Edwards: Urgent debate still needed about China and NZ


China seems set to be a leading issue in New Zealand politics this year, but our relationship with China still isn’t being properly debated. That’s partly because our politicians would rather not venture into such fraught territory.  Bryce Edwards argues that if we cede the field and refuse to engage in a serious and sophisticated debate, then we risk what debate there is being dominated by reactionary emotions.

Issues relating to China continue to escalate in New Zealand politics at the moment, and many politicos have put it near the top of their list of issues they predict will dominate the year ahead.

This should not be surprising – after all, 2018 saw a much-increased focus on various China-related hot issues, ranging from the allegations of Canterbury University’s Anne-Marie Brady through to the Government’s decision to exclude Huawei technology being used in the next generation telecommunications network.

These, together with a number of other sensitive issues, have come after years of concerns about increasing Chinese investment and immigration to New Zealand. And now, internationally, a looming trade war between the US and China threatens at times to spiral into possible military conflict.

But is New Zealand really ready for this escalation? Definitely not, given the paucity and nature of the public debate that occurred in 2018. New Zealanders are often disinclined towards issues of conflict or complexity, and it can be uncomfortable dealing with the China-related topics of racism, money and power. With good reason, New Zealanders fear being accused of racism – especially given our history, involving all sorts of discrimination towards Chinese in New Zealand.

A larger reason for this is there is simply no political leadership in this area. In fact, politicians are actively avoiding the topic, almost without exception. I wrote about this for Newsroom back in December 2017, saying “Labour and National are in consensus over the need for diplomacy rather than debate about China, and understandably see good reason to keep trading partners happy. Even New Zealand First might be seen to have joined up to that consensus now that Winston Peters is Foreign Minister”.

Nothing has changed since then, and this overly-cautious approach means debate is effectively suppressed. Perhaps politicians hoped the China issues would just go away.

Eventually, of course, “debate” is inevitable. Assuming issues relating to China do become one of the big conflicts and difficulties in New Zealand politics this year, then the public might form overly-simplistic opinions, and they might also demand that the politicians respond with anti-democratic actions, as has happened in Australia. That’s the scenario in which things could get ugly, illiberal, and unsophisticated.

It’s much better to pre-empt that happening by having a better quality debate about the issues right now. Obviously, we can’t rely on the politicians to lead that – they’re too compromised, and they’re just too inclined to suppress the discussion. Instead it has to be other parts of the public sphere – especially the media and other public figures – that needs to step up to examine and discuss the issues.

What are the issues? At the political level, some of these are fraught – for example the allegations about MPs such as National’s Jian Yang and Labour’s Raymond Huo, and allegations relating to National and Labour accepting donations that might be derived from foreign sources.

The research of Anne-Marie Brady about foreign state influence on the Chinese community here needs to be taken much more seriously. But it also needs to be rigorously tested and challenged. And what can we make of those reported break-ins at Brady’s home and office?

The Government’s apparent foreign policy shift away from Beijing and towards Washington needs to be examined in much more detail. Does New Zealand really want to endanger its trade relations with China in order to get into the good books of traditional western allies?

Is the Huawei company’s telecommunications technology really a security threat to New Zealand? Or was the Government’s decision to ban it just part of appeasing our Five Eyes partners?

What impact does foreign investment and immigration – including Chinese – have on New Zealand economy and society? What are the pros and cons? Much of this debate is still not out in the open.

To see what an illiberal debate about China might look like, we just need to look at how Australians have navigated these issues over the last two years. Much of this has resulted in ill-feelings, bad relations with China, and some reactionary solutions being proposed and accepted.

But can New Zealand really pride itself in having done any better than Australia? Not really – because we simply haven’t had the open debate that has occurred over there. At least in Australia they have been brave enough to confront the big issues. That needs to be done here, urgently.

Waitangi Day welcome for new Kiwis at Banks Peninsula marae

Pete's Kiwi Korner

  • Culture:

Onuku Marae:

Distinguished guests will join Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy and Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel at Ōnuku Marae near Akaroa for this year’s Waitangi Day celebrations.

They will be welcomed onto the marae – the site of the signing of the Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi) – with a pōwhiri (traditional welcome) at 8am on Wednesday.

Ngāi Tahu(external link)Chairperson Lisa Tumahai, Ngāi Tahu representative Sir Tipene O’Regan and Dame Patsy will address the gathering.

A special citizenship ceremony led by the Mayor will be held at 11am, with 51 people from 12 countries pledging allegiance to their new home.

The Governor-General will join Waitangi Day celebrations at Ōnuku Marae.

Ōnuku Marae will host theNgāi Tahu Treaty Festival.

Further around Banks Peninsula,Okains Bay(external link)will host Waitangi Day celebrations for the 44th consecutive year.

People are invited to gather at the Okains Bay Māori and Colonial Museum for a family day to commemorate the signing of the…

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The NZ capture of German Samoa in WW1

Pete's Kiwi Korner

Page 1 – Introduction

NZ troops arrive in German Samoa

NZ troops arrive in German Samoa

When war broke out in Europe in August 1914, Britain asked New Zealand to seize German Samoa as a ‘great and urgent Imperial service’. New Zealand’s response was swift. Led by Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Logan, the 1400-strong Samoa Advance Party of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force landed at Apia on 29 August. There was no resistance from German officials or the general population.

Next day Logan proclaimed a New Zealand-run British military occupation of German Samoa. All buildings and properties belonging to the previous administration were seized. In the presence of officers, troops and ‘leading Native chiefs’, the British flag was raised outside the government building in Apia.

This was the second German territory, after Togoland in Africa, to fall to the Allies in the First World War.

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“Covert” facial recognition street lights coming to a neighborhood near you

Environmental Health Watch NZ

From activistpost.com

By MassPrivateI

A recent Reuters article reveals that ST Engineering has been awarded $5.5 million to install facial recognition street lights in Singapore.

ST’s smart street lights come equipped with sensors, LED screens and covert cameras already installed.

Incredibly, ST claims their spying street lights can bring “healthcare benefits to residents.”

Just like smart city projects everywhere, Singapore claims that spying street lights “are not built by the government but by all of us – citizens, companies, agencies.”  And just like Riverhead, New York who claimed that police surveillance drones will revitalize downtown, Singapore claims their spying street lights will “lead to meaningful and fulfilled lives.”

Facial recognition street lights are designed to be covert

ST Engineering has even gone so far as to rename it’s covert facial recognition program: ST Countenance.

ST Countenance identifies people from…

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Tuatara vs Kiwi: the ultimate New Zealand showdown

Pete's Kiwi Korner

Ultimate showdown:


In what may be the ultimate New Zealand showdown, two down-under greats have gone up against each other for the first time in 300 years.

Tuatara v Kiwi at the Zealandia ecosanctuary

A tuatara pokes into its burrow to find a kiwi inside.Photo:Helen Taylor / Youtube

Footage captured on camera of a kiwi using a tuatara’s burrow to nest inside the eco-sanctuary Zealandia shows a fight for the den – with the kiwi taking the victory.

Researcher Helen Taylor said capturing the altercation was just “good timing” and showed how the pair may have interacted in the wild prior to human activity.

“They both get some good shots in, the tuatara gives a few good lunges and the kiwi’s having a good old stomp on the Tut’s back,” she said.

“The kiwi had chosen to nest in a burrow that was already being used by the tuatara so one night after the…

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7 Things Writers Can Do No One Else Can (or Wants to)

I’m reposting this from a few years ago. Back then, I didn’t have many readers so now, I wanted to share these pithy thoughts–including a few updates–with all my new efriends!

There are a lot of difficult parts to writing. I mean, besides the whole write-edit-revise-rewrite-market-start over thing. That cutting a vein and bleeding on the page can get touch-and-go at times. Channeling your muse often gets someone you’d prefer to avoid. And it’s well documented that trying to make a living as an author is pretty near impossible unless your last name rhymes with ‘Fancy’ or ‘Brawling’.

Despite all that, it’s a profession people flock to, spend thousands training to be, and wouldn’t give up for anything. Widely-accepted studies show 80% of us have a book we want to share–despite that industry stats show it takes five years to hone and deliver an acceptable novel.

It may–or may not–surprise…

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Funny Sayings Friday Funnies #343

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Funny Sayings Friday Funnies #343

Do you like funny sayings? I love funny sayings. There are some who may refer to funny sayings as being related to proverbs. I’m not so sure as former are intended to either educate or give advice in some way. While the hilarous sayings you will find in this post may contain some helpful information, their sole purpose is to make you laugh.

Funny Sayings In An Unfair World

When a man talks dirty to a woman, it’s considered sexual harassment.

When a woman talks dirty to a man its $10.50/min (charges may vary).

My wife and I had words, but I didn’t get to use mine.

Don’t worry about avoiding temptation.  As you grow older, it will avoid you..

Wife to husband: You told me you’d spend your whole life trying to make me happy.

Husband to wife:  I didn’t expect to live this long!

As I grow older…. My mind doesn’t just wander… Sometimes it buggers off completely.

As I have grown older, I’ve learned that pleasing everybody is impossible, but pissing everyone off is a piece of cake.

Isn’t it weird that in Australia our flag and culture can offend so many people, yet our benefits don’t?

Of course, I have a talent. I’m exceptional in bed. There are times when I sleep more than 9 hours in one go.

I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don’t know the answer.

We’re all born free and then we’re taxed to death

If you’re not supposed to eat at night why do they put a light in the fridge?

funny sayings

Aunty Acid always has funny stuff to say. I’ve featured a lot of them throughout this blog. One that I particularly like is the one where Aunty Acid has PMS.

The Monk Who Taught the World Mindfulness Awaits the End of This Life

Thich Nhat Hanh, shown in an undated photo at his Plum Village monastery in France, introduced ways to meditate that anyone could master
Thich Nhat Hanh, shown in an undated photo at his Plum Village monastery in France, introduced ways to meditate that anyone could master
Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism


January 24, 2019

At a Buddhist temple outside Hue, Vietnam’s onetime capital, 92-year-old Thich Nhat Hanh has come to quietly “transition,” as his disciples put it. The ailing celebrity monk—quoted by Presidents and hailed by Oprah Winfrey as “one of the most influential spiritual leaders of our times”—is refusing medication prescribed after a stroke in 2014. He lies in a villa in the grounds of the 19th century Tu Hieu Pagoda, awaiting liberation from the cyclical nature of existence.

At the gate, devotees take photos. Some have flown from Europe for a glimpse of Thay, as they call him, using the Vietnamese word for teacher. Since arriving on Oct. 28, he has made several appearances in a wheelchair, greeted by hundreds of pilgrims, though the rains and his frailty have mostly put a stop to these. On a wet afternoon in December, the blinds were drawn back so TIME could observe the monk being paid a visit by a couple of U.S. diplomats. The Zen master, unable to speak, looked as though he could breathe his last at any moment. His room is devoid of all but basic furnishings. Born Nguyen Xuan Bao, he was banished in the 1960s, when the South Vietnamese government deemed as traitorous his refusal to condone the war on communism. He is now back in the temple where he took his vows at 16, after 40 years of exile. Framed above the bed are the words tro ve—”returning”—in his own brushstroke.

In the West, Nhat Hanh is sometimes called the father of mindfulness. He famously taught that we could all be bodhisattvas by finding happiness in the simple things—in mindfully peeling an orange or sipping tea. “A Buddha is someone who is enlightened, capable of loving and forgiving,” he wrote in Your True Home, one of more than 70 books he has authored. “You know that at times you’re like that. So enjoy being a Buddha.”

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