Armistice Day Centenary

Today is the centenary of celebrating Armistice Day, which marked the end of the unprecedented death and destruction of World War 1.

Like many, probably most New Zealanders, I have family connections. Both my grandfathers fought in the war, and were lucky to survive (one was badly injured), otherwise I would never have existed. There was a huge casualty rate, with 18,000 New Zealanders killed and tens of thousands more injured.


Armistice centenary – 11 November 2018

At 11am on 11 November this year, Aotearoa New Zealand will mark the centenary of the armistice that ended the First World War in 1918. On that day 100 years ago, after four years of brutal conflict, war finally gave way to peace.

The First World War had taken a huge toll on New Zealand. Around 100,000 New Zealanders – or ten percent of the population at the time – served overseas during the war, and over 18,000 lost their lives. Families and communities back home felt these losses acutely.

When news of the Armistice reached our shores it was met with thanksgiving, hopefulness and joyous noise.

The Armistice centenary gives us the opportunity to acknowledge the loss and trauma of the First World War, as well as reflect on peace and hope at the centenary of its closure. As well as joining together in remembrance, we can recapture the relief and jubilation of that important day a century ago.





At 11am on 11 November 1918, after four years of brutal conflict, the First World War finally came to an end. When news of the Armistice reached New Zealand it was met with widespread thanksgiving, celebration and a lot of noise.

“There were songs and cheers, miscellaneous pipings and blastings, and tootings and rattlings—a roaring chorus of gladsome sounds.” – Armistice celebrations in Wellington described in The Evening Post, 12 November 1918

100 years on, we want to recapture this energy and we invite you to join us.

How can you be involved?

On Sunday 11 November, a two minute silence will be observed at 11am to acknowledge the immense loss and hardship endured throughout the war. Following this, we encourage organisations and communities to gather whatever ‘instruments’ they have at hand, and help create a roaring chorus of jubilant sound that once again celebrates peace and hope for the future.

The brief is wide open, you could ring bells, sound sirens, or toot horns. You could sing a waiata, beat drums or play music. You could incorporate something upbeat into an event you already had planned or do something stand alone. Anything goes.

Download an information sheet about the Roaring Chorus (PDF, 421 KB)

Labour “all the more certain” to win

Party President Nigel Haworth has said that Labour are “all the more certain” to win next year’s election because of Andrew Little’s leadership.  He was speaking at an event in Dunedin celebrating the centenary of the party.

That’s rather optimistic given the current state of the party and polls.

ODT: Labour confident in its 100th year

The event was held at the Community Gallery to celebrate the party’s centenary exhibition.

It allowed Labour to look back on its achievements with pride.

“We have done the hard yards. The other side has picked up what we’ve done and sort of tinkered with it,” Prof Haworth said.

The party expected a September 2017 general election, and was six months ahead of what it had anticipated in its preparations, Prof Haworth said.

Hard to see how Labour is six months ahead of preparations, unless they mean with fund raising or candidate selection.

Clare Curran acknowledged the party had not always lived up to its ideals.

It had mostly, but not always, stuck to its values.

“Let’s be honest,” she said.

Asked about the comment, Ms Curran told the Otago Daily Times  there was no point  “glossing over” the economic upheaval of the 1980s, but people should remember it was one part of a significant history.

Labour in the 80s rescued the country from the dire economic situation left be Rob Muldoon, nut now some on the left seem to see Lange and Douglas as dirty words.

Mr Little was keen to look forward, rather than back, devoting much of his speaking time to a campaign-style speech that talked about the “Kiwi dream” and the “deep housing crisis”.

Littler has been using those themes for some time.

If elected,  Labour would not put up with further delay to the Dunedin Hospital redevelopment, and would start rebuilding immediately.

‘If’ elected? I thought politicians spoke more positively than that.

Labour would guarantee no loss of services, and would safeguard its status as a “fully fledged” teaching hospital, Mr Little said.

Dunedin hospital has battled against losses of services for decades under successive governments. With the city and coastal Otago falling behind other parts the country population-wise and the ongoing centralising of expensive health facilities it’s hard to see the level of services maintained.

Listening to Mr Little’s speech was Labour supporter Richard Thomson, deputy commissioner of the Southern District Health Board and a member of the hospital redevelopment partnership group.

He declined to comment when approached by the ODT.

Thomson will know the reality of the situation.


Does anyone recognise this dude?





Labour at 100, reborn or a cot case?

The Labour Party will be celebrating it’s 100th birthday this week. New Zealand, politics and the party have all changed hugely over the last century.

Colin James looks at this in his weekly column: Labour at 100: dotage or revitalisation?

There is global turmoil and the forces on Labour’s side of politics are divided. Answer: get together, to build a voice against a conservative coalition.

The year: 1916. Come to 2016: there is global turmoil and Labour and the Greens have got together to build a voice against a conservative coalition.

Is this book-end history or a phase? That is the question for those celebrating Labour’s centenary this week.

We won’t know whether the Labour-Green get together will have been successful until later next year.

What it seems to acknowledge though is that Labour on it’s own is a spent force.

On Friday a day-long seminar will include a keynote assessment of the 100 years by former historian, acute intellectual and formidable 1999-08 minister Michael Cullen.

Cullen was chief whip, then a minister in the 1984-90 government which, though it boosted social assistance, banned nuclear ships and Springbok tours and set us en route to a bicultural society — all true to Labour — ripped the party apart with un-Labour radical market-led economic reforms.

This compounded Sir Robert Muldoon’s 1970s pitch to “ordinary blokes” which siphoned off wage worker votes.

Since then, like social democratic parties in other liberal democracies, Labour has not worked out how to rebuild a broad social base.

Helen Clark’s and Cullen’s capable cabinet masked this erosion, helped by a credit-fuelled boom and skilful coalition management to creditable low-40s votes in 2002 and 2005.

Labour certainly seems to have lost it’s way, lost it’s mojo, lost capable leadership, and has lost the last three elections.

Hence Labour’s disastrous 25% vote in 2014. But, unlike National after its disaster in 2002, Labour chose not to do a root-and-branch shakeup.

Apart from frequently changing leaders, changing the way that leaders are selected effectively giving unions the deciding vote, changing their minds on past policies without replacing them with much, Labour has done little to shake themselves up.

Labour will take a step on Saturday afternoon with a special conference to adjust the list selection process to preferential membership-wide regional selections and a smaller-than-2014 committee to finalise the national list.

There is no suggestion — at least not officially — of a “man ban” of the sort dumped on the hapless David Shearer in 2013 to lift the proportion of women MPs.

But the 2017 election challenges go far beyond the list.

One is to get Andrew Little connecting. Little’s strength is that he is a straight-shooter. But communications team mistakes and his own political inexperience and need to score points have skewed his aim at times and sometimes the bullets have ricocheted. Examples: an unthought-through attack that caught up Jacinda Ardern’s (innocent) father and shining a media light on a “homeless” family that was actually renovating its house.

Little cannot out-Key Key. But he needs to out-Little Little.

The current Little has failed to fire up any enthusiasm in the party let alone in the wider voting public.

Unlike past leaders who distanced themselves from negative attack politics (they used others to do their dirty work) Little has taken it upon himself to be the party’s main hit man. It is far from attractive, and has been botched too often. There are currently two defamation proceedings against him.

Labour’s second 2017 challenge is to present a government-in-waiting. In 2011 and 2014 those who wanted a change of government had no visible alternative to vote for. Labour was too weak.

The deal with the Greens potentially provides that alternative. Little was bowled over by his reception at the Greens’ conference. Little and Green co-leader James Shaw have been doing some joint business briefings. (Shaw goes over better, some say.)   

By belatedly conceding Labour is not a 45% party and can’t do command performances as National can but must have a partner, Labour has changed the electoral game.

Whether Labour+Greens can win that changed game will depend in part on how convincing the coalition looks. There is a growing understanding on both sides that they will need three or more major joint — “coalition” — policies.

There is currently no sign of substantive joint policies.

And there remains a major problem anyway, Winston Peters, who with NZ First looks to be essential to make up the numbers and Peters will not do pre-election joint policies.

Plus the Peters-Green clash is unresolved. There is no sign of Peters working alongside Turei and Shaw.

But what about the longer-term? Is Labour now forever shackled to the Greens? Might the Greens even morph into the senior partner?

There are no signs of Greens growing enough to become the senior partner, so it would need Labour to decline substantially more for that to happen.

But a 2 to 1 or less power balance between Labour and Greens is totally new territory for Labour. There is little sign yet that that are willing to share power as much as the numbers suggest they need to.

 As in 1916, Labour in 2016 is in turbulent times with big global and societal changes underway that will test it to destruction — or revitalise it.

Unlike Australia, the UK and the US, New Zealand looks very stable politically. Unfortunately for Labour it is National that looks boringly steady.

In Australia, the UK and the US much of the turbulence is within the major parties. Turbulence has also been apparent within Labour here, although that seems to have settled down.

Perhaps next year’s election, and Labour’s fortunes, will be reliant on whether New Zealand voters choose to add to the political turmoil evident elsewhere, or end up preferring the status quo stability that is currently prevalent.

It will be another year or so before we know whether Labour can become born again progressives or are cot cases destined for a rest home.

A brick in the Labour wall

A letter to Labour members offering them a chance to have bricks in a commemoration wall alongside famous Labour leaders – for a price, including $250 for an unwaged, unnamed brick – is causing some consternation at The Standard.

Wainwright explains:

…an old fashioned letter with a flash donation form attached.

It’s bloody long and I don’t have a scanner handy. Usual “our party is in good heart” stuff talking about rebuilding and getting out the Labour message in 2016.

On the wall:

There are many ways we’ll commemorate our centenary but one of the most important to ensuring our Party’s future success will be a new project we’re commissioning – Labour’s Centenary Wall.

This wall will be built from bricks engraved with the names of our Party’s most influential and greatest leaders. It will act a s a reminder of the people who have carried the flag of our movement, as well as those who currently dedicate themselves to our shared cause. I twill show that together we are stronger than the sum of our parts.

I’d like to offer you the opportunity to have your name featured alongside those great figures from our past. Your name could feature on a brick next to party heroes like Michael Joseph Savage or Helen Clark. You’ll have the knowledge that your name will not only be a part of our party’s history for the next 100 years but that you’ve also played a key part in getting us back into government in 2017.

To have your name engraved on a brick on our centenary wall all you need to do it commit to make a regular weekly contribution of $5 $10 $20 or more to Labour until at least the end of 2017. For those who are unwaged we’re offering the opportunity to buy a brick for just $2.50 a week.

Over two years that’s:

– $250 “unwaged” for a brick
– $500 for a brick with your name on it
– $1000 for a brick with a certificate
– $2000 for a brick with a certificate and a letter from the leader

The thread including mostly uncomplimentary comments starts here.