RNZ Review: Children of the Undercurrent


Waking up last Sunday (23/07/2023) before 8am I turn on the radio.  What is this strangely plodding narrative?  Oh, the kids’ show is going on RNZ National. Phony enthusiasm from phony adults about a phony scenario with phony kids saving a native bird or whatever it was and some tedious anticlimax related to the environment/climate change.  It was so predictable, I can’t remember at all let alone exactly what it was, but oh my goodness gracious kids, what bland shite, eh, don’t you think?  A radio version of the super-straight School Journal circa Wash Day at the Pa.  The patronising, credulous tone would be just as repulsive to the child demographic as it is to the adult surely. What sort of monochrome child would be satisfied listening to this tedium? The future monochrome adult RNZ listener.
What happened to the Wild Palomino and Molly Whoppy and Roald Dahl’s grotesque characters from the ZB 1080 club?  Do bFM still do a show? They were old school.  What happened to the horrors and excitement of gangsters, sailors, soldiers, cowboys and Indians? Jeremy and Hine who save the tui nest are never going to compete with the old style noire characters based on someone like Joe Pesci or where the kids have to confront facts and situations that aren’t just some type of contrived environmental multicultural bourgeois melo-drama.

In the old style adventure stories it would go something like this… the remaining kids who survived the forced march hatched a plan to bayonet the Jap guards to take over the ship so they can ram it into the aircraft carrier as it lies vulnerable in Manila harbour aiming to kill all two thousand on board in revenge for the Japs torturing their parents to death in the basement of the Mindinao Military Hospital. The cold steel of a bayonet wielded by a terrified ten year old forced clean through the throat of an evil enemy, his buck-toothed splutterings turning to coughing spits of blood as his life of barbarous cruelty for the God-Emperor ends… .  It wasn’t just all Noddyland, Follyfoot, teddy-bears’ picnics and cheerios back in the day.  It wasn’t just about community activities and gay feelings it was about trauma, about body counts. It was about adversity and not necessarily overcoming it either; but how to die, to die well or well enough, like the light brigade, like at Rorke’s Drift, like at Gallipoli, like a Kamikaze, like a Klingon, and yes, like Captain Cook.

Who is the hero now, the same PMC peeps as twitter? Some whiney know-it-all nark is an insurmountably repellant character cast as a hero. And forget the anti-hero, that’s too sophisticated a concept for the Rainbow/Nazi dichotomy. Derring do is definitely derring don’t. Irony is political and humour is a danger – pervasive, insidious, weaponised male rhetorical devices to overpower and undermine the disadvantaged – so these too must cease. What are we left with? What is the threshold for worthy?

How worthy exactly? And the problem with Anne Frank’s Diary is for all the dramatic tension of harrowing claustrophobia with existential dread the interesting bits like pubescent self-awareness and cursing people have been redacted, so ‘Day 241: ‘smoked fish again, watched him dress fish, fingers of fish in under 5 mins.’ was actually ‘smoked again, watched him undress, fingered to end in under 5 mins’ and ‘Day 325: Narked that ugly bitch Greta off to the Gestapo today. She’s screaming as they haul her off. Scream harder bitch. Her green dress fits me like a glove. No regrets!’ But they ripped out those pages didn’t they because she wasn’t a saint. We are only left with the dreary bits of G rated material to fill 10 – 12 minutes of children’s hour.

It’s ok for the evil witch to shove the little kids in the oven. The kids are cool with cannibalism, down for dungeons, they are. Not so keen on the wolf being a rapist as in the charming German version, but that’s the neighbourhood where the Joseph Fritzles hang out so the ghastly tales are clearly based on local personalities and maybe we need to wake up and smell Dr Cosby’s qualudes and get real about shit.

Probably the reason there don’t appear to be any serials anymore is the absence of compelling characters or situations. Nothing triggering can ever occur therefore nothing to sustain interest could ever occur. Would Hine’s anxiety over incorporating Te Reo and NZ sign language into her school play performance and Jeremy setting up a tui nest protection Go-fund-me page be much of a cliff-hanger compared to the fate of emaciated, inconsolable 12 year old Rory, at the helm of a hijacked Japanese merchant ship, his broken body draped over the wheel, a tear-stained picture of his parents in a locket stuck to his chest with dried blood, hand clasped on the throttle ahead full, barricaded in the bridge by dead Japs wedged across the door levers, thunderous flack fire from the Yamamoto strafing the foredeck into splinters as the range narrows, and he can see the small kid’s lifeboat making out through mines, under heavy machine gun fire from the Takishima, for the Swedish-flagged neutral ship – their only hope of freedom. That’s right, with all due respect to middle-class Wellingtonians and their pretensions and with all due respect to the Embassy of Japan and the Japanese people, on behalf of the children of New Zealand, a lot less of Hine and Jeremy’s indulgent tweenage Mansfieldesque performative pseudo-crises and a lot more dead Japs please.
Merv Smith – the host of the ZB 1080 club – was a character in his own right; so who’s the character host for this show? Well there doesn’t appear to be anyone, just whoever is on duty at the time.  Is it even a real programme then? Dick Weir was the old host last century and pops up randomly in recordings.  He was just an over-enunciating weirdo so at least he’s not on creeping out another generation by hosting the thing.  It was infantalising and lacking. And speaking of infantalising and lacking…
So the kids’ safe space of anti-septic political correctness was over, the news bulletin and then a warning: the following programme may be triggering, it’s about violence and it’s not suitable for children. Yes, not suitable for children. KIds will need an adult present.  So RNZ schedules a documentary about violence that isn’t suitable for children straight after the kids’ show. How profoundly idiotic.
From the same RNZ that gave us the atrociously biased ‘Boiling Point’ which sought to demonise the parliamentary protesters, exonerate the Speaker and whitewash the police action on March 2, 2022 what can we expect? Sanctimony at the least. This will be the most predictable documentary series ever. We can all guess the institutional people, the government people, the academics, Spoonly, the NGOs, the authorities, the perps to be interviewed and the blurred figure/distorted voice interviews of the insiders and the trackers. 
The series is subtitled: Misinformation in Aotearoa. Let’s address the hypocrisy of that immediately. 
In the Boiling Point documentary made by RNZ and set chronologically through that day using select on-air RNZ audio they omit key events from that day on RNZ National, most egregiously they do not even refer at all to the incredible live eye-witness account of a man shot by a sponge round/rubber bullet.  It was gripping radio and was quite lengthy, five minutes worth or more. It was as if it never happened. 
All the footage of cops striking non-violent people never made it in.  The footage of a female cop lining up an old man, a kaumatua, who had his hands down and was not a threat, and then with a full closed fist throws a straight right punching him in the face and then he staggers and collapses – that footage never made it into the doco. The footage of the eye-gouging cop, that was memorable, never happened apparently. Not information. Uninformation.
It doesn’t matter how many angles of how many violent acts of the police on that day that are available only footage of police as victims appears in that documentary as is the tenor of the entire narration. It is strictly a government account – there is no shred of journalism only a pretense of it that is laughable to entertain, and to give this institutional state propaganda an award is risible.
Worth noting in the recent crying about dawn raids and the shock-horror performance from Labour is that on March 2nd 2022 hundreds of cops started to attack, physically removing peaceful people sleeping in their tents just before 6am (when sunrise is at 7:03am so we are clear) being therefore the biggest and most violent dawn raid since that term has been in use. Oh sure, violently hauling off Islanders and Rastas and wrecking all their stuff in the process at six in the morning is terrible, terrible in the 1970s, terrible today, terrible in principle, terrible right up until the point where the marginalised humanity is a non-conformist flavour you fear and detest, and then it’s special circumstances and just desserts when that flavour of underclass get the Soweto treatment from the baas. Those indigents are clearly defined ipso facto as enemies of the rightful order so they aren’t entitled to the ordinary rights of being heard or of reply – so they are not heard and they have no reply according to government journalism. They are one and all Nazis so they get no airtime for their Hitlerspeak, they have no names, they have no stories. They’re mental cases who need therapy, they are delusional and there’s no value assessing the delusion, just turf them off the lawn before lunch like how Trump did with La Fayettee square to visit the church opposite the White House. Without their story there’s more time to focus on the hero cops, the suffering local power elite, the hard-working officials, the dedicated media and the brave politicians who refused to resolve it any other way than overwhelming force and resulting complete mayhem on the streets of the nation’s capital for the next 12 hours. 
Lilting Scots voice of a middle-aged female who is being very serious says this is the first episode of 7 – with an extra episode planned to focus on RNZ’s supposed disinformer rogue pro-Russia journalist (yes, it’s laughable, he was the only one trying to balance the pro-Ukraine NZ government line while the RNZ CEO denounces “pro-Kremlin garbage” when RNZ has run pro-White House garbage non-stop every day since the Japs bombed Pearl Harbour). A breathless, lurid, paranoid chasing of sinister shadows around the mullberry bush perhaps. A Hager-type hyperbolic method of describing commonly understood and banal matters in lurid terminology and in concerned intonations perchance. It will be for RNZ a continuation of the state’s war on the dissident elements assumedly under nefarious foreign control – just as Boiling Point was a propaganda piece. RNZ fuels a McCarthy atmosphere of accusation and pre-emptive cancellation. Tolerance is no longer seemingly regarded as a virtue by many people who implored it for the sake of their own benefit not so long ago.

The premise is political violence comes from disinformation. Does it? Is Marx and Fanon disinformation too? Just saying, because the only one I see exhibiting false consciousness is RNZ as an agent of the capitalist class. Most manifestos aren’t so much false in facts as the conclusions are unpalatably revolutionary.

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Interesting that the voices dominating from the start are foreign – a Scot and an Indian. A colonial entity where the voices of authority on state radio about the evils of foreign conspiracy theories and not to believe your own eyes and ears turn out to be a cross section of immigrant settlers in jobs funded by the government.

The beginning examines how people post unfunny memes to facebook and stuff. Racist people are on the internet. So far so what? All the host has done is the equivalent of gone into a public toilet and read out some of the yucky graffiti on the door. Conspiracy or extreme opinion had been there from the start, so really the point of this series seems not to be about that but about trying to link the parliamentary protest to conspiracy theory networks. Is that what this exercise is attempting?

There’s ‘community-bridging’ and ‘cross-posting’. Well BFD, and the Hager-type finger wagging lecture continues. There’s a veritable word curry of jargon from the academic; but the counter – the Indian elephant in the room – is what false narrative and false version of the world has RNZ and the mainstream media presented during the Covid-19 emergency and before? They regurgitated the government lies from the PRC that the virus was unrelated to the Wuhan lab, you don’t need masks then you do need masks and whatever fiction was handed down from Hipkins’ podium of truth in the Beehive theatrette. It wouldn’t cross their minds to assess the spectrum of information fairly because they are mindless.

Jo Cox MP was assasinated. More Pommy voices. “It’s terrifying”, oh yes, “it’s terrifying”, oh I know, it is terrifying, “I don’t know what to say to that…” Around and around, winding themselves up, upsetting themselves, just as forecast, to an anticlimax. The entropic hysteria that men don’t suffer from on full display, sadly. Does it get more pathetic. Go to the worst case scenario and wallow gleefully in it without wanting, let alone being able, to work out a solution.

James Shaw was punched on Lambton Quay by a nutter. Remember that? That’s the extent of political violence against MPs of the current lot that wasn’t self-inflicted (like Trevor and Tau going at it in the lobby a few years before). The attacker cited the UN. The editor of this blog is clear that the guy was an anti-abortionist nutter not an anti-UN nutter so what class of conspiracy/disinformation turd was he I don’t know and at this point nor do I care. Shaw is ‘increasingly worried’ about social media ‘destabilising democracy’ – however he wasn’t talking about violence particularly by the sound of it. Some sly cutting going on there to amp it up.

So, a hype job. Chasing the funding no doubt. Will have to see if the other seven episodes mention all the political violence against the Tangata Whenua meted out by the colonial entity, but that would really run counter to the flow.


  1. The idea that whatever atrocities may have been committed by the Japanese- primarily against American and other foreign occupational forces, and their local collaborators, both groups deserving it- reached anywhere near those committed by the filthy Americans who murdered at minimum high hundreds of thousands of innocent Filipino civilians and freedom fighters is ridiculous.

  2. To quote an American newspaper describing the bestial atrocities they committed for fun against the people of the Philippines, far worse than anything the Japanese did:
    “The present war is no bloodless, opera bouffe engagement; our men have been relentless, have killed to exterminate men, women, children, prisoners and captives, active insurgents and suspected people from lads of ten up, the idea prevailing that the Filipino as such was little better than a dog…

    Our soldiers have pumped salt water into men to make them talk, and have taken prisoners people who held up their hands and peacefully surrendered, and an hour later, without an atom of evidence to show that they were even insurrectos, stood them on a bridge and shot them down one by one, to drop into the water below and float down, as examples to those who found their bullet-loaded corpses.”

      • Interested to hear you think the many genocides that the US empire has committed are a joke.

      • actually kim for once khan is right check out the us colonial wars in the phillipines..BEFORE you call bullshit

        • And before you have a go at me maybe mention that the last person who fought in that war have been dead for more than 80 years.. (1898-1902) But that would destroy your argument so we won’t mention that..

          • and the last nazi will be dead soon does that mean the holocaust never happened and should not be mentioned kim….after all to the right slavery was positive….

            and I made no reference to anyone from the phillipine massacres being alive….DO NOT try to put words in my mouth kim…you’re just not smart enough

            • No, it would simply mean that the people who carried out and are responsible for that horrific act are all dead. At no time did I put words in your mouth. I would just like an explanation why we should keep blaming living people for the sins of the dead. Where does that stop? How far back do you have to go to satisfy your argument? The problem I had with Mohammed Khan’s (and yours) post was that he/you didn’t put a date on his post deliberately to make it look like it was within living peoples lifetime, therefore someone living is guilty. No country/race is innocent of atrocities at some time in it’s past. And that includes pre and post colonial NZ. Now if you are finished trying to insult me with your lack of critical thinking, can we move on?

              • The problem I had with Mohammed Khan’s (and yours) post….
                It’s just performative stuff they learned long ago. Drop them into any time between 1965 and 1990 and they’d be in hog heaven.

    • “Far worse than anything the Japanese did”? Jesus wept Mohammad – is this your selective take on history or just your plain ignorance of it… go have a talk to a few Chinese relatives of the survivors in Nanking before making further delusional statements. Personally – I will be forever grateful to the Yanks for saving our arse.

      • Obviously, the Japanese did commit some war crimes. Just nothing on the level of the inhuman American monsters.

        • There’s a book you should read before flinging accusations about: The Rape of Nanking. You won’t be the same again.

          “Nanking should be remembered not only for the number of people slaughtered but for the cruel manner in which many met their deaths. Chinese men were used for bayonet practice and in decapitation contests. An estimated 20,000 – 80,000 Chinese women were raped. Many soldiers went beyond rape to disembowel women, slice off their breasts, and nail them alive to walls. Fathers were forced to rape their daughters, and sons their mothers, as other family members watched. Not only did live burials, castration, the carving of organs, and the roasting of people become routine, but more diabolical tortures were practiced, such as hanging people by their tongues on iron hooks or burying people to their waists and watching them get torn apart by German shepherds. So sickening was the spectacle that even Nazis in the city were horrified, one proclaiming the massacre to be the work of bestial machinery”

            • MK, the Japs should acknowledge their role in kidnapping Korean woman and using them as sex slaves. They claim to be anti-imperialism and blame european for this genocide and then commit the same genocide on their asian brothers and sisters.

              I’m not undermining nor justifying the genocidal role that the british/ Irish/Scots/French/Italians/Dutch/Spanish/europeans now call themselves Americans did to the Natives tribes who they called Indians but the Japanese have to answer and finally show some acknowledgement what they did to their fellow asian bother’s and sisters.

              • How much do you really know about the sex slave stuff in Korea, Stephen? It’s probally a bit more complex than we are led to believe. I’ve read for example that the Japanese, upon occupation of Korea, simply took over the existing brothels which originally served the Korean army, and used them for their own soldiers. The degredation of women? Too right. But, as to who is at fault, the Japanese accuse the Koreans of calling the kettle black.

              • ‘Comfort women’ in Korea: what is the line between thee historical ‘facts’ and misinformation. Whose version do we believe? The South Koreans who feel agrieved? The Japanese who say they simply took over the existing brothels? The spin created by the occupiers after the conflict?

                The aggrieved of course were the women. Highly likely they were not willing servants, of either the Korean or Japanese soldiers. Definitely not the Japanese!

            • Don’t get me started on the Ottomans (their Armenian genocide right into last century not the worst of it) or the Mogul empire or the Arabian massacres and subjugation of Christian, Jews and Zoroastrians throughout the Middle East.
              History is a blood bath Mohammed – no one is without blood on their ancestors hands.

    • Oh wow, that flowery language is from 1901 by a correspondent from the Philadelphia Ledger because, gosh darn it, journalists never lie or bullshit and the phrase if it bleeds it leads didn’t apply back then, even with Hearst.

      Actually that does read like one of Hearst’s “sob sisters”. I always liked the one he sent to the aftermath of the Galveston Hurricane in 1900. The storm surge had ripped into graveyards, leading to the immortal headline, Even The Graves Yield Up Their Dead

  3. Very very well written Tim. Particularly the first bit on how we are watering down kids’ stories into a bland shade of vanilla – pseudo-adult clap-trap, that demeans our kids ability to think for themselves – and then we clutch pearls at how easily our teenagers are ‘triggered’. Bring back High Chaparral….

    • I remember the High Chaparral. Towards the end of the series, any Red Indian shot off his horse would magically leap to his feet totally uninjured, race along behind his horse, and leap back up onto it again! No Indians were hurt in the making of any battle!
      Yes, even the High Chaparral went politically correct!

  4. “Nothing triggering can ever occur therefore nothing to sustain interest could ever occur.” – A gem. How Hemingway and Jack London would trigger today’s crop of facile ‘writers’.

  5. if people bothered to investigate the us colonial war in the phillipines this debate would not exist…it’s not about relativism ‘who was worst’ it’s about nanking being common knowledge and the us colonisation hidden and never referred to

  6. Superb prose, Tim! Like Hunter S. Thompson – but with more rage.

    Writing of this quality is as rare as the writers capable of producing it.

    More please.

    • Yes Chris, great isn’t it.
      Look the hell out once the artists and the jokers have been canceled, shamed into submission, silenced.

  7. I can’t hear the radio, thankfully, although I did listen to a Kim Hill interview somewhere and found her voice excruciatingly sly. I looked at the childrens’ books in the bookstore and wondered where all the real ones had gone, they looked like they had been made in the same place that the over-jargoned posters for socially engineered courses are made and they also looked like the frankly x-rated school curriculum pictures of amputee lesbians scissoring on a politically correct cloud of inclusiveness. I saw that young woman being pulled by her hair from the tent & immediately, that wtf?? feeling, those time cops, they must come from Mars or Sirius or, more like it, Uranus.

  8. great stuff although I’m not sure anyone reads more than a few hundred characters these days. a bit long for the tik tok or twit-x generation you are talking about.

  9. Thanks, Tim. Which electorate you running in? You should.

    We need a No Confidence party to collect the protest vote.

  10. I wonder how many kids actually listen to that RNZ show? In this day and age I can’t imagine it’s more than a handful.

    And still they get funding for it and persist.

    BTW, why are you complaining about the loss of the previous era of such shows. You think the Right Wing killed them off? No. The sanctimonious Left did, with perfect example starting with Mohammed Khan’s Hate-America-Hate-West bilge, fresh from the mid-70’s.

    • It’s a relic of the past. But seeks continuity, like so many things. I can recall from my own childhood fairy tale classics (and how would they look now under the scrutiny of revisionism), and more recently, where I taped the stories on cassette and replayed them in the car for my daughter when going here and there. But ages ago now. Gone were the fairy stories replaced with some good edgy stories, but most school journal stuff with moral content aimed at social conditioning. I heard the programme a year back and it had taken its natural progression, full on pc, full of virtue signaling, no doubt created by the new woke.

      But what can we expect, eh. Most local content for grown ups is much the same. Even the advertising on free to view TV!

  11. Actually, that graph – which I’m sure you knowingly put as a bit of irony messaging – does describe exactly how we’ve arrived at the dull-as-dishwater kiddies show you listened to on RNZ.

  12. Sorry I’m late.
    Good piece, fine burst of righteous outrage.

    Do consider a new take on Trump re. the La Fayette square incident.
    The official story was written by credentialed members of legacy media with ab agenda.
    If you check around, you’ll find it’s not so.

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