First thing in the morning before making that decision to walk out the door I attend to my Te Karere Ipurangi (Maori News Online) Twitter feed (@Karere). It’s been going for 11 years and amalgamates news about and for Maori. As at today there are 3,747 followers, mostly in New Zealand but with quite a few international TwitterFolk.
This morning I noticed a new follower; a new member of my TwitterVolk. Magenta Gutenberg (@SnapperQuota). She (I think) describes herself (I think again) as a “German Kiwi” who is learning Te Reo, ” Kei te ako tonu au i te reo Māori”. But the thing that really caught my attention was the hashtag, #LandOfTheLongWhiteKraut. That brought a broad smile to the dial, and set me up for the rest of my day.
47 cars in the New World carpark this morning, and no queue outside. Not so many people on the streets.
Some time back, around the time that COVID-19 first appeared in New Zealand, I noticed that the street sign on the corner of Waterloo Street and McPhee Street had been vandalised and pulled out of the ground. The next day it had been moved a couple of blocks and left on the footpath. A few days later it was replaced and then later sawn down. It was erected again. This morning one of the street signs had been partially wrenched off the post and left danglng.
Which set me to wondering. Being well aware of course (unlike many of the instant COVID-19 experts) that scientifically speaking, correlation is not causation, I nevertheless wondered whether street sign vandalism might be a yet to be identified symptom of coronavirus infection. After all, it is no more ridiculous than most of the fake stuff and conspiracy theories on social media.
If so, there is as yet no evidence of community transmission, given that all the other street signs on my daily quest for health and fitness are still intact.
So it must have arrived from beyond our borders at Dannevirke, from Woodville or Norsewood perhaps. Maybe even from overseas, like the United States of Amerika. Which is a reasonable assumption. Over the last 30 or 40 years the world has been infected by many dangerous and ridiculous viral-like ideas that germinated in the USA. Like neoliberal dogma and practice. Like the quest to democratise the Middle East by creating ISIS. Like the Tii Paati virus that mutated into a Cockwomble-in-Chief in the White House. The Virus-in-Chief as it were.
But this COVID-19 virus is more powerful than any of the stuff that has come out of the USA and just goes to show that Trump’s Amerika is never going to be as great as the viruses and bacteria that really rule the world.
And while we wait patiently for relief from the grip of the virus I carefully inspect all the street signs for any indication of community transmission.
You all think I’ve come down with cabin fever don’t you.
I reckon if you don’t keep count of the days in lockdown the days pass much faster.
57 cars in the New World carpark this morning. No one at the pharmacy. No one at the dairy that has reopened on High Street. A few more walkers this morning including a few mothers walking the excess energy off their children. Fathers probably on the couch watching rugby replays.
So what was I thinking about on this morning’s constitutional? Healthy heart, healthy lungs and kapa haka.
On Day Whatever of these musings-in-public my (real) friend Robin Payne commented that I still need to write about Borneo. I’ll get to that Robin. Soon.
Robin was the Director of Toi Whakaari / NZ Drama School when I joined the board back in the 1990s sometime. Among her many dramatic talents is that of voice tutor. She is an outstanding voice tutor.
Watching her work, I remember back then being reminded of my own voice training in the military; being trained to throw our voices the length of a parade ground, and to pitch the voice above the noise of battle. You need strong healthy lungs to do that.
A few months ago I reconnected with Toi Whakaari at the invitation of the new director Tanea Heke. Tanea was a student when Robin & I were at Toi Whakaari. I was overjoyed to see her become Director. I spoke to her about kapa haka.
COVID-19 has put a stop to kapa haka regionals and has probably postponed the national competition, Te Matatini. But have you noticed that most performers at regionals and nationals have not been voice trained. Some of those groups are almost screeching. Quite a lot of those groups actually. They need professional voice training. It would make a tremendous difference – to borrow a superlative from the Cockwomble-in-Chief in the White House.
I remember once being blessed to be in an ope with Keri Kaa, Rose Pere and Tungia Baker as our kaikaranga. Those three deliberately started the karanga a good 500 metres before any others would, such was the power of their voices, coming from deep down in the puku, off the top of powerful diaphragms. It was an awe inspiring performance that I will remember for the rest of my days.
So I talked to Tanea about how she might become involved in kapa haka. Another string to the Toi Whakaari bow. By working with one or two kapa haka to train all of their voices to the same high standard achieved by our acting graduates. From such small beginnings the impact on performance at Te Matatini could be quite dramatic.
But the best results are gained by those with healthy lungs and healthy hearts. The best defences against COVID-19 and any future viral pandemic are healthy lungs and healthy hearts. Which finally explains the connection between my daily constitutional and random thoughts about Toi Whakaari and kapa haka.
And a wistful thought that maybe kapa haka could become the main health promoting vehicle for our people. Most everything else that has been tried hasn’t lived up to expectations. With our Pasifika cousins we’re still most at risk of death by virus.
56 cars in the New World carpark this morning. You’ve discerned by now that one of my strange little lockdown routines is counting cars at the supermarket. Don’t scoff. We all have these odd little rituals and routines in our lives. You too. It’s an intrinsic part of the human condition.
The 10k walk you know is not only about exercise and health. Quite often i will arrive home with an essay or article fully composed and ready to be written. Like this morning. And yesterday of course.
Anyway. In July 2016 I presented testimony at a Waitangi Tribunal hearing concerning Maori and war service. I was debunking some of the mythology about our Vietnam service, mainly about Agent Orange. I mentioned in passing that I did not myself at that time have any medical, physical or mental ailments that could be attributed to Vietnam. Except for one.
The many Vietnam veterans present had read my Brief of Evidence and had unanimously diagnosed me as a pain in the arse. Tribunal member Dr Angela Ballara then suggested that I apply for a veteran’s disablement pension for the condition.
Over three years later I’m still seriously considering doing just that.
I’ve always been a pain in the arse, one way or another, and I blame it on my grandmother Galloping Gertie.
You see, when I lived with her in 1948/49 she told me lots of her stories and histories. Even at that young age I worked out that some of them were pure fantasy and were meant to entertain rather than educate, but mixed up in it were some serious lessons.
One that has stuck with me for the whole of my life is about bullshit. She told me that I should never believe anything I read in the newspapers, or heard on the radio, and that I should only believe half of that which I witnessed myself. It has led to a lifetime of fact checking, long before the era of the Cockwomble-in-Chief in the White House. Google it – go on !!!
I challenge opinions and beliefs and debunk mythologies, ancient and modern. I have variously been labelled a smartarse, a pain in the arse, a contrarian, a dissident, a sceptic, a non-conformist, and an iconoclast, among other not-so-nice things. Sir Wira Gardiner once called me the Thomas Paine of Maoridom, which says as much about his obsession with military history as it does about my obsession with knocking over icons. And other peoples’ opinions and beliefs.
It is said that opinions are like arseholes in that everyone has one. Some wit added however that unlike arseholes our opinions should be taken out regularly and subjected to close scrutiny. Changing our own opinions and beliefs in the light of new evidence is a tough call, but if one is inclined to challenge the opinions and beliefs of others then one ought to regularly inspect one’s own metaphorical arsehole.
Which finally leads me to the point of these musings.
Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, Tik Tok, Telegram, and every social media platform, are all being inundated with instant experts, false prophets, conspiracy theorists, confabulating commentators, meme generators, and just ordinary people who pick up on it and pass it around. I take my advice from Jacinda Adern and Dr Ashley Bloomfield, who take their advice from their teams of experts, and in the face of every instant expert demanding more of this and more of that, have to balance what is desirable with what is possible, and to determine how to do it within what timeframe.
As Galloping Gertie taught, we should not believe anything we read in the newspapers, or hear on the radio, and only believe half of that which we witness ourselves. Without checking the facts. She would have added TV and social media of course.
By the way. I neglected to tell you that Grandmother Gert lived by the sea. and that over the Ditch the West Islanders have memorialised her in a little song that they sing all the time. Listen carefully. to my grandmother’s song.
They say we need to adopt a lockdown routine. I patrol the neighbourhood.
So. At 7.30 each morning I’m out the door for my 10k power walk around the neighbourhood. Walking out the door is the hardest part of a 10k power walk. Our grandmother Gertrude was a power walker. Walked everywhere. She would stride off to the shops about two miles away at a great rate of knots. She was known affectionately to everyone in her Hawke’s Bay village as “Galloping Gertie” or “Goldrush Gert”. I must have inherited my power walking from her.
Along with a bit of hayfever. The whole Nicholls/Kemsley clan inherited asthma, eczema or hayfever from Gertrude’s father Frederick Kemsley in England. Called in at the Pharmacy on my way home this morning to get some anti-histamine.
So. Out walking, cops on patrol don’t seem concerned that a Septuagenarian is loose on the streets. Streets are mostly deserted. Seems that Dannevirkians are studiously avoiding the Exercise bug as well as the Covid-19 virus.
I caught the Health bug from my grandmother as well. Touch wood. She instilled in me from the tender age of 5 that my most precious asset would always be my health. She grew up in England in the perilous times before disinfectants, antiseptics, antibiotics and vaccines. And hand washing and social distancing.
50 cars in the New World carpark at 8.30 this morning. Long queue waiting outside. Ordered my food and groceries online yesterday. Long lead times though. Delivery about 9 days. Pickup about 6 days. Opted for pickup with mask and gloves between 5 and 6pm on Monday 6th.
Not urgent anyway. Got plenty of vegan kai in my pantry.
Onwards. Old folk in their cars queueing at the hospital for their influenza vaccination. Better get mine soon.
April 1st. Not long before ANZAC Day. Maybe on April 25th I’ll put on the medals and beret and power march the daily 10k. Stop on the way at the Cenotaph to lay a poppy in remembrance of the grandfather who came home from the Great War with a war bride – Galloping Gertie.
“The change of plan caught Hobson by surprise. He was summoned ashore late in the morning, arriving in plain clothes, having hastily snatched up his plumed hat. Several hundred Maori were waiting for him in the marquee and more stood around outside. Only Busby and a few Europeans had turned up, among them the Catholic Bishop Pompallier.”
“The signing went ahead. Busby called each chief by name from a list he had. It was probably Williams who told Hobson to try a few words in Maori. When each chief had signed, Hobson shook hands with him and said, “He iwi tahi tatou.”
– Claudia Orange, extracts from “The Story of a Treaty”, 1989.
“He iwi tahi tatou – We are one people.” This, the oft quoted version of Hobson‘s choice of words, is the most commonly accepted, although at least one Maori oral version records that he actually said, “Kua iwi kotahi tatou.” Others say that the words were “He iwi kotahi tatou.” All mean the same thing, “we are one people”, but the differing versions do point to the possibility that they are all wrong.
The most common version, quoted above by Claudia Orange, was recorded by William Colenso (who was present at the signing) in “The Authentic and Genuine History of the Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi”, Wellington, 1890. However, I have always wondered whether this was just a missionary fiction, designed to strengthen their efforts to bring all Maori under the mantle of the Christian church; whether in fact Hobson didn‘t say something much more mundane.
Since 1840, tauiwi have used Hobson‘s alleged choice of words to justify their contention that we are “one nation, one people.” “He iwi tahi tatou” has been used to justify both assimilation and integration, and the aim has always been to eradicate Maori culture. Today the same call is taken up by the One New Zealand Foundation, and by others such as Sir Robert the Jones, Sir Robert the Great Muldoon, Hon Peter Tapsell and Mr Winston Peters.
Well, I was right about those words. Te Putatara has now discovered new evidence, recorded by a founding member of the kumara vine who was present at the signing on 6 February 1840. Our man was close to the action and heard every word. E hoa ma, this is what really happened.
As Hone Heke stepped up to sign the Treaty he pointed to Hobson‘s plumed hat and he said, “Mr Governor, that‘s a fine chook you wear on your head!”
Quick as flash Hobson said, “That‘s no chook mate. Those are genuine kiwi feathers. Te kiwi tuatahi ahau.”
Yes he did. “I‘m the Number 1 Kiwi.” Nothing at all about this “one people” rubbish. Hika ma!
And that‘s why, e hoa ma, to this very day, Pakeha New Zealanders still call themselves “KIWIS”. You know, it always puzzled me why they were called Kiwis. Now we know eh.
Looking back, five years ago on Boxing Day 2013 I wrote:
poor and struggling Maori Christmases come and go with monotonous regularity
marking neither change nor advancement in their lives but just the passing of another
365 days of struggle and the prospect of another 365 days exactly the same. For
most of them the past is the present and the present is the future.
are the ones described in “Duino
Elegies” by the Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke as
ones to whom neither the past nor the future belongs”.
Nothing much has changed.
In previous essays on Maori policy I have decried the narrow focus of Maori policy of the last few decades, specifically its focus on cultural and language revival, and on settlements and business development through neo-tribal organisation, at the expense of policy designed to lift all Maori out of the quagmire of poverty and inequality that still entraps large numbers of Maori at the bottom of the socio-economic heap.
I have advocated that the makers of Maori policy focus instead on the much wider national macro- and micro-economic policy settings that actually determine the place of our people in society, and that have worked against the narrow Maori policy settings of the last thirty-plus years. And in focusing on the political economy I have made a case for a moral underpinning of economic policy, and for mana tangata to be enshrined as the pou tokomanawa of all national economic policy. People first. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.
I have been ambivalent about the Whanau Ora programme currently under review, having in my lived
experience seen some 60 years of targeted Maori policy and programmes come and
go without much long lasting and overall effect for all Maori. I commented that
I expected Whanau Ora to go the way
of all such programmes, to Programme Heaven.
“Whānau Ora is an approach that supports whānau and families to achieve
their aspirations in life. It places whānau at the centre of decision making
and supports them to build a more prosperous future.
“Whānau Ora is about increasing the wellbeing of individuals in the
context of their whānau, it is whānau-centred. It differs from traditional
social and health approaches that focus solely on the needs of individuals.
“Whānau ora recognises the strengths and abilities that exist within
whānau and aims to support and develop opportunities that fulfill potential.
“The whānau-centred approach:
starts by asking whānau and families what they want to achieve for themselves, and then responding to those aspirations in order to realise whānau potential
provides flexible support for whānau and families to move beyond crisis into identifying and achieving medium and long-term goals for sustained change
focuses on relationships, self-determination and capability building for whānau to achieve positive long-term outcomes
uses a joined up approach that focuses on all factors relevant to whānau wellness, including economic, cultural, environmental factors, as well as social factors
recognise that each whānau has a different set of circumstances, and what works well for one whānau does not work well for other whānau
recognises that whānau and families have skills, knowledge and experiences that contribute to their own resilience, and can provide a platform for whānau and families to become more self-managing and independent.”
That is pretty much a cut-down version of classic community development principles aimed not at community but instead at just one of the building blocks of community; whanau. It misses the point of community development, in that the whole community needs to be developed. The institutions of community are equally important in the development process, as those institutions need themselves to adapt and develop their policies and practices in response to the self-identified aspirations and goals of whanau. And to the aspirations and goals of the whole of the community they serve. Those institutions are both non-governmental organisations, and the institutions of central and local government. And thus we are led inevitably and inexorably back to the policies within which those institutions function, primarily to economic policy.
For that is a challenge more universal in its vision, aims
The challenge is to acknowledge, actively promote, and
celebrate the mana of all New Zealanders; a social justice challenge. To create
policy for the greater good of the greatest number, including the greatest
number of Maori.
The challenge is to eradicate poverty, especially child
poverty. The challenge is to significantly reduce the extremes of inequality,
both income inequality and wealth inequality; to create a more egalitarian
society for all, Maori and non-Maori.
And in so doing to promote equal access to quality housing,
health and education. With subsidiary aims of reducing crime and imprisonment.
The first step is to eradicate poverty.
We were promised, over thirty years ago, that the now
discredited neoliberal policy agenda of the radical Labour and National governments
(1984-1999) would create wealth that would trickle down to all, and that the
rising tide would lift all boats. Instead it lifted about 10% of the boats, some
much higher than others, and at least 50% of waka Maori were left bottomed on
the mudflats. It was a rising tide of inequality.
Is there a universal policy tide that will lift all boats?
Well, we already have one. We need look no further than New
Zealand Superannuation which is paid to all New Zealanders over the age of 65
regardless of status, income and wealth. There is a slight anomaly that needs
fixing, regarding marital status and gender equality. However, since the
concept was introduced in 1938 it has largely solved the problem of poverty of
the aged. That 80-year trial of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) for old folk
seems to have been quite successful.
We used to have a UBI for children – the Family Benefit that
was paid from 1946 to 1985, paid to the mother, for all children up to the age
of 16, or 18 for those still in education. That worked too. Then it was
replaced with targeted benefits as part of the benefit slashing and beneficiary
bashing of the neoliberal ideologues.
We now have a plethora of targeted benefits that don’t work. The increased incidence of poverty and homelessness, and all other indicators of an uncaring society bear testament to that assertion. It can be traced directly back to the benefit slashing and beneficiary bashing brought on by Minister of Finance Ruth Richardson’s 1991 “Mother of all Budgets” and by her “Ruthanasia” economic reforms. The targeted benefit system stigmatises beneficiaries instead of recognising their mana, and the inherent dignity of every person. It criminalises those who cheat the system in order to live. And it creates an administrative and compliance regime that is huge, unwieldy, costly, and that robs beneficiaries of their dignity. It has done nothing to eradicate poverty, and to reduce inequality. It has instead embedded poverty and inequality.
It panders to the bigotry of those who look down upon the less fortunate, and who blame them for their own misfortune. It functions alongside a tax system that taxes the income of all (except those who are already wealthy and able to evade taxation), that regressively taxes the consumption of all (GST), the burden falling most heavily upon those who can least afford it, and tax-exempts the wealth and rent seeking of the fortunate. Together the targeted benefit system and the targeted tax system prop up the structural inequality that maintains the privileged position of the fortunate few.
The proponents of the system of targeted benefits piously
pretend that it builds a caring safety net. It is uncaring and robs people of
their dignity. Takahi mana.
The reinstatement of a Universal Basic Income for children (previously
the Family Benefit), and the introduction of a Universal Basic Income for all
adults aged 16 to 64 would change all that. It would in one step raise all waka
on a rising tide, begin to deal to poverty, begin to deal to inequality, and
have significant downstream effect. It would remove the stigma of the
beneficiary label and begin to restore the mana of present day beneficiaries.
And it would mostly disestablish the costly and much loathed
administration and compliance apparatus.
The targeted benefit and taxation regimes currently embed
poverty, income inequality and wealth inequality into New Zealand society. A
Universal Basic Income system and a new taxation regime can begin to reverse
Is it sustainable? It has to be. Faced with the uncertainty
of paid employment in the digital age and gig economy, and in the developing
age of automation and robotics, alongside the looming climate crisis, we have
to move towards a political economy that aims to equitably share the national
income and wealth, regardless of employment status. The alternative is widespread
unrest, disruption and chaos. We will also need innovative new ideas about how
to create a national income and national wealth that will sustain the whole
nation. New ideas have always been the basis of progress. Old ideas that don’t
work are for discarding. Ka pu te ruha.
Aiming far beyond the limiting confines of targeted Maori
policy this is universal policy that will lift all waka. And begin to restore
the mana of our people. Particularly those who can only gaze through the
windows at the Boxing Day sales.
So we’re finally getting an overhaul of a failed neoliberal education policy (“2018: System review ofTomorrow’s Schools – 2018 Tomorrow’s SchoolsTaskforce Report”).
It was rigged policy anyway.
“The Government sought a response to the [Picot Task Force] report both from the general public and from educationalists. The Associate Minister of Education and other colleagues joined me in conducting a series of inquiries throughout the country. More than 20,000 responses to the report have been studied.
“The need for reform was generally accepted.”
David Lange, “Tomorrows’ Schools: The Reform of Education Administration in New Zealand”, August 1988.
That was a lie.
Following the 1988 Picot Report a nationwide consultation process was carried out. But the report of that process was ignored. The Tomorrow’s Schools policy had already been written before the consultations were complete, analysed and reported. 20,000 responses indeed. It was sham consultation.
In 1986/87 I had engaged a communications company to measure attitudes and opinions in a range of community and government sectors about a sometimes controversial programme I was running. A senior consultant whom I shall call “Peter”did the work and I was impressed by his professionalism. I later engaged him to tutor me through the principles and practices of his profession, and to teach me as much as he could over a long weekend. We discovered that in a previous life as an intelligence analyst I had employed those same principles and practices as part of the military intelligence process. We got a lot done in a single long weekend. He was very good.
We became friends.
The Picot Task Force report “Administering for Excellence” was published in April 1988. New government policy was published as “Tomorrow’sSchools” in August 1988. There was so much neoliberal policy reformation going on at the time that I did not take much notice.
Until Peter turned up on my doorstep; agitated, depressed,
and extremely frightened.
His company had been engaged by Government to advise and participate in the consultation or inquiry process following the Picot Report. Peter was the lead consultant on that contract. The cause of his extreme anxiety was that he had the evidence that the inquiry process had been totally ignored, that he had expressed his concerns about that, that it was thought he might turn whistle-blower, and that the Government had thrown the full weight of the State at him to frighten him into silence. It worked. The Government and his company also tried to recover any evidence he might still have had in his possession.
He ran to me, as the one person he thought he could trust, other than his wife. That was partly because I’m Maori, and partly because I was known to be a critic of government policy making, and not easily intimidated. He actually said he didn’t know any Pakeha he could trust to support him against the government machine. I supported him through an alarming abuse of state power over the next weeks and months.
His company had summarily dismissed him, repossessed his company car, and tried to retrieve any evidence he might have kept. He was fitted up with false criminal accusations and was confronted, searched and interrogated by the Police Fraud Squad over a period of weeks. His wife was also subjected to that attention. Either his company or the Government had hired a former policeman turned private detective to investigate him. It seemed to me that was intended to further intimidate him.
The private detective eventually turned up on my doorstep. I invited him in and he tried to interrogate me about Peter. Instead, he got severely grilled about why he was intimidating my friend. He did not enjoy the experience.
Eventually the intimidation and harassment subsided without any charges being laid but it was a terrifying experience for Peter and for his wife for the month or two that it lasted. And it achieved its purpose. They moved away and started a new life out of the limelight.
And for the next thirty years we lived with a policy based purely on predetermined ideology. I served on school boards of trustees under that policy.
I can tell the thing to play whatever music I want to listen to, streamed from Spotify, and even tell it to play it through my home theatre sound system.
I can ask it how old Lorde is.
Or whether the nearest supermarket or café is open.
Or where I can buy a new smartphone of a particular make and model.
And loads of other shit.
My son told me about these things a few months ago when he was thinking of getting one. But I looked at it and asked myself why I needed something like that, unless I get senile and can’t do all those things for myself, like doing a Google search on the computer, or tablet, or phone.
I was also concerned in this age of the Internet-of-Things about new technology that might be able to be hacked and used to eavesdrop. I wasn’t going to buy one. But now I’ve got one.
We’ve come a long way.
I was born in 1943 and for the first five years of my life we lived on a farm in the coastal hills of Hawkes Bay, miles from civilisation. We didn’t have electricity, or any of the things that ran on electricity, like electric light. But we did have a valve radio that ran off a 12V car battery. We didn’t have a telephone, or a car. None of the workers on the station had a car. My dad had a horse. On summer weekends all the families would pile onto the only motor vehicle, the farm truck, and head off to the beach for swimming and a picnic. That was fun.
When I was five I went to live with my grandparents who lived only a couple of miles from a school, just a short walk away for a five year old. I lived with them for about fifteen months. They were only about six or seven miles from both Napier and Hastings but they didn’t have electricity either. Or a radio. Or a telephone. Or a car. My grandfather had a bicycle and he was well known for biking for hours to get to where he was going. He biked four miles to work every day, eight miles a day. My grandmother was a power walker who would storm off two or three miles down the road to catch a bus to get to where she wanted to go.
My parents must have missed me because they moved into civilisation, or near enough, still out in the country. We were country people through and through. But we were just a couple of hundred yards from a country school. We still had a horse paddock at the school because half the kids rode to school. We didn’t have a school bus. Not even for the Pakeha kids.
And we had electricity and a telephone. But the phone was on a party line and you could guarantee that all the kids in a five or six mile radius would be listening to your conversations. We had electric light and electric hot water and the old radio now ran on electricity. But we didn’t have any other appliances like a washing machine or vacuum cleaner. The washing machine and vacuum cleaner came later, much later. Our mother did all of her cooking on the big old coal range until she finally got a small electric stove in the pantry to do some of her baking. The small stuff. Rather than firing up the big old coal range. And we got a car, an old 1937 Chevrolet coupe. We were technologically advanced at last. Nearly.
Mum didn’t need a vacuum cleaner. She just banned all cats and dogs from the house, and banned all boots and shoes. She banned all the men she didn’t like too. Standard country stuff. Mind you she loved her vacuum cleaner when she got one years later. We upgraded the car to an old Chevrolet sedan quite a few years later when the family outgrew the coupe.
But I was proficient in using country technology. My grandfather taught me to use a scythe and a sickle and a crosscut saw. He’d been a bushman in his younger days and even in his seventies could still cut down and cut up trees faster than men half his age, before the invention of the chainsaw. My father made sure I was proficient with a spade, shovel, rake, lawn mower, hedge clippers, hammer, saw, and all that stuff. Including the fence building and shearing shed stuff. Country technology included the all-purpose knife we all carried, the shotgun and the rifle. Ducks and rabbits and possums, and deer and pigs, you know.
That was it until I left home to join the Army when I left school. That brought on a technology revolution in my life. Well, I’d already used rifles and machine guns and wireless sets in the school cadet unit, but this was full on weapons and technology. I did that stuff for twenty years.
I did my training for a few years in Australia. That meant my first flight. I think it was the first flight anyone in my whanau and hapu had taken. When I got there in 1962 I discovered TV. They had TV in the barracks – black and white – we few New Zealanders were mesmerised by it.
Anyway, I became proficient in the use of HF and VHF wireless/radio and how to erect aerials to get communications out of out-of-the-way places, like deep in a South East Asian jungle. I think the main technology in the jungle was the boots, pack and rifle, and the radio. Carrying the heavy spare radio batteries was a pain. The world was moving on and in 1968 I did my first computer programming course as part of an Army mobilisation plan we were aiming to shift onto a mainframe computer at a university. About the same time I bought a very expensive state of the art electronic calculator. Wonderful new technology. It cut a lot of time and effort out of some work. Today much more calculating capability is a small part of every phone.
In 1970 I went back on attachment to Australia for a few years and got to work with a mainframe computer. Not me personally, but to use it to make short work of a lot of what we were doing. With its card readers and storage and printers and other peripherals it filled the basement. Today much more than that basement full of computing power is in my pocket.
By the late 1970s my technology had grown. Whereas in the mid to late 1960s I had one or two radio operators carrying my radios, I now had two, three and sometimes four radio operators carrying my radios through the jungle. But they were the same radios we had used in the mid to late 1960s.
It wasn’t until 1980 that the Army got a facsimile machine. We had one at our HQ in Wellington, but only the operator was allowed to use it. It was a big old, clunky old thing too. Well brand new actually. But clunky.
So I left the Army and in 1982 got a desktop computer. In my last few years in the Army I hung out for desktop computers to seriously cut back on the paper work we had to do, but they didn’t get them before I left. After I left the Army I taught myself to use a PC and computerised the management and finances at a place I worked for a couple of years. I’ve had a computer on my home desk ever since 1982. I remember when I bought an 8Mb RAM card to upgrade the memory on my first desktop, and when I got 64Mb of hard disk. This laptop is running 4Gb of RAM and 500Gb of hard disk storage. There’s another 14Tb of storage on the desk. And it’s an old laptop.
Back in the day we had Chief Clerks and hoards of filing clerks to keep track of the paper, and we had typists’ pools to create all that paper. The head typiste was the gatekeeper to happiness and if you displeased her your work got pushed to the bottom of the pile and you got into trouble for not meeting your deadlines. True happiness was doing your own typing, and keeping only electronic files. Your electronic messages were handwritten, then passed to the Communications Centre where they typed up your message and sent it electronically on the Telex. SMS is great. Depending on the classification of those messages they might be encrypted by the operators before they were sent. Messages sent by WhatsApp, Signal, Wikr, Telegraph and Facebook Messenger are all encrypted these days. Straight off your phone.
!n 1986 Sir Wira Gardiner and I were contracted to the Board of Maori Affairs working alongside the Department of Maori Affairs and running a new programme. I had the only desktop computer in Maori Affairs. It caused a bit of a stir. They had a mainframe computer but you had to be one of the IT elite to use it; never for mundane day-to-day stuff. Then we decided we needed a fax machine. Maori Affairs didn’t have one. They communicated by telephone mostly, and by letter and telegram.
Remember the telegram?
We asked Maori Affairs for a fax. They said no. So off we went and leased one from the Post Office, and put it onto the Maori Affairs telephone account. They spent a fortune on telephone calls so we figured no-one would notice fax hire and fax calls. They never did. But we had no-one to send faxes to. So we started sending faxes to Maori Trust Boards and heaps of other organisations via the Post Office Bureaufax service. The fax would say “please ring so-and-so on such-and-such a number and ask him or her to call and pick up a fax”. We sent them far and wide. And very soon they all started buying their own fax machines. We sent faxes to all the Maori Affairs districts and they started asking Head Office if they could have fax machines. Head Office said “absolutely not” so the districts went out and bought them anyway. Soon Head Office was the only office in the Department without a fax. So we started getting faxes for Head Office on our machine. We’d read them of course and take a copy of the interesting ones before passing them across the road. Then Head Office staff started coming across the road to send their faxes. We’d read them of course and take a copy of the interesting ones. Some of the so-called “Maori Loans Affair” scandal of December 1968 passed across our fax machine.
Well, soon I got a call from the private secretary to the Minister for Maori Affairs, Koro Wetere. He said the minister wants a fax machine. I said ask Parliamentary Services or Maori Affairs. He’d asked them and they both said absolutely not. So off I went and leased one from the Post Office and booked it up to Maori Affairs. They never noticed that one either. Then I told everyone what Koro’s fax number was so the whole of Te Ao Maori could fax him direct. And they did.
Remember the fax machine?
Then the Board of Maori Affairs asked me to oversee the installation of a PC network, in one of the sections of Maori Affairs Head Office. The opposition from the IT department and from senior management was huge. But we got in the experts and built the first PC network in Maori affairs. It was magic.
A couple or more years later Wira Gardiner became CEO of the Iwi Transition Agency (Te Tira Ahu Iwi). I’d long since stopped working alongside or with Maori Affairs. Anyway in his first week on the job he rang me from his office (the old Maori Affairs) on a Sunday. He said how do I get into this PC network. I said I’m no longer authorised. He said you built it, how do I get in. So I relented and he was logged in in no time at all.
It must have been in the late 1980s or 1990 when I got my first cellphone, a Motorola Brick. It cost a fortune, had a short talk-time and took forever to charge. But it was magic. I was on the road a lot and my kids could call me wherever I was, and I would never miss a call from a business client. It was clunky though and I carried it in a small kete one of our whanaunga had woven for me.
That’s twenty seven years ago. I’ve had dozens of mobile phones in that time, including a lot of Blackberries. I got a Blackberry as soon as they came on the market in New Zealand. Now into Android though, and interestingly, the current phone is a Motorola Moto G, the same make as my very first phone. That computer and communications device in my pocket has more computing power than a 1970 mainframe, and more communications power than I ever had in the military, which functions on communications networks.
The Internet came on stream. I hooked up to the Net about 1994 or 95. Got into email, and chat rooms. We chatted in chat rooms or on bulletin boards, or in the Use Groups. Remember those? Course you don’t.
The World Wide Web had been invented but it took the development of the browser to make it available to the ordinary user. I used the Web without a browser and was glad when Netscape arrived to make browsing easy. Then I noticed that there were hardly any Maori online, and that Maori stories and news were being appropriated and told through a Pakeha lens. That pissed me off.
So I went on a crusade to challenge all of those purporting to tell Maori stories, and built the first Maori website at www.maaori.com . It’s still there although I haven’t written any new stuff for ages. And I started Te Whanau Ipurangi / Maori Internet Society and built a few other websites and started a few other online initiatives.
Me and my small group of Maori Netizens were the first Maori into a lot of the social media, just having an ihu, watching as more and more Maori came online and subscribed to the various offerings.
Now in 2018 the Internet is old hat, email is old hat (none of my mokopuna use it), the World Wide Web is old hat, hardly anyone builds their own websites any more, social media stuff is getting to be old hat. President Trump governs via Twitter and the media sucks it up.
We’ve got solar panels on the roof, broadband to the home, we check what’s happening on the roof over the Internet; we’ve got wifi, satnav built into the car, a phone and tablet full of apps, online shopping, electric cars, portable bluetooth speakers, smart TVs, Fitbit things, VOIP telephones, VPNs, and all the rest. Coming at you is the Internet-of-Things; fridges and stoves and dishwashers and light bulbs and home security systems and teddy bears, all connected to the Internet. All with lousy security and easily hackable.
We’ve got mass surveillance by governments and corporations, and breaches of privacy, and identity theft, and online scams and fraud, and cyber-bullying, and a whole lot more besides.
But I wouldn’t be without my technology. And I do use the secure Tor browser, end-to-end secure cloud storage, end-to-end encrypted email, and end-to-end encrypted messaging and voice.
Now I’ve got Google Home waiting for me to say “Hey Google, stop eavesdropping”.
The two NZ Police officers at the centre of the Operation 8 intelligence gathering and analysis were Detective Inspector Bruce Good and Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe.
Detective Inspector Bruce Good
Bruce Good retired in April 2016 after leading the Auckland Metro Crime & Operational Services (AMCOS) in Auckland, that became the Organised and Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ), and is now the National Organised Crime Group. Good spent forty years in the Police, the last sixteen in orgqanised crime units.
Former Police Association President Greg O’Connor wrote this about Good’s retirement on 11th April 2016:
“Bruce is one of four long-serving, high-ranking detectives who will leave in the next couple of months. Those departures would appear to signal a change in the traditional investigative approach. History will judge the wisdom of the new direction.”
Hinting perhaps that Good was moved along for one reason or another.
In his role at AMCOS good oversaw the work of Aaron Pascoe in the Auckland Special Intelligence Group (SIG).
Detective Sergeant Phil Le Compte also worked for him at AMCOS. Le Compte was obliquely involved in Operation 8.
Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe
Aaron Pascoe was the lead “analyst” for Operation 8. He has since been promoted to Detective Inspector and has drawn some adverse comment about his activities.
Phil Le Compte features in the Operation 8 series. Shortly after Operation 8 he was moved back into uniform and sent to the Far North.
“One kind of ignorance is willful stupidity; worse than simple stupidity, it is a callow indifference to facts or logic. It shows itself as a stubborn devotion to uninformed opinions, ignoring (same root) contrary ideas, opinions, or data. The ignorant are unaware, unenlightened, uninformed, and surprisingly often occupy elected offices. We can all agree that none of this is good”.
Firestein, Stuart. Ignorance: How It Drives Science (Kindle Locations 119-121). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.