Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Thin End of the Wedge?

Wanganui gains an 'h' - how long until Auckland is officially renamed Tamaki Makaurau?

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10616306

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10616467

The Background

In a compromise that seems to have been welcomed by leaders of both sides of the debate (although deplored by the increasingly liberal NZ Herald editor), the Wanganui / Whanganui debate has apparently been settled by a declaration by Land Transport Minister Maurice Williamson that people can spell the city name however they wish. although Crown entities will move over time to adopt the 'h' in their official spelling. This comes after a long and sometimes heated public debate which, on the surface, seemed rather silly really - why all the fuss about a lousy letter? Of course, the actual issue is much more than that.

The Situation

Just as we now have Aorangi/Mt Cook and Taranaki/Mt Egmont, we now also have Wanganui/Whanganui. This issue pitted a small group of local Maori, a larger group of local liberals, and an even larger group of people from all over the country against the majority of Wanganui's residents, their Mayor, and an equally large group of mainly conservative NZers elsewhere in the country.

At its heart is the problem with the word 'Wanganui', which doesn't actually mean anything at all but is a bastardisation of the word 'Whanganui' or 'big harbour' - a name already present in several other places around NZ. Local Maori began arguing against the incorrect spelling of the name in the 1970s and 80s, and were eventually successful in getting the Wanganui River's spelling changed to Whanganui in the early 1990s. To me, this was the perfect compromise - this was, of course, a natural feature with which local Maori had long historical links. The city, which was established in 1840 as one of Wakefield's NZ Company settlements and originally named Petre until 1854, could have maintained its bastardised spelling as a point of difference and interest, a historical novelty showing the difficulties of transcribing words from a non-literary culture into those recognisable by others who do not speak the language. For over 150 years the city's name has been spelt this way, establishing its own historical legacy.

The issue was brought to the people of Wanganui in two referenda, as such things should, and twice over 80% of residents chose to keep the incorrect spelling. The NZ Geographic Board, however, composed of 7 appointed members of whom two must be Maori, proposed that the 'h' be inserted despite the wishes of the city's inhabitants, and all of a sudden the dispute gained national prominence. The Board, founded in 1947, is guided by the Designation of Districts Act 1894 which specifies that any future naming or name alterations must give preference to the original Maori names, and is explicitly required to encourage the use of original Māori place names on official maps.

Why would it overrule the wishes of the majority?

My Opinion

As I see it, this is yet another example of the growing rift between Maori and non-Maori in contemporary NZ. In the past few months race relations have taken a major hit, with the animated discussion over Hone Harawira's 'white motherf@^*er' comments (interestingly enough he seems to have been slapped with a wet bus ticket and told to be a little more circumspect next time in his choice of words) and, just last week, the announcement that the Maori separatist movement's Tino Rangatiratanga flag would be flown alongside NZ's national flag from public buildings on Waitangi Day. Maori have been threatened for many years by the growing diversity of New Zealand's population. Similarly, many caucasian New Zealanders have been threatened by their diminising majority within the population. Both sides fear for the future, and Maori groups, since the 1980s, have been relentless in their attempts to secure protection and legal recognition for their tangata whenua status.

In this light, the Waitangi Tribunal process can be seen as important in seeking to rectify the illegal land confiscations of the 19th and 20th centuries, but it is rapidly approaching its use-by date. The current prevailing world view that colonialism was 'bad' has coloured historical thinking and teaching to such an extent where some Maori actually believe that ALL the social ills of their current society can be blamed on the European 'invaders'. Meanwhile, non-Maori are increasingly being put off studying NZ History because of the current historiography glorifying Maori and condemning everyone else. While there are many things which we as NZers should feel ashamed of in our past, there are many more things which we should be proud of and celebrating, but a lot of these have now been 'tainted' with the brush of 'colonialism' (as if it were a bad thing).

So the 'h' debate is more than JUST a letter, it is about who we are as a country, what we believe about our past and which direction we want our future to take. We have a shared history which is being threatened. I recall a history lecture I was attending at the University of Waikato (which was soon to be given to Tainui) in 1996 being interupted by several 'protesters' demanding that Hamilton be renamed Kirikiriroa and that Von Tempsky drive be renamed because it was an insult to Maori to have a road named after a 'murderous mercenary'. Over recent years the number of people referring to New Zealand by the modern Maori fabrication 'Aotearoa' has also increased, and I wouldn't be surprised to see this to be a future target.

I imagine this, too, will be resolved by adopting a combined name - in 2100 AD (sorry, CE - don't want to upset those non-Christians out there!) will we officially be Aotearoa-New Zealand? (The NZ Geographic Board is actually prohibited at the moment from changing the name of our country, but will this continue?) Will our largest city be Auckland/Tamaki Makaurau? Will our capital be Te Whanganui-a-Tara/Wellington? And, some would ask, will it really matter?

I say it does. Te Whanganui-a-Tara is a local name for Wellington harbour, but not for the entire city, which did not exist as a metropolitan entity prior to the establishment of Port Nicholson. Tamaki Makaurau is a broad area encompassing even more than the Auckland supercity. Neither area had anywhere near the significance that they do now; a significance that contributes to the historical legacy of the names 'Auckland' and 'Wellington'. The significance of 'Dunedin' as a name is a significant historical recognition of the migration of the Scots to this part of the South Island (which may not be as imaginitive as Te Ika o Te Maui but at least it's more accurate). To lose these names is to lose the past 150 years of NZ history and heritage, and it is for this reason that the 'h' debate was so heated. The government's compromise on this has slightly dampened the discussion, but it will flare up elsewhere, soon, in a town, city or island near you. Of that, I have no doubt.

And that's my two cents to sense.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Conspiracy in Copenhagen

I've been reading a lot about this since noticing an increase in the blanket coverage of climate change by the mainstream media in the build up to the conference, and the more I read, the more concerned I get.

This is not an article about climate change denial, despite the many thousands of scientists - 31,000 at last count, including 9,000+ PhD holders - who have signed a petition challenging the 'evidence' used by the UN IPCC scientists. This is an article about something far more sinister - the establishment of an unelected world government by stealth, deceit, and intrigue.

We, the public, have been sold the biggest bill of goods since Hitler convinced enough of the German electorate that the Jews were to blame for everything wrong in the world and that if you didn't vote for the Nazis the Commies were going to take over the place. The truth is, the people running the United Nations - by their nature most are internationalist socialists, as those are the only people who are actually attracted to the UN these days - are using the climate change panic to implement their long term goal of a global dictatorship.

Encouraged by the fact that European nations have surrendered their sovereignty without allowing the people to vote on the European constitution or to elect the European President (some pen-pusher from Belgium that few people outside the Hague have ever heard of), the UN is hoping to cash in on the global hysteria being perpetuated by an irresponsible media, slavishly served by an UN NGO (the IPCC) which has consistently fudged the figures on climate change, and mindlessly encouraged by well meaning, otherwise ordinary citizens of the world who have been brainwashed by the constant din of worst-case scenarios and are completely ignorant about how they are being manipulated and used. This scam - not climate change per se but the hijacking of the environmental movement - is truly masterful; if Macchiavelli were still alive, this is the kind of thing he'd have wet dreams about. The number of cunningly coordinated global activities that have taken place this year to illustrate 'solidarity' with action against climate change will make many of the democratic world's leaders scared of the consequences of not signing an agreement in Copenhagen.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, dated September 15, 2009, to be presented at this conference for world leaders to sign, essentially calls for a world government - this is the actual word used. The treaty is composed of three parts: government, wealth transfer, and enforcement. In 181 pages of legal-speak, how many times do you think words such as "election", "democracy", "ballot", or "vote" appear? No prizes for the correct guess - zero. Nada. Zilch. None. Never. They don't exist in this new framework for the planet's future.

As Lord Christopher Monckton said at Bethel University in St Paul, Minnesota, on October 14 this year, the Communists we thought we'd beaten in the Cold War are now about to win. Through the Greenpeace organisation - which they infiltrated so successfully in the late 1980s that they were able to completely take it over by the early 1990s - and through their cronies in the UN, they are now about to impose what will be, to all extents and purposes, a socialist world government.

This comes DIRECTLY from the UNFCCC:

"Such an Assembly [ie an enlarged UNESEC, the UN Sustainability Council] should be more than just another UN institution. It would become a building block of a new, democratically legitimate, world order"(

This is not pie in the sky stuff. Consider:

* In 2000 Jacques Chirac, then French President, described the UNFCCC's predecessor, the Kyoto Protocol, as "the first component of an authentic global governance."

* The Democrat's Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, gave a speech in China in May 2009 which included this gem: "every aspect of our lives must be subjected to an inventory [in order to combat global warming]".

* Al Gore, on 7 July 2009, gave an address where he said that: "awareness [of climate change] ...will drive the change, and one of the ways it will drive the change is through global government"

* UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, speaking on 27 October 2009, said "A deal must include an equitable global governance structure"

* The UNFCC 'draft' document (to be signed at the conference), discusses (p 18) a "scheme for the new institutional arrangement under the Convention" containing the provision for a "global government" with the power to directly intervene in the financial, economic, tax and environmental affairs of all the nations that sign the Copenhagen treaty.

The pace at which the ball is rolling on this is amazing. Only a month ago Copenhagen looked dead in the water, no one important was going to attend and it would all be business as usual. Greenpeace and the international media pulled out all the stops on a relentless campaign to bully world leaders into going, and all of a sudden the leaders of two of the four biggest polluters, India and the USA, announced that they were going (China's and Russia's leaders were already planning to attend ... hmmm, something fishy there already...!), then the CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) in the West Indies is addressed by former French President Jacques Chirac (what the hell was HE doing there? He's French! Surely the Commonwealth has at least one half decent former leader to trot out for an after dinner speech?), who admonished those leaders who did not intend to attend, then our PM decides he should go, and all the while we are getting bombarded with "special reports" on melting ice on Mt Everest and big iceburgs in the Southern Ocean etc etc etc, while there is little mention of 'climategate' at all. Just because ice is melting on Mt Everest doesn't mean humans had anything to do with it!!!! But the emotional blackmail has continued.

For me, though, the big warning bells have just now started to go off. On Monday Janos Pasztor, the director of the UN Secretary-General's Climate Change Support Team, told reporters in New York that with the U.S. Congress yet to pass a climate-change bill, a global climate-change treaty was now unlikely in Copenhagen. Then, as if on cue:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/copenhagen-climate-change-confe/6755201/Copenhagen-climate-summit-Barack-Obama-given-power-to-cut-greenhouse-gases.html

Here's a snippet:

[Obama's] administration formally declared that the gases "endanger the public health and welfare of the America people" empowering its Environment Protection Agency to regulate them across the country under the country's Clean Air Act, without having to get a hotly-contested climate bill through the US Congress

Yes, the USA really has become a fascist state - I thought Obama's federal buy-out of private corporations was basically good economic fascism in practice, but now he has the power to enact legislation WITHOUT Congressional approval!!!! Who the hell are the EPA and how exactly do they have the right to circumvene the democratic process? Of course, this is a great boost for the world government; the US would never enact a treaty which basically surrenders its economic sovereignty to an internationalist NGO. Besides which, any such treaty would require the consent of 67% of the Senate, which is not going to happen. Now, it looks like it doesn't need to.

I'm going to read more about this ... and I think that every citizen of the planet who loves individual freedom and does not want to have their life governed by a world government they will never have any say in should as well.

That's my two cents to sense.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Conference in Copenhagen

NB: I am not a climate change denier, I just hate Greenpeace. And hippies.

With the Kyoto Protocol due to expire, society-change enthusiasts are pushing the summit in Copenhagen as being THE LAST CHANCE to do something about climate change. Our Prime Minister, John Key, has changed his mind and will now be attending the conference; a reversal which was due not to the pressure by enviro-Mental activists like Xena Worrying Princess Lucy Lawlessness, but rather due to the fact that it originally seemed that most world leaders would not be attending. As momentum built and more leaders announced that they would intend, NZ risked being isolated as a country conspicuous by its absence, so of course Key changed his mind and decided to go. Of course, liberal commentators who were demanding that he do just that are now criticising him for his "flip-flop" (which in Australia is like a jandal, but in NZ means indecisiveness). Of course, if John Key ran into a burning building and saved a small child from certain death, these same commentators would no doubt blame him for not implementing proper fire safety measures...

Climate Change seems to be one of those red button topics that splits down ideological lines. Many (though not all) people who identify themselves as left wing also seem to accept the theory of anthropogenic climate change, while many (though not all) right wingers are more skeptical and either doubt the extent of humanity's impact or question climate change altogether. I think part of this is due to the ongoing battle between the less moderate right and science in general. Many Creationists tend to fall into the hard right category, and they have being waging war on the scientific establishment for years regarding evolution. It seems that people are more willing to openly doubt scientists and their evidence simply because such ideas don't fit into their own mind set, rather than because they have their own evidence.

So in light of this, it was interesting to read last week about the emails which climate change proponents had obscured or even suppressed from scientific reports (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6926325.ece). I'm not sure if it is a coincidence or not, but this has to be one of the most under reported stories of the year. At the same time, the mainstream media has stepped up its campaign on pushing the worse-case scenarios of climate change, and, as I've stated already, there has been a huge shift in leaders indicating that they will now go to Copenhagen. Conspiracy theorists see this as proof that the Establishment is pulling out all the stops and deploying their big guns to prevent the email leak from destroying their attempts at introducing further measures to bleed the world's taxpayers dry.

I do not deny climate change. I am no scientist, but I have observed in my own lifetime a shift in weather patterns and seasonal variation. I do, however, have some doubts about the extent of human involvement in this change. While I find it difficult to believe that we can pump that much CO2 into the atmosphere over 200 years and NOT make some difference, I also find it difficult to believe that we're not going through some natural change as well. To me, human activity has probably intensified this change, although by how much I cannot say. Regardless, the way out is not as simple as many activists would like us to think.

Carbon taxes will not do a lot. I like James Hansen's view on this, as quoted in a recent Guardian article, when he talks about his opposition to the cap-and-trade scheme. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/02/copenhagen-climate-change-james-hansen?CMP=AFCYAH).
"This is analagous to the indulgences that the Catholic church sold in the middle ages. The bishops collected lots of money and the sinners got redemption. Both parties liked that arrangement despite its absurdity. That is exactly what's happening," he said. "We've got the developed countries who want to continue more or less business as usual and then these developing countries who want money and that is what they can get through offsets [sold through the carbon markets]."
We live in a consumer society, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but have you ever looked around your house and asked yourself just how useful some of that junk you've bought really is? Consumerism does need to be contained, and the easiest way to do this is to add an environmental surchage to the cost of everything we buy. "Cap and trade" does nothing to prevent further environmental damage, but ethical and responsible consumerism will.

Also, if the world is to work together on trying to alleviate the impact of climate change (however bad that may be), then we've all got to sing from the same hymn book. Developing countries must use up to date methods for their industry; they cannot be given a carte blanche to continue on their merry way. They point to the West and say "well, you guys did it, so why can't we?" - essentially this translates to "they started it!" Of course, that argument never worked when I was a kid explaining why I hit my brother, and it doesn't hold any water now. In the 19th century industrialisation went forward unchecked, but hardly anyone had any idea about the future impact this would have. The developing world does not have the luxury. The Western World has modified its technology to make it cleaner and less environmentally damaging now that we all know what the repercussions are, and the developing nations cannot stick their heads in the sand and refuse to play their part.

What I'd love to see at Copenhagen (and what I can guarantee will not come out of there) is an acknowledgement that the Third World needs to improve women's access to education and contraception. These two simple tools are the most effective devices we have in reducing population growth, and are much more humane (though much more expensive) than bullets. By 2050 the world population by a third, to over 9 billion. (Check out http://www.optimumpopulation.org/ for the population clock.) This is NOT sustainable, especially in terms of water access (Yemen is about to become the first country in the world to run completely dry, and more will follow). Given that the Western World's population is actually shrinking, it is clear where this growth is occuring. Copenhagen's programme should contain a directive that all nations introduce a "Stop at Two" campaign immediately - ie, that every family limit itself to two children. This is a highly emotive subject. I have a large extended family and I love them all. I have two siblings, both of whom I love and could not contemplate having lived without, and under this scheme I would never have had a sister. But if we care for our future, we need to make some tough decisions, and this is something that we ourselves can do, rather than corporations.

Care needs to be taken at Copenhagen not to act too rashly. Imposing crippling penalties on companies will only see more people out of work and further undesirable effects on society. Whatever changes are inroduced must take into account the impact that any sudden, forced, and unpopular change will have on human societies around the world. What will come out of Copenhagen, though, will be a document so watered down that it will be almost transparent. This is a photo opportunity of epic proportions, and nothing else; and I'd love to see the carbon footprint left by the conference. I don't know what the right course of action is; all I know is that it won't come from Copenhagen.

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