Monday, September 19, 2016

More False Accusations of Sexual Abuse: Rob Harley's Proposal to TVNZ

Rob Harley, who did the Assignment story on the Glenelg families back in the 1990s, followed that up with another proposal for a documentary on false accusations of sexual abuse in Christchurch at a special ward at Christchurch Hospital. This is his outline. The health professionals are not named for legal reasons, but these are the real names of the families involved who want their story told.

Christchurch, Winter 2010.

The atmosphere in the Christchurch hotel room is very tense.

Two young women in their early thirties sit on either side of their mother, and both make only occasional eye contact with others in the room.

With a brief prompt, one begins to relate a story of horror – of a childhood and a family life ripped apart by overzealous doctors and therapists.

Joanne Fraser tells of the time that a female doctor told her to disrobe in a hospital ward, conducted an internal examination, and then told the trembling nine-year old that she appeared to have “enjoyed” the invasion of her young body – providing incontrovertible “proof” that her father had sexually abused her.

Joanne knew it was a preposterous lie. Nonetheless, the doctor insisted her father had interfered with her, and called the bewildered child a “slut” for having allowed it to happen.

Tears are flowing freely in the room now. Joanne’s Mum Margaret pulls her daughter close. This is the first time she has heard this revelation.

Dabbing her eyes, seeking to gain some composure, Joanne’s older sister Teresa nods and says much the same thing was done to her by the doctor.

Moreover, that upon Teresa’s admission to Christchurch Hospital’s Ward 24 for “treatment”, Teresa, then aged eleven, had been made by therapists to wear a small but very heavy backpack for up to eight hours a day.

“I was told this backpack – which was full of wooden blocks – was my ‘burden’,” Teresa tells her family. “The staff would tell me that if I were to disclose something about my Dad abusing me, then they would take a block out of the bag. Sometimes when I wasn’t co-operating, more blocks would go in.”

By this stage, Margaret is beside herself. She knows how dreadfully hard it has been for all her family since the utterly false allegations were made about her husband in 1988, but she never fully understood the toll it had taken on her girls.

The Fraser family sit and quietly absorb the body-blows of these fresh disclosures. The youngest child, Michael, aged 27, grimaces in his seat – hurting, physically a lot more than his older sisters today.

His jaw and three ribs, freshly broken in a fight last week with a distant relative, who at a family funeral called his father a “kiddie-fucker,” then handed him a severe beating.

This is just one of as many as a dozen broken families, who lost innocence, hope, contact with their loved ones, and in several cases even life itself, because of a single-minded and misguided obsession.

Children to Ashes, Fathers to Dust.


In the late 1980’s a number of families – mostly in and around Christchurch – were ripped apart by accusations of child sex abuse.

Two doctors – one a psychiatrist, the other a supposed child health specialist, engineered the removal of probably in excess of 20 children from their parents.

The reason: the child health specialist believed she had a revolutionary new way of proving that kids – especially girls – had been sexually abused.

The technique she used has now been internationally discredited, but the damage remains.

The children concerned – who were aged between five and seven years old at the time - are now emerging from the darkness to which they and their families were consigned.

Many of them have suffered major mental trauma as a result of having been taken from their parents – all carry the scars. At least two of the wrongly accused fathers died in their forties – their children convinced their hearts and health were broken by the accusations.

The paranoia about sexual abuse in Christchurch at that time, finally had its sequel in the infamous Christchurch Creche affair, - a story which divided a nation, and finally made us start to ask if we hadn’t been too zealous.

The “stolen” children are now adults, and they are fighting mad. The passage of 22 years has done nothing to diminish their adamant denials that they were never sexually abused by their fathers.

The awful irony is that some of these people were placed into foster care where, they allege, they suffered the exact abuse their fathers were falsely accused of perpetrating.

Some of the former victims of the diagnosing doctor have ended up in tragic situations in respect to their health and lifestyles.

The tales are literally like something plucked from the pages of Charles Dickens.

In thirty years of making TV programmes I have yet to come across a more ghastly situation. That it could have happened in Aotearoa defies belief. 
Those who were falsely diagnosed as having been abused would – in an ideal world - confront the doctor who tore their families asunder, the policeman who told their Dads to get a gun and shoot themselves, to save the courts the expense of a trial, and a system which has shrugged its shoulders at their pain.

Also left in the wake of this affair, a number of frightened health professionals and others whose own attempts to stop what was occurring in the eighties, were met with threats, intimidation, and jacked-up claims that they were probably child abusers too.

Those who perpetrated what are now generally acknowledged as having been terrible breaches of natural justice, have never been called to account.

Friday, September 16, 2016

False Accusations of Sex Abuse in Christchurch (Again)

Sexual abuse of children, as those who know me, is something I've campaigned against - a crime with dire and extensive consequences for victims. But imagine too the horrifying prospect of being falsely accused of sexually abusing your own child; trying to prove innocence in the face of repeated charges of guilt. Imagine being that child  forcibly taken into to foster care, or seeing your father removed from the family home.

 In Christchurch up to 50 families were torn apart when government health professionals and social workers wrongly and repeatedly accused dozens of dads of abusing their daughters. The girls were primary school age. Now they're grown women, reunited with their families (if alive) still fighting for justice, but despite media coverage they've been ignored for years. They won't give up.  

This is their story.

On a cold Christchurch day in June 2015 Violette Kahukiwa, 36, warm in a puffer jacket, speaks to me in a room at the city’s Te Whare Roimata marae, recalling what happened 27 years ago when she went to Glenelg Health Camp.  

Violette’s story.

In 1987 when Violette was nine the nurse at her primary school sent her to Glenelg in Hillsborough because she was considered too skinny for her age. Violette and her older sister were living with their father, Noki (her parents had amicably separated) but they both regularly saw their mother, Heeni. Violette had been to Glenelg several times before and by her own account, she’d always enjoyed herself.

In 1987 the Medical Officer of Health working on contract for the Canterbury Area Health Board at Glenelg was Dr Dianne Espie and Violette’s health examinations would turn out to be more thorough than before, which were always just, “weight, height, nits, that sort of thing.” This time, despite the fact Violette showed no indications of sexual abuse, she and scores of other young girls would undergo invasive internal examinations in what one child abuse expert later termed a “fishing expedition”.

Violette has told her story to journalists several times over the past 20 years and it hasn’t changed substantially in that time  – not when she was filmed by journalist Rob Harley in 1995 for Assignment, nor for an interview recorded by the child abuse expert witnesses TVNZ commissioned for that documentary, nor for this article.

And the telling doesn’t get any less emotional. “I went into [Dr Espie’s] room and she asked me to take off my pants; she just wanted to do a little check or something and then she grabbed two cotton buds in the jelly kind of thing, stuck them up [my vagina] and it was sore and she pulled them out again.”

Violette says Dr Espie didn’t examine any other part of her body and no other adult was present. At a later appointment Violette asked if the team leader could come with her but Dr Espie ruled this out, telling her the consultations were “confidential”. Neither Heeni nor Noki were aware of, nor had given consent for this intimate examination. But more was to come.

“The next day she got a tape measure, she was leaning down there and she measures it…and then she showed me how long it was.”

Dr Espie was measuring the opening of the vagina, or the diameter of the hymen, looking for evidence of sexual abuse based on a wider range of hymen size. Even at that time, the late 1980s, this was a highly controversial, some would say discredited method of diagnosing sexual abuse in children who had not previously disclosed. Dr Espie was not a gynaecologist, she had a MB ChB (1974) from the University of Bristol – the first professional degree in medicine.

The next day Violette was called back to the doctor’s rooms for a recorded conversation.

“She asked me if Dad’s ever touched me in my private parts and I said no, and then she said, do you like living with your Dad and I said yes. She kept asking me all these big questions and all that, heaps of questions…and then she asked me if Dad touched me again, she asked me at least about four times if he did and I just kept saying no, no, no he didn’t and then she um, she looked all red and she told me it wasn’t her day, she said she’s just had a real bad day today and um, she’s going all red on the face and then next minute she just slapped me side of the ears.”

According to Violette, Dr Espie quickly apologized and told her to “keep it a secret” before she turned off the tape. She then said, “You know he touched you and why can’t you just admit it. I said but he didn’t touch me. She goes well someone’s touched you and I said why, and she said cos my vagina’s getting bigger and bigger and I said well, it’s sore, cos of what she done.”

These interviews, examinations and measurements of the vagina continued while Violette stayed at the camp. Repeated leading questions about her father: “She said if I didn’t say yes, that Dad touched me, then I can’t go and live with him, but I just kept saying no he didn’t touch me I was telling the truth.”

After a week Violette was removed from the camp into foster care.

Heeni says she spent three months trying to find her daughter. Glenelg gave her no information, nor the Christchurch Police. In that time Violette escaped from foster care, ran away several times, a nine-year-old hiding on the streets of Christchurch.

Meanwhile, Heeni tried to make sense of the state system alienating her from her daughter. In an unscreened but recorded interview for Assignment she said, “I said [to Social Welfare] you fellas are accusing Noki and yet you fellas won’t give my baby back to me. I want her back I’ll look after her. I just cried, you know, really cried my heart out and they set up dates to see whether I was going to get Violette back or not. It was the hardest time for me cos I [couldn’t] understand as a Maori I have very limited English. I know.”

Finally, desperate to get Violette back, Heeni complied with Social Welfare’s wishes. “She [the social worker] said, ‘Do you believe that Noki did abuse your child?’  

“I said I’ll agree with what you fellas say provided I get my daughter back…all I needed to do was to see my baby.”

Noki was never charged  and  was eventually reunited with Violette when she was 16, but died, his family say a broken man, in 2002.

Trevor Gibling’s story

Trevor Gibling is also at Te Whare Roimata with Violette, her sister Keri, and supporters to tell me his story. Later we’re joined by other families affected by Dr Espie – one family has driven in from rural Canterbury, and others arrive later. The list of families with complaints is substantial.

Lynley Hood wrote about Trevor and his daughter, Carolynne in her book, A City Possessed - The Christchurch Civic Creche Case, but didn’t identify them. They later went public for Assignment, then in September 2004 were interviewed by TVNZ for a Sunday documentary. Separated for eight years, like other families, Trevor and Carolynne  want an inquiry.  

Carolynne was recommended to Glenelg in 1987 by her family doctor because of incontinence problems. She’d never displayed signs of sexual abuse, but Dianne Espie gave her a health check, told her to take her trousers off and lie on the bed. She measured eight-year-old Carolynne’s vaginal opening as “6 mm diameter”, that she had “no hymen” so concluded sexual penetration had occurred.

Carolynne was also asked to write a list of family names, then cross off everyone not involved in “yukky touching”. (It should be noted that Dr Espie, before private consultations with girls at the camp, had conducted group meetings where “yukky touching” was discussed in relation to sexual abuse.) Carolynne crossed off all names except her own. Instead of accepting that Carolynne hadn’t been abused Dr Espie took this to mean, “She felt very strongly that it was her fault and that she was responsible.”

When Carolynne repeatedly denied being abused by her father Dr Espie recorded she, “continued to find it difficult to actually name the person who had abused her.”

Today Carolynne feels she was ambushed into ‘admitting’ her dad had abused her. Dr Espie noted: “In one question it was asked what if Dad has yukky touched. Answer: he didn’t. A little later: what if you went home and it happened again? Answer: he won’t do it again.”

Carolynne also remembers anatomically correct dolls: “She started blaming it on Dad, using the dolls. She wouldn’t listen to me no matter what I said.”

There are a number of flaws not just in Dr Espie’s evidence gathering, but also her diagnosis. Author Lynley Hood pointed out back in 2001 that she believed Espie was exhibiting gynaecological ignorance. Complete absence of hymen in young girls is a very rare congenital abnormality, not a conclusive indication of repeated sexual abuse. Even women who’ve had children often still have traces of hymen. Nevertheless, when Trevor Gibling laid a complaint against Dr Espie in 1997 to the Medical Council, The Preliminary Proceedings Committee (PPC) chose to believe controversial findings from overseas, such as “a vaginal opening of greater than 5mm is not common (in normal children) and may indicate vaginal penetration with a finger, object or penis”.

A full reading of the PPC’s decision indicates they generally believed Dr Espie over Carolynne’s evidence, and for the complaint to go further, Carolynne was invited to “establish beyond the balance of probabilities” that what she said happened, did occur.

According to Trevor she was not allowed a support person when the Council questioned her, so he withdrew the complaint.

It’s difficult to see how a traumatized teenage girl, on her own, could convince a medical panel she was telling the truth, “beyond the balance of probabilities”.

On the day of the dolls, Trevor was visited at work by police and interviewed but never charged with anything. However, he says he felt pressured to leave the family home for his wife to be allowed by Social Welfare to take back care of Carolynne, so he lost his marriage, and for eight years he also lost his daughter.  

When Carolynne was taken from Glenelg she was placed in the care of Social Welfare. After two months in foster homes she asked to see Dr Espie, and requested the dolls to show, “What Dad did”. She put the male doll’s finger in the female doll’s vagina and said, “Will I be able to go home now I’ve told?”

 Carolynne returned to her mother’s care, but not Trevor’s. Throughout their separation Carolynn repeatedly tried to get back to her father, running away from foster homes, living on the streets. They are now reunited.

The stories of Violette and Carolynne are representative of numerous families – too many to fit into this article, all depressingly similar. Melani Burchett, the team leader at Glenelg when Violette was in her fourth stay, whom I tracked down for this story, remembers the girls sobbing themselves to sleep at night and their being extremely reluctant to visit the doctor’s rooms.

Today Melani works on contract for Whanau Ora in Christchurch, and recalls in particular one girl, “I’m sure it was Violette, clinging to me and crying because she had to visit the doctor again and didn’t want to go. But I wasn’t in a position to stop her, and I told her she had to go.”

In hindsight Melani feels bad she didn’t speak out. But at the time she was only 19 and Glenelg (which closed in 2012) was tightly controlled by manager Madeleine Harrison. Harrison, it was reported at the time, believed out of 250 children who went to the camp in 1986, 117 had been sexually abused, based on symptoms such as stomach pains, nightmares, bedwetting, masturbation, and attention seeking.

When two other camp staff tried to blow the whistle, concerned about the way children were being examined and removed by Social Welfare, they were both fired, ironically on allegations of inappropriate behaviour with the children. Alan Fort was one of those who complained and was dismissed by Harrison. Neither he nor the other staff member were ever charged with anything, and Fort vehemently denies any “inappropriate behaviour” or any actions which could have been taken the wrong way. He still lives in Christchurch, keeps close contact with the Glenelg families, and has campaigned hard on their behalf for an inquiry. I have tried to contact Ms Harrison but it’s believed she has returned to live in Australia with her daughter.

Not one of the girls ever reported sexual abuse by their fathers, nor showed symptoms, though some who had been examined by Dr Espie at the controversial children’s Ward 24 at Christchurch Hospital were abused later when removed from their families by Social Welfare and placed in foster care. I have spoken to these families where the fathers were charged for abusing their daughters, but acquitted, but I can’t name them legal reasons.

Dr Espie told the Christchurch Press in 1987 that she had examined 40 girls in just one year who she claimed had been sexually abused. In fact Glenelg records show 55 girls from the camp that year were documented by her as being abused. She had access to those children because their parents entrusted them into state care.

As a result, most of those parents got a choice – split up or you won’t get your daughters back again. In the case of Kahukiwa family, Heeni falsely accepted that Noki was an abuser just to get Violette back in her care. But not all the authorities were comfortable with what was happening with these families. Robert Fraser, then with Social Welfare, had “major concerns” with the way Dr Espie operated, and requested a transfer to Income Support Services.

Additionally Dr Barry Rich, who at that time was a psychologist for the Department of Education, stopped referring children to Glenelg and Ward 24 because he only saw negative outcomes.

As recently as 2014 the outcomes were still tragic. Katrina Meaclem  went to Glenelg when she was 12 in 1987 and after being examined by Dr Espie was removed by Welfare from her family’s care. Katrina’s father was never charged or taken through the criminal justice system, but nonetheless falsely accused of sexually abusing Katrina, despite her repeated denials and in May 2004 she told the Christchurch Press, “I was Daddy’s girl. But we had to sneak around just to spend some quality time with him. I know 100 per cent that my father didn’t touch me.” 

Dr Espie concluded, by measuring the vagina of Katrina Meaclem, she had been sexually abused “possibly on a recurrent basis” and her father was the abuser. He was never  charged of sexual abuse crimes against her

Meaclem wanted an inquiry for herself and the other families, but she died in 2014 aged 39.

Dr Karen Zelas          

But Dr Espie wasn’t acting alone. When Social Welfare took these fathers to court the state agency used psychiatrist Dr Karen Zelas as an expert witness. Dr Zelas, now retired and living in Christchurch (who did not wish to comment for this story), was once sought after in child abuse cases but discredited as an independent expert witness by the Court of Appeal in 2003 when she was strongly criticised by the judges for ‘gratuitously exceeding the limits of expert opinion’. The court went on to state Zelas, ‘may well have been perceived as an advocate for the complainants rather than as a truly independent expert’. The case, against a man convicted on 16 counts of abusing three children, went to retrial, and the legal rules Zelas helped design for child abuse cases came under attack from the legal profession, psychologists and academics.   

But in 1986 Zelas had chaired the Christchurch Child Protection Team (CPT), and Dianne Espie was deputy chair. It had no statutory authority. A crown prosecutor who was prosecuting some of the fathers (not those named in this story) was among the membership, as were personnel from the Health and Social Welfare Departments. It seems strange nobody thought to draw attention to whether it was appropriate for a crown prosecutor to belong to an ad hoc organisation which participated in the investigation of child abuse (instigated by the deputy chair), used the chair as an expert witness, then conducted prosecutions of members of other families when they came before the criminal justice system.   

Dr Dianne Espie

 Dianne Espie also declined to be interviewed and said she did not wish to comment for this article. She no longer practices medicine; she and her husband run a lodge near Dunedin.  From 1981 to 1988 she was employed as Medical officer for the Department of Health (as it was then known) and assigned to Glenelg and Christchurch Hospital’s Ward 24. She also assessed other pre-school and school children in the Canterbury region. In 1987, Dr Espie suggested 55 children attending Glenelg that year, out of a total of 414, had been sexually abused. This compares with a norm of around five to 10 children a year out of 400 to 500.

Dr Espie would not appear on Assignment in 1995 (she hasn’t been registered as a doctor since 1996) but faxed a statement denying hitting Violette Kahukiwa or wishing her any harm, adding she only wanted the best for her.  It is of course entirely possible Dr Espie was trying to act in the best interests of these children, as she claimed later to The Press but questions still remain around issues of consent – remember, this was about 10 years after the Cartwright Inquiry (see below)  - children’s rights, involvement of parents, privacy of the patients, and not the least the Hippocratic oath including the words, “Either help, or do not harm the patient”.

In 2004 she told the Press, “I felt that I was acting in [the children’s] best interest and reporting what they wanted to say, and protecting them. I wish now I had never worked in child protection. But that’s a cowardly view, isn’t it? I mean, someone has got to do it. I was a pioneer in the area and I thought we would be listened to in the right way but we haven’t been.”


These families – at least a dozen of whom I have spoken with and have the details of - have battled for over a quarter century for an inquiry, an apology, and they refuse to give up. They certainly feel abused now where they weren’t before, and they want answers, beginning with why they’ve been repeatedly ignored when they feel they did nothing wrong.

At least one senior barrister, Bill Wilson, QC, chairman of the Glenn Inquiry into child abuse and domestic violence, agrees. He says the Glenelg story, “Raises very serious concerns, not only over what occurred there but also because of the persistent failure of those in a position to do so, to ensure that the complaints were fully investigated.”

Wilson feels very strongly that, “A full and independent inquiry should be held without further delay.”


Applying today’s standards of consent when discussing medical examinations carried out on children 28 years ago is difficult says Grant Gillett, Professor of Medical  Ethics at the University of Otago, but says nevertheless, “Standards do hold up.”

It was assumed that because parents entrusted their children to Glenelg consent was given to everything which might arise, an, “anything goes” kind of regime. In the case of Carolynne Gibling, there are notes indicating a phone call to Carolynne’s mother requesting examinations, but not specific vaginal inspections.

However, in 1997 when Carolynne’s parents complained against Dr Espie to the Council, the panel said gaining this written consent was not the responsibility of the clinician Dr Espie, but of the camp manager, Madeleine Harrison.

This is an odd decision when held up against the Cartwright Inquiry which occurred a decade earlier. Do adults have the right to specific informed consent for invasive examinations, but children don’t?

So when these girls did not present with any indications of sexual abuse prior to being examined by the camp doctor, were these repeated intimate examinations part of the general consent parents signed up to when they took their children to these government institutions?

Emphatically no, says Professor Gillett. “ If it’s an asthma attack or the like, no problem, that needs to be handled with expediency, but this was not a call like that. For an invasive intervention with dubious intention there has to be due process of consent. You should get a second opinion from a clinician who agrees it is warranted in the circumstances, not a clinician who is hand-in-glove with you.

“And in these circumstances, in those times that would have been difficult because a lot of clinicians would have seen difficulties because of Cleveland. There were already worries with that kind of evidence gathering.”

Gillett refers here to the 1987 Cleveland scandal in the United Kingdom, when two paediatricians, Drs Marietta Higgs and Geoffrey Wyatt, measured the anal reflex and dilation in children to diagnose sex abuse, and welfare removed 121 children from their homes. An inquiry was established immediately and in 1991 the Children Act was established as a result. Cleveland, as it’s become known, has startling similarities to Glenelg.

And having a child alone in a consulting room with a clinician doing intimate examinations even when they’ve requested to take a support person? Was that acceptable back in 1987?

Professor Gillett: “This fails on a lot of counts.”


Timeline – Attempts at Justice

1988 Parents ask Prime Minister for a ministerial inquiry.

1989 Social Welfare Minister Michael Cullen, concerned at “inadequacy of evidence in some cases” requests report from Judge Ken Mason. Mason reviews papers only and says a ministerial inquiry not justified. Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer agrees.

1990  Parents write to new Prime Minister Jim Bolger. Social Welfare Minister Jenny Shipley requests second report from Ken Mason who again declines ministerial inquiry but writes, “I regret to say that these cases will not go away!”

1993 Hon Jim Bolger again dismisses calls for an independent inquiry.

1995 One-hour Assignment programme screened. Rob Harley expects an inquiry will follow but Cave Creek disaster occurred the next day, wiping all other news off the radar.

1997 Trevor Gibling complained against Dr Dianne Espie to the Medical Council, but withdraws complaint when advised Carolynne will have to prove her story “beyond the balance of probabilities”.

2004 National MP Katherine Rich and Deborah Coddington, Act list MP, raise questions in Parliament. Ruth Dyson, Labour’s Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment (CYF) initially blamed the Bolger/Shipley 1990 government, then later admitted the file dated back to the 1988 Labour government. Dyson refuses to order inquiry unless new evidence presented.







Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Labradors Eat Anything - True or False?

Dear Drontal

Every month my vet sends me two of your big white worm tablets.

They look like pessaries.

Actually, it would be a lot easier if I did just have to shove them up the arses of my two black Labs.

But no.

I have to make them eat the damn things.

"Just swallow the pill, Goddammit."

I mean, Labradors aren't dogs, they are garbage disposal units. I live on a vineyard, and it's commonly known that grapes, the pips in particular, are fatal to dogs.

Not for Hawk and Whetu. They just eat the grapes and poo out the pips. Whole.

Whetu will eat anything - zucchini which have swelled into marrows because I forgot to pick them, chook poo which gives her an itchy bum so she's developed this method of planting her anus on the ground then sticking her back legs in the air and pulling herself along on her front legs so she can scratch her toosh, cat shit, windfall apples, rabbits they catch and devour every scrap including the fur and claws, crayfish - they both love crayfish bodies, in short nothing is safe from forever hungry Labradors.

Except worm pills.

I wrap them in tasty mince.

Every little bitty scrap of mince gets eaten then the pill gets spat out.

I smother them in honey. The honey gets licked off.

There's only one way to worm these dogs. Every month I wrestle them to the ground, wrench open their jaws, thrust the pill far down into their throats past those sharp white teeth, past their gagging mechanism then quickly hold their jaws shut until they're forced to swallow.

They hate me for it.

Until they get a little treat one second later.

Please, Drontal, do you think you could come up with rabbit flavoured worm pills?

Monday, March 7, 2016

Ten Commandments from Parliament

INCASEYOUMISSEDIT (as the NZ Herald loves to proclaim when it repeats stuff from Buzzfeed) the National Cabinet issued new edicts. Ministers were influenced by the Minister of Corrections' extremely thoughtful directive of last week in which MPs were rescued from potential attacks from savage criminals due to so many random prison visits.  Henceforth, SHEWHOMUSTBEOBEYED wrote, MPs must ask for permission from the Minister's office when they wish to visit prisons and bugger the Corrections Act 2004 (my swear word).

So the following visits are from this day off-limits for all MPs without express permission:

1. Minister of Finance: Thou shalt not visit a bank lest thou borrow money thou canst repay.

2. Minister of Education: Thou shalt not ride a school bus if thou name be Winston.

3. Minister of Education (yes, again): Thou shalt not visit a school lest thou be a teacher not under supervision by the Education Council.

4. Minister of Health: Thou shalt not visit a hospital lest thou wait too long in ED and end up on front page of Dominion Post in its weekly OIA sweep.

5. Minister of America's Cup: Thou shalt not go to any series lest thou stay away from The House for months and never want to come home.

6. Minister of Justice: Thou shalt not drop in on a court case lest thou be tempted to remove all thou clothes and end up in the Herald on Sunday.

7. Minister of Internal Affairs: Thou shalt not visit the Office of the Chief Censor lest thou become addicted to porn, wrestle with thou addiction, then out thouself on social media.

8. Minister of Agriculture: Thou shalt not visit a farm lest thou pee into a river.

9. Minister of Social Welfare: Thou shalt not visit Housing NZ house lest thou be tempted to attack mould with bleach and a scrubbing brush and deprive media of sob stories.

10. Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery: Thou shalt not visit Christchurch lest a wardrobe fall on thou with its key poking out and thou give birth to baby wardrobes.

Amine, waiho ki tena.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Can we CrowdSell New Zealand?

Sometimes I wonder.

If two mates over beers can galvanise the country to crowdfund and buy an inlet, why can't we reverse the process and sell the entire country?

CrowdSelling. Cos that's what Kiwis do.

They weren't celebrities endorsing. One even had an apostrophe in the middle of his name where someone forgot how to spell.

Why do I suggest selling three main islands and assorted cling-ons, lock stock and barrel?

Because who appreciates this place any more?

Look around and all you see is a glass-half-empty attitude.

Take that latest Fonterra survey. It found just over one in ten dairy farmers are feeling pressured by banks so that means more than one in eight farmers are doing okay.

But nah mate. You'd think from the radio reports we're all going to hell in a handcart.

Sit down with a gin at six to watch the news on telly, which should really be called the olds because it's not new, and it's car crashes or stabbings, crime or some munter in court yelling at a judge. The cops are bad and the crims are saints.

Everything's the fault of the gummint.

The minimum wage is raised but it's not high enough. Students go to Dunedin to burn down houses and couches, generally destroy property.

Gangs abuse their missuses and kids but live the life of Riley on welfare and drug-dealing cos they're just "misunderstood", while honest women (mostly) who clean up shit and piss and care for elderly in old folks homes earn fuck all.  And if you're dying of cancer you have to beg a career politician with a Bouffant Billy hairstyle and a penchant for wearing a bowties for permission to go gentle into the good night with the aid of medicinal cannabis.

Shoot me now.

We're finger-wagged and lectured over what we can drink, how much we eat, we're too fat, too thin, swear too much, mustn't streak across a cricket pitch, shouldn't eat peas with our knife, drink coffee, keep a rooster, eat pies, go naked at a nudist camp, smoke cigars, fuck the hottie at a Xmas party with the blinds up, be Mayor and have an affair, be an MP and buy wine, be PM and touch head hair that belongs to someone else, (are we there yet? No, but that's e-bloody-nough, Ed).

Am I grumpy?

Yes I am right now.

It's out of character for me, because recently Andy Sutherland, a contractor and grape-grower asked if I sleep with a smile on my face.

Life is not a dress rehearsal. New Zealanders don't appreciate what we've got. Listen to Joni.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Goodbye Mr Smith, Let's Go Slumming

A song today to farewell a good friend and a good young man, Mr Smith, who died at 6.30 last night.

Gone too soon.

As his daughter Verity said in her text to me this morning, "The Coddington Taylor Marshall Smith kids meant the world to Dad."

Mr Smith was a regular at my first restaurant at Russell, The Cavalli Beachfront Café, and then again at my second, The Gables.

When Mr Smith knew he didn't have much time left one thing he wanted to do was go for a blat in a Ferrari.

We tried to organize this, so big thanks to my good friend James who, when I asked if he could take Mr Smith out in one of his Ferraris, said yes immediately. Alas, the Reaper intervened.

Mr Smith liked to listen to Genevieve Waite in my restaurants; we played LPs back in those days.

So here's a song for Mr Smith.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Arise Sir Arthur Taylor; 'The Nation' is prostrate before your Statue

Sir Bob's smackdown of Sir Gareth Morgan last week was a delight. A 5000m-high statue, no less, of Our Saviour celebrating his "overwhelming wonderfulness" which Sir Robert would erect on land currently occupied by his Solnet House, a building he'd demolish to accommodate the grand Gareth-the-Redeemer (a la Rio de Janeiro's Christ).

But Gareth lost his sense of humour and was offended by the suggestion. He is a humble man. He loathes publicity. Shuns fame. Hates reporters forcing comment from him. Shut up Sir Bob, and leave this shy, retiring fellow be.

There are others who deserve immortalizing in granite or marble or stone.

Mai Chen for a start: selfless in her inspiration of other women. A 5000m-high dedication to boosting the turnover of Adrienne Winkelmann, and spitting in the face of racism against Asians. Ms Chen's statue should be modelled in the manner of Rosa Parks, sitting on a corner in Dallas.

Then there's her mentor Geoffrey Palmer who loyally allows his name to remain knotted to hers, when just a bucket of water could separate the 'Chen' & 'Palmer' for ever. He would look great in the image of an Easter Island statue, as has already very kindly been pointed out some years ago by the editor of Metro magazine.

In the US Supreme Court is a famous statue of the 4th Chief Justice John Marshall, seated in a chair, right hand outstretched. Sir Bob could well do (ahem) justice to that great expert in all things legal in this country, Dr Bill Hodge, by knocking down his beloved (former Fay, Richwhite) building in Auckland and commissioning a 5000m replica of the media's go-to legal expert Dr Hodge.

But surely the one person most deserving of our total respect, the current media darling, is that cheeky fellow Arthur Taylor, soon no doubt to be Sir Arthur Taylor?

The "Goody Baddie" as folks in television like to call him.

As Labour MP Kelvin Davis well knows, what Taylor doesn't know about the inside of prisons, is not worth knowing. He is the absolute authority. And from what Lisa Owen discovered in the weekend on 'The Nation', Taylor's legal mind is the finest in the country. Can we soon expect an announcement: Sir Arthur Taylor, Queens Counsel? I think so.

There is, of course, no question that Sir Arthur is telling the truth at all times when he is interviewed by these people.

The fact he has, oooh about 150 criminal convictions doesn't give pause to the breathless ones, eager to rub shoulders with the bad and infamous. Of course they don't doubt him.

Arthur didn't kill anyone.

His only misdemeanors were theft, armed robbery, fraud, burglary, escaping custody, drug possession, receiving stolen property, conspiring to sell methamphetamine.....pah! mere bagatelles.

According to "The Hub" news site Arthur is polite, has a heart of gold, and is sort of "picaresque".

That's all right then. He's a kind of Robin Hood - in his own words he "sticks up for the underdog". He just nicks stuff from rich people, like those ones with a Coromandel holiday house. They weren't using it at the time.

And meth doesn't hurt people really.

Nobody, it seems, was harmed in the making of this new hero.

Start ordering the scaffolding then, Sir Bob.