Friday, May 27, 2022

Nanaia Mahuta and the smell test

The mainstream media have been trying desperately hard to ignore profoundly disturbing questions about the appearance of conflicts of interest involving members of Nanaia Mahuta’s family.

The scandal has reached a point where media credibility, along with that of Mahuta, is on the line. That is, if it hasn’t been shredded beyond repair already.

Revelations about government jobs and contracts awarded to Mahuta’s family connections first emerged on The Daily Examiner website on May 22, illustrating the point that it’s often online platforms, rather than ethically compromised mainstream media, that break important stories – especially those that show the government in a poor light.

The Platform has since picked up the story and so has Kate MacNamara, a New Zealand Herald reporter who displays a gutsy independent streak that's all too rare in political journalism – all of which raises questions about how much longer the rest of the MSM can go on pretending there’s nothing to see here.

Mahuta insists possible conflicts of interests have been properly managed, but readers who join the dots are bound to form their own conclusions. The Daily Examiner’s forensic breakdown of the jobs and contracts allocated to her husband and sister is, on the face of it, damning.

In any case, as Graham Adams points out, whether Mahuta’s handling of potential conflicts satisfies legal tests is largely irrelevant, because it’s all about public perception. The test that really counts is the smell test, and in this case the smell is “off”. It’s the whiff of nepotism, and even if Mahuta has behaved in accordance with the rules, she has shown appalling political judgment – or should that be arrogance? – by allowing the situation to arise.

Meanwhile we wait to see whether the controversy has reached the point where even the TV news bulletins can no longer ignore it – or whether, as on Newshub last night, the focus remains on the prime minister’s visit to the US, where she’s been feted for her supposedly tough action to prevent gun crime.

I waited for one of the Newshub presenters to note the obvious irony that the gushing coverage of Ardern’s visit was immediately followed by an item about the continuing epidemic of drive-by shootings in Auckland, but apparently Newshub doesn’t do irony.

Update 8am Saturday: Apart from an overnight story on NewstalkZB quoting David Seymour as giving Mahuta the benefit of the doubt over conflict of interest claims, I could find no mention of the controversy (MacNamara's Herald piece aside) in the mainstream media last night or this morning.  In other words the vast majority of New Zealanders know nothing about an issue that goes to the heart of government integrity.


Kiwi Dave said...

A more sympathetic observer than you would note that the Mahutas are indigenous persons of colour so oppressed and impoverished by the pale, male and stale forces of colonialism that the family has been compelled to seek and hold down jobs wherever they can find them in order to eke out their miserable existence.

Andy Espersen said...

We have another year to wait for the next NZ election. Lots of time for all this to sink in.

Wait for the eventual backlash against Labour to appear in the polls.

Anonymous said...

You have to have an ethical IQ to recognize the irony. MSM has neither the IQ or the ethics to be willing to accept it's severely compromised political position.

Richard said...

More irony overnight when Ardern spoke about the fragile nature of Democracy, having just supported a bill to remove the basis of Democracy - one person one vote.
Irony ? Or just plain hypocrisy.

Bush Apologist said...

"apparently Newshub doesn’t do irony."

In my view they don't do news either, rather "the current thing" activism.

I question the real point of Newshub. For me they are, simply, pointless.

Eamon Sloan said...

Parliament will be in session Tues, Wed, Thurs of next week. I would be tuning into Question Time. Correct me if I am wrong but sometimes MPs or Cabinet Ministers try to pre-empt matters by making a personal statement to the House. Mahuta’s minions are probably working through the weekend to come up with the required words. Also, NZ Cabinet Ministers never seem to resign.

Odysseus said...

This story actually goes to the heart of Ardern's "co-governance" agenda, which is essentially a ram-raid by vested family interests on New Zealand's asset base, starting with control of fresh water.

I find it unbelievable that Seymour can extend "the benefit of the doubt" on this matter. Connect the dots David, Act are seriously letting New Zealanders down. As for the media, it's all been said before, they have lost all credibility long ago.

Anonymous said...

"NZ cabinet ministers never seem to resign" Eamon you're forgetting that Nanaia has another protective layer ,she is a Maori cabinet minister.

Gary Peters said...

And David Seymour is prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt.

And he wants us to take him seriously?

Hilary Taylor said...

All of the above with knobs on. Plain hypocrisy Richard...the sheer cheek of Ardern & her speechifying about democracy while permitting the Tamati Coffey 'sophisticated tweak' of the offensive co-governance BS. Mahutas are making much hay while the sun shines and entitled doesn't begin to cover it. They're brazen bull artists of the first water.

Doug Longmire said...

The Smell Test:-
Keeping the "Farnow" comfy.

Chris Chapel said...

This does smell like old faeces. The minister allowed or influenced all these appointments in the knowledge they would be on the public record. Whose interests does she serve when no-one is watching? I suspect there is much more to discover.

Eamon Sloan said...

Further to my earlier comment about Nanaia Mahuta, Parliament, and Question Time I have delved into the Parliament site and have found a written question placed by National’s Paul Goldsmith. Question is addressed to the Prime Minister and is not due to be answered until 7th June.

I suppose we can look forward to a considerable amount of Jacinda’s stardust and sanitising deodorant being sprayed over the issue.

See question wording here:

David George said...

Shameful as this bro-governance example is, the floodgates for conflict of interest will be well and truly open when co governance is fully implemented.
How will the Ngai Tahu appointees, for example, handle the conflict of being responsible for the allocation of resources that their iwi, and their competitors are applying for.
Ngai Tahu have huge commercial interests in South Island farming, tourism, forestry, fishing and commercial and residential property. Where will their loyalties lie; to the broader community or to the appointing iwi and it's opaque familial, tribal and racial connections. We haven't heard anything about that issue or how it's to be handled. Fifty fifty governance plus a few useful idiots gives effective control - it's almost if that was the intention all along.

Richard Arlidge said...

Yes, the silence from msm is deafening and it’s an indictment of the PIJF and how anything “Maori” has become all-but sacrosanct. But akin to what those poor souls in parts of Christchurch are having to endure, the whiff here is, indeed, a stench and it’s surely only a matter of time until the lid blows? But honestly, can anyone really be surprised by this latest revelation, given and what's been staring us down the barrel for years? What with a very partisan Waitangi Tribunal that's long since outlived its purpose; the chicanery of Key and Finlayson with UNDRIP and the foreshore & seabed etc.; and now Labour, with the likes of Aotearoa, He Pua Pua, Maori Wards, 3 Waters and Health reforms, all subliminally or otherwise very openly supporting an apartheid based, undemocratic, unmandated, co-governance system.

But to play the devil’s advocate, we’ve got what we deserve, for the warning bells have been ringing loud and clear for a long time now and yet we continued, through complacency, to allow our politicians to play with fire. And, as for the Rt Hon Mahuta, she’s actually done all New Zealanders something of a favour, for she has provided us with a peek view of what co-governance/partnership will very likely look like.

For a very select elitist cabal of Maori, it will be very well paid ‘jobs for the boys’ (apologies ladies, but it’s a saying that everyone still readily understands) and if you're not in that inner sanctum of well-connected Maori, well, sorry, as has always been the case only a few crumbs will at best be coming your way, for it must be appreciated a visibly penurious state, allied with some shameful statistics, all assists in justifying the role of these handsomely remunerated leaders/spokespersons/activists. For pakeha (i.e. everyone else), first and foremost you'll be paying for it, keeping a very small elite Maori cohort (and of course some legal hangers-on) in the manner they’ve become only too well accustomed in the eternal grievance/settlement industry. If, as a pakeha, one should want a similar Board or advisory role, then you’ll need to be very well qualified and likely have to face the hustings or at the very least (one would hope?) an interview panel and, if successful, don’t get too comfortable, for it’s unlikely to be akin to a generational dynastic role and very unlikely to provide for wider familial benefits.

One only has to look to history to appreciate that Maori culture is founded in tribalism and chieftainship, which is a long way removed from what we, the now indigenous majority, call ‘democracy.’ And surely we’ve all seen it many times before where an individual or small cabal, outside the scrutiny of the wider public, have used their position of advantage and rorted the system for personal or immediate family gain. So why should we be surprised that, with a push for things like 3 Waters and the Health system reforms involving a number of unelected and essentially unassailable racially defined appointments and which will quite readily present an opportunity for backroom related-party deals, this won’t be a common practice?

Co-governance, or whatever you call it, based on a non-democratic apartheid-based system, is not what this nation was founded on and if we continue down this current path, race-based nepotism and Maori oligarchs will be one of the inevitable outcomes if not something far worse. Alas, it’s only human nature and surely incomprehensively na├»ve for anyone to think otherwise.

But returning to the core issue, for this Minister of the Crown there are undoubtedly questions to be answered and, as for our fourth estate, alas, again we've got what we're paying for thanks to our less than transparent politicians.

Hilary Taylor said...

Great remarks Richard A...& these days who can object to 'jobs for the boys', given the fluidity of things 'gender'...have used it meself.
I'm reminded of the opaque business stitch-ups post-quake in ChCh, & a few individuals got exposed down the track...where there's muck there's brass.
The gall of Finlayson's rant about us 'deplorables'...KKK-types he reckons, the sour right...just wait & see just how sour some of us can get Chris.
Bro-governance...nice one David G.

Richard Arlidge said...

Thanks Hilary and, David G - I didn't see your remarks before posting mine, but you're so on the money. Conflicts of interest will abound and what with ECan and this other co-governance/partnership nonsense, this is a problem of our own (the complacent majority's) making, but of course greatly assisted by the current Government and in, Ngai Tahu's case, the principal foundation layer, the unelected Chris Finlayson who acted for... ah, you guessed it? And you're also right about the 50/50, for the requirements for the roles in 3 Waters will undoubtedly attract some apologists, and as you've indicated, you only need one to stack the deck. And, if you want to see transparency and fairness in operation, just look at how the Waitangi Tribunal operates. There's a saying about rods and backs, we sure have managed some doozies and, regrettably, there are very few politicians who are now prepared to grasp the nettle and make it right.

I also see it's another day and another of msm silence. Shame on them and our politicians - for this is truly outrageous. But, all is not yet lost as I am looking forward to the return of our smiling and newly invested leader, as I feel we all so desperately need the kindness, empathy and reassurance she will impart and that, despite appearances, our democracy and its integrity is in fact sound and in safe, very capable hands. I'm sure in much the same way that the challenges of our housing, education, mental health, poverty, societal cohesion and, of course, the gun buy-back have all met or exceeded our expectations. As too, I am hoping, have the collective riches we have reputedly all gained from our differences - as recently espoused by our PM at Harvard. I do hope the latter is bankable, for I feel sure we're going to need some hard currency, to pay the debt this country is so rapidly accruing.

Anonymous said...

The country is in desperate need of a truly independent television channel that has the guts to tell it like it is without any bias or personal expression by the presenters. Too many broken televisions in watching one or three to ever see them again.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear! You forgot to add “privileged”.
Never mind Dave, a bit more indoctrination will fix it.
No, I wasn’t privileged. We were poor.

Imnotspartacus said...

The government and the media have painted themselves into a corner here. If there is no substantive reporting on what really almost has to be corruption then that is going to look like pro-government censorship and be very damaging for the media and the government's PIJF. But if there is reporting on it then that is going to be really damaging/fatal for the government, three-waters, and co-governance. This is what you get when you try to use propaganda as a substitute for a democratic mandate. I'm going to sit back and enjoy the schadenfreude.

Richard Arlidge said...

Imnotspartacus, yes, that may be all well and good, but the problem is we are in this position because too many have sat back and thought 'she'll be right', this can't/won't happen here. That's partly the problem, it won't necessarily be and it most certainly can; unless everyone gets off their chuff and calls this out and demands transparency. If you saw TV1 News tonight it might bring home that the last laugh (if you can call it that) might yet be at your (and all our) expense. If you don't believe me, just look what Key and Finlayson got away with and, in terms of the media and the legal system, perhaps seek out what Scott Watson thinks?

Eamon Sloan said...

At the risk of seeming to be like a dog with bone I am on the subject of Parliament’s Question Time again. David Seymour did ask the anticipated Nanaia Mahuta question but the issue fizzled out very quickly and I don’t think Seymour’s heart was really in it.

Question Time is too much of an overly choreographed dress up time for our overpaid so-called representatives. See link to the heart-racing highly exciting question and answer exchange below. Read about Robertson referring to the Cabinet Manual and praising Mahuta’s scrupulosity. He dismissed the issue in four short sentences. Look for Question # Two.

Graham Adams said...

Eamon, I read up on Written Questions today and David Seymour, Paul Goldsmith and Simeon Brown have already lodged a slew (more than 30, I think) for Nanaia Mahuta, Jacinda Ardern, Willie Jackson and Chris Hipkins to answer over Mahuta's nepotism.

Parliamentary protocol means they need to be answered within six working days after being lodged.

I suspect Seymour's questions in the House on Tuesday are just the curtain-raiser.
Ardern is very much in the gun — the transfer of Mahuta's power of appointment for Tipa Mahuta to Kelvin Davis had to be approved by the PM (as do most conflicts of interest that aren't trivial.

John Hurley said...

As a piece of journalism what do you think of this Karl?
Alison Balance interviews Ocean Mercie about the Callaghan medal for her work in communicating matauranga Maori.

As a paradigm Jon Haidt warns of social justice over riding truth.

It looks as though there is another objective here because the role of matauranga is minimal (if any) and Maori get the jobs and their mana on the land.

So why dish out a medal?