web analytics

Book review: Here on Earth – An Argument for Hope

Written By: - Date published: 10:01 am, May 21st, 2017 - 11 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, International, sustainability - Tags: , , ,

Back in March we had a book club that looked at E. F. Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if people mattered. It reminded me that a few years ago I reviewed a couple of interesting books. Since it’s been a while, perhaps no harm in reposting the first of those reviews again today.


I read a good book over the break. Here on Earth: An Argument for Hope, by Tim Flannery (author of The Weather Makers). I was immediately attracted by the subtitle. Ever since the failure of the Copenhagen summit on climate change I have been less than optimistic about our medium to long term future. So “an argument for hope” was exactly what I was looking for. Come on Tim – sell it to me…

Section 1 covers the basics of evolution, the similarity between genes and mnemes (ideas), social Darwinism (“survival of the fittest” inappropriately applied to society), the energy budget of the Earth, and other basic topics. Like the rest of the book the material is concise, informative, accessible, and presented with a light touch that is easy to read.

Flannery draws a crucial distinction between the Gaian and Medean hypotheses. The Gaia hypothesis (from a Greek goddess of the Earth) at its most abstract sees Earth as a living organism. Flannery prefers to see it as basic science, “Earth Systems Science”, as taught in many universities. The Earth is a self-regulating system, shaped (to the very crust and continents) by the interaction between physical and organic processes, and balanced so as to maintain surface conditions that are favourable towards life. In contrast the Medea hypothesis (from a Greek goddess of destruction) supposes that life is “bloody and self-destructive”, and that “species will, if left unchecked, destroy themselves by exploiting their resources to the point of ecosystem collapse”.

The contrast between the Gaian and Medean world views is a constant theme the book. One path offers hope, the other does not. For me this passage sums up the pervasive Left / Right divide in politics:

It’s often said that there are two fundamental sentiments that decide an election — hope for the future, and fear of it. If hope prevails, we’re likely to elect more generous governments and reach out to the world, but if fear prevails, we elect inward-looking nationalistic ones. Factors determining the successful spread of mnemes are clearly extremely complex, but at the broadest level it does seem that we, collectively and as individuals, gravitate towards one of these two tendencies. If we believe that we live in the dog-eat-dog world where only the fittest survive, we are likely to propagate very different mnemes from those that arise from an understanding of the fundamental interconnectedness of things. In large part, our future as a species will be determined by which these mnemes prevails.

Section 2 of the book covers early human history and the impact of our arrival as we spread out of Africa. Everywhere we went we reshaped our environment, laying waste to forests and eliminating many species of animal life. Flannery finds a few small seeds of hope, pointing to some traditions and cultures that preserved or balanced at least part of their environments. But on the whole the record is bleak.

Section 3 explores the concept of “superorganisms” – species collectives that are capable of far more complex and powerful behaviours than any individual of the species. Ants, termites and other social insects are the classic example, and Flannery asks if evolution is driving us in a similar direction. Both genetic and social factors combine to produce “superorganismic glue” that binds such collectives together. Flannery identifies the birth of agriculture as the catalyst for the human superorganism, and outlines the historical interactions between the five human superorganisms (emerging from the five locations around the globe where agriculture was independently developed).

Section 4 is a profoundly depressing read. It covers the destruction wrought upon the environment by our rapidly developing technology. The effects of oil and coal extraction. Radiation. Pesticides and poisons. PCBs. Heavy metals. The accumulation of toxins in the food chain. Ozone depletion. Some of these were at least somewhat controlled by international action, but only after huge damage was done. This section finishes with an overview of climate change:

One of the most worrying aspects of the new [IPCC] report is confirmation that we had ample warning but did not respond. From the decline in the shell thickness of microscopic plankton in the Arctic Ocean to acidification of the seas, through to a rise in sea level and increasing land and air temperatures observed two 2009, scientists predicted what was going to happen, even if they underestimated the speed of change. And the scientists’ predictions for the future are grim. If we continue as we are for a few more decades, experts such as James Hansen believe that we are likely to trigger a shift to an ice-free earth, which will eventually raise sea levels by tens of metres.

Section 5 turns to “the human superorganism as it exists today”. Mnemes, our beliefs, are very powerful, in some cases trumping genetic factors, leading to for example a decline in population growth in many countries. Flannery identifies an important factor of our psychological makeup, “discounting the future”, the near universal tendency to value short term gain over the (possibly much more significant) long term consequences. Homicide rates, for example, are by far the highest in populations of young men who perceive themselves as having nothing to lose. “Generally, the less security we have, the more we discount our futures”. This leads to some challenging conclusions:

The tendency to discount the future helps explain why people sometimes act to destroy their environment, whether by cutting down rainforests, continuing to pollute the atmosphere , or destroying biodiversity. And people without prospects are created in a number of ways — through grinding poverty, through greatly unequal societies and through war, famine or other misfortunes. If you’re concerned about our future, it’s not just desirable that we eradicate poverty in the developing world, create a more equal societies and never let ourselves fight another war; it’s imperative, for the discount factor tells us that failure to do so may cost us the earth.

It’s clear that the affluent will need to reduce their consumption and and to manage their expectations if they hope to protect their futures. But if raising the standard of living of the poor is challenging, reducing the consumption of resources by the rich is a far more difficult task. One way it might become more achievable is to propagate the right mnemes just as we have propagated the anti-smoking mneme. If we decry excessive consumption wherever we see it, whether in four-wheel drives on city roads or in oversized and energy-hungry houses, we may succeed. But this takes courage and individual action. All too often, when I see such things and want to say something, I remain silent for fear of social embarrassment.

Before anyone writes this off as a Leftie treatise, there is plenty here for the Right to support too. “Markets are essential to society’s prosperity and dynamism”, although Flannery argues that they must be much better regulated. And property rights are seen as the key:

The growth of democracy is vital to a sustainable future. It alone can provide security, and secure rights, such as property rights to the individual, which ensure that most have ‘something to lose’ and so will not steeply discount their futures.

The last three chapters of this section present what seem to be the three pillars of Flannery’s argument for hope. Chapter 20 – “A New Tool Kit” – reviews technologies such as smart power grids, intelligent electric cars, and the impact of technology on agriculture. Chapter 21 – “Governance” – pins its hopes on democracy, but argues for reform to limit the control of the powerful few. We are bad at managing the global commons, and Flannery calls for more individual action (amplified and enabled by the web) such as Greenpeace opposing whaling in the Southern Oceans. Chapter 22 – “Restoring the Life-force” looks at ways of expanding Earth’s biocapacity and halting the inexorable growth of atmospheric carbon. Tropical rain forests are key, and the destruction must be reversed. Sustainable farming techniques and new methods for agricultural carbon capture could also have a significant impact.

The final chapter draws the threads together. For me the following (lengthy) extract captures the essence of the book:

If we take too small a view of what we are, and of our world, we will fail to reach our full potential. Instead we need a holistic, Wallacean understanding of how things are here on Earth, with its illumination of how ecosystems, superorganisms and Gaia itself have been built through mutual interdependency. In this light it is absolutely clear that our future prosperity can be secured only by giving something away. But for the brief moment that is the early twenty-first century we strange forked creatures are perilously suspended between Medean and Gaian fates. Beckoning us towards destruction are our numbers, our dismantling of Earth’s life-support system and especially out inability to unite in action to secure our common wealth.

Yet we should take solace from the fact that, from the very beginning, we have loved one another and lived in company thereby, through giving up much, forging the greatest power on Earth. These simple traits have allowed the weakest of us collectively to triumph, to establish agriculture, businesses and democracy in the face of opposition sometimes so formidable as to make success look impossible. We have hated and fought too, but all the while villages have grown into towns, and towns into mega-cities, until at last a global superorganism has been formed. And today we understand ourselves, our societies and our world far better than ever before, and are uniquely empowered to shape our ends, to rough-hew them as natural selection will.

… [It is possible] that we will use our intelligence to avert catastrophe and secure a sustainable future. We now have most of the tools required to do this and, after ten thousand years of building ever larger political units, we stand just a few steps away from the global cooperation required. But do we have it in us to take those last steps? Between our evolved genes and our social structures, are we constituted so as to cooperate at a global level?

Well, thanks if you hung in there and read all that. Flannery’s book is a challenging and informative read. But in the end, is it a convincing argument for hope? Has it convinced you?

11 comments on “Book review: Here on Earth – An Argument for Hope”

  1. I’m already convinced. Mr Flannery’s explorations are thorough and intense and quite different from the poetic works that influence me the most, but the tenor of what he finds is akin to my own feelings. I met Tim Flannery a few years ago, in Invercargill outside of a hall in which he was to speak about his then-new book, “The Future Eaters” – we were both a little late, and enjoyed a light-hearted chat about the concept that we humans consume our world. You’ve written a very comprehensive commentary on his latest book, Anthony; your article reads very well and I enjoyed it very much.

  2. Bill 2

    Gaia versus and Medea – five great extinctions and all driven by a Gaia that’s supposedly a self-regulating system, shaped (to the very crust and continents) by the interaction between physical and organic processes, and balanced so as to maintain surface conditions that are favourable towards life

    So no. Certainly not convinced on that front. Not to say I buy into ideas about Medea either. There’s shit. Shit happens. Sometimes good shit. Sometimes bad shit. That’s life. (For the couple of billion years left for life here anyway)

    The left/right divide – we do live in a ‘dog eat dog’ world. And while some hope to be successful in that world, others hope for something different. So is it so far ‘out there’ to suggest that one persons fear is another persons hope? I think not. But just that simple admission tumbles his neat divide.

    Skipping section 2.

    Section 3. Evolution isn’t a thing with a motive (like I say, there’s shit, shit happens…) Holding that evolution can ‘drive’ anything and have some end goal ‘in mind’ as it were , is a straightforward projection of a liberal world view – y’know, the one that gave us colonisation, capitalism and all that other good stuff that paves the road to some nirvana at the end of ‘progress’. (How’s that working out btw?)

    So no, not convinced.

    Section 4. Nothing needs saying.

    Section 5. “Discounting the future” would suggest that a young person committing suicide because they perceive no point in living, would not in fact commit suicide, because their natural inclination would be to ignore the dismal and hopeless long term view they have.

    It also doesn’t explain why people trash environments. Profit motive and a fear of destitution explains that tendency far better. Plenty of cultures did not willfully destroy their environments. But then, it seems Flannery is somewhat keen on the notion of ‘the market’, it being apparently essential to society’s prosperity and dynamism. Bollocks, say I…and probably best if I just say nothing on his view of ‘property rights’. 😉

    Chapter 21. If you have democracy, you’ve already solved the problem of powerful elites. So I’ve no idea what Flannery’s thinks democracy might be – a dog eat dog world of competing interests kept in check by the general dogginess of it all?

    Chapter 22. We want to halt a rise in CO2 levels, then we stop burning fossil. That’s it. That’s all it is. Can’t get much simpler.

    Final chapter. Well, if ever there was a rosy spectacled rant…I actually find it quite disturbing and dishonest. The weakest have not collectively triumphed – look at the world! On ‘business’ I fully support the spirit and legacy of the Luddites – away! with your business and its enslavement – quite happy producing in this small scale and empowering way, thankyou 😉

    And how does globalisation and intense urbanisation (his ‘superorganism’) mean that we understand ourselves, our societies and our world far better than ever before, and are uniquely empowered to shape our ends, to rough-hew them as natural selection will.?

    We understand no better than a cave person did (possibly less) – we’ve lost our power before huge concentrations of power and wealth etc (on the cusp of co-operation my arse!) – and, importantly, if Gaia is a “self regulating system” that’s “favourable towards life”, then what in the name of hell is this nonsense about “shaping our ends”? That makes zero sense given his belief in some benevolent Gaia.

    Back to the trees or grass lands with you Mr Flannery! Take your “intelligent electric car” with you, set a direction and progress away why don’t you?

    It was a good read Anthony, but a very bad story-line. 😉

    • weka 2.1

      Evolution isn’t a thing with a motive (like I say, there’s shit, shit happens…) Holding that evolution can ‘drive’ anything and have some end goal ‘in mind’ as it were , is a straightforward projection of a liberal world view – y’know, the one that gave us colonisation, capitalism and all that other good stuff that paves the road to some nirvana at the end of ‘progress’.

      I don’t think that’s how Flannery is using the concept. Rob said,

      “Ants, termites and other social insects are the classic example, and Flannery asks if evolution is driving us in a similar direction. Both genetic and social factors combine to produce “superorganismic glue” that binds such collectives together.”

      The ‘driving’ there is the ongoing process of evolution. You and I can’t choose to change our eye colour or pass a different eye colour onto subsequent generations. In that sense evolution ‘drives’ those things. It’s not driving in the sense of humans consciously making choices due to motives (e.g. capitalism and ‘progress’), it’s the natural consequence of the way ecology works i.e. survival of those organisms (and traits) that best fit in the environment they are in. The driving is being done by the systems in play that we don’t get to control.

      The problem I have with Flannery’s idea (not having read the book), is that memes are given such high value. They may have that much influence, but I’m not entirely convinced (and look where social Darwinism gets us). I suspect that the underlying glue is still basic survival drives and that humans, having evolved in groups not individuals, are now trying to adapt to some pretty aberrant conditions.

      • Bill 2.1.1

        I don’t think that’s how Flannery is using the concept

        Aye. Fair point. Seems I was still annoyed at the Gaia thing at that point. Should have read it twice. His ‘superorganism’ thing is…yeah, nah.

        Like you say (to paraphrase), we’re essentially social animals given to co-operation, who now find ourselves essentially locked into socio/economic/political environments that atomise us, that favour and reward the interaction of the individual at the systems level – and that comes at the direct expense of enjoying the fruits of co-operation.

        Unless you were meaning the “aberrant conditions’ to be referring to stuff like AGW and the other multiple effects we’ve unleashed (essentially pollutions and destructions) through living by or under those socio/economic/political conditions? 😉

        • weka 2.1.1.1

          No, the first one, by aberrant conditions I meant late stage capitalism etc 🙂 Although I also think that climate change, nuclear winter, etc are problems we aren’t evolutionarily able to deal with well. No societies or tribes have had to deal with the absoluteness and scale of those problems. So in addition to capitalism there is the whole cognitive dissonance thing. Makes it very complex.

          It is interesting to think about it in terms of evolution though. We are social group animals, so what’s the adaptation process going on when the (social) environment is changed so much and this way? Voting strong state-centrist apparently 😉 There I think it is people taken out of the tribe and reflexively operating from survival need. What is the most safe thing, not from an intellectual perspective but from a more primal brain perspective?

          • Bill 2.1.1.1.1

            …so what’s the adaptation process going on when the (social) environment is changed so much and this way?

            For my money, a rising incidence of screwed up behaviours and generally deteriorating states of mental health. That’s our adaptation. It’s a natural reaction, or set of natural reactions to our environments.

            I think it’s worth remembering that we didn’t all just willfully trot along into this state of affairs. It was imposed, often with great levels of violence.

            Maybe if we remembered that and rediscovered our outrage, our right to rebel and say no…

      • Incognito 2.1.2

        Hi weka,

        Jung introduced the concept of the collective unconscious – to him it was more than a concept. Teilhard de Chardin came up with idea of the Noosphere. Bergson introduced élan vital. Others have different names for it but I believe that all these ideas (and faiths) circle around a core truth. As long as we humans have been thinking and verbalising our thoughts the same theme has reoccurred, time after time. So, what is all this telling us?

        I think that consciousness and evolution are inextricably linked; this adds another dimension to our ecological paradigms that are limited to what is sometimes called the Biosphere.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.2.1

          Collective unconscious or genetic memory? This is how it may work.

          It is high time public health researchers took human transgenerational responses seriously.

          Prof. Marcus Pembrey.

  3. weka 3

    I also enjoyed this and am glad you posted it r0b. Very good read.

    For me hope is something that one chooses to engage in oneself. So that even in the darkest hour there is a path of integrity and honour and respect and thus a willingness to do the right thing. But I get that people need external examples to give them hope.

    The other issue reading that brought up is what people consider a disaster. For me mass destruction of ecosystems is the frightening possibility because humans are directly dependent on the environment even where we feel we are separate.

    The end of human civilisation worries me less because we are smart enough and have the resources to do that in a good way *were we to so choose. In that sense I am not convinced by the superorganism thing, or at least about the potential for global governance if that is where Flannery is going. Old hippy that I am, it’s still think global, act local.

    I also appreciated the bit about survival fear amongst the well off. This is something I am thinking through currently and considering that it is the main driving force behind the aware middle classes for not changing re CC. We could take a big drop in standard of living and still be ok, so what is stopping us?

    • r0b 3.1

      Thanks weka, and all.

      Yeah Bill I don’t think Flannery sells hope convincingly either. I was really hoping that someone could convince me that he does…

  4. 808state 4

    The theme of two competing world views – Medea and Gaia/Earth Systems – is interesting and compelling.

    Yes it is a convincing argument for hope, as far as it describes one realistic call to action that ensures our species survival.

    As for the planet system itself, I don’t think we have to worry t o much about it, it will keep chugging along no matter what humans get up to.

    At one point the entire planet turned into an ice ball, once it defrosted, I guess all the plant seeds germinated and evolution kept going.

    Ok its sad from a subjective point of view when all those species start disappearing, but apparently circa 99% of species that have ever existed are now extinct – so nothing is forever anyway.

    Worse case scenario, human civilization collapses, but pockets of it will be ok.

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Foreign Minister announces two diplomatic appointments
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today announced two diplomatic appointments: New Zealand’s High Commissioner to India and Consul-General to Hong Kong. “As New Zealand recovers from COVID-19, our diplomatic and trade networks are more important than ever. That is ...
    15 hours ago
  • Week That Was: Recover and rebuild
    We started the week by announcing free apprenticeships to support Kiwis into work and to help get New Zealand moving again - and we ended the week by extending the wage subsidy to 40,000 more businesses, helping to protect businesses and workers alike.  ...
    15 hours ago
  • How Budget 2020 is backing businesses
    We’re confident in the ability of Kiwi businesses to succeed in the face of COVID-19, and our Government is committed to doing our bit to enable that success. Kiwi businesses have always been innovative and resilient, and the COVID-19 pandemic has proven this yet again. Many businesses are finding new, creative ...
    15 hours ago
  • New Zealand First confirms its first tranche of candidates
    New Zealand First is pleased to release the names of its first tranche of candidates for the 2020 election. The includes all sitting New Zealand First Members of Parliament except Clayton Mitchell MP who earlier today announced he will not be seeking re-election. In alphabetical order they are: MP ...
    15 hours ago
  • New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell not seeking re-election
    Clayton Mitchell MP, New Zealand First List MP based in Tauranga New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell has decided not to seek re-election in this year’s General Election.  “After serious consideration and discussion with my family, I have decided to pursue other passions in my life and spend a lot ...
    16 hours ago
  • Five new Lockheed Martin Super Hercules aircraft to replace ageing fleet
    Defence Minister Ron Mark has announced that new Lockheed Martin Super Hercules aircraft would replace the outdated and costly 1960s Hercules fleet. The $1.521b project will include a flight simulator for staff training and other supporting infrastructure. "This fleet will ensure the Defence Force can continue to support New Zealand's ...
    17 hours ago
  • Greens urge police to rule out armed police patrols following George Floyd’s death
    The Green Party is urging the New Zealand Police to rule out the use of Armed Response Teams, following their recent trial in communities around Aotearoa. ...
    23 hours ago
  • NZ First fought for changes to “poorly-targeted” rent dispute policy
    New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has described Labour's original COVID-19 commercial rent dispute proposal as "poorly targeted". Justice Minister Andrew Little has announced a temporary law change to force commercial landlords and renters to consider COVID-19 in disputes over rent issues, almost two months after the Government first floated the idea.  But ...
    2 days ago
  • New Zealand First ensures commercial rent dispute clause fairly applied
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First New Zealand First acknowledges that some small businesses have been struggling to meet fixed costs due to the loss of revenue by COVID-19. We also know some businesses are at greater risk of insolvency when they cannot come to a reasonable ...
    2 days ago
  • New Zealand First disappointed that Section 70 spouses won’t get relief
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First New Zealand First is disappointed that the removal of the spousal deductions has had to be delayed by the Ministry fo Social Development, due to COVID19 workload pressures. “New Zealand First has always stood for fairness when it comes to superannuation ...
    4 days ago
  • Winston Peters receives petition demanding more protection for nurses
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First On the steps of Parliament today the Leader of New Zealand First, Rt Hon Winston Peters received a petition from registered nurse Anna Maria Coervers, requesting an amendment to the Protection for First Responders Bill which will ensure the legislation also include registered ...
    4 days ago
  • Week That Was: Getting our economy moving
    It's been a busy seven days as we start to rebuild New Zealand together. From delivering extra support for small businesses, to investing in our artists and arts organisations, to cutting red tape on home DIY projects, we're rolling out our plan to get the economy and New Zealand moving ...
    4 days ago
  • Winston Peters: If protests condoned ‘why are we not at level 1?’
    Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says alert level 2 restrictions have to be discussed during today's Cabinet meeting. Thousands gathered across the country, including at Parliament, yesterday for Black Lives Matter marches where social distancing and mass gathering rules were flouted. Mr Peters said the breaching of Alert Level 2 rules at ...
    4 days ago
  • Northland rail work to help create regional jobs
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of State Owned Enterprises KiwiRail’s Northland rail upgrade steps up another gear today and will help Northland recover from the impacts of COVID-19, State Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters says. The Government is investing $204.5 million through the Provincial Growth Fund to ...
    5 days ago
  • Green Party statement on the death of George Floyd
    “Today and every day we stand in solidarity with George Floyd’s family, friends and community who feel pain and fear about his untimely death at the hands of Minneapolis police”, said Green Party Co-leader and Māori Development spokesperson Marama Davidson. ...
    5 days ago
  • Lake Brunner’s Mount Te Kinga to go Predator Free
    Fletcher Tabuteau, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Hon Eugenie Sage, Minister of Conservation The West Coast forests of Mount Te Kinga at Kotuku Whakaoho/Lake Brunner are the latest predator free project to receive Government funding, announced Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher ...
    1 week ago
  • Green Party welcomes crucial financial support for creatives
    The Green Party says new government support for creatives and artists is a vital lifeline for a sector struggling to survive the COVID crisis. ...
    1 week ago
  • Strongest ever water reforms mean swimmable rivers within a generation
    The Green Party says major freshwater reforms announced today provide the strongest ever protections of our waterways, to help ensure the next generation can swim in the rivers of Aotearoa. ...
    1 week ago
  • Greens work to secure inquiry into Wild West student accommodation sector
    The Green Party has begun the process for a Select Committee inquiry into student accommodation, which has been exposed during COVID-19 as an under-regulated sector that straddles students with unfair debt. ...
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand joins global search for COVID-19 vaccine
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon Megan Woods, Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Hon Dr David Clark, Minister of Health Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods,  and Health Minister David Clark today announced a COVID-19 vaccine strategy, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Budget 2020: Five things to know
    Budget 2020 is about rebuilding together, supporting jobs, getting business moving and the books back into the black. It’s an integral part of our COVID-19 economic response, and our plan to grow our economy and get New Zealand moving again. Here’s a quick look at the five top things you ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Green Party unveils its candidate list for the 2020 election
    The Green Party is pleased to reveal its candidate list for the upcoming election. With a mix of familiar faces and fresh new talent, this exceptional group of candidates are ready to lead the Greens back into Government. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Coalition Government approves essential upgrades on Ōhakea Air Base
    The Coalition Government has approved $206 million in essential upgrades at Ōhakea Air Base.  Defence Minister Ron Mark said the money would be spent on improving old infrastructure. He said safety issues would be addressed, as well as upgrades to taxiways, accommodation and fresh, storm and waste water systems. "This ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Attributable to the Rt Hon Winston Peters
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First “I am not persisting with this case just for myself, but for all people who have had their privacy breached. Privacy of information is a cornerstone of our country’s democracy. Without it our society truly faces a bleak future. We now ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Forestry Minister Shane Jones moves to protect sawmills
    Forestry Minister Shane Jones has introduced a Bill to Parliament that he says will "force more transparency, integrity and respect" for the domestic wood-processing sector through the registration of log traders and practice standards. The Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill had its first reading in ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Green MP joins international call to cancel developing countries’ debt
    Green MP Golriz Ghahraman is joining over 300 lawmakers from around the world in calling on the big banks and the IMF to forgive the debt of developing countries, in the wake of the COVID crisis. ...
    3 weeks ago

  • Great Walks bookings open next week
    This summer presents a great opportunity for New Zealanders to get out into nature with bookings on Great Walks for 2020/21 set to open next week, says Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage.  Bookings for the Great Walks will open between 9 and 11 June, excluding Milford and Routeburn tracks which ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • Ministerial Diary April 2020
    ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • Govt extends support schemes for businesses
    Extra 40,000 businesses to be eligible for wage subsidy extension Small business cashflow support application period extended The Government is today announcing further support for businesses that continue to be affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, as the broader economy becomes one of the most open in the world following ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • Five new Super Hercules to join Air Force fleet
    The Coalition Government has confirmed five Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Super Hercules transport aircraft will be purchased to replace the existing fleet, Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today.  “Last year, Cabinet selected these aircraft as the preferred option to replace the current Hercules fleet. Procurement of the Super Hercules has been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • Wairarapa Moana seeks international recognition as vital wetland
    The Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage is celebrating World Environment Day with an announcement of a major step towards Wairarapa Moana being recognised as an internationally significant wetland. “Wairarapa Moana is an ecosystem of 10,000 hectares of wetland and open water that provides a home for indigenous fish, birds and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    20 hours ago
  • New public housing sets standard for future
    New public housing that will save tenants money in energy bills, and provide warmer, healthier and more comfortable homes, is setting the standard for the Government’s future public housing programme, Housing Minister Megan Woods said. Dr Woods opened the new Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities complex, which has a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    20 hours ago
  • First Police wing to complete training post lockdown
    A new-look Police graduation ceremony to take account of COVID19 health rules has marked the completion of training for 57 new constables. Police Minister Stuart Nash attended this afternoon's ceremony, where officers of Recruit Wing 337 were formally sworn in at the Royal New Zealand Police College without the normal support of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government makes further inroads on predatory lenders
    Mobile traders and truck shops must adhere to responsible lending requirements Interest rate cap on high-cost loans Lenders prohibited from offering further credit to an applicant who has taken two high-cost loans in the past 90 days The Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Kris Faafoi, has signalled an end ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New survey shows wage subsidy a “lifeline” for businesses, saved jobs
    94% of firms say wage subsidy had positive impact on cashflow 62% of firms say support helped to manage non-wage costs like rent A survey of business that have received the Government’s wage subsidy show it has played a significant role in saving jobs, and freed up cash flow to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Tax changes support economic recovery
    New legislation introduced to Parliament today will support growth and assist businesses on the road to economic recovery, said Revenue Minister Stuart Nash. “The Taxation (Annual Rates for 2020-21, Feasibility Expenditure, and Remedial Matters) Bill proposes that businesses can get tax deductions for ‘feasibility expenditure’ on new investments,” said Mr ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • $4.6 million financial relief for professional sports
    Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson has welcomed the first release of funds from the $265 million Sport Recovery Package announced as part of Budget 2020. Sport NZ has announced that $4.6 million in funding will go to the Wellington Phoenix, NZ Warriors, Super Rugby teams and the ANZ Premiership ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Critical support for strategic tourism assets
    An iconic New Zealand tourism attraction and the country’s 31 Regional Tourism Organisations are the first recipients of support from the $400 million Tourism Sector Recovery Plan, to help position the sector for recovery from COVID-19, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis announced today. The plan includes a Strategic Tourism Assets Protection ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Supporting Kiwi businesses to resolve commercial rent disputes
    The Government will legislate to ensure businesses that suffered as a result of the COVID-19 response will get help to resolve disputes over commercial rent issues, Justice Minister Andrew Little announced today. A temporary amendment to the Property Law Act will insert a clause in commercial leases requiring a fair ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Prompt payments to SMEs even more urgent
    The Minister for Small Business says new data from Xero highlights the urgency of prompt payment practices to small and medium enterprises as we move into economic recovery. Last month Government ministers wrote to significant private enterprises and the banking industry to request they join efforts by government agencies to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Free period products in schools to combat poverty
    Young people in Waikato will be the first to have free access to period products in schools in another step to support children and young people in poverty,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.  During term 3, the Ministry of Education will begin providing free period products to schools following the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Response to charges in New Plymouth
    The Minister of Police Stuart Nash has issued the following statement in response to charges filed against three Police officers this morning in the New Plymouth District Court. “Any incident involving a loss of life in Police custody is taken very seriously. The charges today reflect the gravity of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Govt boosts innovation, R&D for economic rebuild
    $196 million for Crown Research Institutes $150 million for R&D loan scheme $33 million for Māori research and development opportunities $12 million for the Nationally Significant Collections and Databases $10 million to help maintain in-house capability at Callaghan Innovation New Zealand’s entrepreneurs, innovators and crown researchers will benefit from a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Temporary changes to NCEA and University Entrance this year
    Further temporary changes to NCEA and University Entrance (UE) will support senior secondary school students whose teaching and learning have been disrupted by COVID-19. “The wellbeing of students and teachers is a priority. As we are all aware, COVID-19 has created massive disruption to the school system, and the Government ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Extended terms for the directors of the Racing Industry Transition Agency
    Minister for Racing Winston Peters today announced that the terms for the directors of the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) have been extended to 30 June 2021. Due to the COVID-19 crisis the transition period has been extended to ensure that the Racing Industry Bill can complete its progress through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Healthy Homes Standards statement of compliance deadline extended
    The deadline for landlords to include detailed information in their tenancy agreements about how their property meets the Healthy Homes Standards, so tenants can see the home they are renting is compliant, has been extended from 1 July 2020 to 1 December 2020.  The Healthy Homes Standards became law on 1 July 2019. The Standards are ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Criminal Cases Review Commission board appointments announced
    Justice Minister Andrew Little today announced details of further appointments to the Criminal Cases Review Commission. “I am pleased to announce Paula Rose QSO OStJ as Deputy Chief Commissioner for a term of five years commencing on 15 June 2020,” said Andrew Little. “I am also pleased to announce the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Release of initial list of supported training to aid COVID-19 recovery
    The Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund (TTAF) will pay costs of learners of all ages to undertake vocational education and training The fund will target support for areas of study and training that will give learners better employment prospects as New Zealand recovers from COVID-19 Apprentices working in all industries ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Emission trading reforms another step to meeting climate targets
    The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will finally start to cut New Zealand’s greenhouse gas pollution as it was originally intended to, because of changes announced today by the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw. The changes include a limit on the total emissions allowed within the ETS, rules to ensure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Queen’s Birthday Honours highlights Pacific leadership capability in Aotearoa
    Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says the Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours List provides an abundance of examples that Pacific people’s leadership capability is unquestionable in Aotearoa. “The work and the individuals we acknowledge this year highlights the kind of visionary examples and dedicated community leadership that we need ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Govt backing horticulture to succeed
    The Government is backing a new $27 million project aimed at boosting sustainable horticulture production and New Zealand’s COVID-19 recovery efforts, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. “Our horticulture sector has long been one of New Zealand’s export star performers, contributing around $6 billion a year to our economy. During and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Applications open for forestry scholarships
    Applications have opened for 2021 Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarships, which will support more Māori and women to pursue careers in forestry science, says Forestry Minister Shane Jones. “I’m delighted Te Uru Rākau is offering Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarships for the third year running. These ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Excellent service to nature recognised
    The Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours List once again highlights the dedication by many to looking after our native plants and wildlife, including incredible work to restore the populations of critically endangered birds says Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage. Anne Richardson of Hororata has been made an Officer of the New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Wetlands and waterways gain from 1BT funding
    The Government will invest $10 million from the One Billion Trees Fund for large-scale planting to provide jobs in communities and improve the environment, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Forestry Minister Shane Jones have announced. New, more flexible funding criteria for applications will help up to 10 catchment groups plant ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New fund for women now open
    Organisations that support women are invited to apply to a new $1,000,000 fund as part of the Government’s COVID-19 response. “We know women, and organisations that support women, have been affected by COVID-19. This new money will ensure funding for groups that support women and women’s rights,” said Minister for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Govt supports King Country farmers to lift freshwater quality
    Healthier waterways are front and centre in a new project involving more than 300 King Country sheep, beef and dairy farmers. The Government is investing $844,000 in King Country River Care, a group that helps farmers to lift freshwater quality and farming practice, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today. “Yesterday ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Libraries to help with jobs and community recovery
    A major funding package for libraries will allow them to play a far greater role in supporting their communities and people seeking jobs as part of the economic recovery from COVID-19. “Budget 2020 contains over $60 million of funding to protect library services and to protect jobs,” says Internal Affairs ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Support for arts and music sector recovery
    A jobseekers programme for the creative sector and four new funds have been set up by the Government to help our arts and music industry recover from the blow of COVID-19. Thousands of jobs will be supported through today’s $175 million package in a crucial economic boost to support the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Legislative changes to support the wellbeing of veterans and their families
    Minister for Veterans Ron Mark has welcomed the First Reading of a Bill that will make legislative changes to further improve the veterans’ support system.  The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2, which will amend the Veterans’ Support Act 2014, passed First Reading today. The bill addresses a number of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Christ Church Cathedral – Order in Council
    Views sought on Order in Council to help fast track the reinstatement of the Christ Church Cathedral  The Associate Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Hon Poto Williams, will be seeking public written comment, following Cabinet approving the drafting of an Order in Council aimed at fast-tracking the reinstatement of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealanders’ human rights better protected in new Bill
    The law setting out New Zealanders’ basic civil and human rights is today one step towards being strengthened following the first reading of a Bill that requires Parliament to take action if a court says a statute undermines those rights. At present, a senior court can issue a ‘declaration of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Deep concern at Hong Kong national security legislation
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today reiterated the deep concern of the New Zealand Government following confirmation by China’s National People’s Congress of national security legislation relating to Hong Kong. “New Zealand shares the international community’s significant and long-standing stake in Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability,” Mr Peters said. “New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government invests in New Zealand’s cultural recovery
    Thousands of artists and creatives at hundreds of cultural and heritage organisations have been given much-needed support to recover from the impact of COVID-19, Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Jacinda Ardern announced today. “The cultural sector was amongst the worst hit by the global pandemic,” Jacinda ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Better protection for New Zealand assets during COVID-19 crisis
    Key New Zealand assets will be better protected from being sold to overseas owners in a way contrary to the national interest, with the passage of the Overseas Investment (Urgent Measures) Bill. The Bill, which passed its third reading in Parliament today, also cuts unnecessary red tape to help attract ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Cleaning up our rivers and lakes
    Setting higher health standards at swimming spots Requiring urban waterways to be cleaned up and new protections for urban streams Putting controls on higher-risk farm practices such as winter grazing and feed lots Setting stricter controls on nitrogen pollution and new bottom lines on other measures of waterway health Ensuring ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Record year for diversity on Govt boards
    The Government is on the verge of reaching its target of state sector boards and committees made up of at least 50 percent women, says Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter and Minister for Ethnic Communities Jenny Salesa. For the first time, the Government stocktake measures the number of Māori, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago