Politics is one of the great bloodsports. In small town New Zealand it is also comedy in one of its purest forms, owing to the characters involved. I live in Masterton and take full advantage observing the shenanigans. It is the nature of the game, and while some do it more openly than others, rest assured that everyone involved is trying their very best to bludgeon, stab, outflank and sabotage the opposition to get what they want. It is not Dirty Politics, nor is it new. It is just Politics; garden variety. Dirty Politics is a dumb-egg term our feckless, click-bait media invented in an effort to drum up engagement with a dwindling audience while doing very little journalism. The claim I make is evident to anyone who has read any of Gareth Winter’s fascinating and entertaining histories of the goings on in the Wairarapa, or who has checked out the Histories of the Peloponnesian War. My point is politics doesn’t change; only the people do.
Of course none of this is to say politics isn’t a dirty game, because it is. Don’t ever kid yourself otherwise. But I believe the rough and tumble of it all is actually a sign of a healthy democracy. You don’t see too many pamphlet drops, billboard defacements, or mischievous but honest bloggers in North Korea or Chad now do you? No, you only see pig-pen politics played out in the the healthiest, most prosperous, free countries in the world.
Without further ado and in celebration of living in a great country, I present my “winners and losers” of 2016 in Masterton politics.
- Lyn Patterson. Mayor Patterson is a formidable politician who inhabits the “ninja” zone of the political skills matrix. This was exemplified towards the end of the year when- with her new council- she pulled off the most cunning and effective move i’ve seen on council in years. Here’s what happened: several of the subsequently elected candidates vowed they were against installing Maori representation on council without following due process, as seen in the Fearon election survey. This included Cr. Deb Davidson who identifies as Maori. Owing to the earthquake status of the MDC building, council has been having meetings at various locations in Masterton. At the 11th hour (literally) and knowing that her [Pattersons] push to see unelected Maori representation was in jeopardy by one single vote in the fresh council, she moved the whole council meeting to the Te Rangimarie Marae– knowing full well Cr. Davidson would face many of her own iwi in the audience- putting her into a difficult and intolerable position. Cr. Davidson recanted her election stance and voted with the Mayor to proceed with installing Maori Reps on council. Of the course the stupid Times Age said the vote was won by the Mayors deciding vote, but the real reason is that which I’ve just outlined. Patterson might have the smile of a Mississippi Chipmunk but definately possesses the cunning of a New York rat. A ruthless and intelligent play across the field from Patterson and I mean that admiringly- it was good outcome at the end of the day I think too.
- Chris Peterson. Lands Trust Masterton made complete twats of themselves for censuring and flogging Chris in public because he made the outrageous claim that
the trust is not fulfilling its legal obligation to be open to the public and the media in its decision-making, and this he is steadfastly sticking to.
Chris Peterson is a bloody good bloke but I always thought he was single issue (environment). I learnt here that this is not the case at all, and he has the nuts to speak his mind in the face of complete and vicious opposition. The trusts do like to keep things hush hush in order to hide their piss poor return to the community. And the newspaper is equally guilty here too- they never ask hard questions of the trusts or council because they are their main advertisers. I’ll be exploring this further this year.
3. Kieran McAnulty. On the eve of the election where he was running for the Masterton Community Trust some idiot tried to steal his ute. He caught the bastard by way of rugby tackle in the main street. Kieran got a beautiful story in the paper which he pulled off with some funny one liners- which money simply cannot buy- and went on to top the polls. If it ever transpires that Kieran organised the guy to steal his ute for a stunt then I will bump him up this list to number 1- that is the only thing that could possibly make this win any more brilliant.
4. Jonathan Hooker. Cr. Hooker deserves to be on this list for the way in which he cultivates his loyal votes in the Christian community. Hooker and the late Mark Harris found that buckets of poo seemingly homed in on them during the election. Harris found that it all stuck… however, Jonathan Hooker appears to be made of teflon and got to enjoy seeing the poo slide off his person, falling harmlessly into the water below on which he was presumably walking. I will tell candidates next election, “head west young man, thar be gold in them church halls”.
5. Brent Goodwin. Topped the polls in his ward with the bizarre election strategy of telling voters they are idiots and needed to try harder at election time if they want a higher quality council. lol
6. This blog. In 2016 the blog recieved over 15,000 visits from local people. A great start. Thanks!
- The Wairarapa Times Age. You would think after the painfully boring and inept reign of Andrew Bonallack things could only get better. Wrong. Current editor Seamus Boyer elicited excited chatter when it was found out he was coming to town- apparently owing to him being a fantastic journalist who had been smashing skulls in National media. Now he’s talked of as the new Bonallack but with a better last name. He is failing as an editor. The only thing that gives the paper a shred of value at the moment are the young journo’s doing their time in the sticks like Gassy and Normsky and the new lot who pump out a solid amount of decent stories (albeit not so much about politics- cant have everything). The letters section is dead- inhabited by a few tired regular letter writers and Teresa McClymont. The editorial column is kaput and is just a waffly rehashed version of yesterdays stories, or a weird moral lesson of some sort strained out the bum by way of roster. The daily reprint of painfully daft Facebook comments is insulting to the people who buy the paper. The Times Age is put together so poorly and with so little care it is not uncommon to see what I saw shortly before xmas- a story on how the markets could freak out if Donald Trump wins the election. I kid you not. In December. Seamus Boyer admitted to a few people that he messed up the paper’s responsibly during the election in deciding not to give any of the candidates a platform. It is closer to a school newsletter these days than an actual paper. Andrew Denholm -the owner- should start cracking the whip on young Seamus because the ladies in sales and advertising are starting to get mighty pissed off with how hard he is making their job with his shitty helmsmanship.
- Mark Harris. Ex-Councillor Harris is a dodgy bastard and with the help of a large group of concerned citizens we took that track pant sporting, hop stepping, leeching, bullying fraud to the political grave from which he will not ever recover.
3. Masterton District Council. For the roll out of its “free Wai-fi”. I still don’t know if it was Technology Solutions Ltd’s fault, or someone at Council, but the town wi-fi is an embarrassing failure and is extremely worrying considering how simple a project it was to implement. Read why exactly by clicking HERE. Keep in mind Council is spending millions soon on re-developing the CBD.
4. The Lands Trust Masterton and Masterton District Council (for a 2 lose streak). Earthquake Strengthening brand new buildings. Headlines around the country for this one. Who’s at fault? No one and everyone. But the people of Masterton are the ones who are going to end up paying for it one way or another, and the engineers are laughing all the way to the bank. The thing is- less than 2 people a year die on average from earthquakes. Compare that to the road toll, or suicide. Government is wanting to make building owners spend billions making buildings less prone to earthquakes. After this story came out I bet building owners were pissing themselves with laughter to see a governing body (MDC) lining up to get sued up the wazoo stemming from legalisation they they themselves helped create in a knee jerk fashion. The only winners are the engineers. Go to the right engineer and pay up you can get a “pass” for your building. Go to the wrong one, pay up, and your building fails. It isn’t right to subject anyone to this unquantifiable regulatory third world bullsht … even the trusts and MDC.
I have no doubt i’ve left out some winners and losers- fill me in on your nominations below in the comments. You can do this anonymously if you wish.
There you go guys, put this together too quickly but I hope you enjoyed it. All the best for 2017. I’m building up to a pretty busy year for a variety of reasons so although my future posts might not be very regular rest assured i’ll keep you in the loop with everything important the paper doesn’t cover. Subscribe to my blog on the home page please- you’ll get notified by email when I put new articles up.
I’m going to start posting up music I like listening to on my articles. Here is the first one: