Tuesday, 6 October 2015


A million die in road traffic accidents every year

Meanwhile, governments do little and the United Nations does even less

The United Nations was founded in 1945 by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.

This year the UN, now with a membership of 193, is celebrating 70 years of progress and achievements. The world body has expanded to include 17 major agencies covering many aspects of the daily lives of billions of people worldwide. The UN is often criticised for its failures, and there have been many, but the UN is also the world’s greatest ever political and humanitarian success story. This is often overlooked by critics.

As the celebrations wind up, the UN should be resolving to include among its agencies, by the time of the 75th anniversary celebrations, an international road traffic organisation dedicated to reducing death and injury from traffic accidents worldwide.

Currently, the UN has as an agency the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which has been largely responsible for making airline travel the safest form of transport ever, while reducing substantially the rate of general aviation accidents. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is responsible for regulatory control, safety and efficiency of shipping. Many other UN agencies are well known like the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank Group (WBG) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and The International Labour Organization (ILO). There is also a raft of lesser known, but vital agencies, like the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and The World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Many UN agencies have come in for severe criticism over the years and in some cases the UN may have failed, but the bulk of the criticism comes from a lack of understanding, suspicion and from people with extremist political and economic views. But without the UN the world would be a poorer and more violent place.

However, there is no UN organization dedicated to saving lives on the world’s highways, even though over a million people are killed every year, scores of millions more are seriously injured, and the cost to society is astronomical. The United Nations leaves it to national governments to do their own thing and almost all fail dismally. It is time for the world body to establish an organization that can bring uniformity, standards and targets to a global campaign for road safety

Although there are currently several non-UN organizations that have been established for transport and traffic, most represent commercial interests.

However, the United Nations Economic and Social Council was responsible for the 1968 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, a treaty intending to establish standard traffic rules, but only 73 countries have ratified the treaty. In addition, the Council set up the Convention on Road Signs and Signals, but only 15 states ratified that treaty. There was also the earlier 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, which dealt mainly with International Driving Permits, ratified by only 95 states, and generally regarded as a failure.

An International Road Traffic Organization could have more clout if it was a separate UN body, independent of the UN Economic and Social Council.

The Organization could set target dates for member states to adopt standards for driver training, testing and licensing. Instead of having a national license and an optional, but worthless, International Driving Permit, all licenses would be classed as international, but containing an endorsement for left or right side driving. Data sharing could prevent suspended drivers from driving in other states.

A target date for achieving uniform traffic rules and signs could be set, including a target for adopting metric measurements, rules, symbols and signs.

Like ICAO, an International Road Traffic Organization could establish universal standards for the investigation and reporting of accidents. Each member state would have an accident investigation unit operating independent of any other governmental body.

Commercial drivers currently have their driving time restricted in some states, but not in others. Amateur drivers can do as they please everywhere. A worldwide body could establish uniform driving time limitations for all.

Vehicle design standards vary from country to country, and currently many countries do not require periodic vehicle inspections. The Organization could greatly increase vehicle safety. The practice of disposing of unsafe vehicles in countries with lower standards, or no standards, could end.
Continued below . . .

The mandatory installation of GPS tracking, vehicle data recording and access limiting technology could have many benefits including improved road safety and lower insurance costs.

In this world of increasing international mobility, it is going to be vital to plan for even greater mobility in the years ahead and to adopt rules that will be understood and accepted everywhere. Wherever a person drives in the world, he or she should be able to do so confident that the rules are the same, and that other drivers will also be driving to the same rules.

Universal rules for flying and shipping, with few exceptions, have applied for many years and work well. It is time for motorists and their passengers to expect no less. It is time for the United Nations to take the lead.








Saturday, 12 September 2015


This Is A MUST Read: Take A Gander at This Amazing, But Little Known, 9-11 Story
Days with Lorna Subritzky Friday, 11 September 2015, 10:16AM

This incredible story is from a flight attendant on Delta Flight 15:
On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, we were about 5 hours out of Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic.
All of a sudden the curtains parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, immediately, to see the captain.
As soon as I got there I noticed that the crew had that “All Business” look on their faces. The captain handed me a printed message. It was from Delta’s main office in Atlanta and simply read, “All airways over the Continental United States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest airport. Advise your destination.”
No one said a word about what this could mean. We knew it was a serious situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. The captain determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander, Newfoundland.
He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic controller and approval was granted immediately — no questions asked. We found out later, of course, why there was no hesitation in approving our request.
While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New York area. A few minutes later word came in about the hijackings.
We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We told them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed to land at the nearest airport in Gander, Newfoundland, to have it checked out.
We promised to give more information after landing in Gander. There was much grumbling among the passengers, but that’s nothing new! Forty minutes later, we landed in Gander. Local time at Gander was 12:30 PM …. that’s 11:00 AM EST.
There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the world that had taken this detour on their way to the US.
After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have. The reality is that we are here for another reason.”
Then he went on to explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the US. There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The captain informed passengers that Ground control in Gander told us to stay put.
The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to come near any of the air crafts. Only airport police would come around periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane.
In the next hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with 53 airplanes from all over the world, 27 of which were US commercial jets.
Continued below . . . .

Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC.
People were trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a different cell system in Canada . Some did get through, but were only able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines to the U.S. were either blocked or jammed.
Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash. By now the passengers were emotionally and physically exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly calm.
We had only to look out the window at the 52 other stranded aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this predicament.
We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the planes one plane at a time. At 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our turn to deplane would be 11 am the next morning.
Passengers were not happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much noise and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the airplane.
Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and lavatory servicing.
And they were true to their word.
Fortunately we had no medical situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The night passed without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.
About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th a convoy of school buses showed up. We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went through Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red Cross.
After that we (the crew) were separated from the passengers and were taken in vans to a small hotel.
We had no idea where our passengers were going. We learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has a population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander!
We were told to just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when the US airports opened again, but not to expect that call for a while.
We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started.
Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people of Gander were extremely friendly. They started calling us the “plane people.” We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and ended up having a pretty good time.
Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander airport. Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and found out what they had been doing for the past two days.
What we found out was incredible…..
Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75 Kilometer radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers.
Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.
ALL the high school students were required to volunteer their time to take care of the “guests.”
Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged.
Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes.
Remember that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration.
Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to everyone once a day.
During the day, passengers were offered “Excursion” trips.
Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors. Some went for hikes in the local forests.
Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests.
Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft.
In other words, every single need was met for those stranded travelers.
Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when they were told that U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or late. The local Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which plane they needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving. They coordinated everything beautifully.
It was absolutely incredible.
When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise. Everyone knew each other by name. They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with who had the better time.
Our flight back to Atlanta looked like a chartered party flight. The crew just stayed out of their way. It was mind-boggling.
Passengers had totally bonded and were calling each other by their first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.
And then a very unusual thing happened.
One of our passengers approached me and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA system. We never, ever allow that. But this time was different. I said “of course” and handed him the mike. He picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days.
He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers.
He continued by saying that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of Lewisporte.
“He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte.
He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses, the total was for more than $14,000!
“The gentleman, a MD from Virginia , promised to match the donations and to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well.
As I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has assisted 134 students in college education.
“I just wanted to share this story because we need good stories right now. It gives me a little bit of hope to know that some people in a faraway place were kind to some strangers who literally dropped in on them.
It reminds me how much good there is in the world.”
“In spite of all the rotten things we see going on in today’s world this story confirms that there are still a lot of good people in the world and when things get bad, they will come forward. Let’s not forget THIS fact.

This is one of those stories that need to be shared. Please do so…
Source: www.tpnn.com

Peter’s Point of View

What an amazing story!

On that tragic day in 2001 I was in a shopping centre in Stockton-on-Tees, England, and I heard the news on a shop radio. My first thought was that an amateur pilot had got lost in bad weather and hit a building accidentally. The scale of the ‘accident’ was still unknown. It was just an aircraft hits New York building story.
Peter in a Boeing simulator

That was a Tuesday and I was scheduled to fly on American Airlines to Los Angeles on the following Saturday morning. For several days the airline was unable to confirm that the flight would depart as scheduled. On Friday they said to go down to London and be ready, but they were still awaiting decisions by others and it was out of their control.

The scene at Heathrow was chaotic, but some trans-Atlantic flights were departing while others were cancelled. It all depended on the ability of individual airlines and destination airports to meet the new security requirements that came into force that day, the first day of resumed trans-Atlantic flights. The airline that I was with (American) had lost two aircraft on the last day that they had aircraft in the air. The big question for many people was, would they lose more aircraft on this day?

Thousands of distressed people milled about at Heathrow, queued, slept and protested the lack of information. It was a jittery day for everyone. Eventually, my flight was ready for check-in. I joined the line with four months of luggage including a camera and film in a lead-lined bag and a small tool kit. I declared these items at check-in, but they opted not to make an inspection.

Later, on board the aircraft, my name was called and I was asked to identify myself at the front door of the aircraft. I proceeded from the rear row to the front door while 300 pairs of eyes pierced the back of my neck, certain that a murderous hijacker had been discovered on their flight. A silver-haired captain met me at the door and explained diplomatically that they had decided to examine my luggage. I was escorted by guards to a small room in the terminal. After a short delay, the inspection was completed and after another delay my bag was loaded again. As I made my way back to my seat again, with the same 300 pairs of eyes boring into mine, I could see that many were surprised to see me again, and as I took my seat I was asked, “What was that all about?”

My answer for just such a question was ready. “Well, I have to be careful how much I tell you,” I replied. “But they wanted my opinion on a technical matter, and what I can tell you is that this Boeing is now perfectly safe.”

The push-back began as I spoke and we had a perfect flight with AA all the way to LA.


The truth about one of history’s most enduring catchphrases

We have all heard it said many times that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. But when did we first hear that? How quickly is it happening? Is it a plot by big business and/or government to make 99% of the population poor so the other 1% can be better off?
Luddites smashing machines during
the Industrial Revolution

Let’s look at the origins of this often repeated catchphrase, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact place in history where it began because many similar utterances have been recorded, and some meaning one thing may have been altered to mean something else. For example, in 1625 Francis Bacon is said to have said, ‘Money is like muck, not good unless it be spread,’ which is really the opposite of, ‘The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer,’ because the latter implies that the muck is not being spread.

Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1821 put it thus, ‘To him that hath, more shall be given; and from him that hath not, the little that he hath shall be taken away.’ In 1832, US President Andrew Jackson, may have been the first to coin the great inequality adage in words close to today’s form. He said, ‘When the laws undertake to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society have a right to complain of the injustice.’ Then William Harrison spoke of, ‘All the measures of government are directed to the purpose of making the rich richer and the poor poorer.’ That was on 1 October, 1840, in a campaign speech that helped launch his successful bid for the US presidency in 1841, and the catchphrase has been an election winner ever since.
American unemployed during the Great Depression

So there you have it. The rich have been getting richer and the poor have been getting poorer since 1840, and possibly a long time before that too, if you believe the line. But many of the people making these rich/poor claims today will tell you that it is new and no generation has been worse off than the people struggling to survive now. But some people are so economically pessimistic when they look for light at the end of the tunnel they only see an oncoming train. Others are like a blind person in a dark room looking for a black hat which was never there.

The fact is that the Industrial Revolution (1760-1840) triggered an era of prosperity, economic expansion and a higher standard of living for more people than ever before in history. It was the most important step forward for mankind since the domestication of animals and the invention of the wheel. For the first time in history ordinary people were able to enjoy luxuries previously only available for the rich. How did that happen? Mechanization made products cheaper to make, competition kept prices down, and capital and labor became available for new products and new industries, thereby creating new employment for those displaced from older industries.

Before the Industrial Revolution most people lived in poverty and squalor. The most common causes of death were violence and starvation. Life was hard and short, and often the choice was between starvation and crime. 
Nathaniel's Bloodline

At first the benefits of the revolution were slow to become evident to many people, and a few people even now think that it was a retrograde step for living standards. A second industrial revolution starting about 1870 took production, GDP and living standards to a new all-time high. Steam power, machine tools, electricity, mass production and increasing international trade confirmed that more people were able to lift themselves out of poverty and have some discretionary spending power.

The Industrial Revolution started in England and spread quickly to Europe and North America, and for the first time in those countries population and life expectancy started to increase more rapidly. For the first time, more people were able to afford medicines, better housing, and better clothing. However, personal transportation was still only affordable for the rich. Bicycles were available from about 1840 but were generally too expensive for working class people. Only the rich owned horses.

While this was happening, Karl Marx (1818-1883) described the situation between workers and those in power as the Law of Increasing Poverty. Marx was certainly right about poverty and the power of the ruling classes at that time, but completely wrong about poverty increasing. Poverty, in general terms, had been decreasing since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and continues to do so. Marx believed that communism alone could end class struggle, and that capitalism was doomed to eventual failure. In the post-Marx period numerous countries opted for his remedy, and all failed to end class struggle or make workers better off.
Karl Marx

As voting power was extended to include all workers and women, governments became more a mixture of capitalism blended with social policy; pensions, unemployment insurance, public housing, free or subsidized health care, and free education. Pure capitalism and communism became irrelevant as political parties found greater support for middle-of-the-road policies.

The twentieth century was really another industrial revolution that has continued into the twenty-first century. New products first off the production lines in the twentieth century were cars and phonographs followed by radios, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, televisions, and microwave ovens to mention just a few products that would have been unaffordable for almost everyone, if they had been launched any earlier. The telephone dates from the 1880’s, but even in the first half of the century few people had one because of cost.

Time pieces have been around in various forms for thousands of years, but the first personal wrist watch is believed to have been worn by Elizabeth I in 1571. Robert Hooke invented the pocket watch in 1675, but until the twentieth century most people had to walk to the town hall to check on the time. A personal watch, wrist or pocket, was a status symbol and beyond the reach of all except the very rich. Household pendulum clocks were also available from this time, but they too were beyond the reach of most ordinary people.

The twentieth century started as the age of the Wright Brothers and their Wright Flyer, trans-continental and trans-oceanic flight, the jet age, space age, and the age of travel for more and more people followed quickly. In the developed world, for the first time, only a minority of people lived out their entire lives without visiting at least one other country. During this century, again for the first time, travel had become so cheap and fast that a few people got to visit every country on the planet.

But even in the twentieth century most people believed that they were worse off than earlier generations. In 1921, when the economy was ticking over quite nicely for the time, Gus Kahn and Raymond Egan wrote the lyrics to Ain’t We Got Fun and before long everyone with a phonograph was playing it:  

They won’t smash up our Pierce Arrow (a luxury car), 
We ain’t got none, 

They’ve cut my wages, 
But my income tax will be so much smaller, 
When I’m paid off,
I’ll be laid off,
Ain’t we got fun.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (the only US president to be elected for four terms) knew how to put a spin on political rhetoric. In 1933 at the height of the Great Depression (the most severe of the 20th century) he said, ‘We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, and now we know that it is bad economics.’ Government had known that for a long time, but the time had arrived when government could do something about it without getting thrown out of office.

Business leaders became aware that the market for their goods and services had been limited by low wages for the masses, and there wasn’t much point in investing in products that most people could not afford to buy. The problem that business faced was how to get out of the quandary without being ruined by competitors. The formation of trade unions, although bitterly opposed by employers, provided the answers that business needed. Everyone had to benefit from improvements in production. The unions fought for and won better wages and conditions, and bit by bit the wealth started to trickle down, and the wealthy got wealthier too. Now, when the rent and food bills are met, more and more people are finding that they have a little left over for luxuries and leisure. And when they spend that little extra they give it right back to the industrialists and government coffers, and create employment for yet more people.

Another popular catchphrase is that soon 99% of the world’s wealth will be owned by 1% of the population and that that is the way those in power want it. That proposition will never stand up to scrutiny. For that to happen society would have to revert to the conditions that existed long before the Industrial Revolution. Even then, if 1% controlled 99% of everything, everything would be worthless and the world would be in a permanent and absolute economic depression. We would all be hunter-gatherers again, including the 1%.

‘The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer,’ will always be a popular, election-winning catchphrase, and while it may have had some relevance in times past, it is today largely an anachronism. Having said that, the gap between rich and poor may not be closing when Wall Street is compared with camel route in the Sahara Desert. The same may also hold true when one decade is compared with another, but when century is compared with century, there can be no doubt that life just gets better all the time for more and more people.

I certainly wouldn’t want to change my lifestyle for that of a hunter-gatherer.

Monday, 7 September 2015


How to beat ATM robbers by reversing your PIN number

A circulating email gives what is claimed to be sound advice on how to beat an ATM robber who forces you to withdraw cash.

The email claims that entering a reverse PIN number will alert police. But the email is a hoax and anyone following the advice in the email could expose themselves to even greater danger.
Anyone receiving circulating advice emails of any kind should always Google the information to check for reliability before forwarding it to contacts and Facebook friends.

Today I saw the offending email reproduced on Facebook and I have reproduced it below. Readers will note that it does not refer to any authority, or provide any kind of verification, or links to any authority or verification. The reference to Crime Stoppers is false.

Forwarding or sharing this false information may cause harm

The email first started circulating in 2006 and was based on a patent taken out in 1986 which would have enabled banks to install the technology in their ATM machines. But to date no known banks have taken up the system.

At least two US states tried and failed to legislate for a reverse PIN system, also known as Safety PIN. The banks’ opposition is based on several facts:
A Twist of Fate

The cost of implementing the system would have been prohibitive. The police responses take longer than ATM transactions and they would only arrive long after offender and victim had departed the scene. In addition, if the Safety PIN system became widely known to bank customers it would also be just as widely known to offenders. An offender seeing that a number carefully inserted failed to give up cash could simply kill the card holder and put the number in, reversed again, and get the cash. The banks also found another problem; some popular PIN numbers like 3333 or 2112 cannot be reversed.

The wisest thing to do when surprised by a criminal at an ATM would be to stay calm, while appearing to panic, put any bunch of numbers into the machine three times and have the card swallowed by the machine. The only other thing you can do is scream, run, or do both as loudly and as quickly as you can.

The fallacy of reverse PIN numbers can be verified by going to Wikipedia, Snopes, Hoax Slayer and many other reliable sites. The official New Zealand Police website also carries a warning about the reverse PIN hoax.

You cannot beat an ATM criminal by reversing your PIN number.

Saturday, 22 August 2015


A brief history of protests in New Zealand

This is a brief account of New Zealand’s long history of protests, some that were successful and some that failed, some that were worthy and some that were not. New Zealanders as a nation have always been ready to speak up and take appropriate action, usually lawful, when they see an imminent new law as something they won’t like. Similarly, changes in business, foreign ownership, banking, education, welfare, health, labour, immigration, and practically any other change in society that they suspect will be harmful in some way, will bring determined protest action.
Sir Walter Nash was New Zealand's
oldest Prime Minister

Many protesters are of the one-protest type. They go about their daily lives rarely making waves, until some imminent change has a galvanising effect on them, and they join, even lead, the marchers. When it is all over, win or lose, they go back to their previous lives, living quietly below the radar. A small number of protestors are more of the career type and can be seen actively engaged in an array of protests. Whenever there is protest, they will be there. Some of these career protestors have another overriding, perhaps hidden agenda, and may be political party activists or at least sympathisers. Many protest movements have within their ranks both kinds of protesters. The career types are usually a tiny minority, but often in a commanding role because of their experience and ability to organise.

So when did protesting start in New Zealand? The most likely date would have to be 18 December 1642, when the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman sent some men to collect fresh water on the South Island’s north-west coast. The coastal area was an important agricultural place for local Maori and fearing that the foreigners were about to plunder their crops, they protested by killing four members of Tasman’s crew. Tasman subsequently called the place Murderers Bay, and sailed away never to return to New Zealand. It wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to say that the first known protest was highly successful, although somewhat misguided, and certainly a gross over-reaction. In later centuries, Maori would prove time and again that they were fully capable of mounting effective, determined protests, usually in a peaceful manner and within the law.
Nathaniel's Bloodline

Having been born in New Zealand some little time after Tasman’s fiasco, this writer’s memory of protests goes back only to the late 1940’s. I was at primary school in Warkworth when Mr Biro invented his famous ball-point pen to replace ink-wells and nibs, and the scratching sound of sharp instruments on delicate writing paper. Every parent in the district and, I discovered later, in the country and around the world, didn’t want a bar of the ball-point pens. It was claimed that the new pens would spoil children’s hand-writing if they were allowed into schools. Others claimed that the whole education system would break down, kids would grow up illiterate, and Kiwis would be the laughing stock of the world. Some people claimed that introducing ball-point pens was a conspiracy to destroy society so that the already rich and powerful people of the world would have complete world dominance. Some parents threatened to pull their children out of school. How stupid was that! But, as time went by, people got to like their new ball-point pens, schools eventually accepted them, and even the famous Parker Pen Company that had been producing upmarket fountain pens since 1888, came into line in 1960 and started producing ball-points. Meanwhile, the protesters melted out of sight and out of mind.
The Scapegoat

Before we leave education there is the case of Helen Connon (1859-1903). The Connons staged what was pretty much a one family protest as they railed against the exclusion of girls from many schools. This was in the day when a woman’s place was in the bedroom and the kitchen only, and they didn’t need to be educated for that. The Connons had to move to a new town to find a school that would accept Helen. Helen not only got into a school, but she excelled and went on to become the first New Zealand female university graduate (1881), and she graduated with honours, which was a first for a woman in the British Empire. Later she was a school principal.

Almost every invention has met with determined protest action before its launch onto the market. The telephone was no exception and even now, 135 years on, a very small number of people refuse to have anything to do with it.

Motor vehicles were widely objected to for a variety of reasons. People sited noise, pollution, and safety. Others objected because they saw motor vehicles as play things of the rich and famous. Still others objected because they feared that motor vehicles would frighten their horses. Even now many people believe that motor vehicles are the world’s greatest curse. But if they cared to think about the state of a world now without motor vehicles, they would realize that without them the world would be in a truly frightful state as we walked knee deep in horse manure, died early, and were mostly unemployed. The standard of living that we take for granted in the 21st century would not have been possible without motor vehicles. That protest was wrong, even though it may be right to campaign for safer vehicles and safer driving.
A Twist of Fate

Then there was the protest mounted by one man alone. Samuel Duncan Parnell arrived in New Zealand in 1840 and became self-employed because his conditions of employment were unacceptable to employers who could have given him work. He refused to work more than 40 hours a week. Parnell found little support during his lifetime and had been dead 46 years when the first Labour Government introduced the 40 hour working week as standard.

Changes to New Zealand’s voting system, however minor, have always attracted widespread protest. In the first general election in 1854 only male land owners over the age of 21 were qualified to vote. Non-land owning residents protested, but in vain. It wasn’t until 1874 that all males over 21 were able to vote. It took many years of highly organized protest to have women accepted as voters in 1893, the first country in the world to do so.

A minor change that involves fewer people has been the question of votes for prisoners, and their voting status has changed countless time. Labour usually changes the law to include prisoners and National changes the law to exclude them, and each time the debate gets heated.
Highway America

The campaign for the introduction of Mixed Member Proportional Representation goes back a long way and started as a protest movement, with government and conservative business interests leading the opposition to change. As pressure mounted the government agreed to hold referendums on the question, and subsequently there was a change and the first MMP election was held in 1996. But even now the system, although supported by a majority of electors, remains controversial.

In the early 1960's a decision was made to change New Zealand’s currency from pounds, shillings and pence (£.s.d.) to a decimal system of dollars and cents. Instead of 12 pennies to a shilling and 20 shillings to a pound, New Zealand was to have 100 cents to a dollar. The protest ran on for years. As I remember, it was probably only exceeded in fiery debate and action by the Vietnam War and 1981 Springbok tour protests, both of which I support in hindsight. It is difficult to identify the main objection to the currency change, but one that springs to mind was the disrespect for our British heritage. It didn’t matter that the UK and Australia were also preparing to change. Another objection was that it was too American. People said that children would lose their mathematical skills because the new currency would be too easy to work with. Many people said that they would refuse to accept the new currency.  Inflation was another reason for opposing the new currency because half-pennies were going to disappear, and items priced at 11 pence would become 10 cents which was previously 12 pennies. The 1960s were comparatively good times economically for New Zealand, but people said it wasn’t the right time to change, and that it would cost millions of dollars (sorry pounds) to replace all the coins and banknotes. But in the end, the coins and notes were replaced as required over many years, and New Zealanders got on with life and other issues. 
Coming hard on the heels of decimal currency was the negotiations between New Zealand and Australia for a free trade agreement, which became known as CER (Closer Economic Relations). Of necessity the negotiations were conducted behind closed doors, but both governments were unfairly criticized for that. As it was every industry on both sides of the Tasman Sea wanted special consideration, and to negotiate publicly would have created a shambles that would have destroyed any possibility of agreement. Union leaders were particularly vocal in their conviction that unemployment would rise. The people of both countries were convinced that the other country would be the only one to gain any advantages.  But the politicians and departmental advisers beavered away for years before finally signing an agreement that did justice to the people of both countries. CER has been a success, and was a small step in the direction of trans-Tasman union, a future possible step that could also benefit both countries.

EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale) was created in the USA in 1981 as a secure and immediate system of payment using debit and credit cards. It was one of the greatest advances in retailing since the beginning of time, but it was bitterly opposed everywhere. In New Zealand the main objections included; it’s too American and the CIA is behind it, it will allow retailers and others to empty bank accounts with a simple zap of the card, and it will allow criminals access to your money. Most people said that they would refuse to have anything to do with EFTPOS. But by 1982 the first EFTPOS terminals were installed in New Zealand, and gradually the protesters faded away. Soon EFTPOS was so common that people started closing their cheque accounts, and even stopped carrying large amounts of cash. EFTPOS was an absolute winner, and today most people wouldn’t know how to shop without it.
The Tour Commentary

In the early part of the 20th century, New Zealand was a small colony with a lot of insecurity. The British had already sent a strong message urging us to find our own way in the world. They sent us a flag with a small union flag in one corner along with the stars of the Southern Cross. In 1907 they went a step further with the passage of the Statute of Westminster (an Act officially bestowing independence). But New Zealanders, led by farmers, resisted. They wanted to stay British. Without British citizenship, families would be torn apart, farm produce would rot at the farm gate, and the country which considered itself more English than England would be plunged into bankruptcy. The people spoke and the government listened. It took another 40 years for the New Zealand government to finally ratify the Statute of Westminster (Dominion Day, 26 September 1947), but the event went almost unnoticed and our most important day constitutionally is not even a national holiday, nor was a new flag adopted in recognition of independence. Meanwhile, generations of Kiwis have been born, lived and have died without understanding that their country is fully independent. As a protest, the resistance to independence was highly successful. As an exercise in national esteem, it has been New Zealand’s greatest failure.

Of less constitutional significance, and now also largely forgotten in the mists of time, was the Middle Island Association of Dunedin, which in the 1870’s demanded separation of the South Island from the rest of New Zealand. The meetings, protest marches and demands to Parliament went on for years before the protesters gave up. Just as surely as Tasmania is Australia’s smallest and poorest state, if the Middle Islanders had got their way they would only have succeeded in creating two Tasmania’s. The Middle Island protest failed in every way possible, except perhaps that they may have created a lineage that now includes some Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement protesters, who time will prove are entirely on the wrong track. Some people are so anti-free trade that they don’t even like one town trading with another town.

Even the medical profession has not been above making out-of-step protests. A 1913 medical conference held in Auckland set up a committee to lobby the government about the dangers of educating girls.

Although largely forgotten now, and pretty much ignored at the time, was the sit-in peaceful protest of the Parihaka Maori in Taranaki in the 1870’s and 1880’s. It was their land, but the government and land-hungry white settlers wanted it too. So the government had 400 protesters arrested and imprisoned without trial for 16 months. Their descendants had to wait 130 years for redress in the form of compensation and an apology. The land was never returned to them. That protest was admirable, but largely futile.

Public pressure and protest action stirred the government of the day to hold a referendum on the sale of alcohol in 1911. The result was that 55% of New Zealanders wanted a total ban on alcohol sales, but the government had already set the bar at 60%, so the protesters failed nationally but achieved some local dry areas. The three-yearly liquor licencing poll became a permanent feature of general elections for almost 100 years, but gradually the support for prohibition slipped away and all areas eventually became wet again. Had the protesters succeeded, it would have just needed an Al Capone to move in, and the crime rate and drunkenness rate would have soared. It was a protest that was determined and well-meaning, but sadly lacking in sound reasoning.

In 1972, New Zealand’s Equal Pay Act became law, making women legally entitled to the same pay as men for the same work. But in spite of bitter opposition and protests by business leaders and male working-class voters, the National Government of the day pressed ahead. It was claimed that equality would put businesses into liquidation, destroy the economy and be detrimental to the status of working men. But in the end, life went on and the standard of living was raised a notch for everyone. However, it has to be said that even today there are still some pay inequities involving female workers.

In the post WWII years, there was a perceived ‘juvenile delinquency’ epidemic as a crime spree gripped the opinion maker’s imagination. The cry went out loud and strong to imprison the offenders for longer terms with hard labour and bread and water, and to put them in the military to give them some discipline and training. In 1949, Labour Prime Minister Peter Fraser finally acted by announcing a referendum on compulsory military training (CMT) for all males aged 18. The voters scooped up the opportunity (18 year-olds didn’t get a vote) and voted 77.9% in favour to 22.1% against. It was probably the most overwhelming vote ever affecting youth. But CMT did nothing to reduce crime and turned out to be one of New Zealand’s most expensive failures. A later Labour Government led by Norman Kirk, allowed CMT to slip quietly into oblivion. The protesters had been 100% wrong. However, in a footnote to the demise of CMT, people in the military were said to be ‘On Her Majesty’s Service’ and letters from the government carried the OHMS message on the envelope. But then there was a protest movement called OHMS which was Organisation to Halt Military Service, and they won their war without firing a single shot.
Connect with Peter on Facebook or Twitter

After eight years in power (1949-1957) the National Government (Holland and Holyoake) lost power to Labour led by Walter Nash, the oldest person to hold the office of prime minister in New Zealand. After electing a Speaker, Nash had a majority in the House of only one seat. He had the very able Arnold Nordmeyer as his Minister of Finance, and Nordmeyer could see that some economic reforms were needed to keep the country on the straight and narrow. In his first budget, Nordie as he was known, increased the tax on tobacco and alcohol. There was immediate and widespread protest and Nordie is only remembered now for his 1958 Black Budget. At the next general election Keith Holyoake’s National Party was swept to power with 46 seats to Labour’s 34. The beer-drinking, cigarette-smoking protester got their way and defeated a government that had faced up to its responsibilities, in spite of the obvious repercussions that lay ahead.

Also, in the year of the Black Budget, New Zealand’s first supermarket, Foodtown, opened in Otahuhu, after locals protested to stop it going ahead. Fearing the effect on small businesses, many people said that they would refuse to shop at Foodtown, claiming that by a combined effort they could send it broke and put a stop to all future supermarkets. Needless to say, Foodtown quickly became New Zealand’s busiest shop and branches opened throughout the country. Since 1958 the number of owner operated shops, and the number of wage earners in retailing, has continued to outstrip population growth.

The introduction of television in 1960 tells a similar story. Thousands of people said they would refuse to buy a television, and if everyone did that, the problem would go away. They were probably the sons and daughters of the people who said they would refuse to have a telephone in the house.

Much has been written about French nuclear testing in the Pacific, the 1981 Springbok Rugby Tour, the sale of government assets, the Vietnam War, and many other issues and protests. For that reason they have not been included here. This is about other protests that were important in their own way, but are now largely forgotten.

Forgotten now, is the bail-out of Air New Zealand. The airline had been government owned from its inception in 1940, but in 2001 it was a public company listed on the stock exchange with many Kiwis holding small share parcels alongside corporate investors. But due to changing markets and some not so wise strategies, the airline hit head winds in 2001 and was in danger of collapse. The government of the day offered to buy into the company. They could see that a failed Air New Zealand would have ramifications beyond the airline itself, creating a domino effect that could cause a major economic downturn and large-scale unemployment. Almost to a man, the public were up in arms at the proposal. It was a waste of money. The airline should be allowed to fail. However, the Clark Government went ahead and acquired 75% of the increased capital of the airline at 25 cents a share and Air New Zealand survived to fly another day. However, the protesters were out in force again in 2014 when the Government sold part of its stake at $1.65 a share. To some people, government can do no right.

One of the longest and most bitter protests reached a peak in the 1970’s and 1980’s led by the unions and churches, unlikely bedfellows in the eyes of many. In 1936 it had become illegal to operate a retail business on a Saturday or Sunday. But with the introduction of supermarkets and generally larger retail shops, the movement to extend trading hours picked up some steam. The protesters came out in force declaring that weekend trading would spell the end of orderly society, workers’ rights, and about a million other lame reasons. In 1980, the law changed to allow shopping until midday on a Saturday, and in 1989 all day Saturday and Sunday became the rule. Now, the people who were going to boycott shops that changed to the new hours, can be seen filling the checkout lines in every shop and supermarket in the country.  Seven day shopping is now popular and convenient. But like so many other protests, before and after this protest, it is now conveniently forgotten.

As usual, when all the hoo-hah dies down, life goes on.