Dr Liz Gordon: It was always going to be trouble

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I have just read Bomber’s analysis of the issues around the resignation of Grainne Moss. I agree with his comments, but there is one other thing that must be taken into account.  That is, our tendency to import senior civil servants from other countries, notably the UK and South Africa, to lead agencies.

There is something very old-fashioned about this.  The old cultural cringe of New Zealand, where people used to think that anything that is from outside our shores must be better, brighter, more innovative and more important than what we can produce ourselves.

Grainne is both an example and a victim of this.  I am sure she has many competencies. But she arrived on these shores to head an organisation the majority of whose clients were Māori, and at a time when Māori cultural and development issues were coming to the fore, and yet presumably knew virtually nothing about Māori, Te Tiriti or ka whawhai tonu matou (Māori struggles for their place in a colonised land).

This is not just hindsight. Many of us said so at the time.  Nothing against Grainne.  It is just that we, as a nation, are trying desperately to climb out from the shackles of colonialism, and we need people in the public service with a deep understanding of our history, struggles and culture.

This is not the fault of the people who are appointed.  They are not to know (but can come to understand) that their background and skills cannot suit them for the complexities of cultural issues and, in particular, the struggle for tino rangatiratanga. In a sense they are set up to fail and, as Bomber notes, our public service establishment has a lot to answer for.

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I personally would have thought that the head of the pay equity body position that Grainne is taking up should also have gone to, preferably, a Maori woman. Maori women in the public service are paid at least 22% less than pakeha males. The issues are complex and in many cases reflect a lifetime of barriers thrown up as a result of race and racism.

However, if she dedicates herself to closing that gap, she will have done Aotearoa a service.

 

Dr Liz Gordon is a researcher and a barrister, with interests in destroying neo-liberalism in all its forms and moving towards a socially just society.  She usually blogs on justice, social welfare and education topics.

44 COMMENTS

  1. Well said!
    I’ve been harping on about it for years. People parachuted in to take up positions without any understanding, or more importantly – experience of A/NZ cultural considerations. It’s not just at central gummint level either.
    I’d be less concerned if they’d lived in A/NZ for a considerable period before appointment (although the systems, structures and agenda is now well intrenched among senior and muddle servants – that cistern has been imported from the empire and it needs dismantling).
    And they know exactly how to capture our politicians.

  2. And ….. it’s happened in many of the former colonies. Usually never really ending that well. Time we grew up!

  3. Ms Moss also worked in aged care at a senior level and did not cover herself in glory there either.

    My take on international appointments for public sector CEOs is that they are anticipated to have few local loyalties, be committed neo libs and hard arses, follow orders from NZ right wing-sack and ‘change manage’-without qualm.

    Politically the practice is part of neo liberal managerialism, whereby any human activity imaginable is reduced to the status of a transaction. There is long roll of dishonour from the mid 80s of these cold hearted munters -Paula Rebstock to Lesley Longstone (MoE), Treasury, Watercare, …They traipse around the globe putting the boot into the working class.

    It will continue until NZers vote to end the 36 year old Parliamentary neo liberal consensus.

    • Exactery. I was going to mention Ms Rebstock, among others but I thought the better of it. The less said about that specimen the better, but she has her rivals. (Fuk her and all who sail in her)
      All that’s happened is that we’ve morphed from one form of colonial hegemony to another – one that’s actually a lot worse. I think even Lange realised that in the end when it was too late. Possibly he was preoccupied.
      The sad thing is that although this is probably the best opportunity for transformation and changey kind stuff, it seems our elected representatives might not be up to it.
      So be it.
      I’ve got a lot of sympathy for our public servants slaving at the coalface who joined for noble reasons. It never really takes long before they realise that pushing shit uphill becomes a very messy business. At first they try transferring, some try licking arses, some are corrupted by over-ambition, and probably the most ethical of them simply give up – even though they’ve got mouths to feed and mortgages to pay. (I sometimes wonder if martyrdom could become a commodity. It could become the new ‘earn, in this space, going forward’.
      I’ve also got a lot of sympathy for the cargo cultists (one or two in OT and elsewhere). There are a few of them about. Things have never really worked out for them in other parts of the big wide Whurl.

      • Agree. For just one example I remember in the “Hekia Parata National Standards years” literally hundreds of competent staff left the Ministry of Education, after a new curriculum 10 years in development was basically scrapped overnight.

  4. You are far too kind Liz. Moss was brought here to manage Bupa. ( where she was sacked) Her management skills were corporate, European and part of the neo liberal paradigm. In short she was incompetent. Deliberately divisive, self serving and relied upon her own echo chamber of corporate molded sycophants. She had no experience in working with children, no appropriate training or skills for the job at all.She sacked NZ trained social workers while not obtaining any such training for herself. She was a poor fit for the role and was essentially a cost cutting hatchet woman. The fact that she is still employed in a NZ government role speaks volumes about her “whiteness” the overwhelming uselessness of the Wellington cabal and the gutlessness of the NZ government.

    • ” She had no experience in working with children”
      Ah @Shona – she’s a mother apparently. Ergo she’s compassionate and understanding. (/sarc, in case you’re wondering). That’s one of the attempts at spin anyway

      • well in that case I’d be shoe in for the role along with thousands of other women.
        I should have been more specific, No experience or qualifications for working with ‘Vulnerable ‘children.

  5. Many kiwis say a state home should not be for life yet public service roles and many local council roles and jobs seem to be for life and on a big fat salary setting them up to live comfortably. Many moaning about state homes got to buy the ones they were living in when national sold of thousands. And those allocated these homes were all Pakeha NZers so they got to buy these homes, no fairness in this policy and how resources were allocated back them. My point is if Moss was so incompetent or not suited for the OT role why is she now being given another role. It seems its not just OT that needs change its the entire system looking after its own as it has done since its inception. Talk about a gravy train.

  6. Many kiwis say a state home should not be for life yet public service roles and many local council roles and jobs seem to be for life and on a big fat salary setting them up to live comfortably. Many moaning about state homes got to buy the ones they were living in when national sold of thousands. And those allocated these homes were all Pakeha NZers so they got to buy these homes, no fairness in this policy and how resources were allocated back them. My point is if Moss was so incompetent or not suited for the OT role why is she now being given another role. It seems its not just OT that needs change its the entire system looking after its own as it has done since its inception. Talk about a gravy train.

  7. Here’s what I think has happened.
    The moment the first flat white foot slapped down on an Aotearoan beach Aotearoa/New Zealand was destined to become a business and business has no interest in non-profit human stuff. The psychosis that is ‘business’ can be defined as a system that relies heavily on ignorance. Business is a manipulative exploitation of those less well informed than those doing the business of manipulation and exploitation. The rest, as they say, is history as we can see after more than 36 years of roger douglas’s crimes against us that’s AKA ‘neoliberalism’.
    Is the reason why foreigners are appointed to head up social services because their training is an advantage, a head start to manipulating people to maintain control over a sector of the population who’s being eye wateringly and greedily exploited?
    The cost of super market food? The cost of housing? The cost of heating and powering up one’s home, if one’s lucky enough to have a home, the costs of litigation, of health, dental, public transport etc…? That right there is business.
    Poverty, child welfare, incarceration (Torture) rates, particularly affecting Maori, drug addiction, specifically to P but also to alcohol and prescribed meds are a human response to an inducted psychosis that we’ve come to think of as ‘business’ and we regard psychotic, psychopathic ‘business’ as being the normal.
    If our politicians refuse to, fail to, are ignorant of, have been silenced by, or have other wise been separated from their roles as the custodians of our best [human] interests specifically in all our frailties and distempers for the sake of ‘business’ they’re clearly NOT acting in our best interests at all but in the interests of ‘business’ and when societies are business? One or two people-creatures become absurdly financially ‘advantaged’ while the rest of us MUST remain vulnerable and generally a bit fucked.
    I firmly believe that over crowded prisons, swamped addiction services and wretched little kids abused then abandoned into state care is as a direct result of our politicians being corrupted by bu$ine$$. Aye boys?
    In my opinion, the one person who must be observed very closely at this point is Jacinda Adern.
    Ask yourselves? Is she most focused, most attentive to the needs of we of us who are at the greatest risk of soulless, greedy, grasping, psychopathic ‘business’ ?
    graeme hart.
    “Occupation: Businessman”
    Net worth: US$12.8 billion (November 2020)
    RNZ
    Graeme Hart’s $3.4b gain ( during covid-19 ) proves need for taxing wealth – Oxfam
    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/435132/graeme-hart-s-3-point-4b-gain-proves-need-for-taxing-wealth-oxfamgraeme hart.
    Ok. graeme is smart and well educated and God he has great teeth but he’s ‘worth’ U$A 12.8 BILLION dollars.
    Great. Awesome. Tremendous. But for the love of God… How? To the guy who fills in pot holes that’s quite the hourly rate graeme.
    Yoo Hoo? AO/NZ politicians? Guardians of our safety and security? Where the fuck are you? Which of you let this mad man off his leash? How did he buy The Government Printing Office off we, the people, for LESS than its capital value?
    That’s like going up to someone selling their house with a capital valuation of $2 million and buying it ( forcing them to sell it to you. ) for $500K then turning around the same day and selling it AT capital value. Ka ching! Right? Am I right?
    The Government Printing Office was Our fucking office graeme? I don’t remember selling my share of it to you?
    But certainly, I’d be happy to sell you my $5 millionth share to you for $20 million dollars cash. I don’t take cheques from neoliberals.
    Apols. Thought I could make this rant a bit shorter. Ah well. Never mind. I’m only human.

  8. Excellent stuff. It is so true this idea that they must be better and superior to anyone here. Same really with shows that come from overseas although we don’t have this problem as much as we used to. Anything that was British was flocked to back in the day.

    Who knew that the country had a shortage of CEOs and that they were on the list of immigration skills that we require.

    I was furious when the CE of CCC was appointed. A free ticket to residency in Aotearoa! Don’t tell me someone else couldn’t do this job competently and at a lower salary.

  9. So long as New Zealand remains a colonialist state, this kind of thing will keep on happening – as it has been for the past two centuries. Nothing short of decolonization will put an end to the reign of incompetent, corrupt foreigners lording it over our people.

  10. So long as New Zealand remains a colonialist state, this kind of thing will keep on happening – as it has been for the past two centuries. Nothing short of decolonization will put an end to the reign of incompetent, corrupt foreigners lording it over our people.

  11. I remember seeing, horrified, on TV almost 20 years ago the CEO of (? back then) Transit NZ, a recent South African import, saying under no circumstances would he fly Te Tino Rangatira flag from the Auckland Harbour Bridge on Waitangi Day. Hello Broederbond.
    And kiwis just laid back and said oh yeah ok. WTF.
    I am glad after so many years it is being brought to light, but in reality, most large companies, councils and public services have been infiltrated.

  12. It was a political hatchet job by Maori & Labour Parties. Had to blame somebody for the scandals of Maori children & their parents.

    • I am a guest blogger on Martyn’s site. He graciously puts up my blogs when I write them. He values my contribution but this is a voluntary thing – I do not get paid. I do not control the site. I do not see the comments until they are posted and do not see any unposted comments (nor have I ever seen the policy Bomber uses to decline any comments). It is a very straightforward relationship and one I am grateful for. I may be sarcastic at times but I have not lied to you. Cheers.

  13. Truth, should you care to understand, this Scot, you should, for no lies, is my culture history of this land you say and understand, the politics understand.

  14. The police got cameras goin down, to cover up in the end the corporation of Pike Rivers,jail,who the Pike Rivers, Jail, who what who what them who POLICE, WHAT WHO THEM JAIL pIKE rIVER.

    • Just like Liz is another Brit who has come to this country, taken advantage of our education system later in life, proceeded to lecture us about letting people like her telling us what to do, and sometimes over generalises about persons in whose shoes she has never walked, like Maori, unaware that many high achieving hard working Maori who are my whanau, are simply too busy doing their jobs to be running around wailing that they face prejudice every day, when they do not, and who would prefer to be choosing their own mouthpieces.

  15. He and yes you racist fool, APPLEWOOD. See how knowing my children,e maori, fluent speaking too,how fool your race ignorance.I am Scot, born bread, never learnt my native language,dress,t he english done their apprentiship on us afore commin this way,whay their exploit,he!h racist fool, my sons,Maori, and fluent Korero, how you doin way that.

  16. The appointments/ promotions of UK/US immigrants and often citizens of UK/US, to head govt or council agencies is not new. It reflect the power of much of the corporate world here.
    Either we are not training / education Kiwis to run their own society or something else is happening where preference is being given to foreigners being appointed.
    We have highly trained and experienced people her in NZ on subjects like climate change yet the news and radio interviews frequently uses voices from off shore to parrot politically compromised views on this subject.
    So who is making these decisions to play down the the accurate but unpalatable to business reports from Kiwi academia and scientific community and promote propaganda from elsewhere. How often do you hear Kiwis Mike Joy or Jim Salinger speaking with their well researched messages.

    The colonial cringe is over played as the reason. Sure most Kiwis tend to be modest where the more aggressively competitive immigrants pull the strings of the Kiwi deference to UK/US culture that is rammed into the Kiwi public and younger generation through TV and “News”
    Most of our large corporations have offshore parents and investors that is why NZ is being bled daily with dividends being created by the NZ worker and consumer, providing a steady stream of money to offshore based holding companies.
    The four Ozzie banks for example are mostly owned by the same group and after all efforts to avoid tax by structuring their books so they become a black hole, still can’t hide $5 billion declare profit a year, from a privileged given to them by the NZ govt allowing them to create loans out of thin air. Debt in NZ is well over half a trillion yet banks claim their dividend is 0.01% of that. Unbelievable.

    NZ once had a government owned agency created by Labour, that issued loans, called the State Advances Corporation, but through several restructuring moves got its function taken over by the private banks which then had no competition and the state had no mecanisation to reap the income from creating loans.

    The State Advances plowed loan repayments back into public coffers unlike the private banks who suck wealth from Kiwis are send it offshore.

    So out lack of national identity and pride is continually undermined on a daily basis. Business NZ now hides under the name of “The NZ Initiative” but is the same old off shore controlled neo liberal scam that we allow to dictate politics and more.

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