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Time to end perception of degrees for sale

Written By: - Date published: 6:14 pm, December 4th, 2013 - 49 comments
Categories: education, tertiary education - Tags:

The All Blacks do not give out honorary test caps to the chief financial officer of insurance sponsor AIG. Politicians no longer give seats in a House of Lords to their almsgivers and patrons. Perhaps it is time to question why our most prestigious universities give away honorary doctorates to significant benefactors.

A couple of weeks ago Victoria University of Wellington announced it would confer an honorary degree on long-time donor and business leader Paul Baines. The university lists Mr Baines in its annual report as a member of its Benefactors’ Circle, which comprises its “most significant donors and sponsors”. To qualify as a member of the Benefactors’ Circle, Mr Baines has to have donated at least $10,000 to the university.

Now, I have nothing against Mr Baines. I do not know who he is. The university’s media release on his award lists his many significant contributions to the university and to New Zealand’s business community, not all of them financial. He may be as worthy as any other honorary degree recipient.

However, most of the people who cross the Michael Fowler Centre stage and graduate with a doctorate next month will have studied at the highest level for many years to earn their qualification. Their degrees recognise hard work and academic excellence. When universities give them away to people who have not studied it undermines the honour they bestow upon their true students. All too often, universities give away honorary degrees in circumstances that appear be either about rewarding the university rather than the recipient, or rewarding the recipient for nothing more than making a financial donation – in other words, buying a doctorate.

Two common forms of this practice are universities awarding degrees to celebrities to bring prestige and publicity to that university, and universities awarding degrees to major financial donors in circumstances that outsiders may view either as rewards for the donations or an encouragement for keep the money flowing. Neither of these practices exhibits the academic integrity and respect for their students that one might expect of highly regarded institutions of learning.

Last year the New Zealand Herald revealed New Zealand universities spent more than $250,000 awarding honorary degrees to celebrities and visiting dignitaries. It listed celebrity recipients such as the Topp Twins, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Richie McCaw, Peter Jackson, Neil and Tim Finn, and former prime ministers Jim Bolger and Helen Clark.

Owen Glenn got an honorary degree from the University of Auckland after donating $7.5 million to its business school. Singaporean businessman Lee Seng Tee, funded a lecture series in Antarctic studies at Victoria University, and then received a doctorate. And Sir Eion Edgar funded the University of Otago Edgar Centre for Diabetes and Obesity Research in 2003, the same year he received an honorary doctorate there.

Among academics, there is no worse allegation than that one did not earn their degree, but instead bought it with either cash or favours. Perhaps it is time that New Zealand universities removed the perception of corruption that will continue to persist when they hand out degrees to major financial donors.

Some of the world’s most prestigious universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell, UCLA and Stanford, do not confer honorary degrees. Each has alternative awards they confer upon worthy members of the public instead.

New Zealand universities should follow these examples. We should let the world know there is only one way to receive a doctorate in New Zealand and that is by studying and working hard to earn the qualification. Certainly, we must honour members of the public for their achievements and their contributions but do not honour them with a degree they have not earned.

Alternatively, our universities may inadvertently end up in the company of institutions such as this.

Stephen Day
steven_dayTEU

49 comments on “Time to end perception of degrees for sale”

  1. red blooded 1

    I absolutely agree. It’s part of the creeping commercialisation of our education system: institutions (including schools) set up as competing enterprises, selling access to their facilities and expertise to overseas students in order to fund their services to the NZ kids (and thus creating a higher student-teacher ratio and a whole set of new demands on teachers), downgrading of teacher education to an apprenticeship-style model, charter schools staffed by people with no teacher training or experience, universities setting up “PPP”s to help fund research (with the inevitable effect that research that is not immediately commercially viable is unlikely to be funded)… It may seem like I’m getting off the point but these are all effects of taking a commercial model of thinking and applying it to education. Put that together with long term, chronic underfunding and what do you get? Donor doctorates.

    • millsy 1.1

      To be honest, I am sure that our universites would rather, if they could, just kick all the New Zealanders out of their campuses and just purely educate international students.

  2. Demi 2

    My husband took 7 yrs to do his doctorate in Science, we called it the mistress as it took him away from our family a lot. It was a hell of a lot of work and these honorary doctorates do diminish the work that was done. I like the idea of a separate system for people who donate money or are ex students etc.

  3. QoT 3

    At one of my graduations the valedictorian was a celebrity who’d been given an honorary degree. It annoyed me at the time because he wasn’t part of the student corps, he hadn’t done the work all of us were there to celebrate, and it felt very much like the university council expected us all to be impressed that Such An Important Person was deigning to share his thoughts with us, instead of one of our own peers.

    • rhinocrates 3.1

      I agree. These people are embarrassing, and show what cynical, mercenary contempt the university has for its real students and academics. They only declare that they’re diploma mills that have particularly high fees compared to the South American stereotypes when in fact their faculty that does real work is insulted by such money-grubbing.

      It’s shameful and any university that cares about its reputation – oh, sorry, I think “brand” is the word we use now – should cease this practise.

      Peter Jackson has an honorary degree. Whoop-de-fucking-do. OK, he’s made films that might be good or bad but in any case involved years of hard work and skill and made lots of money (from taxpayers). That’s fine, so let him take his money, his jet, his Oscar – but the shameful spectacle of a university trying to gain “prestige” by grabbing at his ankles so that it can be dragged along across the Hollywood red carpet is humiliating to those who submitted to the discipline of study.

      And if anyone wants to call me elitist, I say, “Fine, get a PhD through work and then tell me how easy it is.”

      • Murray Olsen 3.1.1

        Getting a PhD wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It required a lot of work, but I think cleaning toilets for 8 years would have been harder for me.

        I don’t really care much about honorary degrees. They’re something that exists on the administrative, management and financial level of the universities. These parts are only accidentally connected to the places where the actual academic work is done. What I do object to is the dumbing down of Bachelors and Masters degrees so that fee paying students will keep enrolling. As always, I blame all ACT governments since 1984 for this development. They’ve turned education into a commodity where, as long as the student pays, they get their diploma.

        • karol 3.1.1.1

          Agreed, MO.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 3.1.1.2

          +1 MO

        • KJT 3.1.1.3

          Agree with Murray.

          Well. As I pretty much continued with a full time job/business while doing post graduate study I don’t think it is tha–at hard.

          With “Honorary degrees, so long as it is clear they are “honorary” degrees I don’t see a problem. It is a way of acknowledging someone who has contributed to the University or public life.

          If someone meets the requirements in another way, such as life achievements in the field then I consider they may well have earned a degree. (Not just an honorary one).

          The real issue, as Murray points out, is, the “bums on seats” degradation of standards.
          In one of my qualifications, for example, all the foreign fee paying students pass. Working with the graduates, I would say less than 40% meet the standard.
          The standard of NZ students has also dropped markedly with the reduction in on the job experience, and expansion of classroom time, so the tertiary institutions can get more fee paying “bums on seats”.

          The commercial model does not work for education.

          Neither does top down authoritarian management.
          (Does not work well for business either, except to justify grossly inflated salaries for managers).

          • Murray Olsen 3.1.1.3.1

            A PhD requires commitment and perseverance over a more or less extended period of time. It also allows the candidate to utilise their creativity, make a contribution to the discipline, follow their curiosity, and learn a hell of a lot about a specialised area. I saw it as far more of a rewarding opportunity than as hard work. Most of the work was enjoyable, challenging, and rewarding. The hardest part has been paying back the student loan.

            • KJT 3.1.1.3.1.1

              Yes. Having the time and resources, while at Uni to study interesting ideas and facts in depth was a privilege and a delight.

    • alwyn 3.2

      At the time when one of my nephews was graduating, after a lot of very hard study, one of the PhDs awarded by the University was a retired politician who was given an honorary degree. It annoyed my nephew because she wasn’t part of the student corp and hadn’t done the work.
      That was of course Helen Clark. I presume she will read this post, feel abjectly ashamed, and hand back her honorary degree on the grounds she hadn’t earned it.

      The best views on the subject were those of Richard Feynman, Physicist.
      “I remember the work I did to get a real degree at Princeton and the guys on the same platform receiving honorary degrees without work – and felt an “honorary degree” was a debasement of the idea of a “degree which confirms certain work has been accomplished”. It is like giving an “honorary electricians license” “.
      Feynman wrote this when rejecting an offer to confer on him an honorary degree. He never accepted such an award.

      Come on Helen. Give yours back.

  4. Philj 4

    Xox
    +1
    Monetisation of life itself. It’s the commodification and corruption
    of demockary.

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    An honorary degree should have to apply to what a person has done in their life that would equate to doing an actual degree. It shouldn’t be awarded just because someone has donated to the university.

    • swordfish 5.1

      My thoughts entirely, Draco.

      In general, I think of honorary degrees as bordering on worthless. However, if, for example, someone went straight into journalism after leaving high school (ie no Uni), acquired a good deal of expertise on a particular subject over the years, and subsequently wrote a sophisticated, perhaps ground-breaking, book on the subject – then I think there is a place for universities to recognise that. Especially if it equates to – or goes beyond – the work required for a PhD.

  6. rhinocrates 6

    I agree totally. It’s like calling someone an “Honorary Dentist” – it’s just a joke at best, but at worst, honorary degrees are simony; they embarrass those who’ve worked hard to gain their degrees and undermine the integrity and intellectual value of universities, making them look like whores (and apologies to honest sex workers).

    A professor of mine said of higher study when he came to a crossroads in his career, “it was either a Porsche or a PhD”. He took the PhD and inspired generations through hard work. If you want a Porsche, pay for it, be happy with it and masturbate over it as much as you like.

    • rhinocrates 6.1

      edit fubar… to amend “as much as you like and don’t expect applause as well, Mr Jackson.”

  7. Thanks for the comments all. I should clarify that I’m not saying this guy bought a degree – just that the practice of honorary degrees creates an unhealthy perception that degrees can be and sometimes are bought. Some people will pay big money for status, and honorary degrees, although academically worthless, do carry significant status.

    Red Blooded – I don’t think you are off topic. The increasing commercialisation of tertiary education incentivises universities, wananga and polytechnics to act in increasing bizarre ways. Using honorary degrees to reward financial support is just one example of watering down academic credibility so as to meet commercial funders half way.

  8. rhinocrates 8

    Dunno how that happened, only posted once.

    FYI lprent, there seems to be a technical problem – first my comment didn’t appear at all, and shutting down Safari and restarting it and then clicking on The Standard showed that my reply had been duplicated. Please delete one of them.

    Hope that’s useful?

    • lprent 8.1

      All comments are getting holdups. Lot of spam getting checked.

      • rhinocrates 8.1.1

        Yeah, I don’t envy you for the site maintenance job. Just hoping that feedback gives you some help in finding out what the problems are.

      • Ake ake ake 8.1.2

        I think some of us should get together and get you a very generous voucher for you to dine out at a restaurant as the festive season approaches. You deserve a knighthood or honorary doctorate for what you do here.

        • lprent 8.1.2.1

          I never have time to go out anyway. Besides, my sister and parents volunteered us to host xmas dinner. Then it is off to for another family post Xmas. I am starting to starve now in anticipation…

          • greywarbler 8.1.2.1.1

            lprent
            Good man with the starving. I am doing the same – getting in training for matchfitness for the Big Day. Even thinking of a vegetarian diet or vegan so much discussed lately here, but after Christmas. Family, fullness and fun is the order of the day, and some days after as well.

  9. rhinocrates 9

    Dunno how that happened, only posted once.

    FYI lprent, there seems to be a technical problem – first my comment didn’t appear at all, and shutting down Safari and restarting it and then clicking on The Standard showed that my reply had been duplicated. Please delete one of them.

    Hope that’s useful?

  10. greywarbler 10

    Would Patron be a better title? Money assisting the university is rather handy, so how it can it be acknowledged and the person donating it be incorporated into the hierarchy?

  11. Rodel 11

    A good post.
    How about Dr Banks? Dr Key , Dr dot com? or even ha ha ha Dr Craig eventually?
    Just give them Bachelor or Masters toy degrees but not PhDs.

  12. Richard Christie 12

    Honorary degrees, as with knighthoods, it says more about the calibre person who accepts the offer of the honour than they could ever possibly realise.

  13. RedBaronCV 13

    Started as a sharebroker in Jarden and Co if I have the right one. Then CS First Boston then Telecom director and other public coys. Been around Wellington for quite a while.

  14. The Wolf 14

    Tall poppy syndrome much?

  15. infused 15

    That moment when you realize that most degrees are total bullshit anyway…

    • Tat Loo (CV) 15.1

      Especially degrees in commerce and economics. Our society needs people who can think about meaning, values, and to build them into human systems for local communities.

      • KJT 15.1.1

        Hang on. I found studying economics and management useful.

        That is when I realised “mainstream” economics bore no relationship to the real world outside, whatsoever, and started reading Steven Kean, Ha Joon Chang, Krugman et al.

        The funniest part about management studies was not being believed by the Tutor when I talked about real life occurrences.

    • Rodel 15.2

      infused
      obviously hasn’t qualified for one …sorry..i know a few grumpy people with that attitude.

      • Murray Olsen 15.2.1

        Funny, you mirrored my thoughts. I’ve known a few absolute geniuses in my time who have totally failed to fulfil the requirements, then decided retrospectively that degrees were a load of shit. As far as I know, they’re still waiting for their brilliance to be recognised.

        • ropata 15.2.1.1

          maybe they failed because of a giant atheist conspiracy to suppress the TRUTH about dinosaurs, moon landings, chemtrails, biblical floods, and the Earth was created “on Sunday the 21st of October, 4004 B.C., at exactly 9:00 A.M., because God liked to get work done early in the morning while he was feeling fresh.” (according to Pratchett & Gaiman) :P

  16. Tracey 16

    Right up there with most of the highest honors

  17. One Anonymous Knucklehead 17

    I can’t see anything wrong with honorary degrees. Does anyone seriously pretend they’re the real thing, or not suffer ridicule if caught doing so? The sting of academic disdain might seem baffling to someone honoured in this way, and certainly provides (yet) another example of the pettiness of academia.

    It’s not like they’re a recent invention cooked up by Stephen Joyce.

    As for the sale of honorary degrees, allegations of this sort are commonplace, but there are plenty of places the wealthy can spend their money; it seems to me that donation to an institute of higher learning is a relatively enlightened way to do so, honours bestowed as a result are one way to say thanks.

    Pat the rich man on the head, professor. He ain’t after your job.

    • KJT 17.1

      I find academics rather pretentious at times. Not all. There were some amazing people there, also.

      Just one example being the fake outrage about plagiarism, as they deliver a totally boring lecture, straight from the textbook!

    • Rogue Trooper 17.2

      Agree OAKIE

  18. grumpy 18

    I worked bloody hard for my degree in engineering but I know of others who have developed huge skill and knowlege in a technical field who probably would have been fitting recipients of an honorary degree. John Britten and Bruce MacLaren spring to mind.

  19. Rogue Trooper 19

    Could not care less if I had earned a PhD in caring less :-D
    “The fool doth think he is wise but the wise man knows himself to be a fool”- As We Like It
    (Be yourself, everybody else is already taken- Oscar Wilde).

    • greywarbler 19.1

      RT
      +1 Oscar was unique.
      By the way you put Mr C under one of my comments. I don’t understand your morse code mind. What can it mean?

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    Good cities should provide choices to their inhabitants. Any big (or small!) city is composed of a variety of people with various preferences, needs, and budgets. Look around you: Aucklanders are a bloody diverse bunch, and we’re getting more so...
    Transport Blog | 28-09
  • President of Kiribati visits the Arctic
    In September 2014 Anote Tong, President of the Pacific Republic of Kiribati, journeyed to the Arctic to see first hand the melting Arctic glaciers that are affecting his drowning Pacific paradise.Sea levels are rising faster in the Central-West Pacific than...
    Greenpeace NZ blog | 28-09
  • Letter to the editor – “An Alarmed World” according to The Listener
    . . This recent editorial from”The Listener”  is not one I ever thought I’d see… . . My response… . from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com> to: Listener <letters@listener.co.nz> date: Mon, Sep 29, 2014 subject: Letter to the Editor . The editor...
    Frankly Speaking | 28-09
  • Updated poll of polls, now with dubious new ‘election’ datapoint
    ...
    DimPost | 28-09
  • Hold fast to your Mana – Harawira
    Hone Harawira today called on the voters of Tai Tokerau to hold fast to their mana, and not be dictated to by those party leaders who have ganged together to tell them how to vote. “I call on our people...
    Mana | 18-09
  • Media Advisory – Interview availability
    This is to advise all media that Hone Harawira will be available in Auckland tomorrow, Friday the 19th of September from 7am to 4pm for interviews relating to his recent press releases. If you are interested in interviewing Mr Harawira on...
    Mana | 18-09
  • Labour stands on proud record on Suffrage Day
    Women have come a long way in the 121 years since New Zealand became the first country to give them the vote on September 19 1893, but there is still more to do, Labour’s Women’s Affairs spokesperson Carol Beaumont says....
    Labour | 18-09
  • Polling Booths asked to treat Maori voters with respect
    “Polling booths without Maori roll voting papers, Maori people not being offered assistance to vote, people getting sent from Whangarei to Wellsford to vote, Maori people getting turned away from voting because they didn’t have their ‘easy vote’ card, Maori...
    Mana | 17-09
  • Aussie Liberals embroiled in Key campaign
    John Key needs to explain why Australia’s Liberal Party is interfering in New Zealand domestic politics and is encouraging Kiwi voters across the ditch to vote for National just days out from the election, Labour’s campaign spokesperson Annette King says....
    Labour | 17-09
  • The MANA Plan for Beneficiaries and Income in Waiariki
    Median Personal Income for Waiariki is $21,700. Over 13,000 Maori who live in Waiariki rely upon a form of government benefit including the Unemployment Benefit, Sickness Benefit, Domestic Purpose Benefit and the Invalids Benefit. “If you’re lucky enough to have...
    Mana | 16-09
  • Māori development crucial to New Zealand’s future
    Labour recognises the concern of Māori about child poverty and the rising costs of living, and in Government will make a real difference to the wellbeing of whānau and iwi, Labour’s Māori Affairs spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta says. “As our Māori...
    Labour | 16-09
  • MAORI PARTY – DON’T COMPLAIN … WALK
    “If the Maori Party are serious about stopping government spying on NZ citizens then they should tell the Prime Minister to either stop doing it or they will walk away” said MANA leader and Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira, on...
    Mana | 16-09
  • JOHN KEY SUPPORTING LABOUR
    “There is something really sick about a National Party Prime Minister coming out in support of a Labour candidate” said MANA leader and Tai Tokerau MP, Hone Harawira, after hearing that John Key is urging voters to back Labour in...
    Mana | 16-09
  • SHUT DOWN THIS GOVT NOT KAITI WINZ – Nikora
    “I’m going to make it as hard for you to get help as I can” is Paula Bennett’s message to the people of Kaiti  said MANA candidate Te Hāmua Nikora today in response to the news that National will close...
    Mana | 16-09
  • Winegums make for better polling – Harawira
    I wanted to laugh when I saw the Native Affairs poll the other night (Hone Harawira 38%, Kelvin Davis 37%) because it was almost the same as the one they did back in 2011”, said MANA leader and Tai Tokerau...
    Mana | 16-09
  • The Leadership of MTS Lied – Harawira
    “Normally I’m happy to tell people that I was right but when I received the news about the staff cuts at Maori Television, I had nothing but sympathy for the three Maori media leaders who are going to be made...
    Mana | 16-09
  • Privileges Complaint Laid against Prime Minister – Harawira
    MANA Movement Leader and Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira has today lodged a Privileges Complaint with the Speaker regarding the Prime Ministers denials in parliament that he knew anything about Kim Dotcom before 2012. “Information made public today appears...
    Mana | 15-09
  • Sharples’ new appointments are out of order
    The new appointments to the Waitangi Tribunal announced by Dr Pita Sharples this morning are completely out of order given the election is just five days away, says Labour's State Services spokesperson, Maryan Street. “This Government continues to show disdain...
    Labour | 15-09
  • MANA Movement Housing Policy
    “When families are living in cars, garages, cockroach-infested caravans and three families to a house then we have a housing crisis”, said MANA leader and MP for Te Tai Tokerau, Hone Harawira. “When you have a housing crisis for low-income...
    Mana | 15-09
  • Bigger than the Foreshore and Seabed – Sykes
    “Over the past week I have received some disturbing information that has led myself and a number of Maori lawyers to conclude that this National - Maori Party - ACT and United Future Government are going to put an end to both...
    Mana | 14-09
  • MANA wants Te Reo Māori petition fulfilled
    Hone Harawira, MANA Leader and MP for Te Tai Tokerau Annette Sykes, MANA candidate for Waiariki Te Hāmua Nikora, MANA candidate for Ikaroa Rāwhiti  “More than four decades have passed and the petition calling for Te Reo Māori in schools...
    Mana | 14-09
  • Primary focus on the critical issues
    A Labour Government will prioritise New Zealand’s agricultural sectors by recreating a Rural Affairs Minister and appointing a Primary Industry Council and a Chief Agricultural Adviser. Releasing Labour’s Primary Sector and Rural Affairs policies today, spokesperson Damien O’Connor says the...
    Labour | 12-09
  • Maori Television fears confirmed – Harawira
    ...
    Mana | 12-09
  • More ghost houses from National
    The Government’s desperate pre-election announcement of more ghost houses won’t fool Aucklanders wanting action on the housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “These are ghost houses, to go with National’s ghost tax cut. Families cannot live in ghost...
    Labour | 12-09
  • National bows to union pressure over travel time
    National has reluctantly bowed to pressure from unions and adopted Labour’s fair and sensible policy to pay home support workers for the time they spend traveling between clients, Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says. “This decision is long overdue...
    Labour | 12-09
  • Predators on Poverty – Harawira
    “As poverty has ballooned out of control, the Predators on Poverty have emerged to suck the lifeblood from whole families and communities” said MANA Movement leader and Tai Tokerau MP, Hone Harawira. “They are deliberately targeting low-income areas, particularly those...
    Mana | 11-09
  • MANA Movement Policy Launch
    Predators on Poverty (pokie machines, alcohol outlets and loan sharks) 1pm, Thursday 11th September Corner Great South Road and Criterion Street Otahuhu Shopping Centre...
    Mana | 10-09
  • A brief word on reinvading Iraq
    So after telling the country before the election that NZ would not send forces to Iraq, lo and behold now he’s won the election with a full spectrum dominance political majority, Key is suddenly now looking to join the re-invasion of...
    The Daily Blog | 29-09
  • A brief word on the importance of ACT, Maori Party and United Future to Nat...
    I’m a far right wing clown who attacks tax money going on anything collective, gimmie some cash and privilege.  One of the great successes of National has been to implement hard right policy but have it sold as moderate. For some NZers,...
    The Daily Blog | 29-09
  • Labour’s Angst
    Was Labour’s predictably low vote David Cunliffe’s fault? Was it policy? Was it something else that has aroused perceptions of electoral carnage? My analysis of the numbers suggests that, as uncertain voters made up their minds, there was a late...
    The Daily Blog | 29-09
  • Information wars: Gaza as “the last taboo”, the threat of mass surveill...
    “When the truth is replaced with silence” wrote the soviet dissident Yevgeni Yevtushenko, “the silence is a lie.” There has been a silence these past months full of noise, static and sound bites of those in power justifying their violence,...
    The Daily Blog | 29-09
  • When the media say they covered Dirty Politics – did they?
    I was watching The Nation in the weekend, and watched the defenders of NZ media up against Minto telling him he was wrong in his claims of media bias and that the media covered Dirty Politics. I laughed. When the...
    The Daily Blog | 29-09
  • GUEST BLOG – P Campbell – To the Left with love
    A week after the general election results I feel wrung out emotionally, having been through the disappointment, depression and anger of seeing  another right wing government elected overwhelmingly by winning support from the parts of NZ that will never benefit...
    The Daily Blog | 29-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Kate Davis – I will be the new Labour Leader!
    One week after the election, while I was still waiting to be consulted about contributing to the review on what went wrong, what do you know? There is a leadership challenge. So instead of opting for a united, thoughtful and...
    The Daily Blog | 29-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Pat O’Dea – A Prescient Post
    A very prescient pre-election post by Martyn Bradbury tells us why the Labour Party are at war now. “The NZ First-Labour Party attack strategy against Internet MANA better work” Despite Martyn Bradbury warning them this Right Wing strategy “Better Work”...
    The Daily Blog | 29-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Curwen Rolinson – W(h)ither Labour (!/?)
    There’s an old saying that success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. Not so in the Labour Party, wherein soul-crushing defeat on a scale unseen since 1925 definitely has many fathers (and more than a few mothers and...
    The Daily Blog | 29-09
  • At the end of the day…
    At the end of the day…...
    The Daily Blog | 29-09
  • Cynicism towards Key’s sudden desire to help children in poverty
    Cynicism towards Key’s sudden desire to help children in poverty...
    The Daily Blog | 28-09
  • Internet MANA the election and the media
    I’ve been very critical of media reporting of Internet MANA during the election campaign and not surprised at the predictable response from representatives of the corporate media establishment. I wasn’t going to carry this further but was asked at the...
    The Daily Blog | 28-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Rachel Jones – A superficial discourse analysis of a superfic...
    On Sunday there was a story about Paddy Gower and his detached retina in the Herald on Sunday. Really? I hear you ask. Really? Yes, really. Pam Corkery will have sprayed toast crumbs over her dressing gown. The reporter has become...
    The Daily Blog | 28-09
  • Terrorising Australia’s Muslim population
    We should be suspicious when 800 police conduct “terror” raids across Australia, but only one person is charged with a relevant terrorism offence (of which we know few details). We should be suspicious of the lurid tales of terrorists planning...
    The Daily Blog | 28-09
  • Another Labour leader has resigned and as per usual, the media lost its min...
    Another Labour leader has resigned and as per usual, the media lost its mind. I know the Labour party has its problems and I’m not even going to try to prescribe what should be done about it. But what I...
    The Daily Blog | 28-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Anjum Rahman – Loyalty, Leadership and the Labour Party
    My first after the election and I can only say I’m feeling pretty sad.  It was a terrible result, and feels even more so knowing the number of volunteers hours, hard work & sacrifice made by so many people who...
    The Daily Blog | 27-09
  • A Study in Party Stability
    . In terms of long-term stability, one party above stands above all others, with the exception of personality-driven groups such as NZ First and United Future. That party is the Greens. If the Labour Party wants to look elsewhere for...
    The Daily Blog | 27-09
  • Cunliffe vs Robertson – Round 2
    Much to the disappointment of the NZ Herald and other right wing pundits who have decided they would like to appoint the next Labour leader, Cunliffe has surprised by deciding to damn the Caucus and appeal directly to the members...
    The Daily Blog | 27-09
  • The tasks before the left and labour movement
    Anyone on the left would have been disappointed at the result of the election. There was an opportunity to win, but that got lost through a combination of factors. There were tactical decisions made by Labour, the Greens and Internet-Mana...
    The Daily Blog | 27-09
  • From Fiji’s dictatorship to ‘democracy’ – the AUT student team on t...
    Mads Anneberg’s profile on Ricardo Morris and Repúblika. David Robie also blogs at Café Pacific. THREE STUDENTS from AUT University covered Fiji’s historic “from dictatorship to democracy” general election this month. While the election arguably legitimised Voreqe Bainimarama’s so-called 2006...
    The Daily Blog | 27-09
  • David Cunliffe Resigns As Labour Leader – Forces Robertson Out of the Bel...
    David Cunliffe has made a smart move, resigning as the leader of the Labour Party so as to force a leadership primary campaign. The move draws rival Grant Robertson out of the beltway to parts of the country where he...
    The Daily Blog | 27-09
  • Deep thought vs Deep prejudice
    . . This letter to the editor appeared in The Listener, on 27 September, and caught my attention; . . Mr Dawson wrote in response to one of those typically unthinking comments which  condemned the poor for their “unbridled, reckless...
    The Daily Blog | 27-09
  • The NZ National voters elected
    The NZ National voters elected...
    The Daily Blog | 26-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Kate Davis – The post election postmortem is giving me post p...
    I feel the need to contribute to the discourse. This is a new experience for me. Not having an opinion, but expressing it on a popular forum in a public sphere. That’s why I have waited till now and put...
    The Daily Blog | 26-09
  • A dictionary of education terms and definitions, brought to you by the let...
    Free to all TDB readers, please enjoy your very own cut-out-and-keep handy primer of terms that I predict you will need to know over the next three years… Achievement Gap (noun) Synonym for wealth gap. ACT (abstract noun) Intangible. Reported to exist in...
    The Daily Blog | 26-09
  • A Mines Rescue brigadesman’s perspective on the Pike River Mine
    My husband and I lived in Greymouth in 2010, we were a coal mining family.  The day Pike River Mine blew up and the days following changed us profoundly, as it did for so many.  This is a Mines Rescue...
    The Daily Blog | 26-09
  • The Left Triumphant! A Counterfactual History of the Last Twelve Months.
    DID IT REALLY HAVE TO END LIKE THIS? Reading through the commentary threads of the left-wing blogs it is impossible to not feel the anger; the sense of betrayal; the impression of having had something vital ripped from their grasp;...
    The Daily Blog | 26-09
  • GUEST BLOG – Myles Thomas: The media won it!
    Make no mistake, John Key is a clever communicator – reasonable, authoritative and relaxed – but without the media he wouldn’t be PM. Depending on your viewpoint, New Zealand’s news media are either a bunch of Grey Lynn lefties or...
    The Daily Blog | 25-09
  • Not Learning Lessons Past: the West’s Response to IS
    In an earlier posting Ukraine, United Kingdom, Ireland, Scotland, I noted that the first lesson of conflict learned by Robert McNamara was “understand your adversary”. If we have honourable objectives, our first and most important weapon is empathy. In the Vietnam War,...
    The Daily Blog | 25-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Dr Jarrod Gilbert – Proof of David Farrar’s deception: my ...
    In the lead up to the election the Minister of Corrections Anne Tolley launched a gang policy. In order to justify the government’s approach she used gang figures that overstated the gang problem. Not by a little bit, but a...
    The Daily Blog | 25-09
  • SPECIAL FEATURE: Stuart Nash – Red To The Rescue?
    SPECIAL FEATURE by Selwyn Manning. IF THE ELECTION RESULT which was dished out to Labour was not enough to incite an immediate leadership primary, then the caucus’ refusal to recognise David Cunliffe as the leader should cement it. Now is...
    The Daily Blog | 25-09
  • Has the one party state crackdown begun already? Left wing NZ activist grou...
    Well known left wing activist social media group, ‘John Key Has Left Down NZ’ has been shut down on Facebook. At 11.40pm last night, Facebook, without any warning shut the group down siting a breach of terms of service as...
    The Daily Blog | 24-09
  • Why Cunliffe should probably just let Nash & Robertson win
    We have to face some very unpalatable home truths. If you are a left wing political person, best you put your vote now to the Green Party, although you’ll have to do that all the while the Greens frantically tell you...
    The Daily Blog | 24-09
  • The graceless win of Kelvin Davis
    The graceless win of Cameron Slater’s mate in the North, Kelvin Davis is difficult to swallow. Here Cameron Slater’s mate in the North is shitting on Hone Harawira by calling Hone all steam, no hangi as Kelvin rubs his ganged up win into...
    The Daily Blog | 24-09
  • So Labour shifted too far to the left?
    So Labour shifted too far to the left?   Here’s the ill-judged view of Josie Pagani in the Pundit “Labour must change”: “At the last election I made myself a heretic when I wrote a column mentioning how unpopular the...
    The Daily Blog | 24-09
  • Uncomplicated Loyalties: Why Cunliffe and the Labour Left Cannot Win
    THE STORY of David Cunliffe’s leadership of the Labour Party has been one of missed opportunities and unforced errors. That he was the only choice available to those who wanted to rid the Labour Party of its neoliberal cuckoos is...
    The Daily Blog | 24-09
  • So we can expect this now?
    So we can expect this now?...
    The Daily Blog | 23-09
  • Can Labour be saved? Why Whaleoil & National won and why we need a new ...
    As the shock of my optimism that NZers would recoil from the real John Key as exposed by Dirty Politics and mass surveillance duplicities wears off, I am surprised to find that the right in NZ are not content with...
    The Daily Blog | 23-09
  • Three more years (up shit creek and paddling hard)
    “If the future is not green, there is no future. If the future is not you, there is no future”. Emma Thompson’s stirring words to the climate marchers in London last Sunday are worth considering in the aftermath of the...
    The Daily Blog | 23-09
  • One Party State
    In years to come this election will be seen as a historic turning point towards one party rule. I don`t mean this literally, absolute single party dictatorship is not in prospect. In the New Zealand context though, one party has...
    The Daily Blog | 23-09
  • No More. The Left Falls.
    . We cannot be beaten down Because we are down already. We can only rise up and if you should beat us down, We will rise again. And again. And again… And when you tire of beating us down, We...
    The Daily Blog | 23-09
  • Hang tight everyone – Marama Davidson campaign reflection
    To the many people who had expressed their overwhelming support for me to enter Parliament this election – thank you. That the Greens held steady in a big loss for progressive politics is an achievement. We are hopeful that after...
    The Daily Blog | 22-09
  • New flag for NZ once Key signs TPPA
    New flag for NZ once Key signs TPPA...
    The Daily Blog | 22-09
  • Reflecting on Elections Past
    There are a number of past elections that can give the left in New Zealand guidance and hope. Two major points though. Major parties require leaders who can bridge the political divide through strength of personality, vision of what it...
    The Daily Blog | 22-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Kelly Ellis – The Reptile Room
    I stress, at the outset, that I’ve got nothing against reptiles. Some of my best friends are reptiles. Some say I am one, but I’m not really. I just emulate that ability to sit, stationary for hours in court, eyes...
    The Daily Blog | 22-09
  • The success of right-wing counter messaging in the election
    One of the reasons National won the election was due to its success in counter messaging – and the way so many media commentators ran with th the right-wing spin. Here are some examples. Dirty Politics The original message was...
    The Daily Blog | 22-09
  • New Flag competition
    New Flag competition...
    The Daily Blog | 21-09
  • No time for self-pity
    After 23 meetings across the largest non-Maori electorate in the country – almost all of which went fantastically, approx 4,500km on the odometer, positive MSM and social media coverage, and polling well, I admit my team and I headed to...
    The Daily Blog | 21-09
  • The 30 second speech that could have saved the Moment of Truth
    As the dust settles and we struggle to understand what the bloody hell happened on Saturday, many point to Kim’s failure at the Moment of Truth to present his evidence. I think that Kim was poorly advised and that politics requires a...
    The Daily Blog | 21-09
  • Internet MANA and the 2014 election
    It was always going to be a hard task for Hone Harawira to hold onto his Te Tai Tokerau seat when the political establishment united in a coalition to defeat him and the chance for Internet MANA to bring more...
    The Daily Blog | 21-09
  • New Zealand Red Cross Responds to Drought in Tonga
    New Zealand Red Cross has sent an aid worker and two desalination units, to turn seawater into safe drinking water in the drought-hit Ha’apai islands of Tonga....
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Can you ever tell if an email is real or forged?
    Computer industry veteran Brian Eardley-Wilmot warns that we should never take claims about stolen emails at face value....
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • NZ MPs to attend the ASPG Annual Conference in Sydney
    New Zealand MPs to attend the Australasian Study of Parliament Group Annual Conference in Sydney...
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Independent Maori seats still needed in Parliament
    “He’s got to be joking!” is the reaction of the president of the Maori Party, Rangimarie Naida Glavish to a call by a former Labour Minister of Maori Affairs, Dover Samuels, for debate by Maori on whether the Maori electorates...
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Support for Democratic Rights in Hong Kong
    Rallies supporting the rights for universal suffrage will take place all over New Zealand today and tomorrow...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Trout Mass-Poisoned in New Zealand
    Trout Mass-Poisoned in New Zealand The Graf Boys New Zealand has some of the best trout fishing in the world! Every year thousands of international visitors wade pristine rivers in search of the freshwater game fish....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • New Zealand’s 2014 Hottest Vegetarians Crowned
    With winter gone things are heating up, and things just got even hotter with the crowning of New Zealand’s hottest vegetarians, says animal advocacy group SAFE. Marking World Vegetarian Day, 1st October, director James Napier Robertson and actor...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • A day to remember our duty to look after our senior citizens
    Human Rights Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue says International Day of the Older Person (1 October) is a United Nations day to celebrate our senior citizens, but also acknowledge the need to protect our kaumatua, or older people from abuse and...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Clear data needed on impact of benefit sanctions on children
    A lack of data on benefit sanctions means there is no way of knowing whether welfare reform is helping or harming children, says Child Poverty Action Group....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • The socialist alternative to austerity and war
    Public meeting: After the New Zealand election—the socialist alternative to austerity and war By Tom Peters 29 September 2014...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • New recruits to boost border protection
    Twenty six new recruits began an intensive nine-week training course in Auckland today that will see them graduate as Customs officers in time for the busy summer season....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Dwindling Mallard population shows up ‘pest’ myth
    The pro hunting organisation Fish & Game is researching the causes of the decline of the mallard duck population, upset at the prospect of fewer ducks to kill....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Support for Democratic Rights in Hong Kong
    New Zealanders in Auckland will gather on Wednesday to support the rights for universal suffrage in Hong Kong....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Campbell Live Exclusive Interview with David Cunliffe
    David Cunliffe resigned as leader of the Labour party on Saturday; but he still wants the top job....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Action needed on cycling safety
    “Clearly we aren't doing enough to protect the 1.5 million New Zealanders who ride bikes,” said Mr Morgan....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • World Rivers Day Passes Without A Whimper
    Sunday 28 September was World Rivers Day to celebrate clean, flowing rivers and caring about them. But a recreation-conservation advocacy the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of NZ (CORANZ) says the day seems to have slipped by without...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • The Kiwifruit Claim: Q&A
    1. Who is running The Kiwifruit Claim? The Kiwifruit Claim was founded by kiwifruit growers representing well in excess of 10% of the industry. 2. Why are you running this claim? The introduction of Psa into New Zealand had devastating...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Fed Farmers Need to Be Weaned
    The Taxpayers’ Union is calling on Federated Farmers to make a firm commitment to reject any future Government funding, after it was revealed that the lobby group had received over $200,000 of payments in recent years....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Children paying the price for charter school stitch up
    New Zealand children will be paying a high price for a one-seat deal between ACT and National, with an expansion of the beleaguered charter school system says education union NZEI Te Riu Roa....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Hikoi From North Reaches Oil Conference Tomorrow
    Today: The Hikoi opposing Statoil plans for seismic testing and deep sea oil drilling has marched through Dargaville and later be welcomed to Piringatahi Marae, West Harbour,Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Communities Still Count
    The efforts of many organisations to influence the electorate and the political parties they voted for in the lead up to the 2014 Election is over. The voting public has spoken and provided a strong endorsement to the centre-right National...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Eleven social enterprises get ready to take off
    Eleven teams from across the country will take part in the Launchpad, Ākina’s programme to get social enterprise ideas off the ground....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • An open letter to the Prime Minister
    in which Transparency International New Zealand asks the Prime Minister to ensure integrity underpins all work he leads "in the best interests of all New Zealanders"...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Paula Bennett ‘great work’ acknowledged – McVicar
    “Paula Bennett, as Minister of Social Development, has contributed significantly in lowering our crime rate and preventing further victims.” - McVicar...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Key’s Restraint in Propping up ACT Welcomed
    The Taxpayers’ Union is welcoming the announcement that ACT MP David Seymour will not be appointed as a Minister....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Only Concession is from the Taxpayer
    Responding to the confidence and supply agreement reached between John Key and Peter Dunne’s United Future Party, Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says:...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • A Tent for Any Tenant
    AUT students and Salvation Army Manukau Community Ministries team up to raise awareness, as South Auckland’s housing situation moves from crisis to collapse...
    Scoop politics | 28-09
  • Cycle Safety Panel Draft Report Seeks Comments
    The Cycle Safety Panel Draft Report and Recommendations was published on 25th September 2014 and the panel are inviting comments. Lucinda Rees from NZ School Speeds, the organisation campaigning for consistent speed limits outside schools, is encouraged...
    Scoop politics | 28-09
  • Labour’s Review – Terms of Reference Agreed
    Labour's Review - Terms of Reference Agreed Following a meeting of its ruling New Zealand Council yesterday, Labour has released the terms of reference for the comprehensive review initiated following its 2014 election result. The review will comprise three...
    Scoop politics | 28-09
  • The final countdown for Kiwi smokers
    There are just two days left until many smokers stubb out their cigarettes for the last time and embark on Stoptober – New Zealand’s first national quit-smoking month....
    Scoop politics | 28-09
  • “In A Democracy People Win And People Lose”
    “In A Democracy People Win And People Lose” – Chris Hipkins Labour Senior Whip I would say to all of the caucus and all of the members let's actually hear the arguments from the people who want to be leader,...
    Scoop politics | 28-09
  • Campaign to make Murder of Unborn ”Safe and Legal”
    The IPPF have launched an international campaign through its 161 affiliates including the New Zealand Family Planning Association [NZFPA] to make the murder of the unborn safe and legal and accepted as a human right. This is an acceleration of...
    Scoop politics | 28-09
  • Grant Robertson Labour leader hopeful on TVNZ Q+A
    “Look I think what we need to be is relevant, clear and consistent with New Zealanders about the Labour Party's values,” said Labour leader hopeful Grant Robertson on TVNZ’s Q+A programme....
    Scoop politics | 28-09
  • Labour Needs to Get House in Order Before Deciding Leader
    Ex Labour party leader and possible repeat contender David Shearer says the Labour Party is going about the post-election period in the wrong way....
    Scoop politics | 28-09
  • Hate merchants at it again with smear tactics
    “It’s disappointing to see the hate merchants at it again with yet another attempt to smear and silence a health professional who’s doing research they disagree with,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists...
    Scoop politics | 28-09
  • Women’s group heartened by response to promo girls
    The National Council of Women of New Zealand is heartened by the strong response to the inappropriate use of bikini-clad girls at a technology expo....
    Scoop politics | 27-09
  • Owen interviews Jim Anderton, Helen Kelly and Selwyn Pellet
    Lisa Owen interviews Jim Anderton, Helen Kelly and Selwyn Pellet ___________________________________________ The Nation on TV3, 9.30am Saturdays and 10am Sundays. Check us out online , on Facebook or on Twitter . Tell us what you think at thenation@mediaworks.co.nz or text...
    Scoop politics | 27-09
  • Owen interviews Mark Boyd, Jonathan Milne and John Minto
    Lisa Owen interviews Mark Boyd, Jonathan Milne and John Minto ___________________________________________ The Nation on TV3, 9.30am Saturdays and 10am Sundays. Check us out online , on Facebook or on Twitter . Tell us what you think at thenation@mediaworks.co.nz or text...
    Scoop politics | 27-09
  • Prime Time on Labour
    Mike Smith - former General Secretary of the NZ Labour Party Jim McAloon, Assoc Prof, Victoria University of Wellington History Department (currently writing official history of the Labour Party) Rob Salmond, consultant to Labour Leader's office and...
    Scoop politics | 27-09
  • Korero Mai Ki Ahau – Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 September 2014
    Saturday 27 September 2014 | One million people voted for National in last week’s election. Another million didn’t vote at all. In Kia Korero Mai this week, Eru Morgan talks to political commentator Henare Kingi about the figures and what...
    Scoop politics | 26-09
  • On The Nation this weekend: Labour, National, The Media
    This weekend on The Nation… Labour’s had its worst election result in 92 years, so what happens next? We’ll talk to former Labour president Jim Anderton, CTU president Helen Kelly, and tech entrepreneur and past donor Selwyn Pellett about the...
    Scoop politics | 26-09
  • Red Cross, Pacific leaders prepare for cyclone season
    The New Zealand Red Cross Pacific Advisory Group, met for the first time this week, to develop a disaster response plan for the upcoming Pacific cyclone season, which is forecast to be severe....
    Scoop politics | 26-09
  • Teachers support PM’s call for solutions to child poverty
    NZEI Te Riu Roa is pleased to hear that the Prime Minister is calling for new ideas to address child poverty....
    Scoop politics | 26-09
  • First batch of household protection kits arrives in Liberia
    Kits containing protective gear will equip a network of community-based Ebola care centres nationwide...
    Scoop politics | 26-09
  • Dr Paul Hutchison praised for work to reduce child poverty
    The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) has thanked retiring National MP Dr Paul Hutchison for his work to reduce child poverty....
    Scoop politics | 26-09
  • Bag snatch hero deserves a medal – McVicar
    The Justice Spokesman for the Conservative Party, Garth McVicar, is calling for the woman known as the bag-snatch hero to be awarded a medal for bravery....
    Scoop politics | 26-09
  • Police Remembrance Day
    This week, Police staff and others have been wearing the distinctive huia feather-shaped Police Remembrance Pin as they reflect on those who have lost their lives in service to the society they swore to protect. Police Remembrance Day falls on...
    Scoop politics | 26-09
  • Affordable Auckland Attacks Creeping Apartheid
    Affordable Auckland Leader Stephen Berry is disturbed by developments increasing the number of local body regions choosing racially based representation. The Waikato and Bay of Plenty Regional Councils already have Maori wards, while New Plymouth...
    Scoop politics | 26-09
  • Dairy Strategy Proving to be a Disaster
    The intensification of the dairy industry is proving to be a disaster, says SAFE. This comes after the forecast 2015 milk price payout was cut 12% by Fonterra this week. “Last year, the government effectively gave the green light for...
    Scoop politics | 26-09
  • Where Next for the Left?
    26 September 2014 A discussion of the post-election prospects for radicals, facilitated by Fightback. 6pm | Monday 28th September | 19 Tory St [ Facebook event ]...
    Scoop politics | 26-09
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