Monday 1 March 2021

Sunday Services.

Faith In The Essentials: Fenced-in, almost literally, by motorways. Located, seemingly permanently, at the bottom of politicians’ priority-lists. Heaped with praise for their cultural vibrancy, but not rewarded for it by the presence of white pupils in their public schools, South Aucklanders (like people of colour everywhere) provide their paler compatriots with all manner of “essential services” – at bargain basement rates.

IT APPEARED in my Post Office Box last week: a 48-page, text-heavy, publication calling itself “The Real News”. With Auckland once again at Alert Level 3 and the rest of New Zealand at Level 2, this publication should probably be classed as “Objectionable” by the Chief Censor. It is certainly dangerous enough. Filled with just about every conspiracy and anti-vaccination theory currently circulating about the Covid-19 Pandemic, The Real News comes as close to shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theatre as I have encountered in a lifetime of defending free speech.

Just how dangerous efforts like The Real News can be was made clear by the Auckland City Councillor, Efeso Collins. Speaking to Jack Tame on TVNZ’s Q+A current affairs programme on Sunday morning – just three hours into the lockdown – Collins repeatedly warned the viewing audience that a significant number of the Pasifika people he represents believe in one or more of the many conspiracy theories currently circulating in South Auckland.

He warned of the difficulties that lay ahead in convincing his constituents to accept vaccination against Covid-19 – let alone comply with the rules of lockdown. Just a few hours after appearing on Q+A, Collins tweeted that he had received a number of messages urging him to “repent”, and calling upon “the church” to excommunicate him, for supporting a vaccine roll-out in South Auckland. Publications like The Real News, and the people who peddle their lies on social media, have a lot to answer for.

The comment that struck me most forcefully in Collins’ interview with Tame, however, was his almost throwaway statement that there were whole streets in South Auckland where English – as opposed to Samoan, Tongan or Hindi – was a foreign language. In other words, quite literally, the official messages concerning Covid-19 – and the citizen’s role in combatting it – are not being absorbed by a significant percentage of what is, almost certainly, the most volatile epidemiological environment in New Zealand.

South Auckland isn’t just the location of this country’s largest and most important airport. It is also the place where the goods that arrive in the country’s largest city from all over the world are warehoused. Though not many of Auckland’s better-off citizens often do, one can drive for kilometre after kilometre past these vast structures, out of whose high doors pass the big rigs loaded with everything New Zealand no longer makes.

It was the factories these warehouses have largely replaced that provided the original impetus for the Pacific Island migration that in the 1960s and 70s transformed Auckland into the largest Polynesian city on Earth. Though the car-assembly plants have long-since closed down, the Pasifika workforce remains.

Every night, from the suburbs of Otara, Mangere, East Tamaki, Papatoetoe and Manukau thousands of Samoan, Tongan, Cook Island, Maori and South Asian workers head into the heart of Auckland City to clean the offices of its business enterprises large and small. They perform the same role in its schools and universities, its hospitals, and – crucially – its old people’s homes. Yes, that’s right, the frail elderly – Covid’s favourite victims – are increasingly being cared for by members of the crowded migrant communities who reside, out of sight and (until now) out of mind, south of the Auckland isthmus, between the Tamaki River and Manukau Harbour.

Fenced-in, almost literally, by motorways. Located, seemingly permanently, at the bottom of politicians’ priority-lists. Heaped with praise for their cultural vibrancy, but not rewarded for it by the presence of white pupils in their public schools, South Aucklanders (like people of colour everywhere) provide their paler compatriots with all manner of “essential services” – at bargain basement rates.

The American sociologist, Mike Davis, has written a great deal about this phenomenon, most eloquently in his seminal study of Los Angeles, “City of Quartz”. More recently, however, his gaze has been drawn away from the spatial segregation of the races within the great cities of the United States and towards the sprawling super-cities of the Third World. Long before Covid, Davis recognised the terrifying potential of these vast, densely-populated communities to become the Petri-dishes for epidemiological disaster. In his terrifying 2006 study, “Planet of Slums”, Davis writes: “today’s megaslums are unprecedented incubators of new and reemergent diseases that can now travel across the world at the speed of a passenger jet.”

Touching down in South Auckland.

It stretches the imagination to believe that the people of South Auckland are unaware of the roles assigned to them by the dominant culture. Young Pasifika, Maori and South Asians, in particular, eager to participate in the excitement of twenty-first century urban life will feel keenly the limitations of opportunity implicit in their subordinate socio-economic situation. Unless delivered with extreme sensitivity, by people they trust, the messages of the New Zealand State are likely to be received with (at best) scepticism or (at worst) outright hostility. The stark contrast between what the dominant culture says – and what it does – ensures that such resistance is more-or-less baked-in.

If European New Zealanders – “Palangi” – are generally perceived as deficient in their understanding of, and respect for, the distinct and extremely proud cultures of the South Pacific, their receptiveness to suggestions that the pronouncements of politicians and public servants should not to be taken as the last word on reality is understandable.

Among the intensely pious communities of faith in South Auckland this unwillingness to be swayed by the ideas of godless scientists is very strong – as the “excommunication” demands alluded to in Efeso Collins’ tweet attest. Throw the Covid-related social media explosions of racist bullying into the mix, and the ease with which the pedlars of claims that Covid-19 is a hoax – or even a plot – are able to attract followers is readily explained.

If the growing Palangi consensus in favour of making the vaccination of South Aucklanders a priority is not to be perceived by its intended beneficiaries as confirmation of their status as essential – but unreliable – cogs in the big white machine, then Jacinda Ardern and her colleagues are going to have to radically re-jig their communications strategy.

Such an exercise would not only need to address meaningfully the many cultures of South Auckland, but also the easy assumptions and prejudices of the dominant culture itself. It will take more than words, to break through the resentment and suspicion of people who have been treated for far too long as means rather than ends. Deeds will be needed – as proof of the Government’s good faith. A sharp lift in wages and benefits might be a good start.

Without such gestures of good will, Full Court Press, publisher of The Real News, can be assured of a receptive audience for its new magazine. That cannot possibly be in the national interest. The same might also be said about the attitude of the woman I encountered in my local park, just a few hours after Alert Level 3 came into effect.

“I don’t mean to be judgemental, but …”, she growled, glaring balefully at the state house from which the unmistakeable harmonies of Pasifika hymn-singing were rising. For this Epsom matron, the music was evidence that a very clear violation of the Level 3 rules was in progress. I drew two rather different conclusions: that faith could never be dictated to by science – no matter how incontrovertible; and that this problem – if problem it was – had just moved a lot closer to home.

This essay was originally posted on the website of Monday, 1 March 2021.


Shane McDowall said...

Open your doors to the inhabitants of Third World kleptocracies and they will pour in.

I fail to see how poverty and corruption in Samoa, Tonga, India, the Philippines, South Africa or any other Third World kleptocracy is the business of the people and government of New Zealand.

The main reason nations are rich or poor is the culture of the inhabitants. Just compare postwar Japan with postwar India.

Because of cheap labour loving Friedmanites, and liberal multiculturalists, New Zealand has been flooded by literally hundreds of thousands of people who are highly unlikely to ever fully integrate into Anglo-Celtic New Zealand.

Our politicians have sold our birthright to the lowest possible bidders, and we are meant to feel grateful for how we have been enriched by economically marginal migrants.

The religious covidiots of South Auckland are just another example of the type of people our government should be protecting us from.

Brendan McNeill said...


It’s not just the South Auckland Pacifica faith community that exhibits some scepticism regarding the Covid-19 vaccines, reports are that 30% of New Zealanders feel the same way:

The Australian Health Minister has described the vaccine roll out as the largest immunisation experiment the world has ever undertaken. To be fair, he probably believes in being vaccinated, but his description is none the less reasonable. Bill Gates stated the obvious when he said a two year trial would take two years. Consequently, the two year trial is now taking place globally with hundreds of millions participating.

We are assured the vaccine is safe, albeit there are adverse reactions, including fatalities, and they are listed over a two month period (for the UK) on the following website:

The best response to community management of Covid-19 appears to come from Australian Pathologist and Epidemiologist Professor Emeritus Robert Clancy. We should be listening to his advice and see Vaccine as just one measure in a multi-faceted approach to community health:

Anonymous said...

In reply to Shane that many of these cultures won't ever fully integrate with the Anglo-Saxon culture, even our Maori are now overrun by those cultures, and not of their invite. And to Chris - a sharp lift in wages and benefits might be a good start. Sharp wage increases always get passed along and especially given that a large proportion of our economy is based upon small businesses where, sometimes the employees make more than the employer. And when the benefit gets to the equivalent of a 40 hour week on the minimum wage, why work....

Barry said...

There is one thing I am absolutely sure of - the cultural and religious problems and challenges of south Auckland are not my problem , never were and never will be.

For some reason it has been decided by bureaucrats that a country that was essentially made up of Europeans and Maori needed to bring into it cultures from all over the world that were incompatible with the existing cultures.
This insanity is being repeated (or maybe our bureaucrats copied others) in countries all over the world. Is it any wonder that - for example S.Auckland - we are being told that they dont understand english, that they dont trust elected leaders, that we must understand and make allowances that they believe in witch doctors and that their culture is 'Different'. Of course its different - they come from countries where the only solution to that countries problem is to shoot the whole leadership (who are depositing the countries wealth in private Swiss bank accounts). That we must allow for the fact that they follow the idiot utterances of their religious leaders - charlatans the lot of them. The last church scam offering citizenship was only a couple of months ago and now they are peddling some story that Covid isnt real.

Then we have Efeso Collins making excuses for the bad behaviour. That we have to communicate with them in Samoan or Hindi or some Africa language.

You know Chris - there was a good reason why we used to have an English language test for immigrants. the reason was that when the new arrival got here they were able to live in the community and be able to communicate with that community. They would know what was going on. The could go to the doctor with an interpreter beside them.

But for some reason this countries leadership (from all sides) has decided that we need these cultural misfits - as though taking in a few will solve the problems of most of the middle east and almost all of Africa let alone the rest of the world. There's millions and millions of them and taking a few from each broken country will do two things. A) they will screw up every society in the world that they go to, and B) their desertion from their country of birth will only make it easier for the corrupt leaders to rape that country.

Yes - I know that your big argument is that they clean our toilets - but you are wrong. If they werent here others (maybe even New Zealanders...) would clean our toilets - and because there would be fewer people looking for a job the wages would have to be higher. Now that would be something to celebrate. And they could all communicate in the same language. And they probably wouldnt be conned by some rat-bag religious leader.
Now thats food for thought.

The Barron said...

Good timing Chris.
I was in Samoa during part of the measles epidemic which killed 85, mainly children. Misinformation was being sent through social media, almost exclusively Facebook, from anti-vaxers from Australia and California, as well as NZ and internally within Samoa. For many, social media has been the main source of news and information. Further, a society that gives high status to Pastors and Matai is reliant upon those that are not scientifically informed to filter the information. It was a great reminder that different cultures value knowledge differently and source it at times from social media sources that exploit the trust of the users.
Todays TV1 News has an item that the NZ Government is not using Facebook to target ethnic groups regarding Covid19. This is a mistake, good information should be placed where it can counter misinformation. The Prime Minister and Cabinet members are trusted and respected members of various ethnic communities, they have a responsibility to reach out in a manner that those communities can and will access.
I should also state that there are leaders in the communities who struggle to get the messages out, these include the world renowned medical expert the Niuean Colin Tukuitonga. It would be my hope that the Government strategy will involve those with community, cultural and medical expertise when targeting ethnic communities.

John Hurley said...

When the do-gooder lament dawn raids and poll taxes, they never mention that the Pacific Islands were severely overpopulated in a Malthusian sense in the 1960's or that China doesn't let anyone but a Chinese become a Chinese citizen.

"Fair Go is now going to be speaking te reo. No one asked us to. It's going to be so much fun"
This is the Truman Show. People are going to be look up and see the artificial lights. A bulb will come crashing to the ground. We will sail of and hit a big painted horizon.

It feels like we are living in Mao's China.

The Barron said...

"...our Maori"
Chris, how did you get a blog contribution from the 19th century?

The Barron said...

"problems and challenges of south Auckland are not my problem, never were, never will be"
I presume you are online if you are reading this, please take a moment to Google 'pandemic'.

The Barron said...

One definition of 'kleptocracy' is a government in which those in power exploit national resources and steal.
NZ was the administrative colonial power in Samoa 1914 - 1962.
I think you meant post-kleptocracy when describing independent Samoa.

Wayne Mapp said...


There is an awful lot of racism in these posts.

Yes, Auckland is way more diverse than 30 years ago. By and large that is a good thing. Many of the young people from immigrant communities are making a real go of their lives. Just because they might grow up in economically disadvantaged homes doesn't mean they don't have aspiration.

Go along to our Universities and Polytechnics. There you will see upward mobility in action.

As for wages, the minimum wage will be $20 per hour in a months time, among the highest in the world. Most of the jobs in question now pay $25 to $35 per hour. How high do people expect these pay rates to be?

greywarbler said...

Barry you sound like a version of John Paul Getty. When kidnappers took ransomed one of his grandchildren he was inclined to say that kidnapping was not going to become his problem, so count him out from payment, he never did and never would. They cut off the boy's ear in the end to ensure that they were taken seriously. Finally the old guy stumped up with a sum that his accountants said was tax deductible or the like.

I can see that you Barry are very focussed on what is good for you and your personal interests and manage to ignore the concerns and needs of people who are relatively your neighbours and fellow humans - fellow citizens of New Zealand. Perhaps you would feel more aligned with the Australian culture?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"The Real News comes as close to shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theatre as I have encountered in a lifetime of defending free speech."
So some of you people are finally coming to the realisation that free speech has consequences in the real world? Not before time. This book/pamphlet whatever it is will probably cause people to die. Not tremendously many given Covid 19's relatively small death rate, but enough. I sometimes wonder what death rate we would have to have before these people come to their senses and get their bloody jabs. I wonder if they'd be ignoring vaccines if we had something like the bubonic plague. The world is full of eejits, and getting worse. :)

Funny how a few Maori words on television mean that we are now living in a communist state. Jesus Christ – just stop.

On a lighter note and related to the John Paul Getty thing – that is apparently a group of scammers in the US who ring up old people claiming to be their grandchildren in jail in Mexico needing thousands of dollars to get out. One rang an old lady with this story and she said:

"Which of my grandsons are you – Jimmy Johnny?"

"Er... I'm Johnny."

"I never liked you Johnny." Click.

Just thought I'd try to lighten the mood given the general dourness I always find here.

Gosh I just realised I've been quite active today still, waiting for my car to get fixed.

Shane McDowall said...

Barron, New Zealand did not make one cent out of Samoa. It cost us money to run the place. Interesting to note that NZ paid more for copra then the local Euro-Samoan elite.

And it was only after they gained independence, and built an airport, that Samoans began pouring out of Samoa.

One reason - probably the main one - that New Zealanders have a hard time in Australia is because the Australian Government got sick and tired of Pasifika using New Zealand as a back door to Australia. You might want to check how many of the 501s are Pasifika whose families used New Zealand as a stepping stone to Australia.

And Mr Mapp, Pasifika have the lowest median income, the lowest median net worth, the highest child poverty rate and 80% of their kids are leaving school without the modern equivalent of UE.

This is strange given the widely accepted narrative that immigrants do better than natives. This is true in some cases, European Jewish refugees stand out, but obviously not true in relation to Pasifika.

Those Pasifika who "make it" are exceptions. And if you subtract sportsmen, entertainers, and list MPs the numbers "making it" are vanishingly small.

There are good reasons why there are over 300,000 Pasifika living in New Zealand and NO thousand New Zealanders living in their countries.

Wayne Mapp said...


You are wrong about the NCEA rates. For Pacifika it was over 60% who get NCEA 3, which is higher than Maori. Admittedly this is for those enrolled in Year 13. So might not show the full picture.

Your statistics most probably relate to decile 1 to 3 schools, but Pacifika students don't only go to these schools.

The numbers who do well are not vanishingly small. In the late 1980's I helped establish the Maori and Pacifika Admissions Scheme at the Faculty of Commerce at the University of Auckland. Forty places for students who got B bursaries as compared to normal entry criteria of an A bursary. There were of course Maori and Pacifika students who got A bursaries, but they only made up 3% of the student intake. The scheme lifted that to about 7.5%. It is true the majority of the 40 came from higher decile (5 and upward) schools.

That was 30 years ago. The scheme continues and has been expanded. It is why you now see lots of Maori and Pacifika business people in Auckland. Similarly with law and medicine.

One criticism of the schemes is that they don't really reach the Decile 1 to 3 schools, that the majority of the intakes will have professional parents (teachers, civil servants, media, etc).

The Barron said...

1914, NZ captured an undefended Western Samoa from the Germans. 1918, the NZ Military occupation blundered and allowed the 1918 flu epidemic into Western Samoa killing at least 25% of the population - mainly the fittest and those in leadership and knowledge positions. 1929, the NZ Military shot into a peaceful independence protest killing the royal leader Tupua Tamasese amongst others. Through the 1920s and '30s NZ exiled political and economic leaders. 1926, NZ passed the NZ Reparation Estates Act - in which the NZ Government took control of former German copra estates and used the money for colonial administration of Western Samoa- manipulating the prices to disadvantage local producers.
1962, NZ signs a Treaty of Friendship with newly independent Western Samoa. NZ had left very little infrastructure. Over the next 50 years Western Samoa had to build a nation almost from scratch.
1982, the Privy Council rule that all Samoans born between 1924 and 1948 were British subjects and that in 1949 they and their descendants had become citizens of New Zealand. Muldoon, with the support of Rowling, legislated to rob 100,000 New Zealanders of their citizenship. In order to get the under duress agreement of the Government of Western Samoa, the NZ Government agreed to a immigration quota. That, and subsequent NZ Governments, then manipulated the criteria for the quota so it would never be filled.
On another visit to Samoa just after the Christchurch earthquake I saw the Samoan Red Cross collecting money for the Christchurch cause. Ordinary poor Samoans were running across Beach Road to donate the little tala they had. I asked the Red Cross workers how people could afford to donate, the reply was that New Zealand is our friend and it is a friend in need.
Anyway Mr McDowall, the answer to you final note - 'NO thousand New Zealanders living in their countries', while there are many Palagi New Zealanders living in Samoa, there are thousands of New Zealanders of Samoan decent living in Samoa with duel citizenship. Unfortunately, your view of who is a New Zealander discredits you.

Jack Scrivano said...

@ Wayne Mapp: You raise a couple of good points. However, if we are going to have a useful conversation (or two), I think we have to be less quick to label people with positions that don't match our own as racist.

The Barron said...

One former National cabinet Minister looses his Job for not calling out racists, another called out for doing so.
The Hon. Dr. Wayne, in my reading, noted racist arguments being put forward. I don't think he accused individuals as racists.
In this he was restrained. The views expressed by some correspondents single out sectors of the New Zealand society based on the perfection of race and stereotype ethnic traits. Comments hidden in the safety of the blogosphere that would be unlikely to be repeated in a South Auckland meeting attended by the subjects of the comments.
I personally see the comments as chicken shit and misinformed, but when you make these comments specifically made to denegrate, I see it as disingenuous to claim victim status if seen as racist.

Shane McDowall said...

Barron. Gosh, I had never heard of the Talune disaster nor Black Saturday. I had no idea that New Zealand's administration of Samoa was incompetent.

Interesting to note that at the Paris Peace Conference (1919), the only country to express interest in administering German Samoa was Japan. You might want to read up on Japanese occupation of Korea, Taiwan and Germany's former Pacific colonies. You might want to read up about what happened to the natives of German South West Africa (Namibia).

I remember the Lesa case, and I was outraged that a British court decided that the inhabitants of a League of Nations mandate territory were New Zealand citizens. Samoa is not part of New Zealand and Samoans are not New Zealanders.

There are over 180,000 people of Samoan heritage living in New Zealand, and I bet you could fit Samoan resident New Zealanders onto a small bus.

Oh, and you are right, I would not express my views on Pasifika underachievement at a public meeting in South Auckland, because of their cultural propensity for mindless violence. This is not racist perception, Pasifika and Maori are justly notable for their poor conflict resolution skills.

Pasifika have got the lowest median income and the lowest median net worth. If you have evidence to the contrary, please, share it with us.

The health costs of obese Pasifika, and the fact that New Zealand's first conviction for slavery was of a Samoan matai I shall leave for a future epistle.

Samoa mo Samoa and Niu Sila mo Niu Sila.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"This is not racist perception" Well, yes it is. Almost as bad as saying "I'm not racist but..." As they say, there is nothing good ever comes after the but.

greywarbler said...

Shane McDowall I certainly would feel like violence towards you given a chance, and it would not be mindless of me - it would be a determined action, as it would be if from a Pasifika. It would be retaliation for just one more glib pakeha put-down and arrogance, which could probably be then called 'bloody arrogance'. And finishing up with a bit of the Pacific language just strikes (violently) as insulting and being a smart-McAlec.

The Barron said...

"This is not a racist perception..."
Churchill once coined the phrase 'terminological inexactitude'

Nick J said...

This calling out racism is like walking on egg shells. Doesn't matter where you tread you will break some.

Unfortunately in my view most calls of racism are actually not to do with race. They are cultural, national, class based observations and prejudices that often have substantive merit. By damning them as racist the real point gets lost. Neutral judgment if possible gets sidelined.

Id suggest that when the word racism gets bandied about both parties need to substantiate their position for greater edification from which we can draw understanding and respect.