Today we’re taking exploring the phenomenon of censorship in New Zealand forums.
E2NZ.org doesn’t make a habit of reading emigration pimp sites and we rely on our readers to tell us about NZ censorship in forums which discuss emigration or life in New Zealand. For example, the thread mentioned in http://e2nz.org/migrant-stories/chapter-2/we-chose-to-go-with-new-zealand-big-mistake/#comment-187747 which was closed for further discussion today.
Censorship can take many forms and may not always be evident to the unaware because of its subtlety. It ranges from moderators imposing their own ideology, to encouraging positive comments and criticizing negatives. It can also encompass indirect moderation though permitting rat-packing of dissenters (i.e. not issuing infractions for ad hominem attacks, in direct contravention of their own site rules). In others words ‘free speech’ (aka hate speech) and personal attacks are tolerated, dissing NZ isn’t.
Ad Hominem attacks permitted
HT to Assumptive for the following examples of tolerated ad hominem attacks which appeared on the thread linked to above on Britishexpats.com. (A quick reminder of the site’s rules – Challenge others’ points of view and opinions, but do so respectfully and thoughtfully … without insult or personal attack).
“point put in a very general, sweeping and abrasive way. Being a happy migrant is more down to you and your attitude than the problems in the country you’ve moved to.”
“You know where the airport is ?”
“I detect an underlying hatred that, in my opinion, is quite unsavoury” (from the obvious Kiwi troll?)
“jesus christ you talk some bollocks at times”
“What boat did you get off, HM bitter and twisted I think!”
“I shall keep an eye out for the unhappiness police”
Then came the inevitable attempt at a thread hijack. Instigated by a moderator of all people who turned the discussion to nasal swabs, black dogs and potato consumption.
When that didn’t work things got nastier and the gloves really came off. Can you believe an adult wrote this and that no infraction was issued?
“xxxxxxxxx is neither British or living in NZ, She is German, she came here and during her time on this forum did nothing but moan and complain about anything and everything. Nothing was good enough and everything was either poor quality or too expensive. As you can see she has a very low opinion of kiwis and most things New Zealand”
Censorship may also be achieved by trolling. Pro-NZ posters (often these are Kiwis) take up residence on discussion boards and try to stifle negative comments about their country, usually by using a constant stream of dubious statistical materials. It is not unusual for Kiwis to troll emigration sites, for instance. (e.g. Poms in Oz, City-Data.com, BritishExpats.com, Enz.org etc) We get them at E2NZ.org all the time.
We’d like people to tell us when they see censorship in action, let’s get some debate going about this. Have you seen something and want to ask if it is censorship? Please use the comments section below.
This thread has been brought to our attention: “Is Britishexpats.com biased?” (click to enlarge)
Welcome to our very popular series of Migrant Tales, first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand.
Today’s tale was sent in by ‘UK Builder’ and was originally published on an emigration forum.
Like most commercial NZ forums the place where it was posted has a reputation for discouraging negative comments about New Zealand (If you read the ad hom attacks, over moderation and thread-hijacks this post generated you’ll understand how the site it earned its bad rep, and why false impressions about the country proliferate).
Here’s his tale, and his follow-up post
“…Pretty much everything here is overpriced, this coupled with low wages and high property prices can result in a pretty miserable existence. Sure you can have a great view and walk on any one of a thousand beautiful beaches but after a while you realise that this country is mind numbingly dull.
You’ll find the people very friendly and find it nice that total strangers look you in the eye and say good morning. After a while you’ll realise that this is actually very superficial, in reality the locals won’t like you very much and will resent your wealth, knowledge and experience. They all feel threatened by non kiwi’s, have a ridiculously inflated view of their country’s role on the world stage, are unbelievably ignorant, can’t drive but think they can and love to drink drive, drink hunt, and drink boat.
You’ll be told about the ‘world famous’ kiwi ingenuity, this is what the rest of the world call COMMON SENSE!
You may experience the ‘tall poppy’ syndrome, if you start to do well someone will do their best to ‘cut you down to size’.
Your neighbours will love to pick up the phone to the council for any infringement you may unwittingly make, kiwi’s can’t do confrontation and prefer the cowards way.
The media here is a joke, get sky for news other than the price of milk.
Beware of the gangs, they are plentiful,cross them at your peril !
Beware of bad motorists with no insurance, its optional here.
If you buy a house to renovate you’ll probably have a stroke the first time you buy any building materials so be careful !
If you have a dog and are looking forward to walking around clean green NZ with it forget it, they’re banned from the vast majority of the nice bits.
Schools are NOT free you will be pressured to ‘donate’ on a regular basis.
Make sure you and your children have perfect teeth, dentists here are thieves.
Emergency services rely heavily on amateur volunteers with varying degrees of ability, don’t have a house fire or heart attack when the all blacks are playing you’ll have a long wait !
Every visit to your GP will cost you, around $50 is not unusual.
Feel free to ignore all of the above, just remember what I’ve written when the ‘honeymoon’ period is over. I’ve been here nearly 8 years and am getting out next year. Can’t wait!!”
My original posting has certainly got people talking, for that reason alone I’d call it a success.
Hopefully any prospective immigrants will have their eyes opened to the pro’s AND cons of coming here and that can only be a good thing.
I’m married to a kiwi who spent 20+ years in the UK before we met and moved here. Before moving here we had 2 amazing holidays in NZ, toured the north and south islands, ‘sampled the life’ if you like.
Initially we moved to Nelson, a little paradise. However after 20 months we found certain aspects of life there didn’t suit us so we moved about an hour north of Auckland.
we’ve been in NZ nearly 8 years, I’ve completely renovated 2 houses, started my own small business taken on an abused dog, adopted a neglected child. I’ve joined the Lions, and was a volunteer fire fighter for 3 years.
What I’m trying to say is that I didn’t land here in 2007 decide I didn’t like it and go into a big sulk. I’ve really tried to make a life here but after all this time I still don’t understand the mentality of these people and I don’t think I ever will.
Upon gaining my NZ citizenship I was told by a local that I might be a New Zealander but I’ll never be a kiwi. I thank my lucky stars for that!
I stand by my earlier rant and hope to get back to ‘the world’ next year.
Good luck to those who stay, make sure you’re staying for the right reasons.”
We’d like to pass on our best wishes to BucksBoy. There are greener pastures out there than New Zealand’s and he doesn’t have to return to the UK to find them.
New Zealand’s love affair with Agrochemicals is often cited as proof that its 100% pure slogan has no factual basis. It’s extensive use of 1080 and pollution from its massive dairying industry is enough to discredit that credential.
Now we learn that the country’s extensive use of herbicides has resulted in traces of the chemical metsulfuron-methyl being found in two drinking water reservoirs in the Hunua Ranges. Twenty percent of Auckland’s drinking water supply is sourced from these dams. The chemical was used to control weeds in forestry areas in May and drained into the lakes when rain fell two days after spraying.
Note. No justification has been given for using chemicals within the catchment area of drinking water reservoirs, nor is there any indication if this is an acceptable practice. These areas should be pristine areas with stringent controls on the release of any substance which may potentially pollute the water, including run-off from road surfaces. But the NZ Herald doesn’t give its readers that information.
Details about the contamination were withheld from the public by Watercare and Auckland Council, until a whistleblower contacted the New Zealand Herald yesterday. But, in what reads like a Watercare PR release issued to control the story, the Herald (note how its article failed to give a concentration for the chemical, or comment on catchment safeguards) said:
Metsulfuron-methyl is a residual toxic herbicide used to kill broadleaf weeds and some annual grasses.
Watercare said the likely cause was run-off from surrounding blocks as a result of unexpected heavy rain two days after spraying. GPS tracking by helicopter confirmed spray was not applied to the lake areas…
Watercare said New Zealand drinking standards did not cover metsulfuron-methyl. But Australian guidelines said it would not be a health concern unless the concentration exceeded 0.2mg per litre.
Initial readings in both lakes were well below this level, Watercare said.
Dr Leo Schep, a toxicologist at the National Poisons Centre in Dunedin, said the Australian guidelines were robust, based on scientific data, and he would be happy with the Watercare figures if they were below the recommended guidelines.
He could not comment on the herbicide without looking it up.
Initial readings may have been acceptable, but what were they? What were subsequent readings like? The NZ Herald’s article omits the figures.
How long does this chemical persist in the lake’s sediments, and what happens when water is abstracted from the lake when it’s at low levels? Does it bio-accumulate?
To add insult to injury, Auckland Council decided last week it would use the inhumane poison 1080 for pest control in the Hunua Ranges National Park.
100% pure? No, not really.
If you live in Auckland you may think it wise to switch to bottled water in future.
We’ve written many times about the indiscriminate broadcasting of the inhumane pesticide 1080 over large tracts of New Zealand’s countryside.
1080 (or Sodium fluoroacetate) is a potent toxin developed for use in warehouse bait boxes. It is manufactured in the USA where its use is tightly controlled: it may only be used in chemical collars on domestic herbivores in order to kill the coyotes that prey on them. In New Zealand hundreds of tonnes of bait pellets laced with 1080 are dropped from helicopters every year.
New Zealand is the world’s largest consumer of 1080, and actively lobbied to prevent a ban on the chemical’s manufacture in the US. Effectively NZ lobbyists prevented the abolition of the chemical and the development of more humane alternatives. Animals who ingest it die a long and cruel death. Its indiscriminate use kills all wildlife within the drop zone including native birds and insects that eat the pellets and also carrion feeders. It could be called justifiably the Agent Orange of the animal world.
Yet despite that, and anglers being told not to eat trout in 1080 areas baited by the Department of Conservation (because the poison had been discovered in their flesh) there is a very strident pro-1080 lobby in New Zealand.
This account of how strident that lobby is was sent to us by one of our readers:
The culture of shooting the messenger is endemic in NZ politics.
I led a film crew from UK in 2002 looking at the aerial dispersal of 1080. We were in NZ for 6 weeks. Every time we got close to a 1080 camp deep in the back country, the vehicles took off.
We found that my mobile was being used to track our movements. By dint of sending my mobile to the other side of the island, we were able to film a 1080 camp in all its horrific glory.
An MP told us that a meeting between senior government ministers and lawyers was convened to see if there was a way our footage could be confiscated. Also, Jim Sutton, the then minister of Agriculture and Biodiversity, took every opportunity to rubbish what we were doing and did so in a very personal way.
We took the view that his unstatesmanlike approach to a serious investigation was a sure sign we had hit a raw nerve.
Read what people are saying on the Facebook community: NO to 1080 use in NZ (16,215 likes)
Since 1080 began in the Wangapeka area, trout numbers have plummeted, there is no evidence to date to say why, as no testing was or has been done, it is easier to say it is fishing pressure etc, it is pretty hard to find a dead trout as eels and currents get them away from the preying eye. and if sick they are pretty good at hiding out of site.
DOC will do what DOC wants, it (1080) is proven to kill threatened species like kea, but an unproven mortality rate is apparently acceptable, but they do accept that 1080 kills kea. The problem I witnessed with 1080 and trout fishery was in the wangapeka opening weekend 2 seasons ago. I was unaware 1080 was dropped above the rolling hut area or rolling junction, less than 1km below the drop zone I chose to take a nice 4lb fish for food. If i did not walk up the rolling river for a quick look and run into pellets in the stream and bank sides it was then on walking out in disgust that I found the signs at the old rolling hut site. So much for being informed at all access points…I was later then appalled as I found out that the operators had used Courthouse flat as the load area, a designated camp site by the DEPT of CONSERVATION for those who want to stay in tents, yes sleep on the ground laced with 1080. The area had been taped off, but how long does it stay in the ground??
And an announcement of the new fact based website about 1080 (To-date most 1080 sites have been mostly NZ authored propaganda, including Wikipedia pages) which includes the video: NZ Govt Continues to Poison Endangered Kea Parrots
A new website www.1080science.co.nz highlighting the facts about 1080 poison use in New Zealand is a goingto be major obstacle for organisations like the Department of Conservation, Forest & Bird, and the Animal Health Board.For many years these powerful organisations have had a free reign on the type of information they have conveyed to the public, and officials – unchecked. Now a comprehensive assembly of information is available for those that wish to, and need to be, fully informed about 1080 poison.
Other articles about 1080 that may interest you
“We’ve discovered that computer equipment registered to Landcare Research’s internet server has been used to edit Wikipedia pages.
Landcare Research (Māori: Manaaki Whenua) is one of New Zealand’s Crown Research Institutes. The focus of the research at this company is the environment, biodiversity, and sustainability. It now operates as a government-owned company rather than as a government department source…”
Some scientists worry a proposed new code governing what they can speak out about is actually an attempt to gag them.
It’s called the Code of Public Engagement and, according to the PM’s appointed chief science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman (who is also a paediatrician) it is becoming “common practice around the world.”
Professor Mike Joy, who criticized New Zealand’s 100% pure image to the NYT, attracted personal attacks from members of the government, (including the Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key) which included being called a traitor to New Zealand.
In his HardTalk interview Mr Key infamously said he could always get another scientist to give an opposing view to Joy’s. Read BBC Questions New Zealand’s 100% Pure Image. Fortunately the Association of Scientists backed Professor Joy, adding that New Zealand had the largest per capita emissions of greenhouse gases in the world and a large proportion of lakes at risk from agricultural run-off. source
In a Radio NZ interview, Joy says New Zealand’s government wants to double agriculture and they don’t want people like him pointing out that’s going to have a massive impact on the environment. He also cites the example of the Department of Conservation who used to advocate for the environment, explaining that they’ve been silenced (a victim of massive budget cuts and staffing reductions imposed by Key’s government) Fish and Game aren’t far behind.
Prof. Shaun Hendy from Auckland University says it’s already very hard to convince other scientists to talk, due in part to incidents such as the Fontera contamination scare. There was a “real dearth” of scientists who were permitted to speak out on that because many of them either worked for the company or for government.
Hendy is concerned that a climate exists where scientists aren’t able to talk about controversial and difficult issues. Furthermore, Gluckman “warns of the dangers of scientists acting as advocates.” If scientists can’t be advocates who the heck can – big business and politicians?
You may also like to read this excerpt from Science and Democracy by Nicola Gaston
“…if science is to be trusted by the public, then we scientists need to take that trust seriously. What does it mean for us to insist on a place of privilege for scientific knowledge?
In the last few months, several different occurrences have focused my thinking on this topic.
First there were allegations of misconduct by CRI (Crown Research Institute) scientists at NIWA with respect to the Ruataniwha irrigation scheme. When asked to comment, I was at pains to highlight the different circumstances of those scientists employed at our universities, who have the statutory privilege of academic freedom, and that of our CRI scientists, who work in an environment in which commercial and governmental financial pressures have a much more direct impact. Not that this affects scientific outcomes directly, necessarily – but the uneasy coexistence of public good and commercial research in our CRIs leaves their staff in a situation that is not always straightforwardly navigated. It doesn’t exactly lend itself to the transparency that might assist public understanding, either.
Secondly, the NZ Association of Scientists ran a survey of NZ scientists who were willing to share their experience with the National Science Challenges. The results were far more pointy-ended than I had expected, based on a year of discussions where everyone publicly seemed to agree on the need to make the best of a bad job. It was a lesson in the power of anonymity in giving people a voice – a lesson reinforced by the emails I then received, in particular from CRI scientists who are, as one correspondent reported, “gagged from talking to the media on topics that might seem critical of government policy from 2 months out from the election”.
A third moment of reflection was prompted by the release of the plan for the Science in Society project: A Nation of Curious Minds. This is a really positive initiative, aimed at “developing stronger connections between science and society” and putting “special emphasis on our young people and science education”: a really laudable initiative that has come out of the process behind the National Science Challenges, and I don’t want to come across as critical in the least. Except for just one small thing. It may even be nothing.
One of the actions recommended in this report is that the Royal Society of New Zealand develop a new code of practice for public engagement for scientists. In the fine print, we are given additional clarification that this will pertain to the “social responsibility of science organisations and scientists to engage with the public and policy makers based on their expert knowledge”. Again – this sounds fine. Except – from what I can tell, it seems that we already have this.
The Royal Society of New Zealand has a code of ethics, which has quite a lot to say about the responsibilities of scientists. This became very clear to me in discussions that followed the original Radio NZ story on NIWA and the Ruataniwha matter – so much so, in fact, that in the NZ Association of Scientists submission on the recent National Statement of Science Investment, we recommended that the government should “amend the CRI Act to require that the boards of CRIs support the RSNZ code of ethics”. This seemed a sensible way to avoid creating new pressures on scientists who have – very fairly – a duty to their employer, while addressing issues of public confidence in science. If the RSNZ code of ethics is to be effective, it needs to be part of the scientific consciousness. The issue may only be that of public perception, but that makes it no less serious an issue: public trust in science matters… more here
We’d like to hear from scientists in New Zealand and what they think of the current restrictions, and the plan to tighten them further.
Thousands of parents are trapped in New Zealand because their child’s other parent refuses to allow the child to leave, or is unwilling to relinquish custody.
A high percentage of them are migrants in relationships with Kiwi partners, or migrants who moved to New Zealand with children born overseas. To take their child and run would expose them to persecution and the risk of a long prison sentence. Yet there are parents who are willing to sacrifice everything to remove their child from an abusive parent or an undesirable environment.
They (and E2NZ.org) will be watching with interest the court trial of Dorothy Lee Barnett in Carolina. Dorothy is an American mother that went on the run with her infant daughter back in 1994 and lived under a fake identity in New Zealand and Australia for 20 years.
This case will resonate with the mothers in New Zealand who feel that odds are stacked against them in the fight to be able to leave with their children. Many of them find they are on the back foot in court, where their every move and word is gauged for signs of hysteria or instability, while the father escapes similar scrutiny. A symptom of a patriarchal society perhaps?
Dorothy, a flight attendant, was pregnant when her brief and abusive marriage to wealthy stockbroker Benjamin Harris Todd III fell apart and she filed for divorce. She told a doctor that Todd didn’t want the baby and demanded she have an abortion, she later went on to miscarry one of the twins she was carrying and gave birth to Savanna.
Within six months of getting married the couple had
“… split permanently but their skirmishes continued right up until Savanna’s birth in May the following year.
A grim struggle for custody of the child began. In the divorce proceedings, Barnett claimed Todd was gay or bisexual, citing nude home movies he had made with friends in the 1970s as evidence of perversion and unfitness as a father. None of this was accepted. Meanwhile expert witnesses lined up to say that Barnett was mentally unstable, promiscuous and volatile, causing her to become increasingly unhinged in the court.
The judge repeatedly cautioned her for making remarks, “talking excessively or too loudly (and) getting up and down from her seat”. She had gone through a variety of moods “from tearfulness, abjection, agitation, anger to near euphoria”. Perhaps this was understandable, given Barnett must have known she was about to lose custody of her nine-month-old daughter…
In his judgment, Judge Mallard blamed Barnett entirely for the break-up of the marriage and awarded sole custody of Savanna to Todd, determining that a stockbroker working full-time was best placed to look after a child who was still being breast-fed. “The psychological and emotional problems experienced by the mother, if left untreated, will create conflict and havoc in the child’s life and she will suffer accordingly,” Judge Mallard concluded.
Todd was “a caring, conscientious and stable person who tried to get help for his wife but failed”, according to the judge.
While Todd had been prepared to allow joint custody, Barnett had made it clear she believed her daughter should have no contact with her father whatsoever.
Overwhelmed in court by her husband’s battery of psychologists and pediatricians, Barnett would walk from the marriage with a $9000 emerald engagement ring, a ride-on lawnmower and a set of steak knives. She would be allowed to have Savanna only two weekends a month. On the first weekend visit, she failed to return the child and the court ordered her access to Savanna be supervised.
Dorothy abducted her own child during her fifth visit in 1994 and had been on the run ever since.
Last year, after a tip off from a supposed ‘friend’ Dorothy was apprehended on the Sunshine Coast region of Australia. She’d been living under the name of Alexandra Geldenhuys with her 21 year old daughter (real name ) Savanna Todd, a nursing student at James Cook University. Australia deported her back to the US where she is now in custody in Charleston County Jail.
Children of the Underground
Faye Yager, the founder of Children of the Underground, which claims to have helped 7000 women escape abusive spouses, says Barnett never had a chance. “He stomped on her like an ant. They set out to prove she was crazy so they could strip her of all her rights as a mother,” according to Yager, who claims to have helped Barnett while on the run.
Remarkably, another court-appointed psychiatrist in April 1994 found Barnett was not suffering from any mental illness or personality disorder. Madelaine Wohlreich reported that Barnett was suffering from no more than an acute reaction to the stress of being separated from her baby in the crucial first year of life.
“Hyperthymic personality” was not even a recognised diagnosis, according to standards set by the American Psychiatric Association, Wohlreich wrote.
Sturgis claims this report was “rigged” as the doctor had been sympathetic to Barnett’s case…” source
Dorothy Lee Barnett has pleaded not guilty to international parental kidnapping. Her daughter Savanna is standing by her and was last seen at her mother’s bail hearing holding up a placard that simply said ” I love you Mom”
Want to discuss this issue?
If this issue affects you please join in the discussion with other parents on our long running thread Migrant Stores: Trapped in NZ – Father won’t let child leave.
Thinking of emigrating to New Zealand to get away from a big brother, 24 hr surveillance culture? think again.
Watch The Moment of Truth filmed at Auckland Town Hall on 15 September. Speakers included Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Robert Amsterdam.