Wednesday, February 28, 2007

One slug over the line

For your viewing pleasure, today's page 3 booby in the DomPost:
Drink-driving disclosure unprofessional, says Laws
Britton Broun

Police revelations that a "prominent Wanganui identity" was caught drink-driving have sparked a flurry of finger-pointing and recriminations.

Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws is demanding an apology from police for releasing the information, saying that to do so was unprofessional and unethical.

"How many many male, urban, prominent people are there in Wanganui? - you could count them on two hands. The Palmerston North police have pointed the finger of suspicion at a minute section of the community with the suggestion someone among them drink-drives," he said.

The saga began when Palmerston North-based Senior Sergeant Nick Dobson publicly revealed that covert breath-test stops in rural Wanganui last week had picked up 14 people - one of whom was a male "prominent identity".

The man was blood-tested and, with results due late this week, could be prosecuted. Palmerston North traffic Sergeant Tony Romley suggested media watch the Wanganui District Court lists in the coming weeks.

Mr laws - who would not deny that he was the person because it encouraged public speculation - said it was unethical for Mr Dobson to make public statements before the blood-test results were in and an offence was even created.

"Drink-driving should not be a game, either for those partaking in such risky behaviour or for those apprehending them. the Palmerston North police should pull their heads in... and work on catching real criminals," Mr Laws said.

Mr Dobson said he could not make any further comment to the media yesterday but it is believed the person involved was not well known nationally.

central Districts road policing manager Inspector Neil Wynne could not say if Mr Dobson had been officially disciplined but confirmed he had been spoken to.

Mr Wynne had not spoken to Mr Romley yet, but said his comments, "if made by him", were even more inappropriate.
The official Wanganui District Council press release is here.

BZP less dangerous than vitamin supplements

Evidence has finally surfaced on something I have long suspected. TV One Sport with Weather and News featured a "Danish study" showing that increased used of Vitamin A led to a 16 percent incidence of death compared with non-pill poppers. My suspicions were first raised after one too many Beroccas in the nineties. Haven't touched the vitamin industry since.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but at no stage during Lorilei Mason's piece about the story is the actual study named. A quick Google shows it was at the Center for Clinical Intervention Research at Denmark's Copenhagen University Hospital. Thank you Reuters. If the reporting at TVNZ is this bad now, what will it be like after the witch hunt?

I follow a rather simple recipe for good health. Eat food. Exercise. Breathe in. Breathe out. An answer on why eating food is preferable to anything touched by a processing plant is offered by Michael Pollan at the NYT.

I suppose I was fortunate to be the son of a poacher man. I learnt early on and accepted where food came from. To this day, I can eat a medium-rare slab of Bambi without all that guilt that the chicks seem to be flagellating themselves with. One chick I know used to eat bacon, shrimp, cow, you name it. Then red meat went. Then chicken. Then fish and all those lusty crustaceans. Guilt. Loads of guilt.

Thing is, being veggie is a lot of work. Meal preparation time goes through the roof. You can't go mental with lentils in less than ten minutes, which seems to be the median cooking time these days for people in a hurry. You've got to boil the fuck out them for anything over an hour. Same goes with any pulse. Why not grab a can of instant beans instead?

Well, the food in a can has been processed somehow. It's not just beans. While it's possible you grabbed the beans in brine at the supermarket, chances are you grabbed the chilli beans with ten percent more shit in it than other leading brands. Food has become too statistically focused for its own good. Food is not just a bunch of Recommended Daily Intakes. It's holistic baby.

A Thing Well Made

Attention property developers and architects! Next time you build an apartment block, consider using this "now why didn't I think of that" idea:

Imagine the hours of conversation starters you would have explaining how the stains got on the wall.

Hat Tip Boing Boing

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Black hole, coming to a town near you or not

Omfg, what a balls-up from go to woe this travelling circus is. The Local Government inquiry into local body rates has kicked off with a well-publicised ad in the local rags' Public Notices section. Even compensating for Hamilton's apathy, 50 people (mainly Ents) is just pathetic. During business hours, no less.

According to NatRad's The Panel, Invercargill has rung up the organisers to find out when the consultation circus gets to town, only to find they're not getting it. Neither is Blenheim. I'm damned sure there will be one in Wellington. Give the wonks a day out of the office. Buggered if I can find out when though. According to the official site, the Local Government Act Roadshow finished in October 2006:

Starting Fri 22 Sep 2006

Finishing Fri 22 Sep 2006


Concerned about compliance costs?
Worried about lack of funding?
Bothered by extra responsibilities?
Happy with the framework as it is?
Want to share some success stories?
Let us know

The Local Government Act Roadshow is your opportunity to talk directly to a Local Government New Zealand panel about the new local government legislative framework, in particular, what’s working and what needs to be fixed.

From 14 September to 2 October, the Local Government New Zealand Roadshow will be holding hearings in a town near you and anyone within Councils is invited to take part and express their views. You can provide a written submission or simply give a verbal presentation to the panel.

The Roadshow will be hearing submissions in:
Wellington, 14 September 2006
Palmerston North, 15 September 2006
Rodney, 18 September 2006
Christchurch, 21 September 2006
Gore, 22 September 2006
Rotorua, 2 October 2006

If you are interested in sharing your views with the panel and would like to book a time at one of the above locations, please contact :

Colleen Bredican
Local Government New Zealand

To be held: TBC

Is it in their 2007 Meeting Dates pdf? Nope. So far, the best I can glean from the Herald is that the next meeting is set for Penrose at Mt Smart stadium on, er, today. Holy fucking hell, talk about hunting quarks.

Maori Party Launches Yellow Submarine

Goddamnit, that Turia woman is at it again. If giving Tongans the Maori vote and encouraging teenage pregnancy wasn't enough, now she's wanting to cap 'Westerners' (Hat tip I/S). Although I disagree with many of Hone Harawira's goals, I admire his honest bloke attitude as well as that good hit he scored on Shane Jones in Eye to Eye with Willie Jackson last year. But for every step Pita Sharples does to sustain my interest in his cause, Tariana Turia negates it all with comments that Alamein Kopu could have uttered. Putting a limit on 'Westerner' immigration is nutty on so many fronts, it looks like a scorched almond. Turia may favour brown and yellow people first, but personally I reckon New Zealand needs more Brazilians.

The United States economy is built on immigration. Slavery and illegal immigrant labour. Post-war Oz was the same, only politer about it. In both countries, the infrastructure was built by these same immigrants. Of course, cheap labour is not the big thing holding back our infrastructural make-over. That honour belongs to the RMA, OSH and EIEIO (Every Idiotic Extortion I Omitted). Imagine getting the Suez Canal project through RMA consent. There's not enough lawyers. The Eiffel Tower, once OSH considerations had been taken into account, would look like the Pentagon and cost twice as much to maintain.

The 1990's boom, in Orkland at least, was fuelled by the Asian invasion bringing copious amounts of money into the economy. Sky City for one would be screwed without immigration. Without immigration, we could not replenish our middle classes. I don't care if they're brown, yellow, olive, black, white, albino or ginger. You a doctor? Get stuck in mate.

Say Professor Stephen Hawking decided to retire to NZ but our quota was chocka. "Fuck off, Professor Hawking. We don't want your kind here." No, Tariana, you fuck off.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Naked Cable

It's great to live in Wellington. Spent a sweltering Saturday do-gooding down at the Cuba St Carnival. Me and a few mates gleaned around 500 signatures of the petition in support of the Medicinal Cannabis thing. A big thumbs up to the DomPost and NatRad for giving this issue such great coverage. NORML was planning to bludge space off a Liberterianz stall during the Cuba St gig. Permission for the stall was denied for unknown reasons.

It's a shame to see that the Greens and Falun Gong were refused permission to enter the Cuba St Carnival Night Parade. Russel suspects that WCC didn't want Falun Gong to annoy the Chinese Embassy, who had graciously ponied up for recent Year of the Pig celebrations. How very Castro of them to oblige. More curious is why the Greens were turned down.

But for all its faults, Wellington rocks. I achieved a small goal this weekend, finally being able to ditch the landline and go cable only. For as little as fifty bucks a month, you can get a highspeed 10G plan on a 4 Meg pipe. I've had no worries with the service, all things considered. And I am finally rid of the dreaded phone. If you feel the need, I can be Skyped at mrzippy2000.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

In the Zone

Now, let me get this straight. School has resumed and the car wars have started. Due to school zoning, most kids are local. WTF with the cars then? Seriously, I do not get it.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Tax That Trev Built

Since its introduction 21 years ago, no-one has screwed with the Goods and Services Tax. Apart from the rate going from 10 to 12.5 percent, it has been left well alone. No dispensations, no repeals, no sectorial favours. It was the brick shithouse law that Trev built. While the Mortgage Tax, Capital Gains Tax and even Super Fund ethics are doing the rounds, it would be worthwhile seeing how to build something good, fair and lasting.

The Fourth Labour Government inherited a tax system from Muldoon that was a hell of a mess. Carrots and sticks were strewn everywhere, lacking rhyme and reason. Supplementary Minimum Prices guaranteed many farmers a lifestyle beyond what their produce was actually worth (I should know. I went to boarding school with a lot of their kids). Individual tax returns were something like 12 pages long and had rebate charts for everything. Import licenses and a mesmerising schedule of import duties favoured the savvy and the connected. Bob the Builder has admitted that this is how he made his millions. Imagine inviting a bunch of teenagers to have a bender in the Fiscal Library while Treasury and the Reserve Bank are away for the weekend, and that's how trashy the place looked.

The consensus was that significant reform was in order. Reform always involves pain. Such is the nature of change. SMPs were unceremoniously dumped, leaving many distraught farmers and a few suicides out in the backblocks. There was no way around this. SMPs were worse than buying Lotto with Visa. Devaluation made many a fortune for those with the liquidity to perform such things. That it came at the expense of the country in general was of little consequence to them. There was no way around this. Muldoon should have devalued as early as 1979, but lacked the intelligence or the scruples of NZ's public good.

My father was tasked by Roger Douglas to formulate a clear, fair and enforceable consumption tax, in part to replace the myriad import duties which were due for a levelling and partly to put a clearer stick on consumption. New Zealand has always imported more than it exported. A consumption tax might pare back some of the Balance of Payments in our favour, or at least mitigate the damage without quite so much paperwork.

Trev was well placed to craft such a thing. As a top notch lawyer, who should have been made QC back in 2000, he had the legal skill to properly frame such matters. There had to be an internal consistency between the spirit, the statutes and the clauses. There had to be beauty. Isn't that the reason for laws? To make things simpler and more beautiful? As a knowledge sponge, few in caucus could compete. Geoff Palmer, maybe a couple of others. Trev immersed himself in consumption tax. He and his wife traveled widely, inspecting Britain's VAT system, talking with Milton Friedman and Dagg knows who else.

The VAT experience clearly demonstrated the problem of allowing exemptions. Compliance costs moved money towards accountants or wasted business hours which could have been more productively spent on earning more tax. Exemptions kept a festering sore of sectorial grievances and lawyers, which Oz is learning very slowly with its kangaroo court list of exemptions on its GST.

Such a fundamental change to the taxation system was bound to send shockwaves through the people. The regressive nature of a flat tax on consumption would unduly affect the less well-off, as a greater proportion of their income is spent on the necessities of food, shelter and warmth. Therefore, income supports were introduced to mitigate this collateral damage. No-one was demonstrably worse off after the introduction of GST. I noticed this most keenly when the cost of vinyl dropped by a few bucks and stereos got incrementally cheaper.

Finally, restructuring of the taxation system sends jitters through business confidence. You do it as rarely as possible to avoid any run on the dollar. You tell the market what you are about to do, and why you are doing it. If the law is to last, it must be equally accepted. It must be immune to the loopholes that favour those with the scales of economy to plunder them.

The ideas of Mortgage Tax or Capital Gains Tax are both fraught with too many loopholes. Lawyers and accountants would end up making more money out of them than the Treasury will ever see. It was only a matter of time before the Cullen Fund was mired in unethical investments. If it wasn't going to be alcohol, tobacco and fireams, it was going to be porn or drugs. This is what happens when the state gets involved in things beyond the public good. Investing in stocks and shares is stuff best left to individuals, or the legal fiction of individual companies at least.

If that was my money (which it once was), I'd be quite happy to see my portion of the funds (which I will never see again) go towards British American Tobacco. I'm not so fussed with Wal-Mart though. I'd never buy Wal-Mart on principle. No doubt there are some who would choose otherwise and so be it. But, like me, they have no choice either. Even Hooten and Harre on the Nine to Nooner were plagued by the slippery slope of ethical yet profitable investment guidelines.


Delegate it instead. This is pretty much what KiwiSaver looks set to be; more unethical retirement investments proxied to the poxy unit trust funds and zombie funds, paid for once more by El Schmucko the taxpayer.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Savage Crescent

It's official. 2007 will be the longest year in politics ever. Key has set the agenda, channeling Norm Kirk with the underclass thing. It's got everyone talking. Helen Clark will have to pull some phenomenal rabbit out of the bag to regain the initiative in her speech to Parliament this week. Methinks the CO2 bunny will not be enough.

The MSM have it in for Labour. The knives are out, and it's not just down at TVNZ. Witness this juxtaposition of public interaction:

This is masterful stuff. While Helen Clark has been photo-opping with Sir Ed, Key has countered with... common people. Where to from here for Key's strategy? Some have missed the whole point of this Food in Schools thing. Food is not the ends, only the means. The important thing is schools. The underclass is nothing new. Here's an underclass story for you, from the Book of Trev:

"I had always wanted to be a lawyer. This desire did not arise out of any great view that law was a dedicated and positive social occupation. Our family had no money and lawyers drove the best cars and lived in the larger houses. This was obvious to a grocery delivery boy when he delivered to their homes.

I had never in my political life desired to abolish the Westhaven Yacht Marina or to prevent ownership of a Mercedes. My view has always been that I wanted a boat and good car, and the way to achieve that was to get a good education and work to get that house, boat and car. Whatever the "do gooders" in life say, I knew early that money might not be happiness but it enabled a choice of the best form of misery. My mother constantly told me that education was the way out of the working class rut.

Mary McDonald was a daughter among five others of an intolerant Orangeman and Presbyterian. At the age of 14, she left home with little formal education to work in a funeral parlour washing and laying out the bodies. Her life was one of constant domestic work both in her own home and for doctors and lawyers and other people better off in life.

There were four children in our family - my brother Leo was born in 1909 and my two sisters, Doreen and Dulcie, followed soon after. I was the junior, born eight and a half years after the younger of my sisters, Dulcie. Mum hated pomposity or people who "got up themselves". When I told her I might have been a mistake, her reply was "I tried for 8 years to have you but if I knew what you would turn out like, I wouldn't have tried 8 minutes."

No money in the home but always bread and lard, dumplings - beef tea - always something when I arrived home from school. The house was always clean to the point of perfection. The bed had in winter flannelette sheets and a hot water bottle. Looking back on it, the love and care was always there but not displayed in open acts of affection. That wasn't just our family's experience. I believe it to have been a general attitude in the years during which I was a child.

Mum and Pop had suffered in the Depression. They had owned a house in St. John's Avenue in Plamerston North, where I was born on 24th March 1933. The mortgage payments could not be met from the war pension and the house went. Thereafter was a succession of rented houses. Pop with his war wages from the Army on demobilisation had with pride bought Mum a four diamond engagement ring. Later and unknown to him, she sold the diamonds - replaced them with glass. She spent the money on us kids!

Pop would get some extra work as a carpenter, in which occupation he had been previously trained, but the pain of his shrapnel wounds would constantly be with him. He would get drunk, abuse the boss, and be out of work again. He worked for some time in 1938-39 for a building contractor named H.E. Townsend Limited. This contractor obtained a contract with the NZ Labour Government of 1935-38 to build state houses in the West End area of Palmerston North.

The development was then and still is a model of Labour Party success in the provision of Government Housing for its working class voters. The one quarter acre paradise saw the houses separately designed, meticulously built of heart rimu or brick, tile roofs, copper spouting and the best materials generally. There was to be a tool shed to keep the hand mower and garden tools in. The back yard was more than sufficient to grow a substantial vegetable garden with room left over for the kids to play in.

There were no garages attached to the houses. There was no need because the working class had no cars. The bicycle was king. There were two blocks of about 14 garages which provided in the central area in the development of the 300 or so houses. We got a State House in Savage Crescent - three bedroomed in 1939, rent 1.7s.6d per week - about one third of the week's wages.


I frequently got out of my bedroom window at night and haunted the golf courses, parks and fields and gardens on my bike. The Acclimatisation Society paid one shilling for a hedgehog's nose. They ate the duck's eggs. I would use my bike light and torch, find them , knife them - cut off the nose and take the noses to the Ranger. Some nights I would get 20 or so. A pound, at a time when a grown man's wages was 5 or 6 pound a week.

I always had a pre-school and after-school job as early as Primary School. Weighing sugar and flour at the corner grocery store - delivery boy for the grocer and printers. The empty drink bottles could be taken back to the dairy. Six got you a small bottle of fizz. A sack of pine cones from the Esplanade trees, taken round on a cart Pop had made for me, got you 2 shillings and sixpence from the "better off".

There were, of course, no police around. It was war time and able-bodied men were in the forces.The kids from West End School ran riot with Shanghais. The older ones with bub guns. Bush nuts in the Esplanade trees and war between our gangs. One kid got his eye poked out with a bamboo arrow from a bamboo bow.

There were no toys. There wasn't much money for them. As a young kid, Pop made me wooden boats for the bathtub with a cotton reel spindle. My Shanghai was of old car tube with a wooden clothes peg and the tongue of an old shoe for the pouch. We got very good with these, shooting out light bulbs and insulators on power poles.

Our family was, I think, typical of a working class family in the State House block in West End, Palmerston North. The real difference I think now was the absolute determination of Mum to better us. The Labour Government reforms had also given me a chance of education not made available to my brothers and sisters. I think they had as many brains as I had but they didn't have the opportunity.

Even at Primary School, the teachers stayed after school both to supervise sports and to help with extra work if a lad wanted or needed it. My debt in my life to my teachers and professors is profound. They not only "learned me", they gave me a taste for knowledge and reading that has proved to be a basic component of my whole existence. Miss Merriles and Mrs Gosnell at West End Primary School must have seen some worth in their pupil de Cleene, for they would give me extra work and teaching.

After Standard Four, we went to Intermediate Forms I and II. There, the kids were segregated according to Academic ability. I AL and II AL were the top classes in each year and I managed to get into both. It was competitive, not the absolute rubbish that is taught now that all kids are of equal ability and that academic competition is wrong. When Mum read my report and learned that I was 2nd or 3rd in class, she wanted to know why I wasn't first.

I remember the absolute contempt I later felt in my own caucus when our Minister of Education, Russell Marshall from Wanganui, recommended 15% or so as a School Cert pass. In his view, everyone should pass. Life is a competitive arena and the spoils go to the successful.

My teachers were well educated, well dressed. Teaching was a vocation - not just a job. While today there are such teachers in the private and better public schools, they are not in the majority. Most teachers today are in my opinion scarcely themselves literate in the full sense of being educated widely. I have met some that think Julius Caesar was a racehorse and Shakespeare its trainer. We turn loose on our children in their most formative years teachers whose knowledge and ability is abysmal.

Their unions believe all teachers are equal and should be equally paid. Recognition of greater ability, dedication and production is not permitted. These unions are disastrous. Education of our children is the most important function of our society. It is far too important to leave it to a Ministry of Education and to teachers who simply start from the thesis that all people are created equal.

I remind them that, while that may be so in the eyes of the Lord, that the best we can do in life is to promote equal opportunity. If people do not grasp that opportunity of education given to them, they should not be jealous later of those that did and have reaped the reward of such an approach. Any kid of whatever ethnic background that wants to duck school, get drunk, take drugs or generally ignore his or her opportunities has only themselves to blame for their later status in life."

My money is on the Nats blitzing the Education portfolio this year.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Good Omens

I am in love with this image:

Hat Tip Spare Room.

Whoever manages to harness lightning in grunty capacitors will make a fuckin' mint.

Monday, February 05, 2007

One Love "clarifies" BYO policy

Up until this evening, One Love had been advertised as "No BYO - It will be confiscated. Bags will be checked for glass and alcohol." But tonight I see that this is not so, and management have offered a clarification:
"There are no liquor control bylaws for the Hataitai Velodrome. BYO is
acceptable for the venue but organisers will strictly enforce the no-glass
policy. This clarifies previous statements that there was to be no BYO."
This is good news. I was worried that One Love was going the way of most public events, that is, turning into a kindergarten. No champagne breakfasts, but at least a bladder of wine is permitted.

In other news, David Haywood has drawn attention to Jeffy James' NZ flag design over at Yellow Peril's Forum. This took me back to the good old days (2 years ago), when I was collecting NZ Flag Referendum signatures. We had a placard of various designs. Jeffy James' one on the top right was the most popular, with Kyle McLaughlin's one on the bottom left second most popular. If it came down to these designs, I'd choose Jeffy's:

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Tricky Treaty

Jeez, you can tell Waitangi Day is almost upon us. It's a regular Treatyorama out there. I've just settled into the hobbit hole after witnessing the Treaty Debate at Te Papa featuring Doug Kidd and Peter Graham earlier this week. Skimming the blogs and this whammy at Public Address hits. Of course, I have to go wading through Bill English's Chapman Lecture. Next week it's Judge Durie and Colin James for another go, and I'm shagged already.

I never had these worries living in Oz. No land hassles. The Abbos are fucked. The Cronullas won. The Abbos are tucked out of sight, out of their minds on whatever aromatics they can find up in York Peninsula, with their men beating the shit out of each other and raping anything that moves. The cops aren't much better.

But here in the only homeland I know, things aren't quite so amorally clear cut. There's this Treaty of Waitangi hanging in the foyer of Te Papa, in all its forty-foot raggedy-arsed glory. It's the only paperwork these clans have to prove they didn't give all their shit away for nothing. This shit is finally getting settled. Given the proper prodding and funding, all claims could be settled in, say, 20 years. So said Chief Judge Joe Williams at last year's Treaty Lectures.

It's still tricky work. What's going to happen about the Wellington land claims will be a case in point. There's still the internecine sniping between hapu that the greater iwi have to contend with. And that's just the Maori Party MPs. Man, were they counting on that extra seat. Now they'll have to work for it.

Yes, there's also the small matter of all the families who didn't sign it. Even the ones that are on it are moot. This from Edward Jerningham Wakefield's Adventure in New Zealand, first published in 1845:

"[Rauparaha] concluded by calling himself 'the king of the Maori'. He asked 'What right had they to want to tie his hands? As for Wikitoria,' he said, 'never mind that - woman," was what he said; but with an accent, an intonation, and sneer, which gave the word its most insulting meaning. I have already said that the language is not rich, and the word wahine, 'woman', is one of those whose sense is qualified by the manner of uttering it.

I have no hesitation in saying, that he then expressed the most infamous term that can be applied to a woman. 'Who is she,' continued he, 'that she should send her books and her constables after me? What have I to do with her? She may be Queen over the white people; I am the king of the Maori! If she chooses to have war, let her send me word, and I will stand up against her soldiers. But I must have room; I must have no white people so near.'

I asked him, whether or not he had not signed a paper to say the Queen was his chief, when Mr Williams brought it to him, and also on board the man-of-war? He turned round sharply and said, 'Yes! what of that? They gave me a blanket for it. I am still a chief just the same. I am Rauparaha! Give me another blanket to-morrow, and I will sign it again. What is there in writing?'


Fully to understand the value of this contract, the circumstances under which it was procured must be kept in view. Captain Hobson's commission was read at Kororareka, in the Bay of Islands, on the 30th January, the day of his arrival. On the 5th of February, he presented the treaty to an assembly of the natives of the Bay of Islands; and on the 6th it was signed by 46 chiefs. On the 12th, he met the natives of the Hokianga; and 56 more chiefs signed the treaty. In March, Mr Shortland, Captain Symonds, and four missionaries, were appointed to secure the adherence of the chiefs of the northern islands to the treaty.

One of the missionaries deputed his colleague, Mr Chapman, and the master of a coasting trader, named Fedarb, to obtain signatures. Copies of the treaty were thus dispersed about the Northern Island. Some of the chiefs refused to sign it; but at last, between the 6th of February and the 3rd of September, 512 signatures were obtained. Of these signatures, upwards of 200 were those of the chiefs inhabiting the peninsula north of the harbour of Manukau and the estuary of the Thames; leaving only 300 to represent the inhabitants of more than three-fourths of the North Island.

There is no evidence whatever that the assent of the powerful and warlike tribes of the interior, in the upper valleys of the Waipa and Waikato, around Lake Taupo and the Rotorua lakes, was ever asked; certainly it was never obtained. The greater part of the signatures were obtained at flying visits, and after one or at the most two interviews. Presents of blankets and tobacco were made to the chiefs who signed; and there cannot exist a doubt that to obtain these presents was with many the motive for signing."

It is a rich irony, then, that the very first tribes to sign look like they will be the very last to settle with the Crown. Ngai Tahu got in early and are mucking away doing their best to build their assets, while the Orkland tribes are still squabbling in court:

"Te Taou says the Crown's Auckland negotiations are with the wrong tribe and that Ngati Whatua o Orakei is an artificially created entity that does not trace whakapapa to the rightful conquerors of the Auckland isthmus. Te Taou's counsel says the Crown's refusal to acknowledge its concerns heightens the need for a decision about whether there should be an urgent Auckland inquiry."
This gives ammunition for the Right Wing wanting to turn back the clock and tear up the Treaty. Well, tear it up a bit more. We are way too far gone the point of no return. The best analogy I can come up with is packing up the wife, kids, dog, luggage and caravan and leaving the Big Smoke on summer holiday. Slogging through the throng of traffic in second gear and putting up with the kids puking in the back seat, picking fights with each other, throwing cowshit at the Rest Areas while maintaining a chorus of "Are we there yet?", finally cruising over the hill to see Tutaenui Beach, and then deciding to turn around and go back to the city.

Secondly, if they shut up and listened to what Maori were saying, they might see something good in it for them. Bill English nearly tripped over this point in his Chapman Lecture speech:

"[Treatyology] asserts that the Treaty of Waitangi underpins a contemporary constitutional partnership between Maori and the Crown (or its agents such as this University), and that this partnership will continue to evolve in the direction of a bifurcated state."
No, not bifurcated. This is not an Us or Them arrangement. There never has been and never will be one nation of Maori. While some pan-Maori organisations have existed, none have succeeded in uniting in a common voice. Let's look at those Maori Party MPs again. Hell, what has the Labour Maori Caucus done recently for that matter?

The future of New Zealand is not a bi-cultural apartheid, but as a singular pluralism. The general feeling I get from mingling with Maori is a very similar vibe I get from everyone else. They want to be left to do their thing with minimal annoyances. "Dear Government, Bugger off. We are all good. If we want your help, we'll ask for it." Of course, the status quo is quite the reverse.

Everything is permitted. That is, everything requires a permit. Need help? Call the police, get a taxi. Oh, and if you try to defend yourself against suicidal machete-wielding maniacs, get a lawyer pronto. Do you know how much justice costs these days? The world that various people want here is roughly equivalent. Fewer lawyers, accountants and marketing executives; more teachers, doctors, artists and scientists. I'm sure Kim Hill would agree. Vroooom! Sounds like bus.

Once again, I digress. The origins of the Treaty of Waitangi are dubious. The phrasing could have been improved upon, the words could actually mean one thing only. Alas, it was not be. This half-arsed legal fiction drawn up by Thicky Hobson and Jesus Williams, representatives of the Crown and Church, got some people to sign this blank cheque not fully comprehending the centuries-long struggle that the Crown and Church had been fighting over land in old Blighty. Yet this scrap of tokenism is the only receipt that some families can wave when the government comes along and pushes over their sandcastles.

A common thread appears in everything, from Judge Joe through to Peter Graham at the Treaty Debates, the kamuatua from Parihaka to Paki Paki, reading between Pita Sharples' words and cadence. They are not looking about them to see what extra pennies they can scrounge. They are looking to the horizon, at what lies ahead and how best to prepare for them and theirs. They are wondering whether this honky Government will help or hinder them, how much they will be left to just get on with things.

At least the whakapapa, iwi, hapu and whanau have something in the way of a rulebook to refer to. My ancestors got fooled in other ways. "Come to Tropical New Zealand!," said the New Zealand Company advertising. "Where pineapples grow on trees and the natives are friendly!" So some of my ancestors packed up their lives into some wooden boxes, spent six months in a boat halfway around the world to arrive in... Wellington. They didn't have enough money left over to skip across to Australia, which the advertising more accurately described.

So, for different reasons, I have some sympathy for "aggrieved" Maori, as well as an instinctive distrust of corporate marketing. I see where Hone Harawira is coming from by calling the Treaty of Waitangi New Zealand's founding constitutional document. I'd split hairs and say it's the closest thing NZ has to a founding constitutional document. If we put our minds together, perhaps we can come up with a better founding document we can all agree on.

What better way to show that Treaty settlements are full and final than to make a new covenant, not between some Maori tribes and the Crown but between all our citizens? Give the Maori what they want, and give everyone else what they want too. Freedom of life, liberty and property; to pursue happiness free from Safety Nazi killjoys and wet blanket bureaucrats.