Wednesday, 3 February 2016


New Zealand celebrates a day of protest and controversy as the national day

While most former colonies, celebrate their independence with a national holiday, New Zealand celebrates the establishment of colonialism, thereby perpetuating old grievances arising from an 1840 document that was drafted by misguided amateur lawyers.

One of the few surviving copies
of the Treaty of Waitangi
The Treaty of Waitangi lacked many of the provisions that one would expect to find in any contract or agreement. The drafters failed to include dates for commencement or termination, or clauses permitting amendment or revocation. It also failed to adequately define the territory that it was to apply to, and it failed to establish a structure for government. Even more disastrous was the failure by missionary Henry Williams, who drafted the Maori version, to give it the same meaning as the English version.

The English version of the Treaty of Waitangi was drafted by William Hobson, James Freeman and James Busby in just four days. All were without any legal or constitutional training. Hobson’s father, however, had been a barrister in Ireland, but it is unlikely that the son learned much about legal matters before joining the Royal Navy and sailing away at the tender age of eleven.

Little has been recorded about James Stuart Freeman, who was Hobson’s secretary and is generally credited with drafting the Treaty, assisted by Hobson and Busby. However, in 1844 when Freeman was living in Auckland, where a bay was named after him, Doctor John Logan Campbell described him as “the most disgustingly immoral swindling scoundrel in town”.  

James Busby was the son of a Scottish engineer, whose greatest achievement was to introduce viticulture to Australia and New Zealand, and his Waitangi grapes were producing wine in time for the drafting of the Treaty, but no record exists about the amount imbibed during the drafting. Although not trained in legal matters, Busby did have experience with his failed attempts, as British Resident, to mediate between settlers and natives. There was also his unauthorised 1835 Declaration of the Independence of New Zealand which was signed by chiefs of the United Tribes of New Zealand, which became yet another document of enduring controversy.

British Resident James Busby
The Declaration was a dead-end document that had largely been forgotten by the time Hobson arrived on the scene to set up a colonial administration. The United Tribes had failed to meet or to pass any laws, but even so the 1940 Treaty lacked a clause that revoked the earlier Declaration. Debate still rages regarding the status of both Declaration and Treaty. It is New Zealand’s greatest and most controversial legal can of worms.

After the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, the imperial government and later the colonial government conveniently ignored it for many years. They have been criticised for that, but how could they have made any sense of two conflicting and incomprehensible conundrums?  In 1877 Chief Justice James Prendergast ruled that the Treaty was a ‘legal nullity’.

The signing of the Treaty was largely a forgotten fiasco until the 1920’s when it became popular to commemorate it occasionally on the anniversary of Hobson’s arrival on 29 January 1840. Later it became an annual celebration and the date was moved to 6 February.

Governor William Hobson
Meanwhile, Maori, who had a different interpretation from their Treaty version, seethed quietly. To them it was clear that they had been let down by the Crown and they wanted redress. The colony had been at war, the war directed from London, and Maori had lost land and lives so that British settlers could occupy their land.

The passage of the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 gave significant legal standing to the Treaty, but did little to clarify the intent of the original document. The Act did, however, open the way for the establishment of the Waitangi Tribunal charged with hearing claims and compensating the aggrieved. Many millions of dollars in compensation have subsequently been paid and some lands have been returned. Hearing and settling claims is a slow and ongoing process and not all claims will be settled.

Many claims depend on what some claimants perceive as implied guarantees made by the Crown in 1840. The Treaty is still an exceptionally murky document and for as long as the Treaty remains a treaty in New Zealand law, it will generate grievances and problems of interpretation.

Protestors at Waitangi
The imperial government should have responded immediately the extent of Hobson’s fiasco was realised, with an act to replace the Treaty with a workable and fair piece of legislation. It is doubtful that the colonial government in New Zealand had that power prior to independence in 1947. In short, the British government created the mess, but the New Zealand government, 176 years later, is still trying to end the fiasco. Some authorities even go as far as to say that the British created the problem and they alone should be paying the compensation.

There can be little argument that successive New Zealand governments have been far-sighted on social, racial and human rights issues, and since 1975 they have done much to redress the wrongs of the past. But in spite of that, the Treaty fiasco is unlikely to go away any time soon, making Waitangi Day a day that will never be free from protest and disagreement. It has little chance of ever being a day of national unity. It is a shame that Waitangi Day has become the standard day to abuse, insult and assault politicians and dignitaries from the Queen down.

The New Zealand Tour Commentary
Yet New Zealand has much to celebrate. We have come a long way since 1840. We have enacted world-leading social and economic reforms. Waitangi aside, New Zealand has been a model democracy. We have stood on the world stage in many spheres including business, politics, sport, science and innovation.

If we genuinely want to celebrate our achievements and bury the wrongs the past, we should be replacing Waitangi Day with Independence Day on 25 November. Next year it will be 70 years since New Zealand ratified the Statute of Westminster as the most significant step to independence and nationhood. Independence Day could be a true day of national celebration and unity.

This writer believes that 25 November should also be a public holiday alongside 6 February until the public decides which of the two days best represents a united multi-cultural New Zealand.

 Join the Facebook Independence Day New Zealand Group: Independence Day New Zealand


Friday, 22 January 2016


The world before free trade and the Trans Pacific Partnership

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), about to be signed in Auckland by 12 Pacific Rim countries on 4 February, is stirring up thousands of protesters who seem to have had little to protest about since the now conveniently forgotten Y2K false alarm 16 years ago.

The TPP is intended to free up trade and remove tariffs from thousands of products among other things in a 6,000-page document that had its roots in a 2002 meeting between three Pacific leaders including New Zealand. In spite of widespread protests, more countries governments joined the talks and now the deal includes 40% of the world’s trade, making it the largest ever free trade agreement.

Many people have difficulty comprehending just how the deal will work and why it could be for the greater good of the people living in the countries affected. To many people, change of any sort is naturally something to be resisted. The unknown can be daunting. Their understanding is somewhat muddied by the outrageous claims and warning of people on the extreme left of the political spectrum, and people who believe in old world protectionism. There are warnings of mass unemployment, loss of sovereignty, corrupt politicians and selling out to big business. If these claims turn out to be correct, we can expect a mass lay-off of politicians in the 12 TPP countries over the next few years. Strangely, the majority of people in each of the 12 member countries believe that they alone stand to lose while all the other countries gain at their expense.

One person, Ian Brackenbury Channell QSM, a.k.a. The Wizard of New Zealand, is so upset at the pending agreement that he has decided to march from Christchurch to Auckland in protest at the signing, and hopefully to stop it. The Wizard is referred to here as a person, even though he once allowed all his official documents and licences to lapse so that he could be a fictional person. This writer would like to acknowledge that he does in fact occupy a small amount of real space, and that is not fiction.

To really appreciate the workings and advantages of free trade, we should look back to the way the world was before politicians started negotiating for something better. Better still, why don’t we look at New Zealand, now a world leader in free trade, and see how this small nation was once a chaotic land of barriers, borders and self-interest provinces and councils.

So the year is 1870 and New Zealand is divided into ten provinces; Auckland, New Plymouth, Hawkes Bay, Wellington, Nelson, Marlborough, Westland, Canterbury, Otago and Southland. Each province has a Legislative Council and a Cabinet. There is also a Federal Parliament and Upper House in Wellington, the capital. The total population for the ten provinces is considerably less than half a million, and so scarce is the population in some provinces that there is a danger that sheep may have to be drafted to fill public office vacancies.

Enter the Wizard of New Zealand on his walk from Christchurch to Auckland, in 1870, and here is what he may well have encountered along the way.

At the border between Canterbury and Marlborough provinces, the Wizard may have been asked to produce the passport that he didn’t believe in. Being a compulsive talker, he no doubt would have got around that one without too much difficulty, but the customs duty applicable to his wizard’s hat and staff could have been as much as 100% of the estimated value. Estimated, because he didn’t believe in keeping receipts.

NZ Tour Commentary
Entering Wellington Province, he may have also required a visitor permit as well as being called on for the payment of duties, bonds and whatever else they could throw at an unsuspecting wizardly traveller. He would have also had to prove that he had sufficient funds to sustain him on his travels without working and thereby causing unemployment among the local Wellingtonians.

In the 1870’s New Zealand was carved up into what was virtually ten dominions, each with its own laws, taxes and bureaucratic structures, but each was also under the firm control of the Imperial Government on the other side of the world. In short, it was a bit messy. Add to that a hundred or more local county and borough councils, and messy becomes distinctly muddy.

The Wizard would have found that Auckland products could only be sold in other provinces on payment of customs duty and the volume of sales would be subject to a quota system. Down in Westland there was almost enough timber to supply the whole country, but that wouldn’t matter much if a Westland miller was only allowed to sell one tree a year to a customer in Canterbury, and none to Auckland or Wellington, because they wanted to protect their own timber industries.

Skiers taking a skiing holiday in Queenstown (Otago Province) may have been required to part with a bond at the border to prevent a duty-free sale of their skis while in the province. People living in cities would have been obliged to keep a cow, a sheep, a pig or two and some chickens because of the cost of importing them from the countryside. Sharing with their neighbours would have attracted a council tax and a licence. Let’s not get into a discussion about dog control.

But having provinces was not the only handicap for trade and living standards. Local councils were in on the act too. Vegetables grown on the edge of town could only be sold in those towns for fear that growers may be put out of business elsewhere. People born in one town were discouraged from working in other towns, and if they came poking around a neighbourhood they were often told to get back to where they’d come from.

People who had discovered that Tauranga and Nelson had the most sunshine dreamed of retiring there, but local government only wanted them to stay for a maximum of three months a year so that put paid to that idea. In fact, in the 1870’s most people didn’t live long enough or acquire enough wealth to retire. Times were tough.

After years of fierce debate, New Zealand’s provincial system was finally abolished in 1875, and with it many of the ridiculous restrictions that had hindered progress. For New Zealand it was the most important step forward since the founding of the colony in 1840. Similar restrictions in the Australian colonies persisted until Federation in 1901 and all Australia became one market for the first time. New Zealand was invited to become a state of Australia in 1901, but protectionism stopped that. From that point onward New Zealand became Australia’s poor cousin.

However, in recent years with the signing of two Australia-New Zealand trade agreements, New Zealand has done a lot of catching up and now the two countries are close to equal in economic terms, and closer as economic partners than ever before.

But the situation in New Zealand in 1870 was typical of most of the world at that time; short-sighted thinking, closed markets, closed labour markets; a permit, a licence, a tax for everything. It was a world where people were expected to prosper by being restricted.

The opponents of the TPP, as they scream their heads off, don’t seem to understand they have three choices; back to the 1870’s, the present situation frozen for evermore, or progress to a new level of prosperity, international co-operation and understanding.








Saturday, 26 December 2015


Combatants not giving an inch in climate change debate
Ever since Pythagoras suggested more than 2,000 years ago that the earth was spherical rather than flat, and Aristotle provided the first known evidence for that, science has been continually expanding and advancing. In Pythagoras’s day the majority of people were illiterate, and to them, if the earth looked flat, it was flat. A tiny minority of people, usually with little education, still think Pythagoras and Aristotle were con-artists.

Although science has also had its reversals along the way, the advance of science, more than anything else, has led to improved health, fuller employment, better education, higher living standards, and longer life expectancy for more people. Science has created a better world, and knocking science and scientists should not be undertaken lightly. But science is still an evolving world, a world that occasionally, and understandably, takes a wrong turn.

Perhaps one of the more spectacular reversals of science was the theory of Bondi, Gold and Hoyle who claimed that the Universe was in a ‘steady state with no beginning,’ when it was superseded by the ‘big bang.’ In geography, the Island of California was later found to be part of the continent of North America.  Until the 20th century scientists believed that the earth was expanding, until the discovery of plate tectonics. Also in the world of science, astrology has been replaced by astronomy. Other obsolete branches of science include alchemy and numerology, both now regarded as pseudoscience, along with astrology. Witch doctors have mostly been replaced by registered GP’s.

Although observations of weather and its patterns can be traced back 5,000 years to India, it did not really evolve as a science until the 1800’s when modern meteorology brought together many earlier laws of physics and the use of early primitive measuring devices. and continued to evolve rapidly during the 20th century. The earliest reliable world weather statistics are little more than a hundred years old.

In 1938, Guy Stewart Callendar (1898-1964), a British seam engineer was the first to propose that global warming could occur due to carbon dioxide emissions. It was known as the Callendar effect and he considered that the warming would be a good thing, because it would stop the glaciers returning to England. Callendar may have been a visionary, but not a scientist. Forty years later, environmentalists would take up his cause, but not in the name of goodness. After having previously scared the world with predictions of a nuclear winter, the environmentalists predicted a meteorologically doomsday of catastrophic proportions.

It was scary stuff. Greenpeace came on board along with governments. Political parties were founded to fight global warming and scientists queued up for research funds. Within a short time most of the world’s population were convinced that the threat was real, and it was considered inappropriate to criticize the ‘experts.’ Many distinguished climate scientists and meteorologists who took a different view lost their jobs. Some argued that global warming was not a settled science. Others said the theory was plain wrong. Still others said that global warming would actually have a beneficial effect on the world, which was what Callendar had proposed years earlier.

This writer has been asked by New Zealand Skeptics to provide a list of dissenting scientists, and that list (from Wikipedia) follows. The good work of NZ Skeptics is acknowledged. They generally support science over fallacies and conspiracy theories, but on the question of climate change, a closed-mind stance is detected with regard to a ‘science’ that is anything but settled.

List of scientists opposing the mainstream scientific assessment of global warming

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is a list of scientists who have made statements that conflict with the scientific consensus on global warming as summarized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and endorsed by other scientific bodies.

The scientific consensus is that the global average surface temperature has risen over the last century. The scientific consensus and scientific opinion on climate change were summarized in the 2001 Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The main conclusions on global warming at that time were as follows:

  1. The global average surface temperature has risen 0.6 ± 0.2 °C since the late 19th century, and 0.17 °C per decade in the last 30 years.[3]
  2. "There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities", in particular emissions of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane.[4]
  3. If greenhouse gas emissions continue the warming will also continue, with temperatures projected to increase by 1.4 °C to 5.8 °C between 1990 and 2100.[A] Accompanying this temperature increase will be increases in some types of extreme weather and a projected sea level rise.[5] The balance of impacts of global warming become significantly negative at larger values of warming.[6]

These findings are recognized by the national science academies of all the major industrialized nations.[7]

There have been several efforts to compile lists of dissenting scientists, including a 2008 US senate minority report,[8] the Oregon Petition,[9] and a 2007 list by the Heartland Institute,[10] all three of which have been criticized on a number of grounds.[11][12][13]

For the purpose of this list, a "scientist" is defined as an individual who has published at least one peer-reviewed article in the broad field of natural sciences, although not necessarily in a field relevant to climatology. Since the publication of the IPCC Third Assessment Report, each has made a clear statement in his or her own words (as opposed to the name being found on a petition, etc.) disagreeing with one or more of the report's three main conclusions. Their views on climate change are usually described in more detail in their biographical articles. Few of the statements in the references for this list are part of the peer-reviewed scientific literature; most are from other sources such as interviews, opinion pieces, online essays and presentations.

NB: Only scientists who have their own Wikipedia article may be included in the list.

Scientists questioning the accuracy of IPCC climate projections

These scientists have said that it is not possible to project global climate accurately enough to justify the ranges projected for temperature and sea-level rise over the next century. They may not conclude specifically that the current IPCC projections are either too high or too low, but that the projections are likely to be inaccurate due to inadequacies of current global climate modeling.

Scientists arguing that global warming is primarily caused by natural processes

Graph showing the ability with which a global climate model is able to reconstruct the historical temperature record, and the degree to which those temperature changes can be decomposed into various forcing factors. It shows the effects of five forcing factors: greenhouse gases, man-made sulfate emissions, solar variability, ozone changes, and volcanic emissions.[63]

These scientists have said that the observed warming is more likely to be attributable to natural causes than to human activities. Their views on climate change are usually described in more detail in their biographical articles.

Scientists arguing that the cause of global warming is unknown

These scientists have said that no principal cause can be ascribed to the observed rising temperatures, whether man-made or natural.

Scientists arguing that global warming will have few negative consequences

These scientists have said that projected rising temperatures will be of little impact or a net positive for society or the environment.

Dead scientists

This section includes deceased scientists who would otherwise be listed in the prior sections.