Peters confuses funeral and venue gathering rules, suggests the death of the hongi

When asked about the limit of 10 people able to gather for funerals or tangis, Winston Peters confirmed the need for that rule – those sorts of gatherings usually involve a lot of close contact.

But he then created some confusion  among journalists when asked if groups of ten people could then go to a wake at a venue that provided foot (from Thursday) or a bar (from next Thursday). He said that that was within the rules. It seems to be different to what Jacinda Ardern said yesterday.

Peters seemed to differentiate between a hundred people going to a hall after a funeral and a similar number gathering on a marae. He also question whether a hongi “will ever come back again”.

Question: What’s your message to people who are pointing out inconsistencies with the Level 2 rules, saying a hundred people if they’re in groups of ten can go to a restaurant for example, or a cinema, but they can’t attend a tangi or a funeral?

Peters:  …the number one desire of people who attend a tangi or funeral is to emotionally connect by embracing and other ways of making a connection…for once I heard from an industry that understood why the health department and the government is concerned. And we hope to get out of that situation as fast as we possibly can.

But right here right now the funeral circumstance is so difficult.

Now it’s possible to go to a function after the funeral to a hall and sit down with a hundred people, spaced properly if you follow the three ‘s’ rule, a but having it right on site at the side of the burial place with more than ten people just seemed to all the advisers to be so difficult.

Question: So you’re saying that people can go to a hall after a small kind of funeral or tangi of ten people, they could go to a hall with a hundred people if they were properly distanced…

Peters: Properly distanced, ten at a table, served by one person in each case at each table, that’s possible.

Question: My understanding from the Prime Minister yesterday was that all groups had to be under ten but are you saying that you could have a group…

Peters: No, ten or less.

Question: So you’re saying you could go to a hall with a hundred people and hold a kind of off-site funeral or wake?

Peters: No, you can have the aftermath, the Irish style so to speak, or the Scottish style, and be within the law.

Question: So why is it any different from having a hundred people at a marae for example.

Peters: Because the Marae circumstance is much more closed in. The distance rule would be impossible to keep. I mean one of the things you have to have regard for is whether the hongi in these circumstances is ever going to come back again, because it’s just the nature of things, and there’s a famous old saying that says “Cultures that don’t adapt die”, and we’ve got to be so so careful.

Peters seems to be saying that an Irish or Scottish style after-funeral gathering is fine, but a a Maori style gathering is forbidden.

Question: ..saying it would be up to Iwi whether hongi was reintroduced, are you saying it shouldn’t be?

Peters: I’m just putting out there into the Maori world, to say that cultures that don’t adapt die. Our lives and our old people’s lives in particular are on the line here

The lessons from the Spanish flu were catastrophic. The percentage of Maori dying was eight times that of Europeans, and we were down to fifty thousand people at the end of it.  Now there’s a past lesson.

The present one now, and in terms of colds, flus, influenza and Covid-19, it surely makes sense for us to consider it.

Question: I’m somewhat confused about this gathering of a hundred people, because the Prime Minister was really clear yesterday it had to be a cap of ten people.

Peters: Well it’s very unlikely that any one family will go to a funeral with more than ten people…

Question: …there’s people out there who are upset because they’ve waited until level 2 to hold a tangi or funeral who are waiting to make that decision, and they thought from what the Prime Minister was saying yesterday was that they couldn’t have a gathering of the hundred people but you’re now saying that they can.

Peters: Not at the funeral itself, but at the wake they could organise it, whether they go to a restaurant or organise it under the same guidelines that are capable of being attested to and examined. It’s for their own safety.

And that’s a fact. When families go to a funeral they don’t always go en masse the right amount of (relatives?) to show the right amount of respect.

Jacinda Ardern when she announced moving to Level 2:

Gatherings at home, need to be capped at 10. Church and religious events, weddings, funerals, stag dos – all must be limited to 10 for now.

And if you’re wanting to head to a restaurant, or a bar, they won’t be able to take group bookings larger than 10. This, alongside social distancing, is our insurance policy.

And why 10? Simple. If something goes wrong with a group of 10, that’s much easier to contain, much easier to contact trace, and much less likely that if something goes wrong that the whole country will have to experience more restrictions.

I expect we will here more of this.

Ardern is just answering questions about the funeral limitation now at the daily update.  She starts by saying how hard it is on people who want to have funerals.

She has been asked about 100 people wakes and Cabinet having different messages and she avoids answering the question directly and goes into a general spiel.

They considered a different way of dealing with funerals and tangis but “it was just very difficult to find a way”.

Ardern keeps reiterating the ten person group limit.

Source for Peters (around 15-19 minutes).

50 killed at Soleimani funeral in Iran

This may add to the tensions in Iran and Iraq – Qasem Soleimani burial: Stampede kills 50 mourners

Fifty people have been killed and more than 200 injured in a stampede as Iranians gathered for the burial of a leading commander killed in a US drone strike.

Millions are already estimated to have packed the streets for a series of funeral processions in Iran.

Soleimani’s killing has raised fears of a conflict between the US and Iran.

The US has labelled him a terrorist, and in explaining why he ordered the strike President Trump said he was acting on an “imminent” threat.

The head of the Quds Force was tasked with defending and projecting Iranian interests abroad, and was hailed as a hero in his home country.

He was also regarded as having been instrumental in the defeat of Isis in Syria.

That is ironic – Trump has claimed credit for the defeat of ISIS, but that battle still isn’t over

Bloomberg last October:  Graham Says Trump’s ‘Biggest Lie’ Is of Islamic State’s Defeat

One of Donald Trump’s biggest defenders in Congress rebuked the president’s decision to step aside from Kurdish allies in Syria while Turkey’s military advances, saying it would result in the re-emergence of ISIS.

“ISIS is not defeated, my friend. The biggest lie being told by the administration is that ISIS is defeated,” Senator Lindsey Graham told “Fox and Friends” in a phone call Monday. “The Caliphate is destroyed, but there’s thousands of fighters” still there.

Also, from Fox: Sen. Graham warns Syria withdrawal would be ‘big win for ISIS,’ compares Trump’s strategy to Obama

And the ISIS risks my have been raised by the assassination.

New York Times: Conflict With Iran Threatens Fight Against ISIS

The American assassination of a top Iranian commander may make it impossible for American forces to stay in Iraq. That could ease an ISIS comeback.

For the militants of the Islamic State, the American drone strike that killed the Iranian commander Qassim Suleimani was a two-for-one victory.

First, the killing of General Suleimani removed the leader of one of the Islamic State’s most effective opponents, responsible for building up the alliance of Iran-backed militias that did much of the ground fighting to drive the militants out of their strongholds in Syria and Iraq.

The assassination has also redirected the wrath of those militias and their many political allies inside Iraq squarely against the American presence there, raising doubts about the continued viability of the American-led campaign to eradicate what is left of the Islamic State and to prevent its revival in both Iraq and neighboring Syria.

“This is precisely the sort of deus ex machina the organization needed, to give it room to operate and to allow it to break out of its current marginality,” said Sam Heller, an analyst at the International Crisis Group who studies the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

Just Security – Trump’s Fatal Mistake: Killing Suleimani vs. Countering ISIS

The fight against ISIS is on hold. It’s unclear how exactly it will ever resume. With U.S. and coalition forces hunkered down in anticipation of Iranian retaliation for the killing of Qassem Suleimani and the Iraqi parliament calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country, combined with continued fallout from President Trump’s decision to withdraw from parts of Syria, our counterterrorism campaign is deeply compromised.

And running across all of this is the same dynamic – a president who knows very little about how to wage counterterrorism and cares not at all about setting the diplomatic conditions to achieve our goals against ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups. Counterterrorism is about much more than dropping bombs and training partners, and unless the President or somebody in his administration shows some diplomatic savvy in a hurry, our campaign against ISIS in the region is, for most all intents and purposes, over.

Back to the funeral in Iran – ‘Soleimani’s revenge’: Huge crowds at funeral hear vows of Iranian action

As the coffins of General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who also died in Friday’s attack in Baghdad, were passed over the heads of mourners, Soleimani’s successor vowed to expel US forces from the region in revenge.

The killing of Soleimani, the architect of Iran’s drive to build its influence in the Middle East, has stoked concern around the globe that a broader regional conflict could now erupt.

Trump has listed 52 Iranian targets, including cultural sites, that could be hit if Iran retaliates with attacks on Americans or US assets, although officials sought to play down the president’s reference to cultural targets.

General Esmail Ghaani, the new commander of the Quds Force, the elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards charged with overseas operations, promised to “continue martyr Soleimani’s cause as firmly as before with the help of God, and in return for his martyrdom we aim to rid the region of America”.

“God the Almighty has promised to take martyr Soleimani’s revenge,” he told state television. “Certainly, actions will be taken.”

Other political and military leaders have made similar, unspecific threats. Iran, which lies at the mouth of the key Gulf oil shipping route, has a range of proxy forces in the region through which it could act.

The assassination has created problems in an already troubled Iraq.

Iraq’s rival Shi’ite leaders, including ones opposed to Iranian influence, have united since Friday’s attack to call for the expulsion of US troops, who number about 5,000, most of them advisers.

Soleimani, widely seen as Iran’s second most powerful figure behind Khamenei, built a network of proxy forces to create a crescent of influence stretching from Lebanon through Syria and Iraq to Iran. Allies also include Palestinian and Yemeni groups.

Trump’s ‘threat of war crimes’

Tehran has said Washington must return to the existing nuclear pact and lift the crippling sanctions before any talks can take place.

Trump stood by remarks that cultural sites were potential targets, despite criticism from US politicians that this amounted to a threat to commit war crimes.

“They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way,” Trump said.

Democratic critics of the Republican president have said Trump was reckless in authorising the strike. Republicans in the US Congress have generally backed his move.

RNZ: US denies troop withdrawal from Iraq after letter sent by general

The United States has no plans to pull troops out of Iraq, Defense Secretary Mark Esper says, following reports by Reuters and other media of a US military letter informing Iraq officials about the repositioning of troops in preparation to leave the country.

“There’s been no decision whatsoever to leave Iraq,” Esper told Pentagon reporters when asked about the letter, adding there were no plans issued to prepare to leave.

“I don’t know what that letter is… We’re trying to find out where that’s coming from, what that is. But there’s been no decision made to leave Iraq. Period.”

The United States has about 5,000 US troops in Iraq.

The letter was a poorly-worded draft document meant only to underscore increase movement of US forces, the top US military officer told reporters.

“Poorly worded, implies withdrawal. That’s not what’s happening,” US Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, stressing there was no withdrawal being planned.

The authenticity of the letter, which was addressed to the Iraqi defence ministry’s Combined Joint Operations Baghdad and signed by a US general, had been confirmed to Reuters by an Iraqi military source.

Meanwhile we still have an involvement in Iraq that has been affected. RNZ – New Zealand should be a ‘principled voice’ as US-Iran tensions rise, Golriz Ghahraman says

The Green Party defence spokesperson says New Zealand needs to be able to stand up to its allies if the situation between the US and Iran continues to escalate.

Golriz Ghahraman said the situation in Iran had also reignited calls from the Green Party to get troops out of Iraq.

Yesterday, Defence Minister Ron Mark confirmed that training activities being conducted by the 45 New Zealand troops at Iraq’s Camp Taji were being halted. The government is monitoring the situation.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has called for restraint and de-escalation in the region.

The New Zealand government was already planning to withdraw troops by June this year.

Ghahraman said she had spoken to Mark about whether troops would need to be evacuated now.

“Whether in fact it is far too dangerous is something we don’t know, but we know the risk is growing by the minute and the situation is changing very fast, so I have raised it with the minister and we are having those conversations now,” she said.

Previous comments by Peters asking for calm early on was the right move, but New Zealand would need to reassess where it stood when allies like the US were threatening war crimes, she said.

“We do have to, in the days to come, reassess whether or not we are really going to stand up to what has become a belligerent US president.

“I think that is a good place for New Zealand to be, that we stand as a principled voice on the international stage and we do call out our allies,” she said.

She hoped it would not come to war, but if it did, she believed the US would try and pressure New Zealand to be involved.

“They have always put pressure on us to join their wars, the kind of war on terror rhetoric we saw in the early 2000s will come back again.

“That pressure was withstood by Helen Clark’s government, then the previous National Party government did put our troops in the position they are now where there is political football being played by someone as reckless as Donald Trump and their lives are on the line. ”

“We have no place contributing to the militarisation of the Middle East, because that doesn’t help the region, but also because it puts Kiwi lives at risk.

“Yes there will be pressure and I would hope this and successive government’s will withstand that if there is a war.”

Greens are likely to resist any attempts to draw New Zealand further into the Middle East mess if things escalate there.

McCain’s funeral ‘a council of war’

Charles Pierce at Esquire: John McCain’s Funeral Was a Council of War—Just as He Meant It to Be

We let the customs, manners, norms and institutions weaken through neglect and now we are in open conflict with an elected president and, make no mistake about it, John McCain’s funeral was a council of war, and it was a council of war because that’s what John McCain meant it to be.

He deliberately made known to people that the president* was not welcome at any of the services. He deliberately chose the previous two presidents to deliver the formal eulogies. He deliberately created that scene in the Capitol rotunda at which Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Mike Pence, an unholy trio of Trumpist quislings, had to choke down their own cowardice and say how much they loved him and his irascibility. He deliberately created a mirror in which, if they still have an ounce of self-awareness, they could see the rot that has set in on their souls.

Even at the end, John McCain knew what he was doing and he was a fearsome opponent. He wanted a pageant of everything this administration* has trashed and put up for sale, and that’s what he got Saturday—a morality play shot through with Shakespearian portent and foreshadowing, a pageant of democracy’s vengeance.

Meghan McCain:

We gather to mourn the passing of American greatness, the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice, those that live lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served. He was a great fire who burned bright.

In the past few days, my family and I have heard from so many of those Americans who stood in the warmth and light of his fire and found it illuminated what’s best about them. We are grateful to them because they’re grateful to him.

A few have resented that fire for the light it cast upon them for the truth it revealed about their character, but my father never cared what they thought and even that small number still have the opportunity as long as they draw breath to live up to the example of John McCain.

The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again, because America was always great.

George W. Bush:

Perhaps above all John detested the abuse of power, could not abide bigots and swaggering. He spoke up for the little guy, forgotten people in forgotten places. One friend from naval academy days recalls John reacted to seeing an upperclassman verbally abuse a steward. Against all tradition, he told the jerk to pick on someone his own size. It was a familiar refrain during the six decades of service.

Barack Obama:

John cared about the institutions of self-government, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, rule of law, separation of powers, even the arcane rules and procedures of the Senate. He knew that in a nation as big and boisterous and diverse as ours, those institutions, those rules, those norms are what bind us together. They give shape and order to our common life, even when we disagree. Especially when we disagree.

Donald Trump:

Presidential parade

An ex-presidential line-up.

That was taken at ex-First Lady Barbara Bush’s funeral.

President Trump didn’t attend the funeral, which was not out of the ordinary. USA Today: President Trump was not at Barbara Bush’s funeral – here’s why

President Trump did not attend former first lady Barbara Bush’s funeral on Saturday in Houston.

Instead, first lady Melania Trump was there representing the Trumps, continuing a tradition of first ladies attending the funerals of their predecessors.

The White House told the BBC Trump wouldn’t attend “to avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush Family.”

Trump’s absence isn’t unusual for a sitting president. The last president to attend a first lady’s funeral was John F. Kennedy, who went to Eleanor Roosevelt’s service in 1962.

Former president Barack Obama did not attend Nancy Reagan’s funeral in 2016 or Betty Ford’s in 2011, and Bill Clinton did not attend the funeral of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Clinton did speak at a graveside service for her at Arlington National Cemetery in 1994.

A president in attendance would be potentially quite disruptive with all the security involved.

CNN: President Trump won’t attend Barbara Bush funeral, to ‘avoid disruptions’

Former President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter will not attend, as Jimmy Carter will be on a trip overseas and Rosalynn Carter is recovering from recent intestinal surgery, a spokesperson for the Carter Center said in a statement Thursday.

Bush, the matriarch of a Republican political dynasty and a first lady who elevated the cause of literacy, died Tuesday. She was 92.

There could have been unnecessary controversy if Trump had attended, as Barbara Bush had strongly criticised him during the presidential campaign. Snopes has a summary:

During the 2016 campaign, Barbara Bush didn’t hold back in her critiques of then-candidate Donald Trump. In the course of a CNN interview, for example, she proclaimed that “[Trump] doesn’t give many answers to how he would solve problems. He sort of makes faces and says insulting things … He’s said terrible things about women, terrible things about the military. I don’t understand why people are for him, for that reason. I’m a woman … I’m not crazy about what he says about women.”

In another interview with CBS, Bush again lambasted Trump for his comments about women and called him a “comedian” or a “showman”:

Trump beat off a challenge from her son Jeb Bush in the Republican nomination for the 2016 presidential campaign.




The Mandela funeral delegation…

…was never going to satisfy everyone no matter who was chosen. Limited to five it was always going to have to leave out people who someone thinks was worthy of being in the official delegation.

The others can choose to stay here or make their own way to South Africa. However finding a seat on a plane and finding accommodation will be difficult.

Minto attacked Mandela in 1995?

John Minto has been openly critical of post-Mandela governmet in South Africa and it

There’s been a lot of comment in the leftie blogosphere about whether John Minto should be in New Zealand’s official delegation to Nelson Mandela’s funeral, due to Minto being a prominent anti apartheid and anti Springbok tour activist.

There’s even a Petition To Support John Minto’s Attendance At Mandela’s Funeral but keep in mind that that is being promoted by the Mana Party  orientated blog The Daily Post (where Minto is an author).

John Key says the delegation is appropriate but David Cunliffe thought Minto should have been included.

PM says delegation for Mandela service has the right mix

John Key will lead a small delegation to South Africa that will include Labour leader David Cunliffe, former Commonwealth Secretary-General Sir Don McKinnon, former Prime Minister Jim Bolger and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples.

Mr Cunliffe has suggested Mr Minto should have been part of the delegation but John Key says the labour leader never raised the matter with him.

Cunliffe doesn’t say if he would have offered Minto his place.

Pita Sharples says he protested in 1981, he will represent protesters at Mandela funeral in Minto’s absence.

Danyl at Dim-Post adds  Being on the wrong side of history is awkward:

If Key takes John Minto to Mandela’s funeral it means swallowing the gigantic rat that Minto – who they regard as the epitome of left-wing idiocy – was completely right, and the National Party was completely wrong. So no trip for Minto.

A comment from ‘Dave’ is critical of a claimed Minto attack on Mandela when he was in New Zealand in 1995:

I was at St Matthews in the City in 1995 when Mandela went there (during his CHOGM visit) to meet the 1981 protesters. Minto berated him for not introducing communism to South Africa and attacked him for allowing capitalist companies to stay in business. A near-speechless Mandela responded: “But who do you think will employ our people?”

Until that moment I had thought Minto was an anti-racist of high principles. I then realised he was an extreme Marxist.

Minto also refused a South African honour from Mandela’s successor, attacking South Africa for retaining capitalism.

And ‘several other comments:

“Minto is on record as being strongly opposed to the contemporary South African government, ironically.”

“Minto has a history of failing to recognise the difference between ‘solemn formal occasion’ and ‘political protest’. “

“Who actually thinks he wouldn’t do something overtly political if he was over there?”

Dim-Post is a generally left/Green leaning blog.

Key must attend Mandela’s funeral

As announced Prime Minister of  John Key must represent New Zealand at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. It would be an insult to Mandela and to South Africa if he didn’t.

PM to attend Mandela’s funeral

Prime Minister John Key has confirmed he will attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral in South Africa.

“Nelson Mandela was an inspirational leader, and a remarkable man.

“On behalf of the New Zealand people and the Government, I would like to express my sincere condolences to both his family and all South Africans,” he said.

“For years he symbolised South Africa’s hope for a future free from apartheid.

“Mr Mandela was a force for change, not only in South Africa, but around the world.

“In his time as president he helped South Africa come to terms with its past, and, through reconciliation, built the foundations for a stronger nation,” Mr Key said.

A delegation headed by the prime minister will represent New Zealand at the funeral.

@jofromgreylynn kicked off some twittering about this yesterday:

The man who can’t remember how he felt about the Springbok tour protests is going to Mandela’s funeral. He should be paying for Hone to go.

This was supported and criticised, and defended:

dude, that’s not an attack, its a statement of fact. Or has he recovered his memory?

A more pragmatic approach was suggested by Finlay Macdonald@MacFinlay 

If Key is going to Mandela’s funeral he should at least be accompanied by the surviving leaders of the early “No Maori No Tour” movement.

Duncan Garner suggested similar;y – @Garner_Live 

Should the PM take John Minto and Trevor Richards in his delegation to Mandela’s funeral? I say yes. Your thoughts?

@jofromgreylynn changed tack and backed this:

I believe the PM should be taking a number of people active in the anti apartheid movement to Mandela’s funeral.

Garner put it to John Key on RadioLive:

PM considering taking Minto/Richards to Africa for Mandela’s funeral. @RadioLIVENZ Drive

So they could be included in the delegation. That would be far better than re-litigating apartheid divisions.