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Thank god for small mercies

Written By: - Date published: 12:20 pm, June 4th, 2010 - 37 comments
Categories: local government - Tags:

Stuff is reporting that Michael Lhaws won’t stand again as Mayor of Whanganui. Maybe the town can now move forward without being burdened by Laws’ race politics. Whanganui will be a better place without the former National Party researcher.

37 comments on “Thank god for small mercies ”

  1. Lew 1

    Well, he’s still going to be in council and his endorsement will still be a very strong influence on who succeeds him. If he’s half the pollie I think he is, he’ll pick someone he can exert influence over, and still play a strong role in running the council agenda. He’ll also command a strong bloc, likely a majority, of councillors.

    But still, it’s a positive development, and I’m sure his family will thank him for it as well.


    • Rex Widerstrom 1.1

      Yep Lew… he almost didn’t go for a second term, but positioned his compliant deputy Dot to take over as his hand puppet. That’s exactly what will happen this time too.

      What puzzles me, though, is that his losing the title of Whanganui Mayor means the MSM lose their ready excuse to publish any incoherent rant he may make, as the choleric raving of a mere councillor is hardly newsworthy.

      A day without his name in the media for Lhaws is like a day without oxygen for the rest of us, so part of me fears he has some other platform lined up from which he can continue his “fat brown slug” style of “social commentary”.

      Field Marshall of the “Free Wanganui (definitely without the “h”) Militia”, perhaps?

      • Michael Foxglove 1.1.1

        Leader of the Country Party?

      • Lew 1.1.2

        Rex, you mean like his three-hour daily talkback show, his website and his weekly column in the country’s largest-circulation Sunday paper?


        • Michael Foxglove

          I’d only count two of those Lew. Even Michael Foxglove has the use of a website.

          But I think Rex has a point. Is a column and a talkback show enough for the man?

          • Lew

            Heh. There’s a thought. Think he’ll keep the vanity site “mayormichael.co.nz, even though he ain’t?


            • Michael Foxglove

              We can only hope. That website’s too much of a gem to false into the abyss… even the name… mayormichael

        • Rex Widerstrom

          If he gained enough ego strokes from all that Lew, he wouldn’t run for office. Radio Dead From the Neck Up alone pays him about $250,000 a year… so much that he claims to donate all his Mayoral salary to charity (not that he’s ever accounted for it).

          But a soapbox isn’t enough… Lhaws needs people to denigrate (as he did staff in the NZF Parliamentary office, though I was the only one to take a PG over it) and lord it over; to be able to say he has a popular mandate for his views (after all, only he knows the number of hits his website gets… and how many readers would the newspaper lose if it canned him?); and a springboard to get himself into other media.

          When was the last time, say, Kerre Woodham or Garth George had the TV news and others chasing them for a story, just because their view on something was controversial?

          No, losing the Mayoralty takes him off the news pages and relegates him to the opinion pages… so I can’t see him resigning without a Plan B.

  2. PK 2

    ***Laws’ race politics. ***

    This is classic smearing – if you don’t like race politics I guess you’d like to see the Maori Party abolished?

    Laws was clearly a brave politician who respected the views of his constituents rather than ignoring them. He lead the way by banning gang patches, something other councils are now looking to follow.

    • Lew 2.1

      … and he gained the support of those constituents by race-baiting and driving a wedge between the white majority and the brown minority. Not that he was the first to do so, or that the wedge wasn’t already pretty strong in Whanganui.

      You can argue that was a good thing if you like, but there’s no purpose in arguing it didn’t happen.


      • PK 2.1.1

        ***and he gained the support of those constituents by race-baiting and driving a wedge between the white majority and the brown minority. ***

        Again, isn’t this what the Maori Party do? The race baiters were those who applied to change the name of the city. He simply stood up for the majority, which caused widespread shock.

        • Lew

          Well, no. You’re muddling a bunch of things in together. Tariana’s advocacy for the h, while consistent with her party’s position, was taken as a mana whenua MP with a long history of struggle on this particular point. For another thing, the application to insert the h was brought by a local iwi lobby group which is not politically affiliated. Third, the actual decisions on the h debate were made by the NZ Geographic Board and the Minister of Land Information. Fourth, the māori party’s formation and their political success had nothing to do with the h — it had to do with the Foreshore and Seabed Act which the present government — the same government which mandated the h policy, and which you support — has now agreed to repeal.

          So you can’t blame any of it on the maaries, sorry. Or, you can, but you can only blame them for taking advantage of their right to advocacy in a free and democratic society.


          • PK

            *** Tariana’s advocacy for the h, while consistent with her party’s position, was taken as a mana whenua MP with a long history of struggle on this particular point.For another thing, the application to insert the h was brought by a local iwi lobby group which is not politically affiliated. Third, the actual decisions on the h debate were made by the NZ Geographic Board and the Minister of Land Information. ***

            Yes, my point was that those who accuse Laws of race baiting must presumably feel the same about the Maori Party in general. In terms of the h debate, again as you say, that wasn’t triggered by Laws. It was triggered by the group who applied to change the name of the town.

            btw. how do you consider it should be pronounced? My understanding was that the local dialect involved a silent ‘h’. However, some media, such as National radio, just apply a standard pronunciation similar to Whakatane, Whangarei etc. I would have thought the local Iwi’s pronunciation should be the preferred?

            • Lew

              No, they must not presumably feel the same way, because the two cases are quite manifestly different.

              The pronunciation of the h is a pretty straightforward question in te ao Māori: pronounce it according to your own dialect, since how you speak is a manifestation of your own mana and rangatiratanga. So Whanganui Māori aren’t at all concerned that people from elsewhere pronounce it with a “F” or a “w’h” or whatever. Turia tells a story of how some kids from Tuwharetoa (from whom she is also descended) mocked her accent, and far from being ashamed of it, it was a matter of pride. So it is.

              The latter pronunciation (as part of the “standard” reo dialect) is most strictly correct for general usage (which is why you hear broadcasters and so on use it). But the locals pronounce it with almost no ‘h’ phoneme, as do many people from Taranaki and a few other places. But, contra Laws and many others who don’t understand the issue, it’s not a matter of forcing everyone to talk like a local, only of spelling the name according to the predominant, official, orthography of the Māori langauge derived from that laid down by Williams.

              If you feel like arguing this topic with me, can I politely request that you read my previous writing on the topic. I’m busy, and would rather not repeat myself.


              • PK

                I’ve read your linked comments, thanks for the explanation.

                • Descendant Of Smith

                  Having read your linked post it was good to see you were well treated in my home town. It was a great place in which to be raised. Pity the trees were all cut down taking away the kiwis and the tui’s and the moreporks that used to be so prevalent – and eventually the jobs.

                  Growing up in Taumarunui we all understood that the H was only pronounced by those silly coastal people from afar

                  I have always struggled to see how people cannot (would not) differentiate between pronunciation and spelling.

                  It did remind however of some of the sad behaviours displayed when Egmont was changed to Taranaki. Over time no-one eventually worries about it or cares that there was this big debate.

                  This issue Laws seems to see as defining when in fact it’s a minuscule dot in our history.

    • prism 2.2

      pk – What does that stand for – chutty gum? Reading your ideas? about Lhaws it sounds as if you can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

      Laws was clearly a brave politician who respected the views of his constituents rather than ignoring them.

      Lhaws constantly denigrated his constituents when it suited him, and you’re right he wasn’t particularly racist, he could disagree with and then sneer at anybody who had different views to his.

  3. NickS 3

    (forgot to hit reply…)

    Except of course this drew attention away from Whanganui’s badly needed flood banks and the “Lhaws Memorial Park” crap he’s being trying to put through. But hey, who cares about real problems when you can argue against spelling a place name in such a way that it’s translatable?

    And there’s the bullshit he spouts on just about everything and anything, showing off his complete inability to think, let alone research.

    • Rex Widerstrom 3.1

      And, I vaguely remember, some sort of enormous underground car park / civic centre / library complex that was to be built in the centre of town, primarily to suck what little money went to the hated museum out of the town’s budget.

      Where’s that edifice, Lhaws?

      If his anti-everything-Maori stance came from any sort of a position of principle, I’d at least grant that he was merely a deluded but genuine racist.

      But Maori, like the poor, beneficiaries and prisoners, are just a convenient wedge group upon whom the attention of the middle class Whanganui voters can be focused so as to deflect attention from Lhaws’ myriad failings as a mayor and as a human being.

      • PK 3.1.1

        ***Lhaws’ myriad failings as a mayor and as a human being.***

        I think you and Laws need an Obama style ‘beer summit’ to talk these things out.

      • NickS 3.1.2

        And, I vaguely remember, some sort of enormous underground car park / civic centre / library complex that was to be built in the centre of town, primarily to suck what little money went to the hated museum out of the town’s budget.

        Hmmn, my friend has said nothing about it, so I’m guessing it sunk deep into the council version of development hell

        Though my friend reports that many smiled at this small bit of good news 😀

  4. kriswgtn 4

    This has made my day

    He is a red necked racist prat who deserves to be kicked out

    I lived in Wangavegas bk in the 90’s for 5 years and I loved it and it was an ok place-
    I went there 2 years ago and the whole town is so aggro and full of ill feeling and it is LAWS fault


    • PK 4.1

      ***I went there 2 years ago and the whole town is so aggro and full of ill feeling and it is LAWS fault


      2 years ago? That pre-dated the ‘h’ debate? Sure it wasn’t related to the Jhia Te Tua drive-by shooting?

      • Lew 4.1.1

        You think Whanganui’s problems started with the h debate? Come on.

        I grew up there, it’s been full of racial tension as long as I can remember, and as long as people of my grandparents’ age can remember. At the time of the Pakaitore occupation in the 1990s, my wife’s relatives, themselves from Whanganui, phoned from overseas because they thought the town had finally tipped over into civil conflict. It ain’t far below the surface.

        Going back there tomorrow. Can’t wait.


        • PK

          I’ve only driven through a couple of times (once after taking the wrong turn at Bulls). I do recall the reading about occupation at the time.

          Have a good weekend.

          • kriswgtn

            You too ,,just dont you forget who actually owns the land in this country 🙂


      • Rex Widerstrom 4.1.2

        The “h” is merely the latest sideshow in Mickey’s lengthy circus. Creating divisiveness in the town (starting with characterising some fairly mild, owlish museum supporters as “single issue nutters” as soon as he was elected) has always been his style.

        Though to be fair, as Lew points out, things have never been idyllic there. It used to be on my round as a medical representative 20 or so years ago. I’d get in and out as fast as possible.

        Once I was caught on that long straight just north of the town going so fast the cop couldn’t accurately get a speed reading because he didn’t want to drive that fast himself. When he caught up with me at my next stop he did the usual thing and asked whether I had any excuse.

        I told him I was leaving Wanganui, as quickly as possible. I didn’t get a ticket.

  5. Mac1 5

    When does the Race Relations Conciliator’s job come up for grabs? Or the G-G?

  6. ghostwhowalksnz 6

    So is Laws becoming Whanganuis Putin, who leaves the top job , then run it from the sidelines, and then when hes got over his marital/family/financial/emotional/physical/spiritual ? problems , rides back into town to reclaim his birthright. The mayors robes

  7. millsy 7

    L(h)aws may be an intolerant git, but at least while he was mayor he didnt launch a firesale of Wanganui’s assets, (ie the municipal gas company, one of the last few council owned utility concerns)

  8. ak 8

    Yawn. Another wee race-baiter dragged back to the hell of his own making. Why highlight the natural decomposition of excrement.

  9. I dreamed a dream 9

    David Farrar in his blog speculated that Laws may become No. 2 on NZ First’s list and help Winston back in, thereby possibly helping Labour’s chances to get back into government, and becoming a Minister in a Labour-led government.


    • Lew 9.1

      Farrar is stirring. You can tell, because he says “I might be wrong”. Laws giving up being the mayor of a podunk redneck town on the grounds that it’s too much work, and then swapping that for being a parliamentary deputy leader? Come on. He’s not making this reason up: he really, truly did have a daughter almost die of leukaemia recently, and really, truly is having very severe relationship problems.

      Anyway, the politics don’t make sense. Laws has (always had) more common ground with National than with NZ First, and more in common with either than with Labour, which is who NZF would need to ally with to govern. The single worst thing Labour could do for their long-term survival is go into coalition with the Laws and Winston party. Both are toxic, for different and complementary reasons. They’d alienate principled conservatives, Asians, tangata whenua, Pasifika, and liberal Pākehā all at once. Three out of five of those are their core constituency, and one is the group they might hope to win back from a National party which has decided to make a socially liberal play to the centre.

      Peters on his own would only alienate the first and second — the two electorally weakest groups for Labour — so in pure numerical terms he’s less of a liability (in addition to his clear failures of integrity). Laws on his own would alienate the last three, groups Labour simply can’t do without.


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