Speaker by Various Artists


A Better Man

by Grant Robertson

As a politician one of the most common topics I get asked to talk about is leadership. Not party leadership (though that used to come up a fair bit!) but the principles of leadership. What makes a good leader, what makes a great leader. There are lots of words I use in those talks – courage, vision, inspiration, tenacity.  And two more of late. Brendon McCullum.

As Brendon McCullum starts his 100th and second-to-last test and the cricketing eulogies mount, it’s his leadership I think about.  His ascendancy to the job caused huge drama – and began in the worst possible way as the Black Caps crumbled to 45 all out in the Newlands sunshine.  It could have defined him, but it didn’t.   

My mind goes to a night in November 2014, as I lay in bed about to watch the Black Caps play Pakistan. Or not. The cricketing world was reeling from the horrific death of Philip Hughes. There was real doubt that the test being played in Sharjah would continue. It would have been understandable if it had not, and in fact it was pretty clear the New Zealanders at least did not want  it to. But the ICC show must go on –  and what a show it turned out to be. In a surreal, spectacular, brutal display Brendon McCullum clubbed his way to a double hundred. 

It was powerful and emotional. There was all of his array of hooks, pulls and dances down the wicket, but all done with a higher purpose in mind. It was a tribute – to Philip Hughes, and to cricket. Played as simply and freely as Brendon McCullum would have done so many times in the backyard in South Dunedin with his brother Nathan. But it was also much more than that – it was leadership. A team grieving for one of their fraternity, looking for something or someone to hold onto, found it in Baz that day.

The Cricket World Cup showcased Baz's leadership to the world, and he revelled in it. Like perhaps no other New Zealander cricketer of my lifetime, he believed he could win every time he walked onto the field.  He’s a gambler (on and off the field) and that shows sometimes, but the success he has had owes much more to the belief he has in the people around him. I was once told that the best sign of leadership is understanding what the people around you are better at than you are. I think Baz gets that.

I have watched a lot of cricket in my life (and I mean a lot) and I have seen New Zealand teams who not only looked like 11 individuals, but looked like they would cheerfully never be in the same room as each other ever again. This team is the opposite, and you can not fake that.

One hundred tests in a row, the first NZ test cricketer to score a triple hundred, the record holder for sixes in ODIs (and very soon in tests) and proud son of South Dunedin. Thanks, Brendon McCullum, leader.


Correcting Auckland 2040's Unitary Plan befuddlement

by Ben Ross

The Unitary Plan debate has flared up again as Council and submitters prepare to present their cases before the Independent Hearings Panel into which zones go where across Auckland.

We've seen reports and commentary on a meeting in East Auckland on Tuesday night where “concerned” residents heard Richard Burton of lobby group Auckland 2040 bang on about how the Council is trying to dupe residents into accepting more intensification across the City. He told Fairfax that so-called "out of scope" changes will bypass the usual process of public submissions and that insead the changes will go straight to the Panel.

Burton could not be more wrong if he tried.

Penny Pirrit, who initially handled the Unitary Plan for the Council before it got handed to John Duguid, did get quoted in the Fairfax story on how the Council works through writing up the evidence it sends to the Panel. She explained that the proposal put forward by the Council is only a preliminary position and that any out of scope changes are based on the feedback Council received from the public in the earlier stages of the process.

What I hope do is go a bit further into that – and further refute what Burton has falsely claimed.

Formally, what is coming up next month is the Panel's hearings on Topic 081 – Rezoning. Auckland Council itself is a submitter to the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan, just like me and 9400 other primary submitters. What does that mean? It means Council is able to file what is called Primary Evidence (the initial evidence on what Council would like in the Unitary Plan ) and rebuttal evidence (evidence against or in support of other submitters), before fronting up to present its evidence and take any questions from the Panel itself.

This process is exactly the same for submitters like myself who submitted on the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan in early 2014. I have been through the process twice now and am about to go through it for a third time in April, when I will be making my case for upzoning areas in Manukau City Centre and the residential area to its south.

Here's how Council and a private submitter approach a Topic hearing.


  • The Auckland Development Committee chaired by Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse takes a position on where it would like Council evidence to go in relation to a specific topic. It instructs the planners who go to the hearings what frame the evidence will take based on matters Penny Pirrit mentioned to Fairfax.
  • Planners write the Primary Evidence to the topic bearing in mind outcomes of previous topics, interim guidance set by The Panel chaired by Judge Kirkpatrick and the Regional Policy Statement on Urban Growth.
  • Evidence is lodged to the Panel and submitters then get to read it.
  • Submitters then write and lodge their own Primary Evidence, often supporting or rebutting what Council has written in its Primary Evidence.
  • Council then has the chance to rebut (as do other submitters) the Primary Evidence written by submitters
  • Council then presents its case to the Panel, followed by other submitters. The Panel will then ask questions as required.
  • The Panel concludes the topic hearing by either writing interim guidance or producing a recommendation at the end of all the hearings.


Exact same as the above, although we take our own positions in what we are presenting to the Panel.


Previous public submissions aren’t the only the thing the Council must take into account. In considering its position and writing its Primary Evidence, the Council must (like all submitters) take heed of all interim guidance and outcomes of previous topic hearings and make sure it is complying with the Regional Policy Statement in producing its evidence.

The reduction of the area designated Single House Zone is a good example. The Panel in an interim guidance effectively forced a review of the pre-1944 Demolition Overlay. The Council had basically devised the Single House Zone as a tool to help bring into effect that overlay, so when the overlay was scaled back, the Council could no longer defend the Single Housing Zone and followed the Regional Policy Statement in upzoning to Mixed Housing Suburban and Mixed Housing Urban. This happened across the isthmus.

As I pointed out here in Fact Check: #UnitaryPlan Residential Zones, the consequences of previous hearings and interim guidances around the Regional Policy Statement have triggered greater levels of upzoning in parts of Auckland. Mainly because there was not enough viable capacity to provide the 60% level of “intensification” needed in Auckland and indicated by the RPS in Topic 013.

Long story short: Council’s Primary Evidence into the rezoning is of consequence to all other hearings and all other evidence by submitters to those previous hearings. That's what the Resource Management Act requires.

But the most important part that Burton, Desley Simpson and others fail to mention is this:

The Panel could very well reject what the Council or any submitter has called for in the hearings and give very different recommendations in order to meet the requirements of the Regional Policy Statement.

So what Council is presenting IS NOT FINAL.

Final is when the Panel gives its recommendations back to the Auckland Development Committee and that committee adopts those recommendations from The Panel. Of course appeals (most often by the submitters ) can be lodged afterwards but in limited circumstances. Private Plan Changes (changes to the Plan made by anyone but Council) face a two year stand -own once the Unitary Plan goes live in August.

So do not panic Auckland, please. Council is not duping you in the slightest, no matter what Richard Burton tries to shill in the media and at meetings. All Council has done is present its evidence in consequence of other topic hearings. Submitters are doing the same now as I have here.

Nothing is final until the Panel gives its final recommendations and Council adopts them. As Judge Kirkpatrick recently stated, there is no need for extra consultations given that all Council is doing is filing its own evidence, just as I am, in regards to rezoning.

So the threat that the five Councillors will to force the Council to withdraw the proposed zone changes outlined in Council evidence is very dumb indeed. Submitters like me don't like being dicked around by Council chopping and changing its evidence. It makes our case and evidence writing that much harder. It also invites Government intervention, as we saw with Three Kings.

The Council’s case will stand or fall on its points before the Panel, as will mine.

And if you did not submit to the Unitary Plan in 2014 because you were happy with what was proposed then and there have been changes now which you don’t like, then tough. Let that be a lesson that you should submit even in support of something. Because if changes do happen, then least you can be involved!

Ben Ross is the founder of TotaRim Consultancy Ltd, a niche urban and transport planning, and advocacy business located in Auckland. He blogs at Talking Auckland.


2500 Reasons

by Annabelle Lee

A Māori politician once said to me "our people will march to parliament for the foreshore and seabed, land rights, water rights and whatever else is going, but they never pull on their marching boots for our kids."

We certainly have plenty of reasons to – more than 2500, in fact.

According to the Children's Commissioner's Report State of Care 2015, of the 5000 children currently in CYFS care 58% are Māori, as are 68% of young people in CYFS residences.

Yet when Anne Tolley announced her "expert panel" to review Child Youth and Family last year, not one of the members was a Māori practitioner.

You would think Māori leaders would be incensed about being excluded from such a critically important discussion regarding the future of our most important taonga, our children.

But aside from the Māori Women’s Welfare League, there was barely a murmur from the Māori establishment about this monumental oversight.

By comparison, when Ngapuhi chairman and member of the influential Iwi Leaders Forum Sonny Tau was caught with kereru at the Invercargill airport, Māori leaders from across the political divide took to social media and the airwaves to speak in defense of Tau and his dalliance with the illegal tegel.

During the 2014 election, a poll of the seven Māori electorates asked voters what issue they were most concerned about. In each and every electorate the answer was the same. Family violence.

Since then our leadership has said not a lot about family violence. Not even when Māori mother of one Tara Brown was allegedly killed by her former partner in Queensland last September.

So it was curious to see five influential Māori women, including Whanau Ora architect Dame Tariana Turia, gather a few weeks later to speak out in support of another Brown. Chris, that is. The American R&B singer, infamous for ferociously beating his ex girlfriend entertainer Rhianna, wanted to tour New Zealand but his felony convictions for the attack meant he might not be able to gain a work visa.

Armed with their deep understanding of what’s hip with the kids, the Dames announced they wanted to support Brown’s visa application because they believed he was uniquely qualified to communicate with rangatahi about the damage violence does. Eventually, Brown didn't come to Aotearoa because Australia denied him a visa. Police recently declined to charge Brown after a woman alleged he had assaulted her for trying to take a photograph, but not before Brown posted a video calling her "ugly and old".

All this begs the question; are our leaders picking the right battles?

Are they focusing on the important stuff? Are they using positions of influence for the right causes?

The truth is when ordinary Māori march, like the thousands who showed up in force yesterday to oppose the signing of the TPPA, they are doing so in the belief that they are future-proofing the rights of their tamariki.

They know that without those rights being enshrined we are doomed to suffer the economic and social ills that in turn make Māori the sickest and most incarcerated New Zealanders as well as the most likely to be victims and perpetrators of violence and abuse.

But once the flags and banners have been rolled back up, and the marching boots stored away, our "leaders" emerge to pick over the spoils offered up by government to hush the natives, in the form of "working parties", "consultation rounds", "review panels" and "advisory boards".

The ultimate reason for these marches – trying to preserve something for our kids – is quickly forgotten in the carve-up.

As the TPP demonstrations reach a crescendo and Waitangi Day approaches, our Māori elite would do well to reflect on where our tamariki sit on their priority list. A sense of urgency is required.

There are 2500 good reasons why.


Blinded by the white

by Joshua Drummond

In the midst of a very good article over at The Spinoff this week - the Top 50 NZ works of non-fiction as selected by a panel of indigenous experts - there was one line that leapt out. "There are now no regular Māori columnists in the mainstream media".

I suspect it stood out because it's one of those deeply uncomfortable things that, once seen, can't be unseen, like white privilege, or The Room. And how has it not been mentioned more often? It was suddenly very striking how obviously whitebread our print media commentary is – and I say this as a Pakeha and occasional (and aspirationally less-occasional) newspaper columnist. How is it possible that in New Zealand, in 2015, we don't have any regular Māori columnists in the mainstream media?

I asked on Twitter if anyone could supply a regular Māori MSM columnist. Rachel Stewart (columnist at the Taranaki Daily News) suggested Dion Tuuata, a fellow Daily News columnist. He's the CEO of Parininihi ki Waitotara Farms (I Googled) and, Rachel suggests, well known in Māoridom.

So, that's one, and good on the Taranaki Daily News. But there quite obviously should be more than just the one in the country. Why isn't there a regular Māori columnist at the Listener, or Metro, or the Sunday Star Times? And there should quite definitely and obvioiusly be a weekly Māori columnist in our only national daily, The New Zealand Herald. At minimum. Come on, can't the media muster even a token effort?

It really does seem like the most ridiculously glaring omission. Editorially it makes no sense at all. There is no shortage of brown people in New Zealand who can write up a goddamn storm. Even trying to adopt a hard-nosed commercial perspective, I don't see the sense in the continued absence. Sure, pageviews are a key measure of success these days, and they have been for quite some time, but you can't tell me that the writings of a media-savvy, articulate, Māori person in New Zealand in 2016 wouldn't attract a metric fuckton of clicks and commentary. It'd also annoy precisely the right kind of people, which I see as a core duty of the fourth estate.

On Twitter, Russell Brown suggested that Morgan Godfery – blogger over at Maui Street – would do well with a Listener column. "It's bizarre the gap persists," Morgan replied. "Maybe some mainstream media expect Maori media to cover 'Māori'?"

Maybe there is that expectation. If so, the implication is that mainstream media commentary is produced by, and exists more or less entirely for, non-Māori. Which is pretty strange, and really quite awful, when you think about it.

I expect that there will perhaps be several, or many, people nodding wearily at this epiphany. It reminds me of attending a Wintec Press Club where Mihingarangi Forbes and Annabelle Lee were the speakers. Towards the end of the talk (which was fascinating and mostly concerned the conflict at Māori television and within Māoridom over the kohanga reo funding scandal) Mihi made a striking observation, as recorded by Stephen Stratford over at Quote Unquote:

And referring to Newstalk ZB’s Rachel Smalley’s complaint that there are too few women on-air, Forbes noted the greater “paucity of Maori in mainstream media”. Well, yes. There is marginal and there is marginal.

It's a bit hard to articulate the surge of awareness that rippled through the room, as the audience realised that damn near all of us – including most of a who's who in the New Zealand media, and for some reason, me – were white. For a while we were all treated to a look from the other side of New Zealand's racial divide, at the sheer inequality of things. There was a real sense of sadness to it. It was deeply unsettling and it shook me in a way I find very difficult to describe.

So to learn (and I'd still like to be wrong) that there are essentially no Māori columnists in the New Zealand mainstream media brought a lot of that surging back. Where does the fault lie? Privilege, wilful ignorance, racism, or the trifecta? It makes me wonder what a good old-fashioned public pressure campaign would do. Write some letters, tweet some Tweets. It's not like there isn't some dead wood in the mainstream that can't be cleared out. Rodney Hide does not need a column and it shows; his stuff reads like asphalt. Mike Hosking is horrendously overexposed. The Sunday Star Times used to have a couple of acid boring columns by Phil Goff and Judith Collins (does it still? I hope not) and the Herald kept Garth George on well after he was clinically dead.

It's time we had more Māori voices in the mainstream media. Maybe we should try and make it happen.

NB: New Zealand Herald columnist Lizzie Marvelly advises that she is of Te Arawa heritage. And occasional contributor Alan Duff was upgraded to a regular at the same time Lizzie's column started. – RB


Stand Up for Women

by John Palethorpe

Earlier this week I saw that the violent misogyny website Return of Kings were planning global meetups. There were set locations, narrow time windows and even a password, straight out of a corny sixties spy movie. I laughed and told my wife. How ridiculous are these guys? Eh?

Not so ridiculous. I could laugh at it, as a guy, because I’m not the target of their vicious, toxic and deeply conflicted ideas and practices. Women are. It’s my sister who has to clutch her keys between her knuckles as she walks to her car at night, women who to have pretend they can’t hear the comments and shouts should they wear anything short, summer appropriate or, actually given experience, ANYTHING. Not so funny then.

Because it’s men that do this. And yet there’s a prevailing opinion that women need to deal with this, women need to brush it off, ignore it or fight it. It’s not a man problem. Except it is. Since the media focused on this Return of Kings group, one of the replies in comments to a call for men to challenge misogyny is ‘Why is it my job to do this? I’m not a rapist’. Which entirely misses the point about how misogyny in society, often referred to as rape culture, is not simply rape statistics or domestic violence numbers. The culture of misogyny in society fosters the belief in some men that what they do to women is OK. And it’s not.

So if your mate expresses misogynistic opinions, you pull him up short and hard. If you’d stop someone being racist or homophobic, then why let misogyny go. Calling it banter or lads' talk doesn’t cut it any more, because the real consequences of too many men letting too many little remarks, comments and wolfwhistles go lead to stuff like Kim Vinnell being harassed live on air and the discussion being about what she did wrong. Or Roastbusters. I mean, fucking hell man.

The Return Of Kings meetup is intended to be a meetup of straight men, in order to discuss the issues of neo-masculinity which include hating women and how to have sex with women. The deep conflict within these these men is probably the scariest part. Their utter disregard for women as equals, their use of derogatory language and and their disgust of women and their sexual attraction to them is probably the scariest bit. They have no idea how to engage with women as equals and yet are driven to attempt to do so by their need to prove their masculinity through sex. And when I say scary, I don’t mean for me. It’s not scary for them either, it’s scary for the women involved.

So, opposition. I’m against this. Obviously. Misogyny is a problem embedded in New Zealand society, it’s not just something that these guys are trying to import. My friend Dan and I have spoken to the media about our opposition, because men don’t speak up about this sort of thing enough and that’s not good enough. It also ensures the women who are involved in organising this don’t get targeted by the misogynists.

So, as a group, we have organised a peaceful counter presence in Wellington. I’m organising a similar event in Auckland, except I’d definitely call mine a party. And to counterbalance the idea that a group of straight men can organise a meeting to discuss their superiority to women, we’re going to have an all inclusive party in Aotea Square. Straight, gay, trans, men, women - you’re invited. Misogynists? Yeah, nah. The only proviso is that you don’t act like a dickhead, don’t make women feel unsafe and have a good time. That’s pretty simple, right?

We’ve got a playlist on Spotify made up of requests, and I invite everyone to bring their bluetooth speakers, put on your dancing shoes and have a good time. If the Return Of Kings crowd turn up, they’ll be met with the joy of people who are determined to combat their ideas with the withering scorn and laughter they deserve.

The Wellington event has a Facebook page which you can find here.

The Auckland event page is here.

So if you can make it, come along. See you Saturday!