Squatting statute of the Environment Minister Nick Smith is protest art at its best


Seven years on, Environment Canterbury (Ecan) is yet to return to full democracy but surely its chief executive Bill Bayfield can at least pretend democracy matters by not rejecting an artistic expression of a legitimate protest.

The giant squatting statute of Nick Smith is due to be unveiled outside the Ecan building tomorrow morning.

Yes, I accept that some people will find it offensive, but the right to offend those in power is an integral part of the right to free speech and therefore an integral part of our democratic right.

I admire Sam Mahon’s art for the strength and staying power of its message.

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How can we look at Nick Smith ever again without being reminded of the woeful degradation of New Zealand water under his watch?

Protest art, as a style to relay a message to the public, has a proud history.

Picasso’s 1937 mural-sized Guernica is regarded as one of the most moving and effective anti-war paintings in the world.

In April last year, a series of sculptures depicting Donald Trump in nude apperaed in five cities in the US.

The sculptures titled “The Emperor Has No Balls” showed stern looking Donald Trump with a pot belly, “saggy butt”, small penis and of course no testicles.

Through their art, the sculptures’ creators, anarchist collective Indecline, provided a powerful artistic challenge to Trump’s personal brand and his narrative as a powerful boss.

Any art that aims to affect change by raising consciousness and addressing socio-political issues has to be celebrated and encouraged.

In the past 30 years, some of the most critically effective forms of art have been displayed outside the traditional museum space.

Think of the work of political activist and graffiti artist Banksy and its impact on exposing the injustices of militarism and inequality- or the work of Chinese contemporary artist and activist, Ai Weiwei, on promoting democracy and human rights.

This new approach to art is of particular importance at the time when art is failing to reach and connect with the wider public, especially those who are disfranchised and marginalized.

Sam Mahon’s giant sculpture of Nick Smith is art at its best: it is powerful and speaks to an important issue.

I hope the sculpture will find a permanent home in a public place so it can continue to foster dialogue around the important issue of keeping New Zealand clean and green.


Donna Miles-Mojab


  1. What is also outstanding about Sam Mahon’s art is his shear skill. Very few artists can sculpt at that size and do it well

  2. Yes the Environment is under threat now under National and was confirmed in a new report from a leading climate change expert Reese Chapman that was leaked apparently to the Green Party I heard this morning on Radio NZ. (I am not a member of that party)


    About $19b of property at risk from climate change effects
    8:59 pm on 3 September 2017
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    A government report into the effects of climate change estimates $19 billion of property is at risk from increasing flooding and coastal erosion.

    Beachfront properties in the coastal township of Haumoana in Hawkes Bay.Beachfront properties in the coastal township of Haumoana in Hawke’s Bay. Photo: Te Ara Encyclopedia
    A 284-page draft report from the Ministry for the Environment has been released by the Green Party.

    The report warns sea levels may rise up to 40 centimetres by 2050.

    Green Party leader James Shaw said it painted a more accurate picture of the scale of climate change than previous reports and the government should have released it.

    “You’re looking at $19 billion worth of property, 2000 kilometres of roads, five airports, 50 kilometres of railway, 133,000 potentially affected.”

    Councils, businesses and families needed to know that information so they could start planning, Mr Shaw said.

    The report showed there was a considerable risk from flooding and coastal erosion by only a moderate sea level rise, he said.

  3. ‘the important issue of keeping New Zealand clean and green’ ?????

    NZ is one of the dirtiest countries per capita on Earth, and it is only the relatively low population, the relatively windy weather and the relatively high rainfall that prevent NZ rapidly becoming a toxic mess.

    That said, ALL politicians and ALL councils and ALL regional councils and the vast majority of the population are committed to making NZ more polluted via increased dependence on internal combustion engines and increased consumption of industrial chemicals.

    Industrial civilization is, by its very nature, environmentally destructive, and is unsustainable.

    This September marks the turning point for photosynthetic absorption of anthropogenically generated CO2:


    Next year atmospheric CO2 it will be somewhat higher than this year, whilst the oceans will be somewhat more acidified and less hospitable to extant life forms.

    And most people living in NZ think the toxic set of living arrangements we endure is all perfectly normal and that the have the right to pollute with impunity.


      We desperately need the likes of most of us who have our views and considerable scientific knowledge on Climate change and the environment seriously in collaboration with Government

      This was our letter sent out today requesting meaningful input be given to us all from this report expressing the government open up dialogue finally, We hope it helps.

      Dear recipient of this letter, & Central Government & agencies – local body Government.

      4th September 2017.

      A brief review of this 284-page draft report from the Ministry for the Environment entitled “Coastal Hazards and Climate Change” shows wide references to placing community involvement in the local government planning in the future transport, environmental policies and infrastructure.


      The pages 47/48 is very interesting, Especially 3.2 – Why engage with the community?

      Mention of who should be consulted during this process are; along with Iwi, Hapu, “Community groups with special interests” the report says.

      We all must be actively involved through the whole process and certainly not just the usual past low quality paperwork shuffle of a simple written submission process that goes no-where and produces no community mitigation requested for tangible results.

      Our interest are , Environmental degradation climate change, transportation and public health impacts.

      I strongly recommend all parties now download this report and use it for future local government interaction.

      Terms importantly to be referenced such as in 3.2.1 “Who should participate”
      QUOTE; “Establishing who should participate is crucial step which should be approached with care because withholding participation can be perceived as a strategy to regain and/or retain power and influence (Hayward et al 2004; Lebel et al 2006) ”

      This is a strong signal to Central & local Governments to no longer ignore any community group in future from now on who have been seeking involvement and meetings with these authorities.

      During this last nine years our Environmental Community Advocacy Group has consistently been ignored and/or not been responded to after countless 200 emails have been sent to Central Government (National Party PM & cabinet Ministers) for meetings and involvement in both Transport & Environmental issues affecting our communities.

      We now want to see inclusion and co-operation from these authorities.

      • My extensive experience in dealing with local councils and regional councils confirms that they are totally corrupt and don’t even bother complying with NZ statutes. They don’t comply with NZ statutes -such as the Local Government Act 2012- because they don’t have to. There is no accountability ANYWHERE. And the public consultation is an absolute sham, geared to manufacturing consent for looting and polluting.

        In fact the whole local government and regional government setup is a shockingly dysfunctional shambles, geared to extracting money from ratepayers so that opportunists can spend it on pet projects that benefit themselves and their mates in the short term at the expense of the long term common good.

        And the vast majority of people living in NZ don’t know and don’t care.

        Needless to say, when governance is as utterly dysfunctional as it is there is no hope for the future…..just an inexorable slide down the energy-environment gradient that eventually leads to absolute catastrophe for those that follow us.

        When I think of local government I think in terms of criminals and clowns who have a monopoly.

        What is REALLY INTERESTING is how the rules have been changed to facilitate infill housing that would not have been permitted 20 years ago: not it’s all about cramming as many boxes as possible onto a piece of land and cramming as many people as possible into the boxes. And persuading them to consume themselves to death.

        Local and regional councils are the prime agents for destruction of the next generation’s future. We cannot stop them -there are no mechanisms for stopping them- but can only keep a record of their continuing criminality and look on in dismay!

  4. Sam is inspirational. His simple but deft image speaks volumes.

    smith rides over the rights of others and shits on the environment.

    he needs more exposure.

    I hope Sam has an appropriate olfactory quality to his master piece.

  5. Nick Smith has shat on ECAN and normal democratic processes.
    He has shat on the environment.
    He has shat on all of us who care about the state of the nation’s waterways.
    So it is absolutely appropriate to have a statue of the man doing that.

  6. Sam Mahons speech in front of ECAN for the unveiling of the Nick Smith statue was very humorous and charismatic .

    He indicated Nick Smiths penis had been knocked off by accident when going over the Waikari railway crossing coming into town . A train then went past and unfortunately circumcised it before he managed he glued it back on .But he insists its all back in proportion now .He also said the balls were ok , because Nick really didn’t have any , anyway.

    Face with a court injunction to stay off the Ecan front plaza in CHCH ,a crowd of around 50 people assembled on the foot path , where the statute did not contravene the injunction and he was able to speak without police or security interference.

    Following the explanation of the art work , Sam then took a miniature of the statute and surrounded by the crowd , (formed into a dense huddle like an all black scrum) boldly rushed the plaza lawn with police looking on . Where upon and a secret person protected by the human shield placed the mini statue in the park in an act of brazen civil disobedience .Nice Work.

    Sam intents to visit Nelson shortly and spend some time at the market which should also be good fun.

    Yes , it is offensive ,but its supposed to be.Yes, it creates division but also debate , generating considerable media attention and public discussion right before the 2017 NZ Election.Perfect timing.

    The wider the media exposure of this challenging graphic image , the more it raises our awareness to the serious implications of peak cow and the battle to restore our Waterways .

    James Shaw has indicated NZ cows now produce the effluent equivalent , of a NZ population of 141 Million people without a sewage system.Its time to make everyone aware of this Cowspiracy.

    Satire is a great political weapon ,and Sam Mahon’s artistic freedom has been brilliantly executed .Genius .

  7. Fanbloodytastic piece of art by Sam..

    Please make a few miniature models, I would think they would be in huge demand.

    We shall never forget the creators of our shity water ways..and we will never forgive.

    • Countryboy, Winnie is hot on water issues here.


      Water high on agenda for NZ First leader Winston Peters

      From water royalties, reopening the Napier-Gisborne line, to revitalising Hawke’s Bay economy – New Zealand First leader Winston Peters covered the big issues on a quick stop in Hawke’s Bay yesterday.

      Over 150 people gathered at Hastings Baptist Church to hear the Northland MP share his vision on the country’s future, and poke jibes at the policies of his political opponents at a Hastings & Districts Grey Power Association meeting.

      Roaring into town in his personalised tour bus, Mr Peters arrived at the church to thunderous applause from the Grey Power crowd, joined by his party’s Tukituki candidate, Joe Kairau, and MP Clayton Mitchell.
      Mr Peters, and his bus, had last been in Hawke’s Bay as part of his tour around the country.

      “We took that bus tour to remind the people of this country who live in the regions that whilst they may have a tin ear in Wellington and be deaf, one party hears you, and understands what is going on, or not going on, in the regions of this country.”

  8. The First and now the Second ‘Leaders Debate’of this election has gone by where the two words climate change never got one single mention.

    Is it because these two leaders are basically in agreement on fossil fuel extraction and exploitation, that they won’t take questions on this issue?

    It is like these two leaders are debating in an alternative universe, where Houston America’s third largest city is not under water, Where large parts of Nepal and India are not suffering catastrophic flooding and One Third of Bangladesh is covered with water. Where LA is not suffering its worst forest fires ever. Where Hurricane Irma which threatens to be the most powerful Hurricane in recorded history, just isn’t happening. Where reports saying that $19 billion of New Zealand coastal properties are at risk of sea level rise’, are not based on scientific fact and instead are just plain wrong.

    Labour’s finance spokesman, David Parker, says his party’s policies on oil, gas and mineral extraction are close to those of the Government.

    “I don’t think we are much different from National,” Parker said. “They’ve continued on with the programme that we started in respect to oil and gas,”

    Maybe there needs to be a group sculpture of Nick Smith, Jacinda Ardern, Bill English and David Parker, all taking a big dump on the world, their fingers in their ears loudly chanting, La,la, la, la, la, la.

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