All posts by Putatara

The Breakfast Smoothie

A totally different topic:

People always ask me about my breakfast smoothie, mostly out of curiosity rather than from any intention to adopt my peculiar dietary habits.

It’s strictly a no animal products (Whole Food Plant Based) for I’ve been that way for over fifteen years now (2016), and vegetarian for fifteen years before that. This smoothie, and variations of it, has been my main daily meal for about 12 years. It combines the nutritional essentials of protein, fats, carbohydrates and fibre. There is plenty of fibre in the fruit, greenery and nuts to maintain good gut health. I figure that the smoothie gives me all the nutrients I need, including essential minerals, vitamins and amino acids.

Except for Vitamin B12, which I take as a daily supplement.

The smoothie keeps me going all day without ever feeling hungry. Without ever feeling the effects of low blood sugar. I have two meals a day; this smoothie and dinner. I rarely snack between meals. And it powers me through my daily exercise late in the day – about 10k daily walking plus occasional weight training.

It’s made in a standard 600ml smoothie maker (Kambrook, George Foreman, Nutribullet, etc) and is one third fruit, one third greenery and one third nuts, with a few other ingredients, in plain water.

Fruit

Whatever fruit is in season, but my staples are:

  • Pineapple,
  • Orange or grapefruit, or sometimes a lemon or lime, just for a change.
  • Blueberries and
  • Banana.
  • My son adds avocado which gives the smoothie a creamy texture, and avocado is rich in health promoting nutrients.

Greenery

Kale is the hipster fad of the moment but I use:

  • Celery, or
  • Spinach, or
  • Silver beet, and
  • Herbs (usually mint, basil or parsley). Usually the dominant taste in the smoothie, and
  • sometimes I use Kale because there’s some in the garden, not because I’m into the hipster fad.

A Combination of Raw Nuts (protein, fat and fibre)

  • Walnuts, and
  • Cashews, and
  • Almonds, and
  • Brazil nuts.
  • Peanuts make it taste like peanut butter, if that’s what you like, and they’re a legume rather than a nut, but still very healthy.

According to this scientific meta analysis higher nut intake is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality, and mortality from respiratory disease, diabetes, and infections.

And there is some scientific evidence that a daily nut intake will help prevent erectile dysfunction. Who needs to support the billion dollar Viagra business.

Supplements (essential ingredients)

  • Turmeric root or powder (about half a teaspoon); and
  • Spirulina (about one teaspoon).

Non-essential supplements, but I add them anyway

  • Seeds (whole or ground), i.e. flax, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin.
  • Coconut yoghurt, just because coconut is an ancient tipuna kai (ancestral food) I suppose.
  • Ginger root, because its good for you.
  • Garlic is good for you too but I can’t stand the taste of garlic in my smoothie. I tried it once and it was overpowering.
  • I’ve been known to add miso paste because it’s a complete protein, is said to aid digestion, and as a fermented food helps maintain a healthy gut biota. But it does become the dominant flavour (omnivores can use an ordinary yoghurt for the same purpose).

Experiment

I experiment, trying new healthy ingredients from time to time, always maintaining the 1/3 fruit, 1/3 greenery, 1/3 nuts formula, with the essential ingredients.

Preparation

I prepare it the night before, nuts first, then the fruit and the greenery, with the supplements last, top with water, and leave it in the fridge overnight. I will usually make about three days’ at a time. In the morning I add an ice cube for an extra chill, whizz and drink.

Some people think that they need to drink a bit of the smoothie at a time throughout the day, to power them through the day. I find that taking it all at breakfast is more convenient, and still powers me through the whole day, without ever feeling hungry.

He Tangata – Maori Policy, Economics & Moral Philosophy

The Moral Challenge to the Status Quo and to Neo-liberal Theology

The slogan “It’s the economy, stupid” coined during President Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 election campaign perfectly describes Maori policy that would deliver for all Maori people.

By “economy” I don’t mean the grandiose idea of the “Maori economy” or the mythical “iwi economy”. I mean the real economy.

I have been writing that the national economy ought to be the primary concern of Maori policy makers, because of its crucial impact on the wellbeing and livelihoods of all Maori especially the poor and the unemployed, the disenfranchised and the disinherited. I’ve approached that economic theme from different angles in these four essays.

The Maori Worldview & Maori Policy
Perspectives of time, small prophecy and Maori policy
Draining the Swamp – Some Fundamentals for Maori Policy Makers
Challenging the Status Quo. A Call to Reengage in the Struggle.

Twelve months ago in full flight writing this series I was like all of the activists and the Maori policy establishment; economically under-endowed. Understanding the need to focus on the national economy in Maori policy was one thing. Understanding just how national economic policy might better serve the needs of all Maori was something else again. Thus began a long hard journey into economic theory.

For it is hard work. This essay is a start and it will be hard work too. I promise.

Too much of our activism focuses on issues which are symptoms not causes. TPPA is a case in point; a serious symptom but a symptom nonetheless. We need to focus on the underlying cause, the current political and economic paradigm, and that is going to be hard work. Focusing on the symptoms is the easy way forward, and in the long run the least effective. We’ve been doing that for the last thirty years while macroeconomic policy and practice has totally undermined all of the supposed gains in Maori policy. In theory and in practice we have to make the connection between economics and Maori policy.

So I’m still reading political economy with a lot more knowledge but I’m probably not much wiser. It’s a truism that the more you know the more you realise how much you don’t know. Which can be frustrating. But the political economy is too important in our lives to be left to politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, economists and the media. An early realisation was that politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, economists and the media don’t know much about economics either.

Which is not to say that economists don’t know about economics. The trouble is that there are widely differing economic theories and even the economists can’t agree on what theories to apply in what economic circumstances, or even what causes the different economic conditions in which they might apply the economic remedies they can’t agree on. Let alone predict those economic conditions. And there are economists who can’t agree with themselves (on the one hand this, on the other hand that). “Give me a one-handed economist”, famously said US President Harry S. Truman.

Sometimes the political and economic debate can get quite heated and it is almost always decided by vested interest and ideology. What usually happens is that between the economist and the politician they get it arse about face and apply the wrong remedies at the wrong time, or the right remedies at the wrong time, or the wrong remedies at the right time. You know what I mean; we rarely get the right remedy at the right time.

The question is “How does one grasp the essentials of economic theory and practice and apply that knowledge to Maori policy?”

It’s a tough one. Enlightenment is not easy to come by. I was early on reminded of the long standoff between science and religion. In economics the two come together. Economics seems to me to be a pursuit sometimes but not always intellectual and conceived as science, and in its application almost always religious and practised as dogma. Additionally economists seem determined to avoid incorporating human nature into economic theory preferring instead the easy path of assuming that all humans will act rationally and according to the concept of Homo Economicus. It is a study of human behaviour without the encumbrance of human nature.

Now I’ve read economists who “prove” that all economic decisions are rational decisions even if the makers of those decisions don’t realise it or understand the rationale behind their decisions. The proofs can be quite convincing. But I’m inclined to think that these are ex post facto rationalisations; rationalising the irrational after the event. Humankind is extraordinarily gifted in that regard; even economists.

These are important lessons for the maker of Maori policy, even before we begin to grapple with economic theory. We are not alone in our ignorance and we should never bow to those who claim expertise, especially not to the politician who is usually the least expert among us.

Enlightenment burst upon me from out of left field in a recent book by James Lovelock, independent scientist and inventor, and the originator with the late Lyn Margolis, of the concept of Gaia describing Earth as a living ecosystem. In one of his latest books “A Rough Ride to the Future” he wrote about climate change. He caused me to realise that none of us has the answers, certainly not the politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen and media, and not even the economists.

Lovelock wrote that twenty years ago climate scientists had after much research uncovered so much about atmospheric climate that they thought their mathematical computer models were quite reliable. Then about ten years ago they realised that they needed to know a lot more about oceanic climate and the huge effects that oceans have on climate. Today the computer models incorporate all they now know about the oceans but still they are deficient. Now they have to research and incorporate into their models as much data as they can about the huge influence of the biosphere on climate, the influence of all living things including the bacteria.

Climate scientists are still at the point where they don’t know it all. They know a lot more than everyone else including all those political, religious and corporate climate change deniers but they still don’t know it all, or even enough to guarantee that their models and predictions are reliable. That’s science.

Human activity has some influence on climate and some of it is undoubtedly negative and causing some degree of worrying climate change. But nevertheless the main influences are the Sun and the Moon, the solar system, the greater Universe, the land mass, the atmosphere, the oceans and the sum total of the biosphere. These main influences are relatively stable over enormous periods of time with disturbances in the Force from time to time, measured in thousands and millions of years.

By comparison the global economy and our national economy are entirely human constructs, enormously unstable and unpredictable and affected daily by the economic decisions of seven billion humans, and the self-interested decisions of hundreds of governments and hundreds of thousands of corporations, not to mention the modern economic plague – an electronic herd daily placing billions of bets in the gigantic casinos that are the global capital and commodities marketplaces. Once bastions of financial conservatism the banks are now active participants in the global casino. Trust and morality have evaporated.

I suspect that as the technological revolution exponentially increases the pace of change in all human affairs the economic theorists are being left further and further behind, applying theories that applied to past events against a barely understandable present and a totally unpredictable future. The growth of the new BRIC super-economies of China, India, Russia and Brazil is adding little-understood and daily unfolding complexity to the global economy. When China sniffs we all sneeze. So how can anyone possibly understand it all or build a computer model of the economy that is even 50% reliable. They can’t and they don’t.

I am of course being terribly unkind to economists. We know that the future is increasingly unknowable and unpredictable and that the future now comes upon us at a pace unimaginable just fifty years ago. Yet we expect economists to act as a modern caste of oracle or soothsayer and to predict it for us. We may as well consult the horoscope. Except in hindsight no one anticipates mystical disturbances in the Force like the 2008 global financial crisis and other greater and lesser crises, like for instance depressions, recessions, bubbles and the raising and lowering of oil prices by OPEC, or the increase or decrease of supply by Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately many economists (and too many politicians) try to live up to our irrational expectations of them and try, whether from hubris or ignorance, to don the mantle of oracle, soothsayer or prophet.

Treasury produces forecasts based on enormously complex but ultimately unreliable computer modelling attempting to predict the outcome of different policy choices, and governments act on the forecasts. These are mathematical models lacking animation by human nature, and ethical or moral moderation; lacking also the randomness and chance of the events that shape our lives, including economic events. And in truth all macroeconomic forecasts venture into the realm of prophecy. In producing his (and maybe her) annual budgets the Treasurer is acting as fortune teller, or more commonly as the fortune teller’s stage assistant. The prophecies are typically about the next four or five years but we focus only on the current year and don’t actually notice that the longer term prophetic forecasts are usually just a mathematical wish list of hogwash.

It’s an annual exercise in pulling the wool over the eyes of the electorate; buying the votes that matter and for the rest of us creating a semblance of economic mastery, for we are inclined to vote for those who are able to subliminally convince us of their economic credentials where none exist. In reality we just muddle through from year to year and scramble to deal with disturbances in the Force. A bit like life in general.

Meanwhile economists keep searching on their quest for the holy grail of economics; a rational explanation for economic and business cycles and a theory that will allow them to be predicted, and hopefully make budgets a scientific pursuit. Mystical disturbances in the Force might be a more useful thesis. The mystical has served us well ever since the dawn of civilisation and there are still identifiable traces of mysticism in much economic theorising. The “invisible hand of the market” is the most well-known mystical belief, much revered in neo-liberal metaphysics. “Homo Economicus” is a mystical construct. Money itself is not about the value of the paper it is printed on or the metal in the coin, but is a matter of trust, of belief and faith in the value of exchange that it represents.

With such widespread faith in metaphysical belief little wonder that “money” has achieved the status of a god, and in this day and age “market” is not far behind.

Escaping from the abstract back to the material, in this globalising and technology driven economic environment transnational corporations have usurped and continue to usurp the economic functions of nation states and to evade any obligation to the nation state; notably taxation. Totally motivated by profit they care nothing for the health of national economies or the wellbeing of the people. Neither do they yet have any regard for the health of the soil, the water, the air, or the planet. They are ungovernable by national governments, democratic and otherwise. Thus is global business and the global economy ungovernable, and becoming increasingly so, by anyone. Most nation states are already in the position where they can only manoeuvre in response to forces beyond their control.

In New Zealand’s case perhaps it was always so despite the aura of expertise and control our politicians like to project.

The secret Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is disguised as a free trade agreement but is more likely a strategic plank in America’s attempts to shore up its global dominance in the face of an increasingly powerful Chinese economy, accompanied by increasing Chinese economic, diplomatic and military reach. A large part of the US economic strategy seems to be based on gaining for US corporations much more legal, political and economic power within the TPPA and similar agreements. The US seems to be trying to counter centralised Chinese economic power with globally distributed US corporate power and by handing economic governance to the corporates. As a plank in the projection of global economic power the TPPA and many similar US initiated agreements sit alongside America’s continuing global projection of military power to control the oceans, space and cyberspace, and the now infamous “Five Eyes” projection of global surveillance.

Concealing these imperial geopolitical aims from us our New Zealand negotiators promise economic benefits but as always the US will attend to its own interests first and foremost regardless of what is promised in any agreement. It can be 100% guaranteed that none of our negotiators really knows the consequences of TPPA. The benefits are about hope rather than certainty. Much like economic theory itself. The proclaimed economic benefits of the TPPA are based on economic modelling that has been shown to be deeply flawed but if a model “proves” what its proponents want it to prove then it becomes infallible. The unintended economic and other consequences of TPPA await us.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions”

So. Does anyone really understand the economy, and does anyone really know how to control what happens in our national economy?

    The politician and economist is like a person at the oars of a raft in white water – there is no control, only expert or inexpert attempts to steer, mostly inexpert. The river is in control”. (Richard Manning, “Against the Grain”).

Tossed about on this wild river we must try to steer our way into policy that benefits all New Zealanders and in our case, all Maori. To extend the metaphor we are reminded of the navigators of old setting sail across vast oceans. Those intrepid wayfinders found certainty in the stars they steered by. We too should have clear and certain stars to guide us. A good place to start is with Adam Smith, the “grandfather” of modern economics and one of its original steersmen.

Before I started this odyssey into the theory and practice of political economy I already knew that almost everyone who quoted Adam Smith had never read let alone studied Adam Smith. That is especially so of politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen and the media but also surprisingly or not, of economists. He is most quoted these days in support of neo-liberal ideology. His almost throwaway remark about the “invisible hand” is much quoted to validate theories about the free market or market liberalism. His “Wealth of Nations” is his only work ever quoted in an economic context. If we are to challenge the orthodoxy of these times we need to get to know Adam Smith.

Adam Smith and the Enlightenment

Adam Smith (1723 – 1790) was first and foremost one of the intellectual leaders of the 18th Century British Enlightenment which unlike the French and the American Enlightenments emphasised the sociology of virtue rather than the ideology of reason (France) or the politics of liberty (USA). There was however considerable crossover of ideas between the three of them and other centres of Enlightenment thought including Germany.

The Enlightenment has been many things to many philosophers but it might be described as a project to achieve a condition in which human beings think for themselves rather than in accordance with the dictates of authority such as tradition and religion, or princes and priests. It championed the use of reason in the moral and practical affairs of humankind. It displaced the ruling and property owning classes of the 17th & 18th Centuries and brought forth a number of institutions including:

    • Representative democracy;
    • Legal systems protecting the rights of individuals;
    • Free market economy; and
    • Public education.

Enlightenment thinkers applied reason to the study of moral philosophy, seeking the nature and content of moral rules in reason rather than in the authority of tradition and religion. Among them were Locke, Hume, Diderot, Bentham, Robespierre, Jefferson and Kant.

Adam Smith was one of them; a moral philosopher. His earlier work is his “Theory of Moral Sentiments” which he himself regarded as his major work and which he continued to revise long after the publication of “Wealth of Nations“, his much misquoted treatise on political economy.

Adam Smith clearly believed that the practice of economic management had both intellectual and moral dimensions. The economic Master of the 20th Century, John Maynard Keynes, was also absolutely firm in that belief.

In our own time it is clear that the global economic downturn following the near collapse of the global economy in 2008-2009 is fundamentally due to both intellectual and moral failure; that is to the failure of the economic theories of the times themselves devoid of moral context.

The Morality of Power

In this essay we shall explore the moral dimension as it relates to the political economy. The broader study of moral philosophy is highly intellectual and highly technical and could give us a headache trying to get to grips with it; so we won’t try. Well I won’t anyway.

The intellectual dimension of the political economy will be the subject of the next essays in this series.

In my previous essay “Challenging the Power Elite and Challenging the Status Quo” I called for us “to commit again to the struggle to challenge the status quo and to break the political, social and economic paradigm that consigns so many of our people to the serried ranks of the disenfranchised and disinherited”.

The first challenge is to the legitimacy of the power that maintains that paradigm. The power elite must be challenged to justify their power and their use of it. Does it serve the interests of the disenfranchised and disinherited. Does it serve the interests of society, of the future or the environment. But the most fundamental challenge is this – what is the moral justification for the possession of that power and the policies it spurns.

What follows is a (fairly) long exploration of moral philosophy in relation to the political economy. Its primary focus is on one of the absolutes of modern economics; the theory of the invisible hand of self-interest guiding market perfection and in determining all economic behaviour.

The Sociology of Virtue

The core thinking in the British Enlightenment was variously described as the promotion of moral sense, moral sentiments, social affections or social virtues. Those virtues included benevolence, pity, sympathy, compassion and “fellow-feeling”. That period has been described as “The Age of Benevolence” and “New Humanitarianism”. Those attitudes that were not considered virtuous included self-affection, self-love, self-interest and self-good. This was the thinking of the “grandfather” of economics, Adam Smith.

It espoused the concept of the greatest good for the greatest number and contained within it the seeds of egalitarianism that later came to be thought a quintessential part of the New Zealand character.

The Enlightenment and Enlightenment thinking led to the abolition of slavery, to many social reforms, and to an age of philanthropy. Economics was itself one of the pinnacles of Enlightenment thought.

It also gave rise to an era of world-wide evangelism. Enlightenment theologians refashioned beliefs as a solution to the religious dogmatism and intolerance of previous centuries. They espoused rational theology, moderation and reason. The Church Missionary Society (CMS) which evangelised in early New Zealand was a product of the Enlightenment. Apart from its evangelical mission the CMS was dedicated to giving practical form to both the religious and secular moral philosophy of the British Enlightenment.

Education for the poor became part of the Enlightenment mission. This too found its way to New Zealand expressed in a different context in the early establishment of schools for Maori by the churches and state. That of course included Te Aute College in 1854, established on Enlightenment principles, both religious and secular.

Captain James Cook, Joseph Banks, Samuel Marsden, Thomas Kendall, William Colenso, Octavious Hadfield, Henry Williams, William Williams, Edward Gibbon Wakefield and many other settlers, colonisers and missionaries were all influenced by the Enlightenment and Enlightenment thinking.

Adam Smith’s “Moral Sentiments” was one of the main influences of his own time and into the New Zealand colonial period. In the last year of his life, some years after his text “Wealth of Nations” on the political economy was published, he revised “Moral Sentiments”. He added a final chapter entitled “Of the Corruption of Our Moral Sentiments, Which is Occasioned by This Disposition to Admire the Rich and Great, and to Despise or Neglect Persons of Poor and Mean Condition“.

He wrote:

    “Hence it is that to feel much for others and little for ourselves, that to restrain our selfish and to indulge our benevolent affections, constitutes the perfection of human nature“.

He also wrote:

    “The rich and the great are too often preferred to the wise and the virtuous”.

He seems to be describing our own times.

This Adam Smith was no neo-liberal economist but his writings are often quoted totally out of context to add lustre to neo-liberal theology. He was a promoter of the free market but not totally unrestrained markets. His markets were those constrained by moral sentiments.

In Adam Smith’s time the economy and business was subject to the sort of moral constraint that the moral philosophers advocated. Today all of those restraints have gone and with them the true import of the type of economy that Adam Smith described in “Wealth of Nations“. His economic analysis and his key economic assumptions remain at the core of microeconomic theory today but the context has changed totally.

The important first principle of Adam Smith’s thinking on the political economy is that he understood economics to be a subset of moral philosophy. Adam Smith understood economics to be a subset of moral philosophy.

So the challenge and the message to the power elite is that if you choose to privilege self-interest over the common good you won’t find your justification in Adam Smith no matter how hard you try.

And try they do. Would you believe that when the University of Chicago published a bicentennial edition of “The Wealth of Nations” they distorted the original text because Adam Smith was actually strongly opposed to all of the stuff the neoliberals spout in his name. The introduction to that “scholarly” text is opposed to Smith’s original text on many points. A whole passage of the original text on the division of labour was simply deleted. The University of Chicago is the birthplace of modern supply side and neo-liberal economics.

The moral philosophy underlying any economic policy, theory and practice is something we can all readily understand. It’s not rocket science. It is a debate in which we can all equally participate. It should therefore be at the centre of all public debate and public policy formation. All of the rest of it is technical mumbo jumbo most often deployed to confuse the public and to give the appearance of expertise. The mumbo jumbo is deployed also to conceal the real moral philosophy in economic practice, or indeed the lack of moral philosophy.

In public policy first we define (or neglect to define) our moral principles and goals (or lack thereof) then we reach for the requisite social, political and economic tools to achieve our moral (or other) purpose.

The start point then in economic and Maori policy is to clearly define a moral philosophy on which policy is built. We need to shift the debate from the techniques of economic management to what it is supposed to achieve.

The moral philosophy of Adam Smith and other thinkers of the British Enlightenment had a profound effect on New Zealand society in general and on Maori society as well. As we have seen the Church Missionary Society and its clerical and lay missions to the colonies including New Zealand were heavily influenced by British Enlightenment thinking. So too were many of the earlier government officials. That thinking led to a gentler colonisation of New Zealand than had occurred in earlier colonisations. Like all sets of principles, values, morals and ethics it was often breached in practice but nevertheless that thinking did to a significant extent moderate colonial practice. It would have been much worse in an earlier time. One has only to look across the ditch to Australia to appreciate that.

The Williams family of clergymen and Enlightenment thinkers included Archdeacon Samuel Williams who founded Te Aute College in 1854. John Thornton who was its headmaster for about 24 years (1878 – 1912) and who was similarly influenced by the Enlightenment had an enormous influence on the thinking of a whole generation of Maori leadership (Apirana Ngata, Te Rangi Hiroa, Reweti Kohere, Tutere Wi Repa, Maui Pomare, Edward Ellison and others) while they were at school and afterwards. Their “Association for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Maori Race” was a classic Enlightenment project. It later morphed into “Te Aute College Students Association” and then into the “Young Maori Party”.

Thus it was that Adam Smith and other Enlightenment thinkers indirectly influenced a whole generation of ground breaking Maori leadership. And you thought they were influenced entirely by tikanga Maori?

John Maynard Keynes (1883 – 1946)

Keynes was the economic master of the first half of the 20th Century at about the time when the Maori protégés of Williams and Thornton were making their mark on New Zealand and Maori society. His “Keynesian” legacy lasted for some twenty years after his death until displaced by the present neo-classical or neo-liberal orthodoxy. We will leave an exploration of his economic theories and impact until the next essay(s). However he is an important figure in our present study of the moral dimension of political economy.

John Keynes studied political economy under Alfred Marshall at Cambridge University. Marshall (1822 – 1924) was a classical economist and his “Principles of Economics” set the stage for 20th Century economics until the theories of Keynes. Marshall was also grounded in philosophy and ethics and wrote:

    Ethical forces are among those the economist has to take account”.

Keynes did not think of himself as an economist but rather as a moral philosopher with a practical bent and a mission to forge economic practices that promoted the common good. He was not as many think a socialist but was a capitalist and investor with a moral conscience. He was one of the most brilliant minds of his time, admired even by the immensely clever philosopher Lord Bertrand Russell.

He was enormously influenced by the philosophy of G.E.Moore, a contemporary of Bertrand Russell and with Russell one of the leading 20th Century analytic philosophers. Moore wrote and taught at Cambridge University, where Keynes was educated and where he lived and taught for the rest of his life when he wasn’t in London, Versailles or Washington advising governments on economic policy.

Keynes was many things other than an economist and capitalist with a social conscience. He was a member of the London based “Bloomsbury Set” which challenged the status quo, the traditions and standards of their times some forty years before the cultural revolution of the 1960s. He mixed with writers, poets and artists and brought a creativity and flexibility of mind to his work in economic theory and practice.

But underlying it all was his intellectual base in the moral philosophy of G.E.Moore. In that respect he was not unlike Adam Smith although his ideas broke away from Smith’s classical economics.

Virtue Ethics

There are a diverse range of approaches and equally diverse theoretical constructs within the broad study of moral philosophy. Both Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes can in some ways be seen as part of the whakapapa of the modern branch of moral philosophy known as virtue ethics. It is this intellectual stream that we will tap into in our present exploration of the moral dimension of the political economy and Maori policy.

Stating it very simply virtue ethics is about “rightness” and about how one should lead one’s whole life including the economic life. It has deep historical roots in Western society especially in the thinking of Aristotle. In many ways it can be seen as compatible with the deep historical roots of the virtues in Maori society. Later in the essay we will explore a Maori moral dimension along the same lines.

Alisdair MacIntyre is a key figure in the field of virtue ethics.

In 1981 he wrote “After Virtue” widely considered to be one of the most important works of moral and political philosophy in the 20th Century. He thought that the Enlightenment project, in rejecting the old and espousing the new had led ultimately to the rejection of moral rationality altogether by many subsequent influential thinkers. His aim was to revive the idea of the virtues espoused by Aristotle, updated for the modern context, for he contends that all modern attempts to construct moral philosophy are in one way or another dependant on Aristotle.

According to MacIntyre moral disputes take place between rival traditions of thought that we have inherited from the distant past. Our moral ideas of today have an intellectual whakapapa and to understand why we think the way we do we need to understand that whakapapa.

MacIntyre begins with the question about what comprises a good human life, a question the ancient Greeks grappled with. Before Aristotle Homeric values emphasised competition whereas Athenian values prized cooperation, the one being the basis of an heroic individualistic society and the other a society based on the common good. Heir to those influences, Aristotle sought to define a society based on the virtues.

On another parallel whakapapa line the two strands of teaching of the scriptures and of Plato were integrated into the Augustinian view of Christianity. Later still Thomas Aquinas merged the Augustinian and Aristotelian into what became the theological and intellectual basis of modern Christianity. Still later Calvin and the Enlightenment thinkers such as Hume and Smith, according to MacIntyre, by breaking continuity with the ideas of the past opened the way for what eventually became today’s liberal individualism.

In that sense whilst Adam Smith did not himself espouse liberal individualism he may well have unwittingly helped pave the way for its eventual dominance.

Two hundred years ago that whakapapa of ideas collided and slowly merged with the Maori concept of society, morality and virtue. It was of course a society in which the collective was privileged above the individual and although it has rapidly evolved alongside and sometimes within the other the key concepts need not be subsumed.

Few people in the policy domain really understand where their ideas and ideology originated and for the maker of Maori policy, seeking to challenge the status quo, knowing why people think the way they do is an important intellectual weapon. For in challenging the status quo we are challenging ideas and ideology. In that respect the work of MacIntyre in moral and political philosophy is instructive. This brief explanation barely touches the sweep of his ideas but serves to introduce him in the context of moral philosophy and Maori policy and to bring Aristotle into our exploration of the moral dimension of the political economy.

We should know why we think the way we do. Most of this essay is an attempt to answer the question about why some of us privilege self-interest and some of us the commons.

A Scientific Dimension
Neuroscience

In science there are developing new lines of thought on the moral dimension. In fact many scientific researchers are turning to the moral philosophy of Adam Smith in “Moral Sentiments” to provide a contextual understanding of their laboratory experiments.

    “Experimental economists have discovered that people often act from a variety of motives, including self-interest, benevolence and justice. Neuroscientists have also discovered a mirror neuron network in the brain that mimics fellow feeling, and the hormone oxytocin associated with emotional bonding. These discoveries provide evidence for Adam Smith’s moral sentiments theory.”(Jonathon Wright, 2015, “Ethics in Economics, An Introduction to Moral Frameworks“).

We should watch closely the evolution of this line of inquiry.

Socio-biology – The Evolution of the Social & Moral Dimension

As well as neuroscience there is another new stream of interesting scientific research. The writings of Edward O. Wilson in social biology or socio-biology are particularly interesting and relevant, specifically his “The Social Conquest of Earth“.

E.O.Wilson’s ideas are not universally accepted or popular and are vehemently opposed by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, author of “The Selfish Gene”. This is essentially an intellectual duel between two Darwinists and evolutionists, the one (Dawkins) promoting genetic and individual evolution and the other (Wilson) proposing co-evolution, both genetic and social evolution, individual and group evolution, or multi-level evolution.

Nevertheless Wilson does provide us with some useful ideas on which we might base our moral philosophy. In his theory about the origin of morality in answer to the age old question about whether mankind is innately good but corruptible by the forces of evil, or innately wicked but redeemable by the forces of good, he proposes that we are both. This dilemma of good and evil was created by the process of multi-level evolution in which:

    “Individual selection and group selection act together on the one individual but largely in opposition to each other. Individual selection is the competition for survival and reproduction among members of the same group. It shapes instincts in each member that are fundamentally selfish with reference to other members. In contrast, group selection consists of competition between societies, both through direct conflict and in differential competence in exploiting the environment. Group selection shapes instincts that tend to make individuals altruistic toward one another (but not towards members of other groups). Individual selection is responsible for much of what we call sin, while group selection is responsible for the greater part of virtue. Together they have created the conflict between the poorer and better angels of our nature“.

In bringing together research in molecular genetics, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, archaeology, ecology, social psychology and history into a theory of social evolution. he proposes that Homo sapiens is a “eusocial” species, in which group members containing multiple generations are “prone to perform altruistic acts as part of their division of labour” and bonding within the group is based on cooperation. Nevertheless evolutionary selection at the group or social level is based on altruism, cooperation, competition, domination, reciprocity, defection and deceit. We are all of us both selfish and selfless, a balance of altruism and self-interest. We are as individuals prone to sin and as cooperating groups given to virtue; part saint and part sinner.

According to Wilson it was group selection that catapulted our species to its present advanced state of civilisation compared to all other species. We are therefore genetically inclined to seek membership of a group or groups whether they be tribal, religious, sporting, vocational and many other groupings, and to act in the best interests of the group. The only precept that appears in all organised religions is the altruistic Golden Rule; “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you“, or variations on the same theme.

He states that the iron rule in genetic and social evolution is that “selfish individuals will always beat altruistic individuals, but that groups of altruists will always beat groups of selfish individuals”.

In sociobiological terms we evolved selfishly and altruistically into tribal and hapu societies both in the Old World and in Aotearoa New Zealand. In those societies there was competition for status and reproductive rights but group cohesion and solidarity was paramount in the eternal struggle against other tribes or hapu for dominance and resources. In the Old World after the agricultural revolution and with more plentiful supplies of food larger societies evolved and about 5000 to 7000 years ago religion and government arose to impose social control and political harmony on those larger societies. Wilson saw organised religion as an expression of the earlier tribalism. That situation persists although the British Enlightenment and its ideas about the sociology of virtue loosened religious dominance and reformed political practice.

In Aotearoa New Zealand the hapu and its tikanga predominated until the arrival of the Old World, its religion, its government and its relatively recent Enlightenment ideas.

Morality as social cohesion and control can be traced through that evolutionary path to the present day. Except that over the last thirty years the trail has become less well signposted. But we need to be clear about our moral philosophy as the foundation of policy.

In forming a moral philosophy for today and for today’s policy we must decide whether we tend towards the poorer or better angels of our nature, towards the altruistic or selfish, towards cooperation or competition. Realistically of course we need to be clear about how we harness both sides of human nature in the service of society. We are forced to form a view of the human nature and of the moral philosophy at the centre of our economic, Maori and other policy.

Socio-economics – The Social & Moral Dimension in Economics

We move now from socio-biology to socio-economics to explore the same issues. Whereas E.O.Wilson sees our subject from a biological and social evolutionary perspective In “The Moral Dimension – Towards a New Economics” communitarian Amitai Etzioni explores the duality of our natures, altruism and self-interest from within research and evidence in the social sciences.

Throughout this essay and in this section I refer often to paradigms. Etzioni provides us with a useful definition:

    Paradigms provide an orderly way of thinking about a disorderly world”.

The paradigm is not the world, and often not even remotely like the world it seeks to simplify. Such is the case with the neo-liberal paradigm.

    “Assuming human beings see themselves as members of a community and as self-seeking individuals, how are the lines drawn between the commitments to the commons and to one’s self? At issue is the paradigm we use in trying to make sense out of the social world that surrounds us, and of which we are an integral part; the paradigm we apply in the quest to understand and improve ourselves, those dear to us, and those not so dear”.

He sees two dominant paradigms:

    • An entrenched utilitarian, rationalistic-individualistic, neoclassical paradigm in which neoclassical (neo-liberal) economics has a flagship role; and
    • A social-conservative paradigm that sees individuals as morally deficient and often irrational, hence requiring a strong authority to control their impulses, direct their endeavours, and maintain order.

The two are not mutually exclusive and can be held both at the same time by the same people, for instance in economic (neo-liberal) policy and in security (social conservative) policy. Paradigmatic schizophrenia if you will. Perhaps those so afflicted are simply lacking a defined and guiding moral philosophy.

The neoclassical paradigm does not recognise community or society as an entity in itself but only as a collection of self-interested individuals. The neoclassical paradigm holds that it is the sum total of the activities of self-interested individuals that creates prosperity for all and that there is no place for community in the economy, especially if community is represented by government.

In this book Etzioni is concerned about the first paradigm, the one that has governed economic activity for the last thirty years. He does not seek to extinguish that paradigm but to moderate it by including it within a new paradigm that serves the common good as well as harnessing individual self-interest. To achieve that he proposes that the assumptions underlying the neoclassical paradigm be modified:

    • That the neoclassical paradigm that maximises just one utility (pleasure, happiness or consumption) is extended to maximise two utilities (pleasure and morality);
    • That whereas economic decisions are held to be made rationally we also recognise that values and emotions also play a part in decision making in both the social and economic spheres;
    • That where the neoclassical paradigm holds that the individual is the decision making unit we recognise that social collectives (ethnic, racial, peer groups, work groups, neighbourhood groups) are also part of the decision making process and that even individual decisions often reflect group values;
    • That whereas the market economy is seen as a separate system, a self-containing, perfect competition model we should see the economy as a sub-system of society, polity and culture.

The social context in which there is a partial overlap of the values and priorities of the individual and the commons is the essential difference between the neoclassical paradigm and the new paradigm proposed by Etzioni.

In relation to morality he too goes back to and quotes from Adam Smith’s “Moral Sentiments”;

    “How selfish so ever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him”.

He explores and cites the research and evidence concerning:

    • Morality, doing what is right rather than what is pleasurable;
    • Altruism, interest in the fortunes of others; and
    • Commitment to the commons, or to the common good.

The premises of this socio-economic position encompass moral duty, altruism and a commitment to the commons as well as individual pleasure.

    “Examination of behaviour shows that individuals who seek to live up to their moral commitments behave in a manner that is systematically different from those who act to enhance their pleasures”.

The balanced approach is to advance individual well-being and to act morally.

So if we accept that there is a moral dimension to our lives as individuals and as a society, and the evidence clearly suggests that there is, then we ought to decide just how that moral dimension should influence policy. That calls for a modification to the prevailing neo-classical or neo-liberal paradigm, for the logical extension to that paradigm is either that we no longer live according to the moral dimension or we that we exclude the moral dimension from public policy consideration.

The logical extension is that moral values be replaced by market values.

Political Philosophy

Michael J. Sandel is arguably one of the leading philosophers and public intellectuals of these times.

He is a political philosopher and a professor at Harvard University where he has taught his famous “Justice” course for over two decades to over 15,000 students. He has published the content of this course in “Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?” (2010) and it is the basis of a free online extension course and radio and TV documentaries. He has also published on ethics and morality in politics. Specific to our subject of moral philosophy in economics is his “What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets” (2012).

In it he argues that:

    “We live at a time when almost everything can be bought and sold. Over the past three decades, markets – and market values – have come to govern our lives as never before. We did not arrive at this condition through any deliberate choice. It is almost as if it came upon us”.

    “As the Cold War ended, markets and market thinking enjoyed unrivalled prestige, understandably so. No other mechanism for organizing the production and distribution of goods had proved as successful at generating affluence and prosperity. And yet, as growing numbers of countries around the world embraced market mechanisms in the operation of their economies, something else was happening. Market values were coming to play a greater and greater role in social life. Economics was becoming an imperial domain. Today, the logic of buying and selling no longer applies to material goods alone but increasingly governs the whole of life. It is time to ask whether we want to live this way”.

The last thirty years has been a time of market faith and deregulation, the faith that markets are the primary means of achieving the public good, described by Sandel as an era of market triumphalism. It began with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, and in New Zealand with Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson (and the bureaucrats and corporates who did their thinking for them). In New Zealand we are now applying the market to social service provision.

The 2008 global financial crisis brought that market triumphalism to an end casting doubt on the ability of markets to allocate risk efficiently and fairly. It also caused widespread belief that markets have become detached from morality and that we need somehow to reconnect them. That detachment comprises the central thesis of “What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets”.

The major cause of this transition was not just greed. Greed played a role but the most fateful change was the expansion of markets and of market values into spheres of life where they don’t belong. We now need a public debate about the moral limits of markets. Sometimes market values crowd out non-market values worth caring about. We don’t all agree what values are worth caring about but in policy we ought to debate and decide what values should govern the various domains of social and civic life.

Drawing on research in behavioural economics and social psychology Sandel shows using many real life examples that commercialisation of an activity changes it and that:

    • money corrupts;
    • market relations crowd out non-market norms; and
    • market values crowd out moral values.

In that debate we need to consider what are and are not appropriately treated as commodities or consumer goods, and what individual and civic rights should not be governed by the market. How we value things such as health, education, family life, nature, art, civic duties and so on are moral and political questions, not merely economic ones. The debate needs to decide whether we want a market economy or a market society.

Some politicians and economists don’t see it that way.

Their argument goes that we should not rely too heavily on altruism, generosity, solidarity or civic duty because those moral sentiments are scarce resources depleted with use. Markets or self-interest spare us from using up the limited supply of virtue. It is a specious argument. For the virtues are not commodities that are depleted with use. They are like muscle, the more they are exercised the stronger they grow.

Principles, Values, Ethics & Morals

We began this enquiry into various aspects of moral philosophy in the 18th Century thought of the philosophers of the British Enlightenment and with Adam Smith in particular, as he was both a leading figure in the British Enlightenment and the “grandfather” of modern economics.

If we accept that we need to start by clearly defining a moral philosophy to guide policy, in this case national economic policy and Maori policy then we ought to embark via public debate on an exercise to reach a consensus. The problem with politics is that there is too little moral argument. Political debate is vacant, vacuous and empty of moral content. It fails to engage the big questions that people care about.

What do we care about? Poverty? Unemployment? Inequality? Affordable housing? Equal access to higher education? How do we want to share in a common life? How do we want to live together? Is everything up for sale? Or do we have certain moral and civic goods that markets do not honour and money cannot buy? These are just a few of the questions we need to debate.

By establishing principles we are able to simplify and clarify matters in a world of competing demands, information overload, and political, corporate and media spin and propaganda. They help us to identify and weed out the bullshit in political discourse. Directly in opposition to that is the promotion of ideological political paradigms that seek merely to simplify but through the suppression of informed debate and the imposition of ignorance.

Do we think that policy should be underpinned by moral philosophy? Should we strive for a balance between altruism and self-interest? Do we believe in survival of the fittest or in the survival of those who cooperate for the common good? Should we seek to balance competition with cooperative relationships? Our principles thus established inform our choice of values, morals and ethics. Values motivate, and ethics and morals constrain.

Values are what we think important and motivate our thinking and actions. There are many competing and sometimes diametrically opposed values. That is why it is important that political parties ought to be forced by the electorate to declare their principles and values so that we can be absolutely clear what we are voting for, and so that we can hold them accountable. In the absence of clear principles and values politics and elections are little more than contests of personality and lotteries of chance. The politically informed and politically engaged know well the true principles and values of their preferred party regardless of party propaganda broadcast to the electorate. The non-engaged comprising most of the electorate are left in the dark.

Values include in no particular order – material success, individualism, efficiency, thrift, freedom, liberty, courage, hard work, prudence, competition, cooperation, patriotism, compromise, punctuality, social justice, social cohesion, social harmony, fairness, personal wealth, health, wisdom, and many others.

Once we have clarified our principles and values then ethics and morals are what guide our judgement about what is right and wrong, and our choice of policy settings.

Christianity & Religion

Christianity has played a major role in the development of a sense of morality in New Zealand in the lives of both Maori and Pakeha; in establishing shared principles, values, ethics and morals. It remains a strong influence in Maori society, not so much in the wider society. In the New Testament Mathew 22:37-40 contains the essence of this:

    “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it. Love thy neighbour as thyself. All the Law and all the Prophets hang on these two commandments“.

Whether or not we believe in a god the second can certainly be applied to our management of the political economy.

The problem with basing economic policy on Christian values is that Christianity has long been claimed by all political ideologies and has been used as justification for behaviour both virtuous and vile. Justification for almost anything can be found in the Bible, especially the Old Testament.

Of course there are long established moral precepts in Christianity and these were incorporated into Enlightenment thinking as the sociology of virtue. The Enlightenment secularised the morality previously the sole preserve of religion.

Novelist and essayist Mario Vargas Llosa in “Notes on the Death of Culture, Essays on Spectacle and Society”, Part VI “The Opium of the People”, whilst not necessarily subscribing to a belief in God, and who describes secularism as absolutely necessary for the promotion and maintenance of democracy, nevertheless sees a very necessary role for religion in society. He writes:

    “It is still an incontrovertible reality that, for the great majority, religion is the first and main source of the moral and civic principles that buttress democratic culture.” Also. “The evisceration of spiritual life is happening in all strata of social life but it is in the economy that the effects are most visible.”
    “All the great liberal thinkers, from John Stuart Mill to Karl Popper, including Adam Smith, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Isaiah Berlin and Milton Friedman, argued that economic and political freedom achieved its full civilizing function, creating wealth and employment, defending individual sovereignty, the rule of law and human rights, only when the spiritual life of a society was intense and fostered a hierarchy of values respected and adhered to by that society”.
    “The great failure and the crisis that the capitalist system faces again and again – corruption, the spoils system, mercantilist manoeuvres to gain wealth by infringing the law, the frenetic greed and fraudulent activity of banks and finance houses – are not due to inherent faults in the institutions of capitalism themselves but rather to the collapse of moral and religious values, which act as a curb that keeps capitalism within certain norms of honesty, respect for one’s neighbour and respect for the law. When this invisible but influential ethical structure collapses and disappears in many areas of society, among all among those who have the most responsibility in economic life, then anarchy spreads, bringing about an increasing lack of confidence in a system that seems to function only for the benefit of the most powerful (or the biggest tricksters) and against the interests of ordinary citizens who lack wealth and privilege”.

Tikanga Maori

An underlying theme in this essay is that we have to take our argument outside of tikanga Maori, beyond the Treaty of Waitangi and into the intellectual domain of the other tikanga if we are to successfully challenge the status quo. Arguments based entirely in kaupapa Maori are self-limiting and self-marginalising.

So although it might seem that the proper place to start to define a moral philosophy for political and economic management in support of Maori policy ought to be in Tikanga Maori or Kaupapa Maori, this policy will serve all New Zealanders and ought to be based in both strands of tikanga. Which is why I have traced the influence of Tikanga Maramatanga (The Enlightenment) into New Zealand and into the thinking of Maori leadership in the first half of the 20th Century. Which is why I have discussed insights from the physical and social sciences and from moral and political philosophy. The principles, values, morals and ethics that will comprise the moral philosophy underlying economic policy and practice will need to be expressed in terms embraced by all New Zealanders.

A trap that we must avoid in Maori policy is to equate policies that privilege society, community and the common good with policies that privilege “iwi” or “corporate iwi”. For we need to know just what communities Maori do engage with on a daily and weekly basis. Do most Maori regularly engage with their iwi or is that engagement nominal only. The research has not yet been done. Iwi engagement as opposed to iwi affiliation is a matter of cultural faith rather than proven reality.

Given that most Maori are urban Maori and effectively detribalised how do they engage in the commons and in the economy? The reality is that the age old functions of tribal leadership in matters of law, security, health, education, housing, welfare and economics have all been taken by government. Maori, even the minority of Maori living in the old tribal homelands, engage with government for most of their personal and communal needs. WINZ is our primary provider. Local government provides our community services.

Which is not to say that Tikanga Maori values should not play a prominent part in the moral philosophy. These will include the principles of tika and pono and the values of whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, mana and tapu. They are of course not at odds with Aristotelian, Enlightenment and religious virtues, principles, values, morals and ethics. Mana, that which is the innate possession of all persons and that which ought to be respected in all policy might be the basis of a moral philosophy based on Tikanga Maori.

Tikanga values are the virtues in Maori culture much as Aristotelian values are the virtues in the other. “Tikanga Maori, Living by Maori Values” by Hirini Moko Mead and “Nga Pepeha a nga Tipuna” by Hirini Moko Mead and Neil Grove are probably the two primary texts to guide a moral philosophy based on Tikanga Maori.

If we base our moral philosophy on Tikanga Maori we should never assume that all Maori subscribe to the ancient communal values, for we are now a diverse people and many in the influential Maori development sector and in academia have already been converted to the ideology of liberal individualism. We need to preach to our own as well as the other.

Challenging the Status Quo

There are at least two dimensions to the study of economics, the moral and the intellectual. Indeed some of the greatest thinkers in the evolution of economics have considered that the study of the political economy is subordinate to the study of moral philosophy. This essay has been about the moral dimension.

In challenging the status quo in relation to Maori policy a challenge to the moral basis of the present economic orthodoxy that now reaches into all corners of policy and society is the first and most important challenge.

In policy in general, and in national economic policy and Maori policy in particular, the thesis of this essay is that policy should be based first and foremost on a moral philosophy, hopefully a widely shared moral philosophy. At the very least the moral basis of any policy should be clearly enunciated; transparent to all.

The corollary of this proposition is that if policy has little moral basis or no moral basis whatsoever that too should be transparent to all.

We should evaluate and judge all government policy, and hold governments to account, based on the principles, values, ethics and morals upon which policy is based (or not) rather than on the spin and propaganda deployed in the marketing of policy to the electorate; or worse still on bland assurances that the power elite knows what is best for us, or on blind or apathetic trust in our political leadership.

The assumption underlying this approach to policy is that principles, values, morals and ethics in private and in public life have not been entirely extinguished and ought to remain the bedrock of New Zealand society and culture. Or are we content to allow market values to spread into all aspects of our social and economic lives and to extinguish moral values. Do we for instance privilege market values over social justice, or the primacy of the market over the mana of the people.

These notions are drawn from the many strands of our exploration of moral philosophy. If we accept the view of morality and society extant from ancient times in tikanga and in religion, in the 18th Century sociology of virtue of Adam Smith and the British Enlightenment that informed thought in early colonial and post-colonial New Zealand, both Pakeha and Maori; and if we accept the same or similar views from the perspectives of socio-biology, socio-economics, the political philosophy of Michael Sandel and the moral philosophy of Alisdair MacIntyre, then in coming to a view of Maori policy, economics and moral philosophy we would incline towards a belief that policy ought to provide for the greater good of the greatest number including the greatest number of Maori, and that that ought to be the basis of both national economic policy and Maori policy.

For the greater good of the greatest number including the greatest number of Maori.

We might say it thus:

Unuhia te rito o te harakeke, kei hea te kōmako e kō?
Ui mai ki ahau, ‘He aha te mea nui o te Ao?’
Māku e kī atu,
‘He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.’

If you remove the central shoot of the flaxbush, where will the bellbird rest?
If you were to ask me, ‘What is the most important thing in the world?’
I would reply,
‘It is people, people, the people.’

Related Essays

Mai i Hawaiki ki Hawaiki: The Evolution of Maori Culture
The Evolution of Pakeha Culture
The Maori Worldview and Maori Policy
The Mythology of the Whanau-Hapu-Iwi Construct
The Origins of Corporate Iwi
The Maori Economy – A Fanciful Notion
The Myth of the Maori Entrepreneur
The Treaty of Waitangi Revisited
Te Ture Whenua Maori Review – Who Benefits? 
Perspectives of Time, Small Prophecy & Maori Policy
Draining the Swamp – Some Fundamentals for Maori Policy Makers
Maori Policy: Challenging the Status Quo – A Call to Reengage in the Struggle

Maori Policy: Challenging the Status Quo. A Call to Reengage in the Struggle.

And let’s take a good look at ourselves while we’re at it.

    “It behoves politicians, bureaucrats, academics, researchers and activists to become not just economically literate but economically expert if they are to challenge the status quo. This is no short term quest”.“Draining the Swamp” the previous essay in this series on Maori policy.

I wrote in that essay that becoming economically literate and building economic expertise was a necessary step towards gaining access to the levers of New Zealand’s economic policy settings. The policy settings that must be changed in order to design and implement economic policy that would benefit all Maori, not just the Pakeha elites and to a much lesser extent the Maori elites.

But that comes later I now realise.

Before that can happen the authority and control of the power elites must be challenged and broken for they control and manipulate those economic levers to suit themselves. The power elites are by definition in Aotearoa New Zealand overwhelmingly Pakeha, and male, and they will not take their hands off the levers without a struggle. In an earlier struggle it was the unions and the Labour Party that led the way. Alas, the unions are no more and the Labour Party has turned away from its founding principles and has forsaken the poor and the downtrodden.

Power elite” is a term borrowed from American author C. Wright Mills and his 1959 book “The Power Elite”. It was about the structure of power in the United States focusing on the military, corporate and political elites and their control over the supposedly democratic processes of government. The idea in contemporary times is often expressed as the “deep state”, the “permanent government” or the “shadow government” and although a topic of serious research and commentary it is often adopted by conspiracy theorists. As a concept of power relationships however “power elite” fits the New Zealand context, certainly since the neo-liberal revolution of the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Power is the root of the long struggle we now politely label “Maori development”. The relationship between Maori and Pakeha, between Maori and government, has always been a relationship of unequal power and our struggle to regain lost power. We call it rangatiratanga.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s the late Bruce Jesson chronicled the rise of a new power elite in New Zealand; a power elite he described as the “New Right” and the “Libertarian Right”. The actors in that power elite were drawn from politics, the economic bureaucracy, corporations and academia. See “Pakeha Networks” in the September 1988 edition of “Te Putatara”. That 1988 analysis was drawn from Bruce Jesson’s “Behind the Mirror Glass” (Penguin, 1987).

In his posthumously published “Only Their Purpose is Mad, The Money Men Take Over NZ” (Dunmore, 1999) he described how the power elite, particularly the finance sector, had taken over the country. See here for a review. His analysis was prescient as nine years later in 2008 the finance sector had taken over the global economy and brought it to its knees.

Nowadays no-one seems to be keeping tabs on the elites but in the sixteen years since that last Jesson book a new generation of actors has joined the power elite, and their neo-liberal agenda has been firmly embedded as political and economic orthodoxy; the new status quo. A key aim of that agenda is to entrench itself so deeply that no future government will be able to reverse it. It has worked so far.

The four wings of the power elite are:

  • political;
  • bureaucratic;
  • security, intelligence and law enforcement; and
  • corporate.

The political wing of the neo-liberal power elite is today is led by John Key, Bill English, Stephen Joyce, Gerry Brownlee and the fast rising Paula Bennett. Judith Collins is the cheerleader for the extreme right of the power elite. Prior to them the political wing was pretty much dominated by Helen Clark, Heather Simpson and Michael Cullen. The underlying neo-liberal agenda was the same in both cases. Although on the surface and according to its propaganda Labour policies might have seemed somewhat progressive at a microeconomic level, at the macroeconomic level nothing had changed from previous governments. Indeed the Labour Party of today sits on the neo-liberal right of Robert Muldoon’s National Party of the early 1980’s.

Since 1984 the different shades of politician have cycled and recycled through government but the macroeconomic agenda has remained constant. Little change can be expected if Labour manages to unseat National again.

The powerful bureaucrats in the control ministries and the economic ministries remain in place throughout, totally committed to defending their neo-liberal agenda. They are from Prime Minister and Cabinet, State Services Commission, Treasury, the Reserve Bank, Ministry of Business Innovation and Enterprise, Ministry of Primary Industry and others. A formidable force they are in a very real sense a permanent government and defenders of the status quo.

The security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies have gained more and more power from gullible and compliant parliaments since 2002 and are part of the power elite. Their agenda is not primarily economic although the intelligence agencies do gather economic intelligence. They do however serve to reinforce the dominance of the power elite through ever increasing controls over the population. The NZ Police in particular over recent years have demonstrated their disposition to silence democratic dissent; to indulge in political intelligence and surveillance, in heavy handed suppression of protest and demonstration, and unlawful investigation in the service of the power elite.

Corporations are deeply embedded in the power elite with ready access to political and bureaucratic policy makers. They and those they serve are perhaps the main beneficiaries of the present political and economic paradigm. The access of Time Warner (Peter Jackson), Sky City and MediaWorks to this government are publicly revealed examples.

The most glaring example of access to and exercise of power was in the negotiations towards the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). In those negotiations politicians, bureaucrats and influential corporates acted together in secret on behalf of the people of Aotearoa New Zealand who were, with most of their elected representatives, totally excluded. The TPP negotiations were a blatant exercise of power by the elected and unelected elites acting together for their mutual benefit. Corporates from across all TPP countries actually wrote much of the agreement.

In Aotearoa New Zealand corporate membership of the power elite now includes the finance sector, energy, media, transport, telecommunications, the primary industries and others. Prior to 1984 large parts of those industries were publicly owned and controlled. Privatisation has meant much more than passing of ownership from public to private hands. It has resulted in those private hands now being part of the power elite; the ones in control of our lives. The neo-liberal agenda of the 1980s and 1990s was not just about economics and business and the transfer of capital; it was about a massive transfer of power from the people and their elected representatives to the unelected.

The main corporate umbrella is The New Zealand Initiative formed in 2012 from a merger of The New Zealand Business Roundtable and the New Zealand Institute. It is a neo-liberal think tank and membership organisation with about forty corporate members listed in its website which states:

    “Our members come from various backgrounds and represent the New Zealand economy in all its diversity”.

Which can only be so if you believe that those New Zealand businesses represent the New Zealand economy, which also quite surprisingly comprises about 4.5 million individuals, their civil society organisations, thousands of small and medium size businesses, as well as the forty or so business members of the NZ Institute and however many individual members they have. They actually represent the big end of New Zealand business.

It further states:

    “Together the members of the NZ Institute form a network of high profile individuals and firms united by their passion for good public policy”.

Good public policy” meaning of course what is good for big business and what is good for the power elite. Unless of course you really believe that what is good for them is good for everyone, all 4.5 million of us. The statistics put the lie to that.

Max Rashbrooke’s recent book “Wealth in New Zealand” (Bridget Williams Books, 2015) contains statistics that show just who benefits from this concentration of power in the hands of the few:

  • The wealthiest 1% of New Zealanders own 18.1% of the nation’s wealth;
  • The wealthiest 5% own 39.4%;
  • The wealthiest 10% own 53.5%;
  • The wealthiest 50% own 96.1%; and
  • The next 50% own under 4% of the nation’s wealth. Among them are the disenfranchised and the “disinherited ones to whom neither the past nor the future belongs”.

Ethnic statistics show that:

  • Pakeha (71% of the population) own 85% of the nation’s wealth;
  • Asians (10%) own 7%;
  • Maori (12%) own 5%; and
  • Pasifika (5%) own 1% of the nation’s wealth.

Those figures combined with the statistics in a previous essay “The Maori Worldview and Maori Policy” graphically illustrate that inequality and poverty are now accepted and quietly promoted by the power elite as the new status quo. It is a status quo that must be challenged and broken if Maori policy is to have any chance of bringing hope and dignity to most if not all Maori people; and to all of those who are the disenfranchised and the disinherited. The discarded.

Policy that would matter to the disenfranchised and disinherited never makes it onto the policy agenda. Poverty and inequality are dirty words. Policy that would matter is rarely if ever seriously discussed and debated in the halls of power. Politics and policy formation in this day and age are about mindless rhetoric, about avoiding the challenge of ideas, dumbing down policy debate, about discouraging the disenfranchised and disinherited from any engagement in the political process, and pushing through the agenda of the power elite in the guise of economic policy. In neo-liberal LalaLand the disenfranchised and disinherited are blamed for their own plight.

Policy that would matter to the disenfranchised and disinherited would be about people not just property and profit, about the dignity that all citizens are entitled to in a democratic society, and about the representation of their interests in the democratic process. About the mana of the people. But we are moving away from democracy and towards plutocracy; rule for the wealthy by the wealthy and those who serve them. The statistics in this case do not lie. We are becoming a plutocracy disguised in democratic form.

How can that status quo be challenged and reversed? It will not be without struggle. Who is up for the struggle? I fear that we are not up for it.

Kohanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa, iwi radio, Maori television, Maori health provision, Maori fisheries, the return of lands, Treaty settlements, corporate iwi, and much more besides; all of that was gained through struggle. It was gained through the activism of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and it did not come lightly. It was gained on the streets and in the courts. Many were arrested, some imprisoned for their activism. Many more put their own futures on the line. That activism built to such a crescendo that governments had to concede lest their imaginary “we are one people” pleasant and harmonious New Zealand society collapsed around them. Fear drove them to seek to co-opt us rather than to continue to ignore, suppress or even oppress.

They masked those political concessions as altruism and goodwill and bought us off. It was good politics. They bought our compliance and over time co-opted us to their neo-liberal agenda. They seem to have convinced us that the limited wealth they have transferred into a few Maori hands will eventually trickle down to the many. It hasn’t and it won’t.

It was the activists who made all of the gains possible and forced open the doors. Both Maori activists and conservative Maori walked through those doors and created the many initiatives, projects, programmes and organisations of the “Maori Renaissance”. Then in a short timeframe the activists were pushed aside and the conservatives took over governance and management of almost all of the new Maori development sector. But the original kaupapa of raising living conditions, reversing all of the negative social and economic indicators, and creating a measure of prosperity for all Maori had not been achieved. We were blinded by limited concessions and successes after decades of struggle.

And we gave up the struggle. We focused on the money, or fish, and how we would share it out, or not. The decade long battle over the capture and allocation of fishing assets illustrates just how we became totally diverted from the original kaupapa. We squabbled over the gold cast across our pathway. In fisheries and in other settlements we spent all our time and energy staking our claims at the Waitangi Tribunal, and afterwards turning ourselves into mandated recipients of the limited gains. It became the Grand Diversion. The government of the day even put a price on it – one billion dollars. But what of its value?

We have not achieved the aims of the long struggle but we seem to have convinced ourselves that we have. The present generation, the Maori elites who have taken over governance and management in the Maori development sector, are interested only in the benefits they accrue from the struggle of the previous generation. They seem to have convinced themselves that their management of those billions of dollars’ worth of communal Maori assets will do the job for all Maori; that the struggle is over. They have been co-opted to the neo-liberal agenda of the power elite. Some of them are delusional in their aspiration to become part of that power elite.

Not all of them of course. In my own many hapu from Heretaunga to Wairarapa and Te Tau Ihu dedicated people have laboured away for decades on behalf of all of us and we are now starting to gain mostly monetary settlements for past injustices. They are good people working on behalf of the hapu. It is no reflection on them or their mahi but the gains are really just a pittance.

The struggle is not over. Whilst a few benefit from those limited gains the people are still the disenfranchised and disinherited; the discarded of the neo-liberal agenda. Yet we have given up the struggle. And I don’t see a new generation of activists waiting in the wings. At this time the main political cause is the intent of the Maori elites to reframe Maori land legislation in the hope of creating more wealth in the Maori development sector. Whether or not it is justified, the fear of the many is that through new land legislation the Maori elites will disinherit their own; the already disenfranchised and disinherited.

We have lost our way.

In part however that was the result of faulty conceptualisation and design in the initiatives and programmes that theoretically aimed to reduce the social and economic disparities between Maori and Pakeha.

One of the main aims of the early activism was the revival of cultural identity and language. That resulted in successful Te Reo Maori educational and broadcasting initiatives but not a longer term widespread use of Te Reo and not, as many of its promoters thought, in the general lifting of Maori aspirations leading to a reversal of negative social and economic statistics. As a cultural identity initiative it has been moderately successful. It has not however led to overall social and economic success.

Hui Taumata 1984 (Maori Economic Summit) resulted in a primary focus in the Maori development sphere on economic development. However “economic development” then became narrowly defined as Maori business development rather than overall improvement of the economic status of all Maori. It shared with the neo-liberal agenda the belief and rhetoric of the now discredited “trickle down” theory. That narrow focus has resulted in a growing Maori business sector within a new Maori development sector of the New Zealand economy but not in any appreciable improvement in the social and economic status of Maori in general. It also resulted in the notion of the mythical “Maori Economy” and in the belief that the “Maori Economy” would trickle down and deliver for all Maori.

The Maori Party’s later “Whanau Ora” social development programme is aimed as its name suggests at working with individual whanau in need and not at dramatically changing the total social and economic environment in which those whanau struggle for survival. As I wrote in “Draining the Swamp” it aims to rescue a few whanau from the swamp rather than to drain the swamp. Within its narrow terms of reference “Whanau Ora” is not doomed to failure; neither will it be successful in achieving the aspirations of its programme designers.

Whether by design or happenstance or both we have lost our way.

Not entirely of course. The Mana Party tried to reengage in the struggle but a combination of tired old rhetoric from a collection of tired old minds, incredibly lousy strategy and poor leadership all but wiped them out at the last elections.

In a parallel domain, in academia, we have also lost much of the intellectual impetus behind Maori development policy and practice. Throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s most Maori academics were actively involved in the struggle, some at the forefront of protest and demonstration. Indeed much of the activism was launched from within the universities with students and the newly graduated at the barricades. Almost all were politically engaged in challenging the status quo. Senior Maori scholars including Ranginui Walker, Patu Hohepa, Ngapare Hopa, Robert Mahuta, Tipene O’Regan, Hirini Mead, Api Mahuika, Katerina Mataira, Whatarangi Winiata and others provided intellectual frameworks and direction and were themselves actively involved.

The next generation of scholars were equally engaged and led by Graham and Linda Smith developed and entrenched a Maori specific domain within the universities across a number of disciplines, notably in education, perhaps the most important site of struggle within and beyond the university. Their “Kaupapa Maori” intellectual framework now informs most Maori specific scholarship. Wally Penetito also led the way in Maori education. Mason Durie developed intellectual frameworks across a number of areas notably in Maori health and Maori education. There are many others.

The next generation of Maori academics seems to be disengaged from the political process which is the only avenue to serious reduction of the poverty and inequality that afflict too many of our people. There are some who are active in the Maori Party but the Maori Party, despite its good intentions, serves only to legitimise the neoliberal agenda of the power elite in relation to Maori issues. The Maori Party is our only Maori party and it should lead the political struggle. But it expends its considerable Maori Development budget on standing still.

That $244 million serves mainly to buy its political support for another year. It maintains the status quo and doesn’t move us forward in any appreciable way.

The 2015 budget allocation for Vote Maori Development was about $244 million. $54 million of that was for the Whanau Ora programme, $82 million for the promotion of language and culture and $33 million to pay for the Maori development bureaucracy leaving about $75 million spread across a range of social and economic programmes. That and similar budget allocations throughout the seven years of the Maori Party’s alliance with the National Party has done little if anything to reduce Maori poverty and the unequal place of Maori in New Zealand society.

One would expect those academics involved in the Maori Party to develop new intellectual frameworks and strategies; to try something different. However it seems that the Maori Party is tied to the tired old policies and programmes that haven’t delivered and has no new ideas despite the evidence that new ideas are desperately needed. Not just new versions of old programmes.

“Ka pu te ruha, ka hao te rangatahi”

The Maori Party needs to seriously engage with academia and with the creatives. It needs to pull in some intellectual and creative heft and to reinvent itself.

There is also some evidence that Maori academics are increasingly disengaged not only from politics but also from their Maori communities. Some have become what Graham Smith has called “privatised academics”, engaged in scholarship for their own benefit rather than the benefit of Maori communities and Maori in general. Some co-opt the “struggle” to enhance their own mana. They talk about the wellbeing of the people but don’t walk the talk.

Has academia abdicated its Maori development leadership role? Perhaps the unintended consequence of success in creating a Maori specific space in the universities has been an increasingly inward focus by Maori academia.

There are of course many academics working in their own tribal communities. However most Maori are urbanised and detribalised. Who is advocating for them at a pan tribal and national level?

Perhaps a shift in the leadership of Maori development away from its intellectual platform in the universities and whare wananga towards the Maori business sector, corporate iwi and “iwi leaders”, towards bureaucracy and conservative governance and management, was causal in narrowing the intellectual capacity, the focus and direction of Maori development, and ultimately in sending us in the wrong direction.

It may be that the universities and whare wananga need to reset the compass and to reclaim Maori development leadership from “corporate iwi” and “iwi leaders” who are by definition motivated by a form of self-interest, albeit in the name of “iwi”. We are in need of a much broader and deeper perspective, a perspective that acknowledges modern realities rather than neo-tribal nostalgia.

Maori academia would begin by becoming deeply reengaged in the political process.

All of this is indicative of a failure of strategy, a failure to keep our gaze on the far horizon, becoming focused instead on near term gains. The great samurai strategist Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645) in “The Book of Five Rings” put it this way:

    “The gaze should be large and broad. This is the twofold gaze “Perception and Sight”. Perception is strong and sight weak. In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things”.

It is the role of the intellectual and the strategist to promote perception, to maintain our gaze on the far horizon, to keep the distant things close. We need a new generation of Maori public intellectuals, learned across a range of disciplines in both humanities and sciences, advocating for all Maori. But they need to bring new ideas into the public domain. The old ones have been around far too long.

In his 1967 essay “A Call to Celebration” (published in “Celebration of Awareness: A Call for Institutional Revolution”, Marion Boyars, London, 1971) the late Ivan Illich expressed this hope for the future of mankind:

    “I and many others, known and unknown to me, call upon you:

    • to celebrate our joint power to provide all human beings with the food, clothing, shelter they need to delight in living;
    • to discover, together with us what we must do to use mankind’s power to create the humanity, the dignity, and the joyfulness of each one of us”.

And this:

    “We are challenged to break the obsolete social and economic systems which divide our world between the overprivileged and the underprivileged. All of us whether government leader or protester, businessman or worker, professor or student share a common guilt. We have failed to discover how the necessary changes in our ideals and social structures can be made. Each of us therefore through our ineffectiveness and our lack of responsible awareness, causes the suffering around the world”.

    “The call is to live the future. Let us join together joyfully to celebrate our awareness that we can make our life today the shape of tomorrow’s future”.

Ivan Illich was one of the main intellectual influences in the work of Professor Ranginui Walker. Ranginui was and is the preeminent analyst of our own need for institutional revolution. His 1990 book “Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou” was subtitled “Struggle Without End“. In it Ranginui related the story of the long struggle from the very beginning up to 1990. He needs to be read again to remind ourselves of just what we were struggling for. In the Introduction he wrote:

    “As portended by the freedom fighters at Orakau that the struggle against an unjust social order would go on forever, the urban Maori have taken up where their forbears left off. This book is about the endless struggle of the Maori for social justice, equality and self-determination, whereby two people can live as coequals in the post-colonial era of the new nation state in the twenty-first century”.

Have we just taken a break or have we brought the struggle to a premature end?

Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou

The call then is for each of us personally, in our search for direction, policy and action that benefits all Maori, to admit our common guilt in wilfully falling short of the aims of the so called Maori Renaissance; in wilfully being distracted by the glint of gold. And to commit again to the struggle to challenge the status quo and to break the political, social and economic paradigm that consigns so many of our people to the serried ranks of the disenfranchised and disinherited.

Are we up for it?

Next Essay

He Tangata: Maori Policy, Economics and Moral Philosophy – The Moral Challenge to the Status Quo and to Neo-liberal Theology

Related Essays

Mai i Hawaiki ki Hawaiki: The Evolution of Maori Culture
The Evolution of Pakeha Culture
The Maori Worldview and Maori Policy
The Mythology of the Whanau-Hapu-Iwi Construct
The Origins of Corporate Iwi
The Maori Economy – A Fanciful Notion
The Myth of the Maori Entrepreneur
The Treaty of Waitangi Revisited
Te Ture Whenua Maori Review – Who Benefits? 
Perspectives of Time, Small Prophecy & Maori Policy
Draining the Swamp – Some Fundamentals for Maori Policy Makers

Book Review: Parekura Horomia ‘Kia Ora Chief’

Author Wira Gardiner. Published 2014 by Huia Publishers, Wellington with the assistance of the Maori Purposes Fund Board. ISBN 978-1-77550-162-6.
Reviewed by Ross Himona

I almost reviewed this book as soon as it was released but given what I have to say I thought I’d wait a respectful period.

But first a declaration of interest. Wira Gardiner the author has been a friend for longer than we both care to remember; since 1963. He has also quoted me in the concluding chapter. Notwithstanding our long and close friendship we have no problem whatsoever about disagreeing with each other’s views, so I will not hold back on the criticism if I feel the need to do so.

I suppose the one comment that most describes Parekura Horomia is that made by Hekia Parata in her foreword, “He was a good man …”.

He was inarticulate in English and Maori but he communicated, he was way overweight and didn’t look after his health, he neglected his family in pursuit of whatever it was he was pursuing, he was a flawed man but he was a good man. I can agree with that despite the fact that I was often perplexed in my dealings with him.

But I too was one of the many thousands he addressed as “Chief” and was disarmed by it even though I knew he was blowing smoke, if you know what I mean.

This book describes all of that. But mostly it is a tribute to Parekura by the many whanaunga, friends and colleagues whose memories of him make up the bulk of the book. At the launch of “Kia Ora Chief’ at Parliament House in 2014 I spoke to Brian Morris, co-owner of Huia Publishers. He told me that they had to edit well over 100 pages from the first draft of the book because the recollections of Parekura were so repetitive. So many people remembered the same stories about Parekura.

Perhaps that was partly because Parekura himself told the same stories about himself over and over again. How many of us remember the story of the school bus for Pakeha kids that passed by the Maori kids walking to school. Perhaps it was also because he did the same things for so many people over and over again.

What comes out of the book is that Parekura compartmentalised his own life so that you only knew what he wanted you to know, and what he wanted you to know depended on what part of his life you inhabited. He was in effect constructing his own heavily edited story as he lived his life and that is the story he left in the memories of others. It is the story that Wira Gardiner has had to recover from those memories, for Parekura left no written record of his story. There is nothing to contradict the story he constructed; no letters, notebooks, diaries or papers. He was a paperless man. And a very private man despite his huge public profile.

And therein lies the mystery. What was it that Parekura Horomia didn’t leave to be told. What did he tell the trusted others that they are not telling. If there is a weakness in this book that is it. Although presented by the publishers as biography it is memoir rather than biography, albeit a well written memoir. There remains yet an untold story. The whole story and perhaps the real story. I shall explore that theme later.

There can be no doubting however the achievement of the uneducated and inarticulate country boy and family man from Mangatuna who became a successful senior public servant, Minister of the Crown, trusted confidante of a Prime Minister, and much loved champion of the ordinary people of Aotearoa New Zealand. The turnout to his tangihanga, described in the second chapter “Death of a Rangatira”, was testimony to that achievement. Close to 12,000 people came to Hauiti Marae to farewell him.

The book had its genesis in 2006 when Labour Party Parekura and his friend National Party Wira Gardiner discussed the idea of a book about his life that Wira would write in time for the 2008 elections. Parekura never got around to providing any material, written or recorded, and it didn’t get done. At his tangihanga Wira promised Parekura’s sons that he would write it and he kept his promise.

It chronicles all of the phases of Parekura’s life from his childhood and schooling at Mangatuna, through his early working days as a printers apprentice, fencer and shearer, to working with and then for the Department of Labour for twenty years, and then as a member of Parliament for over thirteen years. Gardiner describes those phases as his three whanau groups, the first being his whakapapa whanau in the broadest sense (family and tribal), the second the Department of Labour and the third the Labour Party.

Some parts of his life are shown in greater detail than others, probably reflecting the quantity and quality of interviews. There are chapters on his life at Dannevirke, on his love of rugby, and a whole chapter on his family’s close relationship with an immigrant Scottish family he met at Dannevirke. As might be expected about 60% of the book is about his time in the Department of Labour and as an MP, including chapters on the two controversies during his time as Minister of Maori Affairs; Maori broadcasting and the seabed and foreshore debate. Both were trying times for Parekura and are described in detail.

What was not covered was the other major event that happened on his watch, the 2007 Police paramilitary assault on Ruatoki and on the house of Parekura’s mate Taame Iti at Taneatua. Those so-called “raids” were sanctioned by Helen Clark and one would have thought that she might have sought the advice of her trusted principal Maori advisor Parekura Horomia. We are none the wiser about whether or not he had any part in that fateful decision and its aftermath.

The book would not be complete without the chapter “A Chronic Asthmatic with an Enlarged Heart” about his many health problems and his inability or unwillingness to address those problems.

The strength of the book lies in the hundreds of anecdotes told about Parekura, many of them quite delightful and often amusing, skilfully woven into a collective memoir. It seems that everyone who knew him had a story to tell about him, including myself (pp 431-2). The people recalled his generosity and his ability to reach out and communicate with ordinary people, as well as with those in positions of influence. They spoke of his loyalty and love for his people, and much more. He was by common consensus a good man.

But I go back to the mystery. Who was this man, really?

He left no personal paper trail but he did leave an enormous paper trail in the Department of Labour and in the departments he led as minister. In the Department of Labour he was responsible for tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars in grants and other payments to communities up and down New Zealand. He probably didn’t put pen to paper except to sign off his decisions but that paper trail will still be there; a complete record of his grant giving, and a complete analysis of that might be quite revealing. Interviews with the recipients of those grants might also be revealing. I know from personal experience that as a minister he often gave off-the-cuff koha to various causes leaving his departmental staff scrambling to find the money from somewhere. The record of that koha giving might be quite interesting.

Who was this man, really? This man who spent the whole of his public life criss-crossing the country getting to every hui and gathering he possibly could, hardly pausing for breath or so it seemed to many of us who ran into him almost everywhere we went, to be greeted by his “Kia ora Chief”.

What caused him to be generous with his own money to the point that his own family often came second? What drove him to run so hard that for decades his family saw far less of him than his staff, colleagues, constituents and the public at large? Politicians’ families are notoriously neglected but Parekura seemed to run harder than all of them. What drove him to run so hard, to totally neglect his health and to drive himself into an early grave? What was he running from?

We know that he was dedicated to serving the ordinary people but there was something else. He was chasing something. He was seeking something and it drove him. Was it the age old cultural pursuit of mana. Was it that simple, or something much deeper. From the outside looking on it seemed that the man was driven by something deep within. What was it?

In this book we didn’t learn much at all about the private Parekura Horomia. We know that he was a complex and complicated man but after reading the book we have still not delved into the depths of his character. He remains a mystery. There are no doubt those who knew him well and who are not telling; not many but some. They are probably not his family. They are probably the few very close and trusted people who worked with him over the years and remained totally loyal; people like Meka Whaitiri who served him faithfully for many years and after his death replaced him as the MP for Ikaroa Rawhiti.

There are others I know who have more to tell about their encounters with him, both personal and professional, who have decided to honour the man and to remain silent.

They will probably never share the real Parekura Horomia with us. This book then is all we shall know. It faithfully records the Parekura Horomia he and his loyal following wanted us to know. The rest has gone with him to the grave. The story he has left is nevertheless an inspiring story of how a Maori boy from the country overcame almost insurmountable odds to reach one of the highest offices in the land and how he came to be universally loved.

I enjoyed his story.

Operation 8: The Truth, the Whole Truth & Nothing but the Truth?

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

Yeah right!

A blanket has been thrown over the process by which Cabinet authorised the anti-terrorism raids on 15th October 2007. This post and previous posts lift a corner of that blanket and the whole high level process doesn’t pass the smell test.

Although there is some visible evidence of the intelligence process at the working level (in affidavits, warrants, indictments and police evidence provided to the lawyers of the accused) there is no visibility or transparency above that. The intelligence process intimately involved the decision-makers from the analyst Detective Sergeant Pascoe’s immediate superior Detective Inspector Good, to Assistant Commissioner White, to Deputy Commissioner Pope, Commissioner Broad, to the Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC), and to the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

We know that the SIS at least knew of the ongoing operation. We do not know if the SIS and GCSB were actively involved in Operation 8. It is reasonable to assume that the minister in charge of the SIS, Prime Minister Helen Clark, would have known in advance about the operation even if Annette King then Minister of Police, by her own testimony, did not know until the night before.

We know from public statements after the event that Commissioner Broad and the Prime Minister were both involved in the decision-making that launched the Operation 8 raids on 15th October 2007. What is not transparent is the advice presumably based on intelligence product that informed those decisions. What is also not transparent is the substance of those decisions.

Without that information there can be no full analysis of the professionalism and competence of the intelligence process. Operation 8 was not just a failure of intelligence at the working level but a failure of intelligence all the way up the chain of command and in the Cabinet itself. Intelligence failure at that high level level is not uncommon. Indeed in the world of Intelligence it is the most common level of failure.

This series has analysed in some detail the intelligence failure at the working level. The failures at the Police command level, at the senior officials and advisors level (ODESC) and at the political level remain hidden under the blanket; covered up.

The original intent of the investigators, presumably sanctioned and approved by the chain of command and Cabinet, was to prosecute under the Suppression of Terrorism Act. That was disallowed by the Solicitor General. Then the charges changed.

  • What was it that the legal advisors, the chain of command, ODESC and Cabinet believed at the time that convinced them to mount a full scale anti-terrorism operation?
  • Or was the use of the Suppression of Terrorism Act just an excuse to employ the wider surveillance powers allowed under that act?
  • And were they all just hoping that the seizure of computers around the country would provide sufficient evidence to allow them to proceed and use evidence secured under the Suppression of Terrorism Act?
  • If so, was the use of the Suppression of Terrorism Act to obtain the warrants and to mount a full scale anti-terrrorism operation totally unlawful like so much of the operation?

Given the lack of transparency of that higher level of decision-making it may only be discovered through a formal inquiry process by subpoena of witnesses, instructions and written orders, reports, assessments and minutes. And if that were to happen how might that evidence reflect on the outcome of the trial of the Urewera Four accused?

  • What was the chain of command and what were they telling each other?
  • Who did Detective Inspector Good and Detective Sergeant Pascoe report to? What did they report? Is there a written record of that report? Who reviewed and evaluated their analysis? Is there a written record of that review and evaluation?
  • What were Detective Inspector Good’s and Detective Sergeant Pascoe’s orders from their immediate superior? Were they written orders? Or were they just freewheeling on their own without formal intelligence management oversight? The scapegoat question I fear.
  • What was the complete chain of command from Detective Sergeant Pascoe to Commissioner Broad? What advice was given to Commissioner Broad and by whom? Is there a written record of that advice?
  • Was legal advice sought and given prior to the October 15th armed paramilitary anti-terrorist operation? Who gave the advice? Was it the Solicitor General? Was it prosecutor Ross Burns? Was it written advice?
  • Was Deputy Commissioner Pope involved in the decision to launch an anti-terrorism operation? What was his exact involvement?
  • What advice if any did Commissioner Broad give to the Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC)? Who was present at that meeting? Were the professional security and intelligence agencies present? Did they offer their professional assistance? Is it true that Commissioner Broad declined such assistance? Are there minutes of that meeting?
  • What advice if any did ODESC give to Commissioner Broad? Is there a record of that advice? If not, why not?
  • What advice if any did ODESC give to the Prime Minister and Cabinet? Is there a record of that advice? If not, why not?
  • Did the NZ Police ever call upon the superior intelligence gathering and assessment skill and experience of the dedicated security and intelligence agencies? If not why not? Was SIS or GCSB involved?
  • When did Commissioner Broad meet with the Prime Minister and Cabinet? Who was present at that meeting? What advice did he give to Cabinet?  Was it written or verbal or both? Are there minutes of that meeting, including authorisation to proceed with a full-scale anti-terrorism operation?
  • Is it true that Commissioner Broad was asked several times at that Cabinet meeting to confirm that there was a plot to overthrow government, and did he so confirm? We have this one public account only.
  • What orders were given to the operational units that carried out the Operation 8 paramilitary operation? Were they written or verbal orders or both?
  • What reports were submitted after the paramilitary operation? Are they written reports?
  • Was the Solicitor General formally asked to authorise prosecution under the Suppression of Terrorism Act by written request? Did he write a formal rejection of the request stating his full reasons for that decision? Apart from those he publicly stated?
  • Why were the contracts of Commissioner Broad and Deputy Commissioner Pope not renewed? Was it because new brooms were needed to bring in a new culture in the police, as was publicly stated? Or was it really because of incomptence and because they had misled Cabinet in seeking authorisation for the armed anti-terrorism paramilitary operation?
  • Is the real reason for the non-renewal of their contracts part of a cover up?

The final questions are raised in the wake of the GCSB scandal and cover up legislation, and the revelations about the extent of the 5-Eyes global population level electronic surveillance.

  • Was Operation 8 initiated as a result of GCSB eavesdropping on the nation’s communications?
  • If so, was the police evidential trail manufactured in the process known in law enforcement as “parallel construction” to disguise the actual trail of evidence leading from GCSB? This would be another instance of unlawful behaviour by the police.
  • Were GCSB and SIS involved in Operation 8 surveillance?
  • Were GCSB and SIS involved in the analysis of information including data mining, traffic analysis and social network analysis?
  • If GCSB was involved was it at the request of NZ Police and what was the lawful (or unlawful) basis of that request?

In a post on 23 October 2013 Jeremy Bioletti, the trial lawyer for Rangi Kemara, infers that these are very important questions:

“The issue of possible GCSB surveillance in operation 8 is important. Why? Because if there was illegality involved it may have tipped the balance in the Supreme Court and resulted in the exclusion of the evidence which allowed the Urewera Four to be put on trial and convicted for the firearms offences and subsequently imprisoned. I am certain that there was involvement because from memory there were personnel involved in the police operation which counsel were not allowed to ask questions about”. 

The incompetence and ineptitude of the intelligence operation, and the evidential  inconsistencies that would have been revealed by a much more thorough analysis of that process may also have tipped the balance in the Supreme Court and resulted in the exclusion of the evidence which allowed the Urewera Four to be put on trial and convicted and sentenced.

I am saying that none of the Operation 8 evidence should have survived beyond the Supreme Court hearing in May 2011, and the Supreme Court ruling a few months later in September, and that had justice been done the Urewera Four would not have gone to trial.

The only way to fully assess the Operation 8 intelligence management and analysis process is to discover all or most of the above information, through a formal inquiry. That formal inquiry is also required to discover which police officers breached their constables’ oath and broke the law in using unlawful means to acquire information, and which commissioned officers also breached the terms of their commissioning by the Queen of New Zealand. These are serious legal and ethical issues. The rule of law in a democratic society ought to apply equally to every citizen and the NZ Police must be seen to scrupuloulsy uphold the rule of law.

The only conclusion that can be drawn from the suppression of all that information and the refusal of both the Labour and National Parties to support an inquiry is that there is a cover up and that what is being covered up is political and bureaucratic incompetence and embarrassment, and a degree of illegality.

Smelly indeed.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: The Four Year Battle in the Courts

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

On 15th October 2007 seventeen were arrested, than another two, then another one. Twenty in all. First it was to be terrorism and arms charges, then just arms charges, then the arms charges plus a criminal group charge against some of them. Back and forth it went in the courts until on 2nd September 2011 the Supreme Court disallowed vital evidence against all but four. On 6th December 2011 the Police dropped all charges against everyone but those four. The “Urewera Four” went to trial in February 2012. It all happened mostly suppressed and out of the public eye. This is the story of those four years.

The trial of the Urewera Four will be covered in the next post.

The Auckland Special Intelligence Group of the NZ Police began gathering information about Jamie Lockett and his alleged terrorist leanings in May 2006. Their attention shifted to Taame Iti and his wananga in the Urewera in September 2006. The Police paramilitary operation, known as the Urewera Raids, went down on 15th October 2007.

That was just the beginning. A legal battle was fought in the District Courts, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court for more than another four years before four of the original twenty accused finally went to trial in February 2012. Two of the four received prison sentences and two received home detention. The whole thing lasted for nearly six years not including the time the “Urewera Four” spent serving out their sentences.

In this post I detail and explain that battle through the courts. I followed it closely as it happened. The public was not able to do that because most of the court hearings and judgements were suppressed.

Throughout this time there were bail hearings and bail variation hearings concerning the twenty original accused, too numerous to follow, and I mention just a few of them. There were quite a few more court hearings than the ones I describe as well. These are the significant ones.

This is how it unfolded.

15th October 2007

The day of the “raids” and the day 17 people were arrested and detained.

20th October 2007 – Sunday Star Times

Just five days after the arrests and in the midst of much media speculation this article appeared in the Sunday News. In itself it was not part of the legal process, which is the subject of this post. However it shows how the Police were attempting to drive public perceptions and opinion, which is an abuse of justice and legal process.

The source for this sensationalised and completely false interpretation of the information collected by the Police could only have been someone closely connected to the operation. I am 98% sure that I know the identity of the source.

A highly-placed source said police launched last week’s anti-terror raids after recording secret video footage of splinter groups carrying out combined military-style training and talking of “wreaking havoc” throughout New Zealand in imminent attacks.

“If this got off the ground, it would have been a multi-pronged campaign launched simultaneously against a number of individuals and targets. It would have been crippling,?” the source revealed.

“But it is the information provided by Sunday News’ source within the operation which is most shocking.

 “Each different splinter group was training under the one umbrella and they were going to carry out attacks on targets and infrastructure,” said our source.

“You would have had Tuhoe carrying out attacks on their selected targets, animal rights groups targeting their lot and the so-called `peace freaks’ carrying out their acts.

“There were a number of different groups at the table. They were going to wreak havoc according to their own agendas. They were going after a broad spectrum and broad range of targets.

“There were prominent Maori who they’d call Uncle Toms including heads of government departments and those who’d used the system to get ahead.”

The police source scoffed at claims the raids, by about 300 officers, were racially motivated.

“Half those arrested are Pakeha,” he said.

Our source said activist groups’ terror-attack plans were firmly in place.

“They were pretty well advanced in what they were planning to do,” he said.

“They were not of the sophistication of the IRA or Bader Meinhoff (German Red Army) but they were technologically more aware than the likes of the terrorists in Rhodesia Zebra and Zanu.”

Police footage of the groups training in the backblocks of the Bay of Plenty, going through military-style manoeuvring, showed their deadly intent.

“The training is the stuff soldiers spend weeks of build-up on before they use live rounds,” he said. “There is also footage of the group patrolling in military formation through the bush, wearing camouflage and balaclavas.

“There is no mistaking what they were doing.”

That was the extreme version of the Police terrorism narrative.

6th November 2007

Rangi Kemara and Tuhoe Lambert fail in their attempt in the Court of Appeal to have name suppression after earlier attempts in the District and High Courts.

8th November 2007

The Solicitor General declined to allow prosecutions to proceed under the Suppression of Terrorism Act 2002.

9th November 2007

Taame Iti released on bail. Other accused also bailed shortly after.

14th November 2007

The Police affidavit seeking warrants for the 15th October operation was leaked to the media. This could only have come from the Police or someone close to the Police.

27th November 2007

The US Embassy in Wellington sent a cable to Washington that included this:

“New Zealand Police have told post that they expect those charged to escape incarceration and likely to pay only a fine”.

The Police knew, even at that early stage and months before the defence lawyers began to challenge the legality of the operation and despite what they were saying in the media, that their case was built on shaky ground. They had needed to use the Suppression of Terrorism Act 2002 to legalise their otherwise illegal surveillance.

4th December 2007

The accused were remanded on bail until March 2008. The bail conditions were very restrictive and included non-association orders and orders to prevent travel to Ruatoki.

20th December 2007

Solicitor General advises a defence lawyer of his intent to bring charges of contempt against Fairfax Media for publishing leaked Police affidavit.

8th February 2008

An application made to the High Court for suppression of photos of two defendants. Not successful.

10th April 2008

Contempt charges laid against Fairfax Media. Not successful.

17th April 2008

Two more arrests in relation to attendance at wananga.

May 2008

Taame Iti granted permission by High Court to travel to Europe to perform in “Tempest” production, after he had been denied by District Court. This was an indication that the High Court perception of the seriousness of the charges was changing.

14th August 2008

Another arrest. Total now 20. Police still pursuing their original narrative despite knowing that it was unravelling.

22nd August 2008

High Court ordered Police to hand over to the defence all of the intercept warrants for the operation. Police fought very hard not to hand them over, for the warrants were later shown to be illegal.

4th September 2008

Depositions hearings for 18 of the accused in the High Court. Hearings lasted for over a month. All were charged with multiple offences under the Arms Act.

17th September 2008

Prosecution indicates new charges of participation in a criminal group likely.

3rd October 2008

Last submissions made in depositions hearing.

17th October 2008

After two weeks deliberation High Court delivers decisions from depositions hearing. 17 of the accused to face trial on arms charges. Some of the charges were disallowed but most allowed. Accused remanded until “callover” on 17th February 2009.

30th October 2008

Prosecution announces that 5 of the accused would be charged with participation in a criminal group (Taame Iti, Tuhoe Lambert, Rangi Kemara, Urs Signer & Emily Bailey). The depositions hearing had showed up defects in the prosecution case.

This charge was the beginning of the legal strategy to ensure that at least those five would eventually face trial. In September 2011 the Supreme Court declared much of the evidence inadmissible but allowed it to be produced in support of the criminal group charge against the remaining four accused, the “Urewera Four”. That was the express purpose of the criminal group charge; a legal manoeuvre.

The Police and prosecution had known that their case was not on solid ground since the terrorism charges were disallowed in November 2007. They indicated as much to the US Embassy in that month.

All 18 of the accused were still charged under the Arms Act.

15th May 2009

Another bail hearing at which restrictions were relaxed and the accused was required to report to Police just three times a year. This decision indicated that the courts no longer subscribed to the extreme claims of the Police narrative.

June 2009

Applications drawn up by defence lawyers to be filed at the High Court in August to have case thrown out.

June 2009

Rodney Harrison QC prepares case challenging the legality of the Operation 8 warrants.

9th September 2009

High Court declares a number of the warrants illegal and evidence obtained under those warrants inadmissible. Some warrants and evidence allowed to stand. This was a defining moment in the defence case.

During this hearing the Police admitted that they knew that the warrants were not lawful, yet proceeded anyway.

16th September 2009

Harrison QC makes new submission to High Court challenging remaining warrants and evidence.

19th October 2009

Applications made in High Court for a stay of proceedings. Not successful.

27th October 2009

Further stay applications to High Court, Not successful.

28th October 2009

Harrison QC indicates he will take his application to rule evidence inadmissible as far as Supreme Court if necessary.

29th and 30th October 2009

High Court hearings continue.

14th December 2009

Prosecution application to High Court to allow certain evidence.

15th December 2009

High Court ruling on additional challenge to warrants by Harrison QC. Not allowed.

18th December 2009

Another bail rollover hearing.

22nd December 2009

Prosecution’s application to High Court to readmit inadmissible evidence refused.

28th May 2010

Harrison QC submits application to Court of Appeal.

9th June 2010

Court of Appeal hearing re warrants and inadmissible evidence. Two day hearing. Decision reserved.

24th June 2010

Court of Appeal disallows Harrison QC’s application re admissibility of evidence.

7th January 2011

Application to Court of Appeal to overturn High Court ruling (after prosecution application) that trial to be by judge alone.

28th March 2011

An appeal to Supreme Court re admissibility of evidence allowed.

April 2011

Court of Appeal confirm trial by judge alone.

6th May 2011

Supreme Court hearing into admissibility of evidence. Three day hearing.

8th July 2011

Defendant Tuhoe Lambert dies.

22nd August 2011

A hearing by the Supreme Court re judge alone trial delayed until 14th September 2011.

2nd September 2011

Supreme Court rules on evidence. Evidence ruled inadmissable for all accused except the remaining four on the criminal group charge. This was the decision that the prosecution expected and had prepared for by bringing the criminal group charge, originally against five of the accused.

6th September 2011

Prosecution drops charges against all (13) except the four on criminal group charge.

12th and 13th September 2011

Prosecution application to High Court to have suppressed evidence, including the leaked affidavit, released to the media. Affidavit suppressed but video evidence released. Partial lifting of suppression orders.

15th September 2011

Amended indictment against “Urewera Four” presented in High Court.

September 2011

At about the same time as all of this activity the Police and prosecution dropped their efforts to have a trial by judge alone and agreed to trial by jury.

24th November 2011

Further applications by defence lawyers to High Court to stay proceedings denied.

February 2012

Trial of “Urewera Four” proceeds.

This is not a complete record of court hearings. I have noted several attempts by defence lawyers to have proceedings stayed and the cases thrown out. There were many more throughout the four year period, all of them unsuccessful. There were also other court hearings initiated by the prosecution as the two sides battled over evidence and procedure.

I have listed the main hearings and legal manoeuvres to demonstrate the intensity of the legal battle. Most of the proceedings and decisions were suppressed at the time and this legal battle was fought out of the public eye.

The trial of the “Urewera Four” will be analysed in a later post.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: Preface to an Analysis of a Police Operation

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

An Analysis of a NZ Police Intelligence Operation into Alleged Terrorism in the Urewera, 2006-2007.

This complete series of analyses is based on a detailed affidavit I prepared for the defence of the Urewera Four at their trial in February 2012.  Almost all of material in this series was covered in that affidavit but in lesser detail. For reasons that will be explored in a separate anaylsis of that trial very little of it was used by the defence.

Apart from helping to prepare a trial defence I came to this analysis for a variety of reasons.

The first I suppose was personal. About midday on Monday 15th October 2007 my business premises in Parnell got locked down as part of a nationwide search and seizure operation aiming to discover information to vindicate a Police terrorism narrative. I took the Police to court that afternoon and stopped them from taking away my computers and documents. They agreed to pay $2,000 towards my legal fees. I was pissed off but I got over it quite quickly. A rare win in the High Court against the coercive power of the State helped me to move on.

The second reason was also personal. Rangi Kemara, one of those arrested that morning, was my IT Manager and a loyal, trusted and valuable employee and friend and I knew he was no terrorist. I supported him as best I could throughout his long battles through the courts, at his eventual trial as part of the “Urewera Four” in February 2012, and in the years since.

The third reason and the one that drove most of this analysis was purely professional. The Police intelligence operation crossed into three of the main areas of my own expertise; military operations, intelligence analysis, and Maori development and activism. I switched out of the personal into the professional. It’s what professionals do. It’s what I was trained to do.

For I had been a commissioned officer in the NZ Army for twenty years. With extensive training in all aspects of warfare, as a trainer myself in counter-revolutionary warfare, and with active service in Borneo and Vietnam I knew a bit about the military stuff the Police were alleging. I had also been involved at HQ staff level in the establishment of a counter terrorism capability in the NZ Army. I knew a bit about terrorism. With training and employment as an intelligence analyst in my Army days I knew a bit about intelligence analysis. Quite a bit.

By 2007, after twenty years a soldier, I had spent twenty five years involved in many aspects of Maori advancement and Maori development. I was aware that many of those activities had from time to time been thought to be subversive by an ignorant, racist and paranoid fringe in New Zealand society, including some in the NZ Police. In the 1980s, twenty years before Operation 8, some Maori activists had been labelled “Maori terrorists” in Police intelligence reports. They were wrong then and I instinctively knew that they would be wrong again. But instinct is not enough and I determined to objectively analyse the Police intelligence operation to prove my point. Or not.

I knew and respected many in the activist networks, both Maori and Pakeha. Of those arrested I knew Taame Iti and Rangi Kemara. I also knew some of those who had attended Taame’s wananga in the Urewera who had not been caught up and arrested in the “raids” on that day. I knew none of them were terrorists. I suppose in my own way I was a minor activist myself, having chosen in 1988 to use the power of my writing to support Maori political, economic and social aspirations. “Te Putatara” was the vehicle then, and is still.

I remain the proud holder of the Queen’s Commission I received when I was commissioned as a junior infantry officer in the 1960s. A commission is granted for life and it is one of my most valued possessions, three decades after I retired from active duty. To me it signifies that I was then and remain still a “trusty and well beloved” servant of my country. My commission says so. It reads in part:

“Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Her Other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith – To Our Trusty and Well beloved Roslyn Nepia Himona, Greeting: We reposing special Trust and Confidence in your Loyalty, Courage, and Good Conduct, do by these Presents constitute and appoint you to be an Officer in the Regular Force of our New Zealand Army ….”

It embodies for me the code of honour, the ethical values and the belief in democracy that underpinned my commitment to complete this analysis. For I was professionally offended by what I saw at the time as a cavalier Police attitude to democracy, the rule of law, human rights, liberty, freedom, and justice; the things I value as a citizen of a democratic New Zealand.

Would that the commissioned Police officers involved in Operation 8 thought the same way about the obligations imposed upon them by their parchment commissions.

My fourth reason for embarking upon this project was to make sure that a complete analysis was laid down for future reference in the hope that one day an official public inquiry would be commissioned. There have been inquiries by the Independent Police Conduct Authority and the Human Rights Commission but they were both quite shallow and did not get to the core problems of Police conduct and ineptitude in Operation 8. The Parliament refused to allow a full public inquiry. The suspicion is that Parliament did not want to lift the lid to reveal some fundamental flaws in our New Zealand version of democracy and a failure of democratic process. For this operation was signed off by the Prime Minister herself.

My final reason is to lay down a platform for the children of the late Tuhoe Lambert to clear his name. Tuhoe was a fellow Vietnam veteran; a patriot. He was arrested on that fateful day, and was included in the final five to go to trial but did not live to see the day. His name remains sullied, at least in the public record. As part of this analysis I have written a tribute to Tuhoe Lambert in which I declare his innocence. As a direct response to Operation 8 two of Tuhoe’s children have studied law and I hope that one day they will be able to clear his name.

While they’re at it they might clear the names of their father’s friends Rangi Kemara and Taame Iti, and Emily Bailey and Urs Signer; the “Urewera Four”.

Having said I was determined to objectively analyse the Police intelligence operation I readily concede that in places I venture into subjectivity and opinion. My opinions are those of an expert and I think I have made it abundantly clear where I have been subjective and personal. It was deliberate and not an unconscious slip of the pen, or malfunction of the keyboard. Unlike the detectives whose work I was analysing I know when I’m being objective and when I’m being subjective. Long ago during my training as an intelligence analyst the difference was drummed into me.

I was partly motivated to conduct this analysis by the outpouring of anger, opinion and commentary immediately following the paramilitary operations in October 2007. Whilst I understood the anger I did not agree with much of the opinion and commentary. It seemed to me to be situated in academic and activist intellectual frameworks that were remote from the reality of the events. People had situated their analyses of Operation 8 within their own frames of reference and political understandings instead of within the actual events.

I resolved to correct, or at least to balance the record. In doing so I have had the advantage of access to information that was not available at the time and I have not had to speculate about what Police were thinking. They wrote a lot of it down. The information includes:

  • Multiple Police affidavits;
  • Police evidence;
  • Court records (many of them originally suppressed);
  • Indictments;
  • Court summaries; and
  • Many other documents.

I have also been able to interview some of the key accused over a period of time. That has not been easy as I have had to treat what I was told with a degree of scepticism until I could verify what I was told. It took some persistent questioning and checking before I was able to piece together what I thought was actually going on in the Urewera.

Without that access to information in the period immediately after the paramilitary operation there was much comment in the media and some commentary was circulated in the networks. Probably the most permanent and representative record of that commentary is in “Terror in our Midst, Searching for Terror in Aotearoa New Zealand”, edited by academic and historian Danny Keenan (Huia Publishers, Wellington, 2008).

The book contains eighteen commentaries (including editorial) mostly by academics with many of them, in my opinion, somewhat wide of the mark. They situated the events of October 2007 within discourse on colonialism, early settler history, Ngai Tuhoe history, and legal “suppression” history. I think the real reasons for the events of October 2007 are far more prosaic; ordinary and everyday. It was a simple Police cock up. Fuelled, I agree, by ongoing ignorance, paranoia and racism, but mostly by simple incompetence and ineptitude. Fuelled also by a troubling disregard for democracy, the rule of law, human rights, liberty, freedom, and justice.

Anyway, that is the major conclusion of my study based mainly on the evidence presented by the Police themselves, and on my own investigations into what was really going on at those wananga in the Urewera. I have mostly put aside theory and tried to focus on fact.

Having said that I don’t disagree with all of the commentary. From “Terror in our Midst” I have quoted extensively from the essay by Luke Crawford, “Ruatoki, the Police and Maori Responsiveness” (p.79). I was entertained by the Epigraph by Pou Temara, “Terrorist in our Midst?” (p.15) in which he humorously and correctly debunks the notion of Taame Iti as terrorist.

I was inspired by the essay and poetry of Alice Te Punga Somerville in “Poetic Justice: Writing (as) the Struggle” (p.223) to add my own account to the public record. And I was heartened by a comment by law lecturer Mamari Stephens after she had analysed in “Beware the Hollow ‘Calabash’ Narrative, Analogy and the Acts of Suppression” (p.181) some of the legal analogies used by some commentators:

“But I would suggest the 2007 raids should be best understood on their own terms and that we, as commentators, might seek to avoid collapsing histories and time to make rhetorical comparisons unless the points to be gleaned are so compelling and enlightening of both situations as to make the risk worth it”.

I hope I haven’t quoted her out of context to serve my own ends! I have tried to understand the 2007 raids on their own terms.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Operation 8: A Failure of Command in the NZ Police

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

Incompetence. Unlawful and unprofessional behaviour. An assault on human rights by the NZ Police. It was failure of command on public display.

In the matter of the information gathering about activities in the Urewera in 2006 and 2007 that the NZ Police tried to label as terrorism, Police behaviour was found to be unlawful by the High Court and again by the Supreme Court. It was  found to be unlawful in a report by the Independent Police Conduct Authority, and in a report by the Human Rights Commission. During the information gathering phase of Operation 8 the Police were guilty of unlawful trespass and unlawful surveillance. In the “termination” paramilitary phase they were guilty of unlawful detention, unlawful search and unlawful roadblocks. An awful lot of unlawfulness from the beginning to the awful end.

Many of those unlawful actions were shown in the courts not just to be unlawful, but knowingly and deliberately unlawful. In its ruling the Supreme Court found that almost all of the evidence gathered against the original 17 defendants was unlawfully and improperly obtained. 

In writing this series on Operation 8 I have examined in considerable detail the progress of their intelligence gathering and analysis, and I have concluded beyond doubt that it was unprofessional and incompetent. Essentially there was no professional analysis whatsoever. Intelligence is an intellectual activity and I have concluded that the “intelligence” operation was devoid of intellectual engagement.

That includes the oversight and review of the so called “intelligence” at the highest level of command before approval was given to launch the paramilitary operations on 15th October 2007. There was no effective oversight and review. Imagination substituted for intellect. And lacking the expertise and intellect to properly evaluate the advice given to them the chain of command was captured by the tunnel vision and groupthink originating in the Auckland team of the Special Intelligence Group.

Before the final operation Commissioner Broad briefed ODESC (Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination).  He also briefed a small group of Cabinet ministers before the raids. His assertions must have passed through ODESC without review. One cabinet minister was sceptical and asked him several times to confirm his assertions. He prevailed.

I have also concluded that the paramilitary operation itself showed that the Special Tactics Group and Armed Offenders Squads used in the operations were poorly governed, poorly led, poorly trained and poorly disciplined.

Taken together, all of those failures constitute a failure of command at the highest level. Someone ought to be responsible to ensure that police officers are properly trained for their allocated duties, that they obey the law, and that the police paramilitary force is properly led, trained and disciplined.

Police Commissioner Howard Broad’s desk was where the buck stopped. So he must bear prime responsibility for that failure. But he was not without assistance. Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope was responsible for operations and he must be equally culpable. Assistant Commissioner Jon White was responsible for all intelligence operations and it was his responsibility to ensure the professionalism of those operations. He didn’t.

The record clearly shows that none of them had any real expertise in intelligence. It wasn’t until R. Mark Evans was recruited in October 2007 that the NZ Police had a real intelligence professional who over the next few years set about developing a professional intelligence capability. Prior to that the so called intelligence units set up after 9/11 as a counter terrorist measure focused entirely on ham-fisted heavy-handed gathering of political intelligence about political activism mainly in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland.

Those new special intelligence teams (SIG) in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch spent about two years casting around for non-existent terrorists before the Auckland team trumped the others. Based on the unverified ramblings of a totally unreliable Auckland informant they found something they could finally label as terrorism. They were an under-employed counter terrorism unit looking for terrorism anywhere they could find it; and looking for counter terrorism kudos.

An untrained, unsupervised, out of control counter terrorism unit. A failure of command.

There is also evidence that they found their sought-after terrorism in the first instance in the obsessive feud between some Auckland police officers and serial police antagonist Jamie Lockett. Operation 8 was focused almost entirely on Lockett and some of his Pakeha associates until a link was made with Taame Iti and the Urewera.

Those counter terrorism teams, part of the Special Intelligence Group (SIG), were manned by untrained amateurs; mere detectives instead of professional intelligence analysts. The lack of professional oversight and the lack of professionalism within those powerful teams reflected a failure of command at the highest level.

When Operation 8 was launched as a counter terrorism operation there was some disquiet within the NZ Police. There were those at the working level who knew that it was flawed from the beginning. At Police National HQ level there was also some dissent. Yet despite that Commissioner Broad went ahead, as he said, “to nip it in the bud” with a massive armed response despite knowing that no imminent terrorist or criminal activity was planned by the suspects.

The result was a huge loss of trust in the Police within Maori communities. Trust is essential to successful policing. When trust in the Police takes a dive Police Commissioners lose their jobs.

Allegations of rape and sexual misconduct caused the Government to set up a Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct in 2004. Dame Margaret Bazley was a commissioner. That scandal caused a dramatic loss of trust. At the end of 2005 Police Commissioner Robinson resigned barely one year into his second term. Restoration of trust after such a loss can take ten years or more. Part of Howard Broad’s brief as the incoming Police Commissioner in April 2006 was to restore that lost trust. He in his turn lost the trust of Maori in October 2007.

In October 2012 Fairfax media reported a survey that indicated trust in the Police had hit a new low, having fallen 11.5% to 59.9% in the preceding five years. That included four of the five years Howard Broad held the appointment of police commissioner. The survey was of course disputed by the Police and their minister.

“Comments in the survey indicate that the fall in public trust centres on the police’s management of complaints against its officers, and actions considered heavy-handed, including the Urewera and Dotcom mansion raids”.

The sensational raids in the Urewera came just seven months after the release in March 2007 of Dame Margaret’s Commission of Inquiry report into Police misconduct. The Police launched their own inquiry into the same misconduct in 2004, called Operation Austin. The raids in October 2007 were launched at almost the same time as the release of the Operation Austin report.

However coincidental, Operation 8 accompanied by a professionally orchestrated media campaign certainly served to deflect media and public attention from those damning reports, and from the huge sexual misconduct scandal that had brought the NZ Police into disrepute, and had dogged them for the previous three years.

In the following years from 2008 to 2011 the Operation 8 accused and their lawyers uncovered and proved more unlawful conduct by the Police as they slowly battled their way through a series of court hearings culminating at the Supreme Court in September 2011. At the Supreme Court the main evidence against them was declared to be unlawful but allowed to be used in criminal group charges against four defendants only. Most of that process was suppressed by the courts until September 2011. Police misconduct throughout Operation 8 did not register with the public.

In late 2011, almost immediately after the Supreme Court finding of unlawful conduct, video evidence was released to the media under the pretext of “public interest”. It deflected that public interest away from the Supreme Court’s substantive findings of unlawful conduct by the Police.

It is certainly speculation to infer that Commissioner Howard Broad’s contract was not renewed at the end of his first term in 2011 because of Operation 8, but for some reason it wasn’t renewed. Deputy Commissioner Pope resigned in 2011 before his contract was not renewed. Assistant Commissioner White quietly moved on to Australia in 2010 and is now CEO of the Australia New Zealand Police Advisory Agency.

The three senior officers in the chain of command during Operation 8 all moved on, or were moved on. The next Commissioner seemed to do little to restore trust. He didn’t have his contract renewed. The present Commissioner seems to be working hard to have his contract renewed.

In the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours Howard Broad was made a Companion of the NZ Order of Merit. He has since been appointed to the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet as Deputy Chief Executive Security & Intelligence. He is now responsible for policy and coordination for the whole security and intelligence community. His career has been resurrected.

Not everyone shares Government’s confidence in Howard Broad.

The resurrection of Broad’s career shows that he was not really held accountable for the failure of command and loss of trust. So, if not Broad, who in the Police hierarchy should have been made publicly accountable for that failure of command? Or was all quietly forgiven and forgotten?

Business as usual.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Rangi Kemara Remembers "15 October 2007 The Day the Raids Came"

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

This series of tweets posted by Rangi Kemara on 15th October 2015

The story of the paramilitary assault on the house and caravan at Manurewa where Rangi lived with the late Tuhoe Lambert and his whanau. An innovative and powerful use of Twitter to tell the story of his gunpoint arrest.

https://twitter.com/Te_Taipo/status/654341472561532928 …
https://www.hashfav.com/page/1015/1525

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo15 October, 2007, The day the raids came. My recollections of that morning: Early morning, still dark. I’m awake

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Loud noises outside, cops yelling at neighbours, doesn’t sound good, remembers yesterday’s domestic dispute

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Im thinking, must’ve boiled over into something serious cuz theres a crap load of cops piling up outside

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Lots more vehicles, racing engines, squeeling tires, loud noise as front left fence is demolished

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@Te_Taipo_taipo I edge back curtains for better look, holy shit there’s fucking armed cops everywhere! W-T-F!!!

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Loud hailer: You in the caravan, come out with your hands up! This repeats. It occurs to me, I’m in a fucken caravan!

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo I can see many gunmen up high on vehicles aiming down, this is a kill zone if I step into it…

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo I step out to hear the shooter on point yell in quick succession “gun-gun-gun” meaning, I had a gun, shoot me dead…

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo I yell back, “no gun, no gun, no gun!” Step out into the glow-worm lights of many assault rifle torches

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo How many can I quickly count, 10, 15, 20, lost count, dam! Too many, my kung-fu will not save me.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Loud hailer now screaming for me to raise my hands, 4 gunmen rush me, barrels to my head, all 4 sides???

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Thoughts cross my mind, who trained these idiots, I could bend over to touch my toes, crossfire, 4 dead cops

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Armed escort to the street, I can see fear in their eyes. One is yelling “dont look at me!!! Eyes Front!!!”

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo That accent, fuck me he’s a Maori! Better work stories aye? Fucken lickplate!

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo I can see plastic stock assault rifles, so my reply, “eyes front? or what???”

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Forced to the ground, plasticuffs, barrels against back of my head, frightened gunmen, the worst kind…

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo 2nd wave of police soldiers head in to drag the whanau out in the main house. First out is Tuhoe Lambert.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo They’re lined up against the wall like a firing squad. Whaea Ada is yelling to the kids that it’s going to be ok.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Cops yelling at her to shut the fuck up! She replies, “or what you going to do”. Keeps talking.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo They drag her across the road & try to force her into a vehicle unsuccessfully. Wahine toa! They give up.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Kemara! Do you have any weapons on you, yeah, there’s a fucken 105 howitzer in my top pocket! Idiots!

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Tuhoe & I are lifted by the plasticuffed arms and dragged around the corner away from the whanau.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Forced to ground again face down in water. Pissing down. STG gunman: “Kemara, where are the guns?”

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Me: “In car boot, my keys are in caravan right next to my fucken firearms license”

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo STG Gunman: “Bullshit! you don’t have a license”, Me: “Pointless debate, go have a look for yourself”, he sends a runner.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo So we wait, face down for arresting detectives to arrive. Half hour, still nothing. Shit, I’m going to be so late for work.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Finally hear the dullards voice, allowed to kneel facing the fence as Det Hamish McDonald formerly arrests me.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Charged with what feels like 1.21 Gigacounts of unlawful possession of firearms, fuck, I’m sure they’ve found my license by now.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo Tells me he wants to talk to me about terrorism, I reply, na get me a lawyer. We’re off to Wiri cop shop for parakuihi.

Rangi Kemara @Te_Taipo
@te_taipo 15 October, 2007, the day the raids came.

Links: The Operation 8 Series

Remembering 15th October 2007 and the Police Paramilitary Assault on Human Rights

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

The Cowboys in Black Fancy Dress and Operation “Hi Ho Silver”

Today is the eighth anniversary of the New Zealand Police paramilitary operation carried out in the Urewera and elsewhere by a bunch of over-hyped, poorly led, poorly trained and poorly disciplined cowboys.

To date in this series on Operation 8 I have concentrated on a critical analysis of the Intelligence process leading up to the paramilitary operation on 15th October 2007. I have done that from the perspective of a retired Intelligence analyst with twenty years military experience and over thirty years experience in community and Maori development.

In this post I am looking at the paramilitary operation itself, euphemistically called the “Urewera Raids”.

I claim superior expertise to critically analyse that operation as well. In my twenty years in the NZ Army my primary specialty  was as a combat arms commander. I was experienced in planning and conducting operations of the type on display on 15th October 2007 . During my deployment to Vietnam in 1967 I commanded an infantry platoon that took part in the “cordon and search” of several towns and villages. They were towns and villages where it was 100% certain that any enemy in hiding would fight fiercely if discovered, and there usually were enemy combatants hiding out in the villages. Additionally in my final posting in the Army 1980-82 I was involved at HQ staff level in the establishment of a counter-terrorism capability.

For a long time after 15th October 2007 I had assumed that the paramilitary police Special Tactics Group (STG) must have had very little time to plan and rehearse their paramilitary operation. It was obviously way over the top and has since been found by the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) to have been illegal in many respects (he says unlawful, I say illegal). That would seem to indicate a lack of time to prepare a plan that met all legal requirements. However the IPCA Report of 22nd May 2013 reveals that on 27th September 2007 the Operation 8 team briefed the Police Commissioner and senior staff at Police National Headquarters and on 10th October 2007 the Commissioner authorised the “termination” operation. Warrants for the paramilitary operation were obtained that day.

The Police National HQ and STG leadership had at least five days and up to 18 days to prepare for their paramilitary operation. There was therefore no excuse for the illegal aspects of the plan. There was however some justification for the ferocity of the plan because of the flawed information they were given to base that plan upon. The planning process for the operation was the standard military and police operational process and the IPCA states that it was followed. However that process was only as good as the people who conducted it and the Intelligence on which it was based. The summary of that Intelligence is shown in this extract from the IPCA Report:

“93. The information which STG relied upon in formulating the plan included the following:

  • “the targets possessed numerous weapons including “heavy calibre military style semi-­ automatic weapons” and were part of a group actively training in military tactics;
  • “they had received training in the use of rudimentary explosives and incendiary devices;
  • “intelligence suggested they were prepared to “die for their cause” and use lethal force to achieve their purpose, including sleeping with weapons under their beds to be better prepared for any attack on them;
  • “the intention of this group was to achieve “an independent Tūhoe nation within the Urewera area”;
  • “the area where the training camps were situated was rural and some distance from comprehensive medical facilities;
  • “not all attendees at the training camps had been identified by Police;
  • “intelligence suggested there was an unknown “local group” in the area who could pose a threat to Police; and
  • “the feelings of the community towards the participants in the training camps were largely unknown and thus it was stated that “the existence of sympathisers and supporters for their cause cannot be discounted””.

Having analysed the Intelligence process in detail I have absolutely no doubt that the last two of those bullet points were wild assumptions for which there was no Intelligence or evidence either way. They were however critical elements in the planning of the paramilitary operation. The third and fourth bullet points were not supported by corroborated and verified evidence.

It was a way-over-the-top intelligence assessment that led to the way-over-the-top paramilitary operation. In several previous analyses of the Intelligence process I have shown why it was unprofessional, incompetent, lacking in depth, unverified and wrong. To that I now add way over the top. That briefing to the STG also shows that the Police were proceeding into New Zealand’s first major counter-terrorist operation with insufficient and incomplete information, and on the basis of some wild assumptions about the “terrorists”, their capabilities and their intentions. That was a command failure at the highest level.

In several of my previous analyses I have referred to Commissioner Broad’s statements after the event. It is appropriate to do so again. He admitted that he had no indication of an imminent terrorist event and that he authorised the operation only to “nip it in the bud”. With a full on assault on an innocent community?

Despite there being some justification for the style of operation they mounted based on faulty Intelligence and a failure of command, the STG and Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) teams committed some egregiously unlawful behaviour involving innocent whanau and communities. This extract from the executive summary of the IPCA Report describes that behaviour:

“10. … the planning and preparation for the establishment of the road blocks in Ruatoki and Taneatua was deficient. The Authority has found there was no lawful basis for those road blocks being established or maintained. There was no lawful power or justification for Police to detain, stop and search the vehicles, take details from or photograph the drivers or passengers.

 “11. There was no assessment of the substantial and adverse impact of such road blocks on the local community. The road block at Ruatoki was intimidating to innocent members of that community, particularly in view of the use of armed Police officers in full operational uniform.

 “12. The majority of complaints received by the Authority in relation to property searches were not from target individuals but rather from other occupants at these properties complaining about the way they were treated by Police. Some felt they were being treated as suspects. A number of occupants were informed by Police that they were being detained while a search of the property occurred, despite there being no lawful basis for such detention. Police had no legal basis for conducting personal searches of these occupants.

 The behaviour of the Police that day has been publicly documented. It included:

  • Detaining at gunpoint several innocents, including women and children still in their night attire, and sometimes in stressful positions; some were made to kneel on concrete paths with guns at their heads;
  • Conducting intrusive body searches of women who were not suspects;
  • Forcefully separating children from their carers;
  • Detaining a woman and her children in a shed for hours without food and water and toilet facilities, and laughing when she asked for relief.

The IPCA Report states:

“Police actions led occupants at five properties to have reasonable cause to believe that they were being detained while the search was conducted. The detention of occupants at these properties was contrary to law, unjustified and unreasonable”.

There were other stupid behaviours including:

  • Chain-sawing through a fence when a gate was wide open a few metres away; and
  • Smashing doors that weren’t locked.

The most egregious behaviour related to the callous and intimidatory attitude of several “black role” Police officers towards innocents and to the disregard for their human rights and their dignity. It was an assault on human rights.

That behaviour displayed to the discerning eye of someone who has trained and commanded combat troops:

  • a culture of arrogance;
  • that they were over-hyped;
  • that the recruitment and selection process is poorly designed;
  • that they were poorly trained;
  • that they were poorly disciplined;
  • that they were poorly led; and
  • at the command and policy level they were poorly governed.

I am not alone in my assessment. And it is why I have called them “cowboys in black fancy dress”. They deserve the opprobrium. I am aware that some in the Defence community call them “The Keystones”.

In Vietnam we were on active service against an armed and very dangerous adversary. Yet in our “cordon and search” operations we never treated innocents with such arrogance and disregard for their rights. We did search them at roadblocks but with as much respect as was possible in the circumstances. We did remove them from the houses we searched but as respectfully as we could and never with the same shouting and pointing of weapons. People will do what you ask if you treat them with respect. It was a disciplined approach. We were never masked. Nothing is more calculated to instil fear than the mask, despite the Police’s claim that it is an operational necessity. We tried to minimise the fear. The innate empathy and friendliness  of the New Zealand soldier went a long way towards that.

There was no empathy or friendliness shown to innocents in the Police paramilitary operation on 15th October 2007. Just arrogance and hostility and intimidation. There’s a fucked up mentality behind that attitude. A serious culturally ingrained fucked up mentality.

It was reported that the cowboys in black fancy dress were given their operation orders as late as 3am on the morning of the operation. They were fed the over-the-top terrorism story almost immediately before they went into action. They went out fired up and ready to combat terrorists. Their superior officers hyped them up and set the adrenaline surging. But that is no excuse whatsoever for their arrogant and hostile treatment of innocents.

That was a function of poor policy and governance, poor leadership, poor selection, poor training, poor discipline and a serious culturally ingrained fucked up mentality.

Before the Special Tactics Group (STG) can be deployed a formal STG Request for Assistance has to be submitted.

  • Who wrote that request?
  • Who submitted it?
  • When was it submitted”
  • To whom?
  • Who approved it? The Commissioner? Deputy Commissioner? Assistant Commissioner Operations?
  • Who conducted the “appreciation” to assess the risks posed by an STG paramilitary operation to “terminate” Operation8?
  • What were the identified risks, if any?
  • Who conducted the after action debriefing?
  • Is there a written record of that debriefing?

These questions need to be asked.

The IPCA again:

“13. The Authority has concluded that a number of aspects of the Police termination of Operation Eight were contrary to law and unreasonable. In a complex operation of the type that was undertaken here, there are always a number of important lessons to be learned about future Police policy and practices. The Police internal debrief following the termination of Operation Eight has already identified a number of those lessons and necessary changes to Police training, policy and operational instructions have been made. The Authority has made a number of other recommendations in light of its own findings. This includes the need to re-­engage, and build bridges, with the Ruatoki community”.

The Police debrief and resulting recommendations did not address the real failures of Operation 8 and did not address the real shortcomings of their paramilitary policy, structure, culture, training, leadership and discipline. It glossed over all of that and seemed to focus on what they needed to do to recover from their disastrous operation, including what they needed to do to repair their relationship with Ngai Tuhoe. A major part of its deliberations were about the paramilitary uniform and concluded that the “black role” and Nomex hoods were still necessary.

It recommended that the Commissioner engage with Ruatoki and it dumped most of the responsibility for repairing the relationship on the National Manager Māori & Pacific Ethnic Services. The same Superintendent Wally Haumaha who had been deliberately excluded from Operation 8 and would surely have moderated its excesses was now responsible for cleaning up the mess.

No-one has been held publicly accountable for all of that illegal and unprofessional behaviour.

The Police have since paid compensation and have apologised to some whanau. They have apologised to Ruatoki and Ngai Tuhoe. They’ve got a long way to go yet. A new generation of Ngai Tuhoe have been given renewed reason to distrust the Police and 15th October 2007 will live on in tribal memory, forever.

Stupidity, paranoia and incompetence know no bounds. It could all have been avoided.

Me maumahara tonu matou.

Links: The Operation 8 Series