NZ’s WWI conscientious objectors commemorated

There were a number of conscientious objectors during World War 1, who were treated disgracefully.

Historian Tim Shoebridge led a project to compile lists of imprisoned conscientious objectors, convictions for sedition, and  military defaulters, as well as collating a number of personal stories of objectors.

NZ History: Conscientious objection and dissent

While most New Zealanders supported their country’s participation in the First World War, a small but significant group opposed it on religious, political, philosophical or personal grounds.

Conscripted men who refused military service were known as ‘conscientious objectors’, because their refusal to serve was based on their personal beliefs (or consciences). About 600 men declared conscientious objections, of whom around 286 were ultimately imprisoned in New Zealand as an example to other would-be objectors (others accepted non-combatant service or were exempt). Fourteen imprisoned objectors were forcibly despatched overseas in July 1917, with some ultimately transported to the Western Front and subjected to military punishments and incarceration.

The principal critics of conscription were people from labour organisations and Christian sects with pacifist leanings.

Imprisoned objectors by type
Reason for objection Number imprisoned
Religious 141
Socialist 59
Religious/socialist 11
Irish 23
Irish/socialist 6
Non-religious, not specified 20
Philosophical pacifist 3
Waikato Māori objections 14
Not a reservist 3
Not recorded 6

The 14

In mid-1917 the Defence Department reviewed the objectors then incarcerated and decided that those who still rejected all forms of military service would be sent overseas on the next troopship. The department labelled such men ‘defiant objectors’, believing they were motivated by stubbornness rather than ‘genuine’ religious scruples. The conscription process was intended to ensure equal sacrifice across society, so 14 imprisoned objectors were selected to be sent abroad to be treated like any other soldier. Their forced deportation would be proof of the department’s commitment to buttressing the conscription system against those trying to find a way around it.

The 14 men had been amongst the earliest to make a stand against conscription. More than half of them had been called up under the ‘family shirker’ clause rather than selected at random by the ballot – they had been deliberately singled out by the military authorities of their district to make an example of them as unpatriotic objectors. The group was drawn mainly from labouring and industrial workers, and included three brothers – Alexander (Sandy), Archibald and John Baxter of Brighton, Otago.

1. List of imprisoned conscientious objectors, 1916-18

This spreadsheet lists the 286 conscientious objectors who were imprisoned for rejecting military service during the First World War. It lists the dates they were balloted, sentenced and released, and provides other biographical and procedural information. It also records their reasons for rejecting military service, where this information is available. The list is based on original research by NZHistory.

2. List of New Zealanders convicted of sedition, 1915-18

This spreadsheet records the wartime convictions of 102 New Zealanders for making seditious statements or supporting a ‘seditious strike’. It lists names, occupations, approximate years of birth, charges, dates and places of prosecution, and date of release from incarceration of each individual. The list is based on original research by NZHistory.

3. Report of the Religious Advisory Board, 1919

In 1919 the government appointed a Religious Advisory Board to interview the conscientious objectors who had been imprisoned during the First World War. The board was asked to provide a list of all the objectors whose refusal to serve had been motivated by religious concerns. These men, whom the government judged to have a more defensible rationale for rejecting military service than those with political motivations, would be released from prison early without further punishment. Those objectors not categorised as religious by the board remained in prison and were placed on the defaulters’ list, losing certain civil rights for 10 years.

The board’s report provides the most detailed analysis of individual objectors and is an important source for First World War researchers and genealogists. It includes (1) a summary of the board’s recommendations by individual; (2) notes on the interviews with each objector; (3) a list of all the objectors released in August 1919 as a result of the board’s report.

The report covers only the 273 objectors who remained incarcerated in early 1919.

Archives New Zealand
AD1 734 10/407/15


4. Military Defaulters List, 1919

In May 1919 the government published a Military Defaulters List, containing the names of men it considered had failed to perform their civic duties under the conscription system during the First World War. This included men who had directly refused military service (conscientious objectors), those who deserted from the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, and those who failed to present themselves for military service when called upon to do so. Conscientious objectors who had refused military service on religious grounds were exempt from inclusion in the list.

The original list published in May 1919 included 2373 names, of which 99 were subsequently removed on appeal. Forty-six names were subsequently added, making the final total 2320.

There are also links to a number of personal stories.

  • James Allen
    Defence Minister James Allen was the person most directly responsible for administering the conscription process.
  • Archibald Baxter
    Conscientious objector Archibald Baxter was one of the 14 men deported to the front in 1917, and his memoir We Will Not Cease provides a graphic account of his experiences.
  • George Billings 
    Auckland electrician George Billings refused military service on religious grounds and was imprisoned for two years as a result.
  • Mark Briggs 
    Mark Briggs endured imprisonment, illness, and physical punishment as one of the 14 men deported to the front in 1917.
  • Alfred Davis 
    Alfred Davis was sentenced to three months in prison in 1918 for helping his brother avoid military service.
  • Peter Fraser 
    Labour leader – and future prime minister – was imprisoned for 12 months for ‘seditious’ anti-war comments in December 1916.
  • Joseph Jones
    Waterside labour Joseph Jones served prison sentences for an anti-war speech and later for refusing military service.
  • Rua Kenana 
    The police arrested Tuhoe leader Rua Kenana in 1916, probably suspecting he was dissuading his followers from enlisting in the armed forces.
  • Roy Lambess 
    Labourer Roy Lambess deserted from training camp on four occasions between 1916 and 1918.
  • Ernest Lynd 
    Russian watersider Ernest Lynd, sentenced to 11 months in prison for seditious comments, complained that the police harassed him because he was a foreigner.
  • Duncan McCormack 
    Socialist objector Duncan McCormack recalled his wartime imprisonment for Radio New Zealand in 1979.
  • John O’Neill 
    John O’Neill served a prison sentence for sedition before evading the draft for several months. Finally forced into uniform, O’Neill died at Trentham Camp in the influenza pandemic of November 1918.
  • Alphonsus Parsons
    Alphonsus Parsons served prison sentences for both seditious utterances and refusing military service.
  • Thomas Simpkins 
    Bushman Thomas Simpkins was sentenced to 12 days in prison in May 1918 for failing to enrol for the ballot.
  • Patrick Webb 
    One of conscription’s most prominent critics, parliamentarian Paddy Webb served prison sentences for both seditious utterances and refusing military service.
  • Tom Young
    Union secretary W.T. Young served three months in prison in 1917 for ‘inciting a seditious strike’. Young maintained that the government was using the war regulations to silence its political opponents.

Questions about Winston Peters and NZ’s foreign policy

Winston Peters negotiated the roles of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Some of his positions, especially on Russia, have been controversial – and somewhat mysterious.

Guyon Espiner asks some pertinent questions, like What is Winston Peters’ foreign policy, anyway?

To outsiders New Zealand foreign policy must look like a riddle wrapped in a mystery, perhaps clear only to the enigmatic deputy prime minister and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

That phrase is, of course, butchered and borrowed from Winston Churchill, who was trying to decipher Russian intentions at the start of World War II.

The direction of New Zealand foreign policy under his namesake seems similarly opaque. This presents challenges for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in Paris and London this week, seeking to progress trade deals with the European Union (EU) and Britain.

The publicity from the trip is likely to be positive but beyond the photo-ops, what is New Zealand actually doing in foreign affairs?

Ardern is certainly getting plenty of photo op opportunities, and she hasn’t visited the Queen yet.

Unfortunately for the PM the narrative has been blown off course by the timebomb Peters placed in the coalition agreement – his wish for a free trade deal with Russia.

Against a back drop of Russian-Western conflict not seen since the Cold War, uncomfortable questions follow Ardern around Europe. Why, just weeks ago, was her country still clinging to the notion it could pursue a trade deal with Russia? Why did it take so long to drop the idea and why was it there in the first place?

An as yet unanswered mystery.

The demand to re-start the deal didn’t come from a free trade champion. Peters has largely opposed FTAs, including with South Korea and China.

Why did Peters cast doubt on Russia’s role in bringing down MH17 and meddling in the US elections? Why did the government insist there were no Russian spies here and buck the trend of its allies, who expelled Russian diplomats?

The questions continue after the missile strikes on Syria. While Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull and Canada’s Justin Trudeau support the strikes, New Zealand “accepts why” they occurred.

Perhaps this is what you’d expect from a coalition government with Labour at the helm.

Rather than blindly follow their Five Eyes friends they seek an independent path. That line can be traced from Helen Clark’s refusal to join the Iraq War in 2003 to the actions of David Lange and Norman Kirk in protesting nuclear weapons.

I don’t remember Kirk or Lange being as vague as Ardern.

And then there is Peters, who rarely gives straight answers.

What is it that Winston Peters wants to achieve in foreign policy?

Both New Zealand First and Labour opposed the TPP in opposition and then supported it in government with minor amendments.

It wasn’t much of a surprise to see that Labour was largely in favour of the TPP, despite their opposition when in Opposition. But NZ First’s back flip looks less logical.

The tweaks allowed them to ban foreigners buying New Zealand houses but that breached the existing FTA with Singapore. Will Singaporeans be exempt from the ban? Peters stopped by Singapore on his way to Europe this week. Has he settled it?

I can’t find any news reports of his Singapore visit, and he hasn’t put out any ministerial release.

And what of China? Will it be the job of Winston Peters to take the relationship forward?

Will China be receptive to Peters?  Important questions.

The deeper question is why he wants the job at all. The Greens chose portfolios which visibly align with their philosophies, such as climate change and conservation.

For the leader of a party called New Zealand First, which positions itself as a champion of provincial battlers, to take international affairs is a less obvious fit.

On the night he announced the government, Peters made dark noises about the failings of capitalism and the challenges facing the economy. And then he chose Foreign Affairs.

Trying to figure out Winston may be a fool’s errand.

Usually that is a supporting role to the prime minister, who is the country’s real voice on foreign policy. Peters could soon hold both jobs, while Ardern takes maternity leave.

That could be interesting – and it could be a risk. Who knows what he will say or do? Will Ardern? Does she work closely with him, or has he been given the freedom to do much as he pleases? Will he be making key decisions while acting PM?

Perhaps he’ll hand over foreign affairs to his under-secretary and party deputy Fletcher Tabuteau? Or maybe he’ll keep us guessing.

Asking Peters is unlikely to get many answers that are any use to clarifying New Zealand’s foreign policy. I don’t know if Tabuteau would be any better, especially with peters hovering around in charge of the country. If Ardern hands over control.

What experience does Tabuteau have with foreign policy and diplomacy? He was an economics lecturer and head of the business school at Waiariki Institute of Technology beforfe becoming an MP in 2014. No sign of offshore experience.

There are a number of important unanswered questions about both our foreign policy and our leadership over the next few months.

Ardern meets Merkel

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has moved on from France to Germany to meet chancellor Angela Merkel.

RNZ: Merkel, Ardern discuss threats to world order

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has concluded “warm and engaging” talks with German chancellor Angela Merkel as she seeks to strengthen ties with one of the most powerful and experienced leaders in Europe.

The two leaders discussed a wide range of issues in their first meeting at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin, including the various pressures threatening the world order.

At a joint conference after the meeting, Ms Merkel said they’d discussed Brexit, the ongoing tensions with Russia and the recent military action in Syria.

“We are very grateful New Zealand has taken a very clear stance on all these issues,” she said.

Ms Ardern appeared to slightly strengthen her language on the US-led air strikes on Syria in response to a suspected chemical attack, saying she “utterly” accepted the need to respond to “a blatant breach of international law”.

“Whilst we absolutely maintain the need to – first and foremost – seek resolution through the likes of the United Nations, when that is not possible, we utterly accept the use of alternative means to address what has to be challenged.”

Ms Ardern described the German chancellor as “extremely thoughtful” and thanked her for her strong support for beginning negotiations for an EU-NZ trade deal.

In January last year, Dr Merkel pledged to push the EU to work towards a quick trade accord after meeting then-Prime Minister Bill English.

Germany’s support is important for negotiating an NZ -EU trade deal, and President Macron has also just indicated French support.

Dr Merkel was asked how the meeting had gone – to which Ms Ardern quipped, “they want to know if you found me likeable”.

Really? Cringe.

The German chancellor said the time had flown and the conversation had been fun.

“You can be proud of your Prime Minister. If you want to write this down for the New Zealand press. This will be the headline in the morning papers I trust.”

It didn’t make the RNZ headline but it waste some space in the article.

Last day of Commonwealth Games

I’ve been enjoying coverage of the Commonwealth Games – it’s a rare opportunity to watch sport at a high level in many things. I particularly like cycling and athletics, as well as a number of other sports – there’s been some very good squash and beach volleyball (men’s, I find the attire of some of the women gross and off putting).

As always there have been disappointments, like the netball – New Zealand squeaked through to the semi finals but got got thrashed by Australia last night. The Silver Ferns just aren’t a top team at the moment – and other countries have improved markedly.

Media unrealistic expectations have put the ‘commentators curse’ on some. Valerie Adams was always going to be a maybe making a comeback six months after having a baby. She threw a personal best well below her best of past years, but was pipped by a Jamaican who putted her best ever distance to win. Silver is still very good for Adams – she is 33 so may never reach her peak performance again.

Pole vaulter Eliza McCartney was also talked up too much. She was out tactic’d and out jumped by a Canadian who performed better on the night. Again, silver is still a good result, and this was a good lesson for McCartney in ignoring media hype.

Unexpected success is the best. After several draws in pool play and the semi final (won by penalty shoot out) the women’s hockey team beat Australia 4-1 in the final to take gold, a great result for them.

Too much is made of the medal table. Some expect New Zealand to better their last Games totals, but all countries are trying to do that, standards keep improving, so it is very competitive.

Coverage has been mixed. A lot of it is very good but TVNZ’s need to advertise a lot is annoying, and their choice of sports shown can be very annoying. More than once I have found that the final I want to watch with new Zealanders competing is either not being broadcast, or is only available streamed – and sometimes when I have tried to stream I haaven’t been able to without having a log in. Bloody annoying.

Stuff has had a good Live page for keeping track of coverage – far better than the awful TVNZ website. It’s not up yet for today but they have a summary of New Zealanders in action:

Rugby Sevens
1.21pm: Women’s semifinal (New Zealand v England)
1,43pm: Men’s semifinal (New Zealand v England)
3.55pm or 4.42pm: Women’s bronze or gold medal match
4.17pm or 5,05pm: Women’s bronze or gold medal match

11am: Men’s bronze medal match (Tall Blacks v Scotland)

2pm: Women’s doubles final (Joelle King, Amanda Landers-Murphy v India)

1.02pm: Women’s bronze medal match (New Zealand v Jamaica)

‘Perfectly executed’, restrained Syria missile strike applauded and slammed

After days of rhetoric and threats the US, UK and France launched a strike against Syrian government targets yesterday. The talking game has resumed.

BBC – Syria air strikes: Trump hails ‘perfect’ mission

The US, UK and France attacked three government sites, targeting what they said were chemical weapons facilities.

More than 100 missiles struck in response to a suspected deadly chemical attack on the town of Douma last week.

A Pentagon briefing on Saturday said the strikes had “set the Syrian chemical weapons programme back for years”.

Later there was a bitter exchange between the US and Russia at the United Nations.

The wave of strikes is the most significant attack against President Bashar al-Assad’s government by Western powers in seven years of Syria’s civil war.

Responding to the strikes, Mr Assad said in comments published by his office: “This aggression will only make Syria and its people more determined to keep fighting and crushing terrorism in every inch of the country.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he condemned the Western strikes “in the most serious way”.

Russia, whose forces are bolstering Syria’s government, had threatened military retaliation if any Russian personnel had been hit.

Reuters – Most rockets in Western attacks on Syria were intercepted: Russia

Russia’s defense ministry said on Saturday that the majority of missiles fired during the overnight attack on Syria by U.S., British and French forces were intercepted by Syrian government air defense systems, TASS news agency reported.

According to Interfax news agency, Russia’s defense ministry also said that Syria intercepted the U.S. and allied attacks using Soviet-produced hardware, including the Buk missile system.

Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has responded angrily to the strikes, while Syrian state media called them a “flagrant violation of international law.”

There was no agreement at the United Nations for the strike – because of course Russia vetoed, so it was unilateral military action.

We have hardly got the capability for being involved in a missile strike. Has new Zealand got any missiles?

Ghahraman has been attacked for ‘supporting a despot’ but she has a point. International law should be important, and while violence is sometimes necessary to  confront and end violent actions it is highly debatable whether the missile strike in Syria will do anything to end the seven year civil war there.

If history has taught us anything, it is that violence doesn’t and hasn’t ever stopped violence, in that region or elsewhere. So it matters, and is telling to me, that everyone involved is well aware that strike action is almost certainly not going to make victims safe, stop the use of chemical weapons, or end the war. The airstrikes must be seen for what they are: a continuation of a policy that protects American and western interests and a breach of international law.

While the question of lawfulness may seem pedantic in the face of chemical warfare, the opposite, an acceptance of a “might is right” ad hoc approach to something as grave as the integrity of international borders and the use of force, is worth guarding against with vigilance. Leaving the US to do what it wants creates a precedent that we have to live with in future, at the whim of the Trumps in this world, with little respect for the rules and airstrike capability to match. New Zealand, as a small country that relies on multilateralism and the rule of law, needs to stand up against ad hoc unlawful international violence.

It was very telling that in Trump’s statement on air strikes he did not claim the attack was consistent with the UN Charter or was a legal response to the use of chemical weapons. He simply said that the attacks were in the national security of the United States.

What he should have said was the attack served US economic interests.

I doubt that was behind Trump’s reasoning for the strike. He committed himself to a military strike via Twitter and would have risked looking week to Russia if he had not acted – not a good reason but likely to be why he acted.

The support of foreign wars by US arms manufacturers is a different (but important ) issue, but seems to think oil is the economic reason.

This war would not have been as bloody or long lived had it not been for the eager involvement of the US, Russia and their allies and for their unwillingness to pressure their regional allies, to divest from the cheap oil coming from either Iran or Saudi.

I think that the Greens would love for the price of oil to double to deter it’s use, but that would have a massive effect on the New Zealand economy.

Aotearoa is the land that gave my family and me safety and dignity when we arrived as refugees, because Kiwis stand for peace and for inclusion. What we should do is engage with the international community in ensuring the victims have access to aid, safe passage out of targeted areas, can settle as refugees without being accused of terrorism or banned from that safety by the likes of Trump. What New Zealand can do is never support any nation on the East/West divide who sponsors violence. We can, as we have always done, stand against violence, with ordinary people, sharing our values.

It is a fair point to a large extent. Getting involved in wars in the Middle East in particular seems like a fool’s errand (unless you make money off the supply of the means of destruction).

Zero war may sound like a great ideal it only works if all countries share the same commitment. If vile murderous crap happens in other countries should New Zealand tut tut and stay on the sidelines? This is a dilemma.

More specifically, if Syria kept deploying chemical weapons against their own people should New Zealand confine it’s reaction to talk at a largely impotent UN?

Politics is much more complex and difficult than some seem to think, especially international politics.

Washington Examiner – Analysis: Coalition strikes Syria, Russia blinks

Trump said last night that there will be more attacks if Assad continues to use banned weapons on the battlefield. “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.”

But at the Pentagon last night, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said there are no further strikes planned at this time.  “That will depend on Mr. Assad, should he decide to use more chemical weapons in the future,” Mattis said. “But right now this is a one-time shot, and I believe it has sent a very strong message to dissuade him, to deter him from doing this.”

Despite deploying its state-of-the-art S-400 air defense system to Syria, the U.S. did not detect any effort by Russia to shoot down allied planes or missiles.

Nevertheless, Russia claims to have shot down 71 of 103 Tomahawk missiles, but it also claims that airfields were bombed that the U.S. says were not targeted. It also vaguely warned of consequences.

“We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences,” said Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the U.S. “All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris.”

That doesn’t sound like Russia blinking. Trump took a week of rhetoric before ordering the strikes. Russia may or may not act on their threats of retaliation.

It’s too soon to tell whether this will escalate or not. The stakes are very high.

Green report – climate finance in New Zealand

This morning I asked if the Green Party has any sort of plan for transitioning to a non-fossil fuel New Zealand. I don’t think anyone came up with anything, but coincidentally James Shaw launched a report that looks at financing climate change measures.

The report: Climate Finance Landscape for Aotearoa New Zealand: A Preliminary Survey

This report, prepared by consultancy Mōhio, examines climate finance in New Zealand. It includes a snapshot of key existing climate finance flows and a look at the instruments available to the Government and private sector such as grants, debt and bonds.

The report also outlines the enabling environment required to better facilitate the flows of finance toward low emissions and climate-resilient outcomes. This includes considerations such as information flows, tracking, regulations, organisational forms, and wider alignment across innovation, research and development and other environmental and social outcomes.

Notably it suggests what appear to be public/private partnerships of sorts (but not called that): “Finance is blended in the sense that public investments are used to catalyse private investments (or vice-versa)”.

However even if you have finance available you need to have viable energy alternatives to invest in.

Executive Summary (edited)

The transition by financial markets to a low-emissions global economy has already begun. Global capital is increasingly being channelled in directions that prioritise and enable climate-aligned projects to deliver mitigation and adaptation benefits. These capital flows are what we call climate finance; that is, investment and expenditure – public and private, domestic and transnational – that demonstrably contributes to climate mitigation, adaptation or both.

As a country that operates openly in the global economy, New Zealand faces immediate, medium and long-term decisions about how to engage with this transition toward a low-emissions economy, in a way that maximises the advantages of our unique geographic, cultural and political circumstances. Although this transition will require new kinds of investment, this climate-aligned expenditure provides opportunities to create new jobs and industries, to spur growth in different parts of the economy, and to crowd-in new capital from diverse sources through emerging frameworks of impact investment.

The primary focus of this report is domestic climate finance – that is, finance flows that are internal to New Zealand by having domestic use-of-proceeds for climate-aligned projects and activities. (This contrasts with international climate finance, where investment flows from developed to developing countries to support sustainable, climate-aligned development.)

This report shows that there are already a range of financial flows within New Zealand that meet climate finance definitions that meet climate finance definitions. Nevertheless, there are significant opportunities to increase the volume and effectiveness of climate finance flows in order to better align with New Zealand’s international obligations and expectations, not least the collective agreement to reach global net zero emissions by the second half of this century.

Improving the quantity and quality of climate finance is not only a challenge for New Zealand but for all signatories to the Paris Agreement, due to the major global shortfall of adequate climate investment. However, creating a more enabling environment for climate finance flows will not only help New Zealand to meet its international obligations, it will also position New Zealand favourably within the global economy as the transition to lower emissions activities gathers pace.

This report further examines domestic climate finance through the lenses of natural capital and impact investing.

The potential here is captured by the motto: blended finance for integrated impacts. Finance is blended in the sense that public investments are used to catalyse private investments (or vice-versa); and integrated in the sense that finance is directed towards combined social, environmental and economic benefits.

From this perspective, New Zealand Government can play any combination of at least four roles:

  1. As a direct investor, the New Zealand Government already provides multiple grants in areas like energy efficiency and sustainable land management
  2. An investment manager role would emphasise the importance of financing pipelines for climate-aligned projects and companies to nurture innovation to maturity, to provide growth capital for ideas that work.
  3. A market maker role would recognise the New Zealand Government’s capacity to support climate-aligned projects and companies by being first purchaser, or a large-scale purchaser, of climate-aligned goods and services.
  4. A trail blazer role would recognise the New Zealand Government’s capacity to lead the way globally, especially in those sectors where New Zealand has unique mitigation opportunities, such as land use and transport powered by renewable energy.

To enhance New Zealand’s climate finance system, this report identifies ten recommendations  – from low-hanging fruit to more elaborate interventions – that would create a more facilitative enabling environment for climate finance. These are:

Full report (PDF)

This is a ‘preliminary survey’. I would have hoped plans would have been more advanced on how to finance climate change related projects by now.

Trump looking at US rejoining TPP

Reports from the US say that President Trump has instructed advisers to look at re-entering the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, a month after it was signed by the remaining eleven countries, including New Zealand.

This looks to be a reaction to pressure from US farmers over Trump’s trade war with China,.

During the 2016 campaign Donald Trump spoke strongly against the TPP. As soon as he took office he withdrew the US from the agreement. Perhaps he thought that would kill the hole deal, but the the TPP progressed without the US, was renamed the CPTPP and was signed by the other eleven countries last month in Chile.

President Obama had promoted US participation in the TPP.

January last year: Trump Abandons Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama’s Signature Trade Deal

President Trump upended America’s traditional, bipartisan trade policy on Monday as he formally abandoned the ambitious, 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership brokered by his predecessor and declared an end to the era of multinational trade agreements that defined global economics for decades.

With the stroke of a pen on his first full weekday in office, Mr. Trump signaled that he plans to follow through on promises to take a more aggressive stance against foreign competitors as part of his “America First” approach. In doing so, he demonstrated that he would not follow old rules, effectively discarding longstanding Republican orthodoxy that expanding global trade was good for the world and America — and that the United States should help write the rules of international commerce.

Although the Trans-Pacific Partnership had not been approved by Congress, Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw not only doomed former President Barack Obama’s signature trade achievement, but also carried broad geopolitical implications in a fast-growing region. The deal, which was to link a dozen nations from Canada and Chile to Australia and Japan in a complex web of trade rules, was sold as a way to permanently tie the United States to East Asia and create an economic bulwark against a rising China.

Mr. Trump’s decision to scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or T.P.P., reversed a free-trade strategy adopted by presidents of both parties dating back to the Cold War, and aligned him more with the political left. When he told a meeting of union leaders at the White House on Monday that he had just terminated the pact, they broke into applause.

“We’re going to stop the ridiculous trade deals that have taken everybody out of our country and taken companies out of our country, and it’s going to be reversed,” Mr. Trump told them, saying that from now on, the United States would sign trade deals only with individual allies. “I think you’re going to have a lot of companies come back to our country.”

Earlier this year, when it looked like the deal would go ahead without the US, there were signs Trump was rethinking, and now Senators there say he has instructed advisers to look at re-entering the deal.

CNBC: Trump told his advisors to look at re-entering massive Pacific trade deal, senators say

  • Senators say President Donald Trump wants his advisors to reconsider entering the TPP.
  • Lawmakers from agricultural states met with the president about the possible harm to farmers from Chinese retaliation to Trump’s proposed tariffs.
  • Trump left the massive 12-nation deal agreed to by President Barack Obama, and the remaining 11 nations reached a new agreement.

The president said he has instructed chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to consider trying to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership, said Sens. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ben Sasse, R-Neb. The senators were among the lawmakers from agricultural states who met with Trump on Thursday about the White House’s proposed tariffs on China, which farmers worry would lead to retaliation that hurts their businesses.

After the meeting, Sasse told reporters the 12-nation trade deal agreed to by President Barack Obama and abandoned by Trump would be the “single best way” to counter alleged Chinese trade abuses.

“That cheating needs to be countered. But the single best way we can counter that is by leading all the rule of law nations in the Pacific who would rather be aligned with the U.S. than be aligned with China,” he said.

With the original deal, the nations intended in part to counter China’s economic influence in the region.

In January, Trump told CNBC he would join TPP again if he could make a “substantially better deal.” He argued the agreement as previously crafted was “terrible.”

On Thursday, Sasse suggested Trump thinks the U.S. could still join in on the agreement. The president reaffirmed “multiple times” that he believes it may be easier to join the agreement now, the senator said.

Now the deal has been signed without the US it puts them in a much weaker negotiating position.



Of course there is racism in New Zealand

Taika Waititi has stirred things up by saying that while New Zealand is “the best place on the planet” it is also “racist as fuck”. I agree with him on both counts. I haven’t had to experience the sort of racism he describes, but have had to deal with prejudices.

This came from an interview with English magazine ‘Dazed and Confused: Unknown Mortal Orchestra & Taika Waititi on New Zealand culture – some extracts:

Taika Waititi: It was scary, man, it was scary. We also used to think Bob Marley and Michael Jackson were Maori. I thought that Bob Marley was from Ruatoria and I heard that Michael Jackson was a local!

Taika Waititi: Yeah, and New Zealanders are, like, experts in cynicism. We’re good observers, because we come from a place where basically nothing happens. There’s definitely a mentality of ‘I’m stuck here and I’m not going to get out’ that informs the stuff we make, there’s kind of a cool darkness to it.

Taika Waititi: We have a very strong metre around being too earnest or cheesy because we all grew up the same in New Zealand and you want to make sure your friends aren’t gonna mock you for doing stuff! (laughs) It’s like, ‘There’s got to be a cool way of saying something – I’m not going to scream out, “I love you!”’ You’ve got to do it in a cool, funny, sarcastic way. It’s the same with our art and cinema – we can afford to be bold and do outlandish shit because we all know what the alternative is, which is basically being in New Zealand.

Ruban, I read an interview where you said that growing up half-Polynesian in New Zealand was to be the kid a shop owner will follow around’. Does this chime with your own experiences, Taika?

Taika Waititi: Exactly the same. Growing up it was very normal to go into a store and they would say, ‘What do you want?’ And you’d be like, (muttering) ‘I’m just looking at chips, man.’ I remember getting a job at a dairy and they would never give me a job at the till, I was always at the back washing vegetables. And then one day one of the owners asked me if I sniffed glue – like, ‘Are you a glue-sniffer?’ (Ruban laughs) In my head I was like, ‘Motherfucker, you grew up with my mum!’ And I knew for sure that he didn’t ask other kids in the store if they were glue-sniffers.

I think I’ve got quite an idealised vision of New Zealand as like Australia without the racism and the blokeish sense of humour…

Taika Waititi: Nah, it’s racist as fuck. I mean, I think New Zealand is the best place on the planet, but it’s a racist place. People just flat-out refuse to pronounce Maori names properly. There’s still profiling when it comes to Polynesians. It’s not even a colour thing – like, ‘Oh, there’s a black person.’ It’s, ‘If you’re Poly then you’re getting profiled.’

Ruban Nielson: I didn’t even realise how light my skin was until I came (to the US). It was one of the things I liked when I moved here; it’s like nobody knows what you are so they give you the benefit of the doubt. And then I go back to New Zealand as a person who’s older and somewhat accomplished in their field and I still get treated worse! It’s like people want to remind you – ‘Yeah, but you’re still Polynesian, so…’

Taika Waititi: Totally. People in Auckland are very patronising. They’re like, ‘Oh, you’ve done so well, haven’t you? For how you grew up. For one of your people.’ (Ruban laughs)

Ruban Nielson: I appreciate being Polynesian more than I did when I was there. When I go back now, I find myself being more aggressive when I’m pronouncing Maori names around people who refuse to do it. (laughs)

Taika Waititi: Yeah. Because because they don’t mispronounce French words, do they? They can say fucking ‘Camembert’ properly.

I think he’s wrong about pronounciation – people tend to pronounce names as they have learned them, and rarely deliberately mispronounce.

And he’s wrong about mispronouncing French words, that’s very common – a guarantee many of us won’t be very good on ‘Camembert’  and many other foreign words.

And English is ‘mispronounced’ more than any other language.

But racism is rife in New Zealand – racism against Maori, against Polynesians, against Chinese, against Indians, against Irish, against Arabs, against English, against anyone who is racially different. It’s just what some people do.

It is a particular problem when the Government and the Police have racist policies and practices.

Stuff: Taika Waititi’s right, New Zealand really is a racist place

“The only people I meet who are racist are Māoris,” one woman said after learning Taika Waititi had again said New Zealand is a racist place.

Did she see the irony in her own sentence?

There will never be no racism, but there is a lot of room for improvement in New Zealand.


Zuckerberg apologises ahead of hearings, NZ data breaches

Mark Zuckerberg has apologised ahead of hearings in Congress over Facebook data breaches and possible effects on the 2016 US election. In the meantime it has been revealed that about 64,000 New Zealanders may have been involved in the data breaches.

More talk from Zuckerberg over ongoing Facebook data revelations, but  Congress will be looking for more than apologies in two days of hearings.

Reuters: CEO Zuckerberg says Facebook could have done more to prevent misuse

Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told Congress on Monday that the social media network should have done more to prevent itself and its members’ data being misused and offered a broad apology to lawmakers.

“We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake,” he said in remarks released by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee on Monday. “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”

“It’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm. That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy.”

His conciliatory tone precedes two days of Congressional hearings where Zuckerberg is set to answer questions about Facebook user data being improperly appropriated by a political consultancy and the role the network played in the U.S. 2016 election.

Top of the agenda in the forthcoming hearings will be Facebook’s admission that the personal information of up to 87 million users, mostly in the United States, may have been improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

But lawmakers are also expected to press him on a range of issues, including the 2016 election.


Facebook, which has 2.1 billion monthly active users worldwide, said on Sunday it plans to begin on Monday telling users whose data may have been shared with Cambridge Analytica.

This potentially includes thousands of New Zealanders. RNZ:

Facebook today revealed it estimated nearly 64,000 New Zealanders were estimated to have had their data collected and used by Cambridge Analytica. The company is accused of using private data to personally target voters to manipulate elections.

A spokesperson for the social media giant said 87 million people were estimated to have been affected by the “Cambridge Analytica data misuse” worldwide, with more than 80 percent of those based in the US.

The data was apparently obtained via the “thisismydigitallife” personality test on Facebook and pulled in information about users’ friends liked without their explicit permission.

“For New Zealand, we estimate a total of 63,724 people may have been impacted – 10 are estimated to have downloaded the quiz app with 63,714 friends possibly impacted,” the company said.

The spokesperson said that from Tuesday the company would begin showing users which apps they connected to at the top of their Facebook feed, and an easy way to delete them.

“As part of this, we will let people know if their data might have been accessed by Cambridge Analytica,” the spokesperson said.

“We’re dramatically reducing the information people can share with apps. We’re shutting down other ways data was being shared through Groups, Events, Pages and Search.”

NetSafe chief executive Martin Cocker…

…said he did not think Facebook users needed to shut down their accounts following the revelation.

Mr Cocker said the breach was a reminder for Facebook users to take their privacy settings seriously, but not necessarily to quit the social media platform.

“Facebook has responded to this breach by setting up a series of tools and improving their management of apps and if anything the breach has lead to a safer Facebook in the future.”

There is nothing obviously different on my Facebook this morning.


The Antipodes, and having the feet opposite

I sort of find this interesting but it’s not really relevant to anything. A bit of geographical and language trivia.

New Zealand (and Australia) have been referred to as The Antipodes, because we are roughly on the opposite side of the world to Britain. The word antipodes actually means ‘direct opposite’. Origin (Oxford):

Late Middle English: via French or late Latin from Greek antipodes ‘having the feet opposite’, from anti ‘against, opposite’ + pous, pod- ‘foot’. The term originally denoted the inhabitants of opposite sides of the earth

No part of New Zealand nor Australia are directly opposite Britain.

Ten years ago I wrote:

If you sail out into Biscay Bay
And anchor on the edge
Drill like crazy finding maybe
Biscay Bay Antipodes

The Bay of Biscay is to the north of Spain, and some point there happens to be the opposite side of the planet to Dunedin. The antipodes of most of New Zealand lies across Spain. None of Australia lines up with an opposite land mass.

What I find most interesting about this is how little of the Earth’s land mass lies opposite to land. Not that this means a lot in the whole scheme of things.

If you dug a hole straight down and ended up in China you would have to be in the southern half of South America, in Argentina or Chile, which seems odd as they all border the Pacific Ocean. But the Pacific covers about a third of Earth’s surface, is nearly a half (46%) of the total sea area and is larger than the whole of the planet’s land mass

General details here: