Well done Warehouse for dumping R18 videos

The Warehouse announced today that it was terminating all sales of R18 videos and computer games. (NZ Herald – Warehouse R18 ban) It comes on the back of the latest version of Grand Theft Auto sinking into new realms of sleaze, violence and depravity. The Warehouse didn’t want to sell it. Good on them.

When corporates make such decisions they lead the way on social responsibility and contribute to building a cohesive and family friendly society in New Zealand. They also reinforce that we all have choices. We don’t have to wait for the government to regulate everything.

It would be great if other corporates took up the challenge. How about TVNZ and Mediaworks voluntarily ditching the daily diet of mind numbing soaps they serve up which normalise lowest common denominator relationship morality. These constantly wash away at the ethical infrastructure that maintains resilient family life in our country. In the long run such programmes probably do far more damage than the blatantly nasty R18 products terminated by the Warehouse.

The only question mark about the Warehouse’s decision is their rationale that R18 games and videos don’t align with their family friendly “branding”. Does this mean if they change their branding it would be OK ? It seems that basic ethics is no longer good enough as the basis for doing the right thing.

However even if only for branding – the Warehouse has done the right thing. They should be commended.

Ewen McQueen
November 2014

Posted in Cultural Renewal, Honouring Marriage, Protecting Children, Respect for Life | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Waitangi Tribunal on sovereignty – fashionable but flawed

When scholarship becomes focused on what is fashionable rather than what is true then trouble is ahead. Unfortunately that is precisely where the Waitangi Tribunal is taking us with the so called “modern scholarship” it has used to declare that Maori retained sovereignty in spite of signing a Treaty which clearly states otherwise.

We should not be surprised. As I noted two years ago (“One sun in the sky” – NZ Herald 22.01.13) the claim that sovereignty was not ceded has become increasingly fashionable among certain academics, activists and bureaucrats ever since the Court of Appeal launched the concept of “partnership” into the Treaty narrative in 1987. The same Court judgement noted that “the Maori people have undertaken a duty of loyalty to the Queen, (and) full acceptance of her Government”. This part of the judgement is somewhat less regarded but it far better reflects the facts of history.

William Colenso was present at the Treaty signing and his notes of proceedings are the prime source quoted by historians. They are freely available online at the NZ Electronic Text Centre. Any honest reading will find no trace of the power-sharing, partnership concept now being endorsed by the Tribunal. Rather they show a group of initially wary and reluctant chiefs eventually deciding that their best interests lay in establishing the mana of the Queen as the supreme authority in the land. Regardless of what some may want to believe today – this was what was agreed.

Sir Apirana Ngata

Sir Apirana Ngata

It was also the commonly accepted understanding of the Treaty for nearly 150 years until the modern revisionists came to the fore. For instance in 1922 we find Sir Apirana Ngata explaining the Treaty in very clear terms. Speaking of the how the Treaty impacted on the authority held by the chiefs he wrote,

“It was the chiefs who bespoke the land and gave it away. They had the power even for life or death. These were the powers they surrendered to the Queen. This was the understanding of each tribe. The main purport was the transferring of the authority of the Maori chiefs for making laws for their respective tribes and sub-tribes under the Treaty of Waitangi to the Queen of England for ever.”  (Sir Apirana Ngata, 1922)

The Waitangi Tribunal has played an important role in progressing justice for Maori unfairly alienated from land and resources. However on this issue Ngata’s words stand testament as to how far the Tribunal has missed the mark.

Ewen McQueen
November 2014

Posted in Cultural Renewal, Economic Transformation, Spiritual Renewal, Treaty of Waitangi | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why neither National or Labour will solve child poverty

More growth – or more redistribution. These are the two main themes offered into the child poverty debate by parties across the political spectrum in New Zealand. Both are necessary to some degree. However both will also fall well short of making a significant and sustainable difference to poverty in our nation.

The reason is that both approaches are economics based – but what has driven the increase in poverty in New Zealand over the last 40 years is not related to economics. Over that time we have had governments with both centre-right and centre-left economic programmes. Poverty remains.

If economic growth was the answer then we would expect to see real progress. In 1997 our annual GDP was $94billion. Today it is $230billion. The economic cake has grown. Poverty remains.

If redistribution was the answer we would also expect to see progress. The size of the cake pieces being shared have grown with a major expansion in spending on public services. In 1997 we spent $5billion on public health. This year we will spend $14billion. Annual education spending was $5billion and is now $12billion.  Social welfare was $12billlion and is now $22billion every year.

Even allowing for inflation and population growth, all the above figures show a significant increase in real GPD and public spending per capita. And yet poverty remains and indeed has become entrenched.

Economic prescriptions of whatever colour are clearly not going to solve this issue.

As it happens in 1997 we were having a national conversation on poverty. At the time I contributed to the debate via the New Zealand Herald – Poverty – it’s not a lack of jobs, it’s a lack of fathers. Sadly, 17 years on the analysis remains relevant. It will remain relevant in another 17 years unless our leaders have started the process of rebuilding family life in New Zealand.

And that is not about economics – it’s about values.

Ewen McQueen
October 2014

Posted in Cultural Renewal, Economic Transformation, Honouring Marriage, Protecting Children, Spiritual Renewal | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

New Zealand’s lost Christian legacy

Wiremu-Tamihana

Wiremu Tamihana – by Gottfried Lindauer               Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Many New Zealanders question if our nation ever had a strong heritage of Christian faith. Wiremu Tamihana is the answer to their doubts.

As a young Ngati Haua chief, Tamihana found faith in the early 1830s under the teaching of the CMS missionaries in Matamata. He renounced warfare and instead led his tribe on a different path – establishing the Christian villages of Tapiri and Peria. They included farms, houses, a flour mill, a school and a church that could accommodate 1,000 (perhaps New Zeland’s first so called “mega-church”).

Today you can visit the sites by following Peria Road out of Matamata and looking for the Matamata Historical Society plaques. Most people on this road are looking for Hobbiton – little do they realise it is the road to a far more significant but little known part of New Zealand’s lost Christian legacy.

Wiremu Tamihana went on to become a key player in establishing the Maori King movement. Indeed he was known as the kingmaker and presided over the coronation of the first king Potatau Te Wherowhero with prayer and Bible readings. It was a movement he hoped would bring unity among Maori and help prevent the ongoing alienation of Maori land by reinforcing chiefly authority.

Some might say it was a strategic mistake to set up another “King” rather than simply calling the new leader a paramount chief. The settler government used the formation of the Maori King as evidence of a rebellion against the sovereignty of the Crown. On this basis an inevitable conflict ensued with dire consequences for Maori – including the disintegration and dispersion of Tamihana’s Christian communities in the Waikato.

Perhaps the label “king” was a mistake. However Wiremu Tamihana never was a sly political strategist. He was simply a humble Christian chief who tried to lead his people in the ways of justice and righteousness. As the land now returns to his people, may his legacy of faith also.

Ewen McQueen
October 2014

Posted in Cultural Renewal, Economic Transformation, Spiritual Renewal, Treaty of Waitangi | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Winston pathetic on ISIS

Winston Peters shouldn’t bother turning up at an ANZAC Day parade again. His statement today that New Zealand should not provide any help in fighting ISIS because it might make us a target for terrorist attacks was pathetic. It was an insult to the courage of New Zealanders who have sacrificed their lives in the fight against evil and unjust regimes over the last century.

ISIS is a barbaric movement that has turned hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians into refugees, fleeing mass murder and genocide. It has committed crimes against humanity on a massive scale. It does so with impunity and without any qualms or any attempt to hide its cruelty. Instead it glories in its beheadings and death culture.

If New Zealand won’t fight ISIS – it won’t fight anyone.

Unfortunately there are too many New Zealanders who like Peters would rather we keep our heads down and let others do the dirty work. Thankfully our Prime Minister is  not one of them. Key is considering the options and said today that the Government of New Zealand would not have its strategy or decisions dictated to by the fear of ISIS. Good on him.

Ewen McQueen
October 2014

Posted in Cultural Renewal, Protecting Children, Respect for Life | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Key at his best – Campbell Live interview

Prime Minister John Key interview Campbell Live

Prime Minister John Key interview Campbell Live

The Prime Minister’s interview on Campbell Live last Monday showed him at his best. It was a relaxed and thoughtful John Key finally being given the space to speak with some depth, rather than the usual campaign slogans and sound-bites.

After his historic election victory it was good to hear Key talking about child poverty and saying he would be making this a focus for his advisors. John Campbell questioned if he really was concerned about the less well off as they were not his constituency. Key graciously replied that he thought the million New Zealanders who voted for National did in fact care about their fellow Kiwis. It went unstated that he himself also cared.

And it is clear that Key does. He has not governed as a right wing ideologue but has instead led his team on a sensible path, through difficult times. In the face of a crashing economy he avoided a slash and burn approach to govt spending that would have led to huge social dislocation and shrunk the economy even further. Instead it was a steady path that protected support for the less well-off whilst carefully managing the budget back to a surplus.

The Prime Minister is a people person, backed by a capable and competent team. They don’t philosophize about social justice. They just get things done and people are better off. That’s why New Zealanders voted them back in with an increased majority – something unprecedented for a government entering its third term.

Ewen McQueen
September 2014

Posted in Cultural Renewal, Economic Transformation, Protecting Children | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Aussies will fight terrorism – will we?

Tony AbbotAustralian Prime Minister Tony Abbot announced today that special forces troops and fighter jets would be deployed to fight ISIS in Iraq. The decision was made after a request for help from the US and was fully supported by the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. If the same request was made to New Zealand would our Parliament show the same resolve ? Sadly I suspect not.

Too many New Zealanders think that our geographic isolation and relatively small size means we can hide from unpleasant and inconvenient international realities. Someone else will sort it out. However if we are to take our place with any respect in the community of civilised nations we should be willing to play our part in fighting barbaric evil movements such as ISIS.

I have made my donation to Tear Fund’s crisis appeal to provide aid for the thousands of civilians who have had to flee this “murderous death cult” as Abbot described them. However humanitarian aid alone will not be enough. Great evil needs to be engaged and defeated. In the spirit of ANZAC we should be joining our courageous Aussie mates.

Ewen McQueen
September 2014

Posted in Cultural Renewal, Protecting Children, Respect for Life | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments