Grow the Commons

Written By: - Date published: 9:19 am, August 10th, 2016 - 57 comments
Categories: activism, Environment, farming, food, sustainability - Tags: , , , , ,

The following is a Guest Post from Robert Guyton.

Robert is a sustainability pioneer who along with his family grows the oldest food forest in NZ. A long time organic gardener, permaculturist and heritage orchardist, he’s a columnist, a regional councillor for Environment Southland, and an early climate change adaptor. 

Some time ago, I wrote a column describing a nascent movement called Common Ground that sought to link like-minded growers of plants under the umbrella of a shared name and an icon in the form of a Greenman sticker, which I promised to send out on receipt of a self-addressed envelope. The response to that idea was remarkable. My letterbox became, for several weeks, the scene of great activity; the postie’s, in filling it with letters, and mine, carrying those letters to my house for opening and reading. It was a delightful experience all round, replying to the charming messages, slipping the sticker into the return envelope and dropping them, one after the other, into the NZ Post mailbox in the village. I’d hoped there’d be a lot of gardeners out there who found the idea alluring, and there were.

The question then became, what to do as a follow-up to the initial excitement of being a sticker-carrying Common Grounder. Those good folk who now have a little Greenman stuck to their wheelbarrow, bicycle mudguard, or like me, front door, have no doubt kept on doing what they’ve always done – garden, filling their properties with plants of all descriptions and making their little corner of the world a better, more verdant place and for that I admire them as much as ever.

In recent days, I’ve been struck by an idea that I think could qualify for the title “Next Step” or “Phase Two” in the Common Ground story. With the weather being perfect for planting down here in the south of the South, I’ve been doing just that, lifting trees and shrubs that grew from cuttings set out last autumn and shifting them to their permanent homes. Only those final destinations are not inside of my boundary fences, but outside. I’ve been planting the Commons. In various overlooked and under-appreciated strips of neglected council land, I’ve been digging and delving, clearing and planting – apple, peach and plums trees, hazel and chestnut, nectarine, grape and quince.

I’ve chosen scrappy sites that no one wants, broom-covered bony land infested with cocksfoot, cotoneaster and holly, wasteland that can’t be built on or isn’t worth sowing in grass and mowing, no-man’s land, only it’s everybody’s ground, under common ownership thanks to the rates we pay our councils. I’m adding value to the overgrown wastelands by planting fruit trees that anyone and everyone will be able to pick from, once the trees reach fruiting age.

It’s a prickly business, planting in the blackberries and gorse. I’m covered in scratches and am forever digging thorn-tips out of my hands with pins and needles. I’m reminded of when I first began planting my forest garden here in Thames Street. Back then, I made the mistake of clear-felling the broom and gorse that covered the property and in doing so, exposed the site to the wind. Nowadays, I let the shelter trees stand and plant amongst them, hence the scratches. But it’s an investment for my community and we’ll all share in the harvest from those trees in years to come. I’m guessing that locally-grown, foragable food will become important in the years ahead, so I’m getting in early, establishing as many fruiting trees, shrubs and vines as I possibly can.

And here’s where existing Common Grounders and all other readers who like the idea come in – you too could grow the Commons. You know how to grow things and you probably also know where there is waste-ground that’s aching to be made useful and you may also have, as I do, grandchildren, who would love to clamber about in trees picking fruit for their dear grandparents. Naturally, I’ve chosen Grow the Commons as the name for this follow-up to the Common Ground concept, as it captures the intent of the second phase of the movement elegantly.

It’s a benevolent act, planting for the wider community on land that isn’t being utilised productively, though your local council might have some reservations (pun intended) about that. I’ve not bothered them with the trifling issue and suspect your own council will be as busy as mine with keeping the street lights on, the gutters swept and the thousand other important issues local councils have to deal with every day and won’t want to be bothered with the planting of a few pretty trees.

So, Common Grounders, that’s where we’re headed, out onto the Commons to grow for our future. Any anxiousness you might feel is probably justified, but it’s up to you and if you’d like to report in and tell me about your progress, my letter box is swept, its hinges oiled and ready to receive mail. If there are new-to-the-idea readers who would like a Greenman sticker for whatever purpose, send me a stamped, self addressed envelope and I’ll send one your way – 20 Thames Street, Riverton, 9822.

Happy planting.

A version of this article first appeared in the August edition of New Zealand Gardener.

57 comments on “Grow the Commons”

  1. Thanks, weka, for putting up my story; it’s a bit wordy but I hope, interesting. At our weekend fruit tree sale a number of people bought our grafted heritage apple trees with the intention of planting them outside of their own boundary fences, having read this article in last month’s NZ Gardener. I hope that TS readers might be similarly inspired 🙂

    • Sabine 1.1

      i will go down to my garden in two weeks. I have discovered a Quince, Walnut, Lemon, Apple, Grapefruit tree sofar. A little rickety Green house full of cacti (?) and stuff. it will be exiting to go there and see what grows under the ‘weeds’ infact it will be fun to see what ‘weeds’ grow in my garden.

      While I understand the need for common food sources and the likes i would like to raise the issue of potable water. In Europe -especially old Europe – all the villages have public fountains – often two – one for people and one for animals. However that is one thing that seems to be completly overlooked in NZ. We can not overlook this issue as water born diseases may be a bigger killer then lack of food.

      Also a thing that I would like to see in my future ‘commons’ ( we are several friends that have bought small houses with big gardens in a small rather empty village in the middle of the north Island) is a bread oven. Again, being someone who has lived in very old villages in Europe the community oven often still stands.

      The planting of the gardens and the sharing of the fruit is important, but we need to include water treatment, water storage and common ovens to help us in the long terms.
      I would also like to know more about the maori way of storing food. I believe they had some sort of ‘underground’ storage.

      Thanks again for this beautiful read.

      • weka 1.1.1

        “( we are several friends that have bought small houses with big gardens in a small rather empty village in the middle of the north Island)”

        Nice one!

        The old European Commons oven reminded me of this essay by Dmitry Orlov about Russian villages and their relative immunity to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Interesting descriptions of private and communal spaces and resources,

        https://web.archive.org/web/20051225160222/http://www.survivingpeakoil.com/article.php?id=our_village

        Love this bit about communal benches. The sauna one is interesting too.

        The main elements of communal life are visits, barter of food and favors, and use of sauna. Visits are almost universally unplanned and unannounced. Most often, people stop by on the way, sometimes coming into the yards, and sometimes simply talking across the fence.

        The village has many benches scattered throughout, which consist of a length of split log hand-planed smooth, flat side up, which is joined to two round logs, which are buried vertically into the ground. These are found both next to the houses and outside the fences, and are used to sit and chat with neighbors. There are benches where you can warm up on sunny but frosty mornings, and benches to while away hot mid-afternoons in the shade. There was even a bench where I could stretch out on a clear night and watch the myriad of stars, the asteroid showers, and the Mir space station whizzing by periodically. I have built several of them myself, in strategic locations.

        Typical examples of barter involve exchanges of rabbit meat, eggs, vegetables and other perishable items that would otherwise be distributed unevenly and perhaps go to waste. Staples such as potatoes are generally not bartered.

        Sauna use presents one of the more complex examples of social interaction in Soykino. During my stays there, it was my responsibility to fire the sauna at least once a week, but since I enjoyed doing it and had little else to do, I fired it twice a week. It was quite a bit of work, but it made me instantly popular.

        • Robert Guyton 1.1.1.1

          Benches! That’s brilliant and simple. Planning…

          • weka 1.1.1.1.1

            Isn’t it great? And a neat way to bring in the carpenters and woodworkers in an area.

            • Robert Guyton 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Funny that you say that, weka. A young guy has just moved to the village, set up shop and is calling himself “The Funky Joiner”. He specializes in creating furniture from found timbers, recycled building materials etc. I’ll call in and see him soon, with a proposal…I can’t help seeing images from “The Last of the Summer Wine” in my head.

        • Sabine 1.1.1.2

          same go anywhere in France, Italy, Sardenia, Corsica and Germany and you will find benches. A good place to sit for the elders to have a chat and observe the life around them.
          Market places in the middle of the villages. A game of boules, a village fest with music on the day of the Patron Saint, the most favorite fruit (in France and Corisca it is often the edible chestnut) and so on and so on. While quite open to gossip it is also open to trade and barter.

          One thing i miss very much in NZ.

          • miravox 1.1.1.2.1

            “One thing i miss very much in NZ.”

            The benches thing is something that I’ve taken note of while in Austria. Not just in terms of how well they’re used, but also, as with plants, drinking fountains and decorative shop fittings, that no-one thinks they need to be CCTV’d, bolted down or removed to prevent them being damaged or stolen.

            And they’re right… the community garden on the busy Donau Kanal, pretty boozy over the summer, is never vandalised, and the seating never removed.

            That was pretty much the first thing that made me sad for my country.

            Anyway, I’m thinking about what will happen if I try to convert our unused carpark space at our Wellington apartment to a raised garden when we get back…

        • Sabine 1.1.1.3

          i asked the bloke who lives in my house to build me a sauna.
          his expression, priceless.

    • weka 1.2

      Any tips for planting in the Commons Robert? Do you plant as in your food forest, or do anything special? Compost? How big a hole? etc

      • Poking wands into the ground is perhaps the simplest method. Casting seed. Pushing nuts into the soil. Lugging trees in planter bags is the most difficult approach and the one I avoid now. Grapes grow easily from a section of vine pushed into the ground at this time of the year. I go for ease of planting, in my garden and out in the wildlands.

  2. save nz 2

    Nice post.

  3. Good one Robert. Walking the walk as well as talking the talk – the revolution in action.

  4. Hi, Sabine. Your comments about water are valuable in light of what we are developing in our small Southland town where The Council has extinguished interest in independent water storage of rainwater collected from the roof, in favour of a reticulated supply from a dirty river. In response, we installed tanks and collect our own, encouraging all of our friends to do the same, which they have done or are doing. Railing against authorities is one thing, making real what you believe to be right is another. The hill behind our town has numerous springs issuing from it, but very few are used for anything other than watering stock. They are a valuable asset that could be carefully managed to the benefit of our community. A community bread oven is another development waiting in the wings for our wee town. We’ve a semi retired architect planning/hoping to build a brick oven like the ones he has studied from earlier days in New Zealand and as well, we have several specialist bread makers, young people who have moved here for what they see as a great chance to create a community, who are encouraging our architect to make his/our dreams come true. Regarding food storage and especially “Maori” storage methods, I have drawn up plans for a raised pataka based on an old photograph of one that stood where the school sits presently. Not difficult to build and very elegant. There are “European” storage methods that suit just as well, such as the “apple house” my wife is determined to build to store our heritage apple crops. I’m using the “cider” method to store the tangiest apples 🙂

    • Sabine 4.1

      oh the cider method is and excellent storage for pears aswell.

      i am just struck by some of the villages i have lived in France that have recorded history going back to the Templar that as a standard have two at least sometimes three fountains. One for watering people, one for watering animals and one for washing – a safety aspect for the women i would guess.

      I have subscribed to a bread page on fb Universal bakers, and often there are video of community ovens from around the world, very interesting and yes i would like to have one in my village.

      I will install as many water catchment containers as i possibly can, but think that in order to fend of water born disease every community needs to do better then just relay on the individuals effort, especially in regards to purification etc.

      If you have an FB page or email one can contact you that would be awesome.

      • I’m easily reached, Sabine. Here’s my email: rguy10@actrix.co.nz and my blog: http://www.robertguyton.blogspot.com
        I’ve done pears, perry, over the past couple of years. We are growing a collection of gorgeous heritage pear trees we grafted from old trees we found surviving in farm orchards around the region, tastes like no other, shapes that amaze. I agree that while individual sufficiency is good, shared resources are also vital. Infiltrate (water allusion there) your councils, create your own (easy) and adapt what’s already in place. Some people won’t be able to get busy with these things, so working on their behalf is necessary and rewarding.

  5. Siobhan 5

    Auckland transport Proposed planting guidelines for berms…”Any planting shall not be edible ”
    https://at.govt.nz/about-us/asset-maintenance/footpath-berm-maintenance/

    I’m looking forward to someone planting edible ‘weeds’ and flowers and seeing how that plays out in Court. It is so petty to allow, presumably ‘pretty’ plants, but not edible plants…they do seem to have an issue with fruit trees, as they envisage piles of rotten lemons or feijoas all over the pavement, which I suspect would not be an insurmountable problem, yet I do see olive trees planted around which seems odd.

    • Hi, Siobhan. The guidelines have left a huge loophole for keen planters, in the enormous range of plants that are “pretty” but also edible. Into which category do they shunt hosta, for example being edible in the way asparagus are, or day lilies (edible flowers), evening primrose (edible, tasty too), kawakawa, cardoon and arugula. There are a host of ornamental perennials that would feed an army, if they only knew about them. Don’t mention the edibility and no one will know 🙂
      Next, shrubs with edible small fruits. Did anyone say Chilean guava? Or Chilean wineberry for that matter? Chinese dogwood? Yum. This trees don’t look fruity, nor do they drop their crop in the way the transport authorities would notice.

    • weka 5.2

      “Any planting shall not be edible”

      Good grief, how on earth did they rationalise that? Was it just the rotting fruit on the ground thing?

      • Siobhan 5.2.1

        They include this little gem…”They also have no right of ownership of any flowers or produce grown in the road corridor.”…they possibly envisage angry old folk getting into ‘pavement rage’ with the kids down the road pilfering ‘their’ fruit.
        To be fair, I think Council employees live in dread of enraged pensioners with fax machines contacting them every five minutes.

        • weka 5.2.1.1

          Lol, maybe that’s the way to the revolution!

          Pretty bizarre to see the council claiming ownership of plants produced on their land. It’s very U.S-ian.

          • Sabine 5.2.1.1.1

            especially considering that the council actually expects private citizens to ‘maintain’ council property at their cost.

            • adam 5.2.1.1.1.1

              Not always, they will mow it if you are disabled, if you ask, and can produce evidence of disability.

              I’d like to point out that they did not accept a photo of having no legs as evidence of disability. They demanded a letter from a medical professional.

              Ah New Zealand a land of bureaucrats and pen pushers, each as stupid as the next one. Thanks national, your government has one thing which we can all be dumbly proud of, your ability to make the civil service even more useless and stupid in just 8 years of office. That must qualify for some sort of reward?

  6. Ad 6

    IMHO that Riverton thing is a shining beacon of goodness.

    We’ve visited a couple of times, and the knowledge and generosity of the staff are just terrific. A really positive example for us up here.

  7. Rosemary McDonald 7

    ” I’m reminded of when I first began planting my forest garden here in Thames Street. Back then, I made the mistake of clear-felling the broom and gorse that covered the property and in doing so, exposed the site to the wind. Nowadays, I let the shelter trees stand and plant amongst them, hence the scratches. ”

    Do you think Robert, that perhaps the same method can be used to change the social and political environment for the better?

    Try and get the good and better stuff established before getting rid of the unwanted elements. Using the unwanted elements to shelter the new and better aspects until they grow strong enough to stand alone…as part of an overall more sustaining environment.

    I don’t want to complicate a brilliant post…its just what occurred to me when I read that.

    (We have an acre, and have been self sufficient for water for years. I can’t abide the taste of town supply…Auckland especially…
    Are you in town? Are you vulnerable to neighbours’ agrichemical use? This was the reason the wheels fell off our 11 years of spray free, permaculture (Linda Woodrow, rocks) dream.)

    And may you cow parsley run rampant in your fields!

    • “Do you think Robert, that perhaps the same method can be used to change the social and political environment for the better?”

      Yes x 1000, Rosemary and that’s very astute of you. That’s exactly how I feel (and I hope, act). I need to go and lie down, I’m overcome with a tidal swell of hope 🙂
      When I recover, I’ll finish answering your comment.

    • Herbicides are the bete noir of the commons planter, Rosemary but every good thing needs a threat in order to keep it strong. I make and post signs, “Spray-free zone” or similar, if I’ve planted in the town, but elsewhere I plant in places that don’t attract attention or herbicide. If ever my plantings get sprayed, I shake my fist at the sky, though it’s not his fault, then increase my plantings elsewhere – one tree lost to the ‘cide people means a dozen more going in somewhere else from me. My own neighbours are in the main, spray-averse, but if one does begin to wave a nozzle around, I’ll be engaging in discussion. Talking about chemical trespass though, my forest garden was trespassed upon by a herd of cattle beasts over the two days I was away at the weekend! They tramped over ever square metre of the garden, repeatedly, probably reconnecting with their aurochy past, browsed and broke but I wasn’t concerned. I’ve always said the forest garden is the most resilient system of all, able to withstand fire, flood and drought, and now I know it shrugs off stampede as well. I got photos of the dumb beasts gormlessly stomping my garlic beds and have written about it for the next NZ Gardener, so I’ll profit from the incident. Here’s a clip from that story 🙂
      “It’ll be a while before all signs of their dropping-by are covered, but what their rude visit did do is strengthen my claim that forest gardens are indestructible. Floods may come, hail may fall, wind may blow and fire may rage, I’ve often said, but my forest garden will shrug off all threats. The complex mix of species, plant and creature, that make up my garden is resilient because of it’s variety and overall health and can recover from anything, even, it turns out, the attentions of a herd of cattle beasts. I’m pretty confident, though I don’t wish to bring bad fortune upon myself by invoking fate, that even if every plant in my forest garden was up-rooted by some storm of other cataclismic event, it’d quickly recover; there have to be millions of seeds in the ground beneath all of the plants growing there now, along with stolons and tubers, rhizomes and bulbs, all poised to reclothe the soil, should disaster strike. In any case, my garden cared little about the cows, disregarding them the way they themselves might flick a fly with their tails.”

  8. Macro 8

    Robert – whilst visiting Vancouver a couple of years ago I was struck by the many roadside plantings of fruit and vegetables. Beans, lettuce, tomatoes, and apple, pear and so on. All well maintained. It seems that this is quite a thing in the city with an active community group.
    Here in Thames our Transition Town Team have been pursuing a similar path with a good planting of fruit trees in parks and reserves. There was some doubt about the planting of peach trees in the Hall Arboretum (the oldest in the country) and they have been removed as they were next to the scion trees of the Hall’s Totara. (One has to be mindful of the areas chosen) A community Garden in the nearby reserve is also planned.
    In Perth from where I have recently returned the residential building sites are not much more than 400 sq m (if that) but there is an ample roadside verge and around where I was staying almost all are planted – many are now being planted in native species as continuing drought conditions makes the sustainability of exotics doubtful – but here and there, there are fruit trees appearing – olives, citrus, and banana do particularly well, as do mulberry and apple.

    • Hi, Macro – Vancouver’s great, from what I’ve heard, and Thames too with it’s TT team. Fruit trees are probably the most difficult plants to “install” in any town, village or city, as there are prejudice against free fruit (Biblical, perhaps :-))
      Do you know of the Free Fruit Peddlers? They profess to be planting stones and pits as they cycle the roads of NZ. Go the Peddlers! Peaches, btw, are simple to grow from the stone, in situ. Push them in and forget. May as well do a hundred as do one 🙂

      • Sabine 8.1.1

        can yo use commercial peaches?

        • Robert Guyton 8.1.1.1

          Yes, but it’s more interesting to find a tree that’s been growing in the area since Adam was an orchardist, and collect those stones. I’m growing Morepark apricots, the ‘old’ flavorsome apricots our parents loved, because they have ‘story’ as well as taste. A delightful elderly woman sent me a box of nectarine stones she’d collected from under her special weeping nectarine, a one-off she’d discovered, and those suit this zone perfectly, as the original tree thrived without spraying, ever. There are other stones I’ve collected from similarly unique and long-lasting trees across Southland. I search for them and people who know I’m searching, post stones, pits, pips, cuttings and so on, to me, out of generosity. Crack the pit before you plant outside in wintertime and let nature take her course. They grow readily. Nursery-grown stone fruit seem to harbour leaf curl. Home growns don’t 🙂

          • Rosemary McDonald 8.1.1.1.1

            “Crack the pit before you plant outside in wintertime and let nature take her course. ”

            So why would you ever bother with fiddly grafting?

            • weka 8.1.1.1.1.1

              Some trees don’t necessarily grow true from seed eg apples. Peaches seem to grow true though, every easy.

            • Robert Guyton 8.1.1.1.1.2

              For one thing, Rosemary, apples don’t grow true from the seed. Pip fruit have to be grafted if you want to enjoy the same fruits as the original tree produced. Pears, being pip fruits, are the same. Stone fruits are more likely to grow the same as or close to the original and so are worth trying. You might even improve on the original. Root stock does offer some advantages; many are selected for their size-controlling effect. Others are good at resisting certain diseases or suit wet soil, for example. I’m planting some grafted apple trees out and about on the “waste” spaces but only where I’m sure they’ll not be broken, etc, as grafting takes effort, whereas pits and stones are easy to do en masse so I don’t worry about them being mown or whatever. I like grapes for the ease with which they can be spread – poke a cutting into the ground and step back 🙂 Nuts are very easy too. Hazels in particular make great forage for hungry townspeople. There’s lots you can do with hazelnuts.

            • Robert Guyton 8.1.1.1.1.3

              It just occured to me, Rosemary, that you could plant cuttings of your namesake all over the show, just ’cause 🙂 What a lovely service to the community that would be. Rosemary cuttings strike easily and make attractive and useful foragable plants 🙂

              • Rosemary McDonald

                I’ll remember that…..;-)

                Lavender also, thyme, oregano, sage, clumps of chives,

                But mint….with caution! Tends to invade.

                And…nasturtiums…

  9. One Two 9

    Thanks for posting this information and to all the contributers in the comments section as well. Lots to follow up on and read further into

    This is wonderfully positive, informative and motivational

    • weka 9.1

      I’m into putting up more posts like this (writing them, guests posts), so if there is any thing in particular you’d like to see let me know. It needs a political context too (this one easily fitted into Green activism).

  10. Rosie 10

    One of the most enjoyable and convivial posts I’ve read in a long time. There is a lot of helpful and useful information in the post. Thank you Robert and commenters.

    We started with with other planting volunteers on the reserve over the road a few years ago. I have plans for round two, which will be culinary herbs and the self seeding types of herbs and flowers, but there is too much work to do in establishing and caring for our own garden without getting knackered!

    If you’re in Wellington you can get free native plants from the council to plant up your berm if you want to turn it in to a no mow zone. They don’t do food plants but I’ve not seen them object to people planting fruit and vege crops on their berms – and I have seen them, they look just delightful.

    We have 50 mountian flax/wharariki, 30 libertia’s and some carex on our berm. The flowers have helped attract tui, which we don’t normally see around here.

    It’s all good 🙂

  11. mauī 11

    A few people have made pushes for fruit and nut trees in my area.

    I’ll give you a few snippets from the Council email reply:

    “Fruit trees require intensive maintenance”
    “Residents complain about rotting fruit”
    “The trees create a rat problem”

    So we don’t have fruit/nut trees in our parks, while neighbouring Councils have recently made a big push to have them. This is the problem with conservative Councils.

    But I like the approach you’re going with here Robert, good stuff. It’s giving me some ideas 😉

  12. mauī – they’re practiced at putting up barriers, that’s for sure. It’s a blessing really, by-passing them, for their own piece of mind, and planting in places they don’t pay attention to. In any case, baskets of locally grown nuts and berries make wonderful surprise gifts for local body representatives, delivered to their offices at times when the grind of political life is getting them down 🙂

  13. Sans Cle 13

    This post and comments are inspirational. I’ve planted a few fruit trees on the verges of reserves, where the Council doesn’t mow. Always a bit apprehensive of Council workers’ reaction to them, and neighbours. But so far so good. My little gift to the future. Tit-for-Tat…..as I have received much from past generations.

    • Rosie 13.1

      “My little gift to the future. Tit-for-Tat…..as I have received much from past generations.”

      A lovely way to show thanks to past generations and keep the wheels of kindness and thoughtfulness turning. Kia Ora.

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  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    3 days ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    3 days ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    4 days ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    4 days ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    4 days ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    5 days ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    5 days ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    5 days ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    5 days ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    6 days ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    6 days ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    6 days ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    6 days ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    6 days ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    6 days ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    6 days ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    7 days ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Time for a New Deal: 25 years on
    In 1994, I was editing an ambitious street mag called Planet, from a fabled office at at 309 Karangahape Road. The thirteenth issue of the magazine was published in the winter of that year and its cover embodied a particularly ambitious goal: the end of cannabis prohibition.I wanted to do ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not impressed
    KiwiBuild was one of the Ardern government's core policies. The government would end the housing crisis and make housing affordable again by building 100,000 new homes. Of course, it didn't work out like that: targets weren't met, the houses they did build were in the wrong place, and the whole ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar beats coal
    As the climate crisis escalates, it is now obvious that we need to radically decarbonise our economy. The good news is that its looking easy and profitable for the energy sector. Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and now solar is too:The levellised cost of solar PV has fallen ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • A Step Too Far.
    A Crown Asset? For reasons relating to its own political convenience, the Crown pretends to believe that “No one owns the water.” To say otherwise would re-vivify the promises contained in the Treaty of Waitangi – most particularly those pertaining to the power of the chiefs and their proprietary rights ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where Money Comes From
    Most people would say, no doubt, that they have a pretty good idea of what money is. They live with the reality of money every day. It is what is needed to buy the necessities of life and to maintain a decent standard of living. You get money, they would ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Banned by the Green Party leadership: Jill Abigail on women’s rights and trans rights
    The article below was an opinion piece that appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Te Awa (the NZ Green Party’s newsletter) and on the Greens website.  In keeping with their policy of hostility to women defending women’s right to female-only spaces, Green bureaucrats have since removed the opinion piece.  ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The fallacy of the proximity argument.
    Longer term readers may remember my complaining that, as a political scientist, it is burdensome to have non-political scientists wanting to engage me about politics. No layperson would think to approach an astrophysicist and lecture him/her on the finer details of quarks and black holes, but everybody with an opinion ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Where We Stood: Chris Trotter Replies To Stevan Eldred-Grigg.
    Joining The Fight: Stevan Eldred-Grigg's argument for New Zealand staying out of the Second World War fails not only on the hard-headed grounds of preserving the country’s strategic and economic interests; and not just on the soft-hearted grounds of duty and loyalty to the nation that had given New Zealand ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Universities back the climate strike
    On September 27, School Strike 4 Climate will be striking for a future to pressure the government for meaningful climate action. This time, they've asked adults to join them. And now, Lincoln University and Victoria University of Wellington have signed on:Victoria University of Wellington has joined Lincoln University in endorsing ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Another constitutional outrage
    Another day, another constitutional outrage in the UK. This time, the government is saying that if parliament passes a law to stop Brexit before being prorogued, they may just ignore it:A senior cabinet minister has suggested Boris Johnson could defy legislation to prevent a no-deal Brexit if it is forced ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ending dairy in Canterbury
    Environment Canterbury has finally proposed nitrogen limits to stop dairy farmers from poisoning Christchurch's water supply. And naturally, farmers are whining about it:A proposed move by Environment Canterbury (ECan) to protect Christchurch's drinking water by setting tough – some would say, draconian – nitrate reductions in the decades ahead and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Is National the party of climate arson?
    The Zero Carbon Bill is currently before select committee. While its targets are weak, its a generally sensible bill that promises to establish a long-term framework to guide emissions reductions. But National hasn't made up its mind on whether it will support it - and according to Andrea Vance in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

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