Friday, 17 August 2012

Unimpeachable Credentials

And So It Begins: Co-Leader of the Maori Party, Tariana Turia, is "red-eyed" by John Ansell as part of his "Colourblind New Zealand" campaign. Mr Ansell has pledged to affix his red eye-patches to all those who adhere to and/or promote the bi-cultural revisioning of New Zealand history. Mr Ansell insists that he is operating independently, but who stands to make best use of the formidable political weapon he is fashioning?

EVERY STUDENT EDITOR dreams of a scoop: a major story that nobody else (especially the “mainstream media”) knows anything about. And that’s exactly what “Treatygate” is – a scoop. Joe Stockman, Editor of the Otago University student magazine, Critic, and his News Editor, Callum Fredric, were first off the mark with a story that has potentially huge ramifications.

In Mr Fredric’s own words: “Critic has obtained documents from controversial race campaigner Louis Crimp, setting out a plan for a $2 million campaign aiming to make New Zealand a ‘colourblind’ (racially neutral) state.”

According to Critic, the man with the plan is John Ansell – mastermind of the National Party’s very-nearly-successful “Iwi/Kiwi” billboard campaign of 2005. If he manages to lay his hands on anything like $2 million, Mr Ansell’s proposed campaign to “expose the 40 year state brainwashing campaign that has distorted the history of Crown-Maori relations” could gain considerable political traction. Whatever you may think of him, Mr Ansell’s credentials as a propagandist are difficult to dispute.

The involvement of Mr Crimp is another matter. The elderly Invercargill millionaire’s only foray into national politics could hardly be described as an unqualified success. The media outlets through which Mr Ansell’s propaganda would, presumably, be communicated to the public might balk at associating themselves with such a controversial duo. There’s also the very real possibility that one, or all, of the Press Council, the Advertising Standards Authority, the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Human Rights Commission might intervene to ban or modify messages intended to: “expose the bias [in favour of Maori] and enrage the public”.

Herein lies the difficulty confronting those who remain unconvinced by the bicultural orthodoxy of New Zealand’s political establishment. It has spent the best part of forty years surrounding itself with laws and conventions, tribunals and authorities, to the point where it is virtually unassailable from without. Messrs Ansell and Crimp are, therefore, very likely to discover that any full-scale frontal assault on its institutional walls is easily repelled.

The bicultural consensus is, however, acutely vulnerable to subversion from within. Thinking back over the past eight years, Mr Ansell should ask himself: “Why was my 2005 campaign so effective?” The simple answer is: Dr Don Brash. The mass racial animus that Mr Ansell is so skilful at arousing remains politically accessible – but only to a person bearing unimpeachable establishment credentials. Someone like the former Governor of the Reserve Bank. Someone like the Leader of the Opposition. Someone the opponents of biculturalism can credibly envisage moving into a position of power strong enough to bring the forty-year bicultural consensus crashing down.

Neither Mr Ansell, nor Mr Crimp, is that someone.

There is, however, something already in the political pipeline that just might provide the impetus for a politician bearing unimpeachable establishment credentials to avail himself, or herself, of Mr Ansell’s skills and Mr Crimp’s dollars. Something that could very easily be dubbed “Treatygate”. The report of the Constitutional Advisory Panel, due no later than September 2013, may prove to be a bicultural bridge too far for the Pakeha majority.

Set up at the insistence of the Maori Party following the 2011 General Election, the Constitutional Advisory Panel is dominated by individuals sympathetic to the bicultural cause. Their recommendations are, therefore, likely to be … challenging. Messrs Ansell and Crimp would probably describe them as a ticking time-bomb. But, if so, their casualties will not be found in the National Party.

Indeed, a cynic might say that the National Party could hardly have constructed a situation more certain to rebound to its advantage. Just think about it. A report no National, NZ First or Conservative Party voter will accept, but which no Labour, Green, Mana or Maori Party MP can reject. And who bears a more unimpeachable set of establishment credentials than the Prime Minister of New Zealand?

Get ready for another scoop, Critic. The story exposing National’s 2014 contract with “Treatygate Productions” and anonymous donations totalling two million dollars.

This essay was originally published in The Dominion Post, The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday 17 August 2012.

20 comments:

Barry Thomas said...

Ah Mr. Ansel... what a perfectly near perfect name for a person who has made his living and who has learned the ways f the world... been able to create such a clear and sharp world view - by making advertisements! Only one or two letters different from - ADsell.

It reminds me of another (now no longer with us(un) fortunately great "leader" of advertising - that Barrie Manly ex MD of Saatchi and saatchi WGTN. who died on his 40th nirthday - the day before his retirement.

Both of these men are probably THE most immoral people I have ever had the dis-ease to meet.

ADSell was the writer of my gold axis award winning TV commercial (my last) Lada... "nothing but car" who was so self serving he actively tried to stop the Axis awards people giving me (director, editor) a trophy - along with all the rest of the hard working/ deserving crew. Prat.

The next - Manly (read - NOT manly) managed to take the thing I spent 3 months working up - the getting together of NZ's largest environmental coalition involving green peace, Forest and Bird - Ministry for the environment, Doc - Eco - all of them into one cohesive television campaign... you guessed it - when we had TVNZ's head of programming at the table at the top floor of Saatchis in wellington (I call them Itchaas) they looked across the table and said - "what are you doing here!!! - Theif. I did a Painting of Mr. Manly (not) which I later (postmortem) realised had a red dot at his heart! ... prophesy or what? Oh when I found a year later they had taken all the green groups for a ride and were pocketing the 1 million from the revenue they gained from my idea of getting green messages out to the citizenry via all the millions of dollars of unsold airtime... ie I cold million... and when I re-alerted Forest and Bird et al to their game - (of which they were blithely unaware) they pulled the plug - Earthcare was dead in two weeks - Forest and bird will still say they cannot tell the real story of this - NZ biggest ever environmental communications campaign - "because it makes us look so stupid" (Kevin Smith) too right - but it does show how these TV and advertising people act as unholy theives with no moral fibres...
The name of my painting (owned by Dianna Burns) "Sad Thief"

Barry Thomas

Anonymous said...

A rather clumsy "preemptive" strike against Key, Chris. Lets debate the thesis of Ansell's "Treatygate" , before deciding what Key may or may not do.

Anonymous said...

Well, I predict that Ansell and Crimp will (alarmingly) make more progress than we might think. After all, the Emperor of identity politics has no clothes.

John Ansell said...

I won't be working for National under the present regime, Chris.

(Not that they'd want me anyway.)

Barry Thomas said...

For goodness sake John Ansell - go and do something really useful with your talents - make art - anything but this sick sad advertising/politics

TM said...

It's a pity issues with the settlement process (e.g. legitimacy of some claims and whether the cash payouts are actually getting to the whole iwi), aren't being addressed by any of the main parties because they are afraid of losing Maori support/votes.

This, combined with general ignorance about NZ history, leave a ripe ground for campaigns such as this. I'm sure there are opportunists in National who will jump on the bandwagon if it gets going.

The campaign will be successful - in so far as polarising NZ, promoting extremism and making it a more unpleasant place to live.

Anonymous said...

There’s also the very real possibility that one, or all, of the Press Council, the Advertising Standards Authority, the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Human Rights Commission might intervene to ban or modify messages intended to: “expose the bias [in favour of Maori] and enrage the public”.

Such a casual mention of censorship. Ban speech? Authorized thinking only, apparently.

Jigsaw said...

I've never understood how Labour and the left generally who hate inherited privilege (you would assume...) are so keen to promote the concept with Maori. For the last 40 years both main political parties have been encouraging tribalism,surely one of the most backward looking ideas on the planet as well as the separatism that goes with it. Always they have dangled the carrot that 'things will be settled' and by implication that we will go forward,separate but together, onto a sunny upland of progress-but of course it never happens, just more demands.
As a nation its time we really took stock of where we are and worse, where we are heading.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Ansell. The "constitution" will be rigged to favour Maori. Do you think it is because they have 38 billion in assets? New Zealand is looking more like George Orwell's Animal Farm each day... good article, though.

guerilla surgeon said...

This whole aren't we all equal and colourblind stuff makes me angry. Most of those people that are saying it today are old enough to have been alive when Maori were quite routinely discriminated against in law. I don't remember a huge outcry from the right about this at any stage ever. Discriminatory laws were only pulled in 1987 as I remember. There was no problem with discrimination on Maori land, there was nothing from the right on refusing to let Maori speak their own language in schools, and there was not a great deal about not serving Maori in pubs. Now all of a sudden, we are all one people, and Maori should be grateful to be included. Frankly, it makes me want to puke. I've no idea who this Ansell chap is and could care less to be honest, but he is either less than honest or hasn't read any proper history. I've always found that those who take this line are completely ignorant about the history of their own country, as written by proper historians rather than people with an axe to grind.

Chris Trotter said...

First of all, Guerilla Surgeon, there's no such thing as an historian without an axe to grind.

Second, there was never any official instruction issued to ban the speaking of Maori in classrooms - although it is clear many teachers, acting on their own initiative, did just that.

Third, restrictions on Maori consumption of alcohol were introduced as a means of limiting the devastating effects of alcoholism among the demoralised iwi and hapu - and they were repealled many, many years before 1987.

You upbraid John Ansell, but your own unfamiliarity with NZ history could be said to match his own.

The real danger lies in the refusal by both sides to let go of their favourite myths and legends and engage in a genuine dialogue.

guerilla surgeon said...

What? I never said that restrictions on alchohol restrictions were still in force in1987. I said that the LAST discriminatory laws were banished in 1987. As for language:

Naylor, Sarah (2006) Tā te Pūnaha Mātauranga o Aotearoa he Kaikai Haere i te Oranga Tonutanga o te Reo: The Perpetuation of Māori Language Loss in the New Zealand Education System – A Pākehā Perspective. Other thesis, University of Otago.
There are several other sources that confirm this.

My complaint about writers of history rather than historians related to those unqualified people who write popular histories denigrating the Treaty and Maori claims. Proper historians may be biased but do their best not to be.

You missed my main point that the right never protested until pakeha began to 'lose out' And I think your knowledge of history could do with a brush up.

TM said...

Good balance Chris. My understanding is that the teachers banned Maori from being spoken with the best of intentions. They wanted the Maori kids to speak perfect English, and speaking Maori in class didn't help. Like a French teacher banning people from speaking English in class. Unfortunately they were a bit over-zealous and the end result was a dramatic decline in the spoken language.

I see a similar thing happening in Singapore where they discouraged the speaking of dialects in favour of mandarin.

But there were a lot of discriminatory laws. I read on another (right wing) blog that Maori were banned from voting on the general role until 1975!

Tim G. said...

I am afraid that the tone of this thread, and the conspicuous absence of alarm, speaks to the extent to which this campaign will resonate in the beltway.

And you are right, it has the opportunity to greatly assist whichever political party (or parties) are prepared to capitalise in on its message.

No doubt some would be "relaxed" about doing so if it is "trending" in the focus groups.

guerilla surgeon said...

No it's not a good balance. You're all missing the point. The point being that Pakeha went along for years quite happily with discrimination against Maori, and have only begun to think about "equality" when Maori begin to make gains and Pakeha are begin to lose a small proportion of their advantage. You're all like those idiots who used to end their letters to the Dominion Post with the phrase "you realise all three top jobs in this country are held by women." Yet as soon as there back in the safe hands of men not a peep out of them. Or like those other fools who when Maori made gains, kept saying "this will set race relations back 100 years." As if race relations were something that was only bad when Pakeha felt bad.

So the right just decides to co-opt the Maori aristocracy thinking that they have more in common with each other than with the working class, which is not necessarily true. They fail to realise that Maori leaders all eventually have to front up personally to the actual people there representing, not just a selection of the party faithful, and answer the hard questions – which are very often put.

The left seems to think – and I've had party members tell me this – it's just a class problem and as soon as they've got good jobs it will all go away. No it won't. They seem to forget that Maori are not just brown skinned Pakeha, and actually think differently. They particularly have a different view of history while on the subject, not just 'what happened' either. To them, to a great extent, it might as well have happened yesterday. Different – see? In my youth I read a lot of Marx, and I don't remember once coming across the importance of culture, and intercultural relationships. You cannot explain everything with class. It is a useful tool as the Marxist historians showed, but not the be all and end all of everything. Until you guys realise this, you are going to be irrelevant.

Jigsaw said...

Guerilla Surgeon - you would have been completely at home in South Africa circa 1950.

guerilla surgeon. said...

Jigsaw. Bullshit. Allowing that paeople are different is different to exploiting them. Complete and UTTER bullshit, that is put about that by people who sell so called 'equality'. Read some history.

Guerilla surgeon said...

You know, if you troll through the land ownership records in Masterton, you will find that by the late 19th century Maori owned very little land in and around the city. Some had been legitimately bought, but much of it had been taken by laws which were designed to divest Maori of land. And thousands of acres were actually 'lost' by the government. But there is one section in Masterton owned by a Maori and if you look at the record you will see the name, and then occupation - "nigger". My point being, that there is a traditional I don't know how deep rooted, streak of racism and means spiritedness in our society that makes me pessimistic about race relations. The casual assumption on the part of many Pakeha, that race relations are fine as long as white people are happy for instance. The ethnic jokes that come out after people have had a few drinks. When I was a boy, every year at capping time the engineering students at Auckland University would get dressed up in black face and Maori costumes, and act stupid. This was not confronted by Pakeha of the left or the right – apart from a few individuals. It seemed to me at the time that they were mostly concerned with the Vietnam war, and later with Apartheid to the exclusions are problems at home.
I would maintain that this mean spiritedness is active today, with many people such as Don Brash touting a spurious inequality that they maintain exists between Maori and Pakeha, with Maori getting privileges that white people don't have. They maintain that New Zealand must be "colourblind". To me it seems that the left is within a whisker of adopting this sort of attitude in order to try to gain white middle-class votes, in full knowledge of the fact that their so-called equality, or colour blindness, won't be. And in full knowledge I might say, that it will result in a further falling behind, economically and educationally of Maori. But they don't care, because they're chasing the all-important white middle-class who have been shit scared by the press and by people like Michael Laws into thinking that if we allow Maori any latitude, we'll all be murdered in our beds.
What on earth is the harm in a bit of Maori separatism? There are two forces at work in the world today, globalisation and localisation. Globalisation are not free fond of, but who would argue that independence or at least autonomy for Scotland or Wales is a bad thing? Or the Czech Republic and Slovakia for that matter. To be honest I think it's all hysteria put about by dinosaurs.

Jigsaw said...

I doubt that there is much point in debating with someone who asks 'what is the problem with a little separatism'? If it develops the way it seems to be doing it will destroy this country just as surely as it has done other countries-we are no smarter. As for telling me to read history-I have-lots of it-New Zealand history is richer and more diverse that 'activists of all shades allow'.
Racial equality is never spurious and the racial superioity some Maori now claim as some sort of 'repayment' for past wrongs is just as bad.

GS said...

You're probably right that we are wasting our time, because I'm sure we're beginning to talk past each other. But I will say this, why don't you guys provide some evidence of destruction. Britain has not been destroyed by Welsh and Scots autonomy. Czechoslovakia managed a complete separation into two actual countries without any great hassle. United States gives its states autonomy without being destroyed. Is it just because it's based on race? Were you then waving the flag when Maori were discriminated against in law? As I said, so many people think that race relations is just white people being happy, and suddenly people think that discrimination is okay as long as it's not them as being discriminated against.
Your second paragraph makes absolutely no sense. I suggest you check on the meaning of spurious. I don't know why you put repayment in inverted commas, if we were to actually give back all that was even illegally confiscated from Maori, not just unethically taken, it would cost far more than the present demands, which are quite modest. I suspect, though I can't prove obviously that you are reading this sort of history I warned about, written by people with an axe to grind about the treaty.