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Lonely Planet has recently declared Wellington one of the best top 10 cities in the world and “The Coolest little Capital in ther World.”

This has out done such iconic cities as New York, Paris and London. Naturally, a number of New Zealanders who like polling on Stuff’s polls have claimed that this is a silly assertion.

It has become a part of the NZ psyche of pragmatism that anything seen as a positive can’t possibly be that good and we shouldn’t get our hopes up. It’s an odd mentality given that this country actually has a lot to crow about, we just seem to have it ingrained into our national identity that we shouldn’t.

The reality is that because we live here, we tend to take what makes Wellington and this country for granted.

To me one of the key things is that NZers are often awed by the cacophony and civilisation of larger cities because we just don’t see it here. New York, to the NZer, is an exotic and monolithic monster of a city that is always moving and always bustling. There are sights we never see at home, and so much mad variety that it can astonish at any given moment.

So naturally its difference would make NZers rate it as an amazing city – and it is.

But Wellington has a different wonderment to it. When I first came to Wellington what impressed me is the blend of nature and urban. This is what inspired the Winding City for me. Wellington entwines itself into and around its environment. Where Paris, London and New York are examples of civilisation triumphing over their landscapes; Wellington’s Town Belt and coastlines still retain some of their primal geography. Houses peek out from behind green veils, roads precariously wind up the hillsides, hugging the natural shape of the hills. Tunnels drive through hillsides still covered in native foliage, and you can one minute be in the urban centre, then in a suburb with colonial style houses the suddenly be in the middle of a small natural valley with only one or two houses visible before turning a corner and suddenly plunging back into urban sprawl.

The restaurants are multiple and varied, full of interesting and often friendly people. Yet there is space to breath. Walking down Lambton Quay and having room to move and see the tall buildings which are almost a time capsule I themselves. One is an old building from the early 1900s, a 60s building next door and further along a new 00s style structure. Framing these is the looming greenery of the Town belt.

Maybe it’s NZ’s slow pace. While busier than its island neighbours, we still move at a laconic pace compared to the greater cities of the world. While there are those NZers who don’t find this pace appealing – and this slow pace does lead to people picking at smaller issues – it is partially this pace that makes us so appealing to people from the great cities NZers adore.

The wonder of our beaches and natural landscape that is always a short journey from our urban centres. Dramatic mountains, great oceans and primal forests.

I genuinely feel New Zealand is the greatest place to live as a landscape. I also feel that we, as a nation, need to forge a new identity that is better in line with the country we live in. An identity built on the harmony between our natural landscape and our cities. Our technological development and our agricultural development. We should embrace our many cultures and the shared pride in a country that should encourage calm and contemplation but also inspiration and adventure.

Our nation has been suffering recently from drinking problems, violent crimes, domestic abuse and suicides. Our pragmatic identity seems to be to just accept these things as inevitable. Yet we live in a landscape of beauty and serene yet awesome sites. We should be inspired by our landscape, be proud of our cities and return to the unity that this country once believed it was founded on. We have struggled with this, and will continue to do so – but we should not be wasting time trying to keep up with the Joneses.

We already have one of the best living conditions and have some of the best cities to live in worldwide. Screw the Joneses. Let’s forge our own destiny, our own identity that the Joneses will be racing to keep up with us.

We should embrace educational, social, technological and ecological development. A recent study showed that even with our problems, NZ has a better level of education per person than many western nations. We were once known as an inclusive secular nation that was one of the first to give women equal voting rights. We once were at the forefront of invention. And because of our close relationship to our natural landscape we are uniquely placed to combine those others strengths to produce new technologies that will help less ecologically responsible nations reduce and possibly reverse the damage to their countries.

But first, we need to stop thinking we can be like Australia or the US. We need to stop thinking we need to give foreign interests carte blanche to plunder our resources. We need to be different and think outside the box.

We will need foreign investment, but it needs to be wisely managed and pursued correctly. We need to embrace the skills of those who have them regardless of that person’s ethnicity, gender or preference.

I’m not proposing we become communists, but that we try new ideas.

I love New Zealand. I love Wellington. I also think that this country has a lot more to offer the world than we have allowed ourselves too. We need to stop being pragmatists and become optimists.

Come on New Zealand! We earned the accolades, let’s enjoy them and be inspired by them!


A local political blog, No Right Turn, which is written by a friend of mine, Idiot/Savant, has unfortunately been a classic example of how the recent Hobbit dispute has been exploited by people who know very little about the issues but have tried to use the dispute to forward their own political agenda.

There has been a lot of dishonest hyperbole being spread around about what happened and is happening. Some, like Idiot, don’t comprehend the money and work that was at risk here and betray very little understanding of the industry and how it has been operating for decades.

All they see are things in the terms of their own political lenses without doing any proper research.

Now I do agree that a law change under urgency is rarely a good thing and it raises concerns. But I also have read the amendment and researched what other more learned legal minds have said of it and all it achieves is closing a loophole that was recently exploited and should have been closed two years ago.

It isn’t actually taking away any rights. Actors, crew and others involved in film making have always been considered independent contractors. This is due to films being quixotic things and you can end up working for a different production company each time. Sick days and Holidays are not feasible in film productions as a matter of book keeping. Instead individual companies will manage these issues as best suits the production and can outline this in the contracts.

The Amendment is merely stating that unless the contract clearly identifies the actor/technician as an employee they are considered an independent contractor.

This has always been the case. It is just now being clearly outlined in law.

Another myth being spouted is that this is just two films. A wonderful lie that allows those who like their conspiracies to be able to belittle and dismiss this dispute as just children fighting.

It’s two films that cost the equivalent of close to 100 NZ made local films. That is in excess of $500m and thousands of jobs. The films will take at least three months to film, bringing cast and foreign crew into the country many of whom will be bringing family or partners – most of whom will be paying for accommodation, food, travel… all of which will be generating tax income via GST.

Furthermore, being made in NZ means that Tax is charged on any income they earn in the country from an NZ based production company.

Which comes to the next dishonest lie being spouted by the critics. The tax break isn’t money paid to the production company. It is money taken off the total tax bill they get charged. That’s right. It’s a percentage off the total tax bill. So if the break is round 25% and we are being told this comes to approx $60m – that means that NZ is looking at around $180m TAX being put back into govt coffers approx. That is not chump change people. Of course my figures are speculatory, but we are looking at over $100m in taxes.

This isn’t even beginning to go into the othe trickle down benefits. As a much more educated economist than I pointed out, this is one of those investments with guaranteed return for a country. It doesn’t matter if the film is a success or not – we get the money.

Then there is the world premiere. Another thing overlooked by the people in a blind rush to scream bloody murder at the bourgeois film makers. Premieres draw crowds, tourists and raise profile. A world premiere in NZ draws other film companies’ attention towards the country.

They aren’t going to see us as a soft touch to shake down. They are going to see a nation committed to helping them make good films and in a proper mutually beneficial relationship.

The Hobbit is a major investment that can only benefit our country in a time when economies are suffering. If they were just two films, why were countries with better GDPs than ours clamouring to offer even more than our final deal was so that they could get these two films.

Because these countries know the true value monetary wise than a group of bloggers who can’t see past their Intro to Political Theory 101 papers.

I personally think that John Key screwed up this dispute by not stepping in sooner. I also think that this would never had happened if the unions hadn’t been so dishonest, naive and inept in their handling of the dispute.

I have no doubt that Warner exploited the situation as did National. But those who are taking shots at National now and ignoring that the MEAA were the instigators – because it is hard to have far left indignation if the unions are to blame – are being just as exploitative.

In regards to the death threats and “thuggery” – again, reality is getting in the way of the righteous indignation.

As video has shown, Actor’s Equity were not being threatened by protestors at the locations of these meetings. The death threats have not been confirmed by police yet as being connected to those protests either.

It is a very serious matter when death threats are involved and Police do not make a habit of claiming anything beyond that the threat was made until they has investigated the calls. I choose to take the same approach. I have no doubt there were threats made – disputes like this always bring out those who exploit the strife by making such calls – but I will not bow to lazy uninformed hyperbole and accuse protesting film crews of thuggery when there is no evidence to support that accusation at this point in time.

Blogs like No Right Turn need to stop taking the easy route, stop exploiting others in the pursuit of “democracy” and actually do some more fact gathering before making accusations.


In a cynical attempt to draw blame away from MEAA, Actor’s Equity and CTU, Helen Kelly is now accusing the government of using the Hobbit dispute as an excuse to change labour laws that will directly impact contractors across the country. Which is true, to a degree. They are definitely using the row as a reason to clear up a loophole in law that will disadvantage contractors looking to be seen as employees.

But the blunt reality is that Actor’s Equity and CTU are the ones to blame for this. Much like the classic legend, Actor’s Equity as Pandora has naively opened a box full of trouble, and it just keeps spewing out problems for them.

The blunt reality is that if they had not gone ahead with the boycott, if they had told Simon Whipp to rack off, if they had not decided to clumsily use The Hobbit as a bargaining chip – none of this would have happened.

As Gerry Brownlee and Peter Jackson have pointed out, until the boycott there was absolutely no doubt that The Hobbit was going to be made in NZ. There were no plans to change the labour law. People were happy to go ahead with business as usual.

But they did choose to push the matter, and naively seemed to think everyone would go “oh, union action. We better give them what they want.”

This isn’t how union disputes work, and Helen Kelly should know this. What happens is that everyone involved starts asking questions about the way things have been done, and there is a very good chance that the reality will swing against the unions as much as it will favour them.

As the old saying goes “pick your battles carefully.”

When action is taken, you are always taking a gamble and you need to be ready for things to go bad. What is astounding in this dispute is that all the warning signs were there that this was not going to go the Actors’ way.

The problem is that their problems are based on factual issues but on theoretical ones. Actors in NZ have not been overly abused, they have been working as contractors and the demand to change had no solid impetus for doing it now rather than any time previously.

Actors are freelancers, and as such they have to be contractually managed as individuals. If Actor’s Equity wants collective contracts, they need to be auditioning their actors as a single “troupe” for hire and be competing with non-equity actors. They would need to negotiate an individual contract covering their “troupe.”

Naturally, this approach would be somewhat unlikely to succeed.

Now the box is open, there is no closing it. CTU and Actor’s Equity have let this out and it’s a bit late to be complaining that it isn’t going the way they wanted.

To be frank, if they want any sympathy from the public and film crews who are baying for their blood – the first thing they need to do is unconditionally acknowledge that they made a mistake, are responsible for starting this sorry mess and that it was handled poorly by them.

It’s their backhanded whining and constant finger pointing elsewhere that is pissing people off most. Everyone knows that they started this, so saying it was all a trick by Warners to get concessions just rings hollow. Warners are taking advantage of the dispute, yes. National is taking advantage of the dispute, yes. But the only reason there is a dispute at all is because MEAA and Actor’s Equity started it with declaring a boycott.

And the only people who really are being fooled by Actor’s Equity are themselves.

Of course, Pandora’s box also contained hope – and we can only hope that this mess is resolved without taking the NZ Film Industry back 20 years. I also hope that it will lead to a more contrite Actor’s Equity as well.


On the day I wrote about how much of an embarrassment Chris Carter was to the gay community, I was sent the link to an American local politician who is the complete opposite.

As some of you may know, there has been an increase in media coverage of youth suicide in the US that has been linked to bullying and particularly bullying involving claims that the target of the bullying is gay. Some of these kids were even too young to have known if they were gay or not themselves.

Although this is being called an epidemic, the harsh truth is that it has always been around. It’s just getting more air time at the moment. And the usual toxic responses have been cropping up with many Tea Partiers and conservatives outwardly displaying homophobic hatred with claims that homosexuals are lesser citizens and one particular individual claiming that these suicide victims only had themselves to blame. That bullies are just a way of life and if these kids can’t harden up, tough.

Fort Worth Councilman, Joel Burns, has publically addressed this issue during a televised meeting and his message has now gone viral. Rather than fill his speech with indignant anger and petulant yelling, this brave and openly gay council member talks with compassion and humanity. He openly admits to a painful past and how he got past is and delivers what is the epitome of the growing “It Gets Better” campaign that has been developing in the States.

I feel that this man is someone the gay communities of the world should be proud of. He represents such a shining role model for gay youth to aspire to. A man with compassion, a healthy marriage and the support of families and colleagues. He is the embodiment of “it gets better.”

What is also important is that his message is universal. Bullying and suicide are not exclusively gay issues. And Joel’s story is just as relevant to straight kids who are contemplating suicide or even some act of violence against others – stop. It gets better. It may not seem it now, but it will. His story of the events in his life that he cherishes, the pure honesty of emotion is powerful.

And here in NZ, his message is incredibly important to get out there. We have a tragic problem with suicide in this country, and we need to be talking about it. Joel Burns puts faces to these names during his speech. He challenges his audience to look at these kids, see who they are and put a face to this tragedy.

The classic NZ stoicism and not talking about personal issues is clearly not helping. We need people like Joel Burns who will stand up and challenge us to talk.

And he goes further. He explicitly states the obvious. This. Must. Stop. The bullying needs to stop. It is not enough to say there will always be bullies, what can we do? We should be helping these kids who feel the need to bully. Teachers need to tell them to stop. Parents need to stop encouraging this behaviour or ignoring it. Just because there were bullies in the past is no excuse to keep allowing it.

It gets better, and we all need to learn to be more compassionate. To support the next generation and grow out of this habit of shrugging and saying “it’s human nature.”

People like Joel Burns need our help. We need to add our voices to his and show that our future will get better. That all the doomsayers and bullies are wrong.

And this change is not going to come from petulant threats and complaints of homophobia, it is going to come from compassionate support, honesty and courage.


For those following the news, Chris Carter has definitely been working his ass off at coming across as a right real looney toon and an embarrassment to gay men across the country.

The man who once could have been seen by some as a role model to the gay community has been responsible for one of the clumsiest, most poorly executed “coup” in modern NZ politics.

Not only that, but he has been one of the more extravagant examples of ministerial personal expenditure.

Then when he is challenged about his behaviour, he archly accuses people of homophobia.

As a gay man, I find Chris Carter’s behaviour embarrassing and tends to reinforce the stereotype of the queeny, emotional campy gay man. His recent petulant temper tantrums and nasty threats have given the impression of a man unfit for office.

No doubt Chris has been under stress, and I know I can be very direct and nasty when stressed – but I at least apologise and acknowledge my error when I calm down. Chris just gets more huffy and indignant.

In the most latest incident where he was kicked out of the Labour Party, he once again refused to acknowledge that it was his own fault for doing damage to his party and even threw out his favourite “homophobia” catch cry.

While homophobia is still very much a big problem in NZ, it is just a bit more behind the scenes than before, in Chris’ case most NZers don’t give a crap that he is gay. They are just sick of his sense of entitlement and they are certainly tired of his boy who cried wolf behaviour.

Chris Carter’s homophobia cries remind me a lot of other extreme liberals. As with any political mindset – Right, Left or Centrist – there are people who are so indoctrinated into their ideology that they lack the ability to use their critical thinking skills to think before they leap.

These are the folks who decry the slightest offence and feed their opposite number. One of the reasons we often hear the extreme Right whine on about Political Correctness is because the extreme Left have declared sexism or racism at every little provocation.

When Paul Henry made his stupid statements, some just saw the cries of racism as typical over-reaction from these idealogues. Just like Chris Carter, their cries end up doing their own cause more damage than good.

And often, like Chris Carter, they do not care to engage in honest discussion about an issue but rather choose to refuse to accept they could be in the wrong.

While I do tend to lean more to the Left than the Right, I don’t agree with the need to assume the worst of every single thing. I am a firm believer in researching intent and facts before crying out that someone is out to subjugate women or is trying to enforce a corrupt monarchy.

If it isn’t obvious, then you need to look closer before leaping to conclusions. Much like the claims that liberal groups make against the police. Having known a few police in New Zealand, these guys aren’t out to beat up the public or turn NZ into a facist police state. They genuinely want to protect NZ and the freedoms we enjoy. And these guys aren’t in the minority, they represent the majority of police.

While I do believe that the NZ Police need to be held accountable and scrutinised, there is a world of difference between scrutiny and harassment. Again, extreme Left folk can often take this too far, automatically assuming that anyone in authority cannot be trusted to do their job.

Scrutiny doesn’t mean a lack of trust, it means keeping an eye on the details when there is an issue.

Because even the most trustworthy person can make a mistake. The question isn’t about blame, it isn’t about assuming a mistake – it is about addressing potential problems.

In a way, it is about attitude. Do you assume the worst, yell and scream, accuse people of the worst crimes? Or do you assume that in the grey areas mistakes can be made and possibly people might betray your trust – but you need to find out through open and rational investigation.

I guess I find that these guys cry wolf too often because it is easier than having to actually think about what they are complaining about before jumping into battle.

I guess I want to assume the best before going to the worst.


I have just finished playing Ninja Theory’s Enslaved, and I felt that I kind of need to get my finishing thoughts about the game out there.

For those who didn’t know about this game, Enslaved is a post-apocalyptic third-person platformer with a melée combat element. It retells the classic Chinese tale, Journey to the West – better known in NZ by the television version, Monkey.

Enslaved includes a very cool looking post apocalypse over-run with abandoned war machines that were programmed to kill all humans.

Much like Heavenly Sword, another Ninja Theory game, Enslaved left me feeling wanting more. But not in a “that was awesome cool” way but in a “what? Is that it?” way.

There were many similarities between the two games – a desperate desire to tell a compelling story, and a desire to be a fun game. Unfortunately it felt to me in both instances that Ninja Theory kind of gave up half way through the process.

But I’m going to focus on Enslaved here.

Many reviewers have compared Enslaved to Uncharted 2 – and it isn’t a surprise. UC2 has kind of set a new benchmark for production of a third person game both in storytelling and gameplay. Uncharted 2 is not innovative in its gameplay, but it is innovative in how it uses established gameplay. Naughty Dog clearly decided that reinventing the wheel isn’t necessary, focus on good solid and engaging gameplay – then produce exciting set pieces around that gameplay that really lets the player cut loose and have fun.

Enslaved’s gameplay was solid, but also very lacking. The platforming felt unnecessary and used only to pad out the game, the fighting felt anaemic and limited, and there really wasn’t much strategy to the game. It often felt like the gameplay was just there to get you along to the next cut scene.

The cinematic chase scenes were at times cool. but often annoying too.

It wasn’t awful, and was fun at times – but generally I just felt like the game didn’t want to let me really experience the setting.

I get that a lot of developers love using the Unreal engine – but why do they do such a sloppy job of it. And why did Ninja Theory drop the ball so badly this time. Heavenly Sword was a gorgeous game that rarely experienced the glitches so common in Unreal engine games. But here the game was constantly plagued by glitches – slow texture loading, clipping, characters mysteriously vanishing… but more than that the game would enigmatically boost the volume on the music, or keep a track playing when it should have cancelled – often drowning out dialogue…

In one instance, Monkey fell but didn’t die, requiring me to reload the game.

Which is all a shame given that most of the time the game does look gorgeous. The set design and character models are great. Monkey grew on me as a character, and the Mechs were all very cool designs.

So with gameplay not really rocking my world, and graphics being glitchy, it kind of comes down to the story.

Yes. The story.

While I do think that the In Media Res opening could have started a little differently, the story does start off well enough, and the initial chapters are well told. The game slowly reveals to us the city, we get some teasing hints about the characters and it all seems a very promising start. Unfortunately as the game progresses, all that promise – the interesting location and vision of a post-apocalyptic world kind of gets dumped in favour of a cliché heavy second half.

It’s a real shame that after presenting the ruins of New York City with it’s teasing hints of how the world collapsed – interesting posters that suggest the slow decent of civilisation, the state of the ruins – and then the minute Trip and Monkey are out of the city all that haunting and intriguing history is summarily dumped.

The middle part of the game, with the arrival of a third member to our merry band, does have some amusing banter and great visuals, and again teases some possible ideas of what happened before – but this gets lost in the hokum cliched plot development.

As if the characters didn’t already have a good enough reason to find out what happens at Pyramid. Instead a good 3-4 chapters are wasted on fetch quests that were unnecessary. I would have excised all but one maybe two chapters from that tripe and focused on getting to Pyramid. Which does bring me to the epilogue.

The ending is, in my opinion, crap. I saw it coming from a mile away and it was not an original finish to the story. It cheapened the whole experience for me because of two things:

a) It contradicted nearly everything leading up to it.

b) It lacked decent foreshadowing.

c) It kind of felt slapped on at the end. It was one of my most hated clichés in storytelling – the twist for the sake of a twist. And it wasn’t even a “ZOMG! I didn’t see that coming!” It was more “oh, so that’s how they decided to spin it this time.”

It felt to me like the writers suddenly felt that the story wasn’t profound enough and tried to have some moral quandry at the end – but it was so poorly handled and sloppily resolved it just felt like a lame duck ending. There isn’t really any room for a sequel either.

What this game and story needed was to firstly be twice the length it ended up being. It needed to draw more plot inspiration from it’s source material Journey to the West – it had some nice parallels at the beginning, but again dropped these in favour of bad lazy game clichés. There should have been more characters. There should have been more communities shown struggling to exist in the world. The arrival to Pyramid should have been the beginning of the third act of the game, and the final chapters should have been about exploring Pyramid and learning its secrets.

And those secrets should have been more profound and uncomfortably challenging than the lame-ass ending that Ninja Theory went with.

Apparently there is a DLC episode planned that will be a story that runs in parallel with the main one.

Given how disappointed the game left me feeling, I don’t intend to waste my money on it.

Ultimately I felt that Enslaved was a squandered opportunity. There was a lot of promise in the setting and characters, but the game cops out rather than does any justice to those inspired ideas.


Following from my post yesterday about MMP, another conservative rails against a democratic system because she is losing and once again we see facts being ignored in favour of the “waaah! It’s unfair and undemocratic” form of complaint.

The source of the problem is once again the idea that elections are a competition where the winner is the first past the line.

For those not in the know, STV is a Single Transferable Vote system. The way it works is that voters are provided a list of candidates and they rank those candidates in the order of preference.

Then the votes are counted based on ranking and via a series of rounds. As candidates drop off the listing, voters who voted for that candidate then have their next option placed until eventually the person the most people are willing to have as Mayor is selected.

Obviously this is a long process, but it also ensures that literally every vote counts. This is a vey democratic system because the voter gets to say “if not enough people like my primary candidate X, I am still happy to have candidate Y or Z.” Which in turn means you have a better chance of *not* getting a candidate winning that you don’t want in office.

The best tactic for this is to literally not place them in any of your preferences – which causes them to drop off your potential transferable votes.

Kerry Predergast, the current Mayor of Wellington, is clearly suffering from sour grapes because this election the result is so close between her and candidate Celia Ward-Brown, that she is now whining that it is an unfair system because she might lose this election.

In all the years I have lived in Wellington, I have heard nothing but scorn from people about Kerry. So much that it boggled my mind that she was ever able to get back into power.

The way Kerry sees the process is that she got the most votes as first preference. (We don’t know this for certain, by the way, she’s just assuming that most of her votes come from being number 1) and as such, she should win because other voters clearly weren’t as decisive as her supporters.

Thus it is unfair that she could lose because the other votes once they have gone through all the preferences could “steal” the mayoralty away from her.

But this is a democratic system. Kerry is seeing it as heats in a contest where her supporters only showed up for the first heat, and thus only voted once while other voters are voting more often to find a person to win.

But that isn’t how it works. All of Kerry’s votes still count each round. And as the rounds continue, her total number of votes increase.

This process ensures that the person who wins is the person that the most people in the city are happy to have as Mayor. That is the very definition of a democratic election.

Like National, Kerry is not interested in facts or the needs of the voters – she is only interested in getting her way and is upset to be facing the reality that the majority might not want her to be in power anymore. Now she is desperately trying to play the democracy card and is lying about how the system works.

She is arrogantly making assumptions about the voting, and clearly doesn’t understand how the system works or what a democratic election is about.

Hopefully this is a sign that KP is on the way out and a fresh approach to Wellington is on the way in. Based on how Kerry is acting, she is exposing exactly why she is a poor fit for Mayor for this city.


John Key continues his populist politics with a dishonest presentation of MMP’s faults. New Zealand has never, as a nation, properly had MMP explained and as such we have continued to vote using First Past The Post two party thinking.

Many NZers still only see NZ as having two choices, Labour or National. Left or Right.

The thing is, we also pride ourselves as a democracy that is arguably more democratic than the United States.

What many people forget is that in a real democracy, every vote counts and every eligible group tends to get representation. This is what MMP provides. Contrary to populist belief, MMP doesn’t give small parties too much power, it holds back large parties from running rough shod over our political landscape. Which is precisely why National hates it and why Helen Clark was such a successful leader.

Labour’s three term success can be accounted to their embracing MMP and understanding that it prevents excess. What many forget is all the controversial laws that Labour passed were passed because National voted yea as well. MMP helps protect us from one party dominating the political landscape – and those who remember the years of FPP can attest to the problems that arise when one party dominates.

But National and its supporters want complete control. They don’t care about deals or compromise – they think they should have all the power and those who didn’t vote National have to suck it because they lost.

That is not a democratic mindset.

Small party ructions have nothing to do with MMP, and given the spats we’ve seen both in National and Labour, it is dishonest of him to paint this as a purely small party issue.

National does not play well with others and is taking the gamble that they can beat Labour next election and remove MMP, this improving their chances at retaining political influence without needing to rely on ACT – Rodney is right, without ACT the National Party will always struggle to hold control of government.

But Key knows that an honest discussion will not get him the result he wants, because as the Super City election has shown – the silent majority of NZ is not Right leaning but pragmatically centrist and will vote to the most moderate party.

National has slowly drifted Right from their moderate facelift last election. So it is John Key’s job to paint MMP as a system of extremes.

Ironically, because it best ensures a wider representation of NZ’s political position – these extremes balance each other out. It means that only the more moderate policies that everyone agrees on manage to make it through to become laws.

The laws that the true majority of NZers want. The Right minority may be the loudest and think they speak for everyone, but it has been shown time and again that this is not the truth at all.

Now is the time for we who prefer the middle road to step up and keep this country from falling back into only Labour or National. That way lies ruin.

Regardless of if you lean a little Right or a little Left, MMP is the best system for keeping politicians under control. National has learnt how hamstrung they are by it, but unlike Labour who learned to embrace this as a way to work with other parties and aim to truly represent a majority of NZers, National is trying to con us into being more extreme.

A good government is made of alliances and multiple perspectives working to find common ground. A bad government is bound to one ideology and has little restraint.

I think we should be saying MMP = More Moderate Policies. 🙂

And in regards to the next election, Phil Goff has managed to show recently that he does have some balls and is becoming a stronger more decisive leader. Conversely, recent events that have had importance for NZ have shown Key to be indecisive and weak.

The longer things take before next election, the more we will see Goff rise to his role. And in a way the more missteps Key makes, or issues he vacillates on while waiting to see where the popular vote leans – the more Goff will learn to step up to fill the gap.

As I said earlier this article, NZ is quietly a country of moderates. We don’t want to discriminate, we don’t want to give special treatment, we like change, but not too fast. We take pride in leading the pack, but worry about the risks. We are not a Conservative nation, but we aren’t fiercely liberal either.

Helen Clark understood this. John Key kind of does but doesn’t understand when he needs to make a stand or not. National as a party has no clue.


Not too long ago I started dating a guy I met through a rather popular NZ online dating service. We went on about six dates, talked a lot and ultimately I realised that while we were getting on as friends, I had no emotional connection to him.

Cue the awkward discussions and decision to not waste each other’s time any further – it wasn’t a nasty split, but I certainly be awkward talking to him again.

After having taken a bit of time to sort out flats and settle down in the new place, I have been somewhat missing having someone to go out with and talk with. This is compounded by living with a couple who are living together for the first time and have their own cutesy couplespeak – you know the kind where they start talking like three years olds to each other and have new words with far too many “oo” sounds in them.

Yeah it’s adorable, but it is also torture for a single guy to be in the middle of. So I logged back in and started looking at profiles. I had kind of forgotten how bad modem dating is for gay men.

Our subculture has had quite the history of shallow dating practices – the old toilet block cruising, handkerchief signals etc. The gay community has a history of sex first, relationships second. The thing about cruising for sex is that you make a much more conscious focus on physicality over personality. When you’re shagging, who gives a crap about if the other guy like cars or crochet. If he’s hot and good at sex, that’s all that really matters.

Conversely, Internet dating sites have this notion that most people are looking for dates not just sex. And yet the same type of measuring is being applied. The sites even admit “with a photo you will get more than double the responses” with the unstated implication that this will happen as long as you are hot.

I have noted that most gay guys shy away from saying they are looking for a relationship. It’s all about keeping your options open and most times cruising for sex.

People will dismiss someone for things like the age on your profile, whether you reveal too much or too little and whether you don’t quite look like their ideal in a photo.

It occurs to me that unlike real life where we are forced to get to know a person simply by seeing them respond to our comments, online dating becomes more like an iTunes for sex and intimacy.

People seem to browse through the titles, make snap decisions and generally remove the humanity from the experience. Many profiles contain absolutely no information about the person, but demands that you “show an interest in the same things as me.”

Others want genuine guys, but without qualifying what that even means. Apparently it is just the expected thing to say to prove you’re not a douchebag.

Once you have navigated this nightmare of profiles, a guy may then reveal that he’s bigoted, believes in UFOs running the government or that he’s only really interested in guys younger than him. Apparently nobody wants to date people in their age group – everybody wants to be dating a 20 year old. Who is smooth, hot, successful, intelligent (but only in a Hollywood movie way), witty (but only in a repeat south park/Simpsons jokes way) and good in bed.

Navigate through all that and you might just find a person who is willing to chat. Some of these people are even open enough to actually chat back rather than expect you to provide all the conversation.

Then the moment you say “we should meet.” BAM! They disappear and refuse to talk again.

Ultimately the dehumanising element of this process makes everyone involved too nervous and shy to open up. There are probably hundreds of nice guys logging in, but they are so intimidated, and so disillusioned, they don’t realise that the only way to really find out if a person is the right one for them is to break out of their comfort zone, and let that person know something about them.

For myself, there really aren’t any other channels for me at the moment, so I continue to struggle through. I know what I’m looking for – someone who can keep up with me. Age isn’t an issue so much for me, sure he needs to be cute – but I have a pretty broad set of notions regarding what “cute” is. Unfortunately I’m yet to find a guy who can keep up.

Here’s hoping there is such a guy here in Wellington and that I meet him soon. 🙂


With the current drama regarding Paul Henry continuing todominate the news to the point that some people are saying “hobbit what?” The above linked article caused me to be reminded of a guy I dated last year and who is likely indicative of the problem that has lead to some people not understanding the gravity of Paul Henry’s social gaffe and John Key’s weak response.

See, this guy I dated was cute, witty, quirky and I genuinely was attracted to him. We seemed to hit it off and despite a rather serious issue that was something I spent a few weeks prior to really asking him out, we started dating and he even stayed over at my place.

In other words, I was in a developing relationship with the guy. But every so often he would say something when walking past people who weren’t White. At first I did the “he’s just being stupid” and I expressed my discomfort at his “jokes” – but it just kept going on. The breaking point was when he sat down and created a series of racist caricatures on the wii and spent time mocking them and making mocking voices. I pretty much hustled him out the door and we never really spoke again.

What I realise now is that he just saw it as a silly joke, that to him it wasn’t really racist. He just didn’t comprehend that it was actually offensive – or that I would be offended by it. So the following quote from Andi Botherston, the TVNZ PR person who ended up aggravating the current drama, seems to match with his casual racist comments.

I know Paul Henry very well and I absolutely, categorically know he never set out to offend anyone or to upset anyone and neither did I, neither of us meant to do that.

And this is the problem. John Key refuses to call it racist because he just fundamentally can’t understand how it does offend people.

I find that the usual process is to reduce the words to their mechanics. Just saying someone isn’t a New Zealander isn’t racist to John because it is just saying that someone is from somewhere else. It isn’t about race, it is about location. That’s all.

But what he is missing is what isn’t being said. The implied – because he looks like an Indian. And then there is the not subtle implication in the following questions that looking Indian is somehow a bad thing for the Governor General.

Ultimately, no matter what he says, John Key’s response at the time and his refusal to see the bigotry in Paul Henry’s statement suggests that deep down, he also sees a New Zealander as someone who is Pakeha or Maori. Maybe Pacific Islander, but no more than that. Or at least that he accepts this as a view that can be held by others.

But as PM, it is his duty to set a good example. He’s a leader. He should have been up in Paul Henry’s grill about such a stupid statement.

But in this country, it seems, we prefer to be quietly embarrassed rather than slap this down. You don’t need to yell, you just need to calmly say “don’t be so stupid. They don’t talk like that/their name isn’t pronounced like that/there is no scientific evidence to support that claim.” Or just say “don’t be such a bigot.”

And don’t even politely laugh.

These people need to learn that this is not the how New Zealand in the 21st Century is to be. We are a nation of immigrants, we have always been a multicultural nation and the future lies in being inclusive and tolerant. But tolerance isn’t just shrugging when people say hateful jokes or insult others. Tolerance is making room for everyone at the table equally and with compassion.

A trait that people like Andi Botherston and Paul Henry like to believe they have but are actually sorely lacking in.

In other news, the government is now reviewing the case I spoke of yesterday. It turns out the local National representative saw the way the political wind was blowing – along with a strong statement from the Human Rights Commission. Here’s hoping sanity prevails.


October 2010

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