Monday, February 28, 2005

Citizen to go

The Dominion Post says that John Burrett, the notorious "bunker-in-the-bush" kidnap plotter, is to be deported.
Immigration Minister Paul Swain—whose Rimutaka electorate includes where the bunker was built—personally signed Burrett's deportation order.
Permanent removal of a criminal through deportation has the one big advantage of the death penalty, without the killing. But, to my mind, there's a problem - apparently, John Burrett is a New Zealand citizen.
Authorities are now free to deport the British-born New Zealand citizen when he becomes eligible for parole in about two years.
So, either the press have it wrong, or the government is now deporting its own citizens.

No surprise, really. This government alsoFortunately, Burrett holds dual citizenship, so there's some place he can go. If he didn't, there would be nowhere to deport him to, and the government would stand in contravention of the 1954 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, to which we are signatories, and the 1961 Convention that seeks to reduce the incidence of stateless persons.

So, are there two kinds of New Zealand citizenship? Exactly how bad do you have to be to risk having your citizenship revoked? Damn it, I'm going to have to write to Paul Swain...

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Republic of New Freeland

Fly the flag! Click to fly the flag

Should the design of the New Zealand flag be changed? That's the question the people at the Trust would like to see on a referendum at the next election. It's all a bit of a hullubaloo. The right time to change the flag is when we become the Republic of New Freeland. Bring to light that day of joy!

Meanwhile, here is my proposal for our new flag. The new flag has the virtues of elegance, simplicity and respect for our history and traditional values.

Black, red and white are the colours of Māori, discoverers and first inhabitants of New Zealand. The black represents Te Korekore, the realm of potential being, as well as signifying Rangi, the Heavens. The red represents Te Whai-Ao, the realm of coming into being, and signifies Papatuanuku, the Earth Mother. The white of the stars represents Te Ao-Marama, the realm of being and light.

The new flag retains the red, white and blue of the Union Jack, recalling our nation's origins as a British colony. In the stars of the new flag, a thin border of red separates the inner blue from the outer white. The Southern Cross itself is retained in recognition of our nation's strong Christian heritage.

The new flag shall be known as the New Zealand stars and stripes, paying homage to the Western heritage of democracy and freedom we share with our friends and allies.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Samurai slasher

I asked a psychiatrist her opinion on the Samurai slasher case. "Methamphetamine psychosis," she declared without hesitation. "It's the most dangerous drug there is."

How dangerous is it, really? In a December 2004 report entitled "Injury and Other Harms Associated with Methamphetamine Use: A Review of the Literature," a University of Auckland research team concluded that, "[d]espite the circumstantial and anecdotal implications, the contributing relationship between methamphetamine and violence is not well understood, and the literature reveals a lack of data on the type and rate of trauma injury and criminal harms associated with methamphetamine use." In other words, we don't actually know.

In recent years there have been a lot of high profile killings where the killer was using methamphetamine. In 2001, William Bell committed the RSA murders, leaving three dead. In 2002, Ese Junior Falealii claimed two lives in the course of armed robberies of a pizza bar in Howick and a bank in Mangere. In 2003, Steven Williams killed his 6-year-old stepdaughter Coral Burrows, and Antonie Ronnie Dixon (above) gunned down a man. And that's... all. Did I say a lot? That's 7 homicides in the last three years or so. Proportionately, it's not a lot, 3 out of roughly 100 homicides a year.

And was methamphetamine to blame, or just blamed? If 97 out of 100 murderers don't use P, they must have some other excuse. Perhaps those same explanations apply in the minority of cases involving methamphetamine.

The most recent police crime statistics (for 2003) show that homicide offences dropped from 122 in 2002 to 104 in 2003. But non-cannabis related drug crimes such as those involving amphetamine type stimulants increased by 24.8% percent. This isn't the correlation you're looking for.

Excessive or prolonged methamphetamine use can, and often does, cause paranoia, psychosis and violence. Please, don't try it at home. But it's not the big problem we've collectively deluded ourselves into thinking it is. It's not pure evil, after all.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Two kinds of people

There are two kinds of people in New Zealand. Those who divide New Zealand into two kinds of people, and those who don't. Don Brash, with his "one rule for all", is one of those who doesn't. Helen Clark and her Labour government are an example of those who do.

There are right ways and wrong ways of dividing New Zealand into two kinds of people. The Herald gets it wrong today. The paper says, "Life [has] improved for Maori, with a narrowing of the gap between Maori and people of European descent in areas such as income and employment opportunities." This implies that Māori, and people of European descent, are two different groups. But most Māori are people of European descent, too.

Just as you are Māori if you have Māori ancestry, so, too, are you European if you have European ancestry. Take the case of Terry Ryan, for example. Got to be some European ancestry in there, with a name like Terry Ryan, to be sure, to be sure. And Māori blood everywhere, but ne'er a drop of Ngāi Tahu?

The Herald also talks of "the partnership between Maori and Pakeha". This is wrong, because you can be both Māori and Pakeha, but you can't have a partnership with yourself. A Pakeha is "a New Zealander of European descent; a non-Maori New Zealander," according to this dictionary. That can't be right, since most Māori are New Zealanders of European descent but not non-Māori, obviously. Pakeha are "New Zealanders of predominantly European descent," says Wikipedia. Still, lots of Māori are Pakeha, under that definition, because many Māori are of predominantly European descent.

While we're here, let's lay to rest Trevor Mallard's silly claim that he is an indigenous Pakeha because he comes from Wainuiomata. Indigenous means originating where it is found. The Mallards certainly didn't originate in Wainuiomata. Just a handful of generations back, you would have found them over in Europe. By the same token, of course, Māori aren't indigenous to New Zealand, either. They came here from East Polynesia a few hundred years earlier. Kiwi and kakariki are indigenous to New Zealand, but the only indigenous humans live in Africa.

Let's face it, we're a completely mixed up bunch of people. So much so, that if you're going to divvy up New Zealanders on ethnic grounds, you must do it on the basis of lack of ancestry, e.g. Māori and non-Māori, or Pakeha and non-Pakeha. But why on earth would you want to do that? Whakapapa (genealogy) is especially important in Māori culture, but genealogical considerations should have no place in government policy. For a government to treat people differently on the basis of their ethnic ancestry, or lack thereof, is immoral and ridiculous. We're New Zealanders and we're all related to each other.