Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind


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Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022: My time under the monarchy — Nik Dirga

The Queen is dead, long live the King.

Like Nik I’m ambivalent about the monarchy. Well actually it’s the hereditary nature of the role rather than the institution of the monarchy itself. Certainly separating the head of state from the head of government, outside of politics draws me to prefer the continuation of an institution that functions in a similar way rather than a presidential form of government. So until a better way of transferring the institution of the monarchy (or an equivalent) from one person to another is devised, I’m prepared to live with with the hereditary model.

For those who do not understand how the monarchy works, the monarchy of Aotearoa New Zealand is not the same as the monarchy of the United Kingdom. They are separate institutions regulated by different laws.

Unlike Nik, I’ve been a subject of a monarch for all my life, and all but three of them under Queen Elizabeth Ⅱ. One of my earliest recollections is standing on a raised lawn in the city of Whanganui waving to the new Queen as her cavalcade passed by. That was in January of 1954 on her NZ tour.

Queen Elizabeth II poses for a portrait at home in Buckingham Palace in December 1958. For almost 16 years now, I’ve been a subject of the Queen.  It’s kind of weird whenever I think about it — that a kid who was born in Alaska, grew up in the hills of California and went to […]

Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022: My time under the monarchy — Nik Dirga


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What’s in a name?

Sometimes political “correctness” gets totally out of hand. Consider New Zealand Football mulling over whether they should change the nickname of the New Zealand soccer team, because some people might consider it racist. For those who aren’t aware, the nickname is All Whites. It has nothing to do with race or skin colour. It refers to the colour of their attire, which as the name suggests is indeed all white, in contrast the the national rugby union team who wear an all black uniform and unsurprisingly are known as the All Blacks.

Should the politically correct persuade New Zealand Football to change the team name, who will be next their next target? Many NZ national teams include a colour in their team names. Here’s a few:

  • All Blacks (men’s rugby union)
  • All Whites (men’s soccer)
  • Black Caps (men’s cricket)
  • Black Ferns (women’s Rugby Union)
  • Black Fins (mixed gender life saving, men’s underwater hockey)
  • Black Jacks (men’s and women’s lawn bowls)
  • Black Socks (men’s softball)
  • Black Sticks (men’s and women’s field hockey)
  • Diamondblacks (men’s baseball)
  • Futsal Whites (futsal)
  • Ice Blacks (men’s ice hockey)
  • Mat Blacks (men’s indoor bowls)
  • Silver Ferns (netball)
  • Silver Fins (women’s underwater hockey)
  • Steel Blacks (men’s American football)
  • Tall Blacks (men’s basketball)
  • Wheel Blacks (men’s wheelchair rugby)
  • White Ferns (women’s cricket)

Admittedly I’m not aware of silver being attributed to any racial or ethnic group, but hey, it’s a colour so get rid of that just in case. In fact there’s not too many NZ teams that don’t include a colour in their names:

  • Football Ferns (women’s soccer)
  • Ice Ferns (women’s ice hockey)
  • Inline Ferns (women’s inline hockey)
  • Kiwis (men’s rugby league)
  • Kiwi Ferns (women’s rugby league)
  • Tall Ferns (women’s basketball)

There has been only NZ one team name that in my view has had a somewhat inappropriate name and that was the New Zealand Badminton team. For a short while they officially adopted the name Black Cocks. However the International Badminton Federation was not amused. We don’t have smutty minds, and the name is still used as an unofficial name for the team.

Perhaps New Zealand sports teams don’t have very imaginative names – almost every name includes at least one of these words: black, white, sliver, fern – but that very fact makes them distinctly New Zealand. Leave them alone.


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The Case for a Non-Commercial Public Broadcaster — Peter Davis NZ

Once again Peter Davis has reflected on a topic that has been on my mind for some time – public broadcasting in the online multimedia age. It’s a topic worthy of discussion particularly in light of the trend towards the polarisation of ideas and beliefs.

The Government recently established a working group to look at the possibility of establishing a new public broadcasting entity. At present Radio New Zealand (RNZ) is almost the only agency that adheres to a public broadcasting mandate largely free of commercial imperatives. Television New Zealand (TVNZ) is in public ownership, but in all but name […]

The Case for a Non-Commercial Public Broadcaster — Peter Davis NZ


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Has the Treaty played a role in our Covid success?

Nicholas Agar, Professor of Ethics in the Philosophy programme at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, suggests that our handling of the pandemic could be partly down to our distinctive Treaty of Waitangi relationship, and Māori ideas that enabled us to make it through without tens of thousands of deaths.

Here’s a question. How should we explain our success against the pandemic? Clearly, there are a few factors. The virus arrived comparatively late, meaning we could learn from other nations’ successes and messes; we had inspirational and scientifically-informed leaders; we are an affluent island-based nation with a comparatively small population.

I offer as a conjecture that our success can be partly traced back to our defining Treaty of Waitangi relationship and the way it brings together two peoples with different ideas about the world and how to inhabit it.

Has the Treaty played a role in our Covid success? – Newsroom

Agar suggests that it is the blend of individualistic ideas of European settlers, mostly British, and the collectivist thinking of the Māori that has been the success story of the pandemic. Unlike the “don’t tread on me!” attitude of many in the West, the authorities in Aotearoa New Zealand have been able to introduce measures that we have, by in large, accepted as necessary under the circumstances.

Elsewhere similar measures have been implemented only where the draconian powers of an authoritarian state exist, such as in China. The means by which the Wuhan authorities suppressed community transmission of the virus would, I believe, have been no more acceptable here than in America. The concept of a “team of 5 million” is, I believe, a direct result of the way our two very different cultures with different world views are merging.

The opinion piece by Nicholas Agar can be found on the Newsroom website: Has the Treaty played a role in our Covid success?


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Politics – NZ style

“I hope that people, when they see us together, they realise that what they see about politics on the news isn’t actually the full story,” McAnulty added. “Chris and I are a good example of being on other sides of the House and having differing views, but it doesn’t stop you being people and it doesn’t stop you being mates.”

National’s Chris Bishop calls out Labour’s Kieran McAnulty over ‘big gas guzzler’ amid climate emergency


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It’s a girl!

Amid much less fanfare that I thought was likely, our Prime Minister gave birth to a baby daughter yesterday. Rather surprisingly, when Google’s landing page is opened from a New Zealand IP address, a rather small image acknowledges the arrival. This is what you see:Selection_070

Unless you know what the image really is, you could be forgiven for mistaking it as some stylised question marks. Why Google chose to make the image so small, I don’t know. It’s not like there’s much else on the Web-page. In fact the image consists of a small fish hook cradled between 2 big fish hooks representing two parents and child:Selection_071

If you know that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s partner, Clarke Gayford, is the host of a popular TV fishing show, then the use of fish hooks starts to mean something. The image is the work of artist Stephen Templer of Wellington who based the design on one Jacinda and Clarke posted to Instagram when they announced they were expecting. As an aside, Clarke will be a stay at home dad and full time carer of the baby when Jacinda returns to work in six weeks time.

Matau (fish hook) is a prominent feature of Māori art alongside the koru (unfurling fern frond) and features in Māori mythology – New Zealand’s North Island was pulled from the depths of the ocean by a fish hook fashioned from the jawbone of Maui’s grandmother.

Hei matau are highly stylised fish hook ornaments, traditionally carved from pounamu or whalebone. Today it’s not unusual to see them made from other materials, but those with the most mana are made in the traditional manner.

Hei_matau


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Go Helen!

The UN has begun the process of selecting a new Secretary-General. Among the candidates is Helen Clark, a Former Prime Minister of Aotearoa New Zealand. I’m not biased, but of course she’s the best candidate for the post.

During the past week candidates have been given the opportunity to give an “Informal dialogue for the position of the next UN Secretary-General”. By all accounts our Helen gave a good account of herself. If you’d like to watch her presentation I have provided two links below.

Opening remarks only (10 minutes)

Opening remarks and Q&A session (2 hours 15 minutes)

Why did the President General Assembly addressing Helen as Mrs Helen Clark, when, if she’s being addressed formally she prefers Ms Helen Clark? UN Protocol or ignorance?

I’ve been asked before why I show disrespect for some public figures by using their given name only. In case anyone hasn’t seen my explanation, here it is: In typical Kiwi fashion, we refer to public figures we admire or respect by their given name only, and we often address them this way to (depending on the circumstances). Those we dislike are usually given their full name, without title, or if we really dislike them, just their family name.


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On Being Kiwi: The results

This post follows on from On being Kiwi: A Survey

100,000 Kiwis have now completed the survey. That’s 1 in 45 or 2.2% of the population.

I didn’t study statistics, so I’ll leave the detailed analysis to the experts. The best I can do is look at the figures and gain a general impression of what we as a nation are.

Firstly, where do I fit in compared to other Kiwis? As most guessed, my closest fit is Egalitarian, followed by Globalist. I am least like a Traditionalist.

The results are broken down into several areas:

Ideology

  • Māori: assimilation vs biculturism
  • internationalism: inward vs outward
  • Immigration: pro vs anti
  • Politics: libertarian vs socialist
  • Imperialism: independentist vs loyalist
  • Nationalism: universalism vs exceptionalism
  • Sport: Apathetic vs enthusiastic
  • Religion: secular vs religious

 Pride

A sense of pride in our:

  • nuclear-free status
  • scientific and technological achievements
  • lifestyle; achievements in art and literature
  • political influence in the world
  • fair and equal treatment of all groups in society
  • economic achievements
  • history
  • achievements in sports
  • armed forces

Flag

Preference for our current flag or the proposed replacement:

old_flag1 vs new_flag1

Symbols

Icons that we most closely identify as national symbols of Aotearoa New Zealand. Some of the symbols may not be familiar to you if you are not a Kiwi: All blacks; Beach holidays; Great outdoors; Haka; Kiwi; Pounamu; Rugby; Silver fern; The Queen; Union Jack.

How I compare with the typical Kiwi.

I want to explore some aspects of being Kiwi over upcoming posts, especially as there are some results I didn’t expect. Differences in sense of national pride, the flag ,and symbols, while of interest, are not particularly important to me and how I differ from the “typical Kiwi” is of no significance. On the other hand, those aspects covered under ideology are important to me, and I believe should be important to all New Zealanders.

A number of statements were given to which one had to supply one’s level of agreement. The choices were:

Strongly agree -> Somewhat agree -> Slightly agree -> slightly disagree -> Somewhat disagree -> Strongly disagree

I noticed that there was no “neither agree nor disagree” option, for which I’m grateful. Otherwise that would have been my first choice with too many statements.

Very briefly, my position compared to the NZ average is as follows:

Māori

I am significantly more in favour of biculturalism than average based on the following propositions:

  • somewhat agree that a history of discrimination has created conditions that make it difficult for Māori to be successful.
  • slightly disagree that Māori should not receive any special treatment.
  • strongly agree that Māori culture is something that all New Zealanders can take pride in, no matter their background.

Internationalism

I have an extremely outward view compared with the average NZer based on the following propositions:

  • strongly agree that refugees should be welcomed in New Zealand.
  • strongly disagree that New Zealand should focus only on domestic, not international, issues.
  • strongly agree that New Zealand should participate in humanitarian intervention efforts abroad.

Immigration

I am significantly more pro-immigration than average based on the following propositions:

  • strongly agree that all immigrants can retain their cultural values without being any less of a New Zealander.
  • somewhat disagree that most immigrants these days don’t try hard enough to fit into New Zealand society.
  • somewhat disagree that immigration is a threat to New Zealand’s culture.

Perhaps the above are understandable considering the wife is an immigrant, as is a daughter-in-law. A little known fact is that almost one in four New Zealanders is an immigrant.

Politics

I have strong socialist leanings compared to the average Kiwi – much more than I thought. This is based on the following propositions:

  • strongly agree that in New Zealand, the gap between those with high incomes and those with low incomes is too large.
  • strongly agree that wealthy people have a greater obligation than everyone else to help those who are in need.
  • slightly disagree that no matter what circumstances you are born into, if you work hard enough you can be as successful as anyone else.

Imperialism

I am less of a loyalist than the typical Kiwi based on the following propositions:

  • somewhat agree that the British monarch should no longer be New Zealand’s head of state.
  • somewhat disagree that New Zealand’s British heritage should be central to its national identity.
  • somewhat agree that it is important for New Zealand to retain its ties to the British Commonwealth.

Nationalism

I lean towards universalism more the the average Kiwi based on the following propositions:

  • strongly agree that Kiwis have a unique set of values that distinguish New Zealand from the rest of the world.
  • somewhat agree that New Zealand is the best country in the world in which to live.
  • slightly agree that New Zealand is not perfect, but its values are superior to others.

Sport

I am only slightly more apathetic towards sport than average. T found this rather surprising, as the typical Kiwi is not as enthusiastic as I believed. This is based on the following propositions:

  • slightly disagree that sport is too much a part of New Zealand’s national psyche.
  • slightly agree that nothing brings New Zealanders together like a sporting event.
  • slightly agree that good sportsmanship sets New Zealanders apart from other people.

Religion

This is one result that did surprise me. Although I don’t believe in a deity, I am ranked slightly more religious than the average NZer based on the following propositions:

  • slightly disagree that society would be better off if people were more religious.
  • somewhat disagree that we rely too much on science and not enough on faith.
  • somewhat agree that religion should not have any influence in the affairs of government.

So there you have it. I have nailed my colours to the mast, warts and all. I’ll elaborate on what I consider the most important in future posts. If you have a particular interest in any aspect of the survey that you would my opinion on, please do ask.

Does any of what I have revealed surprise you or contradict what I have revealed about myself either here on Another Spectrum or in comments I have offered on other blogs?


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On being Kiwi: A Survey

A countrywide survey about national identity is currently under way in Aotearoa New Zealand, and to date more than 30,000 Kiwis have participated. While the survey has been commissioned by a major NZ television network, the results are being analysed by independent academics, so hopefully the indicators of how we see ourselves will have some semblance of reality. I appreciate 30,000 participants might seem like a small sampling (a bit under 1% of the population), but the survey has some time to run before it closes. so hopefully more Kiwis will agree to take part.

The survey has identified six distinct archetypes of Kiwi nationalism and before I discuss the results in my next post, I summarise the six types below. Using what you may know of me, which type do you think I best fit and which I am least like?

Patriot (36% of Kiwis)

Patriots pride themselves on being New Zealanders and feel a deep sense of attachment to the Kiwi lifestyle. They see Kiwi values as unique and preferable to most others, and generally think that New Zealand is the best country in the world in which to live.

Most patriots are quite fond of New Zealand’s rugby and beer culture. They have an appreciation for New Zealand’s British heritage, but believe that New Zealand is culturally distinct. They see Māori culture as having a role to play in the country’s national identity, but place greater emphasis on Pākehā culture.

Patriots emphasise personal responsibility and generally believe that all New Zealanders can achieve their goals if they work hard enough. They tend to support free market ideals and believe that individual gains increase prosperity for New Zealand as a whole.

Egalitarian (22% of Kiwis)

Egalitarians care deeply about social and economic equality, both in New Zealand and overseas. They have a strong sense of both national and global identity, maintaining both a profound sense of belonging to New Zealand and a sense of kinship with others around the world.

Egalitarians are advocates for diversity in Kiwi culture. They embrace New Zealand’s liberal immigration policies and its multiculturalism. They see New Zealand as a country that welcomes newcomers and respects the contributions that they make to Kiwi society.

Egalitarians recognise Māori culture as an integral part of New Zealand’s national identity. They support polices that counter discrimination of Māori and believe that New Zealand should make reparations for past injustices committed against Māori.

Egalitarians generally do not identity with New Zealand’s British heritage and see the monarchy as a relic of its imperialist past.

Like most other New Zealanders, lifestyle and sport are prominent aspects of Egalitarians’ sense of national identity. They tend to be environmentalists and take great pride in the country’s nuclear-free status. They are broadly in favour of the redistribution of wealth in order to address inequality and often favour policies that benefit New Zealand as a whole over those that benefit themselves as individuals.

Loyalist (17% of Kiwis)

Loyalists express the highest degree of attachment to New Zealand’s British cultural heritage compared to other groups, and demonstrate the most support for the British monarchy. They show more support for the British monarchy than other New Zealanders. They typically feel that traditional values and the principles associated with Christian beliefs are an important part of New Zealand’s national identity. Loyalists are the most likely among groups in New Zealand to identify as being religious.

Loyalists generally view Māori culture as playing an important role in New Zealand’s national identity and are sympathetic to Māori efforts to overcome the injustices associated with colonialism. They often believe, however, that policies to make up for past injustices are unnecessary.

Loyalists cherish the lifestyle New Zealand offers and see sport as a major theme in its national culture. On average, Loyalists tend to be older than other New Zealanders and live in more rural areas. They traits they value most are tolerance, generosity, and religious faith.

Traditionalist (14% of Kiwis)

Traditionalist are enthusiastic supporters of the Kiwi way of life and its sport culture. They believe in upholding traditional New Zealand values and in preserving the nation’s cultural heritage.

New Zealand’s British heritage features relatively prominently in Traditionalists’ conception of national identity, and they are more receptive to the British monarchy and the Commonwealth than are most other New Zealanders. Traditionalists tend to believe that the contributions of Māori to New Zealand’s national identity are overstated, and prefer that religious and ethnic minorities integrate more deeply into mainstream Kiwi society. Traditionalists believe that New Zealanders should be regarded as individuals rather than as members of any particular religious or ethnic group. They generally feel that political correctness has gone too far.

Traditionalists often think that New Zealanders should focus their attention on their communities and are the least likely among Kiwis to express a sense of belonging to a more global community. They express concern that foreign influences are negatively affecting the Kiwi way of life, which is reflected in their scepticism of the value of immigration to Kiwi society. Traditionalists frequently believe that New Zealand’s culture is changing too fast and that the values that have kept New Zealand strong need to remain at core of its national identity.

Globalist (7% of Kiwis)

Globalists believe they are as much a part of the world as they are part of New Zealand. They are the least likely among New Zealanders to express a sense of nationalism and prefer to think of New Zealand as part of a broader global collective. Globalists tend not to see New Zealand as an exceptional place in itself, but focus instead on universal values shared by people around the world.

Globalists are enthusiastic about cultural diversity. They welcome immigration and think that multiculturalism enriches New Zealand. They support raising Māori culture to greater prominence in Kiwi society and believe Māori are victims of colonisation who remain oppressed to this day. Māori culture plays an important role in Globalists’ understanding of New Zealand’s identity. They do not feel a strong attachment with the country’s British heritage, which they see as part of an imperialist past.

Globalists are very sensitive to inequality in New Zealand and believe that society’s social and economic ills arise from an unjust political system. They tend to view capitalism with suspicion, believing that it often reinforces inequality. They are thus strongly in favour of measures to redistribute wealth in New Zealand with a view to improving Kiwi society as a whole.

Sceptic (5% of Kiwis)

Sceptics are unique in that they tend not to identify with typical Kiwi stereotypes. Iconic aspects of Kiwi culture such as lifestyle and sport tend not to have the same resonance with Sceptics as they do with other New Zealanders.

Sceptics exhibit lower levels of national pride than do most other New Zealanders. They tend not to express the same sense of belonging to their country and community, and are often unsatisfied with the conditions of both. They tend to be cynical about the usefulness of government and the least likely among Kiwis to take an active interest in politics or civic life.

Sceptics value perseverance and hard work, but are still doubtful about whether their efforts will vastly improve their lives. They often feel that, despite their efforts, they are not able to get ahead.

Sceptics are typically unsympathetic to arguments that minority groups in New Zealand are discriminated against and do not usually support the Treaty claims process. They feel that many New Zealanders have faced difficult circumstances and that no single group should be given special treatment. Sceptics take moderate positions on immigration and multiculturalism, perhaps owing to the fact that a relatively high proportion of Sceptics are themselves immigrants.

I’ll cover some of my observations in the next post on this topic, but I do want to mention one aspect here. One set of questions asks us to rate our personal sense of pride as a nation in ten areas. One area in particular stands out as having the highest sense of pride, irrespective of archetype. That is in the area of our county’s nuclear-free status. While I’m not surprised that Kiwis as a whole take pride in our anti-nuclear stance, I am a little surprised that it is so universally felt.

 


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The Mad World of Donald Trump

Last night while my wife was flicking through the schedules for the evening’s TV viewing, the title of a late night documentary caught my eye: The mad world of Donald Trump. My interest piqued, I decided to watch it instead of my usual habit of sitting in front of the computer.

It’s a British Documentary, and while I take all all “factual” programs with a grain of salt, the program does accurately portray how most of the western world outside the US perceives both Trump and the American political system.

One thing that has struck me over the years is how many Americans seem to be looking for some sort of “messiah” in their presidential candidates, only to turn against them when they are unable to perform the miracles that had been promised. From this distance it often seems cult-like.

The documentary is currently on Youtube, but if it disappears, a search using the string “The Mad World of Donald Trump” should provide a link that you can view. For those who find the Trump phenomenon incomprehensible, or simply wish to see how much of the world sees American Politics, I recommend watching.