Shouldn’t Radio NZ feel ashamed for its Metiria Turei coverage?

By   /   August 12, 2017  /   83 Comments

TDB recommends Voyager - Unlimited internet @home as fast as you can get

For the first time ever, I had willfully switched off a Radio NZ political programme. Listening to three, privileged, well-paid, middle-class, pakeha professionals pontificating on the sins of a 23 year old young maori woman two decades ago was more than I could stomach. 

.

 

.

When Metiria Turei announced her resignation as co-leader of the Green Party, on the afternoon of 9 August, it could be said that the bullies had won.

The reactionary media pack – led chiefly by so-called “journalists” Patrick Gower, Mike Hosking, Duncan Garner, Tracy Watkins, and  John Armstrong – had joined the hunt. They scented blood. The prize?  Who would be first to announce her resignation. Watching and listening to Gower almost salivating as he put the verbal “ultra-violence” boot into Metiria was nauseating.

The political Right-Wing – led chiefly by ACT’s sole MP, David Seymour – not only clamoured for her resignation, but actively promoted rumour after rumour to undermine her reputation. Mischief-making falsities from the Right is done with malice and glee. Especially if the “fake dirt” can be thrown anonymously via social media.  Seymour’s role in this is even more jaw-droppingly hypocritical when one studies the lengthy list of former, disgraced ACT MPS – and there have been several, for such a minor party.

Various sundry vociferous critics from the “Moral Majority” – led chiefly by Joe and Jane Bloggs – pakeha, middle class; home-owning; privileged. They have never know hunger or having to choose between paying the rent or new shoes for the kids. For them, the mantra is “can’t afford to feed kids – don’t have them”.  (Which is code for “fuck off, we don’t want to see you poor people because it makes us feel guilty and we don’t like it. You’re in our Comfort Zone”.)

Fellow blogger, Martyn Bradbury described that relentless attack on Ms Turei thusly;

It is a grim reality of the double standards that are always used against the Left in politics. The truth is that this was a class attack by rich white male broadcasters who used their privilege to launch a character assassination against Metiria for daring to give beneficiaries hope that the way they are treated will be finally discussed.

And that is precisely the point. This was never about Metiria having to lie to Social Welfare when she was 23.

It certainly wasn’t about her so-called “electoral fraud”. Hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders live overseas and are actively encouraged to vote in electorates they haven’t resided in for years. The Electoral Commission even encourages citizens to vote in electorates they are absent from;

Enrol and Vote from Overseas

Just because you are out of the country doesn’t mean you have to miss out on having your say in New Zealand’s elections.

[…]

Your electorate will be the one in which you last lived for a month or more. 

All quite legal.

But when a mischievous young person does pretty much the same thing as a prank, to support a joke political “party” – people lose their minds?!

Ms Turei was certainly not the first woman on the Left to be vilified. Before her, there was Sue Bradford. And before her, Fran Wilde. When Conservative New Zealand is threatened by women who “cross the line”, it reacts brutally.

Ms Turei not only “crossed the line”, she was an uppity brown woman who got lippy and insolent to The Established Order of  Things.  The Establishment slapped her down – hard.

As Stephanie Rodgers wrote for Radio NZ;

I will remember that for 30 years, no one really challenged the brutal reality of life for the poor in New Zealand. We lamented child poverty rates. We railed against increasingly draconian policies and re-brandings. But there was a gentlemen’s agreement that things weren’t that bad, the system did what it could, it was just so complicated, we can’t simply give people money, they’ve got rights but they have responsibilities too.

I will remember that as soon as someone – a Māori woman who survived poverty and didn’t forget where she came from – said ‘This is fundamentally wrong, and we must do better,’ she was finished.

The “weapon of choice” to take down this uppity woman was not Ms Turei’s political opponants in the National/ACT Party (though that stooge, Seymour, certainly did his masters’ bidding). That would be too obvious. New Zealanders with a vestigial sense of fair play would quickly recognise a political “hit job” carried out by the governing party. Especially with Paula Bennett apparently having a few of her own skeletons stashed away in her closet.

No, retribution would be exacted by New Zealand’s own “Media Elite” – prominent personalities from TV (Garner, Gower, and Hosking); print media (Tracy Watkin and John Armstrong), and the usual goon-brigade of semi-articulate radio “talkback” hosts.

Radio NZ was largely exempt from the media pack hunting down their quarry. Until 10 August,that is. On a programme called ‘Caucus‘, Guyon Espiner, Lisa Owen, and Tim Watkin discussed Metiria Turei’s lying to Social Welfare in her 20s.

Driving home this evening, I listened to the three of them discussing Metiria Turei’s lying to Social Welfare in the 1990s. I listened and listened, and became more incredulous and angry with each uttered word.

I switched off the car radio. Outside, the dismal grey sky occassionally sprayed sheets of rain over me as I and  thousands of other vehicles slowly moved along the  Motorway. “60K” the illuminated overhead signs demanded.

Sixty?

We should be so lucky! We did 30 or maybe  40 and were thankful for it.

Despite the gloomy grey sky, blanketed with bulging dark clouds, it was a damn sight more cheerful outside than in my  vehicle, having listened to three journalists who I usually hold in high regard. It was darker, gloomier, and worse inside than out.

For the first time ever, I had willfully switched off a Radio NZ political programme. Listening to three, privileged, well-paid, middle-class, pakeha professionals pontificating on the sins of a 23 year old young maori woman two decades ago was more than I could stomach.  Louder than ever, Herman Melville’s now-oft repeated quote bounced around inside my head;

“Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.”

Maybe I’m wrong and I don’t know the full extent of the lives of Guyon Espiner, Lisa Owen, and Tim Watkin – but that’s the point. We don’t know their lives.

The Inquisitors who have hounded and interrogated Ms Turei have done so with utter impunity as to how they lived their lives in their teens and twenties. Perhaps they lived their lives faultlessly.

Because – and here’s the point – the journalists and media personalities are not investigating anything Ms Turei did in her adult years, especially as a Member of Parliament.  They are scrutinising her past life.

It was a time when every single one of us cocks-up one way or another. (I certainly did. I haven’t worn my halo since puberty.)

Case in point; all three likened her transgression to lie to Social Welfare with Bill English’s rorting of the Ministerial Accomodation allowance in 2009;

.

.

Note how then Dear Leader, John “Pull the Other One (pony tail)” Key phrased English’s deliberately rorting the system as an unfortunate distraction“.

At least Ms Turei never called her lying to Social Welfare as an unfortunate distraction“. Can you imagine the reaction of the Establishment Media?!?! They would have burned her alive at a stake on the Parliamentary forecourts.

But the point here is that Bill English was 48 when he rorted the Ministerial accomodation allowance.

Metiria Turei was 23.

Please Guyon Espiner, Lisa Owen, and Tim Watkin – tell us how they are remotely similar? If you can explain this to us, the Unwashed Masses, perhaps we can begin to glimpse your reasoning to hound this woman till she finally cracks and resigns.

Because I really, really, really want to understand.

The next complaint they had was the messy nature of Metiria Turei’s “back story”. Lisa Owen referred to “missing bits of her story” and “gaps” in her life.

Well, that’s a surprise, isn’t it?

That young people have messy lives that are often not tidy; not neatly packaged for future scrutiny; and often much of what we’ve done as young adults totally eludes our memories.

My own life has been “colourful” to put it mildly. Much of it I can recall. Much of it, I’ve forgotten or the details are hazy. If anyone asked me what I was doing when I was 23, I might offer basic facts – but certainly not details.

Most normal, rational, fair-minded people would find it  utterly unreasonable to expect the often chaotic lives of young people – especially those at the bottom of the socio-economic heap – to be recalled two decades later. Especially by an unrelenting media pack demanding minute details.

John Key’s “poor memory” was a standing joke in this country. The most famous example when he couldn’t recall the last time he had txt-messaged a far-right blogger. It had been only 24 hours previously. But he said he “forgot”;

.

.

Screw that. We know he was a lying, manipulative con-man. But he got away with it because he ticked all the right boxes;

  • Establishment
  • Wealthy
  • Powerful
  • White
  • Male

On top of which, he was further rewarded with a knighthood. (I didn’t know liars were knighted.)

By contrast, Ms Turei was anything but but any of the above.

As  State House Tenant Advocate, Vanessa Kururangi, blogged recently;

If you’re brown, don’t dream of conquering mountains.
If you’re a woman, don’t you start having an opinion.
If you’re intelligent, play that shit down.
If you have stretch marks, you don’t stand a chance.
If you have aroha, don’t share it with others.
If you extend your arms, it had better not be for a handout.
If you have a voice, keep it zipped.
If you have a skeleton, best you bury the whole house, not just the closet.
Also, learn to lie.

“Learn to lie”. That last one is a lesson all our politicians have had beaten into their skulls by events  over the last two weeks. Lie like John Key when he “forgets” stuff. Tell the truth – and prepare to be excoriated.

None of which stopped Espiner, Owen, and Watkin from holding her to a higher standard than Key. None of them paused to think; “Hang on, are we really expecting too much from a young woman in her early 20s who lived like most young people who have no perception of long-term consequences?

They’ll deny it was a witch-hunt, of course. All of them will; Tracy Watkins, John Armstrong, Mike “I Love John” Hosking, Duncan Garner, and Patrick “I’m Holding The Line” Gower, as well as Espiner, Owen, and Watkin, and a few others who I cannot be bothered to list.  Otherwise known as the “Media Elite”.

But of course it was.

Meanwhile, stories of poverty continue in our daily media. There is much hand-wringing, soul-searching, and those same  Media Elite wanting answers to questions.

Metiria Turei may not have had the answers. But she knew the welfare system is broken and keeps people mired deeper in poverty, creating new cycles of despair, lack of hope, violence, hunger, disease…

Metiria Turei may not have revealed every intimate secret she had at the time. Why should she? Does poverty really mean having to give away your privacy so that privileged folk in the Middle Class can pass moral judgement on whether you are worthy of charity. That’s really going ‘Victorian’ on poor peoples’ asses.

Maybe it would be fairer if, when a Media Elite asks a poor person who they’ve been fucking recently, that Media Elite can swap his or her details at the same time?

Like this;

Patrick Gower: “So tell us, Wretched Poor Person, who’ve you been having sex with while on the DPB?”

Solo Mum: “I’ve had sex three times, Mr Gower, Sir, with the same person.”

Patrick Gower: “Away with you, Woman of Loose Morals!” [Turns to TV camera] “In the interest of full disclosure, I’d like to say I had sex with my partner, Mary the Merino, but no suck luck. It’s just me and my right hand, folks. Now back to the studio.”

Too much information, right?

But that’s how much the media demands to scrutinise the lives of the poor – especially those on welfare. As if receiving a state benefit demands surrendering privacy.

In case certain individuals from the Media Elite believe I’m being crude and unfair – damn straight I am. The last two weeks have shown me what the new standards are. I’m quite capable of playing by those rules.

On the day that Ms Turei announced her resignation I was thoroughly ashamed to be a New Zealander.  I saw the nasty, vindictive, petty-minded elements of our society. And the Media Elite played along; encouraging it; enabling it.

A day later, as I talked to grass-roots Green Party supporters, and read the comments of other people on social media, I began to hear the voices of the better nature of New Zealanders.

And you know what, my “friends” in the Media Elite? You can’t do a damn thing about it. As “Bill” from The Standard wrote;

Something’s happening right under our noses in New Zealand and a fair few people are missing it. When Metiria Turei highlighted the fact that New Zealand’s Social Security system is deployed as a weapon against poor people, 30 years worth of pent up frustration and/or remembered experiences from innumerable people suddenly found an outlet.

Metiria Turei has started something. You can’t stop it.

You can’t stop us all.

 

.

.

Postscript – Minister for Sheer Hypocrisy Speaks Out

Former welfare beneficiary and now Deputy PM, Paula “Good Time Party Girl” Bennett recently admonished Metiria Turei, lecturing her on the Protestant work ethic;

“ I was often on benefit, I had jobs and I was always trying to get off when I was on, because I wanted to work and didn’t want to be on a benefit.”

Which seems in stark contrast to an earlier remark that Bennett made to NZ Herald journalist, Amelia Romanos, in February 2012;

“ Then I pretty much fell apart because I was exhausted. I went back on the DPB.”

So, Bennett wasn’t “always trying to get off when I was on, because I wanted to work and didn’t want to be on a benefit“. Sometimes she got a bit tired.

What was that you were saying to Ms Turei, Minister Bennett?

.

.

.

References

Radio NZ:  ‘Outside opponents want to see us fail’ – Metiria Turei

Electoral Commission: Enrol and Vote from Overseas

Radio NZ: How Metiria Turei saved the Labour Party (audio)(alt.link)

Radio NZ:  I will remember Metiria Turei differently

Fairfax media:   Bill English buckles over housing allowance

Mediaworks/Newshub:  John Key ‘genuinely couldn’t recall’ text messages

Radio NZ:  Deputy PM on Turei’s benefit dishonesty

NZ Herald: Bennett rejects ‘hypocrite’ claims

Additional

The Spinoff:  The sins of Metiria, Bill and John – sense-checking the fact checkers

Other Bloggers

Gordon Campbell on the Turei finale

Bill:  Corbyn-esque NZ

Chris Trotter:  Avenge Metiria!

Vanessa Kururangi: “A Guide To Politics – Rules on How to Survive”

Curwen Rolinson:  Jacinda Effect > Metiria Affect – Why The Greens’ Polls Are Down

Previous related blogposts

Time to speak up for Metiria Turei!

Time to speak up for Metiria Turei! (Part Rua)

The most grievous betrayal of all – two so-called “Green” MPs who should know better

.

.

.

 

 

.

.

= fs =

***
Want to support this work? Donate today
***
Follow us on Twitter & Facebook
***

83 Comments

  1. patricia bremner says:

    1000% Frank.

    Metiria is brave and special.

    This is a needed conversation, well overdue.

  2. Francesca says:

    Perhaps Paula could now front up with an uplifting and detailed account of how she bravely went against the trend of her self confessed imperfections
    “I never said I lived a perfect life”
    and became a paragon of virtue while living on and off the DPB.
    Of course the media and the New Zealand public deserve nothing less than
    a flawless, perfectly remembered account of every relationship, every monetary transaction, the identity of the father, his circumstances, where Paula lived, with whom at what times.
    Of course Paula will remember all this because at those times she led an exemplary life, it will be crystal clear
    OK Frank, I know you’re not in to hauling Paula over the same coals that roasted Metiria, but an account like that would surely give hope and sustenance to poor people and beneficiaries, and maybe a few tips on surviving poverty while remaining morally pure.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11892317

    a piece by Fran OSullivan, no friend of the poor, but a curiously equivocal comment on Bennett

    • Caroline says:

      Paula Bennett has good reason to be very nervous which is why she has been reluctant to condemn or judge Metiria and not just because of her own benefit and IRD history. When Bennett was Welfare Officer on the Albany Student Association shortly after the Massey University campus was opened in the mid 1990s allegedly there were serious concerns raised about the handling of applications and allocation of funds.It is not too late to ask questions about what went on after all Massey has excellent record keeping.

  3. Stuart Munro says:

    Well said Frank.

    • Observer Tokoroa says:

      Yes Frank

      The cheap Hypocrisy as expressed by slobs Espiner, Soper, Garner and twisted Gower is utterly sickening.

      I thought the biggest creep in the Journalist patch was Armstrong. Perhaps he still is. A vile man. But Hosking and Seymour are scumming around in their wonderful garb of purity waving their crucifixes and prayer mats. Saints in the making.

      Have any of these persons I have mentioned done anything for any struggling young young solo mother.

      Hypocrites never do.

      Long Live Metiria

  4. savenz says:

    I’ve turned off the TV and seldom read MSM newspapers. I’m not sure who they are aimed at, but judging by the amount of people turning off and the ‘free subscriptions’ of certain papers becoming the norm, less people are interested in their propaganda. Funny even the right wingers are looking at the ‘left’ sites now so they can know what is really going on.

    Anyway it is about time that the beneficiaries issues are being raised. If NZ politicians and low wage businesses are so determined to go down this low wage economy route and go for that 15 million NZ population against any common sense that is being forced upon us so that select businesses can make short term profits, then there has to be a solution for those who are forced off the ladder of paid wages as well as the social issues that the growing inequality will escalate.

    With technology growing and climate change disrupting housing and farming, many jobs and infrastructure are just not going to be there and the NZ government egged on by special interest groups, seems to have the bizarre idea to hire as many cheap people to fill as many obsolete jobs as possible and somehow let the ‘market’ (aka taxpayer) to sort it all out latter.

    Historically that’s a very bad idea. One of NZ biggest advantages is we have a low population that used to be a lot more equitable. In the 1970’s you could count the unemployed under 100. So now we have the 20th century idea right wing idea we have 100,000’s unemployed so that we have competition. Not working!

    In Germany 1 in 8 people are not born in their country. In NZ it is 1 in 5 and Germany is both richer, huge amount of infrastructure like housing and transport already there and working, better run, has huge resources to integrate people and a history of knowing what can go wrong if you don’t and has the EU for support. They are also attracting people grateful to be there and understanding what is real in life after often escaping harrowing circumstances. NZ seems to be going for 0% tax haven types, or exploiters who won’t pay a cent of taxes and are caught paying workers $2 p/h (in fact are taking government money) or certain billionaires are not even not expected to live here in some examples!

    In NZ we have a bunch of yokel famers, accountants, lawyers and day traders in our government who seem to have the arrogance and stupidity to think that the growing unemployed will be someone else’s problem one day, just fake the figures, someone else will pay to sort it out, just borrow more money, sell off more government land and assets, so why worry?

    Welfare has tightened up considerably since Metiria’s and Paula’s day. They made it, got educated, are now helping run the country (I guess not Metiria any more).

    Under today’s draconian welfare, Metiria could be in jail, her child in CYPS care and not been given an education to get out of poverty. We are going backwards, people!

    People are a countries greatest resource. In NZ our government don’t even understand that and the National government are actually talking about people as liabilities and as hopeless.

  5. Afewknowthetruth says:

    The OFF button/switch is a wonderful thing.

    In the case of Radio NZ, or any other of the hundreds of mainstream media propagandas outlets, it should be the permanent position.

  6. Micko says:

    It’s the political naivety that gets me. Did Turei, or the Green strategists, really expect that the “media elite” wouldn’t go digging for more dirt? Did nobody subject her to any form of inquisition to establish the robustness of her narrative of the struggling mother forced to cheat the system?

    This story is looking a bit flimsy in light of the reported comments of her family members. There’s an impression that perhaps she had a lot more support than she says. The fact that she was still in contact with her daughter’s father (using his address) and was probably receiving material support from his family, while not naming him for child support purposes, smacks more of a sense of entitlement than of desperation.

    Neither was it a good idea for a party leader on multiples of the average wage to appear largely unconcerned about reimbursing this money now. She should have straightened it out with WINZ before the announcement.

    I realise now that I have been in denial about my instincts over Ms Turei. I think she, and we, are victims of her own hubris.

    • LeGrandeFromage says:

      Nicely put.

      Though why “fact checking” her story amounts to digging dirt defeats me.

      She didn’t resign to protect her family. She resigned to protect herself FROM her family.

      Single handedly destroyed the needed discussion on poverty with her own arrogance.

      Bravo Metiria.

      • Can we “fact check” your past, Mr/Ms Anonymous LeGrandeFromage to see how you acted whilst on a welfare benefit?

        Can we “fact check” if you’ve paid your taxes and not claimed for anything you shouldn’t?

        And can we “fact check” if you’ve done any “cashies” lately?

        In the interest of full disclosure, let’s start with your name, instead of hiding behind a pseudonym. It’s easy to be a judgemental moralist hiding behind anonymity.

        • Julia Parker says:

          Very well put. Kia kaha.

        • LeGrandeFromage says:

          I don’t really care that she ripped us off while on the benefit. I certainly don’t care that she enrolled in the wrong electorate. I don’t care that she hid the identity of the father of her child so that he could rip us off too. I’m glad that we payed for her study.

          Saying that she’d pay us back if WINZ came after her? On 200k a year? That’s taking the piss.

          I care that she “sexed up” the story for political ends.

          It annoys me that she tossed the Hartley’s under the bus to make it look look like she was on her own.

          It INFURIATES me that the story was so easy to unravel.

          The stupidity it burns.

          You don’t have to be the little baby Jesus to make judgement calls Frank. I judge everything all the time. Everybody does.

          I think Metiria’s been a bit of a dick Frank… and I’d like to think if she has a quiet reflective moment… she’d probably think so too.

          • Harry Lauper says:

            [Comment declined for publication. Trolling. – Scarletmod]

          • There is little positive in your approach to this, “LeGrandeFromage”. It’s spin.

            The main point from your diatribe is that you view Metiria Turei’s attempt to focus this country’s collective mind on poverty is – in your view – “sexing it up”.

            I see nothing remotely “sexy” about poverty and homelessness.

            Up until now, very little has worked. The media still report on people living in cars, garages, mouldy homes, etc.

            Homeless are dying in the streets of our biggest city. That barely rates a mention in the msm.

            You may call Metiria as “a bit of a dick”, but I don’t see anything constructive coming from you. Not. A. Word.

            Oh, thanks for using my first name. Sorry I can’t repay the favour – you’re still closeted in anonymity.

            • LeGrandeFromage says:

              There’s nothing positive in my view of these events because I see it as an absolute clusterfuck from start to finish.

              Last week the Greens were down to 8% in polls taken before the resignations of Clendon, Graham and Turei. Where the hell do you think they are now? 5% beckons. WTF happens if both the Greens and TOP get 4.5% each?

              Trying to beatify Turei after the event is just wasted effort and utterly counterproductive to boot.

              Policy, policy, policy. or National + NZF. 3 more years.

              • In Vino says:

                Are you another concern troll? By the way, there is no reason for that superfluous ‘E” in the middle of your pseudonym. French for the big cheese is ‘Le grand fromage’. Try not to look like an idiot, please.

    • Sue Comrie says:

      Meteria has stated she received no material support from said family members so to say “she probably received” is what .. misleading, untrue? An assumption with no basis but nevertheless these “wild accusations” as referred to have become the narrative. Seems to be wilfull mischief making. She has been very clear about what she did but better to make up stuff and keep up the “devil incarnate” view.. SHAME

    • Micko, I take you up on two points;

      One;

      This story is looking a bit flimsy in light of the reported comments of her family members. There’s an impression that perhaps she had a lot more support than she says. The fact that she was still in contact with her daughter’s father (using his address) and was probably receiving material support from his family, while not naming him for child support purposes, smacks more of a sense of entitlement than of desperation.

      That’s a whole lot of statements based on assumptions. You have no idea what “relationship” there was between Ms Turei and the biological father.

      You don’t know why she refused to name him.

      And so what if she was receiving “material” (?) support from his family? Are you suggesting a return to Victorian Era definitions “deserving poor”, as advocated by the Libertarianz? (https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/neo-liberal-libertarian-holds-up-victorian-england-as-model-for-success/)

      Are you suggesting solo-parents be cut loose from all family support before they are able to receive state assistance? And are you suggesting families pay for their members who happen to be sole-parents?

      Please be clear on this because your criticisms leave an open-ended question as to what alternatives you suggest.

      Suggesting that “There’s an impression that perhaps she had a lot more support than she says” is not helpful. We’re not responsible for whatever misguided “impressions” you’ve gained from this ongoing story.

      Two;

      Neither was it a good idea for a party leader on multiples of the average wage to appear largely unconcerned about reimbursing this money now. She should have straightened it out with WINZ before the announcement.

      Yes, I’ve heard this same suggestion from others. You seem to be repeating it
      without thinking it through.

      Precisely how do you suggestion she “reimburse the money” when it happened two decades ago and she has no idea how much is “owed”.

      Can you shed light on this? Do you know how much she owes? If I can employ your technique of making assumptions based on nothing at all, I assume you have a dollar amount in mind?

      Feel free to share that with us.

      Finally, I note that you make no reference to why people on welfare are forced to with-hold full disclosures from WINZ. Have you actually ever dealt with WINZ yourself? Feel free to disclose your situation if you have, including how much you were paid. (Note, if you try to bullshit us with bogus dollar amounts, I will pick it up.)

      Metiria shared her most private details with us. Feel free to do likewise if you’ve been a “client” of WINZ.

    • Richard Christie says:

      @Micko

      Your comment is long on innuendo and presumption, but short on facts, the very things that redneck talk back radio and the Gowers of this world promote.

  7. wanafli says:

    200% Frank. We need to keep the momentum going. Metiria Turei for PM anyone????

  8. Petrus says:

    Frank:

    I listened to that discussion as a podcast, right to the end. Breathlessly privileged, it was. Espiner claimed English rang him spitting – shall we call it fire and fury? – over his allowances fraud but that he, Espiner, persisted and did his duty and reported without favour and so got English’s scalp. Perhaps that was his sole reason why. If so, it was a very temporary win. Tough, privileged, well-protected scalp, it seems.

    None of the pundits seemed to appreciate the fundamental issue of weaponised welfare. None were prepared to discuss the purpose of welfare: whether it should underpin society or whether we should persist in using it to punish the underclass. It was an intensely superficial and self-serving discussion and entirely unworthy of RNZ. Bugger them.

    Lovely piece of writing, BTW.

    • Petrus, thank you for your observations. I could readily include every one of them in my story above.

      As you put it; “It was an intensely superficial and self-serving discussion and entirely unworthy of RNZ”.

      Indeed.

  9. You say –
    Especially with Paula Bennett apparently having a few of her own skeletons stashed away in her closet.

    Where is Paula Bennett ?

    She seems noticeably absent at the moment..
    Could there be a reason for this ?

  10. mary_a says:

    Brilliant Frank. Sadly so true though.

    Metiria has started something big and we should all be grateful to her and continue to back her to the hilt.

    My paternal grandmother was a staunch Socialist, having broken the law on many occasions to help those less fortunate. In the UK where she lived, she worked voluntarily in the soup kitchens and would bring home homeless people (one at a time), to give them the opportunity to have a decent meal, a bath, a warm bed to sleep for the night and a change of clothes (belonging to either her or granddad, or clothes she managed to pick up from charity shops). I remember from a very young age sitting around the table with these homeless people sharing a meal with them and listening to their stories. My grandmother instilled in me the fact these people could be us at any time and they deserved to be treated with kindness, respect and generosity and to consider myself privileged to sit at the same table with them.

    For her wonderful spirit of love and kindness, like Metiria, my grandmother was reviled for having the courage to stand up for her convictions towards helping society’s less fortunate.

    So what I’m trying to say here, is nothing has really changed. The poor have always been and still are condemned and so are those people who try to help them. In this respect we haven’t evolved at all. Still a primitive society, voting in feral political representatives, with their equally feral media doing their toxic bidding for them!

    From my perspective, I see the Greens as being the only political party in NZ to pursue the much needed change in this regard. That’s why I will be giving Greens my party vote.

    #IstandwithMetiria
    #avengeMetiria
    #partyvotegreen

  11. Historian Pete says:

    The worst of it is that the departure of Metiria has left a hole in the Green party . Who is going to step up to be the Great Champion of the beneficiaries, the poor, the homeless, the unemployed? Since Keith Locke retired from the Green Party there has also been a hole : the role of Foreign Policy spokesperson that Keith did so well. Well, there is a person that covers both roles admirably and who was a candidate for the Green Party leadership once. I refer of course to Sue Bradford.Where else is there the experience, the iron will, the resolute adherence to the cause!!
    # Bring back Sue Bradford.!

  12. J S Bark J S Bark says:

    Nice. Thank you very much for sharing that Frank. It helps me feel less dis-empowered (and less thoroughly miserable)…

    The day Metiria resigned, I shut off the TV and retuned to Concert FM.

    I drive my son to distraction catching up on the hourly RNZ news bulletins during the day and even through the night; it’s like an addiction; I need to hear the news.

    He could not believe that at 6 pm I was sitting in the living room reading a novel. I told him I needed distance from NZ’s so called media. That’s how angry I was at New Zealand for doing the dirty on Metiria. I broke an addiction.

    I gave a qualified support to the Greens based on Metiria. After reading Chris Trotter’s article on the ‘Avenge Metiria’ movement I decided that was a valid tactic IF. The two ‘ifs’ being Clendon and Graham not being readmitted to the Green list. This morning I see that Kennedy (Judas) Graham has been denied re-entry to the party list along with Clendon.

    The Greens now have my vote.

    Not because I believe in them intrinsically.

    Not because I’m trying to save this planet.

    Not even because I’m against the American hegemony.

    It is simply because I have an opportunity to land a punch on the right by so doing.

    Cheers…

  13. Michal says:

    BEST NEWS TODAY GRAHAM WON’T BE ABLE TO RETURN, HE AIN’T WELCOME!@#@!

    Oh my goodness I am glad I didn’t hear that programme, I was outraged at Jimmy boys ‘The Panel’ where do they get these people from. I have written to them following a comment by some from the national business review who they had on saying ‘she said her baby was starving or something like that’ really this outrageous at no point did she say that or intimate it.

    I am also totally fed up with those to noddys on Kathryn Ryan’s show who are ‘political commentators from the left and right’. Good grief one supports Labour (hasn’t been left for years and years and years) and the other supports National.

    Have they forgotten we have an MMP environment. Someone else needs to be doing this, perhaps Bryce Edwards would be the answer.

  14. Veritas says:

    I do not understand the incessant desire to explain away MT’s bringing about her own (and potentially the Left’s) undoing. She made a serious misjudgement in not checking all her facts before she shared her news. No-one was ever going to believe that her child’s Labour MP grandmother let them go without. MT’s lack of foresight has potentially cost the Greens its voice yet people on this blog celebrate the perpetrator of the disaster. The Greens would do better to distance themselves completely from MT and focus on rebuilding.

  15. G.A.P. says:

    Thank you Frank for articulating my thoughts on the Metiria saga far better than i would have done. As an avid listener to RNZ National for many years, i no longer consider there reporting to be reasonably unbiased, as i had been apt to do in the past. After making my first formal complaint ever, about the accuracy of a news bulletin, and waiting over a month for a reply, i was referred to cnn and an obscure blog site as justification for the report???

  16. Siobhan says:

    For bringing to the fore;
    the problem of inequality in New Zealand;
    and the corruption of all our systems, that allows for greater fraud, with less consequences, for the wealthy;
    and the vile prejudices of the main stream media;
    and pushing the Greens into drawing a line, and acknowledging publicly and loudly, that the poor and disadvantaged and strugglers are part of the Environment too…
    for these things Metiria is my hero this election.

  17. G.A.P. says:

    100% Francesca.

  18. XRAY says:

    Frank, in 45 days time or thereabouts National could be reelected and carry on the damage as never before.

    3 careful years of goodwill building by the Greens was finally paying dividends with a timid voting electorate but it was wiped out in 3 weeks and now Turei is gone and if she is not lucky she may take the entire Green Party with her. This was a horrendous miscalculation and I agree with some sentiments in comments here who are over the continual entrails analysis of her demise.

    In fact Rachael Stewart summed it up perfectly here, http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11900072

    But in the interim the world carries on, for example;

    Dr Death, J Coleman, National MP for Nothcote, has finally discovered 50 days out from a general election that starving Mental Health of money for 9 years is now paying some really horrible dividends that look really bad at election time.

    Or Dr Deaths other coup d’etat , Dunedin Hospital, is now genuinely more financially dysfunctional than the US health care system and it is killing people.

    Or financial advisers who are now recommending that their investors sell down NZ assets because we are in a productivity recession, that is our growth is propped up ONLY by immigration that brings no wealth rise but is costing us dearly in infrastructure problems.

    Or that hundreds of people battle over who be the lucky recipients to buy a whole 10 affordable new homes with a whole 1 bedroom, for $450,000 no less, in Nationals embarrassing answer to their own made housing crisis.

    All this, this week, has happened whilst the Green Party navel gazed in a fit of self indulgent despair and without even noticing it is slipping beneath the waves because they and Turei did not have a single strategic molecule in their/her being to think what she was about was far far more important than her party and the people she claimed to represent!

    You can do no good in opposition! We need to get rid of National!

    .

  19. Sunny says:

    So well written Frank. Thank you.

  20. arbeitslos says:

    Re Paula Bennett. A few key words – Taupo, truckstop, mattress. Thanks for this piece Frank. I could not revile the likes of Hosking and Espiner more. Here’s hoping the Greens will continue to expose inequalities – Jan Logie and Marama Davidson will carry on where Metiria has sadly left off

  21. Pete says:

    Seymour’s role in this is even more jaw-droppingly hypocritical? Seymour could be called the patron saint of hypocrisy in NZ and the weird thing is the number of times he accuses others of the same.

    Even weirder is that the media publish him saying that of others and people believe him.

  22. Kim dandy says:

    As easy as ‘off’ – don’t listen to those ‘Steven Joyce” paid monkeys.

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      100% Kim Dandy.

      They are all ‘Steven Joyce’ Monkeys including the MSM who will pay for their treason.

  23. WILD KATIPO says:

    It will be a Labour led govt. The Greens will be there, as will NZ First.

    Its marvelous.

    But its been tarnished by first Andrew Little leaving , then Metiria. Labour lost an honest , diligent leader when Andrew resigned, and his integrity and loyalty was demonstrated in his choice to stand down. Jacinda Adern was the wise choice. She is / will be unstoppable. Therefore it is bittersweet but for the best.

    Metiria has been heroic, despite her detractors. Single handily she opened up this whole glaring 33 year old neo liberal attempt at decimating the last vestiges of our former social democratic state.

    Bill English and National will not succeed this time round. Metiria put paid to that. But it is up to other politicians to carry the baton now. It has been shown that there is a large groundswell who not only supported Metiria , but who knew / were / are victims of this decayed welfare state and the neo fascist attitudes of the people who make up the whole WINZ dept ,- particularly the attitudes of policy makers, and senior management.

    Metiria Turei will find other effective ways to advance the policy’s she stated,… but it should never have come at the price of her having to resign under such petty charges of ‘ malfeasance’… especially when those charges of wrongdoing were brought by such so called ‘ journalists’ as the ones you mentioned.

    That list that you provided Frank ,… Patrick Gower, Mike Hosking, Duncan Garner, Tracy Watkins, and John Armstrong ,- including Audrey Young Claire Trevett and Lisa Owen and others… have consistently and blatantly submitted articles and opinion pieces over the last 9 years that are clearly pro far right wing , and thus pro National and even ACT.

    In short they have used their position in the media to advance and shore up the neo liberal ideology.

    This is not balanced journalism at all.

    It is propaganda.

    It is these and the neo liberals that they answer to directly who were threatened when Metiria exposed them. And so they were instructed to attack.

    The only consolation is that it will most probably be a Labour led coalition govt after September. But this whole neo liberal blight on our society needs to be put under the microscope and then expunged. And to do that , what Metiria started needs to be picked up and ran with. The momentum that Metiria kick-started needs to be firmly kept before the public gaze.

    You want to avenge Metiria?

    This is how.

    And if that is done and much of the damage of this neo liberal National govt is overturned , what Metiria started will not be in vain. An added side bonus to that will also be her vindication and the debasement of the current propagandists currently enjoying dominating the neo liberal narrative and unduly influencing as unelected bodies the New Zealand general elections.

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      Metiria as the champion of welfare and the poor is a clear understandable case study in the sense of how difficult it is today with high cost loans of post education facilities they are forced to attend.

      I have a very special friend who has four children and struggles to learn a skill at these post education schools now.

      She is going to wind up with a very large bill before she finally gets a job to start paying it off probably for life now.

      Anyway the true Party of Welfare was labour party as they began the “baby bonus and the Pension before that and later welfare with all trappings.

      Then came “Social credit” which is still around and so is Jim Anderton of his Alliance party which was an offshoot of Social credit.

      Green party didn’t have a policy on this when I was one in 1999 as it was purely a “environmental advocacy” party.

      However Metiria will now always be known as the one who actually nailed the social component to the green party flag at least that is the way I saw it, maybe some kind soul may wish to (nicely) correct me?

      I do humbly, deeply respect Metiria for her open honesty, as anyone who advocates open honesty is worth everything to the enrichment of the community of NZ.

  24. Joanna P says:

    Hi Frank, So appreciate your columns. I too could not take anymore of that segment with Espiner et al … it felt to me that they were trying to justify their incredibly bad coverage and departure of Metiria.

    That day was a black one for RNZ. Morning Report was for me the final straw with Susie Ferguson’s interview with Metiria that morning. It was hounding and futile, re-covering ground well soiled. But the final, final straw came when Susie and Guyon were reading out comments from the public, laughing almost in contempt of previous interviewees. A kind of good riddance.

    I have given them a good run as Morning Report has been my wake up call for decades. And as I commented in a txt to RNZ, “For decades I never new Geoff Robinsons politics, but this morning I have no doubt about Espiner’s and Ferguson’s”. You know, I am really enjoying not having them in my weekday mornings! But it is getting really hard to get fair and balanced reporting in NZ.

  25. Today, a team of Green party members and supports met in Petone for door to door canvassing. We split into teams of two, and went off to our designated streets.

    Lisa and I went out on the road today in Petone, door-knocking for the Greens. We had some very intriguing responses from the public…

    One voter vacillated between wanting to vote for Labour’s candidate for Te Tai Tonga… or Metiria. She was torn on that.

    One swing voter who has voted National last three times, but didn’t seem too enamoured with Bill English. Said he was toying with voting TOP this time, and the National candidate for his electorate vote. He was deeply critical how the Greens had handled Metiria’s revelations after she made them public. Said it was “inept”.

    Three voters enthusiastic about voting Green!

    Another household had one TOP supporter and a Green voter (making four for Green).

    On the negative side, we met one chap on the road who was interested in what had happened with Metiria – and proceeded to parrot a lot of mis-information he’s obviously picked up from right-wing mischief makers.

    None for National, NZ First, ACT, etc.

    Note, we canvassed about twenty houses, with half no one home, so not a scientific poll by any stretch of the imagination.

    But still very insightful.

    As a blogger as well as a Green supporter/activist, I need to do this more often to go out and gauge public opinion.

    Plus, it’s actually damned good fun. You meet some very interesting people. The discussion can get very engaging and it’s a temptation to waste time with too much chit-chat at any one house.

    I wholeheartedly recommend people go out and do this. It’s not as intimidating as it seems.

    Tomorrow morning, billboarding.

    #IstandwithMetiria

  26. Jack says:

    There’s no folly in youth. There’s no fool like an old fool. And if he’s a fool he’s bound to be a tory.

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      Yes jack,

      I am sorry to see Espiner jump to the right firmly with Susie Ferguson.

      They want to have the appearance to be “Sleeper cells for the National Party” for sure.

      Guyon, always was until now very fair and balanced, but I detect a change recently to him.

      • Richard Christie says:

        Guyon, always was until now very fair and balanced,

        You can’t have been paying very close attention over the years if you thought that. 🙂

        He’s often let his neoliberal bias show, although not so frequently exposed his undoubtedly pro National bias.

  27. frank says:

    “….. having listened to three journalists who I usually hold in high regard.”

    as Guyon Espiner is listed as one of those journalists then your judgement must be seriously questioned.

    • I tell myself the same thing…

      • CLEANGREEN says:

        One thing is for sure now!

        Radio NZ has been obviously pressured by SS Joyce who is national’s Propagandist to not attack any of their policies leading up to the elections.

        I warned this would happen time and time again and have over 16 times beginning in 2015 posted the suggestions that all opposition Parties must get together and “seize” by legal means; – half of the public media known as Radio NZ and TVNZ for them to use leading up to the election!!!!!

        Several bloggers agreed with my suggestion.

        Mr Christie you have several times criticised me on several issues, over the years, so I will take your continued critisism on this issue as just more of the same.

        You have even been very silent on my suggestions to legally challenge our right to control half the broadcasting of our public media as those representing half of the voters who are opposition Party voters, and I ask now why?

      • frank says:

        no…i should retract…an imperfection of judgement merely demonstrates a true humanity…continue to keep the less so on their toes.

  28. Jay says:

    You’re only picking on Bennett because she’s a woman and she’s brown

  29. mary_a says:

    Oscar Kightley on Metiria Turei. An excellent piece, quietly alluding to the rotten, judgemental society we have become.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/95719299/oscar-kightley-brave-tureis-main-mistake-was-to-be-so-honest

  30. Philip Ferguson says:

    Excellent article Frank. Spot on.

  31. Philip Ferguson says:

    Also having a part in the downfall of Ms Turei, was Jacinda Ardern and Labour. They are so ultra-respectable, they took fright at Metiria’s admission.

    https://rdln.wordpress.com/2017/08/06/labour-and-the-politics-of-respectability-and-low-horizons/

  32. mjh says:

    That “Caucus” programme made me sick, too. Self-righteousness rampant! But I want to comment on Tom Scott’s cartoon — Metiria did not “admit to a mistake” — and quite rightly! It was not a mistake — it was an sneak attack on a vile system. She did what she thought she had to do so she and her child could survive, have dignity and have a chance to move on with their lives. If the system doesn’t let you do this, you do it anyway as best you can. The poor and beneficiaries do this all the time. And they have since the time of Victor Hugo — and if found out they are severely punished (remember “Les Mis” folks?)
    But where I think she made a “mistake” was in announcing it to the world. It was a political mistake, as she and the Greens should have anticipated the attacks. It was a mistake because it distracted from the content of the Greens policy on social equality and support for beneficiaries. That wasn’t her intent, I know, but as soon as I heard what she said, I though “oh no!” And it was a strategic mistake. We are tending far too much to make our news stories and policies grounded in personal examples rather than analysis and research — and the personal anecdotes can often be attacked and discredited by the evil minded.

  33. […] that the ensuing media and social bloodbath was because she is female and Maori and there is some evidence of this. If you look at the way the media and law treated John Key, Bill English, and Sir Douglas […]

    • Rosalie Steward says:

      Hi Frank, thanks for your comments. I had the same experience – turned off RNZ after hearing the gloating in Guyon’s voice! Even said cruel and mean words in a global fashion, and I’m a dedicated peacemaker 🙂 As the story has unraveled I have questioned the strategy and naivete of the decision to disclose her personal history, and perhaps the lack of consideration of how others (grandmother) might take it. Despite all of this, there’s been pathetic little concern for the deliberate creating of a desperate underclass over the last 30 years. This is the most engaged debate I’ve heard on this subject for a very long time. Also, all sorts of people have ‘shown their colour’s. And Findlay MacDonald spoke up to remind us (echoing the US ambassador) that politics is a blood sport. I say, not a fair and representative governance?? what *have we been thinking…

  34. Marc says:

    Well, I doubt it, if Metiria started something, it seems to have largely been in some people’s head, but will make a damned little difference down on the ground here in New Zealand, going by what I observe and hear.

    To bring a true change, it requires to talk boldly and honestly, and to not scare and try to be ‘diplomatic’ when nasty MSM journalists confront you. That is exactly what they want, uncertainty, expressed often by ‘diplomacy’, they need a true damned talking these jerks of the likes like Gower and others, straight into their face, to tell them, hey, are you a fuckwit, or do you not get it, this country is screwed and YOU are wrong, mate.

    Meteria was poorly advised, made mistakes, relied on enough out there caring for people like her and those in similar situations, but that led to a disaster, it led to a witch hunt.

    Make no bones about it, there are very many in this society here, who are not nice anymore, they suffer themselves, but instead of showing empathy, being in solidarity, they rather do what their nasty and manipulative, punitive masters tell them to do (WINZ, employers, government and so forth), and they look for others to blame, same as the Nazis did blame the Jews for all that was wrong in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.

    It is time to show colours and attack the local Nazis here full frontal, to show them, hey, we no longer put up with this crap, and if those who flounder, are uncertain, do put up with it, tell them, shoot us, have you got the guts, mate?

    That is what it takes now, it takes street action, boycotts, strikes, pickets and the likes, sadly so many are now complacent, complicit even or resigned cowards, they do not dare stand up for the downtrodden anymore, they simply try to look after themselves and nobody else.

    If that is the case, it pays to give up all else, and attack this rotten and failed society, as it is then rotten to the core and does not deserve any more validation through fake and BS election processes that simply uphold the corrupt and rotten status quo.

    Where is Occupy, I ask, or was it just a FAD?

  35. Marc says:

    Ms Turei is a dreamer, this is the street fight like in places like in Germany, ffs:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sF12Fsfn2ao

  36. Marc says:

    Dear Kiwis, this is How you do things, you do noT SIGN OFF AND COWARDLY SIGN OFF, YOU PROTEST QND TAKE. ACTION, THANKS, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1q246N1mM0

  37. Marc says:

    they try to kill us, we will fight ack

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1q246N1mM0

  38. Marc says:

    Mr Trotter does not believe in revolution, I disagree:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1q246N1mM0

  39. Rachel Wallis says:

    Thanks Frank. I love that quote. It says it all. And it reminds me of this one, by Ranginui Walker:
    “I have no time for privileged people who take advantage of their privileged position to attack the weakest people in our society.”
    Nga mihi.

  40. Richard Pamatatau says:

    An important read Frank.
    Thank you.
    Richard Pamatatau

  41. […] blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 August […]