Customs vaguely responds to search/detention over manuscript

Following up on  yesterday’s post NZ Customs accused of abusing powers ahead of Blomfield book launch (it has been confirmed that it was Matt Blomfield and his family who wee detained).

Customs responded via twitter:

I can understand they can’t be specific, but they could give a lot more of a general idea than that. For example, if there had been a ‘tipoff’.


The man at the centre of new book ‘Whale Oil’ was stopped, detained and searched at Auckland Airport by customs.

The truth is dead. Long live the search for truth.

Toby Morris (The Spinoff) – The Truth is Dead

  1. Question everything. Absolutely. Poke and prod and research and ask tough questions.
  2. Listen to the answers.

I try to do this a bit, and so do some others, but many people seem to have already made their minds up, they react badly to being questioned and attack the questioner rather than listen.

It would be good if more people did this, but I don’t think there will be any sort of revolution in questioning ones own beliefs any time soon, nor in an improvement in behaviour when beliefs or agendas are questioned or exposed as nonsense.

The search for truth often seems to be overridden by a determination to retain beliefs.

Search DigitalNZ

I have spent a lot of time searching DigitalNZ over the last few days. It is the easiest and quickest way to find images and information from a range of New Zealand sources.

I have used Papers Past quite a bit, but DigitalNZ makes that easier to use. But here’s a lot resources available than that.

I have searched on places and found new photos and information, all easily browsed and accessed.

I have searched on relatives names, and spent hours going through my great grandfather’s history, from his work as Secretary of the Bluff Harbour Board for many years, to his community involvement and his recreational activities – he is on record as being involved with Southland Rugby (not quite Otago but close), bowls and even draughts competitions.

I found detailed military records of my grandfather, which includes his work and medical histories, and his service and promotions through two World Wars. I knew some of it but have found out more details, including the names and ranks of those attending his military funeral.

This took me a couple of minutes to find (1861):


And (1904):

Article image

Anyway, that’s just of personal interest to me, but it’s a great way of searching for all sorts of information.

If searching on names try variations, like ‘Bill Bob George’ and B.B.George’.

And be prepared to spend some time on it.


Welcome to the refreshed, the next step in DigitalNZ’s evolution. Here we’re developing and testing new and improved ways for you to find, share and use amazing New Zealand content.

In 2017 we’ve developed a fresh, more user-friendly and lovely-to-look-at version of We’re starting with a very basic version of the website and we’ll regularly make both small and substantial changes to this site throughout this year and beyond. These changes will often be based on your feedback, so any thoughts you have for us are hugely helpful and will feed directly into the site’s development.


Or Explore – there are currently 30,510,788 items in DigitalNZ

Unequal human rights

Should prisoners have reduced human rights? Minister of Police Paula Bennett seems to think some should be treated differently

RNZ: Serious criminals ‘have fewer human rights’ – National

Serious criminals should have fewer human rights than others, according to the National Party’s police spokesperson Paula Bennett.

Ms Bennett and the party’s leader Bill English have announced National’s policy to crack down on gangs and the supply and manufacture of methamphetamine.

The plan would give police the power to search the cars and houses of the most serious criminal gang members, at any time, for firearms through the use of new prohibition orders, which would be given at the discretion of police.

I have two serious concerns so far. If they want to search cars and houses that surely means suspected criminals, or alleged criminals.

And ‘discretion of police’ sounds warning bells. Surely there should be some checks on what the police can do, like needing to obtain warrants.

Ms Bennett said that would probably breach the human rights of those gang members.

That’s a worrying admission.

“We just feel that there are some gang members that are creating more harm and continuing to.

“Some have fewer human rights than others when they are creating a string of victims behind them … there is a different standard.”

Mr English said he was comfortable with the policy.

“We’re comfortable that this is a tool which will enable the front line of our police to deal more effectively with the structure of the distribution of meth and the dangers of firearms.

“It will go right through the legislative process, so of course this will be argued.”

Without seeing details I’m quite uncomfortable with this.

National’s plan would invest $42 million over four years to fund a crackdown on gangs and the supply of serious drugs.

Aside from new police powers, it would double the number of drug dog teams and introduce them in domestic airports, ferries and mail centres to clamp down on trafficking. Penalties for manufacturing and distributing synthetic cannabis would be increased from a maximum of two years’ imprisonment to eight years, but no changes to charges for possession.

Gang members on a benefit would also have to justify expensive assets worth more than $10,000, otherwise their benefit could be cancelled or be declined.

Ms Bennett said serious drugs like methamphetamine and the gangs who peddle them were a scourge on society.

“These drug dealers are destroying lives for profit and greed and these drugs have no place in our country.”

I agree that drug pushing and dealing is abhorrent and a serious problem, but as important as it is to try to combat this more effectively it is also important to have a High standard of human rights, and also adequate controls on police investigations and enforcement.

What if the Police search someone’s car or house and find no drugs or firearms? Too bad, as long as they look a bit like criminals?

UPDATE: The Spinof – Mask off: National decides gang members have “fewer human rights”

If you can – and this is clearly impossible – detach yourself from its horror, the policy is fascinating as a perfect view into the debates which roil inside the National party. It perfectly encapsulates the two impulses it has contained, in announcing 1500 new drug treatment places (seems good, seems like the modern, friendly, Bill English wing) while also promising to just wander into the homes of gang members, without a warrant, just because.

Its launch at a West Auckland drug treatment facility captures the squirming dichotomy perfectly. It is meant to scream ‘we care’ to the mainstream on the 6pm news, while the “fewer human rights” grab will play on ZB tomorrow, a bone for the tough-on-crime crowd to gnaw on.

What we’re really seeing is the party under sustained pressure for the first time in nine years…

Hence this policy, one which seems ripped from the ‘70s headlines, asserting that certain types of New Zealanders are fundamentally less human than others. It’s the National party of old’s coffin lid creaking open, a zombie back out to fight an election in 2017. We’ll find out what Bill English really thinks about it when he records his episode of the 9th Floor. Unless this somewhat grotesque new strategy gains traction, that moment won’t be far off.

I think this policy has the potential to stuff any chance National has of reversing Labour’s positive momentum. It may appeal to Natikonal’s base and some further to the right with few other voting options, but it is going to struggle with the swing voters who have been veering towards Labour.

Labour accusations of political pressure on police

Labour MPs have suggested that the police may have acted under political pressure in raiding Nicky Hager’s house. The police deny this.

Acting leader Annette King and Labour’s shadow Attorney-General David Parker have both speculated on Government interference.

Stuff reported Nicky Hager case ‘raises questions’ about political pressure on police – MPs

The illegal police search of journalist Nicky Hager’s home has raised questions about whether police were under pressure from the Government to act, opposition politicians say.

Acting Labour leader Annette King said she was concerned about whether the police’s illegal search was the result of Prime Minister John Key criticising Dirty Politics in the media after the book’s release.

It was very much a political hothouse…the police don’t have cloth ears: they hear what’s being said and they hear what’s happening in the community.

“My concern is that huge political pressure comes on them to do something about it when they hear the Government making derogatory comments and the Government saying it’s all a jack-up…it puts huge pressure on the police for action.”

King said another example was the “teapot tapes” case, in which freelance cameraman Bradley Ambrose was investigated but not charged by police after he claimed to have accidentally recorded a conversation between Key and ACT MP John Banks on the campaign trail in 2011.

Because it involved the Prime Minister, the speed at which the police reacted, when you get reports on a regular basis at your electorate office that serious issues like having your house burgled or your car stolen can hardly raise a response…it’s in that environment that I’m concerned.”

Police needed to be “totally even-handed” when looking at all cases regardless of political pressure, while Key also needed to refrain from putting pressure on the police.

“I think it’s up to a Prime Minister to act in a prime ministerial way as well – at that time, he acted more like a gutter politician.”

Serious speculation and accusations.

However, police have rebuffed the claims, saying they are “without foundation”.

In a press release Parker goes further, claiming “unlawful action by police during two elections in a row”.

That’s an even more serious accusation. Except that the police actions were not during elections.

Landmark ruling finds Police acted illegally – Parker

Today’s landmark ruling from Justice Clifford that a raid on the home of journalist Nicky Hager was illegal means there was unlawful action by police during two elections in a row, Labour’s Shadow Attorney-General David Parker says.

“For the past two elections complaints in the media from the Prime Minister have led to inappropriate and excessive action by the police against journalists.

“In 2011 it was the tea tapes following a media stunt gone wrong between John Key and John Banks.

“Last year the disreputable antics of the National Party involving Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater, Jason Ede in the Prime Minister’s office, Judith Collins, and the Prime Minister himself were outed in Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics.

“He was painted as a villain by the Government after the release of his book and today’s finding vindicates him.

“Instead of the police attention being on the perpetrators, John Key kept asserting Nicky Hager based his book on hacked emails. The police in turn reacted on the public complaints by the Prime Minister and the formal complaint by Cameron Slater, and again turned on the media.

“We should be grateful that in New Zealand we have a brave and independent judiciary that can make today’s ruling.

“Now the police and the Prime Minister need to publicly accept the politicisation of the police was serious and wrong,” David Parker says.

Or are Parker’s politicisation and accusations of the police here serious and wrong?

The police are damned when they do and damned when the don’t take any action on politically related issues.

There are risks that police actions could influence political outcomes.

But there is a greater risk that by avoiding doing anything with possible political connotations important and potentially serious acts are not properly examined by our judiciary. And to put things before our judiciary the police have to first investigate.