New Zealand Volcano Update and Jacinda’s leadership


LATEST: 6 confirmed dead, 31 in hospital, 25 in a serious condition, 3 discharged and 8 still missing. 3 helicopters managed to land on the Island during the eruption and rescued many of those. Inspection after the eruption suggests no one else is alive.

There will be questions over why Tourists were allowed on the volcano at a time it was in a heightened phase of activity, but those are debates to be had after the bodies have been recovered.

A final note.

Every time there is a shock to us as a nation, Jacinda steps up with such amazing empathy & sympathy – she leads with healing & courage & in times as sad as this, she is constantly the silver lining.

This is what political leadership looks like.

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Currently National Party activists are filming themselves entering book stores to turn a biography about Ardern around and are loading it onto twitter using the hash tag #turnardern

Compare the pettiness and childish spite required to expend such malicious energy to Ardern once again leading with such distinction during a tragedy. The NZ Right and their cruel malignancy rob them of any high ground or credibility.

Fuck #turnardern and everyone who promotes such hateful quibbling.


  1. Yes Martyn,

    Firstly we wish to send out our condolences to all those who are affected by this human tragedy.

    Sadly those right wing folks now reported to be spreading hate ‘and their cruel malignancy rob them of any high ground or credibility’ are the same ones pushing the ‘tourism operation into a cash machine’ to make profit from this tourism event.

    So they should be investigated in a royal commission inquiry about their caviler actions only for their own gain.

  2. Yes Martyn,

    Firstly we wish to send out our condolences to all those who are affected by this human tragedy.

    Sadly those right wing folks now reported to be spreading hate ‘and their cruel malignancy rob them of any high ground or credibility’ are the same ones pushing the ‘tourism operation into a cash machine’ to make profit from this tourism event.

    So they should be investigated in a royal commission inquiry about their caviler actions only for their own gain.

    • ClEANGREEN Yes, horrifically sad, and exacerbated by this country again being shown to be a dangerous place to visit. We can only say how truly sorry we are, and that we will take whatever steps we can to avoid it ever happening again. Enough of neoliberal laissez -faire. It’s cruel, and it’s a killer.

      The dead and wounded had every reason to place their trust in tour operators, and they may have been let down in the worst possible way for the sake of dollars and profit. If criminal charges follow, so be it.

      There are those of us who regard tourism as a form of prostitution, an easy way to make money without producing anything of value; mother earth may have rebelled in a totally catastrophic manner.

      Time was I shopped in UK supermarkets where anti-apartheid activists stickered South African produce so that we knew what to boycott because apartheid is evil. Here, they’re turning PM Ardern’s biography because she is a good person, and goodness can be an anathema to many far-right. They are unable to understand it, they cannot relate to it, they try to smash it. Seen it happen, and I wish I hadn’t.

      • Snow White: “….this country again being shown to be a dangerous place to visit.”

        I was obliged to point this fact out to extended family in Europe. Somebody was being flippant about climbing up Mt Ruapehu; I regaled them with the following account. It took the smile off their faces:

        They like adventure tourism. I said to them: it doesn’t much matter where else you’ve been, you have absolutely no idea how dangerous our back country can be. I reminded them that this is a smallish group of islands slap bang in the middle of a huge ocean, and prone to sudden weather changes: if the volcanics don’t get you, the weather will!

        “Enough of neoliberal laissez -faire.”

        I’m less certain than I once was that this lies behind tourist deaths here. We’ve had health and safety legislation since I was a young adult; ramped up during the 1990s, as I recall. But it doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference to the rate of deaths, in the workplace or in the outdoors.

        Where NZers are concerned, I suppose that the famous “she’ll be right” attitude could be an offshoot of the liberal laissez-faire philosophy which prevailed in British politics at the time when the first settlers arrived.

        As to tourists, I wonder if that complacency I encountered in European relatives is widespread. Everybody who has walked the Tongariro Crossing, or visited the glaciers in south Westland, has tales of overseas tourists laughably – tragically, in the case of Tongariro or the great walks – underclad and underprepared for our capricious weather and rough terrain. And our volcanic areas.

        Perhaps complacency is too harsh a charactersation: but it seems to me that many tourists have no understanding at all of just how dangerous the great outdoors can be in this country. They appear to think that a small temperate country like this one couldn’t be risky. They’re so often so tragically wrong.

        • D’Esterre – I know that time and again tourists have been killed or endangered in the Southern Alps through being ill-clad, failing to take into account our unpredictable and changeable weather, failing to log plans in hut books etc.

          It’s all very well for keyboard ignorami to bleat away about ‘adventure,’ but it is our people who do the rescuing and sometimes get killed in the process, our taxpayers who foot the financial costs, our surgeons who operate on them, our hospitals who nurse them, our police who are expected to be supermen.

          It is the men of my family and friends, hugely experienced overseas mountaineers, who put themselves at risk, while some moron from the fens and marshes of England – which doesn’t have one comparable mountain – whines away about lefties being timid or some such pathetic drivel. I’ve been half way up the Caroline Face of Mt Cook (and I am most certainly not a climber ) while whinging Pom tries to make everything political and – utterly pointlessly – declares his undying love for John Key in the midst of all this.

          About 10 years ago I spent a blazing hot day in Pompeii. Got lost in Pompeii. I do that. Vesuvius smoked away gently in the background, and some of our group walked around the lower reaches. The point is that at no time in this incredible step back into history did any of us feel endangered. We put our trust in the authorities, and we were not let down. The number of visitors there, even in early autumn, were massive – I know, I trudged distances between three separate car parks trying to remember the colour of our rental, and failing.

          There is a miscellany of information now emerging about safety at White Island, and Pakeha civil authorities in particular are prematurely declaiming that the show must go on, but firstly there has to be a clear safety authority: this isn’t just fun for the whanau, this is people paying big bucks for an organised adventure.

          The biography of John Harrison, a NZ Mountaineer killed by an avalanche while rescuing another inept Pom, was published just last year. John left behind a young wife and two small children. He was Mr Nice Guy, and they are increasingly rare in this country of clodhoppers and big mouthed morons.

          There will be no pleasant pasture in the UK that feet have not tread upon, and that will apply to most, if not all, of continental Europe. We here in NZ are still
          quite a crude primitive country and people, with wild and challenging landscapes and scenarios.

          The burned Mt Island survivors have horrific pain and disability ahead of them for years, and perhaps forever. That is not good enough. That is very bad.

          This is not the time for the Mayor of Whakatane or Mosquito Tolley to be rationalising about the future, because tourism brings big bucks.

          What has happened here has given a whole new terrible literal meaning to ‘carbon footprint’.

          Right now they should consider planting useful food and crops, and revisiting their other skills and talents, rather than hoping that it’s business as usual, and that tourists pay to run risks; all the people of the volcano have paid too high a price, none could have anticipated what occurred, none deserved a glimpse of hell, and none deserves having to live in it.

          But hey – this is a country which beats and kills women and children and babies – expecting us to behave in a more mature way to strangers with money could be too big an ask – brothers Grimm got nothing on us.

    • Cleangreen: “Sadly those right wing folks now reported to be spreading hate ‘and their cruel malignancy rob them of any high ground or credibility’ are the same ones pushing the ‘tourism operation into a cash machine’ to make profit from this tourism event.”

      I think that this is a bit unfair.

      We have family in Whakatane; over many, many years, we’ve been to-ing and fro-ing between there and here. As I understand things, Ngati Awa owns White Island Tours (and possibly other tourism ventures), and the local Maori people are heavily involved in that and other tourism businesses in the area. While it may be true that some of them are rabid right-wingers, I think that most of them aren’t: they’re just trying to make a living. And fair enough. Whakatane is heavily dependent upon tourism, having little else in the way of economic activity to provide jobs.

      As it happens, a relative’s former property had a ringside view of White Island; it’s chance only that we didn’t see an eruption like that which occurred on Monday. But we didn’t. And we here are only too painfully aware of it.

      On our account: profound sadness at so many deaths; and condolences to all those who’ve lost family and loved ones. Deepest compassion to all those so horribly injured. They have a hard road ahead of them: they deserve as much support as their various societies can give them.

  3. Holy moly ! I haven’t been watching the news at all for awhile,… and a damn volcano went up with significant loss of life… good grief !!! . A shout out to Adern, yes,… she is still the leader we need in these circumstances. Despite all our groanings and moanings, I cant think of a better person in times like these to be in charge.


    Every time there is a shock to us as a nation, Jacinda steps up with such amazing empathy & sympathy – she leads with healing & courage & in times as sad as this, she is constantly the silver lining.

    This is what political leadership looks like.


    Well said, Martyn.

  4. Jacinda, our NZ PM shows true leadership here.

    So we support her compassion and concern for our lost loved ones.

  5. I am going to be totally blunt here.
    The REAL reason why people were still on the island when there was a heightened risk of eruption can be summed up in two words: TOURISM and MONEY.
    We all know what would have been the reaction if the authorities had played it safe, cleared the island and there had been no significant eruption.
    Tourist operators, the National Party and the Facebook trolls would have jumped up and down whinging about the lost millions of dollars and complaining about leftist scientists, PC, etc.
    Before the lure of big money the island was closed except for scientists and those with special landing permits.

    • +100 Mike the Lefty

      Totally agree….innocent tourists have died….they were not able to evaluate the risks, unlike mountaineers

    • A very sad day for an honorable and proud iwi:
      “700 years after the Mataatua waka first arrived on the shores of Whakatāne, another chapter in the rich history of Ngāti Awa commenced with the 2017 purchase of White Island Tours by Ngāti Awa Group Holdings Limited, the commercial arm of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, heralding a new and exciting chapter for the iwi.”
      It will need to be asked and answered if the iwi were given good advice.

  6. Jacinda does empathy very well but does nothing to address the root causes of these recurrent tragedies which afflict the New Zealand tourist industry and the nation as a whole.
    There will come a time when the world, and our own people, decide that empathy is not enough.

    • Geoff – But bear in mind that Pike River, and the tragedy of the Tirigan Valley, are more than just sweet talk and empathy – they’re about actually doing the right thing.

    • Gee Geoff you sound like you are pitching for votes don’t blame Jacinda for this its all about money and tourism

      • I am not pitching for votes, and I am not suggesting that Simon Bridges would be any better than Jacinda Ardern.
        Tourists (and workers) tacitly expect that a modern state will see to it that no “adventure tourism” activity within its jurisdiction will lead to mass fatalities and grievous injury. In New Zealand that is not the case.
        The Australian expert who said that White Island as a disaster waiting to happen was quite right.
        As I said, Jacinda expresses empathy beautifully, but she does nothing to change the laissez-faire system which gives rise to these tragedies.

        • Geoff – Chances are the PM didn’t know that nobody, nobody at all, had any legal or moral responsibility to avert people being plunged into hell in NZ. She knows now.

  7. We have become too complacent here particularly in some of our tourism industries. Sorry folks but its time for White Island to close no one should have gone there in the first place and it needs to stop asap. So sad and feel aroha for those lost and their whanau at this time.

    • Are you suggesting all tourist trips that could be dangerous should be stopped. This is typical of the left who love the nanny state . They do not like risk in their lives either at work or play.

      • It is easy to say people should have risk in their work or play when you are not the one risking anything Trevor.

      • Trevor Sennitt – “Are you suggesting all tourist trips that could be dangerous should be stopped”.

        No. No-one is suggesting that except you, and do try to remember the correct punctuation marks for posing written questions, Ok ?

        If I’m right – and I usually am – and you bragged about reading, “Dirty Politics” and still decided to vote National, then I suggest to you that you lack the ability to differentiate between morally responsible and amoral reckless behaviour. Or putting it simply for nondescript high school boy, ” Between good and bad.”

        It’s a question of values. If your values are such that you find it acceptable to risk other people’s lives just to make money, then those are your values, and your choices, but do not have the insolence to insult tangata whenua feeling the pain engendered by what has happened to people in this country which you, regrettably, and most unfortunately, have dumped your ignorant little self upon.

        People have died here in an horrific way and suffered terrible injuries through no fault of their own.

        In your own flawed fashion you are trying to contort this into a political issue, and have made irrational assumptions about the great courage shown by those helping the victims of yesterday’s tragedy.Their politics are as irrelevant as you are.

        I can see why you are lacking in self respect, but it would behove you to show some respect for the dead, the dying, the suffering, and their succours and saviours. That’s what one does.

      • So the risk of entering Pike River by a poor right wing government was typical of a nanny state or more about money than people. Given that risk is always calculated, this was a tragedy that sadly occurred whilst taking the risk on an “active” volcano.
        Give me Nanny state any day when just 1 life can be saved over income earned.

      • A dangerous privately owned site known for spasmodic eruption events often with little warning becomes a death trap when used as a tourist experience.
        There is nothing left wing or right wing about this except we have a for profit exploitation that has resulted in disaster and many deaths.
        Employees died in an unsafe work environment as well as other fee paying clients.
        “Nanny state” troll.

      • Trev and your view is typical of the right all about money not people that is why our country is in such a mess we had a self serving government for 9 years who are acting like they care as the election is next year. And our country is divided moreso than ever.

      • Unless you relish dying in agony,Trevor,I’d leave the brave words to someone who knows what they are talking about….this was a forseen risk.

  8. Our thoughts are with the victims in this hideous situation.
    Sure it is about the people who have perished but the PM is the spokesperson for our country and i can’t fault her for the way she has responded too this situation.
    Also the courage of the first responders must be acknowledged , had they not acted we could be looking at a more serious loss of life.
    They are Kiwis at their very best.

    • Mosa “Also the courage of the first responders must be acknowledged , had they not acted we could be looking at a more serious loss of life.”

      Well said – we have many good and heroic people, and I too salute them.

  9. I thought it was too early to start discussing access to Whakaari as well Bomber until I heard ex Mayor Tony Bonne on Breakfast this morning say “How many people have been killed on Everest?” Please tell me this guy is in shock, or I misheard him implying some sort of tourism collateral damage. GNS in telly interviews have already passed the responsibility to tourism operators for allowing people on the island. GNS scientists also said it is impossible to know when the volcano could erupt. This doesn’t sound like a risk that could be managed.

  10. No doubt smarmy Soimon Bwidges will be blaming Jacinda Ardern for the White Island tragedy. She should have known better. She’s a poor leader. A part time PM etc etc etc bla bla bla.

  11. empathy and compassion is a badly faked rictus plastered on the face of someone who clearly doiesn’t care beyond her own image?

    Must be nice to live in a world where that kind of bad acting passes for real.

    • bobbybobbob

      “empathy and compassion is a badly faked rictus plastered on the face of someone who clearly doiesn’t care beyond her own image?

      Must be nice to live in a world where that kind of bad acting passes for real”

      What planet do you reside on and do you actually believe the utter tripe you post?

      We’ve had over two years now of the tantrum from the entitled latrine rodent party still sulking at no longer being in Government and that another Party has the audacity to Govern. Apparently Ardern has no leadership skills despite all of those not bogged down by vested interest believing she’s a wonderful leader. Apparently, Ardern is not the sharpest knife in the drawer according to the Me Me Me Party despite everyone else seeing ongoing indisputable evidence that she is indeed an extremely intelligent person. Yea, I know she is only fit to work in a takeaway like the one she had the audacity to work in as a young teenage girl. We see the paddy packers who support the Me Me Me Party incessantly claim that Ardern is faking and acting compassionate and empathetic toward others when everyone else with a brain bigger than a sultana sees a very caring person who cares deeply about others. How can these ignoramuses be so blinded and bitter to claim her compassion is fake? I’m picking it’s related to their previous benchmark for compassion and empathy being set so low by previous National Party leaders who couldn’t possibly care less about people unless of course they voted National and money and greed were their God.

      • The previous govt cared very much about the glitz of Hollywood, and
        the NZDF cared about America’s wars, and, it seems to me that I heard both implore,
        “Let me be your whore.”

  12. Where is her leadership on child poverty, on poverty in general, and her leadership in lifting benefit rates? Showing sympathy at freak events causing human harm is not that hard, really, call it ‘leadership’ or what. Something is lacking though.

    • Marc you surely remember it was National who made Labour promise not to raise taxes.
      Taxes clearly need to be raised and made more progressive so we can rectify the social damage done by neo-liberal policies over many years

    • Marc, I know what you’re saying – although the issue here is PM Ardern’s very good leadership in this specific crisis. And yes, for many people, crisis is part of everyday living and you have the right to put that leadership into a broader context.

      When the PM proclaimed the volcano victims forever, ‘linked to this nation,’ I thought, whoa there,lady.

      “Nation” may be a word which I’ve used in the past, but it jolted me as out of place in this cruel circumstance, and as pretentious. We are not exactly the glory that was Greece. We are a parochial little post-colonial outpost at the bottom of the world, in a country of beauty which we ourselves have not created, but have merely exploited – and now killed with.

      The people of the volcano are not ‘linked to this country.’ They have had shackles forced upon them by this country, and euphemisms about links and nations will never obliterate the reality of present and future nightmares.

      You say something is lacking. I say what has been historically lacking is any similar level of outrage from any politician about the children of the poor, the suffering, the homeless, the hungry, the cold, the abused, the raped, the murdered of NZ. This is what the people of the volcano are also shackled to.

      The people of the volcano are very visible. That calls for an appropriate response. Our own hurt people are largely tucked away out of sight, but they are not just Ardern’s concern, they should be the concern of every fat or puny person, or pea-brained poseur playing away up in Parliament with their cell phone. And this is what the people of the volcano are shackled to too.

  13. No surprise post Pike River and CTV building that ‘Emergency Services’ are instructed to not go to the island to look for survivors so it is left to someone off their own bat taking a couple of helicopters over and saving 12? people who would otherwise all be dead now . . what is the point of having Emergency Services in the first place if they are prevented from doing their job if there is any element of risk?

    • Well James, you will find that all emergency services are required to function within legally defined processes and protocols. To break them is to break the law – and the chains of authority are actually quite interesting. From what you’re saying here, brave men decided to take the risk upon themselves to try to save others, and we can only respect and admire them for that.

      Look at joining Civil Defence – there are all sorts of roles and functions available, and one gets to learn a lot, and to meet decent sort of people – even if there is never an actual emergency. But you too could get to be a hero.

      • “Legally defined processes and protocols” = Sitting around with your thumb up your ass while people are left to die.

        Who also says ‘the chains of authority are quite interesting’ for f**ks sake?

        • Once an authority like the police is given jurisdiction their priority becomes safety for those remaining safe. They may know little or nothing about the particular risks as with a volcano or a coal mine but they become responsible for a situation that they are in no position to judge. So they have to take the most cautious path because they will be in the gun if anything goes wrong. (Though that doesn’t seem to trouble them when chasing a car full of kids who made some minor error and didn’t stop when chased. Death to any bystander is fully justified in that circumstance.)
          The structure is wrong. It should be legally possible for competent people; advised of risks they do not already understand if any, to make their own decision to attempt a rescue in these circumstances.
          As i Pike River the priority soon becomes to keep everyone out of the scene indefinitely lest it become known that people were still alive in there or on there that could have been rescued if action had been taken quickly. Better to keep the scene locked up at least until sufficient decomposition has taken place to make it impossible to determine if some lived for days waiting for help that never came because the police said no. It’s one thing to decide not to send people in to danger , another not to let them go.
          And I doubt if the volcano is any more dangerous today than when I visited it a couple of years ago, probably less having just relieved itself.
          D J S

          • David Stone: as so very often, I agree with everything you say here.

            I read out your comment to a member of this household; we both think that it is one of the most commonsensical we’ve seen on this topic.

        • “Who also says ‘the chains of authority are quite interesting’ for f**ks sake?”
          I do.

          The more exact and precise procedures and instructions are, the lower the chance of error, and the higher the chances of success. Think about it.

          If you joined Civil Defence you could learn a thing or two, seriously.

  14. Our NZ police are once again out of there depth if we heeded their advice all the rest of those people saved as mentioned above would be ka- put. When are we going to fucken wake up in this country. And why are people already talking about going back to the island when we still have 8 people lying in ash waiting to be retrieved and all people can think about is money and business, this is sad! And we have how many fighting for their lives, fuck have some courtesy and respect even our dumb and obnoxious soimon has come and said that business should resume can’t he fucken wait its making me angry hence so many fs .

    • Michelle – It’s not just the police. And there are much worse than that.

      Whakatane Mayor, Judy Turner, even today, has announced that she hopes these tours will continue:

      “The mayor of the district where a volcanic eruption killed at least five people and left scores more missing or injured hopes tours of the island can return.”

      There is a time to be silent, and a time to speak; if Simon and the Mayor are both saying they want business to resume, then their lack of sensitivity for the dead and injured should preclude the pair of them from ever holding public office again. They shame us all.

      Both need real jobs.

      • Yes agree with you Snow White and to add to what you have said, it’s not just about money and jobs its about reputation and the impact this will have on our entire country.
        People went to work and never came home and if they don’t get the tupapaku (bodies) soon there will be nothing left to retrieve but ashes so they need to move it pronto. I know what it is like to have a closed coffin its not nice it hard to get closure but to have no body sad!

  15. I see a 19 year old Australian man has been found alive today on the island, however 3 members of his family are still missing. Not sure of his condition at this stage. Can’t imagine anything worse than surviving two nights alone, scared and maybe injured in such a hellish environment!

    Can only hope more people are able to be found alive.

    Condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the eruption tragedy.

    • mary_a : I see a 19 year old Australian man has been found alive today on the island…”

      I don’t think that this was correct; until today (13th), nobody had been back on the island since the eruption on Monday. I believe that he was found to be in a hospital somewhere, though his family members may well be among the bodies brought off the island today.

  16. Yesterday I donated some money for 33 year old Jason Griffiths today I found out he passed away, so sad. I also donated money to the young kiwi Jake Milbank the 19 year old kiwi fighting for his life he has 50k now and he will need every penny if he is to recover. I hope kiwis and our Aussie mates are generous I am sure they will be it is part of our DNA.
    I am not rich I have a mortgage and lots of bills but I can’t stand to see people suffering. I will try and make a donation to as many as I can. This event has upset me I am upset the bodies are still lying on the island waiting and they have been there for days.

  17. yes John W, Key said he would not raise GST but he did. Then he said he would get rid of ‘P’ and he didn’t. Instead his polices increased the supply chain of P. The national government polices of not checking and scanning all bags at airports instead scanning every tenth one and containers not being checked by biosecurity people and they also reduced staff.
    Now why would you do this when it puts our whole horticulture and agricultural sector at risk.
    The kiwifruit industry effected by the PSA disease is a prime example.

    • How did all the kind thoughts of those victims spin into an attack on John Key . ? His support to Chch after the earthquake was reassuring and those who suffered loose of income felt reassured by the fact a strong leader was in charge. I was at the fund raiser for Pike River and he shone and raised plenty of money for those people and all with the knowledge that they would not have voted for him.
      White Island tours is owned by the local iwi and they have a strong spiritual connection and they have the say if the island will reopen.

      • “How did all the kind thoughts of those victims spin into an attack on John Key? ”

        Stream of consciousness, Trevor. Thought process perhaps best exemplified by James Joyce, but it can surface anywhere really. Not surprising at such a time as now.

  18. Love the story about National/ACT opponents turning the Jacinda book around hoping people won’t see and buy it. It’s a demonstration of how immature are the values and ethics of Tories? Also the weak way they try so hard to apportion blame on St.Jacinda using old tired expressions like ‘nanny state’ and ‘pc’.- words of the 20th century.
    Now I know what to buy all my relatives for Christmas presents. Why..the Jacinda books of course! -and its my request for a gift also. Cheers and thanks Nats. Merry Xmas.

  19. Human nature is such that the more you tell people that they shouldn’t read something: the more people will want to read it. The best advertising that money can’t buy.

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