Maori seats against the Treaty of Waitangi

It seems that whatever happens in New Zealand, we are told we have to reserve some special space for Maori as part of our “treaty obligations”. The Maori Party wants to have special Maori seats on the Auckland council for example.

Many people say the Treaty of Waitangi established a “partnership” between Maori and the Crown.

But most of the people promoting these ideas don’t seem to have actually read the Treaty. The three articles of the Treaty of Waitangi are:

Article the first

The Chiefs of the Confederation of the United Tribes of New Zealand and the separate and independent Chiefs who have not become members of the Confederation cede to Her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of Sovereignty which the said Confederation or Individual Chiefs respectively exercise or possess, or may be supposed to exercise or to possess over their respective Territories as the sole sovereigns thereof.

Article the second

Her Majesty the Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the Chiefs and Tribes of New Zealand and to the respective families and individuals thereof the full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates Forests Fisheries and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess so long as it is their wish and desire to retain the same in their possession; but the Chiefs of the United Tribes and the individual Chiefs yield to Her Majesty the exclusive right of Preemption over such lands as the proprietors thereof may be disposed to alienate at such prices as may be agreed upon between the respective Proprietors and persons appointed by Her Majesty to treat with them in that behalf.

Article the third

In consideration thereof Her Majesty the Queen of England extends to the Natives of New Zealand Her royal protection and imparts to them all the Rights and Privileges of British Subjects.

To summarise, the chiefs were to hand over all sovereignty to the Queen (Article 1), while retaining full ownership of all their lands and possessions (Article 2), and gaining the protection of the British Empire and the same rights as any other British subjects (Article 3).

Importantly, in Article 3 the Treaty established one law for all New Zealanders.

The Treaty neverĀ  suggests a partnership. In fact, it specifically precludes it, when it says the Chiefs will “cede to Her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of Sovereignty”.

Some people claim the Maori version was translated poorly, and the Chiefs understood this to mean something else. So, what does a literal English translation of the Maori version state?

The Chiefs of the Confederation and all the chiefs who have not joined that Confederation give absolutely to the Queen of England for ever the complete government over their land.

This is even clearer!

The Chiefs may however have had a different idea to the Crown about what this word “government” actually extended to. They may have believed the Crown would have had a more limited role and they would have had greater freedom to run their own affairs. If you believed this to be true, you could argue for a smaller government on the basis of the Treaty.

But I have never heard anyone argue for this. On the contrary, most activists appear to be socialists wanting to extend the State further, while giving special treatment to anyone with brown skin.

I am sure those who signed the Treaty would be disgusted.

We are one heavily interbred people. It is pointless to maintain a racial divide that becomes more artificial with each generation. Let’s embrace the Treaty of Waitangi instead, and have one law for all New Zealanders.

You don’t need a gun to be a dangerous psycopath

Following the shooting of 4 people in Napier by an man with 18 guns and no firearms licence, 60 minutes has managed to buy a gun without a licence, very easily.

This doesn’t surprise me at all. No-one knows how many guns are actually in NZ, but estimates are generally over a million. With only around 230,000 people holding gun licences, the reality is that many of these guns are owned by unlicenced people already. When you are talking those sorts of numbers, there are bound to be a few people willing to sell to an unlicenced buyer.

In the country at least, people don’t generally get a licence to buy a gun. They get a licence to buy ammunition for the guns they already have.

But is this really as bad as some sectors of the media might imply?

New Zealand’s violent crime rate is over double that of America, with Auckland having a comparable violent crime rate to Washington. But gun crime is only a small fraction of this. Because guns aren’t the problem.

Anything is a weapon. I have been working on the farm today, and as I write this am wearing a sheath knife on my belt. That is highly lethal (I kill sheep with it), but I can buy that wherever I like with no licence at all. And if I couldn’t buy it, I could easily make one with a chunk of steel and an angle grinder.

You can kill a lot more people with a car than a gun, and you don’t even need a driver’s licence to buy a car. Or you could use an axe, a machete, a kitchen knife, a chainsaw – the average home is a formidable arsenal of lethal weapons.

But despite being well armed we don’t all go around killing people – because we aren’t all violent nutcases.

Violent crime is not about the availability of weapons. It’s about what makes people violent nutcases.

We can only solve violent crime by addressing the causes of violence: family situations, drug addictions, mental health, violence in the media, and so on. We must empower parents to actually discipline children when they are young so the police don’t have to do it later.

There is a lot we can do. But restricting a few tools won’t do a thing.

Let’s make New Zealand a tax haven

There’s a lot of talk about “cracking down on tax havens” at the moment, as high-tax Western countries want to crank up taxes to spend their way out of the recession, and want to stop people who disagree with their policies from moving their money somewhere else.

But what is a tax haven? Not a dodgy regime of crooks as some might imply – no-one would invest their money there as it wouldn’t be safe. A tax haven is essentially a stable country with low taxes. According to the OECD, the UK, the USA, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria are all tax havens, as they offer low tax rates to foreign investors to encourage people to invest in the country. Sounds a sensible idea to me.

A government is basically a service provider. One government offers to provide state services (such as law enforcement) for a certain price. Another may offer the same services for less. This results in competition, driving down overall tax rates, just as competition between supermarkets drives down the cost of food.

But certain high-tax nations now want to gang up on a few low-tax countries to force them to give up the personal details of people investing money in them. Rather than making themselves more competitive so people choose to keep their money there, they want to steal business back from other countries that are offering a better deal.

Let’s illustrate this with supermarkets. Fruit and vegetables are generally cheaper from specialist growers markets than from the supermarkets. But what if Foodstuffs and Progressive (the owners of virtually all NZ supermarkets) banded together and told your local greengrocer that they had to give them the personal details of all their customers or they would undertake “protectionist policies” to drive the greengrocer out of business?

Such behaviour would be immediately stamped on as “anti-competitive”, and a breach of privacy. But when governments do the same thing, are we supposed to think it is ok? That’s a big double standard.

What right does any government have to pressure another into changing their tax laws, or giving up the personal details of individuals?

Furthermore, not all foreign investors do so to avoid taxes. It can be very important for investors to have their personal information protected. Jews invested large quantities of money in Switzerland during the 1930’s to protect it from the Nazis – what if their personal details had been given up? There are plenty of oppressive regimes at the moment that you wouldn’t want to keep any money in – Zimbabwe for example. But you certainly wouldn’t want Mugabe knowing you had money stashed away in Liechtenstein…

We must not destroy vital personal privacy laws just to satisfy a short-term greed for tax revenue.

No, if we want to ride out this recession, we need more people investing money in New Zealand. And if there is a crack-down on other tax havens, there will be wealthy people looking for somewhere else to invest. Why don’t we draw that money here?

So lets slash taxes, guarantee personal privacy, and make New Zealand a tax haven.

To have your preconceptions about tax havens blown away, I’d recommend this excellent short video series by the Centre for Freedom and Prosperity:
The Economic Case for Tax Havens
The Moral Case for Tax Havens
Tax Havens: Myths vs Facts

NZ electricity usage for Earth Hour

power_load-2Whale Oil has obtained the New Zealand power usage data for the Earth Hour Saturday and the previous Saturday (LW in the graph).

There is very little difference between the two Saturdays, but there was slightly MORE electricity used during Earth Hour than the same hour the previous week.

Good to see most people weren’t taken in by this nonsense.

See also:
Earth Hour increases electricity usage (Sydney).

Plastic bag tax

National’s resident greenie, Dr Nick Smith, is considering a tax on plastic bags because, in his personal opinion, “New Zealanders were over-using plastic shopping bags”. We’ve lived in Ireland with such a tax, so here is a brief summary of the good and the bad:

The Good:

  • Reusable bags don’t break. They are much nicer to use than disposable ones.

The Bad:

  • You use disposable plastic bags for all sorts of things – lining rubbish bins for example. When you don’t get them from the supermarket you are forever running out of them, and have to buy plastic bin liners – defeating the environmental purpose of the tax.
  • Reusable bags are bulky.
  • You often forget to take enough reusable bags with you, and have to either buy more reusable bags or disposable ones. So in practice you waste money one way or another.
  • Most reusable bags are plastic. It must take a lot of resources to make one, so you would have to replace a large number of disposables with one reusable to make it worthwhile. In practice they only have a limited life before they get lost or have something disgusting spilt through them, so you don’t actually replace as many disposables as you would expect with each reusable bag. The environmental benefit is therefore questionable.
  • The main winners are the supermarkets. They sell more reusable bags (with their own logos on). They sell plastic bin liners as people aren’t recycling disposable plastic bags as bin liners. And in Dr Smith’s plan, they might even get the plastic bag levy itself. Expect the supermarkets to support this plan, but not for environmental reasons.

So I can only think of one advantage – reusable bags are strong and good to use. There is nothing to stop you using reusable bags now for this reason, and many people already do (for example MacDoctor).

It is highly debatable whether there is any environmental benefit from this whatsoever. Plastic bags are a minute fraction of NZ’s waste (0.2% according to the Dominion Post), much of which will currently be recycled supermarket bags containing rubbish. Most of these will be replaced by new plastic bin liners if this law goes through – in other words, there will be less recycling, and plastic bags will still be about the same amount of NZ’s waste, just more expensive.

Fortunately we have a far more sensible Prime Minister:

Mr Key said there was no way he was going to support a charge that was in effect a tax going into the coffers of supermarkets. “My preference is to find a voluntary and industry-led solution,” he said.”I’ve made that very clear to the minister.”

Asked whether he would preferred to have known in advance about both issues, he replied: “I think it would be more useful if I found out about things before I read about them in the newspaper.”

Good on you Mr Key!

Other comments around the blogs:
MacDoctor: Fantastic Plastic
Madeleine: Blue is the New Green: National’s Bag Tax
Homepaddock: Bin that idea, Nick
Not PC: Nanny Nick taxes bags
Whale Oil: More on Bags

Earth hour will kill us all! 3 – Entertainment

What should you do this earth hour? You can’t watch TV, or read this blog, that would use electricity. You can’t work on the car by candlelight, you might cause a nasty explosion. So here are a few suggestions:

Don’t go to a concert. There is an “Earth Hour Unplugged” concert in Christchurch, there are probably other events on elsewhere. But to get there you’d probably use a car, or a bus. That one trip could melt a glacier. And they’ll probably have big amplifiers using thousands of watts of coal-fired electricity. And as you switched off the burglar alarm to save electricity, and everyone’s lights are off so criminals can easily work undetected. you may get home and find your furniture has disappeared.

Only go to a concert if your sole purpose is to switch off the amplifiers for the sake of the planet so everyone can sit in perfect silence straining their ears to hear the peaceful twanging of the electric guitar strings. Otherwise stay at home.

But what to do at home? You can’t read a book, or play a board game, you’d need to light candles for that, and that could cause immense ecological destruction. You could play “blind mans bluff” in the dark, but may trip over and break all the furniture you stayed home to protect. Or break an arm, requiring the consumption of toxic petrol to take you to the hospital.

No, you’ll just have to go to bed early. But DON’T be tempted to curl up under the covers in your cold unheated bedroom and snuggle with the wife. Population growth will destroy the planet. Keep your hand-knitted hemp underpants on.

To be safe, one of you had better sleep on the couch.

Lie in the cold, dark lounge, on the couch, listening to the hum of the fridge (which you should have left turned on) and contemplate that:

“Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialised civilisations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” – Maurice Strong, founder of the United Nations Environment Programme. (via Micky’s Muses)

Get used to sleeping in the cold and the dark, it sounds like this won’t be the first night. And then one day, as you cough yourself to death from smoke inhalation (candles), hypothermia and botulism (you did turn the fridge off after all, didn’t you?), at the age of 40, with no children to remember your name, you may feel glad that at least by your sacrifice you may have saved the life of a snail, somewhere. Possibly.

See also:
Earth hour will kill us all! 1 – Lighting
Earth hour will kill us all! 2 – Appliances

Earth hour will kill us all! 1 – Lighting

In this series I’m adopting the language used by the global warming enthusiasts in an attempt to communicate on level ground.

This Saturday, we’re supposed to turn off all our lights for an hour to “join [WWF] in taking a step towards living more sustainably”.

But what is the real effect on the environment of switching off our lights and burning candles instead?

Modern candles are generally made from parrafin wax – ie, oil. They burn inefficiently, putting out most of their energy as heat, while producing a little bit of light as well. On the other hand, most of New Zealand’s electricity generation is from renewable sources (hydro), so produces very low carbon emissions.

So what are you doing if you huddle over candles this Saturday?

  • Depending on how many candles & lights you use, you may actually increase your carbon emissions (unless you make your own candles from tallow of course (a renewable biofuel), so the die-hard hippies are ok. But they probably have earth hour every night anyway).
  • Inhaling smoke, damaging your lungs (again no change for the die-hard hippies if they’re on the weed anyway). Smoke inhalation is a major health problem in the third world, and is one of the reasons we use electric light.
  • Wasting money. Electricity is far cheaper than candles – because it is more efficient.
  • Damaging local industry, sending money to China. Electricity is made by Kiwis, for Kiwis. Most of our candles are made in China (check your packet). Buy NZ made – use electricity this Earth Hour.
  • Creating a fire hazard. Candles are a major source of house fires. This week it could be you.

I’m sure there are more problems I’ve missed. If you don’t want your cemetary to be flooded by rising seawater in a hundred years, Buy NZ Made this earth hour, and use electric lights.

See also: Earth hour will kill us all! 2 – Appliances
Earth hour will kill us all! 3 – Entertainment

EDIT 1:
Although the Fire Service suggests torches as safer than candles, they’re at least as bad for the environment. Batteries are toxic and take a large amount of energy to produce relative to the amount of light you get out of them. And they’re probably made in China too. Don’t go there.

EDIT 2:
Rather than candles or torches, it would be far more sustainable to use some of New Zealand’s clean, eco-friendly renewable electricity, crank out the outdoor Christmas lights, and join MandM’s Earth Hour protest.

Helen Clark abandoning voters

As I predicted the day after the election last year, Helen Clark is abandoning all the people who wanted her as their MP for Mt Albert, because she didn’t win the election.

When on the campaign trail last year I met many Labour voters who voted that way specifically because they liked Helen Clark. She is a very popular politician, although I may disagree with her policies. I personally feel that abandoning the voters who have stood by her in this way is poor form.

A former Prime Minister retiring after losing the position, forcing a by-election, is nothing new of course. Jim Bolger did the same thing.

On the other hand, Jenny Shipley retired eventually, but stuck round long enough to not force a by-election. In the National government at the moment there are Bill English and Don Brash, both former leaders of the opposition, and Bill English and Roger Douglas, former finance ministers, all of whom have stayed in parliament after being ousted from their high positions, unlike Helen Clark and Michael Cullen.

By contrast, Helen Clark:

  • Retired from the leadership voluntarily, unlike Bolger and Shipley, before choosing to retire from parliament.
  • Announced her retirement from the leadership (setting the stage for her leaving parliament) on the election night, completely different to Shipley.

Rather than thanking her voters for electing her, she set the stage to abandon them as soon as she learnt the election result. Furthermore she chose to do this herself rather than being toppled in a coup.

And now she moves to the UN, where she can continue to promote her views to yet more people but without having to be as accountable to voters.

Helen Clark is a well-respected NZ politician. Her views on many issues, although not my own, are supported by many New Zealanders, who elected her because of them.

I feel that by leaving like this she will damage Labour’s reputation with many voters, making Labour look like they are about power rather than policies. Although not a National voter myself, were I Joe Bloggs average swinging voter, usually choosing between Labour and National (the voters that ultimately decide every election result) I would be far more likely to pick a party whose MPs tended to stay to promote their policy regardless of what position they held, rather than retiring as soon as they lose the top job.

Although I disagree with her policies, I feel it is a shame to see her go, and can only harm Labour and upset her many supporters.

She has however done very well managing to become the head of the UNDP, so I must congratulate her on that.

ALDI supermarkets in New Zealand?

Sunday tonight was looking at supermarket prices and the lack of competition in NZ. They said there are rumours that ALDI is looking at the New Zealand market – they are already in Australia.

ALDI is a German supermarket chain, we usually shopped there when in Ireland. They are a very basic, small supermarket. They have a very limited range of products. For example, if you want tinned spaghetti, they’ll have one option.

That option will be of medium-good quality (think Pams) but priced about the same as the cheapest option in any other supermarket.

We have actually found at least one item here that is identical to what we purchased in Ireland, made in the same country, but with a Pams sticker on here and an ALDI sticker on in Ireland. So that is about the quality you get.

There will be a few items you can’t get there, so maybe once a month you have to go somewhere else to top up on spices or something random. But in general ALDI has everything you need, for a very good price. With very poor service however.

In addition they have random stuff like computers, power tools, clothing etc that changes week to week – they seem to get in a pallet of anything they can get cheap and stock it only until they are sold out. It is a completely different model to the massive supermarkets we are used to in NZ.

I hope they do come here. We’ve been missing ALDI and their major rival Lidl (same basic concept) ever since we got back. Either of those chains starting in NZ would really shake things up, the more competition the better.

I’m really missing their tinned bacon and lentil soup…

Smacking with a wooden spoon

It is encouraging that John Boscowan (ACT MP) is introducing a private members bill to modify Section 59 of the Crimes Act to allow light smacking again. However we have yet to see the details of his proposed amendment. David Farrar has suggested he base it on the Borrows amendment, as this was originally supported by National so should gain National’s support again.

The Borrows amendment would allow physical discipline unless:

  1. It causes or contributes materially to harm that is more than transitory and trifling; or
  2. Any weapon, tool or other implement is used; or
  3. It is inflicted by any means that is cruel, degrading or terrifying.

Point 1 makes good sense. It ensures you cannot beat your children then get off prosecution by saying it was “discipline”. Point 3 also makes some sense, however it would provide a lot of scope for prosecution lawyers to call virtually anything “degrading” (he was smacked on the bottom, bottoms are private parts, that was degrading etc).

However what about point 2? Now I know as soon as I criticise that point I will immediately be labelled as advocating “beating children” by some people, but as they wouldn’t listen to anything I said on the issue anyway I’m not concerned about that. For the rest of us, what need is there for point 2, when you already have point 1?

If no more than “transitory and trifling” effects are produced, what difference does it make whether a hand or a wooden spoon was used? homerstranglesbart1

In fact, it is quite possible to beat a child to death with your bare hands. You don’t need a weapon to inflict major injuries. Whether an implement is used has absolutely nothing to do with preventing child abuse, and is actually a distraction from the real issue.

It also opens up a new issue – what is an implement? Is a ring an implement if a child is smacked with an open hand but accidentally injured by a ring? What about if the parent happened to be wearing a soft glove? What about a thick leather glove?

Let’s not go there. The issue is whether harm is caused that is more than “transitory and trifling”. Forget about whether an implement is used – that is completely irrelevant and just another point of dispute.

I am not writing this to promote disciplining with a wooden spoon, a strap, or any other implement. That should be unnecessary, in my opinion. But I also know some people will disagree and I am not arrogant enough to force my views on them.

My concern is that the government should not be regulating activities (such as methods of discipline), and instead should be concerned with real crime (whether or not the child is abused).

Let’s keep our laws simple and to the point.

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