In the last month, Otaki has hosted two events that have much in common.
The anti-TPPA turnout was a clarion call heeded by a large crowd of tangata whenua and pakeha, young and old protesting against the government’s secretive negotiations. One of a number of protest marches throughout the country, the work of University of Auckland’s Law professor Jane Kelsey. Ten thousand marched in Auckland, five thousand in Wellington, four thousand in Christchurch and hundreds in Otaki.
The second event packed the supper room to hear local boys: author Nicky Hager and Environmental scientist Mike Joy talk about the power of research.
To have two eminent Horowhenua men who have been ‘dissed’ by John Key was warmly appreciated by the audience.
Their low-key presentation gave us a glimpse into the minds of two committed people swimming against the current.
The tenor of their presentation was the power of research, as a way of changing the world we live in. Hager’s well-argued case spoke of the government wanting to shut down discussion, and how, in his opinion change will come if the silence can be broken. He spoke of ‘impression management’, how the government wanted to minimalise and marginalise us, and how Rogernomics had ‘wiped out the voices of reason’ and ‘burned down the villages’.
Hager asked: ‘How democratic is New Zealand?’ His answer highlighted the fact that we have poor news media, and how people are inhibited from speaking up. He stressed the need for the country to rebuild public media.
A stimulating discussion, well-received.
On leaving school, worked on a dairy farm. Then became a taxi driver, builder, then some OE. At 33 decided to go to University. ‘Truck driver to academic: the imposter syndrome!’ Received his PhD from Massey in 2003. Now Senior Lecturer in Environmental Science at Massey. Lives in Manakau.
In 2013 received the prestigious Charles Fleming award from the Royal Society of NZ. In 2014 toured the country for the Royal Society, delivering ‘The demise of NZ’s freshwaters; politics and science’. This may be downloaded as a free 48-page ebook from his website www.waterqualitynz.info which is an easy to navigate website full of information.
Some highlights from Joy’s research findings:
- 43% of NZ’s lakes are polluted.
- 90% of our lowland pastoral & urban rivers are unsafe to swim in.
- NZ has the highest % of threatened species in the world.
- soils in intensively-farmed areas are suffering from heavy metal buildup, from over-fertilising.
- Cadmium contamination is now a major food security issue.
- As a Clean & Green nation, NZ isn’t in the world’s top 50%.
On BBC’s HardTalk in 2011, Stephen Sackur interviewed John Key, quoting him Mike Joy’s work. “I don’t share that view” said Key, “He’s an academic, I don’t agree with that proposition.” On swimming in our lakes & rivers: “it’s aspirational”.
- Born Levin 1958 Author / researcher.
- BSc physics, BA(hons) philosophy.
- NZ’s only member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
- Dirty Politics How attack Politics is poisoning NZ’s political environment, 2014.
- Other people’s Wars, NZ’s role in the ‘war on terror’ in Afghanistan, 2012.
- The Hollow Men, National Election strategies, 2005.
- Seeds of Distrust, GE Cover-up, 2002.
- Secrets & Lies, Anti-environmental cover-up, 1999.
- Secret Power, NZ’s role in the international spy network, 1996.
“Little more than a screaming left-wing conspiracy theorist” — John Key