“The first challenge is to build a community. The first step in that challenge is easy – bring together a community of bloggers and their readers. The second step is harder – build a community of readers and commenters from outside of the leftwing blogosphere”
Thank goodness for independent media in NZ!
Recently, Kia Ora Gaza hosted a few events throughout NZ hosting self-professed ‘Peoples’ Foreign Correspondent’ Harry Fear who delivered presentations on his time and his understanding of the situation in Gaza and between Palestine and Israel in general.
Harry Fear was a vital source of info on the ground in Gaza especially during November 2012. Initially he live streamed from a UStream channel before being picked up by RT (although he retained his live streaming account with UStream in between reports).
One of the Kia Ora Gaza events took place at the University of Auckland. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend and was seriously gutted about missing out on the presentation. Worse, it was largely ignored by MSM. Lucky for us, Amazon News Media (ANM) took their camera and superior reporting skills to the event and managed an interview with Harry Fear prior to his presentation. It is highly recommended viewing and not like the hideously contrived interviews one might see on mainstream tv. You can watch below:
You can see more on You Tube of ANM: http://www.youtube.com/user/AmazonNewsMedia?feature=watch
Mana Party what were you thinking?!
An interesting pic emerged on Twitter this morning of the Israeli flag hung at full mast alongside the Mana Party flag, Tino Rangitiratanga flag and the United Tribes of NZ flag and signage promoting the Mana Party leader Hone Harawira. Big faux pas in my opinion.
What is my beef with this? Well, Mana were particularly vocal in the struggle of the Palestinian’s during the attack on Gaza in November 2012 (only a few months back) including joining the march and protest to the US Embassy and making a public statement affirming their condemnation of the Israeli governments actions against Palestinians.
Maori and Palestinians have a shared understanding of colonial forces at work – forcibly removing indigenous populations from lands and preventing access to resources that have traditionally sustained those populations.
So it seems a bit of a kick in the teeth for when the party purporting to be the ‘movement of the people’ show a mark of support at Waitangi for a nation that currently operates as an apartheid regime.
Before the bigots jump in, as I have mentioned before – I am not anti-Israeli, but I most certainly oppose the ongoing abuses of power perpetrated by the Israeli government/military to ethnically cleanse the state of Palestine of Palestinians in order to claim those lands as part of the self-proclaimed state of Israel.
Hwowever, on closer inspection of the photo, I noticed that the particular stall flying the flags belonged to Ezekiel 33 Trust. I’d never heard of it. And for a fleeting moment gave Mana the benefit of the doubt. Until further research revealed that The Ezekiel 33 Trust was set up by Stephanie Harawira – Hone’s sister in law. Surely the Trust were aware of the Mana Party stance on Palestine/Israel issues? I did question the intelligence of whoever hung the flag, and thought perhaps they were just stupid and ignorant and thought the Israeli flag was the Palestinian flag. I suppose its a possibility, but a reprehensible error nonetheless.
I also asked for an explanation on Te Mana Facebook page, response: ‘looking into it’ (that was hours ago).
Its possible also that Mana were unaware that the Israeli flag was being flown in a manner that suggested Mana supported the state of Israel and its occupation of Palestinian lands. But surely on Waitangi Day, a day where Maori and Pakeha confront the document that founded our country and also confronts the injustices that flowed from persistent breaches of that document (e.g. land grabbing), Mana would have a standard procedure for any group promoting Mana as to how they represent Mana?
This week, Bryce Edwards pointed out that there was some validity in John Ansell’s criticism of the Constitutional Advisory Panel (CAP) referring to New Zealand as “Aotearoa New Zealand”. I have to agree, to an extent.
Ansell argues that as New Zealand is a democratic country then any name change should only occur through referendum. He also claims that he is not opposed to the particular name used by CAP just the process by which it was used (although my gut tells me that he would object to Aotearoa New Zealand being an option at all on a referendum).
So does he have a valid point? Somewhat.
Referendums are a good way of obtaining population consensus. But referendums are not the appropriate way for obtaining consensus on all issues. Ansell’s assumption is that usage of Aotearoa New Zealand is best decided by referendum. And on the face of it, many would agree. But only because there has not been a good argument in response to his claim (well, none that I’ve seen yet). In fact, the only responses seem to be emotive or dismissive of his claim.
Here is where I disagree with Ansell – Aotearoa has customary usage. It has been used to refer to our country in both political and non-political institutions, throughout our history, in the marketing of our ‘brand’ – and most prevalently in our national anthem.
It is clear that we use it by custom. Custom is a consensus model. And it is a model that is more reflective of a society than a referendum. Custom links generations. Not just those who are eligible to vote at the time of a referendum but also our ancestors and future generations (whether they be Maori or non-Maori).
Our customary usage suggests that citizens accept the use of Aotearoa New Zealand as a description of our country. Moreover, there is little evidence to suggest that we should not refer to our country as Aotearoa New Zealand aside from Ansell’s recent rant.
So in summary, while Ansell was right to point out that consensus should form the basis of constitutional changes because we are a democracy, he starts on the assumption that there wasn’t consensus, simply because there was no referendum.
International law accepts custom as a valid source of authority. And there are certain circumstances in which custom is both sufficient and preferable.
Referendums have both a financial and social cost. The point of a constitution as Ansell points out is to ensure there is equality. But he negates his own argument when he claims that a referendum is required in the name of democracy and equality. Referendums serve majorities. If only the majority have a right or the power to make decisions for the whole of a country, then inequality remains and the intention of a constitution is lost.