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This Government’s citizenship priorities

Written By: - Date published: 9:06 am, March 24th, 2017 - 52 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, Environment, national/act government, Politics, sustainability, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: , ,

Michael Tavares is a young man who has residence in New Zealand and wants to become a New Zealand citizen so that he can be a Green Party candidate in this year’s Parliamentary election. He is a kiwi through and through. He recently married a kiwi woman. He has lived here for a number of years. He celebrates the beauty of our country and is very keen to preserve our environment.

There was one problem with his application for citizenship. He has a criminal conviction within the past three years and under the Citizenship Act could not be granted citizenship unless he persuaded the Minister of Internal Affairs that there were exceptional circumstances relating to the conviction.

He has a conviction for trespass, which on the scale of things is one of the least serious offences under New Zealand law. The circumstances of that offence are that a magnificent 500 year old Kauri was being threatened with being felled. Michael set up home in the tree for a few days to make sure that it was safe.

His offending was in keeping with all notions of peaceful non violent protest. And it was successful. The tree is still standing today doing what trees do by beautifying the area, sequestering carbon, providing a home for birds and holding Titirangi’s steep hills together. When agreement was reached with the people who wanted to fell the tree Michael climbed down and transported himself to the New Lynn Police Station and handed himself in. Greater cooperation with the authorities is hard to imagine.

He then appeared in court and pleaded guilty to the charge. But for the negative attitude of the complainants he should have received a discharge without conviction and then been granted citizenship. As it was he was convicted and put on good behaviour for 12 months. No further penalty was imposed.

Many people supported him and cheered him on.  Many people, myself included, thought that he should be given a medal rather than a conviction.  Even Helen Clark supported him and said that it was “extraordinary in this day and age that a permit would be given to fell a 500 year old kauri tree”.

In my view he is not only the sort of person that we should welcome to New Zealand. He is also the sort of person that we need in Parliament. The state of our environment is such that we need as many passionate determined protectors of the environment in Parliament as we can get.

But this Government has refused his request for citizenship.  He can apply again next year and the ban will not then apply but this is not much consolation to him as he needs to be a citizen to run for Parliament.

His treatment should be contrasted with that of another person who not so long ago applied for citizenship.

Peter Thiel is a very wealthy American. He likes New Zealand and following his grant of citizenship bought a large piece of land in the South Island presumably as a bolt hold in case post Trump America implodes.

This New York Times article provides some background. From the article:

Mr. Thiel, worth a reported $2.7 billion, was a founder of the online payments site PayPal and the data company Palantir. He secretly funded the lawsuit that killed off Gawker, the network of gossip sites that outed him, accurately, as gay.

When Mr. Trump won, Mr. Thiel emerged as a key adviser. He has spent much of the time since the election in New York, advising the transition team. His recommendations are under consideration for significant jobs.

As a byproduct, he has become famous, a fate many of his peers in Silicon Valley would go out of their way to avoid. Mr. Thiel has been reported as a possible Supreme Court justice, as a potential candidate for governor of California, and, most recently, as President Trump’s potential ambassador to Germany.

Mr. Thiel’s admiration for New Zealand is longstanding. “Utopia,” he once called it. He has an investment firm in the country that has put millions into local start-ups. He also owns lavish properties there, which his Silicon Valley friends hope to fly to in the event of a worldwide pandemic.

He is willing to help his fellow humans, as long as they are also rich.  He once described incidences of date rape as belated regret.  He has some strange views.

Even though he did not meet policy requirements, specifically he did not even live in New Zealand, he was granted citizenship by Nathan Guy in 2011.  From Radio New Zealand:

Mr Guy, who was the internal affairs minister at the time, said Mr Thiel was granted citizenship under a provision of the Citizenship Act that stated it would be “in the public interest due to exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian or other nature”.

However, he said he did not recall dealing with Mr Thiel’s application.

“As minister I tended to follow the advice of DIA officials on these issues; I’m advised officials recommended granting citizenship in this particular case.”

Thiel’s treatment was exceptional.  The only other occasions this Ministerial power was used involved two unborn babies.

These examples provide a perfect example of how this Government works.  If you are rich and right wing the welcome mat is rolled out.  If you are passionate about the environment they will do nothing.

52 comments on “This Government’s citizenship priorities ”

  1. james 1

    This is a really interesting post.

    Lets look at his application on its own merit.

    So we have someone who has broken the law, so by default cannot get citizenship for a number of years.

    He pleaded guilty -which is to be commended. But there is zero doubt that he broke the law.

    “He then appeared in court and pleaded guilty to the charge. But for the negative attitude of the complainants he should have received a discharge without conviction and then been granted citizenship”

    Remembering here that what you call the complainants are indeed the victims in this case – They did nothing wrong, and they have been impacted a lot by Tavares actions.

    It is right and correct that their views get taken into account in sentencing – is this not the norm? Who are we to say how the victims are impacted?

    Anyway – he now wants to be am MP – good on him. But do you really think that is an exceptional circumstance?

    Its called consequences for his actions. He should have thought of this before he broke the law – there were other ways to protest legally (as many others did).

    • DoublePlusGood 1.1

      What are people supposed to do then when breaking the law is the right thing to do?

      • james 1.1.1

        The right thing to do according to whom?

        If he thought he was doing the right thing and wanted to argue that he had his chance – but pleaded guilty, understanding the implications.

        • DoublePlusGood 1.1.1.1

          The right thing according to people with principles.

          • inspider 1.1.1.1.1

            Yes well it was the wrong thing to do according to 1000 years of English law. I put that ahead of an ex American’s principles regarding a highly disputed “500 year old” tree.

        • AB 1.1.1.2

          Oh bollocks.
          Let’s take a virtue-based approach to the ethics of the situation.
          Did Mr Tavare’s actions stem from self interest? Did he acquire any personal gain from his actions – either material or pecuniary? Nope. Did he cause harm to anyone? Nope.
          Was he performing an action that he honestly and reasonably believed was in the public interest? Yep.
          So there is every reason to say that is actions were virtuous and ethical though nominally illegal. Let him stay.

          Punitive right wingers with a viciously narrow law-based or rule-based ethics are a curse

          • Andy 1.1.1.2.1

            Let’s take a virtue ethics point of view. Aristotlean Ethics qualify. They seek to answer the question “what would a Great Man of well-tempered habits do, under these circumstances?”

            I believe a Great Man would uphold the integrity of the Law, seek to have it amended by legal means, and preserve his own credibility and reputation so that he may make a positive contribution as an MP.

            The rationale you have described isn’t really Virtue Ethics. IMO it’s Consequentialist.

      • Steve Wrathall 1.1.2

        Then go ahead and break the law…and suffer the consequences. And he has.

    • mickysavage 1.2

      I think that protecting the environment is an exceptional circumstance.

      The Government thought that Thiel’s case provided one. Why not Tavare’s case?

      • james 1.2.1

        I guess different people have differing views of “exceptional circumstance”.

        I dont know enough about Thiels (somewhat more confusing and complicated) citizenship.

        Regardless – Tavare’s should have to stand up on its own merits.

        • Keith 1.2.1.1

          Confusing and complicated…..well that is one way of describing the National Party donation laundry.

          • KJT 1.2.1.1.1

            Thiel, Donated to the National party, and no doubt some useful directorships will go to retired Nat cronies, later.

            Tavare’s, hasn’t any money to offer.

            Simple.

          • McFlock 1.2.1.1.2

            seems to be the tory go-to complaint when something is wrong but suits them: it’s all too hard to understand, whatever can we do…

            • Draco T Bastard 1.2.1.1.2.1

              +1

              It truly is amazing how often the Tories come out with the Too Hard line or its corollary Unintended Consequences.

              All just excuses for not changing things that are wrong.

      • inspider 1.2.2

        Perhaps you are in a good position to advise why his lawyer didn’t argue that in his case.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.3

      They did nothing wrong

      Actually, they did. Sure, cutting down the tree may have been legal but it certainly wouldn’t have been moral. It is this point which allowed the tree to still be standing today.

      Which makes his actions to prevent the trees destruction also moral and right and thus the conviction wrong.

  2. ropata 2

    NZ is only “utopia” for the super rich. It used to be a decent place for everyone but pricks like Thiel and klingons like Key have exploited/sold the common wealth for their own private gain.

    • lloyd 2.1

      Ropata, you are insulting Klingons. A Klingon would make it very clear that they were taking your property (and they would probably terminate you with extreme prejudice at the same time).

      I have strongly suspected that John Key and most of the Cabinet are actually Cylons. These devious cyborgs are always trying to gain power over real humans and do this by insinuating themselves into human society. If you want analogies of political skulduggery you must check out episodes of Battlestar Galatica.

  3. Keith 3

    Peter Thiel is rich. Michael Tavares is not. End of story!

    • james 3.1

      Michael Tavares broke the law and was found guilty in a NZ court of law – Peter Thiel wasnt. End of story.

      And to prove my argument is more valid than yours – he had not of broken the law – he would prob be a citizen now – regardless of his wealth.

      [lprent: You appear to be diversion trolling. The post was about exceptional circumstances and citizenship. As a number of people have pointed out to you so far. To date I haven’t seen you deal with that, in fact you appear to be avoiding dealing with it.

      If you want others to take personal responsibility for their actions, then YOU can damn well do it here as well.

      Banned for 4 weeks for diversion trolling. ]

      • Hanswurst 3.1.1

        Michael Tavares broke the law and was found guilty in a NZ court of law – Peter Thiel wasnt. End of story.

        No, this particular story ends (for the moment) with “exceptional circumstances”. Keith’s comment takes that into account. Yours is the comment of someone who was either too lazy to read the last chapter or too disingenuous to concede that it existed.

        • inspider 3.1.1.1

          It’s not exceptional circumstances to want to run for parliament, just as “I might want to apply for a job that I have no guarantee of even getting an interview for” is unexceptional.

          If he had secured a nomination of a party subject to citizenship, then that might be close, but his personal whim is not enough.

          More importantly why did his lawyer not push for diversion or dwc. The court is not bound by the views of the victims.

          • mickysavage 3.1.1.1.1

            I understand the Green Party had accepted his nomination for its list.

            The complainant has a big say if diversion is granted. A dwc was applied for but the police and the complainants opposed it.

            • inspider 3.1.1.1.1.1

              I suppose given the time and cost he caused the police they might not have been well disposed. Perhaps he also wasn’t that apologetic.

              Simple rule, when in another country, follow the rules as much as possible.

              • I didn’t apologise, but I did hand myself in. I’d said in advance through the media that i would, and this the police weren’t I even there when i came down.
                I also pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. I wouldn’t say i could have taken any less of the police’s time except for if i had not done this thing at all.

      • Keith 3.1.2

        He broke the law, give me a break. Yep, just like an armed robbery of a gas station, eh James? All torn up that Capital Punishment was repealed?

        He protested in a 500 year old Kauri tree to save it been felled so some arsehole could play Monopoly and improve their views. Crime of the millennium if I’ve ever heard. Maybe he should have been horsewhipped instead and then deported!

        I bet the National Party were so glad that they had that turd to cling to but they would have turfed him out anyway. Not one of their type$ if you know what I mean.

        However if he had say, oh I don’t know, helped fund some business deal, one where the tax payers took all the risk, for, oh I don’t know, some cloud computing thingy run by a loyal National Party supporter and then made a few million, risk free, well maybe then Mr Tavares may have stood a chance. And if his bank account ended in 10 zero’s even better.

        But no this man who gave a fuck about the environment is dead to us. Certainly not the kind of person we want here!

  4. Anne 4

    And don’t forget Peter Thiel went on to effectively defraud the NZ tax-payer of ten million dollars. Less than a drop in the bucket for this ultra rich bastard perhaps, but money that could have been spent in NZ for the benefit of NZers. And don’t forget he also believes… women should have never been given the vote!

    And Thiel is deemed to be more worthy of citizenship than an upstanding, honest individual who is sufficiently dedicated to this country that he actually lives here!

  5. Thank you for this article. And I appreciate the kind and supportive comments.

    With or without the piece of paper, this place is my home. I love the beauty of the people and the environment here. I’m not going anywhere.

    I’ll apply again next year after June 12th. I have more of my life ahead of me than behind. I’ll be fine.

    And I’ll continue to do all i can towards creative a fairer, more sustainable society, and a cleaner environment underpinning it all.

    Thank you all again.

    Michael Tavares.

    • mickysavage 5.1

      Cheers Michael and thanks for all you have done for our environment.

      • Steve Wrathall 5.1.1

        Yes. Thanks to this clown, anyone with a tree they want removed will be a mug if they go through the proper channels (as the owners did) to get permission. Better to surreptitiously poison it and after a while, oh no, damned kauri dieback syndrome strikes again.

    • Sabine 5.2

      well said.

    • Cheers, keep up the good work, you belong here for sure, and it’ll just have to be someone else’s turn to get arrested to stop immoral actions until you’ve got your citizenship sorted. 😀

  6. Anno1701 6

    NZ doesnt like independent thinkers/actors

    we like sheep…….

  7. Ethica 7

    Peter Thiel has IT expertise and data relevant to winning elections for the National Party (and the Republicans etc)

  8. saveNZ 8

    If he did a u turn, clear felled Titirangi and put in an application to build 50,000 McMansions, export the Kauri wood, a gigantic waste water plant in the bush with a export water bottling facility and a $5000 donation to the Natz, I’m sure he will be welcomed into NZ with open arms.

    Cheat and bribe, develop and export our natural resources, that’s how you get into this country.

    • ropata 8.1

      Might have to bump up the donation to $50K but sounds about right. And he wouldn’t have to actually build anything, just have a “plan” that provides a good photo op for Nick Smith

      • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1

        Oh, he’d build something but it’d be paid for by the taxpayers and he’d make millions on it just as his cut of the taxpayer spend.

        • ropata 8.1.1.1

          And the new (probably leaky) subdivision would be quickly purchased by a foreign investment fund so that exorbitant rent could be extracted from desperate young Kiwis.

          • saveNZ 8.1.1.1.1

            Then the council aka local rate payers will be called in to pay billions for the rebuild.

            • saveNZ 8.1.1.1.1.1

              don’t forget as well, we need an extra couple of lanes built for the extra traffic at the cost of a few billion to roading contractors and a 5 year road works delay for residents.

              What, there’s now too many cars so lets tax a commuter tax on those workers using their cars travelling from Titirangi.

              Put up the waste water charges too, to pay for the infrastructure with all that extra pollution going into the sea and all.

              Someone has to pretend to develop public transport too, so a few million for consultants each year should do it, and keep that consultation going for a decade at least. In the mean time demolish some historic buildings and trees just in case they could get in the way – someone has to look like they are doing something.

              Thankfully there is such a public stink, we can spend 5 million of rate payer money on private “environmental’ lawyers and planners at $500 p/h just so we can fight the residents for a year or so, to knock down the trees and historic buildings. Fucking NIMBYS.

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