The New Normal

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Tremain does it again.

‘Altering’ Democracy is a necessary step in reverting to Tribalism and Minority Rule.

Mayor Hawkins confirms he is anti-Democracy claiming that “the interests of minorities will never be served by a popular vote” and his running mate Cr. Laufiso is an avowed communist.

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The best address on Democracy I have seen in years.


Professor Elizabeth Rata

University of Auckland

Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me to speak today. My talk ‘In Defence of Democracy’ is for those of all political persuasions who are deeply worried about New Zealand’s descent from democracy into a tribal form of ethno-nationalism.

I want to talk about democracy– about what it is we are in danger of losing and what we need to do to retain our nation’s remarkable 170 year legacy of democratic governance.

Nearly forty years ago the 1985 Treaty of Waitangi Amendment Act set in motion a radical constitutional agenda. The aim –  to shift the country from democracy to tribalism. In that time a corporate tribal elite has privatised public resources, acquired political power, and attained governance entitlements. Activist judges have created treatyism – a new interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi as a ‘governance partnership’. Intellectuals have supplied the supporting racialised ‘two world views’ ideology. 

The question we must ask is this: How has a small group of individuals, both Maori and non-Maori, managed to install a racialised ideology into our democracy?

In his book The Open Society, philosopher Karl Popper identifies those who would take us back to the past, to that closed tribal society from which we are all descended. He describes how throughout history those who ‘could only make themselves leaders of the perennial revolt against freedom’, those ‘incapable of leading a new way’ will return us to what he called ‘cultivated tribalism’. 

It is this colossal failure of vision for a democratic future that has taken New Zealand to the crossroads.  Democracy is one path ahead; ethno-nationalism is the other.

Treatyism’ success can be seen in how comprehensively ‘partnership’, ‘decolonisation’, ‘co-governance’  – whatever term is used – is inserted into all our government institutions, into the universities, and into the law. It is an ideology that tells how we are to understand our country’s history and how we are to envisage its future. 

The 1840 Treaty of Waitangi was, like all human products, of its time and place. One aim – shared by British and Maori signatories alike – was to establish the rule of law by imposing British sovereignty through British governance. Sovereignty and governance go together as two sides of the same coin – with intertwined meaning. In the decades which followed, the treaty lost relevance in the new colonial society. This is the case with all historical treaties. 

Revived in the 1970s as the symbol of a cultural renaissance, the treaty was captured by retribalists in the 1980s to serve as the ideological manifesto for the envisaged order – a reconstituted New Zealand. It was given a ‘spirit’ to take it above and beyond its historical location so that it could mean whatever retribalists say it means. 

This treatyist ideology successfully promotes the false claim of partnership between the government and the tribes. However there is a deeper more insidious strategy propelling us to tribal ethno-nationalism. It is the collapse of the separation between the economic and political spheres. 

The separation of the economic from the political is absolutely essential for democracy. When economic interests and political ambitions are merged there is no accountability to the people – consider all those totalitarian leaders whose power gives wealth and whose wealth gives power – a merger broken only when (and if) the people revolt. 

When the combination of reactionary politics and wealth accumulation is justified by ‘myths of past perfection’, we have what I call the neotribal capitalist version of the wealth-power merger. 

The corporate tribes have already acquired considerable governance entitlements – the next and final step is tribal sovereignty.  It’s a coup d’etat in all but name, accomplished not by force but by ideology – enabled by a compliant media.

Given the enormous success of retribalism is it too late to reclaim New Zealand from the relentless march to blood and soil ethno-nationalism? 

That depends upon our willingness to understand, value, and restore democracy. 

To do this we need to be clear what democracy is. 

First, it is the remarkable and still uncommon form of government described in Abraham Lincoln’s famous words as ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’. 

Second, democracy has three pillars. Remove or even tweak these pillars and it collapses. 

Third, democracy requires the ‘partially loyal’ universal individual.  

I want to talk about these three pillars and that partially loyal individual. If we are to understand democracy this is where we start.

Democracy’s Pillars

The pillars are: 

  1. The citizen – the individual who bears political and legal rights – not the racialised group member. 
  2. The state  –– the governing infrastructure of parliament,  systems of law, education, health and so on, regulator of public resources such as water, foreshore and seabed, flora and fauna, radio waves . . ..  
  3. The nation – at once a geographic entity and a symbol of a unified though historically diverse people who muddle along together in liberal civil society.

Each of these pillars is riven by a necessary tension – a tension arising from their inherent contradictions  – contradictions which make democracy future-oriented, progressive  –  and vulnerable.

The contradictions are:

  • As citizens, we have a duty to society but, at the same time, we have personal interests arising from kin, cultural, and other social loyalties.  
  • The state is simultaneously the capitalist state – generating economic wealth and inequality – and the secular democratic state – guaranteeing political equality and regulating wealth distribution.
  • The nation is unified in facing the future, yet diverse in its past. 

Democracy is peaceful battle within and between each of these three pillars. This bloodless conflict is only possible when individuals are partially loyal. 

So what is ‘partial loyalty’?

Partial loyalty

I first came across the term in anthropologist, Alan Macfarlane’s The Making of the Modern World. It intrigued me and I have developed the idea further in the following way. 

‘Partial loyalty’ can explain what it is about the modern individual who has contradictory loyalties simultaneously – identifying as a family member, a member of an ancestral group, a cultural group, a tribe, a religion, an identity group defined by leisure interests, sexuality, and so on. 

This is civil society. From different, even conflicting interests how do we decide where our loyalty lies – is it to New Zealand? To an identity group? An ancestral group? To those ‘who look like us’?

The idea of ‘partial loyalty’ is a way into thinking about this question. 

It is a question that someone in a tribal society, an autocratic society, a religious society would not have to ask, or be permitted to ask, because the answer is already provided. 

Most societies demand total loyalty.

  • Traditional tribal societies allowed one identity – fixed by birth status and and kinship ties – not open to individual choice.  Loyalty was non-negotiable because total loyalty ensured the group’s survival. 
  • Autocratic regimes, both past and present, impose total loyalty – not for the survival of all, but for the elite – imposed by might and by ideological indoctrination.

Democracies are different in a fundamental way. They not only allow partial loyalty but require it.

In a democracy we hold many loyalties simultaneously – family and social groups where the loyalty is personal – creating a deeply held sense of identity and belonging  – perhaps to a tribe, culture, religion, sport or other type of association. 

And at the same time we are loyal to a diverse society and to its governing system that is not personal. Indeed loyalty to the democratic nation is loyalty to a vision – the idea of ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’. 

These two different loyalties – one a deeply personal identity – the other a rational commitment to an idea – is why democracy is so difficult. It is much easier to fall back into loyalties of emotion, not reason. 

The ease and attraction of total loyalty favours ethno-nationalism – it is profoundly anti-modern and anti-democratic – yet profoundly seductive. 

I want to turn now to how we have been seduced. This means talking about ideology.


Retribalism has attacked the three pillars of democracy through the covert use of ideology. I want to talk specifically about how this is occurring in language, education, and the media.

Retribalist ideology and language

Ideologies control not just speech but thought itself. The most successful have a manifesto, a ‘sacred text’ or covenant[x]. Mao’s Little Red Book, the Communist Manifesto, the sacred texts of religions, the US Constitution’s Second Amendment – these are used to symbolise a spiritual, ‘beyond this world’ authority,  disguising the real-life ambitions of those controlling the ideology.  

Since the 1980s the Treaty of Waitangi has been developed as such a manifesto – using two highly effective tactics. 

I call the first the transubstantiation tactic.

Here the treaty is transformed from an historical document to a sacred text. This mystical transubstantiation takes the treaty into the realm of the spiritual from where it acquires a doctrinal authority – one to be interpreted for we common folk by a new priesthood – treatyist intellectuals. 

Once the treaty’s unchallengable spiritual authority is established the second tactic comes into play. It is the diversion tactic. This ‘how many angels on a pinhead’ tactic operates by diverting us into echo-chamber squabbles – about the 1840 meaning of this word, that word, this intention, that intention. This is all interesting and important material for historians but our concern should be, not what the treaty said in 1840 – those days are gone – it served the purpose of the time – but what it is being used to say today – and for what purpose. 

What about retribalist ideology and education?

Our  education system is indoctrinating children into retribalism. The so-called ‘decolonisation’ and ‘indigenisation’ of the curriculum is the method. This is a disaster. Decolonisation will destroy the very means by which each generation acquires reasoned knowledge, and in so doing, the ability to reason.  

I have described how this ability creates the disposition of partial loyalty that is required to be a citizen. Reasoning provides the rationalism to counter the irrationalism of total loyalty.  By undermining the secular academic curriculum – that which creates the reasoning mind – we are destroying the partially loyal individual. Our fate – to be left with those capable only of mindless total loyalty.

And retribalist ideology and the media?

An ideology becomes omnipotent when it is not challenged. In a democracy the media should inform us of all competing interests and in all their complexity. We, the people, need to know everything, because it is us who will decide what should happen. Mainstream media has failed to do this – indeed is culpable in embedding treatyism.

The Future

Is it too late to save New Zealand’s democracy? Have we already passed the crossroads? A pessimist, realist perhaps, might say ‘yes’. As a reluctant optimist I would say there is still time if we do the following:

  1. Remove the treaty and its principles from all legislation. People (not a sacred deity)  put these into legislation. People can remove them. 
  2. Remove retribalism’s ideology from all public institutions, including the universities.
  3. Encourage those in civil society who value and desire Maori culture to participate in – for example – Maori media, Maori language, kaupapa Maori schools, Maori literature, arts, music, fashion, film, festivities . . . all the activities of a vibrant culture.
  4. Teach a complete and unvarnished NZ history developed according to sound scientific methods.
  5. Allow New Zealand English to evolve organically through incorporating Maori words, not by government decree.
  6. Re-build the education system to teach academic subjects – the source of the partially loyal individual – not ideological dogma.  

And finally, hold a national discussion – possibly over several decades – about a symbol for New Zealand’s foundation.  I have four suggestions: 

  1. The 1840 Treaty of Waitangi – for its historical value only – not as a legal and constitutional document. Recent attempts to trace democracy to the treaty are nonsensical and will further embed treatyism.
  1. The 1852 Constitution Act. This Act, with all its limitations, did establish New Zealand democracy. It set up Parliament and the beginnings of the workable state that continues today. It recognised the citizen to whom Parliament is accountable – even though only certain Maori and settler men were able to vote – it is that crucial principle of accountability to the people that was put in place. 
  1. The 1893 Electoral Act – women’s suffrage. 
  1. Don’t have a founding document. Do we need one?

On a personal note  –  I confess an emotional pull to the 1893 Electoral Act – for kinship reasons – one of my great-grandmothers was a signatory to the Suffrage Petition. However as a ‘partially loyal’ citizen I must give full and rational consideration to the other contenders – even to argue against my own various loyalties in coming to a decision. There is no doubt that the 1852 Constitution Act is the strongest contender because we can trace our liberal democracy to this legislation. Surely it worth celebrating?

But we may never decide on an official founding document – and that’s fine. It is the continuous peaceful battle of democracy in action that matters. But that ongoing battle is democracy’s inherent source of instability – an unsettleness that is both its strength and its vulnerability.

When citizens abdicate their democratic duty, when the media abandons its responsibilities, when judges become political activists, when academics are intolerant of open inquiry, and when governments are subverted by an ideology – that is when a corporate tribal elite emerges to encircle the commons, that is to privatise what belongs to the public, to us the people, and to govern not in our interests but for themselves. In this way wealth and power are merged. 

Before moving to my conclusion I want to make one thing absolutely clear – especially to those who will seek to distort my words – I support the activities of those in civil society who value and engage in Maori language and culture. A liberal civil society is where we meet in all our differences – indeed society is at its most creative when diversity is practised and enjoyed by all.  

To conclude

Politics arises from civil society – from the various conflicting interests of people. That political-civil interaction is what democracy looks like.  But, and this is the crux of my argument,  no interest group  has the right of governance unless the people agree. Elections are that act of agreement – always temporary with the winner always on trial.  

New Zealanders, both Maori and non-Maori, have not been asked to agree to tribalist governance.  If we had been asked would we have agreed? 

Tribalism and democracy are incompatible. We can’t have both.  If we wish to keep New Zealand as a liberal democratic nation then, as we derive our citizen rights from the nation-state, so we have a duty to ensure that the nation-state which awards those rights, remains democratic and able to do so. 

For our country to remain a liberal democracy, we need to know what democracy is, its true value, and what we must do to restore it.

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Dunedin Council push Pause when we should push Stop!

Dunedin Council legal staff today confirmed that the proposed 3 Waters “protection mechanisms to prevent privatisation are insufficient as they could be repealed or amended by a simple majority in Parliament”, meaning that our $3 BILLION ratepaid investment over the last 150 years is being taken for >0.05% of its value by central government 3 Waters legislation for its own agendas and possible on-sale or use as collateral for more massive government borrowing.

MP Mahuta and Ngai Tahu spokesperson Huria have falsely claimed that ‘Councils will still own the 3 Waters assets’ and that the new centralised entities and Iwi will just control them.

As I said then and is now proven, ‘having control over an asset’ means ownership and possible resale.

If this 3 Waters reform proceeds, as our DCC leaders assume is inevitable, it may become the biggest public theft in NZ history.

Today Council voted for a Pause to buy time, when they should have voted to Stop 3 Waters.

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MP Mahuta has misled Councils on 3 Waters takeover

I have made my submission to 3 Waters Committee Members:

The Water Services Entities Bill and the Three Waters reforms have been foisted on our Councils without any consultation or pre-election warning.

The 3 Waters takeover is un-Democratic, and puts governance in the hands of people with no local institutional knowledge of individual water systems that are vastly different say for Christchurch which is artesian and level, and Dunedin which is distant rainfall collected and distributed over many hills with wildly varying pressure gradients in different locations.

3 Waters have evolved locally over a hundred years to respond to the particular needs and expectations of local people who are best able to demand local accountability for water systems spending and quality.

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Dunedin City Council should de-fund Local Government New Zealand.

Local Government New Zealand extracts 4 million rates-paid dollars from our Councils every year for supposed representation to Government, but instead is an apologist for Government ideology, dismissing 3 Waters push-back and Communities 4 Local Democracy, and publishing the following Campaign Advice to Candidates:


My concerns to the ODT were as follows:

I consider this latest Inclusive Campaigning advice from LGNZ to be a patronising, bicultural straight-jacket, claiming diversity but pushing only Maori speech and sensitivity agendas at the expense of plain widely-understood speech.

The LGNZ ‘campaign advice’ mostly just repeats the trigger words: racist, discrimination, diversity, and inclusion, but there is no mention of words like: leadership, costs, consultation, value for money, debt, and rates, which are of interest to voters and should be the real focus of Elected Representatives charged with spending public millions.

Cr. Lee Vandervis.

The obvious solution is to save ratepayers a fortune and stop Council funding of Local Government New Zealand.

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We will be paying the increasing and compounding interest, exporting hard-earned Dunedin dollars, for a very long time.

Einstein may not have actually said this, but it is no less true.

Yesterday the basis for our interest rates, the Official Cash Rate went up again by 50 basis points to 2.5%, the 6th rates rise since October last year and the steepest and quickest climb in the OCR’s 23 year history. Another extra 100 basis points increase, 3.5% is expected by Christmas. Banks typically add 4% to our mortgage lending.

Every Annual Plan for years and at other opportunities I have debated against increasing DCC debt because long low interest rates could only go one way. DCC Group Debt [Council and Council Companies] is out of control, increasing more than $100 million every year.

The obvious solution is to wipe or defer ‘nice-to-haves’, like more cycleways [$32 million agreed recently] George st to the Exchange ‘upgrade’ [$60 million] Cycleway upgrades around the University [$20 million] ‘Park and Ride’ carparks in Mosgiel and Burnside [$10 million] traffic diversion away from the One-Way near the new Hospital [$16 million] new Moana Pool hydroslide [$4 million?] new mid-sized Theatre [$17 million], that is $159 million just for starters…

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Supreme Court application reasons include:

My concern is for the reputational harm done by Dunedin City Council staff with the unprecedented misuse of the Councillor Code of Conduct process which was leaked smearing the likely candidate for the 2019 Council Mayoral election.

I actually went into the Council to advise of faulty meter signage that needed to be corrected and not to try and talk my way out of a $12 parking ticket. I had overpaid for parked time and the $12 was never demanded of me.

This misuse of the Code of Conduct process included: the unprecedented use of the Code by a staff member to be able to make a Code of Conduct complaint, withholding vital evidence [the video of alleged intimidation], withholding the actual complaint, and withholding witness statements which was totally unfair as I did not know much of what was complained about against me.  

This High court decision effectively prevents any Councillor from being able to complain in-house about any Council staff member for fear of anonymous Code of Conduct retaliation by a staff member.

I am concerned at the amount of money Council have spent on this matter, but I had to act to protect my reputation and the Council could have agreed at any time to undergo a fair process including providing me with the complaint that would have allowed me to properly defend myself.

While the Council have legally won in the High Court, the position taken is morally indefensible because the Council knows I was not given full details of the complaint or a proper opportunity to respond to the complaint before the investigators’ report was provided to Council


Cr. Lee Vandervis

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Costumer services video evidence

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Mainstream Media have sunk to new lows. Look at some of the reporters feeding you the ‘news’.

TROLLs are what is wrong with social media, keyboard activists who delight in smearing, lying about, and misrepresenting people that aren’t extreme leftie or woke like they are.
Oscar Francis is special kind of keyboard activist still employed as a ‘reporter’ by the ODT despite me informing them of his bias, public baiting, smearing and misrepresenting as his public page below proves.
Stuff have a similar ‘reporter’, on record as blatantly lying called Hamish McNeilly. Amongst other lies, McNeilly’s Stuff story claimed the DCC had taken me to court, when he had sat through the entire proceedings of me taking the DCC to court.
Look out for Francis or McNeilly ‘reports’ right up to the October election. The ODT and Stuff plainly don’t care a jot for the Truth.

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Peter Williams picks the scab of MP Mahuta’s 3 Waters takeover

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The Court of Public Opinion at the 2019 election was surprisingly kind, considering the lead-up months of ugly ODT publicity.

The DCC Code of Conduct has become a Kangaroo Court, with no effective balance or Natural Justice rights for the accused.

Clause 12 of the Code of Conduct says that “only members and the chief executive may make a complaint”, but now the judges allow any one of 1500 staff members to anonymously Code of Conduct a so-called decision maker and smear them during an election campaign without the accuser being questioned or witness statements being seen.

The judges have been politically naive to assume that being able to make a final plea with all the with-held facts and accusations could change the rubber-stamping of the biased investigation.

The Code of Conduct process is now being used to silence criticism or complaints, and to silence anyone who speaks up as being ‘loud’ or ‘intimidating’.

I have taken this Court action against the DCC at my own expense to challenge this new use of Code of Conduct which has become a very big bureaucratic tail that now wags the elected dogs.

From the court evidence “one councillor spoke in favour of Mr Vandervis,

making the points that: it was unlikely Mr Vandervis was trying to get out of paying a

$12 ticket because he was paying a $40 ticket at the same time; the video did not

appear to show shouting or that Mr Vandervis had stormed off; a big issue was being

made out about a small thing; and it was no wonder that Mr Vandervis was concerned

about election interference”

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Ain’t Misbehaving – just trying to protect Dunedin Citizens’ assets.

Showing more respect to MP Mahuta is not something I intend to do, since she has lost my respect over her 3 waters asset grab, first by promising Councils they could opt-in or opt-out, and when 60 of 67 opted out, forcing the takeover on us anyway, And secondly because she has misled NZ regarding the safety of Council treated drinking water, And thirdly because she has indulged Nepotism with her family members, including appointing her sister as Co-Chair of the Maori Advisory Group to 3 Waters.

The unreported point of my criticism of Mahuta and her Council apologists, was yesterday’s bizarre Annual Plan proposal to dramatically accelerate our 3 Waters Infrastructure spending by $51 million over the next 3 years, when control of our $3 BILLION asset is being taken from us for a $46 million inducement plus an unconfirmed proportion of the 3 waters $120 million book debt.

Ownership is defined as ‘having control over an asset’, and Mahuta is taking that from us for 0.05% of its value.

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Election only 6 months away in October

I intend to make myself available for election again for both Council and for Mayor in the hope of being able to affect a positive DCC course-correction that will bring back Democracy instead of party political agendas that threaten the loss of our One-Way traffic system, loss of Dunedin control of our 3 Waters, worsening DCC group debt rocketing up beyond 1.2 BILLION$, and loss of public say on major issues such as turning George st into another cycleway.

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Melbourne has had many bike lanes for many years.

Push to remove Melbourne’s bike lanes

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Need to leave one ways alone and undo changes

The ODT have printed my letter to the editor in full!

Dear Editor,

We need to keep the One-Way system as one way obviously, as NZTA/Waka Kotahi have explained, but to suggest that our One-Way works perfectly well as Cr. Whiley claims is being too kind. We lost hundreds of carparks, and half a million$ in annual parking revenue to the ugly train of concrete space-wasters and an underused cycleway that should have been routed thought the Gardens, the Campus and Leith st, rather than dangerously mixing cyclists with heavy traffic and inconsistent stop-light turning options. 
To be perfect we need to reverse these changes and reinstate our lost parking or add a third One-Way lane to allow uncongested arterial traffic flow for our growing vehicle numbers. 
My previously published solution for new Hospital access given its unfortunate site is a multi-story car-park over the Countdown carpark with safe overbridge pedestrian and ambulance access above the One Way.

Kind regards,

Cr. Lee Vandervis

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$2.5 million per year just to avoid making an inevitable decision?

It is my unpopular duty to let Dunedin people know how far gone options are for the Middlemarch track. Can anybody suggest where the first $20 million might come from for the deferred line maintenance before we start rebuilding carriages and finding new customers?

Taieri Gorge Railways is now much less viable, as even in the good times of mostly cruise-ship passengers it failed to address necessary track maintenance accumulating at around $1.5 million every year for more than the last decade.

The dreamworld DCC is currently throwing $2.5 million per year at a hopeless mothballing operation because they don’t want to make the unpopular necessary business decision to accept that the Middlemarch track with 37 bridges is beyond anybody’s ability to repair.

Worse, the hope that this line could be made safe for cyclists is also impossibly expensive for capital works and ongoing maintenance. Who is going to pay to safely pave and fence 37 bridges and then repair those bridges with no significant financial return?

New safety requirements for carriages now also require side-impact resistance strengthening, making the reuse of older carriages unaffordable as well.

Storage costs, and mothball maintenance at $2.5 million annually is unsustainable whether better times come or not.

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3 Waters Reform reasons not factual.

This from ex-Southland Regional CEO Ciaran Keogh:

abridged to meet FB word limit.

Sent: Thursday, 21 April 2022 3:14 p.m.



: re your 3 waters article in Stuff 21 April

Kia ora Morgan

I find it ironic that you have fallen victim of this government’s propaganda on 3 waters considering your claim that The Three Waters reforms are subject to a good deal of fake news, Facebook speculation, and outright racism – your failure to research the veracity of the Ministers claim has resulted in you doing a wonderful job of spreading fake news yourself . I acknowledge there has been some pretty awful commentary about 3 Waters – a lot of that arises because many people can see it as a really bad idea but don’t have the knowledge to attack it any other way. 3 Waters is relying on fake news rather than facts to progress its agenda – the “cartoon” on TV was a gross (offensive) misrepresentation of the present situation, the claims about the levels of water borne disease in NZ are fanciful speculation, and the insinuation that this disease burden is caused by council owned water supplies is not supported by any factual evidence and ample factual evidence to refute the claim.

The statement that According to Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta, ‘each year approximately 34,000 people fall ill from drinking water, and thousands of households are required to boil their water in order to drink it safely. Absent reform, those numbers will only increase’ is a complete fiction that is relates to private water supplies, not to council operated infrastructure…

There is ample evidence of waterborne disease outbreaks in New Zealand to indicate a significant risk of contracting GID from drinking-water that is untreated or inadequately treated. An average of 16.8 waterborne outbreaks (range from 6 to 27) occur annually, affecting an average of 145 cases/year (range from 18 to 370). While the largest reported waterborne outbreak affected 3,500 people (Queenstown, 1984), the number of cases involved in most outbreaks is small, averaging nine cases per outbreak in 2001-2005, and is smaller than other countries for which data are available. This probably reflects the larger proportion of water supplies serving small communities in New Zealand compared to most other developed countries. This is consistent with the relatively poor compliance with the DWSNZ of the small community drinking-water supplies compared to that of the larger community supplies.

Based on currently available data, two separate estimates of the burden of endemic drinking-waterborne gastro-intestinal disease are ca. 18,000 and 34,000 cases per annum…

Firstly those numbers are fiction – they represent the upper end of an “estimate” of the annual number of gastro-intestinal infections from drinking contaminated water. This figure comes from a Ministry of Health report that stated that the author estimated that between 14,000 and 38,000 cases of GI was caused by contaminated drinking water the report – so even with that flimsy basis the Prime Minister was overstating things by claiming that at least 34,000 people get sick each year from drinking tap water – the report implies that at most 34,000 people get sick from contaminated water each year.

The information contained in that report is substantially speculative and grossly misleading, the worst historical outbreaks in NZ (Havelock North and Queenstown) were from untreated council supplies … In both cases the problem was easily foreseeable, and the resolution quite straightforward and not expensive in the context – simple UV treatment and competent management of the bore field would have removed the risk in Havelock North…

This finding also contradicts an earlier MOH report (An Integrated Approach to Infectious Disease Priorities for Action 2002-2006 (November 2001 Ministry of Health) that was actually based on research into infections from all transmissible sources. This report stated that … Although drinking-water in New Zealand is now very safe for the majority of New Zealanders and water-borne enteric disease is rare, maintaining current quality standards requires ongoing monitoring and preventive action. In addition, some poorer rural communities, as well as institutions such as rural schools, hospitals and marae, still lack good-quality water systems…

None of the information contained in the MoH report reflects the current risk situation in New Zealand from properly maintained and operated council owned and operated water treatment supplies. By taking the Ministers words as gospel you have become an unwitting mouthpiece for government propaganda. If our water supplies were as bad as 3 waters implies there should be a raft of hard data to support it – in fact there is none – only very creative misrepresentation of the facts by various vested interests (and I don’t include Maori interest here – I am a strong support of Iwi involvement in water policy development at a regional level). If 3 Waters was justifiable I would expect there to be ample factual evidence in support – the fact that its advocates have to grasp at straws, misrepresent the facts and use grossly emotional imagery and overstatement – only lends support to the conclusions that the initiative is a really bad idea. There are certainly water supplies and water treatment services that need work but they need work on a case by case basis on not on the basis that most schemes are problematic. Expenditures on public infrastructure also need to be made on a value for money basis – do you get better public health outcomes from spending $10s of billions on hospitals, safer roads, community poverty reduction, or water and sewer – the pot of gold is not unconstrained – I think you would find that NZ was far better off making investments in hospitals and poverty reduction long before in investing in any but a few water schemes. And then the communities involved should be fixing up their own infrastructure – why should the rest of us who have paid our way support those who have chosen not to – some schemes are simply uneconomic – it would be cheaper better and healthier to simply service them with roof tanks and household UV and filtration – I personally have lived on such systems for the past two decades – and I can assert honestly that it is cheaper than the more marginal community schemes – even if a tanker or two of water has to be purchased each year to top the supply up.

The 3 waters initiative also fails to consider the harm it will cause to local government as it removes core public service functions from within local government and away from direct community control. It also fails to consider that much of the issues with water generally occur at a higher level – at regional and central government through a lack of sound policy at both national and regional level – regional councils must have to be considered to be a failed concept after 30 years of not doing their job – but also central government does not hold any of these agencies accountable for their performance – there is lots of palming off of responsibility from the senior level of government without passing on sufficient resources/ let alone any system of audit or accountability for performance. 3 waters is simply another bad idea that ignores the facts, fails to address the real need for reform of local and regional government, and as usual fails to critique the fundamental failure of central government to provide leadership to and require accountability of, its subordinate agencies.

Ciaran Keogh

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Sammy’s should never have been purchased without a clear intended use, especially since Council does not own the land under it and Council seems not to have explored earthquake, asbestos and other issues with the building prior to purchase.
It is difficult to know what should be done with Sammy’s without knowing whether the asbestos can be easily sealed in and whether structural stability can be cheaply achieved.

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Comparing Dunedin with other NZ Cities

Good that Dunedin residents feel their quality of Life to be good, second only to Wellington.

But look at the real data – Export Revenue and Business Growth – and we are bottom of the list.

Dunedin needs to face realities and build on our currently sleeping strengths: for instance we have the best natural harbour in the South Island but let Timaru and Lyttelton take most shipping, we have extraordinary engineering and other inventive creative skilled people but fail to build businesses…

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