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Reflections on Field's corruption

  • August 5th, 2009

The saddest thing for us all is the response from spokespeople for the Samoan community so far, and Labour.

Labour should have formally apologised to those they accused of "muckraking" ( I was among them for asking for an independent investigation instead of Clark’s fake enquiry) and sworn to return to bi-partisan upholding of core honesties after the dark years of the Clark morality. 

Corrupt abuse of power is normal for most cultures, at most times. Indeed in most cultures a failure to put the interests of your own family above all other duties is regarded as immoral. Those societies are condemned to the routine abuse of power .

We are the lucky inheritors of the culture of one of history’s few but stunning exceptions. This hard won acheivement depends on continual reinforcement of the ethic of stewardship and self denial. It needs periodic refreshing with example cases. The example scapegoats must be formally denounced then shunned with a uniting of factions to show adherence to the underlying common value.

Such a vital but ‘un-natural’ value demands constant patrolling and re-definition of the boundaries. That process allows successive generations to refresh their committment.

The current beat-up over Ministerial housing allowances is an example. It gains its force because of our need for symbolic distance from personal profit from publicly conferred coercive power. We fight insidious weakening of  the trust nature of  power with emphatic claims whenever the boundary is approached. Almost no nonsense will be over the top when it is an assertion of ‘horror’ at the possibility of personal or family profit from the exercise of public power.

But New Zealand has an achilles heel in this area. Sadly for us, Maori and Polynesian cultures have the normal expectation that bosses will take personal and family benefit from power. 

I think wariness about that may be a partial explanation of the otherwise baffling and self damaging failure by the National Party to place Sir Wira Gardiner on its Board over the weekend. His extraordinary management drive and ability are sorely needed. His mana would have been strategically valuable. I detect no racial antipathy among National people, indeed the opposite.

But there was worry about what could result from the combination of Hekia Parata’s position within caucus and a powerful husband on the Board.

For me the need for his competence on the Board outweighed that worry so he was No 1 on my ballot paper, but I acknowledge the legitimacy of the concern.

Our vulnerability to Polynesian tolerance of corruption is doubly worrying when there has been no purging by Labour of its complicity in Field’s defense. Clark’s handling of the issue was despicable. When our core values needed reinforcing she was AWOL. Pity the UN, where corruption is one of their biggest problems and they have a boss with her instincts.

And National is close to the Maori Party. Much as I like Tariana Turia’s qualities, I can not forget that she took Donna Awatere to her bosom when Donna was shown to have abused trust and her office, then did the same with Field when Labour was finally forced to distance themselves from him. Her only explanation was brown solidarity.

Sadly there can be no confidence that NZ will retain its clean politics until we have some strong Maori and Polynesian leaders who will denounce corruption even when it is brown, and claim their shared inheritance of our rare north European political morality .

[I’ve just seen David Farrar’s withering posts on this issue. If we had a fifth estate worthy of the name they’d put aside their  campaign against Bill English for as long as takes to extract some apology and undertakings from Labour, and they’d be asking the Maori Party for some vigorous cleansing words as well]



You want the media to (temporarily?) put aside their campaign against politicians self-indulgence with taxpayer money. But isn’t that just more abuse of the “ethic of stewardship and self denial”? Perhaps the temporary aspect of your suggestion acknowledges that both are on the same continuum. Field just takes priority.

  • Guy Fawkes
  • August 6th, 2009
  • 9:55 am

Vote for freakin Guy Fawkes !!
We know at least it seems that he entered Parliament with true intentions….

Last nights TV3 was interesting take on English, Body language wise he was on the defensive, and for an acomplished speaker.
Last night he sounded like Elmer Fudd.
With his hesitation and obvious porkies, he’s paying it back because he was caught.
NOT because its right.

What he did may not have been illegal, it was as Bill English put it “Not a good look.”
People vote people into parliament to represent them, not as most politicians seem to think rule over us.

Maybe some good things will come out of all this, one hopes.

As for the slant on polynesian politics.
Dunno….I would suggest this is not just representative of Maori, Samoan society in general, a quick look at say greek, italian, south american cultures and political systems will show that this form of corruption is not just a facet of Polynesian politics but part of all politics.

Corruption isn’t a vice of race it is a vice of convenience, I ask this question Stephen, what makes what two now famous solo moms did any different in the wider context of what Bill did, both have used there families as why it was done. And both along with many other New Zealanders of all stratas of our society do.

Doesn’t make it right but it does make it reality, around the country how many people do you think will now think “Well if a Minister of the Crown can do it…Why cant I?” And he did choose to do it, it wasn’t a mistake he chose his path carefully.

Finally this is just not a dig at the right but at ALL politicians in the other ‘Big House’ Kiwis by and large are sick of the tired old mantra of the left and the right, that its time yet again to tighten our belts.

My question to you all who read and writre this blog is “Why should we tighten our belts when it seems Politicians are not seen to do so?”

Finally on another note, and very quickly.
Stephen I have heard thru the League Grapevine that you have not put your name forward for the new board, if this is indeed true, then thank you from the grassroots of our sport for your commitment resolve and work ethic in rebuilding WRL and reinvigorating our sport from the Board down.

You Stephen are a gentleman and a scholar, good luck with your new Law Firm and Life in general!


there's not much we can do about it, right?

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