New Zealand Bird of the Year competition, 2015

This video from New Zealand says about itself:

Sharing the Hauraki Gulf – Fishers and black petrel in the Hauraki Gulf

8 December 2013

The Hauraki Gulf is a hotspot for seabirds with over 80 species using the region. In this DVD, wildlife biologist Cam Speedy takes you to his favourite deer hunting grounds to explore ancient seabird territory, and Whitianga fishermen Adam Clow and Wayne Dreadon head to Aotea/Great Barrier Island to band rare black petrel chicks before their maiden voyage to Ecuador and Peru. Adam and Wayne also talk through what seabird mitigation really means on-board their vessels.

From BirdLife:

Who will win Forest & Bird‘s Bird of the Year 2015?

By Mike Britton, Tue, 06/10/2015 – 23:02

The annual New Zealand Bird of the Year competition has kicked off again by the BirdLife New Zealand partner, Forest & Bird.  This year 50 bird species are all vying for the `top bird’ Crown. Started by the late Helen Bain, Forest & Bird’s former Communications manager as a bit of fun, the competition has rapidly become an important way to promote New Zealand’s unique and often very threatened bird species.  As with most bird species in the whole Pacific the biggest threat to New Zealand’s birds are invasive predators and building the communities’ appreciation of the taonga (treasure) that these birds represent is important in getting the support and resources to protect them and control the predators.

Last year the competition was a special one focusing on sea birds in recognition of the recently completed New Zealand Marine IBA Report.  The enigmatic and criticaly endangered Fiji Petrel snuck in to the competition and alsmost won, in the lead for most of the time but just pipped at the post after a big local push (by Forest & Bird) for the New Zealand Fairy Tern, also a critically endangered special bird.

This year there are no obvious favourites but it may swing back to one of the old favourites, Kiwi, kea, kokako or keru (New Zealand wood pigeon).  But our favorite is the New Zealand Black Petrel rocellaria parkinsoni, the special sea bird that is familiar to users of Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf.  Its nesting sites on mainland New Zealand have gone due mainly to invasive predators like feral cats and pigs, mustelids and rats.  But they are also the most at risk sea bird from both commercial and recreational fishers. Forest & Bird, with help from BirdLife and the RSPB is working on to reduce the by-catch of these special birds.  Their sponsor in the completion is BirdLife’s Pacific seabird coordinator. Karen Baird, and if you want to do your bit to support New Zealand birds, and we hope the Black Petrel please go on to Forest & Bird’s website and vote.

Fundamentalist religious censorship of novel in New Zealand

This 12 September 2015 video from New Zealand says about itself:

Ted Dawe, author of banned book Into the River, discusses censorship and the inspiration for his work.

His ruling remains in place until the next full meeting of the Review Board, scheduled for October 2.

Into the River, by Aucklander Ted Dawe, centres on a young East Coast Maori boy who wins a scholarship to a boys’ boarding school in Auckland.

In 2013, after it won Book of the Year at the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards, Christian lobby group Family First applied for an R18 classification and shrink-wrap covering.

The group said the book dealt with graphic sexual content, paedophilia, and the misuse of adult power. It glorified the taking of drugs and contained “extensive” use of the “c” and “f” words.

For the next two years, the book bounced between the Classifications Office and the Film and Literature Review Board. It was variously classified as being more suitable for audiences over 16; objectionable to anyone under the age of 14 and, most recently last month, an “unrestricted” read.

That decision, by the Classification Office, prompted Family First to request the interim restriction order – which can, under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classifications Act 1993, be granted solely by the Board of Review president.

Mathieson’s order, granted on September 3, means individuals and organisations (including schools and libraries) who knowingly supply the book, are liable for fines of up to $3000 and $10,000 respectively. Into the River was immediately withdrawn from book stores and by mid-week, was no longer available for purchase in New Zealand in electronic form.

But Mathieson says it’s wrong to refer to his decision as a “ban”.

“It’s an interim restriction. Banning is an emotive word.”

Waikanae-based Mathieson is a QC and active Christian. He said detail about his personal background was “irrelevant”. …

He is the editor of the book Faith at Work, described by Castle Publishing as a “thought provoking symposium discussing the relevance of Christianity in the workplace … Faith goes beyond the church on Sunday. It must impact on every area of life”.


In 2013, censors banned The Everything Marijuana Book. In 1997, Hitchhiking Pizza Boy was outlawed. In 1972, A Sea of Thighs and Big Boobs made it to the forbidden list. Records show that since 1963, some 1289 books have been banned for import, distribution, supply or possession – most because of sex or drug references. These are the most recent:

2013: The Everything Marijuana Book

2013: Here’s Steve

2013: Boys Are Boys

2010: Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture 8th Edition

2009: Pleasant Dripping with Sweat

2000: Holiday Snapshots

2000: Eros XXX Women

1999: Topping from Below

1999: Indoor Marijuana Horticulture

1999: Marijuana Botany

‘Will I be burnt next?’ – Into the River author Ted Dawe on book banning: here.

By Tom Peters in New Zealand:

Outrage over banning of New Zealand novel Into the River

19 September 2015

On September 7 New Zealand’s Film and Literature Board of Review announced a temporary ban on the sale and distribution of the young adult novel Into the River by Ted Dawe. The board will make a final decision on the book’s classification next month. Until then anyone who sells, lends or displays it can be fined between $3,000 and $10,000. It has been withdrawn from book stores and libraries.

Board president Don Mathieson QC imposed the “interim restriction” in response to an appeal by the fundamentalist Christian group Family First against the unrestricted rating given to the book by the government’s Classification Office. The Board of Review is a government-appointed body with the power to change classification decisions.

Family First has campaigned against Into the River since it won the top prize at the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards in 2013. The organisation has called for the book to be restricted to people over 18 years old, a position that Mathieson has said he supports. Family First leader Bob McCoskrie told the New Zealand Herald: “It has sexually explicit material and it’s … got the c-word nine times, the f-word 17 times and s-h-i-t 16 times.” He also objected to the depiction of drug use.

The banning is a blatant attack on artistic freedom. It is the latest indication that the ruling elite is responding to growing social inequality and class tensions with increasingly anti-democratic methods.

Mathieson, a conservative Christian known for his opposition to same-sex marriage, has set a dangerous new precedent and demonstrated that he has the power to remove any book from circulation at the stroke of a pen.

The book ban also illustrates the increasing influence of Family First, which is being politically promoted as a means to foster ignorance and bigotry.

Dawe’s novel is the first to be banned in New Zealand in more than two decades. Previously suppressed books include Brendan Behan’s Borstal Boy in 1958 and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, in 1960 (both bans were lifted a few years later). Numerous films have been banned, including recently the horror films I Spit on Your Grave (2010) and Maniac (2013).

The ban has met with shock and outrage from ordinary people. Out of 220 comments on the Herald web site, 185 opposed the ban, with many expressing alarm at the power of the religious right.

One asked: “Have I been transported to 1984? Do we live in a free country or not?”

Another comment declared: “How on earth does a conservative Christian lobby group manage to get books temporarily banned in NZ? Have we gone back into a 1950s time warp and no one has told me?”

A reader on the news web site asked: “Since when does Bob McCoskrie or other religious zealots such as Don Mathieson dictate to the rest of the populace as to what’s good for us based on their own narrow-minded religious views of the world?”

Groups of people protested the ban in Dunedin and Wellington on September 10 by silently reading Into the River in public. Writers have denounced the ban, including Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton, New Zealand’s poet laureate C.K. Stead, Elizabeth Knox, Patrick Ness, and John Marsden, to name just a few.

Following the backlash, the National Party government has attempted to distance itself from Mathieson’s decision, despite the fact that it appointed him to the Board of Review in June 2010. Internal Affairs Minister Nathan Guy said at the time that Mathieson was “well qualified for this role.”

In the lead-up to the 2014 election Prime Minister John Key and New Zealand First Party leader Winston Peters both appeared at Family First gatherings and gave interviews to Bob McCoskrie.

The corporate media has largely criticised Mathieson’s decision, yet it presents McCoskrie as a legitimate commentator. McCoskrie is a frequent guest on TV and radio, where he rails against gay rights, sex education, abortion rights, books, films and TV shows.

On June 30, 2013, the Herald joined Family First in denouncing the decision to award Best Book to Into the River. “It contains obscenities and shock references that worthwhile literature does not need,” the editorial declared.

Pointing to the authoritarian character of the ban and the influence of Family First, John Boyne, Irish author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, wrote on “In 1933, when Joseph Goebbels listed the books that should not be read by the German people, the fires were built and the works of Hemingway, Freud, Jack London and others went up in smoke. This, the Propaganda Minister declared, would lead to ‘a cleansing of the German spirit…’

“[S]somehow this rag-tag group of angry, ill-informed and frightened conservatives has been allowed to follow in the footsteps of Nazis and the Irish Catholic Church.”

This analogy is entirely appropriate. The world is experiencing the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. In every country the ruling class is responding with an assault on living standards at home and preparations for war abroad. To impose this agenda the governments are carrying out sweeping attacks on civil liberties.

Dawe’s novel has been suppressed amid a campaign by the entire political establishment to glorify militarism and nationalism. This includes the grotesque celebrations surrounding the centenary of World War I and attempts by the opposition Labour, NZ First and the Mana Parties to promote anti-Chinese xenophobia.

Access to socially critical works of art is incompatible with the reactionary climate the ruling class is seeking to create. Into the River has evidently been targeted because it addresses issues facing working class youth in a realistic way that has struck a chord with thousands of people.

Writer Bernard Beckett, who was on the judging panel that awarded Dawe’s novel, described it on the blog the Spinoff as “an important work on a great many levels. Deeply moral, extremely well-written and respectful of its audience …

“The protagonist is a young Maori boy on the East Coast, sharp as pin and filled to the brim with potential. He wins a scholarship to a boarding school in Auckland, and from the moment he arrives, understands that this is not his place. Despite his learning and his aptitude, the school won’t be able to welcome him. It’s a story of alienation and bullying, and a story of the way those not offered a place to stand will attempt to carve out their own.”

Another judge, novelist Barbara Else, told Fairfax Media: “The novel’s a tragedy of a talented Maori youth ripped from his whanau [family] and subjected to snobbery and racism. It’s bleak. It’s hard-hitting. The sex scenes are realistic and saddening.”

Even though Dawe’s first novel, Thunder Road, won Young Adult Book of the Year, he struggled to find a publisher for Into the River and eventually had to self-publish. After that novel also won an award, Family First lobbied the Board of Review, which imposed an R14 rating in December 2013, the first time a book had received such a rating.

Dawe wrote in the Guardian: “Prior to this judgement, Into the River was the most-borrowed NZ-written YA novel in the country. After the ruling, it was removed from libraries’ shelves and either placed behind the desk or in the basement stacks … Borrowing dropped to virtually nil.”

After receiving several complaints from teachers and librarians, the Classification Office removed the R14 rating last month, making the book unrestricted until the Board of Review withdrew it from circulation this month.

Dawe, who is a high school teacher, explained that he was inspired by British novelists Alan Sillitoe and Keith Waterhouse, whose works “carried the sharp stink of authenticity.” He set out to write books that would appeal to the sort of boys he taught, “from working class backgrounds, immigrant boys in Brixton in 1970s London; ‘new Australian’ migrants in Marrickville, Sydney; and Māori and Pasifika boys in Auckland.”

The attacks on Into the River are motivated by the ruling elite’s fear of these young people, who it wants to prevent from reading books that might encourage a class understanding of the brutality of capitalist society.

New Zealand people pro-refugees, government not really

This video says about itself:

8 September 2015

As civil war tears Syria apart, locals are calling for New Zealand’s refugee quota to be permanently doubled.

Immigration minister and Dunedin MP Michael Woodhouse has announced a special emergency intake of Syrian refugees.

But one resident wants to see the government go further, having escaped a war zone for the city.

By the Socialist Equality Group (New Zealand):

New Zealand political leaders feign sympathy for refugees

9 September 2015

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced on Monday that his National Party government would accept an extra 600 refugees from Syria over the next three years, in addition to the country’s annual United Nations refugee quota of 750 people per year.

The announcement follows an outpouring of public sympathy for the millions of people fleeing Syria, Libya, Iraq, Yemen and other countries that have been devastated by war, generating the most severe refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. Throughout the world, people have been shocked by photos of children who drowned in the Mediterranean and the brutal treatment of refugees by governments in Europe and elsewhere.

Thousands of New Zealanders have signed online petitions and are expected to join protests in coming days, calling for an increase in the government’s refugee quota. This quota has not been raised in 28 years and is the 90th lowest in the world on a per capita basis. Hundreds of people have also offered to accommodate refugees in their homes.

The support for refugees in the working class contrasts sharply with the attitude of the ruling elite and the parliamentary parties. While shedding crocodile tears for the victims of the Syrian war, the government and opposition have refused to take any significant steps to assist them.

Labour Party leader Andrew Little and Green Party co-leader James Shaw immediately praised Key’s announcement, which amounts to a pledge to accept 0.015 percent of the estimated four million people who have fled Syria. Little told TVNZ on Sunday that accommodating any more refugees would be “very, very difficult” and even “impossible.” The government’s austerity measures since the 2008 financial crisis, with which Labour agrees, have included numerous cuts to refugee resettlement services.

The hypocrisy and deceit of all the political leaders is underscored by their support for New Zealand’s alliance with Washington and the imperialist wars that have produced the humanitarian catastrophe. Key cynically exploited the refugee crisis to justify sending 143 troops earlier this year to join the Obama administration’s renewed war in the Middle East, on the pretext of fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In reality, the war is aimed at bringing the entire oil-rich region under US control and replacing Syria’s Assad regime with a US puppet.

Key also defended the bombing of Syria, telling the media: “They’re very careful about the way they undertake those air strikes to make sure that there’s the minimum amount of civilian casualties.” In fact, reports indicate that over 1,000 civilians have been killed in approximately 6,500 air strikes in Iraq and Syria in the past year. The real toll is undoubtedly far higher because the US and its allies cover up and deny revelations of civilians killed in their bombing operations.

While Labour voted against the recent troop deployment, it supports the war. The 1999–2008 Labour government sent troops to join the US occupations of both Iraq and Afghanistan. The Greens backed the deployment to Afghanistan and, along with National and Labour, repeatedly called on the UN Security Council to pass resolutions that would pave the way for direct military intervention in Syria. Pro-Labour commentators Chris Trotter and Josie Pagani recently advocated a major escalation in the US-led war against ISIS and the Assad regime.

These “rebels” were armed and funded by the US and its regional allies, and are dominated by Sunni extremist groups, including ISIS and the Al-Qaeda affiliated Al Nusra Front.

Labour and the Greens are calling on the government to lift the annual refugee quota by 250 people. This miniscule number is an affront to human decency.

Little declared that “New Zealand has a proud history of opening our doors to refugees,” referring to the country’s very modest intake of refugees after World War II and from Vietnam and Cambodia.

Claims about New Zealand’s “proud humanitarian history,” repeated throughout the media and by politicians of all stripes, have no basis in fact. The treatment of refugees and migrants by the ruling class has always been brutal. As Vladimir Lenin noted more than 100 years ago, national “exclusivism,” which included “savage restrictions” on immigration from China, was a “distinctive feature” of New Zealand imperialism in the South Pacific.

Historian Ann Beaglehole noted in the Dominion Post on Tuesday: “During the 1930s, the government turned away most Jewish refugees trying to escape Nazi-dominated Europe. They were told it was not even worth applying… Chinese refugees, fleeing war and upheaval in the 1930s and in the mid twentieth century, were also not wanted.” Only tiny numbers were admitted.

Labour and National-led governments alike are infamous for their harassment and intimidation of immigrants from neighbouring islands. Samoa was a New Zealand colony for five decades until 1962. During the 1970s, police staged dawn raids on the homes of Pacific Islanders living in New Zealand and expelled “overstayers.” The 1982 Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act, made 170,000 Samoans born before 1949 and their children ineligible to be New Zealand citizens.

Founded in 1916, the Labour Party, like its counterpart in Australia, maintained a racist immigration policy aimed at keeping out non-whites, especially Asians. This was the official policy of successive governments until 1974.

The 1999–2008 Labour government used the fraudulent “war on terror” as a pretext to tighten “border security” and drastically reduce the number of asylum seekers entering the country by plane. The current National government, for its part, has collaborated in Australia’s persecution of refugees, including their imprisonment in offshore camps in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

As the country’s social crisis has worsened, the entire political establishment and much of the corporate media have blamed foreigners for unemployment, low wages and the soaring cost of living. Since 2012, the Labour Party, the Greens and the Mana Party have allied with the viciously anti-Asian New Zealand First Party, helping it to scapegoat Chinese immigrants for the housing affordability crisis and other worsening social problems produced by the private profit system.

This propaganda is also aimed at facilitating New Zealand’s integration into Obama’s “pivot to Asia”—the military encirclement and preparations for war against China.

Above all, in a country where a quarter of the population was born overseas, xenophobia and chauvinism is being promoted to divide the working class and prevent a unified struggle against capitalism, which is the source of war, the refugee crisis and the deepening attacks on living standards in every country.

Workers and youth must oppose the escalating attacks on refugees and immigrants. Working people must have the right to live, work and study anywhere in the world.

Europe Invaded Mostly by “Regime Change” Refugees: here.

French secret policeman apologizes for murdering Greenpeace photographer, after thirty years

This French 5 September 2015 video shows an interview with Colonel Jean-Luc Kister about the French secret police attack on Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Sorry for bombs on Rainbow Warrior

Today, 11:08

The diver of the French secret service who attached two bombs thirty years ago to the Rainbow Warrior ship has apologized. “This is the right time to show remorse and offer my apologies,” Jean-Luc Kister said in an interview with a French journalist. The attack on the Greenpeace ship killed the Portuguese-Dutch photographer Fernando Pereira.

The Rainbow Warrior was sunk on July 10, 1985 using two bombs in Auckland in New Zealand. The ship was on its way to the island of Mururoa to protest against French nuclear tests in the area. As long as the ship would sail around there, there would be no nuclear weapons tests possible.

Soon after the attack it turned out that it was carried out by the French secret service. …

“I have the blood of an innocent man on my hands,” he [Kister] continues. “It is overwhelming.”

New Zealand hunters kill critically endangered takahe birds

This video says about itself:

12 February 2012

Takahe, Notornis (Porphyrio mantelli) [foreground] and [much smaller, background] Pukeko, Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio); New Zealand, Tiritiri Matangi Island, August 8, 2010.

After Dick Cheney in the USA who did not know the difference between a quail and a fellow hunter … and after the hunter who did not know the difference between a female cyclist and a hare

From the BBC today:

New Zealand: Rare birds shot as cull goes wrong

Hunters in New Zealand have accidentally shot dead four critically endangered takahe birds after mistaking them for another species, it’s reported.

The incident occurred when members of the Deerstalkers’ Association were permitted to cull up to 600 of the abundant pukeko at a sanctuary on Motutapu Island, off the coast of the country’s North Island, the New Zealand Herald reports. The Department of Conservation confirmed that hunters had made the “deeply disappointing” mistake, despite being briefed on the differences between the two species. The highly aggressive pukeko is half the size of the flightless takahe, and is described in bird-watching handbooks as “widespread and easily recognisable”. Deerstalkers’ Association president Bill O’Leary has apologised “to the department and to the country at large”.

There are only about 300 takahe birds left in the world, and the species was thought to be extinct as late as 1948, Radio New Zealand reports. The killings have angered Maori groups who agreed to allow the rare birds to be moved from their native South Island to Motutapu for conservation purposes. Rino Tirakatene, a member of New Zealand’s parliament, says there are now calls for the birds to be returned. “There’s no way that they would send their treasured takahe to a sanctuary for it to be slaughtered,” he says.