Friday, July 9, 2021

Funding our own indoctrination

A couple of weeks ago I was confronted by an unusually puerile full-page advertisement in the local paper. I say “unusually” because it goes without saying that a lot of advertising, on TV especially, could most charitably be described as less than cerebral. But this took infantilism in advertising to a new low.

The text was written as if intended for pre-schoolers. But rather than try to convey the tone of this nonsensical doggerel with a mere excerpt, I’ll reproduce it in its entirety:


What a stink as place that would be.

Trout would be grumpy.

Boating no fun.

And dirty ducks a sad sight to see.

Mean as manus wouldn’t be mean.

Showers a complete waste of time.

Bathrooms would be just rooms.

Togs just undies.

And our awa, all filthy with slime.


That’s why we’ve got a plan,

‘cos we’re water’s biggest fan.

So let’s make it better than fine.

The accompanying illustrations, crudely drawn comic-style, showed a pipe belching noxious-looking waste into a river, a duck swimming through sludge and a horrified child bather coated in muck, all eye-catchingly presented in full colour.

It finished with the inspirational slogan “Better Water is Better for Everyone”, complete with a Maori translation for the benefit of the many readers who don’t understand English.

You may have figured out by now that it was a government ad promoting the Three Waters project, and I now note that TV viewers are being bombarded with an animated version.

That’s right: we’re paying for an extravagant advertising campaign aimed at persuading us that the government’s grab for control over the nation’s water infrastructure is in our own best interests.

Even as the government is going through the motions of seeking endorsement from the 67 local authorities that stand to lose control over a crucial part of their operations, it’s trying to go around them by pitching directly to us – in effect, circumventing its own process. And we’re picking up the tab – in other words, funding our own indoctrination.

If nothing else impresses you about Jacinda Ardern’s government, you have to gasp at its sheer hubris. This is a government that thinks the public so passive and malleable that it can get away with anything.

Regardless of what you think about the Three Waters proposal (and my main concern, as with many of this government’s initiatives, is that it represents a further centralisation of power and erosion of local autonomy), it’s a breathtakingly brazen misuse of taxpayers’ money.

There might be a case for a fact-based information campaign (Ha! Faint chance, I hear you say) setting out the arguments for and against the plan. That might have provided some helpful context for the debate the country needs to have before deciding whether Three Waters is worth supporting.

But this campaign doesn’t pretend to explain anything. It doesn’t have so much as a fig-leaf of legitimacy. It’s targeted at the same gormless, credulous lot who swoon with admiration for Greta Thunberg. Not content with misusing our money, the government and its advertising agency (Who are they? They should be named and shamed) insult the nation’s intelligence with a propaganda campaign that’s thumb-suckingly fatuous.  

And as long as we’re paying to subject ourselves to a blatantly politicised ad campaign, is it too much to expect that it should at least be semi-literate?

“Stink as” and “mean as” would make marginally more sense – only marginally, mind you – if they were written as stink-as and mean-as, indicating that the expressions were adjectival. And what about that culturally inappropriate “s” on “manus”? Why would the copy writer carefully omit the “s” when he/she pluralised the Maori word for river (awa), recognising that there’s no “s” in te reo, but leave it on the word for bird?

I guess this is the sort of confused mess that sub-literate advertising creatives (as they like to call themselves) get into when they try to ingratiate themselves with a target audience that never reads newspapers anyway. Then there’s “’cos we’re [plural] water’s biggest fan [singular]” – but now I’m starting to sound like a grammar Nazi.

The final affront in all this is the knowledge that the ad agency will have banked a preposterous sum of money for this juvenile dreck. How do I know? Because that’s what ad agencies do. The Three Waters campaign is further proof (not that it was needed) that in the advertising racket, there’s no ad too inane and no client too gullible.

Footnote (added July 11): I see $3.5 million has been budgeted for the advertising campaign. My case rests.


Jade Warrior said...

“It is not necessary for the crowd to know. All they have to do is believe.”

Benito Mussolini

Kiwi Dave said...

Ahhhh, the cultural treasures and wisdom I’ve missed by not watching TV for several months. Who could not be enlightened by such sophisticated communication? It’s good to see my taxes at work.

Kiwiwit said...

I would say they know their audience.

Odysseus said...

"This is a government that thinks the public so passive and malleable that it can get away with anything." And they'd be right. Today's New Zealanders are really, really dumb. They are happy to march into servitude.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Cultural misappropriation of the Black American idiom - rap. Which in any case should heard, not read. It seems a long time since ad agencies were worth their salt. The ONLY advertising I find moderately funny currently is the PaknSave stickman stuff. Often quite clever.

Phil said...

Three Waters is more than a proposal, significant staff recruitment is underway. Go on Seek and type in Three Waters.

Phil said...

Ps I know a couple of people who have been recruited and they say the organisation is close to being operational. The country is being deceived about this. The jobs are listed as 3 Waters.

Jim Vikernes said...

the agency is, I only happened upon it as its the only account that the three waters instagram follows.

transpress nz said...

All the government needs to do is make grants, based on need, to local councils to get the water/drainage/sewerage infrastructure repaired/enhanced as they want. Why is there is a need for yet another centralised bureaucracy that is sure to be a repeat of the KiwiBuild fiasco? It beggars belief.

Unknown said...

This is now being advertised on Television - paid for (of course) by us taxpayers who have no say whatever. Peter

Handsome B. Wonderful said...

I wish I didn't know this, but a "manu" refers to jumping into water, what I used to call "doing a bomb" as a child. It's not referring to birds. I'm not sure about it's correct pluralisation, since I don't think it's a word in Maori; it's a slang neologism.

Karl du Fresne said...

Thanks for clearing that up, Handsome, but that makes it only microscopically less nonsensical.

Unknown said...

Our beloved government has told us that they are educating us to the tune of$4,000,000 just so we know how much better off we are with them controlling our lives.

CXH said...

That is nothing compared to the millions to overseas PR firm got for coming up with 'team of five million' and 'be kind'.

So don't be surprised if this figure grows somewhat.

Ken Millward said...

The absolutely most corrupt part about this whole 3 waters nonsense is the Government by way of honoring it's election paybacks will be giving 100% of rate payer owned water infrastructure into the control of the various Iwi groups along with the gravy train of hefty Board stipends and jobs for the whanau. The facts are 50% of the governing body is going to be Maori....does that mean that people with Maori dna will be disqualified from making up any part of the remaining 50% governing body? I think not, and even if that was the case you can guarantee that the remaining governing body will include any number of the bone carving adorned, cringing white apologists rampant throughout all central and local civil service these days. Under this shocking bit of racist theft Maori are going to gain absolute control
of not only every citizens birth right (fresh water) but also rate payers assets built up over
100 plus years

Andy Espersen said...

Ha - came to think the other day when I heard the New Zealand's economy was doing so much better than expected after Covid : The figures causing Government to be so proud are based on GDP (I believe). But what government spends on inane advertisements such as above plus double whole pages in every newspaper in the country with Covid information that nobody ever reads, just goes to increase GDP - does it not??

Unknown said...

Karl I would like to see further investigation into the ownership structure as Ken Millward refers to in his comment. As the Three waters ownership appears to be a partnership or joint venture between the Government and Maori Iwi the public of New Zealand deserve more information about this, as there has been little so far.

The other thing I found interesting was an article in a newspaper setting out how much cheaper it will be for an average kiwi household under this new ownership structure. I am picking this is straight bullshit in a further attempt to get us on board.

2wanderingkiwis said...

Absolutely mind bogglingly stupid

Unknown said...

Well-nailed as always Karl. And Ken is spot on. So is Phil. Its a done deal, And next will be the foreshore and seabed.....all under "maori" control. Enjoy free access to beaches, rivers and lakes while you can. Big change is not far away.BTW I saw that squirmingly embarrassing and deplorable ad last night on TV, I could not believe my eyes and ears. For many reasons, not the least being our male weightlifter in our womens Olympic team, just another reason for us to be a laughing stock on the world stage

Empathic said...

I saw the ad on tv too and I was appalled at the dishonest propaganda, not to mention the patronizing childishness. Not a hint about the actual arrangement already decided, for example central socialist control of local resource and us all paying iwi elite for any way that we use water. All this without any mention during the Labia Party election campaign and with almost no input from all of us who will pay. Next I guess will be a '3 Airs' fait accompli so we can pay iwi elite for every breath we take.

Russell Parkinson said...

As a land development engineer I'm dealing with water supply's, consents etc on a regular basis. Most councils do an ok job with water supply. A couple are useless but there are ways of dealing with them. Watercare a large monopoly corporate which brings all the problems you would expect when dealing with them. I have never seem amalgamation result in savings to ratepayers. Four watercare type operations running all the water in NZ is a scary thought.

Regional Councils currently issue water rights (consents to draw water). They also issue discharge consents.

My reading on this is that its nothing more than a power grab by government for the purposes of giving 50% of all the water control to iwi.

Not only will the 3 waters run the water distribution to the ratepayers but most importantly they will have control over consenting water rights.

What will the regional councils now do? Is the next step the abolition of regional councils?

The government seems hell bend on centralisation. Scary times. If councils veto this then expect Government to force it in.

Doug Longmire said...

Don't you just love the simplicity of it!!
Four Area Health , sorry, Water boards to run everything smoothly.
Similar model to Health ?
With one [racially based] board having veto power?
Sounds familiar ?

Ricardo said...

No one should be surprised at this. In Labour GHQ the thinking is clear:

Tarrant, White Island and Covid have given a Labour PM a defensive shield for at least 1 to 2 terms.

Printing money is now OK so Labour's typical weak side of economic incompetence has been covered over (for a time). Splashing money around in a game of whack a mole to keep some happy is OK

What better time than to seize the initiative and run as hard and as far as possible while the good times last, and institute ideological frameworks that are hard to counter...

health/ethnic governance/education/water/media control/climate change/speech and thought....

Alexandra Corbett Dekanova said...

Taumata Arowai will operate a te ao Maori perspective aspiring to higher outcomes for wai and tangata in Aotearoa, taking our lead from Te Tiriti o Waitangi, to regulate and influence the water services sector to improve outcomes and reflect on the importance and interconnectivity of the health of tangata and of wai.
As well as an independent board, chaired by Dame Karen Poutasi, Taumata Arowai will be advised on Maori rights and interests by a ropu, which will work alongside iwi and Maori as the Crown's Te Tiriti o Waitangi partner.
The ropu will also inform the Taumata Arowai kaupapa on tikanga me matauranga Maori, kaitiakitanga and Te Mana o te Wai.
Who wouldn't be happy? Just relax and enjoy the ad. Big Brothers will be in charge.

Unknown said...

Now how do you know awa was or wasn't plural?
No but seriously, on the substance of the offering, I'm surprised I've seen no commentary on the debt being proposed. It's a carrot and stick approach - carrot cake now while we stick it to the next generation and load them up with way more debt so that the "benefits" can be sold to the electorate now. Short term thinking, and the opposite of the asset management approach mandated in the 1990's where money must be set aside to renew depreciating assets. What has gone wrong - did audit reports on Wellington City not pick up the hole in their books?

homepaddock said...

Another council isn’t buying the spin. This from Dan Gordon the mayor of Waimakariri:
Ele Ludemann

ChrisR said...

Karl, Clearly this is infantile stuff, and an insult to our intelligence. However it is no better than the dross that local government themselves come up with. Have a look at most recent Long Term Plan consultation documents. And the Minister notes that "I understand that the sector would welcome central government taking a leadership role in communicating the reform proposals" )Cabinet paper 14 December 2020, para.92) Both local and central government are agreed that this is what "communication" looks like.

Brutally Remastered said...

Did you not see this coming?
MSM NZ has been purposefully dumbing down the public for decades with insulting, patronising and utterly condescending drivel. When TV ONE "News" would have two infantile stories purchased from press agencies and then the rest, sport and weather, and then started intoning that rugby arguments would "GO TO THE JUDICIARY!", I knew we were done.
Key, that smug, gurning traitor and this thoroughly awful zealot are the result.

(It is advertisement as opposed to "ad" so you might want to change that).