This is still operated by Queensland Railways — a 150 km trip on a 70-year old Railmotor in the far north of Queensland for which the driver is also the mechanic, involving a fair bit of shake rattle and roll over an isolated section that doesn’t connect to anything else. Top speed is 40 km/h. Strewth cobber, it’s fair dinkum Oz!
On Friday, Facebook carried out a purge of left-wing, antiwar and progressive pages and accounts, including leading members of the Socialist Equality Party. Facebook gave no explanation why the accounts were disabled or even a public acknowledgement that the deletions had occurred.
At least a half dozen leading members of the Socialist Equality Party had their Facebook accounts permanently disabled. This included the public account of Genevieve Leigh, the national secretary of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality, and the personal account of Niles Niemuth, the US managing editor of the World Socialist Web Site. In 2016, Niemuth was the Socialist Equality Party’s candidate for US Vice President.
U.S.-based commentator Caitlin Johnstone predicted this would happen (see earlier post), but maybe not as fast as it has. Does the Tech Giant cartel intend to start censoring what the International Union of Socialist Youth has to say, which the now Dear Leader of Aotearoa was elected President of in 2008? —Eds
From near sea level to over 1,000 metres altitude through the mountains.
by Dr. Michael Bassett, CNZM, QSO
Michael Bassett is New Zealand’s best-known political historian. He is the author of 15 books, nearly all of them with a political theme. He is a former Labour Party member of the New Zealand House of Representatives and cabinet minister in the fourth Labour government.
“A bizarre craze seems to be sweeping New Zealand right now. All things derived from Europe except our creature comforts must be set aside as we are expected to embrace all things Maori. It’s racism on a grand scale. No longer do our television stations refer to New Zealand. In fact, we are lucky if it’s Aotearoa-New Zealand. No reference to the fact that, as Michael King shows, Maori didn’t have a name for these lands, and only came to accept “Aotearoa” in relatively recent times.
Several newspapers are falling into line and are now calling our country Aotearoa, a name unknown to most people beyond our shores. No public debate. We are expected to acquiesce. The name “New Zealand” which dates back to Abel Tasman’s visit in 1642 came more into early use and is the name by which our land has always been recognized abroad. It won’t be long before the Woke who are driving all this insist on officially changing our country’s name. Instead of being proud New Zealanders, we’ll be expected to call ourselves Aotearoaians. They’ll try to avoid a referendum lest it results in rejection like occurred with changing the flag. Just impose it! The woke have no respect for democracy.
Government departments and public institutions are being renamed at such a rapid rate that it isn’t clear what the names refer to. Waka Kotahi for Transport? Why? Since all forms of transport except the canoe were unknown to Maori, and were imported from overseas, why a Maori name? Where did Waka Kotahi come from? Waka, yes. But Kotahi? It doesn’t appear in the revered Bruce Biggs’ Maori dictionary. Waka Kotahi wasn’t a term used by Maori before settlers arrived in the 1840s and 1850s.
There are other institutions with self-bestowed Maori names that are unrecognizable to ordinary Kiwis.
Radio New Zealand, too, has been working full time. They are deleting the words both “radio” and “New Zealand” from everyday use. Nowadays it’s “Te Irirangi o Aotearoa” or “RNZ”. Don’t mention dreaded English terms! Some Radio New Zealand reporters fall over themselves trying to conform to a ruling from on high that they should introduce themselves in Te Reo, despite the fact that the concept of radio came from overseas, and was absolutely unknown to Maori.
We have also been told recently that all streets in New Zealand are to be given a Maori name. Wow. That will be an expensive exercise! Who will dream up the new names? The Maori Language Commission that seems to be churning out new words at 200 km/h? And since Maori were very thin on the ground in the Auckland area in 1840 and were soon rapidly outnumbered by settlers, it won’t be appropriate either.
A relevant fact provided to members of the Waitangi Tribunal during the Kaipara case I heard was that in 1840 there were only 800 Maori living on the million acres of land between the Kaipara and East Tamaki. That fact will be conveniently overlooked.
Nothing is sufficiently disrespectful for Pakeha whose street names quite often have family or historical significance to them.
Similar examples of cultural cringe are showing up with the move to teach New Zealand history in our schools. Scratch the surface and it becomes clear that those driving the idea want to downplay the huge significance of the arrival of European culture in New Zealand. Rather, they intend to replace it with only partially accurate accounts of the difficulties Maori faced when brought into contact with a more developed culture.
Recently, I sought from the Ministry of Education details about who was designing the curriculum. Back came the names of a couple of black arm band school teachers and a collection of Maori radicals. There were a couple of academics, both Maori. No serious Pakeha historian in sight. We can say with certainty that a skewed version of New Zealand history will be devised, one that leaves out things like the Musket Wars where Maori did irreparable harm to their own economy and society.
Instead, there will be much concentration on “evil” colonial land purchasers and settler governments, and excessive Maori land confiscations at the end of the wars of the 1860s. About the last of these, of course students must be told. The confiscations came on top of the damage that Maori had already done to themselves and helped further depress the Maori economy and damage Maori society. But what is taught to modern students should not exclude everything that reflects badly on Maori themselves.
Moreover, kids need to know that up to 50% of Maori in the country in the 1860s sided with the Crown. And they need to be told why. The term “Kupapa Maori” to describe those Maori is regarded by modern Maori as equivalent to being called an “Uncle Tom”. But it was respected in earlier times.
And if one needs any more evidence that cultural cringe has reached massive proportions in Auckland, have a look at the programme for the Auckland Arts Festival between 4-21 March 2021. Its Maori name, Te Ahurei Toi O Tamaki, takes precedence on the front cover.
Remember, that in Auckland, Maori are only 11.5% of the total population. Pacific Islanders are 13% of Auckland’s population and Asians constitute more than 25%, according to the latest census. People of European ethnicity make up more than 50% of Auckland’s population, but in the eyes of the organisers of the festival they don’t count. The programme is “kapa haka, Maori artists, waiata sing alongs and korero [that] will bring the taonga that is te reo front and centre for audiences”. Really? In a city where almost 90% of people are not of Maori ethnicity?
Why hasn’t Auckland City, Creative New Zealand, Foundation North and a collection of worthy sponsors spared a thought for the overwhelming majority of Auckland citizens and ratepayers? Where is the “equity” in this festival? Answer: too much power has been allowed to slip into the hands of crusaders who for too long seem to have been able to commandeer the resources of others for their own political ends.
When, or will, Aucklanders, and New Zealanders as a whole, stop cringing and wake up to what is being done to their culture and largely with their money?”
(from BassettBrashandHide.com — original article)
The average house on the Kāpiti Coast earned more in untaxed capital gains over the final three months of 2020 than the average New Zealander earned in pre-tax income over the entire year. We also saw average house prices jump by more than $100,000 over the year.
What this continues to highlight is that we urgently need a combined response from Government, local government and the industry to solve the housing affordability issues that are being further exacerbated.
As the holder of the housing portfolio, I’m pleased that this council with the backing of our elected representatives has elevated the housing work programme, so that it now forms a significant new tranche of work within the Long Term Plan.
Unfortunately, the problem is so significant, it will take a new response from the government, and possibly even a political consensus to achieve real change.
Despite the enormity of the issue, our council is already working to create a housing programme, and there are a number of activities under way. However, with such an important issue, this programme will go out for consultation in the Long Term Plan.
With councillors and the public’s backing, we can make some significant changes to help ensure it is easier to provide housing solutions, and that we can encourage the types of housing that the free market is not delivering.
We have to do our best to ensure the people that already live here have access to houses, while also planning for the 30,000 to 50,000 who are expected to move here over the next thirty years. That requires some significant changes within our planning and processes, and our strategic thinking. It is a huge challenge for all of council, and I look forward to talking about the housing programme as the political year begins.
If you are keen on reading what is occurring behind the scenes, here’s a short report within the Strategy and Operation Committee Meeting on 19 November 2020.
KCDC Councillor — Housing Portfolio
By Roger Childs
The enterprising Englishman Edward Gibbon Wakefield and his sons were instrumental in the settlement of Wellington in 1840. The Wakefield New Zealand Company would also set up other communities in Nelson, Wanganui and New Plymouth. Questionable land purchases were done with local Maori a year or two before and some of these were called into question by the new colonial government which was established in Russell following the Treaty of Waitangi.
The setting up of the New Zealand British colony in early February 1840 was hastened partly by concerns about what the Wakefields were up to further south.
An uncomfortable start for the migrants
Local Te Ati Awa Maori helped the first British settlers from the Aurora land on Petone Beach on 22 January 1840, but to the new arrivals’ dismay there were no wooden houses awaiting them. So it was life under canvass for a few weeks in a settlement which was patriotically called Britannia. (There are excellent displays about this first community at the Petone Museum.)
It was soon apparent that the swampy, flood-prone land of the Lower Hutt Valley was utterly unsuitable for building and within a few months the settlers decamped for Te Aro on the other side of the harbour. The new town was soon named after the “Iron Duke” who with a bit of help from the Prussians has eventually prevailed over the French at the Battle of Waterloo 25 years earlier.
Growth and celebration
By the end of 1840 about 2300 migrants had arrived in more than 100 ships, and houses had been built and streets laid out in Wellington. On the first anniversary in January 1841 the community had developed enough to be able to host two formal balls, church services and a feast, as well as horse and canoe races, rifle shooting and games.
So 25 January 2021 is the 181st anniversary of British people coming to “Wellington”, but why do the citizens of the Kapiti Coast, Hutt Valley, the Porirua Basin, Wairarapa, Horowhenua, Wanganui, Manawatu and Rangitikei, as well as Wellington, get a holiday on Monday? Basically all those regions were once part of the Wellington Province.
The New Zealand provinces
In the mid 19th century there were few roads and no railways. Most travel between the scattered communities of the fledgling British colony was by sea. So in 1852 six provinces were set up under the constitution to provide for the efficient administration of the country’s scattered settlements. Four more provinces were added later.
However by 1876 land transport was rapidly expanding, railways were being built and many provincial administrations were in dire financial straits. The central government in Wellington, led by Julius Vogel, decided the time had come to abolish the provinces.
The provinces have broken down because of their coming into conflict with the colonial government on many points, and especially on points of finance. Their doom was only a question of time … –Colonial Treasurer, Julius Vogel 1874
However, each province had set up an anniversary day and 145 years after the abolition of provincial government, these public holidays remain.
There was an attempt to set up a national holiday to replace provincial anniversaries, but this failed. The anniversaries remain and people continue to identify with their “province” even though there have been many changes over the last hundred years in how districts/regions/boroughs/cities are administered.
For many, there is pride is being from Taranaki or the Waikato; identifying as a West Coaster or a Southlander. Many sports teams continue to have a provincial basis, and cultural, professional and employment groups still associate themselves with a province or region.
It’s a long way back to the demise of the provinces, however, anniversary days are here to stay! New regions and identities have emerged over the last 145 years, but it is the original provincial boundaries from the mid 19th century that determine which day you get your holiday.
So whatever your origins and date of arrival in the place where you live today, enjoy your provincial holiday!
by Caitlin Johnstone
There’s a news story about a US military convoy entering Syria being shared around social media with captions claiming that President Biden is already “invading” Syria which is getting tons of shares in both right-wing and left anti-imperialist circles. The virality of these shares has inspired clickbait titles like “Joe Biden Invades Syria with Convoy of US Troops and Choppers on First Full Day as President“, which are being shared with equal virality.
But if you read the original report everyone jumped on, accurately titled “US military convoy enters northeast Syria: report”, you don’t have to read too far to get to this line: “Other local media report that such maneuvers are not unusual as the US often moves transfers equipment between Iraq and Syria.”
So while this is a movement of troops between illegitimate military occupations which have no business existing in either country, it is nothing new and would have been happening regardless of which candidate had won the last US presidential election.
Another inaccurate narrative that’s gone completely viral is the claim that Biden is sending more troops to Iraq. This one traces back to a single Twitter post by some Trumpy account with the handle “@amuse” who shared a Jerusalem Post article with the caption “BREAKING: President Biden is considering reversing Trump’s drawdown in Iraq by adding thousands of troops to combat growing terror threats in the region as evidenced by Thursday’s attack near the US embassy.”
If you read the actual JPost article titled “Baghdad bombing could be the Biden admin’s first challenge” you will see that it contains no such claim, and if you were to search a bit you would find @amuse claiming that they were sharing something they’d learned from “sources” in DC instead of accurately summarizing the contents of the article. Unless you know this person and know them to be consistently trustworthy, there is no valid reason to believe claims allegedly said by alleged anonymous sources to some openly partisan anonymous account on Twitter.
But the bogus tweet was amplified by many influential accounts, most notably by Donald Trump Jr with the caption “Getting back into wars on the first full day. The Swamp/War Inc. is thrilled right now.” Its virality then caused it to work its way outward to dupe many well-meaning anti-imperialists (myself included until I looked into it) who are vigilant against Biden’s notorious warmongering, and now there’s a widespread narrative throughout every part of the ideological spectrum that Biden is escalating warmongering in both Syria and Iraq.
It is entirely possible–probable even–that reliable warmonger Joe Biden will end up sending more US troops to Iraq and Syria at some point during his administration. But if the antiwar community keeps staring at the movement of ground troops with hypervigilant intensity, they won’t be paying enough attention to the areas where the more deadly aspects of Biden’s hawkishness are likely to manifest.
Trump’s base has been forcefully pushing the narrative that the previous president didn’t start any new wars, which while technically true ignores his murderous actions like vetoing the bill to save Yemen from US-backed genocide and actively blocking aid to its people, murdering untold tens of thousands of Venezuelans with starvation sanctions, rolling out many world-threatening cold war escalations against Russia, engaging in insane brinkmanship with Iran, greatly increasing the number of bombs dropped per day from the previous administration, killing record numbers of civilians, and reducing military accountability for those airstrikes. Trump may not have started any “new wars”, but he kept the old ones going and inflamed some of them. Just because you don’t start any new wars doesn’t mean you’re not a warmonger.
Rather than a throwback to “new wars” and the old-school ground invasions of the Bush era, the warmongering we’ll be seeing from the Biden administration is more likely to look like this. More starvation sanctions. More proxy conflicts. More cold war. More coups. More special ops. More drone strikes. More slow motion strangulation, less ham-fisted overt warfare.
It is certainly possible that Biden could launch a new full-scale war; the empire is in desperate straits right now, and it could turn out that a very desperate maneuver is needed to maintain global domination. But that isn’t the method that it has favored lately. The US empire much prefers nowadays to pour its resources into less visible acts of violence like economic siege warfare and arming proxy militias; the Iraq invasion left Americans so bitter toward conventional war that any more of it would increase the risk of an actual antiwar movement in the United States, which would be disastrous for the empire. So rather than tempt fate with the bad publicity of flag-draped coffins flying home by the thousands again imperialism is now served up with a bit more subtlety, with the military playing more of a backup role to guard the infrastructure of this new approach.
It appears clear that this would be the Biden administration’s preferred method of warmongering if given the choice based on who’s going to be in it. The incoming Secretary of State Tony Blinken now advocates replacing the old Bush model of full-scale war with “discreet, small-scale sustainable operations, maybe led by special forces, to support local actors”. Biden’s nominee for CIA Director William Burns urged caution in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion and later expressed regret that he didn’t push back against it. Rather than picking bloodthirsty psychopath Michele Flournoy for Defense Secretary as many expected, Biden went with the less cartoonishly evil Raytheon board member Lloyd J. Austin III.