My New Zealand

A View from the South Pacific

When you visit a country you often tend to see it in a better light than do those who live in it. You miss the lurking warts. The reverse is also true: you tend to think that your own country’s problems loom larger than they probably should.

I’ve spent much of the last half century travelling the world and living in places as diverse as Scotland, South Korea, and Fiji. I’ve visited fifty or sixty countries. As a result of that, I became—in my mind, if not in law—a citizen of the world. I didn’t suffer an overdose of patriotism.


4,500,000 people live here. With 4,500,000 points of view. Mine is as biased as any.

The Land

We’re the south west corner of the great Polynesian triangle. Because it’s constantly crunched by the inexorable forces of tectonic plates and geothermal activity, much of the land is spectacular. It has a moderated Mediterranean climate (thanks to Australia stealing the anti-cyclones and sending us a lot of rain) so it’s mostly lush, especially in the lowlands.

Mankind has only been here a thousand years, but with the burning and felling of forest and the introduction of devastating exotic plant and animal species, to a large extent we’ve stuffed it up. Nevertheless, the mountains, the volcanoes, the rivers, the lakes, the fjords and the remnant rain forest—we call it the bush—are stunning.

Much of the farmland is lush and beautiful, although it’s thanks in large part to the use of non-renewable resources like superphosphate and urea. Some steep hill country which should never have been grazed is being ruined by the consequent erosion. It’s crying out to be replanted in forest.

It’s not Middle Earth—that was more than a little digitally enhanced—but it’s pretty good.

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A question for Tariana, Hone, et al

All maori electorates

What have the Maori seats ever actually accomplished for Maori?

Pre-MMP, Maori were disadvantaged by the Maori electorates’ very existence. The very large Maori Labour vote was concentrated in just 4 seats. This was a major factor in allowing National to become government with less overall votes than Labour on more than one occasion.

If the Maori vote had been spread over the general electorate, Maori would have had a more realistic say in their choice of government.

Not that it would have done them any good. After the initial burst of humanitarian zeal by the first Labour Government what have Labour actually done for Maori?


This is an issue of emotions and perceptions. If more Maori were to take note of what’s happening around them and what’s in their long term best interests instead of giving in to knee-jerk reactions whenever Labour, Maori sovereignty or tino rangatiratanga are mentioned, they’d have ditched the Maori seats years ago.

The gains Maori have made in recent years, particularly the laudable treaty settlements, were a direct result of National Government initiatives.

Nevertheless, the future of Maori seats is an issue for Maori to decide. Not for the rest of us and not for a National Government.