The white tangata whenua

Last week the Northern Advocate published some revised history claiming that white people from Europe settled Aotearoa before Maori came here.

Northern Advocate (NZ Herald): Pre-Maori faces created from skulls, says Northland historian

A Northland historian has released what he says are forensic reconstructions of pre-Maori Northlanders that support his theory that Chinese and European seafarers came to New Zealand centuries before Polynesians.

Kaipara based historian Noel Hilliam says a forensic expert from Edinburgh University has reconstructed features using skulls retrieved from heaps of ancient human bones that were once piled in caves at several sites around the Kaipara.

The faces depict a blond woman with Celtic characteristics common in Wales and a man of Mediterranean appearance.

Kaipara skeletons were found with strands of red hair and a London pathologist who examined them in 1997 did not consider them Polynesian.

In a message to Mr Hilliam, the Edinburgh pathologist said his examination of skulls and skeletal remains from four sites showed they were from two races.

“People known in your country as Turehu originated from Wales over 3000 years ago and those known as Waitaha originated from the Mediterranean,” the pathologist said.

“The two skulls you randomly uplifted from one site – the female, which I named Henrietta, is Turehu of 23 years of age and 1.3m tall going on the average height of skeletons I examined. She originates from Wales.

“The Waitaha male is 34 years old 1.65m tall, average among the skeletal remains examined, and originates from the Mediterranean.”

The historian has not disclosed the names of the pathologist and forensic expert because he expected controversy over their findings.

These sorts of claims are not new. From Dargaville and Districts News (Stuff) in 2012: `Greeks got here first’

New Zealand history is going to be turned on its head when the book To the Ends of the Earth is launched next month, co-author Noel Hilliam says.

The controversial book, written by researcher Maxwell C Hill with additional information from Dargaville shipwreck explorer Noel Hilliam, Gary Cook and John Aldworth, looks at what they say is evidence that Greeks, Spanish and Egyptians travelled to New Zealand before Maori.

The 378-page book explores a variety of evidence from ancient maps to ancient rock formations, giant human skeletons, cave drawings, oral history and a multitude of other physical evidence.

“Our contention is that ancient Greek navigators were the first to sail down under, landing in New Zealand before the Christian era began, to become the first inhabitants of the islands,” Mr Hilliam says.

Now Hilliam claims it was the Welsh who got here first.

Newshub details other claimed discoveries: From a non-Māori Maui to Spanish shipwrecks: Who is Noel Hilliam?

And reports: Amateur historian admits grave-robbing Maori burials

Noel Hilliam told the Northern Advocate he had found skulls that pre-date Māori.

However Mr Hilliam’s research, which has no academic basis, has been widely criticised.

“The statement that the young adult woman is from Wales is ludicrous. There is no way to find that information out from the skull size and shape, nor is it possible to tell that a person has blue eyes and blonde hair from skeletal features,” University of Otago bio-archaeologist Dr Siân Halcrow told Vice.

Worse, his actions have been condemned as racist and illegal.

“It is the violation of a sacred site. Them raiding urupā and acquiring ancestral heads – they haven’t said where from – makes me really concerned,” Auckland University senior lecturer Dr Ngarino Gabriel Ellis told Vice.

“Taking from urupā, just like from anyone’s [grave], is a violation of our funeral practices. These are our ancestors. They were not intended to be removed and distributed.

“It’s also illegal to go and tamper with anyone’s grave – so why aren’t there criminal charges being pressed?”

Mr Hilliam has refused to name the ‘experts’ he talked to, and told Vice that while he knew he was breaking the law, he did it because the law was unjust.

The Northern Advocate has since removed the article.

I couldn’t find the article yesterday but it is back on the Herald’s beta site.

The Spinoff: The white tangata whenua, and other bullshit from the ‘One New Zealand’ crew

Over the past 30 years a growing a minority of New Zealanders has decided that the first inhabitants of their country had white rather than brown skin. They believe that one or more European peoples emigrated to these islands thousands of years ago, and established a populous and technologically sophisticated civilisation here. This pigmentopia was invaded and conquered by the ancestors of Māori. The warlike Polynesians slew the white men they found, took the women as wives, and appropriated the indigenes’ greenstone carvings.

Mike Barrington’s article may have talked nonsense about New Zealand history, but it did provide a reasonably accurate narrative of the careers of the country’s pseudo-historians.

Hilliam has made other remarkable claims over the years. In 1982 he said he had found the remains of an old Spanish ship on a beach near Dargaville, but the wreck vanished before he could show it to anybody. In 2008 he told Radio New Zealand that he had found a Nazi submarine off the Northland coast. The submarine had supposedly left Germany in the last days of the Third Reich, loaded with gold. Hilliam never made good on his promise to reveal the location of the submarine wreck.

The notion of a white tangata whenua promised to relieve Pakeha of their status as latecomers to New Zealand, and to counter Māori talk of historical injustice. But the theory had, and still has, a problem: a complete lack of evidence.

In recent years a series of scholars have run DNA tests on Māori, in an effort to trace their ancestry. These tests confirm that Māori are a Polynesian people, and that Polynesians have their origins in coastal Asia thousands of years ago. There is no genetic evidence for ancient contact between Polynesians and Europeans.

The believers in an ancient white civilisation are undeterred by the lack of evidence for their claims. They insist that a conspiracy of Māori leaders, politically correct academics, cowardly Pākehā politicians and sinister international organisations is working to conceal and destroy the physical legacy of New Zealand’s first inhabitants. They claim that the stone city in Waipoua forest has been closed to visitors by Department of Conservation staff and local Māori. Elsewhere teams of explosives experts are blowing up the stone houses of the first New Zealanders and sealing burial caves. Ancient European bones and artefacts are being quietly removed from museums, and roads are being built through the sites of Celtic observatories.

I guess the Herald will remove the article from their beta site as well.

 

Japan and NZ aim for TPP progress

Trade Minister Todd MaClay has visited Japan with Prime Minister Bill English, and both countries have announced a willingness to progress the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement despite the withdrawal of the United States.

Newshub: English’s Japan trip breathes new life into TPP

Prime Minister Bill English has been meeting with his counterpart Shinzo Abe. He says he’s looking forward to working with Japan to move the TPP forward, without the United States.

“Acknowledging the leadership of Prime Minister Abe, I’m taking it forward. Like Japan, New Zealand has ratified the agreement, and we look forward to working together to progress the TPP.”

The 11 countries left negotiating the agreement after the United States pulled out will meet in Hanoi, Vietnam, this weekend.

New Zealand and Japan remain the only countries to have ratified the TPP.

It’s likely the text that was signed last year will be revised, now the US has left, before it’s agreed to by all member countries.

Japan Times: Japan and New Zealand agree to aim for progress on TPP by November

Japan and New Zealand confirmed they will aim to reach an agreement with other signatories to move the Trans-Pacific Partnership forward by November despite the withdrawal of the United States.

“What is important now is whether the (remaining) members can share a view about the future direction of the TPP … and we hope to make efforts to reach an agreement” by November when a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum will be held in Vietnam, economic and fiscal policy minister Nobuteru Ishihara told reporters after talks Monday with New Zealand trade minister Todd McClay in Tokyo.

Japan and New Zealand are among the 11 remaining Pacific Rim countries pursuing the TPP free trade pact without U.S. involvement, but some countries, including Vietnam and Malaysia, which hope to boost exports to the United States, are believed to be reluctant to put the agreement into force without the world’s biggest economy.

“It is extremely important that the 11 countries unite and be clear about the future of the TPP” despite the “differences in the ideas and motives of the member countries,” said Ishihara, Japan’s point man on TPP negotiations.

The two ministers met as representatives of the 11 states will try to narrow their differences at a TPP ministerial meeting, set to take place Sunday in Hanoi alongside an APEC trade ministers’ meeting that starts Saturday.

“The TPP meeting in Hanoi will be an important meeting as we look to discuss the direction of the TPP,” Ishihara said, adding that Japan and New Zealand will seek to “lead the discussions.”

New Zealand formally ratified the TPP deal Thursday, becoming the second signatory country to do so after Japan, which completed domestic ratification procedures in December.

So a revamped TPP could still go ahead without the US.

Election quiz

A New Zealand election quiz to “to see how your political beliefs match the political parties and candidates in the September 2017 general election”.

My results:

PartiesISideWith

But this is only part of the story.

Policies that I rate as more important than most in the survey weren’t in there.

And it doesn’t address competence of leaders, competence of parties nor compatibilities of parties – for example if I liked Labour I might not like Labour +NZ First or NZ + Greens as a coalition option.

And it doesn’t take into account tactical voting. I’ve voted Green before not because I thought they were the best party to lead a government but because I thought the election was a foregone conclusion and I think that a decent dollop of Green voice in the mix is health for our Parliament.

This survey is an interesting exercise but gives no indication of who I might vote for.

 

Some little islands at the bottom of the world

New Zealand is certainly remote from most of the world. The only countries that extend further south are Chile and Argentina, but they are part of a large continent that is connected by land to another large continent.

And population-wise we are small, at about 4.7 million people. We are about the 120th most populous nation, well down the list.

World Population Percentages

New Zealand is part of ‘Other’ there. The smallest separate county in that population pie is Thailand with 0.91% of the world’s population (68.3 million) compared to our 0.063%.

By land area we are still well down the ranking but not as far, at 76th. But it’s surprising to see how our land area compares to European countries.

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Some comparisons (in square kilometres).

  • Russia (1) – 17,098,246
  • Canada (2) – 9,984,670
  • Australia (6) – 7,692,024
  • Denmark (12) – 2,210,583 (because it includes Greenland)
  • France (41) – 675,417
  • Spain (52) – 504,781
  • Germany (63) – 357,021
  • Italy (72) – 301,230
  • New Zealand (76) – 269,190
  • United Kingdom (79) – 243,610
  • Greece (96) – 131,940
  • Austria (114) – 83,858
  • Netherlands 133 (41,526)
  • Switzerland (134) – 41,120

 

Emigration rates to Australia

This chart from Stats NZ shows how much of a factor emigration to Australia – or lack thereof – was what is behind the big shift in net immigration.

It has dropped from nearly 40,000 per year to about 15,000 per year in five years.

Australia versus New Zealand

RNZ:  Australia considers NZ ‘soft entry’ point – PM

Prime Minister Bill English says he does not understand why Australia thinks New Zealand is a backdoor route for migrants wanting to get into their country.

New Zealanders living in Australia have been stung by numerous new policies that affect their entitlements and rights in the past few years.

At his weekly post cabinet media briefing yesterday, Mr English said Australian officials believed this country had become a backdoor way for migrants to enter their country.

“We would like to, I suppose, understand precisely what their concern is, because there is no evidence that the New Zealanders moving to Australia constitute some unique or special burden on Australia,” he said.

Mr English said the economic evidence was that they were “good net contributors”.

“This issue around whether New Zealand is a soft entry to Australia is one that in that context has come up.

“But it’s been quite hard to pin down just what exactly they think the problem is,” he said.

Australia stunned the government last week when it announced that from next year, the fees New Zealanders would pay to study at Australian tertiary institutions would more than triple – affecting about 12,000 people.

Following that surprise, Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee met with his Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop, in Sydney where he accepted the lack of a head’s up was a one-off.

But Mr English said Australia gave no assurance similar policies were not on the way.

He said the government had no interest in a tit-for-tat exchange with Australia and it would not be reducing entitlements or rights for their citizens in New Zealand.

This is a big issue for Kiwis in Australia and for many back here in New Zealand. I have three children living and working in Australia.

Blasphemous libel

Blasphemy has made the news with reports that Irish police are investigating Stephen Fry for it after remarks he made on television in 2015.

The Telegraph: Stephen Fry under police investigation for blasphemy after branding God an ‘utter maniac’

According to reports , Irish police are investigating  Fry, once voted the most intelligent man on TV, for insulting God. To be precise Fry accused God of being an ‘utter maniac’.

The Irish Independent claimed police launched its inquiry after comments made by Fry during an interview with the national broadcaster RTE.

A member of the public contacted the Gardai after Fry disclosed his thoughts on God in an interview first broadcast as long ago as February 2015.

The footage, which showed Fry questioned by Irish veteran presenter Gay Byrne, went viral after it was aired and has now been viewed more than seven million times on YouTube.

The individual, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Irish Independent it had been his “civic duty” to report the comments which he alleges were in breach of the Defamation Act.

In the interview Fry was asked what he would say if he was confronted by God. He responded:

“How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault? It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil.”

“Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?”

“I would say, ‘Bone cancer in children? What’s that about?’

“Because the God who created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac, utter maniac.

“Totally selfish. We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him? What kind of God would do that?”

Under Irish law blasphemy comes under the Defamation Act and has a maximum fine of 25,000 Euro.

We still have blasphemy in New Zealand law, and the penalties are higher.

Stuff: Surprise as public figures told New Zealand still has anti-blasphemy laws

New Zealand still has an anti-blasphemy law, though neither the prime minister nor the Anglican archbishop was aware of the fact.

The law – which appears not to have been used since 1922 – came to light after reports British entertainer Stephen Fry faced police investigation in the Republic of Ireland for comments he made about “a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God”.

New Zealand has laws covering crimes against religion, morality, and public welfare. And blasphemous libel – though vaguely defined – remains an offence punishable by up to 12 months’ jail.

Here is Part 7, section 123 of the Crimes Act 1961:


Part 7
Crimes against religion, morality, and public welfare

Crime against religion

123 Blasphemous libel

(1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 1 year who publishes any blasphemous libel.

(2) Whether any particular published matter is or is not a blasphemous libel is a question of fact.

(3) It is not an offence against this section to express in good faith and in decent language, or to attempt to establish by arguments used in good faith and conveyed in decent language, any opinion whatever on any religious subject.

(4) No one shall be prosecuted for an offence against this section without the leave of the Attorney-General, who before giving leave may make such inquiries as he or she thinks fit.


This is indeed very vague. I don’t know how something that could be so subjective could be considered a question of fact.

What exactly constitutes blasphemy?

blasphemy
noun

the action or offence of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk.

That’s no clearer. This is what Wikipedia says about it:

Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence to a deity, to religious or holy persons or sacred things, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable.

Some religions consider blasphemy as a religious crime. As of 2012, anti-blasphemy laws existed in 32 countries, while 87 nations had hate speech laws that covered defamation of religion and public expression of hate against a religious group. Anti-blasphemy laws are particularly common in Muslim-majority nations, such as those in the Middle East and North Africa, although they are also present in some Asian and European countries.

And also present in at least one South Pacific country.

As of 2012, 33 countries had some form of anti-blasphemy laws in their legal code.[6] Of these, 21 were Muslim-majority nations – Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, the Maldives, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Turkey, the UAE and the Western Sahara. The other twelve nations with anti-blasphemy laws in 2012 were Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands (abolished in 2014), Nigeria, Poland and Singapore.

Add New Zealand to that list.

Christian theology condemns blasphemy. It is spoken of in Mark 3:29, where blaspheming the Holy Spirit is spoken of as unforgivable—the eternal sin.

Blasphemy has been condemned as a serious, or even the most serious, sin by the major creeds and Church theologians (apostasy and infidelity [unbelief] were generally considered to be the gravest sins, with heresy a greater sin than blasphemy, cf. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae).

“[if] we compare murder and blasphemy as regards the objects of those sins, it is clear that blasphemy, which is a sin committed directly against God, is more grave than murder, which is a sin against one’s neighbor. On the other hand, if we compare them in respect of the harm wrought by them, murder is the graver sin, for murder does more harm to one’s neighbor, than blasphemy does to God.”

The most common punishment for blasphemers was capital punishment through hanging or stoning, justified by the words of Leviticus 24:13–16.

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.”

The last person hanged for blasphemy in Great Britain was Thomas Aikenhead aged 20, in Scotland in 1697. He was prosecuted for denying the veracity of the Old Testament and the legitimacy of Christ’s miracles.

Blasphemy (and blasphemous libel) remained a criminal offence in England & Wales until the passing of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, but was last successfully prosecuted in the case of Whitehouse v Lemon (1977), where the defendant was fined £500 and given a nine-month suspended prison sentence (the publisher was also fined £1,000).

So it is no longer a crime in England and Wales, but it is here.

Islam:

Blasphemy in Islam is impious utterance or action concerning God, Muhammad or anything considered sacred in Islam. The Quran admonishes blasphemy, but does not specify any worldly punishment for blasphemy. The hadiths, which are another source of Sharia, suggest various punishments for blasphemy, which may include death. However, it has been argued that the death penalty applies only to cases where there is treason involved that may seriously harm the Muslim community, especially during times of war.

Judaism:

In Jewish law the only form of blasphemy which is punishable by death is blaspheming the Ineffable Name. The Seven Laws of Noah, which Judaism sees as applicable to all people, prohibit blasphemy

It will be interesting to see what happens with Fry in Ireland.

Just to be safe please express in good faith and in decent language, or to attempt to establish by arguments used in good faith and conveyed in decent language, any opinion whatever on any religious subject at Your NZ. That’s not bad advice on any topic.

Morgan message on J Day

The annual J Day was held on Saturday.

Norml: J Day this Saturday 6 May, nationwide cannabis law reform events

J Day is a worldwide protest against prohibition and a celebration of Kiwi cannabis culture, held on the first Saturday in May every year. This Saturday is the 26th Annual national day of action supporting cannabis law reform, including safe legal access to medicinal cannabis.

To mark the occasion NORML and our cannabis law reform colleagues organise free events nationwide. J Day is where supporters of cannabis law reform can meet like minded people, relax without fear, learn how they can help make cannabis legal, join their local group and meet other cannabis advocates.

“With an election soon it is important people show their support,” said J Day’s national coordinator Chris Fowlie, of Auckland. “For the first time there are multiple parties contesting the election who advocate for cannabis law reform. The Greens have been joined by Labour and the Maori Party, as well as ACT, TOP and the Cannabis Party. Even United Future is on the side of reform!”

“We agree cannabis should be a health issue, not a crime, and there are too many cannabis users to arrest.”

Gareth Morgan of TOP (The Opportunities Party) has given a message to mark the occasion:

Sorry I can’t be with you on J Day, which is a bit of a shame because it’s very significant one this year for us.

We are about to produce a policy on cannabis law reform.

We have looked at the issues around this subject and the big one is harm.

We have to minimise harm and it’s pretty clear from all the evidence that, particularly internationally, that prohibition is not the way to go if you want to minimise harm from use of this drug. be produced and under what restrictions, what pricing, all that sort of stuff.

Pretty exciting times and I look forward to being back with you in a couple of weeks when we do produce this policy and I think you will find that it’s both exciting and a big step forward in terms of minimising the harm of cannabis. All the best.

There is growing pressure on Parliament and on parties to address the problems caused by current laws and current application of laws on cannabis.

Morgan and TOP will help to promote that pressure.

Does New Zealand need a military?

Differing views on whether New Zealand needs a military from Reddit:

Strictly speaking, does NZ even need a military?

Instead of just having a coast guard just like Iceland, and have external defence come under the responsibility of Australia, which is sort of also the defence policy of Ireland, when you really think about it.

As for peacekeeping operations Australia can just take over those with the NZ government footing some small part of the bill. Or allow the Americans to maintain naval and air bases in South island in return for them assuming the role of external defence with Australia, with the money saved on the military going into subsidizing social housing.

It’s hard to know why the US would want naval and air bases in the South Island, about as far as you could get from problem areas in the world.

A response:

The answer you are looking for is yes! There’s no two ways about it.

The 3 armed services play a major role in Disaster relief some examples from the last few year being the Christchurch quakes, the 2 cyclones that blew through the pacific 2 years in a row destroying villages in Vanuatu and Fiji , the Kaikora earthquake, and the large fires that happened on the port hills this year.

Not to mention our P3 Orions are deployed every second week to locate and supply stricken vessels at sea inside our Search and rescue zone (which is absolutely massive). and our NH90’s and A190s perform SAR missions in the rugged terrain of NZ.

The Navy patrols our oceans from illegal fishing and conduct SAR operations at sea, it’s also the Navy’s transport ship that carriers hundreds of soldiers, helicopters, and vehicles that perform those much needed relief missions into the pacific.

If your here to suggest that we don’t need a Defence Force because you believe we are a peaceful nation just remember only 2 of the Navy’s 11 ships are made for combat, the air force has no strike wing, and the army has no tanks so by international standards we are already very demilitarised.

A lot of these roles would not be able to be conducted by a coast guard and if you think Australia is going to deploy a ship, aircraft, or battalion every time we need a hand you are dreaming.

Could we save money by getting the Aussies to do a bit of our defence? They seem to treat Kiwis in Australia as second class citizens so they may not give us much priority.

The Government is proposing a $20 billion upgrade to our military over the next 15 years but Labour leader Andrew Little is refusing to commit to that level expenditure.

RNZ: Defence Force upgrade in question under Labour govt

Last year the government unveiled the multi-billion dollar plan to equip the Defence Force with new aircraft, combat vessels and weaponry, as well as a major upgrade to its land and property.

It would cost $20bn over the next 15 years, and the procurement process for the some of the new equipment is already under way.

Labour leader Andrew Little has refused to commit to following through on the 15-year modernisation plan if he became prime minister, saying spending on housing and education would always take priority.

“But I have to tell you when it comes down to a choice between doing stuff that’s going to give people a chance to either get a roof over their head, get the kids set up for opportunities for the future, then that’s got to come first,” Mr Little said.

The Greens tend to also be against military spending but their policies propose strengthening peace keeping capabilities which is mostly what our military does apart from search and surveillance.

The ‘Meh’ election?

There seems to be two major things at play around the Western world in elections, interference by hacking, and a growing dissatisfaction of voters.

Attempts to influence elections via social media manipulation and data hacks, allegedly by the Russians may or may not be making a difference but the intent seems clear.

It looks likely that Marine Le Pen will lose the French election but the fact that a candidate like her can come second shows that many voters are wanting something relatively radical to replace what they have now.

The UK election is certain to have some social media skulduggery but we will have to wait and see if hackers succeed in obtaining data to try and at least disrupt proceedings there – however it’s hard to see anything getting in the way of Jeremy Corbyn dragging Labour down to a bad defeat there.

Coming up in September Germany have their elections and there are already rumblings about attempted interference there.

And in New Zealand we have our election in September too.

We have already had an attempt to swing an election here by hacking, when Nicky Hager launched his Dirty Politics book in the lead up to the 2014 election using illegally obtained emails and other communications. It’s unlikely the Russians were involved in that but they may well have learnt something from.

What may not have been learnt from the New Zealand example is that using hacked data to influence an election can backfire, or at least fail to fire the incumbent government.

The second major factor is what appears to be a growing dissatisfaction with the status quo, whether it be the established government (as in Washington) or with international alliances (as with Brexit and the UK).

Voters seem to be attracted to more radical options because they want change from what they currently have. However while disillusionment and dissatisfaction are common the radical changes are in different directions.

Hence the rise of Donald Trump in the US, and the popularity of Bernie Sanders. They appealed to quite different voter groups.

And in the French presidential election the final two choices are a fairly radical right wing-ish Marine Le Pen, versus Emmanuel Macron, who has been a member the Socialist Party (PS) from 2006 to 2009 of minister in a socialist government, and only started his f En Marche! ‘political movement’ a year ago.

In New Zealand it’s sort of the same and also quite different. The left (Labour and Greens) are struggling to get much traction. Instead we have a mix of radical/maverick and a long established politician, Winston Peters. He has been doing the outlandish vagueness tricks that seem to have worked for Trump, as well as having a running battle with the media.

NZ First are polling better than they have for some time in the lead up to our election. Time will whether their support grows or not. Peters is going hard out anti-immigration, and the media are as usual giving him a lot of publicity, but that may or may not flow through to September.

So for a long time New Zealand has already had Peters attacking the media and being rewarded with publicity, plus dog whistling against immigrants. And we have also had an attempted hack interference.

And while some politicians and media are trying to talk up growing divides and discontents I’m not sure that there is a significant aversion to the status quo here that there is elsewhere. National have maintained unprecedented (under MMP) levels of support for an incumbent government.

They are showing signs of wavering, but the main alternative, Labour, have conceded they can’t match one-to-one and have set up an alliance of sorts with the Greens to try to compete. So far, going by the polls, that has not worked very successfully.

Change here may hinge on NZ First, but in the last few elections voters have resisted giving Peters a say in Government, or more accurately, sufficient voters have kept supporting the status quo.

While New Zealand has major housing issues and also a growing income divide and social issues of concern, our economy is generally doing very well. While we have always had “bloody Government” discord it is nothing like the ‘drain the Swamp’ level of Washington discontent.

While immigration numbers are being debated we don’t have the border problems and numbers of illegal immigrants that cause growing concern in the US and Europe. Peters is trying to scapegoat immigrants, and Labour has dabbled at that as well, but it’s hard to know whether that will appeal to prompt many voters to want to change the government. It had a negative effect for Labour.

One of the media’s biggest concerns seems to over who of Bill English and Andrew Little is the most boring. So they look for headlines elsewhere, hence the promotion of Peters and Jacinda Ardern, and trying to push new faces like Chlöe Swarbrick.

Kim Dotcom dominated a lot of coverage (and election spending) last election, as did the quirky Colin Craig, but the Internet Party in particular failed to attract voters.

Despite some threats Dotcom is largely out of the picture so far this year, Craig is too busy in court, and the one success of Dirty Politics was to have rendered Whale Oil down to rancid.

Despite some politicians and political activists trying to talk down the country and talk up a need for revolution, and despite some media searching for sensation, there seems to be no significant public discontent with our current government. It’s more like ‘meh’.

We don’t really have the levels or depths of discontent that are evident elsewhere.

There have been claims that Wikileaks (or the Russians or both?) have a data dump ready to go for New Zealand.

But if our election campaign is hit by a Dotcom promoted dump of hacked material is that going swing things? Or will the people vote ‘meh’.

Despite the best efforts of some media to sensationalise things – the overplaying of the Pike River videos by Newshub a recent example – and despite Dotcom or Hager or the Russians or the Aussies or whoever dumping on New Zealand this could turn out to be the ‘Meh’ election.