2019 was year of pain and suffering with only tiny infant steps of progress but there were amongst us people who led fearlessly and with courage. If we are to seek meaning from the last 12 months around our Sun, let’s do that by saluting those of us who led by example and hope we can attempt to emulate their strength.
Pania Newton – Led protests at Ihumātao in 2019
Her passionate defence of Ihumātao and articulate attack on colonialism has made her a leader worth following. Her confidence, kindness and refusal to back down has shown a backbone of courage that is rare.
Settler Nation NZ won’t accept what is happening at Ihumatao – private property that has been stolen from Māori never being returned is the central plank of our economy, so watch for the backlash especially aimed at attacking her the way the establishment have attacked Greta Thunberg.
Pania is a role model and she should be celebrated.
Matthew stood up to the most venomous cyber bully Troll NZ has ever known, Cameron Slater, and Matthew won.
Despite Slater colluding with Blomfield’s business partners to destroy him and despite Slater magically receiving a stolen computer with all Blomfield’s personal emails details, despite a violent home invasion that saw Blomfield beaten and his house shot at, despite the humiliation and torture Slater forced upon him, Matthew Blomfield refused to back down.
He refused to be intimidated.
He took Slater to Court for defamation and despite all the legal tricks and delays Slater could muster, Matthew won and in the most delicious karma ever, ended up owning the entire Whaleoil blog.
In an age where online bullying is rife and septic Trolls like Slater usually triumph, Blomfield stood up and showed real courage and tenacity.
That kind of bravery deserves recognition and should be celebrated.
Arthur Taylor is a civil rights hero.
Yes, he has committed crimes. Yes he has hurt people. Yes, he paid his price for those crimes by being in prison most of his life.
I won’t detail the cruelty and abuse that infected much of Arthur’s early live while in state care (Keith Locke did an amazing job of that in last weeks blog), and I’m not here to make excuses for his actions, but if we try to understand why people become criminals, we need to explore their past…
When Arthur Taylor was eleven he was sent to the Epuni Boys Home for skipping school. It was a brutal institution (and Arthur later received a government apology and compensation for being mistreated there). Like most such institutions the Epuni Home was a school for crime, so it was no surprise that Arthur committed his first crimes, for burglary and car conversion, after he escaped from the Home. He was in and out of prison from that time on and has spent two thirds of his life, around 40 years, behind bars.
…but it’s Arthur’s ability to go beyond the trauma of his childhood that makes him civil rights hero.
From behind bars he legally challenged the Government repeatedly on its actions towards prisoners.
He successfully beat the Government over their hypercritical prisoner smoking ban.
He successfully beat the Government using the deeply corrupt jailhouse snitch system.
He successfully beat the Government over their abusive mass strip searches policy, and most recently, he has overturned the Governments unjust prisoner voting spitefulness.
That he has managed 4 significant legal victories for the rights of the most despised amongst us makes him a civil rights hero. He has stood for the rights of his fellow prisoners in a way the rest of us should but don’t.
He reminds us that even though prisoners have wronged us and must be punished, they are still human beings with human rights.
Mark Law, Jason Hill & Tom Storey, the Helicopter pilots who flew into an exploding volcano and the Tourism boat that saved lives