Saturday, 4 July 2015

DON’T CHANGE THE NZ FLAG

The anti-flag-change brigade are in desperation mode

CAUTION: Parental supervision is recommended for young readers

In a previous blog post the case for changing the New Zealand flag was outlined. Now the case against change is put to readers.
The New Zealand flag since 1902

Facebook has emerged as the leading forum for anti-flag change debates with several groups listed including ‘Keep the NZ Flag the way it is’ with 14 year-old Jordan John Cleaver from Dunedin leading the group, which he calls a political party. Whatever side of the debate one may be on, Jordan deserves credit for making a stand.

Another Facebook community is called, ‘Don’t Change NZ’s Flag! No . . .’ This group claims 2,600 members and the administrators are Leah Mexted, Catt Claw and Louise Heremia, all of whom appear to be Google non-entities. Other groups include ‘Leave the NZ flag alone’ and ‘Hands Off The NZ Flag.’ No doubt there are many other groups too but, like the pro-change lobby, they are not unified under a national organisation.
The Australian flag since 1901

A study of Facebook flag groups reveals certain trends in the comments posted. The pro-change people tend to put forward reasoned and mostly factual arguments in a respectful manner, but they are often countered by irrational, false assumptions expressed with foul and venomous insults, and charges of disloyalty. It is often almost a case of, ‘How dare you accuse God of wearing the latest fashions.’

A famous New Zealand Prime Minister, Richard Seddon, once described New Zealand as ‘God’s own country’ and many New Zealanders now seem to regard the current New Zealand flag as ‘God’s own flag’ and therefore any suggestion that the flag should change is an insult to God, even though the current flag is the third official flag of New Zealand, and not all New Zealanders believe in God.
One of thousands of proposed flag designs

Some of the anti-flag-change comments appear to reflect an attitude that insists that the commentator was born on the only day when the world was perfect in every respect, and therefore nothing should ever be allowed to change from that day forward. For some people the fact that the world is continually changing, and mostly for the better, is just too much for them to stomach. They would rather be living in caves with empty stomachs and a life expectancy of twenty years.

But enough of that. Here are some of the comments that I have received from the anti-flag-change brigade. I put their case:

Steve: “In my view there is NO NEED TO CHANGE the flag!”

Steve: “We have a flag that represents all citizens and permanent residents.”
Peter Blakeborough

(But, Steve, there is nothing on the current New Zealand flag that represents Maori (the indigenous race of New Zealand) or descendants of immigrants from Africa, Asia, mainland Europe, the Pacific or the Americas)

Craig: “Strangely, you don’t seem to want anything that has our history about it. I think you actually need another country maybe, Peter. And when you arrive there, wherever it is, you can get a new flag because you arrived.”

Max:  I agree with Craig.... Peter has got it "IN FOR" New Zealand in big way and I am thinking the same... Why the Hell stay here?

Max: “A loyal Kiwi would not belittle and denigrate our national flag and ridicule the people who stand up for what their forebears fought and died for. You do not show yourself as being a very loyal Kiwi in this matter at all.”

(Perhaps those soldiers served so that we may have the freedom to debate, and change through the democratic process, the things that we think could be done better)

Max: “You haven’t seen any abusive trash from me.”

Max: “If you want abusive trash, play with your own balls. Play with whatever you like, but leave our flag alone!”

Steve: “I have never seen a silver fern draped over a soldier’s coffin. I can’t believe people can be so disrespectful to those that have served.”

(But you will see the silver fern one the gravestones of fallen soldiers, and on the uniforms of living soldiers)

Trent: “Yeah, sorry, mate. Changing the flag should be on the bottom of the list of priorities for NZ. $26 million should be spent on more important things like Christchurch, doctors and nurses, decent roading and better road rules”

(Out of an annual government expenditure of $76 billion, $26 million is a drop in the ocean and not even anywhere near one percent. Government spends large and small amounts in many areas because government can never be a single issue business, even though some government critics have one-track minds)

Les: “Would Americans change their flag? No way in hell! So why should we?”

(Les is factually wrong. Americans did change their flag, after they defeated the British and became an independent nation in 1776)
Continued below . . . 






Kevin: “Anyone with brains can recognise the NZ flag.”

(Overseas surveys have found that most people do not recognise the New Zealand flag. Most think it is the Australian flag or the British flag. Even some Kiwis interviewed didn’t know the difference)

Max: “Bullshit! My family fought for the flag and it is insulting to put it down. You are like a cracked record, Peter.”

Noel: “Well simple answer, Peter. Move to a non-Commonwealth country and you will possibly be better off, or come running back.”

(Peter will expect to see a lot of these anti-flag-change stirrers leaving New Zealand after the flag changes)

Pat: “John Key is way out of touch with mainstream New Zealanders with this one.”

(John Key, as Prime Minister, has more than three times the popular support of his nearest rivals for the post, and he is now well into his third term as PM)

Mark: “Stick to our Old Glory. Done the job for over 100 years now.”

(But that’s the problem, Mark. Our watered-down British flag has failed in its job. It is almost never seen flying from a house anywhere in New Zealand. For a hundred years New Zealanders have tolerated it without really supporting it, because it is not distinctly New Zealand)

And here’s a classic from Geoff: “A flag should be a sign of National pried. If you don’t like ours and have no pried in it go live some where else!”

Steve: “If a country has got to rely on a flag for tourism, the country is stuffed!”

(Steve’s argument is stuffed)

Max: “Peter, the fern leaf says nothing about New Zealand history, any more than a stupid maple leaf does for Canada.”

(Max, I’d be careful telling that to Canadians)

Steve: “I reckon you’ve got more shit in you than the sewage station. How old does a flag have to be to be outdated?”

Craig: “We do not need a flag change because of immigration. We need immigrants who want to join us, not usurp us. Stick this hogwash where the sun don’t shine. We have a flag, and it’s a great one.”

Craig: “I’m getting sick of pricks putting up so called viable reasons to change the flag of New Zealand. If you are an immigrant, or a second generation immigrant, shut your fucking mouth. If you think that the fact that good men fought, and some died under the flag, means nothing now, shut your fucking mouth. If you have a problem with the history of NZ having a strong connection to Britain, shut your . . . .  John Key is a prick for trying this on, and you let your country down in many ways agreeing with him . . .  And don’t spill shit about identity . . . “

Craig: “Don’t try to put me down with suggestions of racism, Peter . . .”

Steve: “This flag bullshit is just John Key’s way of diverting attention from the TPPA.”

(Sorry, Steve. I can’t agree with that. Instead of drawing attention away from the TPPA, this debate is drawing attention to the TPPA. If that was Key’s motive, it has been totally counter-productive. People who had never heard of the TPPA are now hearing about via the flag debate)

Cathy: “Leave OUR bloody flag alone. I am sick of the foreigners and idiots like John Key pulling this country and the true KIWI apart.”

Lachie: “Not to mention GMO’s, pesticides and pharmaceutical nasties you will be forced to consume in favour of real stuff.”

(Is that something to do with the flag debate?)

Other reasons given for not wanting a flag change include, “We would be forced out of the Commonwealth.” “As a British colony we are not allowed to change the flag.” “Changing the flag would be an insult to the Queen.” “No country ever changes its flag. It wouldn’t be the same country.” “If we wanted to change the flag wouldn’t we have to get permission from the United Nations?”

And so it goes.





Thursday, 18 June 2015

CHANGE THE NZ FLAG

The great New Zealand flag debate rages on

Kiwis are getting steamed up over their flag, and the debate is taking the old rag through the dirty washing, through the wringer, and out to dry where the winds of change will no doubt blow hot and cold.

New Zealanders never were a great flag-waving nation in the same tradition as the British, Canadians and Americans. Few houses, business premises, or government offices are ever seen to fly the New Zealand flag. For more than a century Kiwis preferred to display a national symbol like the native kiwi bird or the silver fern.

To many people this raises a question regarding the level of patriotism in the land Downunder. But that is not the problem. Kiwis are proud of their country and sing its praises whenever and wherever they travel and regularly take with them symbols and emblems and Kiwi souvenirs to hand out. They just don’t fill their luggage with flags.

To understand the reason for this ‘flagapathy’ we need to look back to the roots of New Zealand as a nation.

The first New Zealanders were Polynesians (Maori) who settled the coastal areas in the thirteenth century and struggled to survive and increase their numbers until the fifteenth century when they came to terms with their new cooler environment. They had no time or inclination toward flag waving. Surviving was a full-time business.
The flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand

The first flags seen Downunder were flown from visiting ships from 1642 onward and they were mostly Dutch, British, French and American. Small European settlements based on whaling, sealing and timber began to appear around the New Zealand coast from the early 1800s. The Maori who had evolved as a race without any contact with the outside world, began to understand many things European, including the significance of flags.

Then in 1833 along came James Busby, sent by the authorities in New South Wales, to be a peace-keeper without guns and given the title of British Resident. Busby achieved very little, but he did give the Maori New Zealand’s first flag, the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand. Never mind that the United Tribes never met to pass any laws and faded quickly from the scene, New Zealand had its very own flag.
The British Union Jack from 1840-1902

Busby’s term in office was a failure from the start and between Sydney and London the colonial authorities wanted something more effective to protect the interests of both Maori and settlers in New Zealand. It was decided to send a deputy-governor from Sydney in the form of Captain William Hobson. Hobson was more business-like, but only just. He drafted the Treaty of Waitangi, (without any legal training), called some Maori chiefs to a meeting at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands, they all appended their marks to the document, and the Royal Navy hauled the British Union Jack up a flagpole. New Zealand had another flag.
Hobson did the best that he could, under the circumstances, to govern New Zealand in the best interests of all. But the treaty failed to live up to its expectations and pretty soon the new colony was at war. By the 1870s the dust had settled, for the time being, and New Zealand was granted limited self-government. Meanwhile the British flag was the New Zealand flag.
The New Zealand flag from 1902 - 2015

At the start of the twentieth century the British government started feeding out more slack to the colonials Downunder. Australia became fully self-governing in 1901, but New Zealand declined to join the new Australian nation as one of its states. The British government suggested that it was no longer appropriate for New Zealand to use the British flag and a compromise was reached in 1902 whereby the New Zealand Parliament passed the Ensign and Code Signals Act (approving a new flag with a smaller Union Jack with four stars added) and this was given the Royal Assent by King Edward VII on 24 March 1902. New Zealand had its third flag, a flag that was never voted on by the electors in a referendum.

In 1907 the British government pushed New Zealand a little further aside with the passage of the Statute of Westminster, an act to grant New Zealand independence. But New Zealand resisted independence, principally to preserve the New Zealand-United Kingdom trade links for farm products, and also because a majority of white New Zealanders were British-born. Later, during World War II, the British government had a monopoly on food supplies and food rationing was implemented in New Zealand so that farm produce could be diverted to the war effort.
One of more than 2,000 designs for New Zealand's
future flag

The New Zealand Parliament finally ratified the Statute of Westminster in 1947 and New Zealand became fully independent, but the flag didn’t change, and the food rationing continued for several years more. Then push came to shove and the British government announced that it would abandon its traditional trade partners and join the European Economic Community (now the European Union), and it was only due to the tenacity of people like Trade Minister Jack Marshall, that New Zealand was able to gain some concessions for a time.
  
The constitutional change in 1947 was by far the most significant constitutional change in the nation’s history, but it went virtually unnoticed and has never been celebrated as an Independence Day. That is something that this writer finds really bizarre, because as a consequence many Kiwis don’t even understand that their country is independent. Part of that misunderstanding must be due to our reluctance to adopt a New Zealand flag instead of clinging to a watered-down British flag that was thrust on us in the first place.

There have been many organised attempts to change the flag since that pivotal day in 1947 (26 September), but New Zealand governments, until now, have resisted. Now the Key Government has promised two referendums on the question. For the first time New Zealanders, party politics aside, have a chance to vote for their very own uniquely New Zealand flag, and even more important to reaffirm and re-state New Zealand’s sovereign independence as a nation.





Wednesday, 10 June 2015

LAWYER PETER WILLIAMS

Prison law reform campaigner loses last battle

Sir Peter Williams KNZM QC, a strident campaigner for prisoner rights and law reform has died in Auckland aged 80. He had been suffering from prostate cancer for several years.

Peter Aldridge Williams was born in Feilding, New Zealand, in 1934, the son of a local school teacher. He excelled in rugby, boxing and tennis, and started his law degree at Wellington’s Victoria University, while working at a meat processing plant. When his father became a headmaster near Christchurch he continued his studies at Canterbury University. He completed his Compulsory Military Training at Auckland’s Hobsonville Air Base and later became a legal clerk at the Justice Department in Auckland.

He was admitted to the bar in 1960, entered a legal practice in Auckland with the firm of Russell McVeagh, and quickly established himself as a tough advocate with a sharp brain. With his first wife Zelda as his typist, he established his own law firm in Auckland. He defended more than 100 people facing murder charges and became a staunch advocate for prison reform, prisoner rights, rehabilitation, and addressing the causes of crime.

Automatism, a phenomenon where people behave in an involuntary manner and are unaware of their actions, was pioneered by Peter Williams as a defence to be taken into account by juries. He once said, “Stress is a catalyst. It can happen to anyone. There’s a breaking point in all of us.”

He also said, “I am concerned about how some prisoners live in a 23 hour lock-up. It’s bizarre. I want to bring about change for long-term prisoners. If they don’t have a mental illness before they go to prison they get one while they are in there. It does not encourage rehabilitation. I would love them to be treated like human beings.”

Williams was often criticized as a ‘do-gooder’ who wanted prison to be like a hotel. But he believed that that stance, while well-meaning, was counter-productive in the battle to reduce crime and establish the causes of crime.
The Scapegoat

For 30 years he was the president of the New Zealand branch of the Howard League for Penal Reform until 2011 when he resigned to form the Prison Reform Society.

Peter Williams had been in court with many high profile defendants over his long career including Terry Clark (Mr Asia), Arthur Allan Thomas, Winston Peters and Ronald Jorgensen. Some former clients also became life-long friends.  More recently, Williams defended a 74 year-old grandmother charged with attempting to overthrow the government of Fiji, a government that had seized power. He also acted successfully for a Fijian businessman charged with conspiracy to murder the Fijian Prime Minister.

In 1987 Peter Williams was made a Queens Counsel and in the 2015 New Year Honours list he was created a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition of his service to the law. He was the author of five books: Judicial Misconduct (1990), A Passion for Justice (1997), Petals of Memory – sailor, poet, protestor (2009), Nemesis to Prejudice (2012) and The Dwarf Who Moved (2014).





Friday, 5 June 2015

A TWIST OF FATE

Running from the hangman
A free sample read from the crime thriller, A Twist of Fate, by Peter Blakeborough and available as an eBook from Smashwords:

Reluctantly, as the workload increased, Bob Asker had to give up hauling the semi-trailers at the weekends and Fransham agreed to another salary increase to compensate for the loss of the driving income. Meanwhile his share portfolio continued to grow and prosper. Already he was a moderately wealthy man and he was able to pay cash for the difference between the trade-in price for the Vauxhall and the purchase price of a brand new Holden.
On New Year’s Eve he packed a small bag and headed for Sydney in his new car. All the way he worried that Janet would not be there to meet him as planned a year earlier. He could not expect her to reserve the rest of her life for him, an alias without a future. He could not reasonably expect her to make a thirteen hundred-mile journey every New Year. She had her own life to live and no doubt her circumstances and commitments would change with time. If she didn’t show he would understand.
A TWIST OF FATE
He drove slowly passed the post office in Martin Place. It was eleven forty-five and Janet was there already, looking nervously along the street. He continued to the end of the short street and did a U-turn. He had to be sure that she had not been followed. It looked safe so he double-parked and wound down the passenger side window.
‘Welcome to Sydney, Janet,’ he called.
She ran towards him, her face beaming.
‘Bob! I’m so pleased to see you. You’ve changed your car. I was sure something had happened to you,’ she said with nervous excitement as she bounded into the front seat. ‘I really thought you wouldn’t be here.’
‘It’s only eleven forty-five. You look lovely, Janet.’
They embraced, kissed, drew apart and looked at each other and hugged and kissed again.
‘It’s really wonderful to see you again.’
‘You too.’
‘Tell me about my mother and sisters and brother. Have you seen them again?’
‘Yes, they’re all fine and I’ve got another letter and more photos for you.’
‘You’re amazing, Janet. I’m so grateful.’ He put the Holden into gear. ‘Let’s get away from here.’
‘I’ve got a room in King’s Cross this time. I thought you would like to stay somewhere different.’
‘Good idea, Janet. Show me the way. Are you still working for the travel agent?’
‘I finished at Christmas… There’s something I want to tell you…’
He looked at her quickly as he drove.
‘Are you sure everything is alright?’
‘Oh yes. It’s just that this time I want to stay in Australia. I like it here. Don’t be alarmed. I can still keep in touch with them.’
Bob’s worried expression was replaced by a shrewd smile.
‘I know where there’s a vacancy in a travel agency.’
‘How do you know about that?’
‘Because I work there.’
‘Really? You’re a travel consultant?’
‘I’m a travel club manager and tour guide too and we have a vacancy for someone with exactly your qualifications. With my recommendation the job will be yours.’
‘You never cease to amaze me, Bob Asker…’
He drew in a sharp breath.
‘Don’t ever use that name again. Not even when we’re alone,’ he said harshly.
‘Oh, my God! I’m sorry. It just slipped out. It won’t happen again.’
‘I understand, Janet,’ he said sympathetically as he reached for her hand. ‘There’s just one problem with the job, if you want to take it.’
‘What’s that, Mr. Doyle?’
‘It’s a long way from the bright lights of Sydney.’

‘I don’t need to live right in town.’
‘It’s worse than that. The job is in Griffith, six hundred miles from Sydney on the edge of the outback. Still interested?’
‘It couldn’t be further from nowhere than Thames.’
He laughed.
‘Thames is almost a suburb of Auckland. You can’t compare them. The nearest city to Griffith is two hundred miles east. West it’s two hundred and fifty miles to Mildura. If you go north you won’t find anything for at least a thousand miles. Are you sure it’s the kind of place you want to live?’
‘I’ll give it my best shot.’
About Peter Blakeborough
They drove passed the guesthouse and stopped at Rushcutters Bay to have lunch overlooking an assortment of yachts riding peacefully at anchor. Further out on the harbour a multitude of white sails drifted by on the breeze.
‘It’s beautiful here, isn’t it?’
‘It’s lovely. By the way,’ Janet started to explain. ‘I’ve told the people at the guesthouse that we are brother and sister so there won’t be any raised eyebrows when we share the room.’
For a moment he was at a loss for words. Was she serious? He was in no doubt that the innocent girl in the school uniform of two years earlier was now a mature and attractive young woman. Did she want to sleep with him in spite of his pledge to himself and assurance to her that there would be no romantic commitment to anyone while he was a fugitive from the hangman?
‘Are you sure that’s what you want to do? Or are we really going to be like brother and sister until I’m cleared?’
‘It has two beds, brother.’
‘Suits me, sister.’
They drove to Bondi Beach for a swim and chatted some more as they sat in the Holden looking out over the Tasman Sea. He felt homesick.
‘You know, I could easily go aboard one of those yachts at Rushcutters Bay and sail right home to New Zealand.’
Janet looked at him seriously.
‘Don’t say that. You’d never get away with it.’
‘You mean I’d get caught stealing it and go to prison? I can afford to buy a yacht now.’
‘No. I mean you’d be caught and sent to the hangman. Don’t ever think about going back. You’d be letting down all the good people who have helped you.’
‘I know, Janet. But I can’t help wanting to do it.’
‘Promise me you won’t try to go back until you’re exonerated.’
‘I promise.’







Saturday, 23 May 2015

A NEW HUMAN SPECIES

Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans
MINNEAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report) – Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports.
The research, conducted by the University of Minnesota, identifies a virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them.

“These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information,” Davis Logsdon, one of the scientists who contributed to the study, said. “And yet, somehow, they have developed defenses that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those faculties totally inactive.”
More worryingly, Logsdon said, “As facts have multiplied, their defenses against those facts have only grown more powerful.”
While scientists have no clear understanding of the mechanisms that prevent the fact-resistant humans from absorbing data, they theorize that the strain may have developed the ability to intercept and discard information en route from the auditory nerve to the brain. “The normal functions of human consciousness have been completely nullified,” Logsdon said.
While reaffirming the gloomy assessments of the study, Logsdon held out hope that the threat of fact-resistant humans could be mitigated in the future. “Our research is very preliminary, but it’s possible that they will become more receptive to facts once they are in an environment without food, water, or oxygen,” he said.
Peter’s Point of View

So that’s the scientific world and climate change according to Andy Borowitz (pronounced Borrow Wits).


Meanwhile, millions of ordinary, down-to-earth people with sound home-grown logic and reasoning built on lifetimes of worldly experience are saying that many climate change scientists are so focused on their tinted microscopes that they fail to see the wider picture.

They can’t see the facts that stare them in the face and how the world climate has always been changing, and with much wider variations than anything that even they are predicting; sea levels changing hundreds of metres, temperature changes enough to rid the world of all ice to a world almost completely under ice, and winds and floods where infinity is the limit.

But some climate scientists seem to think that not only is man responsible for the weather, but that weather was invented by man, and before man there was nothing.

This writer must agree with the first part of the Logsdon quote, “Our research is very preliminary . . . .” However, there is no basis for the claim, either in science or down-to-earth logic that the world will run short of food as the climate warms. A warmer climate will bring more land into useful production than a colder climate.

The Borowitz Report shows the desperation of the climate alarmists to be believed and to discredit those who are in touch with the grass roots of the world. They are a new strain of the human species not seen since Magellan’s crew proved that the world is round by returning home from the opposite direction.

This new species of human that is threatening business and employment, health and happiness, and alarming young children out of their wits, I call them Homo sapien micro-perceptus dipstickus, and unfortunately with the government funding that they have secured, eradicating them will take nothing less than a plague of cane toads, green anacondas and man-eating cockroaches in every climate change laboratory worldwide.  

Forget Borowitz. Read some real fiction!