Local politics in NZ – How to respond to Conservatives

I live in one of the most conservative electorates in NZ.

Dont-believe everything you think

In the last few weeks whenever I have spoken at a local meeting (community forum, Residents Associations etc) I have made the point that local politics is not democratic because it uses the First Past the Post vote counting system. I also make the point that local politics is indeed political.

Now the conservatives have started to begin their speeches by saying local politics is not political and that they are here to consult you and do as you ask. AND they are not tied to the platform of any political party. Yeah, right.

So here’s how I’m planning to begin my speeches now:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, you’ve just heard a conservative local politician, [name politician], say three things. 1. He/she is not tied to a political party 2. local politics is not political and 3.  local politics shouldn’t be influenced by national parties. I suspect you don’t really believe those things, otherwise you wouldn’t be here to have your say in our local politics.

Unlike [name politician] I am proud to stand up honestly and say, of course local politics is political. And, I’m proud to say that the integrity and ideals of the Green Party, to which I belong, do not change depending on what meeting we’re at. We will always work for the good of the community at local level or at national level. So until [name the politician] stops saying that she/he is not political, I’m afraid I’ll make this little speech each time. Now onto the issues for this meeting …”


Does TVNZ CEO Kevin Kenrick go off half-cocked?

In May 2012 TVNZ got a new CEO Kevin Kenrick. He had been CEO of the Travel House.

In September 2017 he wrote to Deaf Action NZ with a very poor excuse as to why he refused to have a New Zealand Sign Language interpreter on Election Debate broadcasts. Logistics, he said. Here, have some captions, he said.

Here’s what a few Deaf Action people had to say about it. I’ve chosen not to put in the more colourful expressions.

Clearly he does not “respect the status of sign language as an official language of New Zealand” as his actions show he does not. Also he talks about the filming of the debate being too hard to add interpreter because of zoom in etc so I am sure he does not understand how this system could work. Interpreter can be added from other location. Has anyone explained it to him? He probably thinks the interpreter needs to stand next to the debaters like in earthquake announcements. Has this been explained to him?

What a load of crap! It’s pure laziness! Think about it – live feed for sports use multiple cameras with ease! A live debate is no different.

Seems why Hearing people had paid the Tax to cover as TV News and Sports with the voices they hearing can hear it’s not fair for Deaf people had paid the Tax should BE FAIR to put on TV News and Sports etc

Maybe he’s never seen a split screen or boxes on screen for interpreters. Who is this guy?

Here’s the offensive letter from Kevin Kenrick:

I’m aware you’ve been in regular contact with TVNZ about the debates’ accessibility for sign language users and I commend you for coming up with a sign language solution using Facebook.

We’ve considered your request. We’ve advised you that we’re committed to captioning all four of TVNZ’s live debates. We’ve also explained why we’re not incorporating sign language in the live debates.

I was sitting in the studio as the debate went to air. Between the live audience, the debate participants and the operational staff and equipment required to produce the programme, I can tell you first hand there’s a phenomenal amount of work behind the scenes to pull this programme together.

For the record, I’m happy to repeat TVNZ’s position on this matter:

We respect the status of sign language as an official language of New Zealand.

We recognise that around 20,000 New Zealanders use sign language and would prefer to see an interpreter rather than on screen captions. We have focused on captioning as a viable solution to meet the needs of the greatest number of deaf and hearing impaired viewers, which number in the hundreds of thousands.

Unfortunately, for logistical reasons, we are not set up to accommodate an interpreter in our live news presentation so sign language won’t be incorporated into the televised debates. Live TV debates are highly dynamic. There are quick fire exchanges, split second shifts between close-ups and wide shots of the participants and people talk over one another. We are not set up to introduce sign language interpreters into an already complex broadcast environment.

Kind regards


Kevin Kenrick
Chief Executive Officer”



I’m sharing this facebook post by Charlie Ainsworth because it needs to be said again and again.

What is needed is “Succession Planning” ie A SIGN LANGUAGE AND WRITTEN agreement for how and WHEN a hearie will hand over their job to a Deafie. Deaf Boards should insist on it too.

Time for a bit more DEAF PRIDE (and I’m a hearie – LOL)!


Charlie Ainsworth updated his status.

I was notified that a couple of people were upset of my status regarding employed hearing people in deaf settings. I was quite sympathetic about the situation. However, after gathering my thoughts and a few hours, my perpetual anger insides me built up. This was to be my personal notes to prepare myself for any rebuttal. Just in case. But, I’ve determined that this should be out in the open, supposing there are many who received similar reaction as I did.

Let’s be clear about two things here:

1. My anger is not your regular hateful anger. It is a reserved and rightful anger that any member of a minority group holds against the world. My anger is what drives me as a deaf person and it helps me see this privileged thing clearly. It is an angry feeling that deserves to be shouted over the rooftops of the world. An anger that must be heard is different than the anger that is harmful.

2. The status I am referring to is: “#hearingprivilege is having a job that a deaf person should have regardless of how fluent you are in sign language. Some examples: head of a performing arts department at a deaf school, a human resources employee at a deaf school, a teacher who we await their much needed reitrement at a deaf school, an Artistic Director at a dying deaf theatre company, ASL instructors, director of accessibility that focuses on deaf accessibility, and so on.

My status is easily interpreted as a call to replace the employees (nation-wide) with deaf employees. While I strongly believe in a high percentage of deaf employees in a deaf setting, I am not trying to push the hearing employees away. The purpose of the hashtag is to simply point out that you, a hearing employee, are privileged. I have friends who are hearing and works with me and I would consider them as a major contributing figure to the deaf community. However, my status is to remind you that you are actively obstructing the pathway of a deaf person from succeeding in that particular field – regardless of your fluency in sign language or knowledge of the deaf culture.

The statement that often accompany this message is that they have their hand tied for the hearing applicant is much more qualified than any other deaf applicant of the position. If this is wholly true, then my rebuttal would be difficult but we must remember that this is a result of a systematic oppression that has gone on for so long now. We must take accountability and perhaps install a system where we can ensure that the position will eventually go to a deaf person.

Yes, the position fully belongs to a deaf person because:

1. Deaf people have to work so hard to achieve the position you are in. Deaf people struggle to find employment because of their disability. Deaf people struggle to achieve in an academic setting that would serve the degree and education required for such positions. Don’t forget that our choices in schools are rather limited and we constantly find our intelligence being questioned by those institutions. This causes the “but, the hearing applicant is more qualified” excuse to be almost true. Almost.

2. Deaf people have hard time finding a suitable and/or comfortable employment settings. Most of deaf people, myself including, would do anything to avoid working in a full hearing environment because of the painful experience we have. A hearing person often takes the wonderful opportunity to work at a place where the deaf person can communicate in their language intellectually and without interruption.

In addition, the “more-qualified” excuse only further our problems that have became our norm. We are restricting the possibilities and opportunities to create a brand new generation of empowered deaf people and yet more intelligent group. If a hearing person must be selected, then we must see that we have a system that would ensure a future deaf person would receive that job.

In order to understand what you’ve read is to understand what privilege is and that there is no such thing as reverse discrimination. I can sympathize with the difficulty of understanding what exactly a privilege is. I used to be the same – I remember boldly disagreeing with white privilege and sexism publicly. I was fortunate enough to be at Gallaudet University when this conversation took the campus by a storm.

No, you didn’t choose to be a hearing person just as I didn’t choose to be a white person. No, your functioning ears doesn’t automatically make you an audist just as being a man doesn’t automatically enable me to be a sexist. We, however, are greatly privileged in this shitty system. I, as a white straight man, have far more access to education, a livable wage, safety, and respect than women, the LGBTQIA community, and people of color. In response, I am constantly checking my privilege and I participate, passively, in the conversation. This way, I can empower those who are oppressed and help create a better future for them.

Being offended to my status is but a first step for you to check your privilege and to do as I do as a white man. If you must accuse my status as a some kind of reverse discrimination then you have a lot of things to learn. By using reverse discrimination, you are a great part of the problem. The so-called reverse discrimination is only to redress the majority into a false illusion of an oppressed group. You have the slightest idea of what we feel and experience every single day in our lives.

To avoid further interpretations of my status: the reaction I received was very small and rather thought-provoking. This is simply what every hearing person should know.

In conclusion, I ask the deaf people who may have received the similar reaction as I did – don’t be sympathetic. Don’t say they are right. Don’t submit to the “more-qualified” statement as I did today. It is our job to remain steadfast in our positions and maybe, just maybe we will one day see deaf people getting the job position they wholly deserve.

I cannot find a better reference than Captain America’s line in the Civil War comic series:

“When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree besides the river of truth, and tell the whole world— ‘No, you move.'”

Public, sharable

Celtic – football song

original Glasgow Celtic embroidered blazer badge of Alec McNair

I couldn’t find the Celtic football song on the internet which my dad taught me. So I thought I should put it here. He taught me this in about 1963. He was born in Australia in the 1920s. His mum and dad were Scottish and migrated to Australia. I don’t know who taught him the song. GCFC means Glasgow Celtic Football Club. This is the original Glasgow Celtic embroidered blazer badge which was owned by Alec McNair who my dad had possibly heard of. Here’s the song:


Here we go in a row

Up and down the middle-o

Hi ho hi, hen upon the griddle-o

One shot, keep it up

Tackle one and all

For there’s not a team to beat them

When the Celtic’s on the ball.

Will you look at the style of them
the courage and the skill
Thousands of miles away
you hear the people thrill
Here we go in a row …



By the way, I think the game needs to change. Heading the ball should be outlawed. The long term CTE effects are devastating.

3 Lucky Fish

Sign Language is not as hard as people think. You may not be a native signer but you can affirm your Deaf kids and make sure it’s their first language. Cochlear Implant Therapy CIT can come later if the kids want it.

Mothering three deaf daughters - my journey...

“Mama, me Deaf?” asked my littlest a few weeks ago.

“You are correct,” I answered. I answered her with smiling eyes, as I want her know that I think that her being Deaf is okay.  In the beginning, the burden of arriving in unexpected, unprepared for, un-welcomed “Holland” made everything I said and thought seemed grey, and I certainly didn’t think that my girls being Deaf was okay. I would have done anything to have changed that. Anything. But change that I couldn’t. Despite any efforts to teach them to speak, they’d always be deaf and most importantly to me, is that they know that they are loved and accepted irrespective of their communication mode/s or audiograms. There was one thing that I could change,however, and that was the way we saw “Holland”.

“And Tahlu? She also Deaf?” she continued to question. It was evident that she was trying to make sense…

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New Zealand Reading list


Friends coming to NZ often ask me for a reading list. Here’s what I emailed one friend:

Best convenient maori-english-maori dictionary is Reed Pocket Dictionary of Modern Maori

Be aware that in the last few years there is a huge shift in proper pronunciation of Maori. A lot of even well disposed pakeha don’t pronounce stuff correctly and a lot of racists enjoy mispronouncing. One of the keys is to pronounce all “au” sounds as the vowel in toe or hoe. Thus Hauraki Gulf is Hoe-ra-ki, Taupo is Toe-paw. Best guide is usually younger announcers on Radio NZ National. Older announcers try but sometimes get it wrong. Maori Channel 5 on TV is unique – the closest thing in OZ is SBS TV.


Absolutely brilliant are Waitangi Tribunal Reports on various cases. They set out the history and are available in the city library on open access and probably on their website.

Penguin History of New Zealand, 2003, Michael King is THE classic. Unfortunately some of the paperbacks were released to market with some pages repeated and some missing. So flick through to see if your copy is a good one.

James Belich  two volume work A History of the New Zealanders, consisting of Making Peoples (1996) and Paradise Reforged (2001). (I haven’t read this one, but Joanna recommends)

A wonderful piece of writing for kids and adults alike is ‘The kauri and the willow : how we lived and grew from 1801-1942’ / Elsie Locke. Wellington Government Printer, 1984. Each little story in the book is only one or two pages and it’s easy to dip in and out of.

Dick Scott has written heaps of pretty accessible and good stuff, but he’s no great academic so you won’t get earth shattering new syntheses.

Joan Druett wrote ‘Tupaia, Captain Cook’s Polynesian Navigator. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger; (2011) Auckland, New Zealand: Random House
her history is of the mold of Anna Clendening and Anne Salmond using available sources to tell the story from an aboriginal viewpoint

Jack Lee’s brilliant little book, Bay of Islands, sets out early white history of north island quite well. Colonial irony that greedy gun trading which armed indigenous people allowed them to fight off white aggression and land grabs.

For south island early white history (sealing and whaling insights) see The World of John Boultbee, 1977 by A.Charles Begg, Neil C. Begg. The Begg brothers also wrote a good book about Captain Cook in the Pacific

Social history:

Speaking for Ourselves Alwyn Owen, Jack Perkins 10 oral history interviews FROM 1986 AWARD-WINNING ‘SPECTRUM’ RADIO SERIES

Gavin McLean is worth a read – he’s a nice chap and works for the History Group of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage (I wish Oz had full time historians. He started as a maritime historian, which is how I know him. I haven’t read his recent publications which from the Ministry website include “Frontier of Dreams (2005, co-edited with Bronwyn Dalley), Heartlands: New Zealanders Write About Where History Happened (2006, co-edited with Kynan Gentry) and two widely acclaimed 2007 centennial publications for publisher Reed Books.”

For Chinese in NZ try Stephen Young’s website

Patricia Grace – Maori writer I love!

The Bone People – Keri Hulme. Wonderful humanity but don’t let anyone do a plot spoiler for you.

Elizabeth Catton – The Luminaries – not to my taste. I couldn’t accept the improbables or wade through it all.

Of course the old classics, Katherine Mansfield, Janet Frame

And don’t forget the islander culture in NZ.  I quite enjoyed Albert Wendt’s Sons for the Return Home

All NZers know Edmonds Sure to Rise Cookbook

Another wonderful insight from an early Polish visitor is:
Tikera: Or the Children of the Queen of Oceania Hardcover – March 15, 1973. published 1877. by Sygurd Wisniowski (Author), Jerzy Podstolski (Translator from Polish) Dennis McEldowney (Editor)  Wisniowski was in NZ in 1860s but did not visit war districts

NZ On Screen film archive
great collection of NZ historical film and TV

Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, includes nz dictionary of biography


tags: fiction literature poetry