Den reckons it's alright to be white in Aotearoa. He says he's comfortable in his skin as a card-carrying Pakeha, a member of Tangata Tiriti, and a paid up subscriber to the Treaty of Waitangi. He's a Kiwi, belongs here, and is subject to conservation and protection orders. He recalls past dealings with Hone Harawira but concludes that despite some frustrations with him Hone has an important role to play in our nation building. Den suggests that if he can't be included in Parliamentary politics he returns to the politics of the street and focuses on politicising the brown proloteriat. Responding to Winston Peters' challenge he could join the Maori gangs and lead them past their self defeating behaviours and Gonville lifestyles to become a new form of Nga Tamatoa. Following the death of Martyn Sanderson, Den reflects on this man's life and his use of theatre to resolve Black vs White conflicts and to right wrongs. He concludes "it's the putting white that counts".
Denis clears his throat after a long winter, and proposes that our politics have been captured by populism masquerading as democracy. He reckons that we have seen racist laws at play in Whanganui, and that these express the lingering apprehensions of Anglo-settler society. Denis presents some upside down thinking around our prison system and recommends that if we are hell bent on privatisation why not consider Private Public Partnerships as a way forward. He says it's time to use some Kiwi nouse, smell the air of freedom, and sense the air of human potential and chance to develop productive partnerships. It's time to shut up on talkback. It's time to breathe through the nose.
The D writes that it's what is recorded on the stub of our national cheque book that indicates the relative value we put on issues. In the area of criminal justice, despite the Government's stated commitment to 'top of the cliff' interventions rather than reliance on prison, "crush and crate 'em" is the flavour of the day. D praises the leadership of Dr Pita Sharples as Minister of Maori Affairs for getting 'buy in' from Maori street leaders towards a quest for peace on the streets of Aotearoa and for his advocacy of Maori learners getting access to tertiary education. There is korero about a possible spike in the availability of P, an account and reflection on the death and burial of Nomad's leader Denis "Mossie" Hines, and celebration at the graduation of Te Rangatira Jack Tuhi "Ranga" from Massey University. (3,657 words)
Napier has seen an awful tragedy unfold, and Den reflects on these events and salutes his local Maori copper Len Snee. Den argues that it's time for quiet support and reflection; to give space to the grieving, respect to the dead, and prayers for the injured. (1,830 words)
"The poet and creative genius Alan Brunton once described Dr Ian Prior as having 'blood dangerous with utopias'. Ian has died and left us, grieving, yet still propelled by his legacy of action into continued efforts towards social justice. Den tells the story of Sandeep Chawla, Director of the Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime who, after a robust discussion with NZ gang members and drug dealers and users, suggests that one way for them to avoid disproportionate attention from the Police and media might simply to be a "little less annoying". Another St Patricks Day Hui & Huilli has gone off with great effect and a sense of locus for those who visited the ancient pa site, Otatara. There is praise for the continuing efforts of Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples who is out engaging Maori gang leaders and encouraging them to lead their crews away from criminality and anti-social behaviours and move towards a lifestyle built on a sense of identity as Maori, as whanau, and as members of community. Den gets the chance to talk to benches of judges and shares O'Reilly's lore: " Focus on the good", "Assume the best", "You'll see it when you believe it". (4,108 words)
It’s a new year and D is right into work. A bit of feedback about the Parihaka Peace Festival, engaging festival goers as participants rather than passive audiences, and bridging the cultural divide between Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti. Den discusses the tragedy around Halatau Naitoko, a young Tongan father, accidentally shot dead by the Police. He commends the Minister and Commissioner for their restorative approach and encourages the gunman to face the Naitoko family and unload his burden. Den sticks up for Social Development Minister Paula Bennett who supported the gang member father of her granddaughter when he was before the Courts. Den reckons she has modelled good whanau leadership, and improved the chances both of a rehabilitated offender, and of loving, respectful relationships between the daughter, granddaughter, and father. Te Ururoa Flavell, stung by the tragic events in Murupara, has voiced his pain, saying that perhaps gang members shouldn’t be allowed on marae, or shouldn’t be gifted the tradition of tangihana. Den reckons that with leadership from within gangs and from within the body politic New Zealand Maori gangism can pass, and be replaced by a widely shared positive focus on personal achievement within a whanau hapu tribal complex. With Ragamuffin coming up, and the Marley whanau in town, Den reminisces about what happened after Bob’s visit to Aotearoa in 1979 and tells the tale of the Keskidee Aroha project, the rise of aggressive black consciousness, and the whakapapa of reggae and Rasta in Aotearoa. Waitangi Day or Bob Marley’s birthday, reggae’s doing fine. (7,151 words)
New leaders for tough times. Den welcomes "Mr O’Bama", and feels hopeful about Prime Minister John Key because of his rapport with the Maori Party. He provides a briefing for incoming Ministers, outlining problematics including infanticide, high rates of crime, and high unemployment. Den proposes that Aotearoa should move into the tackle with upcoming unemployment and use downtime to improve whanau lives. He reckons that if the Kiwis can win the Rugby League World Cup then taking a collegial approach across community and government could also deliver a positive outcome for the tribe of Nga Mokai.
Jesus Mary and Joseph its Christmas again. Den says his friend Jules Older wished him 'Happy Holidays' but he reckons the holiday should be given its full due. He thinks that the Holy Family would be demonised these days with a possibly delusional mother, itinerant father,and child of uncertain parentage. Den takes Garth McVicar to task over the Emery affair and gives the sole of his shoe to Chris Trotter for calling the Maori Party kupapa. He reckons too that MP Sua William Sio should opt for sign language, canvasses the BIM's to the Ministers of Maori Affairs and Social Development and waxes lyrical about Christmas with the whanau at Waiohiki. (3,230 words)
The Whanganui River wends its way through the lives of many people. For Den it has been the feature of the past month as he recalls some of its sons, Rangitihi Rangiwaiata Tahuparae MNZM, 'Tahu', and Gabe Tawhiti, separated both by time and type but linked by their mutual awa. Gabe was a street warrior, stabbed to death in Wellington. Then, as now, there was anger and hurt. The River elders encouraged redress through the law and a quest to find ways for healing and peace. The 'Gabe', a fiercely contested Black Power rugby league trophy, was the result. Den recounts the build up to the 2008 match up at Mamaku. Tahu was a tohunga knowledgeable both in ancient tribal lore and the protocols of Parliament and the Crown. He translated Winston Churchill's riposte to Hitler, when the latter said that he would wring England's neck like a chicken. Churchill reportedly said "Some neck, some chicken". Tahu's rendition was "Tama heihei, kaki maro" and Den reckons that stiff necked roosters, both sinners and saints, better get ready for difficult times. He shares thoughts from prison reformist Kim Workman, criminologist John Pratt and counter-terrorism expert Dr Pete Lentini, examines the issue of free market behaviours and our suppressive approach to those who dare to be different.
Portrait of the activist as a young man; Paulo Freire, Latin America liberation theology and reflective action; pro-social change, community action, personal responsibility, and making change yourself; criminalisation of gang membership, differential sentencing tariffs; Black Power, the UN, their Waitangi Treaty claim, and Moana Jackson — jurisprudence expert; negative expenditure in the criminal justice sector; growth of the Maori family and the gang environment; moving forward, becoming engaged, less alienated and less marginalised leading to the end of “gangism” through a natural and sustainable process in contrast with the present "make war" suppressive approach; turning your life around and second chance education; Maori volunteerism; the political use of the court of public opinion; James K Baxter – “Ballad of the Junkies and the Fuzz”, “Ballad of Calvary Street”; “Zion”.
Despite their Machiavellian crafts politicians demand presumption of innocence for themselves despite much ambiguity. The finance and investment sector is riddled with what seem to be shonky dealings yet remain kosher. One used a national icon, Colin Meads, to endorse themselves and propose that they are worthy vehicles of trust. It seems that moral panic, and prejudice-laden analysis of the behaviours of the poor and brown, has our politicians intending to attempt to overturn the test of the burden of proof and to reverse the presumption innocence for some castes in modern day Aotearoa. Sir Brian Lochore has called for an end to PCism and cited some curious behavioural examples of times when things were better. Denis invokes the spirit of his late brother, Laurie O’Reilly, and in challenging the great man asks what being PC really is. Is it Patently Crazy as in the case of Sheriff Arapiro? Is it Politically Compliant as in the case of the Labour Party in terms of being poll driven on criminal justice issues rather than the creed of social justice in line with their core philosophy? Or is it Politically Correct in that the implicit criminal justice policies of a majority of the parties and politicians are “lock ‘em up and keep locking them up”? Denis reports from the front line on progress with the Black Power, Darksiders and Full Blooded Islanders, and tells of action research with the Mongrel Mob Notorious chapter which suggests that gang mums and dads have pretty much the same aspirations for their kids as do mainstream Kiwis. A little bit of reggae korero about Three Houses Down, House of Shem and Ragamuffin 09.
Friends and whanau of friends pass into the long night: Tam Wong Shi, Joe Dread and Paris Magdalinos. A cross-cultural hari-mate at Waiohiki, Jacob Scott and Para Matchitt provide sculptures, Jimmy Baxter and Aeschylus the words. Denis reviews Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori and likes what he hears. Asian apprehension about crime unleashes the fury of the tiger and Mr Low invokes the threat of the Triads. Baroness Vivien Stern claims NZ is creating criminals by redefining problems of poverty as problems of crime. Denis believes we need to forget about tougher sentences and rethink the destination and application of our "justice dollars". Winter solstice means time for planting and maybe some early crops, but like the outcomes of our community action, "ma te wa", we'll wait and see.
There is a sense of disquiet in Aotearoa and the nation is on edge over a spike in gang violence and series of vicious assaults and murders. Communities are crying ‘enough is enough’ and are looking to Government for action. Ombudsman Mel Smith says rational debate in the sector is almost impossible. Denis reviews what’s going in England and suggests following the ‘customer conscious’ approach. While sewage continues to pump into Hawke’s Bay the visual pollution of graffiti has the chattering classes all a twitter. New ideas that take into account the psychology of the perpetrator are required. Heavy thinking about behavioural economics and the concept of Libertarian Paternalism. Otatara a "Must-do" and frontline feedback from the 'Enough is enough' march, Maatariki feasting and a little whiskey .
A review of good work in South Auckland with previously warring groups; the system’s dilemma of how to react to pro-social gang leaders; coping with the tough times when things go wrong (stick to the kaupapa and say your karakia); big inflow of P-related product threatening to wipe out progress of demand reduction strategies overnight; ANZAC has become a day of national unity; Maori and Pakeha seem to get on better when at war than when at peace; Napier Pilot City Trust works on this with Unity Week and builds the Robson Collection as a resource for building communities rather than prisons in a time when our numbers have doubled in 20 years; Governor General Anand Satyanand gives the Robson Lecture on the history of capital punishment and pays respects to community volunteers; a 93rd birthday for Helen Mason.
In a crowded and diverse Easter calendar on the edge Den encounters suicide and resists a presiding churchman’s self-righteousness “with a quiver of arrows, sharpened arguments based on familiarity with biblical text”. He presents another Hui & Huilli for St Paddy’s Day, celebrating two rebel cultures, before contemporaneously facilitating a community arts festival and a Black Power hui, then visiting Ngati Dread in Ruatoria to confirm the roots of reggae and Rasta in Aotearoa.
Denis notes the cycle of life as he gathers together the memories of those who have recently passed, Sir Ed Hillary, Hone Tuwhare, Shirley Smith, Del Adams, Ben Dalton Snr. Then it’s on to life in Aotearoa New Zealand with the Waitangi Day furore over gangs on marae, Shane Jones badmouthing Josh Masters of the Tribesmen and Killer Beez, and the Government's get tough on graffiti intentions means it must be election time. Musical notes around Warren Maxwell, Don McGlashan and the Ragamuffin festival; and grave concerns over body snatching "a new twist on the consequences of miscegany". Read on.
A new change-agent workforce in the making; pro social multi-gang meetings in Mangere at a time of raised activity; New Zealand as a Jansenist society; a bevy of social development bureaucrats but little progress and much procrastination; National Radio relying on television media personalities with ‘make-up deep’ analyses; mourning the dead and paying respects to our living treasures; Rick Bryant’s Jubilation Choir in the Old Church restaurant, “one host and a chalice of wine please”; Christmas Blessings.
Let's deal with the alleged terrorism and Tuhoe issue. The last sounds heard by those at the controls immediately prior to the airship tragedy at Mt Erebus reportedly were "Whoop whoop, pull up, pull up". Erebus was in part due to 'white out' and the same phenomenon - this time 'white out' manifest as the prevalence of a dominant world view rather than as a meteorological circumstance - seems to have metaphorically propelled New Zealand's 'ship of state' into another mountain, Maungapohatu... (2,577 words)
A headline from gangland: better employment and health; Managing crime and punishment in New Zealand; restorative justice vs the Maricopa Country chain-gang method; the passing of Joseph Roberts, mentor, coach and American Eagle; gang policies in NY (community development) vs LA (suppressive policing); recognition for Ecuador’s Latin Kings Tigilau Ness documentary From Street to Sky; Robert Muldoon and Rastafarianism; social rage directed into art; “music speaks louder than words”; The coronation of Kingi Tuheitia; Bishop Paraone Turei’s sermon affirming “whakakotahi (collective unity) and the desirability of enabling Maori to be unique Papakainga: architecture, whanau housing and the Hawkes Bay village settlement project.
Tangis and tributes to two mates; “Maori rhythm”; the edge of thinking and the brink of disobedience; abandoning the drive to criminalize and imprison; Angela Davis visits Aotearoa and finds a faithful following; social activism, and a call to an earlier way of thinking and doing; looking through a kaleidoscope – suppression and wasted human assets, or a criminal conspiracy?; intelligent “Kiwi” policing, no legislation or local by-law needed; loose thinking and moral panic; Zeppelin sightings in the South Island; the need for an inclusive future vision; a good reason to get upset – the grand denial of potential; gratitude, respect and admiration: a ‘celebration of life’ party for Kaylene; prayers, rice and saki to fire up the new kiln at Waiohiki; planting at Mataariki and the promise of a clear sky.
Fire-fighting the gang issue in the wake of tumult and tragedy: resolving a problem not mounting an apologia; a stabbing at the courthouse sends scorched emotions tinder dry; warriors gather, tears on tattooed faces, long nights of prayers and necessary korero as baby Jhia is laid to rest in Te Rau o te Aroha urupa; Tipi Wehipeihana's haka calls us to gather and return: "hold firm, hold firm"; MSD's Wannabes report, Spergel's strategy and Baxter's philosophy provide the strategic action headings for our collective action in Aotearoa; "Still want terrorist legislation?" how 'bout: Divert, Contain, Redirect; settler malaise, fear of the natives, indiscriminate spraying of political bullets and the extinction of personal rights; Hori, Hemi, David and Goliath, Utu, terrorism, metaphysical forces and swirling spirits: "We are at a tipping point."
Hui & Huilli: Respect to the twin steams that contribute to the cultural flow of our land at Waiohiki for the global phenomenon of St. Patrick's Day; a sparse church service and the Hamuera Ratana Silver Band; Sir Tipene O'Regan's long and hilarious account of an historic whanau liaison; the Governor General offers nation building words and lays down a wero; a Maori Celtic Art Auction; Guinness, music, whiskey, Ceili, Kai and cultural synergy; toasts "To who we are", a call to party and an exchange full of wit and wisdom; hard news at Wellington hospital; the tohunga and the priest; it's and/and Father, not either/or; a hui in Jerusalem at Easter, a gathering of apostles and "a sense of intergenerational transfer".
Feeding the soul at Parihaka a century since the passing of Tohu Kakahi and Te Whiti o Rongomai, "the human pillars of passive resistance in New Zealand"; a Festival with 7000 people clustered in campsites; the formalities of powhiri and the beauty of korero and waiata; remembrances of confiscation of land, imprisonment of people, rape of women, looting, invasion, forcible ejection and illegal arrest in 1881; postering about P ("beware of P and seek help if hooked"); "start with bringing peace to your house, to your street and onward"; meeting up with Te Ringa Mangu Dun Mihaka; Unity Pacific, Batacuda Sound Machine and Kora; and the St Patrick's Day Maori/Celtic Hui & Huilli at Waiohiki Marae Napier with Governor General Anand Satyanand, Lady Thea Muldoon and Sir Tipene O'Regan in attendance for long festivities.
Years ago, it would have been the late 70’s, and I was working on an arts employment project with Para Matchitt and Jacob Scott at Otatara, the arts campus of the then Hawke’s Bay Community College, I ran into an …
From P to Parihaka and the Pentagon, Den travels the inspirations and issues that make us lively in Aotearoa 2006: the continued exposure to te reo Maori and the repetitive cultural rituals that refuel the soul; the Parikaha Interational Peace Festival and a debate held on the site of Te Whiti’s house about an alternative approach to methamphetamine; a new sense of cultural fusion in Taranaki; new projects at the Waiohiki Creative Arts Village in Hawkes Bay and the Mokai Whanau Ora project in Wellington; Maori Television; media tripe; and Kiwi or Iwi? – “will we be brave enough to use a bicultural approach to create a sense of place and space rather than a division?”
9,000 New Zealanders will be imprisoned by the 2010. About a billion dollars is being spent on building more prisons. Denis notes Finland had a higher rate of imprisonment than NZ, but halved it. Via a Whanganui gang scrap between the Mongrel Mob and Hells Angels, a run-in with Mayor Michael Laws, and a salute to Robert Muldoon’s “intelligent pragmatism and genuine humanitarianism”, Denis makes a challenge for sustainable strategies that are inclusive, that invest in people’s lives and help them find what is more meaningful in their lives than substance abuse and self-defeating behaviour.
Denis traverses the 125th anniversary of Tareha Te Moananui MP and the continuum of Maori cosmology, the execution of Stanley Tookie Williams, the “P-Promise” in the Hawkes Bay, Chris Tremain’s maiden speech in Parliament, and a Massey University report into methamphetamine use in New Zealand. “The nature of my effort is to mitigate harm and to maximize potential, reduce drag, increase sail, turn criminals to legitimate taxpayers, whatever little shibboleth best sums up the current call to action. Maybe I’m tired and its pre-holiday blues. I’ve had this notion of Sisyphus finishing one haul with his rock up the hill and getting ready for another. On the other hand, that’s what I do so I need to find satisfaction in my travail.”
With $750m going into building new prisons, a 15% projected increase in prison populations, an 85% recidivism rate and 61% of all offenders being Maori, Denis calls time to “whoa!”. There’s got to be a better way, he says, so in tandem with NYNZer John Wareham, Denis starts growing a cadre of change agents. He charts a debate with Wellington’s Darkside and TelecomNZ executives on the subject that “That Pakeha owe Maori a decent living” - and concludes with a Kevin Tamati story from the sidelines of Hawkes Bay rugby league.
Denis welcomes his new mokopuna to the world, reflects on the bedrooms of the nation, looks up Muldoon and reminds us there’s no kiwi without iwi. A road trip down south for a special family occasion precipitates a journey through family memories and New Zealand’s history. Graduation day, Paddy O'Reilly's Store, Operation Hurricane, Darksiders, the communes and the co-op movement, Black Power and Baxter.
Globalisation has allowed us greater access to cheaper labour, products and services - this unfortunately includes drugs such as 'P'. Community and 'social' development have been identified as one way to counter the effects of an increased domestic trade. Denis heads back to school, hits the books, and along with the latest research findings, outlines recent health, education and employment initiatives. And, if you wanted a history lesson on Rugby League, look no further.
The Tui sings for contemplation, and Denis reviews the peaks and valleys of the past few months. The importance of attending Tangi, the passing of a Pontif, a visit from the P-Funk Allstars, Napier's Pilot City Trust and Policing in an election year. An indepth run down on the attendees, readings, gang engagement, and uplifting success of March's Heretaunga symposium “Self, Race, Drugs & Justice in New Zealand”. A reflective poem of farewell and new beginnings.
Denis and John Wareham (NYNZer who coaches leadership in the world’s top corporations) team up with Black Power and the Mongrel Mob, the Eagles Foundation of America and the NZ Sensible Sentencing Trust for a transformational symposium “Self, Race, Drugs & Justice in New Zealand” at Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, Hastings, 4-6 March 2005. Plus a tour to the frontline of methamphetamine, and to Waitangi 2005.
Working the real stuff... a supported housing community at Waiohiki - a place that might have a 'P-free whare' status... the Waiohiki Creative Arts Village... addressing suspicion and distrust... looking for keys to unlock a system set on assuming the worst... the Eagles Foundation of USA... the Mokai Whanau Ora project, Aotearoa... "working for things other than money"... working for a high traction entry into 2005...
"…At the conclusion of the haka two of the warrior group stepped forward and placed upon the ground a black guitar case. They opened the case and fell back into line. The challenger, eyes flashing, gesticulated to the visitor to pick up the contents. He did so; it was a 12 string Maton 425 "acoustic electric" guitar. The legendary guitarist and rock icon Joe Walsh had just accepted the first challenge of the 'Sinners Tour' a project initiated by Mokai Whanau Ora, designed to raise awareness about methamphetamine use in New Zealand and to bring a message of hope, in that , with help, recovery is possible."
"Life was cool, busy, and pretty low stress until when, two years ago, a friend, a Black Power leader, in a bout of methamphetamine induced psychosis took a knife and gutted himself. His death was a shock, both in manner and cause. When the news reached me I drove through the night and arrived at dawn at the gates of his ancestral marae where he lay, in state. There, beside him I stayed, in the Maori way, with his family and child and relatives and friends, and gang brothers, for the days of mourning, speeches and prayers, haka and song, until the time came to return him to his mother papatuanuku, the earth. And the emotion of these days fired my desire for action, kia whakarite, the desire to put things right."