expertise but was not guilty of the allegations against it. John Tamihere was working for the Department in Auckland at that time. John has since of course carved out a career with Waipareira and is now facing his own real problems. Tamaki won the support of the courts in their case against the Department but were never compensated for the personal and organisation losses caused by the Department.

The attack on Te Arawa was under the guise of allegations of a “2nd Maori Loans Affair”. I was also working closely with Te Arawa at the time and the alleged offshore loan was news to us on the economic development project team. There were also groundless allegations of improper MANA loans being made.

The Tainui Maori Trust Board under the guidance of Robert Mahuta was resolutely heading in its own direction and making its own decisions, tending to ignore the Department.

The 1987 parliamentary maiden speech of Ross Meurant (Hansard, Tuesday October 6th, 1987), who until then had served twenty years in the NZ Police rising to the commissioned rank of Inspector, laid out in great detail the paranoia and fears of Maori terrorism in the police at that time. He named names and organisations, and described how they were funded. He also alleged that Maori had terrorist links with Libya, the PLO, Vanuatu and Fiji. This information and its paranoid interpretation was sourced entirely in police intelligence gathering . To his great credit Meurant, having educated himself and broadened his mind at university and in the real world outside the police and parliament,  has since recanted and explained that the allegations arose out of a police culture of paranoia that he called “Deep in the Forest” in which he had been immersed for twenty years.

There were also rumours circulating in the community, notably in the more fundamentalist churches, that MANA and MACCESS funding was being used to fund criminal and terrorist activity. At about that time a renegade officer from the NZ Security Intelligence Service, who was a member of one of those fundamentalist churches, illegally tried to recruit an informant within the MANA and MACCESS teams. The attempt was made despite his having being ordered by Director SIS to cease his surveillance of Maori. His attempt to infiltrate the teams was thwarted.

As well as fears of criminal and even terrorist infiltration of the funding network many believed that Te Ao Maori was being manipulated by the CIA to destabilise the Labour government. For instance it was reported in the media and believed by some in government that a large US defence industry corporation that was partnering with Te Arawa Trust Board to install IT systems was really a CIA front. There were fears, expressed in the media, that the foreign principals involved in the so-called Maori Loans Affair of 1986 had been CIA operatives.

Throughout 1987 and 1988 there were tensions in the Pacific that added to the overall paranoia in New Zealand. There were two coup d’etat in Fiji, bloodshed in New Caledonia, and there were fears that Maori were linking up with separatist movements in the Pacific. The US and New Zealand governments were also monitoring the activities of the Soviets and the Libyans in the Pacific, fearful that they might support separatist movements. There was also a suspicion that Maori were linking with South Africa and Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC).

Security threats were conceived out of thin air and believed, no matter how remote or ridiculous they might have been, and Maori were invariably woven into the narrative . The tribal and regional authority network was established in that climate, one of intense racism and paranoia.

The Department of Maori Affairs itself, or at least a few at the top, also became increasingly paranoid. As well as operating within the external climate of paranoia it was losing respect and authority and power. Te Putatara did its bit to refine their paranoia.

Tribal and community delivery of funding to Maori somehow managed to survive, and eventually to flourish. As the late Sir Robert Mahuta said at the time, “the genie had been let out of the bottle”. It all seems quite surreal, twenty five years on.

To retain its grip on Maori development the department tried to make all providers agents of the Crown, directly answerable to the department, rather than independent contractors, and for a time they prevailed. In the end they failed and the department was disestablished in 1989 when the Iwi Transition Agency headed by Wira Gardiner (now Sir Wira) was established.

Te Putatara was accused by some department officials of being responsible for their downfall, through a long running campaign in the newsletter. They were far too generous in their praise. Their own “Maori Loans Affair” was a big factor in their demise.

Both the MANA and MACCESS projects eventually went the way of all programmes to Programme Heaven (Whanau Ora has a priority reservation). However the principle was established and funding delivery had been torn from the grasp of the department.

Probably the next major and long lasting initiative was the establishment of the network of Maori health providers by the new and short lived Ministry of Maori Policy. The officials who set up that network had been involved in MACCESS. By that time MACCESS was on its way out or had already gone. The core Maori health network was built around those providers who had operated MACCESS. In the beginning many of them were short on health knowledge and expertise but they were intent on mission transformation and funding capture. To give them their due over time they and many new providers did transform themselves into professional primary health providers. The ropey ones fell by the wayside.

One of the little understood but important initiatives was the delivery of health funding by contract to independent and autonomous providers instead of by funding agreement to agencies of the Crown. That moved more control and independence to the providers.

The rest is history as that ad hoc network of iwi providers evolved quite rapidly into autonomous and independent entities.

On the back of those initial steps in 1986 and 1987 towards tribal and community programme delivery the legislative course of that evolution started with a discussion paper “He Tirohanga Rangapu” in April 1988, followed by the government response to that consultation “Te Urupare Rangapu” in November 1988. That outlined the proposal to establish a new Ministry of Maori Policy and an Iwi Transition Agency. The Runanga-A-Iwi Bill was introduced in December 1989, and the National Government’s policy was published as “Ka Awatea” in 1991.

Policy development and implementation during that period has been documented by Cherryl Waerea-I-Te-Rangi Smith in her University of Auckland masters thesis “Kimihia Te Maramatanga”. Chapter 5 is downloadable here.

The fisheries settlements followed by Treaty settlements required that tribal organisations transform themselves into mandated iwi. Today they are tribal businesses or corporate iwi. Together with a plethora of non-tribal providers, Maori fisheries entities, Maori broadcasters, and with the Maori land incorporations that were in place long before, they form a fast growing Maori employment and career sector that did not exist 25 years ago.

In retrospect I often think that given the present state of Maori development characterized by resource capture by the elites, and doubtful benefit to the majority of Maori, I would not again help in the process of establishing iwi providers. Given the choice I would instead focus on hapu, closer to the people. By hapu I mean both traditional hapu in the tribal homelands and new hapu in the cities where most Maori live. The ideology behind the reinvention of iwi lay in the whanau-hapu-iwi post-colonial construct. However at the time there was barely enough expertise available to establish iwi providers let alone hapu providers.

And at the time the main thing was to wrest control of Te Ao Maori from the Department of Maori Affairs. Its demise in 1989 was a welcome bonus.

Te Kohanga Reo was and is a project aimed exclusively at whanau rather than hapu or iwi, controlled and coodinated by Te Kohanga Reo National Trust. The Trust has been through its challenges but remains committed to that kaupapa. There have been attempts from time to time by the some of the new corporate iwi to wrest ownership of kohanga from the Trust.

Ironically the organisation that was displaced by corporate iwi (and the Iwi Chairs Forum and Iwi Leaders Groups) as the political voice of Maori  actually was representative of hapu rather than iwi, and also represented urban Maori. The NZ Maori Council with it’s Maori Committees in sixteen District Maori Councils was more representative than the corporate iwi network. The rural Maori Committees were mostly marae based (traditional hapu) and the urban Maori Committees represented the new urban hapu. Delegates from the Commiittees sat at the District Maori Councils and delegates from there sat at the NZ Maori Council.

If their language and focus had been on rural and urban hapu instead of committees they may well have flourished in the new development environment.

The NZ Maori Council did take the leading role in obtaining recognition of Treaty rights in the courts and in gaining national pan-Maori settlements.

The problem with the NZ Maori Council was that at the national level it was perceived as being prone to cronyism and controlled by the old generation Brown Table. It did not renew itself from 1984 onwards to bring into the fold the activists who were creating the new paradigm in Maori politics. It did not reach out to the rising new generation of Maori leadership. The exception was the Auckland District Maori Council under Professor Ranginui Walker which did reach out and include the new generation. Like the Department of Maori Affairs the NZ Maori Council assumed that it would continue as the representive voice of Te Ao Maori. They both seriously misread the mood of the times.

In the long run however nothing much changes. The new Brown Table is made up of corporate iwi represented by the Iwi Chairs Forum and its Iwi Leaders Groups. The difference is that it is much less representative at its flaxroots than the old Brown Table. A new more elitist elite has replaced the old elite. Ka hao te rangatahi.



Terrorism: A Grownup Threat Analysis

This essay looks at the security and economic absurdities of the anti-terrorism crusade, a crusade that despite its high economic cost has had a negligible effect on mortality. If the policy objective is to save lives the money should be spent elsewhere.

The thing that strikes me about the focus of politicians and of  law enforcement, intelligence and security agencies on the threat of “terrorism”, and the need for a whole raft of new legislation designed to combat “terrorism”, is the total lack of a grownup public threat analysis. We are asked instead to trust those who lay claim to having the secret information necessary to quantify the threat, and to trust entirely in their secret threat analysis. That’s not good enough. And more to the point, it’s total humbug.

Security should be based entirely on threat or risk analysis, and the response to perceived and actual threat should be in relative proportion to the total level of threat to the safety and wellbeing of the society. The response to threat in a liberal democracy should also be balanced against the principles of democracy and against the level of threat or risk a liberal democracy should be able to accept without compromising or eroding the democracy itself.

It is a principle of democracy that governments, law enforcement agencies, and security and intelligence agencies should have their powers curtailed to the extent that those powers do not unnecessarily encroach upon the freedoms, liberties and rights of citizens. That’s supposedly why we have the New Zealand Bill of Rights. Unlawful police encroachment does occur, for instance in the Kim Dotcom case which has caused the present public outcry against the GCSB Bill. What is necessary or unnecessary encroachment should be determined by grownup public analysis of the threat or risk.

In threat analysis we should look at the balance between threat and security, and the level of threat that can be and is presently acceptable and accepted. Criminality in society is matched by a fairly large police presence enforcing the Crimes Act and other criminal legislation. The society accepts that level of encroachment as necessary except when the police exceed their lawful powers as they sometimes do. Even so the society accepts also that the police cannot prevent all crime and that we must all accept a level of criminality and risk to person and property. We must all also take primary responsibility for our own security, for the security of our families and for the security of our businesses. We live with a level of risk and threat without demanding that Government protect us from every possible risk and threat.

That approach forms the basis of the following outline threat analysis.

What is Terrorism?

Terror is not an enemy. Terror is a weapon. There can be no such thing as a “war on terrorism”.

Terror is a weapon used by the weak against the strong. By definition terror should not be able to prevail against the strong but in recent times it has. That is because less that 1% of terror represents a physical threat to the western liberal democracies and more than 99% of the threat is psychological. It has succeeded against the West because terror is primarily a psychological weapon and the western liberal democracies have succumbed to the psychological threat in trying to protect against a relatively minor physical threat. “Relativity” is the key word that will be expanded upon later.

The West has grossly over-estimated the relative threat to their own societies and they have introduced anti-terrorism and mass surveillance legislation and regulation that far outweighs the real relative threat to society. That was the strategy of Osama bin Laden in September 2001 and he succeeded beyond his own dreams, on a worldwide basis. His killing by Seal Team 6 has done nothing whatsoever to limit the success of his strategy.

The primary target of those who employ terror in the modern context is not the western liberal democracies at all. Their targets are their own people in their own countries. They aim to demonise secular and liberal Western society and to convince their own countrymen and women of the social and moral threat those societies and their systems of governance represent. They aim to corral the minds of their own people in order to impose their preferred version of religious governance, usually under Sharia Law, in their own countries.

They demonstrate their superior political power and morality to their own people by provoking the liberal democracies to go to war against them, to drag those democracies into unwinnable wars in foreign places, and in doing so to cause mass disruption, and civilian casualties. They are then able to convince their own people that the liberal and secular democracies are waging war against the civilians in the warzones and against Islam in general. They drag the armed forces of those liberal democracies into conflicts they cannot win and they demonstrate to their own people the vulnerability of those supposedly superior forces to the tactics of the weak, such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), suicide bombers, and the hit and run tactics of the guerilla and insurgent.

They join their highly mobile legions of international fighters into the wars of others in order to hijack those wars to serve their own cause, such as in Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. To achieve their aims they sacrifice countless thousands of their own heavily indoctrinated and religiously brainwashed foot soldiers. They know they are not going to defeat the West. But they know with complete certainty that they are going to win the war for the hearts and minds of their own people. “Allahu akbar” they cry all over the world. And behind every chant lies another captive mind.

The proper and mature response to psychological warfare is to ignore it. To have trust and confidence that our own liberal democratic and secular societies are strong and robust and well able to withstand the minimal physical threat the wielders of terror actually pose. The immature response is to succumb to the psychological threat and to vastly inflate the physical threat.

Who are these so-called “terrorists”

Who are the people who wield the weapon of terror?

The Terrorism Suppression Act empowers the Prime Minister to declare persons and organisations as terrorist. That latest list of “terrorist designated entities” can be downloaded here.

They are overwhelmingly Taliban and Al-Qaeda entities throughout Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Middle East and Africa. They are also United Nations designated entities in Iran, Peru, Turkey, Bangladesh, Palestine, Columbia, Philippines, India, Pakistan, Lebanon, Ireland, Somalia, Spain and France (the Basques). They are all overseas, far from New Zealand’s shores.

What is obvious from the list of “terrorist designated entities” is that the real targets or enemies are Islamic extremists around the world, except that we cloak them in the mystique of “terrorism”. In doing so we magnify in the public mind the real threat that Islamic extremism poses to New Zealand, and broaden our security response far beyond what is necessary to combat the actual threat level of Islamic extremism. It is the immature response to psychological warfare.

Perhaps by focusing on “terrorism” we also seek to alleviate the concerns of the majority of peaceful Muslim people by not actually naming the threat as Islamic extremism. But in naming it as “terrorism” we achieve the opposite by creating in the public mind a belief that all Muslims are potential terrorists. We might all be better off calling a spade a spade. And by changing the language we would change the nature of the security debate as well.

How many Islamic extremists are there in New Zealand? Less than 1000? Less than 100? We don’t know because that’s a secret. Perhaps we can infer from Prime Minister John Key’s public statements that there are less than 10 a year. Whatever the number, real or imagined, in a population of 4 million plus it is a very low threat level.

We can safely assume that the SIS has infiltrated Muslim communities and has many Muslim informants. We can safely assume that the SIS has the names of real or potential Islamic extremists in New Zealand and has them under surveillance. Why therefore do we need to enact legislation that has the potential to bring the whole population under surveillance, whether intended or not. Why therefore do we impose security legislation and restrictions on the whole population? In the face of that level of threat why do we enact legislation that erodes democracy?

I know, they going to tell us that the level of threat is much much greater but they can’t tell us about it and publicly prove it. Humbug.

What are acts of terror?

“Terrorist Acts” are defined in the Suppression of Terrorism Act 2002.

(1) An act is a terrorist act for the purposes of this Act if—

(a) the act falls within subsection (2); or
(b) the act is an act against a specified terrorism convention (as defined in section 4(1)); or
(c) the act is a terrorist act in armed conflict (as defined in section 4(1)).

(2) An act falls within this subsection if it is intended to cause, in any 1 or more countries, 1 or more of the outcomes specified in subsection (3), and is carried out for the purpose of advancing an ideological, political, or religious cause, and with the following intention:

(a) to induce terror in a civilian population; or
(b) to unduly compel or to force a government or an international organisation to do or abstain from doing any act.

[Subsection (3) below contains the actual definition of terrorist acts].

(3) The outcomes referred to in subsection (2) are—

(a) the death of, or other serious bodily injury to, 1 or more persons (other than a person carrying out the act):
(b) a serious risk to the health or safety of a population:
(c) destruction of, or serious damage to, property of great value or importance, or major economic loss, or major environmental damage, if likely to result in 1 or more outcomes specified in paragraphs (a), (b), and (d):
(d) serious interference with, or serious disruption to, an infrastructure facility, if likely to endanger human life:
(e) introduction or release of a disease-bearing organism, if likely to devastate the national economy of a country.

(4) However, an act does not fall within subsection (2) if it occurs in a situation of armed conflict and is, at the time and in the place that it occurs, in accordance with rules of international law applicable to the conflict.

(5) To avoid doubt, the fact that a person engages in any protest, advocacy, or dissent, or engages in any strike, lockout, or other industrial action, is not, by itself, a sufficient basis for inferring that the person—

(a) is carrying out an act for a purpose, or with an intention, specified in subsection (2); or
(b) intends to cause an outcome specified in subsection (3).

The Act then goes on to detail a number of those offences including:

  • Bombing
  • Financing designated entities
  • Belonging to or dealing with designated entities
  • Recruiting
  • Participating
  • Harbouring or concealing
  • Plastic explosives and nuclear material
  • Radioactive material

That is a relatively small range of offences in relation to the criminal law in New Zealand. All of them are already contained in or could be added to the Crimes Act 1961 and other relevant legislation without the need for a separate terrorism act.

What seems to be obvious is that the criminal acts that are defined as “terrorist acts” in the Suppression of Terrorism Act are not that much different from the normal everyday criminality that we live with. What is different is the response, and the much greater powers the Act confers upon the Prime Minister, the Parliament and the response agencies. And that seems to be the real purpose of the Act.

If a comparison is made between those “terrorist” threats to society and the real everyday threat from the transnational criminal bikie gangs, and other transnational gangs and crime syndicates in the illegal drugs, weapons and slave prostitution markets, the threat is small. They don’t tell us much about those real threats either, from behind the veil of secrecy, security and intelligence.

The relativity of threat

We look now at the crime statistics reported by the NZ Police for the year ending 31st December 2012. A copy can be downloaded here. I summarise the statistics below in broad outline. The detail is in the downloadable file.

  • Murder – 42
  • Manslaughter – 14
  • Assault etc – 40,851
  • Sexual assault etc – 3,512
  • Dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons – 1,022
  • Various offence against the person – 12,476
  • Robbery etc – 2,199
  • Unlawful entry etc – 52,031
  • Theft etc – 119,476
  • Fraud etc – 8.013
  • Drugs – 20,792
  • Weapons & explosives – 6,063
  • Property damage – 48,901
  • Public order – 42,522
  • Justice process, government security (5), government operations – 15,797
  • Miscellaneous – 1,384
  • Total – 376,013

I would add:

  • Acts of terror – NIL

What do we New Zealanders die of?

These are the major causes extracted from the Ministry of Health morbidity statistics for 2009.

  • Cancers – 8,437
  • Heart disease – 5,553
  • Strokes – 2,488
  • Diabetes – 869
  • Motor vehicle accidents – 420
  • Suicide – 510
  • Assault and murder – less than 100

To which I would add:

  • Acts of terror – NIL

So I conclude that:

From the crime and morbidity statistics it would seem that the chances of dying at the hands of Islamic extremists, or of being the victim of their criminality, are extremely remote. The likelihood of suffering at the hands of our own home grown criminals is much greater than at the hands of Islamic extremists yet it is still not so great that we cannot and do not accept and live with the threat of criminality on a daily basis.

At the age of 70 I am greatly assured that I will most likely die from one of the common medically defined conditions or simply of old age at some time within the next 30 years. I am greatly assured that I will probably not die at the hands of Islamic extremists. Although I stand a greater chance of being murdered or the victim of manslaughter at the hands of our own criminal class (or at the hands of my own family) I am assured that that too is only a remote possibility.

In fact if you were to analyse the detail of murder, manslaughter and assault in its various forms you would probably find that you are at much greater risk from members of your own family than you are from Islamic extremists. Just to put things into perspective.

I suspect that the Terrorism Suppression Act and the raft of other terrorism related and surveillance legislation does not and will not affect the level of risk and threat I face on a daily basis as a free citizen in a democratic society. For I suspect that the perception of threat from Islamic extremism in New Zealand is immature and inflated in response to psychological warfare launched from far away places, rather than in response to a real physical threat in New Zealand.

What New Zealand needs is a grownup risk and threat analysis conducted in public, and not conducted from within the secrecy confined, limited worldviews of gullible politicians and the law enforcement, security and intelligence establishment.

The Maori Women's Development Fund

Yesterday Tainui Stephens posted a photo of himself and Dame Georgina Kirby on Facebook. I haven’t seen her in ages but it reminded me of the time in 1987 when the Maori Women’s Development Fund was started. It is now Maori Women’s Development Inc.

Back then Georgina was president of the Maori Women’s Welfare League and a member of the Board of Maori Affairs. The Board had started the MANA Enterprises business startup project in 1986 and in 1987 was in the process of rolling it out to a network of tribal and regional providers. At the time I was the project team leader. Occasionally Georgina would invite me (command me) to the League office in Thorndon, Wellington for breakfast and a korero.

This one time the korero was about opportunities for women in business. I was an attentive listener because I too had noticed that almost all of the low interest loan funding was going to men. Oftentimes the men were good at what they did but were lousy bookkeepers and we would urge then to involve their wives in the business because often the wives were smarter and would make better financial managers. None of them took our advice of course.

What Georgina wanted to do was use some of the MANA Enterprise funding to create a fund exclusively for women. I told her to write a proposal and send it to me. She had a better idea. So I wrote the proposal right there and then. It was a very good proposal even if I say so myself. Georgina had it typed up and packaged into a very smart proposal and sent it to me that same day.

Guess what. I got this excellent proposal from the president of the Maori Women’s Welfare League and processed it. That involved checking out the kaupapa, the criteria for loans, the transparency and accountability mechanisms, and all that stuff. Proposals from the tribal and regional providers were usually lacking in some respects and were often sent back for improvement. But this one was perfect; tribute I suppose to the greater insight and ability of our womenfolk.

I analysed it and added my recommendations. At the next meeting of the Board of Maori Affairs MANA Enterprises Committee, just a day or so later, Georgina spoke to her proposal and I spoke to my recommendations. I think the committee members were impressed. And it was approved.

Now I don’t take any credit for the Maori Women’s Development Fund (now Maori Women’s Development Inc). It was Georgina’s idea entirely. And it was her idea right from the start to make me write it myself. I think she might have applied a bit of subtle or perhaps not-so-subtle Ngati Kahungunu whanaungatanga to make that happen.

Dame Georgina went on to run the fund for many years. It has now morphed into Maori Women’s Deverlopment Inc. MWDI’s objectives include:

  • To provide loans to Maori women to enable and assist them to enter into and commence business and/or to expand and restructure their existing businesses.
  • To establish, maintain and conduct a society for the promotion, advancement and encouragement of Maori women and whanau into business throughout NZ.
  • To provide developmental training programs for Maori Women and their whanau to empower and enable them towards economic and financial independence
  • To empower Maori business women and their whanau through sharing information and knowledge
  • To assist, support and foster the development of business ideas, opportunities and up-skilling amongst Maori women and their whanau
  • To encourage and support Maori Women into general wealth through business development.

That was pretty much what Georgina told me to write. Well, probably a bit flasher but that’s what she meant. A most worthy organisation indeed.

Nothing about Maori entrepreneurs in there I see.



The Myth of the Maori Entrepreneur

We have invented a new way to differentiate ourselves as Maori from everyone else where little or no difference exists. We have created a pou whakapono called the Maori entrepreneur. It’s a pretentious myth unless you change the definition of entrepreneur to mean what you want it to mean, in this case to mean any Maori who starts a business or even thinks of starting a business.

Type “Maori entrepreneurship” into Google; I did just now and up came 4,030 results. You will find out that Maori are the third most entrepreneurial indigenous people in the world, the third most entrepreneurial people in the world, or even that Maori are the most entrepreneurial people in the world. You will discover that Maori are more entrepreneurial than Pakeha. You will see infinite variations on the theme quoted time and time again by politicians, bureaucrats, business people and academics. It makes you proud to be Maori because maybe that means that you’re an entrepreneur; a member of the latest new iwi, Ngai Te Ngira-tuitui.

I grew up in a Maori owned business. It was a business with a whakapapa, handed down through three generations to my father, the fourth in line to own and operate the business. I didn’t stand in line though, joining the army instead. However I did fly home and operated the business for a whole two weeks after my father died and before I handed it over to my younger brother. It was mainly a shearing and fencing contracting company that also took on a lot of other rural jobs on contract. It was a common Maori business for those times; many of my father’s brothers and cousins were also contractors.

In our hapu there were about eight whanau businesses including farming businesses, and between them they employed most of the whanau and hapu during the shearing, crutching and fencing seasons. In the off seasons the people worked at the freezing works or at the fruit and vegetable canneries, and on local farms. The whanau who worked in our business would also depend on the business to tide them over the winter when there was little work available. They would draw regular interest-free advances or loans that would be repaid out of their wages during the season. That was common practice in all of the whanau businesses.

When the farming sector did well the whanau businesses did well. When the whanau businesses did well all of the whanau in the hapu did well, and facilities at the marae were built and well maintained. A new LDS chapel was built.

My father, his brothers and cousins were businessmen, although they all still thought of themselves as working men. They had grown up as working men in similar businesses and still worked in their own businesses. They did not give themselves pretentious labels such as entrepreneur, or even businessman. The most they would own to was contractor but true to their roots they were still working men. They were known by the workers as the Maori Boss.

In my turn I set up and operated a city based business of my own. The common pretentious term was consultant but true to my roots I always thought of myself as a contractor, because that’s what I did. I contracted to do whatever it was that my clients needed done that I was capable of doing. Sometimes they wanted to consult and benefit from my greater expertise but most often they just wanted me to do stuff.

I learnt very quickly that it was just like the shearing and fencing contracting business. There were good times and there were lean times as there probably are in most small businesses and I had to make sure I put something aside for the winter. Was I an entrepreneur and did I think of myself as an entrepreneur. Well I did take some risk and one or two of my business ventures fell over and the money I invested in them was lost but no, I was just a common or garden contractor in the guise of a businessman. I occasionally tried my hand at the entrepreneurial stuff but mostly, like most people in business, I preferred the low risk stuff.

The term entrepreneur used to describe those who applied considerable innovation to their enterprise, and who took considerable risk as well, not just the usual old risk of having a mortgage over your house to fund your business. The entrepreneur would put everything on the line and when he or she crashed and burned would climb back out of the wreck and do it all again and again. The entrepreneur did it with his or her own money and with money from investors who were willing to share in the risk. These days the investors are called venture capitalists. Sometimes they are called gullible whanau.

The common or garden businessperson on the other hand would sell the boat, borrow from his or her parents, and invite the bank to invest in the business. The bank would have no capital at risk because it would, and still does, take a mortgage over a house and over the business assets to make sure that it doesn’t lose its money. The bank is not in the business of financing entrepreneurs. That’s for venture capitalists.

These days it seems that entrepreneur now means anyone who has started a business and even anyone who is thinking of starting a business. And that is exactly the wide and loose definition that started this myth of the Maori entrepreneur. It all started with:

 “Global Entrepreneurship Monitor – New Zealand 2001 (Frederick, H.H., and Carswell P.J., 2001, New Zealand Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research, Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland).

“At UNITEC we define an innovation as something new which has the potential of changing relationships. That is a wide definition, but it includes any new service or product that could change an economic (buy me!), social (opt for me!), political (vote for me!), or even cultural (listen or look at me!) relationship. But an innovation uncommercialised or unexploited is an innovation wasted. So we define entrepreneurship as the commercialisation of innovation”.

“To capture this distinction, for the purposes of the GEM research our definition is an entrepreneur is a person attempting to create a new business enterprise either through spotting a new opportunity or out of necessity, job loss or redundancy”.

That definition reflects a North American linguistic viewpoint rather than that commonly found in New Zealand, Australia and Britain where we are much less grandiose than our American friends; ngawari even. We usually regard entrepreneurial activity as the visionary, innovative and risk taking part of the overall SME (small and medium enterprise) sector. The Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) Index used at Unitec to measure entrepreneurship opts for the American definition and includes all nascent (yet to be started) and newly started businesses.

The 2001 report contains a short section on Maori entrepreneurship. However it was their 2005 report that was the catalyst for the more grandiose claims about Maori entrepreneurship.

The Unitec Global Entrepreneurship Monitor: Towards High Growth Enterprise in New Zealand 03/04” (Frederick, H.H., 2005, New Zealand Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research Report Series, Vol 3, No 1, Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland).

Their 2005 report stated:

“Overall our research shows that at both national and international levels, the extent and growth of Mäori entrepreneurship remains comparable if not better than the entrepreneurial strengths shown by other ethnicities, indeed by entire GEM nations. With a TEA rate of 17.1%, Mäori have surpassed all of the nations in GEM with the exception of Uganda, Venezuela, and Argentina. If Mäori were their own country, Aotearoa would rank as the fourth most entrepreneurial country in the world”.

Scientifically speaking, to be considered as definitive research it would have to be replicated and verified by other researchers. Te Putatara is not aware of any other research to confirm those findings. It would also have to be compared with statistical census data from 2001 and 2006. At the moment there appears to be significant variation between Unitec data and Statistics NZ data.

Even if we do use the American definition of entrepreneur we need to look a little deeper into why there are so many business startups by Maori. One reason might be that New Zealand is the easiest, fastest and one of the cheapest countries in the OECD in which to register a company. There is no minimum paid up capital requirement and only a registration fee is required. There may be other reasons.

Statistically in New Zealand about one in ten businesses fail in the first year of operation and 70% capsize within the first five years. I had a couple of those on the way but it was fun trying and important lessons were learned even while the capital investment was lost. I think most business people would prefer to wait to prove their success before they applied the grandiose labels to themselves, and by then they wouldn’t need to.

That then is the source of our new pou whakapono, our Maori entrepreneurship myth. Perhaps it makes us feel good and perhaps to the uninitiated it makes us look good. And perhaps too in the eyes of the thousands of real business people out there, Maori and otherwise, we are being just a bit too pretentious; whakahihi.

It’s the politicians, propagandists, mythmakers, policy makers and the Maori elites whose needs are served by the Maori entrepreneurship myth, not the people who are out there doing the business, and certainly not the Maori people in general. Perhaps it’s main purpose is to attract government funding to support or subsidise a relatively small percentage of Maori businesses.

We should probably measure our entrepreneurial aspirations against the criteria outlined by management guru Peter Drucker (in “Innovation and Entrepreneurship) rather than adopt the definition that created the myth.

“This defines entrepreneur and entrepreneurship – the entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.” 

“Entrepreneurship rests on a theory of economy and society. The theory sees change as normal and indeed as healthy. And it sees the major task in society – and especially in the economy – as doing something different rather than doing better what is already being done. That is basically what [John-Baptiste] Say, two hundred years ago, meant when he coined the term entrepreneur. It was intended as a manifesto and as a declaration of dissent: the entrepreneur upsets and disorganizes. As Joseph Schumpeter formulated it, his task is “creative destruction.” 

Most businesses just do what many other businesses do. The entrepreneur breaks new ground and does something different, that perhaps no-one has thought of doing before.

For the last word on the matter in a discussion at LinkedIn Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, had this to say:

“The article [in the Economist] points out the confusion around the purpose of entrepreneurship, as well as the motives behind what makes entrepreneurs tick. As the term has to encompass so many different personalities, businesses and viewpoints, it is only natural that misconceptions crop up. Nevertheless, there are some common traits in entrepreneurs – such as finding “worth in the worthless and possibility in the impossible”.

And this:

However, I completely disagree with his [Daniel Isenberg’s] view that “the main motivator for entrepreneurs is the chance of making big money”. If you get into entrepreneurship driven by profit, you are a lot more likely to fail. The entrepreneurs who succeed usually want to make a difference to people’s lives, not just their own bank balances. The desire to change things for the better is the motivation for taking risks and pursuing seemingly impossible business ideas“.

See also: The Maori Economy – a fanciful notion

Jon Stephenson, Journalist’s Rights, NZ Defence Force

A disclosure:

  • I’m a former army officer who served in Borneo and Vietnam.
  • 30 years after retirement I remain loyal to the NZ Army and those who serve.
  • However I will absolutely condemn any serving officer or soldier who illegally conducted surveillance operations against Jon Stephenson.
  • But I will need proof, and I will need more than irrelevant moralising by the commentariat about journalists’ non-existent rights in a warzone.

There is so much rubbish being written and spoken about the allegations of NZ Defence Force interception of a journalist’s communications in Afghanistan. The allegations were first made in the Sunday Star Times. The allegations were denied by NZ Defence. Kiwipolitico offered a balanced view here. Commentary since then has repeated and inflated the allegations. Many commentators, including Maori politicians, have confused spying in Afghanistan with the multiple spying debacles at home in New Zealand.

I’m the first to decry the post 9/11 incarnation of the surveillance state and to proclaim the rights and freedoms of the democratic ideal. I’ve written essays on democracy here and here, and on the GCSB Bill here.


Afghanistan is a warzone. Human rights are completely or partially suspended in warzones. Beginning with the right to life. And at the lower end of the scale the right to privacy. No-one is exempt, not even journalists. You can argue about whether or not we should have been committed to Afghanistan. But Afghanistan is a warzone and all who venture into Afghanistan, whether soldier, spook, civilian, politician or journalist, ought to be aware that it is not a human rights zone; it is a warzone.

Let’s start with the right to life.

A soldier’s mission is to kill and not be killed. As stark as that. To take life. In some recognition of the right to life soldiers in our own forces are forbidden from killing non-combatants. However it is the ugly reality of war that some civilians do get killed. Always. Mass killing, which is what war is, is not a precise art always able to differentiate soldier from civilian and friend from foe despite the development of more precise weaponry. Mistakes happen. Soldiers also get killed by friendly fire, another ugly reality of war.

Much as we try to honour the right to life of non-combatants many of our opponents in war do not have the same respect for civilian lives and deliberately target civil leadership, families of opposing soldiers, and those they suspect of assisting their enemies. Lots of people die, forfeit their right to life.

Warfare is the conscious political act of unleashing the beast within and authorising it to kill deliberately and legally. It is the suspension of all that we hold to be essential in civilised society, including human rights. Even journalists forego their right to life in a warzone. And many have indeed died on the job.

Now to the right to privacy.

The suspension of the right to life has nothing to do with the Jon Stephenson case but it illustrates what many these days seem to conveniently forget; that in warfare human rights are completely or partially suspended. And that includes the rights of journalists who venture into warzones. There is no special journalist zone in a warzone. There is no privacy in a warzone. There is no such thing as privacy in a warzone. Get real.

The Geneva Convention and International Human Rights law provide protections for journalists in warzones. They cannot be deliberately killed just for doing their jobs or deliberately targeted for surveillance just for doing their jobs, But they do get caught up in the fog of war. They sometimes die, and they will be caught up in mass surveillance operations.

All communications in a warzone, both military and civil, are intercepted by both sides of the conflict. Use a military radio, or a mobile phone or send an email and it will be intercepted. For very good reasons.

On the one hand to find out where the enemy is, who he is, who he is talking to, what he is doing, and hopefully what he intends to do. On the other hand to ensure that our own side is not inadvertently or incompetently transmitting information in clear about our own identities, dispositions and intentions. And to make sure that no-one on our own side is communicating with the enemy but if they are, to know what they are saying. That includes journalists, some of whom do try and sometimes succeed in talking to both sides of a conflict. They will be monitored by both sides.

As soldiers we understand that we are being intercepted by both friend and foe. In Vietnam we were, and we sometimes received warnings from our own interception people to pay more attention to our communications security. They gave us verbatim examples of our transgressions. It was just part of war, being listened to. And it still is.

In Afghanistan one of the primary means of communication used by the Taliban is the mobile phone. All mobile communications in Afghanistan are intercepted in a massive technological operation. Not just the Taliban but everyone. What are the Taliban saying? Who are they saying it to? Who in government is talking to the Taliban? Who in the Afghan Army? Who in the Afghan Police? Which journalists are talking to the Taliban? What are they saying and being told? Are politicians, officials, journalists and others giving out information that might assist the Taliban in their operations, or might put friendly soldiers at risk? Inadvertently or otherwise.

If Jon Stephenson had made a phone call to a known Taliban or Taliban sympahiser his call would have been immediately flagged and he would have been investigated. Otherwise it would just disappear into the Intelligence Cloud. As John Stephenson was most probably not talking to Taliban or Taliban sympathisers that is most probably what happened to the records of his phone calls (or emails). They would have disappeared into the Intelligence Cloud.

In reply to the NZ Defence denial:

“Hager said that was not his understanding of how Stephenson’s phone records were accessed”.

“From what I had described to me, this was focused on Jon and particular Afghan Government people who were also on the chart of who’d been ringing whom, who he was in contact with.”

Which is network analysis and which usually analyses those networks to about the third node from the targeted individuals. That raises some questions.

  • Were any of Jon Stephenson’s Afghan contacts communicating with the Taliban, or were any of their contacts communicating with the Taliban? To the extent that they and their contacts would automatically be flagged? We don’t know. Jon Stephenson probably doesn’t know either.
  • If Stephenson’s communications did get flagged through network analysis would that be drawn to the attention of the New Zealand spooks? Probably.
  • Would that necessarily put him under suspicion of espionage or aiding the enemy or anything silly like that? Not unless he was up to something silly like that.

If I were an officer in Afghanistan I would want the spooks to be watching my back and the backs of my soldiers. I would want them to monitor all communications in the warzone to detect any possible risk to the precious lives of my soldiers. A serious problem in Vietnam was that some trusted South Vietnamese soldiers and officials were actually spies. Out of deference to the South Vietnamese allies they were not properly monitored and many allied soldiers died as a result. It takes only a few well placed spies to cause a lot of deaths. One must presume that that mistake has not been repeated in Afghanistan.

From all of that.

  • Do journalists have special dispensation in a warzone, any special rights to privacy? No. Like the right to life they forego the right to privacy the moment they step into a warzone.


  • Were Jon Stephenson’s communications intercepted? Probably.
  • Were they of interest to the Intelligence gatherers? Depends who he was talking to and what he was saying, who they were talking to and what they were saying.
  • How do you find out who he was talking to and what he was saying, who they were talking to and what they were saying? By listening in.
  • Was he singled out for special attention? Probably not. There are hundreds of thousands of mobile phones and computers in Afghanistan, probably millions.
  • Were records of his communications stored in the Intelligence Cloud available to those who had the authority and clearance to search the Intelligence Cloud? Probably but because of the vast amounts of intercepted data probably only for a limited time.
  • Did some NZ Defence personnel have the authority and clearance to search the Intelligence Cloud or specified parts of it? Probably.
  • Did any NZ Defence personnel search the Intelligence Cloud for information about Jon Stephenson? You’d have to ask them.


  • Were any NZ Defence personnel, or GCSB and SIS personnel, involved in the overall interception operations in Afghanistan? I hope so because we need to keep that capability current as part of our own military and intelligence offensive skillset, along with the actual killing stuff of course.
  • Were NZ Defence or intelligence personnel specifically involved in monitoring Jon Stephenson? Doubt it, unless he was up to no good in the warzone. They’ve got bigger fish to fry in that warzone.
  • Did any NZ Defence or intellgence personnel search the Intelligence Cloud for information about Jon Stephenson? You’d have to ask them.

And finally, almost.

  • Who are John Stephenson’s sources? And are they reliable? We don’t know. Not from the news article we don’t.

The final set of questions is about NZ Defence Force operational policy. To quote from Kiwipolitico:

“Mr. Hager also revealed the existence of an NZDF operations manual, apparently drafted in 2003 and revised in 2005, that included at least “certain investigative journalists” along with hackers, foreign spy agencies, ideological extremists, disloyal employees, interest groups, and criminal organizations in the category of “subversive” threats (although it remains unclear as to when that particular passage was added to the text and who authored and authorized it). The definition of subversion was stretched to include those whose activities could undermine public morale or confidence in the government and NZDF. This included “political” activities deemed inimical to the NZDF image or reputation”.

If that information is correct it is indeed clumsy to say the least, and paranoid at worst. Given that NZSIS is primarily responsible for security in New Zealand what is not clear is whether or not this manual applies only to operations in Afghanistan or to all NZ Defence Force activity including in New Zealand. That crucial context would significantly clarify the debate.

To add further context and clarity we would need to know:

  • Why were “certain investigative journalists” added to the list and what does NZ Defence know about their activities that is not being revealed?
  • Why were “disloyal employees” added to the list and does NZ Defence have specific names and evidence of subversive activity by those “disloyal employees”?
  • Were those “disloyal employees” passing information to “certain investigative journalists”? If so was it information that might have jeopardised NZ Defence Force operations in Afghanistan? Or was it information whether true or false designed to embarrass the NZ Defence Force?
  • Were those “disloyal employees” military or civilian? Why were they “disloyal”?
  • Does NZ Defence have specific information about Jon Stephenson’s activities in Afghanistan that it is not revealing? For reasons of source protection perhaps?

Afghanistan is one matter and we need a lot more information before we pass judgement on what happened there. Spying on our own citizens at home in New Zealand is a different matter entirely and shouldn’t be confused with Afghanistan or any other warzone.

In the wake of the Jon Stephenson allegations and the proven breach of democratic principle in the sordid case of spying on Andrea Vance the media are loud in their condemnation of attacks on the freedom of the media. Rightly so. But where were you from 2002 onwards when everyone else’s democratic freedoms and rights were being eroded in the name of counter terrorism and national security. You were mute, compliant. apathetic like the rest of the country, most of you.


The Surveillance State

The GCSB Bill, surveillance legislation and debacle

I have never worked for the GCSB. But I did work in Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) in the early 1970s, a few years before the GCSB was established in 1977. I was an officer in the NZ Army at the time.

In those days before New Zealand gained its own full service SIGINT organisation (GCSB) we were seconded to Australia where all of the processing of intercepted communications was done. New Zealand contributed some intercept and received whatever processed intelligence it needed. We were part of what was then called the UKUSA Agreement between the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It is now called the “Five Eyes Agreement” in the media at least.

It was very secret at the time, The UKUSA Agreement was a secret agreement and the SIGINT organisations in the five partner nations did not officially exist. The first public expose of NSA and the UKUSA Agreement was in Ramparts magazine in August 1972 (“US Electronic Espionage: A Mermoir”). James Bamford wrote the first full expose in “Puzzle Palace” in 1982. Their existence and their collaboration is no longer a secret as it was then. Our participation by working in and with Australia is also no longer secret. In his book “Secret Power” Nicky Hager has documented all of that history.

My involvement was in the early 1970s. What was different then compared to now was the World War II generation. I was trained by them and worked for them.

In the NZ Army the WW2 generation was still in command. In the Parliament then, until about 1984, many of the members and some cabinet ministers were WW2 generation. In the SIGINT organisation we few New Zealanders worked for in Australia it was still headed by the WW2 generation.

That generation and their predecessors in the WW1 generation had fought alongside England, Canada, Australia and the USA against Germany, Italy and Japan to protect democracy against various forms of totalitarianism. They had fought to preserve representative democracy, the rule of law, and the hard fought freedoms and rights that had been gained through centuries of struggle to break the hegemony of kings and bishops. In two brutal world wars those men and women had watched tens of thousands of their comrades die on battlefields and in hospitals in Europe and in the Pacific. Many more of their comrades were injured, physically and mentally, some of them debilitated for life. Almost every New Zealand family had lost someone.

During the Cold War from the end of World War II until about 1991 New Zealand was a member of the allied bloc that opposed the totalitarianism of the USSR and China. That too was a struggle to preserve representative democracy, the rule of law, freedom and rights from the encroachment of undemocratic forms of government.

Regardless of what one now thinks in hindsight about those 20th century hot and cold wars and New Zealand’s part in them, they were a continuation on a global scale of a struggle for liberty that began in the 16th century in Europe during the Reformation. The Reformation was a struggle for religious liberty and was followed across the centuries by struggles for political liberty, freedoms and rights. The rights and freedoms now codified in United Nations conventions and in our own Bill of Rights resulted from the allied victory in WW2 and the determination to preserve on a global scale what countless thousands of men and women had fought and died for with huge sacrifice.

The men I worked for carried the remembrance of that sacrifice with them. They rarely spoke of it and then only to those they knew would understand how they thought and felt, such as a young army officer who was a veteran of another more recent war. But in their every action and decision they demonstrated their total dedication to the democracy and rights and freedoms they had fought to preserve. Those were the men who trained me in signals intelligence.

In the political sphere some like war veteran Sir Robert Muldoon went overboard in their pursuit of the imagined enemies of democracy. He often chose to see his political enemies as enemies of democracy but he was the exception rather than the rule. The officer who commanded him in WW2, Sir Jack Marshall, and other war veterans in his Cabinet were more measured in their defence of democracy. The men I worked for in signals intelligence were politically conservative like a great many of their generation and were staunch in their commitment to democracy.

In the signals intelligence organisations in my time we would never have contemplated conducting surveillance of our own citizens, regardless of the perceived or actual threat they posed to society. That was the work of other agencies and we never assisted them in that work. Never. It was strictly forbidden and that restriction was honoured absolutely. We certainly had the means but we never ever used them against our own.

With the passing of the WW2 generation the dedication to democracy, the rule of law, freedoms, rights and privacy is weakening. The remembrance of threats to the democracy fades with the passage of time since the last external threat. But it has always been the internal threat that has had the most potential to erode democracy. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance we were told by one of the founders of the modern liberal democracy. The external threats in the form of wars have served to remind us from time to time that democracy is indeed exceedingly fragile and is always vulnerable.

Perhaps the erosion of democracy from within is exemplified by the attitude of the Facebook generation to privacy. It doesn’t seem to understand that in undervaluing and relinquishing privacy in the pursuit of identity, recognition and sometimes fame and celebrity, that generation is opening up a crack in democracy. Waiting outside to exploit that vulnerability are anti-democratic forces.

Those anti-democratic forces are the law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies that have convinced politicians of the two major political blocs in New Zealand to enact a raft of anti-democratic legislation since 9/11. The Parliament itself whilst being the protector of democracy, a bulwark against attack, is at the same time the most serious threat to democracy. It and it alone has the power to erode democracy if it so chooses. And it has chosen to do so, most recently in the GCSB Bill.

The parliamentarians of today are the Facebook generation of politicians who have no personal memory of the heavy cost of democracy. In their psychological distance from World War II and from the World War II generation most of them have an increasingly cavalier attitude to democratic rights. They take democracy for granted. They navigate to the “Democracy” page, click on “Like”, then pass legislation allowing the spooks to trawl through everyone’s Facebook details.

The world of secrets and secrecy is cult-like. Only the initiated are admitted. The price of admission is recruitment and selection to the fold, positive vetting (PV) or clearance by the SIS and the “need to know”. The more you are allowed to know the more important you are in that exclusive club.

Secrets and secrecy can be seductive, beguiling, even bewitching. When you are privy to highly secret information (or at least to information classified as highly secret) you begin to feel part of a powerful elite, one of the chosen few. The higher your security clearance the more beguiling it is. Unless you are a hard bitten down-to-earth war veteran like my mentors it could even give you a feeling of omnipotence, a wide-eyed all-knowing omnipotence.

That applies to politicians inducted into that exclusive world of secrets and secrecy by reason of political ambition and electoral chance. Politicians get themselves inducted and seduced.

Politicians may know some secret stuff but they don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t know about security.

Security is a trade off and there is no such thing as absolute security. Our politicians would serve the nation best by reading Bruce Schneier on security instead of mouthing meaningless inanities about national security. Schneier is a former NSA insider and acknowledged expert on security. The Parliament is forcing a whole nation to trade off elements of its democratic rights and freedoms to attain the unattainable without having any real say in the matter.

Politicians don’t know that our individual rights and freedoms are not theirs or the Parliament’s to trade off.

They don’t seem to know or understand that in a matter as fundamental as democratic rights and freedoms those rights and freedoms are not politicians’ or Parliament’s rights and freedoms to trade off in the pursuit of national security. Although Parliament is sovereign in our form of democracy the democratic rights and freedoms remain with the people. They are individual rights and freedoms. It says so in the United Nations conventions and in our own Bill of Rights.

Democracy is also a trade off. What we as individuals in a liberal democracy need to understand is that if we value democracy then we have to accept some trade offs. We cannot have absolute security if we are to have liberty. Democracy like life is a risky business and to have either we must accept the risk. In life for instance we accept that risk every time we drive on the roads, or eat a cream cake, or bungy jump. To live democracy we must do the same.

As a society we are being led to believe that risk can be averted by increasing the powers of the law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies. The risk of terrorism and organized crime has been vastly over-hyped and overrated. Whilst there is certainly some risk it is nowhere near as grave as we are being told, and much less than a liberal democracy can accept and sustain in order to preserve that democracy.

Politicians don’t know that we don’t need to trade off too many democratic rights and freedoms in order to sustain democracy.

We just need to accept the risk. Perhaps as I enter into my eighth decade of life I just have a better appreciation and understanding of risk and acceptance. Life is a risk.

In strategy as in life I have come to appreciate simplicity and elegance. They are two of the most important tools in life’s toolbox.

An elegant outcome is the one achieved with precision, cleanly and simply. It is the one achieved by focusing on what you really want to achieve, not just on what you can achieve with all the tools available to you. Even if you own a shipyard why would you build a ship when all you wanted to do was cross a river, and when a sleek and elegant canoe would do the job.

The elegant outcome seems to have been achieved easily with a minimum of fuss and effort. The elegant outcome is the one achieved by cutting through ambiguity and skillfully negotiating a way through a rapidly changing environment. It is not achieved by taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

There are simpler and more elegant ways to preserve national security without population wide surveillance. They can be found through the application of wisdom and intellect. Just because we can now use the tools of technology to know everything about everyone doesn’t mean that we should.

Politicians don’t know that there are many more tools in the box but that the agencies have handed them a sledgehammer and convinced them that there are only sledgehammers in the box.

They don’t know because they are naïve and gullible in matters of national security; babes in the woods in that world of secrets and secrecy and security. They are gullible because they have had their minds focused for them on national security by the purveyors of secrets. What we really want is democracy and all that entails. We need purveyors of democracy in our parliament. The preservation and protection of democracy is paramount. Any consideration of national security must come firstly from within the greater of the two competing ideas; from a consideration of democracy.

Being the Facebook generation the politicians are far removed from all memory of the struggle to protect democracy. They don’t know democracy. Not in their hearts they don’t. Just go to the Facebook page “Democracy”, click on “Like”, feel good and leave it at that.

I read in the overseas media that some of the old hands in NSA, the US surveillance agency, have been quitting in disgust at the lip service now being paid to democracy by their new masters in the world of spooks. Like me they were brought up to believe in democracy and to absolutely respect the privacy of our own citizens. They can only express their disgust by walking. Some of the old hands are speaking out.

That’s how I feel too. Viscerally disgusted.

NZ Parliament: Abolish the Pakeha Seats

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E hoa ma, I meant abolish the General seats but the sub-editor thought he’d grab your attention by calling them Pakeha seats. But you know what we mean don’t you. You know, maybe they should be called Pakeha seats. We have Maori people in the Maori electorates but very few Generals in the general electorates.

You may think this piece of light-hearted prophesy a bit far fetched; porangi even. Perhaps it is. But I have found that most people imagine a future pretty much like the present. Most people including politicians and policymakers seem blind to the influence of demography; population statistics and projections, and how demography will have a huge influence on the future.

I wrote about demography a few years ago here.

Four Maori seats were established by the Maori Representation Act of 1867 to “provide better protection for the native race”. They were made permanent in 1876. The Electoral Act 1993 brought in a new system to expand the Maori seats depending on numbers enrolled as Maori.

In 1867 there were probably less than 250,000 Pakeha people in Aotearoa New Zealand (115,462 at the 1858 census, and 344.984 at the 1874 census). There is still much conjecture about the size of the Maori population at that time but it was probably much less than 50% of the total population. Whatever it was there were probably enough Maori to significantly influence elections if they were to vote in general electorates. It probably suited Pakeha at that time to marginalize the Maori vote into just four electorates.

The Maori vote remained marginalized in those four seats until 1993, and at the moment in seven seats.

The constitutional advisory panel is considering among other matters the place of the Maori seats in the constitution of New Zealand. The questions that have arisen so far include:

  • Whether to retain or abolish the Māori seats.
  • Whether to entrench the Māori seats, making them more difficult to change in the future.
  • Whether there are ways of ensuring Māori views are represented in the business of Parliament, to replace or to complement Māori seats.

As usual I think we’re asking the wrong questions.

As long as I can remember we’ve had calls for the Maori seats to be abolished. The most strident in recent times was in 2004 when Don Brash promised that a National government would remove the Maori seats. However the two majority parties usually respond that the seats will remain until Maori people no longer want them.

I reckon that Labour and National have always been quite happy to retain them for different reasons. Until recent decades Labour had a guaranteed four seats in Parliament, expanding gradually to seven seats. National on the other hand would have been quite happy for mainly Labour voting Maori to be marginalized into a few seats rather than let loose into the general seats. At the moment of course National is the main beneficiary of the Maori seats and is not inclined to upset the status quo.

But like Don Brash I think its time to abolish some seats. I think it’s time to abolish the general seats. Here’s how we do it.

Step 1

Declare all Pacific Islanders to be Maori and urge them to join the Maori roll.  We should have done that decades ago when our Pasifika cousins started migrating to Aotearoa in numbers. That is our tikanga (ki te manaaki, ki te awhi) but we let other considerations guide our response. We ought to have absorbed them instead of pushing them away to eventually form their own numerous hapu in the cities and to establish their own separate presence in all manner of cultural, social, economic and political affairs. But it’s not too late to put things right.

According to Statistics NZ the nation’s population is expected to reach 5,55 million by 2026. Within that are the following ethnic projections:

  • Maori:       810,000;
  • Pasifika:  480,000; and
  • Asia:        790,000
  • Maori + Pasifika:                1.29 million or 23.3%
  • Maori + Pasifika + Asia:     2.08 million or 37.5%

What is obvious from the statistics but not obvious in public discourse is that people of Asia-Pacific origin are rapidly increasing as a percentage of the total population. Those are just 12 year projections. In a further 25 years, by 2050, I imagine the ethnic and cultural composition might be very scary for some people. Maori+Pasifika will most likely be 50% or over. The scary thing for some is that Maori+Pasifika+Asia will definitely be over 50%, probably well over.

So, if we join with our Pasifika cousins now, and get everyone onto the Maori roll, we could by about 2026 have up to 16 Maori seats out of the 70 electorate seats in the parliament. That will grow over time and might be over 35 seats by 2050, or getting close to it

Step 2

Then around 2050, or whenever it is that Maori+Pasifika+Asia becomes the absolute majority, we generously invite all of our Pakeha countrymen to enrol as Maori so then we have a Maori+Pasifika+Pakeha majority.

Those numbers might translate into something like 63 Maori electorate and 7 general electorates. Now there might be quite a few who wouldn’t enrol as Maori but perhaps the thought of being part of the minority might panic them to choose to join Maori and Pasifika rather than being dominated by a Maori+Pasifika+Asia majority.

This could ungenerously be called the Brash Memorial Strategy.

Step 3

Then we would abolish the General seats and keep just 70 Maori seats. Now I know that some of you might say we should keep the Asians marginalized in the General Seats but that’s not fair.

With 70 Maori seats Governor Hobson’s premature declaration, “He iwi tahi tatau” (we are all one people) would finally come to pass.

Fiendish isn’t it. And if you think I’m porangi take another look at the population projections. That’s the main point of this story.


PS – I don’t believe that Hobson actually said that, “We are all one people”. I reckon he said, “Te Kiwi kotahi ahau – I’m the Number 1 Kiwi”. And that began New Zealanders’ strange habit of calling themselves “Kiwis” – kiwi birds instead of tangata persons. Silly aren’t they – those “Kiwis”.

Previous essays on the NZ Constitutional Conversation:
Does a constitution protect and promote democracy.
Let’s talk Democracy


The Maori Economy – A Fanciful Notion


The present Minister for Maori Affairs and the Maori business elites go on forever about “the Maori economy”. There is no such thing. It’s a myth. Some even go on about an “iwi economy” which is not just a myth and not just fanciful. It’s ridiculous.

It’a a myth unless you totally redefine “economy” to mean just the business activity of corporate iwi, settlement entities, Maori incorporations and trusts, and privately owned small and medium sized enterprises. And unless you don’t include the rest of us, the majority of the 810,200 Maori in Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia. But if you do redefine “economy” you would then be talking about the involvement of less than 10% of Maori, probably much less.

“An economy consists of the economic system in a certain region, comprising the production, distribution or trade, and consumption of goods and services in that region or country” – Wikipedia.

Maori business activity takes place within the New Zealand economy and is totally integrated into and reliant on it. Maori business uses mainstream banks, transport and communications. Its market is not Maori. In fact Maori are just a tiny portion of the market for their goods and services. Some of their market is an overseas market. There is no “Maori economy”. There is only Maori business activity within the New Zealand economy; unless of course you redefine “economy” to mean “business”.

The only part of the New Zealand economy that is Maori is some of the production, mainly in primary industry, and the distribution and trading of products. The political system that influences the economy is not Maori, the economic infrastructure including the financial infrastructure is not Maori, and the market is certainly not Maori.

Having said that it is true that Maori economic assets are increasingly being brought into more productive use. It is true that governance and management of those assets is becoming more professional, and that Maori business, particularly Maori agribusiness is growing as a percentage of the national productive sector. It is true that Maori business is making significant moves into the global market especially in China and other Asian markets. And that activity is highly commendable. But none of that amounts to a “Maori economy”.

And when you take a close look at that blossoming business activity, the big time players are mostly doing it with other peoples’ capital assets – the incorporations, corporate iwi, settlement entities, fisheries entities and the rest. Very few of the players are real capitalists, entrepreneurs and innovators doing it with their own money. Which is not to denigrate what they are achieving but it does bring a sense of perspective.

And who benefits?

In Aotearoa New Zealand the economic health and well being of New Zealand families is totally dependant on the global economy, and the state of the New Zealand economy functioning within the global economy. Their economic well being is influenced by political ideology and policy, both global and national.

Significant measures of the well being of New Zealand families are levels of employment and unemployment, average and median household incomes, and the quality of housing. Directly contributing to measurement of the relative well being of Maori families within those statistics is the level of educational achievement and qualification. Those measures over time are indicators of the number of Maori families that improve their well being, by moving into the socio-economic “middle class”.

So we need to ask, “How are Maori families benefitting from this so-called Maori economy, or how will they benefit, and what are the statistical measures that will reflect that?”

It is a matter of statistical record that in the advanced economies of the world the gap between top income earners and the rest has widened astronomically over the last twenty or so years. That trend is also evident in Aotearoa New Zealand. Those at the top of the economic pile are doing rather nicely thank you, much better than they used to, and paying much less tax than they used to, if any. Those in the middle are doing it tough. Those at the bottom are struggling, still. Change will eventually come, but not any time soon.

Which Maori families then will benefit from this surge of business activity based on the improving productive capacity of Maori economic assets?

For the most part they will be and are the elites who control those Maori economic assets, whether in governance or management. For the most part they are the only ones who will and do personally benefit from the assets they control. There is some downstream benefit but not a lot. Certainly not enough to make any difference to the overall social and economic statistics for Maori. I do not expect the economic health and well being of Maori families to be significantly influenced by the “Maori economy”. Most of us do not play any part in that “Maori economy”.

This misnamed mythical “Maori economy” can in some respects be seen as a gilded metaphor for asset and resource capture by the elites for the primary benefit of the elites.

See also: The Myth of the Maori Entrepreneur