This weeks Waatea News Column – Mass Surveillance and Maori


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This weeks Waatea news column – Mass Surveillance and Maori


  1. Very interesting observations. The police were poorly advised and made terrible errors of judgement in the execution of the Urewera raids. In some ways it’s hard to fathom – whatever one’s opinion of the police their leaders are not idiots, so there’s something amiss in the mindset that could lead to those decisions. It was a calculated move. Was it over-reaction? Were they convinced of the need to demonstrate zero tolerance to any suggestion of armed separatism or insurgency? Did they fear that separatist movements elsewhere were inspiring local adventurists? Did the Urewera residents whose complaints led to police intervention greatly exaggerate the activities taking place? Who knows.

    The question of mass surveillance is a great quandary of our times, but the phenomenon is hardly new. European kings of old had their network of village informants, Japan’s Ninja were primarily an intelligence gathering apparatus, and African women at morning riverbank gatherings had amongst them those who reported regularly to the village chief to allay concerns of possible threats to the village hierarchy. Surveillance in its many forms has long been a part of evaluating threats to stability and power, regardless of how ‘legitimate’ or benign the threats or dissonance might be.

    It would be foolishly naive to suggest some level of surveillance is not necessary, and outrageous to suggest people should not be entitled to a reasonable degree of privacy. The question becomes one of balance and risk management — risk not only to governments, but risk to individual privacy and individual freedom.

    It’s all very well to say that “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear,” but that’s really a best case scenario and an inadequate maxim to protect individual rights. On the other side of this coin, there are people in our country who are a present or potential risk, and there are people whose association with foreign organisations is a risk and should be monitored.

    More than anything I think we are victim to our technological progress and our vulnerability is far more criminal than political, and if there is an argument for surveillance, this is it. Our lives are increasingly facilitated by electronic interaction and data transfer, involving everything from employment, banking, tax, commerce, retailing, and our interaction with government departments. All of this entails a level of vulnerability from an expanding niche of internet-savvy opportunists and criminals. It’s this that makes the surveillance conundrum so difficult. I can defend my political beliefs or associations, but when my identity, medical records, and financial history are stolen, sold, or compromised, I have little defence.

    Amongst other things, we need an informed, independent, representative and accountable body to oversee our surveillance and more than simply an assurance that it’s in our best interests.

    • Kia ora David, I agree with your writings,
      Did the Urewera residents whose complaints led to police intervention greatly exaggerate the activities taking place?

      Yes I believe so, I have lived and hunted in the Urewera, tramped the lakes and on several occasions done mild mannered stuff that would be considered a little suss, like shooting at cans, commonly called ‘sighting in the gun’ or having target practise… cans who don’t fight back 🙂
      While you live in the ngahere, information technology has no place in your mind or shapes your moves, you live in the old times
      where Te Ra is the only clock,
      where planting is done by the glow of Te Marama
      where you may get a glimpse of the patupaiarehe,
      where the stinging nettle hurts for years if you touch it
      where clean water and fresh meat is bountiful.
      There is no google or mass surveillance to be found, only the deer opossums and pigs trying to stay out of your way, but on the outside of the ngahere it is totally chaotically different.
      By the time you reach Rotorua its like you have been transported to Mars, and it hurts sometimes.

      Those words Martyn – Maori Radicalism, will always be used, when non Maori have no explanation, idea or understanding of our moves.
      The raids signalled to me that pirihimana and kawanatanga are afraid of the unknown quality of bush living Maori and will try to eradicate our moves at all costs, and they are not shy about bending and changing the rules to fit their kaupapa.
      Before the raids pirihimana didn’t have a great track record with trust and Maori, 7 years later nothing much has changed,
      We now know for sure, that the Law is not designed to honour us and it is better for us to follow the Lore in a peaceful way.
      Since moving from the ngahere it has taken a great deal of energy to survive in the urban jungle and technology has become my friend, to learn and stay in touch with the realities of the world, that is until I write or say something that can be misconstrued by the spy’s who maybe serveilling my Jagger moves,
      Why would they spy on me, invade my privacy,
      am I really that dangerous or even interesting,
      I don’t think I am. but the perspective of the one doing the spying will be different.
      who am I? a kind gentle strong private independent opinionated woman, a Maori, that I am.
      maybe that alone will be a good enough reason to spy on me.
      . just my thoughts and opinion

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